I have a love-hate relationship with the small-frame revolver: I love it because it is the gun I can carry when I need to dress in a way that does not facilitate concealment of my double-stack auto loader. I hate it because I would far prefer to have my auto on me should I actually need the gun. Five rounds and an incredibly slow reload does not inspire confidence. Still, it will get it done most of the time, so it is far preferable to having no gun.
Therefore, the small-frame revolver is a constant in my life, being a secondary carry option I end up needing to use quite a lot, be it when dressed formally or when going to the gym. Despite that, I am not in any way a revolver enthusiast. I do train with it, but nowhere near as much as with my primary gun. It is a secondary option that I am stuck with. This is probably a predicament many find themselves in concerning their small, deep concealment gun.
Revolver aficionados shoot with a curled thumbs grip on the revolver rather than the standard thumbs-forward grip used on an auto pistol. The two primary reasons for this particular grip are to avoid inadvertently actuating the cylinder release, and to avoid getting the tip of your support-hand thumb burnt by escaping gas at the cylinder gap. I do not use this “proper” revolver grip when shooting a revolver: rather, I use a standard thumbs-forward grip. I find that many other auto shooters that only occasionally use a revolver do the same.
Now, before anyone gets hysterical and warns me that I am going to blow the tip of my finger off, chillax. I have sent thousands of rounds down range this way and, while I end a range session with a dirty thumb, I have never been injured. Two things to consider: if you have big hands and your thumb does go significantly beyond that gap you might run into a problem. Second, if you are shooting a hot magnum load (to do so out of a j-frame size gun you have to be crazy) you might also have an issue. If you have smaller hands and are using only 38+P you will not have a problem, despite what the liability concerned range officer will tell you. The bottom line is, don’t be stupid, analyze what you are doing, and proceed accordingly.
The second thing of note is that I am left-handed and my thumbs fall on the opposite side of the gun as the cylinder latch. The inadvertent actuation of that latch is, from what I have seen, the more likely complication of a thumbs forward grip on a revolver for a right-handed shooter. However, I know plenty of guys who shoot with thumbs-forward on a wheel gun without an issue here either. Our hands and our pistol grip are all at least slightly different, so only you will be able to determine if this is a problem for you.
So, why would I shoot my revolver this way instead of doing it the “right” way? Well, for every round I send down range from a revolver I send 20 with an auto. I am not going to ingrain a second grip into my trained reflex to accommodate this when using the grip I am using is getting the desired results. I am no Jerry Miculek, but I can obtain the results I am looking for with this small and limited platform.
I can control rapid shots at closer ranges and I can also put the cylinder into the Down-0 zone on an IDPA target at 25 yards with my Ruger LCR. While my grip may not be ideal for the revolver, I find it more ideal to not need to practice a different grip when my standard thumbs-forward grip gives me the performance I need out of this tiny deep-concealment gun.
I am not going to argue that you should use a thumbs forward grip on a revolver, and if your primary gun is a revolver then certainly do it right. I will, however, argue that I see no reason to change grips if you are able to safely and effectively use your little deep-concealment gun with your standard grip.