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1951 - 2011
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hello. On 04.07.93, I bought a revolver primarily as a BUG for duty use as a peace officer. It was a NIB S&W Model 042. The anodizing on this gun was originally shinier than on current Model 442's and it is on the smaller "non-magnum" J-frame and with the thinner front sight. Like all of the .38 J-frame snubs, it holds but 5 shots. There is no +P designation on it anywhere, but it has digested more than a few.

This gun was never used as a primary on anything and never drawn against another person...unlike the belt gun it was quietly backing up, but it went with me on narcotics raids, routine patrol, a couple of barricaded persons situations and other police activity and was often what I carried off-duty as a BUG and sometimes a primary.

When I retired from policing in '98, it didn't, and was my 24/7 revolver for a few more years.


This one may be a bit worn, but it has been a faithful servant though one that required regular practice so that I could do my part in seeing that it did its. I believe the snub Airweight to be a really decent BUG, but do NOT think it is the best choice at all for new shooters, be they male or female.

On 06.25.02, I replaced the faithful 042 with a common, run-of-the-mill Model 642. The reason was simple. I carry the snub primarily via a pocket holster and 24/7. Summers are hot in Texas and even daily cleaning was still not always enough to keep rust spots from popping up. I don't mind honest 'battle scars" or signs of use, but cannot abide rust.

Now the Model 642 is showing signs of constant carry, but it is much easier to maintain corrosion free.


This Model 642 continues to serve well and while I "like" and trust it, the ol' 042 remains my favorite between the two. I'm not sure why unless it is that I actually prefer blue/dark guns.


Both the 642 and 042 are loaded with the same ammunition: Remington's 158-gr. LSWCHP +P. I've tried others but in this caliber, I still prefer this "old techology" cartridge. (Federal's version seems to work about as well as the Remington FWIW.)

If you are considering a compact, but reasonably potent BUG, I suggest taking a look at the Airweight line. I personally prefer the older versions w/o the lock...to the point that I will not own one with it. These aluminum-framed revolvers are plenty light to carry, but heavy enough that one doesn't have to be concerned with bullets unseating themselves during recoil. I've never had it happen nor has anyone I'm familiar with.

These do require practice in order for their users to be able to get the shots where they need to go and their payload doesn't leave much room for error in terms of either power or number of immediately available shots, and reloading is not nearly so quick as with an automatic.

Still, they offer what I consider "adequate" power...in practiced hands. These guns are convenient to carry and usually reliable in the extreme assuming at least a minimal amount of care.

The Model 042 and 642 follow a fairly long line of Airweights I've carried over the years and for me, they remain a top choice. Others will disagree and that's fine, but IF you are looking for a compact little gun to be with you 24/7 and you are willing to practice with it, I think this type revolver is tough to beat.

I guess I'm not alone as they've been around in this role for decades.

Best.
 

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I looked at a model 637 in stainless last week. Came with a custom leather IWB for $230. Hardy shot and in stellar condition. Trying to decide between that and a kel-tec P3AT as a pocket-rocket when
"dressed up". What do you think?
 

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For me it's a 638. Sometimes BUG, sometimes primary. I'm using 135gr. Gold Dot +P short barrel loads right now but would like to try a box of 158 LSWCHP +P sometime and see how they handle. You're right about the practice routine. With my .45 Commander shots come easy. It's taken alot of practice to nail down the 638 to the point I'm satisfied with my performance enough to carry it.

An interesting note. When I was recently ordering a new IWB holster from Andrews he said the .45 / .38 snub BUG seemed to be one of the most common combinations he heard of from his customers. His as well.

Eric
 

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Excellent write-up Mr. C.

What stocks adorn your 042?
 

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just bought the 642 recently and now carry it every where. Its recoil is a little more fierce than i thought, but after a few hundred rounds, im learning to cope and accuracy is now acceptable(but needs work) I have the same grips on the 642 and find that the part directly behind the cylinder release irritates my inside thumb after a few shots. Just me? Any suggestion on a better grip Dr. Campbell? (called you docter because your posts are as precise as a surgeons)
-mac
 

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Thx Steve for your usual fine write-up.

Seeing that old 042 reminds me of my old M85 - something about the snub that bears the wear of long time carry! It's not in the same class but despite being ''just'' a Taurus, is a great piece IMO and will see duty from time to time, as it is a tad smaller than my SP-101.


 

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Stephen - Thanks for the write up! I bought a 642 just last week. It was at the gun store when I was picking up a Sig I had ordered. I couldn't resist and walked out with two guns! - I haven't had a chance to shoot it yet, but have heard nothing but good things about it! Can't wait to go to the range with the two new kids!!
 

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Carried an S&W Model 36 for years as a BUG. I cut the hammer and the gun looks like it has been in a war (summer in Miami will do that to a gun). Then I got a Model 60, did the hammer thing again (my wife wanted the Model 36). Now after 16 years the Model 60 looks as good as new, except the grips they show ware.

frankmako
 

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Thanks stephan. Was thinking about getting the hogue but those wood and ivory grips look to good. ( darn it now i have to find 75 extra bucks somewhere)
 

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I'm glad I read this post! I'm new to the whole concealed carry thing (so new I'm still waiting on my permit to arrive in the mail!) and after spending the last couple of months scouring these forums and really wanting a glock 27 (after deciding the really small kel-tec 380 is too unreliable) I went down and put a S&W 638 Bodyguard on layaway before leaving town this weekend. With all the different guns on here, it seemed that for 24/7 carry, alot of guys ended up with their snubbies with them, and their glocks in the safe. Hope I made the right decision because with 2 kids at home and my wife going back to college, this is going to be the gun I'm stuck with for a while!
 

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I can't say I have one of those lil'smith airweights, I wish I did.
I do have a ss Taurus 85 ultralight tucked in a nemasis pocket holster. I then have it in my front pocket. I really like it there when I ride my motorcycle. Lite in weight and comfortable.
Best of all....no one knows.............................. ! :)
 

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I'm still stoking my 642 with 125gr. +P Golden Sabers but I plan on trying out the 158gr. +P LSWCHP when payday rolls around. If nothing else, it seems a tad more affordable than the "wonder bullets."

Wife and I are going on a few day/overnight trips this weekend so I'm planning on carrying both my Mil-Spec in it's Max-Con V and the 642 in the DeSantis ankle holster - you can never have enough firepower when travelling. :wink:
Jack
 

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1951 - 2011
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Discussion Starter #17
Hello. With any luck, I might be able to do a chronograph/penetration/accuracy/expansion report on Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P, Speer 135-gr. Gold Dot +P, and Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P in the near future. Each will be compared to the other.


From left to Right: Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P, Speer Gold Dot 135-gr. "Short Bbl" load, and the old Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P.

Best.
 

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I'd like to see the results of that. Any problem with excessive barrel leading when using factory the LSWCHP load or are they hard enough to avoid that? I'm not sure how many it'd be safe to run at the range before cleaning the bore - maybe just keep a bore snake handy?
Jack

BTW, Ammoman is showing both Fed's 158gr. +P LSWCHP and 125gr. Nyclad as "in stock" if you're looking for them.
 

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Excellent write-up as always Stephen, thank you. :hand10:

The wife and I have have had these two along time.

 
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