A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snubbie Shooting

A snubnosed revolver is perhaps the most demanding handgun to shoot accurately in a defensive mode. Click to enlargeThe snubbie is not blessed with a long sight radius for accuracy. Instead, it's three and a half inch sight radius is made for concealment. The speed with which it comes to sights is a bonus.

If a person carries a revolver, they should shoot beaucoup rounds down range until they are sufficiently accurate firing double action. With only five or six rounds on tap, the need for an incapacitating first hit is increased dramatically, and the time needed to cock the hammer for a single action shot will likely be unavailable.

Along with my Ruger MKII and Kimber Pro Carry, I took my S&W Model 649 to the range to work with. I shot at seven yards, squeezing off two shots, then three more shots. My targets are a vivid illustration of the skill needed to harness the snubbie's accuracy. Click to enlargeThe Model 649 target is on the left, the Kimber target is on the right.

The key to shooting a revolver accurately in double action is trigger control. Often the longer a shooter takes to pull the trigger back, the worse the targets become. Trying to "stage" the trigger, or trying to anticipate the hammer falling is a recipe for poor accuracy. If a shooter has the time to do that, then they should just cock the revolver. A relatively rapid, consistent pull to the rear at a steady rate is what works for me. Good quality revolvers, even snubbies, are usually very accurate guns. Blame for holes outside the black falls on the shooter's inability to keep the sights on target through a long trigger pull.



Blogger Glenn Bartley said...

Yep it certainly is a different type of shooting compared to a semi-auto, or course nowadays they have double action only semi-autos too and as I hear it is much like shooting a double action revolver. I'll soon find out since my agency is switching to them.

7:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The group may not look like the 1911 group, but at 7 yards they are all center of mass

7:21 PM  
Blogger Bob said...

The one time I had to use a gun seriously was with an S&W mod 640, the older model in .38 Special instead of .357mag. Sights didn't come into it as the goblin ignored a warning to stop, charged and tried to grab the revolver. I twisted it out of his hand, pressed it to his abdomen and fired a single shot, which entered his spleen.

The slug took most, not all, of the fight out of him, as he tried to grab the gun a second time a few minutes later while kneeling on the carpet (he refused to fully comply with my demand that he lie on the floor until the police arrived). I didn't feel the need to shoot him again, which probably kept me from being charged with anything; once the fight is over, you're not justified in using deadly force.

I'm happy I was using the 640, as it was impossible for my assailant to get any sort of grip on it, with its concealed hammer.

The epilogue was somewhat unfortunate for me, as I lost my job for defending my life. Still, the assailant spent time first in surgery, then in prison. I sold the 640 a long time ago, will replace it with a 642 or 638, whichever is immediately available when I have a bit of extra money.

11:23 PM  
Blogger Cybrludite said...

I find that I can cock my revolver for a single-action shot as part of the draw (As I rotate it from the vertical position from the holster to the horizontal shooting position), but that only helps on that first shot. Not that my 686 is a concealed carry piece, of course...

2:08 AM  
Blogger midnight rider said...

I seem to shoot more accurately with a revolver and tend to carry them more often. Both are snubs either an SP101 in .357 or the much lighter S&W 642 .38 +p. I don't practice much live fire with the Smith, I don't like rattling it's lighter frame that much, so mostly with the heavier pull Ruger. Draw and dry fire is another matter.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Crucis said...

I carry a S&W 442. I've found while at the range the black sights merge into the black target. I painted the edge of the rear sight trough white and the tip of the front sight orange.

It really helps me and I can aim more quickly when drawing from my belt or pocket holster.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I carry a double action only spurless hammer Taurus. I've practiced over 50k rounds of snap caps, plus around 1500 rounds of live ammo. .38 special is not particularly cheap, so I've been looking for a 5-shot .22 revolver to match the size and feel, but there don't seem to be any like that. I suppose 6-shot would work, but they're basically impossible to find. Any suggestions?

12:24 PM  
Anonymous greg tag said...


Colt Detective Specials are great carry guns - steel fram, 6 shot,.38 SPL, and plus P for serious use. If you want a light weight frame then get an Agent or a Cobra - same gun but with alloy frame. If you want adjustable sights, get a Diamondback.

The Cobra and the Diamondback are both to be found in .22. Practice with te .22 and carry the .38.

The only drawback is that these guns are out of print and can be pricy, but they are a really good solution to the practice/carry dilemmea

The Cobra an the Diamondback

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Have you seen and/or shot the new Smith & Wesson Model 438?

It is similar to the Model 638, but it is lighter.

I don't know if it has the d***ed ILS.

9:26 PM  

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