Smith & Wesson J-Frames have been a popular choice since the original Model 40 was introduced more than 70 years ago. They continue to be a popular choice for backup duty, carry and home defense. The line has evolved through the years, although none abandon that tradition of long-lasting quality with the company’s renowned revolver craftsmanship. Every member in this line perform those missions in enviable fashion.
The Smith & Wesson Model 642 is one of the company’s latest iterations and it was a popular choice among enthusiasts last year. It claimed fourth-place honors in Gunbroker.com’s annual list of top-selling revolvers among the FFLs using its services.
There are a variety of models available, but all these double-action-only guns have a concealed hammer, chamber .38 Spl., handle +P loads and have a five-round capacity. MSRPs run from $497 to $724.
The revolvers have a durable and lightweight aluminum-alloy frame to minimize all-day carry burden, but a stainless steel cylinder and barrel to handle today’s high-performance .38 Spl. loads. Barrel length is 1.87", overall length is 6.3" and the handgun weighs 14.6 ozs. Select a model that comes from the factory with a laser and that figure comes in at 15.4ozs. MSRP is $724.
Versions are also available for those regions where firearm regulations are more strict, including California, Colorado, Maryland and Massachusetts. An internal lock is one of the gun’s options. Front sights are integral and the rear sights are fixed. The frame sports a matte-silver finish.
Currently the only way to get wood or pink polymer grips in a 642 is to select an internal lock. MSRPs for those are $528 and $513, respectively.
There is also a pair of Performance Center Editions of the 642. They’ll set you back $531 for the version with a black polymer grip, or $576 if you prefer the more sporty-looking two-tone model. The upgrades from the company’s famed team of gunsmiths includes hand tuning, custom fitting of a chrome-plated and polished trigger and the cylinders are factory cut for full moon clips. One even ships with the gun.
Model 642s are also available in the Ladysmith line. Grip choices include wood and pink or black polymer grips. Prices run $513 for synthetic models, $528 for wood and if you add a laser it comes in at $724. A model with blue grips is listed on the website for $489, which makes it the best deal of the bunch—although good luck getting your hands on one while gun sales continue to set records.
And don’t be surprised if you run across special distributor models. Lipsey’s has received some with rosewood grips and others with a silver/black textured grip. Odds are good there are others out there, likely something you wouldn’t mind adding to your collection.