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Yes, revolvers can be used for daily carry (and it’s nice to see one here). This one’s a Ruger SP101 chambered in .38 Special.

If you’re thinking “what about my .357 Magnum?”…well, here’s the thing. If you can’t nail consistent groups with your gun while you’re under the stress of an attack, you’re going to have a bad time. As awesome as .357 Magnums are, .38 Specials have significantly less muzzle rise and are easier to run.

You need to be able to run your self-defense gun and the use of .38 Special gives you an edge. After all, shots you can’t land are not only wasted but dangerous: you are responsible for every shot you fire.

So, .357 Magnum or .38 Special for concealed carry?

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  1. Only change I would make is to make that 101 the ‘bobbed’ hammer version…

  2. If I’m carrying a sp101 it’s going to be chambered for .357. After all I can always shoot .357’s in it. Never understood why a 5 shot in .38. These little guns are heavy.

    • “These little guns are heavy.”

      That’s kinda the *point*.

      Fire an SP-101 first, then an Airweight snubbie with .357 in it next.

      See which one you will want to pick up again immediately and fire again.

      I rest my case…

      • Except that’s his point (and would be mine). An SP101 makes sense for a .357 and tames it like an airweight doesn’t. But a .38spl? You’re giving up at least a round, some concealment and adding a fair amount of weight when you carry an SP101 over another revolver. Why not use it for a more powerful round? After all, you can always load .38 in it if you want or if conditions call for it.

        Maybe there was a good reason but looking at it from out here, there are better options for a .38 and better cartridge options for the Ruger. An SP101 in .38spl is like putting the engine of a Nissan Versa into a Range Rover. Yeah, it’ll go, but… it feels like you’re not taking advantage of the platform.

    • The best part of a Ruger is that when you use up your 5 shots, you can bludgeon the mugger with it. 😀

  3. “So, .357 Magnum or .38 Special for concealed carry?”

    I’ll take “I don’t do wheel guns for daily carry” for $400, Alex.

    • Thank you. I wouldn’t go out the door carrying a wheel gun any more than I would go into Fallujah with a bolt action rifle. Both are practically obsolete in their originally designed role. In the real world follow up shots are a thing and anybody worth shooting once is worth shooting 4 times.

      • In the .357 world, follow up shots are not necessary, keep your 17 round peashooter for mag dumps in 0.5 seconds, the idea of aim first, then fire, worked pretty well for a long time. I have seen videos of that wonderful ability to spew BBs all over the place without hitting anything, and I don’t need it. If I carried a .357 5-shot, I would expect after a confrontation I’d have 4 left. Apparently you’d expect to have gone through 2 mags.

        • People have been known to take hits from full-blown rifle rounds and keep coming long enough to kill you. Follow-up shots are very much a thing regardless of caliber. (unless than caliber is .50 BMG or 40mm) FYI, Hornady’s 9mm +P loads are well within shouting distance of most standard .357 magnum loads while having 3x the ammo capacity, far better handling, and the ability to do a quick reload. Those are damn useful things to have.

          Do I realistically expect to NEED those advantages? No. But as I said, anybody worth shooting once, is worth shooting four times.

        • “In the .357 world, follow up shots are not necessary…”

          But the world isn’t a .357 world. The “age of wheel guns” ended in like 1980, some 60+ years after it should have. In the real world targets move, shots miss and suppressing fire is a thing.

          “…the idea of aim first, then fire, worked pretty well for a long time.”

          Except when you’re getting shot at in which case your priority is to shoot back regardless of whether or not you hit the guy with every round. You know the main reason why people shoot without aiming? Because they’re behind something that they’re shooting around or moving in a way that makes true sight pictures impossible. Because hitting the other guy doesn’t do fuck all for you if he turns your head into a canoe in trade.

          ” If I carried a .357 5-shot, I would expect after a confrontation I’d have 4 left.”

          Then you should expect your expectations to be wrong. When cops were issued six-shot revolvers, and generally better trained than they are now, the average numbers of rounds fired in a confrontation was 5.6 or 5.8. They generally emptied the gun. People do this A LOT when their own personal SHTF situation occurs.

          Nuff said right here:

  4. For me, .357 is manageable one-handed or two-handed. If I ever used it in self defense, I imagine it would be fairly (or very) close range. I don’t shoot it much, but enough that I’m comfortable with the recoil of the .357. The .38 is a lot less recoil, but if I carry it, I want it to have ‘maximum stopping power’ (there, do I sound like I know what I’m talking about?). When I carry it (Ruger LCR), it’s my backup gun, OWB on my right side (I’m left handed), slid back a bit, and I hardly know it’s there. But I know it’s there.

  5. I used to carry a Taurus .38 snubbie (the Model 85GRC, to be exact, a relatively rare offering).

    It was a steel frame, wood grip, “old school”. Compact but heavy for its size. That plus the ported barrel made it very pleasant to shoot.

    I didn’t mind the weight except when I was wearing slacks or a suit; then it was very awkward. In jeans or cargo shorts it was fine.

    A solid, reliable little gun, and accurate, too, when I could get a good sight picture in ample lighting. Recently replaced it with a bit more concealable .380 with tritium sights (SA 911).

    Never felt undergunned with my Taurus, but wanted something that would carry easily no matter how I’m dressed, and which had better sights for low visibility situations.

    When I first seriously thought about getting a permit my first choice for a prospective carry gun was the SP101 in .357, 2” barrel….until I saw and handled one in a gun store, and concluded it was way too big and heavy.

    If you don’t mind the weight and bulk and will really carry it consistently, a .38 Special revolver is an excellent choice, I would say. Revolvers have important advantages and I would never discourage anyone from carrying one if that is what they are comfortable with.

    • My first carry gun was a Taurus 85CH. steel frame DAO revolver. I traded it for a kel-tec pf9 because i thought it would be better. what a joke.

      To answer the click bait question, i’ve always carried 38 specials when using a revolver as a carry gun. unless i was in the woods. then i loaded the 357’s up.

  6. Those all steel snubbies are heavy for their size. Also, because they’re snubbies a lot of those magnum ballistics are wasted in that large fireball. If we have to “scrounge” for .38 Spl in the United States it is dark days indeed. I’ll stick with .38 and aluminum frames.

      • Absolutely. In my LCRs, 357 Golden Saber runs ar 1100 fps.

        The same bullet in 38 +P runs 875 out of a 38 LCR.

        A big difference.

        • That’s supposed to be impressive? You’re firing a 9mm round at sub-9mm velocities out of a gun that weighs and recoils more than most full-size modern semi-autos.

        • I regularly carry a 380… so what’s your point.

          There are many instances I carry a revolver (usually a snub) because it is the fastest gun I can get into action.

          38 is slower than 9 out of short barrels but 357 equals or bests the 9. If I was going to carry a 9 with a 4 inch barrel, I can carry a 3 inch 357. The 3 inch 357 whips 9 s ass all day long.

          Revolvers may be obsolete, but they are put to good use every day.

      • If you are in a self defense situation late in the evening or after dark, the first shot from the sp101 in 357 mag will blind your attacker from the muzzle flash if you miss him. I was shooting when it was almost dusk and other people that were there and standing off to the side remarked about the muzzle flash, I didn’t notice it much. After dark it probably is really bright. Ruger flame thrower.

  7. .38 STD or +P in 158 grain is excellent for self defense.
    The weight for capacity leads me to opt for a small 9mm, but I would (and have been) comfortable with a snubby.

  8. I pocket carried a .357 sp101 for a year or so because it was just big and heavy enough for .357. IMO, that’s its only benefit over a S&W 36. I find the Smith just right for the .38.

  9. Nice! I carry a .40 semi auto but appreciate a good revolver. The .38/.357 isn’t really a big deal to me. I would probably load .357 in my 4″ 686 but I know I would be gambling.

  10. Looks like they know what they’re about.

    If you’re only going to shoot 38s, then you generally pick up about 50fps over shooting 38s in a 357.

    I often carry an LCR 357 with 125 golden sabre 357 or Hornady Critical Defense. It is a handful but controllable.

    Those that say they will never notice the recoil are fooling themselves. You may not feel it but it will affect your aim and accuracy.

    Why I went to an LCR. The 340 S&Ws are too brutal for me.

    Those oversized grips are not for me. Too much bulk for me to hide on my bulk.

  11. I have two .357 SP101s for concealed carry, a 4.2”for use with a jacket or untucked shirt and a snubnose, that fits in “Sneaky Pete” holster for a Glock 19, for use with a tucked shirt and no jacket A concealed carry gun should be optimized for quick and effective response to sudden emergencies as opposed to extended combat where a double stack semi auto 9mm shines. I think SP101s are the ideal concealed carry handgun. As revolvers they are very dependable and simple to use and .357 Magnum is one of the most potent combat cartridges.

    • I think you’re including carry convenience into your optimization. There is very little an double stack 9mm can’t do to quickly respond to unforeseen situations that a wheel gun can. Try, my glock 34 is much harder to carry, but with the light and RMR on it, I’ll take it over a wheel gun the same way I’d take almost any AR with modern optics over a 1914 Lee Enfield.

      • Post a photo or crayon drawing of you toting that 34.

        I will be impressed. That would be hard to hide in a T shirt and jeans.

        • Big guy, loose T-shirt, OWB holster. I live somewhere that printing doesn’t matter to any significant degree.

        • It can be done. Bigger guys only though. I mean, big!

          And they have trouble sitting/standing/squatting already… so nothing new to them.

      • Carry convenience is definitely one of the things I look at for a concealed weapon.If it is too big and/or awkward a person will either not carry it or will have to alter their lifestyle too much (e.g. wearing a long coat year round). If this were not the case why even bother with a handgun? Something like an Arsenal SLR107FR with an Aimpoint would outclass even your very well equipped Glock 43 in terms of capability.

        The Pattern 1914 Enfield is Mauser type rifle that is a completely different gun than the Lee Enfield or SMLE. Both the 1914 Enfield and its American cousin saw service as sniper rifles. Also because of the size and strength of the actions are capable of being re-barreled to a wide variety of Magnum calibers. In most combat situations I would rather have an AR-15 but properly set up the WWI vintage bolt actions would make superior long range weapons.

    • Well….if you shoot revolvers, there is a long (hopefully smooth) trigger pull.

      If you have an exposed hammer, you can cock it for a lighter, more precise trigger pull.

      Most would not recommend cocking for self defense, but we know it is done.

      • For several decades I carried a 4″ Python, always intended single action except in a hand-to-hand scenario. 95% practice was SA. Cocking hammer was automatic. One handed decocking was simple. Biggest frustration was firing, then decocking, so cylinder is not aligned for next shot, if I have to fire again I’ll have empties in 2 places in the cylinder. I figured I’d just keep going thru the motions until I got a bang, but that is a distinct advantage of a semi, so far as I am concerned.

    • Er… it’s fine?

      I’ve owned two SP101s. The first one- an older model- was buttery smooth just from use. The second, a new one, wasn’t great but was made beautiful with a self-done trigger job (surprisingly easy). But even though I improved it I would have been fine with using it in a self-defense scenario (usually under 30 feet). I guess someone who has trouble pulling a trigger might have difficulty with it but it’s really not that bad, weight wise.

    • LCR = ~9lbs DAO…

      S&W 586 = ~10 lbs DA, 5 lbs SA

      S&W J-Frames tend to be around 10 – 12 pounds DA…Brownell’s has spring kits to reduce that to a much more comfortable pull while retaining reliability.

  12. “If you can’t nail consistent groups with your gun while you’re under the stress of an attack, you’re going to have a bad time.”

    Nailing consistent groups is something for your favorite benchrest rifle on Saturday morning, not for blasting muggers and carjackers at arms length.

    Who writes this stuff?

    • If you can nail consistent groups at the range, you can nail shitty groups under pressure, genius.

    • Not every “bad guy” scenario will put you are arms length. Who forgets every scenario is different?

  13. Yes to revolvers, but not ugly ones like rugers (the hi point of the revolver world). DA is not an issue if you practice and the gain from 357 in my snubs is more like 125+ for my snubs, YMMV.

    • Rugers ugly? The hi point (sic) of the revolver world? Well I guess everybody has their own esthetic tastes. After all Bill pursued and married Hillary!

    • What? It’s a revolver, they all look pretty similar. Plus Ruger revolvers, whole not quite as fine as most others, have a well earned reputation for durability; those things are built like tanks

  14. If you’ve got a sub-2” barrel the difference between .357 mag and .38 special is a couple hundred feet per second, which in practical terms isn’t a worthwhile trade off for the massive slowdown/decrease in accuracy of follow up shots.

    There are some excellent +P .38 loads specifically designed for snubbies but there’s no getting around the physics. In anything less than 3” .357 simply doesn’t gain enough to be worth the extra recoil. Let’s all remember that handguns in general are rather poor fight stoppers and that, regardless of caliber, follow up shots will almost always be necessary to stop an attack.

    With a snub nose you’re talking about, at best, a difference of one round in what it takes to stop an attacker when comparing .357 and .38, which isn’t enough for the trade off. In a larger revolver, absolutely (I myself have a 4” Police Six and I would only load it with .38s as a last resort), but not a little one

    • I think it is worth the extra recoil. It does slow me down a little in the LCRs, but nor enough to make me only carry the 38Spl version.

      In my experience , there is is a much bigger difference in shooting 35u vs 38 in a K frame Smith. I can shoot the 38+P a,most as fast as a 22. The 357 takes a little more effort to tame.

      Lots of police agencies came to the same conclusion and went to the 9mm as the trade off. That recoiling slide softens the jolt a great deal.

      Same reason many agencies are going back to the 9mm from 40. Qualifying scores with the 40 are usually lower.

        • Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
          357 is no worse than 9mm out of a short barrel.

          The salted powders in 9mm loads are also used in 357 defensive ammunition

          If you are using a light to actually see what you’re shooting at, the old loads were not that bad.

        • I think ole powersarge ought to put on a class of why the .357 sucks and isn’t for you when there are plenty of 9mm glocks out there that you can shoot yourself in the leg with. Glocks Rock and everything else sucks! All because the sarge says! What a crock of crap he spews.

  15. My preferred carry is a 3″ SP101 loaded with 125gr Gold Dots or 110gr CorBon HP’s in .357. I prefer the weight of the Ruger. It’s my favorite wheelgun to practice with so it’s naturally my first choice in IWB carry.

    • I’m saving up for one of those. Or at least I say that I am, wile having no funds actually allocated toward it… but the fact remains, one day I will own a 3″ SP101 in .357 Mag.

      To me it is exquisite looking, and seems the perfect combination of weight / power / controllability.

  16. I carry a SP101 chambered in 327 Federal Mag. With 4.2 in barrel. Does everything I want and then some.

  17. This gun is a tank.

    Personally, I carry guns chambered in .357 Magnum but I load them with Remington Golden Saber .38 Special +P jacketed hollow points, because I’m faster and far more accurate with that load than any .357 Magnum load I’ve tested.

  18. I have a sp101 in .327,and love the power,but if I was going to put 6 rounds in a tight paternal under pressure I’d use 32hmr

  19. seems like thirty years i’ve been tryin’ to get my pal strogilo to free up his sp. it’s an early special only model, he won’t let it go.

  20. The sp101 is a tank of a gun. I liked mine but sold it for a Shield. More capacity and easier to conceal.

  21. Personally, for up close and personal use; I love my sweet shooting Colt Detective Special in .38 made back in the mid 80’s. I have 6 rounds of 158 gr JHP goodness if needed, plus another 6 in a speed loader. I know, old school but it works for me. I train for 10-15 feet distance and thank God I’ve never had to pull. As the ad used to say, Don’t leave home without it.

  22. I carry a Taurus 605 in .357. It fits nicely in my pocket. My other favorite carry gun is a 1911 Commander in .45 ACP. I have no problem hitting a 3″ steel plate at 17 yards within 7 seconds all day long. Nobody wants to hurt

  23. I sometimes carry an sp101 in 327 mag so 6 shots. In the winter as an addition to my khar pm9

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