S&W Model 638 or 642?

This is a discussion on S&W Model 638 or 642? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I prefer the shrouded hammer but it's really just personal preference. On the rare occasion that I carry a J frame, I have my Airweight. ...

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Thread: S&W Model 638 or 642?

  1. #16
    Member Array Airedale's Avatar
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    I prefer the shrouded hammer but it's really just personal preference. On the rare occasion that I carry a J frame, I have my Airweight. Mrs. Airedale carries a 649 (shrouded hammer), she had a 642 and sold it due to recoil.
    I'd get the 638.
    Dave

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  3. #17
    Member Array DDGator's Avatar
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    I have a 642, so you know how I decided...

    However, there is one benefit to the 638 that noone has mentioned yet. When you go to a defensive shooting school that knows a bit about revolvers, they always caution you to do a "function check" everytime you load and holster. This involves pulling back the hammer until the cylinder latch releases, then rotating the cylinder one full rotation to make sure there are no high primers or other impediments to rotation -- the main reason revolvers will stop in a fight.

    With a 638 or standard Chief's Special gun, you can do this in complete safety, never having to touch the trigger. With a 642, it is much more difficult. You have to pull the trigger far enough to disengage the cylinder latch, then rotate the cylinder, and release the trigger. Clearly this is a violation of one of the 4 rules -- and I never felt comfortable enought to do this in my bedroom.

    So -- with the 642 I inspect my ammo before loading, but I don't do the function check that I would with a gun with an accessible hammer.

    Just more food for thought. This is the only real drawback to the 642 to me -- I wouldn't see myself shooting single action in a defensive situation.
    DDGator (Duane)
    www.RealWorldCarryGear.com

  4. #18
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    Duane - darned good point you make.

    Of course time and place do make the 642 free cyl check difficult but even if this does break rule #3 - as long as rule #2 is assiduously followed then not too bad. I tried this on someone's gun - empty at first and the travel needed to reach enough lift of cyl bolt did not strike me as being too great.

    With practice and care it is well feasable but yes - so much easier when you have hammer!
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


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  5. #19
    Member Array DDGator's Avatar
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    Chris,

    I agree -- function checking can be done on a Centennial frame gun -- it just requires a bit more attention, and a safe place to point it. I wouldn't do it in my house, although I would do it in my backyard perhaps... ;)
    DDGator (Duane)
    www.RealWorldCarryGear.com

  6. #20
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    1man: What was the outcome with you sending back your 638 because it locked up on you while dry firing? What did S&W say or do?

  7. #21
    Senior Member Array David III's Avatar
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    I have both. Well, actually I had two 642s but my wife decided she liked them..
    I have really never found any difference. If I bought another (which I guess I'll have to), I'll get the 642. The only reason I bought a 638 was because it looks unique.
    The only "use" I've ever found for the ability to have a single-action shot is when I've shown people that 2" revolvers can be much more accurate than one might assume.
    The 642 is far and away the better gun for my wife. She's experienced but not to the degree that probably most of us are on this forum. She knows if she pulls the trigger, it's bang. If a revolver has a hammer, she will think for a part of a second about whether to get the hammer back or not. I know, a training issue - but meanwhile, the 642 is a simple and reliable gun for her.
    Thanks, Stephen - great info and photos as always. I like it when you post because I receive the advantage of your logic and reasoning.

  8. #22
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    Hello and thank you very kindly. I'm glad that the post was of use.

    Best.

  9. #23
    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    Steve..........GREAT article on the two guns...
    I have had both guns, and prefer the 642 for the sleeker look..
    Why Waltz when you can Rock-N-Roll

  10. #24
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    I like the 642 better since I always practice DAO and there is no place for lint to get in the trigger. Plus, I like the looks of the 642. However the main reason I like the 642 over the 638 is I don't have a 638!
    livin in the woods...feelin mighty good

  11. #25
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    +1 for the article. I have the 642 with CT grips. Everytime I take it to the range and people notice the dot, they come over and ask about it. I love the concealability of it. Took it out last night on a date riding on the ankle and it felt right, as usual.
    There are 2 sounds in the world that strike more fear than any others. A click when you should hear a bang and a bang when you should hear a click.

  12. #26
    Member Array Gringo's Avatar
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    I'm really pleased with my recent acquisition of the 642 with CT grips, so this one would definately get my vote.
    "Anything worth shooting is worth shooting twice; ammo is cheap, life is expensive."

  13. #27
    Member Array 1man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebla
    1man: What was the outcome with you sending back your 638 because it locked up on you while dry firing? What did S&W say or do?
    Trebla,
    My dealer said he would contact me when Smith mails it back to him. My dealer said they might not charge me. But if they do, they are going to send it back to my dealer and I'll pay my dealer for the charges.
    I'm not even concerned a bit about it(I almost totally forgot about it). I picked up an old 640(38special, not the new 357mag), And I love the *&^% out of it.
    Train how you Fight
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    "Anything you do can get you killed, including nothing." Murphy's Combat Law

  14. #28
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    I just bought a S&W model 37 and a model 642 from the Valleyforge gun show yesterday. Both of them are free of the defective internal locks.

  15. #29
    Member Array pistolwhipped's Avatar
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    Always a pleasure to read Mr. Camps posts. Valuable information can always be found there.
    I, like MillCreek, traded away a 642 when I found a PM9 that I liked. I have missed it and often think about getting another. Funny how that works.
    Anyway, thank you Mr. Camp for another interesting read.
    Ask not what your country can do for you....

  16. #30
    Member Array DParker's Avatar
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    Great info here. Went shopping today for a 642 with Crimson Trace grips for my wife. She has been using a S&W 64-2 and really needs something lighter. She insists on a revolver and this seems like just the ticket. If it was just me, I would skip the Crimson Trace...but it gives her a real warm fuzzy feeling.

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