The better snubbie?


October 17, 2004, 02:57 PM
Just curious, looking at a few snubbies but having a hard time finding out the major difference between the guns and which is the better choice. Suggestions?

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Ala Dan
October 17, 2004, 03:21 PM
I voted for the Smith & Wesson model 60. :uhoh: :D

That is the Old Model 60, in .38 Special; NOT the larger
J-magnum frame 60 in .357. :( :D

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

R.H. Lee
October 17, 2004, 03:28 PM
'Ya forgot the S&W 642 (or 442). Lightweight, hammerless. The best. :)

October 17, 2004, 03:31 PM
I prefer one of the various Bodyguard reiterations--the best of both worlds.

October 17, 2004, 03:35 PM
642, hands down. Great with Speer 135 gr. Gold Dots.

October 17, 2004, 04:12 PM
I had a 442 hammerless and sold it. I hated the gun with a burning, red hot passion. I don't want double action. I want something with a hammer that I can *someday* use as a BUG and have fun with at the range. The hammerless models just don't appeal. I plan to get a 3" 60 but I'd like to get a snubbie too. For that, the 60 in a 2" looks to be a good choice but I'm curious what other guns are out there that I should be looking at.

R.H. Lee
October 17, 2004, 04:18 PM
I want something with a hammer that I can *someday* use as a BUG and have fun with at the range. I understand the sentiment, but firearms are mostly highly specialized tools. When we attempt to compromise their use among purposes, we inevitably wind up disappointed. It seems to me that a BUG is a last ditch need-it-right-now gun on which an exposed hammer might be a liability.

October 17, 2004, 04:21 PM
Perhaps, but it didn't help that I couldn't pull the trigger on the gun to save my life. At least with the single/double action, I can get in more practice time with less frustration. BTW, being a lady, maybe women in general struggle with DOA only -- or it could be just me...:scrutiny:

Black Snowman
October 17, 2004, 05:12 PM
DA on most snubbies are going to be very heavy. You might have to try some out to find one that works for you or pay to have one modified to your liking.

I 2nd taking a look at the shrouded hammer models like the S&W Bodyguard or Taurus Protector lines. The only thing holding me back from getting one of this design is they're noticably bulkier.

October 17, 2004, 06:52 PM
Bodyguard. :D

The Goose
October 17, 2004, 07:56 PM
649 Bodyguard .357

October 17, 2004, 09:15 PM
Dry fire practice is the key to gaining the strength needed for DA revolver shooting. Start with 20 shots in the AM and 20 more at night. Add 5 per day or every other day until you can do 100 while maintaining a decent sight picture. This is NOT hard and it doesn't take very long, not nearly as long as you might think. I've never seen a woman or even a early teen age child that can't get it in 3 weeks or less, and EVERY SINGLE person that has ever listened to me on this and actually done it has noticed a dramatic improvement in their shooting regardless of platform. Thats right, they shoot their auto chunkers better too as a result. It works, try it.

BTW, for a snub I like the M38, with other hidden or hammerless guns following. BLUE guns will always be my preference, and shrouded or hammerless snubs make a lot more sense than a snub with a hammer.

Standing Wolf
October 17, 2004, 09:17 PM
My main carry gun is a pre-agreement Smith & Wesson model 60, but the best snub-nosed revolvers of my experience are the Colt Detective Special and Colt Python with 2.5-inch barrel.

October 17, 2004, 09:19 PM
I'm actually in the process of trying to buy the Colt Detective Special...:D just wanted to maybe pick up another good gun as well.

Captain Bligh
October 18, 2004, 01:05 AM
I have a .357 Model 60. I think it's a great revolver.

October 18, 2004, 01:20 AM
I have all three of the choices, although my Model 66 is a four inch. I also have a Colt Detective Special, and a S&W 642.
If I was going to carry one as my primary, it would be the Ruger SP101. Why ? Because it is chambered in .357 and is heavy enough to make that a practical thing.
That being said, the only one that I actually carry is my model 60 (the older one chambered in .38 Special). I only carry it when I can't carry something larger and do so in a pocket holster.

There is nothing wrong with any of them. They are all terrific guns. I enjoy them all and am blessed to own them.

October 18, 2004, 01:57 AM
To me a snubbie is a pocket gun, light in weight, to be carried irregardless of dress. For me that's Smith 642.

October 18, 2004, 02:44 AM
For carry, I'd rather pick the M60 (because its lighter and easier to carry), but when I am in the most unlucky situation of a gunfight I would gladly take the somewhat bigger and easier-to-hit-with M66 Combat Magnum from your list.

Almost any J Frame shines in the role of the perfect "back-up" weapon, although I personally prefer one of the various Bodyguards (M49/38/638) or Centennial Airweights (M442/642) chambered for the .38 Special cartridge.

The Ruger SP101 (provided its chambered for .357 Mag.) would be my choice if I'd use hot .357 Mag. 125 grs. SJHP ammo for training and self-defense exclusively.

I can't really decide which one is the "best".

October 18, 2004, 05:08 AM
For snubby carry, I like my 2.25" Ruger SP-101. Great handling and accuracy.

October 18, 2004, 06:39 AM
Colt Cobra.
Small frame, light weight, and six shots.

October 18, 2004, 07:51 AM
S&W 60.

October 18, 2004, 11:14 AM
Model 60, the SA trigger is very nice to have!

Brian Williams
October 18, 2004, 11:23 AM
My snubbie is a S&W 940, all Satinless Steel Centennial in 9mm. I would like to have it as a 942 stainless cyl/ aluminum frame but they only made 2 so... I was thinking about getting a 642 and having a 940 cylinder fitted, too much money allotted for other guns, so this works for me.

October 18, 2004, 12:30 PM
My vote is for the 2" S&W Model 60. But, it has some modifications.

Mine has had the trigger face smoothed and rounded for DA shooting and the hammer spir has been removed. Because I still want to retain the single action feature, the top of the hammer has been checkered. By starting the hammer to the rear with the trigger, I can use my thumb to cock the hammer for the SA shot. The only other accessory is a Tyler-T grip adapter whis allows me to have maximum concealment in many modes of carry.


October 18, 2004, 12:54 PM
I jusst acquired a 1994 issue Taurus 85, concealed hammer etc. It is a hoot to shoot...pretty also. And, yes, the 250# trigger pull is tough! (OK, maybe 12 pounds, but that still is alot)... I will be dry firing a lot....besides, that is fun anyway :)

October 18, 2004, 01:08 PM
Whatever the model, it should say S&W if you want the best. I prefer the alloy frame Centennial (hammerless) models. YMMV

October 18, 2004, 02:02 PM
Same here...and if the DA only is a concern, a spring kit and or some polishing can meake these very light and smooth...

October 18, 2004, 02:33 PM
I've felt some very "worked on" double action Smith's and Ruger's and still, they are nowhere near a single action action pull and feel of a Smith. Personally, I would rather shoot all shots single action and can do so damn near as fast as I can shooting double action and much more accurately, especially shooting a 357 J-Frame. With a .38 it would be less of a necessity however.

October 18, 2004, 02:43 PM
It really depends on how you're going to use it. Plenty of people still pack the 66/19 2 1/2" guns, which are quite a bit larger than both the SP101 and the 60. Other people think the 60 is already too heavy and/or too big for concealed carry.

October 18, 2004, 02:55 PM
Snubbies are personal , probably moreso because of caiber to recoil ratio and gun fit is more important. Good Wood Stocks make a difference. Some folks have good success on using them black yucky grip thingy's. :p

I voted other. I prefer one of the OLDER Blue&Wood myself. Anything from a M-36,M-10, to say a M19

Dang little '28 Dick Special I have, though its all backwards from what I grew up with...grows on a person. :D

Bill B.
October 18, 2004, 08:45 PM
The best I have ever owned was a Colt Detective Airweight with the shrouded hammer. The second best I have ever owned is the S&W 642. I only rate the Colt best becase of the extra round! The S&W 642 is a current winner!

October 18, 2004, 10:21 PM
For a pocket piece, 2" J frame. Wife has a dehorned M37 and I use a 442. Both are obviously DAO and have a lot of ammo through them over the years. Mileage carried on the person, about a million each.

Not many things in life as trustworthy and useful as a good J frame. (Especially in an election year.)

Cool Hand Luke 22:36
October 18, 2004, 10:40 PM
My SP101 will still be a good shooter when I'm dead and long gone. Not sure if S&W is as robust.

Stock grips on the SP are a vast improvement on the S&W, there's $20 saved right there.

No safety lock business either, though they need to lose the owners manual suggestion on the barrell shroud.

October 19, 2004, 02:57 AM
My 2 inch 642-1 has a nice trigger, some of the newer smiths I've tried haven't been as good for nickel 38 bodyguard has an equally good trigger but I carry the 642 since it is a more common gun, the 38 is becoming a bit of a collector for 2.5 inch 66-nothing has a great trigger, the best of the bunch, but I think it has had some work done to it, and it is too heavy to carry for backup duty IMO, I carry it as a primary someone else said, they all have their merits:D ......tom

October 21, 2004, 01:47 AM
I have the S&W 642 in 38+p and S&W 640 in 357. Both are hammerless. Both received actionwork before I could enjoy the trigger. The 642 is my everyday carry gun but it packs a wollop when I practice. The stainless 640 is much easier to shoot in 38+p. My Ruger SP101 had a spring kit and minor internal cleanup and that improved it's action. For a pocket gun the 642 wins. If carried on the hip and weight is not a factor, I'll go for a S&W686+ or lightweight 386+ (both 7 shot). For serious social situations, I believe we should shoot DA from a liability standpoint. So if necessary, get the action smoothed so you can shoot DA.

October 21, 2004, 10:16 AM
S&W model 649 .357 Bodyguard.

Ex-MA Hole
October 21, 2004, 12:28 PM

October 21, 2004, 12:30 PM
Just picked up a Model 38-1. It is my first and only (therefore "best") snubby. Learning to shoot it. A very different beast than my other Smiths. Very crisp SA. DA is a little wierd. The gun is so small my trigger finger is hitting my thumb.

October 22, 2004, 07:45 PM
Colt Cobra, Agent, or Detective Special.

The first two are rated for +P, which the S&W airweighT "J"'s are not. Matter of fact I don't trust an older steel "J" with +P's either. The DS will swallow +P's without a burp.

Plus, the hammer shrouds for the D-frame are available, and there are enough Cobras around in good shape and for less than a new S&W ABOMINATION!!!!!

October 22, 2004, 10:00 PM
Colt Cobra, Agent, or Detective Special.
The first two are rated for +P, which the S&W airweighT "J"'s are not.
All three of the Colt revolvers you mentioned will handle .38 Special +p ammunition.
However all three were created long before there was any such thing as +P ammunition and Colt didn't actually rate the Agent nor the Cobra for +P.

In the late 1970s when +P first appeared, if you had called Colt Customer Service you would have been told that any and all of their D-frame revolvers, both all steel and aloy frame models, would handle +P ammo in moderate amounts.

Which is exactly the same thing S&W Customer Service would have told you during the same time period regarding all, of their J-Frame revolvers both Steel and Airweight.

By the way, I was a stocking dealer for both Colt & S&W back then so I know this information to be accurate.

Colt and S&W knew that sometime, somewhere, someone would shoot some of the .38-44 High-Speed/Super Police ammunition in them.
Therefore all .38 special Colt and S&W revolvers manufactured after 1940 were designed with that fact in mind.
It was this extra margin of strength that enabled the ammunition manufacturers to develop +P ammo.

The original Remington/Peters .38-44 ammunition was designed to be used in S&W N-frame and Colt New Service Revolvers and will create higher pressures than most modern day .38 Special +P ammunition.

October 24, 2004, 12:58 AM
By a slim margin, I voted for the M60 - but I'd probably go with the 3" full lug model with adjustable sights, maybe even the .357 mag model. If you're looking for absolute maximum concealability in a snubbie, the M60 is hard to beat.

The Detective Special is pretty sweet, too. There is one at the local shop in the rare 3" barrel model, that I keep ogling :D They are very small but hold six shots, which is not a small issue.

October 24, 2004, 05:33 AM
All the snubbies mentioned here are good for their intended purpose which is to be a short range defensive weapon capable of stopping BGs before they do you harm. he fact that they can also be used for target shooting is a nice bonus, but accuracy that places all 5 rounds in an 8" circle at 25' rapid fire is more than sufficient.

My choice is the shrouded S&W model 649 chambered for 357. IMO this package gives the most value in that you can shoot 38s for practice while you build up finger strength,(BTW, the shrouded hammer stlll allows you to cock the hammer for single action practice), a course of action I highly recommend you take since the factory double action trigger pulls are not all that heavy. If need be, the double action pull on the 649 can be easily smoothed and lightened with a little judicious stone work and a change in springs. The shrouded hammer also makes snagging the hammer on clothing while executing a draw almost impossible to do

Years ago I owned a Colt Detective Special. Qualitywas first class but accuracy basically sucked and the trigger pull was truly horrendous. The S&Ws were like glass by comparison, and the cost of improving the trigger pul IIRC was roughly twice that of the Smiths. The current DSs may be improved over my sample however that didn't correct the fact that the width of the Colt made concealment more difficult than the Smiths.

I have no practical knowledge of the Ruger Snubbies except that they felt really clunky to grip and were heavy compared to the Mod 649. I recommend that what ever you buy, get it in Staainless instead of Alloy, it will go a long way in recoil reduction and after a few days carrying it, you won't even notice the difference in weight but when you load it with 357s, you will be glad for the weight.

As for the J frame clones rom Taurus, Rossi, and others, remember, you get what you pay for, so spend what you think your life is worth.

October 24, 2004, 07:09 AM
There is one at the local shop in the rare 3" barrel model, that I keep ogling VERY RARE.

Grab it while you can.

How much are they asking for it?

October 24, 2004, 07:30 AM
At the range where I work as a part-time RO, I endorse the 642 as the best bargain and choice in a PD or BUG. It has been extremely popular since the price change 2/03 - and many repeat folks have returned with one. I know of one fault that I have seen - and that had to do with a gun solvent and the clearcoat finish on the frame... and S&W will fix that. Mechanically, they have been super.

Concerning the 642, I suggest two things: the slightly (~3/8" longer) Hoque grips for better control and a proper break-in procedure. The latter will imitate a basic trigger job - at essentially no expense. I do not recomend a .357 Magnum for the average person for self defense... the infamous 'FBI' load of the .38 Special +P 158gr LHPSWC (Remington R38S12 ~$21/50 MSRP) is a great load, however... and still has a 'OSS' (one shot stop) rating significantly higher than the infamous 230gr FMJ .45 ACP round. At 840 fps from my 2" M10, hundreds of fps slower than a .357M, and being made of lead, they don't have as much potential to cause collateral damage. Leading in a 2" snub is minimal - and easily cleaned, too. The new +P Gold Dots have great feedback thus far as well.

A great 3" revolver still available new today is the 65LS. It is much larger and heavier than the 642, making it more of a purse-size carry - or a home defense firearm. Additionally, it will handle .357M's, should you target something inside your fridge or a man-sized armadillo.

My personal interpretation of a great 2" snub is my M10-11 2" - a 1/03 production. +P rated, it loves those 158gr LHPSWC's. It is a bit heavy for carry. I did replace the excellent UM's combat grips with the S&W service wood grips - a more 'appropriate' grip for a snubby. My CCW of choice is still my larger lite weight Al/Ti 2.5" .44 Special hammerless 296.


October 24, 2004, 09:31 AM

Grab it while you can.

How much are they asking for it?

I think asking is $450, which seems a little high, but they will deal, I've bought a good bit from them.

October 24, 2004, 10:32 AM
All all good choices.

I have the SP101 with bobbed hammer, 2 1/4 barrel. I put in the springs from Wolffe and that helped the trigger pull alot.

The trick about these DAO Snubbies? Practice. You must dry fire alot and get them to the range alot. They are capable of surprising accuracy, but you defineatly have to do your part!

October 24, 2004, 10:39 AM
Other. A S&W Airweight is my choice. I have a 642 but I wouldn't mind a 638 if I could fine one for a decent price.

October 24, 2004, 01:44 PM
When snubbie fever hit me I went out and looked at a lot. After handling all the above mentioned beautied, I went home with the 2" 686. What really surprised me was how accurate it is. I loaded up some warmish mags. Shot them at 7 yards. Went into one hole. Moved to 15 yards. 2" group. Moved to 25 yards. 3" group. I had no idea these tiny guns were so accurate.

It is a bit heavy tho. Wouldn't want to carry this around all day.

Vern Humphrey
October 24, 2004, 05:15 PM
I like the SP 101 -- and bought one for my daughter. It is a fine gun, but a little stiff for her hands. With practice and wear, that should change.

Personally, my backup (and occasionally primary carry) is a Colt Detective Special. I had to make a holster for it -- couldn't find what I wanted commercially -- but it carries very well (even when just stuffed into a pants pocket with a handkerchief.)

I have a foot-square rock about a hundred yards from my porch, and I can punish that rock regularly with my Detective Special -- so I figure it lacks nothing in the shootability and accuracy department.

October 24, 2004, 10:59 PM
A snubbie is a pocket pistol, go for an airweight. S&W or Colt, both good choices.

October 28, 2004, 07:39 PM
I have owned both a S&W model 60 and a S&W Model 642 Airweight in .38 special. The airweight wins hands down.

The weight issue is the deciding factor, as it was the feeling of "lugging" the all steel model 60 in my pocket that made me trade it for a thinner, lighter automatic in .380acp. I did miss the reliability and versitility of the snubbie ammunition-wise, so that's when I caved in and got the 642. So much lighter, and no hammer to snag on my pockets. :D I also feel that the double action only provides a level of trigger control over a cocked single action if/when I get hit with an adreneline dump during a confrontation.

I use .38 special Federal Hydra Shok 110grain JHP's on Bianchi Speed Strips with an Uncle Mike's IWB holster (or just a pocket) for daily carry. Right now it has Pachmayr overmolded rubber grips, but I just ordered a set of LG-205 Crimson Trace laser grips for a more compact, less binding set of carry grips.


October 29, 2004, 06:56 AM
For in the coat pocket or slipping into the front jeans pocket, the 642 is my choice. Great little blaster... in some circumstances, it's really nice to be able to walk along with your hand holding the gun ready to shoot without even pulling your hand out of your coat! With the internal hammer you can fire without withdrawing the gun from your pocket if you had to.

If I can deal with something a bit larger and heavier, the 3" SP101 is the finest small powerhouse!

October 29, 2004, 10:16 AM
S&W Mod 38-2 and Taurus CH Mod 85 Ulta Lite ti ported. (but, oh how I love my Mod 317 Smith .22) (and my Mod 60-4) (and my Mod 37) (and my Mod 36) ( and my Mod 65) (and my 2" Mod 15)---Somebody STOP ME!!!!!

October 29, 2004, 11:54 PM
642, for pocket carry.

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