A Slicker Snubbie


Part 2: Grab And Go Essentials

In this wrap-up of the J-Frame snubbie column we started last issue, let’s deal with a couple of critical items. And since they’re the first thing you grab, let’s start off with grips. OK, stocks for you nomenclature purists.

First, the obvious. Use whatever you shoot best with. Whatever orients your gun properly at first grab, whatever is most comfortable with heavier loads (including those nasty magnums) and—if concealability is an issue—whatever leaves the smallest “footprint.”

Today’s S&W J-Frame lineup offers a lot more options than the skimpy, old-school walnut panels I recall from early Shooter’s Bibles. Today, you can get sculpted, handfilling “comfort enhancement” in walnut or synthetic persuasion. If comfort is paramount, the extended “3-finger” style is likely to appeal to you. If maximum concealment’s your goal, a shorter “2-finger” style is probably going to do it. We’re not talking pocket autos here, so an extended magazine “pinky perch” isn’t an option. It’s either 2 or 3 fingers, although the very comfortable Crimson Trace LG-350 LaserGrip kind of splits the difference, besides offering “low- and no-light” utility.

This is by no means a knock on those old-style minimalist service grips. A lot of guys still prefer them (although some add Tyler-T grip adapters) because they are unquestionably “speedloader friendly,” which is not always the case with beefier stocks.

These S&W Model 49s sport two excellent aftermarket grip options. At top is Eagle Grip’s Secret Service pattern in rosewood. Built for concealability, it’s one of the best abbreviated options out there. At bottom is Altamont’s longer Altai Silverblack. It combines good looks with the kind of comfort you’ll appreciate with +P ammo—or (shudder!) magnums.M


Speaking of speedier reloads, a lot of snubbie users like Bianchi Speed Strips. I’m more comfortable with the bulkier HKS speedloader (the model stamped “36” with the telltale 5 holes instead of 6). There are a couple J-Frame models available cut for 5-shot moon clips, such as the Performance Center Pro Series M442. Or there are conversion outfits such as TK Custom or Pinnacle High Performance who do it. Personally, I’ve only used moon clips in N-Frames before, but this sounds like a good idea. Those .38 conversions will work with or without the moon clips.

Of the J-Frame holster styles we tried, the majority were inside-the-pocket ones, which are about perfect for guys wearing pants (short or long) with roomy pockets, or vests with pockets. The three we tried—Blackhawk’s Tecgrip, the DeSantis Nemesis and Galco’s Pocket Protector were relatively “synthetically inexpensive,” ranging in price from $18.75 to $25.99. All featured a grippy outer surface to keep the holster in your pocket as you draw your gun. All of them worked well for us, however, the Blackhawk Tecgrip can be had for 3-inch snubbies. The other two, of course, can house a 3-inch gun, but some barrel is going to be sticking out the open end.

Eagle Grips’ Secret Service pattern grips are as comfortable to shoot with as an abbreviated concealable set is going to get. And (below) they don’t interfere with an HKS speedloader.

3 Rules

At this point we should probably hit on the obligatory cautionary notes as regards pocket holsters. (1) Always use them. Never carry a snubbie loose in your pocket. I’ve heard horror stories regarding dimes working their way into places on pocketed snubbies you really don’t want them to be. (2) Keep your “carry pocket” reserved for your holstered snubbie only—nothing else. No car keys, penknife or loose change. (3) Never reholster with the holster in your pocket. Take out the holster, insert the gun, and then return the whole enchilada to your pocket. Oh, and the business about keeping your finger out of the triggerguard during a draw goes double here.

Nuclear Nine

A new 9mm load from NovX Ammunition combines the ARX copper/polymer projectile concept with a stainless steel casing. In other words, no brass, no lead. Their Engagement Extreme load features a fluted 65-grain projectile with a claimed muzzle velocity of 1,575 fps and a rotational speed of 116,000 rpm. We tried some out at 20 yards using a 3.4-inch barreled Kahr K9 over sandbags. Evidently that ARX bullet works nicely with the K9’s polygonal rifling. Our 4- out of 5-shot groups were at 2 inches and, more importantly, were only 1-1/2 inches under our point-of-aim, which surprised us.

Frankly, we had no idea where the speedy little 65-grainer was going to impact. The K9 in question, incidentally, puts Black Hills 115-grain JHPs only about 2 inches higher at that yardage. Our chrono results were 1,513 fps—very impressive considering barrel length. Recoil was negligible from our all stainless steel Kahr. The extreme spread was a mere 20 fps. This stuff retails for about $27.99 per box of 26 (that’s a little over a buck a round for the math-challenged). They also offer a +P version of this same load that should bump the fps factor up even further. But this stuff is plenty fast as is. For further info, contact NovX Ammo, (912) 988-3019.

(217) 643-8145

(800) 379-1732

Crimson Trace
(800) 442-2406

DeSantis Holsters
(800) 424-1236

Eagle Grips
(800) 323-6144

Galco Gunleather
(800) 874-2526

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