Smith & Wesson Revolvers


.357 Magnum Meme



Contents:

Coming soon.

 



Smith & Wesson Revolver Essentials:

Coming soon.

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Smith & Wesson Frame Sizes:

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Smith & Wesson Pocket-Size J-Frame Revolvers:

 

S&W J-Frame Essentials:

All of the S&W J-Frame revolvers discussed on this page are .38 Special or .357 Magnum caliber as both of these are proven, potent man-stoppers, and the ammunition is easily available at Wal-Mart and any gun-friendly sporting good store.

Most .38 Special J-Frame revolvers are +P rated, however older revolvers may not have +P engraved on the barrel. If yours is not marked then you will have to research to find out if it is safe to shoot the higher pressure loads without damaging your revolver.

All J-Frame revolvers chambered in .38 Special and .357 Magnum hold five rounds.

The most common barrel length is 1 7/8″, but they are also manufactured with 3″ barrels.

It matters what kind of ammo you shoot out of these guns. Generally speaking, full-size .38 Special revolvers with 4″ barrels and fixed sights are calibrated for 158-grain ammunition, however with snubnose revolvers you may find that heavier (158-grain) ammunition shoots high, and lighter (110-grain) ammunition shoots low. Also, heavier bullets may not always reach enough velocity to fully mushroom in the target when fired from a short barrel revolver. Most snubnose .38 Special revolvers shoot best with 125 to 135 grain ammunition, both in terms of accuracy, and with terminal performance.

 

S&W J-Frame Models:

“Chief’s Special”, standard hammer:

  • Model 36: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, black finish
  • Model 60: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, stainless finish
  • Model 60: .357 Magnum, steel frame, adjustable sights, stainless finish
  • Model 37: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish
  • Model 437: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish
  • Model 637: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, stainless finish (discussed below)
  • Model 337: .38 Special, Scandium alloy frame, fixed or adjustable sights, black or stainless finish (Titanium cylinder)
  • Model 360: .357 Magnum, Scandium alloy frame, fixed or adjustable sights, black or stainless finish

“Centennial”, hammerless:

  • Model 40: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, black finish*
  • Model 640: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, stainless finish
  • Model 640: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish
  • Model 42: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish*
  • Model 442: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish* (discussed below)
  • Model 642: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, stainless finish (discussed below)
  • Model 342: .38 Special, Scandium alloy frame, fixed or adjustable sights, black* or stainless finish
  • Model 340: .357 Magnum, Scandium alloy frame, fixed sights, black* or stainless finish

“Bodyguard”, shrouded hammer:

  • Model 49: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, black finish*
  • Model 649: .38 Special, steel frame, fixed sights, stainless finish (pre-1996)
  • Model 649: .357 Magnum, steel frame, fixed sights, stainless finish (post-1996)
  • Model 38: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish*
  • Model 438: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, black finish*
  • Model 638: .38 Special, alloy frame, fixed sights, stainless finish (discussed below)

* Black can reference a glossy blue finish or a matte black finish.

 

S&W J-Frame Variants:

  • Airweight: Frame made with Aluminum alloy.
  • Airlite: Frame made with Scandium (Sc) alloy.
  • Lady Smith: Name given to several J-Frame variants that are marketed towards female shooters. They may have special stocks (grips) or engravings.
  • Ti: Titanium cylinder, usually paired with a Scandium frame.

 

Smith & Wesson Model 642/442 “Centennial”:

I like the Smith & Wesson model 642 (pictured right). This is my first choice for a pocket carry revolver. It is stainless steel / alloy (ultra light weight and corrosion resistant in your pocket), hammerless (hammer won’t get snagged up in your pocket), and fires very potent 38 Special caliber ammunition. On both the S&W 642 as well (as on the Ruger LCR discussed farther down) the hammer is completely internal (sometimes referred to as “hammerless”). If carried in a pocket holster, there isn’t any exposed hammer spur to get snagged on clothing and accidentally cock the gun. Also, because the area around the hammer is closed up, there isn’t any way for that area of the revolver to fill with pocket link or other debris that might affect reliability. If you are not a fan of the bead-blasted stainless finish of the 642, the S&W 442 is the exact same revolver, but with a black finish.

Smith & Wesson Model 638 “Body Guard”:

Shown right for comparison this is the Smith & Wesson model 638 “Body Guard”. It has the same features as the 642, but has a semi-exposed hammer. A pro may be that you can cock the pistol to shoot more accurately, but during my limited experience with the revolver I found the semi-exposed hammer awkward to cock, and I didn’t feel very secure lowering the hammer on a live round. Still though, with hardly any of the hammer exposed I would feel totally safe carrying this revolver in a pocket. With practice one should be able to take accurate shots without cocking the hammer (double-action), so having the exposed hammer is not a priority to me.

SWM638and642rear1

This is another view of the shrouded hammer on the S&W 638. A S&W 642 is shown on the right for comparison.

Smith & Wesson Model 637:

For reference, shown right is the Smith & Wesson model 637. It has all the features as the other two “Airweight” revolvers shown above, but sports a completely exposed hammer spur. This revolver is fine for holster carry, but I would not recommend carrying it in a pocket as the hammer could easily snag on clothes.

Internal Locks:

Avoid Smith & Wesson revolvers with internal locks, as seen right. Smith-Wesson-Model-60-3These locks were designed so that the owner can use a small key to “lock” the internals of the firearm when not in use and render it unable to fire. While a noble idea, there have been a number of documented cases of the locking mechanisms breaking and jamming up the revolvers. This is something that you definitely do not want to happen, especially in a self-defense scenario. If you are worried about the safety of your revolver when not in use, unload it and lock it away, just like you should with all of your firearms. Even if I came across a fantastic deal on a Smith & Wesson revolver with a safety lock I would pass on the deal. I would hold out for another deal on a revolver with no safety, or go with the Ruger LCR .

 

Smith & Wesson J-Frame Stocks (Grips):

Some people choose to change the stocks (“stock” is the correct term for a grip panel on a revolver) on their J-frame revolvers, either to add a slightly larger size for better grip (as seen right), or to add a stocks with a laser aiming device. Keep in mind that if you add a bigger set of stocks it may help you get a better grip, but their might be a some type of penalty with regards to your ability to conceal the gun. However, unless you add giant stocks to the revolver you shouldn’t have any problems concealing in a pocket holster. The revolver seen in the photo to the right rides quite nicely in a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster.

Square Butt vs. Round Butt:

round vs square buttIf you are going to replace the stocks then you will need to know if it is a “round butt” or “square butt”.

 




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S&W Medium K-Frame Revolvers:

All Hot Blonde with a RevolverSmith & Wesson .357 Magnum K-Frame revolvers, such as the Model 19 or the Model 66, can be shot with any .38 special ammunition, and any .357 Magnum 158 grain ammunition. It is recommended to limit the use of the lighter and more powerful .357 Magnum 125-grain loads as they have developed a reputation of cracking the forcing cone and barrel with repeated use.

K-Frame revolvers with fixed sights are intended for use with 158 grain ammunition.  125-grain ammunition will shoot lower than where you aim.

All .38 Special and .357 Magnum K-Frame revolvers hold six rounds of ammunition.

 

S&W K-Frame Models:

Military & Police (fixed sights):

The M&P were the original S&W K-Frames.  They have fixed sights and no shroud around the ejector rod.

  • Model 10: .38 Special, black finish*
  • Model 64: .38 Special, steel frame, stainless finish
  • Model 12: .38 Special, alloy frame, black finish*
  • Model 13: .357 Magnum, steel frame, black finish*
  • Model 65: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish

Combat Masterpiece (adjustable sights):

The same as the Military & Police, but with adjustable sights.

  • Model 15: .38 Special, steel frame, black finish*
  • Model 67: .38 Special, steel frame, stainless finish
  • Model 68: .38 Special, steel frame, stainless finish

Target Masterpiece:

  • Model 14: .38 Special, steel frame, 6″ full under-lug barrel, adjustable sights, black finish*

Combat Magnum (adjustable sights, shrouded ejector rod):

.357 Magnum versions of the Combat Masterpiece.  All have a shrouded ejector rod.

  • Model 19: .357 Magnum, steel frame, black finish*
  • Model 66: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish

* Black can reference a glossy blue finish or a matte black finish*

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S&W Medium-Large L-Frame Revolvers:

Hot K=FrameThe larger Smith & Wesson L and N frame revolvers can handle what ever ammo you use in them.  There isn’t a danger of 125 grain ammunition cracking the forcing cone as with K-Frame revolvers.  Shoot whatever you want.

S&W L-Frame Models:

Distinguished Service Magnum (fixed sights, full barrel underlug):

Almost identical to the Combat Magnum, but only with fixed sights.

  • Model 581: .357 Magnum, steel frame, black* finish, 6 rounds
  • Model 681: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish, 6 rounds

Service Magnum (fixed sights, non-shrouded ejector rod):

  • Model 619: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish, 7 rounds

Target Magnum (adjustable sights, shrouded ejector rod):

  • Model 620: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless finish, 7 rounds
  • Model 520: .357 Magnum, alloy frame, black finish*, 7 rounds

Distinguished Combat Magnum (adjustable sights, full barrel underlug):

Flagship of the L-Frame line.

  • Model 586: .357 Magnum, steel frame, black finish*, 6 rounds
  • Model 586+: .357 Magnum, steel frame, blue finish, 7 rounds
  • Model 686: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless, 6 rounds
  • Model 686+: .357 Magnum, steel frame, stainless, 7 rounds

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S&W Large N-Frame Revolvers:

S&W N-Frame Models:

The Magnum:

  • Model 27: .357 Magnum, steel frame, adjustable sights, black*, 6 rounds

The Highway Patrolman:

  • Model 28: .357 Magnum, steel frame, adjustable sights, blue finish (economy version of the Model 27)

8-Shot Magnum:

  • Model 327: .357 Magnum, alloy frame, adjustable sights, black finish*
  • Model 627: .357 Magnum, steel frame, adjustable sights, stainless

Military & Police:

  • Model 520: .357 Magnum, steel frame, fixed sights, blue finish

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Related Savannah Arsenal Pages:

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