Does Anyone Else Like 3" j-frames?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Tallball, Jun 30, 2022.

  1. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    I have had 2" j-frames and 4" k-frames since I was a young man over 40 years ago. That seemed sufficient for SD. Perhaps I'm slow on the uptake.

    The idea of having a 3" k-frame sprouted slowly in my head and after some years I finally bought one. Unsurprisingly, I liked it a lot.

    I decided I would probably like to have a 3" j-frame, too. My goal was a 3" S&W Model 36. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across one that is in decent shape and affordable. Finally I saw this used Taurus Model 85. It looked almost pristine, and it was $399.

    This is my retirement gift to myself. I doubt I will carry it, though you never know. It would also be an okay house gun. Mostly I got it for range use, practice, plinking, etc. The goal being something that handles like my various snub 38's, but is a little bit easier to shoot accurately. It should be useful as a "rehab" gun when my health allows me to start shooting again soon. As I get older, I will probably be able to shoot it a little longer than my other j-frames, due to its increased weight and different balance.

    It was apparently manufactured in 2013. It's stainless steel, not nickel. It looks like someone bought it, put 50 rounds through it, and put it into the sock drawer. Even the box and papers are pristine. The trigger is smooth, but heavier than I like. I didn't really want the underlug. I preferred the balance of the one I shot without a lug, but this one points and balances okay. The couple of extra ounces at the end of the barrel should help with muzzle flip.

    I put some old boot grips on it right away, because that's the kind I have on all my carry pieces. And I painted the front sight red, ditto. I ordered a Wolff spring kit and a nice leather OWB holster. When the springs arrive, I'll clean and lube the insides while I'm replacing them.

    I've owned six Taurus Model 85's over the years: stolen, given to relative, sold, killed by friend's reloads, the 2" I still have, and now this 3".

    Any suggestions for 38 special non +p SD ammo? That's my preference, and it's time to replace my carry ammo.

    If you have pics of your 3" small-framed revolvers, show them off, and share your stories of 3" small-frame awesomeness. :)

     
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  2. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    J-Frame, K-Frame, D-Frame, I-Frame... a good 3" .38Spl revolver is a gem to behold. :)

    [​IMG]
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  3. fastbolt

    fastbolt Member

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    The first J-frame I bought after becoming a young cop was a 3-inch M36, but it wasn't my first or even second choice. I'd started out wanting a 2-inch M60, or a standard blued 2-inch M36, but none of the shops I checked had any of them, and couldn't guess when they'd be able to get more. They were pretty popular among cops and private citizens in the early 80's. :) I finally settled on a nickel 3-inch.

    It quickly became my favorite off-duty, meeting and court appearance gun. I could shoot it as accurately as my issued 4-inch revolver, too.

    I eventually managed to find a 649 Bodyguard .38SPL, which was handier for pocket carry.

    Fast forward a few years and the reverse situation occurred. I was scouring the gun shops for a 3-inch SP101, but all I could find was a 2.25-inch SP101DAO.:rofl:

    Personally, while I favor the 2-inch (and sub-2-inch) snubs for pocket holster use, I feel that the 3-inch snub offers some advantages that make it a worthwhile choice. The balance, an extra inch of bore (velocity increase) and full-length extraction of empty cases can be handy.

    36-combo.jpg
    36-1_2.jpg

    For an extra round ... and in .357MAG ...
    65-3.jpg
    hat_65_2.jpg

    The older 3-inch 36 happens to be very nicely assembled and fitted. I confirmed, and appreciated, that after I went through a S&W armorer class many years later.

    The 3-inch 65 was actually built at the factory by a former mentor firearms instructor and armorer (now passed), who bought it after he built it as his revolver armorer class gun many years ago. Back in those days they let you choose an available frame and matching yoke to use as a class gun, and then you used parts and assemblies to build and fit a working revolver. I always lusted after that 3-inch 65. Once day I got a call from him, while he was in his hospice bed, and he asked me if I remembered when he'd told me many years ago that I could pick one gun from his collection to receive when he passed. He said it was time. (An estate dealer handled the FFL transfer.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2022
  4. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    I am very happy with my 3" S&W model 60. It carries and shoots well.
     
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  5. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I like 3 inch J frames. Mine is a Model 43, the old Airweight 22 Kit Gun. (OK, so it's 3.5".) Because I liked it, I got a 3 inch stainless small frame Rossi in 32 Long, and a blue 3 inch small frame Taurus in 38 Special to compare it to. They are both OK, espcially the Rossi, but the S&W gets the most use because it is a 22.

    The S&W also has the best trigger. But it was used a lot before I got it, and although it shoots fine, the cylinder axis keeps unscrewing and the rear sight keeps coming loose. I should Loctite them, but I have learned not to do my own gunsmithing. I just check and tighten as needed.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2022
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  6. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    As fastbolt mentioned, the ejector rod is noticeably longer on the 3" model.

    I did not expect that. (I am very unobservant.) :)
     
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  7. Haywood

    Haywood Member

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    I have a 3” 36. The picture isn’t great but, it’s in almost perfect shape and shoots nice AEF664B9-EEF5-493E-8154-2B0B792028EF.jpeg 4D6889F8-52A7-41D1-8B04-E86950CA5A01.jpeg
     
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  8. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    What’s not to love about them? CF2EC722-244E-4DE8-85E2-78C320C221D1.jpeg
     
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  9. InTheField

    InTheField Member

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    One of my favorites:

    jNU94Tu.jpg
     
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  10. MikeJackmin

    MikeJackmin Member

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  11. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    fastbolt
    Sounds a lot like my early days of shopping around town looking for a J frame snubby. Would have loved to find a S&W Model 60 or even a blued Model 36 with a 2" barrel but they were hard to come by back then and big money if you did find one.

    I found that it was a lot easier and less expensive to pick up a slightly used Model 36 or 37 with a 3" barrel. Preferred the round butt version but the square butt was also okay; just didn't seem to be as many grip options with the square butt.

    I remember coming across a Rossi Model 88 which was essentially a J frame Model 60 with a 3" barrel in stainless steel and thinking this is the gun S&W should be making (and they eventually did too) so I bought it and I used it for a number of years as my Kit Gun, only in .38 Special instead of .22LR.

    For some strange and unusual reason I have also been attracted to the S&W Model 49/38, probably as my first one was a real beauty: a nickel plated Model 38 that became my favorite CCW. I even carried it around in my coat pocket during late night walks with the dog. I eventually traded it on another gun as I was beginning to gravitate to semi-autos at the time. But still I missed that Model 38 and came across a new, stainless steel Model 649 that I gave the Mother's Mag Polish treatment to so that it's shininess resembled that of the long gone Model 38!

    About 9 or 10 years ago I was out just checking around at various gun shops, not looking for anything in particular, and found one that had a sale going on with S&W revolvers. I ended up taking home a Model 638, mainly because I wanted something lighter for warm weather carrying and also the sale price was too good to pass up! poKELn4.jpg
    TyNf0Dv.jpg
     
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  12. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    S&W M-31 Pic 2.JPG
     
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  13. tubeshooter
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    tubeshooter Contributing Member

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    I have a model 60-15 and a Rossi clone.
    I like them; they are a handy size to me.
    Great for carry. Well - as good as all steel is going to get, anyway.

    I like most anybody's regular 158 grain SWC for an all-purpose .38 Spl load that isn't too hard on the gun. Especially the Rossi.


    Had a crack at a very clean 3" nickel no-dash model 36, but I already had the above by then.
    It was during the peak of the pandemic and priced accordingly.
    I passed. Sure was a looker, though.
     
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  14. ECVMatt
    • Contributing Member

    ECVMatt Contributing Member

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    I love 3" J-Frames, SP101's, GP100's, K and L Frames, and just about any other revolver.

    Great topic and I love all the pictures!
     
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  15. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I only have two 3" guns. A model 30-1 in 32 long and a model 36-6 in 38 Special. S&W only made 615 of the model 36-6 guns. Its a full under lug with adjustable sights and one of my best trail guns. Those will never be sold.

    Here is a quik pic of the 36-6 and model 30-1. Please don't laugh at my homemade holster.

    009 (2).JPG
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2022
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  16. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Thomas T

    Love the Model 36-6; looks to be perfectly proportioned with the 3" barrel!

    Do you know who made the grips for your Model 30-1? They remind me of kind made by Mustang Grips way back when.
     
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  17. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I had a 3” model 60 Pro. I sold it as the gun was not what I expected from S&W’s Performance Center. At first I liked it very much and would like another 3” J frame, just not a PC gun. Perhaps a model 60.

    I like J frames. I currently have 2. A model 36-2 and a 442-1. Both have the short 2” barrel. I like them both very much.
    C46D40D1-EA05-4EC7-8110-FF61FA9ADD05.jpeg
     
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  18. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    I picked up a 3 inch M36 a few years ago on a whim. I really like it but it doesn't get much range time. Maybe I should get it out this weekend. It seems like I remember it having a very thin front site compared to my other J frames?
     
  19. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    3" J frame opens up new possibilities. About as good as a 4". Light years ahead of a 2".
     
  20. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I have a S&W 60-15 (357 Magnum), 317-3 (22LR), 36-1 (38 Special) 3" J-frames revolvers. The 3" barrel on the Model 60-15 helps with recoil a bit but I still don't shoot anything approaching full power loads. I have a nice load 158 gran SWC 357 Magnum load that gets about 950-1000 fps from a 4" barrel; revolver that is comfortable to shoot in the J-frame Model 60-15.

    The AirLite Model 317-3 feels like nothing on your hip or pocket and still has enough oomph to dispatch small critters around the farm.

    I also have an S&W 624 and Ruger GP100 with 3" barrels chambered in 44 Special. They are not totally objectionable to shoot but I'd rather shoot a 4" barrel 44 Special. Plus, the S&W N-frame and the Ruger GP100 frame is not as easy to conceal.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  21. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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    [​IMG]

    60-4
     
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  22. csirre

    csirre Member

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    I my country, 3in K-Frame (especially Model 66 Combat Magnum) is almost a myth. You've heard about it but you may never see it. Here is my 856 (85 with 6 round cylinder), love its look and finish but I have problem with either the grip or trigger (not sure which or both)--when I fully grip the gun, the trigger is very awkward to pull. I have a Kimber K6S which is of similar size, and the trigger pull is fine. You should dry fire the 85 before buying.

    [​IMG]
     
  23. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    A 3" is missing from my collection. However, recently while checking LGSs for primers a 3" Taurus 856 caught my attention.... not so sure about Taurus consistency of quality - so I hesitated. Decided to roll the dice on it - went back to LGS- a classic case of hesitation regret. Will keep an eye out for another or perhaps look at one of the recently announced "Executive grade" units.
     
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  24. Ru4real

    Ru4real Member

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    I have a shiny 3” Model 37. Me likes shiny things!

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  25. Carl N. Brown

    Carl N. Brown Member

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    Thank you all for posting great photos of your revolvers.

    In discussing personal protection over the decades, I have frequently heard that a three-inch barrel five-shot .38 revolver is less of a "bulge" under clothes than a two-inch version.

    I have also heard the assertion that three-inch barrel six-shot .38 revolver is less of a "bulge" than a two-inch barrel five-shot.

    I do believe that the three-inch barrel J-frame offers a bit more sight radius and velocity over a two-inch at no cost in discreet carry ability.

    I just haven't seen any three-inch barrel .38 J-frame (or copy) revolvers running about in the wild looking for a home. (I think my wallet just breathed a sigh of relief.)
     
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