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Old August 29, 2013, 11:40 AM   #1
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Thinking about my first CC gun. LCR? Bodyguard? Other?

My wife and I are relatively new shooters, and we both would like to carry. We've already attained our CC permits, so we're good to go there. My brother-in-law took us shooting, so we've fired a variety of guns. Unfortunately no revolvers, so I have yet to shoot one. We just need to decide on which weapon to carry. She's already made up her mind on an M & P Shield 9mm. I'm leaning more towards a revolver. I know choosing a firearm is a personal thing, but I'd like some real world input from you guys, because you have experience.

Here's what I think I like, based strictly on Youtube videos and internet research:

1. I prefer the simplicity, styling, and ease of cleaning of revolvers.

2. The .38 caliper seems to be adequate for self-defense, and relatively inexpensive. Sort of.

3. If I'm understanding it correctly, there are certain revolvers that will shoot .38, .357. and certain shotgun rounds? That would be ideal!

4. At first I wanted to carry IWB, but after some thought and research I like the idea of a Kydex holster worn OWB, comfort being the main issue.

5. I like hammerless, but is the hammer catching on clothing really an issue, particularly if worn OWB?

I look forward to some comments, opinions, and advice. Thanks!

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Old August 29, 2013, 02:19 PM   #2
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1. Good reasons, all. I will say though, that cleaning a revolver is generally more difficult, as you have 6 or 7 barrel/chambers to clean. But its a minor point.

2. I agree .38Spl is a great caliber. It isn't as cheap as 9mm, but this can be negated by reloading your own ammo.

3. A .357Mag revolver will shoot .38Spl. NOT the other way around. .38Spl is shorter, so a revolver chambered in that won't close with a .357Mag in it. The Taurus Judge and S&W Governor can shoot .410 shotshells, but they don't shoot .357 or .38. I would stay away from the .410 revolvers, they are hyped up but do not deliver under actual ballistics tests. .38Spl is the correct caliber for personal defense, .357Mag is a nice option for woods carry.

4. OWB carry is more difficult to conceal, but it can be done. Kydex and revolvers just don't mix to me, but that is purely a personal opinion. A revolver needs nice leather I would experiment before buying if you can; you may find you need a smaller gun than you thought, or that you can go bigger. You want to carry the largest gun you can reliably conceal. I prefer OWB too, but carry IWB 95% of the time.

5. Hammer won't be much of an issue carried OWB. Plus, most hammerless revolvers are J-frame, 5-shot sized. If you are carrying OWB you will probably be carrying something larger. Those will generally have exposed hammers anyway. If you do get a smaller revolver, there are models available with a hammer that is filed down so that it can't catch on clothes, but you still have the option of single action. The S&W 638 is one such example.

What guns to look at depend a lot on your concealment requirements. A mid-sized gun like a K-frame Smith would be an excellent choice. The Ruger SP101 is about halfway between a J and K frame. Slightly larger you can get a 686+ with 7 shots, which will get you within 1 shot of your wife's Shield.
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Old August 29, 2013, 05:38 PM   #3
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My 2 bits....

Here is my input(based on approx 25 years around firearms, 04 years active duty: US Army, licensed in 2 states for CC)...

Id start with a simple, no frills DA/DA only 5/6 shot revolver for both of you.
A DA only or DAO wheel gun like the Ruger SP101 in .357magnum, the LCR in .38spl or .357magnum, the S&W model 642(without the stupid lawyer lock ) or the J frame DA/SA 638 .38spl would be great for carry & for learning the basics of marksmanship, firearms safety, cleaning, tactics, etc.
note Smith and Wesson now has safety warnings posted about the M&P Shield pistols. Your better half may feel ready to pack a semi auto pistol, but Id crawl before you walk or run.
A Ruger LCR, SP101(DAO) or 642 snub can take after market night sights or laser aiming grips to guide you. Most attacks & use of force events take place at night. Shooting in low light or learning to deploy your weapon in darkness is important.
A simple .38spl can be upgraded from training rounds to the more potent +P loads. A .357magnum can take either .38spl or the powerful magnum rounds.
Be aware that such issues as muzzle flash, recoil, blast, etc will be parts of any defense related shooting. You or your spouse may need to fire weak hand(non firing hand) too if you are hurt or wounded.
Learn how to clean & service your new firearms. Check them often for damage & wear. Don't put a handgun in a drawer or case or purse then leave it there for 5 years. Don't laugh, it does happen.
Take training classes & read a few decent books. Know your areas use of force & gun laws. Don't go by someone's uncle's barber who knew a state trooper 5 years ago. Gun & carry laws change often! Be aware of the laws & have a legal defense plan too.
Only use factory rounds for defense or concealed carry. No cheap reloads or hand-loads. Some gun shop ranger or weekend Rambo may think they are better than Winchester, Speer/Gold Dot or Remington but they are now. you are the one who must account for or explain your actions in a lethal force event.
Finally, don't buy cheap stuff. It will break and wear out quickly. Plus you'll look like a real sucker to other gun owners/armed professionals/CC license holders.

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Old August 29, 2013, 11:26 PM   #4
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Thank you very much for the replies. You've provided me with a wealth of information to think about. My LGS is relocating to a larger facility in the near future, and they're going to have an indoor range. Hopefully they'll be guns available to rent. That would be a huge help in making my decision. I'm open to more suggestions, advice, etc. here as well.

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Old August 30, 2013, 06:24 AM   #5
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At first I wanted to carry IWB, but after some thought and research I like the idea of a Kydex holster worn OWB, comfort being the main issue.
Neither method will be totally comfortable. Personally I prefer OWB myself but be prepared to try a couple methods before you settle on mode of carry. It's a highly personal and subjective thing.

Additionally, leather carries better and is more comfortable than kydex in my opinion so don't rule out a leather holster.

The hammer getting caught on your clothing is greatly exaggerated in my experience.
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Old August 30, 2013, 07:09 AM   #6
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It seems like you have thought out the costs and benefits between revolvers and semi-autos- there's no absolute wrong answer, just the answer that's wrong for you.

I would echo a few points made by others:

Like ClydeFrog suggested, for a carry revolver, I would stick to Ruger LCR/SP101 or S&W J frame for easier concealability, especially if you are going to be carrying OWB.

As has been said, concealing an OWB holster is more difficult, but doable. I would consider a pancake style holster for this job- they tend to hold tighter to the body and higher on the torso.

I also highly discourage kydex OWB for conceal carry. They are great for range carry, but I strongly suggest you look for a leather holster for concealed carry. They are slimmer, quieter, and easier on your gun's finish. They do great when mounted on leather for IWB holsters, but for your use, I would strongly reccomend leather.

As to the hammer question, I think you would be better served getting a hammerless or bobbed hammer weapon if it's available- it doesn't make as much a difference with OWB carry, but that hammer can be a pain if you decide to try IWB carry.

Now, if I were going to make a reccomendation for an IDEAL package for you, with no knowledge of your body type/comfort level/budget-

I'd suggest looking at the LCR in .357 or a S&W J frame (Model 642/638/similar) with a Barsony Leather Pancake Holster (like this one) with a good sturdy gun belt. I have never shot the LCR, but the only reason I suggest it instead of the SP101 is size- when concealing an OWB weapon, size only makes it harder to conceal. The SP101 isn't much bigger, so it might not make too much of a difference for you, but I'd go smaller were it me.

I would also look into getting some Bianchi speed strips (easier to conceal than speed loaders) for carrying extra rounds.
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Old August 30, 2013, 11:27 AM   #7
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Welcome the world of shooting and to cc, groverdill! You're correct that choosing a firearm is a highly subjective and personal thing to do. We've got folks on TFL who won't carry a revolver, and some who carry nothing but. With that said, I'd call a .38 snub "within the window of acceptable performance." Once you find something within that window, the fact that you like a given gun is very important. Why? Because you won't carry a gun you don't like.

One of the nice things about a snub is that it's suitable for a variety of methods of carry. You can put it on your belt, in your belt, or shove it in your pocket, depending on the day. (You'd need really, REALLY big pockets to stuff a 1911 Gov't Model in to pocket carry.)
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Old August 30, 2013, 01:49 PM   #8
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If you are both new shooters, revolvers are a fine choice, but do not rule out semiautos, either. If you have a driver's license, you can already operate a machine that is a thousand times more complex than any semiauto.

The S&W M&P Shield in 9mm is easy to use, controllable, and subjectively to me has less recoil than any airweight snubnose while being more powerful and having more ammunition.

The downside of snubnose revolvers for the new shooter is the stiff recoil and short sight radius, which often makes practice unpleasant and may turn a not particularly motivated shooter into a nonshooter.

Since you mention that you are considering belt carry for a revolver, I would recommend a steel J- or K-frame S&W or the equivalent from Taurus or Ruger. The shootability of these revolvers is substantially better than the aluminum and scandium variants.

Additionally, unless weight becomes your dominant issue, getting a given gun in .357 magnum is better than the equivalent in .38 Special, since the .357 magnum will fire any .38 Special ammunition, but not the other way around. Also, .357s are occasionally heavier (The Ruger LCR in .357 has a steel/polymer frame, whereas the .38 version is aluminum/polymer). Additional weight aids shootability.

Another thing about .38/.357 is that recoil and muzzle flash vary WIDELY by load. Some Buffalo Bore monster .38 Special loads feel worse than some light .357 loads. Some .38 wadcutter loads feel so light that you wonder if the gun fired. So if you find that the recoil of your chosen load is too heavy, you might be able to remedy that by changing to a different ammunition rather than a different gun.
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Old August 30, 2013, 03:33 PM   #9
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Get the LCR .357 and load it with good .38 spl ammo.
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Old August 30, 2013, 08:40 PM   #10
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Another point....

Id add that a smart choice you can buy for you or a family member can be a .22LR revolver or .22WMR(magnum revolver).
It's smaller than a .38spl or a .357magnum but it recoils less, has cheaper rounds(in most places but not all), they work & function the same way, and they cost roughly the same(or less in USD).
For example you can get a Ruger LCR .22LR revolver than train or practice carry methods(unloaded).
Duty or full size weapons are also available in .22LR in a few well made models.
As you or your spouse's skills improve you can buy a DA only pistol like a HK P2000 LEM(law enforcement modification) or a M&P in .40/.357sig/9x19mm.
The SIG P229R or P226R in DAK(Double Action Kellerman) which is a lighter trigger pull type DAO can be converted to also shoot .22LR.

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Old August 30, 2013, 10:18 PM   #11
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The Shield is one of the better choices for a cc 9mm, in my opinion. Mine is dead on accurate at self defence distances. I also carry a Taurus model 650 (concealed hammer) 357 which I'm quite fond of. To be honest, I think the Shield conceals a little easier IWB.
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Old August 30, 2013, 11:03 PM   #12
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My advice towards picking a caliber would be try as many different ones as you can and pick the one you shoot the best. I do great with .45 and .357 Magnum, ok with .38 and with 9mm I have the accuracy of a James Bond henchman. But if you do want to get a .38 I would say get a .357 because it will be a heavier gun so it would have less kick.

Also, another thing that's really important, make sure you get a quality belt and holster. I have a Crossbreed belt and a Tucker IWB holster and with a full size 1911 I don't even notice I have it on. Before that I had a no name IWB holster I got off Ebay and I probably would have had better luck just sticking my gun in my waistband.
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Old August 30, 2013, 11:27 PM   #13
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Wow! So much great advice from everyone! This is exactly the reason I started the thread. Some of my initial thoughts were right, some were heading in the right direction but needed tweaking, and some were just way off. I'm learning a great deal here already. After reading through the comments (several times ), I can see I need to rethink certain aspects of what I need to do to make a smart decision. Trying things for myself to see what will work for me seems to be #1. So I'll take what I've learned here, and as soon as humanly possible I'll start experimenting with calipers, holsters, belts, positioning, drawing, and everything else that's been discussed here and on the rest of the forum. Thank you to everyone, and keep the comments coming if you think of something else that would be helpful.

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Old September 1, 2013, 08:11 PM   #14
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In the end . . . you each want something that you are each comfortable with. Try renting some different models at a range and try them out.

I have a .357 LCR that I use for CCW - gives me the option of using either 38spl or 357. I really like mine - lightweight, plenty accurate at SD distances. While I have a number of pistols, the LCR is my favorite CCW (for me). I do leatherwork so I make my own holsters. I carry on the belt and have no problem as I am usually carrying when I am in AZ where there is open and concealed carry. Usually I just put a shirt-tail or a jacket over it and nobody notices and it's a decent size to slide in a coat pocket if necessary.

When I was looking for a snobby - I looked at the LCR, the Bodyguard and several other brands. For me, the LCR felt the best in my hand (for my hand size). The Bodyguard was a nice revolver but the LCR just felt better. I also looked at some other models of S & W snubbies which were nice but I kept going back to the LCR due to it's weight (I wanted something light). Everyone is different so you need to try them out and see what feels best for you.

While I also have several other CCW pistols - both revolvers and semi-autos . . . I like the design of the LCR (and similar makes and models) because it is a DA only as well as hammerless (i.e. no exposed hammer). It carries well in a holster or in a coat pocket, etc. The trigger pull is fine when you get used to it but heavy enough that you don't have to worry about an accidental discharge (it takes a lot to pull the trigger - more than a "snag"). Five shots is plenty. While I have the 357, I normally carry 38 spl. in it. For me, the recoil isn't bad and I can easily shoot it and it doesn't bother my hand.

Everybody has their "preferences" . . . but in the long run, there are a variety of good makes and models out there . . . Ruger, Smith & Wesson etc. For starting out, I would think you'd both be fine with a LCR, Bodyguard, etc. - with practice you'll get used to the pistol - practice is the most important factor - "learn" whatever make/model you get and shoot it on a regular basis to keep yourself familiar with it as well as learn the proper safety for handling a firearm. I had a Bersa .380 semi-auto for CCW and I only carried it a short time - I bought it used and someone had fooled with the trigger - it was a "hair trigger" and I stopped carrying it immediately - to much chance of an accidental discharge for my liking. I'm not knocking Bersa - it was a nice little pistol and I'd have no problem getting another - but not a used one that someone had lightened the trigger pull up so much that when going from DA to SA, you could easily tap out a second shot with just the slightest pressure of your trigger finger on the trigger. That's why I went with a DA only that had a stiffer trigger pull - I'm comfortable in carrying it "safety wise" and yet know if I need to use it, it's going to work immediately. Good luck in your quest - you'll both find something that you really like.
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Old September 1, 2013, 08:36 PM   #15
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Excellent info there bedbugbilly. Thanks!

Here's a follow-up question. Just out of curiosity, how long does the barrel have to be before it's no longer considered to be a snubbie? Or is there no definitive length? (New guys ask the strangest questions, don't they? )
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Old September 4, 2013, 12:10 AM   #16
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I have both semis and revolvers. Lately though I have taken to packing my Ruger LCP a lot. Why? Its small, light weight, (loaded plus holster 13.75 oz.) thinner than a revolver, can easily be slipped into a pocket. My usual carry method is in a pocket holster in the right front jeans pocket. Easy.

I like the design in that it is never cocked, it is pull the trigger to fire, same trigger pull every time. Kinda long and hard. Not likely to ever accidently pull and fire. No safety to worry about. If you need it, get it out, aim and pull the trigger.

I like revolvers and have been shooting them for many years. Have a snubby in 44 spl that I carry sometimes. It has to go on a belt though, not a good pocket carry and not as easy to conceal. If it came down to a real fight, I would rather have this in my hand. Better yet would be the XD 45

For me, most of the time, I could carry openly, so concealment is not a big deal, but there are times when it needs to be concealed well.

One just has to consider how and where he will carry and how important it is to not be discovered, and consider ease and comfort, and also the environment you travel in (risk), then make a choice.

Last edited by jamaica; September 4, 2013 at 12:23 AM.
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Old September 4, 2013, 12:13 AM   #17
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Snubby? In my mind 2 inches or shorter is a snubby.
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Old September 4, 2013, 02:15 AM   #18
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1st semi autos are not harder to clean, its actually more scrubbing with a wheel gun because the gap between the cylinder and barrel. Also for newer shooters the blow back out the side of the gap can be more dangerous.

Also even with speed clips a combat or SD reload it harder for newer shooters than a mag exchange especially under stress. Did you fire two or three shots? A quick mag swap and your fully loaded again with out having to empty your gun of all ammo. And if you can fire if needed during the reload(unless you have a mag release safety)

As for caliber; shot placement, bullet penetration and expansion is more important. While the 2nd two are subject more to bullet size and weight and grains of powder used, but shot placement is key to any bullet being effective.

IMHO the down side to smaller pocket guns are
1. Less accurate because of short barrel.
2. Limited shot without reload. With need to carry and access a spare mag to reload.
3. Snappy kick, which tends to reduced practice with it at the range.
4. Round count. While my full frame CC gun shot fine out of the box it didnt really fine tune
Till about the 500 round mark. 500 rounds thru a lcp, lc9, pf9, pf11 or like guns is about the time something goes wrong with them and require service.
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Old September 4, 2013, 07:05 AM   #19
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LCR .357 is great!
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Old September 4, 2013, 08:16 AM   #20
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For belt carry, I would go with a steel revolver. An older S&W Model 60 in stainless steel or Model 36 in blued steel would be excellent.
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Old September 4, 2013, 08:29 AM   #21
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Right now I am trying out several options to see which one I like best. There may not be a "best" answer". There may be several good options to choose from depending on the situation.

Also, I find it impossible to determine whether I am going to like a gun just by holding it at the LGS or trying it out rented at the range. I need to own it for several months before I make up my mind. But that's me.

Right now I am trying out a Taurus 85 Ultralite revolver, a Sig P290RS and a Walther PPS. I have a Sig P232 I also try from time to time, and I am actively looking to buy a Bersa 380 Concealed Carry version. The different shapes, sizes, weights, etc. make a difference in both carrying and shooting. The smaller the gun, the snappier the recoil and the less I practice with it, but the more likely it is I will drop it into a pocket when I am running out. Not an ideal situation but it is what it is.

Good luck!
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Old September 4, 2013, 05:19 PM   #22
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See those two J frames in the photo. They are good ones for ultra concealment. And the Ruger SP101 ain't bad either.. just heavier.

See the one on the left. That is my first CCW gun when CHL started here in Texas. The one on the right, the .357 version, is my Summer gun now.

I highly recommend them.

But you will need to practice. Practice often due to the fact they are harder to shoot than most other guns and they only hold five rounds, thus you learn to shoot strait and fast.

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Old September 4, 2013, 05:46 PM   #23
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new shooters?

hi, if you have to ask
get more training
get more familiar with all guns
be around shooters who will ask the other questions; probably need to go to some tactical school or matches.
around here its steel targets at outdoor shooting range.
because the necessary questions to be prepared aren't necessarily which revolver or pistol
its more like being aware of your backround,
being totally familiar with your gun
being able to draw and shoot accurately in many positions and circumstances.
p.s.> I don't have a CCW and consequently don't carry.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:05 PM   #24
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You've got a TON of information in this thread! All of it good! Bottom line - you have to feel good/confident/competent in your choice. A revolver is fine, so is an auto. You'll eventually get to the point that one gun is not enough. You'll possibly need something that conceals better, or has more power, or is fine for the house but you'll never conceal carry, or a dozen other things. Rent a bunch of guns and seriously analyze YOUR needs, not anyone elses opinions.
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Old September 7, 2013, 08:44 PM   #25
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I've had an eye on one of these for a long time. I have never tried moonclips but they look like a great reloading alternative. Plus, I think this one does without the dubious internal lock.

Target shooting or plinking with air-weight J-Frames may not be as fun as some other guns. They carry very well though. I have never tried one IWB but if you are worried about the added width from the cylinder, it isn't an L or N frame. It isn't much fatter than a double-stack semi and the revolver's mass distribution lends itself to better concealment in my opinion. Due to that size and mass distribution, I love these in pocket carry (and will love them more when I get one without a hammer). It won't work with every outfit but with the right pocket holster, you'll go far.

(With a growing interest in J-Frame pocket carry, I've actually considered sewing alterations for anchoring a holster...)

On shooting .357 out of something so small, I always wonder how much bang you get for your... bang. So much energy is lost in such a short barrel that I have serious doubts that the trade-off is worth it. The .357 kick in that small package can seriously impact accuracy and assault your senses in a defensive situation. After the short-barrel energy loss, is the boost over .38 special or +P really worth it?
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