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View Poll Results: Is a S&W .38 Special Snub Nose enough for concealed carry?
Yes 131 90.97%
No 13 9.03%
Voters: 144. You may not vote on this poll

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Old August 26, 2018, 07:02 PM   #1
Model12Win
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J-frame: Enough?

Have thought about carrying my Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special 5-shot snub-nose revolver as my primary carry gun in a pocket holster.

How many of you think that setup would be enough for realistic self defense, or should I get a bigger gun with more capacity or a different caliber?

Thanks!

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Old August 26, 2018, 07:31 PM   #2
sgms
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Yes it is enough but like with any pistol/revolver shot placement is everything. You going to carry a 5 shot .38 spl. practice seriously (not just plinking away a box or two) till it is like a reflex to you including drawing from however you plan to carry and reloading be it from strips, reloaders or loose rounds and agin from how you plan to carry your reloads. And I do carry a 642 fairly often in the right front pocket in pocket holster with 2 speed loaders.
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Old August 26, 2018, 07:31 PM   #3
tlm225
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I and doubtless thousands of others carry one. While it's not my primary or full time carry, I regard it as my "always" gun. In other words , it's the one gun that allows me to be armed no matter the circumstances or my manner of dress. If conditions permit I carry something more substantial, usually a 1911 lightweight commander size .45.

For a one gun person the 642 works, just make sure you practice with it. Many recommend it for the new carrier or women but I really regard it as a weapon for an experienced shooter. It can be shot very accurately but is demanding of good skills by the user.

I don't own one but a single stack semiauto in 9mm has a lot to recommend it. Slim, light, easy to conceal and quick to reload. On a per shot basis it delivers better ballistics than the .38 yet in a gun of similar weight has less perceived recoil. My wife will not touch my 642 due to the recoil but loves her Ruger LC9S.
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Old August 26, 2018, 07:32 PM   #4
Targa
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That’s what I carry.
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Old August 26, 2018, 07:35 PM   #5
Leaf
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Pffft, quite sufficient depending on the scenario but then I can remember the day when a detective would feel perfectly fine carrying such a piece as a duty weapon.

I take it you're just running around being a civilian and avoiding dark alleys and such?

Heck, I'd feel comfortable with it. Lot more comfortable if I also had a semi automatic rifle handy nearby like my saddlebags or car trunk.
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Old August 26, 2018, 07:44 PM   #6
JohnKSa
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It will be enough unless it is not. It's not possible to say anything more accurate than that.

If you can find someone to accurately predict what kind of an armed encounter you will have; rather than asking if the gun you want to carry will be enough, ask where it will happen and then stay away from there.
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Old August 26, 2018, 08:00 PM   #7
FITASC
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It is absolutely capable............assuming YOU are......
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Old August 26, 2018, 08:13 PM   #8
Onward Allusion
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Whether a J-Frame is enough depends on one's situation. If one lives in a nice 'burb and and has a boring existence, definitely enough. If one lives in a city like Chicago's North-
Side and has to park and walk 3 blocks to their apartment because of nonexistent parking, then probably not. If one lives on the South Side of Chicago, definitely not. I have never believed in one size fits all.
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Old August 26, 2018, 09:22 PM   #9
lee n. field
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Model12Win View Post
Have thought about carrying my Smith & Wesson 642 .38 Special 5-shot snub-nose revolver as my primary carry gun in a pocket holster.

How many of you think that setup would be enough for realistic self defense, or should I get a bigger gun with more capacity or a different caliber?

Thanks!

-M12
Depends on scenario.

Statistics say it's probably enough.
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Old August 26, 2018, 09:37 PM   #10
indie_rocker
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A 5 round J-frame and two 6 round speed strips is plenty. I carry a 642 and strips quite often and don't feel undergunned.

It is not a beginners firearm though. The recoil on an airweight can be stout and requires practice to become proficient.
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Old August 26, 2018, 09:41 PM   #11
riverrat38
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The ballistics should be close to the same as if you were using the same ammo in a 2 inch K frame, but with one less round.

Best,
Rick
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Old August 26, 2018, 10:36 PM   #12
Sgt127
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As a purely defensive gun, yes. It’s to stop a threat and get away.

I know, for a fact, that I’m going towards shots fired. At a theater, in a mall, wherever. I carry enough gun (and ammo) so i can go on offense if I choose to. I carry a Sig P239. (I have two, 9mm and 357 SIG). It’s big enough to shoot like a full sized gun with real sights.

I was recently out of state. I have no Police Authority there and, unless things were very dire, I would likely not get involved. I carried a Remington RM380 in my pocket with a couple extra mags. I would also have been just as comfortable carrying my 642.
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Old August 26, 2018, 11:57 PM   #13
Archie
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Depends on the intended use.

I think as a defensive sidearm for a non-seeking (as in non-law enforcement) person they are quite useful. This presumes the ability to place a bullet on target on demand.

I think as a primary arm for a hostile entry it is lacking.

Should one live in a rough area where an encounter with a full chapter of Hell's Angels is expected, I think a five-shooter might be lower on the list than a 'larger' handgun.
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Old August 27, 2018, 07:09 AM   #14
PzGren
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Quote:
It will be enough unless it is not. It's not possible to say anything more accurate than that.

If you can find someone to accurately predict what kind of an armed encounter you will have; rather than asking if the gun you want to carry will be enough, ask where it will happen and then stay away from there.
Since no two fights are the same, there is no absolute advice. I carry a G19 over a G26 mostly because I can grip the gun so much faster and more positively from concealment, a J-frame in a good pocket holster can also be accessed rapidly - especially if unobtrusively gripped when a threat is perceived early.
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Old August 27, 2018, 08:11 AM   #15
jglsprings
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So, the only time my J frame has come out of it's holster in a real self defense situation, my first thought was "I wish I had my rifle". I don' think you ever have enough gun if things go bad.

In the end, no shots were fired, no confrontation was made, everyone went home. My J frame gave me the options I needed that day. Five shots were plenty. I didn't need any.

I've carried it for years. It always goes with me because it's easy to carry and packs plenty of punch (I have a 357 Model 60).

Quote:
JohnKSa
It will be enough unless it is not. It's not possible to say anything more accurate than that.
That is the real answer. Pick a gun you will always take with you. It won't do any good if it's at home.

Quote:
PZGren...
Since no two fights are the same, there is no absolute advice.
^^Like he said +

Don't be driven by the internet. I won't pack a service size pistol anymore, too many years hauling all that steel around. A J frame is an acceptable response for my projected risk. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong.
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Old August 27, 2018, 08:37 AM   #16
pete2
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I carry a 642, usually in my pocket. It's for defense. I want a .50 BMG for a fire fight.
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Old August 27, 2018, 09:14 AM   #17
David R
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Carried a Chiefs special for a long time in an ankle holster. It made me walk funny, so I bought a 637. It takes a lot of practice to shoot one of those little things, but it can be done.

If I am going to the bus station in Buffalo, I take my 45.

Totally comfortable with a 5 shot 38.

David
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Old August 27, 2018, 11:47 AM   #18
Charlie_98
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Carry what you can carry... the important thing is to carry.

I carried a 5-shot .38 J for a while, and I carried a 5-shot .380 for a while... it's all I had and was better'n nothing.
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Old August 27, 2018, 12:39 PM   #19
tallball
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I carry one fairly often.

I feel that if I do my part correctly, it is okay for the typical mugging or carjacking scenario.
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Old August 27, 2018, 01:58 PM   #20
gwpercle
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It is for me.
I guess the reasons are I learned shooting during the Bullseye Match Shooting period, accuracy was the name of the game . You strived for precision accuracy , tiny bug hole groups. When I started hunting, I got one round and was told to "make that first shout count" if I missed the squirrel or rabbit ...I didn't get another round.

Shoot accurately and place that first shot in a vital spot.....praying and praying is a fool's game .
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Old August 27, 2018, 02:58 PM   #21
KyJim
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It's enough even if it's not ideal.

The first rule of carry is to have a gun. If that means a snubby or a .380 in the pocket, then you're ahead of 95+ percent of the population. Statistically, the average is 2 to 3 shots in a "gunfight." Obviously, there are occasions where more might be needed but we all compromise to some degree. Otherwise, we would be walking down the street looking like Deadpool on the way to a fight: https://the-artifice.com/wp-content/...ol-pouches.jpg
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Old August 27, 2018, 03:23 PM   #22
JERRYS.
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I don't always carry a J frame, but when I do and its my main gun, I carry two of them.
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Old August 27, 2018, 03:29 PM   #23
Steve in PA
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Yes, I feel it's plenty for my self-defense.

Normally, I carry a Glock 26 when I'm not working. But, in the summer when wearing hot weather attire (shorts, tank tops, etc), I'll pocket carry a S&W 642 with one or two speed strip pouches (each one holds 2 speed strips) on my belt.

I'm not going to be engaging anyone at 25-50 yards, but 25 yards on in and I'm game! Statistics show that most shootings take place at 21' (7 yards), so the +P ammo will do it's job, provided I do mine too.
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Old August 27, 2018, 03:41 PM   #24
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I went from a 642 to a G26 a few years back for the extra capacity. My thinking was that if more than one good hit was required for a stop and I had any misses, the ammo supply could get tight. I know this is the revolver forum, and people who carry a 642 or something similar are better armed than most of the population, but I think a few more rounds is wiser.
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Old August 27, 2018, 04:14 PM   #25
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"Enough?" begs the question: " For what?"

In this context, the "for what" is the threat against your person serious enough to warrant preparing to use a firearm in self-defense. Intuitively, I believe that for most of us most of the time, that threat consists of a confrontation by one or at most two individuals, who are confronting because they believe their target to be naive, unarmed, untrained and easily frightened into submission. For that scenario, simply presenting a firearm is likely to terrify the confronters into a rapid departure.

Now, posit a different threat and I might have a different response.

I will add that a J-Frame S&W is a specialst's weapon. It is not impossible to draw one and fire one or two well placed shots. But not without a lot of practice.
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