Over at TSLRF there was a little blurb about how the definition of an optimist is a guy carrying a snubby revolver and a speedstrip. I was somewhat amused by this because it happens that particular day was so hot that rather than try and conceal my usual G19, I just dropped a S&W 640 and a speedstrip in my pocket. Undergunned? Maybe. Definitely not ungunned, though..which was the whole point. We all know the best gun for a ‘violent encounter’ is the one you have with you versus the one you left at home in the safe, right?
Do those little five-shot snubbies really have a place in a world of Betamagged AR’s, Glocks with ‘happy sticks’ and drum-fed Saiga-12s? It would be easy to argue that if a five-shot revolver has a place in the grand scheme of things, then a two-shot derringer does as well, and if a two-shot derringer then why not a single-shot derringer?
The simple truth is, given the choice between no gun and a derringer, I’ll take the derringer. Between the derringer and the five-shot snubby, I’ll take the snubby. Between the snubby and the Glock, I’ll take the Glock. But, I really didnt have a choice between the snubby and the Glock that day, it was between the snubby and a mousegun (or no gun at all) so I went with the biggest with the mostest in that circumstance.
When you’re slogging through the muck and mess of a Katrina-esque aftermath, running like hell from the fast zombies, or scavenging through the mildly-radioactive ruins of your city, is there a place for the little five-shot snubby? I think so..but certainly not as your primary pistol (unless the circumstance is such that anything bigger would be impossible to have with you at that moment….like when youre in line at the back of a National Guard deuce-and-a-half being handed rations and water.) To me, the snubby is either for when you can’t carry anything larger or as a hideout/backup for your larger gun. Massad Ayoob tells a story about being unarmed on a ridealong with some cop and when they got into a tight situation the cop pulled out his backup gun and handed it to Ayoob. In this case the snubby becomes a force multiplier…you hand it off to your buddy and suddenly you go from being a guy with a gun to two guys with guns. Plus, part of being prepared for the end of the world is also being prepared for everything up to the end of the world…and that includes mundane things like walking three blocks to the grocery for a quart of milk at 9pm. For those quick trips down the block or around the corner, the little snubbies are quick to drop in a pocket as you grab your keys and head out the door.
What do I like in a snubby? Well, I like the stainless .357. Why .357 over .38? The .357 framed guns are a tad bigger than the .38′s, but the ability to shoot two different kinds of ammo makes it worth it, IMHO. Although both cartridges are widely available, why not put yourself in the position of being able to take advantage of the availability of both? What about the other calibers? The .22LR are certainly easy to feed, but if you need to use your hideout gun you probably want as much ‘oomph’ as you can stuff in it. The .44 or .45 snubbies? Big enough that you lose the size advantage that makes them a hideout gun. (Notable exception is the .44 Spl. Bulldog but then you’re back into ammo logistics issues.) The 9mm snubbies? Love the logistics, but moon clips are prone to headspace issues if they get bent or damaged, and not using them makes reloading the gun a pain. The .32 cartridges give you one more shot than a similar-size .38/357 but don’t expect to find ammo as easily. Stick to the .38/.357 unless you have a really compelling reason to go off the beaten path.
While hammerless guns are nice, I really prefer the ‘humpback’ design of the old S&W Bodyguard line…snag-free but still with just enough hammer exposed that you can single-action a shot if you have to. However, I have to think long-term, end-of-the-world, no-gunsmith-or-parts-resupply when it comes to this sort of thing and as much as I love me some S&W I would probably wind up with a buncha Ruger SP101′s. The Ruger just seems to have the durability thing going for it. Although capable of shooting .357 I tend to stick with .38 +p rounds for controlability but I like to have the option of stepping up to the fireballs and muzzlewhip of the .357 if it comes to that.
And those speedstrips? I like them a lot. They arent as fast as a speedloader, but, and this is important to me, they are a ‘universal’ speedloader – they’ll work on just about any .38/.357 revolver regardless of the size of the cylinder. You know how speedloaders have to be specific to the gun so that they cartridges line up with the chambers? J-frame guns use J-frame speedloaders, L-frame guns use L-frame speedloaders, Pythons use Python speedloaders, etc, etc….doesn’t matter with the speedstrips. Same strip will load a tiny J-frame .38 or my N-frame .357. That’s some streamlined logistics right there. (Although, to be fair, I do keep speedloaders and they are my first choice for reloading my revolvers…however, a bin full of loaded speedstrips is nice because as I walk out the door I can tuck two or three in my pocket without giving a second thought to whether they are ‘correct’ for te revolver I’m carrying. In reality, they make a nice secondary or tertiary level of reloading backup after a speedlaoder or two.)
To be totally candid, though….if it’s too hot for me to conceal the Glock and I have to go with the snubby, I’ll usually just wear a Hawaiin shirt and conceal the Glock under that.