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.
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.