A lot of people have already come to that conclusion; hence the evergreen popularity of the Smith & Wesson J-frame line of 5-shot revolvers. Introduced at the 1950 International Association of Chiefs of Police convention (where the attending chiefs named it the Chiefs Special), the 2- and 3-inch J-frame 5-shot revolvers were a replacement for the earlier I-frame revolvers chambered for the less powerful .38 S&W cartridge. These new guns were designed for plain clothes police officers and they have gone through many iterations since that original all-steel model. In 1952 lighter frame compositions were introduced in the form of the Airweight aluminum-framed models, differing from the standard Chiefs Special revolver by having an aluminum alloy frame (while the cylinder and barrel remained of steel). In the 1998 S&W introduced its AirLite Ti series of the guns, which featured Aluminum alloy frames, cylinder yokes and barrel shrouds. AirLite Ti models cylinders are made from Titanium and the barrel liners from stainless steel. In 2000, S&W announced it line of AirLite Sc revolvers, which used a scandium alloy for frame, yoke and barrel shroud (the cylinder in these guns is titanium and barrel liner is steel). Body-style wise, in 1955, S&W introduced a different frame, the Centennial, its first compact revolver with a DAO trigger. The original Centennial model was dropped in 1974, but latter reintroduced as the all-stainless Model 640 (without the original grip safety.) A Centennial Airweight with aluminum frame and stainless steel cylinder and barrel came next, and in 1993 it was joined by the Model 442 revolver, which has aluminum alloy frame and carbon steel cylinder and barrel. Recently S&W has introduced some more Centennial configuration guns in Airlite Sc and Airlite Ti frames. Another frame variation, the Bodyguard AirWeight model 38 revolver came out in 1957. This gun was a basic Chiefs Special but with a shrouded hammer. It soon was followed by other variations in the Bodyguard configuration. Today there are many alternatives in materials and body style of the basic J-frame. From the lightest 10 ounce model to the all-steel versions, these little snubbies make a comfortingand comfortablepocket package. Nothings free, of course, and the lightest numbers are the devil to shoot, but at close range and in fear of your life, youll probably not fret too much about the recoil. Brent Purucker, former Michigan state trooper and long-running member of the Smith & Wesson Academy staff, has won several IDPA national revolver titles, with some of those matches including snubbie stages. Brent says that the accuracy of the little J-frame is nothing to sneeze at. Ive easily gotten 2 to 3 inch groups at 15 yards, he says, a feat echoed in many articles over the years in this magazine. Not surprisingly, Brent favors the 640-1 all steel model for its extra controllability, while other authorities, such as Wiley Clapp in his book Concealed Carry, published by Paladin Press, come out in favor of the very light models. My own choice is the 342PD, the lightest J-frame of them all. The biggest mistake that people make, says Brent, is loading these little guns with .38+P or, God forbid, .357 magnum ammunition. I concur. Mine is loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs from CorBon, with standard load .38 Federal Nyclads in a Bianchi Speed Strip for a second load. Thats not powerful enough for you? Well, you do have five shots keep shooting. I chose the light 342PD because its a pocket gun for me; on my waist, I can comfortably carry a larger gun. However, many people arent as weight sensitive as I am. I know people who carry even larger all steel revolvers in their pants pocket all day, every day, and they see no need to go to a lighter unit. Also, as a revolver, the S&W J-frames have all the advantages of one. They are instinctive and simple to shoot, easy to maintain, and can be easily fit to any hand by simply changing out the grips. In fact, a little while ago I wrote an article for Combat Handguns on the two dozen reasons that instructor Michael DeBethencourt favors a revolver over a self-loader, and they are indeed compelling. When you can, take the sage advice to carry the largest gun you can shoot well. When you cant, or doing so is so uncomfortable that youre tempted to go unarmed, do what all of us in the industry do: slip a S&W J-frame snubbie into your pocket. I found this piece of info while searcing for J frame info. I couldn't find the authors name. But it does have some good info in it! Wanna kill these ads? We can help!