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SW 642 vs 638 - DAO vs SA/DA

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Aux, Aug 21, 2003.

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  1. Aux

    Aux Member

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    I am thinking of a J-Frame for CCW. Got enough experience with semi-autos (own a few Sigs), but admittedly have little experience with revolvers.

    From what I can see, the difference between these two models is the 642 is a double action only internal hammer, where the 638 is an external shrouded hammer allowing single or double action.

    Now as a CCW or BUG piece, it seems like the 642 (and similar) models are as simple as can get.

    Is there any advantage to the accessable hammer on the 638, for the role described?
     
  2. Blueduck

    Blueduck Member

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    Other than the obvious ability to shoot single action, the hammer gives you something to put some real pressure on in an emerency if the gun tied up for some reason.

    Other side is that the slot the hammer rides in a 638 has been accused of being a "Lint trap" with the possibility of causing a malfunction if foriegn material or say a dine from your pocket worked it's way in there. No real experience carrying the shrouded hammer type guns so aboves just second hand theories. I prefer the looks and totally smooth back of the 640/642 myself.
     
  3. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    I carried a Model 48 Bodyguard (steel frame version of the M-38) back in the late 70's early 80's until I lost my mind and traded it for a Model 42 Centennial.

    Yeah the 48 would catch a little lint from my jacket pocket but I was never able to get anything to lodge in there to foul it. There is only a small V-shaped area and nothing hard will stay put. I guess you could get a stick of gum or something stuck in there but I never carried my weapon in my candy pocket.

    My 42 was a pleasure to shoot but that blasted grip safety was a B*t*h. I fired 18 rounds to qualifty and my hand felt like it had been attacked by a ball-peen hammer. I immediately went home removed the grip safety bar, fashioned a spring out of an old hacksaw blade to deactivate the block and put on a pair of Pachmyr grips to cover the gap. While I was in there I installed a wide target trigger. After all of that it was the BEST feeling DAO revolver I have ever fired.

    I seriously doubt that the new MIM parts would ever be able to allow a pull as smooth as those old case hardened parts did. But at least S&W gave up on the old Lemon Squeezer.

    If fact I have been thinking of checking out the new Taurus version in .357.
     
  4. tbeb

    tbeb Member

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    I'd buy the 638 because I sometimes shoot single action. You have to decide if that's something you need. (To save money you might want to look for a nice used S&W model 38--it's like the 638 only blue or nickle finish.)
     
  5. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    single action

    While it's very nice to be able to thumb-cock the x38, it's the de-cocking that's the tricky part.

    Be prepared to practice, practice, practice doing it. (UNLOADED of course)
     
  6. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Member

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    I was just thinking this over in reference to another thread on pocket carry, and I guess I basically have a hard time imagining a situation where cocking a snub--apart from just play shooting--would be a good idea. And if it's a feature that has little to no practical application, then why complicate your (very businesslike) gun with it (and introduce an element of decision into a potential SD situation where you don't need one)? Anyway, my centennial has never left me wishing for a single-action option, and I just take it I have to learn to shoot it double action with the accuracy I require and to the useful range of the weapon.
    CG
     
  7. Hutch

    Hutch Member

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    Well, one nice thing about a Bodyguard is that you can <CAREFULLY> cock it and lower the hammer a few times after you load it to make sure the cylinder spins freely. That's a comfort, since even factory ammo can have a high primer or burr on the case rim or sumthin'. That just ain't in the cards for a Centennial.
     
  8. Sludge

    Sludge Member

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    Well, I went through the same decision some time ago. I just wanted a hammer, so I got the 638 and it is my mainstay carry piece in the summer. In winter I go for the bigger gunz and back to the 1911 or XD-40.

    Someone wrote about the 638 being a pocket lint trap and that change in your pocket could jam the hammer. Well, anything in your pocket is going to get the lint from time to time. I inspect mine every day and I havent had a problem with any lint really. And, just how much lint would it take to make it malfunction? As far as the change... well I use a Galco Pocket holster.. or a Melt Sparks pocket holster. I carry my change in the opposite pocket, but on the occassion that I have had change in my gun pocket, it has never gotten into a position to cause a stoppage of the 638. Right now I am trying to wedge a dime or penny into it... its not working. When you pull the trigger the hammer easily kicks out the change. The only way I can get the change to stay in the slot is to keep the muzzle pointed at the ground anyway. It can jam a dime if it is in SA with the hammer drawn back, but who in their right mind is going to keep the hammer drawn in their pocket? My trigger pull is so easy in SA that its scary. If you dont believe me.. go to a gun store and try to get the change caught in it where it would stop the DA pull. As far as how they shoot. I have shot my 638 in IDPA BUG matches and it really performed well. In fact it did better than I had expected it to do. I scored better than some carrying small Glocks as their BUG.

    Ultimately it comes down to what you feel comfortable with. I wanted the hammer, you may not. If you want a hammer, I personally think the shrouded hammer of the 638 is the only way to go for a small CCW revolver or a CCW pocket gun. You can keep your hammer and its not going to get caught on clothing during the draw or when firing from inside a pocket etc... I dont own a hammerless gun, but I suspect with proper care they too would function just fine.

    Another thing to consider is the finish that you want on the gun. since its going to be concealed and your body tends to sweat, I would keep maintenance and corrosion control in mind when choosing the finish of the gun.

    I hope my observations have been helpful to ya..

    my two cents..
     
  9. SnWnMe

    SnWnMe Member

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    If I were to function check a revolver I would unload it first so the SA feature of the BG series is moot for me. I also have no inclination to practice slow, single action fire with a snubnose. I practice point shooting and close in weapon retention stances with it. If there are 25 yards between me and whoever is engaging me and my snubby, then I should probably work on increasing that distance instead instead of trying to connect with precision fire.
     
  10. BigG

    BigG Member

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    I think the exposed hammer is an unnecessary complication of the perfect pocket weapon - the Centennial.
     
  11. MR.G

    MR.G Member

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    Have both guns. Like the 638 because the hammer is shrouded yet it can be fired single action. Don't like my 642.
     
  12. Kentucky Rifle

    Kentucky Rifle Member In Memoriam

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    I chose the 638 also...

    When I take a long shot, I need to cock the hammer. (Admittedly, the 638 wouldn't normally be used for a long shot.) The 642 is better looking, but I still need a hammer. Besides, I've gotten pretty used to the way my 638 looks.

    KR
     
  13. NJ3

    NJ3 Member

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    I chose a 638 too, but I found a used nickel M-38 instead. Great little pistol I can pocket carry or drop in my Smartcarry holster. I don't find lint piling up in it either.
     

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  14. Poohgyrr

    Poohgyrr Member

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    Both the Bodyguard and the Centennial series have their fans, and for good reason. FWIW, my 640-1 has a stock trigger that is much, much smoother and nicer than I ever expected. This is also one accurate little J frame. I've said before that I wish I still had its' twin (sold to buy something else :( ...) My little Centennial is so accurate it makes me look good. The single action feature is not missed here. But the Bodyguard is still a great little J frame in its' own right. ;)
     
  15. fallingblock

    fallingblock Member

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    You won't miss the hammer......

    if you take the time to learn to shoot that snubby DAO.

    As someone has already pointed out, why give yourself an extra thing to think about in a defensive situation?

    The 640/642 are capable of very fine performance once you get used to shooting them in the defensive mode.:D

    I like the smoother feel of the 640/642 as well ;)
     
  16. fallingblock

    fallingblock Member

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    You won't miss the hammer......

    if you take the time to learn to shoot that snubby DAO.

    As someone has already pointed out, why give yourself an extra thing to think about in a defensive situation?

    The 640/642 are capable of very fine performance once you get used to shooting them in the defensive mode.:D

    I like the smoother feel of the 640/642 as well ;)
     
  17. Greybeard

    Greybeard Member

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    While looking/thinking, ya might want to consider 342. I think about 4 ounces lighter than the two mentioned. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, I let a lady student talk me out of a 342 that was absolutely the most comfortable "always" gun I've ever owned ... Recoil semi-brisk, but quite tolerable here ... New ones remain rather pricey, but used ones may be sometimes found for cheap - fired 5 times, or less. Re-read recoil comment above. :D 342s, for some of us, a dream to carry. And probably really so if acclimated to packing the big semis. ;)
     
  18. Mark IV Series 80

    Mark IV Series 80 Member

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    Originally posted by ChristopherG
    What if you are holding the bad guy at gunpoint, and he will not comply with your commands?

    You aren't justified in shooting, unless he becomes an imminent threat.

    If he gets his hand on your gun, he can stop the cylinder from rotating.

    With the hammer available, you may have enough leverage to overcome this.

    If the hammer is cocked, you simply squeeze the trigger.
     
  19. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Member

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    Yeah, I thought about a scenario like that; and it brought to mind the times when I'm shooting a PPC course, for instance, with a revolver, and shooting the 25 yrd strong hand stage single action. I've actually quit doing it SA because of how often I loose a shot accidentally with the light SA trigger (I mean I'm pointed downrange, and it's usually on target, but I'm releasing a shot when I didn't mean to--and that's with no more pressure than a stopwatch and a guy with a whistle.). Movies and TV notwithstanding, I decided that, for me, cocking a revo in a SD situation is not a good idea (unless it's the Hollywood shootout recently dramatized in the movie '44 minutes', and I'm the detective with the 686, who had me shouting--'Who couldn't make a 50 yard headshot with a 686?!?!).

    CG
     
  20. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Possible response? Boom. Boom. Boom. Stop or I'll shoot! :neener:
     
  21. stephen_g22

    stephen_g22 Member

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    If anyone gets their hand on your gun you've made many many mistakes and are in serious doo-doo.

    That being said.

    I don't think the little hammer on the 638 would give you any additional leverage.

    I did see in an article about revolver shooting that when someone grabs the cylinder you can rotate the revolver around the cylinder in order to make the shot go off. Smiths would be torqued one way, Colts the other. You would have more leverage with the grip and the trigger as opposed to just trying to hold onto the cylinder

    FWIW I have a model 638 and I love it. I want to get a 642 or 342 sometime, but then I want a lot of things.

    I like the versatility of the 638, even if I rarely shoot the 638 SA, I like the fact that I am able to.
     
  22. Aux

    Aux Member

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    Went with the 638. Found one NIB in town for $325, pre-internal-lock.

    Seems like a good deal, did I find a good price?


    On to the next question!
     
  23. 10-Ring

    10-Ring Member

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    Right now, I've got a 'thing' for the hammerless models. Easier to draw, less potential to snag on anything & still nice shooters.
     
  24. Spoonman

    Spoonman Member

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    My vote goes to the 642. It is my primary carry weapon in the summer and seems to be about the best for general pocket carry year-round. Mine rides in an Uncle Mikes pocket holster w/ a Bianchi speed strip (or two), stoked with Winchester Silvertips or Federal Hydra-Shocks. I bought my wife a 442 years ago as a purse gun to replace her Beretta .25 and liked it so much that she bought the 642 for me for Christmas the next year.
     
  25. Mark IV Series 80

    Mark IV Series 80 Member

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    Aux,

    Congratulations!

    I think that you got a good deal.

    They aren't making any more of the Pre-Internal-Lock Models, so NIB examples will be harder to find.
     
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