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 – S&W Chief’s Special

December 24, 2008

The Chief’s Special is a small sized or J-frame Smith and Wesson revolver manufactured in a variety of calibers and barrel lengths. Copied by many its quality remains a benchmark for every other snub. Models include the Model 36 (blue steel), Model 37 (aluminum-alloy frame), and the Model 60 (stainless steel).

Snub Training – S&W’s Centennial

December 23, 2008

Often misidentified as hammerless, the Centennial is the designation for the frame-concealing encloses-hammer Smith and Wesson snubs. Introduced in 1952 as the Model 40 and named in honor of the company’s centennial the Centennial features a unique “Quasimodo” style humped back frame and back strap. This frame shape completely encloses and conceals an internal hammer that employs a double action only trigger system. Combined these features prevent the snub from either snagging during a draw or being thumb cocked prior to firing. The Centennial is very popular with many shooters as its unique frame shape permits the shooter to move his hand up high on the back strap and aid in recoil control. The classic Centennial and some reissued versions feature a grip safety on the back strap that must be depressed in order to fire the snub. Models include the Model 40 (blue steel frame), Model 42 aluminum-alloy frame) both with a grip safety, Model 640 (stainless steel), Model 442 (blue steel cylinder with an aluminum-alloy frame), and the Model 642 (stainless steel cylinder with an aluminum-alloy frame). New Centennials have frame cutouts that will not accept many commonly available J-frame sized stocks.

Snub Training – S&W’s Bodyguard

December 18, 2008

The most common designation for various “humped back” hammer shrouded Smith and Wesson snubs. The hammer shrouded frame was produced to compete with Colt’s factory produced, after-market hammer shroud attachment. The hammer shrouded design permits a small portion of the hammer spur to protrude and allows the shooter to thumb back the hammer to a single action condition while preventing the hammer spur from catching material during the draw stroke. Models include the Model 38 (aluminum-alloy frame), the Model 49 (blue steel), and the Model 649 (stainless steel)