I’ve decided on a snub nose

Another thing I got to do today was some snub nose revolver comparison.

I got to shoot a steel-frame snub and an “airweight” aluminum frame snub side-by-side. I would load them both up (5 rounds each), then I would shoot 5 rounds out of the steel-frame, then 5 rounds out of the aluminum-frame. Reload. This time I’d shoot 5 out of the aluminum then 5 out of the steel. Reload. 5 steel, 5 alumium. Reload, 5 aluminum, 5 steel. Lather, rinse, repeat until I was out of ammo. My intent was to see what I thought of the airweights, if I really wanted one.

No, I don’t. I want steel.

The 2 revolvers were almost identical. The main differences were the frame material (of course), and the airweight also had a different set of grips on it, with a Crimson Trace laser. I shot the same ammo out of both (Magtech 158 grain .38 Special, lead round nose). Thus, I was able to just compare how the 2 handled based upon their frame characteristics.

The recoil difference between the two? Really, there’s not that much difference, but there is a difference and it is noticeable. I don’t know how to describe it in a way that can really convey it in words — you have to feel it for yourself, which is why I wanted to do this. While I knew a lighter gun would produce more “felt recoil” I wanted to feel it for myself. So that said, again it’s not that much difference, but it’s there. The airweight “bites” or “snaps” or “stings” your hand just a bit more. I bet I could shoot the steel-frame all day and not care; my trigger finger would probably peed out first from dealing with the long heavy pull. But that airweight I’m sure would come to a point where my right hand will say “no mas.”  I’m sure if I was using +P ammo, I’d feel it even more and like it even less. The fact I would switch back and forth between the two guns, shooting one first then next cycle shooting the other first, I did get to feel that really they both do bite/snap/sting, but you just feel it less with the steel.

I also noticed that I did not shoot the airweight as well. The recoil was a bit harder to manage, so it was harder to get all shots on target. I’m sure with practice and getting used to the airweight I could improve. But to improve, that means you have to shoot it a lot, which then leads to your hand getting beat up, and the vicious circle. What good is a gun that you don’t want to shoot because it hurts and/or is no fun to shoot? If you’re not going to practice with it, why have it unless you’re a collector?

I don’t know the exact weight of these particular guns, but I can say that a S&W 640 is 23 oz. and a 642 is 15 oz: 8 oz difference. Half a pound, and yes that’s significant. You do feel that difference in the carry weight. I slipped the airweight into my front pant pocket and I couldn’t tell it was there. I put the steel into the pocket and I could feel the weight. Was it that much to concern myself with? No, because if you carry it often enough, you’ll get used it it and it won’t be that big a deal.

The thing is, these lightweight snubs are made for carry, and I mean that: for carry. The main design concern is carrying it, not shooting it. If you’re going to have the gun, if you’re going to carry the gun, then you need to be proficient with the gun and that means shooting it a lot. If the gun isn’t going to be any fun to shoot, or beats your hands up so much that you have to stop shooting before you get in enough practice… is that worthwhile? Maybe for some, but not for me.

So, I want steel.

Trouble is, it’s going to be hard to find steel.

I’ve decided what I want is:

  • all steel construction
  • J-frame snub-nose size, 2″ barrel max
  • no snag designs, in terms of how the sights are, and anything else on the frame or gun overall
    • Having a higher visibility front sight would be welcome, tho that can always be handled afterwards by a gunsmith
  • a “hammerless” design, such as the “centennial” frame with fully enclosed hammer or the “bodyguard” frame with the shrouded hammer. I think I’d prefer Centennial, but at this point either is fine.
  • Chambered for .38 Special +P
  • No frills, including integrated/internal locks. I want this as simple as possible.

Trouble is? Finding this will be quite difficult.

What does the market bear? Airweights. Any time I go out to stores, if there’s a snub geared towards carry it ends up being an airweight (e.g. S&W 642). If there’s one in steel, it’ll have an exposed hammer. Yes there are some new models, like the 640, but I can’t find them for sale. So, this is a bit frustrating. What’s my plan?

  • If I want something now, I’ll probably have to get an airweight (like the 642). Or I’ll have to get something like a 640, chambered in .357 Magnum. And then, I’ll probably have to order it… which would be OK since I’d like to have a model without a lock.
  • If I want what I truly want, I’m going to have to wait. Just keep looking at the stores, looking at the shows, searching online (e.g. Gunbroker), and then as soon as I see what I want, buying it.

Not a big deal. Just how it goes. At this point, I’m content to wait and get what I want (or as close as I can get to it).

On a quick side note, the Crimson Trace. Meh. Not for me. It’s nifty for sure, but then I feel you’re looking at the wrong things. It puts your eyes on the target and searching for the little red dot. It breaks proper sight picture, no looking at the front sight, and so on. It’s just another gadget that you have to maintain, that can fail when you need it most. Interesting for sure, but not a gadget I feel is a necessity. I guess if you never or rarely practice it might be useful, but I think it’s better to practice.

3 thoughts on “I’ve decided on a snub nose

  1. A long time back, I had a lightweight Smith. Sold it to a fellow for more than it was worth and never did miss it. I picked up a nice Ruger SP101 hammerless model about 10 years ago. It weighs somewhere around 25 ounces and is a pleasure to shoot. Wonderful gun, but I think the barrel is a little longer than 2 inches (maybe 2 1/4 or 2 1/2).

    • A slightly longer barrel may or may not matter, depending how it then affects overall length.

      I’ll look at the SP101. My requirements are so tight and I’m so limited, it may be what fits the bill.

      Thank you.

  2. Pingback: Got my snub « Stuff From Hsoi

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