Someone contacted me on my Tactical Professor Facebook page regarding selection criteria for a snub revolver. It was a good discussion and well worth reproducing. For clarity, my answers and comments are in italics.
Where can I find info on 22 mag (probably the Hornady round) in comparison to 38 special (target wadcutters) out of a sub-2 inch barrel revolver?
In terms of what criteria? Penetration, recoil, terminal effectiveness?
I guess the concern would be for ballistic performance. The 22 mag has the higher capacity.
Ballistic performance has a lot of variables. I’m not trying to be pedantic but in the gun community we frequently don’t do a good job of defining our goals.
In general, both of the rounds will achieve the desired penetration. The .22 Magnum will have much more concussion than the .38. The .38 will have more recoil. Our human performance factors are a much more important consideration than ballistic performance of any handgun. Given the opportunity, the best move would be to shoot 5^5 with both and see which one you can shoot it better with. That drill, as originally developed by Gila Hayes and extended by me, was designed as the entry level criterion for choosing a handgun.
Start Shooting Better Episode 2: 5×5 Drill – Lucky Gunner Lounge https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/start-shooting-better-5×5-drill/
Although it carries two more rounds [in a Smith & Wesson], you should assume the .22 Magnum will be much more difficult to reload than the .38. There will also likely be issues with ignition reliability of the .22. You should assume that you will never be able to achieve a trigger pull on a .22 Magnum that you can with a .38, precisely because of ignition issues.
I agree with that. I’m looking to pick up a Ruger LCR has a back up gun. It’ll spend almost the entire life in an ankle glove or in a pocket.
The 22 mag has 3 more rounds in it but they are smaller rounds and rimfire.
I believe there is one thing incorrect in your assumptions. The LCR in .22 Magnum holds 6 rounds. The .22 LR holds 8.
I’ve read several write ups that the 38 out of those smaller barrels tends to fall short in terms of penetration.
Does the 22 mag follow that trend as well or is it worse? I may be gaining extra rounds but if the 22 mag performs less than the 38 in general then I’m not much better off than with 5 38 wad cutters.
The reliability issues you pointed out makes a lot of sense. That might be the answer I needed.
What you read is untrue. My colleague Chuck Haggard has done more ballistic gel testing for snubs than most people in the industry. His results were that .38 wadcutters penetrate more than adequately.
So you’re only gaining one round. Before I would go that route, I would personally go with a .327 Federal and load it with .32 H&R Magnum.
Ruger® LCR® * Double-Action Revolver Models
Big difference. I wouldn’t go that route for just one extra round. This was the conversation I needed. Again, thank you very much Claude for helping a dude out.
Summary of the discussion
After certain minimum criteria are met, caliber discussion is a relatively low level priority. Massad Ayoob’s Priorities of Survival; Mental Preparation, Tactics, Skill, and finally Equipment, are a good example of this hierarchy. Priorities of Survival is the critical tool used for this week’s Patreon Incident Analysis.
Patreon topics update
- H&K VP9SK evaluation
- Shooting test protocol for carry guns
- Store robbery with hostage taking – an in-depth analysis of the incident
- Situation – convenience store robbery. One of the employees was taken hostage immediately. Eventually, a satisfactory resolution was achieved when the cashier shot the robber. The shooting was a downrange incident, i.e., the shot had to be taken with a friendly/non-threat downrange of the shooter and in proximity to the shootee.
- Cast of character development along with 28 point play by play incident timeline.
- 17 different Personal Protection tasks identified in the incident.
- Discussion about possible improvements of the actions immediately after the shooting but before the POlice arrive.
I’m able to cover topics more in depth on my Patreon account than I can in my blog. If you’re interested, you can subscribe for $5 a month here. https://www.patreon.com/TacticalProfessor
FTC Notice: I have no relationship with Ruger nor do I receive any compensation for mentioning their product. The LCR was specifically asked about so I responded.
At least to the general public…
The 2017 BATF production statistics, Annual Firearms Manufacturing and Export Report (AFMER), https://www.atf.gov/file/133476/download have been released. There are some interesting facts about market trends in it. The snub nose .38, which was a long time standard for Personal Protection, has clearly been replaced in popularity by compact .380 ACP autoloaders. This continues a trend that has been building for a decade.
Total .38 revolver – 177,956
Total .380 autoloader – 848,425
For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a comparison of two very popular pocket pistols; the Airweight J Frame and the Ruger LCP. This #wheelgunwednesday, I made it happen. In this case, I used a S&W 642-2 for the Airweight.
The test I used for the comparison was the Nevada Concealed Firearms Permit Qualification Course. I used this as the graduation exercise in my Snub Nose Revolver Classes many times. It’s still one of my favorite CCW qualification courses. The course goes as follows:
The humanoid target, B27 or B21 or equivalent as determined by the firearm instructor shall be utilized.
For 6 shot or higher capacity:
3 yards 6 rounds No time limit Freestyle
5 yards 12 rounds No time limit Freestyle
7 yards 12 rounds No time limit Freestyle
For 5 shot or lower capacity:
3 yards 5 rounds No time limit Freestyle
5 yards 10 rounds No time limit Freestyle
7 yards 10 rounds No time limit Freestyle
A total of 30 rounds for 6 shot or larger capacity, 25 rounds for 5 shot capacity must be fired. A 70% minimum (18/25, 21/30) must be scored to pass.
Notice that as with the majority of State Qualification Courses for Private Citizens, drawing from the holster is not required. Nevada is not one of the States that forbid drawing from the holster, so I include a little holster work.
The way I did the test was to:
- Use the -1 zone of the IDPA target. Then, I fold the bottom tapered part up behind the target. This gives an area approximating the FBI QIT target, which I like.
- Shoot 25 rounds with both guns, even though the LCP would fall into the ‘6 shot of higher capacity’ category. This gives an apples to applies comparison of the two guns.
- Conduct the first Stage as five individual one shot draws.
- Do the second and third stages as two individual strings of five shots each.
- Carry the 642-2 in an AIWB holster, concealed under a polo shirt.
- Carry the LCP in a pocket holster.
- Start the draws with hand on gun.
- Start the Five shot strings with the gun at Low Ready, aimed below the base of the target.
In the end, I was able to achieve slightly better results with the 642-2 (19.87 seconds) than with the LCP (20.71 seconds). I’m not sure a 4% difference is worth writing home to Mom about, though.
Both guns were mostly stock. The front sights on both are painted with Fluorescent Orange paint. The LCP has a Hogue Hybrid Handall installed. This makes the gun much more pleasant to shoot and I highly recommend it. The 642-2 wears Sile rubber stocks, which are no longer made, unfortunately. No special trigger work has been done on either, other than a fair amount of dry practice.
In the end, either of these in your pocket will provide more personal protection than some big honking clunky autoloader that gets left home. What’s the best concealed carry handgun? The one you have on you.