Need some help choosing a CCW revolver...


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jcalys
July 22, 2008, 02:30 AM
So, I'm fairly new to guns. I just picked up my first handgun, a SIG P226 in .40. The problem is, the SIG seems a little on the big and hefty size for daily carry in the hot weather.

I'm definitely hooked on firearms and already saving up for my next purchase. I like the Smith 386 Night Guard a lot. I like the fixed sights and night sites in the front, the reduced weight sounds good for concealed carry (I'm not all that sensitive to recoil). I was wondering if anyone here had one and if they liked it. Is it worth the extra money over the 2.5" 686?

Any suggestions on revolvers I should look into?
Here's my wish list:
-.357, maybe a .38
- concealable, and somewhat comfortable
- fixed sights would be nice
- I like the L-frame size, unless its too big to conceal, a K or J would do
- durable, I'm unsure about the long term durability of scandium frames
- exposed hammer, would consider "bodyguard" style hammer
- I'd prefer a Smith (maybe a Colt), I've shot SP-101's and Gp-100's and they weren't for me
- Money is an issue, but I'm willing to save up for the right gun

I'm not married to the "wish list", they're just my ideas. Any suggestions from any of you experienced revolver shooters would be very much appreciated.

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dasmi
July 22, 2008, 02:35 AM
Well, I was going to suggest an SP-101, but you disqualified them. How about a short K Frame Smith?

jcalys
July 22, 2008, 02:56 AM
I shouldn't have "disqualified" the SP-101. The only one I shot was a rental and was DAO, a feature I really don't care for. The grip on that particular gun was stock but old and slick rubber. I probably need to find another one and give it another go round.

Shade00
July 22, 2008, 03:24 AM
I might also suggest an older Ruger like a Speed Six. They are tough as nails. However, not all that light since they are 100% steel. I held a number of SP101s and GP100s before buying my first Ruger, a used Speed Six. I like it better than the others I held, except for a Ruger Security Six that I passed up like an idiot.

As for lightweight alternatives, S&W is really going to be your only choice for new; Taurus makes some lightweight stuff, but let's not go there. If you don't want DAO, S&W of course has the basic Model 637 Airweight, which is rated for .38 Special +P. There is also the Model 638 Bodyguard, which has a shrouded hammer and is also +P rated.

I am unfamiliar with the K- or L- frame snubbies as to me they would be simply too big to conceal and carry, even in a lightweight form. .357 is also daunting to me in such a small, lightweight revolver.

If you are going to try carrying a K- or L-frame steel snubby, you should consider looking at some of the S&W classics (not Classics). Specifically Model 19 (blued steel .357), 66 (stainless .357), and 15 (.38 special). There are many others, but those are my faves.

If you want to break the bank, there are plenty of used Colts out there. The Detective Special is a super popular steel carry revolver. The Cobra is basically the lightweight version of the DS and has the advantage of one extra round over the S&W J-frames. These are not rated for +P. Colt also produced the Python as a snubbie, but let's just say... ahem... the price is scary on those. There are other snubnose Colts, but the DS and Cobra are the most popular.

loneviking
July 22, 2008, 05:14 AM
I've also been looking for a 'daily carry' revolver. I have a full size Colt that I've carried for years in a shoulder rig out in the country. But, I need something to carry concealed around town. After a lot of looking, I was just about convinced to buy a Ruger GP 100. The GP 100 is built like a tank, has adjustable rear sites on the 4" model and would hold up to a steady diet of heavy loads without beating me to pieces.

And then, my local pawn shop got in a S&W 65-6 (with a 3 inch barrel) and set it next to the Ruger. The S&W is heavy, well made but smaller than the Ruger and easier to carry. The stainless steel is beautiful to look at. The S&W grips are full size and at 34 oz. the S&W should hold up well to a regular diet of heavy loads without pounding me to death. It's only 6 oz. lighter than the GP.

So, check out the M65-6 and you might find you like the model!

Stainz
July 22, 2008, 07:29 AM
First, to be an effective CCW, you have to 'carry' it - all the time. In the revolver CCW selection, the 642 is quite common - check out 'The 642 Club' threads here. A pocket-carry 5-shot Airweight .38 Special +P is fine for personal protection. No, it's small grip isn't comfortable to plink with - it isn't a plinker - it's function is to save your bacon when the fecal matter impacts the air movement device. No, SA shooting isn't possible with an enclosed hammer, like the 642 - but defensive shooting should be instinctively DA. As to 'firepower'... the .38 Special +Ps available now, from the Speer 135gr Gold Dots to the old 'FBI' load 158gr LHPSWCs, are effective stoppers. And, if you need more than five to get out of trouble, you probably needed something crew-served, anyway!

Here are my choices - an L-frame 296 5-shot .44 Special, which fits ~ 75% of my cargo and blue jeans front pants pockets, and a 642 - which fits everything I wear. Their 'fit' and carry were effected by using Robert Mikas excellent pocket holsters - shown below.

http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u307/Stainz_2007/IMG_0207.jpg
http://i171.photobucket.com/albums/u307/Stainz_2007/IMG_0206.jpg

Remember, no choice is effective if it's in it's holster at home when you need it!

Stainz

MCgunner
July 22, 2008, 07:39 AM
SP101, the lightest, smallest revolver I wanna shoot full house .357 magnums in.

Or, a Kel Tec P11, my little square revolver. :D

Any light weight J frame sized .38 special makes a great all day, every day, 24/7 carry. Find one you like and get it. .38 is enough for self defense and easier to shoot if you're not an experienced handgunner than the .357 mag. Not much on Smiths with locks, but that's a personal thing.

RandyB
July 22, 2008, 08:05 AM
I love the SP-101. I currently have the 2 1/4 inch barrel, but the 3 incher is the way to go. An awesom gun quite capable. The S&W model 60 is also a fine little gun.

dirtygrunt95
July 22, 2008, 09:13 AM
I have a 386 night guard and would say it should be good for a ccw. I would say that you would probably want to get some different grips for concealed carry as the rubber grips are a little bulky but great for absorbing recoil for extended range time with full power loads. One thing is that if your a little thick in the mid section like me IWB holsters will be a little unconfortable. I suggest a belt holster. But I think its a great weapon, really love that big honkin front sight, not the best for long range bullseye work but perfect for fast up close stuff. That being said I just came into a 642 and I can see why they're so po[ular.

Frizzman
July 22, 2008, 12:38 PM
Lots of good suggestions have been offered. I say that any good Colt, S&W Ruger in a 5-6 shot K-frame or smaller , 2"-4" barrel in .38 spl or better would be a good choice. Short barreled .357's are somewhat nasty to shoot with full powered magnum ammo. It is not something you would want to do much of probably.

I would suggest .38 special as a very good caliber. It is readily available and is cheaper to buy and shoot that all other calibers other than .22 RF. It is not unbearable to shoot and practice with, particularly in smaller and lighter revolvers. It is fairly effective and in the better loadings will penetrate bone and muscle fairly well if there is enough velocity. I have personally witnessed two shootings where a 158 gr lead HP +P did the job needed with one shot.

All revolvers that are practical to carry all day, every day are going to be a compromise. I have an L-frame "snubbie" and a couple of K-frame 2" and 2.5" revolvers. I have a Ruger Security Six and a SP101 as well as a 3' GP100. All are very good guns. All get pretty heavy to tote around all day. On the other hand, they are easier to shoot well under stress than the smaller framed guns. I also have a couple of N-frame snubs. Again, they handle pretty well but most people will not carry such a big and heavy gun all the time.

That leaves you with the small framed revolvers. I have several. My absolute favorite is probably my Colt Agent. This is a compact, lightweight six shot revolver with a good trigger and fairly decent sights. The major downside is that is a bit more bulky than small framed S&W and Taurus revolvers. I also like my S&W 638 Bodyguard. It is light, compact, accurate enough and has a corrosion resistant finish which is desirable in a revolver carried close to the body all day. The Colt lacks that attribute. I have had a few Taurus'. Interestingly, the two small framed guns, a M85 and a CIA, were excellent revolvers with very good triggers. The larger framed guns were not so good and my experience with customer service was not so good either. The Ruger SP101 makes a pretty good CCW if you want to use magnums and don't mind the weight.

My last advice is to consider a revolver with a concealed or shrouded hammer or like the SP101, no hammer spur DAO. It will require you to learn to shoot a revolver double action. Cocking and shooting a CCW is always a bad idea in the real world. There are few if any police departments that use revolvers that teach single action shooting with a revolver and there is good reason for that! Learning the double action trigger takes some time and much practice but it is the only proper way to train for a real fight. I see untrained shooters at public ranges thumb cocking double action revolvers all the time. If you train that way, that is what you will do under stress. Also, the concealed/shrouded hammer revolvers are less likely to snag in clothing during the draw. This is not a small attribute in a gun that will be carried under clothing or in a pocket. Attempting to draw your revolver in a time of critical need, only to have it jerked out of your hand because the hammer spur snagged your shirttail and fall on the pavement is not a good thing. I have seen that happen.

So, bottom line is that this is one of the most serious decisions you can make. Your life and the lives of those you may have to defend depend on this being a good choice. DO NOT go by emotion. Don't chose based on what looks "bad" or "Cool". Get some expert advice. Take an advanced training course. get opinions from those who have actually used a revolver for self defense. Try as many types of revolvers as you can. And PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! Good Luck!

skoro
July 22, 2008, 01:09 PM
The S&W Airweights are just about ideal for 99% of what you'd ever need to carry for. Compact, light, easily concealed, and extremely simple to use. I have a Model 642 and consider it to be my "go-to" gun for concealed carry. I keep it loaded with +P ammo and never feel like I'm vulnerable. I also have an old Model 37 (alloy frame) that's even lighter, but rarely carry it.

The other Airweights are all good options, too. Models 637, 649, 340PD are similar and vary only in a few features. One of them is probably right for your needs.

loneviking
July 22, 2008, 01:27 PM
All revolvers that are practical to carry all day, every day are going to be a compromise. I have an L-frame "snubbie" and a couple of K-frame 2" and 2.5" revolvers. I have a Ruger Security Six and a SP101 as well as a 3' GP100. All are very good guns. All get pretty heavy to tote around all day. On the other hand, they are easier to shoot well under stress than the smaller framed guns. I also have a couple of N-frame snubs. Again, they handle pretty well but most people will not carry such a big and heavy gun all the time.



The comment about the weight of a gun being a factor is good. The way to handle that problem is to also be researching the best holster for the type of carry you do. Don't skimp on the holster! A high quality, well designed and crafted holster is expensive---and worth every penny as it can make lugging the heavier frame guns around an almost pleasant experience. Look at holsters from all the major manufacturers such as Bianchi, DeSantis, Galco. But, don't forget the little guys such as Mernicke, Simply Rugged, El Paso Saddlery...to name just a few. Take your time, ask questions and be prepared to spend some money for a top quality holster to go with your gun!

Frizzman
July 22, 2008, 02:30 PM
VERY good point about a proper holster and belt. I have seen too many people purchase a really first rate, expensive pistol or revolver and then try to carry it in a cheap holster with a flimsy Walmart belt.

machinisttx
July 22, 2008, 02:41 PM
Unless there is an issue with weight, the SP101 is the best small frame carry revolver out there. The trigger will never be quite as good as a Smith, but it's still not bad. I did a little polishing on the mechanism of mine last night, as well as replacing the springs. The SA and DA pulls are better now, but it still needs a little more polishing on the DA mechanism.

If you go with a S&W J frame, get an all steel gun.

jcalys
July 22, 2008, 02:45 PM
Thanks a lot guys, the more opinions from more experienced people I get the more I am able to see the big picture.

When I shot the DAO SP-101 at the range, my buddy had been firing magnums through it first. So before I shot it he had warned me that it had more recoil than the L-frames and GP-100s. I guess it got in my head, because the DAO trigger pull felt like a mile before that great .357 "boom". Practice fixes that, I suppose. I see where a DAO would/could be safer for carry (faster than cocking the hammer, no snagging, much smaller chance of ND with the heavy pull).

Quick question about the Bodyguard hammer, can it be safely thumbed down?

The_Sheriff
July 22, 2008, 02:55 PM
I would probably choose the S&W 642 J frame. I also like the SP-101 and Smith's new 8 shot tactical revolver thingy that I can't remember the name of right now. lol

Someone else help me out with the name. :p

crebralfix
July 22, 2008, 03:23 PM
So, bottom line is that this is one of the most serious decisions you can make. Your life and the lives of those you may have to defend depend on this being a good choice. DO NOT go by emotion. Don't chose based on what looks "bad" or "Cool". Get some expert advice. Take an advanced training course. get opinions from those who have actually used a revolver for self defense. Try as many types of revolvers as you can. And PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!! Good Luck!

Good advice Frizzman! But, I ignored it when I bought my Lew Horton S&W Model 27 with 3.5" barrel! It just looks cool with the old style lug!

N-Frame all the way (even if they are as big as the P226).

Frizzman
July 23, 2008, 12:04 AM
The Bodyguard model has an external hammer with an shortened spur. It can be safely cocked for single action fire. Easing the hammer down on a loaded chamber, to be avoided if possible, can be a bit tricky since there is not as much to hold on to and you cannot put a finger between the hammer and frame. Some like the Bodyguard because, unlike the Centennial models, you have a choice between single and double action and still have some protection against snagging.

Crebralfix, I HAVE certainly bought guns just because I like their looks. The 3.5" M27 is one of my all time favorites. If you want to tote the weight and can shoot well with it, it is a fine revolver in my opinion. N-frames are wonderful guns!

docmagnum357
July 23, 2008, 12:34 AM
get a good holster. I carry a 6.5" 629 daily. You reall can carry a big gun, provided you get a good holster.

jcalys
July 23, 2008, 01:58 AM
get a good holster. I carry a 6.5" 629 daily. You reall can carry a big gun, provided you get a good holster.


Wow. Thats a big gun to carry everyday. Sure makes me look soft for whining about the size of my 226.

33-805
July 23, 2008, 02:03 AM
I have a 638, stainless airweight 38 that I carried quite a bit for years long ago. Nice gun and very light and easy to hide. I also like the 640. Although it is a concealed hammer gun, they make the bodyguard version of it in 357 too. Not sure of the model number on that one. Recoil is stout with good loads but they shoot well too.

machinisttx
July 23, 2008, 02:57 AM
When I shot the DAO SP-101 at the range, my buddy had been firing magnums through it first. So before I shot it he had warned me that it had more recoil than the L-frames and GP-100s. I guess it got in my head, because the DAO trigger pull felt like a mile before that great .357 "boom". Practice fixes that, I suppose. I see where a DAO would/could be safer for carry (faster than cocking the hammer, no snagging, much smaller chance of ND with the heavy pull).

Grips that fit your hand made a big difference in the perceived recoil. The Hogue monogrip on mine makes magnums reasonably pleasant to shoot. Honestly, my SP101 is more pleasant to shoot with magnums than my 2.5" M66....

M203Sniper
July 23, 2008, 03:18 AM
I smell a Ladysmith :)



Try the S&W Model 60 http://www.gundirectory.com/guns/20437-1.jpg

Nematocyst
July 23, 2008, 03:21 AM
SW X42 (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=314422).

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=67639&d=1195548166

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