How Many Bullets Does a Revolver Hold? | Standard Capacity vs. Alternatives

Do you ever wonder how many bullets a revolver can hold? Here's an interesting statistic for you: most revolvers, commonly known as six shooters, can hold up to six cartridges. That's right, six chances to defend yourself or hit your target.  But are all revolvers limited to six rounds - let's find out!

Revolvers have been around for centuries and have played a significant role in developing  firearms technology. They are still widely used today by law enforcement officers as backup weapons and by individuals. Individuals also use them for self-defense, sport, and hunting purposes.

Most revolvers have only six rounds. This revolver can shoot up to six bullets, thus the name six-shooter. However, there are revolvers with five, eight, ten, and twelve bullet capacities. These extended-capacity revolvers incorporate design innovations to accommodate additional chambers while maintaining the firearm's integrity.

Revolvers are reliable companions while on duty and for those seeking a sense of belonging within the firearms community. In this guide, we'll explore different types of revolvers and their capacities.

So buckle up, and let's dive into the world of revolver's capacity.

Key Takeaways:

  • Most revolvers hold six bullets in a revolving cylinder.
  • There are also revolvers with less or more bullet capacity, with some having five, eight, ten, and twelve rounds.
  • They can be manually cocked or have a mechanism driven by the trigger pull.
  • Revolvers are popular among law enforcement officers, security guards, and in the private sector. 
  • Most individuals use it for defense, sport, and hunting purposes.
  • Introducing metallic cartridges marked a significant advancement in revolver technology, replacing loose powder and percussion caps.

Standard Revolver Round Capacity

Revolvers typically hold between five and six rounds. This perfectly aligns with their common nickname as 'Six Shooters.' Unlike automatic handguns with higher capacities, revolvers are limited in terms of bullet count. Gunsmiths don't offer aftermarket upgrades as the process would require the whole gun modification.  

The highest-capacity revolvers on the market usually use .22 rounds.  These revolvers have cylinders that hold six or ten rounds. The Smith & Wesson's Model 617 revolver is a perfect example. 

But do all revolvers hold six rounds?Well, while five or six rounds is the standard for most revolvers, there are exceptions to this rule. Some models may have fewer chambers in their revolving cylinder, resulting in a lower round capacity. So, let's find out.

A person reloading the revolver

Do All Revolvers Hold Six Rounds?

While most revolvers hold six rounds, some hold fewer or more rounds. Revolvers with more than six rounds are available for those desiring a higher bullet capacity. They are available in eight and ten-round capacities. These extended-capacity revolvers incorporate design innovations to accommodate additional chambers while maintaining the firearm's integrity.

Exploring the realm of eight-round and ten-round revolvers presents shooters with increased ammunition options. These higher-capacity revolvers are beneficial for sustained fire and fewer reloads. As a result, they are often used in competitive shooting and as duty firearms. Personally, an eight-shooter has been my best companion during competitions. 

Other than the eight and ten-round revolvers, there are also 12-round revolvers. These revolvers are more elusive than the standard six-round revolvers. Some popular 12-round revolvers are the Cattleman 12 Shot, the U.S. Firearms Model 12/22, and the 36 Walch Navy Revolver.

For higher-capacity revolvers, there must be a balance between advantages and potential trade-offs. Trade-offs come in terms of weight, size, and complexity. With each shooter's unique requirements, these factors will help you make an informed decision. 

5-round revolvers also exist. Bryce M. Towsley, in his latest review, 'The Best Revolvers of 2023,' cites S&W J-Frame as one of the best in his list. It is a 5-round revolver ideal for home defense and backup firearms. Its compact design makes it suitable for concealed carry

Two revolver barrels closeup

Why Do Most Revolvers Hold Six Bullets?

Most revolvers have only six rounds. This revolver can shoot up to six bullets, thus the name six-shooter. But why six rounds? Here is why.

Thomas McIntee, a Marine Corps weapons instructor, is a Ph.D. holder from the University of California, Irvine. He was quoted on Quora, and here is what he had to say about revolvers having six bullets; "The reason why the six-shooter is an efficient revolving design is rooted in geometry. Others have mentioned that there are many revolvers with other sizes. However, there's a deep geometric reason why the six shooter is the 'natural' size of a revolver." 

Revolvers hold six bullets because this optimal packing solution maximizes firepower and efficiency, making each shot count.

The hexagonal tiling of the chambers allows for a tight and efficient arrangement, minimizing wasted space in the cylinder. This design ensures that each bullet is securely held in place and ready to be fired when needed.

With six rounds readily available, a shooting a revolver doesn't require  frequent reloading. This capacity also provides a balance between firepower and weight.  This feature allows for a manageable firearm to deliver multiple shots if necessary. They're more resourceful when engaging multiple targets and during self-defense situations. 

Lastly, six rounds maintain balance. Most accurate revolvers are designed with balance in mind. During firing, the revolver maintains stability by evenly distributing the weight of the ammunition across all chambers. This feature reduces recoil and allows for more accurate follow-up shots.

A man holding revolvers in a gun shop

Various Revolver Capacities

So now that you know why most double-action revolvers hold six bullets, let's explore the various capacities available in different models of revolvers.

Besides six-round revolvers, there are variants with more or fewer rounds. For instance, the 8-round revolver offers a larger ammunition capacity than a 6-round one. It doesn't end there - there are revolvers with ten and 12-round capacities.

So, if you're looking for a revolver with more firepower, these higher-capacity options might be worth considering.

Is there an 8 Rounds Revolver?

If you're interested in 8-round revolvers, you'll be pleased to know that  a few options available

One example is the Smith & Wesson Performance Center M627. This revolver features an 8-round capacity and is chambered in .357 Magnum.

Another option is the Ruger Super GP100 with an 8-round capacity and chambered in .357 Magnum.

These revolvers offer a higher ammunition capacity than the standard 6-shot revolvers. Therefore, you'll have more firepower when needed.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M627 Specs

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M627 can hold an impressive eight rounds of .357 Magnum. It can also hold .38 S.W. Special +P ammunition in its large frame. This revolver is the epitome of craftsmanship and technology. It has hand-cutting and fitting for precision.  I am particularly impressed by how it seamlessly blends old-world artistry with modern advancements to create a top-performing firearm.

The M627 features a chrome flashed teardrop hammer, chrome trigger and trigger stop.It also has a PC-tuned action for smooth operation.

In addition, it has three full moon clips included for convenient reloading. You can easily acquire your target with a gold bead front sight and adjustable rear sight. The grip options include wood with a second Hogue finger groove synthetic grip included.

Product Specs

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum /.38 SW Special +P
  • Capacity: 8 Rounds
  • Barrel Length: 5'
  • Front Sight: Gold Bead Front
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable
Smith & Wesson revolver


  • High capacity of 8 rounds
  • Precision craftsmanship
  • Chrome flashed teardrop hammer and trigger
  • P.C. tuned action
  • Full moon clips included


  • Relatively heavy weight at 44 oz

Ruger Super GP 100 Specs

Discover the unstoppable power and exceptional craftsmanship of the Ruger Super GP100. This revolver is a game-changing firearm that will take your shooting experience to new heights.

With its high-strength stainless steel cylinder and triple-locking mechanism, this revolver holds up to 8bullets of .357 Magnum caliber.

The Super GP100 also features moon clip compatibility for faster reloading and a cold hammer-forged barrel for precise rifling.

Ruger revolver

Is there a 10 Rounds Revolver?

Are there any 10-round revolvers available on the market today, or are they a rarity?

Yes, there are 10-round revolvers out there! They may be harder to find, but you'll likely come across the Ruger GP100, Chiappa SAA 1973, and the Smith and Wesson Model 617. Kyle Mizokami, a renowned writer for The National Interest, had this to say about the Ruger GP100 revolver In his article 'The Biggest Gun Debate of All Time: Revolver Vs. Semi Automatic' he said this: "If a homeowner has little training but still needs a handgun to secure his or her home, a revolver such as the Ruger GP100 is ideal. The weapon is simple to operate and, with its beefy, all-steel frame, has a reassuring heft."

These revolvers have a magazine capacity of up to 10 rounds. This means that you can fire multiple shots before needing to reload. 

Are There Revolvers With 12 Rounds?

Yes, there are revolvers with capacities of up to 12 rounds. While they may be more elusive than your typical six-shooter, these 12-round revolvers offer a greater ammunition capacity for those who desire it.

Here is a list of some of the popular 12-round revolvers:

U.S. Firearms Model 12/22

The U.S. Firearms Model 12/22 is a full-sized single-action (S.A.) revolver holding up to 12 bullets. It can hold twelve .22LR cartridges at a time.


  • Caliber: .22LR
  • Action: Revolving chamber
  • Cylinder: 12 rounds
  • Trigger: Single action (S.A.)
  • Cartridge: .22LR.
U.S. Firearms Model 12/22 revolver

Cattleman 12 Shot

The Cattleman 12-shot revolver is an excellent single-action revolver with 12 rounds. It has a .22 long rifle caliber with a barrel length of 7.5 inches. It shoots precisely but is a bit heavier than a .45. 


  • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
  • Action: Revolving chamber
  • Cylinder: 12-shot, fluted
  • Trigger: Single action (S.A.)
  • Cartridge: .22LR
  • Models Fit: Uberti 1873 Cattleman
  • Barrel Length: 7.5 inches
  • Total Length: 13 inches
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs.
Cattleman revolver

.36 Walch Navy Revolver

The .36 Walch Navy revolver has a 6-chambered cylinder (superimposed). Each chamber holds two rounds, allowing 12 rounds to fit.

The revolver has two side-by-side triggers. It also has two hammers. The front loading's trigger is strategically placed ahead of the rear load's trigger. This positioning helps maintain a correct firing order. Though having many rounds at your disposal may be reassuring, I still found this 12-round revolver temperamental and unreliable. I will settle for my six-shooter any day.


  • Caliber: .36 Long Rifle
  • Action: Revolving chamber
  • Cylinder: Superimposed 6-shot
  • Trigger: Single action (S.A.)
.36 Walch Navy Revolver

These revolvers provide additional firepower, allowing for more shots before reloading. They offer peace of mind whether in self-defense situations or sport shooting

What Is The Recommended Number Of Rounds For Concealed Carry?

If you are considering concealed carry, it's important to determine the recommended number of rounds for your firearm.

One standard option is a small revolver with five rounds. However, whether or not this is good for concealed carry depends on various factors. Such factors include your level of comfort and proficiency with the weapon. The potential threats you may encounter also matter when considering concealed carry. 

In addition, a state's existing laws may dictate the number of rounds in your concealed carry. For instance, a U.S. senator, Bob Menendez, says: "High-capacity magazines were designed for one purpose and one purpose only - high-capacity killing - and have been used in some of the deadliest mass shootings in America." This clearly shows that high-capacity firearms are not welcome in the state.

You must consider these factors before deciding the appropriate number of rounds for your concealed carry firearm. 

Is a Small Revolver With 5 Rounds Good for Concealed Carry?

While larger pistols may hold more bullets, a small revolver can still be reliable for concealed carry and self-defense. A small revolver with five rounds is suitable for concealed carry. 

However, its limited capacity may be a concern in some situations. The limited number of rounds means you must make each shot count. Also, you should be mindful of ammunition management. To maximize your 5-round revolver, you must train regularly and become proficient in quick reloading.

Remember, the effectiveness of a concealed carry firearm goes beyond just the number of bullets it holds. Consider reliability, ease of use, and comfort when selecting a handgun for concealed carry.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the standard revolver round capacity?

The standard revolver round capacity varies depending on the model, but it commonly holds six rounds. Isn't it fascinating how revolvers can provide multiple shots before needing to be reloaded? It's like having a reliable partner by your side.

Do all revolvers hold six rounds?

No, not all revolvers hold six rounds. While the term "six shooter" is commonly used, there are revolvers with different capacities.  Some models can hold 5, 7, 8, 10, or even 12 rounds.

How many bullets do double-action revolvers have?

Double-action revolvers typically have a capacity of six rounds, just like single-action revolvers. While some may argue that this is limited compared to other firearms, it offers a balance between firepower and ease of reloading.

What are the various revolver capacities?

Revolvers have various capacities, ranging from 5 to 10 rounds. The most common capacity is 6 rounds, but some models can hold up to 8 or even 10 rounds.

What is the recommended number of rounds for concealed carry?

For concealed carry, it is recommended to have a revolver with a capacity of at least five rounds. This ensures you have enough ammunition for self-defense while maintaining a compact and concealable firearm.


Understanding the capacity of a revolver and how the revolvers work  in general is crucial for any shooter, whether it be for self-defense or competition purposes. When selecting the best revolver for your needs, you must get it right. Exploring factors like types of revolvers and the factors influencing their bullet capacity will allow you to make informed decisions.

Revolver capacities go beyond the myth of the six-shooter, with options available for those seeking higher capacities: calibration, bullet type, and load choices impact capacity. Legal restrictions also determine revolver capacity. For instance, in a recent report by the New Jersey Monitor, the U.S. Senate democrats unveiled legislation to ban high-capacity gun magazines. The report says, "New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and 27 of his U.S. senate colleagues introduced legislation Tuesday to ban high-capacity magazines typically used in most mass killings." This comes after a surge in gun violence within the U.S. 

Ultimately, the capacity conundrum boils down to personal preference and situational needs. We encourage shooters to explore the diverse world of revolvers. You should only choose the suitable capacity that aligns with your shooting goals. The right revolver will also enhance the shooter's confidence in wielding this iconic firearm.

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