Taurus 85 Vs. S&W 642


May 9, 2007, 08:05 PM
I'm in the market for a snubnose revolver that I can pocket carry. I think at this point i've narrowed it down to these two models, but since i know next to nothing about revolvers I figured this would be a good place to get advice. I did a bit of research and noticed that the taurus is a hint longer and a bit heavier, but of course as many of you know its also a good deal less expensive (Around my area the S&W is 420 whereas I can get a Taurus for 290 blued). I certainly don't want to skimp on price in regards to a weapon that I might have to use to defend either my or another's life, but i've heard some good things about the taurus and so basically was wondering if anyone had information about either, including going as far as to note what loads you prefer, what holsters and how comfortably it is in a pocket holster. Thanks in advance.

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May 9, 2007, 08:10 PM
Ah ha ha ha ha

You asked a funny question. You will have the Taurus haters in here to tell you all of the horrid things they don't like about them in a bit.

In the meantime, I will tell you as a Taurus revolver owner that Taurus is an excellent weapon on par with today's S&W for a much lower price. If you aren't concerned with cost and care about image, get the S&W. If you want the best bang for you buck get, the Taurus.

The Amigo
May 9, 2007, 08:15 PM
Had a Taurus mod 85 UL and it was a good gun. fired a lot of +p thru it. Had a PT145 and was nothing but trouble. I would be ok with a Taurus revolver now an auto im not sure.

May 9, 2007, 08:17 PM
You will have the Taurus haters in here to tell you all of the horrid things they don't like about them in a bit.

I'd get a Ruger or S&W Revolver. Shoot all three and decide for yourself.

May 9, 2007, 08:29 PM
I hate shills, but I am going to sound like one. I am personally amazed how good a little revolver I purchased in Dec 2004 at a local Gun and Pawn Shop. I have a small collection of 38 Snubbies, mostly Detective Specials, but every so often this shop has these sales that are so good that I have been unable to resist and end up purchasing contemporary revolvers. Two being a Rossi snubbie and a Smith M642 Hammerless airweight. That Dec, the shop had a Taurus M85 aluminum framed snubbie for $188.95. Out the door price was $204.00. This price was so good that I purchased one. I have attached a URL that should take you to a picture of it. http://www.taurususa.com/products/product-details.cfm?model=85BUL&category=Revolver.

For me, I was amazed on the fantastic machining and fit built into this little pistol , and how the Brazilians are getting the details right. As a comparison, I purchased a Brazilian Rossi snubbie in 1997. When I disassembled it to see what makes it tick, the internal parts showed a fair amount of hand fitting. That is there are a lot of file marks on the sear and cylinder hand. I really don’t like a lot of file marks as it tells me that manufacturing processes are sloppy (in my opinion). At the end of the line a fitter mates oversized internal parts by filing, pounding, and bending, as he assembles a pistol. Like sausage, you don’t want to how these pistols are made, the pounding, filing, bending, would just destroy your concept of precision. However my Rossi works fine, shoots to point of aim.

I only have one pre war (1937 era M1917) Smith, but it shows the same high quality fitting as any Smith Revolver I have ever owned. While I do believe the later the Smith the better the machining, I have never seen a sloppy Smith. The M642 aluminum framed airweight I purchased is precisely made. Smith cleanly scalloped the hammer to reduce weight, the hammer and trigger have pleasing (and unnecessary with today’s metallurgy) case hardened colors, and of course the pistol is tight. Altogether a Smith is a well built pistol.

To my surprise the Taurus shows all the precision machining of parts that I encountered in the Smith. The hammer and trigger also have the same pleasing case hardening colors and I cannot see any file marks. The lockworks are similar to a Smith but the trigger rebound arrangement is different. As I found out by busting the one in my pistol. For those who take stuff apart to see how it ticks, I recommend on this revolver to use a fine clothing pin in the hole in the hammer strut, and a fine pin in the end of the trigger spring “center pin”. Unlike a Smith which has a fixed stud at this location, the Taurus has a rotating and removable “Trigger Spring Swivel” as a stud. The center pin, spring, and swivel must be taken out as a unit. Or you will bust the pin, as I did.

Unlike earlier Brazilian pistols the grips are comfortable, the sights wide (wider than the Smith) and they copied the Smith slope on the cylinder release. Overall this pistol has the little things right. It weights 15 ounces empty, the Smith Airweight is 14 ounces. Both of these pistols are aluminum framed so they really are carry guns more than shooting guns. But I am pleased to find that both are +P rated. The Smith is targeted to shoot to point of aim with 125 grain bullets, the Taurus 158 grain bullets. And both are accurate, not of course target accuracy as these pistols have short sight radius and short grips, but more than accurate enough for a short range pistol.

For the money, the Taurus is a good buy. I like the fact that it is +P rated, but I really do not like shooting +P loads in these lightweight pistols. Uncomfortable.

Please do not think that I dislike Smith and Wesson Airweights, I like them too. I think everyone needs at least three.:evil:

Bob M.
May 9, 2007, 08:34 PM
My brother has had his Taurus 85 for years. Fired many, many rounds out of it (+Ps too) and its still tight and very accurate. The finish don't look to good because of a lot of carrying, but it's not a bad choice for a .38 snub. I prefer the Smith 37 myself, mostly because im a S&W fan, but that Taurus is very durable firearm.

May 9, 2007, 08:57 PM
Both make fine pocket guns. In the end, I went with the 642 because it is slightly smaller than the Taurus.

The Unknown User
May 9, 2007, 09:25 PM
Slamfire, what's the first revolver in that photo? It's gorgeous.

May 9, 2007, 09:54 PM
Rob87: It is a Smith and Wesson M637 Airweight with a set of Hogue Grips. I think the generic term is a Chief's Special, but that may only apply to the carbon steel framed J frame pistols.

That Hogue grip is real comfortable. But it is not as compact as the factory supplied Uncle Mike grips. So, if you notice, the M642 and M638, which I do occasionally put in a coat pocket, have the smaller grips. But the M637, the shooter, has the comfy grips.

May 10, 2007, 02:01 AM
The weights quoted above are slightly off. The Taurus revolver in .38 Sp is 17 oz. and the S&W Airweight is 15 oz.

The S&W is also slightly smaller like said above. I find the Taurus just large enough to make it uncomfortable for pocket carry compared to the S&W. The trigger on the Taurus isn't as smooth as the S&W either even after 500 dry fires with snap caps. The S&W did smooth out a lot after 500 or so trigger pulls.

If price is a problem you won't be doing yourself wrong with a Taurus revolver. They are reliable so you can trust them as your carry but you should know the above facts so you can make an informed decision.

The Unknown User
May 10, 2007, 02:39 AM
Slam, is it just me, or does the barrel of the 637 angle downwards? I've noticed that often I'll see something in a gun photo that doesn't look right, like the barrel/mag tube of a shotgun or the barrel of a revolver. :X

May 10, 2007, 04:27 AM
Rob: Might be the camera angle and the bending distortion you get with a compact camera lens.

Baba Louie
May 10, 2007, 07:31 AM
Definitely inspect each pistol before you buy, be it Taurus, S&W or otherwise and ascertain that it looks, acts and feels as it should (short of actually shooting it... see the "stickied" thread by Jim March on revolver checkout at top of Revolver forum).

Taurus v. S&W... price point difference may or may not be a consideration down the road should you decide to sell, but more than likely the S&W will hold a little more value over time to American buyers. Probably world wide buyers for that matter of fact.

Both are good little guns (well, the ones I've owned at any rate). I don't think you can really go wrong with either provided you do the initial checkup and buy NIB from dealer. Each company has a good warranty.

But don't overlook Ruger's SP-101 or older Colt Det. Spl's, even if they are a little heavier or larger or not Brazilian or from Springfield MA. (They are not pocket carry pieces generally speaking)

The snob in me says this... Buy the Taurus first with the intent to save up and buy the S&W ultimately. OR... buy the S&W frst and forget about the little bull. (remembering, I own several of each companies products and they all shoot just fine) But since I'm not really a gun snob, but an equal opportunity gun buying & ammo wasting consumer, I say... get both when you can.

May 10, 2007, 07:57 AM
I used to own a Smith 442 airweight. It was horrendous to shoot but a really good gun nonetheless. I own a Taurus 85 with a bobbed hammer now. It is much more pleasant to shoot with the steel frame and is totally reliable and accurate. It carries a little heavier in the pocket but it is a much better shooter. The trigger, by the way, is really smooth and consistant. The 442 I had would stack horrendously towards the end of the trigger pull.

May 10, 2007, 08:01 AM
I own a S&W 442 and a Taurus 650, and I have experience with a Taurus 85UL. All are fine guns. Of the bunch I like the 442 the best, but that's because of the particular combination of features (aluminum frame + enclosed hammer) rather than any notable difference in function or reliability.

May 10, 2007, 10:50 AM
Buy the S&W 642. Personally, I like Taurus...in fact, my main carry is a Taurus .45 ACP automatic. Having said that, I would not even consider a .38 special + P unless it was so highly concealable and light in weight that it could be carried in the front pocket. I then discovered the air weight 642...this is the perfect front pocket fit! This is one S&W that everyone can afford.:D

Mr. Designer
May 10, 2007, 11:37 AM
I looked at both Taurus and S&W revolvers before I bought the S&W Model 360. The weight was the main selling point. I think it weights just under 16oz loaded with 125 grain 357s. I also got a very good deal, which made the decision easier.

May 10, 2007, 12:46 PM
I have the model 85 , alloy frame , bought 2 for the price of 1 S&W ( gun show special ). Don't get me wrong , I LOVE S&W revolvers . But 2 for 1 ? The 85 is my daily pocket carry when shorts , flip flops and tank top are the dress of the day .

May 10, 2007, 04:10 PM
None of you are making this any easier:P My main consideration is simply the ability to put it in my pocket without it being noticeable, which from what i've read on this thread so far can be done with both guns. The hundred dollars difference is probably enough to get a decent holster and some boxes of ammo... I only wish that there was a gun store around here that carried both Taurus and S&W so I could compare the two directly... :Shakes fist:

May 10, 2007, 04:16 PM
Front Pocket? Well then...go with the alum "much...much lighter" 642. If you want an anchor...go with the all steel models. As far as I'm concerned, there is no comparison if you plan on carrying in the front pocket. Who will argue on this point?

May 10, 2007, 04:42 PM
If you aren't concerned with cost and care about image, get the S&W. If you want the best bang for you buck get, the Taurus.

The first time you have to pay shippping back to FL or Buenos Aires, your cost savings just evaporated. While you wait the six weeks (average turnaround time for Taurus) you'll have plenty of time to stew.

S&W sends a FEDEX overnight pickup tag (if you ever need repair), and pays shipping both ways. Their turnaround is frequently less than a week.

Don't take my word for it; read up on it. There is plenty of material available on this site.

May 10, 2007, 08:29 PM
For the customer service alone, Smith is worth the extra 130....factor in a smaller gun for pocket carry, and it's a no brainer...and I'm not rich so 130 bucks is a lot of money...especially for a fancy dinner that will leave you 3 hours later....but on life saving equipment, that I plan on keeping most of my life, it isn't all that much at all....

May 11, 2007, 12:40 PM
Bought the 642, wish I would have bought the 85. To be fair, even with the alloy frame, I've completely abused it/dropped it/shot hot reloads through it and it has held up just fine.

I've decided to go with penetration over expansion. 158 grain Speer +P TMJ's. No holster, so the front blade sight has cut a small hole in every pair of pants I own :(.

Either one you go with will completely serve its purpose. Good luck on the purchase.

May 11, 2007, 12:47 PM
No contest go with the Smith & Wesson every time Taurus may work for a long while (for many they do) I have seen too many crap out or get sent back for warranty repairs.
You will never regret spending the extra money on the Smith & Wesson if you ever have a problem Smith Service is better and far less Smiths are sent back.
The price difference should not even be a consideration if its something you may one day use to protect your life or that of a loved one after all who will spend the money you saved if your Taurus fails when you need it most?:banghead:

May 12, 2007, 07:32 AM
I hadn't considered the customer service angle in my earlier post. Certainly, there are people who have had good experiences with Tauri's customer service and bad with S&W. But on the average, it seems to be the other way around.

I had a Taurus 94 with a binding cylinder and a lumpy trigger. Shipped it back to Taurus (at my own expense), it stayed there for a month, and was NOT fixed. :fire: :cuss:

I've never had to use S&W's customer service, but most of the stories I hear on THR are pretty favorable. Shipping paid both ways, and the gun is usually returned within 2 weeks or less (sometimes days).

BTW, depending on which Taurus and S&W Models you compare, the price difference (though widening) is not that great in my area. Perhaps $40 more for the S&W 642 over the equivalant Taurus model. And in my experience, S&Ws do usually hold their values better.

If you just look at the guns themselves, you would probably be well served by either. And perhaps the most important consideration is how well it feels in your hands (remembering that stocks can be changed). But sometimes other factors have to be considered to one extent or another.

Good luck!

Ala Dan
May 12, 2007, 07:58 AM
Typically, I don't recommend Taurus products~! :uhoh:

But, the one thing I will have to give 'em is the fact that they have many
models of the 85 available to the consumer. From the Ti's, to the Ultra-
Lites, to the all steel model. And, quite frankly I sell many of these guns
to the crowd known as "first time buyers".

While I strongly recommend something from Smith & Wesson, most of
John Q. Public has heard or read 'bout Taurus products; good or bad~!
My reasoning is this, Smith has a "Lifetime Warranty" that the company
honors, and has the reputation for outstanding customer service; while
Taurus offers a "Limited Lifetime Warranty" that has been known to not
be the best in the business; with their service being less than stellar. I
recall one gentleman here on this forum returning a Taurus revolver to
the factory four times, before the problem was resolved. Friends, this
is totally unacceptable. I realize that sometimes any company might
release a bad product; but I have read (or heard) too many horror
stories about Tauri International not living up to the standards of the

The one and only good thing I've ever heard about Taurus came from
our state three time IDPA champion. He claims too have worn out a
Taurus model 65, with over 70,000 rounds fired thru it. He supposedly
returned it to the factory for a rebuild; and instead, the company sent
him a brand new firearm. True or not, I don't know? But, this fell'a is a
darn good customer, and would have NO reason to lie~! ;)

But, I will stick with my final answer- Smith & Wesson. :D

May 12, 2007, 02:39 PM
All of you make good and persuasive arguments, but i think Orion put me in the S and W camp when he said the thing about customer service and gave the prices for that. Thank all of you for your help, and when i get the gun (it might take awhile) i'll make sure to post pics of it to fill your gun porn fix.

May 12, 2007, 04:04 PM
I had a steel one and a ultralite taurus 85,and I sold both of them. Then I got a 642 and a 64 heavy barrel cheaper than a Glock 17. I got them both for under $425.00 dollars.

May 12, 2007, 10:25 PM
Go with Smith & Wesson it's was only about $50 difference in price when I got my 642. I think the 642 is a way better deal then the Taurus. I'm not knocking Taurus or anything but I just think S&W is a little better quailty for the little difference in price.

Alan Fud
May 13, 2007, 10:51 PM
The 642 is smaller and lighter than the 85. The 85 absorbs the recoil better due to it's slightly larger size and greater weight.

Personally, I would recommend the 605 -- same gun as the 85 but chambered for a .357mag.

May 13, 2007, 11:12 PM
If you plan on keeping the gun get the Taurus, if your going to resale it later get the Smith. Taurus's are one of the finer made guns, but their resale stinks.

May 13, 2007, 11:32 PM
Being that the price difference is not all that much, I would go with the S&W.
Made in America by a company that pretty much invented the modern revolver as we know it today.

May 14, 2007, 09:12 AM
Personally, I would recommend the 605 -- same gun as the 85 but chambered for a .357mag.
+1 My 605 gets about 90%+ of carry time. It shoots nice and has a shorter trigger stroke than my wifes M36. That does require a heavier hammer spring, so it's a trade off. Handle both, see which one you like. You might like something completely different. Better yet, get a 605 or 642 and a 85UL. This way if you need to send one in for repair, you'll have a backup piece.

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