Wednesday, October 14, 2009

THE .38 IS GREAT, PART TWO: Why a Snub Revolver makes good sense for CCW.

Let’s face it, friends, the snubbie revolver is a little dated. It is sort of like wearing bellbottom pants or doing the Hustle. But just as bellbottoms did what they were supposed to do and just like the Hustle was popular at one time, the .38 snub is still doing what it was doing years ago, even though it may not be as popular or as hip and cool as it once was. But that is the key issue, and is why the snub still makes a good choice as a primary carry gun. It was once the premier choice for concealed carry, and nothing has changed to make it a bad choice now.

What were the attributes of the snub that made it so popular? Well, we can start with a package that is very carry friendly. Particularly in the Airweight version, a snub is one of the most comfortable guns to carry for most people, and is versatile enough to be carried in a number of different modes. You can carry it IWB, OWB, you can put it in your pocket, you can strap it to an ankle, and you can even carry it around in a paper sack or a nylon pouch without worrying about it. The snub is still one of the most carry friendly packages going, particularly in a major caliber. The more carry friendly it is, the more likely you are to actually have it with you when you need it.

The caliber is the second reason the snub was so popular. Chambered for the .38 Special in its most common dress, one can step up to the .357 Magnum or the .44 if they wish, or go down to .32 or .22 while still keeping that convenient carry platform. In .38 Special the snub achieves a synergetic effect rarely found in other weapons.

Third, the shooter can easily modify the snub revolver to fit this own particular needs through changing the grip. The revolver design lends itself to user friendly changes to make the grip wider, narrower, thicker, rounder, thinner, longer, shorter, or even with a laser. Most changes to the grip won’t adversely impact the conceal-ability of the gun. Try that with your mini-Glock or similar.

The snub revolver is one of the most versatile handgun options for self defense. Utilitarian in nature it is simple to operate, forgiving of miscues on the part of the shooter, reliable to a fault, it is also the perfect “always” gun. You know, the gun you grab when you are going out to the mail box, or the gun you grab when you are just going to the store for a minute. And that is why the snub makes such good sense for self defense. It is the gun you can always have with you, so why not make it that first choice gun? Sure, it doesn’t hold as many rounds of ammo as some, and it is slower to reload than some, but does that really matter?

I know there are some folks who strap on that full-size 1911 or Glock every day, and they carry it wherever they can, and they practice with it every week, but those are the exceptions. After teaching Concealed Handgun License classes for a couple of decades now I have found that way too many of my students don’t carry a big two-pound gun with them all the time, and they don’t practice regularly. They don’t want to do that. They want to carry a light, comfortable gun with them that is simple and intuitive to use. The revolver fits that bill, and the airweight snub nosed revolver at fifteen ounces fits it best. Other guns may be better overall for fighting, but as I like to point out once one achieves good enough everything beyond that is fairly irrelevant. The snub handles 99.99% of DGU incidents. Are you really that much better armed if your gun handles 99.999% instead?

Few gunfights require rapid reloading (or reloading at all). Few gunfights require precision shooting at long distances. Most gunfights require a gun to be brought into action reasonably quickly at fairly short distances. The .38 snub does that and does it very well. Just as the .38 is perhaps the ultimate compromise caliber, the snub revolver is perhaps the ultimate compromise defensive concealed handgun.

17 comments:

  1. 1) I don't know why S/W won't make an airweight 9mm snub. It would be perfect and they would sell a million of them. Having a single caliber to standardize on in both the snub and semi-pistol is brilliant. Even tho my S/W 940 is stainless like a 640 and is 25 ounces loaded, it gets 100% pocket carry here in FL.

    2) The old self-defense adage: 3 feet, 3 rounds, 3 seconds, is still a good one.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Taurus makes a 9mm snubbie. See the problem is a 9mm in a J frame would be .38spl. The only advantage would be the smaller casing for the 9mm. You see, a revolver has a gap between the cylinder while a pistol doesn't. So the shorter barrel and the cylinder gap makes the .38spl inferior to a sub compact 9mm. However, if you make a 9mm chamber for a revolver then the balistics will be the same. Look at Buffelo Bores 158gr LSWCH+P, the numbers is very close to a standard pressure 9mm round.

      Delete
  2. I've tried a lot of different carry guns but I always come back to the snubbie. I loved my 1911 but I always carry my 2" 7-shot .357.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. Well thought out, informative and well written. I will throw in my two cents on the .38 snubbie in the spirit of this forum.

    The choice of this class of weapon makes assumptions about the fight and effectively eliminates options before the fight occurs. In days gone by, the chances of needing to fight a prolonged engagement or engage at distance for civilians were infinitesimal. In the post 9/11 era I don't assume that a fight will be related to traditional domestic criminal activity.

    At the very least the new potential threats of Mumbai style terror attacks and suicide bombers in crowded areas deserve some thought before selection of a carry weapon.

    There it is...free of charge...and you get what you pay for...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dusty is correct, choosing the snubbie platform does encourage a different set of tactics than might be indicated when armed with a lot of bullets. Personally I think it becomes a matter of what is your mindset about attacks and such. Certainly if your plan is to go toward the fight a Thinking Gunfighter will think about carrying more ammo and a more effective offensive-type of weapon to take the fight to the bad guys. If the plan is to hole up in a defensive mode with the goal to convince the bad guy to go somewhere else, then the snub makes more sense.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Iv'e had in my control a 45 Cal 1911 since I was 15 Years old. In my opinion it and the Glock model #22 are the best combat pistols ever made. That said, the gun in my car and in my briefcase and most likely in my pocket or waistbelt are all J frame S&W's. And that seems to go for most of my old shooting buddys that have every gun you can think of at home. I would like to think us old pistolaros know a thing or two about putting a round on target fast and effective....

    ReplyDelete
  6. My snub goes with me everywhere 85% of the time;the other 15%, its my 1911.I can conceal both, but my little .38 is much easier(weight wise),to have with me when(if)I ever need a defensive weapon.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks, John, and for me that is one of the great beauties of the snub revolver. It is small enough and light enough to carry almost everywhere without difficulty but still big enough to handle most problems we might face.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Carrying a compact or subcompact Glock tends to be exactly the same weight on the belt but loss of rounds does not add up so I always went for the compact 19 or 23. I have been carrying a 5 shot LCR for a few days now and I do not know why I never did before. I don't even know Im wearing it and why I may need 16 rounds. I also love the smooth triggers available with my revolvers so I think the .38 will be my new daily carry because it is just that simple and effective.

    ReplyDelete
  9. That is a good point, Chef. While on paper the snub revolver and the subcompact auto may be very similar in size, in actual use many find significant differences in the way the gun carries on their body.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I carry a Charter Arms DAO .38 Undercover , great little gun , shoots to point of aim , low recoil , tight action , did one thing to have it fit my mitts better , changed out the boot grip that it came with to the full combat grip , have better control of my gun now , been thinking of getting another if times get worse , and having a New York back up , as for now I back it up with a Bianchi Speed Strip in my right front pocket . My carry load is the 158 grain lswchp non + P version , going for deeper penetration with some expansion , .38 has been a law enforcement round for decades in the last century , even some security agencies still carry the .38 today , as long as it has been around it has done a good job . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

    ReplyDelete
  11. I conceal carry LCR 357 magnum at 17 ounces. The ONLY LCR that has 4 extra ounces of stainless steel built in. And I ONLY use factory 38 spcl lights or 148 grain wadcutters for quick low recoil, on target defensive hits. Affords me super easy side pants pocket carry.

    ReplyDelete
  12. The LCR is making quite a good name for itself. And like you, even though it can use the .357 round I prefer the .38 in the lightweight gun. The 148 wadcutter pushed at a decent speed is an often overlooked round for defensive purposes. It is an old design but still works quite well.

    ReplyDelete
  13. To be clear, the LCR 357 magnum model can use 357 magnum, 38 + P, 38, & 38/357 shotshell. The LCR 38 model can only use 38, & 38/357 shotshell.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have an 11 yr old Taurus 85 ultra-lite that I like very much. It is dead-nutz accurate,weighs 17 oz's, handles +P, and a total pleasure to carry in a pancake on my strong side or in a front pocket holster.

    ReplyDelete
  15. The effectiveness of the snubnose has a lot to do with the ammo you choose. I use 125 gr + P Speer Gold Dot hp's.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very true, John, and that can be said for pretty much all calibers. The differences that used to exist between calibers have pretty much been eliminated these days with good ammo selection.

    ReplyDelete