Training with the Snub

Due to my social commitments I often need to carry an exceedingly concealable firearm.  Therefore, I am essentially stuck with the uber-tiny 380 autos or the 38 Snub.    After much experimentation I am entirely in the 38 snub camp and it remains my small gun of choice.  It is small enough to conceal in any clothing yet it is capable.  For me even the new breed of single-stack 9mm guns, as small as they are, don’t conceal like a snubby does.  While not my favored overall handgun it is my favored deep concealment handgun.  However, training with small handguns is not particularly pleasant and the light weight snub is about the most horrendous of the lot.  Shooting them is miserable even with relatively mild ammunition.  Since I need the weapon for certain occasions, however, I do train with it.  I plan to dedicate some writing to this platform on this blog going forward as I know many use it.

I train with my revolver,  although it has historically been a secondary training priority, with the vast majority of my training going to my autoloader.  But I am not inept with my revolver by any means, I can make good hits rapidly at closer ranges and I can also reach out to 50 yards consistently with my Ruger LCR, so it is more than a belly gun in my hands, although I am by no means a master of the snub.  I still don’t have the confidence in using the weapon as I do in my full size gun and I hope to gain further ability with this admittedly limited platform this coming year.    There is always the issue that I consider it a secondary carry gun so I have not been motivated to train with it to a great extent, so this year I plan to give it more trigger time.

So far I am seeing improvement in my control and accuracy with the platform.  I have acquired a Ruger SP101 which is a much heavier gun so that I can do more training with a weapon that absorbs the recoil better due to the weight.  Both The SP101 and my LCR are identical in function and the SP101 is comfortable for extended shooting.  It carries fine IWB too, which is typically how I carry it, so this has become my primary snubby.

In terms of training, I can offer some ways in which to enhance your skills if you are struggling with your small revolver.  While undeniably limited the snub is not just a belly gun, good for little more than contact distant shooting.  Here I am not going to specifically focus on the mechanics of how to better shoot the gun, but how to improve your training regime:

To begin, dry fire a lot.  The revolver lends itself well to efficient dry fire training as the trigger stroke can be effectively practiced.  Use snap caps as even modern revolvers that supposedly are immune to issues related to dry fire can have problems here, at least in my experience.  When dry firing you can essentially train all aspects of gun handling and most aspects of actual shooting.  Focus on being able to press the trigger without disrupting the sight picture.  This is the crux of shooting handgun, particularly a double-action revolver.  Practice your draw and presentation extensively with dry fire.  This way you get these repetitions in without the need to burn ammo, and without taking the abuse of extensively shooting the tiny terror.

Be sure to train with the gun the way you carry it.  For most the snub is used for deep concealment.  Therefore, training with your snub from an open hip holster if you carry it in a pocket or on your ankle is a bit pointless.  Similarly, getting your reload fast with speedloaders is probably a waste of time if you only carry speed strips for concealed carry.  I don’t train with speedloaders at all since I only carry speed strips due to my deep concealment needs when I actually carry a snub.

If you carry exclusively snubby revolvers than you perhaps should be primarily practicing with this platform, of course.  The way to accommodate more extensive live fire sessions, I believe, is to utilize an all-steel heavy snub even if you usually carry a light-weight variant.  A second possibility, especially doable if you reload for your snub, is to use exceedingly light loads in the airweight gun for the bulk of your practice.  You still may find it challenging to do extensive range sessions with the light weight gun.  An all-steel gun such as a Ruger SP101 or Smith and Wesson 640 is quite doable for extended training sessions if combined with light practice loads.

I would advise shooting your snub at every, or at least most, of your live fire sessions, even if it is not that much ammo.  This is going to keep your gun handling and shooting skills with the platform fresh.  I would also switch up when in the live fire session you shoot the snub.  It does not always have to be the afterthought.  Sometimes it is beneficial to open the session with the more challenging snub.

The snubby is limited but I often need the deep concealment it offers.  If you are in a similar circumstance, bite the bullet and train with your little gun too.  I find that many people convince themselves that their snub is only an occasionally carried weapon when in reality it is carried far more often than admitted.  Even if you carry it significantly less often than your bigger gun you need to train with the weaponry that you rely on for self-defense.  Incorporate your snub training into your overall training approach.  Even if your snub is a secondary gun, if it is the only gun that you are carrying when bad things happen it is the only gun that matters.

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