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Inexpensive pocket revolver recommendations?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by mstrat, Sep 19, 2010.

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  1. mstrat

    mstrat Member

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    I'm looking to buy a new gun, pocket sized, and am looking for recommendations or advice.

    I have never owned a revolver, only semis, so this is all new to me. Originally I was planning to just get an LCP or P3AT but then started to investigate whether maybe a revolver was a better solution.

    It seems the primary negative tradeoff for a revolver is size and weight. But the gains are several: no slide action (important if ever fired, god forbid, in the pocket), more reliable and less finicky, larger round.

    So I have 3 questions.

    1) do my considerations seem sane? Am i missing anything important, or weighing in any irrelevant factors?

    2) How's the recoil and overall handle'ability of a small 38 compared to a pocket semi 380?

    3) What I'm most interested in - what are your recommendations for a good revolver that will meet my needs and not break the bank? In the ideal world here are my criteria in order of importance:
    * small
    * INEXPENSIVE (around $250-400 if possible)
    * light weight
    * covered hammer (is this necessary? seems like a good idea)

    I've read nothing but great things about the S&W J-frames on this board, but it's a little pricey so I'd rather go with something else, if there's a decent alternative (though if the consensus is that it's the only one worth getting, i'll just save up and wait a bit).
    I've seen cheaper Taurus, Charter Arms, etc... but can't confidently choose one unless some more knowledgeable folk agree they're worth it.

    Thoughts? Thanks!
     
  2. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    Welcome to THR mstrat!

    Do you have any friends who own compact revolvers? It would be good for you to shoot them at a range to get an idea of what you like. The action and feel of the weapon varies greatly between S&W, Taurus and Charter's products. Is a used gun acceptable? I just purchased a classic Colt Agent for my wife's CCW piece for under $250.

    I carry a .38 Special Model 60 on a regular basis, but it can be a little heavy. The weight does help with heavy +P loadings, however. To me, the recoil impulse of a P3AT or LCP .380 is very similar to a light weight j-frame type gun loaded with non +P .38 Special ammunition.

    Whatever route you choose, make sure you take a friend who is revolver savvy to check-out the gun before you buy it (even new). You don't want to deal with a lemon right out of the box!
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010
  3. lloveless

    lloveless Member

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    I used a charter arms SS .38 spcl with a bobbed hammer for 17 years. 11 of those years in law enforcement. I qualified 4 times a year with it. Fit in my fanny pack or IWB just fine since my pockets held other things. Wish I still had it.
    ll
     
  4. papa_bear

    papa_bear Internet Reacon Marine

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    ruger lcr
     
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    If you're looking for a revolver that's not heavy for ~$400 you can buy a S&W Airweight which weighs only 15oz empty. I carry one daily and I forget it's in my pocket.

    If you like Ruger better there's always the LCR but I'm still not sold on plastic revolvers even though I'm sure they are just fine. Same goes for the S&W Bodyguard 38 although I think both are outside your price range. BUT, the S&W Bodyguard 38 does come with a none removable laser.
     
  6. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    I don't know about the new Charter Arms guns...I've never even seen one, but I do have one of the older ones that I carry every day now. I resisted a "snubbie" for a long time, and now don't know how I got along without one. I paid less than $250.00 for the one I've got, used of course.

    Smith & Wesson and Ruger (and Colt if you can find one, and don't mind paying) are the head of the class of course. You won't go wrong with either of them.

    I did have a Taurus 85 years ago, but had been bitten by the semi-auto bug and got rid of it. I will say it worked well for what I wanted it to do. When I got the Charter Arms recently I thought about another Taurus, but figured I'd never had a CA so I'd give one a try.
     
  7. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Same here.

    I would probably go with the Ruger LCR in your case. But, I carry a Smith 642/442 J-Frame (38spl). I would choose the one that feels better in your hand and simply pay the price and get it past you.

    None of the small revolvers have great triggers. They are not intended to be target guns. You practice at fairly short distances and in the event you ever need to use a gun in self defense; you're probably talking close range (under 10 yd). Trigger control is important, but you are essentially yanking the trigger at the moment of crisis and probably not thinking completely normal because you're scared. The only counter to that is to practice all the time and maybe your training would take over at the moment of crisis. For me, I'm going to just pull the trigger when I have to. At 7 yds, I could use a rock and hit a man sized target. I have no interest at spending hours and hours shooting a J-frame at the range, a gun I will likely never shoot outside the range. That's my choice and others will disagree.

    Added: So from my point of view, if you like a Taurus or Charter Arms revolver and feel they will function reliably, I'd go there if cost is a critical issue. Again, I would just get what I like and pay the price and be done with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2010
  8. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    I would not buy new.

    *general broad sweeping statement alert!!!*




    Old guns are better. With the exception of some of the new fangled titanium frames, there is no advantage to a new gun
    .

    A buddy of mine picked up a MINT J frame, 3 inch barrel, blue, from a pawn shop last week for 330 out the door. It has a better trigger pull than a new one. No MIM parts. Better fit and finish. In addition a gunsmith would modify it (many "smiths" will not work on MIM guns because the parts do not polish well). And, of course, no lock designed by a drunken chimpanzee.

    The danger in buying an old gun is that you might be buying someone else's problem. Read the sticky on how to evaluate a revolver and you will avoid most potential problems.

    The risk/reward matrix leans HEAVILY towards avoiding the new gun counter.
     
  9. Old John

    Old John Member

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    I checked them all out, the J-frame S&W's, the Ruger LCR, and the Taurus models.
    I liked the trigger best on the Ruger LCR. So, that's what I got. It fits easily in my blue jeans or Dockers pockets in a little cheap Uncle Mike's holster.

    The price on them at my LGS was $429 for the Ruger, $509 for the S&W, and $359 for the Taurus. All were New in the box.

    I like the little LCR. My DSW shoots it pretty well too
    Try them all out. Buy what you like the best
     
  10. Steve 48

    Steve 48 Member

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    I tried them all too and out of the pocket 380's in that price range, the Taurus TCP has the best trigger and is accurate. I know I am in the minority on this but I put 100 rounds od UMC 380 ammo into a head at 10 yards with this gun.
     
  11. GreenMTNLife

    GreenMTNLife Member

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    I second the LCR, but seems like you really can't go wrong with the J-frame either. I just got my LCR a few weeks ago and got it at a LGS for $399. Also if you decide to stick with the well proven j-frame, S & W is offering a $50 rebate on j-frames through Dec. So really your looking at the same price for either.

    Maybe not great trigger, but the LCRs is really pretty darn good. Only slightly behind my 686-2. And I do agree it's not a target gun, there are guns I'd rather shoot, but I do put quite a few rounds through mine. I'm of the practice practice practice mindset for defensive firearms.
     
  12. Wolfeye

    Wolfeye Member

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    1) Your expectations are pretty sane. Small revolvers tend to be a little larger than small autos, but the tradeoff is not bad: .38+p is a more effective round than .380 acp, and ounce per ounce, revolvers can end up being more powerful than autos. New autos are nearly as reliable as revolvers, but you can usually get away with not cleaning a revolver as often. One of the reasons I prefer revolvers is that there's no slide or safety to worry about.

    2) I can't compare lightweight .38 revolvers to .380 autos because I've only fired the former, but recoil tends to be manageable yet lively. Many revolver owners choose to own two: a lightweight one for daily carry, and a full-sized steel one for plinking and home defense. I think it's a good approach, especially since they can use the same ammo. I probably do 2/3 of my handgun shooting with a steel revolver & 1/3 with my lightweight. A rubber grip that covers the backstrap (the rear of the metal grip frame) can help with recoil.

    3) Your guidelines seem pretty good. I'd recommend a used Smith & Wesson model 642 or 442, used Ruger .357 LCR (I'd only shoot .38 out of it, not .357 magnum), or a new Charter Arms Undercover, the "stainless DAO" model. You can go lighter, such as the S&W model 340, Ruger .38 LCR, or CA Undercover Lite, but in my opinion they would have unmanageable recoil.

    A few things worth mentioning... no matter which brand or model you end up considering, give them a good examination before buying. Do a web search for "revolver checkout" for an explanation on how to do it. The 3 brands I've mentioned usually range in quality from pretty good to good enough, but once in a while every brand will make a lemon. Another thing is that revolvers have the advantage of comfortable grips; if you find you don't like one, it's very easy to switch it with one that you do. Lastly, buy a few speed loaders and speed strips so you can reload quickly. Practice with each (preferably using snap caps or empty casings) and stick with the style you prefer.

    Good luck!
     
  13. silverado454

    silverado454 Member

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    Ive carried a Ruger SP 101 in .357 with a front pocket holster for years, Ruger has a lifetime warranty and quality is as good if not better than my S&W 686 (which now has a 1 year warranty) never really liked MOUSE guns. Just my perspective. I do wish they offered the SP in .44 special as well.
     
  14. Grey Morel

    Grey Morel Member

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    The great thing about new guns is that they are NEW.

    There are few things so obnoxious as finding a good deal on a vintage revolver, only to have to replace the hand / bolt / ratchet and have a smith adjust the timing. LAME.
     
  15. oldbanjo

    oldbanjo Member

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    Buy a used MD 36 S&W or an Air Weight if you can find one.
     
  16. frontloader

    frontloader Member

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    Ruger LCR
     
  17. silverado454

    silverado454 Member

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  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Now THAT would make me mix a cocktail with Ruger Kool-Aid!!!
     
  19. mstrat

    mstrat Member

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    I just wanted to follow up and thank everyone for your suggestions, experience, and feedback so far.

    Ideally I would have a friend familiar with revolvers help pick one out, inspect used ones, etc... but I live in a state where "guns are baaad, mmmkay" and unfortunately don't know any other shooters.

    So this board and its contributors have been a great resource.

    Based on your feedback, I'm leaning towards, in order of preference:

    1) Used S&W 442 or 642. The only difference is finish, right?
    2) New or used LCR (hoping that video was a fluke)
    3) New Taurus or Charter (since they're both inexpensive, i'll choose one
    based on gut reaction and feel).

    And for now I'll rule out any other manufacturers that weren't mentioned and recommended.

    Thanks again. And I won't be buying for another couple weeks, so please keep chiming in with your experience if you have the time. :)
     
  20. Cactus Jack Arizona

    Cactus Jack Arizona Member

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    I too resisted the revolver as my CCW for my first two and a half years of carrying. However, I since purchased the S&W 637 Airweight. It cost me a few dollars more than your top limit of $400. All I've done to it was to replace the small two-fingered grip with a bit larger Hogue for better controllability, especially when using +P.

    Taurus has a few different models of ultra-lites. Although I've never shot one of the Taurus Ultra-Lites, I have shot the Model 85 and was pleasantly surprised at it's accuracy and function. Plus, they can generally be found for under $400.
     
  21. savit260

    savit260 Member

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    That's pretty steep if you're talking about a 642/442.
     
  22. Diggers

    Diggers Member

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    I own a 442 and carry it. Its nice for carry, very light. I did pocket carry for a while, then gave up on it. I found it uncomfortable and slow to draw. SO I got rid if the tiny grip it came with and put on a nice pachmayr and carry it in a holster on my belt. Shooting it with the larger grip is super nice.

    Last week I shot a guys LCR .357. Very nice gun also. I shot +P+ .38s and there was very little felt recoil due to it being a bit more beefy than the 442 and a few oz heavier too. The LCR comes with a nice grip which also helps with the recoil.

    (Then I shot his glock 27 with a 15 round mag, which is just silly.:D)
     
  23. Averageman

    Averageman Member

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    SW10Snubbie001.jpg
    310.00 OTD.
    I like it and it goes BANG everytime
     
  24. savit260

    savit260 Member

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    A touch over $250 got me this one a little over a year and a half ago. It had the factory stocks on it at the time. I added the modified Siles for an extra $9 and some sand paper time.

    zIMG_0609.jpg
     
  25. camsdaddy

    camsdaddy Member

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    Be patient and look used. I recently purchased a M38-1 S&W for $200.00. Of course I looked 3 years before I laid eyes on a used Smith.
     
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