Smith & Wesson 642:
Since August 1994 my primary concealed carry weapon has been a Para Ordnance P12 chambered in .45acp. The P12 is a compact 11+1 1911. Paired up with my Kramer Vertical Scabbard its an unbeatable ccw combination most of the time and in most situations. My issue with the P12/Kramer set up is that while wonderfully concealable under normal dress circumstances the P12 cant be carried in a pocket and it is difficult to conceal when dressed in somewhat athletic attire or mountain biking. In the past when I couldn't dress to conceal I ventured out unarmed even though I had a S&W .380 Sigma in the safe. Not the best solution. Well since last fall the crime rate in my neighborhood has risen dramatically and I decided that I really need to make certain I found a solution once and for all. As circumstance would have it in the days between Christmas and New Years I had two incidents in one day while walking the dog. Some folks aren't afraid of 110 pounds of GS dog until its on top of them. That day drove home the point, a warning shot if you will that I needed to make finding a solid and reliable alternative carry solution my number one priority. That said I started looking at some pocket semi-auto's but truth be told I'm no fan of carrying a handgun less than 9mm. It also occurred to me that in an emergency the little woman would never pick up a semi-auto, a revolver would be no issue for her. Enter the Smith & Wesson 642 in .38 special +P.
I chose the .38 special over the 649 .357 magnum based on size and weight. While the 649 is only 1/4" longer than the 640 it weighs in at 7oz's more empty. That additional weight would be compounded by the .357 magnum cartridges themselves. For my use size does matter and smaller and lighter is better. The drawback's being less power and more recoil. Again with the intended purpose of this firearm I am content with my decision. The 640 ships with a lockable hard case and an optional pink grip
- SKU: 163810
- Model: 642
- Caliber: .38 S&W Special +P
- Capacity: 5 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 1 7/8"
- Front Sight: Integral Front
- Rear Sight: Fixed
- Grip: Rubber Grips
- Frame: Small - Centennial Style
- Finish: Matte
- Overall Length: 6 3/8"
- Material: Alloy/Stainless Steel
- Weight Empty: 15 oz.
Appearance: In typical Smith & Wesson fashion the 642 is flawless in appearance, no gaps or buggered screws. The cylinders finish matched the frame much more closely than that of the barrel. The barrel looks like plain matte stainless. Make no mistake the 642 is a good looking firearm.
Function: The cylinder locks up pretty tight with only a slight amount of play. The ejector rod function is smooth and ejects cases easily. The case hardened in appearance trigger being double action has a pretty hard uneven pull. This is typical of these guns when new. Standard procedure for tuning these triggers is to get some snap caps and dry fire until things smooth out. The cylinder catch would be my one minor complaint. Its substantially harder to depress than any of my other Smith & Wesson revolvers. I suspect it to will become easier with use. All roll marks and engraving are flawless. The 640 is equipped with an internal lock which requires a special key to engage and disengage. This lock prevents trigger and hammer motion. The lock worked as described. The detent could be felt and heard in the locked and unlocked positions.
I'm fortunate enough to have access on occasion to a private 25 yard indoor pistol range. This was one of those occasions. I would have preferred to shoot outdoors but we seem to be in some sort of rain belt since spring started. Nice Saturdays have been few and far between.
In use: Unfortunately with the current ammo shortage I was forced to use the same ammunition that will be carried in the gun for our entire range session for this review. That ammo is the Cor Bon .38 Special +P 110 grain jacketed hollow point. According to the manufacturer this ammo travels at 1050fps and delivers 269ft/lbs of energy. I would have preferred some inexpensive generic ammo in the mix for an extended shooting session and comparison value. Well the first shot of the 642 loaded with the Cor Bon was a bit of an eye opener. This gun does have some bite when it recoils. I had expected this but was still somewhat surprised none the less. It would have been nice to have a second ammo to compare recoil with. At a later time I might choose to experiment with a softer grip.
The gun functioned as expected and spent cases dropped free easily from the cylinder. The 640's built in sites are adequate for the guns intended purpose and anticipated shooting range. That said I could perhaps see myself entertaining the installation of a high visibility front sight. The gun points well naturally and despite its small grip it feels pretty good in the hand.
The 640 was carried approximately 4 months, late winter into spring at the time of this review. At this point I'm pleased with how this gun has addressed my needs. I've tried many different methods from IWB to pocket carry. The gun will print in a jeans front pocket and it also makes bending down to pick up dog poop a little awkward. The gun works very well for pocket carry in my winter coat. It will rotate to an upside down position if left unsecured. The grip is hard enough that clothes do not cling.
I plan on ordering some holsters and summer ccw clothing I will update this review as the seasons progress.
I believe in testing for accuracy in a similar manner as to how a gun will be used. In this instance I want to know the combined accuracy of the model 640 and myself and not the accuracy of the model 640 and a rest. This is a close range personal protection and LEO type back up weapon. Shooting from a rest only proves inherent accuracy of the weapon. The accuracy I expect from this weapon is close up and personal combat accurate. I subscribe to the "two shots center mass" discipline. Keeping that in mind I will utilize a specially calibrated target for my accuracy testing. That special target is a 7" white paper plate.
Shooting: The first shots at 7 yards I missed the plate completely and was all over the place. I'm blaming the trigger,excitement and some winter rust. Problem is this ammo cost me about $1.40 per round delivered and Im wasting money and valuable ammo if Im missing the target. I paused and decided to spend some time dry firing at the target. Confident I was good to go i tried again. That was the trick. Im not certain whether it was me relaxing, getting better trigger control, the gun loosening up or a most likely a combination of the three. I was popping the plates consistantly but the trigger pull does seem to be an issue and needs addressed.
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