Steel Snubby for CCW: S&W M36 Nickel or SP101?


Dollar An Hour
August 9, 2006, 01:40 AM

:) I like the looks of that 36!

I own a 442 but have been thinking of getting a steel snubby for shootability. It'd see mainly belt concealed carry.

Anybody know if the above M36 nickel (Camfour exclusive) is just a LadySmith 36 without the 'LadySmith' script and blue finish? FWIW, My dealer is telling me the nickel gun is about $125 more than the LadySmith...

Still has the lock though... :mad:

Or should I just go with a SP101 and maybe send it off to Marc at Gemini Customs for some work? Then I'd have the option of .357 Mag.

I guess the J-frame wins on concealability, but the SP wins on power and has NO lock. Plus, I already have a J-frame .38, although I always wanted a steel one.

Which way would you go?

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August 9, 2006, 11:50 AM

Ala Dan
August 9, 2006, 01:27 PM
Believe it or not, I voted for the all steel S&W model 36 snubby:uhoh:, as
its just something 'bout these little gems that keeps me coming back~!:D

Currently, I don't own a model 36; but I do own its stainless counterpart,
a S&W 2" barrel (old model) 60 in .38 Special.:cool: :)

August 9, 2006, 01:39 PM
If you already have a 442, I would go with the 640, just because they will be of indentical feel. Concealed hammer both the same. Same everything....if its a carry gun.

If you just want something super sexy, than that 38 sure is the way to go (if you want to justify the money for the sexyness)

Essex County
August 9, 2006, 02:39 PM
I voted for the Mod. 36, I've had several over the years and presently own a 60. .357 out of a J frame? It's uncomfortable out of my 21/2" 66. Practice a lot.....Essex

Magnum Wheel Man
August 9, 2006, 03:02 PM
I just did my range qualifying for my CCL ( 100% BTW...;) )& one of the guy's qualifying & I both had stainless 4" barreled 357 mag revolvers with the same finger groove Pacmyr grips...

we had the chance to both look at & shoot each others guns... mine a GP-100... his a S&W, not sure of the model, but same frame size as my GP-100... I gotta admit, that I love my GP-100, & so did this Smith owner, after handling mine...

... so I'm not slamming the Smith at all, just saying, that I was always enamored with the SP-101's as well, just I can't seem to fit a gun of that weight into what will be my new carry routine ( I have trouble keeping my pants up as it is, by the time I load up my wallet, 2 sets of keys, my cell phone, a small pocket knife, & a little pocket change )... the lighter I can make my carry gun, the better / more often I'll actually carry it...

... but if I were going to pack a steel wheel gun, it would with out a doubt be a SP-101

Brian Williams
August 9, 2006, 03:04 PM
I voted for a 36 also, look at this, if you are going to belt carry a revolver, a SP101 is almost the same size as a K frame S&W.

August 9, 2006, 03:45 PM
SP101 = No Lock = Easy Disassembly = Sturdy Build = Stainless Steel = Good Customer Service = Few if any Bad Reviews = My Vote.

August 9, 2006, 06:23 PM
Pre trigger lock 640.

Pistol Toter
August 9, 2006, 06:30 PM
Gentlemen, I carry a stock 2 1/4" SP101. It's a fine little gun.

August 9, 2006, 08:20 PM

640-1, Wolff springs and ACE grips. The knife is a Spyderco Tuffram Worker.

P. Plainsman
August 9, 2006, 10:04 PM
Small steel frame revolver + belt carry = Ruger SP101. The benchmark .357 snubby. Not a pocket gun, however.

Issue grips on the SP101 are good and there are a gazillion aftermarket options.

If you choose to snazz it up, strongly consider adding a tritium dot front sight, available from Trijicon. An excellent accessory for a defensive revolver. Personally, I prefer a tritium front to the more expensive laser grip thingies that are also very popular on CCW revolvers these days.

Old Fuff
August 10, 2006, 12:28 AM
If you are going to belt carry and also plan to shoot .357 Magnums the Ruger SP101 is the better choice. Larger and heavier yes, but in a .357 Magnum this is a plus. If you said pocket carry I'd vote the other way, and say stick to a .38 Special. But under the circumstances you should go for the Ruger with a 3" barrel.

August 10, 2006, 04:14 AM
If I am going to belt carry a small bore snub it will be a 2" Colt Lawman .357.

August 10, 2006, 05:17 AM
The SP will take a lot more abuse and not show it. THe S&W's nickel finish will scratch easily and is hard to repair.

August 10, 2006, 11:23 AM
I voted for the SP because I don't think you can beat them. Though if my other carry gun was a Smith I would probably stay with the same brand for the same manual of arms.


Dollar An Hour
August 10, 2006, 11:29 AM
If you already have a 442, I would go with the 640, just because they will be of indentical feel. Concealed hammer both the same. Same everything....if its a carry gun.

If you just want something super sexy, than that 38 sure is the way to go (if you want to justify the money for the sexyness)

Specs say the 640 is 3 oz heavier than the 36 (and 2 oz lighter than the SP101). Does the extra 2 oz of the SP really make it that much more shootable? Load of choice would likely be the Speer SB 135gr load - not the worst recoiling load to begin with - should be do-able out of a 640, right?

THe S&W's nickel finish will scratch easily and is hard to repair.

That's a good point and makes the (less expensive) stainless SP101 or 640 look even better. :)

Question - what can the 36 do that the 1/4" longer and 2 oz heavier 64/640 model can't do better? I'd get a more durable finish and could still shoot .38 if .357 is too much recoil. Make sense?

August 10, 2006, 12:29 PM
The big advantage of an old pinned 36 is its incredibly nice trigger and excellent balance. There are exceptions, but most of the old two digit Smiths of P&R vintage I've shot have been sweeter by far than the later vintage Smiths. I wouldn't hesitate to use a blued 36 or a pre-beaten nickel finish as a carry gun, but a truly mint nickel plated one would need to be kept safe somewhere.

August 10, 2006, 12:59 PM
i will usually use my 1911 as my ccw but on occasion i need something that is a bit easier to conceal. i was also looking for something significantly lighter than my Kimber to use as a 'trail gun' for backpacking/camping/etc. i nearly bought an sp101 3" but opted for a 3" s&w model 60 with adjustable sights because this will be a plinker as well as a trail gun and ccw. since i have no desire to pocket carry the 3" barrel is preferable anyway and in a milt sparks vm2 the 3" model 60 vanishes and the weight is hardly noticable making all day carry a comfortable experience. 357mag is easily controllable during rapid fire, although i would not want to shoot more than one box in a day. it's a soft shooting gun with 38's and makes for hours of fun at the range.

i still find myself occasionally wondering if i made the wrong choice...if the sp101 was available with adjustable sights i would be all over it like stink on boiled cabbage. the sp101 has a better feeling factory trigger (in my hands, anyway) as others have mentiond disassembly is easier, and to my eye the ruger is a better looking gun than the s&w.


August 10, 2006, 03:38 PM
I personally think they both have their strengths and weaknesses. I have 2 SP-101's and unfortunately, out of the box, the Smiths have better trigger pulls. In strength, the Rugers have it. Their frames are built like tanks. They both have comprable sights. I like being able to get the Ruger with or without a hammer spur. I like the fact that the Ruger is Stainless as opposed to blue or nickel guns. Both are accurate within their limits. Both have excellent customer service representation. The Smiths have better grips out of the box but both have a variety of replacements to fit your style. I personally think the Ruger looks better but that is just my opinion.

I have a 3" SP-101 and a 3" S&W 65-5. I really like them both for concealed carry and it would be impossible to choose one over the other.

August 11, 2006, 12:36 AM
I vote for the SP101
Great gun - built like a tank!!

August 11, 2006, 12:53 AM
My first handgun purchase was a Ruger SP-101 .357mag(2 1/4 bar). These are nice small frame guns but they do have some weight to em. The S&W models are good too. For protection/CCW use I'd buy the Smith .357mag 640/649. For belt carry, the J-frame model 60 .357mag with 3" bar/adj sights looks great, :D . You can buy the new type of Crimson Trace laser grip and get some slick custom work done to it.

Speaking of custom work, if you pick the Ruger .357mag check out . They have a really nice SP-101 custom package. It includes Black T coating and DA only. That would be very useful for CCW/protection!

Rusty S

August 11, 2006, 02:53 AM
For me it's a comfort thing , the S&W 36 size revolver is tidey . I would rather have a .357 Mag. if needed , but I need to lug the thing around untill that time may come . For now I will take my chances with the Mod. 36 , in the summer it is always with me , and not a burden.

Jim March
August 11, 2006, 04:49 AM
One overlooked point re: SP101s is that the Ruger barrels in that gun and the GP100 are "shooting fast" - generating more velocity for a given length, esp. if your specimen has a reasonably tight gap.

The difference is sometimes startling - 50fps or more with the same load.

In a snubby, that might matter.

Magnum Wheel Man
August 11, 2006, 10:26 AM
JIM... I'd never heard that before... is that documented somewhere ???

August 11, 2006, 11:03 AM
I've never shot a 640 so I can't comment on its shootability with .357 but at only 2 oz less than the SP101, I can't imagine it would be too bad. I don't know why so many people complain about the SP101 weight. It weighs only 2 oz more than the 640 which I don't think will even be noticed other than on a scale. I carry mine tucked in my waistband w/o a holster and I forget it's there. It sure as hell weighs less than any mag fed auto I carried. It's not exactly a pocket gun but neither is a 640. The Sp101 is built like a tank and I think the only drawback to them is the limited grip availability compared to S&W grip availability.

August 11, 2006, 11:47 AM
I have a nickle plate Model 36 in my pocket right now. I also have a Model 37 Airweight. I don't think the extra power of a .357 mag is worth the blast and flash effect from such a short barrel, and I like the Smith over the Ruger.
Carry a couple of loaded speedloaders in the opposite pocket.

Good luck with whatever choice you make-they are all very good guns.


August 11, 2006, 06:26 PM
I'm biased but I can say that if you plan on carrying heavy .357 mags in it, I beleive the sp101 will handle them very well. Mine doesnt see much .38 at all.

August 11, 2006, 06:50 PM
Can't go wrong with the old 101.

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