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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All:

I own a Walther PPS chambered in .40. I was at B&J Guns yesterday and mentioned that I am looking for a new target pistol. I started looking at a good ole Ruger in .22 and a few 9mm. One of the guys there suggested that I get a S&W .38 air weight. It runs $599 at the shop. He emphasized not having to worry about magazines, the alleged low level of recoil, availability of ammo, the single action accurracy and last but not least, the dual use of the gun as an excellent carry gun.

I have no doubt that it is an excellent carry gun, but a .38 for range/target shooting with the side benefit of carrying? Honestly, I love my Walther and it is slim as can be. I admit the magazines can be a pain and expensive and a .38 is alot of fun at the range. However, I am just not sure about the recoil and use of the S&W air weight as a target gun. I do love a revolver . . . have a speed loader. There are many alluring characteristics. Thoughts? would greatly appreciate any and all thoughts, comments, experiences, etc.

I do have to mention that I will soon be a co-owner/registrant (i.e., on my permit) of a .22 Ruger target pistol, otherwise, I think that is exactly what I would get.
 

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Your instincts are good on this one.

My long time carry gun is a Colt Detective Special .38. I also have a S&W 640 .38/.357 which is now my son's carry gun. I even had a S&W .38 Model 37 Airweight at one time. While I have large and small automatics available, I prefer the small revolver for carry for a variety of reasons.

But target guns they are not. We do put a few cylinders through them once a month or so just for familiarization and muscle memory but I'm talking 15-18 rounds. With anything but very light loads I wouldn't find what I think of as "target shooting" to be a very pleasant experience. Too light weight, snotty recoil.

If you buy the Airweight for carry purposes I think you will like it. And use the Ruger for target shooting.
 

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A snub nose is a carry gun, not a target gun. It's as simple as that really. Dedicated target guns have light triggers (not the best for carry) and a longer sight radius thatg makes them harder to conceal.
 

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I own one and it is not a target gun. The distance between the sights makes it terrible for that purpose but I still would recommend it as a carry. The Airweight is a wonderful firearm. Sorry for the junky iPhone photo but this is mine. Also if you find one with a square butt frame like mine you defiantly should get it. They are hard to find.

Trigger Revolver Gun barrel Air gun Gun accessory
 

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Yeah that guy was blowing smoke up your butt. J-frames are generally unpleasant to shoot, especially the Airweights. And they are especially difficult to shoot. Any gun can be a "target gun" if you shoot it at targets, but a J-frame is not the kind of gun you go and shoot 500 rounds through and poke out the center of the target with. And the "low level of recoil" is just a flat-out lie. Airweight J-frames have worse recoil than .44 Magnums in my experience due to weighing between 10 and 15 oz.

The other points made are good ones. They are excellent for carry, and not worrying about magazines is a double-edged sword. But it does simplify things, since you have one less thing to stock up on.

One more point; you mentioned single action accuracy. If you are getting it for carry, I would recommend getting a concealed hammer model. For a variety of reasons, you will want to be doing your shooting in double action, and the lack of the hammer makes drawing from a pocket or similar easier.

A better choice for a target gun would be something like the S&W 617 with a 4 or 6" barrel. This is a 10 shot .22LR revolver, and it is quite simple to replace the rear sight with a scope mount. I love mine.
 

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A guy told me once that when Smith & Wesson introduced the J-frame model, they had a walnut tree cut down to make the grips out of.

And they still have plenty of wood left.
 

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I'm sure that no one considers the J frame a "target" handgun in the true sense of the word "target handgun". As a carry gun, difficult to think of another that would be as good.

All that said, I made up some target wadcutter/ Green Dot loads for my J frame so that I could get good inexpensive/ low recoil practice with the gun. The loads were exquisitely accurate. A good target load in a J frame can be surprising, particularly for regular practice. I replaced the factory grips with S&W "banana" grips which are just big enough around and long enough to make the J frame quite a bit more comfortable to shoot.
 

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Are you *SURE* you heard him right?

Those guys are generally on the ball and while they may offer opinions that you don't agree with from time to time, I seriously doubt one of them would advocate use of an airweight as a target gun.

Was he pulling your leg perhaps, and you misunderstood him?
 

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The 642 Aieweight wouldn't be my choice for a target handgun, It was designed for conceal-carry. I have one and use it for conceal-carry and I do target practice with it on a regular basis, as wel as allof my other conceal-carry handguns. You have to know whhere they hit when you use them as a defensive tool. I like the 642, I use the Bianchi Zip Strips and had thin nylon pouches made to carry the zip strips in. The pouches keep the shells from collecting lint and protects the ammo from contact from the keys, cell phone, change & other items that you might carry in your pocket.
I like the zip strips better then the speed loaders, the speed loaders are to bulky. I have speed loaders for allof my revolvers and don't use them at all. On the other hand I use the zip strips.
It I want to target shoot with a 38 caliber handgun I use my Ruger GP100 - 357 magnum Stainless-Steel with a six inch barrel. I just pick up a couple of boxes of 38spl. FMJs or Wad Cutters and target shoot. I use this gun when I'm going up to the mountains for the day. We have cougars & a small population of grizzly bears upin the mountains here in Washington State. But the things that are the biggest threat are the felons who live in the mountains that are evading detection from law enforcement. A couple of years ago a Mom and Daughter were killed while out hiking for the day, most likely by one of these crimminals hiding out in the woods.
I occasionally see some shady looking characters while out in the mountains. Some of these seasonal mountain roads go back in 70 to a 100 miles of complete wilderness, Some thing like the roads up in the Adirondecks. Lots of good camping & trout fishing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Tapper - Much appreciated advice, particularly from someone who owns the same pistols. My dad has a S&W Detective Special .38 as well which was promised to me as a carry gun some time down the road. I think that covers it. It is time to be in the market for a true target .22. Personally, I have also favored the Ruger Mark II.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
He did not call it a target pistol per se. I did hear him correctly but to clarify, his focus was on the .38 having less kick than a 9mm (in his opinion). He was emphasizing that I could easily qualify with it at the range at 50ft, enjoy is substantially at the range but also have one of the best carry guns out there in my collection. With the external hammer, i.e., single-action/double action, it was his opinion that I would be more than capable of shooting quite accurately with the air weight. I want this to be true; I wish it was true, but I am not feeling it. He is more of a volunteer there and a great guy. I trust him. That is where I do think I am misunderstanding him. I think a big part of his reaction was my issue with my walther being an excellent carry gun as well as fun at the range but not a range gun. I think (I THINK) he was trying to show me another option that would accomplish both. I think I am better off simply, over time, getting both. a .22, a .38 revolver and a .40 equals a decent collection in my opinion, given that pistol permit amendments take some time to get in the City of Albany and I would be able to co-regiser the ,22 and the .38 with one amendment. I am the only one who truly shoots often anyways.
 

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He did not call it a target pistol per se. I did hear him correctly but to clarify, his focus was on the .38 having less kick than a 9mm (in his opinion). He was emphasizing that I could easily qualify with it at the range at 50ft, enjoy is substantially at the range but also have one of the best carry guns out there in my collection. With the external hammer, i.e., single-action/double action, it was his opinion that I would be more than capable of shooting quite accurately with the air weight. I want this to be true; I wish it was true, but I am not feeling it. He is more of a volunteer there and a great guy. I trust him. That is where I do think I am misunderstanding him. I think a big part of his reaction was my issue with my walther being an excellent carry gun as well as fun at the range but not a range gun. I think (I THINK) he was trying to show me another option that would accomplish both. I think I am better off simply, over time, getting both. a .22, a .38 revolver and a .40 equals a decent collection in my opinion, given that pistol permit amendments take some time to get in the City of Albany and I would be able to co-regiser the ,22 and the .38 with one amendment. I am the only one who truly shoots often anyways.
Ok, so let me get this straight... you come on here and trash a gun shop and its employees for telling you that an airweight is a target pistol, You initially said "I am looking for a new target pistol...One of the guys there suggested that I get a S&W .38 air weight." Then amended that in your later post to say "He did not call it a target pistol". It's NOT a target pistol, nor did he call it one, so why did you go after him publicly?

You also say that he told you:

1) 38 has less kick than 9mm (recoil is a function of many factors, including the speed and weight of the load and the weight of the gun, but this is probably true in most cases).
2) That you can hit a target with an airweight at 50ft (absolutely true if you are a half decent shot).
3) That it's a great carry gun (absolutely true)
4) That a revolver becomes more accurate in single action because of the lighter trigger (absolutely true).

Sounds like he gave you pretty good advice, and I think you owe both him and the store an apology for publicly disparaging them for giving you good information.
 

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The key problem with snub noses is very few people shoot them much- they get the gun put a half box of ammo through it and never shoot it again.
with practice they can be very accurate ( I can hit a man size steel plate at 100 yards no problem with mine) but I shoot a lot of revolver ( at least 5k a year) unless you want to pocket carry, I suggest an all steel j frame. I carry in belt or ankle holsters and the few extra ounces don't matter in carry to me, but make the gun much more comfortable to shoot. And the gun you shoot more you will be more accurate with and in a fight with your carry gun you will want all the help you can get!
a dedicated 22 target pistol should be the first or second handgun everyone should buy.imo - I understand today's focus on defensive guns but 22's teach you fundamental skills that many people can't or won't bother to learn with center fires . In this post safe act age I would tell people a steel n frame for carry (3 inch barrel rather than two) and a smith model 63 or 17 or 617 22 for range use. In autos I don't know what to say until we see who is going to provide a long term solution to the seven round mag thing. I know of no good true target 22 that has 7 round mags easily available
 

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Oops should say j not n frame in three inch above
LOL - I was going to say.......... another N frame lover. I also have a S&W 610 4" that is a lot of fun to shoot IPSC with in .40 and is a BEAST with 10mm.

I carry the Colt for its small size (inside the belt if necessary) but, truthfully, my old worn Model 19 (used to be a NYSP issue gun in its previous life) is almost as concealable with the Bianchi holster and a vest or jacket. A Miculek spring kit does wonders for the trigger pull. Shoot wadcutters all day at the range or load 158 JHP magnums for carry. Easily the best all around gun I have. I suppose that point of view plus my new Medicare card officially makes me an old fart.
 
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