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    Here begins your journey into the mind of everybody's favorite asian, and I don't mean Jet Li.
What follows is the somewhat inane, mostly irrelevant, and self-important ramblings of a man on the brink of madness.
Welcome... to the Chu.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
 Smith & Wesson Revolver Guide    [L]

Well, it was Smith & Wesson weekend at Target World, and I just happened to be there...

Yeah, I bought another one. What can I say, i'm a sucker for a good deal. I got a S&W 642 for $329, $64 off the normal price of $393 (16% off!).

S&W Revolver nomenclature is far from ideal - with model numbers seemingly assigned at random. So here's a guide to the various different features of S&W revolvers, and their model numbers.

Material/Weight - There are several different material combinations that make up the majority of their product line:

Stainless Steel, Aluminum/Stainless Steel (Airweight), Scandium/Titanium (Airlight). All other things being equal, these materials are in order from heaviest to lightest. For concealed carry purposes, lighter is usually more desired - however, keep in mind that the lighter the gun, the more recoil one will feel. Conversely, the heavier the gun, the less recoil one will feel. For example, you really don't want to fire a .357 magnum round out of an Airweight or Airlight gun.

Finish - The most popular finishes are the Black matte/Gray cylinder, blued, Gray matte, stainless steel. Again, this is personal preference, but for CCW applications you probably want to go for a finish that doesn't require much maintenance and doesn't attract too much attention.

Frame Size - This is pretty much a personal choice - S&W has J, K, L, N, and X frames, and they go from small to big in that order. The bigger the frame, the heavier the weight, but also the more capacity and less felt recoil. For CCW, it's hard to beat a J-frame.

Barrel length - Generally, the longer the barrel, the higher the bullet velocity. Also, a longer barrel helps with aiming, so it can increase accuracy. However, the longer the barrel, the less concealable.

Hammer style - There are three different styles:
External - the traditional kind.
Internal - hidden, enclosed hammer. Snag-free. Double-action only.
Shrouded - A combination of External/Internal. It's pretty much like the internal hammer, except the hammer is exposed enough to manipulate. This will allow for single-action firing, as well as be snag-free.

Capacity - This is really a function of the frame size and bullet caliber. Bigger frame or smaller caliber = more capacity.

Caliber - I was looking for a CCW gun, so all the guns I really considered were in .357 mag and .38 special. The rounds are similar in size, but the .357 mag has a longer case, more powder, and more bang. A .357 mag gun can (usually) also fire .38 special rounds - BUT NOT VICE VERSA. A lot of ppl recommend .38spc for CCW because it's low-recoil but still has acceptable stopping power - it is especially recommended for women just learning to shoot.

model #caliberbarrelcapacityweighthammermaterialfinishMSRP
327.357 mag2"821 ozexternalSc/TiBk/Gry$1,226.00
340.357 mag1.875"512 ozinternalSc/TiMatte Gry$838.00
340PD.357 mag1.875"512 ozinternalSc/TiBk/Gry$877.00
360.357 mag1.875"512 ozexternalSc/TiMatte Gry$818.00
360PD.357 mag1.875"512 ozexternalSc/TiBlk/Gry$858.00
386.357 mag3.125"718.5 ozexternalSc/TiMatte Gry$876.00
386PD.357 mag2.5"717.5 ozexternalSc/TiBlk/Gry$872.00
442.38 spc1.875"515 ozinternalAl/SSBlack$600.00
60.357 mag2.125"522.5 ozexternalSSSatin SS$594.00
60LS.357 mag2.125"521.5 ozexternalSSglassbead$621.00
637.38 spc1.875"515 ozexternalAl/SSglassbead$450.00
637CT.38 spc1.875"515 ozexternalAl/SSglassbead$695.00
638.38 spc1.875"515 ozshroudedAl/SSglassbead$620.00
64.38 spc2"630.5 ozexternalSSSatin SS$553.00
640.357 mag2.125"523 ozinternalSSSatin SS$658.00
642.38 spc1.875"515 ozinternalAl/SSglassbead$469.00
642LS.38 spc1.875"514.5 ozinternalAl/SSglassbead$633.00
642CT.38 spc1.875"515 ozinternalAl/SSglassbead$695.00
649.357 mag2.125"523 ozshroudedSSSatin SS$651.00

I got the model 642 - pretty much the all-around great CCW piece - low weight, low maintenance, low profile, and best of all.... I got it for the low price of $329 (30% off MSRP, 16% off Target World's normal price).

I really had my heart set on the 649, tho - it's a much heavier piece, but it can handle .357 mag, has a shrouded hammer (for single-action shots), and is all stainless steel (less prone to rust) - but they didn't have any available, and if they did, it would have been at least $125 more expensive.

But all in all, i'm pretty happy with the 642. Now I just have to get some accessories for it :)


Should I be scared?

By Blogger KT, at 5/31/2005 06:04:00 PM      

Well, I certaintly wouldn't recommend breaking into my house, carjacking, or mugging me.

By Blogger Chu, at 5/31/2005 06:05:00 PM      

good overall choice for lightweight concealed carry...lots of practice is needed to master these little buggers

if going more than 50-75 rounds in a shooting session, especially +p's, get a set of gloves or large bandaids to protect the area between the trigger finger and thumb...lots of blisters from the gun rubbing during the recoil

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6/17/2005 07:56:00 PM      

Wadcutter rounds will offer less recoil for practice, but if it's really jumping around it might be time to look at replacing the grips with something more controllable.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/28/2006 10:02:00 PM      

Wadcutter rounds will recoil less for practice. The aluminum frame is light though, it's going to be snappy. Not exactly a "fun" gun, but a very good choice for a CCW.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4/28/2006 10:07:00 PM      

Never shoot CorBon +p from a 642. Mine got ruined after 5 rounds.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10/11/2006 10:38:00 AM      

I dont know why people like the 642... a hammerless revolver has half the ability of my 637. To each their own, but still... Echh

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2/14/2007 02:50:00 PM      

after doing some research i decided on this or a Glock 9mm for my first gun. i tested them both and love them both but ended up purchasing this as it is simple, small, easy to maintain, clean etc. i'm not sure what all the talk is about accuracy or needing a lot of practice as it was the first gun I ever shot & I nailed the circle on the target without 1 miss - through 2 boxes of ammo. Anyhow - gotta say i love it & am so glad I decided on it as a first purchase.

s & a Glock 9mmI just purchased this as my first gun

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3/31/2007 05:27:00 PM      

^^^ speak up ^^^