View Full Version : s&w hammerless airweight - my nemisis

May 05, 2013, 23:59
took the 1911 shooting my daughter, popped some paint cans at 50m, generally impressed the kid, i was feelin cocky, made the mistake of unlimbering the .38 airweight. it was bad, "what's wrong dad?" i was asked. after 30 rounds my trig finger stung, as did my pride.

Andy the Aussie
May 06, 2013, 00:52
Little J Frames take constant practice to shoot well with, more so the light weight ones. I regularly carried a 2inch 36 and shot very well with it, came only after lots of practice. 50m is a loooooong way for those little 5 shots.

May 06, 2013, 04:26
Yeah, they will get your hands stinging with good loads that's for sure. But, as Andy stated, they do take practice to get god with, but they will do their part. I have carried one everywhere for years. I used to carry the little 9mm stainless, but the airweights are just much better as far as weight, extraction and felt recoil.


May 06, 2013, 04:45
I rarely load and shoot my 642 more than 3 times at a whack...(15 rounds total). They are for packing...not target practice...shoot them enough with low power loads that mimic point of impact with your manstoppers to get good with it...load it with your favorite premium ammo....verify point of impact...then put the thing away before you hurt yourself.

When/If the moment of truth ever comes.....you won't even notice the recoil......other than that...they are nasty little boogers and they freakin hurt to shoot much.....I actually think its worse the bigger you are as its hard to get ahold of the thing...less fingers wrapping the grip.

May 06, 2013, 08:52
I qualify with mine every 6 months with more than average shooting. I am usually bleeding somewhere by the end of it............but not always!:D

They do, however, shoot as well as my Glock 27.


May 07, 2013, 00:44
My favorite little gun is the S&W Model 642, the stainless/aluminum DAO Centennial. I bought one when they first came out and shot it for 20 years before the frame cracked, which incidentally, didn't stop the gun from shooting. I didn't find the crack until a post-range trip cleaning.

I called S&W, who sent me a call tag to have FedEx pick it up at my house, and in less than 2 weeks I had a brand new one delivered to my doorstep, cost me only one phone call.

They are as small overall as you can make a reliable handgun, firing what may be the bottom round of accceptable power level cartridges. 5 rounds of hidden .38 Special +P is better than 8 rounds of 230 grains of ball or 11 to 14 rounds of semiauto hollowpoints home in the safe or out in the truck. It's all a compromise but unless it's cold outside, the 5 shot J frame makes a very reasonable compromise. And when it is cool enough to carry something smaller, there's still room aboard in addition for the little S&W.

Retired Bum
May 07, 2013, 02:33
I have three S&W Centennials .38 Spl's. A pair of stainless Model 640's and a 642 Airweight. My carry load for this trio is the old but still good Federal +P 129 gr Hydra-Shok.

The oldest 640 has absorbed around 2000 rounds of mostly standard pressure LSWC over close to 15 years. It is still going strong but I have the second one just in case.

The 642 has been my EDC for about ten years now. I treat it with TLC. I practice with handloaded 148 gr HBWC's and one cylinder of handloaded +P 125 gr JHP every couple of months. I remember the old saying about Airweight J frames. Meant to be carried a lot but shot little.....

My 642 is a pre lock model fitted with the factory rosewood grips and a Tyler T-Grip. IMHO there is no finer pocket revolver for EDC.

And so it goes.

The Retired One

Dave Hume
May 07, 2013, 19:40
Shot one at the range that was owned by someone else....to hell with that (with +p's).

One of my favorite carry pieces is a Mod. 36 Chief's Special converted to double-action only...with it's steel frame its really not that heavy..just right to drop in the pocket, with Hogue grips (which needed contouring to feed HKS loaders). AND you can shoot +p ammo at ten yards and not flinch up. Flinching up is the real problem with these lightweight pieces.

Frankly, I believe that these lightweight' alllluminium" 5-shots fill a void...the nature of which I have yet to discern.

May 11, 2013, 15:58
I have a Model 649.......not hammerless, because I don't like them, but it does have a shrouded hammer that gives it a sort of "humpback" look. It's an early one chambered for .38 Spl., and using regular .38 loads will still pop you in the hand pretty smartly when you fire it.

My son-in-law bought one of the ultralight hammerless S&W's (I think S&W calls the frame material "Scandium") that was chambered for .357 Mag., and told me he shot it with .357 full power magnum loads. Once. He said that the recoil just about ruined his hand, and the concussion from the muzzle blast felt like somebody kicked him in the head. He now keeps it loaded with .38 rounds.

Bottom line, the super light .357 Mag. snubnose wheelguns are NOT fun to shoot. They're good backup guns or carry guns, but they're not something you would want to shoot any more than is necessary to stay proficient with it.

L Haney
May 11, 2013, 18:33
I bought my best gay girlfriend a 2" .38. It's small and light enough she'll carry it. But it takes a lot of practice to nail a target at short range.

Glad I had a buttload of .38 ammo from years ago. She's doing good.

May 13, 2013, 17:52
Bottom line, the super light .357 Mag. snubnose wheelguns are NOT fun to shoot.

My friend from work got one of these 357 airweights. Shot it on Sunday, his hand hurt pretty good. Went to the doc after work on Monday and left with a cast on his hand, broken bone(s).

May 13, 2013, 20:19
Yes, the aluminum alloy .357s, especially the ones with titanium cylinders, are not a well thought-out option for very many people. I can shoot the 15 ounce M-642 well enough to qualify with 129 grain Plus-P ammo, which includes 10 to 15 rounds at 25 yards, but it takes some work and I don't do it for recreation.

May 15, 2013, 00:54
I gave up on the J frames over 30 years ago. Yes, they were accurate enough for the intended purpose. Yes, they were easily concealed. What I couln't live with was the bloody thumb after each practice session. ( I do own a Pre-War Regulation Police 32 S&W Long, but it has much longer factory target stocks, so no bite. Plus it's more a collector than a shooter.)

My hands are on the largish size, with long digits. Slender, not meaty. Piano players hands ( despite the fact I can barely play a stereo, much less musical instruments). There is just no way I can position my thumb without getting bit by the cylinder release, or interfering with my trigger finger, with the factory small grip. Pachmayr ompacts cure the "bite" but detract from the concealabilty.

My solution was the Colt Agent. Only slightly larger than a J frame, with no "bite" from the cylinder release. With a bobbed hammer and factory short Agent stocks and a Tyler T grip, it's light, easy to conceal, fits my hands just all around better and most of all doesn't draw MY blood.

Six shots instead of five is an added bonus.

Oh, and I don't "hate" Smiths. My revolvers are pretty evenly split between Colts and Smiths.

D P Six
May 21, 2013, 15:45
I have never been a fan of rubber grips on any revolver but the grips on the Airweight 642 have changed my mind. Gives you a better grab on the gun, reduces felt recoil over wood and they don't even look half bad.

L Haney
May 21, 2013, 16:15
My hands are on the largish size, with long digits. Slender, not meaty. Piano players hands...

Nope, if you don't play they are "stranglers hands". Least, that's what my wife called 'em.

May 21, 2013, 19:49
I don't find mine pleasant to shoot with +Ps, but one would hope an engagement doesn't require 30 rounds. I only carry 17: 5 in the gun and 3 speed strips of 4 rounds each. While they do make a longer grip for it which really tames the snap (mostly from increased mechanical advantage, methinks), it defeats the purpose of a concealment gun.

My buddy got one of those scantium (sp?) ones and it was worse by maybe 30%.

But I have yet to shoot anything worse than a .44 Mag derringer. I first did 2 rounds with .44 Spcl, and those were unpleasant, but manageable. I fired one round of .44 mag and my hand stung so badly I saw no value in firing the other barrel.

Airweight .357? Hmm. Didn't know there was one. I thought they were all .38s, albeit rated for +P

Timber Wolf
May 22, 2013, 07:56
I guess there is some advantage to my sort fingered, beefy, Carpenter hands. I can shoot my 642 all I want with most anything you can stick in the chambers and not be hurt. Some of you guys need to get a squeeze ball to man-up on or just shoot a Glock or something. As much as I like my 642 my dog-walking carry piece is a SP101 .357 Magnum, loaded with full snort ammo. If you don't hit them the muzzle blast will surely distract them.

May 22, 2013, 08:00
I had a scandium 357... shot 3 rounds of full house loads and that was enough for me. It got stolen out of my truck, but I really don't miss it.

May 22, 2013, 17:43
I had a scandium 357... shot 3 rounds of full house loads and that was enough for me. It got stolen out of my truck, but I really don't miss it.

Kills on one end, wounds at the other.... :rofl:

Retired Bum
May 22, 2013, 21:38
When S&W introduced the scandium Model 329 .44 Magnum some years back a shooting pal of mine just had to have one. He had shot my Model 629 .44 Mag Mountain Revolver and decided that he liked the size but wanted the light weight M329 for a hiking gun. I warned him that recoil with any serious magnum load was going to be brutal. But he shrugged it off and said that he could handle it.

Famous last words. He shot one cylinder of Winchester 210 gr Silvertip which is a reduced power load and told me that he should have bought the all stainless Mountain Revolver instead. I can only imagine what a 300 gr Hornady XTP factory load would feel like in that wrist wrecker.

And so it goes.

The Retired One

June 11, 2013, 22:50
The Ruger LCR is a nasty little bastard with full house 357s.
I know it's not as light, but my 2 inch Ruger SP101 in 357
is much more pleasant to shoot.