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  1. #1
    1YoungGun's Avatar
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    Looking for an inexpensive .38 snubnose revolver for ankle carry, any suggestions?

    I've been looking for a good snubnose revolver to carry concealed as a BUG on my ankle. While I am a big fan of autos (my main concealed carry is a Glock 23 and is one of my favorite guns), I would prefer a revolver as a backup because of their reliability and simplicity. Ideally, I would like something in a .38 special (+p would be nice), double action (or shrouded DA/SA), inexpensive (preferably around $200-$300 for used but good condition, but I could probably go up to around $450 if necessary), and can be easily concealed in an ankle holster. Any recommendations?

    On a side note, one gun that looks like it might be a good candidate is the S&W 642 Centennial. Does anyone have any experience with this gun and if so, what do you like/dislike about it? How much does it typically go for used?

    Thanks in advance for your comments!

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  3. #2
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    Ruger LCR (5 shot revolver)... 13 oz. in the .38 version ($400 range)... 17 oz. in the .357 version ($450 range).

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by 1YoungGun View Post
    one gun that looks like it might be a good candidate is the S&W 642 Centennial. Does anyone have any experience with this gun and if so, what do you like/dislike about it? How much does it typically go for used?
    I've had a number of J-frame Smiths over the years, and I believe they are worth a little extra. They also have a resale value higher than most others, both for the name, and the quality. Used Smith snubbies don't last long in the dealers showroom, but you probably can find one to bid on online. Be advised that an online purchase may have significant associated costs due to shipping legalities so be careful. I have not owned a 642 stainless, but have had two 442s (blued version, same gun). No problems whatever, great guns, and if you learn to "stage" the trigger pretty darn accurate. Snappy recoil with +P, but manageable. There is nothing I don't like about them, they are American classics for sure. Loaded with standard .38 spl. they make great trail guns (where dangerous beasts are not a factor), and I enjoy plinking with mine just to see what I can hit. I know money is tight, but I won't skimp on SD weapons. As for the new Ruger and Smith .38s, well, I like to let the dust settle on new guns so I am not on the recall lists should they appear.
    Eli

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kharuger View Post
    Ruger LCR (5 shot revolver)... 13 oz. in the .38 version ($400 range)... 17 oz. in the .357 version ($450 range).
    Someone I was talking to also mentioned this gun as an option. Do you have any experience with this gun? I'd be interested in hearing someone's opinions about this gun compared to the popular J-Frame S&Ws mentioned by EliWolfe.

    I've had a number of J-frame Smiths over the years, and I believe they are worth a little extra. They also have a resale value higher than most others, both for the name, and the quality. Used Smith snubbies don't last long in the dealers showroom, but you probably can find one to bid on online. Be advised that an online purchase may have significant associated costs due to shipping legalities so be careful. I have not owned a 642 stainless, but have had two 442s (blued version, same gun). No problems whatever, great guns, and if you learn to "stage" the trigger pretty darn accurate. Snappy recoil with +P, but manageable. There is nothing I don't like about them, they are American classics for sure. Loaded with standard .38 spl. they make great trail guns (where dangerous beasts are not a factor), and I enjoy plinking with mine just to see what I can hit. I know money is tight, but I won't skimp on SD weapons. As for the new Ruger and Smith .38s, well, I like to let the dust settle on new guns so I am not on the recall lists should they appear.
    Eli
    Thanks for the info Eli! This is really helpful, especially the info about their resale value and your experiences using them. It sounds like you would recommend the J-Frame S&Ws above anything else. Are there any other brands you like?

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    I like the Ruger SP101 snubnose in DA only. It is quite a bit heavier though and you might not like that in an ankle rig, especially if you need to RUN!!! Then again, you can get it in .357 mag. if you want to, and that added weight makes for a more manageable .357. And the SP101 it is built like a little tank if you intend to shoot a lot. I don't believe much in trying to save money when buying something I may be using to defend myself or my family. Is a couple hundred bucks really worth it? For that reason I stay away from Taurus, Rossi, etc. The one "off" brand I have is a Charter Arms Bulldog Pug in .44 special. I got that because I am an old and like those great big bullets. I had it magnaported, fitted with recoil reducing grips, and had it checked out by my gunsmith even though it was new! I love the gun, but don't carry it. I know times are tough, so if I had to choose an economy .38, it would be the Charter. They make one that is a virtual clone of the Smith for a couple hundred less. My carry guns are:
    Beretta 92FS for full size high capacity (15 + 1 rounds, 9mm Speer Gold Dots)
    S@W 442 with .38+P Corbon DPX right front pocket holster
    Beretta 21 Stainless .22, CCI Stingers, IWB holster for last resorts
    If I carry all three, the Beretta is on my right hip, the 442 is crossdraw IWB left hip, and the .22 is in a right front pocket holster.
    I just got my new "house" gun, a S@W 686 7 shot .357., haven't picked a load yet.
    Good luck and happy shooting!
    Eli

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    Hey, Eli, just how many shots can you get out of that Charter Arms .44 revolver, before something goes wrong?

    Jean inherited a .38 Special Charter Arms snubbie from her dance mentor, but it'll choke up long before it has fired the fifth shot out of its cylinder. The problem has been diagnosed as cylinder end-play, which allows fired cartridges to move rearward as they go off, and jam against the gun's recoil plate.
    I've just put it away, rather than taking it apart and shimming the cylinder. That's too bad, because it has a very good trigger, both in SA and DA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliWolfe View Post
    I like the Ruger SP101 snubnose in DA only. It is quite a bit heavier though and you might not like that in an ankle rig, especially if you need to RUN!!! Then again, you can get it in .357 mag. if you want to, and that added weight makes for a more manageable .357. And the SP101 it is built like a little tank if you intend to shoot a lot. I don't believe much in trying to save money when buying something I may be using to defend myself or my family. Is a couple hundred bucks really worth it? For that reason I stay away from Taurus, Rossi, etc. The one "off" brand I have is a Charter Arms Bulldog Pug in .44 special. I got that because I am an old and like those great big bullets. I had it magnaported, fitted with recoil reducing grips, and had it checked out by my gunsmith even though it was new! I love the gun, but don't carry it. I know times are tough, so if I had to choose an economy .38, it would be the Charter. They make one that is a virtual clone of the Smith for a couple hundred less. My carry guns are:
    Beretta 92FS for full size high capacity (15 + 1 rounds, 9mm Speer Gold Dots)
    S@W 442 with .38+P Corbon DPX right front pocket holster
    Beretta 21 Stainless .22, CCI Stingers, IWB holster for last resorts
    If I carry all three, the Beretta is on my right hip, the 442 is crossdraw IWB left hip, and the .22 is in a right front pocket holster.
    I just got my new "house" gun, a S@W 686 7 shot .357., haven't picked a load yet.
    Good luck and happy shooting!
    Eli
    You make a good point about not skimping on a SD gun. Especially in my case where this is going to be my backup, I want to know I can depend on it when the chips are down. I think what I'll do is save up a little and keep an eye out for a used Ruger or S&W in the local classifieds/pawn shops. If something doesn't turn up after too long, I can always try one of those online auction sites (I've never bought a gun on one before so I'm a little hesitant to just jump right in ). Thanks for the advice and ideas!

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Hey, Eli, just how many shots can you get out of that Charter Arms .44 revolver, before something goes wrong?
    Yessir, kind of like your Backup .45, I must have gotten a good one. I've been through several boxes of various brands without a misfire or cylinder problem. I did have a situation where a spent case got hung up on that short ejector. No good in an emergency reload situation! And I have other better guns for SD. Having said that, I have heard about the Charter's tying up exactly as you are recounting. I really only have the Charter for the .44 special caliber, fun to shoot with the porting and softy grips. Like I mentioned before, I would not rely on an "off brand" unless i had it checked out by a good gunsmith. I've had this gun for a few years and the porting and grips were done as a package that "supposedly" included checking cylinder specs etc. Anyway, hopefully our young friend will spend the Xtra for a 642, though it seems like all the brands have their lovers and haters based on their particular experience. Even Kel-Tec has a following that swears by them as being totally reliable. I tried the .32 a couple years back, and it was back and forth to my dealer and never did run right. So, i don't like them and won't buy another. My crosstown LEO buddy has had his all slicked up (their are whole websites devoted to "fixxing" these things) and carries it daily as a backup. I told him he should know better but to each his own!
    Regards, Eli

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    [QUOTE=I think what I'll do is save up a little and keep an eye out for a used Ruger or S&W in the local classifieds/pawn shops. If something doesn't turn up after too long, I can always try one of those online auction sites (I've never bought a gun on one before so I'm a little hesitant to just jump right in ). Thanks for the advice and ideas![/QUOTE]

    Excellent decision my friend.
    Eli

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    Smile Charter Bulldog Range Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Hey, Eli, just how many shots can you get out of that Charter Arms .44 revolver, before something goes wrong?
    Ok Steve, now you've got me thinking (usually a dangerous thing for me about my poor old Bulldog. I've got two boxes of .44spl. in the cabinet. One is Corbon 165 Grain the other is Winchester 200 grain Silvertip. I think I'll take the Charter to the range tomorrow and see if I can get her to tie up. I have used the Winchester load before, but maybe the hot rod Corbon will do the trick as I've never tried them. Other than the Winchester, I have always used whatever they had at the counter. Anyway, I promise to be honest and will post my results just for grins. Thanks for giving me an excuse to go shooting, its grey and snowy here in Indianaville and I love to shoot whenever I can. I will probably take my three carry guns, my new 686 and make a day of it...and then spend my evening cleaning them all up.
    Good clean fun!
    Eli

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliWolfe View Post
    Yessir, kind of like your Backup .45, I must have gotten a good one. I've been through several boxes of various brands without a misfire or cylinder problem. I did have a situation where a spent case got hung up on that short ejector. No good in an emergency reload situation! And I have other better guns for SD. Having said that, I have heard about the Charter's tying up exactly as you are recounting. I really only have the Charter for the .44 special caliber, fun to shoot with the porting and softy grips. Like I mentioned before, I would not rely on an "off brand" unless i had it checked out by a good gunsmith. I've had this gun for a few years and the porting and grips were done as a package that "supposedly" included checking cylinder specs etc. Anyway, hopefully our young friend will spend the Xtra for a 642, though it seems like all the brands have their lovers and haters based on their particular experience. Even Kel-Tec has a following that swears by them as being totally reliable. I tried the .32 a couple years back, and it was back and forth to my dealer and never did run right. So, i don't like them and won't buy another. My crosstown LEO buddy has had his all slicked up (their are whole websites devoted to "fixxing" these things) and carries it daily as a backup. I told him he should know better but to each his own!
    Regards, Eli
    Yeah from what I've seen, there's always someone whose gotten a lemon in just about any brand you buy, but getting a good "knockoff" usually seems to be the exception than the rule. My wife carries an older S&W Detective Special she got from her dad and its never had a problem throughout all its years of use. While I've seen a few people knock S&W or Ruger, I imagine the proof is in the large numbers of people who swear by them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by EliWolfe View Post
    Ok Steve, now you've got me thinking (usually a dangerous thing for me about my poor old Bulldog. I've got two boxes of .44spl. in the cabinet. One is Corbon 165 Grain the other is Winchester 200 grain Silvertip. I think I'll take the Charter to the range tomorrow and see if I can get her to tie up. I have used the Winchester load before, but maybe the hot rod Corbon will do the trick as I've never tried them. Other than the Winchester, I have always used whatever they had at the counter. Anyway, I promise to be honest and will post my results just for grins. Thanks for giving me an excuse to go shooting, its grey and snowy here in Indianaville and I love to shoot whenever I can. I will probably take my three carry guns, my new 686 and make a day of it...and then spend my evening cleaning them all up.
    Good clean fun!
    Eli
    Any excuse to go shooting is a good excuse in my opinion!

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    EliWolfe is offline Member HGF Gold Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1YoungGun View Post
    Any excuse to go shooting is a good excuse in my opinion!
    Roger that and sorry for my "drifting". Sounds like YoungGun is on the right track!
    Eli

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    Ruger LCR in the .357 Magnum/.38 Spl. is going to be my next carry weapon.
    Ruger came out with the .38 Spl. version first,but has now made the conversion into
    the .357 mag/.38 spl...A little over your stated cost however.It seems to be going
    in the high $400 range.It was voted Revolver of the year in 2009 or 2010.A lightweight
    snubbie that can put out a heck of a punch.I'm shopping around for this weapon
    now,hopefully I'll find a decent price.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1YoungGun View Post
    . . . On a side note, one gun that looks like it might be a good candidate is the S&W 642 Centennial. Does anyone have any experience with this gun and if so, what do you like/dislike about it? How much does it typically go for used? !
    I don't know about used price.

    I bought my 642 new about a year ago for just over $400. And, put CT grips on it for about $220.
    I've posted several times about this gun. And my lady friend who bought a Ruger LCR at the same time, about the same price. Both guns are now available with factory installed CT grips.

    Both are very good, in my humble opinion. I've shot both a lot. My laser grips are worth their weight in gold. The enclosed hammer keeps lint and crap out of my carry gun. I think her Ruger LCR is just as good.

    As always, a lightweight snubby is a handful. Learning and using lasergrips is a GREAT plus.

    IMHO, saving a bit (even a couple of hundred bucks) is NOT a good tradeoff. If you are carrying
    a gun in an ankle holster,
    it is NOT because you may have to defend Aunt Matilda at the Mall sometime in the distant future.

    Quality and reliability trump EVERYTHING ELSE if you are ever in a SHTF situation.

    Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DanP_from_AZ View Post
    I don't know about used price.

    I bought my 642 new about a year ago for just over $400. And, put CT grips on it for about $220.
    I've posted several times about this gun. And my lady friend who bought a Ruger LCR at the same time, about the same price. Both guns are now available with factory installed CT grips.

    Both are very good, in my humble opinion. I've shot both a lot. My laser grips are worth their weight in gold. The enclosed hammer keeps lint and crap out of my carry gun. I think her Ruger LCR is just as good.

    As always, a lightweight snubby is a handful. Learning and using lasergrips is a GREAT plus.

    IMHO, saving a bit (even a couple of hundred bucks) is NOT a good tradeoff. If you are carrying
    a gun in an ankle holster,
    it is NOT because you may have to defend Aunt Matilda at the Mall sometime in the distant future.

    Quality and reliability trump EVERYTHING ELSE if you are ever in a SHTF situation.

    Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary.
    Its good to hear your take on both guns. The more I look at my options, the more I have come to the conclusion that a Rugar or S&W is what I want. In regards to the lasergrips, what in particular do you like about them. I agree that they are really cool and its nice to not have to look down the sights to know where you're aiming, but are they really much of an advantage at around 10-15 feet? I'm interested in hearing your opinions on the subject.

  18. #17
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    You didn't ask me, but...

    In my estimation, lasers are not worth the expense and trouble.
    • You can't always see the laser dot, especially in a reasonably well-lit situation. The dot is never bright enough, and gets swamped by the ambient illumination.
    • Even in the dark, you need to be able to get on target without the laser. You don't have time to "follow the bouncing dot" around until it coincides with the target. The laser dot serves only to verify that you have indeed found the target, and to notify your target that he is at risk.
    • Murphy's Law says that your batteries will die, just as your life-and-death confrontation begins. You must not learn to rely upon the laser dot.

    At short range (your "10 or 15 feet") you don't even need your sights. Instead, if your pistol is up at eye level, use the silhouette shape of the gun to reassure yourself that you're on target. If you haven't time to get the gun up to eye level, you can pretty successfully hip-shoot from just above your holster, if you've practiced it.

    A laser is a nice training device: Observe the dot to see how steady your trigger control is, as you squeeze off a shot (dry-fire or live).
    Other than that, it's mostly a gadget: a gimmick to get you to spend money on accessories.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Other than that, it's mostly a gadget: a gimmick to get you to spend money on accessories.
    I have heard this from a lot of folks, and they all have one thing in common. You may be the exception. But the thing that all of these folks usually have in common is that they have never used a laser, for any significant period of time.

    Personally, I had roughly the same opinion, until I came into possession of a S&W 642CT, the Airweight .38 Special 'hammerless' model that came from the factory with Crimson Trace Laser grips. Over time, I came to appreciate the value of the laser, especially for practice, and especially for folks who normally would require eyeglasses, when shooting. The trigger control techniques I was able to practice so easily (and therefore frequently), helped me to shoot all of my handguns a little bit better, particularly the short barreled ones.

    Also a factor in my opinion is the necessity, in recent years, of my having to resort to wearing weak reading glasses, in order to be able to focus on the front sight of a handgun. There is always a chance that in any self defense situation, a person could find himself without the eyeglasses he needs to aim his handgun, or that he may need to fire a shot from an awkward position that does not allow him to look down the full length of the barrel.

    Of course, the counter-argument is, "what if the batteries are dead?" The answer is that if you have practiced properly, you are no worse off than before, because you still have your iron sights. Besides, the batteries last a long time, and are easily tested, and easily replaced, so anyone who properly maintains his self-defense weapon will not find this to be a problem.

    I have CT Laser grips on all three of my 'pocket' sized pistols, and recommend them. But I also stress heavily that nobody should allow himself to become dependent on them. Practice live fire with iron sights, and dry-fire with the laser. For the most part, the only time I ever live-fire, using the laser sight, is to check the zero. By practicing in this way, you can leave the laser on, and if it works when you need it, fine. If it fails you, you lose nothing, because the iron sights are your default, anyway. If it's there when you need it, all the better.

    I consider the laser to be just one more tool in the self defense tool box.

  20. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1YoungGun View Post
    I've been looking for a good snubnose revolver to carry concealed as a BUG on my ankle. While I am a big fan of autos (my main concealed carry is a Glock 23 and is one of my favorite guns), I would prefer a revolver as a backup because of their reliability and simplicity. Ideally, I would like something in a .38 special (+p would be nice), double action (or shrouded DA/SA), inexpensive (preferably around $200-$300 for used but good condition, but I could probably go up to around $450 if necessary), and can be easily concealed in an ankle holster. Any recommendations?
    My first recommendation is don't use an ankle holster. They are hard to draw from, they make you walk funny, your gun gets dirty, and they feel weird. If you do insist on an ankle holster, anyway, carry the smallest, lightest gun you think you can get by with, and check it at every opportunity, for function.

    Personally, if I simply had no choice but ankle carry, I would carry nothing larger or heavier than a Ruger LCP. The .380 may be slightly weaker than a .38 Special, depending on the loads selected, but it's function would probably be reliable enough, if properly cared for. I've tried ankle carry with a S&W 642CT, and it was way too heavy and bulky to suit me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    You didn't ask me, but...

    In my estimation, lasers are not worth the expense and trouble.
    You can't always see the laser dot, especially in a reasonably well-lit situation. The dot is never bright enough, and gets swamped by the ambient illumination.
    Even in the dark, you need to be able to get on target without the laser. You don't have time to "follow the bouncing dot" around until it coincides with the target. The laser dot serves only to verify that you have indeed found the target, and to notify your target that he is at risk.
    Murphy's Law says that your batteries will die, just as your life-and-death confrontation begins. You must not learn to rely upon the laser dot.

    At short range (your "10 or 15 feet") you don't even need your sights. Instead, if your pistol is up at eye level, use the silhouette shape of the gun to reassure yourself that you're on target. If you haven't time to get the gun up to eye level, you can pretty successfully hip-shoot from just above your holster, if you've practiced it.

    A laser is a nice training device: Observe the dot to see how steady your trigger control is, as you squeeze off a shot (dry-fire or live).
    Other than that, it's mostly a gadget: a gimmick to get you to spend money on accessories.
    Thanks for the input. I'm always open to multiple views on the subject and its good to hear from both sides of the fence. I myself have never bothered to buy a laser for any of my guns but have always wondered the pros and cons on the matter.

  22. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bisley View Post
    I have heard this from a lot of folks, and they all have one thing in common. You may be the exception. But the thing that all of these folks usually have in common is that they have never used a laser, for any significant period of time.

    Personally, I had roughly the same opinion, until I came into possession of a S&W 642CT, the Airweight .38 Special 'hammerless' model that came from the factory with Crimson Trace Laser grips. Over time, I came to appreciate the value of the laser, especially for practice, and especially for folks who normally would require eyeglasses, when shooting. The trigger control techniques I was able to practice so easily (and therefore frequently), helped me to shoot all of my handguns a little bit better, particularly the short barreled ones.

    Also a factor in my opinion is the necessity, in recent years, of my having to resort to wearing weak reading glasses, in order to be able to focus on the front sight of a handgun. There is always a chance that in any self defense situation, a person could find himself without the eyeglasses he needs to aim his handgun, or that he may need to fire a shot from an awkward position that does not allow him to look down the full length of the barrel.

    Of course, the counter-argument is, "what if the batteries are dead?" The answer is that if you have practiced properly, you are no worse off than before, because you still have your iron sights. Besides, the batteries last a long time, and are easily tested, and easily replaced, so anyone who properly maintains his self-defense weapon will not find this to be a problem.

    I have CT Laser grips on all three of my 'pocket' sized pistols, and recommend them. But I also stress heavily that nobody should allow himself to become dependent on them. Practice live fire with iron sights, and dry-fire with the laser. For the most part, the only time I ever live-fire, using the laser sight, is to check the zero. By practicing in this way, you can leave the laser on, and if it works when you need it, fine. If it fails you, you lose nothing, because the iron sights are your default, anyway. If it's there when you need it, all the better.

    I consider the laser to be just one more tool in the self defense tool box.
    I never thought of using the laser to practice in this way, but it does make sense. I guess I've always assumed that people buy the laser grips so they don't have to use the sights, which I've always thought was a bad idea, but this way you're ready for either case. Since I am trying to buy a quality gun while still keeping the cost down a bit, I probably won't get a snub with a laser grip right away, unless I get a really good deal on it. If I chose to install the grips later, however, would I just need to buy them and snap them on, or do I need to take it into a gunsmith to have them installed for me?

    Bisley
    My first recommendation is don't use an ankle holster. They are hard to draw from, they make you walk funny, your gun gets dirty, and they feel weird. If you do insist on an ankle holster, anyway, carry the smallest, lightest gun you think you can get by with, and check it at every opportunity, for function.

    Personally, if I simply had no choice but ankle carry, I would carry nothing larger or heavier than a Ruger LCP. The .380 may be slightly weaker than a .38 Special, depending on the loads selected, but it's function would probably be reliable enough, if properly cared for. I've tried ankle carry with a S&W 642CT, and it was way too heavy and bulky to suit me.
    There are a few reasons I was thinking about putting the gun in an ankle holster:
    • Since this is typically going to be a BUG, I'd like it in a different location than my primary, which I usually carry IWB.
    • If I'm in a situation where I can't reasonably carry my primary (a Glock 23) concealed, its still likely that I can conceal my snub on an ankle without it being obvious I'm carrying.
    • I guess I've always thought ankle holsters were kinda neat (not really a good reason, but true none the less).


    Its good to hear the cons of carrying in that position however, since most people that I've talked to either love carrying it there and say they don't feel the extra weight on their leg any more, or have no experience with ankle holsters. I really like the .38 special +p load (its just the right balance between power and ease of handling for me in a small gun like this), but I don't really like the idea of carrying it IWB along with my primary, and I've never liked pocket carry (it just never seems to sit right when I try it). Are there any other ways that you would recommend carrying it? I'm by no means an expert when it comes to ways to conceal, so I'm always open to new ideas.

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