I know little about revolvers!


June 28, 2008, 08:50 PM
I am looking for a .38 +P revoler and I have narrowed it down to three revolvers. Ruger SP101, S&W 637, and S&W 642. I can buy all three locally. The ruger seems stronger and is definitely heavier. Being lighter, is the S&W models weaker? What is the differences bewteen the 637 and 642? Looking at S&W's website, there are a few different models that look exactly the same.

After doing some reading, it appears the 642 is the most popular. How long of a service life can I expect? I'm thinking I can get more life from the SP101.

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June 28, 2008, 09:21 PM
After doing some reading, it appears the 642 is the most popular. How long of a service life can I expect?If you don't abuse it your grandchildren will be using it long after your gone.

June 28, 2008, 10:31 PM
I'm not a fan of DAO, so I chose the 637. Of course I didn't really look at the SP101, because I wanted something super-concealable. I think it will last me for a very very long time.

June 28, 2008, 10:35 PM
Depending what you want your revolver for, I'd see if you can find a S&W police trade in. They are normally pretty cheap, and being and L frame designed to shoot the .357 mag, they'll shoot .38 +P for the next century without trouble.


June 28, 2008, 10:40 PM
I didn't know the 642 was DAO. I haven't had a chance to handle one yet. How is the trigger? I own a couple cowboy action revolvers, Glocks, and many 1911s. This will be for my wife, because she has problems operating the slide on my semi-autos. I tell her she is too weak being from Arkansas.

June 28, 2008, 10:43 PM
My choice would be the 637.

Ruger is a fine revolver but relatively large and difficult to conceal

The 642 is DOA. I never liked the limitation

June 28, 2008, 10:56 PM

June 29, 2008, 01:01 AM
The M637, M638, M442 and M642 are all S&W Airweight J frame revolvers. They all weigh 15 oz. and are rated for .38 Special +P ammo. Three of the four have different frames, the M637 has a Chiefs Special frame with a fully exposed hammer, the M638 has a Bodyguard frame with a shrouded hammer and both the M442 and 642 have a "Centennial" frame which has a fully enclosed hammer. The M637 and M638 are capable of both SA and DA firing whereas the M442/642 are DAO revolvers.

I own a M638 and feel it's the best of both worlds and besides, I like the look of a Bodyguard revolver!! LOL

BTW, the Ruger SP101 is probably a .357 Magnum revolver unlike the 4 S&W revolver I mentioned above. S&W also has stainless .357 Magnum revolver in all 3 frame models. The M60 (Chiefs Special), the M649 (Bodyguard) and the M640 (Centennial) are the stainless counterparts of the Airweight revolver.

S&W also has an "Aitlite" line of revolvers. They are 12 oz. .357 Magnum J frames. (That's right, only 12 onces and they fire .357 Magnum ammo) I fired one and will not do so again with full power .357 Magnum ammo. IMO they are just too light a revolver to be a Magnum. The model numbers are M340 and M360. In both lines there are several variations including the M&P and PD revolvers. Some shooters buy the Airlite but only fire .38 Special +P ammo from them. IMO if you are going to carry only .38 Special rounds there's no reason to pay $900 when you can buy an Airweight and pay only $400. Here (http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/CategoryDisplay?catalogId=11101&storeId=10001&categoryId=15704&langId=-1&parent_category_rn=15703&top_category=15703) is the link for the S&W page which lists all the J frames.

Good luck finding something you like.

June 29, 2008, 02:34 AM
The S&W revolvers are not weak and will last you for many, many years, as long as you do your part and clean them occasionally.

As for me, the DAO 'limitation' is not a real limitation of the 442/642. It is meant for pocket carry without worrying about getting snagged. You are likely to have some snagging issues with the exposed hammer of the 637.

Personally I like having an exposed hammer on my revolvers; but honestly, it is really going to limit you IF you plan on pocket carrying. Heck, it may even get snagged in ankle holster or IWB. Not saying the 637 isn't a nice gun. The point is, if you are looking at these guns for concealed carry, the hammerless 442/642 OR the 638 would be my choices. If you are looking to buy a gun for fun at the range, then the SP101 will probably be the best choice. The Airweights are not really meant for range shooting. Anyway, just my .02.... I own mostly non-Airweight revolvers; just one S&W 37. It's a nice gun, but the hammer does intrude.

Jim March
June 29, 2008, 03:33 AM
Don't discount the SP101 completely.

Yes it's heavy, but most women carry either with a fanny pack or purse. The weight of the SP101 is very compatible with either carry method.

The weight helps tame the recoil in the wilder 38+P loads, rendering them pussycats. She'll also be able to explore low-end 357 ammo and possibly go a bit hotter into the 400ft/lbs energy territory.

The SP101 is also unbelievably tough for a gun in it's size class.

June 29, 2008, 06:30 AM
My wife originally got the 442 and hated it because of the recoil. I adopted it but ended up selling it because it just wasnt fun to shoot for me. Its a very light gun and is awesome to carry but has a stout recoil to it.

I just bought a SP101 and the wife and I love it. I carry IWB so the larger frame and 3 inch barrel are no problem....definitely easier than my Glock 22. I have to say the DA pull on the Ruger is smooth and not real heavy. The SA isnt as good as the SW's Ive fired but its not bad either. So dont count out the Ruger. Try them all first.

June 29, 2008, 06:40 AM
Ruger SP-101

The other two guns mentioned will be in pieces when the SP-101 is just getting broken in ;).

Just my .02,

June 30, 2008, 03:15 AM
Ruger SP-101

The other two guns mentioned will be in pieces when the SP-101 is just getting broken in ;) .
That's not right... Don't mislead anyone who is asking a question even if you are joking.

Mongo the Mutterer
June 30, 2008, 06:32 AM
I carry a 642. Here are two reasons.

First, without a hammer you are less likely to get pocket lint and garb in the works when you pocket carry. If you are carrying in a belt holster, not an issue, but if so I would carry something other than a 642.

Second, I prefer a DAO in a personal protection pistol. You can stage a 642 by trigger pull if you are trying to put holes in holes at the range, but in a confrontation I truly doubt you will be pulling the hammer.

June 30, 2008, 07:16 AM
My 642 is the first alloy snub i ever owned after 18 months and 1500 rds I no longer worry about it. It is a well made weapon. My hand does hurt after a trip to the range my old mod 60 didn't make it hurt. I sometimes pockect carry but it is not my perfer carry. I have heard if you going to belt carry to carry a bigger gun and I'm sure there some truth to that I just like carrying the same gun as much as possible. I have an IWB OWB, ankle, pocket and boot holster for the 642 depending how I dress. If I feel the need for a bigger weapon off duty then it's my 92fs. For a small weapon that have the power to protect you and yours the 642/442 can't be beat and if you take care of it don't worry about wearing it out.

be safe

June 30, 2008, 08:22 AM
Thanks for the info guys.

June 30, 2008, 08:54 AM
I've owned snubbies made by Colt, Smith & Wesson, Taurus, and Charter Arms. The only one I have now is the Smith & Wesson Model 642. It is the best one I've ever owned.

June 30, 2008, 09:04 AM
If you want a "shooter" that will last through thousands of rounds of ammo, the SP101 will probably serve you better than most any comparable size revolver. For concealed carry it goes well in an inside the waistband holster, but that is about the limit of it's ability to be carried concealed comfortably because of it's weight. I have an SP101 which I carry periodically.

However, the revolver that allows me to go armed "all the time" is the Smith and Wesson 638 Airweight Revolver. Rated for .38 spl +p it will get the job done for most civilian needs and carries all day long in a Fobus ankle holster under the cuff of my dress slacks. The gun weight is minimal, i.e. "Airweight" and can also be carried in a jeans or jacket pocket if need be. With a barrel of just under 2" it is surprisingly easy to control and accurate for range shooting. I found out it's also plenty durable when I had a reloaded .38 spl. case rupture in it while at the range. No damage to the gun. At the reasonable, just over $400 price tag new, the gun is all around a great buy for a durable, concealable revolver that's also fun to shoot.

June 30, 2008, 09:57 AM
As for me, the DAO 'limitation' is not a real limitation of the 442/642.

Of course it is a limitation. Your point concerning a snagging hammer is well taken. I prefer a bobbed or shrouded hammer, then you have it all. No snags and single action option.

Of course DOA in a revolver is not near as bad as an auto. To me the mindset behind a DOA auto is like a speed bump. Because some people break the law, (and we are too lazy to enforce it) let's punish everyone.

The engineer who came up with the DOA concept actually had to think "how can I make them all the same? Wow, I can make them ALL long and heavy!)

I think that is more PC than a Hillary Hole

July 1, 2008, 01:51 PM
Mr. ArchAngelCD,

I am not joking.

I am not misleading anybody, just telling the truth.

The SP101 is a more robust design, it will stand up to more rounds before parts breakage, and is easier to shoot due to its heavier weight.

The SP101 is easily the most underrated of the snub nose revolvers. Yes it is heavy, but that could come in very handy if you ever have to use it.

Just my .02,

Evyl Robot
July 1, 2008, 02:15 PM
Get one of each. While you are at it, get a 60 and a 640 as well. Sorry. This is like a disease!


July 1, 2008, 03:51 PM
If you want a true 'pocket' carry, a S&W 442 is hard to beat. It is DAO, but it can also be fired inside coat pockets ( I haven't tried it!) and is very fast to deliver as there is no hammer to 'snag'. The SP101 is a great little pistola, but much heavier if you intend to carry it.

July 1, 2008, 04:06 PM
That's not right... Don't mislead anyone who is asking a question even if you are joking.

It's already been stated, but the Ruger is a stronger design. It's also reasonably pleasant to shoot with full house magnums--something I cannot say for a J frame firing standard .38 special loads. The J frames aren't unbearable to shoot, but pleasant isn't a word I would use to describe them--particularly in the lightweight or ultra lightweight versions. Guns that aren't pleasant to shoot probably won't get much practice time, and that doesn't help when the gun is already difficult to shoot well.

The S&W products will be more prone to developing endshake and timing issues. I don't consider them inferior products, just not as durable over the long haul.

July 1, 2008, 08:34 PM
I'm not disputing the fact that the SP-101 is well built and I'm not saying it's a bad revolver either. I am however disputing your statement that other revolvers will be in pieces when the SP-101 is just getting broken in. Even though the S&W revolver are lighter they aren't junk that will fall apart. You saying they will IS misleading. All the S&W and Ruger revolver are quality pieces and all are different but none of them will fall apart.

Comparing the SP-101 to the M642 or M637 really isn't the right thing to do. The Ruger is a 25 oz. Stainless revolver whereas the two S&W offerings are 15 oz. Alloy revolvers. If you want a fair comparison to the Ruger SP-101 compare it against the S&W M60 and M640 which are also Stainless .357 Magnum revolvers. That might make your decision a little easier since you are comparing like revolvers.

July 1, 2008, 09:44 PM
What ArchAngelCD said

July 1, 2008, 10:34 PM
I was in your same situation months ago and finally decided on the 442. I fired 50 rounds at the range the same day and didnt think the recoil was bad at all. Some people say this is not a fun weapon to practice with but I could have easily shot all day. Granted, I have not yet fired +P. It is very concealable and I prefer the DAO as it is one less thing to worry about when presenting from a pocket or holster.
I would suggest you check out the 642, you will not regret it.

July 1, 2008, 10:37 PM
My wife originally got the 442 and hated it because of the recoil.Mine too. I am thinking of trading it. It never leaves the safe anymore. She carried it a few times when traveling, but then just quit. I have to talk her into taking something with her. Worries me, but she's her own lady. You know how it goes.

July 1, 2008, 10:50 PM
Best advice anyone ever gave me when I was gun shopping:


July 3, 2008, 06:47 PM
I have a 442 and carry it as a back-up weapon on duty in a cargo pocket and appropriate holster. That was one of the best investments I ever made!

July 3, 2008, 07:53 PM
If it's for carry, I'd choose the S&W. If not, I'd go with the SP101 ( but I'd get the 357 ). If you lean to the Smiths, look at the 638. Kinda homely ( some might say ), but it gives you the choice of SA/DA, and shrouds the hammer, preventing snagging. A good compromise between the 637 & 642.



July 4, 2008, 04:46 AM
I've done the same analysis, and I'm getting the 642. The Ruger is too bloody heavy, if I'm gonna pack that much weight I'll just carry my 44 Special Rossi. I shoot DA all the time anyway, so DAO is no handicap. And stainless steel just makes more sense for a deep-carry gun.

Besides, once I get one I can join THR 642 Club! :p

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