I Carry: S&W Model 638 in a Kramer Leather Pocket Holster

posted on October 19, 2018

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today, we have a Smith & Wesson Model 638 .38 Spl. revolver in a Kramer Leather holster. We also have a Crimson Trace Lasergrip, a PHLster Pocket Emergency Wallet and a CRKT knife.

Smith & Wesson Model 638 (MSRP: $469)

We’re carrying the Model 638 today, which is a shrouded hammer, small-frame revolver. Since we’re choosing pocket carry, either this version or the entirely enclosed hammer version – the Model 642 – are excellent choices. The exposed-hammer version in keeping with the stainless finish would be the Model 637, which is more at home on the belt or in an ankle holster. This particular model is the “Airweight” version, with aluminum construction that keeps weight to a light 15 ounces.

Choosing a five-shot J-frame over a 7-shot .380 ACP or 6-shot 9 mm semi-auto really boils down to a personal decision. Some don’t feel comfortable with the expansion and stopping power of the .380 ACP, while others might be concerned about the possibility of pocket lint and other detritus finding their way into the action and preventing proper operation. Of course, ammunition selection, training and proper maintenance will alleviate these concerns, but the rock-solid operation of a revolver is comforting to some.

What it boils down to, mainly, is familiarity. If you’re a revolver fan, you’re going to be comfortable carrying a small version for defense. Five rounds of .38 Special +P shouldn’t make anyone feel like they’re not adequately armed, however with a specialized tool like the J-frame, dedicated training is absolutely a must. Seek out a qualified trainer dedicated to the small revolver to maximize its effectiveness.

Kramer Leather Pocket Gun holster (MSRP: $99)

We’ve opted to carry the model 638 in a Kramer Leather Pocket Gun holster. Now, sure, I know what you’re thinking: That’s a great-looking holster; it’s a shame to have to hide it in your pocket. Yes, the Kramer Leather Pocket Gun holster is well-made, with precision-molded horsehide. It’s also thoughtfully constructed to keep the gun positioned correctly in the pocket and has a lip designed to catch the inside of the pocket so the holster remains inside during the draw. Additionally, a plastic laminate panel on the outward side breaks up the outline in the pocket to prevent printing.

Crimson Trace Lasergrip (MSRP: $229)

With a five-shot revolver, every pull of the trigger needs to result in a decisive hit. One way to increase your odds of this is to equip your firearm with a Crimson Trace laser grip, which instinctively turns on a red- or green-laser dot when you assume a firing grip. In this case, we’ve outfitted our model 638 with a red-lasergrip to make aiming the J-frame easier. This particular grip installs easily as a grip exchange, requiring one screw to be removed so that the Crimson Trace unit can replace the standard stocks.

A note on using laser sights, however: While laser aiming devices are designed, ideally, so that wherever the dot appears is where the bullet strikes, it is still imperative to press the trigger firmly and stay on target through the shot process. Jerk the trigger, and the shot – and the laser dot – will go low. One of the advantages of equipping a firearm with a lasergrip is seeing how your shot breaks in dry-fire-practice. If you’re flinching or otherwise moving the muzzle before the shot goes off, the laser tells all.

PHLSter Pocket Emergency Wallet (MSRP: $64.99)

Having an Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) is always a great idea, and while it’s pretty easy to pull together a decent IFAK to attach to your range bag or bug-out bag, having a small, portable kit you can have with you all day long is harder. Fortunately, PHLster has done it for you and put together the PEW: Pocket Emergency Wallet. Using a Snake Eater Tactical elastic sleeve, the PEW contains a pair of nitrile gloves, compressed gauze, a compression bandage and a sheet of Woundclot gauze. As always, we recommend professional first-aid training to best use this equipment, but having it on your person at all times means that even if you’re not fully trained, someone with the right training won’t need to waste valuable moments searching for life-saving gear.

CRKT Gungho (MSRP: $59.99)

With a 2.78-inch, plain-edge tanto blade and G10 handle, the Gungho by Columbia River Knife and Tool is an excellent EDC choice. Add in the Outburst assisted opening via thumbstud, frame lock and reversible pocket clip for tip-up or tip-down carry, and you’ve got a purpose-built blade for all your day-to-day tasks.


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