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Old December 20, 2011, 10:37 PM   #1
ScotchMan
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S&W 342

I have a new to me S&W 342 coming tomorrow, looking for anyone knowledgeable about this particular J-frame to answer a couple questions. The 342 is an alloy frame with a titanium cylinder, it is 11oz and I understand it to be the lightest .38spl S&W ever produced. It was replaced by the 642 which was less expensive and only 4oz. heavier.

Anyway, questions. I have read that the titanium cylinder needs to be babied a bit more than normal. Does this mean I can't use a brass brush? Solvent? What specifically is going to hurt the gun?

Secondly, its recommended not to shoot lead +P loads in it (the gun is +P rated), because they can become unseated during recoil. I typically like the FBI load, especially because its half the cost of the newer stuff. But do the lead bullets really make a difference in whether they will come loose during recoil?

Any other tips specific to this gun welcome.
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Old December 21, 2011, 07:12 AM   #2
Shadi Khalil
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I owned a 342 but sold it after a few years. I used regular hopes when cleaning and never had a problem. I never shot lead out of mine but I did have some bullet pulling problems when shooting 110gr P+ rounds. Over all it was a great carry gun but a bit of a bear to shoot. I now carry a 637 and it's amazing what 3oz will do when it comes to controlling the gun. Despite that, I still regret selling it. Congrats and enjoy.
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Old December 21, 2011, 08:36 AM   #3
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Would you say the bullet pulling issues were specific to the 342, or would they happen with other J-frames? Can you shoot 110gr +Ps in your 637?

I would be shooting the FBI load exclusively under the +P category. So 158gr. Maybe that makes a difference?

Did you use a brass brush in your cylinders?
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Old December 21, 2011, 10:00 AM   #4
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You can use shoot the light loads from the 637/642/442/638 with out pulling. I did not use a brush but you may be able too. However I do use a brass brush on my 637
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Old December 21, 2011, 10:04 AM   #5
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Just to be picky, the 642 predated the 342. Such a professor.

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Old December 21, 2011, 10:15 AM   #6
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Absolutely right Glenn, I missed that.
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Old December 21, 2011, 10:21 AM   #7
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Yeah. I'm not sure I was taking a stance on which came first, I guess I should have said the 342 was discontinued because the 642 was much more popular.
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Old December 21, 2011, 10:53 AM   #8
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Regarding the 158gr +P FBI loads, I would test them in the gun before jumping to conclusions.

I suspect that the warning against using +P loads with lead bullets may be a CYA measure to prevent shooters from using loads that aren't firmly crimped; however, IIRC the Remington-brand 158gr +P FBI loads I use in my M638 have a heavy roll crimp at the case mouth and a machine-applied "crush" crimp in the case near the base of the bullet. I bet that Remington took these steps to ensure that these bullets will never jump crimp no matter how light of a revolver you use them in.

I would load the gun, fire 3 rounds, inspect the remaining 2 rounds for signs of jumping crimp, and repeat. Personally, if I got through 2 boxes (20 cylinders) of FBI loads and none of them jumped crimp, I'd call it good and carry them.
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Old December 21, 2011, 02:43 PM   #9
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That's what I'll probably do. Mine are Winchesters. I feel the same way I do about bullet setback; my expensive PDX1, in both 9mm and .45, has been chambered many times, and I have never observed setback. I think the manufacturers take this stuff into consideration, which is why they can charge a premium.
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Old December 21, 2011, 09:44 PM   #10
Andy Taylor
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I have one. Bought it when they first came out in 98, IIRC. It has been shot infrequently over the years. Almost a year ago I started carrying it. It carries very well. It shoots good to, but it hurts after about 15 rounds of standard .38 Special, and after about 5 rounds of +P. Never fired any +P lead out of it. I have fired lead standard .38 Special and it was a non event. My carry load is the 135gr +P Gold Dot short barrel load.
I have used a brass bush and hoppes to clean it. I have not noticed any ill effects.
All this said I also have a M38 that I like better, but it is not +P rated, so I can practice with the +P more in the 342. This is why it is the one that I carry.
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Old December 22, 2011, 01:53 PM   #11
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Scotch,

Have you had a chance to shoot it yet?
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Old December 23, 2011, 08:30 AM   #12
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No, it came in to the LGS yesterday (I've been fighting with the FFL on both ends for the last week, but that's another story...). I had a chance to take a look at it, and picked up the initial paperwork. I'll have it added to my permit in a few hours and take it to the range later today.

WOW is it light though!
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Old January 15, 2012, 07:18 PM   #13
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Sorry to take so long getting back to this thread. Holidays and a ski trip last week have been keeping me from the range.

I shot the 342 a few days after getting it. I fired handloads, charged to the published STARTING LOAD, about 10% off of maximum. These are super easy to shoot in my SP101. I only got through 10 rounds before I packed it up and went home, my hand hurt for an hour.

I don't remember the gun being this hard to shoot.

I didn't get a chance to fire any of my +P, but at this point I'm thinking that it would be a pointless endeavor anyway, since I won't be able to shoot it well.

At this point I'm considering getting some of the 110gr standard pressure stuff for a carry load, since it seems like the 158gr +Ps are not going to be controllable.
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Old January 15, 2012, 09:49 PM   #14
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Scotch,

Glad you got back to us. It's no doubt the 342 is painful to shoot, even with the lower powered stuff. Like I said in my previous post, the difference in weight be a Airlite and Airweight is minimal but matters on the range, IMO. Remember, you may experience crimp jumping/pulling with those 110gr rounds as I did.
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Old January 15, 2012, 10:26 PM   #15
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So what can I use then? It seems like heavier bullets without +P would have unacceptably low velocities, but light bullets could crimp jump?

This is beginning to seem like more effort than its worth. Is the 642/637 or similar significantly easier to shoot?
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Old January 15, 2012, 10:57 PM   #16
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If I were you, I'd use 158gr LSWC's. That way the lower velocity won't matter as much, you won't need the speed to expand the hollow point, but you'll still make a nice clean hole. A hot full wadcutter could be used too.

Or if you're forced into even lower velocity go with the old round nosed bullet. That way you'll still penetrate vitals. My target load is a Berry's 158grRN bullet with 3.7gr of Bullseye. It gets 684fps out of my 3" SP101. It's very tame in my 642 and very accurate in both.

Do you have an exposed backstrap? Maybe a full wrap around grip would help too.
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Old January 15, 2012, 11:57 PM   #17
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Quote:
It carries very well. It shoots good to, but it hurts after about 15 rounds of standard .38 Special, and after about 5 rounds of +P.
Quote:
I shot the 342 a few days after getting it. I fired handloads, charged to the published STARTING LOAD, about 10% off of maximum. These are super easy to shoot in my SP101. I only got through 10 rounds before I packed it up and went home, my hand hurt for an hour.

I don't remember the gun being this hard to shoot.
Wow....Scandium 38 Spls being hard to shoot? I guess I don't feel so bad about giving up on my full power .357 Mag Scandium revolver (actually one 360 and two 340s).

Anyone want to sell me their pre-lock 342? I had a chance to buy one about three years ago and didn't take it. Still kicking myself...
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Old January 16, 2012, 08:20 AM   #18
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Scotch,

In my opinion the 637/42 are far more comfortable to shoot than the 342. It's not so much the control ability but rather the comfort factor. The 342 (IMO) has a real violent slap to it. The 642/37 on the other hand, stings a bit but that's mainly due to the exposed back strap. I can shoot my 637 with standard pressure rounds all day with no problems at all.

There was also something bantam grips on the 342 I did not like. They would really tear up my palm, right below my thumb. I prefer the grips on the 637/42 much more than the bantams. You could try a larger set of grips with a covered back strap but then your defeating the purpose of the gun.
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Old January 16, 2012, 09:01 AM   #19
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with a covered back strap but then your defeating the purpose of the gun.
Exactly. I could also get boot grips for my Sp101 (something I want to do anyways, actually), but its very heavy in comparison.

I might trade it in on a 638 or 642 if I can find a good one. I like the idea of being able to fire single action, though I didn't think I would miss it. I'm thinking if I find the right deal it could be an even trade? I have the opportunity to get one without a lock too...

Value-wise, what's the 342-1 worth? Even trade for a new 638/642, or maybe a used one?
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Old January 16, 2012, 11:26 AM   #20
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Scotch,

I paid about $850 for mine NIB about 7 years ago. I sold it for $700 2 years ago. I Would say your best bet would be to sell it online rather than trade it in. You just need to find the right buyer, they are discontinued and for those looking for them, they are not easy to find. While I find the Airweights far easier to shoot, you may not. That's why you should try and rent the 637/42/38 before you do any trading or selling. I would also recommended getting a pair of LG-105 defender laser grips for which ever you choose. It will really help with your dry firing drills and with live fire at the range.
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Old January 16, 2012, 11:30 AM   #21
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Unfortunately renting is not a possibility here. I might be able to track down someone with one though, they are the best-selling revolver these days.

Sounds like the 342 is worth quite a bit more than even a new 642 (MSRP ~$400).
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Old January 16, 2012, 01:45 PM   #22
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Well that was interesting

Did some more shooting with the 342. I noticed that the 158gr +P LSWCHP have less recoil than my reloads; I will address this (I think I know why), but for now its a reassuring sign. While the +Ps were still not pleasant to shoot, they were a lot closer, and I'd consider keeping the gun now. Especially if I find a standard pressure load that is effective.

Crimp jump did not cause the cylinder to lock up (though I only shot a few cylinders full). However, the bullets did get pulled slightly. Picture attached.
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File Type: jpg plusp.jpg (53.3 KB, 34 views)
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Old January 17, 2012, 05:24 PM   #23
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Glad to hear your warming up to it.
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Old January 18, 2012, 09:15 AM   #24
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Other than shooting several boxes of it, looking at the picture I posted, do you think it is safe to carry that ammo? There is a huge safety margin before the bullets would bind up the cylinder, and it doesn't seem like they are pulling very far.
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Old January 18, 2012, 09:46 AM   #25
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I've got a scandium model 340Sc with the titanium cylinder (.357 mag). I clean the cylinder with Breakfree CLP and a toothbrush, never a bronze brush. The barrel on my pistol is marked no bullets less than 125 grains, this to avoid bullets pulling due to inertia. I haven't tried lead bullets but usually shoot the 135 grain Gold Dots in .38 Spl due to the extreme recoil of the .357 round. The only setback I've experienced was when I tried to shoot CCI snake shot loads through the revolver and the shot capsules popped right out and I had to push them back in with my finger. I would experiment with any load at the range to determine reliability before using them as a carry load.
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