Is a .38 a good CCW gun?

This is a discussion on Is a .38 a good CCW gun? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; A lightweight .38 snubnose IS a popular CCW gun, but if you are new to firearms as you stated, it's not the best to start ...

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Thread: Is a .38 a good CCW gun?

  1. #16
    EW3
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    A lightweight .38 snubnose IS a popular CCW gun, but if you are new to firearms as you stated, it's not the best to start off on.

    Small revolvers can be very unpleasant to fire and take a lot of practice to get good with.

    Just my $0.02 as a former S&W 642 and 442 snubbie owner who didn't care for the sore hand after 25-30 rounds!
    "Naked and Starving as They are We Cannot Enough Admire the Incomparable Patience and Fidelity of the Soldiery" George Washington, Valley Forge, 1777.

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  3. #17
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    The .38 Special has been a lucky cartridge for me for many years. It has served well as a side arm while hunting and for pest control.

    In my view the .22, 25, and .32 are small. The .38 is fully adequate, especially when used with a sharp shouldered semi-wadcutter bullet design. A .358" diameter hole cut through something is not insignificant.

    I prefer the 158 grain bullet for the .38 Special. It handles them very effectively. Lighter weight bullets are for rounds like .380 and 9mm and I avoid them in the .38 Special. I'm not concerned with the decreased velocity performance yielded by a snub barrel, still preferring 158 grain semi-wadcutters for short barreled .38 Special revolvers.

    I have a number of popular "big-bore" handguns on hand and have made use of them over the years but the .38 Special is the one that is generally available to me when "things are happening." This is by choice.


    "The impact of the bullet is going to be extremely traumatic." Razor02097


    This comment made me recall the actual clip of Jack Ruby killing Lee Harvey Oswald.

    YouTube - Oswald Shooting 1

    A chilling real life example of the effectiveness of a single shot from the .38 snub, in this case a Colt Cobra .38 Special with a 2-inch barrel, firing 158 grain round nose ammunition.

  4. #18
    Distinguished Member Array razor02097's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EW3 View Post
    A lightweight .38 snubnose IS a popular CCW gun, but if you are new to firearms as you stated, it's not the best to start off on.

    Small revolvers can be very unpleasant to fire and take a lot of practice to get good with.

    Just my $0.02 as a former S&W 642 and 442 snubbie owner who didn't care for the sore hand after 25-30 rounds!
    I have to disagree. Putting the recoil aside the small frame revolvers are perfect for new people. It is very simple, no mags to load, and darn near goof proof. Just load, point and pull trigger. If my mother with arthritis can fire a snub nose .38 special and hit a target at 15 yards then anyone can.
    There is something about firing 4,200 thirty millimeter rounds/min that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

  5. #19
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    Lots of good feeback above. I would love to have a .38spl airweight revolver for my carry rotation. Plenty of people carry this as a defense weapon. No...your not going to kill a grizzly, but it should be more than sufficient for self defense against 2 legged threats.

  6. #20
    Senior Member Array Grant48's Avatar
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    .38 Special is a fine self-defense caliber.

  7. #21
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    .38/.357 j frames are the most popular LEO off duty/backup carry.

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    re

    ^^^+1 - don't let anybody tell you a .38 is low on power - it has plenty
    "Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars."

  9. #23
    Distinguished Member Array Knightrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EW3 View Post
    A lightweight .38 snubnose IS a popular CCW gun, but if you are new to firearms as you stated, it's not the best to start off on.

    Small revolvers can be very unpleasant to fire and take a lot of practice to get good with.

    Just my $0.02 as a former S&W 642 and 442 snubbie owner who didn't care for the sore hand after 25-30 rounds!
    Go with the heaver snub nose. That is what I did with my 85. 21oz take the .38 loads pretty good.





    As for the op, .38s are good to go
    Glock: G22 .40 S&W and G23 .40 S&W Sig Sauer: P938 9mm Smith and Wesson: Model 437 .38 Spl, Model 65 357 Mag, and Sigma SW9VE 9mm

  10. #24
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    The .38 Special is a good cartridge. It has been surpassed by newer cartridges and higher capacity firearms, but that doesn't make it a bad round.
    Retired USAF E-8. Lighten up and enjoy life because:
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

  11. #25
    Senior Member Array C Bennett's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archer51 View Post
    Actually the bullet diameter is not small. It is the same diameter as a .357 Magnum and is actually larger than a 9mm.

    Just remember, the police carried .38 Specials for MANY years, as the standard side arm. Even after the .357 Magnum came into existence, the .38 was still the standard for many departments.
    yup and the biggest reason they changed was just capacity..Police find themselves in a lot different circumstances than we do in a CCW defense scenerio..the chance for them to get into a PROLONGED gunfight is much higher than a home owner or guy walking down the street. thus they needed more ammo on board without reloading and more capacity to carry..

    now days a officer for example has 2 mags in his mag holder on belt lets use 15 rounds as a easy example and another 15 in the gun thats 45 rounds...how many speed loaders would a Police officer have to carry to have 45 rounds..and he can only get 6 in at a time...almost 3 times less..

    the .38 special is a good round with good ballistics if you use the right bullet...but its just not got that 15+ capacity.. I have a .38 snubby as one of my 2 carry guns a Taurus CH85 and I carry it quite a bit and dont for a CIVILIAN CCW scenario DONT feel under gunned. I learned on the .357/.38 in the Police academy...I know it will get the job done.

  12. #26
    Member Array lee n. field's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimtem View Post
    I bought a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, +P 5 shoot air weight revolver with a 2 inch barrel. It occurred to me today that its a bit odd for a self defense gun. I am very new to guns and do not know much about them but from what I understand its the diameter that matters with self defense right? But the .38 Special is not exactly a large diameter; just a lot of powder.
    It's neither. It's more of a mid range caliber, mid range in power. For the case size, there's actually not much powder in it at all. It's size is a relic of black powder days.

    Also isn't this much powder more for accuracy in a longer distance but the SD pistol is used up close? Third point: Doesn't this amount of powder pull you off your target with the recoil making it even worse for self defense?

    I suggest you read up on what Stephen Camp has to say about the .38 Special and guns that fire it, on his site under "Other Handguns".

    Edit to add: I notice he's also got a book out now on Airweight Snubs.

  13. #27
    Member Array tennvol's Avatar
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    make sure you get some trigger time. snub nose .38's are actually pretty hard to shoot - but are very reliable, add to this the recoil of a stout SD load (Corbon DPX and Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel are among the best), and a stiff/heavy trigger.

    Get a pair of LG405 laser grips (with the recoil pocket) and you'll be G2G

  14. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimtem View Post
    I bought a Smith & Wesson .38 Special, +P 5 shoot air weight revolver with a 2 inch barrel. It occurred to me today that its a bit odd for a self defense gun. ?
    The Snubnose Files

    This should be required reading for all snubby owners.
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  15. #29
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    .38 Special has same ballastics as a .380 ACP . i would stick with 9mm or stronger.
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  16. #30
    Member Array Jcabin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9mmPro View Post
    .38 Special has same ballastics as a .380 ACP . i would stick with 9mm or stronger.
    Not true.

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