Jon, I also have a S&W small frame .38. Mine is the hammerless, alloy light weight weighing 11 oz with the stubby grip. Five shots of .38 should be able to get me out of trouble and if it is one of those situations where you need to get out of the area ... you don't leave any connections back to yourself on the ground (like casings). I can put it in my front pocket, and you'll never notice it.
For big trouble in little China, I keep the .357 Desert Eagle.