Small Revolver for CCW


June 27, 2008, 06:36 PM
What would be the smallest and reliable revolver to carry for concealed. I have seen the ultra-lite revolvers that I like. Are there others out there that you would recommend. It needs to be small and light. Thank you.

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June 27, 2008, 06:40 PM
The answer to your question depends upon your grip (both hand size and grip strength/stability when shooting). For many people the most lightweight revolvers do not absorb enough recoil to be comparably accurate.

June 27, 2008, 06:47 PM
My Taurus 85UL shoots 3" at 25 yards, about as good as I can do with any snub, and it has the stock boot grip on it for concealment. For me, it's a great little revolver. Concealed hammer guns are popular for pocket carry. The 642 Smith is probably the most popular out there. It's under 20 ounces and shoots well if you can shoot DA. It takes practice. I'd cut the hammer spur off my Taurus, but it's too handy for retention when I carry in my UM's ankle rig for back up. Besides, I like SA capable guns.

.38 +P is NO PROBLEM. I can handle 'em in an Ultra Lite. However, I don't like shooting .357s in 12 ounce J frames, nope, not me. I'll stick with .38 and live happy. :D

June 27, 2008, 07:04 PM
Excellent, thank you. I am also partial to .38. I will look at the Taurus that you have mentioned here.

June 27, 2008, 07:08 PM
It's hard to beat a S&W 642. I have one, as well. The J-frame revolver is about the smallest quickly usable revolver out there today.

The little NAA mini revolvers are even smaller- in fact, they're tiny. So tiny that they are difficult to shoot fast and well, complicated by being single action only.

Personally, one day I'd love to see something like a double-action .32 Magnum 5 shot or even .22 Magnum.

Welcome to THR, btw. :)


Glock Holiday
June 27, 2008, 07:59 PM
The S&W J frame Bodyguards are hard to beat.
I hardly recommend them.

June 27, 2008, 08:23 PM
I've liked my CA Undercover for more than 20 years, now.. it's one of the rarer models, I guess, with the heavier, shrouded barrel. Haven't seen any others since I got this one. My dad has one, too, minus the shroud, and loves his, too. Both of us carried 'em as BUGs and off-dutys (both ex-LEOs)..

June 27, 2008, 08:33 PM
Smallest vs. lightest doesn't always jive....the smallest .38 Spl would be a pencil-barrel 1 7/8ths" snubbie/with-hammer aluminum-framed Smith, which tucks into a pocket better than any of their's, or anyone else's shrouded/lighter snubbies with bulky barrels and ejector shrouds....the hammer could be bobbed for smallest possible carry, but be sure to test-fire for reliability after removing hammer mass....

June 27, 2008, 08:45 PM
Personally, one day I'd love to see something like a double-action .32 Magnum 5 shot or even .22 Magnum.

Yeah, John, I was watching that NAA top break project with interest wondering if it'd be small enough or strong enough for the .32 mag, but alas, I guess it wasn't, because they dumped the project, apparently. It was to be SA, but it sure sounded cool. :D

June 27, 2008, 08:53 PM
fwiw: my choices

Smith M36

Colt Detective Special

The additional weight over a lightweight frame has made them more comfortable and accurate for me to shoot. YMMV

smirnoff a
June 27, 2008, 09:42 PM
another vote for s&w 642 - nice and light. Crimson Trace grips are great.

June 27, 2008, 11:13 PM
I carry a Taurus 731.

June 27, 2008, 11:19 PM

I think they said they'd decided there wasn't enough interest. Too bad- I'da bought one quick.

I've been known to carry a larger SA revolver concealed (my BH 9/.357, which I'm selling to get funds towards my "new" CRX). You'd better believe I'd carry a well-made little SA .32.


June 27, 2008, 11:40 PM
I like the 442 myself....+p rated, easy to carry & conceal and 100% reliable -- even through a pocket :D

June 28, 2008, 12:14 AM
S&W 642 for defense

3 inch Barrel Ruger GP100 for offense

June 28, 2008, 07:23 AM
If you can find one, look at the Taurus 5-shot 9mm revolver. I have one and it is even smaller than the Taurus 85. The cylinder is shorter as is the barrel-total about 1/2" shorter than the 85. It is not a lightweight however.

June 28, 2008, 11:52 AM
The Smith & Wesson 638 is an airweight 5shot .38 special weighing only about a pound loaded. It conceals in a pair of relaxed fit jeans no problem. Deeper pockets are fine too. Only about $399 most places. Got an internal lock though. But I've heard they can be removed easily. Makes me wonder if there's a market for solid replacement pieces for them.

June 28, 2008, 12:57 PM
Smallest and lightest does not always mean that you can hit with it.

I carry a Colt Detective Special. It is accurate and I shoot it well.

June 28, 2008, 05:39 PM
IMO the S&W J frame with internal hammer is just about the best way to go for concealed carry.

Below is a photo of my S&W 432PD. It's a .32 Magnum J frame Airlite weighing 12 ounces unloaded and a mere 15.8 ounces loaded with Federal PD Hollow Point 32 Magnums.

You can see the size difference as it is sitting next to a S&W L frame in middle and a S&W K frame at top.

If .32 Magnum is not the caliber for you S&W makes the same size guns that chamber .38 Special, .357 Magnum and I believe .44 Special. Of course the weights are going to be higher with the other calibers but the frame size is the same.

June 28, 2008, 05:57 PM
I am in silly love with the 642 fitted with crimson trace grips. My choice eight days a week.

June 28, 2008, 08:12 PM
rgs1975, I've been looking for a 431PD or a 432PD for a while for my wife. I think the .38 special recoil out of an Airweight is going to be a bit much for her. How is recoil with that little 432PD? Wish I could find one locally.

IMHO Taichi56, you can't get any smaller than a S&W J-frame. You can, I guess, with the NAA mini-revolvers, but... just no. Single-action and a .22 mag... not capable SD, nor are you going to be very accurate. Stick with a S&W. My choice would be a 442 or 642 - the same gun, just different finishes.

June 28, 2008, 08:31 PM
Love my 642. Carry it everyday. Mika pocket round cut.

June 28, 2008, 08:33 PM
Actually, my favorite "pocket" revolver isn't the lightest at's a S&W 34-1, 1 7/8ths"bbl that chrono's 900fps+ average with generic bulk-pack Fed. HP's....very accurate, very fun, very cheap to shoot, and I do some blistering DA shooting with it....but I'm hijacking the thread.....

June 28, 2008, 09:01 PM
Another vote from the 6-shooter Colt camp. One of my favorite carry pistol is my Colt Agent with an alloy from and hammer shroud. It is amazingly accurate for it's size and really not bad to shoot at all. (

It's basically the same gun as my Colt Cobra but it's NIB and haven't had it out to shoot. Both the Agent and Cobra are identical to the Detective Special but with alloy frames versus the DS all steel construction (

If you can find a deal on a Magnum Carry they are also great shooting snubbies. The are almost identical in size to the DS/Agent/Cobra but with slightly different actions, stainless steel construction and able to handle .357 magnum rounds
They were only available for one year and while not cheap, they are very accurate and dependable pistols (

June 28, 2008, 09:18 PM
rgs1975, I've been looking for a 431PD or a 432PD for a while for my wife. I think the .38 special recoil out of an Airweight is going to be a bit much for her. How is recoil with that little 432PD? Wish I could find one locally.
With magnum hollow points the recoil is definitely there but easily controllable. I'd liken it to a steel J frame 38 special.

With 32 S&W Longs it's a dream to shoot. The recoil is just enough to let you know you're shooting something. Very similar to 38 Special target ammo out of my heavy, full lug, L frame 586 .357.

Both magnums and longs are extremely manageable in the 432PD.

June 28, 2008, 09:28 PM
S&w 642

Ala Dan
June 28, 2008, 09:50 PM
Without spending mega bucks on the S&W AirLite revolvers, I would
seek a nice, used but not abused 14 oz Colt Agent; either from the first
series, or the second series. As an added bonus, its a six-shot model too~! ;)

June 29, 2008, 07:58 AM
Take a real close look at the Glock 26 or 27. I have the 26 and love it. It's very small and will take the glock 17 clip for a backup clip to carry extra in your pocket. That's a lot of fire power.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
June 29, 2008, 03:10 PM
Ala Dan or jetman, could you tell us more about the Colt Agent?

What years made?
About the same size as a J frame, or larger?
What do they generally go for used?
+P ok with them?
Are they all shrouded-hammer guns?
Is it aluminum-framed?


June 29, 2008, 03:24 PM
My usual carry gun is a S&W 638 Bodyguard. It has the Airweight frame with a stainless barrel and cylinder. At first the stock grips were odd (not really used to two finger grips) but the more i shot and carried it, they made sense and now it doesn't really bother me. It's my discover card, never leave home without it. I can carry it in all seasons and clothing.

Usual carry load is the +P Speer Gold-Dots. Nice cartridge for this gun although in terms of recoil it has some snap to it, nothing too bad though.

I prefer the shrouded hammer although if there was a centenial at the store when I bought the 638, I would have probably gone with that instead but I do like the fact that I can still fire single action if I choose so.

I use a simple BlackHawk pocket holster and the drawstroke is smooth. No snags here. Gun goes in one pocket and two speed strips in the other. Sometimes I use speed loaders but i find the strips easier to stash in a pocket on the way out the door rather than grab a pouch and the loaders.

I picked mine up for $450 new, although you can find them for cheaper in some places like gunbroker and such.

Used to own a taurus 605 but it's ooc for the time being and I am a bit of a smith convert.

hope this helps


June 29, 2008, 06:32 PM

Personally, one day I'd love to see something like a double-action .32 Magnum 5 shot or even .22 Magnum.

If I am not mistaken, S&W does make one in an Airlite .22 magnum.

Model 351PD

June 30, 2008, 03:23 AM
What would be the smallest and reliable revolver to carry for concealed. I have seen the ultra-lite revolvers that I like. Are there others out there that you would recommend. It needs to be small and light. Thank you.
Actually, the lightest J frame revolver currently available are S&W Airlite revolver which are 12oz .357 Magnums. They are almost impossible to shoot well because of the recoil and will cost you ~$900. Next on the list are the 150z S&W Airweight revolvers in .38 Special +P. IMO they are a great carry revolver and will run you just over $400.

The S&W Airweight models are the M637, the M638, the M442 and M642. I carry a M638 all the time.

June 30, 2008, 11:11 AM
Personally, one day I'd love to see something like a double-action .32 MagnumS&W Model 431PD, 6 shot .32 Magnum DA/SA or Model 432PD, 6 shot .32 Magnum DAO (concealed hammer). Both are airweights and wiegh under a pound unloaded.

June 30, 2008, 11:41 AM
to put the S&W M&P 340 on your list. Not the lightest, not the heaviest. Just right. .357 capable if you are into some heavier roundage.

Nice sights, 13.3 ounces empty, allows the use of .38spl, 38spl plus P, or .357.

If you are not interested in pocket carry one of the heavier revolvers may work better for you, many nice ones have been covered.

June 30, 2008, 12:47 PM
I like the S&W Model 442. It is the gun I carry the most during the warm months of the year. If I'm wearing shorts, I just slip the 442 into a pocket with a Desantis Nemesis holster. If I'm wearing long pants, I carry the 442 on my ankle.

June 30, 2008, 05:17 PM
+1 for the 642 and hogue grip

July 4, 2008, 08:04 PM
Guys, the reason I said 5 shot is because it could be smaller than the current 6 shot S&W Model 431PD .32. As I said, I would even be happy with a .22 Magnum 5 shot (351PD ( holds 7).

J Frames are great- as I said, I have a 642- but I would like an even smaller revolver that's more usable than an NAA. You're not going to get a useful grip size much smaller than a boot grip on a J frame, so that means the size has to come from frame and cylinder, hence, fewer rounds.


July 5, 2008, 09:57 AM
Is 7 Rounds of Aguila Super Maximums enough for a get-off-me gun? This is the smallest legitimately usable double action revolver I have. Very reliable, too.

July 5, 2008, 10:00 AM
Smith needs to resurrect the old M Frame.

July 5, 2008, 02:04 PM
Let's just say that my pocket is always filled with a S&W 442 or 642.

July 5, 2008, 04:24 PM
Woad, that's pretty neat. :)

July 5, 2008, 05:07 PM
Thank you. I love that little revolver. Sometimes I carry it rather than my P3AT. It's about the same size.

July 6, 2008, 10:27 PM

The J frame is on most everyone's list for a serious, accurate professional CCW handgun. Most folks find they can't buy just one, me included!!!

Some (Chiefs) have hammers, the humback (Bodyguard) types are humpback to prevent hammer snag but still have a recessed hammer you CAN cock, then the Centennial types are hammerless.

Which kind? I don't care! Whichever type VINTAGE one that I find and like. Some rave about the hammerless once, since they are more compact, and it is true that you'll be firing double action only if you use it in self defense.

HOWEVER . . . thumb cocking can be a good option. For instance, today I tossed a Model 36 in my pocket (shown below) and hit the woods to move some deer stands. We sometimes encounter wild dogs and if I had to put one, or several, down today I would have cocked it and made dang sure I put one between the eyes. Sometimes it is nice having that option.

Frankly, I have had zero problems drawing my Chief's Special types (Model 36 and 37) from my pocket. I'm happy with 'em.


Well, I have a 1961, 1st generation Colt Agent. It's cylinder holds six rounds . . . but the cylinder also can use the same speedloaders of my S&W K-framed six shooters. If I'm gonna carry a revolver concealed, I don't want that extra width!!! If I don't mind it, the gun will be in a belt holster and it will be a six shot Model 65 3" S&W.

Here's my 1964 M36 and my 1961 Colt Agent (with optional hammer shroud), so you can compare sizes. My Agent was inherited from my dad, who carried it each day in his auto junkyard . . . as evidenced by it's finish. It surely isn't as nice looking as the previous poster's Agent. I shoot my revolvers with as high a grip as possible to reduce muzzle flip and speed followup shots, and it seems many folks used those hammer shrouds "back in the day" to prevent hammer bite when you were grippin' it high as one should. I don't have that problem on the Smith revolvers.


I feel totally protected with "just" five rounds from my J-frames!

Usually, my pocket gun is a blued Model 37 Airweight snubbie, due to the super-light weight.

Today it was my nickle-plated steel-framed Model 36 snubbie, due to knowing I'd be sweating in the woods. Frankly, the seven ounces or so of extra weight wasn't even noticed.

Ironically, my Model 36 unloaded weights about the same as my Kimber Ultra CDP aluminum-framed officer's sized .45ACP . . . yet I chose the smaller M36 in the woods today.

That's how confident I am with my J-frames. I love 'em!


PS: My wife loves her Model 37 Airweight too! Hers has a 3" barrel and it is quite easy and comfortable to shoot with a Tyler T-grip and the original wood stocks. The longer barrel lessens the felt recoil and has a longer sight radius.

July 7, 2008, 01:54 AM
I really like my Rossi 462, 6 shot .357 I use 38spl +P. 500 rounds with no problems.

July 7, 2008, 08:04 AM
My pocket j frame.
If I'm dressed very light, in shorts and a T shirt (not often here in the PNW) then a colt vest pocket is my carry choice.

July 7, 2008, 08:30 AM
Here is my smaller CCW, a 642, with my wife's Seecamp .32 ACP for comparison. I'll always take the revolver - and sometimes it's bigger sibling, a 296 5-shot .44 Special that literally looks like the 642 on steroids.


July 7, 2008, 07:26 PM
I'll try and answer your questions.

What years made?
Early Cobra's and Agents have been around almost as long as Detective Specials (50's). The only real differences was the alloy frames of the Cobra/Agents where the Detective Special is the same gun with a steel frame.

About the same size as a J frame, or larger?
Very similarly sized. Very neglible difference side by side.See above pic by S&Wfan

What do they generally go for used?
depending on condition and finish
$400 to $500 average more if NIB with original paperwork

+P ok with them?
With the shrouded barrel series (non-exposed ejector rod) they are OK to shoot +P rounds but should be avoided on older non-shrouded versions

Are they all shrouded-hammer guns?
No most don't have the shroud. It was an option at the time but can be added if you can find a shroud and have the frame drilled and tapped.

Is it aluminum-framed?
Agents and Cobras both have alloy frames

July 7, 2008, 09:11 PM
My S&W 360PD is always in my waistband. Depending on what the local shop has in stock, the usual loads are either Winchester .357 Silvertips or Hornady 125 GR .357 JHP/XTP's. I used to carry .38+P's until I worked on my control with the Magnum rounds. Now I'm pretty much good to go. :p

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