Would you feel undergunned carrying a snub nose .38 special?


November 5, 2006, 12:31 AM
Cop or Citizen, as a plainclothesman would you feel adequate carrying a 6 shot .38 Detective Special or even a 5 shot .38 Chief's Special for everyday carry?

When I say cop, I mean a plainclothesman not a uniformed patrolman.

As for ammo, lets just assume it is the best LSWCHP +P or whatever your choice

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November 5, 2006, 12:35 AM
A detectives special is the only gun I can convince my father to carry, he owns a Ruger .357 buts its the police service six so the length makes it a pain in the ass to carry. He also has an Astra a-60 in .380 but he is a "revolver man" he values the added reliability of less moving parts.

I am a firm believer that although my .40cal XD would serve better its better to be undergunned than unarmed.

November 5, 2006, 12:37 AM
Yep, in fact my most carried firearm is a S&W model 10 with a 2" barrel

November 5, 2006, 12:38 AM
If I was a cop(which I intend to be when my enlistment is up) then yes I would. Not so much for the caliber but for the amount of rounds and speed of reloading. I would much prefer to carry 3 15rd mags =1 in the chamber, than 6 in the revolver and 7 speed-loaders.

As a civilian, no I wouldn't, though since I have a choice, I choose not to. I do intend on purchasing a .38spcl snubbie for carry when a full size auto is not practical. I think snubbies are good to have because they are a lot smaller and concealable than a full size auto, and arguably more reliable and can be pocket-fired. I wouldn't carry one when I don't have to, but if I did have to, I wouldn't feel unprepared.

And before anyone jumps on the use of the word civilian as not pertaining to police, just can it right now. There are plenty of LEO bashing threads already. Take your nonsense to one of those.

November 5, 2006, 12:38 AM
A detectives special is the only gun I can convince my father to carry, he owns a Ruger .357 buts its the police service six so the length makes it a pain in the ass to carry. He also has an Astra a-60 in .380 but he is a "revolver man" he values the added reliability of less moving parts.

HA! Funny. A Colt Agent is the only gun I can get my dad to carry. He has a S&W M-10 4 inch, but he doesn't like to use ISWB or OSWB holsters or shoulder holsters.
So for fathers day, I took him to a gunshow and let him pick out a snubbie (colt agent) and a ankle holster he now wears some of the time.

November 5, 2006, 12:41 AM
Deffinately undergunned. But I'll never carry a glock of my own free will. Sig, beretta, 1911... anything metal, really.

Still, I'd rather have that than nothing. But 6 shots? are you serious? If it was .357 maybe, but .38 special was replaced for a reason.

November 5, 2006, 12:44 AM
Well that reason being that more cops were facing criminals with much heavier weapons, like AKs and the like. So for cops, yes, they would be much under gunned. But the types of situations that one of us would face while CCWing: home invader, mugger, road rager, 6 shots is enough. 99% of the time, 0 shots is enough.

November 5, 2006, 12:47 AM
I would say that if a bad guy is facing you with an AK 47 you or I would feel undergunned with ANY handgun semi or snub :eek: . But, if a handgun is all you have, then shot placement is the key or really just plain getting out of the way and waiting for heavy artillary to arrive in the form of a shotgun or swat to arrive.

Also, how often to plainclothes detectives come into heavy firefights? (that is a genuine question, not rhetorical) Isn't the reason they carry lighter/smaller guns and less ammo is because they are less likely to use it and have a greater need to conceal their weapon unlike the uniformed patrolman?

November 5, 2006, 01:16 AM
Good point. Beat cops should have access to long guns in their cars(which many now do) but still should have something serious within reach if SHTF. As for detectives, you're right, but with the amount of concealable autos out there nowadays, it seems that having to settle for 6rds is a sacrifice a detective doesn't really have to make anymore.

November 5, 2006, 01:16 AM
I would definately not feel undergunned. Considering the only pistol I have right now is a .22LR automatic, a .38 would be a massive step up.

Assuming that I knew how to handle that .38, either one would be enough gun unless it happens to be the unluckiest day of my life.

November 5, 2006, 01:27 AM
I don't worry about being undergunned with my snubbie. I worry about it deciding not to work again. :what: :fire:

Apart from that, the only other thing I worry about is that I am not as accurate with it as with the Kimber or the BHP, even (and I haven't shot it much yet) and if I need it and there are lots of other people around. Especially DA. I pretty much use the snubbie as a BUG and an "I can't get anything else to work with my clothes and purse" gun.

Although I've been thinking it would be a really great gun for the car.


November 5, 2006, 02:11 AM
I just pocket carry a P3AT. 7 rounds of .380 fury.

November 5, 2006, 02:51 AM
For most people in most defense conditions a snub works well.Unless hiding a single column magazine pistol, double stacks can be hard to hide. Many do. Then there is the bulk and weight to carry. Can get in the way or dig in to ones side. If I was an LEO or related profession I would carry one as a back up and not primary. Most officers should always carry a backup. On duty at least. Off time is at one's discretion. Have never felt outgunned with a snub 38. Carrying reloads isn't all that difficult. Bianchi speed Strips lie flat in a pocket or a small reloader can be stashed in many places. Yes, they are slower than speedloaders,but trainig and many repetitions can make for faster reload times. Some carry only 5 rounds instead of 6 on a strip ,because it is easier to strip the rounds off with one less cartridge. Safariland makes some of the more compact speeloaders for revolvers. Beware the model 1 though. As small and easy to use, breaking of parts is common. No statistical data on anyone hurt or killed because of this. Just something to be aware of. Breakage has been thoroughly documented. Model II and IIIs hold up much better. Do have a bias toward HKS loaders as these have never had a problem with them and a number of mine are over 15 years old and still work well. There have been several articles written over a decade ago but still relevant today, in the officer's own words, about being in a defense situation when two criminals were robbing a store at gunpoint. The officers were by themselves without backup off duty. After the shooting started , it became apparent to the officer that he or she had one or two rounds left and no spare ammo. The perps left the store and had discussed whether they should kill the officer before leaving. In the cases no one was killed though several bad guys were wounded. Yes a semi auto carries more generally speaking. But anyone should carry spare ammo no matter what the type of gun used. Single stacks are still easier to carry and hide. Double stacks are fine for those who want to carry them. No problem there. Depends on the person and their needs and what fits them. Type of enviorment and how one is dressed also fits into the equation. Carry what you will and feel confident with what you have.

3 gun
November 5, 2006, 03:02 AM
I wouldn't feel under gunned until the shooting started :what: then I'd want a Remington 870 :evil: Nobody has ever wished for a smaller gun in a gun fight. It would be a pistol that MAY affect how I would try to handle a potential conflict.

November 5, 2006, 05:25 AM
I like K frames fine, but I'd prefer a 3" version. As has been said, hopefully, the plainclothes police won't have to produce their weapons as often.

DRMMR, let me be sure I understand what you're saying, which is: "I'm deliberately going to use the wrong terminology for this, but just to be sure no-one protests, I'm going to inexplicably link any correction to an unwarranted attack on law enforcement."

Whatever, dude.


Standing Wolf
November 5, 2006, 07:46 AM
If the only alternative were one of those plastic guns, I'd carry the snubby .38 special. Fortunately, I've been able to find a .357 magnum snubby, as well as a .44 magnum snubby.

November 5, 2006, 09:17 AM
I carry either my S&W 432PD (6rds of .32 H&R magnum), or my S&W 640 (5rds of .38 Special +P). I never feel undergunned, but I do carry an extra cylinder's worth of cartridges in my pants pocket.


November 5, 2006, 09:28 AM
Same question ... but from a slightly different angle.

Would you feel undershot if someone pasted your solar plexus with a .38 Special? :eek:

November 5, 2006, 09:51 AM
Although they're not my everyday carry guns, at church, weddings, funerals etc. I carry a 2" Taurus 85 because it's so easy to really hide with almost all clothes. Also like the S&W model 10 4". I personally don't think a 3 or 4" barrel wheel gun is that much if any harder to conceal that a snubbie in an IWB holster because the cylinder width and grips determine concealability. Some double stack autos conceal fairly well but most are just too bulky for my everyday use and as a civilian I just don't feel the need for all that ammo hanging on me. If I were a police officer my opinions might change because I see detectives here often in the summer without a coat carrying Glocks, 1911s and other autos.

November 5, 2006, 10:33 AM
I am reminded of what was reported quite some time ago in a gun mag (that back page thing) - a governing board (or some such - I forget the exact details) of about 8 men of a 1911-type organization was meeting & someone asked that each person place up on the table the gun they were carrying right then. Every one put up a snub-nose revolver.

Now-a-days, I imagine there would be some Kahrs & KelTecs & little Sigs, etc.

s&w 24
November 5, 2006, 11:34 AM
I know I've posted this before but for the people that haven't seen it.

Friend of mine went to the gas station. went to the back to get a soda and three people came in smelling of pot and went up front to the register. The lady starts asking for cigarettes, one guy goes back out to there van and starts digging around in the back of it, and the third one heads for a spot that is in the cashiers blind spot. Any person with two brain cells to rub together would say that they were getting ready to rob the place. So theres my friend a coke in one hand and a j-frame without a reload in his pocket thinking how the hell do I get three hostiles in five shots! Lucky for all involved a local Police cruiser stopped by to get coffee and the three pot heads headed for the hills.

Is a j frame enough? Well can you get three hostiles in 5 shots.( And I know you dead eye dicks will tell me " hell that leaves me two shot left over")

Essex County
November 5, 2006, 01:39 PM

.38 Special
November 5, 2006, 01:52 PM
Frankly, I'd hate to be confronted with three "hostiles" and nothing more than 7+1.

I'd also hate to be confronted with three "hostiles" who continue attacking me even after I've shot one or two.

Heck, for that matter I'd be pretty darn astonished to discover three potheads acting with such speed, coordination, and aggression that they couldn't be thwarted by an offer of a group hug, or at least a bag of Doritos.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled paranoid delusions. Don't forget your tactical underpants. :neener:

Seven High
November 5, 2006, 03:54 PM
Personally, I would much prefer a Glock 26 9mm with 11 rounds instead of a Chiefs Special with 5 rounds.

November 5, 2006, 04:10 PM
Everything is a compromise. I think there are some snubbies that pack a better punch that a .38spl. My answer to the question would be: depends.

November 5, 2006, 04:39 PM
now, I have never been in such a situation, but I have heard it said a lot, that any gunfight you get into, a handgun of any make or model means you are undergunned. If you need it, you will wish you had a FN-FAL or AK etc.

the entire concept of a handgun is you choose to go undergunned because it is too much hassle to go fully gunned (i.e. packing a rifle(

November 5, 2006, 05:01 PM
I'm thinking it's a pretty safe bet that well beyond 90 percent of encounters where a firearm is even needed that less than 5 rounds are required. Of those less than 10 percent of encounters left I'd venture to say that well beyond 90 percent of them could have been solved with less than 5 rounds if a bit of common sense were employed.

No, I would not feel undergunned with a snub .38 in either an armed citizen or plain clothed officer situation.

Jody Johnson
November 5, 2006, 05:31 PM
When I started in LE in the late 60's about the only thing carried concealed was a model 36 or, sometimes, the Detective Special.

You could put the Smith in a pocket, and, if you had a Bodyguard airweight, as I did at one time, you knew it wouldn't snag.

Got a really neat shrouded Agent in the mid-to-late 70's...it was really "carryable", fairly concealable and was a "six-shooter".

Two good friends were involved in off-duty shootings in those days...separate incidents, but both armed with Chief's Specials.

One took four rounds to down a speed freak, but the other did so with one round. neither felt under-gunned.

In hot weather, truth is, you can usually always find some place to pack a "J" frame. Then, you've at least got something there. And, well, a guy knows that little wheelgun is gonna work, if he needs it.

Nobody wants to fight with a handgun ( I hope ) when a suitable long gun is available, but, the small 38 is ALWAYS there, at least for me. I still pack one off duty and, sometimes under certain conditions, even on-duty.

November 5, 2006, 05:44 PM
If I had no other choice, carrying a snubbie is better than going nekkid. If I did have a choice, there is no question I would NOT choose to carry a snubbie. There are too many superior choices.

November 6, 2006, 01:42 AM
Anyone else here read Ed Lovette's book The Snubbie? A very good book. A high supporter of the Revolver in the citizen market and even praises it as a LEO weapon (he notes that back in the late '70s he interviewed a large number of policemen involved in shootings and in these interviews not one officer ever suggested that he would have been served better with a semi automatic and only once did an officer have a need to reload and that was only for him to run back to his car and get his shotgun)

He even recalls and incident where a young rookie cop back in the '70s armed with a .357 magnum Ruger Security Six takes on a bunch of gangbangers singlehanded.....AND WINS. (In all fairness, the point of relating this story is to point out bad tactics on the part of the macho officer who stopped and engaged all these thugs instead of withdrawing and calling for backup)

Panthera Tigris
November 6, 2006, 01:44 AM
I do carry a 38 special snubnose. 2 inch S&W model 10.

And I'm very good with a revolver. I've been practicing with em for quite some time.

November 6, 2006, 02:34 AM

November 6, 2006, 12:57 PM
As a former LEO I can say the 5 shot Ruger SP101 .357 is a great weapon and all I ever needed.

My uncle (retired LEO) was a detective on the vice and homicide squads for years and years, he carried nothing more than a 5 shot snub .38.

Ed Lovette has written a good deal about the effectiveness of the snub and he is retired Federal LEO, and carrys a S&W 640 (.357) and a S&W 642 (.38+P) as his BUG. Mr Lovette has a good book on the snubnose revolver. It's worht the read.

November 6, 2006, 02:16 PM
When the rds are coming at you it does matter what you are carrying, any handgun feels small.
10/02/96. At the time I was commanding 2 drug task forces and a fugitive apprehension squad. My normal carry guns were a 645, a 649 as backup, and an 870. It was suppose to be a quiet evening. I was off duty. Nothing was happening and I didn't think I would be needing to carry all the hardware to just to grab some dinner. Only had a couple of guys out working and they were just running down some low level leads. So I left all the big guns at home, stuck the 649 in my pants, and off to dinner I went. Best laid plans as they say. Then my guys called that they had located the subject holed up in a hotel. The subject was a definite bad actor. Always carried multiple guns, told everyone he'd never be taken alive, threatened to kill any cops who tried to arrest him, and he imagined himself to be a wannabee mafia and survivalist. Grabbed our SWAT guys and went out to get him. When we hit the hotel door he opened up on us firing a TEC-9 in his left hand and a Colt .380 Mustang in his right. He fired as fast as he could work the triggers. In a matter of a couple of seconds he had fired 11 rds at us. Sounded like something fully auto. And there I was making entry armed only with my 649. At that time that 649 seemed like the smallest gun ever made. It's a great shooter, hits right where I point, but that night when the rds were incoming the little J frame just didn't seem big enough and sure looked small in my hand. Now that I'm retired I still carry that 649. I have full confidence that it will take care of any problem I might encounter. But when you have your head tucked down tight with rds coming in at you any gun feels pretty small.

November 6, 2006, 04:12 PM
Ed Lovette has written a good deal about the effectiveness of the snub and he is retired Federal LEO, and carrys a S&W 640 (.357) and a S&W 642 (.38+P) as his BUG.

In his book, I thought he said he typically carries a 2 inch S&W M-12 airweight.

November 6, 2006, 07:08 PM
I would always choose something else,more power or more round count,if I knew trouble was coming. That means a long gun of some type.There are times,tho,when the snub really comes into it's own for carry.I prefer mine in 357 these days,but still own one mint nickel and dehorned Mod 37,and it does get ocassional carry when nothing else seems to work.Placement.

The Real Wyatt
November 6, 2006, 08:52 PM
from time to time, but the one I most often carry is a .38 Special +P snubbie loaded with 158gr LSWCHP ... the "FBI" load. I shoot this gun quite well and don't feel a bit undergunned, ever. At my age, comfort of carry and the sure and certain knowledge that I can hit what I point at more than makes up for any percieved "deficiency" in calibre.

November 6, 2006, 09:18 PM
.38spec will still put the hurt on ya and I would definetly not feel undergunned.

November 6, 2006, 09:28 PM
THe 38 is a fine carry gun - compact, reliable and easy to use...what more could you ask for?

November 6, 2006, 11:16 PM
Doug .38PR

Ed Lovette's book was written awhile ago. He recently wrote an article in Combat Handguns about the keys to successful CCW. He mentions that being retired he is now using the S&W 640 as primary and S&W 642 as a BUG.

I use 2 SP101s for over 6 years now. It was this article that caught my eye and lead me to look up his two books:
The Snubby Revolver
Defensive Living (co-authored with Dave Spaulding)

November 7, 2006, 08:26 AM
90-95% of the time I am carrying it is my 342 in a pocket. (the rest of the time a 3" 1911 IWB)

Brian Williams
November 7, 2006, 10:19 AM

November 7, 2006, 11:22 AM
I have carried a five shot S&W J frame but prefer more rounds. My P-11 holds over twice the number of rounds and is about the same size and weight. Had four guys attempt a robbery/carjacking on me a few years ago. I was carrying a model 60 at the time. Situation ended in my favor, without any shots fired by either side, but since then I carry a gun with more rounds when possible. Home invasions have become popular lately with the gang bangers in my area. Seems that three is the average number of attackers. I own about a dozen J frames and like them better than the plastic guns, but if things get bad it is better to have rounds left over than to not have enough.

November 7, 2006, 07:30 PM
"Would you feel undergunned carrying a snub nose .38 special"?

not if my opponent had a knife.

but i would if he had ANY gun.

to me, my J frames are for last ditch BUGs, acting soley as a secondary gun, never a primary.

i can carry a 39XX 9mm just about anywhere on my body easily even in the deep south's summer.

November 7, 2006, 10:43 PM
The snub-nose has only one real weakness, in my opinion. It's the short sight base. Accuracy at 7 yards requires a lot of precision. Laser sights would presumably fix this. Also, engagements at close range would not be greatly affected.

November 7, 2006, 11:36 PM
JERRY-you would feel under-gunned if the other guy/girl had a NAA 22 mini, Kel Tec 380, any derringer, 6-7 shot compact 9mm, Walther 380/32, 6-shot K-frame, etc? :confused: :eek:

November 7, 2006, 11:41 PM
practically heck no. I carry a 5 shot snub in either .38 or .357 quite frequently.

Now should I ever have the misfortune of being in a gunfight I would guess short of me being in an armored vehicle I would feel undergunned and scared poopless.

The reality is I feel perfectly comfortable with a 5 shot snub and a speedstrip and do not believe I would be at a technical/tool disadvantage in a fight.


s&w 24
November 11, 2006, 05:58 AM
the more talking thru this I've done not feeling O.K. with a j-frame is more a reflection on what works and doesn't for ME. My huge mitts don't work for those teeny wheeny guns and I never feel properly armed without one reload.

If you think you can get out of a hole with your j-frame great, good for you shoot the stuffing out of your gun and carry it every where you go. For me I'll stick with at minimum a K-frame of officers model sized gun.

November 11, 2006, 06:59 AM
:) I carry a 637 all the time. If you place your shots right, that is all you need. With a auto with 15 rounds is a bigger chance of hurting someone on the side line.:)

November 11, 2006, 07:41 AM
My 2" 10, made 1/03 and +P rated, shoots those Remington +P 158gr LSWCHP's quite well. It gets some carry - in an OWB pancake and sporting the boot-sized wood service grips. My 'pocket' carry piece for nearly four years is my 5-shot .44 Special Airweight (Al/Ti) 296, with one or two additional reloads in HKS speedloaders in the other front pocket (200gr GDHP's - either GA Arms or Blazers). That 2" 10 is a lot heavier, although my marksmanship with it is better. I certainly wouldn't feel 'under gunned' with it... but I am a civilian.

I read some years back that the average number of discharges of a civilian's CCW in a 'situation' is 1.2 rounds, making the question of 5, 6, 7, or 8 rounds somewhat superfluous. Additionally, a quick perusal of compiled data, as in Marshall and Sanow's 'One Shot Statistics', will reveal that the 158gr LHPSWC +P from a snubby has yielded a significantly higher 'OSS' than 230gr ball ammo from a 1911. I shot a friend's 642 along with my 296 yesterday - the even tinier boot grip on the J-frame was more uncomfortable than my 296's boots. I could do better - with more shooting of that 642 - but I have become 'accustomed' to my 296 and its use. Still, a 642 is an excellent CCW... and one may still be in my future.


PS If I were to prepare for ALL situations, as some of the great defensive shooter experts/teachers suggest, I am afraid I would have to opt for something belt fed.

Jody Johnson
November 11, 2006, 09:52 AM
I LIKE a 2" model 10!!!

November 11, 2006, 12:46 PM
While I would fell safe having a revolver as my primary carry gun, most of the time I grab my Glock 30. There is just something to be said for having 10+1 rounds of .45ACP.

Now, the times when I can't have a gun, I would much prefer a 5-6 shot .38 special over a .380ACP or less caliber gun.


November 16, 2006, 01:11 AM
It does not matter. How close are you, and how good can you shoot?


November 16, 2006, 10:00 AM
I generally carry a 5 shot snub. But lately I noticed people in groups after dark, so I carry a 15 shot auto when practical, mostly for the capacity. I sure wish I didn't have to.....:rolleyes:

November 16, 2006, 10:15 AM
Not at all....:)

November 16, 2006, 01:22 PM
How does that one member's tagline go? Something about "Rule 1: Bring a gun. Rule 2: Bring the most gun you can."
I had to sell my old Gubmint Model years ago, and right now the only semi-autos I have are a couple of rifles. But even when I did carry the 1911A1 and all those magazines, my Detective Special almost always went along with it, in an ankle holster. ("The fastest 'reload' is an already-loaded second gun.")
When necessary, I did/do carry the snubnose by itself, and it'll probably be the backup for my Python (or anything else) if/when I go back into LE. I'd like to have a high-capacity auto available at all times, but sometimes the snubbie is "the most gun you can bring."

Note to Brian Williams: Thanks for that tip about the stobor. (I Googled it, and learned something new today. ;) )

November 16, 2006, 01:37 PM
Kind of a silly question....
cuz...sure? id rather carry around a minigun with 2000 rounds belt fed from my backpack....
then, i might still feel undergunned and want my car to have a turret with armor plating.
Did I mention that i would love to carry around a grenade launcher? Never know when you might need it....

The reality is, If size and weight were not an issue.....
It all comes back to the RULE
will i have the minigun?
or the snubbie....:)

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