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A reader who wishes to remain anonymous writes:

Although I grew up with guns and have had concealed carry permits in the states where I’ve lived for over 10 years, about two years ago I got serious about EDC. I agonized over my choices. There is so much conflicting advice out there. I decided my “must haves” were . . .

  1. A gun I would actually have with me when I needed it, meaning one that is easily concealable and not too heavy. A snubby in my pocket beats my 1911 at home.
  2. A gun I can hit the target with at likely self defense ranges. Only hits count. See my experiences below.
  3. A gun that was “forgivingly reliable,” meaning one that is not only technically reliable, but is even reliable when I don’t do everything right. It must fire when I want it to, no matter what.
  4. A gun that is “forgivingly safe,” similar to #3. It must not fire when I don’t want it to, no matter what.
  5. A gun that fires a cartridge that has no trouble meeting the new FBI standards of penetration and expansion.
  6. A gun I just feel comfortable with, purely subjective.

I learned to shoot a .38 revolver (a Colt Official Police) when I was about 12 years old. My Dad set up a “wax bullet range” in our basement and I put thousands of rounds through that thing. At 21, I got a job as security guard. Without having touched a revolver in months, I shot the highest score ever recorded on the licensing test. When I got in the Navy, I shot Expert with a revolver first time out, again after not having touched one in months. I can just hit with them. I feel confident with them.

I’m no stranger to autos, though. I competed on a Navy team with a match-modifed 1911 and I have owned a Colt Mk IV Series 70 for over 35 years. But I find it too heavy to carry comfortably and I worry about NDs and not getting the safety off under stress. I have also had my 1911 lock up in a combat pistol class so badly that even tap/rack/bang didn’t work. The instructor and I had to pry the mechanism open with a screwdriver, but we could find nothing wrong with the pistol or the mag. Both performed perfectly from then on. I have never had that happen with a wheelgun.

In making my choice, I was very influenced by Grant Cunningham’s book, “Defensive Revolver Fundamentals: Protecting Your Life with the All-American Firearm.” I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to put the wheelgun in perspective.

My choice of the Ruger LCR was driven by it meeting all six of my must-haves, the reputation of the brand and it having the best out-of-the-box trigger of any revolver I’ve ever fired. I went with the Crimson Trace Lasergrips for accuracy at night and indoors, the most likely shooting scenarios. I also fitted it with green fiber optic front sight that is great in outdoor daylight. I carry it in a Sticky pocket holster and keep it loaded with Speer Gold Dot .38 +P 135gr JHP “Short Barrel” loads. I also carry a Bianchi Speed Strip for reloading.

(See the rest of the posts in this series here. Send your What I Carry and Why submissions with a photo to [email protected] with WICAW in the subject line.)

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  1. I love the LCR. I usually carry a double-stack 9mm IWB, but when I can’t I carry the LCR with a speed strip. I don’t feel unarmed.

    • I loved my LCR, it was a well made gun and could be concealed anywhere.

      Until I did my secondary weapons qual and noticed something. I’m used to using the trigger reset on semis to fire rapid follow up shots. The LCR has an audible click when the trigger is not quite all the way extended, and pulling the trigger at that point causes the gun to skip a cylinder, which I did during the qual course.

      It’s not bad if it’s the only gun you carry or if you haven’t had tens of thousands of rounds of muscle memory on the trigger reset, but I ended up selling it as I didn’t want to chance it happening real world

  2. Though I own higher-capacity handguns, the Ruger LCR in .357 is the one that I find myself carrying most often. It’s light and comfortable enough that I actually carry it. It makes my G26 feel like a brick in comparison. I find myself only carrying the G26 in winter weather under a coat for the most part.

    5 rounds and a speed strip isn’t a lot, but I don’t live a dangerous life. If I am going someplace that I can’t avoid, where I think the threat level is higher, I carry the G26.

  3. The LCR is the best of the small, light revolvers. I own a breathed on 340 PD and the LCR trigger is still better, out of the box. It feels like a J frame that has had a Grant Cunningham trigger job.

    Its also easiest to hit with of all the small snubbies. I don’t know why, but it is.

    I still own both my 340 and my grey anodized LCR, and while I don’t carry them often, typically carrying myG19, G43 or Kahr P380, when I do carry a revolver , its usually the LCR.


  4. I have also had my 1911 lock up in a combat pistol class so badly that even tap/rack/bang didn’t work…. I have never had that happen with a wheelgun.

    To be fair, I’ve twice had revolvers bind up so bad they wouldn’t operate, and had the resulting cause not be something easily cleared in combat (though in neither case requiring any actual mechanical work).

    A.) Grit under the extractor caused cylinder to bind.
    B) Out-of-spec. WWB ammo had excessively thick rims that bound up cylinder.

    Of course, I don’t care WWB as defense ammo, but still. Out-of-spec rounds can happen with even the best brands, and you don’t know until you pull the trigger and the cylinder binds.

    My LCR seems to have much tighter tolerances than my S&W 681: the 681 fed the same ammo with no issues.

    My Circuit Judge carbine’s cylinder also gets very tight after a couple dozen rounds. I have to wipe around the forcing cone and the front face of the cylinder or it starts binding.

    • Scariest gun moment I’ve ever been through involved a buddy’s Chiappa Rhino that “locked up”. With a live round in the chamber a pin slid out of place when the hammer was cocked and the trigger would no longer engage the sear. We’d been pretty high on the gun up until that point but being forced to preform gun surgery on a loaded gun will change that.

  5. EDC is a G26, but if i’m just going out for a stroll in the neighborhood, an LCR in a pocket holster is my preferred choice. perfect gun if you need to stick it into some tweeker’s ribs.

    honestly, i wouldn’t feel unsafe without the pocket holster.

  6. It’s actually pretty odd that I don’t carry a wheelgun, as big a fan of their reliability as I am. But I wound up with a reliable semi-auto that just fits in my pockets so well I wouldn’t give it up (especially with my son’s hand-made grips on it). Still, you’ll never hear me discouraging anyone from carrying a revolver unless they plan on taking down fortified crack houses singlehanded or some such.

  7. Good for you!
    Too many fanboys of merely the word “modern”(like anything that they chose to call ‘not modern’ is useless) out there today. I, too, carry a wheelgun, a Smith J frame, and I get abused by the fanboys on here a lot for it. You just can’t beat the reliability, concealablity, weight and ease of carry, and power of this combination.
    I say this as a gunsmith who has shot most everything a lot, and have had two(count them 2) jams(not stoppages) with even wheelguns. One was with a Smith M29, which backed out it’s ejection rod, which is a failure common to that model. The other was a broken hammer spring. Both required a bench and a set of tools to repair, and the broken spring a spare part. OFC, broken springs and firing pins and suchlike can happen to ANY firearm, even a break open single shot rifle.
    But overall, I will trust my life to the revolver, every time. The one exception might be, if I had to( for some reason or another) enter a house full of hostiles and clear it. Then, I would want a higher capacity before needing to reload.
    But I have no intention of ever doing that, so it is not relevant, to ME. Frankly, if I ever DID have to clear a house full of armed hostiles, I’d just burn the place down. It would be a lot safer, and matches are cheap.

    • House clearing. 12 bore shotgun. .357 magnum revolver. Mason jars full of gasoline(any fragile glass container works). Car flares.

      Anything gets past the fire gets Mr. Buckshot.

      Not that I would ever do anything like this.

  8. That seems like a good carry load for a sunb nosed revolver. Finding good carry loads for any short barrel weapon can be difficult but is seems .38 especially sufferers with shorter barrels. Im really hoping that STB410 does an ammo testing series with .38 special.

      • I have emailed him recently about this, and believe it is in the works.

        I’m patiently waiting. 🙂

        I carry a 637 j-frame. I don’t think it’s more shootable out of the box than the lcr, but I like metal guns. And it was a tiny bit smaller. The trigger on my particular j-frame was really good too. I dry fired it and a lcr at the same time before buying. A little heavier and a little smoother. I also dry fired a 642 that day. It was the worst trigger of the three.

        • That would be a useful project. One of my concerns with barrels 2″ and below is that velocity drops precipitously. That means JHPs may not expand properly, and will basically act like an FMJ. I’ve seen it happen shooting water jugs with my Smith 340 PD. I haven’t chrono’d any of the loads, though. Maybe I’ll include that the next time I go to the range. Bullets that do expand may not have the momentum to penetrate 12″ or more in gelatin – some of the same issues we see with the .380 ACP. After all, the snub .38 and a .380 develop similar energy levels.

          I feel better carrying 9mm +P, .40, .357 and .45 that have twice the energy of the .380 / .38 Special snubbie. I know those rounds perform well, and that rifle and shotgun rounds perform even better.

  9. Also a fan of the LCR – I carry one in .327 Fed Mag, 6-shot. Take a look at the DeSantis Mini-Scabbard holster, and the International Holster Leather (IHL) Quick/Speed Strip belt carrier for your speed strip reloads. Both are very compact, high quality, and comfortable to wear all day.

  10. My mother in law has weak hands, and is unable to pull double action trigger back at times. I have tried talking her into going to a gun shop and checking out the lcrx. The only night stand gun she feels comfortable with is a Heritage Rough Rider in .22 mag, better than nothing if something goes bump in the night but I would really like to see her carry in the future .

    • Have you considered instead a pistol-caliber carbine for her? Either semi-auto or lever action.

      An inexperienced shooter can probably point a carbine better than a handgun. Recoil, hand strength and limp-wristing are all much less of an issue. It’s easier for a weak-handed person to cycle the bolt on a carbine than the slide on a handgun.

      Even a high-point carbine is remarkably reliable.

      • She uses the .22 mag for bedside, I’m trying to talk her into a cpl, carry gun. I don’t know if she would want a long gun? She could always use her bolt .243 LOL

  11. While I respect your article and ammo choice, I’ve got to say that I’m not a big fan of snubbie .38s and .357s. The .38 snubbies don’t produce a lot of energy (roughly 250-300 FPE max) and the .357s have a ridiculous amount of noise, muzzle blast and recoil. The capacity sucks for both and reloads aren’t quick for mortals.

    I’ve got a Smith 340 PD loaded with 158 grain Buffalo Bore short barrel, but I’ve also carried your exact same Speer 135 grain .38 +P load. I rarely shoot the gun because it isn’t accurate and is so light that the recoil literally abrades the skin off of my hands with full-power .357 loads.

    Still, I’d rather lose some more of my hearing than my life, and the “average” 3 rounds at 3 yards in 3 seconds gunfight can be accomplished with a snubbie.

    • “I rarely shoot the gun because it isn’t accurate…”

      My first carry gun was a Charter Arms .38 loaded up 110gr (low recoil) Hydra-shocks, and unless I used a very slow and deliberate trigger pull, I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn passed 3 ft. Though, I have to admit, it saved my a$$ once, so it did its job.

      • “Though, I have to admit, it saved my a$$ once, so it did its job.”

        Have you considered writing that up and submitting it to TTAG?

        • Not particularly.

          It wasn’t anything spectacular. BG thought I was a mark, he aggressed, I went for my gun, he changed his mind.

          One of those self defense fairytales which MDA and the other anti folks claim never happen.

  12. I’m an unrepentant Smith & Wesson weenie and consider the Centennial models such as the 442 and the 642 to be the finest snubbies ever made. However, IMO the Ruger LCR is about the only snub that can hang with the Smith Airweights. It’s a heck of a lightweight revolver.

  13. LCR: G-26:
    Barrel 1.87” 3.42”
    Length: 6.5” 6.49”
    Width: 1.28” 1.18”
    Height: 4.5” 4.17”

    How is the LCR a pocket pistol? Because it weighs less? The Glock has superior ballistic performance, twice the capacity, easier reloading and a lower profile. For the average shooter it is also easier and more accurate to shoot.

    • All I can say is, once you’ve carried both in your pocket and on your hip, there’s no comparison. I own both and they’re my two primary carry guns, and the LCR is simply worlds more concealable and pocketable than the G-26. The gross measurements completely misrepresent the differences in actual bulk.

      • I also can attest to a wheelgun’s pocketabilty. The shape is so much more organic than a semi auto. In most pants, my TCP prints more than my j frame. (My personal experience.)

        • Not if you pocket carry in a nemesis or uncle mikes. And a TCP weighs nothing-and has more rounds than 5 shot revolver…I’ve had both too.

  14. I never had this particular gun but had a similar sized Taurus 85. I always thought it as too fat for casual concealment. No problems at all(it was used) but I also couldn’t hit anything. I am light years better with a semi-auto and never have had any misfires either. Whatever-rule # 1 is have gun…

    • Reliability wise, back when PDs were replacing revolvers with semis, the “truism” was that a good semi is more reliable than a revolver if you count in number of fired rounds, while a revolver is more reliable if you judge by number of years left on a nightstand unfired. This was, in the context of LEOs, intended to make the switch more palatable, but for your average CCW’er, it may well weigh the other way.


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