> TEOTWAWKI Blog: Snub Nose Gear Round Up



Snub Nose Gear Round Up

Ryan over at TSLRF asked if I'd give a run down on some of the snub nose revolver (642 Airweight J-frame, specifically) related gear I've gone through. If you missed my original overview post on snub nose revolvers, check it out here.

A revolver allows you to swap out grips and dramatically change the handling/concealment characteristics of the handgun. Bigger grips offer more controllability, smaller grips offer better concealment - it's a trade off.
642 with Dymondwood and T-Grip.
  • Stock 642 Boot Grips: The grips that come with a stock 642 are pretty sucky. Exposed back strap and narrow grip, not cut to function with speed loaders, not comfortable to shoot. They are ok for concealment. Ditch them fast - even if just for the inability to use speed loaders.
  • Pachmayr Compac Grips: Big, beefy rubber grips with a covered backstrap that make shooting the airweight a lot more comfortable - pain free, even. But, they add a lot of bulk to the J-frame, making it more difficult to pocket carry and generally conceal. Not cut for speed loaders, either. Amazon link.
  • VZ 320 Black G10 Boot Grips: These are small and smooth and good for concealment. Properly cut for speedloaders (yay!). Not very comfortable to shoot - exposed back about on par with the stock boot grips. Very nice looking.
  • S&W Dymondwood Grips & Tyler T-Grip:  This combo has an old school look and the smooth wood conceals and draws quite well. Despite the exposed backstrap, this combo is more comfortable for me than the boot grips - the grips are wider in the back, which spreads out the recoil and makes shooting more pleasant. They're not specifically cut for speedloaders, but they work well anyways. The T-Grips are out of production - you'll probably need to hit eBay; the Dymondwood Grips are available from MidwayUSA.
For concealment and looks, I'd go with the Dymondwood/T-Grip combo. The Compacs are great for extended shooting and practice, but the lack of speedloader cuts is a deal breaker, even the added bulk was not. I might take a knife to mine and see what I can do. I haven't found a "perfect" J-frame grip yet and am still searching - something slim, rubber, with a covered backstrap and cut for speedloaders. Hogue has a version of their well reviewed LCR grip out for J-frames now that I might give a go.  I'd also like to give the Crimson Trace laser grips a try, but haven't wanted to spend the $250 to play.

VZ Grips, Safariland pocket holster and Bianchi speed loader
I haven't dropped big bucks on a nice J-frame holster because, well, I haven't needed to. The cheap holsters I've tried out have worked pretty well.
  • Uncle Mike's #3 Pocket Holster: This adds a lot of bulk to the gun and makes the gun ride high in your pocket. I took a pocket knife to mine and ripped out some of the stitching to change the ride characteristics and it worked better. Amazon link.
  • Desantis Nemesis: These generally get good reviews, but I found it needlessly huge - seriously gigantic for a pocket holster. Returned this pretty quickly.
  • Safariland Model 25 Pocket Holster: Pretty darn good. Thin, still leather with the rough side out to grab on your pocket during the draw. Conceals well. Minimal added bulk. Thumbs up from me. Mas Ayoob likes these too, and he's a smarter fellow than I. Amazon link.
  • Uncle Mike's IWB Holster Size 0: This thing rocks. The soft/foamy material adds comfort to carrying the pistol. Great for appendix inside the waistband carry. It actually works and carries totally fine, which is more than many holsters on the market! You won't get a ton of retention or one handed reholstering, and the plastic clip will eventually snap, but they're essentially disposable, so no biggie. They're around $12, so hard to go wrong. Amazon link.
 I'd like to get an ankle holster, shoulder holster and potentially a belly band to expand carry options at some point, and just to give 'em a go. I'll pass along reviews if/when I pick them up.

  • HKS: These are pretty much everywhere and run around $10. They work, and they work pretty well, and they're very easy to load. They rely on gravity versus a spring (most other speedloaders have springs to push the rounds into the cylinder), which is both good and bad. If you aren't using gravity to your advantage, you'll have a hard time loading. But, if you do it right, gravity isn't going anywhere and it's not going to fail like a spring can. The knob on these is NOT a handle, either - you want to hold body of the speedloader and only use the knob to load/unload the rounds. Amazon link.
  • Safariland Comp 1: For some reason, they don't make a Comp 2 for J-frames, which I would probably prefer. But, the Comp 1s are small. Loading is tricky - you need to apply pressure to the top of the rounds as you twist the locking knob. Unloading into the cylinder is very fast - you push down on the speedloader and the Comp 1 launches them into place. However, if the spring mechanism fails, you're not going to be able to get the rounds out of the Comp 1 very easily, and certainly not in a gun fight. I've carried one of these for a while, but recently had some problems with the spring mechanism during a dry fire practice session, so it's been demoted for now, and I've gone back to the HKS loaders and good old gravity. Amazon link.
I just bought 4 more HKS loaders, because they're cheap, easy to work and fairly fool proof. My wife definitely prefers these over the Comp 1s because of their simplicity. There are some fancier, less common speedloaders on the market that I need to try out, but they're not easily available - Dades, Jetloaders, SL Variants, etc.

Bianchi Speed Strips and Tuff QuickStrips are fairly equivalent products. The Tuff Strips have a ridge that runs around the outer edge that makes them very slightly less thin than the Bianchis.  QuickStrips have a much wider variety of options, though - different calibers, up to 8 rounds, black, pink or orange. Looks like Bianchis are overpriced on Amazon, and they have an odd selection of QuickStrips. Check your friendly local gun shop, too.

When carrying a standard 6-round speed strip, I usually only load it with 4 rounds, with a gap in the middle, as you can see in the above image. There are few reasons for this - you can load two rounds in at a time, so the 2+2 is much faster than 5. It's much easier to grip and load the pairs of rounds with the gap in between them - a lot less likely to fumble. And, the 4 rounds allows for a "tactical reload" - at least as much as you can with a revolver. If I've fired off the whole cylinder, then I'm dumping the brass and reloading with a speed loader. But if I've only fired part of the cylinder (and have the unlikely opportunity), I can pick out the spent brass and use the speed strip to top off up to a full load of 4 rounds. Yep, it's a tradeoff between carrying the full round count, and it may not be for everyone, but it works for me.

As you can probably tell, I'm sort of quasi-in-the-market for new grips and different holster options. I'm also looking at getting a trigger job done on mine to help smooth/lighten things up a bit.

Looking forward to hearing from the tribe regarding your favorite snub nose support gear - holsters, grips and so on.