By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
A common trope is that snubnose revolvers are not recommended for the beginner. Despite a snubbie being one of the classic choices of concealed carry pistol, the recoil and short sight radius will ensure bad shooting will ensue.
Plenty of people vastly more experienced than the guy writing this have insisted it’s a master’s weapon. Getting truly accurate with one takes a lot more skill at shooting and range time to get there than, say, a Glock 19 or lightweight Commander 1911 or…name any other popular concealed carry gun.
Or are they? Could that be missing what those guns are designed to do to begin with?
This isn’t to say that the snubbie revolver is easy to get very proficient with. They aren’t; even the soft .38 Special becomes bracing in a light, compact revolver. Since sight radius does impact accuracy, shooting a 2-inch or smaller group at 50 yards is problematic when not shooting from a bench. Low-profile sights don’t help in this regard either.
This is instead to say that snubnose revolvers were developed at a time when handguns were mostly thought of as point and shoot weapons. Being highly accurate with one was not as high a priority as it is today. Not that there weren’t target pistols in the late 19th and early 20th century; there were. It’s more that defensive pistols weren’t thought of as having to be capable of cloverleaf groups at 50 yards.
That even applied with the bigger guns. Look at the original 1911 and notice the sights. They’re tiny! Little, bumpy iron things that even today’s barebones factory guns outclass by miles.
How people learned to operate the M1911 pistol back in those days was brutally simple. You learned how to grip it and to get the gun basically in line with the arm. Aiming was done by bringing the arm up until the gun aligned between your eye and the target, and you squeezed the trigger.
Face target, bring gun up and when all three line up…squeeze. It was that simple.
How police were trained was a similar form of instinctive point shooting. You didn’t use the sights unless you were shooting at longer distances, but you’re supposed to have a long gun anyway if that was a possibility.
As long as you could more or less hit what you were pointing at, that’s all you needed.
A snubnose revolver was intended for deployment at close range – like within 10 yards – squeezing off the five (S&W) or six (Colt) rounds that the pistol held as quickly as possible. You pointed at the head or chest and shot until the bad guy dropped. When deployed thusly, it’s actually easy to get quick shots on target to vital areas.
This also isn’t to say a person doesn’t need to be accurate with their carry pistol. You darn well should be. You should train with it and on a regular basis. You need to be able to hit what you aim at and not any bystanders, as being aware of the target and what’s beyond it is one of the Four Laws of Gun Safety of course.
However, is the snubby revolver REALLY a master’s weapon? If you want to punch the bullseye…it is. If you just want to hit what’s in front of you in quick succession? Not so much. The former helps greatly with the latter, however, so even if your training is as spartan as all get out, don’t neglect it.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.