Love For The Snub

By Mr. Blue

We live awash in a sea of micro-nines. Every time I clean the dryer’s lint filter, I find a couple of SIG P365s and an M&P Shield stuck in there. Despite that current craze, those otherwise fine weapons might just not always be the optimal EDC gun. I speak to you now on behalf of that enduring, time-proven and still current savior, the snub-nose revolver.

As anybody reading this already knows: The number one rule of gunfighting is … Have A Gun. Every manufacturer of a micro-nine will quite rightly demand that you use a holster that rigidly covers the trigger, lest you abruptly deprive yourself of future generations. That means no belly bands, no compression shirts, no pocket carry. So, now you need holsters, and a wardrobe that will cover those rigid partial profiles. Having been a federal officer, and in talking with a great many professionals across the decades, it emerges that for more than a few, those thresholds are at least occasionally enough to say to hell-with-it and they leave the gun at home.

Not so with a snubbie.

More than half a century ago, I grew up in a giant, violent city. Most of the meaningful figures in my childhood carried a snub-nose revolver every moment, whether authorized to or not. So I was raised immersed in them. Are they ideal gunfight material? Absolutely not. But they can be concealed anywhere and, as a consequence, are tremendously reliable and, properly loaded, powerful enough.

At the age of 19, I got a job driving a truck, doing distribution. It was all cash on delivery, so at the end of a shift, I had a fuckton of money on me. Most of that route was in that giant city. At that time, there was no lawful carry option: it was bandit-carry or nothing, so of course I went bandit. Despite being underage, I managed to lay mitts on an outside-of-channels Charter Arms stainless .38.

Well, naysayers will snort, “What if you have to clear Fallujah? Or worse, Baltimore?” Well, we almost certainly won’t: the feds compile stats, and they say that the average gunfight is over in about three rounds. Speed loaders are as quick to use as magazines, and speed strips are somewhat slower but have near zero profile. Plus, if you go on a good binge watching security camera footage, almost always, the instant a defender’s first round goes off, the whole crew bolts like cockroaches. Are there cases where that’s not true, and I might desperately wish I’d carried an M249 instead? Sure. Just mostly not.  

Well, what about range? Again, the stats show that the overwhelming number of gunfights happen at about kitchen-table spans. But what if longer? Well, with a little training, a snub-nose will ring steel at 25 yards, despite the tiny sight radius. Better men than me will reliably do it at 50.  

Then there’s metallurgy. For many years, if you wanted a lightweight snubbie, the Smith Airweight was the only game in town, with its aluminum frame. I very much wanted one at the time, but could not find a, shall we say, agreeable source. In small solace, you couldn’t run plus-P loads in an Airweight or you’d rattle it apart in short order. But now, Smith has gone to the trouble of making snub-nose frames out of something called Scandium (and even the further pricier, Titanium), both of which are radically stronger than vintage aluminum. As to the cylinder and barrel lining, Smith kept up its modernization with advanced steel. Unbelievable but true, we can now get a snub-nose of traditional dimensions but far lower weight.  But that’s not the WTF moment. The WTF moment is you can get that chambered in .357 Magnum. That’s right: all the historic virtues of a snubbie, but now with half the weight and 50 percent more kinetic energy. It’s been joked that even if you miss, the muzzle blast will still give the felon blast-lung. Is it a rat bastard to fire? Well, with milder .38 loads, it’s an all-afternoon gun. But with full-house magnums, most of us would agree that just enough to keep proficient will suffice.  

Of all those virtues, there is yet maybe the most enormous one: You can point and fire a snubbie from inside your pocket. That is huge. There is no slide to cycle nor any ejection, and for a revolver with an internal hammer, not even a hammer to snag. And pocket shooting wholly avoids telegraphing when you reach for any of the classic holster locations. To the contrary, it is invisible. Across the decades, I have verbally stood down several confrontational urban dwellers while having a snub-nose invisibly pocket-pointed at their spleens with a full cylinder of the short-goodbye only a fraction of a second away. Thank God, they got the unspoken message and I never had to use it.  

Snubbies. Far away from being the cool new kid on the block, but instead, the grizzled veteran. Effortless to have on you, always there when you need them, and capable of handling most threats you are likely to face. 

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