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S&W 351C 22 mag revolver for self defense?

CS8161CS8161 Member Posts: 13,595 ✭✭✭
edited January 2016 in Ask the Experts
Not my auction, but I was thinking about buying one of these for concealed carry, especially in summer because it is so light and easy to hide. Smith makes the same revolver in 22 LR , model 43C. Just wondering if there is any advantage other than noise to a 22 mag in this short barrel? Would a 22 LR with CCI Stingers or Velocitors be a better choice? Thanks for any opinions!


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    62fuelie62fuelie Member Posts: 1,069 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I would rather go for more slug mass. You can get the same gun in the same frame in the S&W 642 in .38 Spl. It gives you the same weight savings and small size with much more bullet weight. Even using 148 grain wadcutters you have 740 grains of launchable mass. With 9 35 grain .22 LR or WMR rounds you have less than half that.In that stubby barrel neither round will get up to supersonic velocity, so it's just bullet weight/kinetic energy doing the work.
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    Ricci WrightRicci Wright Member Posts: 8,260 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    I agree. Unless you just can't stand any recoil the .38 spl will be a much better option. By the way,a 642 or 442 if you prefer black is going to be cheaper than that as well. Good luck, Ricci.
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    CS8161CS8161 Member Posts: 13,595 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks, the 38 special makes sense, especially with the unavailability of rimfire ammo!
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    rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,650 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    One advantage of the 22 WRM. Would be muzzle blast and powder flash. From the short barreled revolver. You wouldn't even have to hit the perp. Couple up close and personal shots. And he be beating feet to change his shorts.

    All kidding aside, shooting .22 mag from a short barreled handgun. Inside a room would likely damage your hearing, and cause temporary flash blindness.
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    beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I agree with above opinions.

    .22 magnum is a fantastic round. . .for hunting small game. Its a poor choice for personal defense from a snubnose revolver.

    .22 magnum was designed as a RIFLE round, and really requires a long barrel to achieve proper velocity. From a 2" barreled gun, the ballstics end up being only marginally better than a .22 long rifle.

    Worse, most of the powder ends up burning OUTSIDE the gun, creating a huge flash, with corresponding fire risk and night-vision destroying momentary blindness.

    In short, you get the poor ballistics of a .22LR, but with more flash and higher cost!

    IMO, best snubnose revolver caliber for a light-framed gun is .38 special, which gives a very good compromise between capacity, power, and recoil from this light package.

    If you are recoil sensitive, then load your .38 with wadcutters or other low recoil rounds. But even the weakest .38 specials are still going to significantly outperform a .22 magnum from a snubnose.
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    JohnnyBGoodJohnnyBGood Member Posts: 1,443 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I have both the 442 and 351C. I prefer the 351C because it weighs about 4-5 ounces less (unloaded) than the 442. When both are loaded the 351C weighs about 6 ounces less.

    That may not sound like much but having 6 ounces more in my pocket makes a difference to me, because with the 442 I have to keep pulling my pants up as they sag on the side with the gun. I don't have that problem with the 351C. (Maybe belt carry you won't notice any difference?)

    Smith made or used to make a Ti 38 Special J Frame that weighed about the same as the 351C (unloaded) but I THINK there have been reports of cracked barrels or frames(??).

    I also like the 7 shots of the 22 Mag vs. 5 with the 38.

    As to 22 Mag ammo in handguns, both Speer and Hornady make special rounds for the short barreled handguns.



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    beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by JohnnyBGood
    I have both the 442 and 351C. I prefer the 351C because it weighs about 4-5 ounces less (unloaded) than the 442. When both are loaded the 351C weighs about 6 ounces less.
    Per Smith and Wesson:

    442/642 unloaded weight: 15 ounces (and I know that's correct). 351C unloaded weight: 11 ounces. That's a 4 ounce difference in the actual guns.

    Weight of 5 .38 special cartridges: 2.5 ounces (+ or - a tiny amount based on bullet weight and charge). Weight of 7 .22 magnum cartridges: 1 ounce.

    So a loaded 442 weighs 17.5 ounces, a loaded 351c about 12 ounces, for about 5.5 ounces difference. That's certainly a significant weight difference, especially for a pants pocket.

    That said, if a 15 ounce 38 is too much for you, Ruger LCR only weighs 13 ounces, for only 3.5 ounces total difference. Charter Arms lightweight revolvers are only 12 ounces, for only a 2.5 ounce difference. Smith Scandium .38s are 13.3 ounces.

    I'd point out also, the the Smith 351 uses a heavier than normal firing spring to ensure reliability with the 22 magnum rimfire cartridges, so DA trigger pull is noticeably heavier with the 22 magnum gun compared to the .38 revolvers.

    quote:I also like the 7 shots of the 22 Mag vs. 5 with the 38.No argument there. All else being equal 7 is better than 5. Don't think all else *is* equal, though (see below).

    quote:As to 22 Mag ammo in handguns, both Speer and Hornady make special rounds for the short barreled handguns. Yes, and while these do quite a bit better than I thought, they still aren't nearly as powerful as .38s. Lets look the actual numbers:

    I'm citing this, just because I actually trust American Rifleman (the NRA magazine). These are recently chronographed numbers with real ammo and a real Smith 351 gun, and IMO its well worth reading the whole article here:


    I have to tell you, these numbers are quite a bit better than I thought. The ammo makers have done a good job improving 22 magnum for these short barreled handguns.

    So that's 1022 fps for the Hornady Critical defense 45 grain, and since that's the best "personal defense" .22mag, with the heaviest bullet let's use that as our benchmark.

    IMO best comparison to something like that would be the Speer "short barrel" Gold got 135 grain +P That one yields 860 fps from the 1-7/8" Smith guns.

    So 38+P gets 84% of the velocity of the 22 magnum, but with a bullet 3x the weight, and presenting 2.6X the cross sectional area (ie the .38 punches a hole nearly 3x as large).

    In short, EACH 38 gives you more than 2.5x the kinetic energy, momentum ("power factor"), and bullet hole size as the best available .22 magnum. Looked at it THAT way, total firepower of 5 38s is still quite a bit higher than even 7 .22 magnums.

    I'm not pooh-poohing .22 magnum here. . .I don't want to get shot by one, and I'd bet a contact wound is probably pretty devastating.

    But at the end of the day, there are reasons why .38 special from a snubnose has been the gold standard in concealed/pocket carry for 60+ years, and why .22 magnum is used to hunt rabbits!
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