As I started looking into concealed carry options for myself, I noticed that .38 Special snub-nosed revolvers are marketed to women as a concealed carry option. A revolver is a great option for women who have trouble locking back the slide on a semi-automatic pistol. I have spent about 99% of my time shooting semi-automatic pistols, so I really was not familiar with revolvers. I decided it was time to learn more about them.
In the past, I had a shot a few large, heavy revolvers and they were very nice, but I figured the short, small snub-nose revolvers would have quite a bit of recoil. They sure did! To show the difference in recoil between the full-size revolvers and the snub-nosed ones, I created this video. (Click here for video.) The video starts out showing two large-framed .357 Magnum revolvers. Even though the .357 Magnum is a more powerful cartridge, the heaviness of these full-size revolvers helps to control the recoil. I then shot four of the .38 Special snub-nosed revolvers we have in our rental case. Wow! These little revolvers have quite a kick! The combination of the short barrel and the small grip makes these little guys hard to handle. Check out the freeze-frame pictures below of the Smith & Wesson Airweight and 340PD and you’ll see what I’m talking about. At the end of the video, you will notice a big difference between the .38 Special and the .357 Magnum cartridges when they are fired out of the same gun, the Smith & Wesson 340PD. The muzzle blast from the .38 Special cartridges looks tiny compared to the .357 Magnum!
As mentioned above, I have primarily shot semi-automatic pistols and that’s what I use for my CCW. One issue I had with shooting snub-nosed revolvers was trying to “tuck” my thumbs out of the way. If you are new to shooting revolvers, you need to be aware that when a revolver is fired, some gases escape out the cylinder gap. If your thumbs are too close to the cylinder gap, you could get burned by the gases. I prefer to shoot with both thumbs pointed forward and I was able to do that with most of the revolvers. Depending on the size of the revolver and the size of your hands, you will want to evaluate the best way to grip the revolver. Here is a short video of Tom explaining how to tuck my thumbs. I was “challenged” in this area. (Click here to see video.)
So, what do I think? The full-size revolvers are easier to handle but they aren’t practical for CCW due to their size and weight. On the other hand, snub-nose revolvers are small and reliable, but I find the small grip and the big recoil to be a deterrent to shooting a lot of rounds through it for practice. Normally, I shoot 150 rounds through my Springfield XDm 9mm every time I practice. After 25 rounds of .38 Special in the snub-nosed revolvers, I was done for the day.
What is important to remember is that selecting a pistol for concealed carry is a personal decision. We all have different selection criteria, so I always recommend that people rent and shoot several different models to find out what works for them. BluCore has a great rental program. Find a gun that feels good in your hand, you can practice with often and handle the recoil, and that works with your method of carry (holster, purse, etc.). Once you decide on a pistol, whether it’s a semi-auto or revolver, it’s important to get out to the shooting range on a regular basis for practice. If possible, get some pistol training. Most of BluCore’s classes are geared towards semi-automatic pistols, but you can take private lessons for revolver training. See you at the range!
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