It's not a fair comparison if you're talking about the durability of the two finishes or circumstances in which they became worn or damaged. Clearly the finish of the 6xx series has some durability issues, no one is debating that. The point is simply that a working man's gun isn't always pretty, and that beauty has nothing to do with function. Nothing wrong with wanting it to be pretty if that's what's important to you, but for a lot of us beauty just isn't a priority. I purchased the 642 because I wanted a BUG that would reliably go *bang* every time I pulled the trigger, and all I expect from the finish then is to protect the gun from rust and corrosion. My 642 accomplishes that well in both respects, so I'm plenty happy.
No other carry gun I have ever owned has shown an appreciable level of wear like a clear coat 642 has. In 2 months, my 642 looked worse than my father's 25 year old model 60. My 40 year old model 66 still looks very noce, too. I know a carry gun doesn't need to look "pretty", but it shouldn't look like crap, either, ESPECIALLY coming from a company like S&W.
Hey, why not let the paint on your brand new car peel off? I mean, it still gets you from point A to point B, right?