Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Smith & Wesson Model 442 Airweight Centennial





Shown above with a Matt Del Fatti PH3 holster, the S&W 442 Centennial Airweight is a light and easy pocket carry.

Why would any snubslinger buy two revolvers of the same make and model? Well, I purchased the older of these two as soon as S&W came out with the 442 Centennial sometime in the early 1990s (I’m too lazy tonight to dig through my files to find the exact purchase date. EDIT: It was November of 1993). Over the years I hammered the little revolver hard and often with many rounds of standard pressure and +P ammunition. Even though it exhibited no symptoms, I was worried that I was wearing it out. Since it was one of my favorite guns of all time, I decided to buy another as a spare while they were still available without that infernal internal lock
(NOTE: S&W is once again selling the 442 WITHOUT the lock).

At a nominal 15 ounces, the 442 is as light as I care to go with any .38 Special revolver. Yes, I have fired the super-light S&W models and they do not bring me sentient bliss. When the cartridges in the cylinder have the bullets shake loose from their cases because of recoil, my unprofessional opinion is that the handgun is far too light for the load.

For the 442, my preferred non +P practice load is Federal AE38K 130 grain FMJ, which has roughly the same recoil and point of aim as my preferred summertime defense load, the standard pressure Federal P38M 125 grain Nyclad hollowpoint. If the bad guys are wearing winter clothing the .38 Special may need more of the punch provided by any of the major name brand +P 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints. I find the 442 very manageable with +P loads but I will not say that they are a great pleasure for me to shoot. In order not to aggravate the aches of age, when the season calls for +P ammo I usually start pocketing the heavier S&W 640.


24 comments:

Evyl Robot Michael said...

Heh! I would advise against trying out the hurt-your-handium snubby with 158-grain Magnums. That sucker will rock your world!

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Hey Evyl, good to hear from you again. Yeah, the ultra lights can be enlightening to shoot with maxi loads.

Thanks for stopping in.

Zack

James R. Rummel said...

Good post, as per usual!

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

James, you are ever so kind. Thank you.

DaveP. said...

130-grain Speer Short Barrel Gold Dot +P's and a DeSantis Nemesis pocket holster. Best thing in the world to drop into a pocket when you want to carry but not look too conspicuous.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Good advice; thanks for stopping in DaveP.

Zack

James said...

My 442 rides on my ankle in the summer and in a coat pocket in the winter. It's not my primary gun, just a dependable back up.
I use the Speer 135gns also, shoots well and doesn't beat me up too bad.

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Hey James, thanks for stopping in. I keep hearing good things about the Speer 135 load; if I didn't have so much of my old favorites I think I would give it a serious look.

Take care,

Zack

Pat said...

I added Crimson Trace grips to this great snubby and it makes the perfect pal. Looks great as well, I call it my Godfather gun.

Anonymous said...

I own the S&W model 442 and in my opinion probably the best pocket gun that a person can carry for self-defence , bar none ! There are no buttons or levers to push or pull or worry about feeding problems as with automatic pistols or a round in the chamber that could accidently go off , no hammers to pull back as with the large "self-defence" derringers ! This is a reasonably small yet powerful handgun that can be carryed in one's pocket and pulled out in a moment's notice ! And in the real world muggings and car-jackings occur in a moment's notice ! As I know only so well living on the westside of Los Angeles for nearly 40 years , just walk down a street in a not so great of an area and within no time several individuals will come out of a door way or ally way , "hey man got any money !"

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

Thanks for stopping in and thanks for your input.

Anonymous said...

I own a Smith & Wesson Model 642 Centennial Airweight .38 spec with Crimson Trace laser grips. I love this gun & feel well armed. I load mine with MAGSAFE Ammo & feel very confident this load has great stopping power ,with less recoil. Glen

Anonymous said...

I firmly belive that snub-nosed revolvers are best suited for self defence, as most attacks/robberies take place at "Point-Blank" range out to 10 or 15 FT.."Five or Six for sure" is the old saying...no slide to jam (slide clearance) No long barrel for perp to grab or deflect & gain leverage & disarm you...Hammerless-snub even better as there is no hammer to snag on clothing...GLEN

Winston said...

I have one that I bought in the 90's and have only fired it, period, about a dozen times. It is all aluminum without the steel chamber and are we SURE that the all aluminum gun will handle the Federal hydrashok 38 +ps that I have in it now?

Anonymous said...

I bought mine on the advice of a police officer friend who said that in the gravest extreme, you want a gun that will absolutely fire when you pull the trigger. Seemed like a wise idea. Carry load is a 110gr Hornady hollow point, which has similar recoil to inexpensive 130gr Winchester white box practice ammo. One tip: Replace the stock grips with Hogue or Pachmeyer grips that are softer and cover the backstrap. Makes a HUGE difference in comfort.

Anonymous said...

Check out Buffalo Bore 158 gr lswchp +P, shoots at 1000 fps & 380 ft. lbs. out of a 442, thats the low end of .357 magnum, thats all I carry in mine, goota little bite to it but its worth it for self defense.

Anonymous said...

If you are ever near Lancaster PA visit the "ARMS MUSEUM " in Intercourse PA. Every thing From The American Revolution To Present..Also Rare O.S.S.Weapons..Glen

Anonymous said...

purchased a used S&W model 442 but it is stainless or alloy not black anyone know anything about it.

Anonymous said...

I have the same gun bought new years ago. I was wondering the same thing as you don't see it listed in Stainless under the model#442

James A. Zachary Jr. said...

I believe the stainless version of the 442 is called the 642.

Anonymous said...

I have two as well (442 & 642) and plan to keep them both. quite simply the finest lightweight revolvers ever made. sure, I have sexy semiautos, but find myself carrying my airweights again and again (usually iwb holster) the snagfree hammerless design easily slips in/out of pocket, and could even be fired from within a pocket; also, sometimes when hiking in the summertime, I keep a shot pellet shell in the first chamber for snakes and such- can't do do that with my pm9 ;-)

Anonymous said...

I see on the news this evening (June 9, 2011)an area in Washington State is being terrorized by a large pack of stray dogs, these dogs have killed numerous goats, farm animals and even a 350 pound llama, fortunately no humans have been attacked as of yet ! Unfortunately because of our extremely bad economy many individuals are just turning loose their pets and this is what is happening, man's best friend has turned into killers ! This is more reason than ever to carry a handgun while hiking or even walking in remote country roads ! That is one of the main reason I carry my model 442 it's small, light weight and dependable !As a side note an individual I know told me that his wife was riding her bike on a country road in Camp Verde Arizona when she was attacked by two large stray dogs and was nearly killed, her screams brought help from one of the farm homes, she did loose much blood !I personally know of an individual who had several goats and farm animals killed by two large stray dogs, this person did manage to kill both of the dogs with his rifle !

Anonymous said...

Well, just got back from the gun store and now I am a proud new owner of a 442, been wanting one for a while. This will be my ankle gun as backup (and a great one it is)but my primary is either a .40 or .45. I look forward to testing it with the +P loads.

Anonymous said...

I own the S&W model 442, a great pocket revolver but this past weekend at one of our gun shows I picked up an equally good pocket revolver, which is less expensive than the S&W model 442 a Taurus model 85 .38 special with a ported barrel, alittle heavier(atleast my version is ) than the 442 but more accurate and a smoother trigger pull than the 442 ! A great pock defender especially for people on a budget !