442 or 642 ???


June 26, 2008, 06:19 PM
Trying to convince myself into getting a lighter ccw and wonder if there is any
difference in wear between the 442 or 642? Several other considerations come to my mind are whether the 38 +p is adequate or should I go for the 640 which is .357 and finally does it pay to go for the Crimson trace version considering that any of these are for real close defense. Thanks for any input

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June 26, 2008, 06:35 PM
i am lookng at the same purchase, but leaning more towards the 642 since it is stainless. I have an SP -101 and I can't imagine shooting full loads in something any lighter.

June 26, 2008, 06:54 PM
I've both a 442 and a 640. I load the 442 with Federal +P HydraShoks. The 640 gets 125 grain Golden Saber maggies. Use either; it shot placement that matters most.

June 26, 2008, 07:20 PM
Well, the .357M crowd won't like this, but all you need for self defense is a .38 Special - +P, if you want near vaporizing results. I owned and shot a .454 Casull SRH for years - but it took a friend's 11.4oz 340PD and some super hot CorBons to convince me that I had experienced enough palm whacks. Unlike the .50AE DEII, S&W .500 Magnum, BFR .45-70, and my previous SRH, the J-frame leaves nothing to hold on to. You must be able to follow-up, or you basically have a one-shot. That said, pick the one you like the looks of best - they both will show pocket and holster wear. I have a LEO friend who won't part with his 442 BUG long enough to refinish it. It looks like a 642!

You can load either with the new snubby-designed Speer 135gr +P Gold Dots for great results - or the excellent Remington R38S12 158gr LHPSWC +P - the old 'FBI load'. It's a bit more whack. To be honest, if you can find some 148gr full wadcutters, they, too, will be quite effective in torso shots, while offering much less recoil. I carry mine in a Robert Mika's pocket holster in my right front pocket. The key is you have to carry it, as it will do little good for you in the nightstand when you are accosted in a parking deck, etc. Mine happens to be a 642-2 - and has the internal lock, which I neither fear nor use. YMMV.


June 26, 2008, 07:44 PM
Great response, I currently ccw the xd .45 compact but it is little heavy for summer carry, also own SW .44, SW .500 and am not recoil sensitive but your point about the 642 follow up shot is valid, do you have any thoughts about getting the 642 with ct laser grips? I read that these really improve the handling
for follow up shots. Thanks for your input

June 26, 2008, 08:26 PM
638 ;)

June 26, 2008, 09:12 PM
I own and often pocket carry a new 642. It does not have the Crimson Trace grips. I've never been that impressed with handguns that utilize lasers, but I can see advantages for CQB in the dark. Mine took a trip back to the factory because the barrel was mounted a little off-axis to the frame. It came back looking not much different but shooting noticeably better. I can now get consistant 5" groups at 7 yards.

I like the looks of the 442, as most of my "pocket gadgets" are flat-black, and if I could do it over again, I might consider it. But I believe the finish on the 642 might be just a bit more durable.

The trigger on these guns takes some practice. Very long and very hard. Dry fire it 1,000 times, then dry fire it 1,000 more. It will smooth out.

As for the effectiveness of .38 special for self-defense against humans - I'll leave that to the years and years of real-world statistics regarding .38 special and law enforcement. In other words, it has proven itself. If you can comfortably carry a full-size 1911 .45, it's probably a better choice than a snub .38. But for light weight, pocket-size concealabilty, proven effectiveness of caliber, and "5-for-sure" reliability, it's VERY hard to beat a S&W x42!

June 27, 2008, 06:04 AM
638 or 649

June 27, 2008, 06:39 AM
I taught - and lived - electronics for eons. I love technology. I hate/don't trust batteries - or LED/LASER sights. Dependability, in adverse conditions, is paramount. I have practiced SD with rapid point shooting - effective quickly from retrieval at 3-7yd - over that likely will draw a charge of homicide.

Below are my newer carry 642 and it's older and larger similar sibling, a 296 (5-shot .44 Special L-frame), my SD firearm for 5.5yr, albeit mostly in an OWB pancake. Those Mikas permit 100% carry for the 642, 75% of my pants' front pocket can secret the 296. Those holsters made pocket carry of the 296 possible for me - then I added (2/07) the 642 for 100% carry capability. You have to carry it!



PS That's the Remington 158gr LHPSWC +Ps with the 642; GA Arms 200gr GDJHPs with the 296.

June 27, 2008, 04:07 PM
I have been considering the 442 or 642 as well. Is the issue of the internal lock on the new models something that would cause you not to purchase one of these models? I hear folks talk about how they can cause the gun to fail; how they look bad; and how they affect value. I don't know what to believe any more. Your thoughts?

June 27, 2008, 04:19 PM
I would shoot both before making a decision. I carry a 442 sometimes and find it more controlable than a 642. After shooting a 642 with defensive loads I developed a rather large flinch and follow up shots were slow. It is a little much for me but you may not have a problem.

June 27, 2008, 04:23 PM
I carry a 642 in my front pants pocket with the Mika holster that Stainz shows in his post. I load it with .38 special +P Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. JHP. This is the best snubby I've ever owned. Others have been S&W models 37 & 49. a couple Colt Detective Specials, and a couple Charter Arms Undercover .38's. Sure I'd like a bigger caliber with more rounds. The only other choice for my mode of carry, and considering cost, is the Kahr PM9. I think a small, short barrel .357 magnum is more powerful then my .38 (so go with that if you want). I'n quite content considering I may never have to draw my gun for self defense. I hope not I never have to, because I'd be wishing I had a bigger caliber, high capacity pistol.

June 27, 2008, 04:26 PM
Other than finish there is absolutely no difference between the M442 and M642 so pick the one you like best.

I own a M640 and M638. I carry the M638 all the time loaded with either DoubleTap 125gr .38 Special +P rounds or Remington 158gr LSWC/HP .38 Special +P rounds.

The M640 is just too heavy for pocket carry IMO but the 15oz M638 is fine. (same weight as either the M442 or M642)

June 27, 2008, 08:41 PM
Five years ago, I bought a S&W 637 Airweight (the clone of the 442/62 with a visible hammer) for HD/SD, and had the dealer install Crimson Trace laser grips. I shoot it at the range about every other week, double action at seven yards. If I had known that I would almost never shoot it single action, I would have gotten the 642, for my purposes the better choice.

The CT grips are, just as grips, better than the original. As sighting devices in a HD/SD situation (almost certainly in dim/dark conditions), they are magnificent. I doubt if they would be effective in a bowling pin shoot at fifty yards in the noonday sun -- but a snubby wouldn't be too effective under those circumstances either. Oh, the first time you use Crimson Trace lasers (or any other laser sight), you are going to be stunned at how wildly that red dot wanders. That's YOU, not the laser, so use the laser to get better. Also, continue to practice with the iron sights; batteries fail.

While I respect expert marksmen who consider lasers unnecessary, I also think there are a lot of people out there who hold laser sights in contempt because they cannot bear watching that red dot wander. An ego thing.

Cordially, Jack

June 27, 2008, 09:23 PM
I bought a 442 because black is a little more unobtrusive.
I don't really like stainless looking guns unless they are highly polished like the New Vaqueros. I also felt that holster wear on a black gun would look more natural.
I just like the look of black guns better than stainless. The 442 doesn't have a nice blued look like a real blued gun, but I prefer it to the matte stainless look.
I'll be buying a CT grip for it soon too.

Dollar An Hour
June 27, 2008, 10:38 PM
642 sights are harder to see in daylight than the darker 442 sights... Of course at night, this is a non-issue. ;)

I prefer dark guns and suggest the 442.

June 27, 2008, 10:47 PM
I like the 642 while my dad likes his 442. The biggest deciding factor is if you want it in black or silver.
38+p is plenty to do the job if needed. If you have any doubts about that then you need to carry a .500

June 28, 2008, 12:18 AM
My preference is for the black so I went w/ the 442

June 28, 2008, 01:18 AM
My 442 with Crimson Trace grips is my "go anywhere, dress any way" piece. One of the firearms I'll never part with. For the intended purpose I can't imagine and haven't found anything better.

In colder weather, I opt for something bigger with considerably more oomph, and capacity.

Get one, you'll not regret it.

June 28, 2008, 06:44 AM
I bought my 642 because it was a new return - and the store had it marked the same as a few really used 642s, varying from used to beater condition - $315 2/07. Locally, a shop had 442s for $409 - I nearly bought one the day before. The owner took $315 OTD, possibly because of the IL (Mine is a 642-2.). I had been carrying my 296 in a Mikas pocket holster - and I had ordered a 642-sized one at the same time, so when I got home, I was elated to find that the smaller sized 642 fit my pants pockets that revealled the 296 - it could see 100% carry! I hated spending my gun-money on a SD device - it would sure go a long way towards another plinker. Sadly, a SD piece is a 'must have'.

About the IL... the company that bought and still owns S&W is 'American Safe-T Lock'. They have been putting the infamous 'IL' in most every revolver they've made over the last nearly six years. I've bought nine so equipped over that time - and only sold one, a 4" 625 I replaced with a 625JM. I own/have owned fewer without it, actually. I have never had a problem. Oh, I tried... shooting with the lock half engaged - with/without the key, etc. It always ended up 'off'. Just a guess, but I bet they really tested it before offering it. No, I wouldn't specify an IL in any of my firearms - I wish I could save the cost of a trigger lock and plastic box, too. But, I am a realist... the 'IL' was an attempt to stay marketable in all fifty states - as was the fired case inclusion.

The most prone to failure part in the IL is the spring - which, like all spring steel, can rust - and fail. It's ability to hold the lock in detent can also be tested by sudden and violent movement. This can come about by impacting a hard surface after enjoying the acceleration due to gravity - or simply limp-wristing the revolver during recoil, highly likely with a 329PD and some hot .44 Magnums. We can agree that dropping a revolver isn't likely to have a great outcome anyway, IL or not. Also, the extra movement in recoil can accentuate the release of a heavy bullet from it's crimp, the reason my 296 is limited to 200gr maximum, and that really locks up a cylinder. The probability of a spontaneous IL failure is orders of magnitude less than the probability of a bad commercial round. Using some folks rationale about not buying an IL-equipped S&W, they shouldn't put ammo in it, either - it's more likely not to work, anyway!

So... if I didn't have my 642, and money wasn't a problem, I'd likely get a 442 - maybe even a CT grip - and never worry about the IL. YMMV.


June 28, 2008, 04:59 PM
I would shoot both before making a decision. I carry a 442 sometimes and find it more controlable than a 642.


It's basically the same gun, just a different finish. There should be no difference when shooting them as they both weigh 15 oz. I bought both.

June 28, 2008, 07:33 PM
x2 for the 642 in a Mika Round Cut. I can carry that in nearly every pair of pants I own. I will say that I will often drop the 642 into a Desantis Nemesis and carry in the right cargo pocket of shorts. A square-cut Mika would do the same thing. It stays put in either holster in either pocket.

I feed it Gold Dot 135gr +p short barrel rounds, and always carry a Bianchi speed strip in the off-side pocket (often 2 strips). I've only had my CHL license since April, so have only experienced every day carry in the heat of Texas' spring and summer. I may use my 4" XD 40 IWB more often when it cools off, but as Stainz said, the 642 is way to easy to be on my all the time. It's one of the best purchases of any product I've ever made.

Ala Dan
June 28, 2008, 09:56 PM
Not too be judgemental, cuz I own both~! :scrutiny: :uhoh:

Worn IWB at 'bout 3:30-4:00 o'clock, I prefer the S&W 442 because
of the darker color (black); as opposed to the all stainless steel S&W
model 642. Lots of times, the 442 goes un-noticed; even when worn
with a tucked shirt tail, and NO cover garment~! :cool: :D

June 29, 2008, 01:07 AM
I also don't understand why someone would say the M442 is more controllable than the M642. Like said above, they are both the same exact revolver except for the finish. That is the only difference...

June 29, 2008, 08:01 PM
I just bought a 442 which is the first revolver I've ever had. I've had my CCW permit for 11 years and always carried a semi auto....until now. Anyway, I like the wheel gun a lot and carried it all weekend. I say go with the 442. Cheers

July 5, 2008, 10:52 PM
The 642 isn't all stainless, just the cylinder and barrel. I went for the 442.

July 6, 2008, 02:12 AM
I also have both. Great guns. pocket carrry in a Desantis Nemisis. After a year of daily carry they both show little or no wear.

Get whatever one floats your boat.

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