New from Rock Island Armory is the Spurless Model 206, a .38 Special snubbie ready for deep-cover carry. Packing in six rounds, the 2-inch-barreled revolver features a full-length underlug and a bobbed hammer for ease of draw and concealment. (armscor.com; 775-537-1444) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special / Barrel: 2 inches / OA Length: 6.85 inches / Weight: 25.4 ounces / Grips: Checkered wood / Sights: Fixed ramp front, groove rear / Action: DAO / Finish: Matte nickel / Capacity: 46 / MSRP: $370
The .38 Undercover DAO from Charter Arms packs a lot of performance into a compact and affordable package. Sporting a bobbed hammer for snag-free drawing, the double-action-only (DAO) snubbie features a 2-inch barrel and a five-shot capacity of .38 Special +P rounds. The Undercover DAO weighs 16 ounces and has a full underlug under the barrel that protects the ejector rod from damage. Checkered black rubber grips complete the package. (charterfirearms.com; 203-922-1652) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special +P / Barrel: 2 inches / OA Length: 6.4 inches / Weight: 16 ounces / Grips: Checkered rubber / Sights: Fixed ramp front, groove rear / Action: DAO / Finish: Stainless / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $360
Representing a revolutionary revamp of the classic wheelgun concept is the Rhino series from Chiappa. Rather than having the barrel align with the uppermost firing chamber, the Rhino moves the barrel to the bottom to align with the lowest firing chamber. This results in a reduction of both perceived recoil as well as muzzle flip. The Rhino 20DS in hard chrome, chambered in .357 Magnum, offers shooters an ultra-compact and powerful version of the Rhino with an attractive finish and a short, 2-inch barrel. (chiappafirearms.com) / Specifications / Caliber: .357 Magnum / Barrel: 2 inches / OA Length: 6.5 inches / Weight: 24 ounces / Grips: Wood / Sights: Fiber-optic front / Action: DA/SA / Finish: Hard chrome / Capacity: 6 / MSRP: $937
Offering an interesting new take on the micro revolver design is NAA’s Sidewinder revolver in .22 Magnum (.22 LR conversion cylinders are also available). While the majority of the company’s revolvers feature cylinders that must be removed to be reloaded, the Sidewinder features a swing-out cylinder design for fast reloading. The compact revolver has a five-round capacity, stainless steel construction and an ultra-light weight of only 6.7 ounces. (northamericanarms.com; 800-821-5783) / Specifications / Caliber: .22 Magnum (optional .22 LR cylinder conversion) / Barrel: 1 inch / OA Length: 5 inches / Weight: 6.7 ounces / Grips: Laminated wood / Sights: Fixed rear, post front / Action: SA / Finish: Matte stainless / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $354
Combining .38 Special +P power with a compact and lightweight package is the Undercover Lite from Charter Arms. Featuring a lightweight aluminum frame mated up with a steel cylinder and barrel, the concealed-hammer Undercover Lite weighs only 12 ounces. The five-shot revolver sports a DAO system of operation along with a low-visibility finish. A comfortable, grooved rubber grip offers both compact dimensions and enhanced control. (charterfirearms.com; 203-922-1652) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special +P / Barrel: 2 inches / OA Length: 6.4 inches / Weight: 12 ounces / Grips: Grooved rubber / Sights: Fixed ramp front, groove rear / Action: DAO / Finish: Anodized aluminum components / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $415
North American Arms (NAA), king of the micro revolver, provides shooters with some of the smallest self-defense revolvers in the world. A classic example of this is its rimfire .22 Magnum Snub, a five-shot .22 Magnum revolver that measures a scant 4.6 inches in overall length and weighs only 5.9 ounces. Manu-factured from stainless steel, the single-action revolver sports a short 1.12-inch barrel for deep-cover concealment. (northamericanarms.com; 800-821-5783) / Specifications / Caliber: .22 Magnum / Barrel: 1.12 inches / OA Length: 4.6 inches / Weight: 5.9 ounces / Grips: Laminated wood / Sights: Half-moon fixed / Action: SA / Finish: Stainless steel / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $224
A bit larger than the other revolvers featured in this piece, the nonetheless compact Model 46202 from Rossi delivers six shots of .357 Magnum power in a very concealable package. Machined from forged steel for strength, the exposed hammer Model 46202 features a comfort-able rubber grip with integral finger grooves and a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) system of operation. An attractive polished stainless steel finish rounds out the package. (rossiusa.com; 800-948-8029) / Specifications / Caliber: .357 Magnum / Barrel: 2 inches / OA Length: 6.5 inches / Weight: 26 ounces / Grips: Rubber / Sights: Ramp front / Action: DA/SA / Finish: Stainless / Capacity: 6 / MSRP: $454
Melding the traditional with the ultra- modern, the Ruger LCR combines cutting-edge design and materials with the classic wheelgun platform. Weighing a scant 13.5 ounces, the five-shot .38 Special +P handgun features a polymer fire control housing and a DAO system of operation with a concealed hammer. The trigger, which the company claims provides a smooth and non-stacking pull, features a friction- reducing cam. Variants with Crimson Trace grips are also available. (ruger.com) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special +P / Barrel: 1.87 inches OA Length46.5 inches / Weight: 13.5 ounces / Grips: Hogue Tamer Monogrip / Sights: Front ramp / Action: DAO / Finish: Ionbond Diamondblack / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $529
Recently made part of the M&P line of firearms, the M&P Bodyguard 38 CT is a small-framed .38 Special +P revolver that features a five-shot capacity. The concealed-hammer, DAO revolver employs both polymer and aluminum in its construction for light weight and long-term strength. It features a short, 1.9-inch barrel and an ambidextrous cylinder release. An integrated Crimson Trace red laser unit is located on the right side of the frame. (smith-wesson.com; 800-331-0852) / Specifications / Caliber4.38 Special +P / Barrel: 1.9 inches / OA Length: 6.6 inches / Weight: 14.36 ounces / Grips: Synthetic / Sights: Fixed, Crimson Trace laser / Action: DAO / Finish: Matte black / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $539
The M380IBULB Mini Revolver from Taurus combines the best elements of a snubbie revolver with the compact yet powerful .380 ACP cartridge. Offering a shorter overall length due to the cartridge’s compact dimensions and a shortened cylinder and frame, the five-shot Taurus Mini packs a great deal of power into a very small package. The revolver features an exposed, bobbed hammer and a DAO system of operation. (taurususa.com; 800-327-3776) / Specifications / Caliber: .380 ACP / Barrel: 1.75 inches / OA Length: 5.95 inches / Weight: 15.5 ounces / Grips: Rubber / Sights: Ramp front, adjustable rear / Action: DAO / Finish4Blued / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $433.51
Based on the popular LCR revolver series from Ruger, the new .38 Special +P LCRx takes the ultra-modern wheelgun design of the LCR and adds an exposed hammer. While the rest of the LCR line features a concealed-hammer design, the LCRx’s exposed hammer allows shooters the option of thumbing back the hammer for a light single-action trigger pull. The LCRx is compatible with all standard LCR accessories. (ruger.com) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special +P / Barrel: 1.87 inches / OA Length: 6.5 inches / Weight: 13.5 ounces / Grips: Front ramp / Grips: Hogue Tamer Monogrip / Action: DA/SA / Finish: Matte black / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $529
Chambered for the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge, the M&P340 is one of the most advanced members of the popular J-Frame family. Built on a lightweight scandium frame, the concealed-hammer revolver features DAO operation and a five-shot capacity. It comes equipped with an XS Tritium Big Dot front sight on its 1.8-inch, aluminum-shrouded, stainless steel barrel. The revolver weighs in at a feathery light 13.3 ounces and is ready for deep-cover duty. (smith-wesson.com; 800-331-0852) Specifications / Caliber: .357 Magnum / Barrel: 1.87 inches / OA Length: 6.31 inches / Weight: 13.3 ounces / Grips: Synthetic / Sights: XS 24/7 tritium front, notch rear / Action: DAO / Finish: Matte black / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $869
Taking the concept of the compact .38 Special wheelgun to the next level is the Model 85VTA “View” from Taurus. The most visually distinctive element of the five-shot revolver is its Lexan sideplate that allows users to see the DAO mechanism in action. But that is not the only unique quality of the View. Weighing in at 9 ounces empty, the View features an ultra-short, 1.41-inch barrel and an abbreviated grip frame. Designed to fire only .38 Special (no +P), the View offers users one of the most compact five-shot .38s available. (taurususa.com; 800-327-3776) / Specifications / Caliber: .38 Special / Barrel: 1.41 inches / OA Length: 5.67 inches / Weight: 9 ounces / Grips: Checkered polymer / Sights: Fixed / Action: DAO / Finish: Colored aluminum / Capacity: 5 / MSRP: $599
While compact autopistols have recently been making significant strides in the ever-popular CCW category of firearms, there is just something enduringly appealing about the tried-and-true snubbie revolver. With its simple operation, minimum of controls and rock-solid reliability, the mini wheelgun is a great choice for any close-range self-defense user. And with top makers churning out new offerings that retain the solid benefits of the traditional revolver while adding cutting-edge materials and/or design, there are more to choose from than at any time in the past. From the micro-sized North American Arms series of wheelguns to ultra-powerful centerfire magnum alternatives, there is likely a snubbie wheelgun out there ideal for your needs. Read on to see some of the top options available today.
For more information contact:
Rock Island Armory
North American Arms
Smith & Wesson
This article originally published in AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® Issue #191. Print and Digital Subscriptions to AMERICAN FRONTIERSMAN® magazine are available here.
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