Why are revolvers so expensive? 5 Main Reasons

38 Caliber Revolver Pistol Loaded Cylinder Gun Barrel Close Up Pointed on White

It does not matter the manufacturer, caliber, price, or even what year the revolver was made, you can be sure you will feel like you are shooting a highly engineered machine.

This is because all revolvers have one thing in common, lots of metal parts and machining operations that work together in order for the firearm to function properly.

For example, the cylinder needs to be machined in a way that it lines every chamber up to the bore properly, then it must be timed to the individual gun.

Also, the trigger assemblies are also much more complicated, they have to unlock the cylinder, rotate it, lock it on the next chamber, drop the firing pin block out of the way and actuate the hammer in one stroke.

This means certain parts must be made from superior materials in order to sustain and tolerate the stress it’s going to be put through.

On the other hand, semiautomatic weapons are more affordable to collect, contain fewer parts (not always), use cheaper materials, and have a much larger market share.

In this article we will going to discuss some of the reasons why revolvers are often more costly than semiautomatic firearms and how this affects the market and demand.


With the exception of the grips, which may be wood or polymer, nearly all components of the revolver are made of metal.

Steel was the original metal of choice until changes in its availability and advances in other metals made it less desirable.

At Nationalmaterial they explain that in the years following the Civil War, the American steel industry grew with astonishing speed as the nation’s economy expanded to become the largest in the world.

After 1880, steel production in America increased from 1 million tons to more than 10 million tons.

This led to the disruption in the steel supply leaving manufacturers with no other option than using different metals like brass for the revolver frames.

Eventually the stainless-steel frame and barrel soon followed, improving corrosion resistance and reducing maintenance.

Nowadays, you can find different materials being used besides stainless steel.

For example, the Smith and Wesson M&P 340 is currently one of the lightest .357 Magnum revolvers in the world.

This revolver’s frame is made from scandium alloy and the cylinder is made from titanium. Scandium is one of the most potent alloying elements in the periodic table.

When mixed with an aluminum alloy, scandium significantly increases strength, and reduces grain size.

Furthermore, scandium is a very light metal with a much higher melting point than aluminum, making such alloys more durable in that they have longer life spans, higher strength, and are degraded less by extreme temperature.


Black revolver gun isolated on white background

Firearms are expensive not only because of the materials they are made of, but because they must be tested to ensure they accept the extreme conditions they’re going to be put through.

Handguns must be made to tolerate and sustain little explosions while functioning properly, meaning the machinery needed to produce them must be high quality.

Dr. John Woods discusses in his article posted in alloutdoor.com that enough profit must be made on each firearm to compensate for the capital expenditure to purchase the machinery.

The liability insurance, the regulatory burden, licensing, and labor costs are high compared to most other manufacturers costs.

Recently there has been a move by progressives to impose the “cancel culture” on investment and financial institutions that serve the firearm industry.

Progressives are encouraging deprival of assets related to arms production.

Then add the other regular costs of any company doing business, marketing for example, those expenses are huge, but necessary to get the word out about new products.

There’s engineering, design, accounting, purchasing, warehousing, packaging, shipping and everything else a business must have to create, make and distribute a new product including guns.


I’m sure that cost of production and manufacturing has a lot to do with the ultimate pricing of a firearm, but that isn’t the whole picture.

There is the demand side of the equation.

If someone was a Glock fan and anything other than a Glock was just something they would not be interested in, they would not even be in the market for an alternative.

That reduces the market size for specific products.

You have the next tier of gun buyers who simply want a reasonably reliable light weight autoloader that holds lots of ammo.

They are practical people and a lot of them are not going to see any value in a typical five, six, or even seven shot revolvers.

This makes the marketplace for high quality and niche revolvers get very small indeed.

That raises production costs because not everyone will be out there on the lookout for a high-end revolver, but whoever is, they will pay the price.

In other words, revolvers have become a niche piece that does some jobs better than a semi-automatic weapon and supports a limited fan base while still being produced in limited numbers at a higher cost.


44 magnum revolver

Some products will be valued higher than others on name alone, this is a reality when it comes to revolvers and many other handguns. 

Some revolver manufacturers have been in the market long enough to have a good reputation.

These are the same manufacturers that provided handguns to armed forces and police departments around the world, creating a sense of quality and reliability worldwide.

Does this mean the not so costly manufacturers produce subpar firearms? Not necessarily.

Then we have the economics aspect of it.

People are obviously willing to pay the prices being charged.

This can be explained by the fact that nothing beats the feeling of a high-quality metal weapon with the ability to fire powerful ammunition.

The .45 ACP and the 10mm are very capable semiautomatic rounds, but are relatively light compared to the .44 Magnum, .475 Linebaugh, .500 Smith & Wesson.

Semiautomatic handguns are limited when it comes to cartridges sizes, since the length of the cartridge must fit within the grip frame, these are limitations caused by the grip width and the human hand.

Movies and video games are something we must keep in mind as well.

Everyone remembers Clint Eastwood in the movie Magnum Force as Dirty Harry with his .44 Magnum revolver.

Collecting the classic revolvers, we grew up watching in the TV has become a popular hobby and the limited market share of new guns keeps numbers low and prices high.

And also, legal restrictions make things sometimes more attractive.

In California for example, Single Action revolvers are less restricted than Double Action revolvers or semi-automatic handguns.


A revolver or any firearm being labeled as expensive is a very relative term.

Expensive for whom? Expensive for what purpose? Expensive relative to what costs?

I consider that revolvers are fairly priced for what they can do.

Inside the Chamber, an explosion must take place, energy from it must send a piece of lead through a tube accurately, and with little waste energy.

Some of the energy must be used to reset the action so it can happen again and again. All of that while the gun stay’s reliable, light, ergonomic.

At the end of the day, something is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it.

If enough people are willing to spend a certain amount of money for a gun, then for them it is priced right.

If that’s not the case, the market adjusts, and the price moves accordingly.

If someone is not willing to pay for it at the current market price, that doesn’t mean it is necessary too expensive, it just makes it outside your specific budget range for what you are looking for.

The strategy is to shop well, watch for sales, consider quality used merchandise, trading and just watching every budget dollar.

Cody Martin

With over 18 years of federal law enforcement, training, and physical security experience, Cody focuses his time nowadays on both consulting and training. He regularly advises individuals, groups, multinational corporations, schools, houses of worship, and NGOs on security threats while conducting customized training as needed.

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