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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Howdy,

I don't spend much time on this part of the forum but there's no better place to ask this question than here.

I've been carrying (IWB) a 5" 1911 (RIA FS Tactical) since I got my Texas CHL 2 years ago. I've toyed with getting a smaller gun to save weight, and make it easier to conceal etc. Also the muzzle of my 1911 has started wearing through my jeans.

I would like to get a revolver instead of a small semi-auto. I have no problem buying used, if y'all can point me in the right direction. I have shot quite a few revolvers that belong to family and friends. And i can definitely say that I DO NOT want an ultra-light, such as the LCR or the S&W "Scadium?" frames. The snap from a simple 38sp is unbearable.

Online, I like the Ruger sp101 with a 2 or 3" barrel, I'm far from set on it. The weight is double of the LCR and still less than a FS 1911. So it seems like it will still be enjoyable enough to shoot regularly. I also need to mention that I want a 357.

Hammerless or External? I know hammerless means DAO, but does an external hammer cause problems with CC?

Are revolvers easier or more difficult to conceal than pistols (in general of course)?
 

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I have both the DAO AND Hammer Ruger SP101 with 2" BBL in 357 mag. I put XS Big Dot sights, 10 pound hammer springs, and Badger boot grips on both revolvers. I love both but find that I carry the DAO the most. I carry 38 special +P for ammo and recoil is very light. I don't think you can go wrong with the Ruger SP101. :)
 

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Hard to go wrong with a steel S&W J-Frame. You can sometimes find them in a 3" barreled version on the used market if you opt for .38 Spc and use Short Barrel Gold Dot +P. A J-Frame in .357 Mag, even in steel, is going to be snappy though. Perhaps track down one of the Lou Horton type K-Frames with a 3" barrel and round butt grip or something similar.

I'm not all that sure in a 3" or less barrel that you get a major upgrade in power with .357 Mag over a .38 Spc +P, but you will certainly get a major increase in flash, bang, and recoil with most defensive .357 ammo.

You might also be on the lookout for a small frame revolver in 9mm. S&W made the 640 made in the 90s. Taurus had, maybe has a 9mm revolver as well.

The Ruger is a bit heavy for it's size to me, but still a bit more compact and you may find it noticeably lighter to carry, or not. The triggers are generally a bit heavy, but that can be tweaked or just gotten used to. That might be the best alternative between size and still keeping recoil, um, manageable, in comparison to the S&W 642. Yeah, mine 642 was quite unpleasant to shoot much at all.
 

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I have a Rossi 3" barreled J-frame clone, and I have been very happy with it. It has an exposed hammer, but it does not cause me any problems with concealment. In general, it is easier to shoot a revolver than a semi-auto, but it is more difficult to shoot one well. It takes a lot of dry-fire practice to get used to the double action trigger pull, but once you master that, you can probably shoot it as well as your 1911. I find that my Rossi is very accurate and it was less than $300 new.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Skippy, thanks for the links that was a good article. Just for background I'm far from a pistol expert but I've shot my share. This is how I know I don't want an ultralight 1" barrel revolver. I couldn't hit crap with it and it hurt! Sadly it belonged to a friend's gf (now wife) who's cop dad gave it to her, without training. (off topic ranting, ensue). She thought a 1911 would knock her down, until we got her to shoot it. This is why the Ruger LCR and clones is not on my list.

As for 357, I just don't see why not buy a pistol that has the option, even if all I ever carry is 38. I definitely wont just stick a revolver in my pocket and go, I practice.

Someone mentioned a 9mm, I want to stick with 38/357 cause I'm planning on getting a Rossi 92 lever action at some point and would like to use the same caliber for both.
 

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Well I suppose you can shoot 38+p in a 357 so we're good there. Shot placement is far more important than capacity but, having 7 rounds of 45 is better than 5 rounds of 38 any day. An Ultra size 1911 is no larger than a j frame, this is getting pretty simple. I love my revolvers, really, but for carry there are better options. I realize that you didn't ask but a Kahr pm9 is a very good small carry pistol as is an Ultra 1911.
 

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Someone mentioned a 9mm, I want to stick with 38/357 cause I'm planning on getting a Rossi 92 lever action at some point and would like to use the same caliber for both.
That was me and I certainly understand as I have a Rossi 92 Trapper in .357 Mag which I love. I always figured a 3" J or K frame w/round butt would go well with it. I have a S&W M19-4, 4" that mates up nice, but even it's almost bulky in comparison to that lithe little trapper length M92.
 

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Often overlooked but cherished and sworn on by many: Colt Detective/Cobra. Try one for accuracy & a reknowned trigger. They are a separate stickey above for a reason. See #2 in the revolver list.
 

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I like the SP 101 and S&W Mod 60. Neither one is better than the other. You will likely hear different. I don't pocket carry a steel frame revolver so having a hammer is a better choice for me. Either one would make a fine choice.
 

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Skippy, thanks for the links that was a good article. Just for background I'm far from a pistol expert but I've shot my share. This is how I know I don't want an ultralight 1" barrel revolver. I couldn't hit crap with it and it hurt! Sadly it belonged to a friend's gf (now wife) who's cop dad gave it to her, without training. (off topic ranting, ensue). She thought a 1911 would knock her down, until we got her to shoot it. This is why the Ruger LCR and clones is not on my list.

As for 357, I just don't see why not buy a pistol that has the option, even if all I ever carry is 38. I definitely wont just stick a revolver in my pocket and go, I practice.

Someone mentioned a 9mm, I want to stick with 38/357 cause I'm planning on getting a Rossi 92 lever action at some point and would like to use the same caliber for both.
I would be the first to admit a .357 out of a 2" barrel is a waste of gun powder. More flash/bang with little improvement on the receiving end. Nonetheless, I considered the same considerations you are considering -- mine being, "why not have the option?"

The difference between a .357 "short barrel" load is nearly identical to a +P .38 out of a snub. What the .357 lacks in bullet weight is supposedly made up for in velocity -- out of 4"-6" barrel. Otherwise it's a moot point.

My considerations were nearly identical to yours: If somewhere down the line I want to get a rifle in a .357 caliber I don't want to fuss with yet another caliber round, cleaning jag, etc. KISS.

I agree with others that a heavier revolver will be easier and more accurate to shoot than a lighter gun.

The same writer quoted above said,tongue-in cheek, about the .357 Magnum:
Lots of recoil, muzzle blast, and noise to drive a 9mm bullet to reckless speeds in an attempt to make up for its low mass and diameter. Explosive fragmentation and insufficient penetration with light bullets; excessive penetration and insufficient expansion with heavy ones. Still makes only 9mm holes in the target.
 

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4" k frame with rubber maid grips and good leather. I only own and use external hammers, but DA is way the practice and prepare ccw.
 

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When you hear people saying the only thing gain shooting a 357 from a snubby you are hearing someone repeat what they have heard, not their own real world testing. My chrono reads over 1400 fps with 357 rounds from snubbies. If energy formula starts out velocity squared times bullet weight then 1400 fps equates to a much more powerful round.
 

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rmdailey,

Sounds like you are looking for a steel framed snubby to me. The steel J Frames make a good concealed carry revolver, especially in one that is rated for +P ammo. I know you want a .357, but if you are in any way recoil sensitive, I don't think you'll shoot much .357 ammo in either a J Frame or a K Frame snubby, steel framed or not. It's much better in a steel frame than in a lightweight, but the .357 has a really snappy recoil accompanied by a very sharp "crack" of sound. Even with ear muffs, the sound bite from a .357 can cause a flinch, which destroys good accuracy.

As mentioned, the Ruger SP101s are good guns. I prefer the Smiths myself, based on over 45 years of considerable experience with them. I actually prefer the three inch barrels with any of them, but these are more difficult to find than the shorter barreled models. With any of them, finding a good set of grips that fit your hand and allow your hand to fit the revolver correctly make a significant difference in how well you like to shoot it and how accurately you can shoot it. Fortunately, revolvers are much more easily modified with different grips than are semi autos! The larger sizes available help with shooting comfort and accuracy, but they are less easy to conceal, depending on how you prefer to carry.

I carry J Framed snubbies, K Framed snubbies, and I have an S&W N Framed snubby that is actually pretty easy to carry and conceal. It's a Model 325 Night Guard which has a Scandium allow frame. That results in some additional recoil, but it also cuts down on the carry weight considerably. My very favorite revolver for concealed carry is an old Model 10-5, a K Framed M&P six shot revolver with a three inch barrel. It has a round butt which really helps with concealment with the right grips. It's the grip frame and size that is most difficult to conceal. I have chosen a relatively new ammo available made by Speer for short barreled revolvers. It is loaded with a 135 grain hollowpoint and leaves the short barrels at speeds at or above what you would expect from a four inch barrel. It shoots well and is easily controlable for me and my wife as well. Second choice are the +P 158 grain lead semi wadcutter shapped hollowpoints, which has a good history of getting the job done well.

It's my considered opinion that a good +P .38 Special round is equally effective with most good 9MM ammo designed for serious social encounters. Delivered to an effective location on a predator, I don't think the predator could tell the difference between the two! Three inch Model 10's are thin on the ground, as are many other revolvers with three inch barrels. My advice is to find one that fits your hand well and really feels good. You should be able to hold it correctly in your hand with the gun lined up with the bone in your lower arm and be able to easily put the crease of your trigger finger up against the right side of the trigger. In other words, you need to be able to use the full first joint of your trigger finger to fire the gun, not just the tip of the pad, especially for DAO firing, the only way I think a revolver should be used for serious social encounters.

I'm gonna quit now. If I've raised any questions or have not made my self clear, feel free to let me know and I'll try to do better. Hope you guys are getting some good rain tonight. We have had drizzle and sprinkles most all day long in north Lea County somewhere over a hundred miles north of you! Good luck with your search, especially among good used guns. There are a great many revolvers that are used but are in great shape and which make good concealed carry weapons.
 

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The DA revolver still has a lot to offer, which apparently CCW carriers are starting to re-learn.
After years of heavy automatic sales, sales of small revolvers are starting to pick up significantly.
It's a classic "pull, point, shoot" gun that offers simplicity, durability, and "Five for sure" in bad situations.

In .357 you have almost unlimited options in ammo from light Match Mid-Range target loads to the hottest Magnum loads.
Unlike 9mm, .40, and .45, even during buying binges and ammo shortages you can always get .38 and .357 ammo, and it's usually cheaper even in quality defense loads.

If you can effectively handle full charge Magnum ammo, you do get a more effective load then any standard or even +P load in .38 Special.
However, if you don't want the stun grenade-like, literally ear-splitting flash and blast of Magnum ammo, you can get +P ammo that's nearly as hot and effective.
As example, Buffalo Bore Bullet Company sell a HOT load of .38 Special +P with the old police and FBI standard 158 grain, lead, semi-wadcutter, hollow point bullet.
The Buffalo load uses a special soft lead bullet with a gas check which prevents leading and permits pushing the bullet at very near .357 Magnum speeds.
This bullet expands radically, but still penetrates deeply per FBI requirements.
This is an extremely effective load and back in the revolver days was used by just about every law enforcement agency in the country.
It was the +P .38 that ended the police failures to stop with the standard .38.
As a hint, street cops called it the ".38 SPLAT" for the sound it supposedly made when it hit.

If your choice is for a .357 S&W "J" frame or a Ruger SP-101, here's some info:

S&W:
Smaller, lighter gun then the Ruger, more refined with an action that can be tuned to a higher level of smoothness and feel.
Light in weight, compact.
Vast choices of holsters, grips, and accessories.
Accurate.
Fair sights, most newer models can have the front sight replaced.

The downsides are: smaller grip and smaller gun that's less "shootable" then the Ruger. For many shooters it's just on the edge of being TOO small.
Difficult to control with full charge Magnum ammo, more recoil.
Best with after market grips.
Not as durable as the larger Ruger with Magnum ammo loads.

Ruger SP-101.
Tough, strong gun.
The only DA revolver around that can actually be field stripped for cleaning.
Larger, heavier gun with better "shootability".
Size and heavier weight make control of Magnum ammo better.
Factory grips are excellent.
Good sights.
Plenty of holsters and fair number of replacement grips.

Downsides are it is a larger , heavier gun than the S&W.
However, this of course adds to the controllability.
It is not a pocket gun.
Not as refined as the S&W and the action can't be tuned as well.
Often not as accurate as the S&W, but more than accurate enough for defense use.

Both have excellent factory warranties, and top of the line reputations for quality and durability.
Both are "legacy" guns that will last for several lifetimes.

Hammer or DA-Only?
For a true defense gun of that size, single action is something that's virtually never of any use in the Real World.
In a real defense situation it'll will "almost" always be DA only possible so having single action capability is nice, in a range gun but likely not of any use in a real "situation".
Since hammer spurs have a bad habit of getting fouled in clothing, a hammerless "DA" revolver has a LOT to offer.

You do have to "learn the trigger" especially if you're used to automatic pistols.
This is simply a matter of practice. Once learned you can shoot as fast and as accurately as with an automatic.

Reloads are slower than an automatic and require extensive practice.
Speedloaders are more bulky then magazines.
There are speed strips, which are plastic strips similar to stripper clips as used in rifles.
These conceal as easily as magazines but are even slower to use than the bulky speedloader.

Like all defense guns, a small frame revolver is a compromise solution with good and bad.
One upside is you have a lower maintenance gun that won't suffer if you give it less then perfect maintenance.
Another is, when loaded with effective ammo you'll never have any doubts that you're damned well armed.
 

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All personal taste

Howdy,

I don't spend much time on this part of the forum but there's no better place to ask this question than here.

I've been carrying (IWB) a 5" 1911 (RIA FS Tactical) since I got my Texas CHL 2 years ago. I've toyed with getting a smaller gun to save weight, and make it easier to conceal etc. Also the muzzle of my 1911 has started wearing through my jeans.

I would like to get a revolver instead of a small semi-auto. I have no problem buying used, if y'all can point me in the right direction. I have shot quite a few revolvers that belong to family and friends. And i can definitely say that I DO NOT want an ultra-light, such as the LCR or the S&W "Scadium?" frames. The snap from a simple 38sp is unbearable.

Online, I like the Ruger sp101 with a 2 or 3" barrel, I'm far from set on it. The weight is double of the LCR and still less than a FS 1911. So it seems like it will still be enjoyable enough to shoot regularly. I also need to mention that I want a 357.

Hammerless or External? I know hammerless means DAO, but does an external hammer cause problems with CC?

Are revolvers easier or more difficult to conceal than pistols (in general of course)?
Pros and Cons for every model. I carried an S&W, Model 642 (concealed Hammer) for years. The negative from the factory was the Bantam Grip. Replaced it with a full-size Hogue immediately and never looked back. With the Aluminum Frame there is substantially more recoil than say a SS Frame.

Also owned a Ruger, SP101, SS Frame. Certainly the weight tempered the recoil and the option of .38+P is to your advantage. Firing .357 is substantially more expensive and the load causes at least as much recoil as the S&W, 642. Never liked the exposed Hammer because of the snag problem.

The options for carrying additional ammo is a consideration. Speed Loaders are bulky, but a much more convenient method to reload. Speed Strips are more compact, but a slower method requiring more focus for the Shooter.

I went in the opposite direction. Having shot 1911's for 50 years, I purchased a Para Slim Hawg and carry two extra Magazines. With a round in the Chamber, I have 19 rounds at all times. My other optional carry is a RIA, Compact. The RIA is only slightly larger with the same advantage of additional rounds.

Different strokes for different folks.
 

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Every time I see a Taurus "Raging Bull" laying on a dealer table at a gunshow I ask if they have the IWB concealment holster to go with it. NOBODY has had one yet, damnit!:D

Bob
 

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The S&W model 640 in .357 is the right solution to this problem in my opinion. You can either buy old 640-1 models used, or buy the 640 S&W still offers through the pro shop. I bought a 640-1, but if I had to do it over again I'd probably go for the pro shop one for the better sights.
 

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Remember another VERY important factor based upon where you live. In NJ last week FOUR thugs shot and killed a man during a carjacking. You don't need a Ph.D. to realize that in an urban area such as this a five or six shot revolver is not the best primary CCW when there are packs of criminals such as this who are armed to the teeth. If I lived in Mayberry RFD then I would have no problem with a revolver as a primary CCW, but not in a major metro area.
 

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Often overlooked but cherished and sworn on by many: Colt Detective/Cobra. Try one for accuracy & a reknowned trigger. They are a separate stickey above for a reason. See #2 in the revolver list.
Naw. Cylinder turns the wrong way.:)
 
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