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Old November 29, 2016, 11:26 PM   #1
ZeroTX
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old S&W 642 +P compatible??

Hi guys,

I have a good condition older model (15 years) S&W 642 .38spl. I have really never had super great ammo in it, but I noticed that S&W now markets it as being +P compatible. Has that always been the case? Is the current one different from my 15yr old one? Can I run +P? I'm about to get my concealed permit again (I let it expire) and I intend to use the 642 as my main carry. It's just so easy to carry and I don't worry about function.
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Old November 30, 2016, 12:19 AM   #2
Bill DeShivs
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It will be fine.
But you don't need "+P."
Regular .38 spl is just fine.
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Old November 30, 2016, 12:37 AM   #3
L-2
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From my recollection, the +P 642 models were marked on the barrel "+P" and the frame had the elongated cylinder "guide" (I have no better name for that area) as I circled in red in my attached photo.

Give a moment to edit my post as I edit my image to attach.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 642 copy.jpg (138.6 KB, 39 views)
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Old November 30, 2016, 07:06 AM   #4
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Totally fine, no worries about that model shooting +p.
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Old November 30, 2016, 12:04 PM   #5
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+P is not loaded to higher than allowed pressures. Will not damage a quality gun in good condition. Raging fallacy that +P is some sort of "hot load." It is not.

http://shootingwithhobie.blogspot.co...-saxonpig.html
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Old November 30, 2016, 04:03 PM   #6
Bill DeShivs
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Nor is it any better than standard .39 special loadings for the most part.
It's marketing hype.
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Old November 30, 2016, 04:23 PM   #7
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That's true. There is quite a discussion that the more shootable wadcutters are actually a better self-defense round that the new wonder rounds.

Who would have thunk it?
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Old November 30, 2016, 04:24 PM   #8
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+P is typically a 125 t 9725 FPS. Standard 38 Special is a 158 at 730. I would prefer the +P for serious use but is not a truly high performance load. It's just better than standard.

I load a 125 JHP and a clocked 1250 for use in my 38s. This load comes from a manual published before the ammo and loading companies got squeamish about lawsuits. Never had any problem in any gun.

Here's a photo of my already well used 1942 M&P posed with 500 rounds of Remington +P and 600 rounds of my own +P+ I shot through it one month for fun.

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Old November 30, 2016, 04:48 PM   #9
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"old S&W 642 +P"

Having trouble wrapping my brain around the concept of any S&W revolver made of Stainless Steel being old.

Fifteen years is old? Surely you jest.

I seem to remember, may me misremembering this one, that any S&W made after the change over to model numbers in 1957 was OK for 38 Special +P loads.

SAAMI spec maximum pressure for 38 Special is 17,000 psi. SAAMI spec maximum pressure for 38 Special +P is 20,000 psi. Not a whole lot more. For comparison, SAAMI spec maximum pressure for 357 Magnum is 35,000 psi.

I can't imagine any Stainless S&W revolver is going to have a problem with 38 +P.
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Old November 30, 2016, 05:52 PM   #10
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For Post#9, the barrel and cylinder are stainless steel. The frame is aluminum alloy on a 642.
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Old November 30, 2016, 07:19 PM   #11
carguychris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by L-2
...the +P 642 models were marked on the barrel "+P" and the frame had the elongated cylinder "guide" (I have no better name for that area) as I circled in red in my attached photo.
That's called the frame lug. The integral frame lug was introduced on the strengthened "J Magnum" frame that was introduced in 1996; however, IIRC it was several years before the Model 642 was updated to use this frame, starting with the 642-1 in 2002 or so.

IIRC the earlier no-dash M642 was only sold for a couple of years in the early 1990s and is quite uncommon. This version was NOT +P marked. AFAIK all -1 and later versions are SUPPOSED to be +P marked, but then the only universal rule of old Smiths is that there's an exception to every rule. Perhaps your early gun was assembled with a leftover no-dash barrel.

At any rate, I wouldn't worry about shooting +P in it.
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Old November 30, 2016, 09:59 PM   #12
ZeroTX
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Thanks guys! I will just buy whichever self defense ammo looks good. I don't find that much of it available in .38 Special for some reason, although I know that the snub nose revolvers still sell quite well for concealed carry. It's thicker than a semi-auto, but you cannot beat the super tiny handle of a 642. Handles are what's hard to conceal, and the 642 is a great carry piece. My only misgivings are the small capacity, but I'd rather have 5 rounds of .38 Spl on me than zero rounds of the gun I'm not carrying.
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Old December 1, 2016, 01:07 AM   #13
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When Smith tweaked the 642 putting it in the "magnum" frame with an integrated cylinder stop, a slightly elongated frame and cylinder, and radiused corners of the cylinder window to better resist cracking is when they first began to "rate" the aluminum alloy-framed J-frame for +P ammunition. It was called the 642-1. Whether the previous version would stand up over time to plus P use, I don't know. It is interesting that Smith upped their rating very soon after Taurus began advertising their Model 85 as rated for plus P use. How significant the changes are in strengthening the frame or whether they made any changes to metallurgy, I don't know. I do know the concern over small-framed aluminum-framed revolvers and plus P was never blowing up but the possibility of the aluminum top strap stretching due to the accumulative effect of more powerful ammo than the design called for. The issue was never with steel-framed revolvers. Everyone has to decide for themselves how they want to treat their older, nearly irreplaceable Airweight j-frames. I am leery when others tell me how to treat mine. As has been said, +P isn't really necessary and I have guns plenty able to handle it anyway.
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