So, with the advent of the Ruger LCP Max, a tiny pocket pistol that holds 10 rounds of 380 ACP in the flush-fit magazine, the snub revolver must certainly be dead now, right?
This is not a new argument. The older generation of polymer 380 pocket pistols, such as the original Ruger LCP, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard, etc…, had people asking if the snub was still relevant. Then, the micro 9mm pistols had people asking, “why carry a 5-round revolver when you can carry a 10-round Sig 365. People in the know realized that, while the dimensions look similar on paper, the snub still carries smaller and more concealable than such 9mm autos, no matter how small they get. But, what about these new mega 380 pocket rockets?
Now, the Ruger LCP Max, a gun that is, indeed, smaller than a snub, yet provides 10+ rounds of 380 ACP, assuredly has killed the snub! Right?
No. And this is why:
The snub remains the preferred deep concealment handgun for many of the foremost experts in the craft primarily because the self-contained nature of the revolver makes it almost immune to the issues that plague small autos when carried in deep concealment modes. The two great liabilities that autos have, especially tiny autos, is: 1) they have a reciprocating slide that is necessary for function, and 2) they have a releasable magazine. These two features limit the platform for truly deep concealed carry. I will explain:
Tiny auto loaders are especially prone to malfunction if not gripped well, as the counteracting grip pressure is needed for feeding, and they are very prone to malfunction due to environmental issues such as clothing or other obstruction interfering with the slide. People who tell me that their “Amazing 380 Auto Pocket Rocket” is dead reliable are basing that claim on the fact that the gun works well at the range, while clean, and fired in a controlled, two-handed grip. Let the gun kick around in your pocket or on your ankle for two weeks, then draw it and fire it with one hand while laying on your back, on the ground, with whatever grip you happen to get, perhaps bunched up with some shirt tail, while responding to a guy coming down on you with a knife in his hand. How did that go? Did all 10+1 or those manslayer 380 rounds fire?
In addition to these reliability issues, I have also seen this consistently and repeatedly: shooters inadvertently dump the magazine out of tiny auto loaders. I have seen many tiny autos drawn from a pocket and become a single shot because the magazine goes flying. Many users experience loose magazines while in the pocket because the release gets inadvertently actuated. This is a major liability if you need to deeply conceal the gun in non-permissive environments and it can result in having a single-shot pistol when you need it most.
Also of note, I have seen small autos on a number of occasions get pushed out of battery while in a pocket or on an ankle. The main spring in small pocket pistols is weak, and sometimes a combination of pressure against the muzzle, combined with some dust bunnies, results in the gun being out of battery when it is drawn resulting in a “no-shot” weapon, let alone a single-shot weapon.
Small revolvers are immune to these issues. Revolvers don’t need an adequate grip to function and they have not slide to be obstructed by environmental factors. Also, and perhaps most importantly, they have no magazine release that will drop the magazine during carry. Snubs are self-contained and resilient to deep concealment modes, and I would rather have five rounds that I know will go off under such conditions than possibly one, or even none. I am not a “six-for-sure” guy who advocates revolvers in general; I think a full-size auto loader carried on a belt is better than a full-size revolver carried on a belt. That is a different issue. However, for a tiny gun carried in deep concealment such as pocket, ankle, or even tight-to-the-body belly bands, the snub still reigns supreme.
Add to this the fact that the rounded revolver shape, that has no tang, conceals better than the blocky shape of the auto, and the fact that the curved grip makes the revolver easier to draw from a pocket or when sitting deep in the waistband, and the reality remains that the small-frame defensive revolver still rules the day for deep concealment.
Your mileage may vary.