There’s a little pipsqueak of the firearms world, the red-headed stepchild that’s too often overlooked by serious gun owners for its lack of size and perceived lack of power.
(By the way, I can say that because I do have red hair and I am a stepchild.)
I am, of course, talking about the snub-nose revolver.
Not as sexy as a super compact Glock, lacking the firepower of a full-sized autopistol, it is nevertheless the tried and true back-watcher of many a street cop and private detective out on the streets… and has been for decades.
So what should you look for when you buy a snubby revolver?
I could think of nobody better to answer that question than snub-nose revolver expert Michael de Bethencourt.
Here’s a run-down of what he told me:
Three Features To Look For In A Snubby Revolver!
When shopping for a snub-nose revolver, you may have different reasons for buying it.
Most likely you are purchasing it for self-defense, but you may be buying it for someone else or to supplement your home weapons complement for multiple reasons.
Because manufacturers don’t know why you’re buying your gun, they make firearms that come straight from the factory as generic weapons.
They are not terribly specialized.
That brings us back to what the snub-nose revolver is very well suited to do: concealed carry for self-defense.
Shopping for a snub-nose revolver presents specific issues as a result.
When buying this gun for self-defense, there are three main features to look for.
1. Buy A Snubby Revolver With An Encased Hammer
There are many brands and frame configurations of snub-nose revolvers.
The first thing you should look for is one that has an encased or shrouded hammer.
This means it either doesn’t have an external hammer you can move with your thumb, or it has a hammer that is partially hidden by the frame.
This prevents the hammer from sticking up like a spur from the back of the revolver, which in turn means you are less likely to snag the gun when you draw it from concealment.
The Achilles heel of the snub-nose revolver is the exposed hammer, you see.
If you’re trying to drag that out quickly from concealment under your clothes, the fishhook shape of an exposed hammer will catch on garments, on the edges of pockets, on your belt, etc.
In an emergency, that is absolutely the last thing you want to happen.
A shrouded or encased hammer makes this problem less likely to occur.
2. Buy A Middle-Weight Gun
Snub-nose revolvers can be had in big all-steel guns or in much lighter aluminum-framed or scandium- and titanium-framed guns.
There are even snubbies on the market with polymer frames now.
The middle-weight alloys (aluminum as opposed to scandium or titanium) generally are preferable.
They have sufficient mass to soak up recoil, but because they are made of aluminum, they are not so light to produce punishing recoil with self-defense ammunition.
3. Buy A Gun Without An Internal Lock If You Can
There is a lot of controversy involved in this subject.
The fact is that a snub-nosed revolver that incorporates an internal lock may lock up unintentionally during shooting.
(We won’t get into the legal or political reasons locks have been incorporated in snub-nose revolvers.)
Realistically, however, if there’s any chance of your gun failing you, if it isn’t completely reliable, your gun may as well be a paperweight.
When possible, buy a gun that does not incorporate those internal locks.
The snub-nose revolver is a great self-defense tool.
For it to perform best, you must buy one with the right features.
This means a middle-weight gun with an encased or shrouded hammer that, preferably, does not incorporate an internal safety locking mechanism.