I Want a snub revolver...


April 18, 2009, 03:48 PM
Hi all; longtime lurker, new member!

I want to get a lightweight .38 snubbie revolver for concealed carry. It just seems the prices I've been seeing are crazy. I was hoping to get a used S&W for a reasonable price, but that seems really unlikely (the only ones I've seen have been as much as the new ones). Heck, the closest I could find was an old Rossi and it was priced at 299.

The only reasonable deal I've seen is 299 for a Taurus 85 UL, brand new. It's ~150 less than similar S&W's I've seen, so very tempting. Is this a good route to go? I also was hoping for a bobbed/shrouded hammer setup. Is it reasonable to think I could bob the Taurus hammer myself?


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April 18, 2009, 04:05 PM
If you can go $300, save up a bit more for around $400, and you can get many types of brand-new S&W Airweights. That's what I did, anyhow, and got a S&W 638 (airweight, shrouded hammer), and am glad I did.

April 18, 2009, 04:08 PM
That's what I originally figured...but the S&W's I've seen in stock are all ~440, and I'm trying to decide if I want to keep playing this "if I only save a little more..." type of game.

April 18, 2009, 06:26 PM
I've got a Taurus 605 that I carry everyday, and couldn't be happier with it. The 85's are reliable and would serve you well. I agree that a Smith is probably a little nicer on fit and finish, but I like my Taurus just fine, and it was a whole lot less expensive. I've got several thousand rounds through it without any problems.

April 18, 2009, 06:33 PM
Rossi and Taurus cost less than S&W because they aren't made as well, and you are more likely to have problems with them. The S&W will hold or increase in value most of the time.

I got the airweight 642 below about 12 years ago for $350 new. I think they now sell for about $450, which still seems reasonable for such a useful gun.

You must have an AZ concealed carry permit, so I presume you already own at least one handgun and know what handguns cost. The S&W airweight is one of the least expensive you will find. Glocks run $500 to $600, and Sigs are roughly $700 to $900. 1911s are close to $1000. It's the price of the admission ticket to the game, with ammo and holsters extra.


April 18, 2009, 06:54 PM
While some Charter Arms (US), Taurus, and Rossi revolvers work quite well, some don't. It's as simple as asking yourself what your life is worth... then get the S&W 642.

Below you'll see mine - along with my 627 Pro from last year. There is a 2.2x difference in cost... and a world of difference in function. While the 4" 8-shot .357 Magnum would be great in a fight - even I, as big as I am, could not conceal carry it. The 642 can be pocket carried in a pocket holster - like the Robert Mika units I like. It will be ready when you need it - and in your pocket, not at home because you couldn't conceal it's large belt mounted holster. No, it isn't fun to shoot with 'real' protective loads. But - it is plenty potent to 'protect your bacon'.


Like I said, think about it - and what your life is worth.


April 18, 2009, 07:03 PM
I suggest you actually SHOOT a lightweight .38 before you buy one (if you haven't already).

Many people, myself included, have been more than a little surprised by +P recoil.

Yes, you can shoot "lower recoil" self defense loads in them, but ammo becomes even more of a challenge than it already is.

Just my two cents. (And I only own and shoot snub revolvers.)

April 18, 2009, 07:16 PM
yep, another vote for the S&W 642 38 Special. I picked up the 642 a few months back, it’s a very nice gun if 5-shots is good for the OP. I got it from Bud’s, it was just over $400 shipped. Needless to say prices are on the rise. I also considered the Ruger SP101 w/concealed hammer, but I opted for the S&W and to be honest it was a coin toss becasue if I had the funds I would have bought both. There are many great manufacturers however for me it's either S&W, Ruger or Colt

I recently purchased the S&W 327 /357 8-shot…. more than I wanted to spend but I had to have it.

EDIT: added Colt to favorites since I own a Colt 45 Officers special

Big Daddy Grim
April 18, 2009, 07:18 PM
I have the M&P version in .357 and love it very much it is my back-up everyday. On duty and off.

April 18, 2009, 07:37 PM
Thanks for all the info. Yeah, I do have a CCW, and normally carry an Kahr K9 IWB; I'm just looking for something a little lighter and useful for pocket carry. Plus I just love revolvers. I guess the price just shocks me cause the last time I was seriously looking at revolvers, the prices were a bit lower...

Anyway, I have to say, the S&W 638 I looked at today might just have to come home next Monday...

April 18, 2009, 07:41 PM
I have several Taurus revolvers and they all work great, never have missed a beat. There is absolutley no harm in buying them. I have both a Taurus M85 UL and a Smith 637, the Smith will have a better trigger, but they both go bang everytime and are just a easy to conceal. If you want something easier to shoot get the Tuarus 605, it is an steel .357, and is much better in the recoil department. The light weight revovlers aern't to bad however, so long as you aern't a sissy when it comes to recoil. All of these small revolvers take practice to get preofecient with them, but they are plenty capable of being as accurate as you need them to be for self-defense. I was able to get the Taurus 85UL for just over $300 otd, and the Smith 637 at $450 or so otd. IMHO the extra $150 is not worth it for a pocket gun, spend it on ammo or better yet some reloading equipment.

Also I would not bob the hammer as this may cuase light strikes.

April 18, 2009, 07:43 PM
Yeah, I was worried about light strikes. I've just seen (and shot) a few with bobbed hammers, and they seemed fine. Are these just special, heavier hammers? Or is it just "risky"?

April 18, 2009, 07:47 PM
Doc gave u good advice. Personally I HATE a snappy light snubby and do not shoot them well. Interestingly enough I love shooting 44 Magnums.

With this in mind I carry a Colt Detective Special. I shoot it well and the extra weight, to me, is a plus.

April 18, 2009, 07:58 PM
Tends to be just risky, it may not hurt, but then again it may. If you send me a pm with your info, I got a buddy that deals guns. He has a concealed hammer Taurus 850 CIA UL for sale in his shop. I can put you in contact with him.

April 18, 2009, 08:01 PM
If you just want it for concealed carry then a taurus is a fine weapon. If you think that you are going to be trading and selling it then go with an S&W but your going to pay for it because it keeps its value.

April 18, 2009, 08:07 PM
Check out the S&W Airweight Bodyguard with the hammer shroud (I forget the model #), gives you both SA and DA with no chance of the hammer snagging. I think it's the perfect lightweight snubbie. Can carry in a front pocket holster no problem.
Taurus also makes a lightweight .38 spl with a hammer shroud too. S&W is nicer and will probably hold value better. My Taurus is nice too but I haven't shot it as much although it runs fine.

April 18, 2009, 08:10 PM
I carry a Rossi 2" .357 and I love it; but I load it with +p's because the .357's are quite a wrist-wringer. I cannot feel it in carry at all in a harness and i carried it all day today while hiking. I have never had a problem with it.

April 18, 2009, 08:17 PM
I have the S&W 638 and am absolutely thrilled. Shoots fine, recoil is "brisk" with +P, but not unmanageable. Carry in front pocket of jeans with an Uncle Mikes and on the belt slide with a Serpa (It is a little stiff on the draw, but pulls the gun up nicely and I forget it is there.) My choice was between this and the Ruger and I haven't had cause to regret my decision yet

April 18, 2009, 08:20 PM
I have a Taurus Model 905 9mm snubbie, so I can use it as a back-up weapon for my full size 9mm semi-auto. About 500 rounds through it so far without a problem.
My only real complaint was the small grip. That was corrected for by a Hogue Monogrip. Aha, a place for my pinky.

However it not as accurate as my S & W model 64, but that has a 3" barrel.

Also, my $.02 is that I personally don't like airlights, or airweights, or ultralights, or whatever the new buzz word for them is. Take Doc advise try an one before you buy it. They recoil more harshly.

April 18, 2009, 08:26 PM
Thanks for all the opinions guys; I'll just have to keep looking around, try a few more out, and see what feels best, as well as fits my budget.

April 18, 2009, 08:49 PM
+1 on the crazy prices! There has been a big rush on guns because Obama gave the gun manufacturers and shop owners their stimulus package! :p

There is a real lack of used handguns in my area (NH) because everybody is keeping what they have. Ammo can be hard to get. Many are buying ammo and not shooting it.

The law of supply and demand is working to drive prices up and availability down.:(

April 18, 2009, 08:50 PM
With this in mind I carry a Colt Detective Special. I shoot it well and the extra weight, to me, is a plus.


April 18, 2009, 08:56 PM
I really like the Taurus light weight snubbies. Got two, an 85 Multi-Alloy (aluminum frame, titanium cylinder/barrel shroud) and an 851 (all titanium and a shrouded hammer).
Both have been uber reliable and handle +P quite well (recoil is subjective, of course). The 85 did have a light strike issue when I first bought it (I think Taurus was trying to lighten the trigger). That was fixed quickly by Taurus.
Weight is the main factor when you pocket carry. Steel guns, even steel 85's, can drag your trousers down. That's why both my carry revolvers are non-ferrous. The 85 weighs about 14 oz, the 851 goes about 17 oz (weight is of an unloaded gun). The steel 85's go somewhere between 21 and 25 ounces. So, when you try a gun out, ask if you can stick it in your pocket and walk about a bit.
The non-ferrous Taurus revolvers are more expensive then the steel guns, BTW.

Good luck in your search and decision.

April 21, 2009, 09:56 PM
JHK 94, let us know what you get.

April 22, 2009, 03:02 PM
In my experience, my 642, +P ammo or not, is absolutely tame to shoot. It'll only bite you if don't keep a firm grip on it.

April 22, 2009, 04:38 PM
"It'll only bite you if don't keep a firm grip on it."

Easy for YOU to say.


April 23, 2009, 04:27 AM
IMO you will do very well to buy a S&W M442, M642, M438 or M638. I have more than one Airweight J frame and always have at least one with me at all times.

April 23, 2009, 04:37 AM
Another vote for the 642 here. Mine was one of those purchases that over the years I have never regretted for a moment. Wonderful firearm.

Revolver Ocelot
April 23, 2009, 07:03 AM
Easy for YOU to say.

not sure that i follow :scrutiny:

April 23, 2009, 08:10 AM
"not sure that i follow"

Look at the size of that MITT!! :D

April 23, 2009, 08:42 AM
I really like the Taurus light weight snubbies. Got two, an 85 Multi-Alloy (aluminum frame, titanium cylinder/barrel shroud) and an 851 (all titanium and a shrouded hammer).

Another vote for the Taurus 851 ( mine is not titanium ) - sweet shooting revolver!!

Revolver Ocelot
April 23, 2009, 09:14 AM
Look at the size of that MITT!!

huh :confused: I thought it was just a really small computer :uhoh:

April 24, 2009, 02:22 AM
Thanks for all the opinions! I'm still kind of torn. I definitely am interested in the Taurus 851, but haven't been able to find one in stock locally yet. I'm gonna keep poking around...if I can't even find one, I'm going to just splurge a little and get myself an early birthday present in the form of a 638!

April 24, 2009, 02:32 AM
IMO, it's worth the time to get the Smith -- You'll probably keep this gun for a good long while, don't settle, just get Smith you want and be done with it

Dr. Fresh
April 24, 2009, 04:14 AM
I'd suggest a Colt Cobra or Detective Special. They are small and concealable and hold 6 rounds instead of 5 like the Smith.

The Cobra is the lighter of the two.

April 24, 2009, 10:44 AM
Budget + "What I want" is always gonna be a problem.

So, here's another suggestion:

Take some time, have a little patience, go to gunbroker.com and create a search "Smith M36".

Look at the Smith and Wesson Model 36's in blue. I'm seeing some sell now and then for between $300-$375.

If and when you do get a Smith you'll have many grip options, and, most importantly, your local gunsmiths can really improve the trigger action on them.

Once you get a well made Smith with a smooth trigger, you'll thank me for offering this advice. (And it'll be in your budget!)

Good luck

April 25, 2009, 02:08 AM
I've been carring J frame snubs since the middle 1970's I've owned several model 36's, model 60's and one model 49. I now carry a model 442 as a backup to my duty weapon. With the exception of one Charter Arms (Undercover) mistake, I've always favored the J Frames for backup off duty carry.

April 25, 2009, 11:23 PM
Ask yourself "what's your life worth".. you'll hear this comment over and over again from the webwarriors, yet they're not buying new $40K+ cars every year to have the latest in safety when out and about. This is despite the fact that any one of us who operates a motor vehicle is much more likely to encounter a threat to our safety in doing so than one coming in the form of an aggressor (unless they're engaging in a risky lifestyle.)
For HD/SD, a Taurus that you know to function and do so well in your hands will do fine. Those same people who believe they should be armed at all times are, in fact, telling you to wait to be armed, aren't they? Remember the first rule of gunfighting, right? Have a gun!
More justifiable defensive shootings not involving LE or military personnel involve these so-called "lesser" arms than the Kahrs, Kimbers, Sigs, etc, because that's what people who live in the parts of the country more likely to contain these threats have. Most of the cases I've read up on that identified the defender's weapon type include Rossi .38s, Lorcin/Davis-type .25 and .380 pistols, no-name single-barrel or double-barrel shotguns, and various .22 and .32 caliber revolvers. These are the "beer-budget" arms people living "beer-budget" lives have when firearms isn't a pastime for them. I don't own a single firearm valued today at more than $400, but I trust any of the ones I keep for defensive purposes to do me as intended. They include a Taurus 4" 66 revolver, a Charter Arms Undercover .38, and a Bersa Thunder .380 pistol. The first is primarily a HD gun; one of the other two is on me at all (dressed) times.

April 26, 2009, 02:49 PM
the 638

April 26, 2009, 08:47 PM
MedWheeler,thats one of the best posts I have ever read on the internet. I couldn't agree more.

April 26, 2009, 08:59 PM
Look at the size of that MITT!!

huh I thought it was just a really small computer

His hand is closer to the camera then the laptop...matter of perspective.

April 26, 2009, 09:27 PM
sheeesh...you engineering type.

it was a joke:neener:

April 28, 2009, 10:55 AM
Another thing is that ammo selection makes a huge difference in recoil for the snubbies. I fired some 158-gr. LRN Blazers that were slightly painful after about 150. OK, it was more like 145, since more than a couple misfired repeatedly. (Secondary lesson: Don't count on Blazers, especially now that they're not cheap anymore).

But the 130-gr. American Eagle, 148-gr. Remington Wadcutters, and even my 110-gr. +P Corbon defensive ammo are pretty tame.

April 28, 2009, 12:35 PM
Do yourself a favor and get a 642 or a 442. I was able to pick up a like new 642 for $325 off of one of the boards.

April 28, 2009, 02:19 PM
Medwheeler's ultimate point seems to ultimately be that the Rossi's, Tauris and Charters fall into the catagory of "good enough."

With my life on the line, the best is barely sufficient.

This is not about price, but quality. I would rather a used Smith or Colt than carry an H&R. If the finish is worn you are still in the "beer budget" catagory.

Is Medwheeler right when he says (in essence) that Rossi/Taurus/Charter are good enough? I sure hope so. In my experience, the 2 times I had to use a firearm for self defense, one was an old colt, the other I am pretty sure was a Taurus. They both worked.

Please understand, I am not argueing the point, just putting forth my strategy so that you can look at another viewpoint and arrive at your own conclusion.

And I hope that BOTH medwheeler and I are right if either one of us are forced to employ our sidearms in the future.

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