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Old January 2, 2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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I will be buying a J-frame for concealed carry in the next month or so. I am trying to select which one I want. Current decisions are 442 vs. 642, and whether to get the no lock or Pro Series version cut for moonclips (I don't believe both is an option). Either would be a special order as I don't see these in stores, but they are available on S&W's website.

Definitely want a new, hammerless, DAO model. Have strongly considered the LCR and decided I want to go with a Smith. For this purchase, I want a lightweight model, so no 60 or similar. If I'm carrying all steel, I'll take my 65.

442 vs. 642:
I tend to like the stainless look better, so would likely go for that. The only thing that would sway me is if the finish on one or the other holds up better. I don't dislike the 442, and will likely get some VZ grips for either, so I can class it up to look nice. Probably go with grey grips on the 642, and the dark red on the 442.

No lock vs. moon clips:
Don't like the lock, but can live with it if I have to. So this is really a moon clips question. Are they worthwhile? This won't be my primary carry, but when carrying it I would likely have at least one reload. Moon clips seem much easier to work with quickly, especially under pressure. I don't really see a downside since I can still use it without the moon clips. Its just another option.

The Pro Series with moon clips is $20 more MSRP. Is it better in any other way (trigger)?

Anything else I should be looking at?
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Old January 2, 2014, 01:57 PM   #2
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To me it's simple. I hate stainless. I hate the way it looks. But it's practical and durable. It makes sense for a working gun. Also, if I lose it or it gets damaged I don't cry over it. Who would cry over an ugly stainless gun?

Two of my four working guns are stainless. The third is parkerized over corrosion damage from being stored on a boat. No loss there is it disappears on me. The fourth is a new gun in tactical black. Lump it with the stainless models.
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Old January 2, 2014, 08:50 PM   #3
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I haven't had a 642 for a couple years. For a while the Finish was flaking off and Smith had to replace a few guns. I always liked the 442 best. I have the no lock +P. I had no interest in moon clips. I also have a LCR357. I could never pick one over the other so I carry both of them. The LCR357 is IWB and the 442 is in my pocket. The finish on my 442 seams to be holding up just fine. I've had a few 442s they always held up fine.
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Old January 2, 2014, 09:30 PM   #4
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S&W makes a rival to the LCR. It is called 38 Bodyguard. Comes with a lazer built into the frame. Rated for +P which is what I prefer. The weight is 14.3 oz.

My experience with moon clips. I have a Taurus 805 which is a 40S&W revolver. It uses moon clips, (they call em stellar clips or some nonsense).
They do not hold the bullets as firmly as a speed loader, so pocket carry can dislodge them. On my gun if they are not in perfect position it can jam up the wheel. S&W made a pistol chambered in 9mm, (model 940), that used moon clips. It was soon discontinued.

Last edited by DannyB1954; January 2, 2014 at 09:49 PM.
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Old January 2, 2014, 10:17 PM   #5
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I vote standard 642/442. Buy the cheap standard version and save your money for ammo. Going to need lots of practice.
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Old January 2, 2014, 10:49 PM   #6
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I have thought about a stainless model 60 but have settled on a blue model 36. I looked at a new one with a lock but after reading about some failures with it purchased an older model in great condition that looked like new. It shot great and then I purchased another with a 3" barrel that I can shoot even better. Long live model 36's which I feel very secure carrying. Purchased 2 speed loaders also.
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Old January 2, 2014, 10:59 PM   #7
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I'm on my second 442 now and love it. The finish holds up fine. Moon clips are a waste IMO. The EKS speedloader is much easier to live with.
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Old January 3, 2014, 12:03 AM   #8
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Have carried both the 442 and 642 for many years and IMO, either will do ya just fine.

Far as using moon clips versus speed loaders, I'll give you my 2 cents.

I used to use moon clips whenever I could, in whatever I could.
I practiced with them. Had cyl's. cut for them. I really like using them cause...well...I was faster at reloading with them then any other way.

As I got older it seemed I started having some issue's with stiffness/numbness in my hands, especially the fingertips and my reloading time using m/clips started dropping off. It seemed I was having the most trouble with the smaller J frames. Could/can still use m/clips fairly well on the larger N and K frame Smiths simply cause they are easier for me to handle but had to switch to speed loaders on the J's.
Have also been practicing with speed strips as well which are much easier than either the moons or the speed loaders to carry.
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Old January 3, 2014, 12:15 AM   #9
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I really like my 442. The black finish is totally off the hook mega bad!! I'm teaching myself to use speed strips.. Its going slowly.

I've got, "no lock."

and.. +++ 1. Save up for ammo, you will need a ton of practice.

Stay away from the 158 grain Magtech.. It is mega recoil for some odd reason, and it is going to wreck your hand.

Shoot remington, blazer, federal, or buffalo bore...

My gun is currently locked in its safe, otherwise I would bore you with a picture... I carry federal hydrashoks... nothing too exciting.. I've shot a box, they have a real low recoil, good follow up shots, work well in these lightweight revolvers...
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Old January 3, 2014, 08:49 AM   #10
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Thanks for your replies. It sounds like the no lock 442 might be the winner.

I am familiar with the Bodyguard; entirely unimpressed based on handling several in stores, and not reading much in the way of positive reviews. Every one I've seen seems very loose and cheap feeling. And that cylinder release.

As for ammo/practice, I have shot revolvers and J-frames before, and I reload .38. Which is good, because the few boxes of .38 I've seen for sale in the past year have been more expensive than the .308 next to it, so I wouldn't be purchasing another revolver otherwise. It will definitely get at least a few cylinders through it every time I go to the range, but in general I would prefer to practice with my fixed-sight K-frame. I believe 80% of that skill will transfer to the J just fine. But that is another conversation.
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Old January 3, 2014, 09:42 AM   #11
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I'm a practical man so the 642 gets the nod for easier maintenance. no built in lock on a self defense gun for me.
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Old January 3, 2014, 09:44 AM   #12
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Reconsider the LCR
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Old January 3, 2014, 10:29 AM   #13
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My 2 Cents.
The so called Stainless 642 clear coat finish leaves a lot to be desired.

I like my 442 Pro Moon Clip much better, and I have had NO Finish issues at all. The Pro Moon Clip version is not enough higher in price to be an issue. It is worth the extra $25 or what ever the difference was to not have the Lock Hole in it.
Moon Clips??? I happen to be a fan of them. I have owned several moon clip revolvers over the last 40 years, so I do have some experiance with them.
First thing you do not have to use them in the 442 Pro. They are just another option. J frame moon clips are not pocket friendly. If you are going to carry your reloads in moon clips get the shoot a moon belt carriers. Your rounds will all still be in the clip when you need them, your ammo will be oriented Nose down for a fast no fumble reload.
Even if you decide to not carry your reloads in moon clips you might consider carrying the ones in the revolver in a moon clip. Having all 5 rounds hooked together in a cluster has advantages. Doing a high stress reload you cannot get a rim under the ejector star. If you do not get complete extraction with the short ejector stroke, the 5 round cluster of brass is easy to get a hold of to clear the cylinder for your reload.
You can also load the 442 Pro with Speed Strips, HKS speed loaders, Safariland Comp I speed loaders, and you also have the option of using the Jet Loader. The 5 shot J Frame Jet Loader is a best kept secret. The Jet Loader is a spring driven speed loader very popular with competition revolver shooters. The J Frame model is scaled down, and not a bad choice at all for Jacket Pocket carry. I have Kydex belt carriers made for mine.

AND as was said above a couple times, the Ruger LCR is not a bad option at all either. The 357 Magnum version is a hair heavier than the 38 Special version, which makes it a little more pleasant to shoot with +P 38. The Ruger also has the advantage of a Pinned on front sight. So you can add a Fiber Optic front sight or an XS 24/7 Night Sight with no problem at all. The LCR also has a Hogue Tamer Grip to soak up recoil. And last the LCR normally has a better out of the box trigger than the Smith & Wesson J Frame.

I have owned a 638, 442 Pro Moon Clip, and a 357 LCR. I still have the 442 Pro Moon Clip, but it is a tough choice between it and the LCR 357. The pinned front sight of the LCR almost out weighs the Moon Clip advantage of the 442 Pro to me.

I would skip the 642 if possible, you will not be real happy with how it wears if you carry daily for a few years. When the clear coat starts to peal they start looking a little ragged to me.


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Old January 6, 2014, 10:20 AM   #14
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I'll jump in only to dissuade people from considering a a polymer revolver like the SW Bodyguard or Ruger LCR. I owned a Bodyguard and just couldn't like it. The best use I made of it is dry firing it a lot. Objectively, it was a tad bigger than a regular J-frame which meant some holsters didn't work and the grip frame wanted to peek out of my pocket when pocket carrying in pants. Subjectively, it simply had no soul. While I have not owned an LCR, I suspect that they too have no soul.

It sounds to me like the 442 Pro gives you lots of options.
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Old January 6, 2014, 04:28 PM   #15
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Lock or No Lock:

I prefer the no lock for political reasons, but I don't always get what I want. So, if you prefer a hammer, like I do, then go with the S&W Model 60. S&W makes a hammerless version too. Your choice. Each are great.
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Old January 7, 2014, 10:21 AM   #16
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I prefer no lock for political reasons too... but a few years ago I was a guest for a few days in a house where there were small children and no place my gun could be secured. I wound up burying it under clothing in my soft carry bag and carrying the magazine around in my pocket.

A lock would have been handy then. Yeah, I could buy a lockable case and take it along next time, or one of those cable lock things, but just having the gun lockable would have been handy without having to haul around the extra bulk and weight of a case or cable lock.

Granted it was an exceptional situation, but the locks aren't an entirely bad idea, just something I object having rammed down my throat.
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Old January 9, 2014, 03:22 PM   #17
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I have a 640 Pro and love it. I don't use the moonclips for a reload as the moonclip material, while steel, is very thin and could be prone to bending or breakage in case the carrier was involved in a scuffle or fall to the ground or against a non-moving object.

A bent moonclip would mean "No reload". I just carry a second five in an HKS Speedloader and 6 in a covered leather cartridge slide. This combo served me well when I worked plainclothes and carried a D Frame Colt.

I do use the moonclip for the five in the gun. I believe that it assists in ejecting all five empties when the weapon is turned up and ejector rod smacked firmly.
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Old January 9, 2014, 03:26 PM   #18
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I have been around J frames for several decades. Good guns. Owned one for about five years in the 1980's.
I now prefer the Ruger LCR. My wife carries one (LCR) now and I will buy another for myself sometime this year.

Why the LCR over the J frames? ....trigger and grips.
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Old January 10, 2014, 08:04 AM   #19
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Im not a fan of polymer revolvers,I had the lcr and it functioned fine.
Just did not do anything for me.
I also no longer own or use the light weight's,I prefer the all steel.
The only J frame I have left is a m60 3''
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Old January 10, 2014, 10:34 AM   #20
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I carry a 640. I actually own 2 but the older one is pre-safety and like new with the box and papers so I keep it in the safe and carry the newer one.

As for me I love stainless (and nickle) guns. I load mine with Winchester white box 110 grain 357 magnum. For a 357 they are pretty mild but they have more power than a 38+P.

out of the ones you picked id go the 442... but that is just my opinion and worth exactly how much you paid for it.
Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 26 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple. Wish my wife did as well...
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Old January 10, 2014, 06:18 PM   #21
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I have a S&W 640 and 642 and love both. The 640 is all stainless steel and the 642 is a stainless alloy. I prefer to carry the 642 because of the weight. If you can find one buy it!

I have been trying to find another 642 for 6 months and had no luck. I do not think that there is anyway to lose money on the 642 unless you pay above retail. If you find one and do not want it, let me know.

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Old January 10, 2014, 08:20 PM   #22
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I actually did carry an S&W 940 for a while. I kept the spare moon clip in a prescription pill bottle meant for 30 of the bigger tablets; the bottle did not have a child-proof cap. I could pop the cap and drop the moon clip right into the cylinder (took some practice). After that I carried a 442 for a while - no moon clip. As I've aged, I've changed from revolver carry to semi in the pocket; arthritis and doodling with a speed loader just don't mix very well.
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Old January 27, 2014, 10:24 AM   #23
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I have two j frames! a 442 and 640. Love them both. The 640 is a 357.

Moonclips are nice in smaller revolvers. They're not as easy in a 7 or 8 rounder like the one pictured in black.
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Old January 27, 2014, 11:05 PM   #24
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I own a J-Frame (Model 36) and an LCR. I put a Tyler T-Grip on the Smith. I prefer the looks of the 36, but the trigger and sights on the Ruger kicks the Smith in the backside.
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Old January 28, 2014, 09:22 AM   #25
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Ive had a couple of 642's with the lock for a number of years now, and never had any issues with them. They get shot a couple of times a month, and have quite a few rounds through them now. One is a little sloppier than the other now though.

Im kind of "meh" on the locks. Theyre there, who cares, I dont use them, they havent been a problem. The guns work just like the guns that dont have them.

My 642's have been used/shot on a pretty regular basis, and show it. The finish while not ratty, does have character marks. My buddies 442 of the same vintage on the other hand, looks like it was drug behind the truck, and even the slightest wear is much more noticeable and obvious on the black gun.

I had a 940 that used moon clips, and Im kind of "meh" on them too. While they worked, I found the moon clips to be somewhat finicky, and as was mentioned, they had a habit of loosing rounds when kept in your pocket. They also sometimes got tweaked, and loading and extraction, was sometimes difficult. In the 940's case, they were basically needed, with the .38's, I prefer the Safariland Comp 1 type speedloaders. They are more secure, dont lose the rounds unexpectedly, and are fast and easy to use. Not as fast as a good moon clip, but pretty close.

For grips, I use the old school S&W service type grips with a Tyler T grip. You wont get any smaller, and I find this set up is also the most comfortable to shoot with. Not that these guns are comfortable to shoot with mind you.
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