7 Best .38 Special Revolvers For CCW

7 Fool-Proof .38 Special Revolvers For Concealed Carry

Some people like the old way of doing things, and for just such a person .38 Special revolvers are a great option of concealed carry gun. But which to get? There are so many on the market.

Here are 7 .38 Special guns that are good for concealed carry revolvers and other uses, including target shooting, home defense and so on. If you want to get started with wheelguns, these are the best points of entry.

Smith And Wesson Model 638

model 638

The Smith and Wesson Model 638 is the best of all worlds in a concealed carry .38 Special revolver. It’s optimized for concealed carry, with a light alloy frame and hammer shroud to ensure a snag-free draw from concealment. Soft rubber grips and the virtue of having the hammer shrouded – rather than removed like other J-frames – means single-action shooting is possible.

The 638 has been a perennial favorite for concealed carry and plainclothes police for decades. The modern iteration – on the Airweight frame – is designed for easy EDC and will deliver that in spades. The light weight – less than 16 ounces – means it’ll snap when you shoot, but since it carries .38 Special it will be very manageable.

Charter Arms Undercover

charter arms undercover

Charter Arms was started in the 1960s to provide quality carry pistols that had simpler, stronger designs than that of competitors. Since its founding in 1964, the bread and butter model has been the Charter Arms Undercover, a five-shot .38 Special revolver. It’s a CCW revolver through and through.

Charter Arms have long been accused of lacking refinements, but have always been known to deliver performance for value. Traditional and hammerless models are available, as are a number of finishes. Regardless of the model you get, it’s a light, compact, concealable revolver you can count on that won’t break the bank.

Smith And Wesson Model 10

S&W Model 10

The Smith and Wesson Model 10 has been in production since 1898 without interruption, first introduced as the Hand Ejector model in the then-new .38 S&W Special. It is the ur-.38 Special revolver. Today it’s still one of the best you can get.

The Model 10 is a service gun, with a 4-inch barrel on S&W’s K-frame. However, it is not unconcealable at all as a decent 4-in K-frame IWB holster is not hard to come by. You get six shots of .38 Special, and it will run +P. Over time the trigger smoothes to glass, and with a bit of care, you’ll be able to pass it down to your grandchildren.

This pistol is rugged simplicity defined, and police departments issued this gun into the 1990s for good reason. It is reliable, accurate and easy to shoot. Not as powerful as the .357 Magnums but in practiced hands and a good loading…just as deadly to potential threats.

Ruger LCR


Ruger’s answer to Smith and Wesson’s Model 640, the LCR is a thoroughly modern take on the concealed carry revolver. This .38 Special revolver features a polymer lower frame and lightweight alloy upper for lightness and easy carry. A unique cammed DAO trigger ensures a smooth pull from front to back.

Hogue grips tame recoil, and low-profile sights ensure an easy draw. Load, point, shoot, repeat…made smart. The LCR is a simple gun with smart features, which has made it one of the most popular CCW revolvers on the market since it was released. Crimson Trace lasers are available, as is any color you want…so long as you want black.

S&W M&P Bodyguard 38 With Laser

If you want to make a .38 Special revolver all tactical, and give it the bells and whistles that most do not, you get the S&W M&P Bodyguard 38 with integrated laser. It’s a J-frame, but the M&P J-frames get revisions that aren’t available with the standard model.

Instead of the latch on the left side of the frame, the cylinder release button is moved to the back of the frame for easy access. Normally, a hammer would be there but the Bodyguard 38 is DAO, so that isn’t an issue. An integrated laser is added at the top of the right side of the frame and behind the cylinder, which is actually unique as that makes it one of the few pistols where the laser is actually parallel with the barrel.

The cylinder and barrel are black stainless steel, the frame is a black aluminum alloy, keeping weight down to 14.4 ounces, so it’s light and easy to carry. It’s a higher-tech version of the ultimate point-and-shoot pistol, so you get smart features plus the foolproof operating system of a DAO revolver.

Ruger SP101

The Ruger SP101 was designed as a compact .357 Magnum, but can make life easier on the shooter when loaded with .38 Special. Strenuous loads of .38 Special +P or even +P+ will shoot easier than in the lighter, smaller snubbies, making for faster followups and less pain during range sessions.

If you’re serious about your shooting, this may be the concealed carry .38 Special revolver to get.

You get 5 shots, a stainless steel frame and simple sights. More features are available, but the base model is built like a tank and so simple anyone could figure it out. The good news, though, is you can get an SP101 for multiple purposes. The base model is a CCW revolver for sure, but target models – the Match Champion series – exist as well. Multiple calibers are available as well, including 9mm, .327 Federal Magnum and .22 LR/.22 WMR as well.

Chiappa Rhino

The Chiappa Rhino is easily the most interesting revolver to come out in years. The design was informed by the Mateba AutoRevolver, the creation of Emilio Ghisconi. Ghisconi, a keen target shooter and engineer, wanted to solve the problem of recoil and moved the barrel to the bottom of the frame rather than the top. Since what influences felt recoil is torque on the wrist, lowering the barrel reduces it and thus makes for a softer recoil impulse. Chiappa hired Ghisconi to design a revolver for them and his unique design was adapted to a double-action revolver platform, which was named the Rhino.

The Rhino is nominally offered in .357 Magnum. While it’s much more manageable than other compact magnums, shooting .38 Special is an absolute breeze, even with stout carry loads. The 2-inch model is the carry gun, while 4-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch barrel models can also be had.

You’ll pay for the innovative design and construction, but you get it back in function for sure.

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