Considering new .38 Spl Purchase


August 14, 2003, 03:06 AM
I am considering purchasing a new shrouded-hammer .38 Spl revolver, since the accuracy of my current Smith model 38 is dismal. Yes, I have shot it from a benchrest.

I am considering:

Taurus 851SSUL
Taurus 851BUL
Smith and Wesson Model 638

Does anyone have any experience with any of these revolvers?

If so, your shared recommendations, opinions, experiences, etc. would be greatly appreciated.



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August 14, 2003, 04:20 AM
I don't have experience with those but I love my Taurus 85CH (the CH is the DAO with the bobbed hammer).

One thing though, are the ULs there Taurus aluminum alloy or the titanium (I'm not at a computer with a very quick connection so I don't want to look it up on the website- Taurus' site takes a while to load up)? If they are the titanium I would strongly recommend that you reconsider. Both Taurus and S&W seem to have more problems than usual with the non-traditional materials (titanium and scandium) and Taurus really has a lot more problems with their titanium guns than their non-titanium guns. If you want a lightweight I would strongly recommend either getting an aluminum Taurus or get a S&W.

Ok, um I just looked and it looks like you are looking at the aluminum alloy UL and not the titanium ULT:o , I should have noticed that you put 851SSUL or 851BUL and not 851SSULT. Opps. You can ignore the above paragraph then (unless you might be inclined to consider the titanium after all).

August 14, 2003, 08:18 AM
My wife carries a Taurus 651 Protector in .357Mag (same as the 851 but in .357 Mag.) She loves it and I like it as well. It shoots to point of aim at 7 yards and that's plenty good enough. We both put all five rounds in a standard paper plate at 7 yards, IMHO that's ok for self defense. My wife keeps the 651 stoked with Cor-Bon 125gr JHP's which is .38Spl +P ammo.
I strongly suggest you go for a 651 in stainless, you can always carry and shoot .38Spl but there may come a time that you want something much stronger and you will have the best of both worlds in the model 651 .357 Magnum. Good Gun, I like Taurus revos don't care much for their semi-autos particularly in the Millenium series, I've owned a PT111 and a PT145, didn't care for either one, just my opinion.

August 14, 2003, 09:34 AM
So what kind of groups are you getting at what range? How many types of ammo have you tried?

Are you looking to sell or trade it? If so send me a PM.

August 14, 2003, 02:40 PM
Being a snubby fan, I've owned about nine of them and the Smith model 638 was my clear favorite. Why did I sell it? To buy my current carry piece which I don't like as much as the dear-departed 638! Advantages are many: It is just over 15 oz which makes for easy carry; with the shrouded hammer you get your choice of DA or SA; The action on mine was probably stock but it was beautiful, either in DA or SA. The aluminum frame makes for less of a rust/corrosion problem. It will shoot +P ammo and keep it's value. Every ammo manufacturer who is anybody makes several rounds for the .38 spcl. The supply of ammo is cheap and limitless in it's versatility.

Don't let anyone tell you they aren't accurate either. With practice, the .38 snub is still one of the most effective close-quarter self-defense pieces ever.

Look for a quality used one. I got mine for $330 in like-new condition.

August 14, 2003, 05:51 PM
I love my Taurus 85UL. It has an exposed hammer, but is otherwise similar to the bobbed hammer model. It is comfortable to shoot, totally reliable, and gives me about 1/2 inch groups at 7 yards (two hands, no rest). Snubbies are great!


Tango Sierra
August 14, 2003, 07:16 PM
I have the Taurus 850b which is the blue steel frame hammerless DAO version. I can rapid fire all five rounds at ten yards and get good defensive groups all in the vital area of a silhouette target. I can't get five shots on paper using the same target at five yards slow fire with the S&W M638 bodyguard, S/A or D/A.

Since Taurus quality is spotty, I would not buy one with out being able to inspect the gun using Jim March's guide to buying a revolver. Mine locked up tight on all five cylinders and had a .003 cylinder clearance. I found a winner and I absolutely love it and I'm more an autofeeder guy than a revolver guy.

August 14, 2003, 07:43 PM
I own three snubs: a Colt Magnum Carry, an S&W 649, and an S&W 340SC.

I like all three. The most accurate is the 649, followed by the Colt & the 340. Recoil on the steel guns is stout but controllable. The "beast", the 340,kicks like a mule. Somebody said that it"s like "shaking hands with the devil".

The 649 is good because it can be shot both SA and DA. It also can be used with .38 and .357. The Colt is no longer available new and the prices for a used one are rediculous.

My "always" gun is the 340 because of its weight but I wouldn't recommend it to anybody but an experienced shooter who is used to fierce recoil.

I've had three Taurus snubs: a Model 85 & two Model 605's. The 85 blew up and Taurus replaced it free. The replacement was used to trade for the first 605. When the hammer strut on it broke, Taurus replaced it, again for free. The replacement 605 was immediately traded, without being shot, for the 649. I'm impressed with Taurus' warranty but not the product.

I've fired a few thousand rounds through the 649 and the Colt but only about 250-275 through the 340. I've had no problems with any of them,


Kentucky Rifle
August 15, 2003, 12:00 PM
My two latest .38 Snubs are a Taurus "Multi-Alloy" 85UL and a model 638 S&W Airweight "Bodyguard". Both perform beautfully. The ability which Taurus has to make the titanium parts "slick and dark" makes for a striking appearance against the lighter colored alloy frame. It's a beautiful firearm! Plus, it's the .38 Snub that I fire most accurately.
Many people don't like the looks of the shrouded hammer model 638. They choose the more handsome model 642 "Centennial". However, personally I like the fact that I can cock my 638 for a longer shot if the need arises. My 638 is the only firearm I've ever given a name to. Another forum member said (in jest), "Enjoy your *Pregnant Guppy"! I took it out and said, "Pregnant Guppy isn't your name. Your name is "Spud". It just stuck. Spud goes lots of places with me. :)


August 15, 2003, 12:11 PM
I've handled both the hammerless models and one titanium piece (with ported barrel). I don't really care for the hammerless model, as I prefer to practice trigger pull in both single and double action.

I like the looks of the titanium model (it was a darker blue than normal) but very, very loud due to the porting. The shooter next to me at the range had one and I had a difficult time concentrating on my shots.

I have to agree with some other posts--why would you choose 38 special over 357? The 357s hold their value better and you can carry 357 or 38.

August 15, 2003, 01:10 PM
why would you choose 38 special over 357?

Because width and weight - actually, size in general is a BIG issue.

I have had the .357s. Too heavy.


August 15, 2003, 04:18 PM
I bought a used 640 and wish I hadn't sold the other one I used to have. It is great, much more accurate than I expected for such a tiny pistol with a shallow fixed rear sight. It only has five rounds, but they go where I aim. My snub Smith is very comforting.

That said, I stumbled into a good used Colt Detective Special for a great price. It is another favorite.

Jeff Timm
August 15, 2003, 05:08 PM
Tadyson Reported: I am considering purchasing a new shrouded-hammer .38 Spl revolver, since the accuracy of my current Smith model 38 is dismal.

I have to ask, did you have a gunsmith check it out? timing is everything.

Who likes his Bodyguard (TM)

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