The Saturday Night Special: Dinner, Dancing and a Derringer .38


[Editor’s Note: Back when I was a kid, my mom used to carry a “Saturday night special” in her purse. I always thought it was a special surprise we kids were not supposed to see. I knew it was important though because she would always say things like, “Don’t worry, I’ve got my Saturday night special.” When I was older, I finally realized she was carrying a handgun and was thankful that she had enough forethought to plan for when things go awry. The Saturday night special is a great backup weapon and Jeremiah Johnson lists some great points about it. So, when you go out for dinner this weekend, don’t forget your Derringer .38.]

Good Day to all of you Readers out there!  Welcome to Ready Nutrition for a segment that you ladies can’t afford to miss:  JJ’s review of a Derringer.  Yes, the Derringer is a miniature pistol that presents an opportunity for a “stealthy backup friend/backup piece” that you can turn to when it hits the fan. A backup piece can be used when the primary firearm is either out of commission/ammo or when stealth requirements do not enable you to employ your primary effectively.

I wish to recommend the Cobra line of Derringers.  The Cobra Model CB-38 is a brand that is manufactured in Utah, and the one I wish to focus on is the model that is in .38 Special caliber.  There are several reasons for this.  Cobra makes a highly effective over-under barrel single-action derringer.  The weapon is a two-shot.  This means you pull back the hammer, take the safety off, and fire.  Pull it back again, and fire your second shot.  Very simple, very effective, with no feeding or jamming problems and effective delivery for your needs.

Now .38 Special is not too much weapon for the ladies’ hands.  The Cobra is a very comfortable model, with a handgrip made of rosewood.  There is hardly any recoil whatsoever, and the barrel is nice and short: compact enough to conceal and unobtrusive for either a pocket or a purse.  There is another good reason for this as an augment to your SP-101, and here it is: you can fire your .38 Special ammo through your SP-101, which comes in .357 magnum.  Now keep in mind: the reverse doesn’t hold true.  You cannot fire the .357 magnum through the .38 Special revolver.

Also to be avoided are +P rounds, that hold a higher amount of powder and hence a higher muzzle velocity to the round.  The chamber pressures are too much for the Cobra.  Nevertheless, you can pick up some really decent hollow points with light recoil loads that are highly effective penetrators.  The Cobra is designed very well for ladies’ hands, and it is easy to load.  It has a side lever that locks the barrel in place and a shell ejector that lifts the spent cases by the rim, pulling them upward to enable grabbing them and extracting them from the chamber.

Load up two more rounds, flip the barrel over, and lock the barrel-locking lever back in place.  Voila!  That’s all there is to it.  This author has field-tested it, and it is highly accurate out to about 10 meters/30 feet.  It is designed to be a close-range performer.  You’re not going to be breaking any world pistol shooting records with it.  Cobra has a manufacturer’s warranty attached to it.  The piece is available for about $200 in your local firearms establishment.  They bring it in a matte-black finish that I believe preferable: you don’t need a mirror finish/shiny finish on such a piece.  Davis makes a Derringer in .38 special, but it is in stainless and fairly reflective.

You can pick up round-nose full metal jacket rounds for it for about $20 for a box of 50, and friendly Wal-Mart sells the flat-nosed lead target rounds for about the same.  Now mind you, the .38 Special doesn’t have the stopping power of the .45 ACP; however, the concealment factor is the key here.  There are several .45 ACP Derringers from Davis and other manufacturers, but size precludes being able to conceal them effectively in a pocket or purse.  Also take into consideration the amount of kick is not optimal for a lady’s hand or wrist.

With this Cobra .38 Special, you’re adding decent stopping power with the ability to handle the weapon and conceal it.  The price is not high and the product is exemplary.  I highly recommend visiting a gun show or the local pawn shops to find one even more in your budget.  The piece also makes an excellent survival piece to tote in a bug-out bag or within your gear when you’re out on a camping trip or an outdoor excursion.  JJ also recommends buying some shotshells for .38 special, and they’re also called “varmint” rounds or “snake shot,” the names being self-explanatory.

The reason to purchase such is that it can be used in a survival situation to hunt dove or quail or small fowls that can serve you well if you’re out of food.  Take the time to study the piece and you’ll find effective performance and a low-cost backup piece that will come in handy when the time comes.  As always, be sure and consult with a lawyer or police officer to learn what the gun regulations are in your home state.  Know the laws and abide by them prior to purchase.  Have a safe day, and any comments for those of you who fire the Cobra will be both welcomed and appreciated.



Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 16th, 2015
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  • JdL

    Would be great to have a pic of the gun you’re writing about.

  • Jack Straw

    If you want to use a Derringer type piece, I would recommend lots of practice. The only one i have shot was a H & R in .22wmr, it didnt shoot very well,not just by me,one other shooter was a state cop small arms instructor, and he didnt advise it for farther than 10 feet.

  • gordo53

    I suppose as a backup it’s ok. It isn’t really any smaller than my Keltec P3AT and it weighs more. I would certainly recommend the Keltec (or the similar Ruger LCP) as a superior alternative. BTW, on my Keltec I added the 1 round magazine extension. It gives you much better control and the weapon still fits comfortably in a pocket.

  • frankw

    The two shot “derringer” is a relic of the 19th century. There are a number of small semi-autos that hold 6 or even 7 rds of .380 and 9mm. And women, even with disabilities, are capable of shooting large caliber weapons. My wife, who only has the use of one hand due to a stroke favors the .357 mag. and after shooting (one handed) my sons .44mag is pushing me to get her one. She’s also an excellent shot.
    A 2 shot weapon is a dicey, limited piece to bet your life on.

    • 6 or 7 rounds is pretty dicey when the jack-booted thugs which are about to besiege us are carrying select fire HK-416s.

  • Why is there a photo of a revolver atop this article about a over-under 2 shot derringer?

  • Gus Mueller

    Seriously, dude? Ask a cop about the law? Might as well ask the cat.

  • EgbertThrockmorton1

    Excellent article Jeremiah. First rule of any gun or knife fight is, Have a Gun! While I ahve had some experience in carrying a High Standard .22 magnum as a third gun when on-=duty and in uniform on patrol way back when, it was good to about across the room and that was all. For a “Get off me” gun it was fine. I always had a ,38 special snubbie in my left hand uniform pocket and always had my hand on the revolver ready to draw when conducting traffic stops. No one ever tumbled to it either. Still make it a habit to carry one on my off-side chinos pocket even now. it isn’t my primary EDC, but I believe in redundancy. Picked up a NAA .22 magnum “revolver” with the grip/holster attached, giving it a field test now as a third or second back up. I believe in having the means to defend one’s self from predators, especially the bi-ped variety. if I can get the North America Arms back from my wife, I will wring it out even better!

  • EgbertThrockmorton1

    Our now-adult daughters have always out shot every male they’ve gone up against at any range. I am an extremely proud Dad! Yes, they are feminine and cute as well.

  • Kim Maurer

    I follow your articles and mostly agree. I would not recommend a .38 derringer under any circumstances when there are so many new and used compact revolvers available at a better price. Taurus makes one in .380 using moon clips! Pocket size. Even small children can learn to manually cock a double action revolver if their finger is too weak to pull the trigger in double action. 5 or 6 shots versus 2 for the same or less weight and size. Just my input.

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