Saturday, March 28, 2009

Snub As A BUG In A Rug

I don't like revolvers. They don't balance right in my hands, they don't point naturally for me, and when I shot them I didn't enjoy the experience. The only ones I've had the opportunity to try had rudimentary sights at best and truly horrendous triggers compared to a good single-action semiauto.

So why did I just plop a hundred bucks down on one of these?

As a firm believer in "two is one, one is none," I've been thinking about a BUG for a long time. A nice, small no-excuses gun that can be concealed when a Commander 1911 is just too big. I'd considered a Springfield EMP on the theory that it's a good idea to stay with guns that have a similar manual of arms. I had a chance to fondle one but not shoot it, and I'm reluctant to spend over a thousand dollars without test-driving one first. I've heard nothing but good things about the EMP, but it just seems like going that small with a quasi-1911-pattern semiauto is maybe pushing the limits of the technology a bit too close.

Then there's the idea of a pocket gun, one that can be fired from within the pocket if absolutely necessary, or can make a contact shot in extremis without fear of being forced out of battery. A last-ditch "oh sh!t" gun.

My thoughts kept going back to the small size and light weight of the alloy J-frame. I like to try rental guns in the model I'm considering, if available. Rentals are dirty and heavily used, and if they work favorably in that condition a new one meticulously maintained will surely be even better.

Sure enough, my favorite range had a Smith & Wesson 442 for rent. With no small amount of trepidation I took the little gun and a box of standard pressure .38 Special out to my assigned lane, along with a couple of IPSC targets.

I dry-fired it several times to get a feel for the trigger. Okay, I dry-fired it several times to convince myself that I could operate the trigger without having to apply a mechanical advantage. The first shot was unpleasant but manageable. I proceeded to plod my way through the whole 50-round box. By the time I was done, my hands were very unhappy with me. An injury about ten or so years ago left me with reduced strength and range of motion in my dominant hand index finger, and it was never more obvious.

Nonetheless, for a first attempt at a snubby, my shots were all well inside the IPSC "A" zone. I wouldn't go so far as to call them groups. I think working to develop expertise with this gun will make me a better shooter overall, though. Shooting the rental gun, I'd get my sight picture and alignment but would pull the shot off my orange sticky dot when operating the heavy trigger. If I can learn to shoot this thing well, I'll be able to shoot anything.

Now I leave it to you wheelgun aficionados out there to recommend aftermarket grips, holsters, and helpful hints.

Hey, every geek needs a pocket protector, right?


Rio Arriba said...

Your generalizations about "revolvers" are a little too general IMO, but when applied to the kind of ultra-small pocket guns you are looking at here I understand your point of view.

I have and carry a S&W Ti-Light, hammerless +P .38 J-frame that weighs 12-ounces loaded and practically disappears into a pocket. For what it's supposed to do, I like it a lot. The only thing I did to it was put on a set of walnut "Secret Service" boot grips.

In the winter, you don't need a holster at all: just slip it into a coat's hand-warmer pocket and be done. (Yes, if you don't mind setting yourself slightly on fire, firing through the pocket is entirely possible with a 'hammerless' J.) The nice thing about this carry is that you can have your hand on the gun whenever you like and nobody's the wiser.

If you want a belt holster you can hardly go wrong with a Don Hume JIT slide, which also has the benefit of being quite inexpensive while also being well made and providing a really first class belt carry of the revolver. I have several of these and like them a lot. (They are also good for 1911s.)

My snubby lives in my everyday heavy-duty Carhartt coat all winter. When I have the coat on, I have the pistol. In the other pocket I have a Safariland speed-loader. This does not compromise my ability to have my .45 in either a s/h or a belt rig at the same time.

The light-weight Js are to be toted a lot and shot not very much. I don't think you would go wrong with one. I like mine a lot.

Good luck.

Hecate said...

Good point, Rio. I made an adjustment that should more accurately reflect the limitations of my experience.

I can guarantee Jerry Miculek's revolvers bear no resemblance to the ones I've been offered to shoot.

Rio Arriba said...

Duly noted!

Believe me, you will not regret your purchase.

These little dinkums are not in any way recreational firearms, but their go-anywhere ability is well worth what they lack in pleasant shootability and charm.

USCitizen said...

Crimson Trace grips can help your aim.

Brigid said...

LOVE the title, and thoroughly enjoyed the post.

Rio Arriba said...

CT grips are wonderful. I have them, just not for my little 342. They're longer, wider, and heavier than the "Secret Service" boot grips. They also provide a little more technology than is needful considering the weapon involved. With my timer I hve verifed my suspicions: I am way faster with the on-gun irons than with a CT. I imagine that sort little hammerless revolvers are going to get used, if used at all, at very close ranges and in very "uptight" situations.

I really like CT grips. Just not on this kind of piece. YMMV, and should.

Anonymous said...

I carry a S&W 642 (with no internal lock) most of the time, sometimes as a stong-side primary (with a Ruger LCP as a cross-draw BUG), and sometimes a cross-draw BUG to a strong-side S&W 5906. I think that the only deadly weapons that are more reliable than a high-quality internal-hammer snubbie revolver would probably be a knife and a club.

I have no CT grips on the 642, but the 5906 does have CT grips. Like Rio, I figure that a snubbie is a last-resort, spitting distance weapon.

cmzneb said...

I love my S&W 442 with a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster ($20 @ Cabelas). While I personally love the Hogue grips on every gun I own, I just left the stock grips on the 442, because I'm afraid the Hogue grip will hang up/ stick in my pocket and hinder the draw.

I dry fired the new Ruger LCR, polymer pocket revolver at the Shot Show, and can't wait until my local dealer gets one so I can buy one of those! While these pocket revolvers aren't the most comfortable to spend a day at the range with, they sure are handy little BUG's!

jimbob86 said...

'Cate- if you would like to shoot an EMP, I have one that you are more than welcome to try. PM me at ccwne or NFOA and we can set something up.

Anonymous said...

Consider a Taurus M85 Titanium 2", they are a wonderful revolver and are very small and concealable.

Gypsy Jane said...

I have one just like that, and I love it. Mostly because it's so very portable, and therefore will be WITH me for sure if I ever need it. It does fine at the range too - I'm shooting for combat accuracy, not sniping. I'm saving for the CT grips.