Keyword: 640

Smith & Wesson model 60By Syd

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times… No, wait — wrong story. I bought a Smith & Wesson Model 60-15 for a practice gun. This is their 3 barrel .357 Magnum version of the Model 60 in stainless steel. Its a nice gun, with a full-length grip and adjustable sights. Not being content to leave a pretty good gun alone, I decided to install a Wolff reduced power spring kit in it. The reduced power kit includes two springs: the rebound spring and the hammer spring.

Why do this? The springs in a handgun force the various parts against each other, insuring a firm and positive engagement of the critical elements of the action: trigger, sear, and hammer. Without adequate pressure, these parts may not function properly and the gun may even become dangerous or malfunction. On the other hand, the manufacturer will always err on the side of caution and build too much pressure into the action for liability and reliability reasons. This inevitably results in a rough and heavy trigger. So, a judicious reduction of spring pressure can improve the trigger without compromising function. There are two ways to improve the trigger in any handgun: polish the action interfaces and reduce spring pressure. But if you do too much of either, the gun will become dangerous and unreliable. This is why smart people take their guns to someone who knows what they are doing to get their triggers smoothed and lightened.

Smith & Wesson revolver

Click Here for a detailed parts diagram

Smith & Wesson revolvers have something called a rebound slide which is powered by a spring. The function of the rebound slide is to push the trigger back into the ready position after the trigger is pulled. It resets the action for the next shot. The energy for this operation is provided by a strong spring which resides inside of the rebound slide. The rebound slide sits in a channel in the frame just behind the trigger. It is held in place by a post which extends from the side of the frame. Getting this little demon from hell in and out is the worst part about working on a Smith & Wesson revolver. Brownells makes a tool which helps somewhat in getting the rebound spring back in, but its still a PITA.

One resource I consider indispensable to this operation is Kuhnhausens S&W Revolver, A Shop Manual. In fact, I will state this in terms of an imperative: Do not attempt this operation without the Kuhnhausen manual. Kuhnhausen walks you through the disassembly process and the elements of lightening a trigger.

Once inside the Model 60, I did some polishing on the sear interfaces and the area where the rebound slide moves inside the frame and makes contact with the trigger. I polished the rebound slide itself. I am a very gentle polisher. I use red jewelers rouge and a variable power Dremel with a felt polishing bit. I also have a couple of Arkansas white whetstones that I use for smoothing and rounding over edges. I almost never grind or cut metal, especially on sears. Many of the action parts in guns these days are Metal Injection Molded (MIM). Their surfaces are hard, but they are thin. The metal inside MIM parts is somewhat softer, and if you grind through the hard surface into the soft interior metal you will ruin the part and leave it non-functional. Grinding or cutting may also change the sear interface angles and this can result in a dangerous and/or unreliable gun. Anything more than a gentle polish and lubrication of these interfaces should only be done by a certified gunsmith. I polished and lubed with Mil-Comm and put the gun back together. I was very pleased with the results. The trigger is a little bit lighter but not a whole lot, but it is very smooth.

Brownells Rebound Spring ToolFollowing my stunning success with changing out the spring set in the Model 60, I decided that I’d take on the Airweight. Should be all the same, right? Wrong. I took it all apart, cleaned out eight years worth of crud, polished and lubed. I installed the same springs I used in the Model 60 the 8 lb. hammer spring and the 14 lb. rebound spring. No matter what I did, the rebound slide wouldn’t work right with the Wolff spring in it. It would buck up in the front instead of moving straight back when the trigger was pulled. I took the thing in and out so many times that my thumb got raw from putting the rebound spring back in. Then to make matters worse, I pulled the cylinder hand off of the trigger, not realizing that there was a little spring hidden in the body of the trigger. Of course, when I put it back together, it didn’t work right. Research project. Oh, there’s a little spring somewhere. Miracle of miracles, I managed to find the spring among the dust bunnies and I had no idea of how it went back in. Spent some time searching the Smith & Wesson forum and found some instructions for how to get the little child of Satan back in. (Its also in the Kuhnhausen manual, but I didnt know that at the time.) Getting the spring back in wasn’t too terribly hard. The rebound slide bucking was another thing, however. Nothing I did would make it work. I finally put the stock rebound spring back in and everything was Jake.

It’s fairly smooth now (although it was pretty good before), but it left me with the impression that not all j-frames are created equal. I cant say Im completely happy with the job on the Airweight. It also left me with the realization of how delicately tuned and balanced the components of revolvers are, and changing springs and such in and out of them is more perilous than analogous operations on bottom feeders.

The last thing that needs to be said about this relatively simple operation is that it’s a far cry from a full action job that you would get from one of the revolver action masters like Teddy Jacobson. A full action job would include truing up the sear faces, adjusting the let-out of the double action sear, checking the cylinder yoke for straightness, eliminating end shake in the cylinder, and other elegant pieces of voodoo that only those guys know. Such things are way beyond the scope of this article, at least for now. Just be aware that there is much more to a full action job in a revolver than just switching out the springs. In some respects, the action of the revolver is far more complex and esoteric than a semi-auto action. The interaction of the parts is delicately balanced, not unlike a watch, and the inner workings of the lockwork are less intuitive to understand, requiring serious study to master. A simple “keep you out of trouble” rule would be, “If you don’t know the answer, don’t do the operation.”

Smith & Wesson 637


Smith & Wesson 640By Ronald S. Markowitz

When I obtained my “Pennsylvania License To Carry Firearms” I spent a considerable length of time mulling over what type of handgun to carry. Like most of you I read all the “how-to” articles in the popular gun magazines by all the so-called “experts” and spoke to people I knew that carried.

I came to several conclusions:

  1. The gun had to be as close to 100% reliable with factory ammo as possible;
  2. It had to be chambered in a caliber with good stopping power;
  3. I had to feel comfortable with the piece, i.e., it had to have good ergonomics for me; and
  4. It had to be easily concealable in the type of clothing that I wear.

You should know that I have a thing for Smith & Wesson revolvers, especially the L frame 586 and 686. While it is possible to carry these revolvers using any these revolvers using an inside-the-waistband holster covered by a jacket or photographer’s vest, they are really too large and heavy for the way I dress, which is usually in khaki pants with a tucked-in shirt. What I needed was a revolver that was small enough to fit in a pants pocket and chambered for a powerful, yet controllable cartridge.

But I have gotten ahead of myself, why a revolver and not a semi-auto?

I will not get into the revolver versus semi-auto argument; there are hundreds if not thousands of articles in the gun literature on this subject. In my opinion, with the current state-of-the art in ammunition and firearms manufacture there are no practical differences in reliability between the two types. The advantages of easier repair and greater firepower possessed by the semi-auto are only of concern in the military. The civilian needs reliability, good stopping power and the ability to get hits in the kill zone. My decision was to go to the revolver because of familiarity, but for you the same thought-process might lead to the semi-auto.

So I decided on a small revolver, but I wanted something better than a .38 Special if possible, although I could live with that if necessary. In the last several years all the major revolver manufacturers with the exception of Colt have developed small 5-shot .357 S & W Magnums. I decided to limit my search to the bobbed-hammer Ruger SP 101 and their SP 101 and the Smith & Wesson Model 640-1. If I had seen one, I might have considered the Smith M940 in 9 x 19 mm.

Both the Smith and Ruger were well built, felt good in the hand and had, to my surprise, equivalent trigger pulls. The 640-1 had the advantage of a totally enclosed action, important in a pocket gun as you don’t have to worry about lint getting into the action. The Smith had one other advantage. Because of being totally enclosed rather than being just bobbed, one can safely fire the piece in your pocket without worrying about jams due to the hammer catching on something.

Now the subjective enters in I just prefer Smiths. Rugers are good but they are not a Smith. Rugers remind me of Russian guns — strong and reliable, but without finesse. So I went with the 640-1. In a recent review of the Ruger SP101 and S & W 640-1 in Gun Test Magazine the authors chose the Ruger as number one in this category, but also spoke highly of the Smith. You might agree.

Ammunition

When the snubby .357 Magnums were introduced by Smith & Wesson, Rossi and Taurus (in response to Ruger who had started everything with its SP 101) all the gun magazines ran articles comparing the revolvers. A constant thread that ran through all the articles all the articles was how difficult it was to control the heavy and very uncomfortable recoil. It was suggested that maybe the smart shooter should not use the magnum loads, but instead use +P .38 Special loads. I thought that if this was the case, why chamber the guns for the magnum cartridge in the first place? All the reviewers had made the same error, they tested full blown 125 grain and 158 grain loads. They neglected to test the easier to shot 125 grain medium velocity loads of Remington and the still easier to shoot 110 grain loads available from most of the major manufacturers.

I have tested Winchester 110 grain magnum loads and Remington 125 grain Golden Saber loads. They are both manageable and within 7 yards shoot close to point of aim. Remember we are talking about fixed sight guns that are probably regulated for use with 158 grain bullets. At longer ranges my revolver shots low. I don’t consider this to be a hindrance as most gun fights are under 7 yards (or so goes the conventional wisdom).

I have done some shooting with 158 grain .38 Special P+ handloads out to 50 yards and find the sights to be well regulated for this bullet weight. If anyone tells you that snubby revolvers are not accurate they are wrong, it’s possible to plink clay targets at 50 yards and get hits a good percentage most of the time.

Using these reduced power magnum loads you will get approximately 350 ft./lbs. of energy, putting this class of gun in the same class as a hot 9 mm Luger. This may disappoint you, but we are talking about an easily concealable pocket revolver and not a full size service pistol.

Carrying the Revolver

I don’t like the idea of carrying a handgun loose in the pocket; rather it should be in a holster designed for the specific gun and for this specific purpose. I want the gun to be in the same place when I reach for it, not muzzle up or in some other position that will preclude a fast draw. Pocket holsters are available for snubbies from Kramer, Galco, Alessi and others. My 640-1 resides in a Galco made specifically for J-frame Smiths. I do carry on my belt if wearing jeans that are too tight to pocket carry. This is only if I am wearing a knit shirt, not tucked in, or when the weather calls for an open jacket. This circumstance requires a different mind-set. If carried under a shirt you have to remember to lift the shirt up with your weak hand first before drawing the revolver (pistol) or if wearing an open jacket you have to remember to sweep the jacket aside before drawing. Practice with an unloaded gun!

In summary: I chose a snubby .357 revolver because it provides reliability, power, conceal-ability and handling familiarity. I gave up firepower because I don’t consider this to be of major importance in a personal defense situation. The ammunition I use is more suitable than full power loads because it’s controllable and I made sure I knew where its point-of-impact was. I chose a holster that secured the revolver in my pocket and allowed easy access.

This was my solution to the problems of concealed carry, yours might be different, depending on your circumstances, but you need to give it a good deal of thought.

This article is used by permission of the author


Smith & Wesson model 60Stretch Snubby is a Solid Performer

By Syd

The gun under consideration here is the Smith & Wesson Model 60 J-frame with the 3″ barrel in .357 Magnum, a.k.a., the 60-15. The Model 60 is not a new design. Introduced in 1965, it occupies its own special niche in handgun history. It was the first regular production all-stainless steel revolver, and it was an immediate success. The original Model 60 was a .38 Special. Todays Model 60 is a .357 Magnum. It is available in 2 1/8 barrel, 3 barrel, and 5 barrel versions. Like all J-frames, it chambers 5 rounds. With its longer barrel and grip, it is as if the traditional short barreled snub-nose has been stretched for better performance.

Besides the fact that it was an all-steel J-frame revolver chambered for .357 Magnum, the characteristic which initially appealed to me about this gun was the grip. It felt like it was built for my hand. It’s just a smidgeon longer than the boot grip used on the smaller snubbies and it fills my whole hand. This gun weighs 24 oz. and balances nicely, although it seems just a tad nose heavy. While I like the boot grip on the small snubbies for concealment, it has always been a problem for me in shooting because, like the baby Glocks, I can only get two of three fingers onto the grip and the little finger is left flapping in the breeze. The black rubber Uncle Mikes Combat Grip on the Model 60 fills your hand and gives you much better support for firing hot ammunition. I eventually replaced the Uncle Mike’s Combat Grip with Hogue Monogrips because the Hogue grips are relieved better for speedloaders.

Smith & Wesson model 60The 3 Model 60 has real sights which are adjustable, the ribbed top rail between the sights, the tapped and screwed-in black rear sight and rail along the top of the frame, and all surfaces are serrated to cut the glare. The front sight leaf is black and is pinned to the barrel. I can actually see these sights. The frame notch sights on the classic snubby really aren’t much use to me, although I have proven that I can use them if I really slow down and get my glaring blurs lined up right. The 3 barrel of the Model 60-15 allows the gun to have a 5 sight radius.

This gun feels more like a 5-shot Model 66 than a lightweight snub-nose. It’s beefy. It has the semi-bull barrel with full length extractor shroud and sights of the S&W magnums. It is, nevertheless, absolutely a J-frame. And it has the slim ergonomic contours which are so appealing about the J-frames. Comparing the Model 60 with a Model 637, everything lines up exactly, down to the smallest contour and detail of the frame: the frame, hammer, trigger, trigger guard, cylinder, and cylinder release are all identical. Where it differs is in the longer grip, longer extractor rod, and the beefier barrel. The longer extractor rod makes it considerably easier to knock the empties clear of the cylinder during a reload.

Smith & Wesson model 60The 3 barrel and longer grip gives you a gun that performs better than the classic snubby. It has a better sight radius, better muzzle velocity, more reliable spent case ejection, and less punishment to your hands. For these benefits, you lose pocket carry. The 60-15 doesnt disappear into a pocket like the classic snubby. I would imagine that it would be awkward in a jacket pocket as well.

After a considerable amount of surfing on the web, I have noticed is that it is hard to find holsters for it. Everyone makes leather for 2″ snubbies but very few build them for 3″ versions. Kramer, DeSantis and El Paso all claim to build IWB’s for 3″ j-frames but I’ll bet you they couldn’t do overnight delivery on one. It works with my other snubby holsters that are open on the bottom, like the Galco Speedmaster, Galco Deep Cover, and High Noon Secret Ally. It doesnt work with the Galco shoulder holster for the snubbies because of the difference in the shape of the grip. Thumb break type holsters which are designed for the snubby boot grip will not work with the Uncle Mikes Combat Grip even though the actual frame of the gun is the same size. The thumb break strap does not reach around the back of the grips. I resolved to order an IWB holster, custom built by Rudy Lozano at Black Hills Leather. It is the subject of a full review found here, but for now I will say that I really like the holster and Rudy.

Smith & Wesson model 60Aesthetics and Intangibles

I have been over this revolver with a magnifying glass, and like the other Smith & Wesson wheel guns I have known and loved, it is without flaw in fit or finish. It is good looking but not flashy, compact but very solid, simply good and right and the way it ought to be. Smith & Wesson has produced some weird iron handguns in recent years with exotic metals and day-glo plastic sights, but this isnt one of them. This is a revolver that reflects 149 years of handgun-building experience. Its not an experiment.

The first time I dropped cartridges into the cylinder, generic range ammunition I had never even heard of before, I knew it would fire. I bought some generic range stuff and a couple boxes of premium self defense feed different bullet shapes, charges, even different case lengths in .38 Special, .38 Special +p, and .357 Magnum, and it all fired without a single failure of any kind. I didnt have to worry about bullet shapes or magazines that the gun didnt like. There was no break-in period. No doubt, no concern, no need to run 200 rounds through the gun to make sure it worked behold the beauty of the revolver. This is not to say that one should not do reliability testing on a new revolver. On the contrary, one should test a new revolver as rigorously as one tests a new autoloader if the gun’s mission is serious work.

There is something enormously tactile about the Smith & Wesson all-steel revolvers. They feel good and solid in your hand. With an aluminum-frame Airweight, there is always an expectation for it to fall apart in the back of my mind, and with no good reason. My Airweight has literally had thousands of rounds put through it, and some of it has been pretty hot stuff, and it keeps on ticking. It has had much more shooting than these guns are really supposed to have. Dick Metcalfe did a 5000 round torture test on a couple of Airweights using +p feed and neither gun suffered any damage or distortion of the frame. But I still have this thing about the aluminum frame that one day I’m going to overstress it. With the steel guns like the Model 60, you get the feeling that they will still be sending rounds downrange 200 years from now, and probably won’t need service.

Systems which have stood the test of time appeal to me. Smith & Wesson has been building double action revolvers since 1880 a hundred and twenty years. The .38 Special cartridge has been around for a tad better than a hundred years. In that long sweep of time, Smith & Wesson’s double action .38 revolvers have served cops, soldiers, and citizens with distinction and an almost montonous reliability and effectiveness.

Smith & Wesson model 60These guns still evoke the cowboy times. The cowboys carried six-shooters but often left the sixth chamber empty so they could put the hammer down without the fear of accidentally setting off a round. So why not build a five-round cylinder with a safe ignition system which would allow the gun to be slim and easier to conceal and carry? Its .357 Magnum chambering reflects the advances in ballistics of the 1930’s. The Model 60, being the first stainless steel revolver, carries the metallurgical advances of the last half of the Twentieth Century. With its key-operated safety lock, it carries the mark of the gun control battles of the late 90’s. Lots of history in these little guns.

History won’t save your life in a fight if it is history alone and nothing is learned. The Model 60-15 imparts a feeling that much has been learned, and when you have it in your hand, there is a sense of quiet confidence and competence. In particular, these revolvers are built much stronger than the early models so that they can digest a steady diet of hot ammunition for better hollowpoint performance. The design has been through the fire time and again, and come through. Other handguns will load more rounds, reload faster, and launch powerful rounds, but you know what the Model 60 will do. If you do your part, it will do its part, every time, time after time.

The short-barreled revolvers have one purpose and that is self-defense. Theyre not hunting guns, target shooters, or assault weapons. They are completely dedicated. If you’re going to hunt grizzly bears, assault fortified positions, or kick down doors and arrest criminals, the J-Frame revolver is not the gun you would pick for a primary. If you want a highly compact, easily concealed yet powerful personal defense handgun, these revolvers are hard to beat. They are simple, fast, and effective. They remain one of the easiest of all handgun designs to conceal and carry.

Smith & Wesson model 60Interesting lawyer-friendly stuff

The Model 60-15 has the integral locking mechanism with the little key-deal that fits in above the cylinder release. I guess this could be handy if my kids were still small. I know that many folks are offended by the imposition of these kinds of reasonable safety measures. They are seen as coerced concessions to states like California and Maryland who are increasingly demanding safety features be added to handguns. I resent being forced to do anything, especially by states that would really like to prohibit firearms altogether. On the other hand, I had small children at home once upon a time, and when they were still little doodles whose judgment I couldnt completely trust, I used trigger locks on my pistols long before they were fashionable in some circles or mandated. I carried the key on my key ring so it would always be close by. The integral lock on the Model 60 could be useful in a number of situations, such as times when you might have to take the gun off and leave it in a locker or athletic bag.

Smith & Wesson model 60There has been some discussion of these safety locks engaging when they shouldnt. In the January 2005 issue of American Handgunner, Massad Ayoob published an article about three instances he knew of in which the internal locking device had failed and two of the failures caused the gun to lock up. All three cases were instances in which extremely hot ammunition, such as +p+ and .44 Magnum, were fired from ultra-light scandium and titanium revolvers. Ayoobs analysis was, This is not necessarily an indictment of Smith & Wesson, nor even of the integral lock system that company uses. It may be more of a lesson that extraordinarily light handguns firing extremely powerful ammunition can be damaged by the battering of constant, extreme recoil forces. Still, it gives us pause. I have not been able to locate any anecdotes so far of the lock engaging during firing on a Model 60. Nevertheless, if this really worries you, it is relatively easy to disable the integral lock.

It also comes with a little sealed brown paper envelope which contains a single fired case. On the envelope is Smith’s FFL number, make, model, serial number, rifling characteristics, the tester’s name, signature, and date of test. Too bad this one won’t make it into New York’s database.

Smith & Wesson model 60Range Report

The accuracy, weight, ammo versatility, good grip and good sights make this gun a sweet shooter. One of the charming characteristics of revolvers is their tremendous versatility of ammo. Your choices range from powder-puff .38 Special wadcutter all the way up to .357 Magnum. The longer sight radius and better sight picture had me immediately producing far better patterns than I do with traditional styled snub-noses. The additional weight makes it easy on the hands with excellent recoil recovery.

I can make 25-yard shots with a snubby with a hit average of about 3 out of 5 on a small Pepper popper, but if I have to make a 50-yard shot, I would prefer the 1911 or a Hi-Power. I could make a 50-yard shot with the Model 60 if I took my time and handled my trigger right. While I get much better hits with this gun than I do with a snubby, I am nowhere close to the kind of “ragged hole” patterns that I have achieved at times with the 1911. But this just gives me another excuse to go to the range.

I took the Model 60 to the indoor range and bought a box of Independence .38 Special 130g FMJ, Independence .357 Magnum 158g JSP, Remington Golden Saber +p .38 Special 125g, and a box of Federal .357 Magnum Premium HydraShok, 158g.

I was really pleased with the way the Model 60 shot. The most interesting revelation was that I shot it infinitely better double action than I did single action (still trying to figure out that one). Single action, I was really pitiful, all over the target; double action I started shooting nice grapefruit size patterns at 7 yards, rapid fire, without trying too hard. The tightest 5-shot string was with the Independence .357 a tidy little horizontal string about four inches wide.

The .38 Special was smooth and cream-puffy, nice, and pleasant to shoot. The +p was crisp and authoritative, and I came away with the thought that the +p Golden Saber was the best all-around load, and is the stuff that should be in the speed loaders. The .357 is predictably brisk. After 15 rounds, I was getting some sting in my palm, but I wouldn’t call it “hurt.” It was very manageable, even in rapid fire (“rapid fire” meaning the rate that the beats fall in “Stars and Stripes Forever,” or just as quick as I could regain the sight picture). (And no, Im no Jerry Miculek.)

The worst muzzle flash was from the Golden Saber, followed closely by the Federal, but I didnt find either blinding.

It was a real delight to buy four boxes of weird-ass ammunition for it and know that all of them were going to work. They did. With a new auto, you really need to run at least 500 rounds through it to make sure it’s reliable and get it broken in. And even with that, you still know in the back of your mind that a bad magazine or an out-of-spec cartridge or poor support can cause it to jam. With several of my 1911’s, I have had to go through a period of working with them to get them to the point where I considered them 100% reliable. The Model 60 doesn’t have any of those issues. It just goes “Bang” every time. (And don’t give me a Glock pitch because they choke up and break parts just like any other gun. I have one shooting buddy who is on his fourth Glock because the previous three have broken.) I traded messages with a Special Forces type who was on his third tour in Afghanistan. His unit had rejected the M9 and adopted one of the Glocks. It broke out in the field and he couldn’t fix it. On his next leave, he bought a Ruger SP101 in .357 said he felt better with it than any of the bottom feeders. Of course, it was a secondary for him, but that spoke chapters and verses to me.

Carry?

Would you use this gun as a carry piece? As a police officer or soldier, no, unless it was a secondary to something with considerably more firepower. As a civilian who tends to mind his own business and not get into shootouts with armed gangs, sure. If you happen to be one of those folks who just prefer revolvers to autos for personal defense, you couldnt do much better than this. Its not too terribly heavy, but its heavy enough that you can get in some good practice with it without tearing up your hands. If you have a bit of arthritis in your hands or arms and just cant stand the pounding of .45s and .40s, you can load this gun with standard .38 Special and have a soft shooting, but effective personal defense handgun. The extra barrel length will provide for somewhat better muzzle velocity and hollowpoint performance than a 2 snub-nose, usually 50-100 feet per second faster, depending on the load. The muzzle flip and recoil dynamics are not near as violent as with a 2 snub-nose, especially if you like to use +p or .357 loads. I really like to carry the Airweight snubbies but I hate practicing with them because theyre hard on my hands, and yet we know that we must practice with the guns we carry. The Model 60 can provide a vehicle to practice for snubby carry same reload, same ammo, same trigger, same leather without all of the abuse to hands and joints. And also, if you want to carry .357 Magnum in a compact package, the Model 60 in this configuration will handle it without inflicting pain.

Smith & Wesson model 60With a 5-shot J-frame, the issue of firepower always comes up, and if you want to carry these guns, you have to deal with it. When the balloon goes up, five rounds is not a lot. Five rounds placed well will probably address most of the issues that a civilian will face, but you cant count on that. This means that you have to master the reload with a speed loader. I really like the Safariland Comp I speed loaders. They are spring loaded and kind of shoot the cartridges into the chamber. Another approach is to carry two J-frames, the proverbial New York Reload. When one gun runs dry, you simply draw the other. The New York Reload has some other tactical advantages: if someone manages to get your primary away from you, you have another weapon. Also, you can hand off a second gun to an ally in a situation in which you may be dealing with multiple assailants or have another person with you who you need to protect. Better yet, carry two J-frames and speed loaders. Better to have them and not need them than to need them and not have them. In this era of autoloaders, is it possible that there are tactical advantages to revolvers? Read Preacherman’s thoughts here.

Training with the Model 60

I took the Model 60, two speedloader pouches, and all seven of my speedloaders to Jim Higginbothams match and actually shot the first half of the session with the 5-banger. I only quit when I ran out of ammo and switched to the Commander for the remaining exercises. I got there early so I could talk to him. I opened the conversation with, “I’m going to annoy you today.” “Oh, really? How?” “I’m going to shoot my revolver.” He pulled back the left side of his vest to reveal a huge nickel-plated Model 29 .44 Magnum and said, “I’ve probably got more revolvers on me today than autos.” Another shooter was packing an Airweight as his BUG as well. I felt a little better.

The stages were more revolver friendly than I expected. Most were 3-5 round exercises, sometimes with reloads planned into them, but I didn’t actually have to reload at any time that others didn’t have to. My reloads were, of course, still criminally slow, but getting better. I would do a reload after every string just to practice it and get it smoother. By the end of 50 rounds, I was getting quicker. We did mostly variations on Mozambique and El Presidente with movement and reloads interspersed. I was very pleased with my hits. I only had to endure one, “Those of you who are deploying antique weapons systems are probably running low on ammo now,” after a 5-round stage.

Reloads are a major tactical issue regardless of what gun you use, but they are especially important with revolvers. While five rounds are usually enough for civilian self-defense situations, you have to plan for the instance where it wont be. This means working out a way to carry a reload, and learning to perform the reload in an emergency. Generally, this means using speedloaders. There are currently two speedloaders available for J-frame revolvers, the Safariland Comp 1 and the HKS 36A. Both of these speedloaders have features that commend them. The Safariland Comp 1 has a spring mechanism that releases and launches the cartridges into the cylinder when you push it against the ejector star. The HKS offering has a large knob which must be turned slightly to the right to release the cartridges which fall by gravity into the cylinder. I think the Comp 1 has the edge in speed of reloading, but the HKS is easier to grasp quickly on release knob.

On balances, I came away feeling much better about the wheel gun as a self defense option. The next step is to determine if the skill enhancements with the Model 60 transfer to the Airweight. In terms of reloads, I think it will, but I’m not so sure about marksmanship. The 60 is a whole lot easier to get good hits with than its short barreled cousins.

Summary

The Model 60-15 is a versatile and accurate revolver. It is somewhat larger and heavier than the classic snubby, but its size and weight enable it to be a pleasant practice gun without being too large for discrete concealed carry. Its longer barrel produces better performance in .38 Special ammunition, and its greater weight allows it handle full charge .357 Magnum without causing pain. The Model 60-15 is a solid performer which is a pleasure to shoot. For wheel gun fans, this is one that I would heartily recommend.

Smith & Wesson model 60


Smith & Wesson 640Smith & Wesson Models 40, 42, 640, 940, 442, 642, 340Sc, 342Ti and 340PD

The Smith & Wesson Model 640 Centennial is easily the most recommended variant of the J-frame line if the Internet counts for anything in gun selection. In 2006, the best selling firearm offered by Smith & Wesson was the Model 642, the Airweight version of the 640. It is often called hammerless which is a misnomer of sorts because it actually does have a hammer; its just completely enclosed within the frame, making the revolver double action only (DAO). It is a smooth, snag-free design which makes it ideal for pocket carry. Jim Supica, author of The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, said of the 642 that it was possibly the finest pocket revolver ever made.

One might jump to the conclusion that the hammerless design is a new thing brought about by our litigious society, but in fact, the hammerless design is quite old. Smith and Wesson introduced the Safety Hammerless .38 S&W in 1887. This gun was often called The Lemon Squeezer because it had a grip safety on the back strap. One had to squeeze the grip in order to fire the gun. In 1888 they produced a few of the .32 S&W Safety Hammerless pistols with 2 barrels. It was nicknamed the Bicycle Gun and may be S&Ws first production snubnose, but the Bicycle Gun is very rare. The Safety Hammerless pistols were top-break designs.

S&W 640

Original Model 40 Centennial showing grip safety on the back strap

In 1952, Smith & Wesson applied the concept of the Safety Hammerless to the J-frame Chiefs Special and got the Centennial. The gun was named in honor of the company’s 100th birthday. In 1957, when the switch was made from named models to numbered models, the Centennial became the Model 40. Also in 1952, an Airweight Centennial was introduced which became the Model 42. Some 37 specimens of the Model 42 were built with aluminum alloy cylinders, but the rest had steel cylinders. These two models were produced from 1952 to 1974.

In 1990, the Centennial was re-introduced but in stainless steel and without the grip safety as the Model 640. It was a .38 Special. In 1996 the 640-1 in .357 Magnum was offered. Airweight versions, Models 442 (blued) and 642 (stainless) were also brought to market. As noted earlier, the Model 642 has been enormously successful.

As the centuries changed, Smith & Wesson worked in exotic space-age metals such as titanium and scandium to make the guns even lighter, and yet strong enough to chamber the .357 Magnum cartridge. While it still eludes me why anyone would want to fire .357 in an 11 ounce gun, I guess some folks do it. The new metallurgy produced models such as the 340Sc, the 342Ti and the 340PD.

Between 1991 and 1998, S&W produced the Model 940, a stainless Centennial chambered in 9mm. A group of three hundred were built in the .356 TSW caliber (good luck finding ammo for that one), and a prototype Model 942 Airweight in 9mm was built but did not go into production.

The design is a winner. One of the J-frames greatest assets, its ease of carry, is further enhanced by the snag-free concealed hammer design. But do you lose anything by going to the double-action-only format?

DAO versus DA/SA

Ill admit to a preference for exposed hammer revolvers. I don’t know why really. Maybe its the traditionalist in me. Maybe its because I like to have the option to fire single action if I want to. Single action fire is generally thought to be more accurate than double action. When target shooting and hunting, people prefer to manually cock the hammer to get that wonderful crisp 1 lb. trigger that a good revolver firing single action can give you. The sights just move around less when you don’t have to apply the force needed to cock the hammer.

On the other hand, people who carry a revolver for self defense should practice almost exclusively for double action fire, as if the single action option wasn’t even there. Why? Because there are almost no situations in which single action fire is appropriate in self defense. Most self defense situations unfold rapidly. There isn’t time to thumb cock a revolver and take careful aim in the way one would do while target shooting. A cocked revolver is dangerous in the adrenaline dump of a lethal force encounter. The trigger is just too light. Its too easy to fire when you don’t mean to. There was a well-publicized case in Miami several years back in which a police officer accidentally shot a suspect he was holding at gunpoint with a cocked revolver. The suspect was killed and the officer faced a lengthy court process which ultimately destroyed his career. In a nervous situation, a cocked revolver is dangerous. When you’re really nervous or scared, the heavy double action trigger pull is an asset rather than a liability. I can hear you say, Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, and that’s true, but we also know that people don’t always do what they’re supposed to do in the stress of a deadly encounter. The police officer in Miami is a good example. I’m sure he had heard the rules. A firm double action trigger can be a welcome piece of insurance against an accidental discharge. With the DAO Centennial, manual cocking isn’t possible, nor is it possible to be accused of negligently cocking the hammer in a civil action which could follow a self defense shooting.

Is there a case to be made for the DA/SA? A little imagination can generate scenarios in which single action fire could be an asset: a hostage situation, a survival situation in which a careful shot on a game animal might make the difference between living and starving, some kind of broken field situation in which there is an active threat but it is further away than a few yards. Admittedly, these all fall into the one-in-a-million category, but if its possible, it could happen.

As we have often seen before, all handguns are studies in compromise. For a self defense revolver, the Centennial seems to be an acceptable trade-off. Single action fire is sacrificed for superb, snag-free conceal-ability and the elimination of certain liabilities.

Reactions to the Smith & Wesson Model 640

The gun pictured here is the Model 640-3. It is the stainless steel .357 Magnum version with the integral lock. It is a beefy, solid snubby that balances well in your hand. With its solid construction and 23 ounces of weight, it will handle the hottest ammo without tearing your arm off. The sights are the standard notch type that are characteristic of this class of guns. They’re not great and I don’t see them too well, but they don’t snag and this is a close-range gun. The smooth organic contours of the 640 make it a superb concealed carry gun. It’s a bit heavy for pants pocket carry. If you like the Centennial but expect to do a lot of pocket carry, I would recommend the Airweight version, the Model 642 in .38 Special +p. If you like really hot ammo and/or intend to carry mostly in holsters and fanny packs, the heavier 640 is the ticket. I’m not sure about the dynamics of it, but the all-stainless J-frames seem to have better triggers NIB than the Airweights and AirLites do. The all-stainless versions are shooters. You can do extended range sessions or even matches (if you’re brave) with these without reducing your hand to a bloody pulp. It seems that most times I have watched people shoot Airweights and Airlites, they do about 15-20 rounds and quit because it’s uncomfortable. You can do a couple hundred rounds in the stainless guns and enjoy it. They’re also more controllable for rapid strings of fire because of their weight.

While I think the Model 60-15 remains my favorite tactical J-frame for it’s superior ballistics, sights, and ejector rod, the Model 640 is an easier gun to carry and has much to commend it. It is compact, powerful, robust, snag-free, and endowed with the legendary reliability of the Model 60 family of revolvers.

Smith & Wesson model 640


J-Frame Revolver Lockwork Diagram


Double Action OnlyIll admit to a preference for exposed hammer revolvers. I don’t know why really. Maybe its the traditionalist in me. Maybe its because I like to have the option to fire single action if I want to. Single action fire is generally thought to be more accurate than double action. When target shooting and hunting, people prefer to manually cock the hammer to get that wonderful crisp 1 lb. trigger that a good revolver firing single action can give you. The sights just move around less when you don’t have to apply the force needed to cock the hammer.

On the other hand, people who carry a revolver for self defense should practice almost exclusively for double action fire, as if the single action option wasn’t even there. Why? Because there are almost no situations in which single action fire is appropriate in self defense. Most self defense situations unfold rapidly. There isn’t time to thumb cock a revolver and take careful aim in the way one would do while target shooting. A cocked revolver is dangerous in the adrenaline dump of a lethal force encounter. The trigger is just too light. Its too easy to fire when you don’t mean to. There was a well-publicized case in Miami several years back in which a police officer accidentally shot a suspect he was holding at gunpoint with a cocked revolver. The suspect was killed and the officer faced a lengthy court process which ultimately destroyed his career.

In a nervous situation, a cocked revolver is dangerous. When you’re really nervous or scared, the heavy double action trigger pull is an asset rather than a liability. I can hear you say, Keep your finger off the trigger until you’re ready to fire, and that’s true, but we also know that people don’t always do what they’re supposed to do in the stress of a deadly encounter. The police officer in Miami is a good example. I’m sure he had heard the rules. A firm double action trigger can be a welcome piece of insurance against an accidental discharge. With a DAO revolver, manual cocking isn’t possible, nor is it possible to be accused of negligently cocking the hammer in a civil action which could follow a self defense shooting.

Is there a case to be made for the DA/SA? A little imagination can generate scenarios in which single action fire could be an asset: a hostage situation, a survival situation in which a careful shot on a game animal might make the difference between living and starving, some kind of broken field situation in which there is an active threat but it is further away than a few yards. Admittedly, these all fall into the one-in-a-million category, but if its possible, it could happen.

As we have often seen before, all handguns are studies in compromise. For a self defense revolver, the DAO format seems to be an acceptable trade-off. Single action fire is sacrificed for superb, snag-free conceal-ability and the elimination of certain liabilities.


Smith & Wesson Model 38A friend of mine and I have an ongoing debate about which snubby is uglier, the Centennial or the Bodyguard. The camel hump hammer shroud on the back of the Bodyguard’s frame, while eminently sensible, has never appealed to my eye. However, it is completely functional. The hammer shrouded Bodyguard, unlike the Centennial, remains snag-free for pocket carry while allowing for single-action fire. The hump also helps the Bodyguard to stay in position when carried in a pocket holster.

The Bodyguard is unusual in one way, in that it was introduced first in the Airweight version as the Bodyguard Airweight in 1955. It later became the Model 38 in 1957. The steel frame Bodyguard was introduced as the Model 49 Bodyguard in 1959. The original Bodyguard “Pre-Model 38” was built in the “four screw” configuration.

Smith & Wesson BodyguardIn 1985, the Model 649 was introduced. It was a stainless steel version of the Model 49, and it was built until 1996. In 1997 the Model 49 was discontinued in favor of the stainless Model 649 in .357 Magnum.

In 1989, The Model 638 Bodyguard Airweight Stainless was introduced. This was an aluminum alloy and stainless steel version of the original Model 38. Also in 1989, the Model 638-1 was produced. It is distinguished from the Model 638 because it as a 1/8″ sight width.

In 1996, the 638-2 was reintroduced on the “J-Magnum” frame. The J-Magnum frame is identical to the original J-frame except for the fact that it is 1/10″ longer, to accept the .357 Magnum cartridge. Even the .38 Special guns produced from this time forward are built on the J-Magnum frame.

In 1997, the Model 649-3 was introduced. This was a stainless steel Bodyguard chambered in .357 Magnum built on the J-Magnum frame.

From Xavier we hear:

“…The Smith & Wesson Model 38 is a superb carry gun. In my opinion, it is one of the best defensive carry guns, period.

My first Model 38 was a Michigan police supply gun, easily recognizable by the blued frame and stainless cylinder. It is not a pretty gun, it is entirely functional, with a custom grip given to me by a retired State Trooper. It has ridden in my pants pocket for several years.

There is a decided advantage to a J-frame in a pants pocket. You can have your hand on your weapon, in a firing grip, before your adversary even knows it is there. The snubby revolver will fire time and again with the muzzle pressed into a rib cage. If a fight goes to the ground (as most end up doing) this little lightweight power house is the gun to have.

The Model 38 has an aluminum frame, making it substantially lighter than it’s steel framed brethren, the Model 49 and 649. The humpback configuration of the Bodyguard frame assists the revolver in staying positioned in a front pants pocket. The exposed nubbin of the hammer allows a single action shot if desired, while the concealed hammer prevents snagging on the draw.

Thus, when I found a pristine nickel Model 38 in a pawn shop, I jumped on it immediately. For $225, it was a steal. Along with the nickel finish, it has a smooth trigger face. Five years ago, there was a line drawn between pinned and unpinned revolvers among collectors. This revolver does not have a pinned barrel. Now, though it seems the dividing line is drawn between Smith & Wesson revolvers with and without locks. This revolver is a lock free dedicated carry gun. That it is a Model 38 is just gravy on the cake.” – Xavier, http://xavierthoughts.blogspot.com/

Notpurfect says:

“Despite its antiquated basic design, limited capacity, and unimpressive power, this might be among the most politically incorrect of all firearms. At least it would be, if more people were aware of its design, and mission. To the uninitiated, this is simply an oddly shaped, sort of freakish revolver. The hump backed model 49 fires the .38 Special cartridge from a 2” barrel, and has a capacity of only 5 rounds. It is really too expensive, and well made to qualify as a Saturday Night Special (whatever meaning that phrase may happen to have at the moment). Like most specialized devices, the strange appearance of the Model 49 is a reflection of being narrowly designed for a particular function. In the case of the model 49, the gun has been designed to be carried, and even fired, from inside of a pocket.” http://www.notpurfect.com/main/m49.html

Vietnam BodyguardPerhaps the most infamous photograph of a pistol from the Twentieth Century involves the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1969. It is the picture of South Vietnamese General Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting a Viet Cong captain named Bay Lop in the head. I hesitate to bring up this incident, but at the same time, it is impossible for me to chart the history of this hand gun without acknowledging this moment in history.

At the height of the Tet Offensive, the general executed Bay Lop who had been responsible for the deaths of many American and Vietnamese personnel. Photographer Eddie Adams snapped the picture at the moment that the bullet crashed through the prisoner’s brain. It should be noted that the photographer later became friends with the general and had great regret over the effect of the photo on the general’s life. Adams sent an apology to the general’s family at his death. His statement was “The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera.”

“Adams frequently offered a qualified defense of Loan’s infamous act. Within context, and given the inevitable fog of war, he would say, the killing was understandable, if not excusable. As historian Robert D. Schulzinger points out in A Time for War, the executed VC fighter “had killed some Saigon civilians, many of them relatives of police in the capital.” – Duncan Currie, “Photographs Do Lie

Regardless of this tragic episode, the Smith & Wesson Bodyguard has rendered exemplary service for fifty years and remains a favorite to many in the pocket gun/backup class of self-defense weapons.


snubnose revolver theoryBy Syd

Mission
The snubnose revolver is a close-quarters self-defense handgun. The design was a response to the need for a compact repeating handgun which could be presented rapidly and concealed easily.

Some Historical Background
The first compact revolvers were not the double action hand ejector revolvers we think of as snubnoses today. Colt, Smith & Wesson and others were building small revolvers from the 1850s on. Both Colt and Smith & Wesson introduced double action revolvers in 1877. The S&W guns were top break designs and the Colts were side-loaders. In 1894 Smith & Wesson introduced the hand ejector design, the cylinder mounted on a crane which swings out for loading and unloading, with the push rod and ejector star to eject the spent cases. With the development of hand ejector, the modern double-action snubnose footprint was pretty much established, leaving only the final touch, the sawed-off barrel to Colt. By 1927, Colt had produced its six-shot Detective Special based on their .38 Police Positive Special. Its entirely possible that the very first snubnose may have been a home-brew full sized revolver with its barrel sawed off. Well never know for sure.

Snubnosed Colt RevolverIn 1942 Smith & Wesson built a few Victory Model Military & Police revolvers with 2″ barrels. In 1946, they began commercial production of the pre-Model 10 (Military & Police) snubnose. In 1950, Smith & Wesson introduced the 5-shot J-frame Chiefs Special in .38 Special. It was much more compact than previous renditions of the snubnose, and it has become the archetype for compact revolvers. It remains in service and production to this day. Sadly, the Colt Detective Special and the Cobra (Detective Special with a Coltalloy frame) are no longer in production. The Model 10 snubnose is no longer in production either.

What we do know is that the snubnose emerged in the shadow of full sized service revolvers like the Colt Single Action Army, The Remington New Army, and the Smith & Wesson Schofield. These were large and powerful single action revolvers chambered in .44 or .45 with 4, 6 and 8 inch barrels. These large revolvers were replaced by equally large double action Colt New Service and the Smith & Wesson Military and Police revolvers. These guns had long barrels and full grips. With six and eight inch barrels, they produced respectable muzzle velocity and superb accuracy. So what would be the rationale for sawing off the barrel and grips, and thereby reducing the sight radius, muzzle velocity and general controllability of a handgun?

Airweight BodyguardThe Rationale of the Snubnose
We always talk about the conceal-ability of the snubnose how easy it is to carry and conceal in a pocket or purse, and this is true, but there is another reason for building a short barreled revolver, and that is speed. If you have ever actually strapped on a Colt Single Action Army six-shooter, drawn that gun and fired it, you will understand that this operation is not all that easy to do quickly. These guns are heavy and the long barrels have to be hoisted high to clear the leather. Now, I have seen guys like Bob Munden do amazing quick draw tricks with Colt SAAs, but even Bobs guns are 4 models, and Bob is a natural phenomenon. For the rest of us mere mortals, drawing a full sized revolver and getting its sights on target is a slow affair. Try it for yourself if you have the equipment: draw a 6 barreled revolver from a holster, and then put a snubnose in the same holster, and see how much faster and easier you clear the leather with the snubby. There’s just less distance to travel, and therefore, less time involved.

What exactly is a belly gun? It is just what the word implies? A kind of hardware you jam against the other man’s navel and trigger off a burst. It has to be done in a twinkling or else he is apt to take the gun away from you and that could be bad. Since the trick of the thing depends on speed, the pistol must be short and handy-short so that it comes out fast and lines up lethally and handy so that a man points it like he does his finger. Col. Charles Askins, Belly Guns, Guns Magazine, 1955

The second and perhaps most enduring glory of the snubnose is its ability to be easily concealed. When rendered with modern light weight metallurgy, you get a handgun that still ranks as one of the best combinations of reliability, power and comfort in carry of any handgun ever built.

theory of snubnosed revolversThe Art of Compromise
The snub-nose .38 Special is a study in trade-offs. The .38 Special is an excellent cartridge coming out of a 4″ barrel. Launched from a 2″ barrel, it can suffer velocity and expansion problems. On the other hand, a .38 with a 4″ barrel wont fit in your pocket. A snub-nose .38 can launch a bigger bullet than any other pistol of its size and weight, a 158 grain slug, but it can only launch five or six of them before you have to reload. Its small size and weight make it a dream to carry, but a pain to shoot. Modern .38 Special +p ammunition from Federal, Remington, Speer, Cor-Bon and Winchester has addressed the velocity and expansion issues fairly well. Nevertheless, when you select the snubby as a self-defense handgun, you have to come to grips with the compromises involved with them.

You trade ballistics, accuracy and shooting comfort for speed, conceal-ability, and carry comfort. That’s the deal. This is just simple physics. The issue is how to deal with it. What kinds of things do you need to do to compensate for the shortcomings of the snubby and accentuate its strengths? Here are my thoughts on this question:

1. Practice. (Well, duh, I hear you say.) The fact of the matter is that most people don’t practice much with their carry guns. When we go to the range or matches, we engage our egos and shoot the big full-sized guns with their long barrels and superb triggers, but then, when we leave the range, the gun on our hip is some little compact revolver or auto. As Walt Rausch is fond of saying, We talk .45s, shoot 9mms and carry .38s. The big gun gets 300 rounds and the carry gun gets 10. This is really backwards. Shouldn’t the gun you bet your life on get the lions share of the practice? When was the last time that you actually did an IDPA match with a J-frame revolver? If you haven’t, you should. Its enlightening. Can you empty your snubnose into a pie plate at seven yards in five seconds? If you cant, you need to go back to the range and pop caps until you can. (And that’s five seconds drawing from realistic concealment) Can you do that while moving to cover? Can you hit anything with a snub gun weak hand only? I think you get my drift. Treat the carry gun realistically, because its the one that’s most likely to pull your bacon out of the fire.

2. Practice reloads. Most times these days, when I go to a match, I’m running a Springfield XD-9 with 16 round magazines. I never have to reload unless I want to. Snubbies aren’t like that. My greatest complaint with the snubby is that it only loads five or six rounds. For the most part, you shoot 5 rounds and then have to reload. Can you reload your revolver under stress? Have you ever tried it? While it is true that most civilian self-defense encounters are resolved with 5 rounds or less, with my luck, Ill run into the four zombies from Hell, and if I survive the opening salvo, I will need to reload. Practice your reload until its smooth and fast. It can be done. I’ve watched Jerry Miculek shoot, and he can reload a revolver faster than most of us can reload an auto. (For that matter, Miculek can reload a revolver faster than most of us can do anything.) For the video of Jerry Miculek shooting the world record and reloading, click the play button on the player to the right.

3. Carry a reload. Five rounds may not be enough, although it probably will be. I always carry a reload. Its usually a speedloader in my strong-hand pocket. Often I will carry a second speedloader in a pouch on my belt. When everything else is equal, more ammo is better than less. Work out the way you’re going to carry your reload and then practice actually using it. The chances are good that you will discover little screw-ups and problems with your reload procedure that only practice at speed will reveal. Ill share with you a big one: many of the grips that Smith & Wesson put on their J-frames are not properly relieved to handle speedloaders smoothly. Hogue Monogrips and Crimson Trace Laser Grips are relieved properly for speedloaders, but the default Uncle Mikes boot grips and Uncle Mikes Combat Grips are not relieved properly for speedloaders. If the reload defeats you, consider carrying a second gun. In gunfighter parlance, this is referred to as The New York Reload, and its faster than any other kind of reload.

4. Study and understand ammo performance in short barreled revolvers. This is an important point. When a gun fires, the powder is not burned instantaneously. It continues to burn as long as the bullet is traveling down the barrel, and the longer it burns, the more pressure it develops. More pressure means greater muzzle velocity for the bullet. Greater velocity means better hollowpoint performance and terminal ballistics. The snubnose has a very short barrel so you need an ammo which burns its powder fast and develops some velocity. Know also that .38 Special revolvers are calibrated to 158 grain ammunition, and smaller faster loads will tend to shoot low because the bullet emerges from the barrel sooner in the recoil cycle of the gun. Some of our preferred loads include Remington Golden Saber +p, Speer 135 grain +p, and Cor-Bon 110 grain DPX. See also Snubby .38 Special Ballistics.

Smith and Wesson 637 revolver5. Practice point shooting. I’m a Cooperite and I believe in aimed fire. At the same time, when you are threatened and drawing at close range, you probably will not have time to align the sights and fire that way. You will whip the gun up, looking over the top of the gun, maybe get the front sight on the target, and pull the trigger. One study I saw showed that most police officers tended to actually use the point shooting technique when under close-range attack. They aren’t trained that way; its just something we do under the stress of a close-in lethal assault. Also, once we cross the age of 50, few of us have the eyes of a 21-year-old fighter pilot. We may not have the visual acuity to see the sights in an emergency. Hence, while I believe that the sighted fire method is to be preferred, we may face self-defense situations which will preclude the use of it. Practice both.

What You Have Going For You

Speed and Simplicity
The snubnose indexes naturally, almost as if it were an extension of your hand. Being light, and compact, it draws easily and rapidly. I would hazard the guess that there are more snubnose .38 Special revolvers currently deployed for the purpose of self-defense than any other single type of firearm. They are simple and effective. They continue to work, so people continue to use them. The cartridge is powerful enough to be lethal when adequate hits are made, and the ammunition is readily available all over the world. Women and non-dedicated personnel like them. Better a .38 Special in your pocket than a 1911 .45 at home in a dresser drawer. The snubnose is simple and uncomplicated. There are no safeties to remember. There is no complex manual of arms to master and commit to muscle memory. Its point and click. I prefer revolvers for the home defense role because there is no confusion about them. I know that every member of the family has practiced with them, and there are no tricky safety sequences to explain.

Smith & Wesson 640Conceal-ability
I have more holsters for my snubnoses than any other firearm platform. I have more hours carrying the snubnose than any other gun. Why? Because they carry so well. An Airweight Smith & Wesson snubnose is the most comfortable gun to carry of any I have ever tried. They are light and ergonomic. A J-frame fits to the human body better than most autoloaders. Autoloaders tend to be blocky and square. The extra magazine also adds weight and bulk. The snubnose is a bit wider at the cylinder than a 1911, but everywhere else, it is thinner and more rounded. They’re just comfortable, and they’re light. An Airweight snub weighs about 15 ounces empty, whereas an empty Government Model M1911 weighs 39 ounces. The conceal-ability of the snubnose also contributes to its speed. You can carry the gun in the pocket of a jacket and have your hand on the grip without anyone noticing it. You can even fire the gun from inside a pocket if you have to, although I don’t recommend that technique. Even so, its a lot quicker than drawing from a holster.

Snubbies fit in purses, fanny packs, leg and shoulder holsters, pants pockets and belly bands. Don’t neglect conventional belt holsters and IWBs. A lightweight snub gun in a belt holster is a delight to carry.

Dependability
It is possible to jam a revolver. It is possible, but highly unlikely. I have been firing revolvers for going on 40 years, and I have yet to have one jam on me. (Generally, my autoloaders don’t jam on me either, but it has happened.) How can one jam a revolver? Mostly, it has to do with crud. If crud gets under the ejector star, it can cause the revolver to seize up when the cylinder is closed. Crud build-up on the front of the cylinder and rear of the barrel can cause the cylinder to stop turning. With very light-framed guns using lead bullet +p ammunition, the bullets can pull out of the cases during recoil and cause a jam (Always use jacketed hollowpoints in lightweight snubs), and last, the lock work in the gun can get messed up and cause the gun to fail to fire. All of these failures are very rare. Mostly, revolvers just work with almost monotonous reliability. If you can pull the trigger on a revolver, it will go off, regardless of whether you support it well or not. It doesn’t care about ammo much. It will fire and advance the next cartridge to the firing position. If you are weak or injured, the revolver will still work for you. The other learning at this point is the revolvers are not zero maintenance. They should be fired, cleaned and periodically checked out by a qualified gunsmith.

Ruger SP101A Gun That Is Always With You
A gun writer whose name is regrettably lost in the crevasses of my faulty memory, once wrote an article about self defense handguns for hiking. He talked about the standard range of handguns from .22s to .44s, but the thing I remember about the article was that he related that on the two occasions in which he actually had to use a gun for self defense, the gun was a .38 Special snubnose. The reason? Because that’s what I had with me. The snubnose .38, and especially the lightweight models such as the S&W Airweight, remain, in my mind, the most comfortable guns to carry and the most versatile in carry modes. Since they are so easy to carry, you’re more likely to have one with you when you need it.

Far from being obsolete, the snubnose revolver remains one of the most important, versatile and utilitarian options for self-defense.


By Syd

NAA Mini RevolverThe North American Mini Revolver may be somewhere outside of the realm of guns we usually think of as snubnose revolvers, but it is a short barreled, compact revolver, and it performs many of the same functions we associate with snubnoses: it is very concealable and easy to carry, and it is a dedicated self-defense pistol.

The revolver under examination here is the NAA .22 Long Rifle with the 1 1/8 barrel. The NAA Mini Revolvers are made in .17 WMR, .22 Short, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Magnum, and all except the .22 short are offered in several barrel lengths. This pistol is 4″ long, stem to stern, and weighs 4.5 ounces. It is built with very high production values. Its almost like a piece of jewelry. While these little guns may look like toys, they are solidly built and enjoy a reputation for superb reliability and function.

The NAA Mini Revolver is a single action revolver. You have to thumb-cock the hammer to fire it. It actually reminds me a lot of the single action revolvers produced by Smith & Wesson in the 1850s. The difference is that the old Smith & Wessons had tip-up barrels whereas the NAA is a solid frame. The NAA is reloaded by removing the cylinder pin and the cylinder. There are no speedloaders for it. Its good for five rounds; then its a paperweight. The cylinder chambers are recessed so that the primer rims are not exposed to impact. It is carried with the hammer down in safety notches between the chambers in the cylinder. It should not be carried either at half-cock or with the hammer down on a loaded chamber.

NAA Mini Revolver .22 LRFew handguns are the subject of more heated controversy than these tiny revolvers. Some disparage them as simply too small and too inaccurate to serve as legitimate self-defense weapons. Others swear by them as their all the time gun that can go anywhere all the time and remain undetectable where larger guns would be a problem. Much of this comes down to an individuals philosophy about personal defense weapons. It is estimated that in approximately 92% of firearms self-defense situations, no shots are fired; the appearance of the gun is enough to stop the action. If no shots are fired, a .22 is as good as a .45 and a whole lot lighter. If, on the other hand, your world-view includes a high probability of running gun battles with multiple armed assailants, the Mini Revolver would certainly not be the appropriate armament.

Heres how you have to think about them in my opinion: yes, theyre really too small for a gunfight tis true. .38 Special or bigger is really what you want. However, something is better than nothing, and I have yet to run into someone who really wants to be shot with anything. A little gun like this can be concealed in ways that few others can. For example, you dont need a leg holster with one of these; you can just put it in the top of a tube sock and it will stay put. Many folks work in situations in which their mode of dress is prescribed by their employment, and it may not leave many options for concealing a handgun. (Think Hooters girls.) Folks facing this kind of uniform issue could still carry one of these and have a last ditch option for warding off an attack. Other folks who consider extremely deep concealment of paramount importance could find the mini revolver attractive.

Range Testing: The Mini Revolver actually shoots better than I expected it to. It is capable of decent accuracy at reasonable ranges. I shot it mostly at three and five yards. Seven yards seemed a bit far for practical applications of the gun, but you can get hits at that range with some practice. I had trouble seeing the sights over the web of my hand. The gun is just so small. The key to using one of these is to get a firm grip on the tiny birds head grip. Otherwise, the gun tends to flip up when fired. If there was recoil, I didnt notice it. I did observe some key-holing of rounds that struck the paper off of exact perpendicular. It takes a bit of getting used to the very small grip and frame, and the thumb-cocking, but these things did no present serious obstacles.

NAA Mini Revolver .22 LRTactics: If you told me I was going to a gunfight, this would not be the first or even the second gun I would grab. These are not combat firearms. Instead, they belong to that class of appear out of nowhere and change the dynamics of the situation guns. But, for the sake of discussion, let’s assume that one has decided that the Mini Revolver is the choice for a deep concealment handgun. The diminutive size and concealment possibilities have outweighed the problems of limited firepower, accuracy and terminal ballistics. The reliability of the revolver is chosen over the complexity and possible reliability problems of a small pocket auto. Accepting these assumptions as givens, how is the best way to use the tiny revolver?

If you didnt have to fire it at all, that would be great. If just by drawing, you accomplished the change of behavior you desired it could be a real plus, but you cant count on that. You have to be ready to fire if you draw the gun. If you fire, it will need to be at fairly close range, 3-5 yards, because you will need to hit soft, vital zones. It should be assumed that hits to fleshy areas or bone will not result in rapid incapacitation. Nevertheless, we may reasonably expect that someone peppered about the face, chest or groin with .22 LR might very well decide to retreat, or be stunned long enough for you to escape the immediate area.

Out of this gun, the best .22 LR runs at about 830 feet per second, which is comparable to the speed of .45 hardball and standard .38 Special. Thats nothing to sneeze at for such a tiny gun, but its no proton torpedo. Its a pretty small bullet and therefore does not develop a lot of energy. That is not to say they arent dangerous and potentially lethal. They are. They arent toys. Were I to find myself defending myself with one, it would be because a couple of other guns have already run dry and the situation is quite desperate, or because I had to attend a pool party and was required to wear a swim suit (or something along that order).

I have often heard these tiny revolvers referred to a niche guns, meaning that they fill a particular niche, that being a gun for those times when anything larger could be a liability, and the trade-off between power and size is justified by the circumstances. Thats a pretty good description. It is surprising to find out how many people have made that choice, and carry the Mini Revolver all the time.

Specifications:

  • Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
  • Capacity: 5
  • Material: 17-4 pH stainless steel
  • Barrel Length: 1 1/8″
  • Overall Length: 4″
  • Overall Height: 2 3/8″
  • Width: 13/16″
  • Weight: 4.5 oz. unloaded
  • Suggested Retail Price: $193.00

Part Number: NAA-22LR

North American Arms Mini Revolver .22 LR


Smith & Wesson model 637

By Syd

I have often asked myself why, after years of using autoloaders, I found myself drawn to the Smith & Wesson Airweight Chiefs Special revolver. There are some things about this that aren’t the most scientific reasons for selecting a handgun. I guess I’ve been fascinated by snub-noses since the first times I saw Humphrey Bogart and Jimmy Cagney waving them around in old gangster movies. It was the snub-nose which always appeared out of nowhere and changed the situation. The snub-nose has a mystique about it just as surely as the Luger, The Single Action Army Colt, the M1911A1, the PPK you know the list the guns which have become icons. Actually, Id like to own each of these someday, but some lack the utilitarian value to me of the snub-nose. So, while someday, I may own the Lone Rangers six-shooter, I picked up a Model 637 Chiefs Special Airweight in .38 caliber.

The Model 637 is the 5-shot J-frame built with a stainless steel barrel and cylinder and an aluminum alloy frame with an exposed hammer. It has black rubber Uncle Mikes Boot Grips. The two greatest strengths of this gun are its excellent accuracy and 13.5 ounce weight. Other strengths I would list are the rounded contours of the gun, ease of concealment, its simplicity of operation, and high production values in finish and fit. This particular model is the 637-1, the -1 indicating that it is rated to handle +p ammunition. When I selected the 637 I really struggled with the choice between the 637 and the 640, the Airweight Centennial which is double action only. I settled on the 637 because its exposed hammer allows me to cock it for single action fire which makes for greater accuracy. The 640 is snag free and would be the better choice for pocket carry.

The snub-nose .38 Special is a study in trade-offs. The .38 Special is an excellent cartridge coming out of a 4″ barrel. Launched from a 2″ barrel, it can suffer velocity and expansion problems. On the other hand, a .38 with a 4″ barrel wont fit in your pocket. A snub-nose .38 can launch a bigger bullet than any other pistol of its size and weight, a 158 grain slug, but it can only launch five of them before you have to reload. Its small size and weight make it a dream to carry, but a pain to shoot. Modern .38 Special +p ammunition from Federal, Remington, and Winchester has addressed the velocity and expansion issues fairly well, but the recoil of +p in an Airweight is brisk indeed.

Shooting the snubby: I have medium large hands and the small grip and fast muzzle flip makes the snubby uncomfortable for me to shoot. One time I ran 150 rounds through it in a single session and came away with a blister on the bottom of my trigger finger from the trigger guard snapping up and hitting it. The trigger pull on the snubby is relatively heavy which doesn’t make for pinpoint accuracy, but provides a margin of safety for a gun that gets carried in pockets, purses, fanny packs and all sorts of holsters. Since the barrel is so short, the sight radius does not lend itself to tack-driving accuracy either. However, if you do take the time to get a good sight picture and have good trigger control, the inherent accuracy of the little wheel gun will surprise you.

“Of all handguns probably none of them are harder to master than the belly model. To begin with, it is short and it is light. This coupled with a walloping big caliber spells a punishing recoil. Only a plentitude of firing will accustom the user to the buck and rear of the sawed-off.

A hard-kicking gun can be controlled in only one way: it must he gripped with a powerful hand pressure. Practice a grip on the belly gun that will crush granite. Such a heavy hand will bring the weapon under control and keep it there. Practice on man targets and do not fire at them more than 30 feet. Do not fire single shots, trigger off bursts of 2 or 3. Extend the arm full length in the beginning and simply look over the barrel. Later on commence to break the elbow and hold the gun below eye level. Shots come faster. Accuracy is just as good from this lower position it is just a matter of practice.” Col. Charles Askins, GUNS MAGAZINE, May, 1955 [Editor’s note: I don’t necessarily subscribe to this style of shooting, but Col. Askins was one of the most experienced and successful gunfighters of all time and his methods are worth considering.]

The snub-nose .38 Special competes against guns like the Beretta Tomcat .32, the KelTec P-32, the SIG 230 .380 and the baby Glocks. Each of these have attributes which commend them, and I wouldn’t hesitate to use any of them (well, except maybe for the Glocks sorry, I just don’t like them.). The case for the snub-nose includes cheap ammo, big bullets, simplicity of operation, and excellent reliability.

A while back, I had the opportunity to test one of the S&W titanium 337s which weighs in at a mere 11.9 oz. In my opinion, the weight difference between the 637 and the 337 is not significant enough to justify the $150 price difference between the two guns (or the $250 difference you pay for the scandium versions). The stainless and aluminum alloy versions seem to be much better values to me. I also think the stainless steel of the 637 is better looking than the flat gun metal gray of the titanium parts of the 337. The two guns shoot about the same with brisk recoil and muzzle flip.

My favorite loads for the snubby include the 125g +p Remington Golden Saber, The Cor-Bon DPX, the 110g Hydra-Shok which is a very soft-shooting load, The Speer 135 grain +p and the 129g +p Hydra-Shok. Favorite holsters include the Galco Concealable, Galco Pocket Holster, Galco Ankle Glove, and Galco Classic Lite Shoulder Holster.

Conceptual Issues With The Little Wheel Gun

Criticisms
Smith & Wesson model 637Its always entertaining to me to read the noise that gets passed off as gun wisdom on the Internet, and no subject seems to collect more ill-considered pseudo-truths than the snub-nose revolver. With the disclaimer that if I were forced to choose one pistol for my life, it wouldn’t be a snub-nose .38 Special, I want to address some of the issues and criticisms often leveled at the snub-nose. The big one, of course, is that it only holds five rounds, and I admit that this is my biggest negative with the gun. But think about it a minute unless you are a soldier or a guy who kicks down doors for a living, how often have you actually been in a situation (outside of an IDPA match) in which there was a high likelihood of needing to fire 16-30 rounds? I have read the gun news almost every day for years and the instances in which an armed civilian has been called upon to shoot it out with a gang of heavily armed adversaries are exceedingly rare. And further, the sad fact is that if you have to go up against a half dozen armed people your odds of winning aren’t very good even with a gun that holds 15 rounds. Generally, violent crime is a matter of 1, 2 or 3 against 1 according to Justice Department statistics. The overwhelming majority of people who commit violent crimes against strangers are trying to steal something or commit a sexual assault. These people are looking for a score, not a gunfight. A .38 Special revolver with five or six rounds is quite adequate to dissuade, or if need be, stop this kind of predator, assuming of course that you can put the rounds somewhere that they will incapacitate the attacker. Also, with practice, a revolver can be reloaded as fast, or nearly so, as an auto using speed loaders.

I don’t mean this as an admonition to play the averages. I don’t believe in averages and statistics when it comes to self defense. Murphy is alive and well, and its the thing you don’t plan for that sandbags you. At the same time, real life is not like IPDA stages in which a dozen assailants stand still and let you shoot them. Groups of people, armed or otherwise, don’t behave that way. They scatter, dive for cover, shoot back, or something, but they don’t stand still. This gives you, the tactically-minded survivor, an opportunity to run the other way or take cover and reload. And again, these situations are rare, although not unheard of. Also, if you frequently find yourself in the position of being alone in a gunfight trying to hold off a half dozen armed adversaries, it might be worthwhile to stay at home tomorrow night to reflect upon your life style and social skills. The point Im trying to make is that the snub-nose is enough gun for most civilian self defense needs when it is deployed effectively. Nevertheless, if your threat assessment tells you that you may be facing multiple determined attackers, you should consider a higher capacity firearm. For more discussion on this, see “Why Carry a Revolver?”

(My personal choices of armament for a gunfight include a belt-fed M-60, a company of Marines at my back and close air support, but it’s kind of tedious to get all of that together for a trip to the grocery store. If it sounds like I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth, its because I am. The snubby is an acceptable solution to the problem. Its a whole lot better than throwing rocks, but it is not an optimal solution. A lightweight snubby is a trade-off of firepower for light weight, ease of carry, and conceal-ability.)

Smith & Wesson model 637One pseudo-truth I hear a lot is that snub-nose J-frames are the best choice for women, beginners and people who don’t want to practice with their handguns. Why? Loading and firing a Kahr or Glock is not exactly rocket science. A 1911 is only slightly more complicated. Are women and newbies too stupid to learn to operate an autoloader? How do they manage to operate their cars and food processors? I would argue the other way: let the newbies get a nice medium size autoloader with a deep magazine and a full size grip so they can miss a lot and not destroy their hands learning to fire the gun. A larger revolver is also a good choice for a newbie. A snub-nose 5-banger actually requires more skill to use effectively. With only five rounds in the gun, there is a smaller margin for error you cant afford to miss. The heavy trigger and short sight radius require more skill rather than less to achieve accuracy. You have to practice with these guns. Actually, you have to practice with any handgun, but that’s another rant. Especially with the lightweight revolvers, practice can be unpleasant because of the brisk recoil and muzzle flip, so why saddle newbies with little pocket cannons that are going to discourage practice? The only rational reason to put a newbie into a revolver is that they like it better. There is a certain wonderful trustworthiness about a wheel gun. Autos are mysterious with a lot of strange parts and such. Revolvers are simple and obvious. If the newbie has confidence that the revolver is going to work for them when the chips are down, that’s the gun they should get. Then they should buy a case of ammo (and maybe some shooting gloves) and learn how to use it.

Another criticism of the snub-nose is that its underpowered the short barrel doesn’t give the powder enough time to burn to develop adequate velocity. While the short barrel certainly costs you some muzzle velocity, I believe that this is a criticism based largely on yesterdays ammo, and it should be revisited. With modern +p loads, the snub-nose can kick out a 125g bullet at 850 900 fps. It can spit out the 158g at around 800 850 fps. At 900 fps a 125g bullet can shoot clean through a normal sized human being. While the .38 Special lacks the terminal ballistics of the .45 ACP and the velocity of the 9mm, its power to weight ratio is actually pretty good with the right ammunition. It is capable of doing the job. The power factor of the .38 Special revolver is the main reason I prefer it to a small auto like a .32 or .380 (and yes, I’ve read the Marshall & Sanow stats and I don’t believe a word of it.). The snubby is still the only handgun I know of that weighs 13 ounces and can launch a 158g bullet. For more on snubby ballistics, click here.

The last of the frequent criticisms of the snub-nose is that it isn’t very accurate. This isn’t really true, but I know why people think it. The snub-nose is not a gun that is easy to shoot accurately, but it is capable of surprising accuracy. On an episode of American Shooter hosted by Jim Scoutten, I saw trick shooter Bob Munden (see http://www.bobmunden.com/ ) hit a balloon the size of a saucer at 150 yards with a snub-nose .38. I think he had to fire twice, once to get the range and then the second shot hit. I have proven it to myself by consistently knocking down the small 18 tall x 6 wide pepper poppers at 25 yards. Now, to do this, I have to really take my time, aim carefully and fire single action, but I have established to my own satisfaction that the snubby can actually hit things at long range when I do the things I should.

Smith & Wesson model 637The Good Stuff

I’m an auto guy. With the exception of firing a few old .38’s when I was a kid, I cut my teeth on autoloaders particularly the M1911 and various 9mms. For serious business and matches, I still prefer autoloaders. I like their speed in firing and reloading. I have never found a gun that I shoot better than the M1911. With that said, I’m not blind to the appeal of wheel guns. There is a certain solid dependability about a wheel gun. It is simple and intuitive, and in its own way, perfect. To my way of thinking, the auto is faster and has better firepower, but there’s no squirrelly jazz about a revolver. It’s pretty obvious that it’s loaded, and there’s no safety or de-cocking levers to worry about. There are no magazines to fail, no research project to find out which ammo runs reliably, no carefully tuned mechanism to transfer cartridges to the chamber from the magazine in short, the revolver is a simple and dependable mechanism. While it is technically possible for a revolver to jam, it is a rare event usually brought about by a failure of ammunition to hold together under the recoil cycle of the gun or crud build-up under the ejector star. I have managed to jam almost every autoloader I own but I have never jammed a revolver. I have seen every variety of autoloader jam and fail in match and training settings. I can tell you particular models of autoloaders that have never failed on me, but the possibility of a jam or magazine failure is always in the back of my mind and we have to train for malfunction recovery. It’s just part of the course for training people on autos. With a wheel gun, we don’t worry so much about malfunctions. We worry about learning to reload fast enough to survive a fight. We worry about finding ammo that will achieve the necessary velocity and expansion, but malfunction recovery just isn’t high on the list of worries when it comes to wheel guns. A lot of people like these characteristics of revolvers.

Recently, I suffered a pair of painful back injuries one was the result of moving a load of drywall, and then a serious exacerbation of the injury happened in a fall on a set of stairs. I could scarcely tighten my belt enough to keep my pants up, much less endure a two pound gun and spare magazines riding on my belt and pressing against my lower back. In this sad state of disrepair, I was suddenly seeing my Airweight 637 in a whole new light. At 13.5 ounces and endowed with a really simple manual of arms, the snub-nose was a viable solution. I ordered a Galco Classic Lite shoulder holster so I wouldn’t have to endure a chunk of metal in my belt, and I had a rig that I could wear without discomfort.

The small snub-noses have ergonomics that even the smallest auto of comparable caliber fail to achieve. I have talked to police officers who have actually traded their baby Glock backups for J-frame revolvers because the small Glocks just don’t conceal or carry as well. The snub-nose remains to me the most concealable of guns of significant caliber. The rounded grip and small front end allows the gun to blend itself into the natural curves of the human body, making it an extremely easy gun to make disappear. It is comfortable to wear because it lacks the corners and levers which can dig into your body, and its light.

Tying the Threads Together
The snub-nose .38 revolver is probably the most under-appreciated and overly criticized personal defense handgun ever. I suspect that in our haste to justify our lust for the latest whiz-bang autoloader, the snubby has taken a critical pounding that would leave the casual observer with the impression that the gun couldn’t stop a rampaging grasshopper and is as slow to reload as a Brown Bess musket. Much of this is undeserved. Its days as a primary sidearm for law enforcement are surely over, but it remains very popular among peace officers in the backup and off-duty carry roles. A non-scientific survey of gun shop display cases revealed to me that that compact revolvers remain very popular with the public. Their prices have gone up in recent years, and few deals can be found on nice used specimens, especially on the lightweight +p rated models.

A lot of misinformation goes around about the snubbies, particularly that they are the ideal gun for beginners and non-dedicated personnel (meaning folks that don’t want to practice). I would argue that the snub-nose is not the best first gun. It is actually more demanding of the operator in the tactical context. The snub-nose is capable of significant accuracy and is possessed of adequate stopping power to perform the self defense role. For the person who adopts the .38 snub-nose as their personal self defense tool, extensive practice at rapid shot placement and reloading is encouraged in the strongest terms. Firepower (meaning the art of putting a lot of lead in the air quickly) is this guns weakness. One might even consider carrying a pair of snubbies so that an emergency reload is less likely.

Its days as the detectives best friend may be over, but the snub-nose .38 Special remains a dependable, effective handgun, a delight to carry, and a classic realization of the fighting handgun. And besides, its the only handgun my girlfriend ever called sexy. (I still haven’t figured out what she meant by that, but far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

Additional Reading:

Why Carry a Revolver?

Making the J-Frame .38 Snub Work

The .38 Snub Old Fashioned Or Old Faithful?

Self-Defense loads for the 2-inch .38 Special

Is A .38 Snub Enough

Snubby Ballistics

The Theory of the Snubnose

S&W Model 637 Airweight (.38 Special+P) – by Kim Du Toit