442 finish questions


Oct 22, 2005
My 642 is showing its age. Who cares, plenty of life left in it!

Does the black finish on the 442 wear better than the silver finish on the 642? The silver is flaking and peeling, generally looks pretty bad.

Anyone have any 442s that rode the river so to speak? Anyone have any experience in this area?
My 442 is about 15 yrs old, it used to get carried alot. The only place the finish has come off is on the sharp edges from going in and out of the holster. Pretty good finish as far as I'm concerned.
They have a kind of "clear coat" on them. Once that is worn through the finish is toast
If don't like the looks you can prep the surface (sand with several grades of wet dry or synthetic 3M pads, and use Brownells Aluma Hyde

If you follow the directions exactly! you can put a really nice finish on the gun. No baking requires and it will last a long time. You can even use their clear coat over the base color.

I have had my 442 sine 1997. It has been holster / pocket carried for about 3 1/2 years and gun rug carried in my saddlebag or truck for probably 9 or 10 years total. It appears to be in very good shape except for nicks from various impacts.
I take very good care of my firearms. Holster interiors are not rough, neither is the gun rug. At the end of every day of carry it gets removed from the holster and wiped off with a cotton rag. Every couple of carries I wipe it with a silicone cloth. If carried in the gun rug I just dust it off occasionally.

I took these photos a few minutes ago to post here after retrieving it and unloading it.

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My buddy carried a 442 for a number of years when they first came out. I got my first 642 at around the same time. The finish on my 642 held up much better than it did on his 442. The chipping/flaking black against the silver/white underneath, just made things on his look a LOT worse.

Depending on how hard a lifestyle they live too, neither do very well with hard use. The one I still have really hasn't been carried a whole lot, but its finish hsnt held up all that great and is still flaking and peeling.

I gave one of my 642's to my son who works in an outdoor industry that has a pretty harsh environment, and he carried that gun in his pocket for a number of years, and it looks like he tied a rope to it and drug it behind his truck for a couple of weeks.

I also had a 317 for a little while, and it seemed like its finish was coming off more and more, every time I cleaned it.
I bought my M442 the first week they released the no lock version. I have been carrying ever since the only wear I see is the 2 contact points where the gun hits the pocket holster. The wear is on the tip of the barrel and the back top corner above the grips. Even that isn't bad, its just a shinny silver color.

I'm not sure there is a clear coat on the M442 like the M642 has. I had a 642 but sold it off when I bought the 442 so I didn't have any signs of wear.
defjon must have read my mind as I was about to ask this exact question here just yesterday, but got impatient and went ahead and picked up the phone and ordered a 442 as I thought the dark finish made more sense for my uses. I've concealed several different small handguns over the years but looking forward to the Airweight as a near-constant companion. Thanks also Pat Riot for the photos. If mine looks half as good as yours does after so many years I'll consider myself fortunate.
Not revolvers or aluminum, but on a somewhat related subject: having carried a Ruger LC9s and a Smith BG380 I will say that the "Melonite" finish on the steel slide of the S&W is really durable and still pretty good looking after years of pocket carry in a soft holster. The finish on my LC9s is pretty fragile and prone to oxidation in comparison.
Does the black finish on the 442 wear better than the silver finish on the 642? The silver is flaking and peeling, generally looks pretty bad.
In one word, yes!

My 442 (probably at least ten years old, no lock version) is doing well. My 637, same vintage, same finish as the 642, not so much. The finish is flaking, peeling, chipped, looks like crap. And it's only been holstered a handful of times and the number of range sessions it's seen can be counted on one hand.

Get the 442 over the 642 (or 637, 638) any day of the week. S&W still hasn't fixed this.
my s&w 642 came to me mostly this way. i tried cleaning it up. its guts are fine so i don’t care anymore. it is a bit irksome that s&w issues a pocket defensive revolver that by definition would get lots of rough handling, and exposure to all kinds of liquids and elements, with such a poorly researched finish.


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I have a 332 and a 442. I imagine the 332 has the same finish as a 642. My 332 hasn't been carried much - but there are places where the clear coat already seems to be coming off. My 442 was carried a lot years ago. It looks about the same as Jonny2guns pics above. To me, I prefer the finish on the 442. I feel it wears with character.
I carried my 642 for 3 years in an appendix holster and the finish couldn't stand up to me sweating on it daily. It bubbled and peeled like some of the other examples here. I contacted S&W and they replaced the frame. I didn't carry it as hard after that but the finish still hasn't held up great. My recommendation would be to go with the 442.
Just out of curiosity...is this aluminum clear-coat finish issue endemic just to the S&W Air-weights...or does it show up on Charter, Taurus, etc as well ?
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I have seen some J frames that were peeling quite a bit. Mostly it’s been the silver/stainless models. I figure either they have had some batches that weren’t right or some people’s skin and sweat is corrosive to that type finish. My 638 from 2013 and my 442 from 2018 both still look about like new even though I pocket carry one or the other daily and have since I got them.

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My used S&W 642 was one of my few used handgun purchases that didn't work out. It misfires every once in a while. I wasn't able to get it working, nor was a gunsmith. A while later I got one NiB for a good price, so the old one is pretty much a parts gun now.

I'm not sure where the malfunctioning one is... oh, found it. The finish has worn off part of the sideplate, showing yellowish underneath, and the whole frame looks lighter in color than it ought to be, IMHO.

I've been carrying the newer one occasionally for a couple of years now. The finish looks fine. The only area with scratching so far is the cylinder.

This is the malfunctioning one. The major finish damage is on the other side, but this side doesn't really look right to me in person. The picture pretty much just shows that I'm not a good photographer. :)