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.