S&W 642 vs. Colt Cobra Question

March 18, 2009

Dear Michael:

Currently the only alloy frame snub I have is a Colt Cobra, newer style with the shrouded ejector rod.  I am not crazy about it since it has exposed hammer and the trigger pull is not as good as my steel J frame smiths.  I have run across a S&W 642 pre-lock model that is plus p rated and looks as new.  I am contemplating getting rid of the Colt and getting the 642.  The 642 is priced at $425.00 which is probably on the high side for used, but I have had little luck finding these without the internal lock.  Does it make sense to you to make this swap-I know I am giving up a six shot for five, but otherwise it appears to me the 642 has more pluses for carry.  Please advise from your perspective and desirability of the pre-lock 642 in general.  Thanks.


Dear Randy:
Thank you for your question.
Here are a few quick thoughts.
The Hammer can be fixed with either a Hammer Shroud (I can put you in touch with the maker) or with a quick trip to the gunsmith to get the  hammer “bobbed.”
I prefer the hammer shroud for several reasons but the bobbed hammer is a good 2nd option.
The important question is will the J-frame fit you  hand?
The K-frame (S&W) and the D-frame (Colt) were build to fit a man’s hand. The J-frame was built for a woman’s hand (based on the older I frame) and does not always fit a man’s hand.  This is especially true if you have large hands or if you wear gloves in colder weather.
If the J-frame fits you hand you may be able to find a less expensive J-frame with a lock and have a skilled gunsmith remove it.  Karl Sokol in Vermont does a great job (e-mail me if you wish his contact information) but some of your own area area gunsmiths should be as to do as well.
Remember that the lock is not a safety – it is an access denial feature – so is a well made trigger lock. 
I prefer the D-frame Colts and the K-frame Smiths (both 6-shots) to the J-frames only because they fit my hands.
The one reason I might trade my Colt for a J-frame Smith is if I was worried about repairs is the future.
Finding a gunsmith skilled on the Colt and who has Colt parts is getting harder to find than hen’s teeth.
My conclusion – I would keep looking for a light weight J-frame IF it fits your hand and IF I found one closer to the mid – to high- $300.00 range. (I don’t know the market in your area) I would then buy that one. 
After that I would then sell the Colt to an area Colt shooter and buy a second J-frame in steel (same style as your 1st J-frame)
That way you could shoot the steel J-frame often and never worry about the wear-and-tear on the light weight carry gun. I would of course shoot the light weight J-frame a few time a year so the stiffer recoil wouldn’t be unexpected in a self-defense situation.
This is a short answer but I hope this helps.


Snub Training – Colt Magnum Carry

January 15, 2009

The Magnum Carry was a short lived effort by Colt to re-introduce the Detective Special.  Manufactured in stainless steel, with a factory “bobbed” hammer, an improved front sight and chambered in .357-Magnum caliber.  Regrettably it was abandoned by Colt before its myriad of small problems could be corrected.

Snub Training – Fitz Special

January 13, 2009

Named for Colt shooter and employee J. H. FitzGerald who took various Colt .38- and .45-caliber revolvers, cut the barrels down to two-inches, “bobbed” the hammer spurs, cut away the front of the trigger guards and removed the “button” at the tip of the ejector rods. This work was done in an attempt to make a practical self-defense belly gun. Snub revolvers featuring some, most or all of these features are referred to as FitzGerald Specials or Fitz Specials.

Snub Training – Colt Detective Special

January 11, 2009

Colt’s six shot, .38-caliber blue steel revolver of medium size or D-frame. It is the original double action, short barrel revolver that popularized the snub genre. The Detective Special saw several changes or “series.” The First Series had a distinct exposed ejector rod and square butt. The Second Series retained the exposed ejector rod but introduced a rounded butt. The Third Series introduced an ejector rod shroud and changes in the internal lockwork. There was a final effort at producing the Detective Special called the Magnum Carry series which ran only briefly during the 1990’s

Snub Training – Colt Cobra

December 27, 2008

One of two Colt Detective Special styled snubs (the other being the Agent) manufactured with an aluminum-alloy frame. The Cobra was a medium sized or D-frame Colt revolver manufactured in .22 and .38 caliber and available in two and three inch barrel lengths. The Colt Cobra was distinct from the Colt Agent in  having a larger grip frame length.  Jack Ruby is reported to have used a Cobra .38 Special to kill Lee Harvey Oswald

Snub Training – Colt Agent

December 15, 2008

One of two Colt produced Detective Special styled snubs (the other being the Cobra) manufactured with an aluminum-alloy frame. The Agent was a medium sized or D-frame revolver. It was reportedly manufactured in both .22 and .38 caliber and was available in both two and three inch barrel lengths. Though generally not considered as robust as either Smith and Wesson’s five shot J-frames or six shot K-frames the Colt is still prized for both its size (a six-shot snub barely larger than the equivalent five-shot Smith) and its trigger action. The Colt Agent was distinct from the Colt Cobra (the other aluminum-alloy frame Colt) in that the Agent had an abbreviated grip frame length and weigh about 16 ounces compared to the Cobra’s 18 ounces when empty.