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A Great Little Carry Gun

A few months ago my wife and one of her friends were headed up north for a vacation (gun-friendly places, of course).

She has several little carry guns, but after looking at one of my new gun catalogs, she decided she wanted a new one. However, she was not exactly sure which one she wanted. And that is how the search began for a new carry gun for my better half.

The first thing to consider was where she planned to carry it. In her pants pocket, a small paddle holster or maybe an inside-the-pants holster? I have always been a fan of Uncle Mike’s inside-the-pants holster, but what I wanted did not matter, as it was going to be her gun. After some discussion, she decided she was going to carry it in her pants pocket.

When you have a gun in your pocket, you want one that does not have any parts sticking out (like a hammer) to get hung up on the pocket. Even a barely-exposed hammer can get snagged on the inner pocket and prevent you from being able to get the gun out of your pocket. Therefore, my search was narrowed to a small or micro semi auto or a very lightweight revolver.

My next step was to go to the safe and drag out several small semi auto pistols to see how she did with grabbing the slide and racking a bullet from the magazine to the chamber. A person that has shot semi auto pistols a lot might not think this to be a concern, but if she needed to do it and was not familiar with the process (or could not do it) she would be in big trouble.

The last thing you want is a gun you cannot fire because you either cannot clear a jam or feed a bullet. Many years ago, semi auto pistols were more likely to jam than today, but it does occasionally happen, and you better be sure you can fix the problem – quickly – if it does jam. I put several semi auto pistols on the table, then showed her how to grab the slide and rack it back to move a bullet from the magazine to the chamber. After several attempts on several different guns, it was not working out very well. She was having a hard time grabbing the slide with enough strength to be able to slide it back. Based on this, a semi auto was ruled out.

Now I would be looking for a revolver, and, because it would be carried in her pants pocket, I was going to need one with a concealed hammer. The search was on. One more thing. I wanted to find a gun that came with a Crimson Trace laser sight grip or one that would allow me to add one later. Even though, if she did have to use it, she would be shooting from a distance of not more than 15 feet (and more likely inside of 10 feet) she likes the Crimson Trace laser sight.

Because this new concealed carry gun was going to be hammerless, it meant it was going to be double action only. Until I let her pull the trigger in double action (with the hammer not pulled back or cocked) on a few of my hunting revolvers, I did not know if the weight of the trigger pull would be a concern or not. I know some of you are thinking that if she needed to use the gun for protection, her adrenaline would be pumping so hard she could pull a 50-pound trigger. You are probably correct, but she would need to shoot this gun many times at the range, where adrenaline would not be a factor, before she would be ready to use it as a carry gun. Therefore, trigger pull mattered.

Most of all, the gun had to fit her hand and allow her to get a good grip on it.

My first Google search was for “hammerless revolvers.” I found a few that would work and was able to narrow my search down to the most lightweight of them all. All of the guns I tested would shoot .38 Special +P (hot) loads, all either could be purchased with a Crimson Trace laser sight or the sight could be purchased for the gun. Barrel length was also a concern. I wanted a gun that with a barrel length of 2 inches or less. The grip had to be a tacky soft rubber that was easy to grip. Hard plastic or wood was out of the question, as they are way too difficult to grip – especially when it is cold and your hands are dry.

I was sort of hoping for the metal to be stainless or some sort of corrosion-proof material. Sights would need to be snag-proof, although the gun really did not need sights, as it would be fitted with a laser sight.

All of these guns have concealed hammers and are double action only. There are many more hammerless or concealed hammer revolvers out there, but weight was one of my main criteria, and the others I looked at were all 20-plus ounces, which is too heavy to carry in your pocket.

Specs

After much research, here are the revolvers I think will work for my wife and their stats:

Smith & Wesson Model 642

Caliber: .38 S&W Special +P

Finish: Matte Silver

Frame: Aluminum Alloy, Stainless Steel Cylinder

Barrel: 1.875”

Capacity: 5 rounds

Weight: 15 oz.

Charter Arms Undercover Lite

Caliber: 38 S&W Special +P

Finish: two-tone pink and stainless

Frame: 7075 Aluminum

Barrel: 2”

Capacity: 5 rounds

Weight: 12 oz.

Ruger LCR

Caliber: 38 S&W Special +P

Finish: Matte black

Barrel material: Stainless Steel

Barrel: 1.87”

Capacity: 5 rounds

Weight: 13.5oz

Charter Arms Undercover Stainless

Caliber: 38 S&W Special +P

Finish: Stainless Steel

Frame: Stainless Steel

Barrel Length: 2”

Capacity: 5 rounds

Weight: 16oz

Of these, my choice (like that really matters) was the Charter Arms Undercover Lite, because it was the lightest weight of all of them – and it is pink. However, my wife did not want pink. She wanted black or silver – so that one was out.

I showed her a picture of the remaining three, and she liked both the Ruger LCR and the Charter Arms Undercover.

Next, we went to a gun store that had both in stock so she could see which one she liked most and which was most comfortable in her hand. We had the salesperson lay out both of them for a final inspection, and after a few minutes the decision was the Charter Arms Undercover.

The only bad thing about this gun was I hated the trigger pull. It was stiff, long and heavy – just terrible. I would not have minded paying a few more dollars for the gun to have the factory take some time polishing the trigger to smooth it out. But, I knew I could make it a lot better once I got it back to my house.

After I spent a couple of hours making the trigger usable and installing a Crimson Trace laser sight grip, I was ready for the range.

Before I took my wife to the range I wanted to have the gun dialed in at 15 feet and to have a very accurate load worked up. I already had several boxes of factory loads and a pile of hand loads, so I was off to the range.

Once I had the gun dialed in with a couple of factory loads and about three different bullet weights of my hand loads, it was time for my wife to get some range time.

At the range, she was able to shoot it about 200 times with all of the ammo it liked. After going through a pile of targets, she decided on the bullet she wanted to shoot, choosing one of my hand loads that consisted of a Falcon 158-grain semi wad cutter coated bullet that is leaving the barrel at around 1,200 fps.

This bullet is hard cast, so it has real good penetration and it is pretty. It is coated in a red polymer that eliminates barrel leading...I think. I am in the process of testing these coated bullets and will report back shortly. The recoil is pretty stout in this little, lightweight gun, but in a situation where you need the gun, I am not sure recoil matters.

Accuracy at 15 feet, shooting freehand, is about two inches. This is not bad considering the long trigger pull. This load shoots under 1/2 inch in some of my revolvers with better triggers.

The bottom line is she is very happy. She has a new carry gun that will fit into her pants pocket, and I feel confident she has a firearm that is both accurate and dependable.

Further note on her gun selection. She would have gone for the Ruger LCR, if the grip had been larger.

“If all firearms were always treated as if they are loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings” Shoot Safe, Shoot Straight!

If all firearms were treated as if they were loaded, there would be no more accidental shootings. Shoot Straight, Shoot Safe!

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Jim Hammond has had some sort of gun in his hand since he was 5 years old. He started with a Daisy BB gun as a small boy, and with careful instruction from his very safety-minded father, has become a skilled and knowledgeable shooter now willing to share his knowledge and experience as he has FUN SHOOTING. “Safety first and everything else will follow.”