"Its withering firepower is limited only by the amount of ammo that a shooter can carry and the speed at which a shooter is able to reload the five-round cylinder."(Just poking fun at a few of the tired anti-gun pejoratives and exaggerations)
Why on earth run a humble snub-gun? What's it like? This CLICK HERE offers a taste.
the older of these two) was a seductively sleek blue-black beauty when I first saw it sitting on the store's new-gun shelf back in 1993. I was in my early forties back then and no stranger to the gun culture. I just had to have it.
Unsurprisingly, the revolver's finish now shows holster-wear along the proud areas of the frame, cylinder, and barrel. Still, as I look in the mirror, I wish I had aged as well, both functionally and cosmetically. Will I ever send this revolver in for refinishing? Nah, those blemishes were earned honestly and are now part of this little revolver's charm. Are my age-related imperfections equally charming? Heh ... not so much as a chance ...
It is an "often carried, lightly fired" handgun, having burned through only around 2,000 rounds total over these many years, and it has only maybe 1,000 or so dry-fire trigger pulls (NOTE: The trigger pull is much smoother and a bit lighter now than when brand new). The first year-and-a half that I owned it was the period of the most intense live-fire use, with the first half-dozen range visits being mostly uneventful 100-round sessions (usually firing 130-grain FMJ range fodder) followed by the sessions when I negligently used a total of 350-rounds of +P ammo (not approved for the 442 by S&W back then). How the living hell did I manage to do that? Well, once I purchased what I thought to be four fifty-round boxes of standard pressure 110-grain Winchester Silvertip Hollowpoints (I was trying to find a smooth ride on a self-defense load) and I wasn't paying attention to the markings on each box (neither was the store clerk who fetched the boxes for me) ... I later found that half of the rounds purchased (and subsequently fired) were +P. Not too very long after that, I made the same mistake with four fifty-round boxes of 125-grain Federal Nyclad Hollowpoints; two of the fifty-round boxes were standard pressure and two of the fifty-round boxes were +P. While the difference in noise and felt recoil between the +P and standard loads mentioned above was not unmistakably apparent, my final (and my most physically painful) +P misadventure is storied below.
Few (if any) of the gunhands who have ever triggered a standard pressure 158-grain lead roundnose cartridge off in an airweight J frame revolver will remember the recoil as anything less than "stout." It becomes manageable after some practice, but most shooters will take it off the shopping list ASAP and forever look for something lighter. After my first couple of sessions with it, I tried to avoid it as much as possible, but on this one occasion ( IIRC, late 1994 - early 1995) most local store were sold-out of .38 Special ammo for one reason or another so I settled on what was available.
I asked for non+P and I was told it was non+P. Nowhere on the store's four remaining boxes of .38 Special ammunition did it say anything about +P; I bought all four boxes. Each round that I fired during the following range session was a hand-bashing WTF moment. This was the most recoil, muzzle-flash, and noise I ever experienced with this revolver, before or since. At the time, I thought maybe I was becoming a recoil-sensitive wimp so I toughed it out and suffered through 150-rounds during this single session. The cylinder of the 442 was so HOT that it was a while before I could touch it long enough to eject the final empties. When I discovered the reason why this load seemed so disagreeable, I was worried that it might have caused terminal damage to the revolver (which survived admirably, perhaps miraculously ... from then on I moderated my range time with this revolver and strictly minimized the power of the loads used).
I kept this one full box as a souvenir to remind me that, regardless of what the outside of the cartridge box says, ALWAYS LOOK CLOSELY AT THE HEADSTAMP ON THE CARTRIDGES.
I was puzzled that I had not previously found a box of +P ammo that was NOT marked +P SOMEWHERE on the outside. Unbeknownst to me then, "HIGH VELOCITY" printed on ammo boxes meant "+P" and was from a period of time before they standardized on tagging the boxes "+P."
Very recently I found the key to deciphering the lot number of this +P ammo.
Production Line = 17
Shift = B
Year = 1976
Day of Year = 40 (AKA February 9)
This ammo was from a different era; it was from the mid 1970's which was a time when SAAMI (founded in 1926) was still kinda fluid about the high-end of power for .38 Special loads; the testing methods and rating standards were somewhat in flux. It was a time when many (most?) cops still carried full size service revolvers and the need for milking the last ounce of whack from the .38 Special was of paramount importance because some thought it was politically incorrect for the good-guys to be using .357 Magnum loads against the bad guys.
Apparently this old-school mid-1970's vintage +P ammo was on the civilian market in the early 1990's after languishing for years in warehouses as law enforcement agencies incrementally transitioned from wheel guns to auto-loaders. It is possible that this batch of +P ammo is indeed hotter than the hot loads of today. Then again, when I shoot an airweight revolver with 158-grain +P nowadays I use a two-handed hold, and that may be the reason why it SEEMS to feel nowhere near as nasty as it seemed during the time when I was shooting these +P holdovers from yesteryear while using only one hand.