Thanks everyone who posted on my thread about .38 snubbie accuracy. Helped me make up my mind that I really did want one. Several people had indicated that accuracy with these things is more a question of practice than anything else, and I'm certainly one to practice.
So Davidson's had this S&W performance-center 642 centennial airweight on sale, ($409, $453 out the door after tax and transfer) and I had looked at one in a store recently, and the trigger had felt kind of heavy. They said this one had the performance center trigger job, which includes mirror polishing the internals and lightening the spring.
A woman next to me at the range had an LCR and we swapped at one point. She thought the airweight had less felt recoil and a smoother trigger than her LCR and I pretty much agree. LCR seems to have a strange kind of abrupt change in the pull towards the end which I don't like, I think I read somewhere that they use a cam to smooth it out, but I didn't really like it.
PM9 being my primary gun, I didn't find .38 special 130 grain Winchester to feel much different. Buffalo Bore 158 grain +p semiwadcutters were another story. It was more or less like my first time shooting .40, it felt like being smacked in the palm with a hammer every time. That said, I'm really used to .40 now, and it feels fine. I imagine I'll feel the same about +p after a bit. There's a lot of psychology to the felt recoil thing.
Accuracy was great. Even though the sights are minimal, they are usable (at least in bright light) and at 10 yards was to point of aim and felt perfectly natural to me. My second cylinder I got a 3" group of 4 out of 5 at ten yards, with the 5th one off to the side a bit. It was somewhere in that neighborhood for the rest, 3 to 5 inch groups, except when I was losing mental focus.
I would like to put some better sights on it at some point, any tips on what and where?
Here's some pics, the gun all grimy after the first day at the range, and the 2nd group mentioned above.
bottom line? LOVE this gun.