12th Jun 2019

Credit source:, by Chris Eger

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Gunscom Smith Wesson 642

The Model 642 is a classic design that has been in Smith & Wesson’s stable for nearly 30 years, and is still going strong. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

In honor of Wheel Gun Wednesday, here is a popular S&W snub, the Model 642, right from the collection inside the Vault.

The original S&W 642 was introduced in 1990 as an update to the company’s 1950’s era aluminum-framed Model 42 Centennial. A double-action-only 5-shot .38 Special with a fully concealed hammer, the 642 sports a 1 7/8-inch stainless steel barrel and cylinder along with a matte-finished alloy frame. Weight, unloaded, is 15-ounces flat while overall length is 6.3-inches and ties with its matte black/carbon steel brother, the S&W 442, as the company’s smallest .38.

When stacked up to competitors, Ruger’s LCR— which was introduced in 2009 with the same cylinder capacity as the Smith but with a polymer frame– weighs 13.5-ounces while going a tad longer, showing just how svelte the all-metal 642 is. Also, of note, the 642 is the same overall length as the Glock G43 while running a few ounces lighter, but that is a more apple to oranges comparison.

Gunscom Smith Wesson 642

The 642 has a five-shot cylinder. Note that his particular gun is a “no hole” model without the factory lock— which are still in production. (Photo: Richard Taylor/

While early 642 (no dash) guns were not rated for +P loads, more current models are and there is something of a renaissance of superb .38SPL self-defense loadings on the market right now, which goes a long way to countering past arguments that the round was underpowered.

Where the 642 and other similar snubs excel at, is as a gun to carry in what is often referred to as a “non-permissive environment” in which the user absolutely doesn’t want the firearm to print. Carried in a close-body holster, a small J-frame is the closest thing you can get to invisible. Also small enough for pocket carry– there are tons of holster makers such as DeSantis and Mika that specialize in just such holsters for these models– the smooth profile of their frame, with its shrouded hammer, is snag free. This puts the 642 as a gun that can be carried while wearing running or basketball shorts, warm-ups, or the like.

Gunscom Smith Wesson 642

(Photo: Richard Taylor/

They also make a good gun for those hot summer months that mean flip flops and t-shirt weather, as I can attest.

Best yet, we have several of them, in both new and Certified used condition, up for grabs in the Vault,with prices starting at $275 smackers.

Gunscom Smith Wesson 642