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Old 10-08-2018, 12:00 PM
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Default Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip

I saw this 438 new today (10/8/2018) at the Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore for $320 with free shipping - limited time offer. I know this is a discontinued piece but my wife wants a .38 revolver and this looks like it fits the bill. I like the hump back, semi-exposed hammer (vs no hammer) and small size. Good deal or stay away??
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Old 10-08-2018, 12:27 PM
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RunóóBUY.....
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Old 10-08-2018, 12:34 PM
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Good deal but see this. On Gunbroker, 442 Performance Center from Tanners. $329, Tuned by the performance center. So smooth you won’t miss the single action. Slicker to draw from a holster too. Good deal either choice
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Old 10-08-2018, 12:52 PM
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I think itís a good deal for a good revolver.
You mentioned itís for your wife. I donít know how much she shoots but something you should think about is those airweight snubbie J frames are best in the hands of experienced shooters. Some people find they are unpleasant to shoot even with 38 special ammo. Depending on your budget, she could practice mostly with a steel frame revolver which will be a little easier for recoil and then shoot fewer rounds with the airweight so she is familiar with POI.
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:10 PM
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I think itís a good deal for a good revolver.
You mentioned itís for your wife. I donít know how much she shoots but something you should think about is those airweight snubbie J frames are best in the hands of experienced shooters. Some people find they are unpleasant to shoot even with 38 special ammo. Depending on your budget, she could practice mostly with a steel frame revolver which will be a little easier for recoil and then shoot fewer rounds with the airweight so she is familiar with POI.
Practice and/or carry wadcutters
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:13 PM
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Good deal but see this. On Gunbroker, 442 Performance Center from Tanners. $329, Tuned by the performance center. So smooth you wonít miss the single action. Slicker to draw from a holster too. Good deal either choice
I was just at Tanners Saturday and bought one. You canít beat that price.
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Old 10-08-2018, 01:25 PM
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I shot my buddy's airweight and with standard 38 special it was almost as snappy as an all steel j-frame shooting 357 magnums. With 38+p I'm sure it would be feel pretty much the same as the magnums in a steel gun.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:16 PM
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Great deal. I want a humpback. However, I think like someone pointed out, the 442 they have has no internal lock. I love my 442. Having said that, I wouldn't fault someone for wanting single action capability. Especially for a Gal. The DA pulls on the J frames can be stiff and my girls don't like it. I will say my 442's is heavier than some of the J frames I've fondled. But I've also fondled others that are just as heavy.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ridgewalker View Post
I think itís a good deal for a good revolver.
You mentioned itís for your wife. I donít know how much she shoots but something you should think about is those airweight snubbie J frames are best in the hands of experienced shooters. Some people find they are unpleasant to shoot even with 38 special ammo. Depending on your budget, she could practice mostly with a steel frame revolver which will be a little easier for recoil and then shoot fewer rounds with the airweight so she is familiar with POI.
Understand the airweight. She currently has a Taurus TCP .380. She just doesn't like an auto and wanted a revolver. Hope this with .38 spl is no worse than that ultra-light TCP.
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:51 PM
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Great deal. I want a humpback. However, I think like someone pointed out, the 442 they have has no internal lock. I love my 442. Having said that, I wouldn't fault someone for wanting single action capability. Especially for a Gal. The DA pulls on the J frames can be stiff and my girls don't like it. I will say my 442's is heavier than some of the J frames I've fondled. But I've also fondled others that are just as heavy.
ABPOS, help me understand the issues with an internal lock? Just unlock it and throw away the key right? Seriously. is there issues with an unlocked pistol locking by itself?
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Old 10-08-2018, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by edubbie View Post
I saw this 438 new today (10/8/2018) at the Sportsmans Outdoor Superstore for $320 with free shipping - limited time offer. I know this is a discontinued piece but my wife wants a .38 revolver and this looks like it fits the bill. I like the hump back, semi-exposed hammer (vs no hammer) and small size. Good deal or stay away??
IT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD DEAL TO ME, ESPECIALLY IF ITS WHAT YOUR WIFE WANTS....

IMHO, THE SEMI EXPOSED HAMMER IS THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS. WHILE MITIGATING AGAINST SNAGS, IT WILL ALLOW YOUR WIFE TO RELAX, AND GAIN CONFIDENC IN HERSELF, AND THE WEAPON, BY SHOOTING IT SA, INSTEAD OF DAO.....
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Old 10-08-2018, 04:09 PM
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I have found the humpback J frame to be the perfect pocket gun. During the draw stroke, the hump glides the top of the pocket away from the hand and gun, allowing for a smooth and snag free draw.

I'm glad you posted this, because I will be snagging one and putting my 351PD up for sale to pay for it.
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Old 10-08-2018, 04:36 PM
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I bought a 442 shortly after they were released for sale. My wife liked it, especially after I installed a set of Pachmayr Compact grips on it. Those are big enough for me to shoot the revolver well and small enough for her to shoot it well also. She shoots it very well with standard loads but also can shoot a few cylinders full of +P premium ammo as well without causing her to flinch or bother her aim. She actually claimed it as her gun and allows me to shoot it or carry it if and when I choose to carry an airweight. Nothing at all wrong with the 438 either. I'm just very fond of the hammerless Centennial frames. If your wife likes it, that's the one you should buy. Either one is a good deal!
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:57 PM
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I picked up a 438 from the same outfit about a year and a half ago. I prefer it over my 442, just a personal thing as I just like to hold my thumb against the hammer when I holster. Oh, and it's almost always in my pocket in either a Mika or Lobo pocket holster. That is a good deal, go for it.
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Old 10-08-2018, 06:37 PM
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Thanks everyone for your comments. I went ahead and pulled the trigger (pun intended) on this one. No tax and free shipping. $15 FFL transfer.

As for the 442, specs show it's about a 1/2 oz. lighter so I don't think the recoil will be much different between them. My only other revolver is a older 586-2 with a 6" barrel so this will be an interesting endevor.
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Old 10-09-2018, 01:59 PM
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I am not into recoil. I've always tended to gravitate towards light recoiling handguns. My M9 was one of my favorite pistols and the HiPower too. Both are easy guns to shoot. I prefer 5.56 rifles over .308. That type of a thing. Heck I wish they all felt like .22's but hit like .357's. LOL.

I'm painting a picture for you. All to say that I don't find my 442 hard to shoot. Part of it being so light, is that it gets back on target fast too. But my caveat is I definitely don't shoot +p's in it and focus more on lighter recoiling rounds. In fact for winter I'm thinking about just carrying PMC or Winchester FMJ's. Because they both are light recoiling and I prefer to have adequate penetration. Seeins how snubby .38's struggle to have enough velocity to open up a HP bullet and penetrate well. I carry Hornady American Gunners in 125 grain HP's. But they are known to not open up and penetrate well. But even that load is kind of hot. Actually, I don't notice much difference in felt recoil between those and the Remington Golden Saber 125 +p's.

As far as the lock goes, there have been a few people that have reported the lock to inadvertently engage while shooting. Even though it was turned to the off position. Basically I guess it jimmied loose or something from recoil. You can buy a plug for them and take them out. If I had one and it was a serious defense gun. I would do that. However, it may be just insurance because probably most lock guns work fine without that happening. It's just a small possibility. But one that you can get rid of.
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Old 10-10-2018, 04:03 AM
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Since you're considering FMJ ammunition in your snub for winter carry, maybe you'd like to look at the Federal 130gr "range ammo." I find it noticeably snappier than other 130gr .38 rounds.

Several years ago, I picked up a box of Israeli .38 FMJ-RN ammunition. Don't know the weight of the bullet, but these rounds were "ring-tailed tooters," +P and maybe more. FYI. Good shooting!

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Old 10-10-2018, 06:32 AM
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I've owned two 438s over the years and currently own a M38 (and other Js). Anyway, I'm a fan of the humpback. The only thing that would concern me about the gun linked in OP is the large grip size. Probably great for shooting, but not for pocket carry, where I believe a J frame carries best.

Also, you don't want to throw away the key (tool) to unlock the gun. Search this forum as to why.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:01 AM
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I've owned two 438s over the years and currently own a M38 (and other Js). Anyway, I'm a fan of the humpback. The only thing that would concern me about the gun linked in OP is the large grip size. Probably great for shooting, but not for pocket carry, where I believe a J frame carries best.

Also, you don't want to throw away the key (tool) to unlock the gun. Search this forum as to why.
The "throw away the key" was a little sarcasm. I don't throw away anything - including the box. I have thought about the handle. I'm hoping this J-frame allows for grip change and if so, I'll probably look at something smaller. Wifey will not be wearing this on her hip so will be looking at this along the way. Also, probably won't be shooting +Ps. Thanks for all the feedback.
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Old 10-10-2018, 08:25 AM
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The "throw away the key" was a little sarcasm. I don't throw away anything - including the box. I have thought about the handle. I'm hoping this J-frame allows for grip change and if so, I'll probably look at something smaller. Wifey will not be wearing this on her hip so will be looking at this along the way. Also, probably won't be shooting +Ps. Thanks for all the feedback.
The lock can become a problem but only with Magnum calibers in my experience. My M625, shooting .45Supers, 255grain Hard Cast Keith's pushing 1,100fps were a first hand problem for me. They caused significantly more recoil than a .45ACP, 230gr @ 875fps. I was training with the factory loaded Buffalo Bore .45Supers because that was my "Woods-Load" I carried for 5 years in a converted 1911 previously but got into Moon Clip Equipped Revolvers because I could run .45ACP's, .45Auto-Rim, and .45Supers without changing mainsprings, recoil springs, and magazine springs like I'd have to on my 1911 to reliable go from ACP's to Supers. Starting out with HST's in .45acp the gun ran great starting out. After my 3rd clip of Supers the gun's action started getting really hard to work/pull the trigger. I set the gun down and finished the session with other pistols I brought for the day. I get the 625 home and get the key out once the gun is on the bench and notice the lock had ever so slightly rotated under the heavy recoil. I snatched that lock out and replaced it with an Original Precision Lock Delete and never had that problem again. This was my experience, take it for what it's worth. But you can read of others with similar experience(s) with .44 Mag Revolvers with the lock. I've never heard of it being a problem on a .38Special Revolver. YMMV...

Pic of M625 with the Original Precision Lock Delete. Loved the gun but sold it to my little brother when I got into 3" barreled .44Mags for my dedicated "Woods-Gun(s)"... They are addictive and so versatile! But then again so is the M625.

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Old 10-10-2018, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by kaaskop49 View Post
Since you're considering FMJ ammunition in your snub for winter carry, maybe you'd like to look at the Federal 130gr "range ammo." I find it noticeably snappier than other 130gr .38 rounds.

Several years ago, I picked up a box of Israeli .38 FMJ-RN ammunition. Don't know the weight of the bullet, but these rounds were "ring-tailed tooters," +P and maybe more. FYI. Good shooting!

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The train and defend stuff or normal white box? I've shot both before and didn't feel like they were hot. But maybe I wasn't paying attention. I've mostly shot PMC 132 grain fmj and those are *****cats.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:58 PM
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As a retired law enforcement firearms instructor, and someone who has been in actual armed confrontations with suspects, I'd just like to add my two cents on something.

I see a lot of threads about j frame revolvers, and especially light or alloy frames, and the fact that they do have some pretty snappy recoil. Yes they do and it is very noticeable when you're at the range.

That being said, if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an armed confrontation, I can tell you from personal experience, under that stress, you probably won't feel the recoil at all. Your body will react to muscle memory, and there will be no thought of recoil, only your fight or flight instincts. Which if you are shooting your J Frame, you've made the decision to fight.

Yes they can be a pain to shoot during range sessions, but practice doesn't always require live fire. Dry practice is very important to maintaining your skill level with a firearm. So take your J Frame to the range and make sure it's stone reliable, and then go from there.

Again only my humble opinion based on 38 years as a firearms instructor.

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Old 10-10-2018, 05:45 PM
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The train and defend stuff or normal white box? I've shot both before and didn't feel like they were hot. But maybe I wasn't paying attention. I've mostly shot PMC 132 grain fmj and those are *****cats.
The standard 'white box,' although the Federal box is reddish. Somewhere online, you're gonna find a heavier .38 standard load, perhaps from the Eastern European suppliers. Don't know which. And at shows, all types of ammo find their way onto the tables of private sellers.

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Old 10-15-2018, 08:01 AM
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Good morning folks. I picked up my 438 this weekend. I haven't had a chance to go to the range yet but while inspecting it when I got home, I noticed a hairline crack on the right side. It may be something that belongs there but it's almost not visible. Is this normal? I highlighted in blue. If that is 2 mated pieces of metal, that sure is a perfect fit.
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:08 AM
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That’s the side plate of the revolver where it meets the frame. Nothing to worry about it belongs there. Now you need to go shoot it
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Old 10-15-2018, 08:17 AM
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Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip  
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Yes, that is the seam where the side plate meets the frame. Nothing to worry about. If you ever remove that side plate never pry on it. There is a proper method to get it off.
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  #27  
Old 10-15-2018, 10:41 AM
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Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip  
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Thanks for the quick replies. I didn't want to shoot it until I knew it was OK. I doubt I would need to remove that plate.
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  #28  
Old 10-15-2018, 11:01 AM
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Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip Smith & Wesson 438 38 Special J-Frame Revolver with Combat Grip  
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Marvel at the precise fit of that curved plate to the rest of the frame.....
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