Snub Training – Snub workshop at Kittery

May 31, 2009
Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine

Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine

Dear Fellow Snub Shooters:

I hope this note finds you well.

The Kittery Trading Post in Kittery, Maine will be hosting four one-hour free snub skills workshops titled Tips, Tactics and Techniques of Concealed Carry Snub on Saturday, June 6, 2009

These workshops will be conducted at 9:30 am, 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30 pm

This presentation is part of a year long effort to consolidate our current Secrets of the Conceal Carry Snub and Mastering the Conceal Carry Snub classes, expanding our Snub Gunfighting – Winning Tactics from Real Gun Battles presentation and introducing our new Force-on-Force Snub workshop.

I time and interest permit I hope you will join us at the Kittery trading Post for a great Saturday presentation.


Michael de Bethencourt


Snub Training – Pachmayr Stocks

May 31, 2009

Hello Michael:

I would like to extend the grip on my 438 J-frame.  The Pachmayr Gripper and the Pachmayr Gripper Decelerator would both do that.

Do you have a preference (or other suggestions)?

Steve G.


Dear Steve:

I hope this note finds you well.

A great question

Here are my thoughts – They’re free so they’re worth what you’re paying for.

I confirmed with the Pachmayr web page and there are four options for the J-frame in rubber.

The Gripper, The Decelerator Gripper, The Compac, and the Compac Professional

Pachmayr Gripper stock

Pachmayr Gripper stock

Both the Gripper and the Decelerator Gripper have finger groves which can slow down a fast draw (See Bill Jordan’s book for more) and weaken a firm grip by open the shooter’s grasp slightly more so than will stocks without finger groves.

Pachmayr Gripper Decelerator stock

Pachmayr Gripper Decelerator stock

The Decelerator Gripper has a covered back-strap which offers better recoil reduction. Subsequently it is a little larger and when fitted on a J-frame it tends to fit a man’s hand size better than the basic Gripper.

Pachmayr Compact Professional

Pachmayr Compact Professional

The Compac and the Compac Professional are divided along the same lines. The Compac Professional has an exposed back-strap and the Compact has a covered back-strap.

Regarding the Gripper vs. the Decelerator Gripper – each offers a substantial amount of rubber so either might also fulfill your need for a longer or larger set of stocks.

Pachmayr Compac stock

Pachmayr Compac stock

Several under cover police detectives I respect choose the Compac for their J-frame Smith and Wessons and D-frame Colts over the other Pachmayr options.

The Compac features enough material to give a man’s hand enough purchase on the stocks/handgun and it has no finger groves to slow the grasp or weaken the grip.

There is enough material to aid in weapon retention when fitted on a home defense J-frame and yet does not have too much material to prevent it from becoming a working set of stocks for a concealed carry gun.

If I were advising a friend I would be advocating for the Compac over the Compac Professional, the Gripper or the Decelerator Gripper. On an appendix carried snub, it could be a winning combination.

There would always remain the issue of rubber compromising some concealment by binding or clinging to the cover garments.

Also, only Uncle Mike’s licensed copy of Spegel’s Boot Grip has a properly relieved cut-out for speedloader but working with either Bianchi’s Speed Strips or TUFF’s Quick Strips could negate some of that problem.

I hope this helps

Let me know what you finally go with and how it works out.


Michael de Bethencourt

Snub Training – Matt Del Fatti holsters

May 30, 2009
Matt Del Fatti's SSR holster but 3/4: to hign

Matt Del Fatti's SSR holster but 3/4" to high on belt

I his book Handgunner’s Guide, Chick Gaylord noted that “[There] are many holsters on the market. Unfortunately, it seems to be a case of each manufacturer copying the other’s mistakes.” While he was specifically commenting on shoulder holsters his sentiment can be applied to the overwhelming majority of holsters currently made for carrying the snub revolver.  The common error with most snub holsters is over emphasizing concealment while disregarding stability and draw stroke.  Take a look at Gaylord’s Super Sleuth (both his straight draw and cross-draw models), his Holdout “inside the pants,” and his Crossfire cross-draw holster to name only four. Compare them against nearly every major manufacture’s contemporary snub holster designs.  What should be glaringly obvious is that Gaylord’s holsters position the snub so that the mid-line of snub’s cylinder is parallel or closely centered to the centerline of the user’s belt.  This rather simple design element strikes an effective balance between concealment, stability and draw stroke that is maddeningly absent in modern designs. The contemporary snub owner would be hard pressed to find any mass produced snub holster that doesn’t position the centerline of the snub’s cylinder either well above the belt’s centerline or actually above the top of the belt line entirely. While positioning the snub’s cylinder above the belt line aids in concealment so to would stuffing the snub in a paper bag.  Two of the very few holster makers who is still practicing the science of self-defense gun carrying is Matt Del Fatti and Bell Charter Oak. 

Matt Del Fatti Strong Side Revolver (SSR) holster is nearly a perfect outside-the-waist belt slide holster. Del Fatti’s SSR holster can be stitched to lower the snub an additional ¾ of an inch in order to align the cylinder’s centerline with the belt’s centerline. I had this modification made on two of my two-inch K-frame holsters.  I use Del Fatti’s SSR holsters as my primary teaching holsters and my most common at-work belt line holster. I am planning to have an additional set of two produced, both produced with a safety strap. A 3/4 dropped SSR belt slide holster with the additional of a safety strap would make it nearly an ideal working man’s belt slide holster.

Snub Training – The Holster Dilemma

May 29, 2009

Before trying to pick a holster lets consider what a holster has to do. It has to:

1 – Hold the handgun securely until you reach for it

2 – Give you the handgun when you draw it

3 – Take the handgun back when you re-holster it

4 – Resist the drawing efforts of anyone but the wearer

5 – Work with an appropriate cover garment to optimize concealment

That is a tall order for any single piece of gear and the perverse part is that whatever bullet point you decide to short cut is going to be the element that will probably get you injured.  Fortunately there are a few holsters that seem to do all these tasks well.  Let’s start by looking at a few of the belt line holsters that do.

Snub Training – Holsters

May 28, 2009
Matt Del Fatti Holster

Matt Del Fatti Holster

The forgotten element in the self-defense package is the holster.  Shooters will cheerfully pay top dollar for the best gun and ammunition and double that for custom stocks and gunsmithing. Why then are so many willing to base their holster choice on whatever fits the gun and can be found in the discount bin in back corner of the gun shop?  Nothing says that a shooter’s not serious about self-defense as loudly as his carrying a snub in a holster that costs less than the box of the ammunition he uses to load his snub.  The problem seems to be that most gun owners seem to think the fight will start sometime after the gun is already the hand. Sadly for the families of these shooters that error going to be an ugly epitaph.  Let’s be blunt for a moment. The guy with the gun in his hand before the fight starts is generally the bad guy. The bad guy picks the time, place and the conditions that offer him every assault advantage. The guy re-acting to the ambush is generally the good guy. You can spend the majority of your range training time with the gun already in your hand and hope that when the fight comes the bad guy(s) will graciously pause to give you the time to put the gun in the hand.  Alternatively you could spend the majority of your time learning to draw.  And if you are going to learn to draw you are going to have to invest in a quality holster suitable for rigorous draw training and gun fighting. Given the declining social graces of bad guys I am puting my faith in custom holsters and draw stroke practice.

Subsequently all the holsters I am currently willing to risk both my life and the safety of my family on have all been custom holsters built around my specifications.  On several occasions I have had to return holsters to the makers who would not or could not follow my directions.  On one occasion I had to pay for the same holster three times before I could pry out from the hands of the holster maker what I wanted from him. Normally I would have written off the fellow and his insistence that he had a greater knowledge of what I needed than I did.  Unfortunately (for me) he had a specialty I could not locate elsewhere. Currently I am limiting my holsters to a few holster makers who are skilled and willing to give me what I need. This is not so much a complaint as an indication on how high a value I place on the importance of quality and design in a self-defense holster.

Snub Training – All Lead Hollow Points

May 27, 2009
Buffalo Bore .38 Lead Hollow point ammunition

Buffalo Bore .38 Lead Hollow point ammunition

Nothing in the above should be misconstrued as discouraging the use of hollow point ammunition. If the shooter can find several brands of ammunition that fulfill the Reliability/ACLU requirement and one brand is a hollow point and the other is not, choose the hollow point.  While the majority of conventional hollow point ammunition will not exit from a two inch snub with sufficient velocity to be counted on to reliably expand, the potential safety of reduced over penetration combined with any possible expansion makes the hollow point the preferred choice.

Massad Ayoob has reported that statistically the .38 all-lead hollow point delivers roughly the same “stopping power” of a .45 ball round when striking the body target, while at the same time producing a lower percentage chance of over penetrating. This is do to the greater chance of an all lead bullet deforming on impact sooner that a jacket bullet.

It should be noted that the two best known authorities in the self-defense ballistics field, Dr. Martin Flackler and Evan Marshall, two men popularly know to agree over very little, both agree on the use of the all-lead .38 hollow point as a self-defense round.

Snub Training – A.C.L.U. Ammunition

May 27, 2009

A.C.L.U. is a mnemonic device used to help prioritize those features to look for when testing self-defense ammunition. A.C.L.U. stands for:



Low light compatible and

User friendly

Accurate: Is the ammunition accurate in your snub? Each snub shoots groups with a decided preference for some ammunition and a dislike for others.  Whether a particular brand of ammunition shoots well in your favorite (gun)writer’s test weapon is not nearly as important as knowing how accurate the same ammunition performs in your snub when shot by the snub’s actual owner.

To quote Ed Lovette: “I had some simple drills I [ran with a variety of ammo] because I wasn’t nearly as interested in what the gun shot best as I was in finding out what I shot best.”

C: Controllable: After you have identified which brands of ammunition will shoot accurately in your snub you need to determine which specific brands you can fire rapid, controlled bursts with. Many rounds produce recoil levels that some find difficult to master either quick follow up shooting and weak-hand-only shooting.  If you find that a round’s recoil is excessive beyond the point of complete control then perhaps a more controllable round would be a better temporary loading choice.

L: Low light compatible: The majority of self-defense shootings occur in poor or low light. The snub’s short barreled only contribute to the problem of muzzle flash. If your favorite round is accurate and controllable but produces a fireball that will temporarily blind you in poor light, you will most likely be better served with an different round. The use of a camcorder is an excellent aid for evaluating muzzle flash as well as a great recoil control evaluation tool

U: User friendly: Now that you have identified ammunition that is accurate, controllable and functions in low light you are left only with the issues of availability and cost. Is your chosen round available in both a volume and at a cost that will encourage regular practice?  You will be poorly served if you settled on a round so exotic that it is frequently unavailable and that when it is available its cost makes regular practice sessions prohibitive.