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Old December 8, 2012, 07:10 PM   #1
Pond, James Pond
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If you had to choose between these two as a potential carry gun,

which would you choose and why?

There is a good chance that a squibb incident has killed my tidy little Astra 680 .38Spl 6-shot by putting a bulge in the barrel.
Whenever I did carry, that was my choice: largely due to its size and the ridiculous "semi chamber empty" carry law that they have locally. I did not really feel under-equiped with 6 .38s, but given the choice between a 6-shot and a 5-shot, I was happy with I found this little snub carried an extra shot.

Whilst I will still test to see if the little snub can shot accurately, I have nonetheless started keeping my eyes open for a replacement.

I once saw another 680 going for good money (although not as cheap as mine had beeb). Aside from that the choices that are close to my budget are:
  • A S&W Model 640 .38 5-shot
  • Another S&W, unknown DA/SA model, with a shrouded hammer, also .38 5-shot
  • Or a Makarov 9x18 with its 8-shot clip.

Those are really the only ones I could stretch to.
All of them cost way more than the Astra had been, although the Mak is the cheapest by some margin, comes with spare mags and some rounds.

Both S&Ws are miles away, but I already have the dies to load for them and one of them has a holster, although my Galco should fit it too.
The Mak is local, but I lack the dies necessary at this time.

So, in my shoes, if you had to choose one for range and occassional carry, which one and why?
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Old December 8, 2012, 07:55 PM   #2
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RUGER SP101 - stubby .357.

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Old December 8, 2012, 08:00 PM   #3
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If those were my only choices then I'd pick the SW 5-shot .38 special revolver with the shrouded hammer. There isn't an exposed hammer to catch on carry garments and SW makes tough, reliable pistols. Good luck.

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Old December 8, 2012, 08:20 PM   #4
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I carry a S&W 638 airweight shrouded hammer snub, so you know my choice.

TBS, sometimes I carry my Ruger SP101 .357 with .357s loaded for the heck of it.
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Old December 8, 2012, 08:39 PM   #5
Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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Sorry James,

It was just pointed out to me, rather bluntly, that you don't live in the US and as such have a limited choice.

If however, you do have S&W available, look for the best bang for your buck if used and what feels good if your have the choice of new.

I like autos, but wheel guns of a good make - for the most part, S&W are one of the good ones - are very relyable.

5 or 6 shots that will go off are way ahead of a clip full which may not if there is some mechanical glitch.

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Old December 8, 2012, 09:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
There is a good chance that a squibb incident has killed my tidy little Astra 680 .38Spl 6-shot by putting a bulge in the barrel.
Oh, bummer. And there's probably not much chance of getting it fixed.

Quote:
A S&W Model 640 .38 5-shot
Another S&W, unknown DA/SA model, with a shrouded hammer, also .38 5-shot
Or a Makarov 9x18 with its 8-shot clip.
Between the S&Ws, it's "hammerless" (internal hammer) vs. shrouded hammer. Shrouded hammer you can, in theory, manually cock and shoot single action. Pick one. I'd probably go hammerless, as double action only is the way you ought to be shooting a snub.

Makarovs are good too. I've owned 4 over time, was down to none, and now have my original Baikal .380 Makarov back. They're rugged and accurate. And no longer made. Parts and magazines ought to be readily available where you are (you being in a country that used to be part of the Soviet Union).

Quote:
So, in my shoes, if you had to choose one for range and occassional carry, which one and why?
Hem and haw. Probably the hammerless S&W, though any of them would work.

Are the revolvers used?

If you're more interested in shooting targets, get the Makarov. Snubs are harder to shoot well.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:28 PM   #7
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Of those options I would choose the SW with the shrouded hammer as first pick, and the Makarov closely behind. The Makarov is an under rated pistol in my opinion. The East German one I had was very well finished, reliable and accurate.
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Old December 8, 2012, 11:36 PM   #8
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I'd go with the Smith 640. For years, back in the day, a Smith Model 60 with bobbed hammer was my primary U/C piece. Second choice would be the other Smith.

I currently have a Ruger LCP as my "always" gun, as it fits unobtrusively in a wallet holster, but I'd opt for the old 60 if I couldn't carry chamber loaded.
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Old December 9, 2012, 04:01 AM   #9
Pond, James Pond
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Thanks for the thoughts.

I am sort of torn. I can't do anything for about 3 weeks anyway, which probably means after Christmas anyway.

I like the S&W options, espcially with a shrouded hammer, for their ease of carry, weight and the fact that they, legally, circumvent the no chambered round law. I have the dies to reload them and a holster too.
They however, are expensive, only 5-shot, and a long way from me: like 6 hours round trip and another 10-15% of the budget in fuel!! (it cost me more to fill my tank the other day than it did to buy my little ill-fated Astra!! )

I like the Mak because it is here (in my town), I've always had a soft spot for them (being the gun I cut my teeth on when endlessly training for the licence exam), and they carry 8 shots (albeit it not as potent as a 158gr SWC .38). They also have a safety, so if I did decide I wanted one in the chamber at some stage, or they change the law, I'd feel a bit better about it. However, I don't have a holster for it, so that would be an added expense...

If another Astra crops up: I'm going to jump on it, though!!
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:01 AM   #10
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S&W or Ruger revolver every time. D/a on the Mak takes 2 fingers.
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:03 AM   #11
Pond, James Pond
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I should also add that I could opt for another Astra: the Constable (IIRR). It is a real beauty, is local, and is cheaper than all the others.

However, it is .380ACP so the weakest calibre of all so far and spares would be next to impossible to find.
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:15 AM   #12
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My choice would be one of the S&W 38s. A little more power than the Astra 380 and the auto without one in the chamber is useless IMO. I can't see much to go wrong with a S&W except maybe another squib incident.

I carry a S&W 642 5-shot and love it. I also carry a LCP 380 auto, but if I couldn't carry one in the chamber I would get rid of it (or use it for a paperweight ).

BTW, it seems you have four options listed rather than two.
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:30 AM   #13
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I'd never own a S&W that was anything other than a 6 shot and I wouldn't care to own an Astra - easy choice for me.
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Old December 9, 2012, 11:32 AM   #14
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All three are fine guns, but I personally would lean towards one of the revolvers because I have a bit more faith in the .38 Special than I do in 9x18 Makarov in terms of effectiveness. Even if limited to non-hollowpoint bullets (which, IIRC, you are due to the laws of your country), the .38 Special offers more efficient and effective bullet designs than 9x18 does.

With the 9x18 you'd pretty much be limited to round-nose FMJ which is one of the least effective bullet types available. Not only will you get no expansion whatsoever, but the rounded shape will create a smaller-than-caliber wound track because it will stretch tissue rather than crush or tear it. With the .38 Special, you can use a bullet with a sharper cutting shoulder like a semi-wadcutter or, better yet, a full wadcutter that will punch a full-diameter "cookie cutter" type hole and, if the lead is soft enough, may even give you some moderate expansion/deformation.

While I know that your selection and budget is limited, you might keep an eye out for a used S&W K-Frame like the models 10, 12, 15, 64, or 67. These will offer a six-shot cylinder like your Astra did and, here in the U.S., they can often be found for the same price or less than the all-steel J-Frames like the 640 (the prevalence of concealed carry laws here creates more demand for the smaller revolvers).
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Old December 9, 2012, 12:10 PM   #15
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:17 PM   #16
lee n. field
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Quote:
S&W or Ruger revolver every time. D/a on the Mak takes 2 fingers.
Respectfully disagree on the Mak DA trigger. I have never found it difficult, with multiple examples. Perhaps you're thinking of the PA-63?
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Old December 9, 2012, 01:19 PM   #17
lee n. field
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There is a good chance that a squibb incident has killed my tidy little Astra 680 .38Spl 6-shot by putting a bulge in the barrel.
A mistake in your handloading?
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Old December 9, 2012, 03:05 PM   #18
Pond, James Pond
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A mistake in your handloading?
Seems most likely...
Light charges.

All of that batch went through the auto-disk, and I had checked every ten loads or so, but all the same, stacks were under charged.

I spent a while yesterday pulling all the bullets. I'll start from scratch again, but until I get another snub, there is no great rush I guess...

Oh ****!!!
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Old December 9, 2012, 07:14 PM   #19
lee n. field
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All of that batch went through the auto-disk, and I had checked every ten loads or so, but all the same, stacks were under charged.
I've had 2 squibs loading .38 Special on my Pro 1000. I try to visually check each round on the third station, for an appropriate amount of powder. It's much more difficult to do for .38 than for other cartridges that I load for, because of the height of the cartridge and the bare wisp of powder required.

I've gone back to loading .38 on a single stage press.
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Old December 9, 2012, 09:10 PM   #20
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S&W 640
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Old December 10, 2012, 12:07 PM   #21
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Quote:
I've had 2 squibs loading .38 Special on my Pro 1000. I try to visually check each round on the third station, for an appropriate amount of powder. It's much more difficult to do for .38 than for other cartridges that I load for, because of the height of the cartridge and the bare wisp of powder required.

I've gone back to loading .38 on a single stage press.
This is why I have gone back to loading everything on a single stage plus more accuracy. I gave both of my Pro 1000s to my nephew (actually one was his anyway). I can load all I need on a single stage. There seemed to be too much going on with the 1000 to suit me.
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Old December 10, 2012, 02:40 PM   #22
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A S&W 642 and a makarov are both in my carry rotation. If I had to chose just one, it would be the 642 only because I need to pocket carry often.

In my backyard ballistics testing (wet phone books) the makarov had better penetration than the 642. Its been awhile, so I don't remember the ammo I used in the 642, but the makarov ammo was the cheap silver bear 95gr. Buffalo Bore offers a 115gr. hard cast flat nose for the makarov. Thats what I carry.

If I could only carry 4 rounds in my 642 and didn't need to pocket carry, I'd go with the makarov.
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Old December 10, 2012, 02:46 PM   #23
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I carry a p-64 makarov chambered gun and don't at all feel undergunned with it.

BB makes some 115gr flat nosed carry rounds.

I would definitely go with the mak. Also for those comparing it to .38spl the rounds produce very similar muzzle energies.
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Old December 10, 2012, 03:42 PM   #24
Pond, James Pond
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Nice pointers on the Buffalo Bore for the Mak, but no one sells BB over here.

Shame: I'd love to try some of their Ruger only .44 Mag loadings...
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Old December 10, 2012, 05:19 PM   #25
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They are very stout. Very.
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