S&W 642 Recoil?


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AustinTexas
July 31, 2006, 03:49 PM
My Mother-In-Law recently moved to Texas from a northern state. She always wanted a pistol, but didnít want to go thru all the hoops required by her previous state of residence. Anyway, she wants something she call also use for concealed carry and has decided that she wants a S&W 642. Myself preferring larger calibers and frames, don't have anything this small for her to try out the recoil on before she purchases one. Before she lays out $550+ for her first gun, I want to make sure that she can handle it ok. Can anyone comment on the recoil for someone who has a weaker hand grip? I checked around the local ranges, but I cannot find one that has a 642 to shoot. Anyone know of a place near Austin that does?

Thanks,

Clarence

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cookekdjr
July 31, 2006, 04:08 PM
I highly recommend the 432pd instead (same gun only in .32 H&R magnum). The recoil on the 642 with any kind of defensive ammo is quite severe, although for some folks this gun just fits their hand such that its no so bad.
I can tell you that for me, shooting the 642 was more painful than any handgun I've ever shot. It made my Ruger .44 Magnum look like a .22 long rifle in terms of reoil. The 432pd is still quite snappy, but nothing like the 642.
Good luck,

David

mdao
July 31, 2006, 04:27 PM
If she's not going to try to pocket carry, I'd recommend the S&W 640 or Ruger SP101 instead. They're ~ 5-7 oz heavier and are a lot better at soaking up recoil when used with .38 spl defensive loads.

timothy75
July 31, 2006, 05:08 PM
With non +P ammo its not that bad or you can try a lighter weight like 110gr. I wouldnt go for the .32 personally, I would go all steel first but thats just me. Good luck

m0ntels
July 31, 2006, 05:29 PM
The 642 recoils less than I expected it to. With standard pressure loads and a proper grip, anyone with practice should be able to handle it.

I think that price would hurt more than shooting the thing. Do they really go for $550? Mine was NIB at a local shop for $299. I've been hesitant to order guns online, but if I could get a 2-for-1, that'd change my mind fast.

Randy

AustinTexas
July 31, 2006, 05:34 PM
Thanks for everyone's input thus far!!!

$550 is for the 642 w/ Crimson Trace Laser Grips. Standard is about the $299 you paid.

Now the 432PD is interesting. Its not on S&W's website and I didn't know about it or I would have been looking for it in the shops. Is it new and S&W just hasn't update thier website or it discontinued?

Clarence

MikeJ
July 31, 2006, 05:34 PM
I have the 442, virtually the same gun, and although I find it easy to shoot, it is not fun. For someone with a weaker hand grip and not use to shooting handguns I would not recommend it. I also have the 640 .357 Centennial which is much easier and pleasant to shoot. I keep both guns loaded with Speer Gold Dot 135 Grain .38+P. There is a significant difference in felt recoil between the two. The 442 weighs 15 oz. and the 640 weighs 23 oz. BTW, $550 is way too much for a 642.

EddieCoyle
July 31, 2006, 05:54 PM
I don't mind the recoil at all. However, my girlfriend tried it with some light loads and she flatly refuses to even pick it up again.

I ended up getting her a 317. Not my first choice for a self defense handgun, but it's much better than throwing rocks. Plus, she shoots it pretty well.

1 LT MPC
July 31, 2006, 06:16 PM
Ditto the SP101. In my opinion, stay away from the alloy frames ,as most women will not like the recoil. You didn't mention how MIL was going to carry. The Ruger is not a pocket gun and may be too heavy for her purse as well. (Although my wifes purse sometimes weighs about 53 pounds!).:D If she just wants something for around the house, maybe a good model 10 would do. The 2 inch SP101 has a lot of aftermarket stuff, especially holsters, so that shouldn't be a problem.
Why pay for the expense of a laser grip? All it does is tell Bubba where you are. I'd invest the extra money in a good trigger job or a sure-fire light.

cookekdjr
July 31, 2006, 07:29 PM
Thanks for everyone's input thus far!!!

$550 is for the 642 w/ Crimson Trace Laser Grips. Standard is about the $299 you paid.

Now the 432PD is interesting. Its not on S&W's website and I didn't know about it or I would have been looking for it in the shops. Is it new and S&W just hasn't update thier website or it discontinued?

Clarence

Clarence,

It was recently discontinued. Here is a review by gunblast.com:
http://gunblast.com/WBell_SW32s.htm

I actually have the 431pd, the model with the exposed hammer.
BTW, re: 642 recoil. I lift weights as a hobby, and can shoot any large-caliber revolver I want. But something about the way that the 642 sits in my hand makes the recoil quite painful. My old shooting buddy was a college athlete, his 642 was the same way. He usually shot steel handguns in calibers that began with "4". But his 642 could make his eyes water.
-David

coltjeeper
July 31, 2006, 10:57 PM
Still some 431s here....
http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/cPath/21_39_72/products_id/12856

And if I remember right, my dealer still has one in stock. I'll check.

Dollar An Hour
July 31, 2006, 11:08 PM
Shooting Airweight J-frame .38's isn't much fun for novice shooters, but you can adapt with practice.

I'd recommend instead a steel frame Model 36LS - mellower with +P defensive ammo and a slightly smoother trigger.

kentucky_smith
July 31, 2006, 11:20 PM
Tonight i shot a Government 1911, a Keltec P3at and a 637 with +p.

Not that bad, SA I could put it where I wanted. DA and I'm pulling to the right bad. Trigger pull is pretty hard DA, SA is light.

cookekdjr
July 31, 2006, 11:29 PM
I think alot of the recoil pain for some folks is the size of the grips. The grips on these j-frames are really small. I can't get as firm a purchase as I can on, say, a Ruger Redhawk, Ruger blackhawk, or a 1911. Its like trying to get a firm grip around a chopstick.
Maybe I'm just making excuses but its the only reason I can see for my easy shooting of full-house heavy magnums and then struggling on shooting the airweight .38. Btw, my hand hurt alot less (none at all, actually) shooting heavy .45 colts out of a Taurus Titanium snub-nose. The grips were alot bigger.
-David

NMGlocker
July 31, 2006, 11:36 PM
For a house gun or purse carry, she would be better served by a Ruger Sp101.
The 642 is nice, but more suited to pocket or ankle carry.

fiVe
August 1, 2006, 01:43 AM
While I'm no expert (and, in fact, quite prejudiced), I would think the bigger CT grips would make recoil managable.

The Good
August 1, 2006, 05:00 AM
find it for 350 or less and use the rest of the money on CT grips and youll be all set. have her practice with light loads

BsChoy
August 1, 2006, 11:01 AM
My 642 stings a bit with the factory grips which are open backed so the backstrap metal is contacting you. It only stings with +p stuff though, 148 grain wadcutters are pussy cats... I might get killed for this in the revolver forum but I found that my friends new Keltec P-32 is perfect for the pocket and weighs about 8 oz. less and recoil is nil. I don't know about you guys but I don't want to get shot with anything and a quick 8 32 acp rounds in the center mass sounds pretty bad to me. Just my .02

mick470
September 30, 2008, 08:00 PM
I put 125 rounds of Remington UMC 130 grain/.38 special on my first time out.I knew it was pretty snappy and I had alot of fun.People asked me if my hand hurt.I said no.The next day,no again.Then the day after,I woke up with my hand in a pistol holding position;yes it hurt then.Think I won't shoot as many loads next time...Ha!

jaydubya
September 30, 2008, 08:20 PM
Someone above said, "my girlfriend tried it with some light loads and she flatly refuses to even pick it up again.

I believe your mother would have the same response. If I don't put a thumb bandaid over the web between my thumb and hand before firing my 637 snubby Airweight, I will create, and pop, a blister by the time I fire twenty 158gr standard pressure LSWC range loads. When I first bought the 637, I got a box of Cor Bon +p 115gr Sierra hollow points. After firing five rounds, I swore on the spot that I would never do that again. That ammo now resides in my 686+.

I'm no wimp. Got six battles stars on my Vietnam Service Ribbon. I just have lost my taste for pain since then.

I hope you find a range in Austin that has rentals, because that is your best solution.

Cordially, Jack

creativetownsman
September 30, 2008, 08:25 PM
442/642 is great for pocket carry. Lousy for practice-does a 'number' on me re recoil.

Yesterday I shot mine for the first time in about a month or more...shot reloads equivalent to the Speer GD +P and one round of the Speer GD +P factory. Started to get a blister between my shooting thumb and forefinger after only ten rounds or so with Hogue Bantam Grips, which are great for concealment but not so great for practice unless you build your hand up and shoot with it frequently.

I would never recommend a x42 for a woman or for anyone else. I am not generally recoil-sensitive but, let's face it, it HURTS! Better to carry it and not shoot much, if you want one.

Because the recoil is much better and the gun is more accurate, I prefer a Kahr CW9 overall for concealed carry.

I still like (not love) my J-frame, but I think if I could own a PM9 that was reliable, I'd consider selling the J-frame.

C-grunt
October 1, 2008, 03:47 AM
My wife wanted a 442 and after a couple cylinders full, I got it. The little thing didnt have a whole lot of jump out of your hand recoil. But it has a whole lot of make your hand sting recoil.

It felt like I was letting my friends practice boxing by punching my open hands. It was a great little gun, but I got rid of it and got a Ruger SP101.

Pilot
October 1, 2008, 08:56 AM
My wife has a 642 with the Crimson Trace laser grips. She wears a shooting glove when she practices with it. I don't find the recoil that bad with 125 grains standard loads. However, if she isn't going to carry it regularly, I'd opt for a steel framed gun like the SP101 or similar S&W.

MattB
October 1, 2008, 09:55 AM
Hogue model # 60000 grips make the 642 a totally different gun. I hated shooting mine for more than 50 rounds until I got these grips.

M1911
October 1, 2008, 10:00 AM
I would never recommend a x42 for a woman or for anyone else. I am not generally recoil-sensitive but, let's face it, it HURTS!I agree completely. I've got a 642. After putting 25 rounds through it during a range session, I'm done. It hurts. The 642 sights are very, very hard to use. It needs a trigger job out of the box as well.

The 642 recoils less than I expected it to. With standard pressure loads and a proper grip, anyone with practice should be able to handle it.I've got 200 hours of firearms training (LFI, Sigarms Academy, S&W Academy, etc.). I compete in IDPA. My usual carry gun is a Kimber Compact with an aluminum frame, and I load it with 230gr +P ammo.

I think I have a reasonable amount of practice. But, quite frankly, my S&W 642 hurts to shoot. I would never recommend it to a novice shooter, particularly one with a weak grip. A S&W 60 or Ruger SP101 would be a much, much better choice.

Hogue model # 60000 grips make the 642 a totally different gun. I hated shooting mine for more than 50 rounds until I got these grips.For me, the only purpose of a 642 is pocket carry. Large grips like that certainly reduce the felt recoil, but then it won't fit in my pocket any more. Which defeats the purpose. YMMV.

johnnylaw53
October 1, 2008, 10:57 AM
When I went back to the snub for carry i went with the 642 in the past carried older mod. 60 had a Colt DS for awhile too. the webb of my hand had skin torn off with the 642. I try a couple of other grips and had problems too. I really wanted to stay with the snub due to my bad luck with small auto's. I thought about a 640 for more weight but the lightness of the X42's is what i really like due to being able to carry it so many ways. I then found my old style grips that use to be on my mod. 60. Got a new tyler-t adapter and it seems to work for me. After the range you know you been shooting but it doesn't tear my had up anymore.

be safe

Phil DeGraves
October 1, 2008, 11:27 AM
Shooting Airweight J-frame .38's isn't much fun for novice shooters...

It's not even much fun for experienced shooters unless your definition of fun is something I'm unfamiliar with. +1 on the steel frames. Much easier to control, more FUN to shoot, still easy to carry.

swampshooter
October 1, 2008, 11:31 AM
My ccw is a S&W342, same gun only scandium, so it kicks even more. For a while i carried factory wadcutters in it which tamed it down immensely, but chronograph-ed velocity was only about 650 fps. I'm now using Federal 110 jhp, low recoil bullets. The recoil isn't much more than the wadcutters, velocity in snub is 900 fps. Not really a powerhouse but then it is a 12 oz. pocket pistol. If you stay with the .38spec. any number of loads are available that will tame the recoil and still be much more effective than a .22. Wild Bill Hickok sent many men to boot hill using a .36 cal. cap & ball revolver. Lead ball at about 850-900 fps.

.380awsome
October 2, 2008, 06:36 PM
i have an older model 36 chief special and it has manageable recoil,i love it,but since its a 642 airweight making it lighter,ya i have no clue,but im sure its not quite as pleasant

Meeteetse
October 2, 2008, 07:00 PM
I taught an NRA women's handgun course for 20 years and the one thing that I learned is that women can do more than men think they can. I had women who shot everything from .22's to .44's, but the one gun none of them liked was the lightweight J-frame guns, even with light loads.

If they wanted a small revolver most liked the Ruger SP-101 because of the additional weight, and even then most chose 110 gr. loads or wadcutters. If the gun is to be used for concealed carry, the Ruger is a great choice. If the gun is to be mostly a house gun I recommend the medium frame S&W's and the GP Series of the Ruger.

If you can borrow or rent several guns and let your mom shoot them, that would be the best solution. In any case, keep the loads light to start with. She may move to stronger loads later, but don't scare her off at the beginning.

M1911
October 2, 2008, 09:05 PM
I taught an NRA women's handgun course for 20 years and the one thing that I learned is that women can do more than men think they can. I had women who shot everything from .22's to .44's, but the one gun none of them liked was the lightweight J-frame guns, even with light loads.

I've got no doubt that most women have more tolerance for pain than most men. If that wasn't the case, no women would have more than a single child:what:

But my experience as an instructor mirrors yours. I haven't had a single female student who liked the airweight.

Racinbob
October 4, 2008, 08:55 AM
I had a 642 for a while. Sweet to carry but I swear, it hated humans. I don't mind a stout recoil but it just wasn't fun to shoot. I ended up selling it. Not just because of the recoil but I also enjoy shooting single action and I hated the lock. Found an older 60 in great shape. Even with +p's (keep it limited) it is easy on the hand. I just put in a Wolff 15# rebound and 8# mainspring and did some polishing. Very nice!!!! After a few trips to the range to make sure it doesn't light strike it will replace my PM9 as my carry. Only in a nightmare would I pull the trigger on a .357 in the 11.4 oz 340.

Stainz
October 4, 2008, 09:25 AM
The 642/442 were never designed to be plinkers - they are for that moment when fecal matter has impacted the air movement device. To be effective, they must be carried - always. To be carried, they must be light weight and small. Also, to be effective, they must have decent ammo. Sights are less important at the 3yd or less range they would typically be used at - but proper operation is still important. For lighter recoil, and still able to do some damage, consider the target round - 148gr LWC - full wadcutters.

If they will be a purse/bag gun, consider a slightly larger grip. For pocket carry - leave those OEM boots on. You must be able to carry it easily - or it will be locked away at home when you really need it - Murphy's law is quite exacting on this.

My wife is not small - 5'10" - but still hates the 642 with +P 158gr LHPSWCs that I alternate with a similar-but-larger 296 5-shot .44 Special for carry in pocket Mikas holsters. Her bedside/car gun is a 2" 10 with those +Ps - but her pocket/purse gun is a Seecamp .32, the only evil-bottom-feeder in the house - and it's her gun. Yeah, it was a bit more than a new 642/442, too. Gotta get something they'll carry!

Stainz

Stainz
October 4, 2008, 09:27 AM
Double - sorry!

indiandave
October 4, 2008, 09:56 AM
If you reload she could try a light wadcutter load. something like a 148gr. over 3.00 of winchester 231. Also what fiVe said a covered back strap makes a big difference in taming recoil.

squinty
October 4, 2008, 11:32 AM
So what's wrong with belt carry for a small j-frame revolver? Hogue rubber grips do make a huge difference in controllability, and even with the big rubber grips the j-frame hides under a long t-shirt just fine, though pocket carry isn't really possible, and it rides more comfortably on a belt than a full-size gun. With the hogue grip my GF puts 50 or more rounds of +p downrange, with enough accuracy to embarass me (I'm supposedly teaching her to shoot, but her groups are usually smaller than mine:o) before her hand starts to fatigue. After 55 or 60 rounds she gets tired, but not blistered or sore, and the 638 airweight is her first gun. A trigger job would be nice, but she get's 8" groups at 25-30 yards with the stock sights and trigger, firing about a shot per second, which I think is great for a snubnose in the hands of a novice shooter. At self defense ranges - 7 yards or so - it will make a hole in a bad guy. I don't have nearly the experience of some, such as m1911, and generally defer to their greater expertise - I only have my ccw course and lot's of plinking, and surely couldn't cut it in IDPA or IPSC - so this is just my mileage varying. But I like shooting my j-frame, and don't see it as impossible for the novice at all.

M1911
October 4, 2008, 12:20 PM
So what's wrong with belt carry for a small j-frame revolver?1) If I'm going to carry a small revolver in a belt holster, then I can just as easily carry an SP101 rather than my 642. The heavier SP101 has much less felt recoil.

2) If I'm going to carry a gun in a belt holster, I can just as easily carry my Kimber Compact Aluminum frame. Now I have 6+1, rather than 5 shots, my reloads are much faster, and it has real sights. In addition, the Kimber is narrower than the revolver, and so is easier for me to conceal.

3) Belt carry is often not an option for many women, due to the styles of clothing that they prefer.

For me, the only point to a snub revolver is pocket carry, and this is especially true of the airweights.

Photoman
October 4, 2008, 01:01 PM
squinty wrote: "she get's 8" groups at 25-30 yards with the stock sights and trigger, firing about a shot per second, which I think is great for a snubnose in the hands of a novice shooter."

If she's shooting 8" groups at 30 yards with an Airweight, I don't think she qualifies as a novice any longer! :)

krs
October 4, 2008, 01:13 PM
My wife's 642 is loaded with target wadcutters. It's almost pleasant to shoot and I think that lead wadcutters make a nasty defense bullet. A person solar plexus'd with one of those WILL NOT breath for quite a while even if the round doesn't penetrate the slob at all. 148 gr of flatnosed little sledge hammer at 800 fps. THUMP!

Photoman
October 4, 2008, 01:29 PM
KRS: FYI; Factory loaded 148gr wadcutters will not run 800fps out of a snub. Probably wont run 800fps out of any gun. Not that it matters, but thought you might like to know.

johnnylaw53
October 5, 2008, 07:58 AM
So what's wrong with belt carry for a small j-frame revolver?

There nothing wrong with belt carry for a small j-frame. The airweights really come to their own in the pocket or ankle which is the two worse places to carry a weapon too hard to get to in many siturations but due to dress and other things sometimes the only options. I have used both many times. What i like about the airweights is that it fit these options very well but most of the time my 642 ride on my belt in a IWB and sometimes just a belt slide. It very true if the only way you going to carry is on the belt you are best served with a larger weapon I don't like changing weapons for the way I'm dress I think just changeing how i carry the same weapon from time to time is better. The least number of weapons you need to train with the better your chances are if you ever have to use it.

Be safe

M1911
October 6, 2008, 01:49 PM
The least number of weapons you need to train with the better your chances are if you ever have to use it. Good point.

Personally, I've migrated to a Kimber Compact for belt carry and a Kahr PM9 for pocket carry. The PM9 doesn't have a safety, but otherwise its operating devices (location of slide stop and mag release) are very similar to the Kimber Compact.

Headless
October 6, 2008, 01:52 PM
I read people saying that a .44 magnum feels easier to shoot than a 642 and it makes me wonder what the heck they're shooting. I mean really, comparing 1500fps 200gr rounds to a 850fps 158gr in recoil? They really feel the same? I think people seriously exxagerate in descriptions of these guns recoil.

The first time you shoot it, you are surprised, but if you put 300 or 500 rounds downrange through one of these guns across a month or so you will get used to it - and with larger grips that cover the backstrap of the gun with rubber, it's quite pleasant to shoot. Last time i went out to the range i put 100 .38+P and 100 standard 130gr target through my 642 with the stock grips without any uncomfortable sensation at all. I've put perhaps 2500 through the gun total now - not a huge amount.

Compared to firing a 686+ in .357magnum, a much heavier gun with a 6 in barrel, which threatened to fly out of my grip with every shot, the 642 with .38+P feels like shooting a .22. Furthermore, my girlfriend loves my little 642 and wants one of her own, so mass generalizing about women not liking it isn't too accurate.

That said, if they are a new shooter, they'll likely have a bad grip and not like the muzzle blast and flash from the cylinder gap; i'd go with the aforementioned 432PD - start her with 32s&w and then move up to some 32magnum loads.

M1911
October 6, 2008, 07:23 PM
I read people saying that a .44 magnum feels easier to shoot than a 642 and it makes me wonder what the heck they're shooting.I never said that.

For me, when I shoot the 642 the trigger guard smacks my fingers. The pain isn't in the palm of my hand, but in my finger. It wouldn't surprise me if different people have different experiences with the gun -- I suspect that part of it is how the grip fits (or doesn't fit) my hand. For me, it just isn't very comfortable.

As for my .44 Magnum, I usually shoot .44 Spcl through it, so that might tell you something, lol.

twoclones
October 6, 2008, 09:11 PM
I read people saying that a .44 magnum feels easier to shoot than a 642
I'd liken shooting my 642 w/LG-405 CT grips to shooting .357s in my model 327 with stock rubber grips. No pain but kicks more than a much heavier gun like a Ruger Blackhawk.

My 5' tall girlfriend is an experienced shooter but the 642 was a bit too much for her...

Headless
October 6, 2008, 09:33 PM
As for my .44 Magnum, I usually shoot .44 Spcl through it, so that might tell you something, lol.

that'd explain it ;) I did find that .44spl was quite mild recoil-wise on the occasion I had to shoot it from a steel framed charter arms revolver.

M1911
October 6, 2008, 09:44 PM
that'd explain it I did find that .44spl was quite mild recoil-wise on the occasion I had to shoot it from a steel framed charter arms revolver.I shoot .44spcl (rarely) out of one of these:

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10001&storeId=10001&productId=65446&langId=-1&isFirearm=Y

Yes, it is .44Spcl is mild out of that monster.

RugerSAFan
October 7, 2008, 11:14 AM
I made the mistake of recommending the 642 to my brother who had never shot before. He made the purchase, but didn't find it to be enjoyable. My guess is he never fired more than a box of ammo.

He has since taken up golf.

In hindsight, I should have recommended the S&W M60 or the Ruger SP101.

M1911
October 7, 2008, 01:17 PM
In hindsight, I should have recommended the S&W M60 or the Ruger SP101.I've got one of each. I find they have much less felt recoil than the 642. However, both are too heavy for me to carry in a pocket. On the other hand, a friend of mine uses his SP101 for pocket carry. YMMV.

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