Snub Training – 2nd snub holsters

August 29, 2009

A high quality holster on or near the strong side hip remains the first choice for carrying a primary snub. Since the best snub concealment location is taken up by the primary snub a little creativity will be needed to conceal the second or back-up snub. Two of the more common second snub carry locations include:

Front pocket

Ankle holster

Each of these second gun carry locations offers its own unique carry, concealment and draw stroke limitations. The shooter should prioritize the list of functions he expects the second snub is to fulfill. (Second gun for spouse, Improved access when seated, etc.,) After assembling the list use the top two or three tasks as a guide for determining which second gun carry location will best support those tasks.

The following are just a few thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of these two common second snub carry locations and they are offered only as an overview of my experience with both methods. Whether to carry a pair of handguns and if two where to position both to balance concealment and access is best left to the individual shooter. But once the decision to carry a second gun is made the shooter is required to practice as diligently mastering the draw stroke of the second gun as he was in learning the draw stroke of the first.


Snub Training – Ammo questions

August 27, 2009

Dear Ralph:

Thank you for the very kind note and the words on the blog.

Regarding you great questions:

[Are] hollow point is really worth it

I don’t count on them expanding either. Not out of short barrels, but I still use them in most (90%) of my self-defense guns because 1) they might help in a fight and 2) they are less ricochet prone making them safer for others down range. 

My guns seem to shoot better with the lighter bullets.

After reliability my #1 demand for a round is accuracy.  I would rather know I can hit with a .38 that is accurate but is not well regarded as a fight stopper than fight with a round that is famous as a fight stopper but is inaccurate. It is that whole “a hit with a .22 beats a miss with a .44” thing.

Is the +P ammo worth it? 

Only if A) you are accurate with it and B) you enjoy shooting with it and C) you feel it gives you disproportional fight stopping ability and D) you can afford to train with the round often.

For me the answer to most of those questions is “no” – so for the most part I stick with standard pressure. There are some exceptions. In the winter when I am wearing a heavier coat over a bigger, heavier snub I will often go for the +P – but that is a specialized situation.

Buffalo says that they have a round just made for the 2″ snubbies.

Almost all my self-defense ammo is Buffalo Bore. I find that have something that will be very accurate out of each one of me snubbies.  I use wad-cutters for my wife’s gun. Non +P hollow points in my light weight Colts and AirWeight Smiths. I sometimes use their +P lead hollow points in the bad weather (see above.) For almost all my reloads I carry their non +P jacket hollow points. I can load them into any of my snubs and the ojive jacket makes them fast to reload.

Any thoughts on their 158-gr HP rounds? 

I love their +p and non +P lead hollow point. Again I put accuracy on the top of the “what ammo must-do” list only after reliable. In my snub I find they are reliable, accurate, have a low muzzle flash but they are a little expensive for some. Always test ammo first out of your gun with your shooting skills. Never go with what gun writer “X’ said or wrote until you test it personally. Chances are that neither he nor his shooting skills will be riding with you when the fight starts.

My cheep practice target is a expired 12 ga shotgun shell

You have empty 12-gauge shells to practice on?!? – You rich guys have everything!

Is there a hammer shield available for my Charter Arms?

Yes. The hammer shroud for the J-frame S&W will generally fit if your Charter Arm’s snub if it is a five shot .38/.357.

Would it be worth replacing the hammer with a bobbed one and making the gun DAO? 

I prefer the shroud over the bobbed spur. I also require a DAO hammer on all my self-defense snubs. But remember that buying the shroud, paying the gunsmith to attach it and paying to have the hammer rendered DAO can add up quickly.

Charter Arms used to offer a DAO/bobbed hammer for some of their guns.  You could call them about installing/buying a factory part but again the cost to the FedEx shipping to and from can add up quickly too.  I might consider a local gunsmith and price the cost for bobbed the spur and rendering the hammer DAO.

I hope that info helped.

Let me know if I missed any items.


Michael de Bethencourt

Snub Training – Ayoob’s StressFire reload

August 26, 2009

There are two schools of thought on optimizing a revolver reload with the loading strip. The first is from master firearms trainer Massad Ayoob. 

1 – Fill your loading strip with five rounds while keeping the holding hole closest to the loading strip’s flange tab empty.

2 – Hold your open and unloaded revolver in your left hand. Be sure to position the open revolver’s ejector rod between the index and middle finger of the left hand and keep it close to the web of the two fingers. This is in keeping with Massad Ayoob’s mechanics of his StressFire reloading method. For more detailed information on this reloading method please see his book StressFire.

3 – Hold the loading strip in your shooting hand with your thumb and ring finger holding the sides of the loading strip.  Place your index finger along the length of the back of loading strip with its flange tab closest to your wrist.

4 – Insert the two side-by-side rounds that are under the pad of your index finger into two side-by-side charge holes of the cylinder.  Keep the pad of your index finger on the loading strip and directly over these two inserted rounds.

5 – Lever out the rounds by peeling the loading strip forward and away from you.  Remember to peel in a straight line in relationship to the strip and do not attempt to twist rounds out of the loading strip.

6 – When the first two rounds fall into the cylinder’s charge hole, insert the next two rounds in the same fashion but do not attempt to remove these two rounds yet.  Release the sides on the loading strip. Hook the tip of your right index finger under part of the loading strip that a moment ago held the first two released rounds. 

7 – With the pad of your thumb on top of the loading strip and over the two new rounds peel the strip in a straight line back toward you and your center line.

Remember to keep the pad of your thumb on that portion of the loading strip that is holding these two fresh rounds. This will aid in levering out the rounds and prevent the loading strip lifting off the rear of the cylinder and taking the rounds with it.


8 – Load your fifth and last round in the same fashion you just loaded the above two rounds. Drop the loading strip and return to the target. 


This reloading method is very effective for shooters reloading with either of the Ayoob’s StreeFire techniques or any of the FBI-style reloading methods. Please note that with all six of these methods the shooter’s dominant hand does the reloading and his non-dominant hand holds the revolver.  As the snub training material I prefer to advocate is predicated on the shooter’s non-dominant hand doing the reloading and his dominant hand holding the revolver the above StressFire reloading technique cannot be the primary advocated method. Before describing an alternative “Auto-Pistol” reloading method in detail I want to note that a thoroughly skilled revolver shooter should be familiar with all reloading methods; StressFire, FBI-styles and my own.

Snub Training – Failing with loading strips

August 25, 2009

Having filled either the Speed- or QuickStrip with rounds, the shooter now has four options for pealing off the rounds and loading them in the cylinder’s charge holes. The shooter can:

1 – Twist the loading strip counter-clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against and parallel to the face of the cylinder.

2 – Twist the loading strip clockwise while keeping the loading holes flat against and parallel to the face of the cylinder.

3 – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, forward and away from the shooter.

4 – Peal the loading strip in a straight line, rearward and toward the shooter.

Each of these four release techniques has its advocates. Of the four techniques number 1 and 2 are the least popular. Both techniques are fumble prone and both habitably drop rounds out of the loading strip and onto the floor.

There are three reasons that both techniques 1 and 2 tend to be prone to dropping rounds.

First, while twisting out the first two rounds the third round contacts the outer wall of the cylinder. Contact with the cylinder’s wall helps lever the third round out of the loading strip causing it to fall to the ground.  

Second, while the loading strip is being twisted it is often unintentionally being flexed in a cork-crew fashion. The additional yawing twist opens up the holding holes and permits the rounds to fall out of the loading strip.

Third, problem one and problem two occurred  in concert with each other. If the mechanics of one problem is not enough to dislodge extra rounds the mechanics of the second situation is enough to finish the job.

Part of the solution is to vigorously dissuade shooters from using either of these methods while practicing reloading from loading strips.

Either of the two remains loading strip techniques will circumvent the above noted problems. Both remaining techniques enjoy vocal advocates and knowledge of both methods should be in every snub owner’s collection of snub reloading techniques.

Snub Training – One Hand Snub Skills

August 22, 2009

Nationally known police trainer Michael Boyle has most accurately described “serious training with the defensive handgun … as a study of ‘what ifs.’” These include such basics as: reacting to a gun shot, drawing quickly and smoothly, moving to cover, firing from cover, combat loading and low light shooting.  An important skill beyond these basics includes the ability to fight back if injured.  An injury can occur at any point during an assault.  Lt. Boyle also noted that there are reported statistics indicating that in an exchange of gunfire with an attacker, the defender can expect to suffer a wound in his hand, arm or shoulder roughly 12% of the time.  The majority of these wounds occur in the shooter strong hand side.  This makes sense as an attacker firing on the handgun armed good guy will naturally be focused on the threat and the threat will often be perceived as the handgun. It is easy to remember that where the eyes focus the shots often cluster. It should be remembered that during the 1986 Miami shoot out, and very early into the gunfight one of the two killers tragically managed to strike three of the FBI agents in the hand and/or arm limiting their ability to return fire and subsequently reload.

As a consequence the prepared snub shooter must take it upon himself know how to draw and shoot with either hand equally well. As it will be expected that any need to shift to weak hand shooting skills will be predicated on the strong hand being injured, the shooter will also be expected to know how to reload his revolver with only one hand. One handed snub skills must be practiced before the emergency, not developed during the emergency because to quote nationally known trainer Mike Boyle: “Improvisation under stress has never been, and never will be, a strong attribute of man.”

Snub Training – My ideal snub

August 21, 2009

This question comes up often so I though I might share with you my thoughts.


S&W Bodyguard - From The Snub File

S&W Bodyguard - From The Snub File

If I had to pick a first snub to recommend I would go with a lock-free, Airweight S&W Bodyguard and render it double-action only.

If I couldn’t find a Airweight Bodyguard I would try to hunt up an Airweight Chief Special, render it double-action only and then add a Waller and Son hammer shroud.

Here are a few reasons in no special order.

The Bodyguard offers nearly every advantage the Centennial does. You can get high on the back strap for optimum recoil control. It is just as sag proof on the draw stroke and every feature available for a J-frame is available for the Bodyguard.

One added bonus the Bodyguard has over the Centennial is that with its hammer nipple access you have another safe (and quick) method to check for high primers.

Some argue that the open slot at the rear of the Bodyguard’s integrated shroud invites crud that can impede hammer arc. 

A 5-second “clean shroud” check every morning along with confirming that the snub is loaded solves that non-issue.

By the way, a great habit to get into is to check that the snub is loaded every time it has been out of your control. – a piece of great advice I picked up from Walt Rausch

EVERY morning I make it a habit to confirm it is loaded even it I am the one who locked it in the safe loaded the night before.

In addition to rendering it double-action only (for all the usual street- and court-liability reasons) I would get the usual “must have” add-ons.

Chamfer the cylinders

XS Big Dot front sight – The U-rear sight may not be an option with the Bodyguard but I could work around it.

For Stocks one of these:

Barami Hip-Grips with a Tyler T-Grip adaptor (or)

Spegel Boot Grip stocks (or)

Crimson Trace laser stocks

Whichever one would bet fit the shooters carry style and or resources.

My final carry gun option would be to have the gunsmith, Mike LaRocca for Worcester, MA or Karl Sokol in West Rutlant VT remove the locking bolt currently holding the short ejector rod in place, add a full length ejector rod and then add a detent to the crane to keep the cylinder locked in place.

The J-frame’s much too short ejector rod is the bane of fast, positive reloading and a personal bug-a-boo of mine. On a self-defense gun it has to go.

Since I am throwing around a lot of ideal snub money on this list let me add one other wish list items

Since this Airweight Bodyguard or Shrouded Airweight Chief Special is a working gun I would look to find a companion gun.

Now there are lots of great reasons to go with a copy of my primary carry snub only in a heavier format. Either blue (first choice) or stainless steel (second choice)

As a heavier range training gun I could shoot more rounds through it and in the same caliber I would have a readily available second or BUG gun.

But the fact is that very few shooters will consistently (if ever) carry a second gun I would want a companion gun to optimize training drills and occasions.

Something fun to shoot to encourage range time

Something I could get my children and non-gun friends to learn on and enjoy shooting.

Something inexpensive to shoot so I would want to do either of the above often

I would look for a J-frame .22 and hammer shroud it.

Certainly not optimal as a second self-defense gun but it would be unmatched in its role as a fun trainer and in an emergency could be used by any responsible adult.

Too often folks into guns forget that the 99% of the self-defense guns we own will never be used in that role.

90% of those that are, the good guy ends the fight with the presentation and not the shooting.

HKS .22 speedloader

HKS .22 speedloader

As a training tool I would also have the option of practicing with both HKS .22 speedloaders and QuickStrip .22 loading strips.

Throw in a good supply of .22 dummy rounds and you have a shooting kit that practically begs you for weekly range trips.

And anything that gets you to the range regularly for training has to be a good idea.

Snub Training – POP Round

August 20, 2009

There are several primer only propelled (POP) training round options available. These are great options for the snub owner who is looking to practice safely outside the confines of a traditional gun club or range.  Almost any space with ventilation can be cleared away to make a safe private shooting galley.  POP rounds are inexpensive to train with, discreet and are safe when basic safety rules are applied. They are variously described as being “no louder than a child’s cap gun” to sounding like “a five pound hammer dropping on a wooden floor.”  POP rounds can offer a shooter several of the same elements live round training offers: grip, draw, sight picture, and trigger control practice but without the: space limitations, noise, cost or recoil of live rounds.  

There are multiple styles of POP rounds. Some are made up of plastic bullets that can be snapped into plastic cases such as Precision Gun Specialties’ Saf-Shot and Speer’s Plastic Training Components.  Concept-X produces rubber bullets that can be fired through brass cases. There are pre-cut wax rounds that are finger pressed into .38 brass cases. Both rubber bullets and wax bullets require no more modification than opening up the flash hole of the brass with a 1/8th inch drill bit. Please note that when using any ‘real’ bass cases that have had their flash holes enlarged or in any other way been converted to function with POP rounds, always notched the edges of the rims to help to preventing them from being mistaken for any non-modified brass that might be suitable for reloading with traditional components.