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Old 01-26-2010, 09:12 PM   #1
rat907
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Default Simplicity Revisited: The .38 Spl Snub nose

In a life or death situation, you don't need to remember alot of manipulations and tactic's to save your life. All that is needed is practicality and honed muscle reflexes since most deadly physical encounters happen at 7 foot or less. The most common misconception of a concealed carry snub is the "aim and shoot" dipicted in film. The snubby is best learned and used as a point and fire weapon. The sight radius is way too small for accurate Target shooting.

Point shooting is no more than making the snubby a part of your hand just like the index finger, when pointing at a target. Using point fire when practicing creates muscle memory, you don't have to think about scratching your nose and shouldn't when drawing your snub in defense.

A victim armed with a basic .38 Spl snub nose fares just as well in a deadly situation as a victim armed with a top-of-the-line mini autoloader. If you have to reload in a scuffle, then your awareness of your surroundings are in question, not the firearm.
I have carried concealed for over 18 years with nothing more than a 5-shot .38 spl. and never felt under gunned and Thankfully, never had to produce it in that time frame. I had avoided confrontations by being aware of my surroundings and avoiding situations.

Self-defense is just that, awareness and avoidance, and if need be, then the use of deadly force.

The .38 Special was introduced in 1899 as an improvement over the .38 Long Colt which, as a military service cartridge, was found to have inadequate stopping power against the wooden shields of charging Moros during the Philippine-American War.

The .38 Special was the standard service cartridge of most police departments in the United States from the 1920s to the early 1990s. In other parts of the world, particularly Europe, it is known by its metric designation 9?29mmR.

The .38 Special is very accurate in a quality revolver, produces little recoil, and remains the most popular revolver cartridge in the world more than a century after its introduction. It is used for target shooting and formal target competition, for hunting small game, and for self-defense.

Today, versions of this cartridge loaded to slightly higher pressure are available, called .38 Special +P; these are usable in .38 revolvers rated +P and in .357 revolvers. But since most all .357's are medium to large frame and generally 6-shot, they are too bulky and heavy for everyday carry concealed.

Due to its blackpowder heritage, the .38 Special is a low pressure cartridge, one of the lowest in common use today at 17,000 PSI. By modern standards, the .38 Special fires a medium sized bullet at rather low speeds. The closest comparisons are the .380 ACP, which fires much lighter bullets slightly faster than most .38 Special loads; the 9?19mm Parabellum, which fires a somewhat lighter bullet significantly faster; and the .38 Colt Super, which fires a comparable bullet significantly faster. All three of these are usually found in semi-automatic pistols.

The higher-pressure .38 +P loads at 20,000 PSI offer about 20% more muzzle energy than standard-pressure loads and places between .380 ACP and 9 mm Parabellum. not much of a trade-off to me for simplicity and reliability.
Only a minority of US police departments now issue or authorize use of the .38 Special revolver as a standard duty weapon, most having switched to the higher-capacity and faster-reloading semi-automatic pistols in 9mm Parabellum, .357 SIG, .40 S&W, .45 ACP or .45 GAP. It is still common in security use by guards who value the reliability and simplicity of a revolver (emphisis added), and by private citizens for concealed carry and police for secondary/backup handguns because its recoil when fired from very small and lightweight revolvers is considered much more manageable than more powerful cartridges; its low recoil is easier to control and is better acclimated.

There are many good guns out there that fit the concealed bill that are reasonably priced to outrageous.

With prudence to the pocketbook and the current economy in the toilet, you can get a decent defensive arm and alot of practice ammo for the cost of a "hyped" defensive gun with no ammo.

There are different configurations of frame, hammer and actions available, so I will just graze the surface of these.

Frame and hammer types

Snub-nosed (snubs) come in 3 basic configurations: open hammer, bobbed hammer or spurless and hammerless (enclosed with-in the body).

Traditional open hammer Double and Single action fire capable, squeeze or thumb cock.


These two illustrations are in the same hammerless catagory

Enclosed/Double Action Only (DAO) hammer is totally enclosed within the frame.


and Hammer shrouded which can still be thumb cocked for single action firing.


a 4" barrel, but note the "bobbed" spurless hammer.

Barrel legnth

The 38 snub used to come in barrel legnths of 2", 2.5" and 3" varieties, with the 2.5" being the most common. 2 or 3 inch barrels are getting harder to find new.

I carried a first generation 3" stainless steel 5-shot Ruger SP-101 for 10 of my 18 years concealed carry. A three incher is no-more harder to conceal than a two and a halfer, whats a half inch anyways.

The 3 inch barrel gives you better bullet stability over the 2.5 inch thus making the revolver just as accurate as a 4 inch barrel at 25 yards.

If you are shooting a target over 10 yards in my opinion, get a shotgun which will stretch out the distances 80 yards +. But that defeats the concealability issue and the suprise effect.

Snub-nosed ammo

A basic 110 or 125 grain semi-wad cutter hollow point will do the job, recoil is minimal even for children.

The +P (plus powder) rounds do not add that much more recoil, but noise and ballistics are slightly increased over standard rounds.

The +P+ (plus powder plus) is restricted for Law Enforcement Agencies and not sold on the common market.

Specialty ammo can be had from old school to modern "wow".

Old school defensive rounds consisted of:

Glasser Safety Rounds: a +P loaded with a plastic frangible bullet packed with #12 birdshot. This round exploded on impact and was supposed to induce trama from dumping the kinetic energy and making an expansive, shallow wound channel. It was also cited as being riccochette proof and safe for apartment dwelling where walls are thin and not over penatrating into the next dwelling.

Federal's Nyclad SWHP: This was nothing more than a 110 or 125 grain lead +P round with a semi-flexible coating of a plastic. It was supposed to retain its integrity better for breaching heavily clothed targets than plain lead rounds.

Semi-jacketed Hollow point: by far the most common and carried round in a snub. They come 95-125 grain loads from different manufacturers and have a vaiety of names.
Some of the most notable ones: Winchester Black Talons, Remington Golden Saber, just to name a couple.

All that said, a .38 Snubby is no less a manstopper if you pick and practice for its intended design and use. You need not feel at a disadvantage with an antiquated design like the snub-nosed revolver.
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Last edited by rat907; 03-12-2011 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 01-26-2010, 09:32 PM   #2
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I forgot to add, they are extremely easy to maintain and not tempramental and as easy to conceal as a autoloder.
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Old 01-26-2010, 10:02 PM   #3
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So you're really full of it!

.

.

.

Information, I mean!
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Old 01-26-2010, 11:08 PM   #4
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I carry a .357 hammerless J Frame on my ankle every day for work. Rarely do I perform maintenance on it beyond blowing the sock lint off of it once and a while. I will say that no matter what, when I go to the range and pull it out of my ankle holster, it never fails to fire. To me, that is the benefit of these guns. It is almost impossible to make them malfunction.
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Old 01-27-2010, 04:46 AM   #5
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In the snubby .38s, the Gold Dot 135gr Short Barrel load from Speer is THE hotsh!t round. State of the art and designed at the request of NYPD for their personnel armed with the snub off duty/BUG as well as 4" guns.
Nothing wrong with other brands of modern ammo, but if you can find it, this is the load.
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Old 01-27-2010, 10:38 AM   #6
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still carry one great backup
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Old 01-27-2010, 06:55 PM   #7
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Before I was issued a CCW, I geared up for carrying an autoloader and even bought a second autoloader for the purpose of having a spare should the primary break, get stolen, etc. Shortly after I started carrying I switched to a S&W snubby as my EDC and haven't looked back...I like it so much I even fashioned my screen name on the forum after it.

Now I mostly just open carry the autoloaders or use them during winter.
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Old 01-28-2010, 06:01 PM   #8
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rat907 good write up and info but this statement is very perplexing to me "if you have to reload in a scuffle, then your awareness of your surroundings are in question. not your firearm." So are you saying that you don't think being able to reload your chosen firearm in a fight is needed.

For what its worth, my thoughts on the snubby are as follows

1. very easy to carry
2. not what i want in my hand if fight broke out and i had option of carrying something else.
3. limited ammo capacity
4. hard to use sights if I had to use them
5. If a revolver malfunctions ( and they do ) you now have a very easy to carry rock
6. they are better than not having a gun for sure but I think there are better choices for a primary carry gun.
7. I think they have a viable role in a backup gun for sure.

I do like snubbies, but for me there are better options. Just my .02
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Old 01-31-2010, 04:53 AM   #9
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Why go with 38 special when you can go 7 shot 357 revolver? S&W Airlight 7 shot 357 with crimson trace grip is a good backup gun fo sho.
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Old 01-31-2010, 12:29 PM   #10
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I have a .38 snub that I pocket carry in a fist kydex holster when IWB isn't practical.
With the right pocket holster, it is comfortable and undetectable.
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