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Where do you rank the 38 snubby as far as a defensive weapon

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by george burns, Aug 21, 2016.

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  1. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    Although the question didn't say anything about a pause in the action, I did address that possibility in my response.

    If there is a pause in the action such that you have the time to think about reloading when your gun is still capable of shooting, and feel safe enough to stop shooting a gun that will still shoot, then maybe you should be thinking about using that time and safety to get away instead of continuing to fight.

    That applies anytime, but even more so after having expended a considerable percentage of your on-tap ammunition.
     
  2. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    Full agreement John, my line of questioning regards the two gun concept so often brought up when capacity of a small revolver is brought up.
    I struggle to understand how one can effectively bring a second into play in an active encounter with more than one attacker or poor shooting for any number of reasons.

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  3. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    X-Rap,

    Sorry, I had misunderstood your question to be genuine, and not a device to make the argument for an entirely different weapon.

    Of course you're not going to stop shooting in the middle of an active fight to change weapons if there is no time to do so. I had assumed there must be that kind of pause for the question to even begin to make sense.


    I could see someone finding two snubbies easier to carry than one larger auto, but I think it is more likely that someone carrying a snubbie might have a tiny .25 or something like that as a BUG, which altogether would be more concealable than a 10+ round auto.
     
  4. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    If that "larger auto" is a 19-round service pistol, that is probably true.

    But I would have found two five shot snubbies a whole lott less convenient to carry than one of the semi autos that I have carried over the years.

    Back to the original question, I would rate a five shot snobby much higher than a derringer or any "mouse gun".

    A tiny .25 with a safety would be far slower to bring into action as a backup than a DA revolver, andd far less effective.

    The ten shot semiauto that I once carried was only slightly less concealable than my 642, and it was a lot more shootable, though it was not as good in a pocket.

    I do not like pocket carry except for backup.

    He made a living looking for trouble, but the late Jim Cirillo carried three six shot .38 revolvers on duty, plus a semiauto.

    As a retired civilian, he carried two Glocks.
     
  5. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    If I could conceal three revolvers and an auto, I would just carry an MP5K.


    Aside from X-Rap's straw argument, people that carry snubbies (and pocket autos) are unlikely to be carrying anything but the loaded revolver - not even reloads. The whole point of a revolver is that it doesn't require the infrastructure something like a Glock does to safely carry and conceal. Instead, it is a simple device that can be dropped in a pocket with relatively little risk of an AD and fired with almost any sort of grip, even from the pocket.

    If the person carrying those five shots of effective .38 feels that isn't going to address their hypothetical threat, then it is probably not the right weapon and they need to graduate to a police type set up with a larger gun, holster that protects the trigger and mag release, reloads, night sights, weapon lights, BUG and rape whistle.

    There is some middle ground, but if you actually are thinking that you'll be reloading a 7-10 round auto, you shouldn't be carrying a 7-10 round auto either. Many people feel that G26 is barely easier to conceal than a G19, so you might as well have 16 rounds loaded and not draw an arbitrary line between 5 and a few more than 5.


    That's why I find the discussion of the snubbie being "not enough" as being so arbitrary. I can see being loaded for bear, but not just a little bit extra.
     
  6. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    How that person "feels" is not what makes "those five shots of effective .38" a less than optimal way of mitigating risk.

    A "police type setup" is not the only alternative.

    What's arbitrary about it?

    It's a judgment call.

    Years ago, Colt extolled the virtues of "that all important sixth shot".

    It didn't sound like much to many of us then.

    In Post 153, John KSa showed some results of five shots and up to twelve using one set of assumptions (don't like them? use your own). Six gives a lot more than "just a little bit extra".

    I ended up at eight. I might prefer twelve, but there are design considerations among the available choices.

    If you don't like studying tables, read the take-away points:

     
  7. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    The straw argument as you call it comes up in every 5 shot revolver thread including this one. There is certainly a group that thinks it better to carry 2, 5 shot rather than one 10 shot.
    As I've said, I own far to many snubs of many varied shapes and sizes and aside from the 44 & 454 and a couple 357's they are just range toys. I don't even use them for hideout guns in the house anymore so I'll have to agree to disagree on the high rank some are giving.

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  8. Kendal Black

    Kendal Black Member

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    Of course, if you extend hypotheticals indefinitely you can come up with a situation for which no gun is sufficient.

    .38 snubs have been used in the concealed carry role for quite a long time. Colt offered the first commercial version back in the Roaring Twenties, but shortened revolvers were by that time already old hat.

    We have a very long track record for weapons of the sort. Shortcomings of the concept would have emerged if there were any glaring ones. By shortcomings I mean something beyond the obvious minuses already discussed here, such as hard to shoot straight and not much ammunition. By glaring I mean something like it doesn't work when called upon to do so or it does not accomplish its task.

    One is hard pressed to find complaints of the sort from those who actually carry snub revolvers, and that includes those who have had occasion to use them to defend their lives. Certainly a gun that held ten shots would be better, or fifteen, or twenty. That is mechanically impractical in a revolver.

    The low probability of hitting your target when in an actual gunfight has been raised--a very good point. However, many uses of the snubnose are at powder burn distance or not much farther.

    As several have noted, the snubnose is capable of good accuracy, so the problem of missing in gunfights is not the fault of the gun. Having no excess of ammo on board is, though, a point of concern. It was said of old that it was very advantageous if your first shot was a hit. "Make your first shot count" was repeated often. I would say that is a very good policy if you can at all arrange it.
     
  9. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    Numbers that assume that gunfights end only with incapacitation of all the attackers are arbitrary.

    You're using math to argue yourself into a position that your life is forfeit if you don't get a certain hit rate in a certain time against a certain number of targets.

    The reality is that you could shoot three assailants 5 times each and still get killed, or you could put 2 rounds in the ceiling and scare off ten attackers.

    The fact that we're talking about people and not paper targets is why all this theoretical mumbo jumbo is so pointless. The fact that you can produce statistical models doesn't mean that the models are accurate or useful in the real world, even if they are testable on an IDPA course.


    The reason we discuss J frames so much is only because there is nothing smaller anymore. If someone started making an even smaller framed revolver with 4 shots of .38, then that would be what we're going to use as the minimum starting point for this conversation, and people would quickly submit theories why 4 shots is almost, but not quite, enough gun.


    You don't get something for nothing, and .38 is currently the lowest of the realistically effective calibers, and a J frame one of the most easily concealed delivery systems for those calibers, so that's why it is the starting point for these debates, not because 5 shots just happens to be 1 shot too few.
     
  10. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    The numbers provide insight into the probability of the outcome when incapacitation of the attackers is necessary and can be accomplished with 2 hits to each attacker.

    Is that arbitrary? Well, the assumptions are reasonable in terms of what experts tell us is likely if the attackers don't surrender, but any given attack may be governed by different circumstances.

    So why focus on the case when incapacitation is necessary and takes a couple of hits on each attacker? Because that's the case that most people worry about and also the case that most people don't really have a feel for.

    We all know, or should know, that something like 90% of successful self-defense gun uses do not even involve the gun being fired and the majority of the remaining cases are resolved by firing the gun, even if the attacker is not hit or is hit but not incapacitated or even seriously wounded.

    If we're going to focus on the 90% aspect of self-defense gun use, then any gun, or even anything that appears to be a gun, is viable for self-defense and all guns rank the same.

    If we're looking at the majority of the remaining cases that are resolved by firing the weapon, even if there is no hit or incapacitation or serious injury inflicted, then any gun that goes bang is viable for self-defense and all guns that go bang rank the same.

    In other words, it should be a given that if we're talking about ranking guns as defensive weapons, we're talking about the times when we actually need them to deal with a threat that doesn't immediately go into "vanish mode" when a gun appears or a shot is fired.

    If we want to ignore the times when incapacitation is necessary then this blank firing revolver:

    d_1396.jpg

    Ranks exactly the same as this top of the line semi-auto pistol.

    sig-sauer-p226-legion-series-9mm-pistol-legion-gray-e26r-9-legion-by-sig-sauer-6e2.jpg

    IMO, the biggest problem with this debate over SADTSGs (small and difficult-to-shoot guns--whatever particular variety is being discussed) is that it's pretty common for people trying to justify choosing such a gun to argue simultaneously that we don't need to be concerned about having to incapacitate attackers and that incapacitating attackers is not a problem for their favorite SADTSG.

    It's sort of reminiscent of Racehorse Haynes' famous statement that his defense against a dog bite suit would be to claim that his dog didn't bite, that it wasn't his dog and that he didn't even have a dog.
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  11. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    Blanks? Reductio ad absurdum.


    I would love to know where all these "experts" in non-LEO defense statistics are coming from.
     
  12. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    You tried to steer the discussion away from incapacitation. If we get away from the necessity for incapacitation then blanks become just as effective as guns that fire bullets. It's only when incapacitation is a concern that a discussion of capacity and shootability makes any sense.
    Citing a two shot/double-tap requirement for cases when incapacitation is required is not exactly pushing the bounds of credibility, but here are some stats:

    http://www.buckeyefirearms.org/alternate-look-handgun-stopping-power

    For .38 Special
    "Average number of rounds until incapacitation - 1.87"
     
  13. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    Adding more marginal statiscal guestimates doesn't make anything clearer.

    Given the relative rarity of self defense shootings, talking about them statistically is like the Drake Equation that predicts the high likelihood of alien civilization. You can apply all sorts of numbers to something that demonstrates that something is going to happen a certain way, but it doesn't actually predict anything if all the elements involve too much chance.

    The reason I brought up incapacitation is simply that firing a gun can stop attacks through a variety of effects from fright, to pain, debilitation and finally incapacitation. We know that, as do the "experts", but none of that enters the math, either. So they default to a worse case scenario that, coincidentally, matches up really nicely to the newest and most popular police and competition firearms.

    But it isn't a coincidence - it's the way people choose to look at probability to make it match their preferences, and people resoundingly prefer autopistols today.

    No one is saying that a snubbie is sufficient for every possible defense situation, but there does seem to be a running theme that some other similar weapon is. And they feel they have the math to prove it. It's bad use of statistics and wishful thinking posing as science.

    All guns are compromises for CC. I'm just amazed that anyone can say they've codified the compromises with such precision.
     
  14. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    My 5 shot snub is a 44spl older CA bulldog Its slighty larger than my 36 or 49 But still conceals easy and weight about same as a steel frame S&W . I have the Smith's But 44 just seemed better idea 200 gr Gold Dot . Recoil not all that bad with a little practice. So why settle for a 38 when can have a 44 .

    But my main compact carry is my Colt Officer compact from mid 1990's I really prefer the auto today over the revolver .
     
  15. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    The analysis has been discussed before, and for many reasons it would not be at all accurate to characterize it as "worst case".

    By the way, neither I nor anyone I know carries a "police or competition" firearm.

    I haven't seen that.

    What I have seen is a convincing argument that,all other things being equal. six shots area better bet than five; seven, better than six; and so on.


    No one has. You have missed the entire point.

    If you don't like the assumptions, try some others--reasonable ones.
     
  16. RX-79G

    RX-79G Member

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    You had said previously that 5 shots wasn't enough, but 6 may be based on a John's formula from another thread. But that formula is completely based on an assumption that police hit rates are applicable, even though defense shooters do not shoot like police do.

    6 shots is better, as are 7, 10 and 18. But you seem to be convinced that the number needs to be >5, and offered math to make your case.

    How many decades of service with 6 shot revolvers were there before police embraced the Chiefs Special and kissed away the "all important sixth round"? It seems incredible that 6 shots could be so marginal, yet the people who actually put themselves in danger professionally thought nothing of giving up a round. Was shooting those K frames empty normal or not?
     
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2016
  17. X-Rap

    X-Rap Member

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    If this discussion involved people carrying 2 shot derringers rather than 5 shot J frames would it change anything?

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  18. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    I said that I would not choose five. And yes, six may prove adequate.

    No, it is not.

    I think it is a lot better to carry more than five.

    Do not confuse the results of multifaceted marketplace completion over the years with the adequacy of five rounds for primary carry.

    Yes, many officers embraced the J-frame, mostly for backup, replacing for the most part lower-powered I-frame revolvers.

    Is that your interpretation?

    Was shooting those K frames empty normal or not?
     
  19. palmetto99

    palmetto99 Member

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    A j-frame is better than a pointy stick.
     
  20. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    So are you saying that no one has any idea how many shots of .38Spl it takes to incapacitate someone, on average, or are you just saying that you don't like the statistics I'm quoting because they provide an undesirable answer when calculating the probability of success?

    I think that the outcome of a couple hundred shootings using .38Spl (the study was based on 199 shootings with that caliber) provides some basic insight into the problem even if the exact number might not be exactly 2 shots and even though any given scenario might differ from the average based on the variables and circumstances.

    You asked for some statistics and I provided them. There are probably other sources if you don't like that source, and many of them can be located with an internet search just like I found that source. Not that it's really a stretch to start with the assumption that 2 rounds should be considered a decent rough estimate of the number of rounds out of a service caliber pistol required for incapacitation. The double-tap wasn't just dreamed up because someone's favorite number was "2".
    It's not that anyone is defaulting to a worst case scenario, it's that if you want to talk about the relative merits of pistols for defensive use, and you don't intend to focus on psychological stops, the focus is on incapacitation.

    As I said, we can talk about what gun is good for psychological stops, but it's pretty pointless in the context of gun selection since psychological stops are about a person being frightened into giving up/fleeing. And that's not got much to do with accuracy, capacity or terminal effect.

    If we want to get past talking about psychological stops then we start talking about incapacitation. Not because incapacitating the attacker(s) is a likely necessity in a typical self-defense scenario but because we are interested in talking about the scenarios where the gun choice might make a difference, as opposed to the scenarios where the attacker flees/surrenders out of fear and the gun choice is essentially irrelevant.
    Of course--no gun is.
    The math provides an accurate answer to the question posed, given the listed assumptions.

    The thread provides a very thorough explanation of the question posed and the listed assumptions.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=665883

    Does it tell you everything you need to know about defensive weapon selection? Hardly, and if you read the thread it doesn't claim to. In fact, at one point I made the comment that: "The results provide a limited insight into one very narrowly defined aspect of handgun self-defense. They are not intended to, nor has any claim been made that they fully and accurately replicate all the intricacies of a real-world gunfight."
    Actually the OP in that thread provides the means to determine the probability of making 4 hits (2 on each of 2 opponents) for hit rates from 10% to 90%. For example, if you think that a 70% hit rate is more realistic then you can use the plots to determine that the chance of making 4 hits before a 5 shot gun is empty is a little better than 50% if you can make a hit 7 out of 10 times you pull the trigger.

    I think that this is what made some really stop and think. If you can make hits more than twice as consistently as the average cop (using the 30% figure for the average cop) then you still have only a little better than even odds of making 4 hits before the gun runs dry.

    Does that mean that 5 shots is too few? It's not that simple.

    What it means is the following: If you would like the capability to be able to incapacitate 2 attackers and feel that 2 hits or more per attacker will likely be required and that a hit rate of 70% or less is reasonable, then you might want to rethink choosing a 5 shot gun. Because at best, the chances of making that work with 5 shots is a little better than 50/50. Drop the hit rate to 60% and the chances of succeeding are 1 out of 3. At 50% hit rate the chances of making all 4 hits are 1 out of 5.

    But let's say that you reasonably believe you will be able to make 90% hits in a real-world shooting and won't ever have to incapacitate more than 2 attackers. Then picking a 5 shot gun could make sense given that the odds of succeeding with those assumptions would be a little better than 9 out of 10.

    The math provides the information and then each person can decide what kind of odds they think are a reasonable risk given their personal limitations and their assessment of what scenarios they might face. That's what it's all about--deciding what kind of risk is acceptable. All the calculation provides is some sort of a basis for making that decision.

    So is 5 shots too few? Most people believe that 0 shots is enough, given that very few people carry handguns on a regular basis. But if one assumes, for example, that a 50% hit rate is reasonable and a defender might encounter 2 determined attackers, each requiring at least 2 hits to neutralize, then 5 shots is only enough if a success rate of 1 in 5 is acceptable.
     
  21. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator Staff Member

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    With 300+ posts, I think we've covered the viability of the .38 snubby subject quite well, and there's no need to beat the dead horse further. If anyone needs more info, they're welcomed to search the numerous other threads on the subject.
     
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