Smith & Wesson 642 recoil

Smith & Wesson 642 recoil

This is a discussion on Smith & Wesson 642 recoil within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hi, I am searching for a good pocket pistol and seem to keep coming back to the Smith & Wesson model 642. I have never ...

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Thread: Smith & Wesson 642 recoil

  1. #1
    Member Array ccm's Avatar
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    Smith & Wesson 642 recoil

    I am searching for a good pocket pistol and seem to keep coming back to the Smith & Wesson model 642. I have never shot a snub nose pistol so I am looking for input from some of you who have owned or shot a pistol like this. Let me say I am not new to handguns. Have owned many over the past 40 years. I have a S & W 357 so I am accustomed to recoil. What concerns me is that I have a brother who is even bigger into guns than me and he has a S & W airweight. He says the gun is not fun to shoot and when he does shoot it the cylinder release always cuts his hand because of the recoil. He lives in Idaho and I live in Louisiana so the changes of shooting his gun are not good.

    I would appreciate input from those of you who have shot this gun.

    Thanks in advance for taking time to reply.

  2. #2
    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    I don't have a 642, but I have a 442. It's the same size, just blued. It's almost impossible to get around the recoil issue with a light gun.

    It is a handful to shoot. I have a hard time shooting more than 5 or 10 rounds of 158 grain ammo.

    I've experimented with:

    Buffalo Bore .38 Special +P 158 grain LSWCHP This stuff was too stiff for my taste. Keep your fingers away from the cylinder gaps!

    Buffalo Bore .38 Special Standard Pressure, Short Barrel Low Flash 158 grain SWC-HC This stuff is still really stiff, for my tastes, but I can keep 'em on target. Still not more than about 10 rounds for me.

    Federal 125 grain +P JHP This stuff has made my 442 fun to shoot. Still got a bit of a kick, but not painful like the others were.

    I've also got a box of Winchester stuff: Super X JHP .38 Special 125 grain +P. I haven't tried it yet, but it looks to perform similar to the Federal stuff.

    I've been playing with different grip positions, too. That has a lot to do with felt recoil.

    If you want a pocket revolver, you aren't going to find anything better than the 642/442 S&W line. Some can pull it off with an LCR, but the S&W are a bit smaller.

    If you keep leaning towards the 642, I'd say get it. Experiment with different ammo and you'll find something that you like.

    Happy hunting
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  3. #3
    VIP Member Array Hiram25's Avatar
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    Try a rubber Houge grip, stops slip, softens recoil, etc. Tamed my Airweight down considerably!
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  5. #4
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    If you intend to actually ‘pocket carry’ then the 642 is as good as any for an alloy that won’t excessively sag the pants. Personally, I’d split the difference with an older .38 Bodyguard. The all steel variant helps to absorb the recoil and the profile is really small. Currently, I carry the S&W Model-640 at 23-ounces but admittedly, it’s not suitable for pocket carry.
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  6. #5
    VIP Member Array maclean3's Avatar
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    I used my 642 to qualify for my carry permit back in '06. Recoil is, of course, a little more noticeable than in a steel framed gun but with std. pressure loads like WWB or similar, it's really not all that bad. In fact, I find that shooting +P Rem. Golden Sabres or Gold Dots in limited numbers makes for a great range day. Each shooter is different when it comes to recoil so it's hard to say how you'll like it but my little 642 is one of the few guns that always puts a stupid grin on my face each time I take it shooting.

    My general range practice with the 642 is, shoot roughly 50 rounds or so of std. pressure loads, then finish off with one cylinder of +P carry ammo. IMHO, that's enough to keep my feel for the gun with different ammo as well as rotate fresh carry ammo into the cylinder. It's not meant to be a bullseye shooter, its an up close and personal "get off me" gun.

    In terms of recoil perception, my upper limit of what I find controllable or enjoyable is mid range .44mag in a 4" steel frame like my old Anaconda.
    Hope this helps,

  7. #6
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    Array gasmitty's Avatar
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    Face it, lightweight snubs are not fun guns to shoot, but they serve an important purpose. I can shoot maybe 20 or 30 rounds of practice ammo before I'm ready to "relax" with a 1911 in .45. The current snub is a 16-oz Taurus 851.

    Not sure what you're using for practice ammo, but my advice is to keep it on the light side. I usually use the Win 130 gr FMJ stuff because it's generally available. I finish up my practice with a cylinder or two of the +P loads that are my carry ammo, just to make sure I know how to handle 'em.

    The grips can make a big difference in felt recoil, too. Synthetic grips like Uncle Mike's can soften the blow, but the right grips for your hand - even if wood - will minimize the sting.
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  8. #7
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    I got my Smith & Wesson Model 642 back in 1998. It's had a couple thousand rounds fired through it since that time, of which 200 have been factory +P 158 grain lead SWCs offered by Federal, Remington, and Winchester. I've also shot it some with handloads using the 158 grain lead SWC bullet and a stiff charge of Unique.

    It really isn't something to take to the gun range for fun or get out for an afternoon's plinking companion unless one considers mastery of its sharp recoil as entertaining. The lightweight Model 642 is tolerable with most loads but only just with loads of the +P variety. I've kept mine but have concluded that the weight saved through use of aluminum alloy for the revolver's frame isn't worth it and one of the small steel J-Frame revolver models is superior for use and hides just as readily as the Smith & Wesson 5-shot revolvers built on the light alloy frames.

    I do like the Model 642 for its trigger. Some really love the newer Ruger LCR's trigger but I don't care for it at all as it has too much over-travel when compared with the Smith & Wesson double-action trigger design. The excellent Smith & Wesson double-action trigger promotes more accurate shooting.

    I got to play with an LCR again last week, the second one I've shot, and it did nothing to change my mind about its trigger's characteristics.
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  9. #8
    Senior Member Array LoveLeather's Avatar
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    Mine has he standard wood grips a with tyler t-grip...yeah, it hurts a bit to shoot a box but I use a padded workout glove (1/2 fingers) to cushion the recoil....and the recoil pain won't matter if I ever need 5 in a hurry....

  10. #9
    Member Array southchatham's Avatar
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    I don't think the recoil is bad at all with the factory grips. I keep reading how bad the recoil is, I just don't think so. It really depends on the person. I have the 438 ( same as 642) .

  11. #10
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    Cor Bon 110 gr DPX makes a good defensive cartridge for the 642, a perfect front pocket snubbie. I like the stainless Ruger SP-101 for all around durability and shootability, but the extra weight is very noticeable. The little boot grip hides best and makes it easier to grab the gun from a front pocket. Other grips that soften recoil may be larger, but if you are dedicated to comfortable carry, you have to compromise somewhere. IMO a powerful, compact, lightweight defensive tool should be carried always. Shooting until it hurts isn’t necessary. A controlled five shot string can be mastered over time if you don’t overdo each range session. The most time consuming and dangerous skills are the uncover, draw, and presentation. They along, with trigger management through dry fire, can be practiced towards a safe background at home. I enjoy shooting a lot, so I’ll bring a steel 1911 and a target 22 along with to the range. And maybe, just to keep things in perspective, I’ll try one or two out of the 500.
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  12. #11
    VIP Member Array Old School's Avatar
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    I have a S&W 638 that I have Pachmayer grips on and they take the recoil and make it quite manageable with 125 gr +p and 158 gr. +p LSWCHP. I do not ankle or pocket carry this piece so the size of the grips do not matter. The Federal Nyclad load is still available and is about the best standard velocity .38 spl round and the recoil is very controlable.

    Smith & Wesson 642 recoil-photo.jpg

    Click photo to enlarge.
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  13. #12
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    Array Jeff F's Avatar
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    My wife has a 638 and it's quite nice to shoot. The 642 should have a little more recoil but think it would not be much of a problem. Now my brother also has a 357 Smith Airweight (not sure which model) and it's the most unpleasent handgun I've ever fired using 357's. With 38's it's fairly tolerable though.
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  14. #13
    Distinguished Member Array Diddle's Avatar
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    I never thought recoil was much of an issue until I became a member here. I have a 637 and a 442. I can shoot them with zero dificulty. I do admit after 50-75 rounds my hand gets tired but that is mostly from trigger pull. I have severe CTS and a quarter-sized lump on my inner right wrist. My buddy's wife has a 637. She has small hands, fairly small build and weighs probably 110lbs. She can shoot the 637/442 endlessly. Same fo rmy wife's SP101.

    Everyone has different hand geometry. The Glock 26 I bought today for example shoots great. The problem is that the trigger guard's rear recess wears my second finger out quickly from the recoil. I am sure that if my fingers were smaller, that would not be the case. I am just plagued with big fat hands.

    I wish you the best, my friend!
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  15. #14
    VIP Member Array ksholder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiram25 View Post
    Try a rubber Houge grip, stops slip, softens recoil, etc. Tamed my Airweight down considerably!
    ^^^^This^^^^. These grips took my 642 from no fun to fun.n Try them, you will like them.
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  16. #15
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Very useful gun

    I have a 642 and find it a very useful gun because it hides so easily and weighs very little. It is difficult to shoot well and has a healthy recoil, but at the likely short range of use, it is quite adequate. I have a pocket holster for it, but generally prefer an IWB tuckable holster by Comp-Tac, the "2 o'clock".

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