This might be akin to asking “what is the meaning of life?” I have tackled this subject numerous times in my writing in the past. The bottom line is, most of the time a revolver will get the armed citizen out of a jam. There is no denying that. However, I reiterate, most of the time.
Here we refine the discussion to small-frame revolvers, AKA J-Frames and Ruger LCRs. I think a revolver like a 7-shot S&W 686 stoked with 357 magnum is a different class of weapon. However, most who carry revolvers don’t carry 36 ounce medium-frame revolvers, but carry small five-shot revolvers. Is it enough? I can say with certainty that I would rather go into a fight with my Glock 26 than even a 7-shot medium frame revolver. I would rather go into a fight with a Smith and Wesson Shield than a medium frame revolver. Would we choose a small-frame 5-shooter to go into a fight with?
Well, obviously, most of us don’t plan on getting into gunfights, but we carry a gun in case trouble finds us and forces us to defend ourselves. And, for this, most of the time the snubby is enough. However, I can’t help but be shaped by personal experience. I have been in several situations where the hair on the back of my neck stood up while I was armed with a 5-shot revolver. I never had to use that gun to shoot someone, but in those situations I thought it might get nasty. In each of those incidents the immediate thought that crossed my mind was, “shit, I am carrying my snubby.”
The late, great, Todd Lewis Green of Pistol Training (who I was fortunate enough to have met on quite a few occasions) wrote about the snub a few times. He actually wrote about having several friends who found themselves in potentially dangerous situations while wearing a snub and feeling under gunned. Todd argued that those who condone the snub claim that the sheer deterrence of any gun was enough to consistently save the civilian self-defender. Todd even said that a “pop-gun” shooting blanks could accomplish the same. While I would offer that a snubby is a hell of a lot more gun than is a pop gun, his point still resonates.
Those five rounds go fast, and that reload comes really slow. I have been in situations where I thought things might go bad while wearing a double-stack 9mm, and while many things crossed my mind, having too few rounds available was not one of them.
I still love the snubby and carry one quite often because it is the only gun I can conceal in some situations. However, I have concluded that when I have the option a double-stack auto is the gun to be wearing in the 21st Century. Your millage may vary, but I like having more gun whenever possible. With that said, an individual who carries a snub all the time is far better armed than someone who carries a full-size service pistol only part time, and we all know that. Carry on.