This is the second of five articles about how to pick the right handgun to carry for defensive purposes. Deciding what to carry is a personal decision, but one thing you should consider is the type of situation you’ll be in. Frank Jardim chooses from one of four guns when he arms himself, explaining the advantages of each in given circumstances. You can read his introduction here.
Primary Use: Everyday protection for me in city and town.
Holster: Never in a holster. It has a steel spring belt clip on the side for inside the waistband carry but I usually have it in my right front pants pocket behind a tri-fold brochure for some attraction I got at the highway rest stop. The gun won't print through the brochure and it's easier to get hold of and draw. If I sense trouble I can’t walk away from, I can inconspicuously grip the pistol in pocket and be ready. Pocket carry requires what I call “car key discipline.” I’ve gotten in the habit of never having anything other than a gun in the right hand pocket which means everything else goes somewhere else. Bottom line is I don’t want to reach for my gun and pull out my keys, or vice-versa.
Ammunition: .38 Spl. +P 135 gr. Speer Gold Dot JHP. Maximized for snubnoses. Sometimes an extra five rounds carried in a Safariland speedloader. This is the most compact and foolproof speedloader I’ve ever found. The release button is automatically activated when you press it into the cylinder so there’s no extra twisting or fiddling with it.
Pros/Cons: Absolutely reliable, highly concealable gun in a potent caliber. The hammer shroud allows snag free draw and firing from inside a pocket. Double action trigger pull is excellent and the exposed tip of the hammer spur permits precise single action shots. The S&W J frame is very compact firepower, the trade-off is that it only has a five shot cylinder. The stainless steel improves its resistance to rusting from sweat in the summer. The Airweight aluminum version would be lighter to carry, but the steel model is easier to control in rapid fire because it absorbs more recoil. If I change anything about this gun, it will be to replace the current rubber grips with a Crimson Trace laser grip with the soft rubber over-mold of the same size.