I’m no longer buying anything much in the way of guns. I have just about everything I need, and with money being tight (not to mention other important needs for it), my gun budget was folded back into the household earlier this year. Nevertheless, I remain open to a good deal if it’s something I can really use. (I don’t have collector guns – I have shooting guns.)
I was therefore very interested when my local dealer got his hands on two Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers. One was a 4″ pencil-barrel Model 10-5, like this one but in better condition:
and one a heavy-barrel Military & Police model, still in its very-good-condition blue box, similar to this one:
They weren’t cheap (no quality revolver is these days), but they were fairly priced. As luck would have it, I had in my collection a Taurus .22 Magnum Model 941 revolver and a Belgian-made Browning SA-22 semi-auto rifle. The Belgian-made models, produced there through the early 1970’s, carry a premium over the later Japanese-made versions; and the Taurus was also an early-production blued model with a 4″ heavy barrel, not nearly as valuable as the Browning, but definitely with appeal to traditionalists. They both qualified as “nice to have”, but not as “essential”.
My dealer looked at my trades, cocked his head as he considered his two .38’s, and said slowly, “You’ll need to give me some cash.”
“Oh?” I asked. “How much?”
“I’ll need two . . . dollars.” He raised his head and grinned at me.
I’d been expecting about two hundred, but I wasn’t about to argue. My wallet came out of my pocket faster than it takes to tell it, and I walked out of the shop with two nice clean .38 Special revolvers to add to my battery.
There are those who sneer at the .38 Special as being underpowered. I don’t agree. For short to medium range confrontations, with the right ammunition, accurately aimed and delivered to the right spot, it remains very effective, as Jim Cirillo demonstrated during his numerous gunfights as a member of the New York Police Department’s Stakeout Squad. We’ve run into Jim in these pages before.
My preferred standard-pressure carry load in .38 Special (not +P, which some older revolvers may not be able to handle, and which can produce excessive recoil in small, light snub-nose revolvers) is Buffalo Bore’s 150-grain hard-cast full wadcutter round. I’ve used it for several years, and find it accurate and reliable in all my weapons. Unlike hollow-point rounds, which may not expand at lower velocities such as those fired from short-barrel snubbies, the wadcutter delivers a full-caliber “punch” without having to expand at all; and it penetrates deeply enough to reach the vitals. Buffalo Bore says of their round:
The bullet is made hard, so it won’t deform or mushroom. It cuts/crushes a “cookie cutter”, full diameter hole in human flesh just like it does on a paper target. It penetrates deeply (roughly 14 to 16 inches in human tissue) and its full diameter profile maximizes blood loss as it cuts and crushes (not slips or slides) its way through tissue. Although I’ve never been shot with a full profile wad cutter bullet, I must assume that the initial impact of that wide flat nosed bullet, is crushingly formidable. As a teenager, I took to the woods on a regular basis and killed many a critter with heavily loaded 38SPL wadcutters’. The effect of a full profile wad cutter on small game was obvious and amazing, compared to regular round nosed bullets. That flat nose literally hammers living things.
I have every confidence that one or two of those rounds, delivered to the vitals, will stop almost anyone (except, perhaps, someone hopped-up on narcotics, and even a shotgun slug might not stop such an attacker). To aid in rapid, accurate shooting, I’ve put Uncle Mike’s boot grips on both of the guns, which fit our hands better than the originals and give us greater control and accuracy. (I stocked up on Uncle Mike’s grips when they announced they were going out of production, and still have several sets. I like them very much.)
I now have enough .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers to conceal one in every room of our home, where they won’t be found easily by visitors or intruders, but will be instantly available to my wife and myself in case of need. You think that’s paranoid? Not in an age of home invasions. They go down so fast that you probably won’t have time to get to your gun safe and retrieve a firearm. (If you doubt that, see the many videos of home invasion attacks on YouTube.) Your only meaningful defense is to to carry a gun on your person – which isn’t always convenient, let alone possible – or have one readily available. Revolvers can be left loaded without any long-term pressure on magazine springs or other “wear-and-tear” factors, and my wife and I can shoot them accurately, so they’re the obvious solution.
All in all, a good trade, one that will help us be prepared for whatever the next few years throw at us. (Yes, I am expecting them to be difficult years for everyone – hence this added precaution.)