[Review] Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight: Go-To Snubbie?


On the earth of revolvers, snub-nosed fashions are continuously steered for hid carry (particularly should you’re a feminine).

However are snubbies actually very best?

Smith and Wesson 642 (6)
The Smith and Wesson Mannequin 642 Airweight is a five-round revolver.

I’ve a Smith and Wesson Mannequin 642 Airweight chambered in .38 Particular I’ve been working intermittently for years and needed to share my experiences with you guys.

Whether or not you’re snubby-curious or already a fan, that is for you.

However first, a fast dive into the gun’s historical past.

Again Story

Smith and Wesson have been within the J-frame sport for fairly some time – virtually seventy years – and the Mannequin 642 is one in every of their extra standard designs.

So, what’s so distinctive about J-frames?

The body form is called that as a tip of the hat to their outdated revolvers courting again to the late 1800s.

S&W Frames
S&W Frames Sizes

Again in 1894 Smith and Wesson had two frames accessible, I-Body and Okay-Body, solely they weren’t referred to as by these names.

On the time the weapons had longer names however when firm staff started calling them by their alphabetical designation somewhat than their official mannequin identify, Smith and Wesson gave in and adopted swimsuit.

It was 1950 once they first launched the J-Body and shortly took over the corporate’s line.

There are fairly just a few weapons within the Smith and Wesson catalog known as J-Frames; on the time of this writing, there are 4 chamberings and 4 sequence fashions provided on this body.

Caliber Comparison

The truth is, should you add up all of the potential choices there are greater than three dozen variations accessible. You may say it’s a well-liked design.

That Mannequin 642, Tho…

The 642 is definitely a modernized model of Smith and Wesson’s Mannequin 42 Centennial Airweight.

Model 42 Airweight
Lovely, and really uncommon, model of the Mannequin 42 Airweight

It has an enclosed hammer which shouldn’t be confused with a shrouded hammer.

Enclosed hammers are inaccessible to the shooter which means you’re firing this gun double-action solely, all day, day by day; shrouded hammers give shooters entry to the hammer, albeit it restricted entry, so single-action pictures are potential.

Shrouded hammer Airweight
Shrouded hammer Airweight

A typical grievance about shrouded hammers is lint and overseas objects entering into the shroud and mucking up the hammer. With an enclosed hammer that isn’t a priority however you’d higher be able to nailing these double-action-only pictures.

This can be a snubby, in fact, so the stainless-steel barrel is a scant 1 and seven/Eight inches lengthy. The cylinder and crane are additionally stainless-steel which is nice for sturdiness and the body is an aluminum alloy, making it lighter weight.

Smith and Wesson 642 (2)
The Smith and Wesson Mannequin 642 Airweight is a five-round revolver.

Grips are the standard black artificial and are panels somewhat than a sleeve. The Mannequin 642 Airweight has an integral groove rear sight and integral entrance blade sight which has the advantage of not shifting if the gun is knocked round however the draw back of being more durable to accumulate on targets.

It’s chambered in .38 Particular, +P rated, and has a five-round capability.

Pew Pew Time

The very first thing you discover in regards to the Smith and Wesson Mannequin 642 Airweight is its diminutive measurement (clearly).

That is the place hand measurement comes into play.

My fingers usually are not small; my fingers are lengthy and I like double-stacks fairly a bit. This revolver, nonetheless, is small. It has an total size of 6.Three inches and an empty weight of 14.6 ounces, making it simpler to hide however presenting a little bit of a problem relating to gripping it.

Smith and Wesson 642 (3)

With a thumbs-down grip the pinky of my sturdy hand is totally off the butt of the gun and my ring finger is barely holding on. As for my help hand solely my index and center finger make agency contact with my different hand.

Attain to the set off is understandably abbreviated as effectively so put together to wish observe with this gun.

All that stated, the gun will not be tough to grip firmly. This isn’t a case of a pistol recoiling sufficient to disturb your grasp however merely a case of it being sufficiently small to require a bit extra care.

gun recoiling into shooters face
That is uncomfortable recoil

Recoil and muzzle rise correlates to the ammo used: Inceptor .38 Particular 77-grain ARX produces the lightest felt recoil, Hornady Crucial Protection .38 Particular 110-grain FTX has considerably extra noticeable recoil, and Hornady Crucial Protection .38 Particular 110-grain FTX +P snaps the gun again fairly a bit.

Finest .38 Spl House/Self-Protection Ammo

This is only one of many causes we all the time say to coach with the ammunition you carry; the felt recoil and muzzle rise of the gun with good self-defense rounds is way over what you get with a field of American Eagle .38 Particular 130-grain FMJs.

Let’s transfer on to accuracy.

This can be a .38 Particular +P-rated snubby made to fulfill deep concealment wants. From its enclosed hammer to its brief barrel it’s very best for snag-free hid carry.

Which means it does endure a bit for accuracy. At a distance of ten yards firing sluggish, deliberate pictures my greatest five-shot group was round 2.5 inches.

Smith and Wesson 642 (5)
This isn’t a exact revolver however it does get the job carried out at nearer distances. As with all weapons it requires observe.

From 5 yards, doing a enjoying card drill, I did produce a gaggle that stayed on the enjoying card and a few pictures landed neatly collectively however it was not as exact as I favor my enjoying card teams to be.

Speedy-fire drills opened teams to eight inches and wider.

This can be a dependable gun. I’ve had this Mannequin 642 Airweight for years now and it’s been flawless.

Nonetheless, don’t assume a revolver can not fail. They will. Though semi-autos could also be extra liable to failures it’s inaccurate to assert your revolver can not fail.

Example of a revolver that failed.
Instance of a revolver that failed.

Understanding they’ll fail and realizing what to do about it once they do is a crucial a part of your firearms schooling.

Satan’s within the Particulars

There are some things to remember with this gun. First, for revolvers throughout the board you can be gripping thumbs down. In the event you’re used to firing semi-autos along with your thumbs ahead alongside the slide this will probably be an adjustment for you.

Handgun Grip, Thumb Forward
If that is your commonplace grip, you’ll want some adjustment time.

You should utilize the thumbs-down grip with semi-autos, too, and I’ve discovered it really works higher for sure fashions than thumbs-forward. My thumb place all the time is determined by the scale and form of the particular gun.

The gun is snappy. In any case, it’s a snubby; this could come as no shock to you. Felt recoil and muzzle rise are actually controllable however you do discover and it does have an effect on accuracy. Observe, observe, observe.

Smith and Wesson 642 (5)

Concerning the efficient vary of a short-barreled revolver corresponding to this Mannequin 642, right here’s the factor: how’s your shot placement? The apparent reply is that smaller handguns like this one are meant for nearer vary use.

That doesn’t imply they can’t be used at longer distances however it does imply the additional out you get the tougher it will likely be to get pictures heading in the right direction (and also you’ll be shedding velocity and power sooner with the 1 7/8-inch barrel).

Think about using a Mannequin 642 as a BUG – BackUp Gun – or, if it’s your most important carry, perceive it’s best used inside roughly ten yards. Shot placement is king and the farther away you are attempting to fireplace this gun the sloppier your hits will probably be.

As all the time, prepare exhausting and be conversant in the capabilities and limitations of your chosen firearm.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

There isn’t a arguing the Mannequin 642 is a dependable gun. It’s eaten each kind of ammo I’ve thrown at it over time and can doubtless proceed to take action for years to return. Simply bear in mind, revolvers can fail (this one simply hasn’t but).

Ergonomics: 3/5

It’s a snubby .38 Particular so I don’t anticipate a stellar match to my fingers. It’s a small gun with grips angled in such a approach I discover taking pictures Weaver truly fits it higher than Isosceles. The grips don’t fill my fingers; my fingers engulf the gun. So long as you go into this realizing it’s a small gun and concessions should be made you’ll be tremendous. If I had been to fee this ergonomically in comparison with different similar-sized weapons I might add a star as a result of it’s better-designed than many micro semi-autos I’ve run.

Accuracy: 3/5

Okay, so it is a powerful one to fee. In the event you solely use this gun at shut ranges and spend time working towards with it, it’ll get the job carried out. Don’t anticipate it to be exact and don’t assume it should carry out effectively at longer distances, as a result of it received’t. Think about this your BUG gun to be used when your assailant is getting up-close-and-personal.

Customization: 3/5

You simply can not customise a small revolver like you possibly can, say, a Glock. It’s potential to Cerakote your revolvers and swap out the grips however that’s about it. I’d go along with even fewer factors for personalisation however it appears unfair to anticipate a bit of revolver to be extremely customizable so we’ll go along with a 3.

Worth: 5/5

Sure, this gun is an efficient worth. It’s well-made, sturdy, and extremely concealable. For its close-range goal, it’s fairly well-suited and suits the invoice for a lot of shooters. It does the job it was supposed to do and received’t break the financial institution.

Total: 3/5

Parting Pictures

There are a whole lot of micros available on the market (and a good variety of snubbies as effectively). If you would like a gun appropriate for deep concealment there’s nothing incorrect with a Mannequin 642 Airweight.

Nonetheless, the barrel size is detrimental to accuracy and has a unfavorable impact on follow-up shot placement. It might not be my first alternative for self-defense use. In fact, should you simply need a good BUG or a enjoyable little shooter, go for it.

Smith and Wesson does good work on their weapons and the Mannequin 642 Airweight isn’t any completely different, simply not my private shot of whiskey.

Do you carry a J-Body? How do you prefer it? Tell us within the feedback! If you would like extra superior .38 Spl choices, take a look at the Finest .38 Spl Revolvers and Finest .38 Spl Ammo.


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