First, what makes a gun ambidextrous?
Magazine ejection – is it accessible from the left or right hand?
Safety – can it be accessed easily from either side?
In the vast majority of cases, those two qualifiers are the judge as to whether a firearm is ambidextrous. And while it seems absolutely silly in this age of modern firearms to design a gun that only works in one configuration – it still happens. Why? Because the majority of the market share is right-handed and gun engineers are largely unambitious when it comes to changing the actual mechanics of a pistol that’s worked for nearly thirty years.
This touches on the last part about modern pistols and revolvers – they really haven’t advanced in the past thirty years. Outside of using polymers to reduce weight, magazine extension, and some adjustable sights – a firearm that you picked up from 1985 will largely operate the same as the firearm you’ll pick up in 2015. The big exception to this is the striker-fire. That has come forward in leaps and bounds within the past thirty years. But that’s a topic for a different article.
That said, let’s go over ten pistols and revolvers that exhibit good ambidextrous control.
Smith & Wesson J Frame
It’s a small, snub-nosed .38 special or, ideally, .357 Magnum that holds five rounds. In terms of a self-defense concealed carry revolver, it’s near the ideal. The J Frame can be gripped with one hand or two and conceals easily in the waistline for smooth performance. With single action/double action, the user can still have single action shot performance with double action follow-up.
Small modular design, nice ergonomics, and built for concealability – the magazine ejection is accessible by either side and there is no mechanical safety on most models. It’s modular structure encourages concealed carriers to experiment with its configuration to find the perfect grip, sight, and hand configuration for each carrier.
Chiappa Rhino 2”
The Chiappa Rhino 2” is one of the most curious designs we’ve seen for a concealed carry revolver. Made with a flattened cylinder, it uses moon clips to quickly load and unload ammunition into its hexagonal cylinder. Because it’s very streamlined and compact, it brings all the benefits of a SA/DA pistol and a revolver to the same platform.
Even though the magazine well is designed for a right-handed shooter, it’s actually in a great position to be accessed with either hand. Plus, what list of great ambidextrous pistols is complete without a Glock 19? It’s a bit less compact than the G26 and for those looking for an ideal model of Glock for ambidextrous use, the G26 is probably the way to go. If, however, you can get away with a full-size Glock – you’ll never regret it.
Slim, single-stack, and ambidextrous magazine release on the trigger guard – the Walther PPS is a great choice for concealed carriers who need to switch hands. While some models include a safety on the left side of the gun (ideal for right-handed thumb flip), that safety is easily accessed with just the left hand. This is one of the few 9mm pistols which can be safely fired single handedly by almost any shooter that practices it.