While I don't agree with your recommendation, I'll try and address your question.
BLUF: Given your original post, I'd look at the models 442, 642, 640, 640 PRO and the 642 PRO and the 642 LS.
Keep in mind That I only own 1 J frame revolver.
As you found Smith loves their features and models. I'll try and break it down best I can.
Metal, Smith makes J frames in Steel, aluminum with a steel cylinder, Scandium/Aluminum frame and Plastic/ Aluminum. Usually the first number of the model tells you what it its. 6 for stainless steel, 4 for Aluminum with a Carbon Steel Cylinder , 3 for Scandium/Aluminum, the plastic/aluminum is called the body guard. However, you should check the specs of the pistol as it's possible to have a 6 series pistol with an aluminum frame like the 642 whereas the 640 is all steel. Steel models tend to be heaviest which allegedly make them have lower perceived recoil with the trade off being heavier to carry. The Aluminum frames have a steel cylinder and barrel, and tend to be lighter than the steel frames. Allegedly, they recoil more, but are lighter to carry. Supposedly aluminum doesn't hold up to a steady diet of heavier loads as well as steel frame guns, but I can't confirm or deny it. Scandium/Aluminum is supposed to be stronger than aluminum but still lighter than steel. As I don't own one cannot confirm or deny that claim. Additionally, I believe that the PD tagged models have a titanium cylinder to further decrease weight. Smith seems to be one of the few makers that use Scandium alloy. I can tell you that scandium adds money to the price. The bodyguard uses a plastic rip assembly mated with an aluminum upper frame.
Then you get to action, you specified double action only. That points you toward the X40,X42 models with the X indicating frame material. For Example the 442 is a a double action only aluminum framed, carbon steel cylinder model, the 340PD is a double action only Scandium framed model with a titanium cylinder. I would also recommend looking at the shrouded hammer models (649, 638), you retain the ability to make single action shots with lower trigger pull weight and shorter trigger travel and the shroud prevents snagging on the draw.
Chamber cuts. Smith and Wesson chambers j frames in .357 and .38 +p. Personally, I have had heavier .357 loads get a little fun in my full size 4' 686 so I have no desire to run it in a small J frame. However, this is a personal choice and you can always buy a .357 and only feed it .38. Just pay attention to the specs when you go to buy.
Barrel length. not all models have the same length for example the 640 has a 2.1 inch barrel and the 642 has a 1.8 inch barrel. What does that change? I don't know, but a chrony might.
The lady smith logo. There is a lot of discussion on what Ladysmith actually means. Some claim that its purely cosmetic with frame markings and different color grips. Others claim that the actions are better, better balance, and the grips are more ergonomic for smaller hands. I remember back in the day guys buying the model 65 ladysmith for the 3" barrel, which supposedly balanced really well in the hand. You'll have to evaluate example as you encounter it.
Performance Center Pro Series. Are supposed to have better actions and features not standard on production guns. For example the 640 pro has tritium sights, fluted barrel and is cut for moon clips. make sure to read the specs. Yet the 642 Pro doesn't have the tritium sights.
I hope that helps.
I did my concealed carry class with a J Frame 36 no dash.
My wife also has the same model. I gave it to her around 1980. It has 158Gr semi wad-cutters in it (always) and recoil is not bad. She's five feet tall and has always weighed about 110lbs.
Every four or five years I have offered to replace it, most recently with a CZ83. She always refuses.
Nice to have options, but we both like the model 36 for the role it plays.
"Red hair and black leather, my favorite color scheme"
here's a great resource.
I have an all steel model 60-9. The little bit more weight really makes a difference. Also look at his for SD ammo.
Thank you all. Some very helpful info. I don't feel so bad about being confused with all the offerings from S&W.
|That rug really tied |
the room together.
In my experience, women are only likely to carry a gun, most of the time, if its small and lightweight. Of course, we know that small and light weight guns have terrible recoil and are not fun to shoot, which can be off putting.
Would you rather your wife carry a Ruger LCP every day? Or if her gun was a stainless Ruger Sp101, that she found too heavy and thus leaves home?
I think the Glock 42 .380 and Ruger LCP should be at the top of the list. Followed by the 6-shot Ruger LCR in .327 Federal Magnum. Why this revolver? Well it has 6 shots, it has an excellent trigger, unlike most small revolvers, and you can load it with 4 different calibers, 32 S&W, .32 S&W Long, .32 H&R Magnum, and .327 Federal Magnum. Load up the bunny fart loads for early training, and work your way up. .32 HR Magnum and .327 Federal Magnum are very powerful self defense calibers.
Often times a very small man can cast a very large shadow
Don't feel bad at all. Back in it's heyday smith had a decoder wheel for to help the dealers. They also have used some strange model numbers like (619 and 620) to further confuse things. To try and formulate my post, I had half a dozen browser windows open and one of my "BIG Book O S&W" trying to get you the right info.
^^^^ Wow, this is a nice summary! Makes me want to start looking for another J frame.
"Animis Opibusque Parati"
An Apex Tactical spring kit for my 642 did a world of good in reducing the weight of the trigger.
It's by no means a light trigger, and it's not a smooth pull. But the springs helped.
With a little bit of trigger time I've found that the trigger can be staged to make more accurate shots. I've also painted the ramp of the front sight because the silver/silver sight picture from the factory is terrible to use.
I would suggest either the shrouded hammer (which has the ability to be cocked for single action still) or the enclosed hammer. No snags if it's being pocket/purse/bag carried.
Put some thicker rubber grips that cover the rear of the grip on it for range use to put a lot of rounds through it and get used to it and know how the trigger needs to be worked. Hogue or Pachmayr are cheap and work great. Choose a different grip for carry and use them enough to understand how it handles.
My 642 wears slim service stocks and a T-grip and it makes for a very slick carry gun. I use standard pressure .38 loads, the +P is like catching a fastball with no glove. I pair .38 +P in my lightweight .357 guns, and .357 for the full size heavy revolvers.
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.[/QUOTE]
My wife is relatively new, and likes the G19. But when we decided to get her a gun to travel back and forth from Tx to Az, I got her a Shield Ez. It's been prefect for her and she loves it! Though 150+ rounds we've had no issues. For a first gun, even though it's a semi, it's perfect.
Great article here:
They really put a lot into this. Some surprising results.
Proverbs 27:17 - As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.
Get her a G42 with night sights, a decent kydex holster, some training ammo and mags and be done with it. J frames or Ruger LCR are fine revolvers, but require some dedication and training to be effective with. Brand new shooters usually flinch badly with small revolvers and have trouble performing reloads.
Even better would be a G26. If you can carry a 42, it does not take much more to step up to carrying a 26.
351 PD in .22 mag is the best move for your friend. & shots of Gold Dot 40 grain hollow points are as good as the .380 defense rounds, no recoil, very reliable, and its not going off unless she pulls the trigger.
AT 10.8 oz. she can carry it anywhere.
|The Great Equalizer|
Just addressing the original question here
Most of these are part of a teaching inventory
Despite all the Model numbers, Smith and Wesson only has three different J-frames.
The rest of the model numbers are just variations in construction materials and finish.
Steel frames have been offered in 38 Special or 357 Magnum
Alloy frames have been offered 38 Special only
Scandium frames have been offered in both chamberings
The original snubby is the Chief's Special.
This is the exposed hammer, 5 shot
This family of revolvers includes the:
Model 36 - Carbon steel in blue or nickel
Model 37 - Alloy frame in blue or nickel
Model 60 - Stainless steel
Model 360 - Scandium frame
Then there is the original Body Guard (currently offered in a polymer frame)
This is a shrouded hammer revolver. It can still be cocked for single action shots
This family of revolvers includes the:
Model 49 Carbon steel in blue or nickel
Model 38 Alloy frame in blue or nickel
Model 638 Alloy frame in stainless appearance
Model 649 Stainless steel
Lastly is the Centennial
This revolver has an internal hammer and is a DAO offering
This family of revolvers includes:
Model 40 Carbon steel in blue or nickel (with grip safety)
Model 42 Alloy frame in blue or nickel (with grip safety)
Model 340 Scandium frame 357 Magnum
Model 342 Scandium frame 38 Special
Model 442 Alloy frame in blue or nickel
Model 640 Stainless steel
Model 642 Alloy frame in stainless appearanceThis message has been edited. Last edited by: colt_saa,
NRA Benefactor . . . Certified Instructor . . . Certified RSO
|Not really from Vienna|
Nice assortment, Coltsaa.
IMO, the polymer frame M&P “Bodyguard” is related to the J Frame Bodyguard only in name. Those I have examined aren’t fit to even wear the nowadays somewhat sullied S&W name.
GLOCK 42. Aholster pocket holster for when it's in a pocket or purse, JMCK IWB#3 for when it's in the belt. XTP hollow points for carry. This is my wife's choice after years of experimentation, and I got one for myself to carry to the gym or when running and have basically retired my 642 except for ankle carry.
If it must be a revolver, start on a .22LR that is similar or identical to the .38 she thinks she wants. S&W 63 or 317, or Ruger SP101 or LCR.
The easiest way to loose a great hunting spot is to have your dog kill the landowners cat!
That is a great article. It also has a link to the follow on testing. Thanks for sharing.
| Get my pies|
outta the oven!
I'm going to throw my recommendation here for a small pocket pistol that IS actually not hard to shoot and easy to practice with.
LBJ carries one as well, IIRC
They will want the .32 ACP P-32, NOT the .380 P3AT
They can be carried in a pocket or purse or even small OWB belt holster discreetly.
Mine is a joy to shoot and so light and flat you forget it's even in your pocket:
No way would I purchase a J-Frame for a first time female shooter. The only revo I would purchase would be a Ruger LCR. The trigger on the J-Frame es no bueno, for my bride. The LCR is usable. Cheaper too.
NRA Life Member
|Character, above all else|
Concur. An old boss of mine learned this lesson the hard way. After an entire 15 rounds his wife, who is no wuss, said she hated the 642 he'd bought her and wanted TO ACTUALLY GO WITH HIM to the gun store so she could pick one out for herself. (I ended up with it for $300 cash. And it came with Crimson Trace grips too.)
On the flip side, a 642 is what Mrs. 'Hook prefers to carry because it weighs much less than a good semi-auto. But she has enough shooting experience to be able to make that choice after weighing the issues of recoil vs. carry weight vs. total rounds.
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