Recommendations for a noob


September 5, 2008, 06:43 PM
Let me start by saying that I have only ever operated a firearm once or twice and those were .22 rifles (the last time being about 10 years ago). I am starting a new job where I would feel much more comfortable carrying a firearm. I will be signing up for classes soon on the operation of a firearm as well as applying for my concealed weapons permit once I have completed the classes.

After reading some of the posts and recommendations on this website from members who teach classes on operating firearms and other members who are obviously experienced with the use of firearms I have come to the conclusion that I would like to purchase a snub nosed revolver.

So, my questions are (1) what revolver should I purchase, (2) what grips should I get, and (3) is there anything else I need to consider when purchasing my revolver?

Thanks in advance for sharing your wisdom.


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September 5, 2008, 06:56 PM
Guess I'll jump in. Welcome to the world of concealed carry. You will no doubt get lots of ideas and opinions, as there is a myriad of choices to pick from.

I will suggest you look at the Smith & Wesson 442 or 642 snub nosed revolver. They weigh in at 15 oz., and give you great value for the money, as you will be able to find them for around $380. You should seriously consider the "Centennial" model that has a fully enclosed hammer which makes it ideal for pocket carry.

If you decide to purchase one of these great revolvers, please make sure you get the newest released version that does not have an internal safety lock.



September 5, 2008, 07:01 PM
My favorite:

For grips, get laser grips. Lasermax makes the best ones, imo.

September 5, 2008, 07:03 PM
Well, let me be the first of many to say welcome aboard!! I've been on this forum for about a year now and THR is a great source of info, advice, etc.

Ok, you're looking for a snubby. What caliber are you looking for? The most common are either the .38 Special or the .357 Magnum. Either one is good. I have a .38 Special snub with me right now. Good little gun, easy to conceal in all types of weather here in VA. Now you can find snub nose revolvers in calibers such as .41 Magnum, .44 Special, .327 Federal Mag, but I can honestly say that the .38 or .357 would be the easiest to find across the nation, a major factor I take into account when buying a firearm.

The nice thing about revolvers is that you can find grips of every shape, size, and material. The Uncle Mike's grips that came with my .38 were good, although I changed them out for a set of Hogue Bantams. Hogue grips are pretty good and the help with recoil too. Although it all depends on what fits your hand.

One thing to also consider is choosing grips is how you will reload your gun. If you plan on using speedloaders, make sure that the grip isn't interfering with the speedloader as you load the cylinder. Or you cna use speed strips, which are a little more concealable.

Revolvers are made in a variety of materials, from stainless steel to the latest in lightweight alloys and materials. The lighter the gun, the more recoil in most cases, which is why I would stay away from the Scandium/Titanium guns (especially in .357 or larger calibers).

Prices will vary by manufacturer, store, and individual. Always have a budget of what you can afford. I would check around the local shops and classified ads to see what one would find. Also, there are websites such as and where you can bid on guns like at ebay.

I hope this helps you in choosing your snubby. If you need any help/advice, etc. feel free to PM me.

My personal favorites are the Smith & Wesson 638 Airweight Bodyguard, the Charter Arms Bulldog, and the Ruger SP-101.

September 5, 2008, 07:31 PM
for a new person i would recomend a 38 the recoil is going to be a lot less than the magnums. Especially if you are shooting a short barrel. This will be easier to shoot. Allowing you to focus on more range time and practice. Later on as you get very familiar with the 38 you can move up to a 357 or 44

September 5, 2008, 07:43 PM
I have an S&w 442. Nice, light, dependable revolver for CC. The SP101 is a darned nice revolver. I've also heard some good reports from owners of the Taurus 85 and 60 models. All a matter of which one suits your needs/preference/budget. The larger framed .357's like the S&W 686 and Ruger GP100 are great, but you aren't going to conceal them in warm weather very well.

A word of caution. According to your post you are pretty much an inexperienced shooter. Handguns are much harder to shoot accurately than rifles and the smaller and lighter the handgun, the more difficult they are to shoot accurately. I consider myself a fairly experienced shooter. I started shooting an S&W M&P .38 special revolver over 40 years ago. I shot M1911's for years in the Army Reserves. My guess is that I'm better than 80% of the folks I see shooting handguns.(All that means is I can hit the broad side of the barn most of the time). The 442 kicked my butt for a while and forced me to go back to school to learn to shoot it. If you are going to buy a handgun, you are better off getting some training and lots of practice. I'd also suggest that you consider learning to shoot handguns with a .22. No recoil to speak of, most are very accurate and the practice ammo is dirt cheap compared to .38 or .357. You can find relatively inexpensive .22 revolvers like the Heritage Rough Rider or some of the Taurus double action .22's. I shoot a Ruger Single Six regularly. A bit more expensive than the Heritage. I have a ball shooting it and ammo is about 10% the cost of .38 special rounds.

September 5, 2008, 08:08 PM
Don't buy a light gun for your first revolver. Get something like a S&W model 10. recoil is no problem you can start with powder puff loads and you can shoot the latest plus p loads. The little air weights do kick like a mule with stout loads.The short barrel also makes them dificult to shoot accuratly at first. My daily carries are 642-2 and a 12-2. I really worked hard to become a good shot with them. Practice,practice and then practice some more.

September 5, 2008, 08:13 PM
This subject pops up often...

I'd suggest the great DA only model Ruger SP-101 in .357magnum. This was my 1st handgun, ;).
The SP-101 is small, stainless steel and fires either the .357magnum or .38spl loads.
You can also buy Hogue grips or even better a CrimsonTrace lasergrip, .

Other solid picks would be the S&W model 638 or model 642. The Taurus model CIA or Protector are good for concealed carry.


September 5, 2008, 08:26 PM
Some have made laser grip recommendations, many revolvers come with them, if you're going that route, buy the gun with them installed.
I have a S&W model 60, 3 inch barrel, stainless steel, .357 magnum, you can fire .38 specials with it also. Regular grips have been replaced with Hogue's.

September 5, 2008, 11:39 PM
a 38 or 357 loaded with 38 would be best IMO. A snubby or 3" barrel. DAO if you can but whichever.

September 5, 2008, 11:59 PM
I'd recommend that you visit a local shooting range and fire a couple of rented guns before you make a purchase.

September 6, 2008, 12:38 AM
Thank you all so much or your advise. I think I have decided to go with a .38 since 90% of the reply's have recommended it. I went to the S&W website and looked at the 442, 642, and 638 but couldn't really find any difference between them beside the color and the front sight. Are there any other differences that I missed?

Thanks twoclones for the recommendation to fire some rented guns first, I think I will do just that, and I'll test some that aren't as light like indiandave suggested.


September 6, 2008, 12:42 AM
Also, can anyone else chime in on FLRon's recommendation to get one without an internal safety lock?


September 6, 2008, 07:09 AM
I don't have any experience with these pistolas. I buy older model Smith's without the locks.

That being said, Consider the 3" M36. they also come in 1&1/7" barrels also.

Yes, 38 special only and a little heavier but they absorb recoil better than the lighter guns and do not shoot loose after the many K's of rounds shots in practice. However, should you decide on one of the others, you can't go wrong.

I carry a 3" 44 special. But thats just me, however, that is also an option.

decisions, decisions, decisions........

September 6, 2008, 07:40 AM
+1 on the 3" revolver reccomendation. That extra 1" of barrel helps out velocity and accuracy. A 3" sp101 in .357 is a great pistol. 3" model 36 .38 are hard to beat also. If you want to move up in size ANY 3" K frame .357 (model 13 and 65) or .38 (10 and 64) would do fine. Also ANY ruger "six" with the 2.75" barrel would last a lifetime.

September 6, 2008, 07:44 AM
I don't know the exact history of when Smith & Wesson started building revolvers with these locks. I can tell you that they are identified by a small keyhole right next to the cylinder release. The gun is shipped with a small key that you can insert and turn thus locking the trigger, making it inoperable.

The general feeling is that while they are still extremely reliable with these internal locks, you would rather not have them, as they are just a potential source for problems, however unlikely.

There is also a resentment of having these useless safety features foisted upon firearms manufacturers, so if you can obtain a weapon without it, you are better off.

As far as the 442 vs. the 642, the only difference is the finish.

Here is my 442 with a lock. It was the only way i could purchase a new one at the time. I added some Ahrends cocobolo wood grips just for aesthetic reasons, but the rubber grips will certainly suffice.

September 6, 2008, 08:07 AM
I'm also a new shooter, and I have commented on this kind of question before.

My opinion is tat you should start with getting some instruction, and learn with a .22. That way you learn how to handle a gun properly, and dont get any bad habits like flinching.

Second, dont get a .357 or a snubnose without at least trying them first, firing them at a range. The .357 kicks really hard for a beginner, even in fullsize version, and snubnose versions are even worse.

To give you an idea, I have no problem with the recoil of a fullsize 1911 .45ACP, but a .357 in fullsize has a much harder recoil. Trust me, you do not want to buy a snubnose version of those without having fired one first, so you know what you're buying.

So my tip is, first instruction and learn basics with a .22, and then "try before you buy", dont buy a gun model you havent even fired.

September 6, 2008, 08:27 AM
The 642 is a great CCW. It fulfills the first criteria a carry gun must - it is easily concealled. In a Robert Mika's pocket holster, it will fit any of my pants' front pockets. As a S&W, it is dependable right out of the box - and has a lifetime warranty with a cost-free call & pick-up as close as your phone, should trouble arise. It is gripped properly for it's application as delivered - it isn't a plinker, it's mission is to protect your life. Mine, like most of my S&Ws, has an Infernal Lock - which isn't a problem here.

Their new price, and that of the black version, the 442, runs $410-$430 new around here now. Practice initially with inexpensive 130gr MC from Wally World, recalling that it isn't meant to be a fun plinker. Get a box of 20 Speer 135gr Gold Dots in .38 Special +P for carry. Shoot a couple for familiarization - they will bounce more - and not be 'fun' - but this is a serious device, if you want a plinker type gun, make it your second purchase. A 4" blued 10/15 or SS 64/67, like a security guard trade-in available at gun stores and pawn shops, is an ideal plinker. It can also serve double duty as a 'house' gun. Of course, get a CC license or permit before carrying - and a local gun range should be checked for appropriate instructive courses and programs.

Above all - welcome to the world of revolvers! I was a dedicated plinker for many years before I would keep a loaded gun in my house... and then many years passed before I would 'carry'. Now, I don't go to church without at least that 642!


September 6, 2008, 08:54 AM
I still say buy something with a little weight for your first gun. A S&W k frame will be much easier to shoot at first. A k or l frame also would be an ideal gun for home defence. If you do buy a 642 or a 442, you can change the grips to something that covers the back strap. This will help control recoil. I would also suggest you try wad cutters to start. they have less recoil and make it easier to learn, no flinching ,etc. I hope this helps.

September 6, 2008, 10:11 AM
My revolver experience started about two years ago and I researched them thoroughly. It comes down to: size, capacity, caliber, concealability, and reloading method.

Reloading the gun may or may not be an issue if you get into a real situation. However, plan for 99% of the situations, not 90%. That difference is in the extremes: a reload was required against multiple armed assailants who did not stop when one or more were shot. Occasionally, someone will get shot because they ran out of ammunition. There's no reason not to keep one speed loader and two speed strips on you at all times while carrying.

You will find that many revolvers, while adequate, lack a few features that are really helpful. The first is chamfered cylinders. An angle is applied to the outer edge of the cylinder to facilitate loading the rounds. Second, moonclips are very fast for reloading and most revolvers are not cut for moonclips (a moonclip holds all the rounds together and they go in and come out as one, like a magazine). I recommend them, but you'll have to make a few changes. A carry trigger job is a requirement, though some folks will dispute that (S&W triggers will smooth out over time). The gun should have a smooth trigger in BOTH directions and the weight should not be onerous. Finally, grips that fit your hand are essential. You will need to try several. For example, the new S&W Nightguard series come with huge grips that make it difficult for many folks to work the trigger.

A quick word on frame names: S&W designates their small, 5 shot frames as "J", slightly larger K-Frame (6 shot), the L-Frame is beefier for heavier calibers, and N-Frame is their "service" size. The X-Frame is for those huge revolvers in 500 S&W Magnum.

You may want to look at what I call "mid-size" short barreled revolvers. I think they are more versatile and have a few "shooting" advantages...such as weight. These include S&W K and L-Frames with 2-3" barrels. You may find the 3" barrel to be a great compromise. The longer barrel allows for a longer ejector rod (allowing spent cases to be fully pushed out) and results in a bit better ballistic performance (almost on par with longer barrelled guns--and ammo can be tuned for it by careful reloading).

I happen to like N-Frame revolvers with short barrels. I have one that holds 8 rounds of 357 Magnum.

You may want to consider a 5 shot revolver in 44 Special. This cartridge is similar to the 45 ACP cartridge--check a reloading manual for the actual differences. 44 Special has a dedicated cult following.

Remember, you now have the option of 5,6,7, or 8 shot capacity in 357 Magnum. Larger calibers are generally limited to 5 or 6 rounds.

You don't need to learn to shoot with 22 LR. There are some very mild 38 Special rounds. Remington UMC 38 Special out of an S&W N-Frame revolver felt like hot 22 LR...they were that mild. They felt a bit more stout out of my S&W Model 36 (a J-Frame 38 Special revolver). But, if you accept recoil and drop the ego, you'll do fine.

September 6, 2008, 10:35 AM
The 642 has no hammer. The 638 is a compromize, or half way between the 642 and the 442. It has a hammer, but it is almost completely covered up. You can't see it in the pictures.

For 38 special, you don't need the 3" bbl. For 357mag, a little extra bbl is necessary to make proper use of the magnum's additional power. The only thing you really need to watch out for is make sure you don't get one of the super lightweight ones that have a sleeved barrel. You want a solid steel barrel. Aluminum alloy frame is fine though.

442, 642, or 638. Those are the best choices. Which one will come down to personal preference. The 442 is generally referred to as a "chief" or "cheif's special". The 642 is generally called a "centenial" and also an "DAO hammerless". The 638 is usually referred to as a "bodyguard" or a "shrowded hammer".

Taurus makes copies of the 442 and the 638. The 638 copy is called a "protector". I don't know what they call their copy of the 442. And I don't know if they even make a copy of the 642 at all. Taurus is more affordable. Your laser grip options may be fewer with a taurus though.

You definitely need to get laser grips with a J frame snubby. I personally don't care for the one's that come with S&W revolvers. I like lasermax much better. Crimson trace grips have the laser below the cylinder and it is easy to block it with your trigger finger when you have your finger along side the trigger guard like you are supposed to do. Lasermax has the laser above the cylinder, near the sights. That's much better. The downside, though, is that you could theoretically damage the laser if you dropped your gun on a hard surface.

Just my opinions

September 6, 2008, 10:45 AM
Please consider carefully the advice people have given regarding not getting a snubbie as your first gun. A snubbie works better for someone who's shot pistols and learned the basics on an easier gun, and even then, as someone said, it will kick your behind for awhile. They are difficult to shoot accurately at any distance.

There are other issues to consider if you are determined to get a snubbie. There are different weights: titanium frame snubbies, airweights (aluminum frame, I believe, lighter weight than steel, a bit more heft than the titanium), steel frames. And there are differences in size that aren't obvious from the designation of barrel length. My little m37 is a J-frame....the smallest revolver S&W makes. My m66-3 is a snubbie too, but it's a K-frame, next size up, more similar to the Ruger SP101. It's a LOT heavier and bulkier and harder to conceal. On the other hand, I can shoot .38+P's (hotter loaded, more speed on the bullet, more kick when you shoot it) out of it all day long without the recoil bothering me, and I have arthritis pretty badly in my hands.

I will also point out that the 66-3 is easier to shoot well, because the barrel doesn't rise so much from the recoil, which means it's easier to reaquire your target and shoot a second round. Additionally, because the recoil is SOOOO much less an issue (certainly with .38's) you're less likely to develop a flinch, which causes the gun to jerk to one side because you're anticipating whatever bite you feel from recoil.

The best advice you got was, start with a .22....revolver or semiauto, doesn't matter. Get your basics down with a gun that has no recoil and is cheap to shoot. Then, if possible, find a range that rents guns (or a friend who will take you to the range with his guns) and try as many as you can. Since ammo is expensive, this is a bit of a pricey exercise, but it is worth it. Don't go in with your mind already made up; you may fall in love with a CZ compact semiauto, or a 1911, or an XD or a Glock. Never know until you try them. Sort of like buying a to test drive a few different types before you buy.

Happy shooting, and welcome to THR!!!


September 6, 2008, 03:00 PM
Titanium is much heavier than aluminum. It is roughly half way between steel and aluminum in terms of both strength and density. Taurus makes some snubbies in 100% titanium. S&W only uses titanium for cylinders. Aluminum is the lightest, but it isn't strong enough for use on 357mag revolvers. For lightweight 357, S&W uses scandium frames. I don't care for the scandium frames because they have scandium barrels with stainless inserts. THese "sleeved" barrels are not as accurate shooters as the solid steel barrels.

I just came back from the shooting range and I happened to rent a S&W 642. That thing totally sucked. If that is the quality of a typical S&W nowdays, I would no longer reccommend them to people. The trigger was absolutly horrible. I don't think I've ever shot anything with a worse trigger. It could be that this is just a beater that the range rents out. I don't know.

I don't agree with some of the opinions here that a snubbie is too hard to shoot. It's the weight of the gun, not the barrel length that makes it uncomfortable. Adding a 3" bbl to a snubbie, all else remaining equal, isn't going to amount to a hill of beans in terms of controllability. If you are concerned about recoil, just get an all-steel snubbie. It may be that the only all steel snubbie still being made by S&W is the 649. It's a 357, but you can shoot 38 in it.

September 6, 2008, 09:21 PM
I would go with a Smith and Wesson Model 60 in .38 Special with a 3 inch barrel. That is a J-frame (small) gun and it holds 5 rounds.

The .38 Special is more than adequate for your needs and the 3 inch barrel has two features in its favor over the 2 inch model - The extra barrel length makes it easier to shoot accurately and it also comes with adjustable sights.

As the others have said here, the key locks are "just something else to break" and should be avoided if at all possible.

September 6, 2008, 10:11 PM
1. Smith and Wesson 642 with factory grips. $425

2. Send to Smith and Wesson for a Master Revolver Action Package. $158

3. Two HKS 36A speedloaders. $20

4. Mika pocket holster. $25

5. Federal Gold Match 148gr. wadcutters for primary ammo. $35

6. Winchester 110gr Silvertip (non+P) for speedloaders. $35

I recommend the 148gr ammo as it is very soft shooting in the lightweight 642 and the 110gr ammo in the speedloaders as the round nose assists in quick reloading. If you can handle the 110gr ammo well, just use it for primary and reloads. If you find the recoil of the 642 doesn't bother you, use Speer 135gr Gold Dot ammo.

September 6, 2008, 11:10 PM
Post #22

September 7, 2008, 02:06 AM
My mother worked as a security guard for an armored car company for a while (yes, little grey-haired grandmother type). She carried a Rossi 357 snubbie because "it fit her hand well." I shot it a few times and HATED it. (FYI, she never had to shoot it in the line of duty). I couldn't hit the target, and it had recoil from hell. Because my guns were all semi-automatics, I was convinced that revolvers and I just didn't get along.

Anyway, several years later, I purchased a Ruger GP100 (.357) with a 4" barrel. LOVE it! The weight of the gun plus the barrel length makes a HUGE difference in recoil and accuracy. Shooting .38s through it is like shooting a 9 mm, but I've come to really like the recoil of shooting full load magnums. I would not recommend it for a beginner, however. If you are set on a revolver, I do recommend getting the .357 gun, but limiting it to shooting .38s through it. At least at first. Get used to it, then try a cylinder full of .357 magnums, just for fun. You can always keep with the .38s. And I wouldn't get a snubbie - they are good for accuracy up to 10 feet or so, but a 4" barrel will get you decent accuracy out much farther than that.

September 7, 2008, 07:44 AM
You need to look at both the light weight Smith 38's and the steel framed Smith Model 36. A Colt Detective Special would be nearly perfect if you lean toward carrying in a holster.

Steel framed guns have less felt recoil than the lightweight aluminum or titanitum framed guns.

I have a 442 and you certainly know when you shoot it. It is no beginners revolver unless you really don't plan on shooting it.

In genaral, I support learning to shoot with a 22LR revolver and stepping up to the 38spl. You have to shoot to learn how to shoot and the 22LR is the perfect route to developing the skills necessary to shoot any firearm.

September 7, 2008, 09:04 AM
Maybe my mistake will prove helpful to you.

I recently took a CCW course and bought a light, short DA-only .38 with laser grip. I am not a beginner but I am new to the snubbie. No, that's not the mistake.

My earlier handgun shooting experience involved medium-sized and larger service and match revolvers and semi-automatics, in calibers ranging from .22 to .45, fired at a target range or at tin cans. When I was offered chances to shoot a nickel plated Colt Detective Special and a plated .25 Browning at the target in the bright sun I couldn't hit well with either one.

However, there's a world of difference between getting some quick shots in the middle of a torso at seven yards or less and putting holes in the ten ring of a target at the range. And if you can't conceal the gun, what's the point? So--for concealed carry, at least without a jacket, you're going to end up with something small and relatively light, and I predict you won't ever be able to shoot fine target groups with it.

I would stay away from the really light ones--decide how much weight you will realistically be able to carry and then choose--and from magnums. Where I live, the instructors strongly advise staying away from guns with exposed hammers for CC (snags, and advice to never cock the gun in a self-defense situation). And although I have years of experience with semiautomatics, I settled on a revolver for reliability and simplicity. By the way, I would never choose that DA-only light snubbie for anything other than concealed carry. For home defense, a larger, heavier gun would be a much better choice.

I agree with Springmom that you would benefit from getting some experience shooting something easier to control than a snub barreled revolver. A .22LR would obviously be the most economical choice. Just keep in mind the difference between range shooting and SD.

Here's the mistake: when concealed carry became permissible here, I went to a store and looked at small handguns. It was clear to me that a slightly longer barrel, steel frame, exposed hammer, and target sights would greatly help controllability, and I wrote a check. I'm not sorry I did, but when my leather coat came off for the season and I took the concealed carry course, I realized that (1) the compromise didn't work well for concealed carry, and (2) I had not really understood the differences between SD conditions and range shooting. Moral of the story? Wait until you've taken the course to buy! And, of course, try the gun first.

I hope you find this helpful.

September 7, 2008, 10:02 AM
"is there anything else I need to consider when purchasing my revolver?"


This new job. Your new employer may have "opinions" about you carrying while on the job or on company property. Opinions that include the term "immediate termination".

You might want to check that out as well.

September 9, 2008, 03:38 PM
How is your budget?

Can you buy a .22 to practice on while you decide? You might go through several gun/ammo/holster combinations before you find something you can carry that suits your body, style of dress, and ability to shoot. Even someone who has been shooting handguns for years will run into this when trying to carry for the first time.

While you're training on basic shooting skills with the .22, you will probably find the chance to try a lot of different handguns.

Remember everybody, he's new to handguns in general, and one size does not fit all.

Unless you need to start carrying ASAP?

September 10, 2008, 07:12 AM
I would advise to not get the little light weight snub nosed revolvers as your first gun. It is a hard gun to learn on and has some stout recoil. This could lead to bad habbits like flinching or maybe not practicing with it much. A slightly larger gun made of steel would be a far better choice. Now Im not talking about a full size like a S&W 686. A good medium size gun like a Ruger GP100 or the S&W counterparts, dont know the ones in that size.

You can still conceal a larger gun with a good in the waist band (IWB) holster. I carry my duty Glock 22 IWB with no problem. A good holster and belt can go a long way.

September 10, 2008, 11:14 AM
I have a different take. If you need a CCW, you should get a snubby, like the S&W 642, first. You can get shootable and effective ammo, like 148gr lead full wadcutters meant for target use. They will be effective, yet not offer +P-level recoil. The greatest requirement is to get some proper instruction first - try local ranges and PDs for help there. The fundamental lemma in self protection is you must have it with you - not locked away at home. If it's too big and awkward, you'll leave it home - at the wrong time. You must legally carry it!

If you want to shoot for enjoyment, get a separate device for that. You could, if it is a .38 or so, use it for a home defender, too. But - a personal protection CCW must be carried - choose wisely there. Admittedly, my wife carries a .32 ACP Seecamp, not a revolver. She has a revolver on her side of the bed - and for her car. But, to get something small enough for her to 'carry' regularly, it had to be, gasp, a bottom-feeder. YMMV.

September 10, 2008, 12:24 PM
Papaholmes, welcome to TGR.

You are on the right track with a your decision to go with a snub .38 spl.

OTOH, I think a .357 magnum/.38 spl is a better choice because this caliber will give you ammo flexibility, anywhere from mild .38 wadcutter target loads, to full-on 357 magnum defensive loads if necessary.

What gun? Any Smith Wesson J or K Frame that fits your hand but I will avoid the lightweights for now. However my personal choice for a first revolver, would be the Ruger SP-101. Rugged, reliable and usually as accurate as any other snubby out there. Cheaper than S&W. Weighs enough to shoot full 357 magnum once in a while, if you turn out to be recoil shy.

I will not do anything to it except to try wear and it out with many thousand practice rounds, 38 spl and 357 mag in 20 to 1 ratio or higher.

September 10, 2008, 12:31 PM
Very good advice from the THR'ers so far... thing I would like to add from my experience, also being relatively new to handguns (less than a year since I bought my first):

Shoot everything you can get your hands on - freinds, family - the only way to really know what's best for you is to actually take the gun out to range and see how it feels and whether or not you can get any real accuracy with it.

Be patient - your groupings will improve with more rounds.

A used S & W revolver or Ruger Revolver would probably treat you the best from a reliability/durability standpoint. I am partial to S & W's linear triggers - love em.

Welcome to the world of Hand guns!


September 10, 2008, 02:47 PM
Some of the advice may seem contradictory, but here are some common threads that match with my experience:

C-grunt is quite correct in saying that in general, a too-light snubby "is a hard gun to learn on and has some stout recoil."

Stainz is also right in saying "If you need a CCW, you should get a snubby, like the S&W 642, first. You can get shootable and effective ammo...[that] ... will be effective, yet not offer +P-level recoil." And in saying "The fundamental lemma in self protection is you must have it with you - not locked away at home. If it's too big and awkward, you'll leave it home - at the wrong time."

And icecorps nails it in saying "You might go through several gun/ammo/holster combinations before you find something you can carry that suits your body, style of dress, and ability to shoot. Even someone who has been shooting handguns for years will run into this when trying to carry for the first time."

I bought a somewhat larger gun first and found afterwards that I could not reasonably keep it concealed under summer casual wear. I ended up with a 642 with laser grip. While there may be no finer service revolver than, say, a Ruger GP-100, I could not possibly carry one concealed except under a winter coat, which would only stay on out of doors.

So--figure out what you can carry and how before buying--do as these fine people say, not as I did. And practice.

The idea of also getting a .22 is a great one.

If you do buy a different gun for fun and practice, you will enjoy it, but don't forget that the concealed handgun is for a different purpose--quick hits on a larger area at short range. My instructor advised practicing on a blank 8 1/2 X 11 page at 20 feet. Others may have different advice.

September 10, 2008, 07:21 PM
My first gun was a K-22. My second gun, following by less than a month, was a 442.

I don't really know if shooting the K-22 first really made a difference with my 442. It was a whole other critter altogether and it took a lot of practice to even get on paper.

But once I figured it out the little babe is a dream to carry. I wouldn't mind trading it in though -- for one without the lock. :D

Getting a .22 will make a difference in your overall handgun accuracy. For combat shooting with a snub revolver maybe not as much as a lot of light, medium, and hot .38 ammo.

DO NOT make my mistake and buy 1,000 rounds of .38 +P only to realize, 200 rounds in, that maybe you'd be happier with standard pressure. It's not the recoil, but it shoots outstandingly high at short ranges (in excess of 7 inches at 10 yards...).

The story is, get what you want and practice with that gun. A snub is a great choice and I hope you love yours as much as I love mine. :)

September 14, 2008, 02:04 PM
Ok, I took the advise to go try different guns first. My dad has an old Hi-Standard .22 revolver with about a 4" barrel. I've shot it quite a few times of the last few days and I'm getting comfortable firing a weapon and getting much more accurate. Of course the .22 has almost no recoil.

After about 100 rounds of the .22 my brother let me shoot his Glock .40 semi-auto which needless to say has much more recoil. The recoil from the .40, even though more than the .22, was not too much for me to handle and I was decently accurate with it at 25 yards.

So, I decided to take some of the advise on this thread and purchased a S&W 642 and so far I am pleased with it. I'll hopefully be getting the laser sights for it soon.

Thanks for all of your advise.


Ghost Walker
September 14, 2008, 02:36 PM
Just read your last post, so nevermind. Good luck with your new revolver! :)

lee n. field
September 14, 2008, 05:50 PM
I am starting a new job where I would feel much more comfortable carrying a firearm.

What job would that be? Your boss, corporate, HR, whatever, is cool with this?

September 14, 2008, 06:04 PM
What job would that be? Your boss, corporate, HR, whatever, is cool with this?

Haha, no, I guess I should have said, starting my own business --> investment real estate; not all of the properties are in the best parts of town.


Ghost Walker
September 15, 2008, 07:51 AM
:eek: I'm a retired real estate broker; and, you have my sympathies.

For the neighborhoods you're going to be collecting rents in you bought the wrong gun. Suggest you assign that 642 to backup duty and get yourself a nice high capacity Glock asap! :p

(Oh, yeah, want some really good advice? Never collect rents alone - Never!) ;)

September 15, 2008, 11:15 PM
Suggest you assign that 642 to backup duty and get yourself a nice high capacity Glock asap!

Something to definitely think about! Thanks.


September 15, 2008, 11:39 PM
Or you could skip the glock and keep the theme alive with a .357. :p

September 16, 2008, 09:45 AM
Another option might be a "New York Reload" (two five shot revolvers).

The suggestion of not going alone seems very wise indeed. Consider a case of self defense where all of the witnesses are friends or family of the deceased!

Just for fun: years ago I had a friend who had once gotten a job as a debt collector. He went to see someone who had not made payment son a television (years before my parents got one). The subject listed her occupation as "actress" but she practiced the world's oldest profession. She approached my friend and said, "son, why don't you get a respectable job?". That's what convinced him to go to college. No implication here, just thought you might get a laugh out of it.

Ghost Walker
September 16, 2008, 02:25 PM
:rolleyes: Many years ago I used to collect delinquent rents for my slumlord father-in-law. (He knew what was involved and preferred to send me out to do his dirty work with the, 'special' tenants.) It's hard! Some of them are elderly people of little means; others are drug addicts who always seem to be desperate and strung out. No matter what you do, or how you approach the problem, you're always at the same disadvantage:

It's very easy for them to get close to you and enter your personal space because, after all, you're there to see them! Sometimes it felt like a contest between who was stronger, and who was weaker. If certain of them think you're vulnerable, all they have to do is grab you by the throat and pull you into the apartment. Once the door closes behind you who's to say what really happened?

Even when you collect the rent (or a portion thereof) you still have to make it back down the hall, out of the building, and all the way to your car. Chances are the whole neighborhood knows who you are, why you're there, and what you're probably carrying. (Money!)

Needless to say I felt an enormous sense of relief when I finally got rid of his duplicitous spoiled-rotten daughter, quit working for the man, and got on with my life. Fortunately for me neither the father nor the daughter caused any permanent harm. One of the lessons I took away from that destructive relationship is to never attempt to collect rents (delinquent or otherwise) by yourself.

Remember: They can stand right next to you, or walk right up to you, and get in your face as easily as holding out what appears to be the rent money. The proximity advantage, along with the first move, is entirely theirs! About the best you can do is to always bring someone else with you on the 15th. As I'm sure many a landlord has found out: A pistol, alone, might not help until after it's already too late. :uhoh:

September 16, 2008, 03:52 PM
Haha, no, I guess I should have said, starting my own business --> investment real estate; not all of the properties are in the best parts of town.



Well in that case forget the pistols ... you want a shotgun. Short stock, short barrel and a sling so you wear it under a jacket. ;-)

Good Luck!

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