Reviewed By: Mark C on 12/31/2015
Rating: [5 of 5 Stars!]
I was interested in buying a handgun to give to my wife as a Christmas present. Although she can shoot my 9mm semi-automatic very well, she has extreme difficulty in pulling the slide back and locking it open. Talking with a number of women with concealed carry permits, this seems to be a common complaint that many women can’t open and lock the slide of most semi-automatic handguns. So with this though in mind I decided to look at revolvers.
After looking at dozens and dozens of revolvers online from numerous manufacturers, I had no idea what would be the best choice or how to narrow the choices down. Then it occurred to me that my philosophy of keeping it simply could help in this decision. With this thought in mind, I quickly started to narrow my choices.
The first decision was what type of hammer would be the best choice for my intended purpose. I quickly narrowed the choice down to
hammerless with the idea that the weapon could not get hung up on the hammer in her purse or pocket if it didn’t have an exposed hammer.
The next decision was what caliber would be best. I had looked at a couple of 9mm revolvers and liked the idea of this caliber because it meant one less type of ammo to keep on hand. However the need to use moon clips didn’t fit in with my keep it simple thought. I briefly considered the .357 Mag but decided its potential would not be realized in a small revolver. Plus the recoil is pretty severe in anything small that I have ever seen it used in. I eventually decided on the .38 special thinking its performance is somewhat similar to most 9mm loads although maybe a little less and the recoil should be similar.
The next thing was barrel length. While a 4-5 inch barrel offers better performance overall, a revolver with this length of barrel is not easy to conceal. Knowing there are some tradeoffs for a 2 inch barrel this was the length I decided on. While this revolver will be used for target practice, it primary purpose is personal defense.
Grips were the last things I considered. I prefer rubber grips because of their durability, fit, and feel. So that’s what I was looking for.
I decided on the S&W 642C as it met my major requirements. In addition, I purchased the 642 with the Crimsom Trace laser already installed. To me the LazerMX SS laser system looks like an afterthought. Purchasing with laser installed saved maybe $40-50 over doing it later.
We took it to the range the other night to test out. Initially we tried using the laser but neither of us were happy with the target results we were seeing at 21 feet. So thinking the laser might be out of alignment or possibly never aligned, I turned it off and tried without. After doing this, the results were similar to that we see with my 9mm. I was impressed with the results as some claim a 2 inch barrel is very inaccurate. I forgot to bring the tools to adjust the laser so have to go back and see if adjustments improve the laser feature.
I have read a number of online reviews of the 642. The major complaint is the level of recoil this small frame revolver has. If my wife doesn’t complain about the recoil, its not that bad. I would rate it similar to or only slightly more than my 9mm. The 642 is rated for +P ammo. I’m guessing this would increase the recoil significantly and likely unnecessarily hard on the handgun if using for target practice.
My wife is happy with her 642. Her only complaint and I have to agree, is how difficult it is to pull the trigger. I am hoping that with some use this will reduce somewhat.
My only quality concern is that there is some machining flashing left on the forcing cone. I would have thought S&W Quality Control could have easily seen and removed this.
Overall the I think 642 is an excellent personal defense handgun and fun to target shoot with too.