Just want to be talked out of the S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P

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Thread: Just want to be talked out of the S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Just want to be talked out of the S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P

    The 5 choices are:

    .357 Sig subcompact Glock 33
    vs.
    9mm Walther PPS
    vs.
    Kahr slim subcompact auto
    vs.
    .38 Spl +P S&W
    vs.
    .357 Mag S&W

    Not looking for brand advice. Just want to be talked out of the S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P (15 ounces).

    This is a long rant, but here are my thoughts.

    I. Caliber
    A. Revolver
    1. Minimum: Nothing less than a .38 Spl
    a. A .22 mini-revolver (or something similar) might be easy to carry but does not offer the reliability (rim fire) or stopping power I would want in a SD (self-defense) situation. Of course anything would be better than nothing.
    b. I would consider using reloads in .38 for practice.
    2. Maximum: Nothing more than a .44 Mag
    a. A .44 Mag is a lot of recoil to handle, but manageable (suggest something with a 5 or 6 inch barrel. Some can take more, but the average .44 Mag revolver is safe to call a large caliber and harder to conceal for most frames you would fire this round from
    b. I would consider using reloads in .44 for practice.
    3. Perfect Revolver SD Round: .357 Mag (IMO)
    a. Little easier to recover from than a .44 Mag.
    b. Some might consider the .44 Spl. I feel the .44 belongs in a larger firearm then your typical SD / CCW revolver. .
    c. In the Alaska wilderness give me a .44 Mag. Then again give me a .22 against zombies. Bears are just about as likely as zombies in my daily SD needs.
    d. I would consider using reloads in .38 for some practice.
    B. Auto
    1. Minimum: Nothing less than a 9mm.
    a. From .22, the Beretta 950 Jetfire in .25, or countless testimonies from .380 owners makes these easier to conceal firearms tempting. I would want something more reliable and with more stopping power.
    b. It is hard to drop .380 off the list without adding that there are many easy to carry slim subcompact auto 9mm (think Walther PPS and Kahr) that are just as easy to conceal as a .380.
    2. Maximum: Nothing more than a .45 ACP (.45 GAP).
    a. Some might consider 10mm. I donít know a lot about this round, so Iím not considering it. Until I shoot it I canít comment.
    b. .50 or might be considered by some to be the largest auto to be considered for concealed carry (think Desert Eagle .50). I hesitate to mention a revolver in the auto section, but in my opinion the .44 Mag revolvers would be more viable if we are talking 5 inch barrel firearms.
    c. .357 Sig might be considered higher on the list than a .45. I just donít want to be shot by either, so for the sake of argument, I consider the .45 a little higher on the list than a .357 Sig.
    3. Perfect auto SD round; I like .357 ballistics for most SD situations. So I'll stick with the .357 Sig as the perfect SD round.
    a. Endless conversations on .40 S&W, .357 Sig, .45 (ACP or GAP). All are great. I prefer the feel, accuracy, power, and penetration of the .357 Sig. .357 disadvantages to consider.
    1. .357 Sig over penetration is hype. I don't know of one example where the .357 Sig over penetrated a target and injured an untended target. Almost every round (9mm to .50) has the potential of over penetration. Contrast this with the number of stories where the .357 Sig penetration was beneficial.
    2. Cost & availability of the round (only real disadvantage). For the time being you have to bite the bullet on this one if you are a .357 Sig fan. A .40 barrel or .22 conversion helps. .
    3. Bullet being pushed into case if round is continually slammed. A little caution and rotation resolves.
    4. Difficult to reload. With the exception to a 9mm, I don't like the idea of using reloads even for practice.

    II. Size
    A. There is the gun you like, then there is the gun you will end up carrying. This is especially true during the summer months. In addition, I will only consider carry in a holster. I don't want any other carry then a carry that allows me to pull the trigger to get the weapon to fire (the only safety I need in the trigger). This being the case, weird things happen, and having a holster covering the trigger is the ounce of prevention that is worth a pound of cure.
    B. The guns I like (main carry / never a back up).
    1. Standard Auto and Compact Auto models are a pleasure to shoot and not that hard to conceal.
    a. They do sometimes become a chore when sitting, riding a bike, etc. I feel the compact does not offer much comfort compared to the standard. That is why I went with the Standard.
    b. A little comfort can go a long way, so the compact fans have many solid points they can make.
    2. I believe there are a lot of advantages to revolvers, but when we are talking about the sizes mentioned, the number of rounds and easy of reloading make me favor Auto
    a. 6 round revolver vs 15+ Auto.
    b. If I was in bear country, hard to argue against a 44 Revolver
    1. Then again I would rather have a shot gun (or the extra rounds of the auto might be nice). .
    C. The guns I will carry (always carry / sometimes back up).
    1. Conceal ability and weight: J-frame revolver, subcompact auto, and slim subcompact auto are about equally easy to conceal. When it comes to weight, the aluminum and scandium J-frame and the slim subcompact auto weight 1/2 as much as the polymer subcompact auto and stainless J-Frame revolvers.
    a. The revolver can be placed in a coat pocket, pointed, concealed, and ready to fire. The auto would not do this as well (especially after the 1st round is fired) and would be more noticeable.
    b. The J-frame revolvers and the subcompact auto are easy to carry in an inside the waistband holster.
    c. The slim subcompact auto is very concealable and almost a pleasure to carry with an inside the waistband holster (even better than the J-Frame airlights).
    d. Considering the firearms I'm talking about, the J-frame aluminum and scandium are the only true pocket pistol (in a pocket holster).
    1. It might be a hard pitch to say the slim subcompact auto is not a pocket pistol. I just feel the J-frame airlights have the edge in comfort (pocket carry) while the slim subcompact has the edge with an inside the waistband holster
    2. Reliability and Accuracy: All mentioned are good for the standard SD situation.
    a. Revolvers
    1. If you have ever shot a .357 out of a J-Frame you understand how unpleasant this experience is. Some say you will be so pumped up in a SD situation that the .357 Mag is the way to go. The .38 or .38 +P J-Frame are manageable. My concern is that I like to use rounds with the same punch in practice as I would used in SD (and not just the last 5 rounds). It truly hurts to practice with a .357 Mag in a J-Frame, especially the light weight versions. Stainless versions make this a little easier.
    a. The .357 Mag is probably the most powerful SD round I am considering. The .38 Spl is probably the weakest. I donít believe the .38 +P is as powerful as the 9mm.
    2. J-frame revolvers are a slight chore to practice with.
    3. The J-frame revolvers carry 5 rounds.


    b. Auto
    1. Could just be me, but the subcompact autos (any caliber) are just as easy to shoot as their standard and compact cousins.
    a. IMO If you own a standard auto and / or compact auto Glock, it would be best to choose the same caliber for your subcompact. Provides magazine options and allows the subcompact a natural back-up when you carry 2 firearms.
    2. Slim subcompact auto (think Kahr or Walther PPS) are a little more of a chore to shoot then the subcompact (think Walther P99C and Glock 26, 27, 33). They are more fun than the J-frame revolvers.
    4. On average the subcompact auto carries 10 rounds (always nice to have extra rounds). A definite advantage to the J-frame.
    5. The slim subcompact auto holds around 5 to 7 rounds. Regardless of the magazine the slim subcompact auto will not carry more than 9 rounds. At that point the size of the slim subcompact auto (think Kahr and Walther PPS) is creeping up to a subcompact auto (think Walther P99C) . So in reality we are talking 5 round revolver vs. 6 round auto. On average autos are easier to reload via magazine then revolvers (even with speed loader). Slight advantage to the slim subcompact auto compared to J-frame
    Summary

    I already own a Glock standard auto, so a same caliber subcompact is hard to pass up. Easier to carry then the standard, and a good back up when I take two firearms.

    However, I know I really want a CCW, no good reason not to carry, always carry. So it comes down to Walter 9mm PPS or S & W J-frame.

    For the most comfortable and practical carry I will go with the revolver. The fact I can have a weapon in a coat pocket as I walk by a creep (but not brandished) is the deciding factor. I would like to go with a stainless option (say the 640 Centennial or 649 Bodyguard) as it would help (in a minor way) with .357 Mag practice, but these weigh 23 ounces and will make conceal in shorts easier to spot (especially without a belt, even in a pocket).

    A. S & W 340 in .357 Mag (12 ounces) is around $800.
    B. S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P (15 ounces) is around $500.
    C. S & W 640 Centennial (or 649 Bodyguard) in .357 Mag (23 ounces) around $600.
    D. S & W Stainless Steel .38 +p (around 20 ounces) No longer made but around $400.

    I'm really leaning toward the 638 (saving $300 to $400). I strongly doubt I would put .357 Mag in for SD (and in a lifetime will only practice a handful of times with .357 in a J-Frame). More likely lots of .38 practice ending range time with 15 or so .38 +P. Re-sale is not an issue. Doubt I will ever sell and only reason to trade up would be if something better comes out in the revolver J-Frames (and this advancement would likely blow away the 340's resale value).

    I think my choice is B.

    Someone talk me out of the S & W 342 Centennial (or 638 Bodyguard) in .38+P (15 ounces).

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  3. #2
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    OK, I will. The $500 price tag is a hundred to high. You should be able to pick one up for right around four bills.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    $400 only makes me want to buy it more :)

    I am trying to find a good reason I should not buy it. Like there are several well know cracking issues.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    $400 only makes me want to buy it more :)

    I am trying to find a good reason I should not buy it. Like there are several well know cracking issues.
    I don't know of anything that would stop you from buying one, the S&W air weights have been solid performers in the line up for years. The only thing I possibly think of is the new locks, a lot of internet rumors about malfunctions etc., personally, I think its a lot of hooey. Mine has been fine after 800 rounds of constant pounding over a long weekend.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Member Array Schwebel's Avatar
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    What about a model 640/649? Gives you the abilty to fire .357's. The barrel is a tad longer to help make the most out of a .357 while still being easily concealed. Has about 25% extra weight to soak up the recoil (22oz). It also has some nice grips to help in the recoil department as well. And the price is between that of an Airweight and an Airlight.

    Shooting .357's out of an Airlight is like getting kicked in the hand. Grips that cover the backstrap are a must. Even my 442 with +P's can draw blood. Hogue grips help alot, but are larger than the stockers on a 640/649.

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    You need two little guns, not one.

    Okay, I would try to talk you out of buying ONLY the 5 shot airweight. There is nothing wrong with the 5 shot airweight, but it fills a certain niche in concealed carry and doesn't cover all the bases. It fills the niche of a pocket carryable, last ditch gun that is most useful for backup to a larger gun or for use when you just can't conceal anything larger.

    If you get the airweight, consider buying another concealable gun that has more capacity, larger caliber and more weight to allow you to shoot more accurately at a greater distance. I would suggest a Kahr MK9 to go with the airweight, as the 24 ounce Kahr gives you 6+1 rounds of 9mm and is quite accurate out to 15 yards and beyond.

    I have both guns, and they complement each other. Sometimes you can carry both, with the Kahr as primary on the strong side and the airweight as backup in a weak side pocket.

    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    VIP Member Array artz's Avatar
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    fun, fun, fun !!!
    " Refuse to be a victim, make sure there is a round chambered ! "

    Just call me a pessimistic optimist !

    U.S. Navy vet 1981-1992

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    Member Array Jay6's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanis View Post
    $400 only makes me want to buy it more :)

    I am trying to find a good reason I should not buy it. Like there are several well know cracking issues.
    I have a 638 that I carry everyday in the summer months and I LOVE it. You also could even find one for closer to $350 is you look a bit. I know I picked mine up for that new in the box.

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    Agree with the poster about the MK9's advantages over snubbies, at least as a primary carry. If you are looking for reasons not to buy, I would add that snubbies are at a substantial ballistic disadvantage compared to compact 9mm autos. This is especially true when a steel framed gun like the MK9 (in which it is easy to shoot +p loads, 7 shots, faster reload, 3in barrel, closed breech, yet is extremely concealable/ comfortable IWB) is compared to a very small, very light .38/357 revolver (much less efficient due to cylinder gap and 2in barrel, 5 shots). Or you could look at a PM9 in the same weight class as the very light revolvers. Snubbies are cool, but you have to tolerate a lot of recoil and muzzle blast to generate the same power as a short 9mm, and you still have less capacity.

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    Member Array JimThomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SIXTO View Post
    I don't know of anything that would stop you from buying one, the S&W air weights have been solid performers in the line up for years. The only thing I possibly think of is the new locks, a lot of internet rumors about malfunctions etc., personally, I think its a lot of hooey. Mine has been fine after 800 rounds of constant pounding over a long weekend.
    There's a new 642 version without the lock, so that issue has magically disappeared. (for the 642 anyway) :)

    It might be a case of S&W listening to consumer demand, so I won't be surprised if other models are following soon or already in the works.

    I understand there are also some older 642s without the locks, and I'm gonna guess that's the same for other models, but I'm not sure.

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    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    Dry humor?

    Quote Originally Posted by JimThomas View Post
    I understand there are also some older 642s without the locks, and I'm gonna guess that's the same for other models, but I'm not sure.
    I'm sure this was a facetious comment, as my 642 shown a few inches above your posting clearly does not have a lock. I bought it new about 1995, before the dreaded internal lock was invented.
    Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the Peoples' Liberty's Teeth." - George Washington

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    Member Array Ivan's Avatar
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    I can't talk you out of a 638 (though I am currently being tempted by the 340), as that is what I ended up with after considering many options. You forgot to add to your list that a plus with the 638 (or 649) is the ability for a SA shot. I think it is a useful feature and do practice both SA & DA. It takes no longer to cock the hammer than it does to take the saftey off some other guns.
    Also consider getting a Crimson Trace 405 grip if you purchase any J-frame. It does help soak up some of the recoil and it can really help with accuracy. That grip, plus a trigger smoothing job by my LGS, has made my 638 a very fine CCW.

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    Senior Member Array jhh3rd's Avatar
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    Go buy the Bodyguard(638), find the method of holstered carry you like, and let it be your daily companion like my old model 38 has been for the last 15 years.

    I never had to use mine, but it has been comforting and close on a few scary situations. john

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    Member Array JimThomas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pogo2 View Post
    I'm sure this was a facetious comment, as my 642 shown a few inches above your posting clearly does not have a lock. I bought it new about 1995, before the dreaded internal lock was invented.
    Actually, no... had nothing to do with you or your picture. I didn't notice. Sorry you thought that. I quoted the person I was responding to, who was talking about the locks. I just bought one of the new lockless 642s for myself.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JimThomas View Post
    There's a new 642 version without the lock, so that issue has magically disappeared. (for the 642 anyway) :)

    It might be a case of S&W listening to consumer demand, so I won't be surprised if other models are following soon or already in the works.
    Here is another one that has showed up w/no lock...

    Smith & Wesson Model 37 Airweight .38SPL +P - WITHOUT INTERNAL LOCK - SMITH & WESSON - HANDGUNS - Top Gun Supply

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