Thursday, June 9, 2011



Sorry for the title but it's true. Can you have too many? Of course, the answer is an immediate and assertive "NO", you can never own too many guns in general or too many snub nose revolvers specifically.

Recently, although I've proclaimed that in looking around at various Kit Guns that I might one day want to have that I didn't want a snub nose Kit Gun. And then of course, I saw a royally blued Model 43 with a 2" barrel at a gun store. It went fast, and for a reasonable price for being in excellent condition, about $450.

You know, it just looked like a good solid gun. Of course, since I already have holsters to fit a J frame and K frame, I'd have all the based covered no matter what kind of S&W Kit Gun I might find in a snub nose variety. And of course, for the longest time, I've been wanting one of them nice Model 60 snubbies in .357 stainless. Rationalizations abound.

I think it's a thing, at least with males my age and generation, that we were raised on TV cops and private eyes carrying snub nose revolvers and some of us developed a fixation on snub nose revolvers. Hawaii 5-0. Dragnet (Model 10's or 15's?). Mannix. Barnaby Jones (As I recall, he carried some kind of old school 4" or 5" tapered barrel pre-war Smith or Colt but it was still cool and so was he. He also fished a lot on the show.). And a ton of other movies and shows from back in the 60's and 70's.

My dad was carrying snub nose revolvers as he was a prosecutor and most prosecutors in the 60's and 70's were holding law enforcement officer commissions as well to enable them to carry guns, as were private eyes and reputable defense attorneys all over Houston.  Hell, most folks carried guns then and now in Houston, law abiding and otherwise.

So I grew up in an environment where it was common when you found yourself in the shotgun seat of your friend's mom's or dad's car, when you were maybe in fifth or sixth grade, to sneak a peak in their glove box and see what they were packing. We knew well to look but never touch. Ever.

But I or friends of mine would sneak a peak in that glove box because it seemed almost everyone we knew, save for the liberals, had a resident pistol in the glove box of each car. Usually some kind of .38 Special, and often a snub nose. A smattering of .25 autos and .22 revolvers and pistols. An occasional 1911.

You see, so many of the parents of my friends when I was coming up came from similar backgrounds as my folks. They were from smaller, often rural, Texas towns and had moved to Houston seeking their fortune, and many found it in the 50's and 60's and 70's when Houston was a full on raging boom town.

Their people carried guns in their vehicles back home, and that was the way it had always been. The law was often A LONG WAY AWAY back in the days when my folks grew up, and then like now, there were people that would kill you for a dollar and never blink an eye. As far as I can remember, all of my father's police friends always told me as a kid that if a law abiding person carried a pistol (which term way back then often referred to both revolver and semi-auto handguns in Houston) in a responsible way, then they had no problem with that and were not going to arrest them. Act a fool, go to jail but if it's just speeding or some such thing, well, their wives carried pistols in the car just like these citizens did.

Most of my Dad's police friends carried snub noses of some sort, often fancy with gold plating and gold-silver butt plates and engraving and fancy belts and holsters made by Stelzig's Saddle Company or down Mexico way. His friends were often detectives or big brass in the police or sheriff's department, but he had patrol friends and one motorcycle cop buddy who was particularly gruff and funny.

Some cops carried 1911's and a few carried 4" revolvers but most carried some kind of snub nose at least part of the time and I'll damn sure bet you that all of their wives carried snub nose revolvers in their purses or cars. I know we had different ones in the house, at his office, in the cars and those that were carried by my father on his person.

As I've mentioned before, lots of folks had them for self and home defense. Parents of friends of mine from school, folks who did things like worked for NASA or worked for a paper company or worked for an oil company or all sorts of non-law enforcement types of folks had snub nose .38 revolvers, resplendent in their royal blue hue, shining under the display lights in their wooden living room gun cabinet.

I remember talking to the dads of my friends about their different guns and why they had them and when they used them. Most of these folks were deer and bird hunters and so during the seasons their snub nose was a constant companion to their long gun.

Lots of these parents of school friends in the neighborhood were not handgunners but were hunters and long gun shooters, and had several hunting rifles and shotguns for different situations, but they only had a couple of pistols, a .22 of some kind and then a snub nose and usually it was either a Chief's Special or a K frame snub nose in .38 Special. Some of them had .357 Magnums and I recall vividly the first time I saw a Python snubbie and thinking that was probably the coolest snub nose I'd ever seen. And even at age 10 or 11, which was when that was, I was right about that Python.

{NOTE: Once again, see ZACH who beats me to this by years. I think I am subconsciously riffing off of some of his coolest prose that I've read before. Again, apologies, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery}

Never mind that snub nose revolvers can be a very accurate handgun. My Colt Cobra point shoots better than anything I own except the Glock Family of Firearms, and it dang near points as well as the Glocks. Perhaps it's the fact I've shot the Cobra for thirty years, and it's been carried as a concealed handgun or off duty (and yes, I know, egads, I did carry it on occasion as a plain clothes weapon as a young officer) for all of those years. I have a permanent worn in dent (not really) on my right hip from the Bianchi #6 IWB suede holster holding the Cobra that I've worn all of these years now.

When I'm at this one range that El Fisho Jr. and Billy Ray and I sometimes use, it's a younger urban crowd that is present at this indoor range. Occasionally, someone there has a revolver, but it's mostly 9's and 40's and even some 45's. But mostly 9's and 40's. Males and females in their twenties and thirties. USP's. Glock. Springfield. Beretta. That's what you mostly see.

So when they see me and El Fisho Jr. pulling out snub nose revolvers that shoot well, like the Cobra, they stop and take notice.
I'll shoot a couple of cycles with the Cobra, knocking out some black space in the target at 25 yards, and they'll begin to gather behind our shooting stall and look at the gun and me shooting it.

Then it's time for El Fisho, who is quite proficient and confident with a snub nose already. It's always funny because they look at El Fisho Jr. like he'll barely be able to contain the recoil when it's his turn to shoot. He'll load with the HKS speedloader, and toss it aside like I've taught him to do.  It lands on a mat on the ground, and I'll pick it up later.

The eyebrows of the onlooking shooters raise a bit after his speedloading, but then when he is shooting 3" groups point shooting at 15 yards in double taps, jaws begin to drop and heads to shake.  People ask what kind of gun it is and has it been worked on and I tell them it's a Colt from the factory that has been shot many times. Fixed sights. Never worked on. Stock.

Then El Fisho Jr. will take up a Glock 19 and do the same thing he did with the Cobra. He does the same thing with the S&W Model 1917 in 45 ACP. Now, the Model 1917 is another gun that when it comes out at the range, people stop and stare. Most have never seen the likes of a full moon clip, or a big bore revolver for that matter.

And again, El Fisho Jr. amazes onlookers with the Model 1917, which although it is a big gun, the felt recoil with Pachmayrs is very, very low and it's an easy gun to shoot well. Pretty much like a Glock in that the Model 1917 we have makes you think you're a much better shooter than what you really are.

People ask how long he's been shooting and it's like, well, real guns just over a year and a half now but bb guns and airsoft the 4 years before that. A single shot BB gun. Weekly Sunday afternoon lessons of first safety and then marksmanship on the back porch with the Red Ryder, which he could not even cock himself at the time.  Many years of firearms safety training with the bb guns and airsoft before he actually ever fired a gun himself.

And no, he doesn't have a coach, but we do plan to get involved with NRA and State shooting events and competitions this summer.

But back to the snub nose. I've been reflecting on how I used to walk into certain gun stores in Houston and most of the handgun section, apart from 1911's, was revolvers and a goodly portion of that was snub noses new and used. Nowadays, you see the Smith and Taurus and Rossi and sometimes Ruger selections of snubbies new and sometimes used, but you don't seen the old school revolvers like you used to being sold as used fodder.

It's not uncommon at the larger gun shops or places like Cabela's to encounter the know it all behind the counter who is was born a few years after I bought my Cobra. I ran into a very nice 70's example of a Dan Wesson snub nose revolver at a store recently, somewhere around 30 years old in like new condition, and had a kid behind the counter tell me that they were some kind of Asian made Smith copy from the 90's. I'm no Dan Wesson expert, but I had a friend who had an early Model 15 and this one is identical to that one and it wasn't from the 90's and it wasn't made in Asia.

And yes, it had a great trigger and I bet it shoots very nice. Very nice. In fact, it was bought by the guy standing behind me who also knew more about the gun than the kid working there. It was all I could do to pass up a pristine Dan Wesson snubbie in .357, but I had to that day, and I'm glad the buyer knew what a treasure he was getting. I've not shot a Dan Wesson in many years, but several friends own them, and I shot them extensively in the early 80's. Dang nice shooting irons for not a lot of money. Even today, they're a bargain.

I think the Dan Wesson Pistol Pak was a great idea, and they seem to be going used in the $600 to $1000 range for a complete set in very good to fine condition. The complete Pistol Pak had a .357 frame with 2", 4", 6" and 8" barrels and a variety of grips that could be interchanged. I was skeptical of how good those guns would shoot 35 years ago when they were new until I shot my first one. It was right up there with the finest S&W or Python, and in fact, it shot as well as the Python I carried as a young police officer.

But the call of the snub nose, perhaps a new to me snub nose, is calling in the wind. A nice .357 snub nose would certainly be an interesting proposition for a cold weather carry gun as well as a field gun to carry with a nice combination rifle shotgun in .22/20 gauge.

1 comment:

  1. (Zack says)

    I sure cannot shoot them near as well as you and El Fisho Jr do but I do love them snubbies.

    Thanks kindly for the mention; I am honored.