My 642 Review:


May 10, 2007, 10:42 AM
642 Review

I love the revolver. I don't know why. I have a few simi-auto handguns but the ones that get used the most are my revolvers. My problem was, my only CCW revolver was a Ruger SP101. While it excels well as a CCW revolver, it still won't fit well in a pocket. :) So, a while ago I did some research on a small lightweight gun that would fit well in my pocket. I found it in the 642. Unfortunately since I have a little one on the way, I didn't have the money for a new one. I scoured many places looking for one (used).....That is difficult at best. Then it happened. I don't really want to go into details (long story and sad) but, I got a like new 642 for a very good price. I was a bit suprised at first. I thought it would have been lighter. I had read reports about the recoil with such a light gun being really bad. Not at all. Granted, I could tell they were they but they were very managable. (I'll elaborate more on that in a minute)

I've had this little guy for quite a while just sitting in the safe. Finally I got a day off for President Trumans Birthday. So, to celebrate I made my way out to the indoor range. I spent an hour shooting this little guy with three different loads. The WWB 100 round 130 gr. FMJ Target/Range ammo, WWB 125 gr. JHP Personal Protection ammo (my carry ammo), and some 148 gr. double ended wad cutters on 3.5 grains of bullseye with CCI small pistol primers. I was have some problems with my hand loads. Actually I was have problems with my powder measurer. It was a bit inconsistent. Either way, I omitted my handloads from this review.

Shooting the gun was enjoyable and easier than that I thought it would be. The trigger was heavy and long.....and gritty. My Ruger SP101 is silky smooth in comparison. I did alot of dry firing and it seemed to smooth out some. Or I just became used to it. Either way, its better than it was. All of my shooting for the day was done at 7 yards. That seems to be a common agreement on combat distance. I started out with the Target/Range ammo. I ran about 70 rounds through the 642. I was very very suprised at the accuracy of this little guy. I couldn't have asked for a more accurate little pocket gun. The following picture depicts a typical group at 7 yards.

Next was the Personal Protection ammo. At first I was concerned that flinching was going to be a problem. So, I loaded 4 live rounds and one spend case. Gave the cylinder a few turns while I was looking up and then closed it. I was surprised that the recoil was as bad as I expected. It was noticeable but more than manageable. I went through 50 rounds. Again, the following picture depicts a typical group shot with the Personal Protection ammo in my 642.

So, this is all fine and good if you are shooting slowly and controlled. So, what about shooting under stress and quickly. Well I can't recreate the stress that a SD situation would have but I can shoot quickly. I loaded two of my speed loaders and the gun. I shot every shot as quickly as I could pick up the front sight (less than a second between shots) and reloaded and repeated until I killed 15 rounds. Here is was I came up with.

So, how does it carry? Well,......really well actually. The only holster I currently have for it is a cheap Uncle Mikes IWB holster. I bought this for pocket carry but with the IWB holster it conceals very very well. I've also used the IWB holster as a pocket holster. It works better than I imagined. And in a pocket this little gun goes completely unnoticed. This little thing just might be the perfect CCW gun IMHO. :)

(ps sorry for the grainy and fuzzy photography. I didn't have as much time as I would have liked to take pictures and my batteries went dead. I'll get better pics when I get new grips. )

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May 10, 2007, 12:20 PM
Clipse great report and nice shooting.

The Unknown User
May 10, 2007, 12:36 PM
Nice. :)

Why is the 642 so popular? I think it's ugly without the hammer visible. I'm guessing it's popular because of its functionality, not it's aesthetics.

May 10, 2007, 12:55 PM
Its popular becuase it fits well concealed. IWB or Pocket Carry or even smart carry. It fits. Also, with the concealed hammer you don't have to worry about somthing snagging on the way out. I don't care for its looks although I don't think its ugly. But it works, its light, and very easily concealable while shooting a round that I still consider a decent man stopper.

May 10, 2007, 01:16 PM
I tried out one of those small S&W Airweights .38s(forgot the model #), with SD ammo and I was not able to hit the target from 10 yards away. Even with target grade ammo, I still had a hard time getting it on paper. It was too hard to aim, and I guess I am too recoil sensitive.

May 10, 2007, 01:25 PM
In terms of the aesthetics, I like to refer to the 642 as being the "Jeep" of revolvers- not pretty but cute. And having a no- nonsense practicality. In my estimation, the 642's great popularity has to do with the fact that it fills a necessary "niche" better, much better, than most anything else out there. A non-snagging, light-weight, reliable pocket gun that offers ample and controllable power with five rounds on board.
Nice shooting clipse and I enjoyed your pics.

May 10, 2007, 02:11 PM
The "Jeep" of revolvers - not pretty but cute. I like that. Nice one, S'Wolf.

I'd add functional as well, and very ubiquitous so there's LOTs of people around to ask questions of (

And clipse, I gotta say, those groups at 7 yds with it again makes me believe you got some genes from superman. Dang. You need to run a seminar on 642 shooting.

Well I can't recreate the stress that a SD situation would have...A while back, I read a suggestion in some thread about how to somewhat approximate that type of stress that's used in training classes: (assuming a healthy person without heart disease, etc) do some anaerobic exercises (interval sprints, burpees (, etc) to get breathing and heart rate up, then immediately do your shooting. People at your range might think you're weird, but ... :scrutiny:


May 10, 2007, 03:15 PM
Bah! The 638 is the Jeep of the .38 Special J-Frames. Boxy to the point of ugliness but pretty at the right angles, and capable of two driving modes, in this case, DA and SA rather than 2WD or 4WD.:neener:

May 10, 2007, 03:19 PM

Great shooting and nice review. I think it's great that other people are saying that the recoil on these revolvers isn't so bad. I think a lot of people are scared off after reading about how hellishly harsh the recoil is. I shot a Kahr MK9 and found the recoil to be similar to .38+P rounds in the 340Sc (12 oz weight vs 15 oz for the 642).

As for their popularity, it has to be the combination of concealability, reliability, and caliber. I love my little J-frame, although I went with the M&P 340.

May 10, 2007, 03:38 PM
...capable of two driving modes, in this case, DA and SA rather than 2WD or 4WD.Can't argue with you there, Boats. ;)

I've considered a 637, which is DA/SA, but my legal advisers have mostly talked me out of it. :uhoh:

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