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questions about the 442

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by coosbaycreep, Sep 1, 2008.

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  1. coosbaycreep

    coosbaycreep Member

    Nov 8, 2007
    near Roseburg, Oregon
    I picked one up at a gunshow the other day because I had been wanting another revolver since getting rid of the other two I had, and because my .32 kel tec doesn't inspire much confidence with it's stopping power. I put 50 rounds through it yesterday, and while it doesn't kick very much, it did make my hands very numb. This was with some cheap crappy reload 158gr. LRN. I also have chronic tendonitis, so that might have a thing to do with the hand numbness.

    Anyway, after shooting, my gun was filthy. I tried wiping it down with a paper towel, but it acts like it's stained from the powder or something. Is this common? Is there something I can do to clean it up to it's original finish? It doesn't matter either way, because it will probably be my new backpacking gun, and will be subjected to plenty of dirt and rain in the future.

    Is the airweight S&Ws susceptible to holster wear on the finish like blued revolvers are?

    I know the alloy frame itself won't rust, but what about the internal components? I clean the bore and exterior of my guns after every shooting usually, and always if they were shot in the rain, but I've never taken apart a revolver. Say I was to pack my 442 outdoors in the rain a lot without dissambling it afterwards, how much damage would it to the internal parts or reliability? Obviously I would dry it indoors when I got a chance, but sometimes I go on fairly long camping trips, and I wouldn't always have a chance to dry it for long periods of time (and it rains so much in Oregon that some people ride an ark to school instead of driving a car). Any solutions? Or is this something that I shouldn't even be concerned with?

    I was really surprised how accurate this gun is, and I'm a crappy shot too. What I don't like is the trigger pull though. I used to have a titanium .357 taurus (617?), and that thing had the worst trigger of everything I've ever shot in my life, in either DA or SA. Unfortunately, I don't think my Smith is much better. When I was shooting yesterday, I would "stage" the trigger sometimes (the S&W manual said not to do that because it's dangerous for some reason), and it helped with accuracy because I wouldn't be pulling to the side because of the heavy trigger pull. Is there anything I can do to lighten the trigger? Will just dry firing it a whole bunch remedy the problem a little?

    I know most lightweight guns are meant to be carried a lot, and shot a little. How about 442s? I didn't shoot my taurus much because I didn't like it, and because I usually only shot .357s and it didn't take much of that punishment before I got tired of it. Other than the trigger pull, my 442 is just as pleasant to shoot as my mom's old model 10 snub nose, and more accurate too. What's the life expectancy of the airweight Smiths? Does anyone here have one they've put a whole bunch of rounds through? If so, what kind of problems, if any? I know S&W is suppose to have superb customer service and warranty, but it's still a concern nonetheless.

    Why is the 442 so much cheaper than the other S&Ws? I considered a charter arms, ruger, and a few others before settling on the 442, due to lower costs or bigger calibers, but ended up going with smith because it's been my favorite brand since watching Dirty Harry, and because they have a good reputation. (Except their .22 autos, I had one of those and it was a piece of crap). I really like their airweight .22 mag (351PD?), but it was $150 more than my .38. The .357s I looked at were all $700 something. What makes the other models so much more expensive than the 442? Does my gun have cheaper materials/craftmanship or something, or is it a sales volume thing, and they're cheaper because they sell more of them?

    Another complaint about my gun is the fact that one side of the grips isn't flush to the frame. It's not loose, and I don't have any reason to take it off and see what the deal is, but I was still surprised that their quality control people would let that go out like that.

  2. ir3e971

    ir3e971 Member

    May 22, 2006
    Congrats on your 442. I have a 642, and the grip on mine is the same as yours. I took the grip off and bent it back into shape, and it is now much better. The grip has some type of supporting material inside that gives it some rigidity.

    The finish on my pistol has held up fine so far after about 700 rounds. The pistol does get quite dirty though, and I suspect this is ammunition dependant. I am shooting reloads, so the problem is probably magnified some.

    The lower price point may be because of the lack of sight options. The j frames that take 357 have tritium sights I believe. When I was shopping for the pistol I couldnt justify the extra several hundred for that option.

    There is a 642/442 thread with about a billion posts on this page. Most any question asked about these great little guns has been answered there about a dozen times already.

    Happy shooting.
  3. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

    Jul 30, 2006
    Johnson City, TN
    There's your answer. The residue is probably from vaporized/melted bullet lube, unburned powder granules, or even lead from the bullet itself. Moisten a patch or soft cloth with your normal cleaning solvent and it will wipe off.
  4. Kor

    Kor Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Tucson, AZ
    The barrel and cylinder are blued ordnance steel, and will eventually show holster wear just like any other blued-steel gun. The frame is black-anodized aluminum, and eventually a little silver will show through on corners/edges/high points.

    One of the cool aspects of the Centennial design is that the lockwork is VERY well sealed against the elements, short of actually submerging the gun in water or mud. If you want to be on the safe side, take the grips off and use a can of compressed air to blow the lockwork clean through any of the frame openings, blow dry with a hairdryer until warm to the touch, and put one drop of your favorite gun oil in each of the frame openings. Dry-fire the clean, lubed gun for a few minutes to allow the oil to distribute itself inside the lockwork. Wipe off any excess oil that oozes out of the gun with a cleaning patch, and wipe the exterior surfaces of the gun with the same oily patch.

    Dry-fire it 10 minutes a night, every night, for a month. By then, the internal surfaces will polish themselves against each other, and your hand will be somewhat stronger and more accustomed to the trigger pull. If the trigger pull is still too heavy after 300 minutes of dry-firing, take the gun to a reputable local gunsmith(preferably one with experience as a police armorer) and see what he can do for you. Unless you're comfortable taking apart and putting together small gadgets like wind-up alarm clocks or RC cars/planes, I wouldn't try DIY-ing a trigger job.

    I have a copy of a Shooting Times article by Dick Metcalf(Google these terms, plus "airweight J-frame") where he fired 2500 rounds of .38 Spl +P ammo through an Airweight Chief's Special, and the same through an Airweight Bodyguard, and both guns were still functioning perfectly and within factory specs after the end of the torture test. That equates to 5 years worth of weekly practice, shooting a 50-rd box of +P defensive ammo each week - and the guns were still perfectly serviceable, and capable of yet more shooting. Your .38Spl reloads should have about 1/2-1/3 less recoil, and cause less wear and tear in approximately the same proportion, than the +P defense loads.

    There's no exotic, expensive, aerospace-type materials like titanium or scandium in the 442, just plain-old-fashioned ordnance steel and aluminum - the added material cost + manufacturing costs(e.g. extra tooling wear) are what makes the Airlite Ti/Sc guns cost 2-3X as much as a 442. Personally, I think the steel/aluminum Airweights are a much better bargain than a gun that costs twice as much, hurts twice as much to shoot, and only weighs 25% less.
  5. FLRon

    FLRon Member

    Aug 3, 2008
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    The trigger will get much smoother as you use it. I would dry fire it for a while to smooth it out. Mine did.

    After the range I clean it with Breakfree CLP and then wipe it down with the same CLP on a rag and return it to the holster.

    After a year of pocket carry in a Desantis Nemesis, it shows no wear at all.

    I put some Ahrend cocobolo grips on mine.

    +1 on what KOR said about a bargain. It's a great value compared to spending a lot more to save 3 oz.

    Enjoy your new 442! It gets the most use out of everything I own.

  6. Dgreno

    Dgreno Member

    Feb 22, 2007
    Savannah GA
    That 442 sure is pretty to get a lot of use! :)
  7. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Home Of The First Capitol Of The Confederate State
    I will try too field a few of your concerns. Don't be fooled, any type
    of finish will rust over time; especailly if the said weapon (442) is not
    taken care of properly. Last week, I had too remove rust from behind the
    trigger of a stainless steel S&W model 642. It seems the owner carried it
    in a el cheapo Uncle Mikes #36 in his rear pants pocket; thus allowing
    moisture, dirt, grit, and grime too build up over a period of time. So rust
    was caked on the underside of the trigger pretty good. I used an old type
    toothbrush, some solvent and elbow grease; and got it back where it no
    longer showed signs of abuse. Before giving it back to its owner, I treated
    it with a squirt of Eezox; with excellent properties for deterring rust~! :cool: ;)
  8. JNewell

    JNewell Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    Land of the Bean & the Cod
    I've seen a lot of new S&Ws come out of the box either dry/partly dry and/or with metal debris inside. If you are comfortable doing it, I'd consider detail-stripping, cleaning and re-lubing. If not, you could do worse than remove the grips and flood with something like the spray version of Break-Free, though it will drip for days.

    Other than the obvious things mentioned earlier, S&W prices the 442 and 642 as loss-leaders to keep the J-frame line in front of people when they're shopping for a CCW.

    You can probably shoot regular pressure .38 Special loads almost forever. Even +P factory loads are not going to beat the gun up very much.
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