Gun Review: Smith & Wesson Model 640 Pro Series

The Smith & Wesson Model 640 Pro Series is a sleek, shiny, all-stainless revolver that fires the powerful .357 Magnum cartridge, conceals in a pocket or purse, and won’t break the bank. Sounds like the perfect self-defense handgun, right? Well, let’s not jump to conclusions.

The 640 Pro is yet another in Smith & Wesson’s seemingly endless line of small revolvers. Two things distinguish the 640 Pro from Smith & Wesson’s inexpensive mass market J-frame revolvers like the 642. First, the 640 Pro is a real stunner of a gun, crafted of the most luxurious stainless you’re likely to see. Second, one can buy two 642s for the price of one 640 Pro, with enough change left over for dinner for two at the 99.


What does a buyer get for his extra lucre? Check out the appearance of the 640 Pro, because that’s where most of the money went. Starting at the business end of the revolver, there’s an elegantly fluted barrel and an extractor rod that is fully shrouded by a stainless steel Snuggie. Oops, make that a small lug if you prefer, you big lug. The lug is sinuously tapered toward the muzzle, and its edges have been melted. I expect that the stylists at Smith & Wesson shaped the lug to enhance its appearance, since the sinuous profile has no effect on concealment or draw. Together with the glassy-smooth sight ramp nestled atop the barrel, the whole package looks as sleek as Secretariat and bespeaks class.

Continuing the fly-by, it’s hard to miss the sights that embellish the 640 Pro. Unlike the vestigial and almost useless sights on a typical J-frame revolver, the 640 Pro sports actual gunsights fore and aft. Both front and rear sights are dovetailed and drift adjustable by anyone who owns a punch and a hammer. And these are not just any sights. Smith & Wesson opted to embellish this revolver with Trijicon® tritium night sights. Literally standing above typical J-frame sights, these Trijicons never snagged in my IWB or pocket holster. Obviously, Smith & Wesson intended the 640 Pro for something more than a gunfight in a phone booth.

A Centennial-style revolver, the 640 has an internal-hammer like the silvery .38 Special 642 Airweight recently reviewed here and its nicely blued fraternal twin, the Model 442. Those two Airweights have aluminum frames to lighten the load. In order to withstand the recoil of the .357, the 640 is constructed with plenty of steel and no aluminum. As a result, the 640 Pro weighs in at 24 ounces, making it positively porcine when compared to a 15 ounce Airweight.

The 640 Pro is also outfitted with a barrel that’s ¼” longer than the two Airweights previously mentioned. The 2 1/8” barrel offers one important advantage over its 1 7/8” cousin; the extra barrel length, while seemingly negligible, enables to 640 to have a full length extractor rod. Recent snubbies such as the 642-2 use longer extractor rods than the original models that have no suffix. Still, extraction of spent cases from a 642-2 remains a bit of a fumble since the extractor is a scosh shorter than full length. Such is not the case with the 640, and extraction is positive and fast. I guess that when it comes to rods of the extractor type, longer actually is better.

Opening the action reveals that the cylinder is cut for moon clips. That’s a big deal. Reloading with clips is way faster than pushing five singles. Moon clips are also faster than loading with speedloaders because, once loaded, the clips remain in the gun. Reloading still requires multiple actions – pressing the crane latch to open the action, tilting the handle down for a gravity assist, pushing or slapping the extractor rod, slipping in the loaded clip and closing the action – but practice makes the process fairly quick. Since the 640 pro offers easy and rapid extraction with easy and rapid reloads of a powerful round, it seems ready, willing and able to do the business.

The rest of the revolver is pretty much conventional J-frame, which is not a bad thing. The 640 Pro boasts the high quality fit and finish for which Smith & Wesson revolvers are known. Even the point-and-shoot handle geometry is the same, just with a larger grip. The 640 Pro is equipped with removable full grip that should please ham-handed shooters. The handle offers a significant edge in leverage over the two-finger grip attached to most snubbies, but the difference doesn’t stop there.

Unlike the boot grips that adorn the 642 and similar models, the grip of the 640 Pro also covers most of the metal backstrap. A covered backstrap is considered essential when firing full power .357s. The snappy recoil of a .357 can be disconcerting, to say the least. To say the most, it stings. Having a bit of rubber twixt skin and steel when shooting Magnums is as welcome as a dusting of talcum twixt skin and skivvies on a hot day.

Grabbing a fistful of 640 Pro, its handle feels about as stable and comfortable as a custom piece. While all shooters are justifiably finicky about grips and handles, most should like the feel of this setup. The downside is that the grip extends the handle’s length by 5/8”. The extra length, while increasing purchase, does nothing to enhance concealment.

Okay, enough sightseeing. Beauty is as beauty does. If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then proof of the gun would be in the shooting. Shooting plain-Jane .38 SPLs and +P loads with bullet weights from 110 to 158 grains, the 640 Pro was a 640 Pussycat. Recoil with run of the mill .38s was gentle, straight back and with zero muzzle flip. Shooting +Ps was literally a blast, since a handsome jet of muzzle blast accompanied every shot. Nevertheless, even shooting the stouter +Ps, there was very little muzzle rise and recoil was quite tame.

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Be advised that loading the moon clips with most brands of ammo was easy, but I struggled with one brand in particular. Depending on whether a shooter uses the supplied or aftermarket clips, it might be that some brands of brass or steel won’t fit as readily into the moon clips as might others. However, once loaded into the clips, all the brands of ammo that I tried functioned without flaw.

The sights that looked so impressive during pre-flight functioned slightly less impressively. Although the Trijicon sights are absolutely a step up from the pitiful sights on most J-frame revolvers, I found the three tritium dots to be too small for rapid target acquisition. The front sight was especially difficult to use. I ended up ignoring the dots and aligning the revolver as if I was shooting with plain patridge sights. Not connecting the dots proved to be faster than aligning them as they were meant to be used, and actually improved accuracy.

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The trigger was about what I expected from a Smith & Wesson snubby. It was smooth to be sure, but as heavy as a Christmas fruitcake. Conan might be able to press this trigger with the pad of his pinky finger, but I had to use the power crease of my trigger finger. Using the distal joint changes the finger action from a press to a curl, which can lead to inaccuracy. Which is what I got.

I was unimpressed by this revolver’s ability to drop rounds into the red. Shooting the 640 Pro was like opening Forest Gump’s proverbial box of chocolates – I never knew what I was going to get. At seven yards, I could cover my groups with my hand. However, every shot was as far to the left as a Massachusetts politician. Not good.

The front sight seemed to be off center, so the armorer got out his little hammer and brass punch and drifted the damn thing to the left by almost 1/16th of an inch. Drifting the sight did exactly what it was supposed to do, but the gun remained untrustworthy in terms of pinpoint accuracy.

Just to make sure that I wasn’t merely having a bad day, I loaded my personal Model 642 with the exact same .38 SPL commie range ammo and fired off a quick five. I was on the money with the 642, but still spraying shots with the 640. Considering that the 640 has a slightly longer barrel and full size grip, I expected better.

The problem wasn’t too difficult to diagnose. Simply stated, I was using too much finger, thereby pushing the revolver to the left. But diagnosing the problem and curing it proved to be two different things. Had I been able to squeeze off shots rapid-fire using the pad of my trigger finger, I would have been on target.

I would also have given myself tendonitis. The 640 pro’s trigger was far too heavy to get a smooth pull with the pad, forcing me to use my “power crease.” Blasting away at the target and point shooting, I was able to craft this interesting string.

While one can say that the problem was with me and not the gun, the fact remains that a fancy shootin’ iron like the 640 Pro should facilitate accurate speed shooting, not impede the same.

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Firing full-on .357 Mags proved to be an exercise in pain management. The covered backstrap wasn’t covered enough. The grip coverage does not extend to the top ½” of the backstrap, which is exactly where the web of my hand would like to be located. The same web that was deliriously happy shooting .38s suffered an unpleasant stinging sensation firing .357s.  I countered that problem by taking a lower grip, which was well under the bore axis. With .38s a low grip was no issue. Unfortunately, the lower grip position allowed extra muzzle flip when shooting .357s, so it took me too much time to get follow-up shots on target.

For my last bitch, I found “Smith & Wesson Model 640 Pro Series” to be a tad cumbersome in both name and weight. I was able to change the former to “640 Pro,” which seemed to roll trippingly off the tongue or the keyboard, as the case may be. But there was nothing I could do about those 24 ounces.

I admit that maybe I was asking too much from the gun. If it listed for half its current MSRP and was called the “Model 640 Amateur Series,” I might have been more forgiving of its faults. Alas, the MSRP for this revolver proclaims it to be of a higher class. And here’s a warning to all marketing mavens everywhere: if you put “Pro” in the product name, it had damn well better be.

All things considered, Smith & Wesson’s Model 640 Pro Series reminds me of a girl I dated way back in college during the Pleistocene Era. Like the gun, she was flashy, beautiful and comfy to hold. In the end she promised more than she could deliver. And in retrospect, she too was probably just a bit overweight.

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Smith & Wesson Model 640 Pro Series
Caliber: .357
Cylinder capacity:  5 rounds, cut for moon clips
Materials: Stainless steel, synthetic full-size grip
Weight empty: 24 ounces
Barrel Length: 2.125″ underlugged, fluted
Overall length: 6.750″
Sights: Dovetail Trijicon® Tritium Night Sights
Action: Double action only
Finish: Stainless steel
Price: $809 msrp

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * *
Droolworthy style touches, such as the elegant fluted barrel and tapered underlug, dress up this revolver. The finish, which looks so sexy in the box, is hard to keep looking good after a day at the range. Owners will want to invest in many forms of exotic cleaning solutions and use them frequently, or suffer the consequences.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * 1/2
With its full-sized grip, it fits into a pocket but not as comfortably as it should. Swapping the full-sized grip for a smaller boot grip (standard on many other J-frame revolvers) would improve concealment to the detriment of handling, especially shooting .357 Magnums. Although it conceals well in an IWB holster, it feels a little heavy.

Ergonomics (firing) * * * 1/2
Recoil with .38 SPLs is almost pleasant; shooting .357s from such a small revolver is an exercise in self-abuse. The tritium dot front sight is easy “lose” when firing rapidly and hard to see at all times. The rear sight is better, but both sights would benefit greatly from larger dots.

Reliability * * * * 1/2
Expect “five for sure” – but wipe it down from time to time, okay? The finish attracts dirt like a Swiffer duster and allowing carbon and dust to accumulate near the crane or hand is begging for trouble.

Customize This * * *
J-frame revolvers can be accessorized with fancy grips, enhanced with laser sights or personalized with engraving. That’s it.

OVERALL RATING * * * 1/2
Firing .357 Mags, the 640 pro has a high “power to weight” ratio. However, it’s too heavy to be called a lightweight, and too light to shoot Magnums comfortably. It shoots .38s like they were .22s, but for half the price, a .38 Spl. Centennial Airweight would be a better choice.

39 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson Model 640 Pro Series

  1. avatarEric says:

    Great Review. Thanks. Sounds like I should stick to the cheaper 642.

  2. avatarTyler Kee says:

    Love your writing Ralph. Thanks as always for a great review.

  3. avatarRyan Finn says:

    Nice review Ralph.

    I think you should definitely contact S&W about marketing a line of amateur series guns.

  4. avatarTim McNabb says:

    Nice – since the untimely demise of my Diamondback DB9, the JFrame 642 has been my EDC. I am starting to think that’s the way it ought to be for pocket carry.

  5. “However, it’s too heavy to be called a lightweight, and too light to shoot Magnums comfortably.”

    One goes with a stainless .357 J-frame over the airweight 38 special to defense carry .357, not necessarily practice heavily with them at the range.

    “I countered that problem by taking a lower grip, which was well under the bore axis.”

    You need to grip higher actually, and use the support hand thumb to put pressure on the webbing of the firing hand…there is a video somewhere on Youtube of Jerry Miculek shooting a J-frame with this technique—it works really well.

    “While one can say that the problem was with me and not the gun, the fact remains that a fancy shootin’ iron like the 640 Pro should facilitate accurate speed shooting, not impede the same.”

    You don’t mention a pull weight on the trigger…for about $12 in Wolff springs on the J-frames you get a marvelous trigger pull…the factory pull is horrible.

    • avatarRalph says:

      I did try a very high grip, but it didn’t ameliorate the sting of the recoil. Shooting .357s from a 4″ or 6″ 686 is a joy, but the same round from the 640 Pro was not fun. The round just overpowers the little revolver.

      I’ve heard mixed reports about the spring upgrades for the J-frame from Wolff. Some say they smooth out the pull, but the 640 Pro was very smooth to begin with. Others say that the springs have no effect. What is your personal experience with Wolff springs on J-frames?

      • avatarBillCa says:

        I own the “cousin” to the 640 Centennial, which is the “humpbacked” Model 649 Bodyguard in .357. The primary difference, of course, is that the 649 Bodyguard has a shrouded hammer that still allows single-action firing, but in a snag-free format.

        “Too heavy” is subjective. The 649 rides comfortably IWB or OWB at 4 o’clock. The extra weight soaks up some (by no means all) of the .357 jolt. I bought mine in 2004 for a carry gun. Loaded with .357 Mags from 110 to 147 grain it’s controllable. Not fun or pleasant, but controllable. I find most of the 158 grain loads an exercise in self abuse (no, not that kind!) and two cylinder fulls equals a sore wrist (three would be tendon damage I think).

        A J-Frame is an “always with you” gun. It’s a minimum defensive piece intended to give you something for close-in fights from contact distance to about 15 yards. With skill and practice though, you can make good hits out to 50 yards. In practice, only desperation should have you shooting much beyond 25 yards. Close in the .357′s power will be decisive. If not, the flame will set him afire and the concussion blast will disorient him.

        While I carry mine with Speer .38 Special +P Gold Dots, the speed strips and loaders carry Speer’s 135 grain .357 Magnum loads. If I’ve been forced to reload to defend myself, I’m probably in over my head. Then the noise (and the cops it’ll bring) becomes an advantage.

        We can thank lawyers and anti-gun lawsuits for the heavier triggers today. I owned an older J-Frame made in the late 1960′s that was still new in the box. The trigger was much lighter (10 lbs) and smoother (not quite buttery smooth) and that was a standard factory trigger then. Today’s CNC machined guns have smoother internals, but most can still benefit from some light polishing by a professional. The trigger rebound spring that you pull against in DA mode is rated at 18 lbs. A lighter 15-16 lb spring usually works fine unless you’re trying to shoot with the speed of Jerry Miculek or Ed McGivern.

        On a J-Frame having a front night-sight is a must if you expect to use the gun in low-light conditions. Sights aren’t need a bad-breath distances but for those encounters where a 5-15 yard shot might be needed, seeing the front sight is a must. For this, I’d prefer a green front sight matched with white or yellow rears so one can discern the front sight quickly, ignoring the rear sights at short range.

        Sadly, in today’s world it’s “marketing” that drives people to buy guns that have features that are either unnecessary or trendy. If S&W would put those dollars into polishing some internal components to smooth the action and other positive features (e.g. chamfering the chambers) you’d have a gun just as good or better. The lesson is to tell S&W we want better actions, not spiffy gizmos and gimmicks.

  6. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Too small for a trail gun and too heavy for a carry gun? That might be the curse of all J-frame .357s. Smarter money (and quite a bit less of it, actually) would get a 3″ SP-101 for trail duty and a snubby 442 for street carry. I’ve still got a factory Model 60 in my safe, waiting for a mailing label to send it back to the factory.

    Smith &wesson J-frame .38s are damn-near perfect for what they do, but the J-frame isn’t as versatile as S&W tries to make it.

    • avatarRalph says:

      the J-frame isn’t as versatile as S&W tries to make it

      The J-frame has but one purpose — it’s a concealed carry, close in SD revolver. For that, it’s pretty close to perfect. Anything else is marketing.

  7. avatarLC Judas says:

    Now I’ve got a question. Does the cylinder being cut for moon clips make it unusable or less reliable while using the same ammo clipless? Or does it sit perfect either way the same distance from the firing pin aperture regardless of clips or straight ammo?

    • avatarPascal says:

      Moon clips are optional but faster/easier when reloading. In competition you will see the first load is without a clip and then the reload is with a clip

      The guns run fine with or without moon clips.

      I believe the issue is the .357 is too much for the j-frame design

      • avatarRalph says:

        I believe the issue is the .357 is too much for the j-frame design

        I agree. It’s like dropping a Corvette engine into a Punchbuggy.

    • avatarRalph says:

      Good question. In the picture above with the cylinder open, you can (barely) see that the charging holes extend outward to the high rim of the cylinder that encircles the cutout. When cartridges are inserted without clips, their rims partially rest on high rim of the cylinder. Inserting the clip fills the cutout, with the same part of the cartridge rim resting on the cylinder rim as before. The rest of the cartridge rim rests on the clip. If the geometry was “off,” there could be potential problems. But the geometry on this gun was perfect and “headspace” was unaffected.

      The revolver was specifically tested for accuracy with and without clips. I expected to see a difference in accuracy, but based on my tests, there’s no difference. Moreover, the revolver functioned flawlessly with all brands of tested ammo with and without clips. From a S&W revolver, I expected nothing less than perfect reliability, and in that regard I was not disappointed.

  8. avatarJGlanton says:

    “Pro” means that professionals take all their guns to a smith for a trigger job.

  9. avatarRecoveringAtheist says:

    At least they left that stupid lock off of it….. :)

  10. avatarsupton says:

    Most reviews seem to peg the 3″ SP101 at 27oz; this is at 24oz. Yet I have yet to see a review indicate the SP101 is anything other than “managable” with Magnums. Does one inch, a bit more grip and 13% more weight better deal with that recoil?

    Coming set for moonclips though is pretty cool. Use or don’t use. Nice.

    • avatarRalph says:

      I don’t know what “manageable” means. It’s not like the gun was unusable with .357s, but it wasn’t fun and the muzzle rise slowed me down. And sure, a couple of ounces actually can make a difference in perceived recoil, but I haven’t fired the Ruger with .357s so I can’t compare the two.

  11. avatarJohn Smothers says:

    The same size gun, same power or more, can be had with a Colt Defender, using CorBon’s 165gr plus P jhp, 1050 fps, and get the repeat hits in .18 second, not .35 second as with the .357. This is chest hits at 10 ft, guys. Since most of the time, multiple shots are needed to get one good hit, because of target movement, blast, flash, poor light, etc, the 357 is giving the enemy a “free” extra 3-5 shots at you. Not for me, thanks.

  12. avatarJason says:

    The purpose of a steel J-frame is to have a gentle-shooting range gun that matches your 442. Forget that it even takes .357. All you’re doing is feeding the fireball.

  13. avatarTom says:

    I have a 640 and a 340. The 340 is for carry and the 640 is for practice. Mine are just slightly older and have the frame notch rear sight with a pinned front sight. Both were way off in windage. I sent both to C&S and had dovetail front sights installed. At the range I moved the front sight to take care of windage and left it way tall, so that I don’t have to worry about shooting high. I just put the rear sight half way up the front sight. Works for me.

    They are both .357, but both are nearly uncontrollable with heavy loads. I find it is better to consider them .38 +P guns, with extra built in safety margin. I don’t reload .38 but I do reload .357. I just load the .357 to a .38 +P level for these two. They work well that way. I also have Pachmayr gripper grips on them. They are probably too bulky for carry, but great for the range.

  14. avatarS says:

    The 5 shot .357 snub lends itself magnificently to the age old concept of pattern loading. Simply put, load a full power .357 Magnum as the last round in the cylinder behind four .38+P rounds.

  15. avatarSoutherner says:

    The 5 shot .357 snub lends itself magnificently to the age old concept of pattern loading. Simply put, load a full power .357 Magnum as the last round in the cylinder behind four .38+P rounds.

  16. avatarBronco45 says:

    I own the 640 Pro and I find your “bitches” just a bit of whining. Man up and use the 640 Pro as it was intended: A premier fighting snubnose!

    In daylight use the standard sight picture and in low light use the three dots. Speer SB 135 grains go in my gun and shoot in the 10 ring at 15 yds. And that occurs with speed and regularity.

    I spent 30 years as a Peace Officer waiting such a weapon from the factory and now that I’m, seven years retired, I purchased it anyway for the obvious advantages it offers to those who understand what the advantages are.

    Keep your 642s and your 442s, I will be taking head shots at 15 yds if the situation warrants with this 640Pro and be confident in shooting such.

    Bronc

  17. avatarGoBlue says:

    I agree in liking that it doesn’t have the stupid lock.
    Thanks for the review, but I have to say several things annoyed me a little! haha… Having to adjust the “damn” sights… well, why is that so bad–the front and rear are both dovetailed and you can just tap them! I’m not sure why, under “reliability” you talk only about dust on the surface of the gun. You almost lost me when you said “positively porcine.” Alliteration for the sake of alliteration, and needlessly ornate word choice… And I gotta agree with whoever said it sounded like you were whining. Whining about the recoil, then whining about the weight, then whining about the sights, then the trigger pull (the sights are drift adj. and trigger springs or smoothing out can be had very cheaply… plus the price of the gun is really not that high comparatively. I’ve seen it for 5-$600 ish… I’m not really expecting a full out “amazing custom best gun I’ve ever dreamed of” for that price, you know?)

  18. avatargreg bankston says:

    Corbon 110 gr 357….awesome in my 640…..also Speer short barrel. IWB holster makes it pretty much invisible, with a good belt of course. Not the Pro though.

  19. avatarSgt Bubba says:

    As an old retired LEO,I’ve been carrying J frame snubbies for over 45 yrs.
    I JUST PURCHASED A NEW 640 PRO. bIG MISTAKE. My carry guns for the last 20 yrs have been a 640 and a 442,both in 38+p. I wanted more horsepower and bought the first 640 pro, 357 I saw.
    Took the gun to range with6 different factory loads:125gr,135gr,145 grs and 158grs.
    It shot like shit. Triggar was terrible and broke differently on each chamber(ratchets not cut right) and groups were all 5″ left and 4 to 5″ low. close inspection revealed barrel was NOT torqued up square and the sights were slightly tilted.Plus cylinder stop is dragging causing a doublering around cylinder after only less than a box of ammo. Called S&W customer service and am betting problems won’t be fixed. I see more Rugers in my future. No excuse for new, gun to escape factory in this shape.

  20. avatarBuck says:

    I have a bit over 40 years in law enforcement and military service, with a number of those years spent as a weapons instructor. And like most of the folks here, I collect firearms, too.

    I’m a fan of the S&W 640 in most of its iterations. Out of the box, the 640 is generally “good to go” ergonomics-wise but when it’s not, I’ve found a quick and easy fix that works for me that works 99 times out of a hundred.

    First, remove those abominable standard stocks off send ‘em to your least favorite person.

    Then buy a set of Secret Service grips (www.eaglegrips.com/guns/SW-Secret-Service-J-Frame-Rnd.html), install then and head to the range. You’ll quickly quickly discover that you’ve tamed the beast and it’s an entirely new and improved beast!

    The grips are shorter, albeit not too short, and are easier to conceal. You’ll experiece tremend improvement in accuracy, too.

    Every S&W revolver I own is dressed with a set of these grips. They aren’t cheap (ranging from $65 to $135) but they’re worth every penny of the price!

    In any event, be safe. And don’t even think about not voting in November!

  21. avatarDon Loncto says:

    Unfortunately I purchased the first 640 pro that I saw in store,here in Maine. It was a piece of s**t. Been a S&W shooter for 45 yrs, carry a 640 in 38 and a 442 everyday(I’m retired). figured the extra horsepower would be welcomed. Bought it Aug 1 and still don’t have afunctional gun.
    sent original back to smith. Action was terrible, triggar different on every chamber and gun shot 5″ low and 4 to 5″ left with 7 different 357 loads, at 12yds. Smith agreed and sent replacement gun.The replacement is now on vacation at the Springfield plant , shooting low. i qualify every year with my old 640 on the HR218 course for old geezer cops, but not with the new smith. not only do I have the price of the gun,5%sales tax, $25 extra NCIC check fee for the second, S&W has the damn gun.
    Looks like Rugers are going to be my future firearms purchases.I have SP101 and it shoots great, little heavy but shoots great…I use pachmayer compacts on the smiths and factory on SP101. After 45 yrs of owning smiths would I buy another? Never!!!!!

    w

  22. avatarTYer says:

    I expected the trigger to be pretty much the same on the 640 as it is on the 642/442, seeing that it’s (I think?) roughly the same pull weight, but based on the review, it sounds like it’s not.

  23. Thanks Brother for the input; Still a pretty & well built gun; I do know that Smith can build some good Quality shit; Have owned lots of Smiths; You still rated the gun pretty good; Will pick one up this Saturday; Thanks Brendon…

  24. avatarron gaudier says:

    .357 magnum in a snubby is not for everyone that’s for sure. I’ll say this though, with practice one can become quite effective in the use of this round and one can become accustomed to the recoil. I own a standard 640 and it is not my first .357 magnum snub. My first was a Ruger LCR. I put more than 1200 .357 mag rounds through the LCR and ended up wearing out that gun which was replaced by the factory. After selling the new replacement gun I decided on puchasing the 640 mainly because of the all steel construction, which I expect will result in greater durability.

    My impression of the 640: First off, the trigger as it came from the factory needed work. I took it apart and did a lot of stone work and replaced the springs with Wolff springs. The trigger pull went from off the scale to right at 10 pounds after that work. Worth the effort. I also replaced the slightly bulky stock grips with wood panel grips. However, after a range session firing full power Double-Tap Bonded Defense 158 gr .357 I decided it wise to go back to the stock grips. Here’s a video: http://youtu.be/ovlauEls0jU
    In conclusion, I believe the 640 offers a acceptable combination of concealability, reliability and stopping power when using full power .357 mag loads. Incidentally, the Double Tap ammo produced more than 500 ft pounds of energy from this gun.
    Compare that with any other pocket pistol.

  25. avatarHenry says:

    I have two points of contention in which the writer was either ignorant about or poorly trained. First the targets show a sure sign of anticipation of recoil and bad finger placement on the trigger. Second, night sights “Dots” are not meant to me aligned for day firing. You align the top of the front sight with the rear sight as always. The dots are lower so during the day they do not obscure your target and you get a clutter free sight picture. That goes for ALL night sights. Only use the dots when in the dark.

  26. avatarMike says:

    At 24 ounces that’s the same weight as a police positive and a six shot at that. Or if you want a shorter barrel at colt detective special. Besides, it’s a colt!

  27. avatarMike says:

    At 24 ounces that’s the same weight as a colt police positive and a six shot at that. Or if you want a shorter barrel a colt detective special. Besides, it’s a colt!

  28. avatarTerry Glass says:

    The Smith 640 (old standard version) is, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful handguns in the world. The reviewer was correct on many points in his review. However, for the money, style, class, and true value, the 642 is not any kind of an alternative to the 640. There is no comparison. You will not have the same gun unless you are completely out of your mind or just plain stupid. If the later is the case, save up your money until you can get the Real McCoy. PS: .357 Gold Dot 135 grain and Golden Saber magnum is the correct ammo for J Frame magnums; they leave the palate clean and eager for more.

    • avatarBillca says:

      Terry – you’re correct in that the alloy framed guns aren’t quite as good as the steel ones. However, for some applications I’d rather have the lightweight alloy gun instead of trying to deal the sagging clothing or discomfort from the weight.

      The 640 is a good gun though I prefer the shrouded hammer design of the 649 “Bodyguard” (and I’d love to find a little-used early Model 49 in .38 Special too). Any new J-Frame will really need some trigger work to make it a decent carry gun that can be fired accurately. And I too like the 135 grain Gold Dot .357 load. It’s not a brutal beast to fire in the “short barrel” loading.

  29. avatarTony says:

    Love my 640 pro, I replaced the springs with an “apex tactical trigger kit” purchased from Brownell’s for about $30.00. Includes a rebound block spring, main trigger spring and a new firing pin with it’s own little spring. I replaced these parts myself in 1/2 hour. While having the revolver apart I also stoned/ smoothed out some of the moving parts with a ceramic stone and lubricated those parts with some Brownell’s action lube. The trigger pull was reduced noticeably and it is very smooth and consistent. I used information from a gun smithing book “Pistols and Revolvers” by Patrick Sweeney as guidance for this project and everything worked out great. I like this piece a lot, especially that it is all stainless steel, I guess you could get a lemon in any product but I think I got a good one. As far as shooting and accuracy, get some tips from an experienced shooter and practice. Dry fire with some snap caps and practice with live rounds at your favorite shooting spot. Nothing can take the place of that. Safety first and have fun.

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