Thursday, February 4, 2010

Newtonian physics rules vs. lightweight snubby revolvers

Sooner or later, I'm gonna get around to buying a lightweight .38 Special snubby, but every time I've made a move toward one since I started thinking about .38 snubbies back the spring of 2008, something sexier has popped up.

First snubby that caught my eye was a Smith & Wesson 396 SC .44 Special called the Mountain Lite. Then I shot it and learned you can't repeal Newtonian physics that says for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

If a handgun is light as a feather, unless it's shooting a projectile that's both underpowered and also very light, it's gonna kick like a Missouri mule, like the "Mountain Bite" .44 Smith snubby. And underpowered light projectiles sucketh when it comes to actually doing what bullets are supposed to do, deter bad actions.

Then I bought a pair of stainless-steel Charter snubbies, .327 Magnum and .44 Special. While neither has what anybody would call low recoil, they're both manageable enough to enjoy shooting and to control for accuracy. And both are more than adequate in the deterrence department, ballistically speaking.

Then I fell in love with another stainless sorta snubby, a S&W 65-3 .357 Magnum with 3" barrel, which is also pleasant to shoot unless you load it up with CorBon 180-grain loads, which I found out the hard way are just too hot for a K-Frame, even an all-steel one.

In between the two Charter snubbies, I almost bought my first Colt, a .38 Special Cobra, the alloy-frame version of the famous all-steel Detective Special. With the factory grips, it beat the hell outa my ring finger, so I bought some gap-filling grips that made it more comfortable to shoot.

But when I had the Cobra almost paid off at the gun store where I work, in came my second Charter snubby, the Bulldog .44 Special. It has a better trigger than the Colt, plus it's a .44, not a .38. So the Colt went back in the counter and the Bulldog came home.

But I have shot one lightweight .38 that both has a good trigger and won't beat you up too bad with +P loads, the new Ruger LCR polymer-frame .38 snubby.

A customer bought one that didn't have the Crimson Trace Lasergrips properly zeroed at the factory so I volunteered for the job of fixing that.

It took me a whole box of Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special +P jacketed hollow points to get those laser grips properly zeroed. It was a dirty job, but somebody had to do it.

And now Smith is finally stepping up with its first polymer frame .38 snubby, the new Bodyguard model soon to be delivered.

I'll pass on the new Bodyguard .380, 9mm is as small as I go with pistols, but the .38 Bodyguard got my attention with an ambi cylinder release as well as ambi controls for the integrated laser. That's a real feature for lefty shooters like me.

Maybe I'll get a chance to shoot one of the new Bodyguards before I finally buy my first .38 snubby. But until then, I'll just get by with my .44, .327 Magnum and .357 Magnum snubbies.

Here's a S&W video commercial on the two new Bodyguard models.


Tam said...

On .44 Snubbies:

A 396 weighs 18 ounces, a Bulldog Pug weighs 20.

I currently CCW a 296 in my purse; I've previously wrecked a Bulldog Pug in less than 300 rounds of 240gr PMC. My Rossi 720 Covert wasn't fond of the 240gr loads, either, developing endshake at an alarming rate and locking up halfway through range sessions.

Personal Conclusion: K/L-frame size .44 revolvers seem to prefer 200gr bullets.

netfotoj said...

My limited .44 Special experience certainly bears out that 200-gr. loads are most definitely the carry ammo of choice for the Charter Bulldog. The 240-gr. loads I tried were a bit much in recoil and blast, but with one exception, the 200-gr. loads were pleasant. The Georgia Arms 200-gr. Gold Dots are definitely much hotter than either Speer or Winchester 200-gr. JHPs, not pleasant to shoot at all.

And the S&W 396 I tried out had a warning written on the barrel not to shoot anything over 200 grains.

Henceforth my Bulldog shall get nothing over 200 grains as I have no desire to wreck it. It will get carried a lot and shot a little.

Thanks for the warning advice.

If I get the chance to buy a slightly used S&W Nightguard 396, that would be my next .44 ambition. I handled one while taking photos for gunbroker and they're very nice with a good trigger. Light but hopefully not too light as to make it unpleasant shooting. That's another thing I love about my job at the gun store, getting a chance to shoot used guns before I buy them.