OK, so a friend of a friend asked for a recommendation for a first-time concealed carry gun. I suggested a DAO J-frame in .38SP. When I plugged this all into the Smith & Wesson website, some 30 guns came up. What are the main differences between all these different models? What about the Ladysmiths (it's for a woman).
Smith and Wesson/concealed-carryThis message has been edited. Last edited by: kkina,
how about a Springfield XDe?
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This is a first-time shooter. I think a revolver would be a much better choice, and a J-frame is almost iconic in this role.
|On the DL|
My wife went through this exercise. After going through a couple of semi-automatic pistols she decided that a DAO revolver would be a better choice.
We walked into a fairly large local shop and the sales guy immediately said "A LadySmith Airweight would be just right."
My response was, if my wife had to deal with the recoil from a very light weight gun, she would fire it once and not ever touch it again.
My wife compared the similar-sized S&W J-frames and Ruger LCRs. The Ruger had a slightly lighter and much smoother trigger. She wound up with a Ruger in .357 magnum. She carries it with .38 SPL ammunition, but she chose the .357 version of the revolver because it is slightly heavier (about 4 ounces), and will feel less recoil than the lighter .38 model when shooting the same ammunition.
A mind is a terrible thing.
^^Yes, that's the basic dicotomy I see. She might be attracted to one of the lightweight frames, but shooting it might be a problem due to recoil sensitivity, even if limited to .38. I'm thinking a medium weight would be optimal.
Kimber K6S or S&W 642 / 442 loaded with Buffalo bore non +P,158 grain LSWCHP...
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My wife didn't like the relative complexity of semiauto pistols versus revolvers, plus she had trouble racking the slides. She chose a Ruger SP101 in 357mag but carried 38spec+P. We put the larger over-molded Crimson Trace grips on it and they helped soften the recoil experience. After a couple years, she complained of the weight for carrying the Ruger and asked for one of my S&W J frame revolvers. She chose the 442 with the larger CT grips and has been very satisfied with the choice. Her carry load is the Speer 135gr +P Gold dot. I might add that she appreciates the immediate visual feedback the laser grips offer when she does dry fire practice. Watching the little red dot has improved her trigger work.
Female. First time shooter. CCW. We've talked about this. A LOT.
My 2 cents: Consider the 8-shot Ruger LCR in 22LR. Recoil is mild, she won't be afraid to train. However, trigger pull is heavy.
It's the HD gun for Mrs. Sigmund, who at 68 is probably a lot older than your friend. Is 22LR an ideal for self-defense? Heck no, but it's a gun she's comfortable with.
I know, but my actual question at this point was some clarification on the different S&W J-frame revolvers.
I would suggest the 640 Pro. Steel frame so easier to shoot. The DAO J's usually have better triggers. Comes with night sights.
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outta the oven!
Sorry, a .38 J frame is a terrible choice for a newbie.
Have them find a gun range with a wide choice in rentals and have them shoot what they are comfortable with.
|Not really from Vienna|
To try to answer your original question:
S&W gives different Model numbers to otherwise identical revolvers based on the color. The Model 642=silver colored airweight enclosed hammer/Model 442 is the same gun finished in black. Then there is the same gun, without the keyhole. Then there’s the no-keyhole model that is cut for moon clips. Then the Lady Smith, with the pretty writing on the side. There may still be steel frame versions of some of these, with different model numbers.
They offer the “stainless” airweight shrouded hammer 638 series, that allows access to the hammer for single action fire, without the likelihood of it snagging on crap in milady’s purse.
And the “stainless” Airweight Model 637, with the exposed hammer that allows single or double action use.
There are steel frame variants of most of these in 38 and 357 caliber, as well. They all have different Model numbers.
It can be pretty confusing. And I’m working from memory here, so this list is probably incomplete or incorrect in minor detail. S&W discontinues and then reissues these things seemingly on a whim.
The Ladysmith is a 642 with small grips and engraving, still a 642. The s/w performance center has 642 with a trigger job lighter da pull and nicer grips. I personally like j frames, get a 642 and then find some grip boots.
|Fighting the good fight|
J-frames have heavy triggers, relatively stout recoil due to their small size, tiny grips, miniscule sights, limited capacity, and they take practice to reload quickly. None of which is good for a newbie.
Tiny little subcompact pocket guns in general are poor choices for newbies, since they have greater felt recoil due to their smaller size and lighter weight, and smaller grips. Even more experienced shooters will do worse when shooting tiny guns compared to larger guns. Plus with tiny semiautos specifically, their springs are stouter, so their slides are harder to rack.
Instead, I would highly recommend going with a a semiauto, preferably a medium-sized compact pistol, or perhaps one of the larger (not so) subcompact pistols provided she can easily work the slide. Much lighter trigger pull. Easier/faster reloading. Greater capacity. Better sights. Better grip. All of which makes them much more conducive for a newbie to learn on and get comfortable with.
There have been several recently released medium-sized semiautos specifically geared toward female shooter and newbies, like the S&W M&P Shield EZ .380. They're designed to be ideal guns for inexperienced shooters, especially those with limited strength, and would be a significantly better option than a J Frame.
|Not really from Vienna|
As much as I like Smith J Frames, I concur that the 380-EZ might make more sense for your newbie friend.
S&W used to offer the J Frame Model 36 with a heavy 3” barrel. Naturally they quit making it. It was heavier, had a better sight radius, and was far easier to shoot and hit with than any of their current offerings in the J Frame .38s.
The Ruger LCRX 3” .38 might be worth looking at. It has an exposed hammer, but the good sights, longer barrel and comfortable rubber grip make it a viable choice for a revolver oriented new shooter. It’s kind of big for the capacity, though. Maybe too big for CCW by a petite woman.
The first gun my wife bought was her Ruger sp101 and she still has it to this day. The grip is smaller for a woman's hands but fits me perfectly as well. The cylinder latch, in my opinion is the best around and much simpler to operate,especially if the woman is older and has arthritis. Granted it is heavier than smaller J frames but recoil is also a lot more with the J frames.
The newer LCR revolvers are also a great buy in my opinion for a woman. You can get them with different grips and barrel lengths. My mother loves hers and is actually able to shoot it with comfort and accuracy. I had bought her a S&W J frame but she could not hit a thing with it but she loved the weight of it. Ruger, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park.
Ignoring the polymer frames (about which I know nothing), there are 3 basic options in the J-Frame family. Traditional Hammer (the iconic Chief's Special), Shrouded Hammer (Bodyguard), and Hammerless (Centennial). Within those categories, you will have finish options (aluminum alloy, stainless, carbon steel, etc.) and cartridge choices (.22 LR, .32, .38, .357, and 9mm).
The Ladysmith models are cosmetic variations marketed at women but are generally just as effective as the standard models.
I think a j is a good choice after renting/borrowing one and testing it out. I would not do a DAO (even though all of mine are) for a new shooter. It's just tougher to have good trigger control and a new shooter can get frustrated.
Hanguns mechanics create mini explosions...recoil follows...get over it!
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kkina, I don't pretend to know the intricacies of all the J-Frames in the S&W catalog. But I'll share with you what several of the women in my family preferred. The S&W model 642 in 38 Special. IMHO, and apparently that of several of the women in the family, recoil using this revolver is not objectionable. At least I've never heard any of them comment on any concern about recoil.
COTEP #640, NRA Life
Hmmm... Like men, different chicks have different strengths and abilities.
So... just a couple of suggestions:
4 inch Model 10 heavy barrel. Good trainer gun for revolvers. If the Model 10 is a good experience, then an SP-101 EDC would be a good choice. Or if you can find one, a round butt 3 inch Model 10, 65, or 64. These all weigh about the same.
And I often recommend a P250 Compact or Subcompact in 9mm, if the slide racking is not a problem.
And don't overlook the .380 Beretta autos. Good beginner guns, DA/SA, fairly light and easy to rack and carry.
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