In Defense of Snubbies (a.k.a. Snub-Nosed Revolvers)

A snub-nosed revolver in the hands of an inexperienced shooter is a wildly inaccurate firearm. A newbie with a snubbie can completely miss a target that’s five feet away. And that’s at a gun range. In the heat of the moment, with a perp coming at the shooter, in low-light, standing side-on? Fuhgeddaboutit. Over at Gun Nuts Media, Caleb and his cronies are hashing-out the “guns are like shoes” analogy, with Caleb opining that foisting a snubbie on a female because she has trouble racking the slide is like “buying her a pair of cowboy boots because she doesn’t know how to tie sneakers.” Yes, but—there’s a reason Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Charter Arms and others sell hundred of thousands of snubbies every year. And while I’d never recommend a snubbie for self-defense, there’s a lot to recommend a snub-nosed revolver for self-defense . . .

1. It’s a gun. It shoots bullets.

Not having a gun can be a good thing. A lack of firepower forces the non-gun owner to consider other, more effective self-defense options like . . . running. Eye gouging. Backpack nukes. All joking aside (for this sentence), a newbie can waste a lot of valuable time trying to extract a gun, and then do serious damage to their situation by not being able to do serious damage to their assailant or assailants because they can’t hit squat with their snubbie.

OK. I’ve said it. Me. I’m not the one buying or carrying a snubbie. (Yet.) So who cares what I have to say about it? Not the hundreds of thousands of people who buy snub-nosed revolvers for self-defense. They’ve decided that having a gun is better than not having a gun. If they thought (or paused to consider) that the ability to draw their gun quickly and efficiently or hit what they’re aiming at was more important than simple concealability, they wouldn’t have bought a snubbie. But they didn’t so they did.

The snubbie is proof that Darwinism is alive and well in the firearms community. More to the point, why let the perfect be the enemy of the good? If a relatively untrained snubbie-wielder has, say, a one-in-ten chance that one of their five bullets will hit a threat, that’s still better than the odds of recouping the price of a scratch card with a scratch card. Or beaning the bad guy with a cell phone. Who knows? There might be one less robber, rapist or thug at the end of it.

Sure, an innocent bystander might cop it. And? Life is messy. The Second Amendment is clear. Americans have the right to keep and bear arms. Nothing in there about marksmanship that I can see—despite gun control advocates’ oft-stated desire to protect individuals from themselves for their own and society’s good. Granted, a newbie with a snubbie is dangerous, even with a twenty-pound trigger pull. But bad guys are way more dangerous. For individuals and society.

2. It’s a gun. It’s scary.

For you and me, a newbie with a snubbie is scary because we have no idea where the bullet’s going to go. Now put yourself in the bad guy’s shoes. He (assuming it’s a he) doesn’t know the shooter can’t hit shite. All they know is that hey that’s a gun. Unless they’ve smoked a Sheen-like amount of meth, they probably understand that one bullet from that gun can ruin their whole day. I’m not saying they’ll immediately down tools and head for the hills. But they might.

There aren’t any stats on the prophylactic effects of gun brandishing on criminal behavior. How many snubbie owners avert crime by the mere act of showing their barrel-length challenged gun to a bad guy? Estimates range from “some” to 3.6 million times per year. According to experts, that’s a Lott of nonsense. In any case, you’ve got to add the perp’s potential “you know what? forget it” reaction to a snubbie to the list of “reasons to carry a gun you can’t shoot very well.”

3. It’s a safe gun. Ish.

C’mon. Admit it. The vast majority of snubbie buyers don’t practice trigger discipline or muzzle control. Maybe on the range. Perhaps at home. But definitely not in the heat of battle. A gun with a long trigger pull goes a long way towards preventing a newbie negligent discharge. Yes, plenty of pocket semis also have a long trigger pull (e.g. the recently reviewed Ruger LC9). But snubbies guaran-damn-tee it.

As Mark points out below, if a snubbie-shooting newbie goes completely nuts, shooting his or her revolver dry without any regard to collateral damage, at least they’ll run out of ammo in short order. Championing snubbies because they suck may not seem sensible, but it is.

4. The more people who own guns the better.

The more people who own guns, the safer our gun rights. ‘Nuff said? Other than this: there is a chance, however small, that the newbie snubbie owner will master their weapon. Maybe not to the level of the Trail Boss, but some. Lest we forget, it’s possible to become extremely accurate with a snubbie. Alternatively, perhaps the inability for the newbie snubbie owner to hit a target at the range could lead them to purchase another, more suitable self-defense gun. Sometimes the longest journey starts with the shortest gun.