Advantages of the snub nosed revolver?


The Real Hawkeye
November 14, 2006, 11:32 PM
I like them. Always have, but I carry a Commander proportioned 1911 auto pistol. Could those of you who carry a snubbie tell me what the advantage of a two inch barrelled revolver is? The only one I can think of is pocket carry, but that's only the case if you have some sort of adaptor to cover the hammer, or cut the hammer spur off. Is there another reason for them?

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Old Fuff
November 15, 2006, 12:16 AM
You are correct in thinking that other then pocket or ankle carry it's hard to justify a snubby. But on the other hand you can carry one that way when anything bigger won't work. They are reasonably powerful if the user is a good enough marksman to place his or her shots under stress. They are reliable as any handgun can be, and if necessary can be fired through a pocket without having to make a draw.

Under the usual rules of engagement concerning the use of Deadly Force, one cannot draw and fire unless they are themselves attacked. This gives an obvious advantage to the attacker. Because of it's short overall length a snubby can be brought into action quickly and simply pointed as the trigger is pulled. In the real world an instant reaction is critical to survival, and in such an environment the snubby has its place.

I think your new toy will soon teach you some lessons… ;)

Jim March
November 15, 2006, 12:23 AM
I would argue that the snubby wheelgun is the dominant type of firearm in fights that happen at a range of 5 feet or less. Definately by the time you're at 3ft or less (grapple range). The snub is difficult to grab away from you, fires with no safety to trip first and unlike most autos cannot go out of battery on muzzle pressure.

Muzzle contact firing radically increases the ballistic efficiency of even mild loads such as 148gr target wadcutters. The target is first filled with the barrel full of cold air, then the bullet, THEN the hot burning gasses behind the round. ALL of that goes into the target. It ain't pretty. This turns standard pressure 38 into the damage capacity of the best 357s or 45ACPs - or more.

This is why a LOT of pros who have carried autos as their primary weapons use snubbies as their backup.

November 15, 2006, 02:17 AM
Whew! Where to begin! So much to say, so little time . . . :D

Let me begin by clarifying what I'm talking about. I'd classify a 'snubby' in the classic sense as having both a short barrel (less than 2½") and a small frame (i.e. S&W I- or J-frame, Colt Detective Special/Agent/Cobra, or the various equivalents from other manufacturers). I own and love K-frame S&W's in short-barreled versions, but I wouldn't consider a 2½"-barreled Model 66 a "snubby" in the same sense that I'd consider a Model 642! The larger short-barreled revolvers certainly have their place (I'd consider the 'top of the heap' in .357 Magnum carry revolvers to be a 3" barreled Model 13 or Model 65, with second place going to a 2½" barreled Model 19 or Model 66), but due to their larger size and increased weight, they can't really be considered for pocket or ankle carry.

So, given my definition of the 'snubby', I'd say it has a whole lot of advantages.

1. Weight. You can get a snubby in a weight that suits you, from all-steel, through Airweight (aluminum frame), to titanium or scandium alloys. You'll find the lighter weights great for carry, but their recoil is harsher than the steel-frame guns. I know some folks who like to carry full-house .357 Magnum loads, but want the convenient size of a snubby, and don't want to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. For them, the steel-frame snubbies are just about perfect - enough weight to soak up the worst of the recoil, but still small enough for the pocket or ankle. For folks like me, who want light weight for pocket carry and are prepared to accept the higher recoil, an Airweight 442 or 642 is a great choice. (As a personal aside, I injured my back very badly in February 2004. I had to undergo two surgeries, including spinal fusion, and I've been left with some permanent limitations and nerve damage. During my recovery, I couldn't carry on the belt - it hurt too much! On the other hand, twin Airweight J-frames in a shoulder holster combo worked just fine . . . light enough to carry, a gun easily available to either hand, and no reloads to worry about if five rounds weren't enough. Love my Airweights! :D )

2. Size. A snubby drops into almost any pocket. (If the pockets of your trousers are too short, cut the bottoms open, add an inch or two of material - anything will do, no-one sees inside your pants when you're wearing 'em! - and sew them up again.) It also fits into ankle or shoulder holsters with ease and minimum 'printing'. (If you want to carry on the hip, I'd suggest a larger gun. Since you'll deal with printing and other problems in that location anyway, there's not too much difference between a J-frame and a K-frame, provided a good holster is used.)

3. Convenience. You're likely to leave a larger gun behind if you have to dress up to wear it. A quick run to the convenience store for a gallon of milk for the kids? Is it worth the hassle of putting on a cover garment, attaching the holster, etc.? Many won't bother . . . and that's dangerous, because you never know when you'll need your gun. A J-frame in a pocket holster drops out of sight, and is always available when you need it.

4. Reliability. I've owned Kahr and Kel-Tec small pistols (eight at last count), and never, repeat, never got any one of them to pass the two-hundred-round test for reliability (i.e. two hundred rounds of your chosen carry load, through that gun, using those magazines, with zero failures or problems of any kind. One problem, and the test begins again from Round 1.) I insist on a gun passing this test before I'll trust my life to it. Any quality snubby in good condition can pass this test, any day of the week. (To be fair, so can the 'baby Glocks', the 26 and 27, which are almost snubby-size. I carry the latter, too.)

5. Ease of use. I train disabled and handicapped shooters. Many of them don't have the hand or arm or upper-body strength to shoot a pistol without 'limp-wristing' it, causing feed and extraction problems. One doesn't have this problem with a revolver. (The heavier double-action trigger pull can be a problem for some of them, but an action job can fix this easily - besides, most small semi-auto's also have heavy double-action pulls, and most gunsmiths won't do action jobs on them.) Also, if someone isn't going to train often with their gun, a revolver is dead stone simple. No magazines to fiddle with, one can see in an instant whether the gun's loaded or not (no 'loaded chamber indicators' to worry about), operation is a cinch, etc.

6. Power of loads. This won't affect most people, but it's nice to know you can get some genuinely effective anti-personnel loads in a snubby. .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, even .44 Special if you're willing to go to a big snubby like the S&W 296 or 396 - all are effective, much more so than the typical loads in pocket pistols (.22, .25, .32 or .380 ACP). Sure, a pocket pistol in 9mm. or larger caliber will do just as well, if not better . . . but most of the pocket pistols I see are in the smaller calibers. I'd rate the .32 H&R Magnum as ballistically superior to most .32 ACP and .380 ACP loads, and that's the smallest centerfire round you'll find in a snubby!

7. Aids to shooting well. Most small firearms have lousy sights. Snubbies are no exception. However, there's one accessory that changes all this . . . the Crimson Trace laser grip. They're made for S&W and Taurus snubbies, and IMHO, they're a must-have accessory for these small guns. They make sighting much, much easier, so much so that if you tune the laser, you can take a head-shot with confidence at 25 to 50 yards, if that's what you want to do. I regard them as essential, and have them on my daily-carry snubbies. They're the best thing since sliced bread for these small, deep-concealment firearms . . . and there's nothing, repeat, nothing like them available for small pistols (again, with the exception of the Glock 26 and 27, for which Crimson Trace makes a model of their laser).

That's my $0.02 worth, anyway. YMMV, as always.

November 15, 2006, 02:39 AM
everything seems to have been covered pretty well,

I think the advantages that the snubby holds over a pocket auto are what have let it survive for so long after the disadvantages that should have made them obsolete especialy now that pocket autos are now getting into .380 and 9mm chamberings.

I don't plan on producing mine unless the trigger needs to be pulled (and arguably you could still shoot it without anyone seeing it if you are willing to put some holes in your clothes) but a snubby would and has made a pretty decent contact weapon and should still be able to perform it's primary purpose afterwards.

being able to fire from a pocket or purse/satchel are my main reasons for choosing an enclosed hammer snub. A bonus is that I won't have to worry about shooting 500 rounds of carry ammo as well as seeing what loadings that a certain pistol likes, or finding out how often I need to clean the gun before it starts to be finnicky, I like to shoot alot more than I like to clean also I can always shoot more cheap ammo than expensive.

Also it's a lot easier with a revolver to save your brass at the range and you don't get distracted by that slide moving back and forth not to mention the occasional case in the face.

I think it's all a case of horses for courses, a nice auto with a snub on deck seems it should cover most bases.

November 15, 2006, 02:57 AM
A lot of people seem to forget that snubnose revolvers are not particularly small. They aren't the equivalent size and weight to a tiny little .380 pocket auto, not by a long shot. A S&W 642 is 6.4" long, 4.4" tall, 1.3" wide at the cylinder, and 15 oz. empty. A Glock 26/27/33 is 6.4" long, 4.2" tall, 1.2" wide, and around 20 oz. empty. All you gain with a snubnose over a pocket Glock is lower weight and the theoretical ability to miss multiple times from inside a pocket (as long as the cylinder is free to turn), in exchange for having less than half as many shots of lesser power (even if you use a .357 magnum snubby, .40 S&W from a G27 will have better numbers than .357 mag from a 1 7/8" barrel) in a slightly larger package.

In comparison, an NAA .380 Guardian is only 4.75" x 3.5" x .9" and 19 oz. empty. A Kel-Tec P3AT is 5.2" x 3.5" x .8" and 8.3 oz. empty. Both are far smaller than any modern DA snubnose. Not even close.

Also, don't be fooled into thinking that you don't need to test fire a revolver just as extensively as an auto. There are just as many things that can go wrong with a wheelgun as a self-shucker. Maybe a part will break, maybe a particular load jumps crimp, maybe the timing's off, or maybe there's a tiny little burr on a part that can prevent the trigger from resetting occasionally (that last one happened to me once). Nothing is foolproof.

November 15, 2006, 03:41 AM
The attached image is of my snubbie:
SW 642 ( with Hogue (full-sized) monogrips
(replacing the stock 2-finger grips)
in a Desantis Speed Scabbard.
(I carry my EDC knife & keys in my pocket.)

I wear it daily/nightly in my studio.

(An 870P is just a few feet away.
If I hear a disturbance, I'll go after it.
If said disturbance is unannounced,
I've got Mr. 642, loaded with Speer +P 135 gr gdhp).

At the range, I can confidently & quickly
put several rnds into COM at 5 yds,
let alone 5 ft. (Ain't no thing.)

It's light (I forget I'm wearing it),
comfortable, fast, & controllable
(after I installed those Hogues).

This time of year, worn under fleece,
it's quite concealable from visitors.

Jim March
November 15, 2006, 03:46 AM
You definitely do need to test any carry gun, wheelgun or auto.

But you don't need to shoot 200 of a given premium load to make sure it feeds correctly.

The sole partial exception is the ultralight "unobtanium" guns. If your 357Mag weighs less than 20oz or your 38Spl weighs less than 15, yeah, you're going to need to check for "bullet pulling" and you'd best avoid plain lead defensive ammo (the various 158gr lead hollowpoint +Ps come to mind) as lead is slicker than copper.

But you can establish the facts on bullet yanking with a given load in two cylinders full. Load the cylinder with the test round, shoot all but one, examine the last for any signs of pulling. Simple.

There are quality loads out there specifically resistant to pulling. Speer's Gold Dot 135gr in both 38+P and "short barrel 357" come to mind.

With autos you can't be sure any given specimen is going to feed a particular JHP shape, never mind a given make/model.

My early model Charter Arms Undercover 38 runs 17oz and hasn't yanked a single slug. It's been tested with three different 158gr+P lead loads: Winchester and Remmie hollowpoints, S&B solids. No problems. The only one I'd worry about might be the super-hot BuffBore version and I consider those too much load for this gun anyways.

The K-Frame gun that started this thread probably runs about 22oz. There is absolutely no way it's going to yank rounds. Period, end of discussion. Yes, you have to test the gun and yes, you should only carry quality ammo for business purposes. But if you do that, you've got something a LOT more reliable than any small auto.

November 15, 2006, 08:39 AM
I don't have any warm feelings about any small auto. I've had several but they are not easy to slip into a pocket, even the Glock 27.

The small revo just makes sense, and more importantly will be the one I'll carry rather than hassle around with something bigger. YUMMV

November 15, 2006, 09:00 AM
Oddly enough, shooting a snubby from inside a pocket is not something I worry about. Oh, I'd do so if a BG were within contact distance . . . but if I've let him get that close, it's my fault! Basically, you've got minimal accuracy from a pocket, and I think you'd be lucky to hit a man-size target at all at more than a couple of feet away. Also, a pocket holster will keep the butt in the same position all the time, making the draw easier - but it'll also cover the trigger-guard, making a shot from the pocket very difficult, if not impossible.

I'd rather bank on getting the gun out and using the sights, or a laser dot, to direct my fire.

November 15, 2006, 09:37 AM
The dimensions of the J-frame snubby vs. the G26/27 don't tell the whole story for pocket carry. The fact that the G26 is 1.2 at the muzzle and thru the butt makes it much more uncomfortable to pocket-carry than the 1.3 inch width of the J-frame cylinder. A J-frame just disappears in the pocket. IMHO, none of the other mouse pistols (Bobcat, Kel-Tec, NAA) has the dependability to stake your life on. Gimme my Smith.

November 15, 2006, 10:34 AM
I think Preacherman gave a good account.

I personally like the Ruger SP101 .357 mag. Dave Spauding has a good article about how the revolver may be the best home defense gun because it is so simple to use that any family memeber can use it.

I would add to this ease of use that the old and infirmed can be taught to shoot the revolver by using both hand's index fingers. They can also put their support hand thumb behind their strong hand thumb and not have it get hit by the slide. Some weaker arthritic hands need all the support they can get.

Revolvers rule.....IMHO.

November 15, 2006, 10:46 AM
How much length do the hogue grips in nematocyst's post add?

November 15, 2006, 11:08 AM
Nematocyst's 642 looks huge, so the grips must add quite a bit.

I carry my 340PD on my hip, outside the waistband. I have other alternatives, but I always go back to the snubbie. It's light, small and easy to conceal. I don't have to buy a size bigger clothes, or wear a jacket when it's 100 degrees. A t-shirt always covers it. If I have to go really concealed, I have IWB holsters, but they just aren't as comfortable.

If the **** was really hitting the fan (e.g., a Katrina like situation), I'd probably strap on my .45 and have the 340 on my ankle, and be patrolling my front yard with my AR. But for day to day stuff, my snub is great for me.

I carry it with .38 +P GDHP, made specifically for short barrels (.357 is ridiculous in a Scandium gun). Given that the vast majority of defensive gun uses either (1) occur at less than 5 feet, and (2) never require a shot to be fired, I don't think carrying a snub means I am under prepared.

The Real Hawkeye
November 15, 2006, 11:47 AM
Given that the vast majority of defensive gun uses either (1) occur at less than 5 feet, and (2) never require a shot to be fired, I don't think carrying a snub means I am under prepared.That's almost exactly, word for word, the line I use on people who tell me my 1911 .45 is not adequate for personal defense because of ammo capacity, and because I don't carry a spare mag with it, i.e., I need a .40 S&W with a high cap mag, and at least one spare to be really ready for a gun fight. :rolleyes:

November 15, 2006, 11:57 AM
Reliable, easy to conceal, and just plain classy.

November 15, 2006, 03:18 PM
I think snubbies are classy. I like mine to be no shorter thant 2.5 inches and find carrying them in an overcoat pocket to be convenient. In the older days cops looked for overcoats that sagged to one side as a way of detecting which people might have concealed weapons. Some of them then bumped into you using their hand to feel for weapons. With cell phones and such these days I don't think they do that as much, but New York cops were notorious for things like that. It still might be a good idea to carry a counterweight in the other pocket if you're going to carry that way.

Snubbie revolvers also don't have the problem of cycling like autos, so they can be fired through an overcoat without jamming. (With a magnum, however, the blast could probably set you on fire doing so.)

Revovers with 1-inch barrels don't do much for me. Waste of a good revolver.

CSA 357
November 15, 2006, 04:27 PM
I like s&w snubs as in the k frames 19 66 but there are draw backs to them, i dont like not having a full size ejector rod, when i want the empty cases out of the way, i have never been able to shoot the short barrel guns as well as a 4 inch, but they carry so well round butts and 21/2 barrels look just plain sexy to me! i think the 3 inch k frame with round butt grips would be just about perfect! *csa*

November 15, 2006, 04:44 PM
I'm adequately armed with 5 rounds of .357 for any situation a CIVILIAN would find themselves in.

November 15, 2006, 04:56 PM
I was thinking today of just this subject and low and behold, there's a posting on it. I've carried everything out there and have had just about every type of handgun, but my everyday carry is still a j frame. Lightweight and dependable. Amen Preacherman! :)

By the way, who makes a good tuckable holster for the j frame? Any one had an experience with one?

November 15, 2006, 05:16 PM
Fact is...
I carry my gun EVERYWHERE!! It goes with me to work, the store, car, pick up the kids, quick jaunt to make a deposit...
Why? because its light and small enough to make me want to carry it. '
Facts are, you cant always draw your gun when some GUY who isnt a BADGUY yet gets close to you. Quick way to get your concealed weapons permit YANKED. In the pocket? Ill take that option any day over not having the weapon drawn at all. And for those autos that people MAY fire from the pocket, dont expect to get a second shot off if you need to, the wheelgun WILL get as many shots out as needed. And to the guy who says autos are just as reliable as wheelguns. I say BAH to that.....silly silly silly.

The reality of the situation is this: I will probably NEVER EVER EVER EVER use my gun. ( I really hope I dont have to anyway ), so who here carries something around they will never use? And if this thing is big? bulky? unconfortable? heavy? That says everything to me, Im sure I'll get flamed....
but, its my opinion.

November 15, 2006, 05:45 PM
For me, the 642 in a Robert Mika ( pocket holster is the best carry configuration.

Revolvers rule!!

November 15, 2006, 05:51 PM
Sloman, I have a Galco horsehide, #J519H. It's a verynice holster. Tucks low so only the grip extends above the belt. One small plastic hook that, if you put it next to your belt loop, is barely noticeable.

November 15, 2006, 06:14 PM
My EDC routine is still evolving, but for the last year or so, it's always come back to the snubby.

A wise soul on THR one said something to the effect of anyone who is lucky enough to survive a gunfight with a .38 will probably be carrying something bigger for the rest of his days, which does give one pause to think, but on the other hand, the snubby is just always right there. As I type this, it's less than a foot away from my hand (taken it out of the pocket it's been in all day.)

November 15, 2006, 06:42 PM
I pocket cc a S&W 642 fitted with LG-405 Crimson Trace Laser Grips.. Uncle Mikes Pocket Holster size 3 works well with the 642...

Reliable - Reliable - Reliable - for me, reliability is the most important issue about self defense hand guns...IMO, the 642 snubby is more reliable than the 15oz or lighter pistols... Point and shoot ( no safety to fidget with), lightweight, smallish in size ( easy pocket carry)...

I really really like the fact that I can have my hand on the snubby grip while pocket carrying and no-one knows except me. Great for a faster draw withought advertizing your intentions...

November 15, 2006, 06:50 PM
i agree with your .38 comment, i was just stating its similar ballistically to the 9mm. in other words....why not think bout the wheelgun instead of a 9mm....

November 15, 2006, 07:47 PM
How much length do the hogue grips in nematocyst's post add?Comparing side by side to the original grips (matching up the finger grooves), the Hogues add 5/8" to the length (I.e., to the bottom of the grips) and 3/16" to the backstrap.

Clearly, those full sized Hogues are not for everyone. If you're definitely into pocket carry, they'll make it stick out.

I tried pocket carry before putting them on - front pants pocket, back pants pocket, vest pocket, and didn't like any of them. I'm a relatively thin person, so pocket carry makes me look like I'm carrying a hamburger in my pocket. Besides, I like carrying other things in them.

I just prefer a holster. I find it way more comfortable. Not quite as accessible, admittedly, but for my needs, it works.

Plus, the Hogue's added an entirely new dimension of controllability to that little mule. I can get off multiple shots with it now very comfortably and far more quickly than before. That's just more important to me than pocket carry.

But, like I said, I'm not saying it's the best way. YMMV.

November 15, 2006, 08:25 PM
Everything has been covered I guess but I'll add my .02.

I happen to have my 642 about 6 inches away on my desk since I'll be running out to take out the trash, check mail and grab my work stuff from my car. 642 goes in pocket of my jacket in a pinch, and if needed, it can actually SHOOT through my jacket pocket. Well, any pistol will 'shoot' but will an auto cycle reliably, probably not. 15oz doesn't make a huge visible bulge in your pocket and there is nothing wrong with putting your hands in your pocket if it's cold outside... good way to be prepared without broadcasting that you have heat. Another person mentioned it, but that reason alone justifies a snubbie to me.

November 15, 2006, 09:07 PM
A lot of people seem to forget that snubnose revolvers are not particularly small. They aren't the equivalent size and weight to a tiny little .380 pocket auto, not by a long shot. A S&W 642 is 6.4" long, 4.4" tall, 1.3" wide at the cylinder, and 15 oz. empty. A Glock 26/27/33 is 6.4" long, 4.2" tall, 1.2" wide, and around 20 oz. empty. All you gain with a snubnose over a pocket Glock is lower weight and the theoretical ability to miss multiple times from inside a pocket (as long as the cylinder is free to turn), in exchange for having less than half as many shots of lesser power (even if you use a .357 magnum snubby, .40 S&W from a G27 will have better numbers than .357 mag from a 1 7/8" barrel) in a slightly larger package.
I half agree. Some poeple act like a snub is a tiny little easy to hide gun. I can't keep them in the pockets of all my pants, the p3at is far smaller and easier to hide. However I think a g26 which having similar dimensions in general has them in such proportions that make it much harder to find. The cylinder is a soft bulge with the jframe, the glock is a little brick. The shape of the back of the jframe makes it very easy to pull from my pocket, the g26 wants to get stuck on the front of my pocket usually. Personally I don't feel like I can hide a g26 nearly as easily as I can a snub.

November 17, 2006, 11:21 AM
he snub in a pocket or IWB. In fact I just bought a minty S&W M49 to compliment my Taurus 651. I feel even more secure with one in each front pocket, but a good belt is a absolute must with this setup. I thought my pal was going to have a stroke when I whipped out both on the range and commenced to blazing away. All hail the NY reload!!!!!!!!

Phil DeGraves
November 17, 2006, 11:35 AM
I'm with HiWayMan. I find it much easier to carry J-Frame than any serious auto pistol (9mm and up). The revolvers are much easier for me to shoot than the little pocket pistols and are more powerful and reliable. And I too am a firm believer in the NY reload. I carry two M36s.

November 17, 2006, 12:19 PM
Jim March mentioned "bullet pulling"...

"The sole partial exception is the ultralight "unobtanium" guns. If your 357Mag weighs less than 20oz or your 38Spl weighs less than 15, yeah, you're going to need to check for "bullet pulling" and you'd best avoid plain lead defensive ammo (the various 158gr lead hollowpoint +Ps come to mind) as lead is slicker than copper."

I'm not familiar with this phenomena.....could someone please educate me?


November 17, 2006, 12:37 PM
I'll take a swing at bullet pullig.

It is all physics really; Newton's Laws.....things at rest stay at rest.........equal and opposite reactions.......all that jazz.

Basically the heavy recoil of the gun causes the bullet to pull from the case. This means that after four shots the fifth round may have the bullet pulled far enough out of the case that it extends beyond the face of the cylinder. Not only potentially unsafe, but it can tie the gun up to the point of being unoperatable.

For these reasons a heavy crimp is essential when using light weight guns. And since lead is slicker than metal jacket material there is a greater tendency for bullet pulling to occur with lead bullets.

November 17, 2006, 12:53 PM
Good job, HiWay Man! You get an A+.:D

Aren't you at work right now?:scrutiny:

November 17, 2006, 02:50 PM
"Good job, HiWay Man! You get an A+.

Aren't you at work right now?"

Yep.......aren't you ya lazy bum?:neener:

November 17, 2006, 11:28 PM
It's quite possible for bullet pulling to be a factor even with heavier guns. Jumping crimp is almost the revolver equivalent to limp-wristing failures.

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