For years I’ve been a fan of small-framed revolvers with 3-inch barrels. I personally find them much more accurate than a snub at ranges past 7-yards while being more controllable, thus allowing a faster follow-up shot if needed. Further, they are almost just as concealable. In short, a nice 3-inch is the best of both worlds between the compact go-anywhere capability of a snubby while coming closer to being an effective “combat” revolver should it be needed.
With that, I was pleased to come across a line of night-sight-equipped 856 Defenders from Taurus that was just released this month at SHOT Show. All share the same 6-round cylinder, a factory-installed front sight post with an integrated tritium vial, and an extended ejector rod. With a 3-inch barrel, overall length runs 7.5-inches.
Buyers who dig solid hardwood grips can opt for the Tungsten Cerakote model Defender 856 (frame, barrel, and cylinder) with an Altamont walnut grip.
Prices at retailers should be around $350ish, which is a budget counter to Colt’s Cobra 3-inch and Smith’s Model 60/686s.
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When I teach concealed carry courses, I see a lot of people packing the Roscoe, the old 1.75- to 2-inch snub. They have a bit of a bite, a lot of muzzle flip, are tough on the hands, and fairly inaccurate at range. Further, until you get the use of a speedloader down pat, are very slow on the reload. Fact is, they can be great as a backup gun or for someone experienced in their use and aware of their limitations. For many who haven’t already bought one, I typically recommend against them and push more towards a subcompact 9mm such as a Glock 43, S&W Shield, or Ruger LC9/EC9, which are the same size with a larger capacity, better handling, and ergonomics– not to mention a faster reload.
With that being said, I also see a lot of people carrying 3-inch wheelguns, which are an interesting blend of concepts. They provide a nice balance between accuracy and concealability since they are much smaller than a full-sized 4-inch K frame while having less muzzle flip than a snub. Back in the 1960s and 70s, 3-inchers were popular as their really weren’t any concealable small frame pistols then that were chambered larger than jam-prone .380. Heck, I have an old Carter-era Rossi (don’t laugh, it works) full-lug stainless M720 in .44 Special with a 3-inch barrel that I take hog hunting with me in the swamps of the Pearl River as a backup gun.
And 3-inchers are coming back, especially in decent calibers that offer a bit more spice than a 9mm. For example, Colt’s return to the .357 Magnum wheelhouse neighborhood this year, the new King Cobra, is a three.
Now, Ruger has responded by announcing a new version of the LCRx wheel gun chambered in .357 Magnum. While the LCRx small-frame revolver series has been around for several years in both a 3-inch format and in .357, the combination of the two features is new for the company. Previously, the popular magnum caliber was just offered in the LCRx line in a 1.87-inch barrel length model.
And it looks good.
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