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  #1  
Old 11-28-2011, 01:58 PM
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Default 640 .38 ?

Are all these designated as "Centennial?"

I see some have CEN in the S/N, and others don't....I guess the 640 no dash's are the Centennial's?????

Also, are the Centennials more desireable?

Thanks.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:09 PM
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"CEN" in the serial number is a coincidence.

Any concealed-hammer J-frame (40, 42, 340, 342, 442, 640, 642) is called a "Centennial", I believe.
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:40 PM
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My 640 is a BNA. I agree with the above. My box has Centennial as the feature and I really do not know, or realize any significance in having CEN in the serial number. Sort of like the one I recently purchased. It's "born on date" is the same day as my birthday....not year mind you but the day of the month. Now....that is a real coincidence.
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:26 PM
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The 640 when introduced in 89 was .38spl of that the I believe the first run/batch unknown manufactured quantity initially had a "CEN" prefix in the serial number.

The J magnum frame 640 was introduced in 1995 aprox.
Hope this helps a little
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Old 11-28-2011, 06:44 PM
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CEN prefix Model 640 no dashes are marked "Tested for +P+ Use" or something very similar to that. Because of this marking they are considered more desirable than other Model 640 no dashes.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no physical or mechanical difference between the CEN prefix M640 no dashes and other M640 no dashes.
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:02 PM
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I'm more than willing to go with the original 640's with the 1 7/8ths barrel but the new 2 1/4" barrels just don't make me think "Centennial" when I see them. And I own one. And if anyone was sucker enough to trade I would trade it in a second. Any takers???
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Old 11-28-2011, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zellerSC View Post
Are all these designated as "Centennial?" I see some have CEN in the S/N, and others don't....I guess the 640 no dash's are the Centennial's????? Also, are the Centennials more desireable? Thanks.
Not sure what the factory intended but most of us consider all the model 640s as Centennials. And yes, many of us prefer the original 640 in 38 Special . . . some of which have the "CEN" serial number prefix. They are excellent carry revolvers.

While most of us think of the 640 as having a 1 7/8" barrel, there is also a 3" heavy barrel Centennial in 38 Special that were special ordered by John Jovino, a NY S&W Distributor.

Here is my 1 7/8" which dates to 1991 with a BFZ s/n prefix:



Here is my 3" which dates to 1994 with a BRH s/n prefix:



Russ


CORRECTION: The 3" barrel was available from the introduction of the 640 in 1989 until the 3" was discontinued in 1993. It was the model 60 in the 3" heavy barrel that was special ordered by John Jovino.

Last edited by linde; 11-29-2011 at 03:23 PM. Reason: correction on the 3"
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:08 PM
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I can "snuggle-up" pretty close.....mine was born in February 1992. Sorry Max....I ain't gonna' trade.
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Old 11-28-2011, 08:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Broadside View Post
CEN prefix Model 640 no dashes are marked "Tested for +P+ Use" or something very similar to that. Because of this marking they are considered more desirable than other Model 640 no dashes.


To the best of my knowledge, there is no physical or mechanical difference between the CEN prefix M640 no dashes and other M640 no dashes.
It does have the +p+ on the crane. Thanks for the info.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:06 PM
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My two .38 spls have prefix BKN & BSK 1994's. My M640-3 .357, prefix CFU 2002.
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Old 11-29-2011, 01:36 AM
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The Centennial is any J frame enclosed hammer revolver produced since 1952 when the original 40 (steel frame) and 42 (airweight) were introduced. They were called the Centennial because they were introduced in the 100th year of S&W being in business. These original two models were produced until 1974 when production ended due to low sales.

In 1989 S&W introduced the 640 in stainless in .38Spl. The first year or so had a CEN prefix in the serial number. S&W started the 3 letter/4 number serial numbers in the early '80s. The prefix CEN came normally in the year 2000 timeframe, but in 1989 I guess Smith thought it would be cool to use it on the reintroduced Centennial, hence CEN. This prefix was stopped sometime in '90/'91 I believe. All the CEN prefixed 640s were marked TESTED FOR +P+ in the bottom of the cylinder window. That was also stopped when the CEN prefixes stopped. Btw...at that time S&W just started using then current serial number prefixes which were in the Bxx range.

Later on in '96 the original 640 was chambered in .357MAG becoming the 640-1 and all manner of other models in different calibers and frame materials were produced since then.

Here are some pics of some Centennials I own/owned over the years. There are more, I just don't have pics of them. The 640 no dash is one of, if not my most, favorite S&W revolver ever. Mine is an early one, CEN0xxx.









Last edited by Sonny Crocket; 11-29-2011 at 11:58 PM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:32 AM
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I ran across a blurb somewhere lately that stated any good quality weapon chambered for the 38-special would also safely handle the +p. I think it makes sense, especially in guns like the 640. The construction and quality is the same in those early guns regardless of the serial number prefix. Many 38-specials we see on the market state they will handle +p loads, but are not stamped as such anywhere on the weapon. If you look at the load-tables, +p loads are not that much "hotter" than standard loads....maybe like 10% in the powder charge and generating an increase in pressure from around 15,000 in the special loads up to 17,000 in the +p loads.I doubt that Smith somehow purposely reduced the weapons strength in the models not designated as such. Probably ALL modern-day weapons chambered for the special will easily handle the +p loads. I can't see a manufacturer going to the trouble and expense to make a weapon that would not handle the +p load on purpose if it is designed to handle the special.

Powder manufacturers state there could be as much as a 10 to 15 percent variation in density, so the re-loader has a 10% error already built into the charge if he/she goes by the loading tables. I think it would take more than a +p load to blow the 640 apart. Some folks think the only reason they ever designated the 38-Special as +p was just to sell more expensive ammo and guns so marked anyway. Maybe some of the older weapons would have been pushing the envelope, but not modern-day guns.

Maybe a poor analogy....back-in-the-day you could order a new car with-or-without a heater in it and I know this was the case as recent as 1955. Nowadays....EVERY car comes with a heater.

Last edited by snubbiefan; 11-29-2011 at 07:09 AM.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:05 AM
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Default Centennials are the best

Note that the original Centennials featured the grip safety. The classic series also reintroduced this device.
They also concurrently made the humpbacked "Bodyguard", with a concealed but accessible hammer spur and no grip safety. I, for one, do not approve of S&W recycling the Bodyguard name on the current little polymer guns.

I am a huge fan of these revolvers for daily carry and backup. The Centennial is my favorite, with a Model 640 and a 342PD in frequent use.
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Old 11-29-2011, 08:11 AM
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Thanks for all the great info.....especially Sonny C. for his indepth response. And great pics.
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Old 11-29-2011, 12:16 PM
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Nice pics all
Sonny thank you on the info of the +P+ if I remember that was a selling point back then on the 640s great info and pics,

linde
those 3" 640s sure balance nice.

(A Grail gun)
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snubbiefan View Post
I can "snuggle-up" pretty close.....mine was born in February 1992. Sorry Max....I ain't gonna' trade.
Still no?!?!? Huh?!?! Huh!?!?!?


Just having some fun...
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:14 AM
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Sorry Max.....I detect the "plug in the hole". You almost had me tempted there for a minute.

Yep....I am a NL guy and nothing one can do to cover-up the wart-hole can sway me either way. I have removed locks and covered-up holes for other people....but not for me.
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Old 11-30-2011, 12:07 PM
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I have a 640 no dash BFVxxx I got it used in 1994 from a friend.
I don't remember the retail price at the time but paid him $225 with a holster and box of .38 RNL.
I like the Bianchi 9R shoulder holster which is no longer made and would not sell either or trade it for anything.
A note on the plus P ammo option. Back in the 70's when +P was not available to the public very easily the one I recall is SUPERVEL. The pressure in these at that time was more than today's +p and possibly even +p+. It was reported that practice with these [old] loads caused accelerated wear. So the guru's of the day recommended practice with standard loads and +P for carry.
I think most of us are not burning up the high priced +P in any amounts which would "blow up" our 640's.
After looking at all the GREAT PHOTOS here I don't feel so obsessive about my thinking about another one. Night sights or a pinned front sight would be nice.
Thanks for the wonderful post to all who are here.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snubbiefan View Post
Sorry Max.....I detect the "plug in the hole". You almost had me tempted there for a minute.

Yep....I am a NL guy and nothing one can do to cover-up the wart-hole can sway me either way. I have removed locks and covered-up holes for other people....but not for me.
I'm the same way now. I'm on strike from buying another one now for the same rationale as you. I still have a wart to repair on my 637 and then never again. And I was just joking really. Now that I have the Apex trigger kit in that 640, that is like a dream gun. I don't mind the bulky barrel since it's a .357, but I would still greatly prefer the smaller barrel even if it had to be a .38 special. Really, I wish it could be an original style Model 60.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:48 PM
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You did a good job on the hole though...even the hinge-pin hole the plate swings on. Nice job.....really!

I have seen some guys so frustrated about the hole, they have actually tapped it and put a screw in there....that IMHO is the Bubba way...red loctite showing and all. If you hate it that much...don't purchase it as opposed to making a mess out of the gun. There is just not that much material there to tap. I think the plug is the best way. It can always be converted back to an IL if it has to go home for warranty work. Or just simply leave the hole alone. It is not going to hurt a thing.
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Old 11-30-2011, 07:13 PM
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Gray RTV in the small hole since gray epoxy kept popping out. And "The Plug" is really a great buy if you have a hole to fill. I wish it was perfectly flush fitting and held rock solid, but it's close enough and makes it so much more bearable. I was going to tap the hole and put in a set screw but I would have to have cut the screw very careful to not have it look horrible. Maybe I will have to find an original 640 and/or a 60 to keep it company.
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linde View Post

Here is my 3" which dates to 1994 with a BRH s/n prefix:



Man oh man, that 3" Model 640 is the cat's pajamas!
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Old 12-01-2011, 12:11 AM
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My M640 was my first S&W stainless revolver.

I had read so many gun articles claiming stainless steel was hard to machine, hard to polish, therefore stainless revolvers would NEVER have the capability to become as smooth, action-wise, as a carbon steel model.

My M640 has as smooth an action as any S&W revolver I own and it shot to point of aim at 25 yards with 158 grain bullets, my load of choice.

I think it is the perfect concealed carry handgun.

And I now buy stainless S&Ws as soon as I can afford them.

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Old 12-01-2011, 04:48 AM
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Broadside;
Never say never or always with Smith & Wesson. I have a 640-no-dash with CEN prefix (CEN79XX), and no sign of a Plus-P endorsement in yoke cut, cylinder window, underbarrel flat or gripframe.

Larry
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Old 12-01-2011, 07:59 AM
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semperfi....did yours come new that year with the boot-grips, or did you add those.
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Old 12-04-2011, 11:36 PM
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snubbiefan, it came with the boot grips, it was an option at the time if I recall.
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Old 12-05-2011, 02:47 AM
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CEN model 640 .38 special, marked +p+.

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Old 12-05-2011, 06:48 AM
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71......I guessed right then. I had a set of boot grips that I put on mine and they looked "natural" for the gun. Now mine looks like yours.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:20 AM
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The one I got is CEN3xxx and has the "TESTED FOR +P+" on her....I also have a 640-1 in 357mag. The action on the 640-1 BSY8xxx is better than the 640. Both of the actions are very nice....But the 640-1 is tops!!!!!!
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Old 12-05-2011, 09:02 AM
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A trigger question? It may belong some other place, but I will ask it here.

I have several Smith revolvers in various calibers, but this 640 is the first concealed hammer model I have owned. The question...my trigger is very smooth, but I can "feel" the break (take-up) in the trigger more than I can my other Smiths. Is this my imagination, or is this more pronounced "break" a natural thing with the heavy concealed hammer.

It's wonderful for staging the trigger. Maybe it's just this particular gun and the design of the hammer.

Last edited by snubbiefan; 12-05-2011 at 10:01 AM.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:06 AM
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Let me ask the question in a different manner. Remember, this 640 ND is my first concealed hammer revolver. Is the trigger-pull LONGER in the concealed hammer lock-work as opposed to the models with hammers.

I fully realize there is some difference within the lock-work as the hammer block is not readily visible when the side plate is popped off. This gun was so clean on the inside and the action was so smooth that I did not take it completely apart, so I honestly admit that I am not sure of the differences in the actions.

I guess I will ask it this way again....does anybody know if the trigger pull is naturally LONGER on the concealed hammer revolvers?
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:32 AM
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It's the same except for no hammer block.
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Old 12-09-2011, 08:38 AM
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Good....Now I know I am not missing any parts.

Yep...I realized that right off the bat and I understand the need not to have one. It would be pretty hard to hit a covered-up hammer and cause a discharge by accident. Maybe it's just me, or this particular gun, but the trigger-pull seems long. SMOOTH as silk...just seems longer.

Last edited by snubbiefan; 12-09-2011 at 09:58 AM.
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Old 01-07-2013, 07:10 PM
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Very new to this forum, hope you all don't mind my chimeing in but really love my three J frame revolvers.
Have a 640-1 chambered for 357M although it only gets 38 wadcutters sent down the barrel. Serial number is BUJ05xx but I don't know the year it was made; has unmarked rubber grips so guessing their Hogue; barrel length is 2 &1/8 inch. Also has pinned front site but maybe that is for all of them, I don't know. Being a stock gun the trigger pull is very smooth, never feeling heavy to me. I keep looking for another nice condition 640 but in 38 special. Thanks everyone for this great thread on the 640 Smiths.

GC45

Last edited by gc45; 01-07-2013 at 07:25 PM.
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:27 AM
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The internal or hamerless j frame was reintroduced in 1989 and designated the 640. The first 1000 produced were the "centenial" and ONLY the first 1000 carry the CEN prefix serial number. If you have one hold on to it. I worked at a shop/range at the time and our S&W rep was able to secure a low serial number one for me. Great gun, I still carry it off duty a lot, even 20+ years later. I hope this does a little to clear up the CEN questions.

Last edited by cube121; 01-13-2013 at 01:31 AM. Reason: typo
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Old 01-13-2013, 01:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zellerSC View Post
Are all these designated as "Centennial?"

I see some have CEN in the S/N, and others don't....I guess the 640 no dash's are the Centennial's?????

Also, are the Centennials more desireable?

Thanks.
The model name Centennial applies to S&W's revolver with the completely enclosed hammer that was introduced in 1952 to commemorate the 100th (Centennial) anniversary of the company. Originally called the Model 40 in steel and the Model 42 (Airweight), the two models were later discontinued. The drive for double action only handguns was one cause for the reintroduction of the enclosed hammer model. When reintroduced, it was in stainless and called the 640 (following S&W's model numbering which was to put a 6 in front of the number to signify stainless). If I recall correctly, the first reintroduction of the 640 intentionally had the CEN-prefix, and they were also laser engraved in the frame window "Tested for +P+" or something to that effect. At the time, that was a big deal. The 640 might have been the only S&W up to that time sold on the commercial market which was specifically approved for +P+.

In any event, the name Centennial applies to a J frame with the enclosed hammer (40, 42, 640, 442, 642, etc.), the name Bodyguard applies to the J frame with the shrouded hammer that you can still cock for single action firing (38, 49, 438, 638, 649, etc.) and the name Chief's Special applies to a J frame with a fully exposed hammer (36, 37, 60, 637, etc.). To make matters more confusing, S&W has from time to time offered the Chief's Special with a bobbed hammer in double action only (37, 60 and perhaps other model numbers for the Chief's Special).

Whether the Centennial is more valuable or not depends on what the purchaser wants.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:01 PM
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The internal or hamerless j frame was reintroduced in 1989 and designated the 640. The first 1000 produced were the "centenial" and ONLY the first 1000 carry the CEN prefix serial number. If you have one hold on to it. I worked at a shop/range at the time and our S&W rep was able to secure a low serial number one for me. Great gun, I still carry it off duty a lot, even 20+ years later. I hope this does a little to clear up the CEN questions.
Picked one up today with a serial number of CEN00xx - lower than fifty. Marked as tested for +P+.

What is your source for only the first 1000 being labeled with CEN?

Thanks!

Last edited by pmosley; 07-10-2013 at 08:03 PM.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:32 PM
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My 640 no-dash was built in 1990 according to S&W. It has the CEN prefix and a number above 4000, and is etched inside the grip frame (bottom strap) "Tested For +P+".

It's a very fine little revolver. I see no need for one in .357 Magnum, but whatever suits you is yours to decide. It seems to me you have to really like recoil, flash and blast to shoot .357 stuff in a snubby, even an all-steel one.
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Old 07-10-2013, 08:41 PM
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Hmmmmmm, that would debunk that only the first 1000 carried the CEN designation. The mystery remains.

As a previous owner of a ported 640-1 chambered in 357 I concur with your assessment.

I have bigger, heavier guns for that.
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snubbiefan View Post
Sorry Max.....I detect the "plug in the hole". You almost had me tempted there for a minute.

Yep....I am a NL guy and nothing one can do to cover-up the wart-hole can sway me either way. I have removed locks and covered-up holes for other people....but not for me.
FWIW, they still make these (or at least 642s) without the lock.

I know because I just bought one new at a LGS.

The one in the display case had no lock, but the ones in the back room did. I took the one without the lock.

I don't know if mine has no lock because S&W just makes some percentage without the lock, or what.

Dave
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340, 38spl, 442, 637, 640, 642, airweight, bianchi, bodyguard, centennial, concealed, j frame, jovino, lock, model 60, polymer, sig arms

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