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S&W 642-1 not rated.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by tws3b2, Jan 12, 2021.

  1. tws3b2

    tws3b2 Member

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    IMG_20210110_174544.jpg My S&W 642-1. On every 642-1 I've seen the left side of the barrel is stamped Smith&Wesson 38 S&W spl +P. I have a S&W 642-1 that's only stamped Smith&Wesson on the left and 38 S&W spl on the right. No +P. I contacted S&W and asked if it was rated for +P and they said no, my 642-1 is not rated for +P. I'm not doubting S&W. I'm just wondering what the difference could be. It's a Airweight like all 642-1 I've seen. Everything looks to be the same. Alloy frame, ss barrel and cylinder. Anybody know. Just curious. Also, dose anybody know how to date a S&W revolver.
     
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  2. skoro

    skoro Member

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    That reinforcement on the frame just above the trigger behind the cylinder shows that it has the beefed up frame. You're good to go with +P. Maybe S&W was using up the last of the non +P stamped barrels on yours. That sort of thing has been known to happen.

    BTW, my EDC piece is a 642-1 that's been in my pocket each time I walk out the door for nearly 13 years.
     
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  3. tws3b2

    tws3b2 Member

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    I'm thinking you are right. I bought my 642-1 at a gun shop. It was on consignment. The book that came with it only refers to the 642. It says nothing about 642-1. And it says the 642 is not rated for +P. I'm thinking when the 642-1 first come out they were still using some left over 642 barrels. 642-1 on mine is only visible when you open the cylinder. Why would they make some 642-1 rated for +P and some not. It just was not stamped on the left over barrels so technically it's not rated. Anyway what do I know. But if I feel the need I will use the +p.
     
  4. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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    I can’t tell you what to do .. but myself I would have no qualms about limited +P use and +P carry

    But I carry Hornady 110gr FTX standard pressure in my +P 642 ... seems to work in any tests I have seen .. Gel , Water filled Jugs , wet print & even Paul Harrells ... denim , ribs , oranges , ribs , T shirt and High Tech fleece bullet stop ( I like that guy)
     
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  5. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I have found in my relationships with them they do respond well to precious metals...brass, copper, lead...:rofl:


    Sorry...couldn’t help myself. :D
     
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  6. JERRY

    JERRY Member

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    you will get tired of shooting +p in that gun before the gun will.
     
  7. pairof44sp

    pairof44sp Member

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    That big old grip. How does it carry for you?
    Seems like a lot of cushion for 38, but I’m rethinking my macho attitude (44 snub on wood panel grips is killing my hands).
     
  8. tws3b2

    tws3b2 Member

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    I don't really carry it on me much. I just like a fat grip and my old hands can use all the cushion they can get. When you get as old as me you will find a little cushion will do you good in many places.
     
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  9. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    Don't worry. If your gun is built to shoot real 38 Special ammo, not the watered down crap they now sell that is no better than the 38 Colt that it replaced your gun will handle the very similar +P ammo. +P is just a gimmick anyway to sell you over priced ammo.

    And like Jerry said you will get tired of full power ammo before the gun ever wears out.
     
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  10. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    It is plus p .38 ammo... if we are talking about you shooting factory or identical reloads then you will not outlive that gun, if you're trying to replicate the old .38-44 load then I'd worry
     
  11. MartinS

    MartinS Member

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    That reinforcement on the frame isn't. It keeps the cylinder from sliding off the yoke when swung out.
     
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  12. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    38 Special and 38-44 are two different loadings.
     
  13. Monac

    Monac Member

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    I would not have guessed that! Any idea why they changed the design, Martin S? It used to be just a small lump on the bottom corner of the frame window.
     
  14. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    Reread the post
     
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  15. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    What you call a reinforcement is actually the cylinder stop. It keeps the cylinder from coming off when open. It has nothing to do with being a frame reinforcement
     
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  16. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    From the "Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson",. 4th edition...

    The 642 No dash was discontinued in 1993 and was introduced as the 642-1 in 1996 with the Magnum J-frame. The authors of the book said that all the 642-1's were +P rated. They did not have a comment on what was marked on the barrels.

    In 1997, the barrel markings were moved to the left side of the barrel leaving the right side blank.

    S&W is known for using up parts on hand from time to time.

    Then attached photo is mine, the gun on the right is a 38 Special Model 60 and the gun on the left is a 38 Special +P Model 642-1. You can see the longer frame of the 642-1.

    [​IMG]

    I'm not recommending the OP shoot +P in his revolver, just presenting some published information. Besides, I do not like shooting +P ammunition in my 642 anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
  17. Cocked & Locked
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    Cocked & Locked Member

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    My 642-1 is also not roll marked with +P on the barrel or elsewhere. When I called S&W years ago and asked them about it the rep told me same thing they told the OP. Paperwork in mine is exact same as the OP's. Bought the gun NIB in May 1997...I think.



    upload_2021-1-14_15-15-27.jpeg
     
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  18. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    I bet S&W started the +P marking on the barrel so people would stop calling and asking if their guns were +P rated. Like I stated earlier. If its OK to shoot original 38 Special ammo in your gun it will handle +P ammo. If you want to see what real 38 Special ammo feels like pick up a box of Sellier & Bellot 158gr RNL that is NOT +P rated and will find its some impressive ammo to shoot. Too bad they don't load it with a better bullet. Here is a good read on +P ammo. I have posted this before but I am not sure anyone ever actually reads it.

    http://shootingwithhobie.blogspot.com/2009/01/p-phenomenon-by-saxonpig.html
     
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  19. halfmoonclip

    halfmoonclip Member

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    The lug below the recoil shield was added, rather than peening in a small stud to hold the cylinder when open.
    PPs have noted that hot loads in a 642 will wear your hand out.
    A steady diet of +P shouldn't grenade the gun, but will surely wear it more rapidly.
    My older, all steel .38 640 is marked +P rated in the cylinder window.
    Moon
     
  20. skoro

    skoro Member

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    Okay, please excuse my lack of proper nomenclature.

    My understanding is that the 642-1 with that particular style of cylinder stop has a beefed up frame and is +P compatible.

    My own 642-1 is my EDC and is clearly marked +P and that's what I stoke it with; either Speer Gold Dots or Buffalo Bore FBI loads.
     
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  21. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    Don't worry. I thought it meant a beefed up frame too. But its not. Its just a cheaper way to make a cylinder stop. The one on my 431-PD 32 mag would let the cylinder ride over it when cleaning the gun until I made a modification to it. I never had that happen with the older style lug that was an extra step for S&W to install.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
  22. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Interesting. Can you educate me/us on the ballistics of the old 38 Colt and how it compares with today's 38 Special? Thanks.

    Oh, and when did the 38 Special ballistics change? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
  23. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    The original 38 Long Colt was rated for 755fps from a 6" barrel and the 38 Special was list as getting 850fps from a 6" barrel. The bullet weight went from 150grs for the 38 Colt to 158grs for the special because the Colt bullet was a hollow base and the Special round simply did away with the hollow base cavity and that increased the bullet weight.

    But todays 38 Special is rated at around 750fps and so is really no better than the 38 Colt that caused all the uproar in the Philippine American war. The original 38 Special was a real step up in power over the 38 Colt. The 38 Special was invented for a reason. Hope this what you are looking for.
     
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  24. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Yes, thank you.

    However, today's 38 Special at 'around 750 fps' is from a 4" barrel. Federal 38 Special 158 RN lead rated at 770 fps from a 4" barrel runs at 780 fps from my 4" Model 67, for example.

    But 2" makes a lot of difference.

    Remington 158 RN lead clocks at 860 fps from my Ruger Blackhawk with a 6.5" barrel. I'd say that's a pretty good match with the old ballistics, suggesting that it hasn't changed at all.
     
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  25. ThomasT

    ThomasT Member

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    Did you read the Shooting With Hobie that I linked above? The 38 Special wasn't invented to be a 38 Colt match but an improvement. And it was until the 1970s or so. Then the velocity was lowered. I have read that it was reduced to protect the J-Frame guns from damage. But I have no way to back that up. Just telling you what I have read.

    At least you have chronoed your loads and have real velocity speeds to post. But from that barrel length you should be getting over 900fps. If you ever see any for sale get some of the Sellier & Bellot 38 special round nose loads and test them. I have two boxes left and they are way more powerful than the Remington 158gr SWC loads I have on hand. Those were a real eye opener for me when I fired the first cylinder full. It was then I realize how weak modern 38 special was by comparison.
     
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021
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