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Old July 22, 2008, 04:07 PM   #1
mellow_c
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Best .38 special Snub nose?

I'm going to get my CCW permit in a year or so, and I'd like to start my search for a new .38 special +P snub nose revolver.

I would like either 5 or 6 shots, blued, stainless, and lightweight are all welcome options, I'd like a smooth hammer, or half hammer, but would consider a full hammer if the gun is really that great. (planing on it being a front pocket gun)

Right now I have a 5 shot Rossi snuby, I like it, but I'd like something with a better "reputation" and a nice front sight would be helpfull as well, although you cant go wrong with just a little dab of white paint.

I'm not really interested in a .357, but I might look at one if it was very compact.

I never hear much talk about what makes a good .38 snuby and I'm very interested in what everyone has to say. feel free to speak from experience or just what you think/heard.

So please give me all of your suggestions, I'd like to know where to start looking. Price is not necessarily an issue. Thanx alot!
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Old July 22, 2008, 04:21 PM   #2
parrothead2581
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I really do love my S&W 442 Centennial. No worries of snagging as the hammer is enclosed. 5 shot, .38spl, aluminum frame. Great little gun. The 642 is the stainless steel equivalent.
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Old July 22, 2008, 04:21 PM   #3
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Quote:
I never hear much talk about what makes a good .38 snuby
Reliability and accuracy. You have to understand you're not going to be fighting long range with a 2" barrel. A snubbie is a "close up and personal" weapon.

Bells and whistles are fine, IF they make the gun more accurate and reliable.

IMO, a .357 mag. snubbie is a waste. It's hard to get the full bullet velocity from a 2" barrel. It also tends to kick like a mule. You can get close to .357 velocity with +p load and that's what I recommend.

One of my carry pieces is a Taurus Model 85UL (Ultra Lite). It holds 5 shots. Do you need more? Only YOU can decide that, depending on where you'll be carrying. It has blade and groove sights. These are perfectly adequate, given the range you'll have to use it. A snubbie can almost be considered a "point and shoot" gun.

Whatever you get, get grips that fit your hand. That will go a LONG way to making the gun more accurate and more pleasant to shoot.

The Taurus is about $100 cheaper than other comparable models, but, IMO , just as good. You pay a lot for name and a fancy shine. If the hammer is a problem, you can always bob it yourself. It's easy and doesn't hurt the gun or affect the function.

Taurus Model 85UL loaded with Corbon DPX.
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Old July 22, 2008, 04:35 PM   #4
FEG
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I purchased the 638 Airweight Bodyguard over the 642, because I thought I would actually use the hammer for SA on occasion. SA is not practical on the 638. It will cause the guard to sting your trigger finger under recoil. However, the shroud allows it to conceal better in a pants pocket.

I think the 642 is probably a better option overall, but I like the 638 well enough to have kept it all this time.
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Old July 22, 2008, 04:38 PM   #5
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Quote:
Best .38 special Snub nose?
I have both the S&W 342Ti and the S&W 342PD.

The 342Ti (weighs 12 oz.) has had a Big Dot front sight installed, which works great.

The 342PD (weighs 10.8 oz.) has an orange insert front sight, and this works well too.

Of the two, I like the Big Dot the best for low-light visibility.

Shooting +Ps in either one of these is not much fun. Winchester and Federal both make Self Defense ammo which is not +P, and is much more pleasant to shoot.

I would recommend either of these Smiths.
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Old July 22, 2008, 04:39 PM   #6
nate45
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Here is just about everything to know about snub nose revolvers



http://www.snubnose.info/
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Old July 22, 2008, 05:29 PM   #7
wnycollector
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I have a S&W 638 and model 36. The 638 is GREAT for pocket carry, but putting 100 rounds through it at the range is not fun! The steel model 36 is wonderful to carry IWB and you can shoot it all day long! The smallest .357 I own is a SS Ruger Security Six with a 2.75" barrel. I gets carried more than the snub .38's during the fall/winter/spring.

Since you already have snub steel frame .38, I would suggest a 638 since you get a snag free pistol w/ SA ability. If you want a .357, check out a snubbie ruger six or a 3" S&W K frame.
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Old July 22, 2008, 05:40 PM   #8
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here is a good choice for an overbuilt .38+P that can handle a lifetime of +P ammo - Ruger SP101
I am in the process of having Ruger replace the hammer with a spurless one as I write this.
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:10 PM   #9
MisterWilson
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Quote:
I really do love my S&W 442 Centennial. No worries of snagging as the hammer is enclosed. 5 shot, .38spl, aluminum frame. Great little gun. The 642 is the stainless steel equivalent.
I thought that the Centennial was the heavier stainless-framed one while the 642 was the lighter aluminum-framed one.

Also, WildbadtotheboneAlaska has some NEW lock-less 642's coming in...
http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=303337
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:11 PM   #10
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I own a 85UL, and wish I'd bought an SP101. The 85 works just fine, but I'd like the option to run .357 mag in mine.
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:13 PM   #11
FEG
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Quote:
I thought that the Centennial was the heavier stainless-framed one while the 642 was the lighter aluminum-framed one.
The 642 is also an Airweight (aluminum alloy). It is basically the same as a 638, but with no hammer or shroud.
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:46 PM   #12
RPSmith
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I like my 642

It is the aluminum alloy frame with stainless cylinder and is light enough to carry in my fishing vest (which was the intention).

In a pair of Carhartt's (I'm a carpenter) it disappears! In the role of a 'front carry' gun (as you describe it) I can tell you that it is comfortable and the hammerless design makes it easily accessible.

The gun is not impressively accurate although it certainly hits center of mass five out of five times at 10 yards. That's all I require of it. Some say their snubbie can hit quarters at 25 yards though I've never seen it.

I would recommend a 642 to anyone interested in a pocket carry or similar type revolver.
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:49 PM   #13
KyJim
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"Name brand" snubbies, 5 or 6 shots - Colt, Ruger, SW

Lightweight - Eliminate all Rugers. This leaves Colt Cobras and Agents and eliminates the Detective Special. It eliminates all the SWs except the J-framed Airweight and Scandium models. Scandium models are .357 magnum and have a heck of a kick. The Airweights are just a bit heavier and shoot .38 special.

Front Pocket Gun - The Colts are 6 shot but, IMHO, just a tad thick for pocket carry. This takes you down to the SW J-frames in Scandium or Airweight.

Personally, I see no reason to carry a Scandium framed .357 magnum. Kicks like the devil, follow up shots are harder, and the flame can be a major distraction at night. The noise of one inside can temporarily deafen you. Bad if you're trying to hear a bad guy or for the sound of a siren.

This essentially brings it down to SW Models 637, 638, and 642. The 637 has a standard trigger and can snag. You have wisely decided to avoid this in a pocket gun. The 642 is sometimes called a "hammerless" model but this is a misnomer. It actually has an internal hammer and is double action only, meaning pulling the trigger cocks the hammer and then releases it to fire.

The Model 638 has a hammer shroud which makes it look a little funny. The shroud avoids the problem of snag but does allow single action shooting. You can pull the hammer back to cock it and then pull the trigger to fire. This results in a lighter trigger pull and, perhaps, better accuracy at beyond point blank ranges.

The snubby is primarily a short range weapon so shooting single action is not a priority. It is something, however, you might want to consider. I carry an earlier version (Model 38) in a front pocket holster very often. I chose it because it did give me the option to shoot single action if desired. Who knows, maybe I'll use it someday to kill a snake.

Earlier versions of the SW Airweight J-frame do not recommend shooting .38 special +p so this is one reason to consider only the newer versions (the ones with a three digit model number) because they are rated for +p ammo.

My bottom line recommendation is the SW 638 in the modern version if you want to be able to shoot +p ammo with the 642 in second place.
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Old July 22, 2008, 06:57 PM   #14
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Any S&W j-frame. Period.
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Old July 22, 2008, 08:34 PM   #15
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Plug for Colt Detective Special

I have a five shot S&W 642 and the gun will fit in a pocket because of its light weight (15 ounces empty) and smooth contours. But it is not easy to shoot well and is really a "last ditch" gun to use at close range.

I also have a Colt Detective Special that is all steel and heavier (21 ounces empty), holds 6 rounds, and is much easier to shoot accurately at intermediate range than the 642. The Colt conceals very easily in a belt scabbard type of holster and is so small you aren't really aware of it on your belt, as you would be with a larger gun. I much prefer the Colt for shooting, and feel better armed with it on my belt, than with the 642 in my pocket.



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Old July 22, 2008, 08:49 PM   #16
Lou22
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I think my 642 is perfect for concealed carry. I considered the 638 but decided SA was impractical for self-defense. I read somewhere the 642 has a somewhat better DA trigger over the 638 because the 642 has different internals with no SA available. Take that for what it's worth. Also the 442 is the same as the 642 in a blued finish. Pick whichever you prefer. All three guns are in my mind superior for CC. I'd stay away from a snub with a spurred hammer.

Lou
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Old July 22, 2008, 09:45 PM   #17
doc540
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My circumstances may be a bit unique, but I have to carry in a SmartCarry for deep cover.

I've spent considerable time, effort, and money getting to my current carry piece.

I bought and tried to carry first a Glock 26: too thick and no manual safety
sold it

Next I bought a Smith 642: too light and no fun to shoot 100 +P's at the range
sold it

Next I traded a Taurus 85 (extra snub I owned) for a nickel, 1972 Smith 36 and bobbed the hammer. That worked well, and I thought I was done.
Kept it for the wife.

THEN I was drawn like a moth to a flame and bought this


I'm very satisfied with the quality of the build, the accuracy of the gun, its concealability, it's comfort shooting 100 +P's at the range, and its ammo capacity.

Then there's the cool factor.
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Old July 22, 2008, 09:56 PM   #18
Ala Dan
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A Can Of Worms Forthcoming-

1) Old Model 2nd series (1947-1972) Colt Detective Special + varaints
2) Smith & Wesson model 36, 37, and 60 (in particular)
3) Smith & Wesson model 442 (preferred) and 642
4) Smith & Wesson model 38, 49, and 638
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Old July 22, 2008, 11:50 PM   #19
Buzzcook
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Hey that's a nice snubbie site.

I like the S&W Model 60. you should be able to find a used one for between 300 and 400.
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Old July 23, 2008, 12:33 AM   #20
gordo_gun_guy
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M&p 340

My Smiff M&P 340 Centennial (no Lasergrips) is about a month old now. The Hogue grips are comfy with .38s and the XS tritium front sight is the brightest night sight in my safe as I shut the door.

I think it looks classy all blacked out, but mostly I chose it for the big, bright sight.

BTW, my carry ammo will be the Cor-bon 110 gr DPX .38 +P. After 200 rds of .38 RN and WC, the trigger pull is smoothing out even more. I've shot exactly 3 cylinders full of my big-gun .357 mag carry load (Fed 357B) and it hurts like hell. First, if I forget and fall into my 1911 thumbs-forward grip, the cylinder release pulverizes my right thumb. By the third round, no matter how strong my grip, the back strap smacks the daylights aout of my palm. To fire the fifth round without flinching, I have to repeat my NYC cop cousin's mantra: "pull the subway train (front sight) throught the tunnel (rear sight) while consciously trying to relax.

In sum: light, snag-free, stong enough for magnums, good grips, great sight, and bi-name reliability.

I may supplement it with a nickel Lemon Squeezer for fancy dress....
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Old July 23, 2008, 01:11 AM   #21
Dead-Nuts-Zero
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M-60 S&W many years ago when they were .38 +p in 2" 5 shot satinless Got it NIB for $210.00 (that's how long ago it was). Now I think they come in 3" 357 versions etc.

Anyway, my 60 was an off duty that I had to qualify 2 times a year including night fire. With baracade hold, will shoot very good at 25 yds and even shoot's quite well at 50 yds (considering what it is) if your steady on a rest.

I put a Pacmyier (sp) rubber oversized rubber grip on it. With the oversize grips, it works well in shoulder holster. IWB too if your built for it but not for deep cover. I often thought of bobin the hammer but never did. It's an old model and replaced by other S&W newer models that I don't know anything about. However, for a small 5 shot I found it to be a great performer and actually fun to shoot with +p's We used 110gr. silvertip Winchester if I remember correctly (it was 20 some years ago I last qualified with it). And, yes it has a tiny little Kool Factor with the oversize grips.

Soooo maybe something to look at if you find one used at a good price. Otherwise, my guess would be a newer version of the old 60 in about the same gun, a 3 digit model number as mentioned many times above. My suggestion is to get something you will enjoy shooting...have some fun with it and if you don't like it for your needs, then it becomes an excuse to buy another.....can't have too many guns can we?
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Old July 23, 2008, 03:56 AM   #22
mellow_c
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Thanx!

Thanx for all the posts everyone... I've checked out a few of the suggested revolvers. Some of my research lead me to this gun.

http://www.gunblast.com/SW_342PD.htm

I'd like to know what everyone thinks about it vs your other suggestions. From the review Jeff gives, it seams like what I'm looking for. But I'd like to know if any of you can see a down side to that type of revolver, vs some of the ones you all suggested. Other than it's lighter weight that is. (obviously)
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Old July 23, 2008, 04:21 AM   #23
darkgael
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Snubbie

Just one more - "One of my carry pieces is a Taurus Model 85UL (Ultra Lite). "
I know that the Smiths are the weapon of choice for many but....
I was gifted with this model 85 by a friend who can no longer use it. It is a fine shooter. I have used it at the range extensively - accurate and as easy on the hand as anything similar.
Pete
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Old July 23, 2008, 05:48 AM   #24
nate45
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Quote:
I'd like to know what everyone thinks about it vs your other suggestions.
The 342 is a nice pistol, but I wouldn't load it with Glaser Safety slugs. They only penetrate about 6 inches and I do not feel that is sufficient.

Look at these test results http://www.brassfetcher.com/38%20Special.html it looks like to me the
Buffalo Bore 158 gr. LSWC-HC is very good. If you don't like that or other 158 grs look at the Speer 135 gr. Short Barrel or the 110 gr. DPX.

They do well I just prefer the heavier weights, my Model 36 is loaded with Remington 158 gr. LSWC-HP right now.

What ever you choose though I would stay away from the Glaser, they could get you killed.
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Old July 23, 2008, 06:40 AM   #25
Kreyzhorse
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Quote:
It is the aluminum alloy frame with stainless cylinder and is light enough to carry in my fishing vest (which was the intention).
Agreed. I think the best overall carry gun is a S&W Airweight. I prefer the 637 version myself. The gun is light weight, which is important if you are going to carry it all the time and it is well made.
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