When I replaced the horrible “Massachusetts trigger” on my Smith & Wesson M&P 40c with an Apex Duty/Carry Kit, the world changed. Okay, the world didn’t change, but that kit did turn a boat anchor into a precision shooting implement. Naturally, I thought it would be great to upgrade the trigger of my S&W M642 with a kit from the same manufacturer. I checked out the Apex Tactical Specialty website and it seemed like their J-Frame Duty/Carry Kit would make the trigger a lot easier to use. I also checked out the Apex YouTube video showing how to disassemble the revolver, and another viddy showing how to install the kit and put the revolver back together. I figured the process would be piece of cake. After all, if the armorer demonstrating the upgrade didn’t have any problems, why would I? Where do I begin?
The price of the kit was only $25 and the web site promised that the kit would reduce the trigger pull from over 12 pounds to a more finger-friendly 9 pounds. I figured that $8.33 bucks a pound was cheaper than linament, so I went for it. I ordered the kit from Apex, and it arrived in my mailbox within a week. Then the bad times began.
There’s not a lot to this kit. There are three replacement springs – a main spring, a rebound spring and a firing pin spring — and a new firing pin. Anybody can swap out three springs, thought I. I set up my workspace with a small flat screwdriver for the side plate screws, a rubber mallet, a Smith & Wesson “pickle-fork” tool for the rebound spring, sets of needle-nose pliers and tweezers for grasping tiny parts, a set of jeweler’s screwdrivers for tiny parts, a magnifying glass on a stand so I could see the tiny parts, assorted picks to push the tiny parts from here to there, a canvas mat to capture the tiny parts when they fell, safety glasses to protect my eyeballs in the event of a negligent spring discharge and a beer. The beer was the only tool I’d really need, but I didn’t know that.
Taking off the side plate is supposed to be a 30-second job, tops. It was not. No matter how hard I cranked, the hernia-inducing screws refused to budge. I tried PB Blaster, heat, cold, cursing and physical violence. Nothing worked. The damned screws were frustratingly over-torqued. That’s where the beer came into play. What? No, I didn’t pour it on the gun. Are you nuts? Sometimes I worry about you guys. No, I drank the beer and it made me feel better.
I admitted defeat the next day and headed off to the range with the unloaded 642 in my pocket. I expected that the armorers had some kind of miracle tool that would twist the screws right out. They produced – ta dah! — a screwdriver that was an exact match to the one I had been using so unprofitably.
If you ever struggled for fifteen minutes to open a pickle jar and then your spouse gave the jar a little twist and it opened – pssst – just like that, you know what I was afraid of. Well, it didn’t happen. The screws would not budge. Which actually made me happy, because nobody wants to be that guy with the pickle jar. And then it struck me: if I didn’t want to be the pickle jar guy, why did I take the gun to the damn range in the first place?
I should have gone directly to my gunsmith, because everyone knows that gunsmiths have magic powers and thus there’s no worries about being the pickle jar guy. Dave Santurri’s shop eerily resembles the lair of a medieval alchemist. Through a miasma of CLR, gun oil and powder residue, I explained the problem. Dave clamped the gun in his vise, put screwdriver to screw and after huffing and puffing for a few seconds, said, “They’re very tight.”
He’s sooooooo fortunate that good gunsmiths are hard to find.
I don’t know how Dave got those screws out. Maybe it actually was magic, or maybe, after inadvertently huffing all that gun cleaner, he has superhuman strength. However he did the job, in ten minutes I was out the door with a partially disassembled 642 and a tremendous Hoppe’s buzz.
Back at my home work bench, I removed the three sideplate screws, placing them in their own little Petrie dish so they wouldn’t get lost. If you watched the instructional video, you know that the next step is to remove the main spring, and to do that you must pull the trigger just enough to expose a little stopper hole in the stirrup, without making the hammer strike.
I pulled the trigger just a bit too far and the hammer struck. Since I had carefully unloaded the gun prior to working on it, I was surprised to see a small black object shoot across the room at around 300 fps. It took me a minute to locate that little bit. Who knew they could do that?
In the photo below, the tip of the arrow points at my flyaway part. It’s the bit that’s shaped kinda like an anteater’s head. What you might be able to see between that tail and the hammer (midway between the top two circular marks on the tail) is the subminiature sear spring. Don’t feel bad if you can’t see it. It’s impossible to see even if you spend an hour on your hands and knees with a flashlight and a magnifying glass. Don’t ask me how I know this.
Without the sear spring, I was in the crapper but decided to press on. When I removed the rebound spring, I discovered that the pickle tool does not work on a 642-2, but that proved to be no problem. A small flat screwdriver allowed me to depress the spring enough to remove it without mishap so I could replace it with the Apex spring. I also took the time to remove the internal lock. There’s a viddy for that on Youtube, too. The video takes ten minutes and features the most vapid music this side of an elevator. Removing the lock takes ten seconds and does not leave the gun with a hole in its frame. Here’s what the lock looks like once it’s out of the gun.
Okay, I removed the lock and swapped out the three springs and the firing pin with ease. As for the missing sear spring, I called Smith & Wesson customer service and ordered a replacement spring. The price listed in the parts catalog was 51¢, but S&W agreed to send me two without charge. The springs were delivered by my letter carrier in just a few days. Bravo, S&W. Your screws might be tighter than Dick’s hatband, but your customer service is more delightful than a summer’s day.
There’s a small space between the tail and the hammer where the missing spring is supposed to live. A little hole in the tail secures one end of the spring, while a shallow détente in the hammer captures the other end. After wonking around with my new sear spring, using every tool, clever ploy and workaround in my arsenal, I couldn’t get the damn thing to fit. After an hour I began to get a sneaking suspicion that I’d ordered the wrong effing springs.
I called S&W customer service the next day, hoping that I wouldn’t end up talking to the same CSR from my previous call because, as we’ve already established, nobody wants to be the pickle jar guy. I got hold of a different CSR. I was going to mention that I’d heretofore ordered the wrong springs, but it slipped my mind. My new best friend agreed to ship me two correct sear springs right away. In just a few days, I was the proud possessor of two springs that actually fit. In seconds. With no expletives.
The part numbers are on the little nickel bags. The correct spring for a 642-2 is on the right. The one on the left, which didn’t fit, took a beating at my hands – for which I remain unapologetic. I’m keeping the twisted bastard around to serve as a warning to any future springs that may want to give me a hard time.
It took me two and a half weeks to do a ten minute install of the Apex kit. My trigger is now smoother, lighter and more refreshing than the old, heavy trigger, and I’m rid of that detestable internal lock. The kit works exactly as described, and it’s well worth the $25 cost.
Once I get over my PTSD, I’m going to polish the internals of my 642 with some really fine wet-dry and make the trigger perfect. I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.
Pray for me.
It’s cheap, easy to install and lightens the trigger weight by 25% with 100% reliable ignition.
OVERALL RATING (out of five stars) * * * *
It’s a duty/carry kit, so the trigger is still heavy. Well, it’s a revolver, so what do you expect? Buy the kit and install it. I did, I went through torture and I’m happy anyway. So will you. Be happy, I mean. The torture is entirely optional.