Question on various S&W snub nose models


johnny blaze
December 16, 2006, 07:54 PM
I am trying to find out some information on the S&W model 642, 638, 640 and 649. I know some of these were chambered in both the 38 and 357.
I have a early model 38 snub nose in a blue finish. It is in good condition. It is the SA/DA model.
I am thinking of going to a stainless model in a snub nose. The models listed above are what I am considering.
My question is - were any of the above listed stainless/alloy snubbies produced before the lock system was introduced?
Also, on the model 38 that I have, will it handle 38 + P ammo?
Any information would be greatly appreciated.:D

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December 16, 2006, 08:12 PM
I haven't looked your question up, and I'm certainly not an expert... But, it seems that S&W started production of .357 caliber J-Frames in about 1997 or so. The internal locks didn't come around until maybe 2002. So, there was apparently a period of about 5 years where .357 j-frames (60,640,649) were made without the internal lock. I believe the 638 & 642 .38s were manufactured during that period also. Before the introduction of the "j magnum" frame in 1997 or so, all the SS & alloy models you mentioned were definately manufactured. Only they were in .38 Spl. only and I don't think the alloy models were +P rated. As for your question about the "early" model 38... It is my understanding that +P should not be fired in ANY ALUMINUM ALLOY S&W .38 cal. unless, like the ones of relatively recent manufacture, they specifically state ".38 Spl +P" on the barrel. I don't think any of the S&W model #38s were ever made to safely fire +Ps. A quick phone call to S&W customer service will give you the definitive answer though. BTW... My own newest handgun is a brand new SS model 649 in .357. Except for not as many good holsters being available as there is for the conventional external hammer models, I love it! If I were going for pocket carry, I'd of course probably go for the lighter weight and hammerless 642 or 638 in .38 spl.

johnny blaze
December 16, 2006, 08:58 PM
DB - Thanks for the reponse.
I have not been able to find any of the models that I listed without the safety lock, but it appears that they exist. Maybe people just do not want to part with them.
I am not sure that the safety lock mechinism is really a problem. I just do not like them very much, and have read of a few problems.
I will just stick with the standard 38's in my model 38.
I will keep looking for a lock less, stainless snub nose.
I will call S&W on Monday.
Thanks again.

December 16, 2006, 09:08 PM
Whatever you decide to get, NEVER part with your current snubby ... you can never have too many! :cool:

December 16, 2006, 10:17 PM
1. Chiefs Special frame - Exposed hammer SA/DA
2. Bodyguard frame - Hammer is covered but the top is exposed so you can still fire single action. SA/DA
3. Centennial frame - Completely concealed hammer. DAO

A. Airweight-15 oz Aluminum Alloy and Stainless Steel, fires .38 Spl/.38 Spl +P
B. Aitlite-12 oz Scandium Alloy and Titanium Alloy, fires .357 Mag, .38/.38+P
C. Normal Current J frame - Stainless Steel, fires .357 Mag, .38 Spl/.38 Spl +P

Model 340 Airlite Centennial frame (M340PD in Black)
Model 360 Aitlite Chiefs Special frame (M360PD in Black)
Model 637 Airweight Chiefs Special frame
Model 638 Airweight Bodyguard frame.
Model 640 All Stainless Steel .357 Mag Centennial frame
Model 642 Airweight Centennial frame (M442 in Carbon Steel w/blue finish)
Model 649 All Stainless Steel .357 Mag Bodyguard frame

johnny blaze
December 16, 2006, 11:05 PM
ArchAngelCD - That is some great information. Thank you.
Now all I have to do is figure out which model I want. So many choices.:confused:

December 16, 2006, 11:14 PM
Well, if you are even the slightest bit recoil sensitive, I'd shy away from the airlite models.

December 17, 2006, 12:00 AM
I am leery of alloy guns and warm loads but apparently "back in the day" both Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton did extensive shooting of alloy J frame Smiths (Keith used factory 38/44 ammo which was much hotter than +P and Skelton shot 2,000 rounds of +P through his test gun) and they reported no damage or undue wear.

I really think +P is a mid-level load so my guess is that no harm would come from shooting it in a quality gun even with an alloy frame.

Boy this topic comes up a lot. Wish I had a nickel...

December 17, 2006, 06:33 PM
My 640-1 chambered in 357 mag didn't have
the lock on it,i don't know what dash number
they started to include the lock on these.

December 17, 2006, 11:59 PM
Now all I have to do is figure out which model I want. So many choices.
I recently bought a Model 638-3 and I'm very glad I did. A .38 +P round out of a 15 oz snub has a stout kick but nothing that's too hard to over come. With a little practice you can take a good second shot just as fast as you would out of a 4" barrel. I decided not to buy an AirLite because I shot one several times and DO NOT wish to shoot one again unless I have no choice. If you really want a .357 Mag short barrel then I suggest a 23 oz Model 60, 640 or 649. The extra weight will help with control. I didn't see the need for a Mag in a 2" revolver so I went for the 638. Besides, the 15 oz snubs run around $400, the SS Mags run around $650 and the AirLite Mags are near $900. (I KNOW, I know, you can get them cheaper but that's list prices) I just don't think the small increase of power the Mag round provides in a snub is worth all that money.

Good luck on choosing a snub that will make you happy.

December 18, 2006, 10:10 AM

This is my choice... Prelock 638 (Airweight Bodyguard), Light, smooth target trigger..... Add a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips and you, IMO, have a super cc firearm...:D

And for those times when you feel the need for pistol as opposed to a revolver, I suggest:

Best Wishes,

J. Pomeroy

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