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From Effective Handgun Defense, by Frank W. James:

I will be criticized by some when I say this, but I feel the Smith & Wesson Model 442, now discontinued, but the stainless steel alternative, the Model 642 which is still available, represent the most practical (almost perfect) combination of easily concealable size versus power presently available. Even when loaded with 158-grain lead hollowpoint ammunition, these 15-ounce revolvers are not difficult for al but the beginning revolver shooter to manage over a long course of of fire for training purposes. Additionally, the huge popularity of these revolvers is mute testimony to the practicality of them for concealed carry permit holders.

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  1. Nice looking revolver, and seems price competitive. What are the ramifications of the +p ammunition to durability?

  2. I picked up one of these for the wife two years ago when she got her concealed carry permit. Remember that with guns, MSRP is the high-end price: Except for a rare or limited production piece, you will almost always pay below MSRP for a new gun. I paid something like $450 out the door at Sportsman’s Warehouse (big discount sporting goods chain) in August of ’08.

    It’s a nice gun but the trigger is a little rough from the factory, and the grip is a little small for my big hand. OTOH, it fits the wife perfectly and she can shoot .38 rounds all day. A gunsmith could probably smooth it out fairly easily and the gun should loosen up a bit after we put a few hundred rounds through it.

    The thing I like about a gun like this is that it needs no holster. It can function perfectly well sitting in a pocket, purse or other innocuous looking holder, and with the hammerless design, can even be fired from inside a pocket (though I’d definitly recommend against that unless in the direst of emergencies.)

    • I just saw one for $443, but the LadySmith model was a lot more. I have big hands, too, so I'd want a larger grip.

  3. May be… I'm beginning to appreciate that a double-action snub nose revolver is not easy to learn to shoot accurately. I'm a long-time target shooter, and never fired double action until this year.

    I got a Ruger LCR (13 1/2 oz) for my wife, because she really liked the trigger. As an aside, our old eyes (I'm 70) like the sights better than the S&W 642.

    Then I made a mistake… I took her to the range on a cold day (early this spring) and let her fire her first round with a +P load. She has not fired it since. I've shot it a good bit since, but she needs less recoil. I've since bought her some tamer ammo, but she isn't too interested in trying the LCR again.

    The little revolver is pretty accurate tho'. My last trip to the range (best so far) at 25 yards I fired two consecutive 10 round groups less than 6" extreme spread, no throw-aways (two-handed, standing on my hind legs). I don't think that's too bad with a 1 7/8" barrel, but it's taken me over 500 rounds to get here. At 25 yd, this particular gun shoots a little low with Winchester 130 grain bullets, but point-of-aim with Monarch 158 grain ammo.

    For carry??? The grip is wider than the S&W, but I appreciate the cushion. I pocket-carry every day in a Mika holster.

    It may be that the extra 1 1/2 oz of the 642 will do the trick for my wife, but I doubt it. I think we're looking for a bit more weight, perhaps the S&W 640 or 649 (23 oz). I'd hate to pocket-carry that much more, but she'll carry in a purse.

    The answer to, "Is the 642 the best for concealed carry"??? For some, yes. For some, no.

    Fountain Conner

  4. For those who want a little more control, the 642 PowerPort is a wonderful variation. I also like the dark color, though it does wear in the holster.


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