Frustrated with five shot revolvers

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Are you confident that you know how to properly grip the 642? There is help at YouTube.

For training, I put a laser grip on my 642. With muscle memory established, my shooting improved significantly. And as posted above, target shooting doesn't count for much with this gun.
My J-Frame 731 UL in .32 H&R Mag. shoots S&W longs HPs from MagTech better than any other cartridge.
I haven't tried the Hornday 32 H&R Mag loads. They might work as well.

What I am getting at is maybe your gun doesn't like the ammo you are shooting.
Went to the range and shot my obligatory 20 rounds of FMJ 130 grain...

Here's your problem. 130gr FMJ 38 Special ammo is without a doubt the most inaccurate ammo I've ever had the misfortune to spend money on. Even good shooters fail with it.

The last incident I recall happened when an older officer showed up for quals and brought this stuff (cause it was cheap). Good up close (3yds and in), marginal at 5yds and impossible from 7yds and out. Even the old 158gr RNL will out shoot it.

Get some wadcutters for range practice. Even 'remanufactured' ammo is worlds better than the 130gr FMJ.
You've been misinformed. The GUN is fully capable of tight groups at 7, 10, 15 yds and beyond. Any quality gun can shoot "minute of basketball" at 25 yds, easily. Your statement reads like you're giving yourself an easy out: I guess that is all I can expect from a snub nose revolver. No, it's not. Now, what are you going to do about it?

You are correct. I don't shoot the gun near as much as I should. I probably need to upgrade the grip. I just never warmed up to it. If that's an excuse, so be it, but the XDs 9mm is probably my next gun. Even if I become proficient with the 642, it still only has five shots, and I don't want to start carrying a speed loader around too. I think I would rather carry an auto with eight rounds and a second magazine with seven.

I originally carried an XD9 SC IWB with a DM Bullard double thick gun belt and one of his custom IWB holsters, but it was not very comfortable and very heavy. That is why I switched to the 642. I don't have piece of mind or confidence with the 642 whereas I did with the XD9 SC and autos in general for that matter.

As far as the potential problems for FTF, FTE and other auto-only issues, I don't see LEO going back to revolvers as their service weapon even though I'm sure some carry a revolver as their BUG.

Here's your problem. 130gr FMJ 38 Special ammo is without a doubt the most inaccurate ammo I've ever had the misfortune to spend money on. Even good shooters fail with it.

That was the first time I had ever shot that ammo. It was Remington UMC. Never had bought it before. I always buy Federal or Winchester 158 gr.
+1 to ArchAngel

To the OP.

I strongly suggest that you read the poster that I am seeing as having THE right point.

I shoot a 442 snub & a 360 snub and all with +P loads.

I am 65 and I take great pride in hitting what I shoot at.

So its most likely the shooter,and that is easy to fix - just like the question "how do you get to Carnagie Hall = PRACTICE,PRACTICE,PRACTICE".

I suggest you find an instructor and listen and do the drills.
Crimson Trace Laser LG 305's and practice. My laser equipped snubbies will shoot as well as any revolver I own if I do my part. Get some target loads in full wadcutter. Very low recoil and good stopping power if needed.
It took me 3 years of steady practice to be able to shoot my 642 reasonably well, 3" groups on target at 10 yards. Many do better and spend more time working at it to.

What others have already said you simply need to practice more and work on your grip. 20 rounds at a range session isn't bad as long as you are actually practicing and not just shooting. I generally practice with 50 rounds per session 2 times a month. A practice sessions for me includes dry fire, drawing from holster, reloading, and firing with snap caps mixed in with live ammo, it takes 45min to an hour to go through 50 rounds of practice. If I was just shooting I would go through 50 rounds in less than 10 minutes. Pay close attention to your fundamentals you would be amazed how easy it is to develop a flinch with a snubnose.

As it doesn't sound like you want to put the practice in you are probably better served with a larger firearm that is easier to shoot. Whichever you choose, Practice, Practice, Practice.
As it doesn't sound like you want to put the practice.....

And there it is in a nutshell.

Keeping a gun ONLY because it carries well in a pocket without feeling the need to attain a modicum level of skill with it is ill-advised.
Commitment to practice and follow through will greatly improve your accuracy but not your capacity.
I wonder when the 2-3 shot gun fighting stat. is brought up if that is an average?
You all are correct. Practice, practice, practice. I do this on all my other guns. It's probably time for me to go back to me XD9 SC or get the XDs9.

I like revolvers. I have a 4" 686 Plus that I love shooting and am very proficient at. Guess I'm not a J frame guy.

Thanks for all your input.
I was frustrated by my 642 for a long time. I eventually put larger, Pachmayr Compac grips on it which cover the backstrap. I also decided I wasn’t going to try to shoot this gun past 7 yards, and my accuracy goal was to consistently put 15 rounds on a 8-1/2 by 11” sheet of paper. Also, because the sights are so small, I don’t expect to actually be able to use them in a self-defense situation, so I always tape over the rear sight when I shoot his gun, and aim by aligning the muzzle.

Even getting to this level of proficiency – 15 rounds on a standard sheet of paper at 7 yards without a sight picture - took a while. For me, it wasn’t fun or satisfying, and as a direct result I bought an SP101 with a 3” barrel. The main advantages of the SP101 are better ballistics from the longer barrel, better sights and it’s easier to grip properly. Yes, it’s longer and heavier than the 642, but overall, the SP101 was a better package for me.

Having said that, I eventually came to consider the Glock 26 and 19 as my primary handguns, since I shoot both of these better than the SP101 and they hold more ammo. The Glocks aren’t slim, but for me they conceal better than any revolver.
JJE, sounds like I'm going the same direction you went. I chose the 642 partly because my wife did not want to carry a semi-auto,so I bought her the LCR, which she likes. I carried it from time to time and then got my 642. I quit carrying my XD9 SC shortly thereafter.

I'm thinking both my wife and I could adapt to the XDs with no problem; although, I am seriously considering going back to my XD9 SC when my attire allows it. I know that weapon well and enjoy shooting it and the choice of 13 or 16 round magazines is a HUGE factor for me.
Unlike the gun shop commandos you will find the snub .38/.357 are NOT for novice shooters. They are an expert's handgun.

Yes they kick alot, yes the DA pull makes it hard to hit well. Yes they demand lots of practice.

So overall I don't recommend them for people wanting an SD gun unless they are willing to master it.

How does one master a stub?

1) lots of dry fire practice.
2) lots of .22 rimfire practice. I use a .22 S&W 2 inch kit gun, the 63.
3) reload and make lots of .38s that don't kick badly.
4) a dedicated practice .38. I use a 642 just for practice and pack a 340SC.
5) a dummy .38 snub for handgun manipulation. I use a all aluminum .38 chiefs that was made to make holsters. I practice often using my SD holsters for speed draws from various positions in low light.

I shoot at least once a week with my carry guns. Glock 26 (a practice version with a AACK .22 unit) and S&W 63 kitgun/642 J .38.

Yes it is hard. Yes it is a pain. Yes with a bigger gun I would not need as much practice BUT on the street there is no points for using a small gun. Bad guys might have real big ones or little ones or just knives. You never know.

And as a result I realize I might have to lock paws with someone with superior weaponry. And my skills have to overcome that.

So, if you carry a J snub, practice alot!

I cannot answer your question about holsters, but I can give you a recommendation for replacing the grips.

The first firearm I ever shot was a j-frame snubby with the standard wood grips. (I was somewhere between 5-7 years old) I am pretty sure it was loaded with +p ammo too...

Anyway, recently the owner replaced the grips with a Hogue, and let me shoot it. It was actually pleasant to shoot! The grips made all the difference, even his wife can shoot it reasonably well.
I would like to hear from those who have switched from a pocket revolver to the slim autos like the new XDs or even the older Ruger LCP and S&W Shield. Did you completely stop carrying your five-shot revolver or do you still carry it in certain situations?
I switched from carrying a S&W Model 60 Chief's Special to a Glock 26. Now that summer is in full swing, I still occasionally wear the J-Frame under a tee shirt when the Glock would print too much. I can bury more of the Smith inside my waistband, leaving much less grip to print.

But I prefer to carry the Glock whenever I can.

(The G26 was my first and only semi-auto center fire handgun. I also own several wheel guns.)
I've carried two 642s for years, each with a Crimson Trace grip. Try that. Mine are darned accurate. The recoil doesn't bother me with anything but 158-gr. +p, and even that takes a while.

Edit: most of your practice should be point shooting at 5-10 feet, typical civilian self defense distances. Shooting for groups at 25 feet + is a waste of time, in my opinion.
After many years of carrying only semi-autos, I acquired a S&W 36 as part of a trade. I was amazed at just how accurate it is; even in double action!
As a result I went out and got an LCR; every bit as accurate.:)
I still carry a CA 44 Bulldog. It is not a real pleasure to practice with, but I do it none the less. At close quarters, I feel confident in hitting my target, unless I am disabled first. The only thing I would even think of trading it for is a small Glock 45, and I am not going to do that because I despise the creepy, ******* trigger that Glock uses. I do intent to try an aftermarket trigger to give the Glock a chance.
Unlike the gun shop commandos you will find the snub .38/.357 are NOT for novice shooters. They are an expert's handgun.

A snubby, especially a lightweight one, should be closer to the last gun you buy than your first.

I cringe when I see threads inquiring what kind of handgun some guy should buy his wife for her first gun. There's usually lots of recommendations for a lightweight snubby.
A snubby, especially a lightweight one, should be closer to the last gun you buy than your first.

I cringe when I see threads inquiring what kind of handgun some guy should buy his wife for her first gun. There's usually lots of recommendations for a lightweight snubby.
For ankle carry I would not want anything other then small and light .38Special revolver with lazer grip. That is where this weapon truly shines, but who wants to carry handgun in this manner unless it is a BUG and who besides LE or bounty hunters need BUGs?
My 642 with the laser grip is plenty accurate out to at least 10 yards on the first shot. The DA trigger makes rapid, accurate shots a bit more difficult. It is hard on the hand and shooting 50 rounds in a session is tough. I don't carry it so I don't feel the need to be THAT proficient with it.
My Colt Detective is much more fun to shoot. I don't know the weight but it is considerably heavier than the Smith.
I carry either a 380 or a 9mm pocket pistol most of the time and neither of them are exactly a joy to shoot. I find that I run a couple of mags through each of them once or twice a week and wind up shooting my full sized guns(that I never carry)much more.
5 shot cylinders are the main reason why I don't have any revolvers. In the age of modern semi-autos, 5 shots just doesn't *feel* enough. And 5 shots is only offset by revolver cartridges are typically more powerful than their smaller, semi-auto cousins. Now if more companies made a 7 shot .357 in a J or K frame size, then I would be more interested. Darn you Taurus for discontinuing the 617.
Here is my 5 shot revolver, and I enjoy it.

Rossi M720 .44 Special.

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