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

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When I used to carry a J (S&W M642-1 no-lock whatcha know about dat) I felt pretty well armed.

I carried Speer Gold Dots in it and had 5 spares on a Bianchi speed strip. Really though even with practice, it's a lot of fiddling and fairly slow to use the speed strip.

Now I carry a Makarov PM. I've got 4 extra rounds of what is essentially .38 special +P power and effectiveness, in a package that is much faster to reload and has proven to be utterly unfailing in THOUSANDS of rounds fired out of it.

The lil J got sold. The Mak is on my hip now.
The story seems to be fading into legend, but back in the day, Gunsite instructor Ling New, a small statured Asian woman, would run a snubby in the fun matches, running right with the autos, albeit with some very deft gun handling.
The original post did not specify J-Frame, so if I can include the SP101, the five-shot revolver is still quite viable as a serious "defensive" weapon. I do have an Airweight J-snub, but see it as a tertiary weapon, for the "get off me" niche.

For the times that the best defense is a strong offense, however, I would rather have a medium or medium/large-frame six-shot revolver, not so much because of the sixth shot, but the handling qualities. The original, pre-Hogue GP100 factory grip is very, very good for my hands.
And, an original-style, pre-Hogue, square-butt GP100 grip is what I have installed on my Super Redhawk Alaskan, a very, very serious snub-gun, though, of course, six-shot. Though able to chamber .454 Casull, I believe it will only be shooting .45 Colt ammunition. My days of shooting big-bore Magnums are over; enough cumulative damage done, in the Eighties, for a lifetime.
Go into a gun store around here these days and you will find the handgun shelves populated with: tons of black plastic autos, 1911s, snubbies, and "other". Other is usually the 22s and the few non-snub revolvers they still carry. So based on inventory they seem to still be popular.

I went whole-hog with my snubbie and paid a ridiculous amount for a scandium S&W with a LaserGrip. It's chambered in 357, which I find just laughable. I would rather shoot my 629 with max 300 grain loads than this hand mangling brute with 38 +P.

On a whim I bought a $350 Kahr CW9--it will very likely replace my expensive J frame because it doesn't have a cylinder bulge thru my pants pocket and is actually easier to shoot.
I carry a LCR snub 357 and many others carry snubs. Nothing easier under stressful situations, just pull it out and pull the trigger. Also easy to conceal and light weight. Average gunfight is over in 2.7 rds I believe and it leaves you will a couple extra. To many you tube yahoos talking about needing 15 rounds and extra mags, maybe if your in a war zone but your typical SD situation a snubby is great. Buy,one and practice and carry it with confidence.
The original post did not specify J-Frame, so if I can include the SP101, the five-shot revolver is still quite viable as a serious "defensive" weapon. I do have an Airweight J-snub, but see it as a tertiary weapon, for the "get off me" niche.

I didn't even mention that I'm carrying a Taurus 85, not a J-Frame Smith which I'm sure makes only 5 rounds irrelevant, since I keep reading on the internet how it won't fire 5 rounds without breaking anyways.
As Predator55 points out, I am not planning on pursuing an armed perp, just keeping the thugs off me. So, a five round small revolver ought to be enough. Looking for a new one since I gave my wife the Detective Special I owned for many years. She loves it. Matches her hat and bag or something like that.
In my earlier post I recommended getting the book Ed Lovette titled the Snubby Revolver. One story in the book he was sitting around a table with a bunch of well known gunwriters who every month recommended getting a 1911 or a high cap 9mm. So he asked them to show what they were personally carrying on their person. Almost to a man each one had a 38 snub on them.

There are lots of post on here for and many against the snubby. Thats fine. Each of us has to make their own personal choice. I like my snubbies no matter if they are a 38 or a 32 caliber. Nothing slips in my front pocket and slips back out as easy as it does. And I have tried a lot of different autos. Some of the small autos like the Kel-tec 32acp and the small Iver Johnson TP-22 are nice. But I just like my 38 snub. And I intend to keep it.

Here is a story about a guy who used a Smith & Wesson model 38 five shot gun against 4 attackers and came out on top. Maybe you would like to read it. No reloads. No extra rounds. Just four muggers who got what they had coming. And he did it all with just 5 rounds.

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

At the bottom of the pack, but above Hi-Point and its ilk.
The humble yet faithful .38 snub has put a lot bad guys in a hole for a dirt-nap.

While it's true that modern polymer single stacks chambered in 9mm make for a flatter package that sports more firepower, I would never disparage someone for opting to tote around a snubbie for self defense.

My problem with the .38 j frame is that I simply can't hit much with it. I am much, much better with my 9mm LCR sporting a skinny boot grip, which rather surprises me. I'm actually good out to 25 yards with my ol' warhorse SP101 in .357 when it comes to keeping the rounds on a man-sized target. I'm actually a decent shot with my little .380 Pico.

The little .38 just seems to elude me. I'm all over the dang place.

That said, I have a 642 that rides in my coat pocket most every evening during cooler months. It's a little lighter than the LCR, and I keep it as a back up to my primary carry or what I'll have on my person if I'm not planning to carry on my belt. While I know it is capable of great accuracy at longer ranges, in my hands, a .38 snub nose (of the j frame size), it good for about 5 yards. In a scuffle, I would make for some potent medicine.

As for the rank? That's a tough one...

On one hand it IS very limited in capacity. It's also difficult to shoot well for most people.

On the other it's certainly reliable with it's "Five for sure" school of thought.

Personally I shoot a small .380 better and it gives me 2 extra rounds, but properly stoked .38 special more than makes up for that if you can land your hits.

A "compact" 9mm does provide more firepower and is easier to reload, but the ubiquitous little .38 is a sneaky little travel companion in a coat pocket.

I'll put it this way: First and foremost, I would prefer to carry a Glock 19 or something similar if I can dress around it. Barring that, I would pick my Pico simply because I can stash it anywhere and I shoot it very well.

My next choice would be the 9mm LCR. I shoot it well. Way better than the .38 version I had years ago.

My last choice would be the 642.

That is not to say that it's a bad choice. I would select it over any number of full size and micro belly guns. It's just my least favorite gun to carry regularly, if that makes sense;)

I dunno. Maybe I need to bite the bullet, drop 30 bucks, and go run some rounds through 'er. Maybe there is a bit more to the .38. Maybe I can squeeze out a little more performance with a lot more practice.
I don't personally like them. They are difficult for me to shoot well, bulge in a pocket when I carry there and have been displaced for my personal use by subcompact 9mms and even smaller pocket .380s, both of which I shoot much better. I could see one, and have been kicking the idea around, as a specialized tool for carjacking defense. Not ejecting empty cases could be an advantage if you have to fire the gun inside your car.
About 20 yrs ago .A friend of mine ,killed himself . With a S&W 36 ,158 gr LRN He shot himself in head temple area in bath room . Round passed thru head. Then went thru BR wall across hallway. Thru a bedroom wall across bed room in to outer wall . When police found The Brick outer wall had stopped it . He lived and died at hospital. Was in his 60's

158gr LRN is a useless SD round Please carry something better

My main carry snub is a old CA 44 spl slight bigger than a 36 weight very close and I carry 200 gr HP in mine .
There is a lot to be said for the mini-Glock and comparable pistols. When I chose the .38 snub there were no mini-Glocks. The leading choices for the role were Smith's Chief's Special, Colt's Detective Special and Walther's PPK.

Perhaps if I had it to do over now, decades later, I would go with a Glock 43 or something comparable. However, and I think this is rather a good point if I say so myself, I do not find there is an epochal difference in how safe I feel. (You carry a gun because your safety from violence is by no means a sure thing. If you are safe and carry a gun you are not a sensible person.) If fact I feel quite as safe with what I started with.

A part of it, by this time, is sheer familiarity. When you reassemble a Glock after cleaning, it is well to make sure the fiddeldickfleahoppersprinenthingyunterdemslidestoppen is put back in right. With a .38 there is no question of putting parts back correctly because I did not remove any.
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Kleanbore good video. Did you notice at about 2.40 when he shot he fired 5 rounds? Gee, the same amount as most 38 snubs.

158gr LRN is a useless SD round Please carry something better

My uncle was a policeman on the Ft Worth Tx PD and he killed a man while on duty. One shot from a model 15 with a 158gr round nose lead and that round was once again was a "widow maker". He made a widow out of that mans wife.

Here is another video of the 158gr lead round nose making a widow out of someone else's wife. People have been killing each other with round balls and round nose bullets for at least a couple of centuries. The RN bullet is much better than some would like to admit.


One shot and Oswald never spoke another word. He was dead in just a very short time. I wonder about all the "experts" who know for an absolute certainty that a round nose bullet is useless. I would like to know, How do they know? Ever been shot by one?
The 158 RNL IS a very poor choice for a defensive round.
If you carry it, you are shorting yourself in the face of much-improved bullet designs & efficiency.

Yes, people have died on the wrong end of it.
That doesn't mean it was the best choice.

People have also died after being shot with a .25 ACP.
Same deal.

Hey DPris I totally agree. The world is full of much better choices. What irkes me is when someone makes a blanket statement about round nose bullets being no use for defense. That they work has been proven over and over again. And they sometimes fail. That has also been proven. And you can say that about every handgun round and caliber. They have all failed at one time or another.

Would I choose a RN 158gr bullet if I had other choices. Hell no. I would pick the nastiest hollow point I could buy or make. My goal is to win at all cost. But if all I could get or were regulated to RN bullets I would just use what I had and try my best to make well placed hits.

And screw all that crap about hollow points being chosen because they will require fewer shots and therefore are more humane and safer to bystanders. Everyone knows hollow points are picked because they cause more damage and trauma to the shootee. If he deserves to be shot he deserves to be shot with the best.
I think they are the best true pocket gun. 158 gr bullets vs 90 from 380 make a huge difference on penetration (in wood, squirrels, jugs and dirt).

Even the little 9s don't sit right in my pockets to be pocket guns but they carry better on a belt that a revolver. That being said a j frame in a pocket holster or Bianchi iwb is all I usually carry.

One thing I didn't see mentioned is the safety aspect. I read about a lot of NDs with semi-auto pistols.

The other thing is close quarters fighting. If you are being attacked it's not from 50 feet away, it's from 2 feet away.

I choose the snubby. Mine's a 7-shot in .22 Mag. I like the extra rounds and I like being able to practice with my carry ammo.
Let's understand that lethality and wounding effectiveness in defensive encounters are entirely different propositions.
Some folks have trouble with the slide of a pistol. My wife carries a S&W J frame and can handle the trigger pull and actually shoots it quite well. She does not shoot a bunch of rounds at one time but she does stay competent.
We've had this discussion many times on THR and that's all well and good, as it is still relevant to carriers today. We often get into discussions about capacity, lethality, shot placement, and wounding potential of the 38 special.

One aspect that I think often escapes attention, or is vastly understated, is convenience. Do a search on THR and you can find endless discussions about what gun is "enough gun" for every day self defense. It often includes discussions of "the need" to carry a full sized gun so you are prepared for anything, and extra ammo, or to carry a particular cartridge.

I don't think there is a person on THR that could make a legitimate argument that having more ammo isn't a good thing in a self defense situation. I also doubt there is a person that could make a legit argument that carrying a bit larger gun that is easier to shoot isn't a benefit also. Obviously the dimensions of the hand of the shooter come into play with what is ideal.

However, many, I won't even say most, people don't want to carry a larger gun. They are concerned about concealment for their own reasons. They care about comfortable carry, again for their own reasons. It's a personal choice, so if we could, lets avoid the comments about laziness, apathy, terrorists, rises and declines in violent crime in the last decade, and being ready for the degeneration of our society into chaos. While that is all relevant to self defense, it is rendered moot by the simple factor of whether or not a person is going to carry any gun consistently.

Does a 38 special snub revolver have a relevant place in todays concealed carry world? Yes it does, if for no other reason than convenience, and personal preference. If it's the only gun a person knows they will consistently carry because there is no hassle of putting on or taking off a holster, because they plan to pocket carry, then I would assert that a 5 shot snub revolver is a superior weapon to any larger or higher capacity gun that a person knows they will not consistently carry.

A gun left at home is of no benefit
I'm an advocate of pocket carry but I want a gun that I can slip in my pocket and forget it's there, throw out caliber and capacity and focus solely on weight. Does a metal snub meet that criteria? Not for me especially with new lighter alternatives.

Since I really don't view my firearms in an emotional sense and I don't come with any sense of platform loyalty, (I've never been a "revolver or semi-auto guy") if it works for me I keep it.
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