There is a consensus that snubbies are not a good first gun for most people. If you bought or inherited a snubbie as your first or only gun, you may want to put in some serious range time until you can shoot it proficiently. Your range time may need professional instruction to shorten the learning curve. If you don’t already own one but are dead set on buying a snub as your only gun, try to arrange a range session in order to try one out before you spend your money; consider trying out some other handguns while you are at it. If you ultimately settle on a snub, welcome to the club.
For carry, some people just shove their snubbie in to their pocket. Far be it for me to tell anyone what to do, but I prefer to carry mine inside a pocket holster; it keeps it in the proper position and protects the trigger. My Kramer pocket holster uses a plastic shield to help break the outline of the revolver, but the outline of the revolver grips will still print through a tight pocket.
Today when you talk about the S&W Model 640 many people immediately think .357 magnum; that wasn’t always the case. When S&W first came out with the Centennial line the 640 was a +P .38 Special revolver. For a short time S&W rated it for +P+ loads to satiate those trying in vain to milk magnum performance from the .38 Special. Ultimately, S&W reengineered the 640 as a .357 magnum.
Factory new S&W Performance Center guns can be pricey. This old revolver, which I bought used several years ago, had languished on the shelf of a local gun store for more than a year. It was a consignment; the owner prepared a splashy sign stating what he had paid for the gun new, and what a bargain it was marked down to around $750. After a while, the price dropped to $600, then $500. I bought it when it hit $425. Why did I choose to use this revolver for home defense carry rather than put it in the safe as a collector’s item? I felt it was a better shooter than an investment; as I mentioned above, it was on display for over a year and did not draw a crowd.
What could the Performance Center have done better on this revolver? Foremost, the rear edge of the cylinder should have been beveled; initially it was as sharp as a razor, grabbing onto holster-leather or stitching during a draw. I cut my thumb on it once and I don’t have thin skin. Second, although the front sight is actually decent, it would have been classier for them to install one of Novak’s night sights. Third, since this was a premium revolver they could have at least used real Craig Spegel custom boot grips instead of the S&W standard rubber boot grips. Does the ported barrel improve control when firing hot loads? The port sure looks cool but my unsophisticated shooting hand can’t detect any improvement over non-ported snubbies, the weight of the 640 makes +P .38 Special loads relatively easy for me to handle. The trigger may be a bit nicer on this piece than on a standard Centennial, but IMHO it is nothing to rave about; it may just seem smoother to me because I shoot it more than I do the others.
For this revolver, my preferred defense and practice load is Federal’s 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints.