It was close — for a while. The fantastically triggered Ruger LCR (Lightweight Compact Revolver) was neck and neck with the S&W (Smith & Wesson) 642 for more than a month. Over the last few weeks, though, the Smith pulled away convincingly. With more than 17k votes counted — a remarkable sample — we can declare Smith’s venerable pocket wheelgun the undisputed winner of this head-to-head matchup, taking down its Arizona competition by a margin of 12 points. My take . . .
The Smith is the prettier, more solid-looking pistol. Its steel J-frame gives buyers [justifiable] confidence in the 642’s reliability. It is, in fact, an heirloom-quality gun.
That said, the ungainly little Ruger has the best out-of-the-box, non-Performance Center trigger in Christendom. Anyone who’s considering buying the 642 owes it themselves to dry fire the [unloaded, safety-checked, pointed-in-a-safe direction] LCR.
In short, you can’t go wrong either way. As Smith & Wesson contemplates expanding into other markets with other “outdoor” brands, I humbly recommend they reconsider going all Freedom Group and concentrate instead on getting more newbs to buy a 642. It’s the perfect self-defense-oriented beginner’s gun.