Monday, March 9, 2009

Is That A Pistol In Your Pocket....

Not a pistol, but a revolver. A Smith &Wesson 442 Airweight 38 special +P to be specific. The 442 is part of S&W's famed J-Frame family of revolvers. I bought it over the weekend and had a chance to do a very brief range session with it. My hetero-life-partner, Justin went with me and put two or three cylinders through it himself. We got to the range a bit later than we had hoped to, and we only got about 55 rounds through it before the sun went down. The ammo used was 158 grain lead round nose, and 130 grain plated flat point--both from Remington UMC (Not my favorite ammo maker, but that's all I could find).

I shot mainly from seven to ten yards, and my first couple of five shot groups ended up at about 6" across when I shot one handed at a rapid pace. When I calmed down and used both hands, I put up a five shot group from ten yards that was probably about 3", and three rounds were all but touching. The light was fading fast and I was still getting used to the very heavy but very smooth double-action-only trigger. The sights are small and hard to pick up in the fading light (the sun was at my back, and all but gone for the day). I think I'll break out my trusty gold paint pen and hit the front post with it later this week. It should be noted that this tiny little blaster jumps around a bit, despite being chambered in the mild-mannered 38 Special. It is also REALLY loud, so if you ever have to pull it for self-defense, the bad guy (and you) will at least be deafened until the police arrive. The 130 grain rounds made a very pretty basketball-sized muzzle flash once it got fairly dark. That served as a friendly reminder that one has to make sure all body parts and clothing are clear of the muzzle before you pull the trigger. I've heard of guys training on shooting their snubbies through a jacket pocket. I'll go ahead and pass on that one.

Over all, I'm very happy to have the little 442 as a future concealed carry piece. That is what this thing was built for, pure and simple. It has clean, snag-free lines, and it is quite small and easy to conceal whether you are dressing for hot or cold weather. I have a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster on order because my 442 will probably ride in a jacket or trouser pocket. It looks like a set of car keys or a cell phone when in a front trouser pocket. It is invisible in a jacket pocket.

Before you get a J-Frame or other snub nosed revovler, you should be warned of their shortcomings! You only get five shots. Regardless of what kind of ammo you use, the bullet will not achieve very much velocity in the 1 7/8" barrel--so you have five shots of mediocre power. That means shot placement is everything! Snubbies are NOT easy guns to shoot, but nothing in the micro-compact world is. The .38 Special snubbie is a "fecal matter has impacted the oscillating blades" weapon. It is certainly better than being unarmed, but its low capacity, mediocre ballistics, and difficulty of use mean it is not a firearm for those who don't want to train. For more (and better) information, check out this month's SWAT Magazine article "J-Frame Of Mind".

Hopefully you haven't given up on snubbies just yet. Despite what I just wrote, the J-Frame has one HUGE advantage: It is tiny and lightweight, so you have no excuse not to carry it. The gun within reach is far better than the gun you left at home or in the car. In other words, a 38 special in your pocket is far more lethal in a fight than the .45 you left at home because it's not comfortable to wear all day. Yes, bigger is usually better, and more ammo is generally better than less ammo. But the snub nosed revolver has been with us since forever, and has stacked up quite a body count (unfortunately, on both sides of the law) over the years. It is no death ray, but it is not to be taken lightly either.

No comments: