What .38 snubbie would you choose?


January 10, 2003, 03:20 AM
Please give a brief explanation why.

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January 10, 2003, 06:38 AM
S&W J frame. Smaller than a Colt, and I just prefer S&W.

January 10, 2003, 07:44 AM
Colt DS. 28 years and nary a burp. One more round than the J frame but J`s are easier to find.

January 10, 2003, 08:00 AM
I have carried a 649 Bodyguard for several years, and have been extremely happy with it.

I was a full time gunsmith from 1990-1998, before going into law enforcement. The J-frames are tough little guns, and rarely have problems, and are easy to slick up, while the Colt D-Frames can be a royal pain to slick up and to get in time.

Just my opinion.


Kahr carrier
January 10, 2003, 08:42 AM
S&W J Frame smaller in size and more different variations.:)

January 10, 2003, 10:56 AM
I've owned both. I like the J frame because it is smaller and I like the action a little better.

If size wasn't paramount then it would be a toss-up. I think the Detective Special feels more like a bigger gun when shooting and this is good. It also holds one more round.

January 10, 2003, 01:48 PM
have better actions and don't go out of time as easily.

Now if I can just replace my 3 inch RB pinned barrel M 36.

January 10, 2003, 02:17 PM
While the j-fame is smaller, the extra round of the DS is better, besides the newer DS has a very short grip frame. If you wanted to, with custom grips the DS can be made smaller.

I like the shrouded hammer models of the j-frame, over the sharp hammer of the Colt. factory hammer shrouds for Colts are sort of bulky but effective.

I guess the bottom line is I wanted a Colt, so I got a Colt.

The DS has been discontinued for now, but doubtless will be back with all the interest in the CCW/Police market. It's far easier to find a new j-frame.

January 10, 2003, 02:20 PM
Agree with 6mm about the Colts.

El Tejon
January 10, 2003, 02:30 PM
I carried a 642 (later a 638) as a bug for about 12 years. I liked the hump/hammerless for snag-freeitness and the 5 shot cylinder for compactness. I like the revolver as it would not go out of battery if press against the threat in retention or at face-to-face range.

January 10, 2003, 02:32 PM
J-frame because of the smoothness & reliability mine has given me.

January 10, 2003, 03:28 PM

I use my snbbies as BUG's and prefer the more compact dimensions of the Smith. If I *had* to limit myself to a snub as a belt gun, though, I'd go with the Colt D-frame.


January 10, 2003, 04:54 PM

Hammerless centennials

January 10, 2003, 05:08 PM
the colt D-frame is the superior snubby to the smith in everything except size.

the D-frame has
1. an extra shot (more firepower)
2. longer/smoother action (more stablizing)
3. off-set bolt notches (more strenght)
4. more accurate barrel (1-14" twist)

my only druther, and the reason i'm carrying a 642, is a internal hammer model

January 10, 2003, 06:26 PM
The 5-shot S&W is smaller and has a sturdier action than the Colt six-shooter.
If you want a six-shooter, go for an M&P. More available and a much better action. The K-frame M&P conceals just fine, even with the square butt models.
:) -Kframe

January 10, 2003, 07:58 PM
Voted S/W J because I loved my 640 and see dozens of other 5 shot smith's go through qualifications without a hic-up. I've shot Colts but just not enough to trust them as much.

January 10, 2003, 08:03 PM
Voted J frame.I have shot the colt and do not like the way they handle.

January 10, 2003, 08:03 PM
I have had both but could not shoot the Colt fer beans. Something about the trigger action kept messing up, perhaps I was not letting the trigger re-set fully or something. Had my one and only AD when it stopped on me one day at the range. Luckily my observance of the other safety rules made the AD go in a safe direction.

January 10, 2003, 08:06 PM
I don't need a "deep" conceal weapon, or care for an IWB style holster. My preference is a "K" frame Smith when I'm not on duty. I've found that my model 64 fills the bill. The size and weight is just right, parked on my hip.


January 10, 2003, 08:11 PM
I just like the feel of my S&W 640 plus I just love S/S.

January 10, 2003, 08:13 PM
I'ld take the colt cause i like the extra round in a slightly larger package but i would prefer a 2-3" k frame to both of them.Now if frenchy will loan me his 64 i'll be very happy:p

January 10, 2003, 08:43 PM
I like the DS, but I think if the use was for a BUG, I would get the J frame. If the snubbie was a primary gun, I would take a 2" K frame over both. A little larger and I think more shootable.

Honestly, I wouldn't fault anyone with either choice. I've always felt picking handgun was pretty individual to the user. As long as you stick to proven designs that work, practice with them, and make sure the gun is reliable, the rest is pretty academic.

I guess that doesn't help your poll much... :D


January 10, 2003, 08:51 PM
Years ago I carried a Colt Cobra. The lightweight Detective special. One day the gun locked up when shooting. A part broke inside. Since that time I have carried a S&W J frame. Currently my favorite is a model 638 Airweight, for pocket carry. My 649 .357 is nice too, if carried inside the pants or in a holster.

January 10, 2003, 08:55 PM
Can't say ''yes'' to either but ....... having been looking for a snubby came across last year, a Taurus M85 .. complete with a small belt holster. It was used but in good shape and price was acceptable tho a tad high.

I have been well pleased with it . action is hard to tell from a Smith and having made some new grips find it very comfortable. becomes my carry piece in summer with very light clothing .. either in holster or . fits fanny pack too.

January 10, 2003, 09:00 PM
Extra round and smoother action.

January 10, 2003, 09:16 PM
I chose the J since the whole idea of a snubby is a few powerful

shots in the smallest lightest package you can get. Airweight


Brian Williams
January 10, 2003, 09:55 PM
J frame, cause it is a little smaller, and it has the 3" barrel option.

January 10, 2003, 11:13 PM
I went with the J frame. I liked the way it felt in my hand and the way it shot. I just like old Smiths better.

January 11, 2003, 12:40 AM
Ilove the Detective Special. Fits my hand just right. I perfer the pre-1996 models. I don't care for the newer styles at all.

Ala Dan
January 11, 2003, 12:48 AM
Greeting's All,

It's the Smith & Wesson J-frame for me! Model's
36, 37, 38, 40, 42, 49, 60 or the Ti or Sc counterpart's
would serve me well!

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

January 11, 2003, 12:54 AM
smith J frames in 36 my favorite, include also 37, 38, 42 and 60
triggers , actions, overall feel of smith

'sides the cyl rotates the way its 'sposed to ;)

January 11, 2003, 04:07 PM
I'll try this again! My pocket pistol

January 11, 2003, 04:15 PM
S&W J-frames are more readily available.

January 11, 2003, 05:02 PM
i have a taurus 85 ultralite w/ the internal lock. it makes me very secure knowing all i have to do is draw the gun, find my keys, turn the safety and its ready to go.

January 11, 2003, 05:50 PM
S&W's are smaller, and stand up to shooting longer than Colt's. Colt's just didn't do well under extended shooting without the tender ministrations of a smith or armorer, and you needed to keep the armorer happy ... One of the other armorers is a Colt revolver guy, and he was glad to switch over to S&W's ...

Besides, having a 6-shot revolver the same size as a full size revolver, except for a couple inches of barrel, just didn't offer that much of an advantage when it came to concealment ease and comfort. If it did, I'd still be carrying the 2.75" Ruger Speed Six ...

January 11, 2003, 06:22 PM
If I can add something else, without distracting from the original thread question ...

I really find the 642-1 to be the best balance of size & weight for my concealment needs. I no longer carry a secondary, but when I did it was an older 649. Nowadays it would be the 642-1.

I dislike the ammunition restrictions (no lead) of the Ti & Scandium/Ti snubs ... Losing that 3+ ounces of weight, to go from the aluminum/stainless steel gun to one with a titanium cylinder, just seems to create some ammunition concerns when it comes to bullets jumping their crimps.

Also, although I fired one of the newer titanium/ported Taurus snubs recently, I still don't care for them. The owner told one of the other range staff that he'd experienced some bullet jump issues, with some jacketed ammunition, if I remember right ... That's not a good thing. Maybe after the ammunition manufacturers have developed jacket and lead ammunition that takes the ultra lightweight snubs into account ...

I don't mean to step on anybody's toes ... but in the meantime, while I personally consider the Taurus guns to be better than Charter Arms and Rossi, I don't consider them to be in the same class as S&W, Ruger & Colt ... yet ...

If I had to carry a short barreled revolver as a belt gun, it'd probably be a S&W 66 or 65 ...

January 11, 2003, 07:24 PM
while I personally consider the Taurus guns to be better than Charter Arms and Rossi, I don't consider them to be in the same class as S&W, Ruger & Colt ... yet ... Maybe 15 years ago fastbolt I would have agreed ... but I gotta say that now they do seem to have improved immensely.

I guess I'd prefer a Smith but ... my M85 snub really has come real close to a Smith for feel and also the way it is engineered. I don't put massive quantities of ammo thru and so doubt I'll break it thru overuse! It is more of a ''poor man's'' Smith than junk IMO.

January 11, 2003, 10:10 PM
Ruger SP101 and the S&W 638 Bodyguard. Have the SP101, want the 638. The 638 is lighter and so will make a better carry gun. Besides, the 638 is so ugly that it is beautiful.

January 11, 2003, 10:13 PM
I know you asked specifically about .38Spl snubbies, but...
I used to have a Colt Cobra and a Colt Detective Special. I now have a S&W "J" frame 640-1 (.357), a S&W 66 "K" frame, 2 1/2" barrel (.357), 3 Taurus snubbies (.38Spl, .357 & .45 Colt) and my newest, a 12 oz. .357 S&W 340PD -

I vote for the S&W "J" frame.

January 12, 2003, 11:02 AM
Have the 36, the 60, and the 642 in 38 spc. Like the 642 as it is a centennial, alloy, and rides a pocket well.

January 12, 2003, 05:27 PM
J Frame

For me, they:

fit hand and point better
are lighter (now packin' scandium)
conceal better
offer more grip and holster options
have a better trigger
offer .357mag power (new ones)


January 19, 2004, 01:23 AM
If I DIDN'T have an airweight J-frame (442) I would frequently not have a handgun with me when I 'didn't think I needed one.' (I know, Mr. Murphy has his say in such matters)

Having a 442, I can't excuse myself for being unarmed. I don't even need to dress around this gun. I have a Desantis slide (55.00) and a Galco IWB (65.00) but I almost always put it in an inexpensive Uncle Mike's pocket holster! The 100% concealed hammer/lockwork is great-no lint or dirt gumming up the action.

A 15 oz. Bodyguard or Centennial disappears in the deep pockets of Khaki pants or shorts. I don't think I could carry the DS or the Cobra/Agent as easily even though they're great guns.

January 19, 2004, 01:26 AM
Would have to be the Jframe sure cant find anycolts Round here

January 19, 2004, 11:30 AM
I prefer the extra control that the slightly larger grip of the DS allows.

January 19, 2004, 12:51 PM
JJJJJJJJ=442...It's the one I have.

January 19, 2004, 01:20 PM
I grew up shooting Colts and prefer the action. The grip frame fits me better. They have the 6th shot. They are accurate. They have been made in standard weight, light weight, 2" and 3" barrels, blued, nickeled, SS, .38sp, and .357mag to cover the situations they would be used in.

January 19, 2004, 04:38 PM
Geez. you want me to pick between them??? That's not fair !!!

If I could only have one pistol & it had to be a snubby .38, I'd want the Colt. If I could otherwise have whatever I wanted, but only one snub .38, I'd prefer a Centennial made on all that new equipment the Brits paid for when they had S&W. My 640-1 has been totally reliable, and is so accurate it makes me look good. :D

January 19, 2004, 05:06 PM
Carried a Colt Cobra in the late 1970's for a couple of years. Liked the gun because it was light and had six shots. One time when I went to fire the gun it locked up and would not shoot, due to an internal part failure. Lucky that I only wanted it for target practice that day. Have carried a Smith & Wesson ever since. Smaller, reliable, and easy to tune. Have owned a lot of J frame Smiths and have never had one lock up or not fire, due to a part failure.

January 19, 2004, 06:33 PM
J Frame -- specifically an Airweight Centennial (442) is my favorite snubby.
More compact
Better action (IMHO)
More durable
Enclosed action less likely to become fouled with dirt and litter
The only advantages of the DS are capacity – one round is not a major factor to me, and the better factory stocks on the later models - easily remedied with stocks far superior to the Colt offerings.

January 19, 2004, 07:16 PM
S&W J Frame, I own three S&Ws and the burglar stole my Colt Det Special years ago. Regards, Richard :D

January 19, 2004, 07:44 PM
I voted Colt DS despite being a Smith kinda guy. I only have one horse revo, and I love it. Accurate and easy to shoot (as far as snubbies go). My choice would change to J frame if if ws a question of carry and comfort though.

guy sajer
January 19, 2004, 07:45 PM
Both are good choices . You won't go wrong with either .

January 19, 2004, 10:15 PM
I like the DS and agent. with the hammer shroud they are as pocketable as a hammerless j frame. I've found that some j frame holster work for the DS. I really like the extra round and the fact that the K frame speed loader will also work in these guns.

With the advent of shall issue carry permits being adopted in many states S&W has really taken advantage of the small carry gun demand. Too bad Colt has failed to also play this card and dropped their magnum carry, a shrouded hammer and alloy frame would have been great even in 38 special.

Brian Dale
January 20, 2004, 02:49 AM
Hey, I come from a Colt family; it's like a Ford-vs.-Chevy thing with us. They're prettier (we big studly guys can say that, can't we?). Full-length ejector rod. Detective Special.

But I know I'm gonna have to get a K-frame some day. And prob'ly a J-frame. And... :p

January 20, 2004, 09:28 PM
J frame. Though my regular carry is a K frame M66 no dash 4", I prefer the S&W. I have a 3" M60-15 and a M642. Currently carrying the M60 as the 66 is at S&W for a check up. M642 is bug and house in pocket companion.

I simply prefer S&W. I like its workings and asthetics.

Carlos :cool:

Sean Smith
January 20, 2004, 09:36 PM
I'd probably go with a 642, or maybe a 342PD.

Oddly enough, for a bigger revolver I'd go with my Colt Python. :D

January 21, 2004, 02:19 PM
I have both Colt Cobra's and S/W J-frames. (model 49 & 638 bodyguards). The Cobra's and Smiths are equal in accuracy, but I've found the action to be better on the Cobra's and they are more fun to shoot. Even so, when I elect to carry concealed with a revolver I find myself using the newer S/W 638 with CTC laser grips. So I guess Smith & Wesson would be my choice. (Final Answer)

January 21, 2004, 02:41 PM
Hey, Guy's DS looks good. Here is another one:

January 21, 2004, 05:04 PM
Some variant of the S&W 442/642/640-1. I like the extra round of the D-frame, but they always seem to want to roll up in my hand. The higher backstrap of the Centennial allows my to choke up higher on the gun and helps control muzzle flip.

For a bigger gun it is very hard to go wrong with a 3 inch Model 13/65.

January 22, 2004, 12:00 PM
My vote: J-frame Smiths. Specifically the 340PD but also have carried a 642 and 640.

I like 'em because they are smaller & lighter and hammerless.

I also have brand bias: Smiths for revolvers and Colt's for 1911s.

January 23, 2004, 12:42 PM
For a bigger gun it is very hard to go wrong with a 3 inch Model 13/65.

Dittos. To me, it is hard to improve on the handiness of the fixed sight 3" K frames.

January 24, 2004, 09:32 PM
I voted J frame. My Smith 640 is as close to perfect as I have come for a small .38 or.357. ....Whit

January 24, 2004, 10:03 PM
Question open ended enough for everyone to have their say. Recently acquired both a early J frame Model 36 and a late sixties vintage Colt Det. Spec. mainly for their collector's appeal to me rather than serious consideration for concealed carry. For me the Colt fits my hand better than the S&W and has a smoother trigger pull and better sights which on a snub nose could not be relevant except for aimed shots.I have always been a S&W fan but the Det. Spec. being my first Colt I have to say I'm very impressed and feel like I'm cheating on my first love. I don't know why you can't love both for their own qualities and how I happen to be feeling that day. That's what I love about being a gun collector as I don't think that line of thinking would go over big with my wife.What makes me sad is that I can find nothing I like in either the current Colt or S&W cataloge in regards to snub nosed revolvers that appeal to me on any level, with Colt out of the running completely. But what do you expect from someone who signs in as bluedsteelnwood?

January 25, 2004, 03:38 PM
Both choices are delightful, but I'm carrying a Colt Agent (LW Det. Spl. with short grip, made in '76). I like the extra round, and it fits in the same pocket holster as my J-frames.

January 25, 2004, 07:47 PM
Both are great but for me it is apples and oranges....for ankle, I like the 442 smith with its smaller size and lighter weight...for belt carry only I would go with the Dick....

April 28, 2007, 03:42 AM
649 .357 :) :) :d

April 28, 2007, 03:48 AM
sixgun symphony, who started this thread, hasn't been on THR since 2005

April 28, 2007, 07:15 AM
shoots everytime and as bonus looks cool as hell

April 28, 2007, 08:38 AM
Well, I can FIND inexpensive J-Frames. Inexpensive Colts? Well, let's just say that's an oxymoron.

April 28, 2007, 08:53 AM
I have a 642 that's built a happy little nest in my RF pocket.....:uhoh: ;) :cool:

April 28, 2007, 08:56 AM
I love BOTH but had to choose one, so colt. only because of that funky new lock smith is using.

April 28, 2007, 09:22 AM
Try both, one or the other will feel better to you and will shoot better for you.
For me, that is the J frame, but for others it is the DS.

While I prefer the S&W in the ways that really matter, I love the look of the DS.

April 28, 2007, 02:30 PM
This thread was started January 2003. The original poster hasn't been on line in 2 years. I think he's probably moved on from his question by now.

If you enjoyed reading about "What .38 snubbie would you choose?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!