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Old 01-09-2021, 03:32 PM
tws3boys tws3boys is offline
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Question 642 air weight +p Again.

Hello everyone.
I know this question has probably been asked a couple hundred times already. But, I'm new here so I'm thinking I should get to ask it
again.
I have a 642-1 38 special. I've asked in several other places if it's ok to use +P ammo. Problem is each time I ask I get a different answer. Some say yes and some say no.
So I've come to the S&W experts.
Is it ok to use +P ammo in my S&W 642-1 38 special?
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:37 PM
Muss Muggins Muss Muggins is offline
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Isnít it stamped +P on the barrel?
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:40 PM
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Limited use of +P ammo is ok. I would stick with standard ammo for 95% of my shooting. Easier on the hand and definitely easier on the firearm. Although not the rule and probably an exception are rare instances where excessive use of +P ammo cracked the aluminum frame.
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Old 01-09-2021, 03:49 PM
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What Muss said. Look on your barrel. I'm wearing my 642-1 as I type this and the barrel is stamped .38 S&W SPL +P.
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:06 PM
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No, No +p stamped on the gun. Only 642-1
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:11 PM
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Welcome! Have a look on the left side of the frame, at the part sticking out that keeps the cylinder from falling off the back with the action open (the frame lug). It should be a J shaped protrusion integral with the frame, indicating it is a "J Magnum" frame and approved for + P.
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:26 PM
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I bought my 642-1 new in October 1998. I have read where earlier - perhaps 1996 or 1997 and earlier 642's - were built on a less beefy frame and were not rated +P. But I am neither an expert or S&W historian.

If it were mine, and it was not marked +P, I would not shoot +P in it. (Even though I suspect the gun could handle limited amounts of it.)
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tws3boys View Post
No, No +p stamped on the gun. Only 642-1
I've never seen a 642-1 that wasn't stamped +P on the barrel. Are you sure it's a 642-1? It could be a 642 no-dash.

This is my 642-1:



The barrel is stamped +P and the model number, 642-1, is stamped on the frame just under the black box in the image. My 642 no-dash says "MOD 642" on the frame.
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Old 01-09-2021, 04:35 PM
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Then donít . . .

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No, No +p stamped on the gun. Only 642-1
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Old 01-09-2021, 05:10 PM
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The 642-1 change moved to the longer cylinder in the magnum frame length so the Airweights could safely handle plus P. As mentioned above, I have never seen a 642-1 not marked for plus P. I have also seen a few cracked frames over the years despite the longer frame. Most of the time over-torqued barrels result in cracked frames as frequently as shooting.
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:03 PM
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[ATTACH][ATTACH] of[/ATTACH][/ATTACH]Absolutely Positively sure that there is no +p stamped anywhere on the gun. Smith&Wesson stamped on left side of barrel. 38 S&W SPL on right. No +P anywhere on gun. <Period.
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:09 PM
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What about the frame lug? Probably a leftover barrel on a newer frame.
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Old 01-09-2021, 06:17 PM
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As a practical matter, +p ammo adds only to the ammo makerís bottom line.

Standard velocity ammo will work just fine for any application appropriate to the gun.

Iím always amazed by the attraction of +p ammo: folks are always happy to spend for pricy ammo instead of spending on range time and standard velocity ammo to develop the skill needed to hit what theyíre shooting at.
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Old 01-09-2021, 07:06 PM
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I'm 73. I've owned guns since I was 15 years old. I've hunted with guns all my adult life. My hobby is finding old, beat up, stuck back in the corner and forgotten firearms. Repair, refinish and get shooting again. I have much on and off the range shooting experience. I am asking the question because I own a S&W 642-1 along with 11 other firearms And I just happen to have a couple boxes of +p ammo.
In other words. What I trying to say is Get off your high horse. There just may be some of US out here that may know as much (or maybe even a little more) than you about guns and shooting. Thank You

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Old 01-09-2021, 07:43 PM
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(Deleted) Your question was answered. It donít have +P on the barrel. Donít shoot +P thru it . . .

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I'm 73. I've owned guns since I was 15 years old. I've hunted with guns all my adult life. My hobby is finding old, beat up, stuck back in the corner and forgotten firearms. Repair, refinish and get shooting again. I have much on and off the range shooting experience. I am asking the question because I own a S&W 642-1 along with 11 other firearms And I just happen to have a couple boxes of +p ammo.
In other words. What I trying to say is Get off your high horse. There just may be some of US out here that may know as much (or maybe even a little more) than you about guns and shooting. Thank You
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Old 01-09-2021, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
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Get off your high horse. Your question was answered. It donít have +P on the barrel. Donít shoot +P thru it . . .
tws3boys' reply is likely directed at Rpg's prickly comment denigrating shooters of +P ammo; not at all who replied. He might to have used the quote function.
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Old 01-10-2021, 12:06 PM
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Yes, Hapworth you are correct. My reply was directed at Rpg's comment and I did not use the quote function. Just forgot, I guess.
I have a S&W 642-1. Right now it's loaded with non-+P 38 spcl ammo. I do happen to have a couple of boxes of +P ammo in hand. I have asked this question several times in other fourm s and got different answers. I thought that if I asked here, The S&W fourm, I just may get the correct answer.
Instead I get Rpg's (Prickly comment) as you put it. Rpg does not know me. He does not know what I shoot, how I shoot, where I shoot or how much time I spend at the range. And he certainly has no right to lecture me on what ammo I chose or how much I spend on it. Anyway, I've contacted S&W. Maybe they can answer my question and hopefully without a lecture.
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Old 01-10-2021, 01:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tws3boys View Post
Yes, Hapworth you are correct. My reply was directed at Rpg's comment and I did not use the quote function. Just forgot, I guess.
I have a S&W 642-1. Right now it's loaded with non-+P 38 spcl ammo. I do happen to have a couple of boxes of +P ammo in hand. I have asked this question several times in other fourm s and got different answers. I thought that if I asked here, The S&W fourm, I just may get the correct answer.
Instead I get Rpg's (Prickly comment) as you put it. Rpg does not know me. He does not know what I shoot, how I shoot, where I shoot or how much time I spend at the range. And he certainly has no right to lecture me on what ammo I chose or how much I spend on it. Anyway, I've contacted S&W. Maybe they can answer my question and hopefully without a lecture.
I understand where you're coming from; if I'd posted your question and gotten Rpg's answer I'd be a bit put-off, too.

If it helps, I'll vouch for him: Rpg's good folk with a lot of helpful ammo knowledge he shares freely; like many of us here, he also has his opinions and some are a little pointy. I didn't read his comment as a direct swipe at you, just a general (and debatable) bugaboo of his shared, probably unnecessarily.

Back on subject...

With the serial number you might be able to determine when your 642 left the factory; this might better approximate if it was built when 642s were +P rated or if it wasn't. It is a bit odd if it is +P rated not to have that on the barrel, based on how S&W's been stamping these for some time.

Safest of course is just not to shoot +P. That said, factory +P really isn't all that hot compared to standard; a little more is all. There is much discussion of it on this forum and very credible reasoning that because +P loads today are closer to standard pressure loads of yesteryear, it should be safe to fire at least some in any modern J-frame.

Personally, I'd have no qualms putting some through a 642, even without the stamp. I wouldn't make it the main diet, but if I were going to carry +P, I'd feel comfortable putting some through occasionally for training and assessment.

And for what it's worth, I'm one of those +P shooting and carrying dopes myself, simply because the most proven defense loads in the revolvers I carry happen to be +Ps. It's all good.

Welcome to the Forum; it's a great place and you'll enjoy.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:37 PM
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I wouldn't mind seeing a photo of the left side of the subject 642-1. This is just my curiosity regarding whether the subject 642-1 actually has the "magnum" type frame with the elongated cylinder stop/limiter.

As I remember, when the 642-1 and 442-1 came out, the 642 version had the +P marked on the barrel but the 442 version did not (just a comment and likely has no significance to the OP's subject). I could see how a non+P marked barrel could have been fitted to the OP's 642-1 and perhaps this might make the OP's gun extra-rare, but not in a way to make it more or less valuable.

FYI, my 642-1's barrel is marked with the info all on the left side (w/+P), and is blank on its right side, unlike the OP's pic.

My last comment is also my observation in that most JHP self-defense .38 Special ammo is being made & sold only in the+P variant. I don't see much, if any, non +P .38 Special ammo being made or sold at all, and not because of the current Covid/political reasons of ammo being hard-to-get/find.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
What about the frame lug? Probably a leftover barrel on a newer frame.
I believe this is spot on. The 642-1 marked S&W moving up to the magnum J frame, and tws3boys may have a relatively rare version of yet another example of S&W using up old parts. If the op were to give us his serial number, we may see that he does indeed have an early -1 gun with a no dash barrel.

OP: don't take offense to some of the remarks here. We try to make sure the few members we have that bite have had all their shots.
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:45 PM
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Quote:
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I wouldn't mind seeing a photo of the left side of the subject 642-1. This is just my curiosity regarding whether the subject 642-1 actually has the "magnum" type frame with the elongated cylinder stop/limiter.

As I remember, when the 642-1 and 442-1 came out, the 642 version had the +P marked on the barrel but the 442 version did not (just a comment and likely has no significance to the OP's subject). I could see how a non+P marked barrel could have been fitted to the OP's 642-1 and perhaps this might make the OP's gun extra-rare, but not in a way to make it more or less valuable.

My last comment is also my observation in that most JHP self-defense .38 Special ammo is being made & sold only in the+P variant. I don't see much, if any, non +P .38 Special ammo being made or sold at all, and not because of the current Covid/political reasons of ammo being hard-to-get/find.
This.
If the left hand shows an integral spine rather than the pressed in lug as the cylinder stop then it is the newer J magnum frame regardless of what the barrel says and can tolerate +p's. Show us a picture of the left side of the gun and we can answer your question definitively poste haste.
If you want some wicked non +p 38 ammo, I suggest Fiocchi 148 gr JHP. I carry them in my 337 and 638-2
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Old 01-10-2021, 03:47 PM
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OP: don't take offense to some of the remarks here. We try to make sure the few members we have that bite have had all their shots.
At least those who still have their teeth
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Old 01-10-2021, 04:57 PM
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I wouldn't mind seeing a photo of the left side of the subject 642-1. This is just my curiosity regarding whether the subject 642-1 actually has the "magnum" type frame with the elongated cylinder stop/limiter.

As I remember, when the 642-1 and 442-1 came out, the 642 version had the +P marked on the barrel but the 442 version did not (just a comment and likely has no significance to the OP's subject). I could see how a non+P marked barrel could have been fitted to the OP's 642-1 and perhaps this might make the OP's gun extra-rare, but not in a way to make it more or less valuable.

FYI, my 642-1's barrel is marked with the info all on the left side (w/+P), and is blank on its right side, unlike the OP's pic.

My last comment is also my observation in that most JHP self-defense .38 Special ammo is being made & sold only in the+P variant. I don't see much, if any, non +P .38 Special ammo being made or sold at all, and not because of the current Covid/political reasons of ammo being hard-to-get/find.
Here is the left side of my 642-1. Smith&Wesson is all thats stamped on the left and 38 S&W spl on the right. 642-1 is visible on the left when cylinder is open.
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Old 01-10-2021, 05:20 PM
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Quote:
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I believe this is spot on. The 642-1 marked S&W moving up to the magnum J frame, and tws3boys may have a relatively rare version of yet another example of S&W using up old parts. If the op were to give us his serial number, we may see that he does indeed have an early -1 gun with a no dash barrel.

OP: don't take offense to some of the remarks here. We try to make sure the few members we have that bite have had all their shots.
CBZ9555 serial number
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Old 01-10-2021, 06:26 PM
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Here is the left side of my 642-1. Smith&Wesson is all thats stamped on the left and 38 S&W spl on the right. 642-1 is visible on the left when cylinder is open.

Here is what they keep asking about.
Does your gun have a frame lug like this??



642 air weight +p Again.-dsc02932-jpg
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Old 01-10-2021, 06:45 PM
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Here is what they keep asking about.
Does your gun have a frame lug like this??



642 air weight +p Again.-dsc02932-jpg
Yes it does have a frame lug.like that.
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:08 PM
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According to the SCSW book, the original 642 on the original frame was in the serial number range BFV8356 to BFV9947, with 12,260 units manufactured when it was discontinued in 1992.

The 642-1 was re-introduced in 1996, "with the new J Magnum frame with 3 screws rated for +P as a hammerless centennial with a slightly larger alloy frame and stainless steel cylinder, the firing pin was changed to a floating design, cylinder stop now machined into the frame, frosted satin finish. "Airweight" is laser engraved on the side plate with the S&W trademark found on the frame as well as the sideplate..."

Also, the first serial number prefix listed for 1996 is CAM. CBZ is most likely sometime in 1997, but not documented, see Appendix B, page 491.

Hope that helps, and enjoy your +P rounds in good health!
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Old 01-10-2021, 07:48 PM
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Some here have WAY more guns than teeth! And I'm not sayin' that's a bad thing!
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:03 PM
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You can shoot your +p. I dont think youre going to rattle your gun apart.
38 spl is very low pressure round and +p is a smidge higher than that.
You will be totally safe.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:12 PM
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Some here have WAY more guns than teeth!
That's me. More guns than teeth and more powder than brains. But I would like to apologise to Rpg and all others for my rant and rave.
Thanks for all your help.
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Old 01-10-2021, 08:36 PM
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I found this thread very interesting and informative. So is the consensus his gun was sn early production 642-1 and the factory likely was just using up old barrels?
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:32 PM
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I found this thread very interesting and informative. So is the consensus his gun was sn early production 642-1 and the factory likely was just using up old barrels?
Yes on the former, and not necessarily the latter. According to the SCSW, the earlier barrel length was slightly longer, by about .15", so if you measured it accurately you would know for sure.

Some changes do not seem to warrant a new dash number. For example starting August 1997, "All Barrel Markings move to left side/Right barrel now blank." There are little notes like that for every revolver and production version.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:33 PM
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Originally Posted by tws3boys View Post
Yes it does have a frame lug.like that.

Then you have the "Magnum" frame. If you'd had the press-in part it would be different.

You're good with +P.
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Old 01-10-2021, 11:48 PM
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Some here have WAY more guns than teeth! And I'm not sayin' that's a bad thing!
Well heck YEAH. Even if you have your wisdom teeth you only have 32 teeth total.
I'd bet about 90% of the regulars around here have more guns than that.
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Old 01-11-2021, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by hyena View Post
I found this thread very interesting and informative. So is the consensus his gun was sn early production 642-1 and the factory likely was just using up old barrels?
After following along, I'm with others here, it's good for +P. As for the use of older or barrels from other similar guns, S&W has always been known to not to waste parts. Hence the reason many 3rd Gen semi's shared frames, barrels, and other parts with the older 2nd Gens. If they had a batch of barrels built for the 442's and needed barrels to finish a run of 642-1's, bead blasting instead of black adonizing provides them with the parts they need and yields no waste.
Congrats on your 642-1, shoot her and enjoy.
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Old 01-11-2021, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tws3boys View Post
That's me. More guns than teeth and more powder than brains. But I would like to apologise to Rpg and all others for my rant and rave.
Thanks for all your help.
Welcome to the forum and you will find that there are many others that are similar. Being older and a bit "crotchety" many of us our not bashful about sharing our opinions, even when no exactly on subject. I doubt that Rpg's were actually aimed at you as much as they were an expression of his opinion of +P ammo and some ammunition suppliers.

Its all good here. I would add "Trust me" but thats been used by to many con men
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:34 AM
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Max SAAMI pressure of .38 special is 17500 psi. +P is either 18500 or 20000 psi, depending on the source. Not much of a difference.

My 642-2 is marked +P, but I still wouldn't be worried about it if it wasn't. They aren't designed so close to the minimum sufficient strength that it will explode at 17501 psi.
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Old 01-11-2021, 11:54 AM
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No question that the 642 can handle +P; but my hands don't like shooting an Air Weight with standard .38. Hotter loads would be a hand and wrist killer.
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Old 01-11-2021, 06:34 PM
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No question that the 642 can handle +P; but my hands don't like shooting an Air Weight with standard .38. Hotter loads would be a hand and wrist killer.
I agree with you holster. I shoot my 642 now and then only to keep acquainted with it. The lowly 22lr is my shooter of choice now. About all my old hands can take these days.
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Old 01-11-2021, 07:21 PM
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[ATTACH][ATTACH] of[/ATTACH][/ATTACH]Absolutely Positively sure that there is no +p stamped anywhere on the gun. Smith&Wesson stamped on left side of barrel. 38 S&W SPL on right. No +P anywhere on gun. <Period.
That's your answer. That firearm was manufactured after +p ammo was available. Had they intended it for +p, they'd have marked it so.

Some, much earlier, firearms are OK with +p despite not being so marked. But they were manufactured prior to it's introduction.
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  #41  
Old 01-11-2021, 07:51 PM
Muss Muggins Muss Muggins is offline
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So this was just a theoretical discussion? I would have approached this in an entirely different manner if I knew the OP wasnít going to shoot it . .

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I agree with you holster. I shoot my 642 now and then only to keep acquainted with it. The lowly 22lr is my shooter of choice now. About all my old hands can take these days.
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  #42  
Old 01-11-2021, 10:53 PM
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So this was just a theoretical discussion? I would have approached this in an entirely different manner if I knew the OP wasnít going to shoot it . .
I mostly use a 22lr at the range, most of the time. My 642 is loaded and kept by the bed for nasty little night crawlers and such. And, is my carry. That why I keep acquainted with it. Every now and then I may even pull out my 30 30, 30 06, 12ga. Or even my 50cal muzzleloader. I said my shooter of " choice". I didn't say it's the only thing I ever shoot.
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Old 01-12-2021, 12:42 PM
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I contacted Smith&Wesson by email. Got the answer today. They say my 642-1 is Not rated for +P ammunition. So I guess that answers that.
I just remembered how I got one box of 38 spl. +P ammo. I don't remember what store I was in but I noticed they had only two boxes of 38 spl on the shelf. One was a one hundred count box of Winchester 130gr. FMJ Target. The other was a 50 count box Winchester 130gr.FMJ Target. I bought both and put them in my ammo cabinet. I think it may have been a couple years later I pulled out the 50 count box and opened it up to find that they were 38 +P spl hollow point. The one hundred count box was 130gr. FMJ Target. I still have both boxes. Anyone have that happen before?
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Old 01-12-2021, 12:49 PM
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I contacted Smith&Wesson by email. Got the answer today. They say my 642-1 is Not rated for +P ammunition. So I guess that answers that.
I just remembered how I got one box of 38 spl. +P ammo. I don't remember what store I was in but I noticed they had only two boxes of 38 spl on the shelf. One was a one hundred count box of Winchester 130gr. FMJ Target. The other was a 50 count box Winchester 130gr.FMJ Target. I bought both and put them in my ammo cabinet. I think it may have been a couple years later I pulled out the 50 count box and opened it up to find that they were 38 +P spl hollow point. The one hundred count box was 130gr. FMJ Target. I still have both boxes. Anyone have that happen before?
Looks like you got your answer. I am surprised that it isn't rated for +P, I thought everything since 1950 or 1960 was.

Not offering any advice or suggestions, you need to make up your own mind as to what is safe and what isn't, but this is the way I think of it:

.38 and .38 +P pressures are so close, if a firearm can't safely shoot +P, it isn't safe to shoot regular .38 either (sort of a reverse way of thinking about it).
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Old 01-12-2021, 01:21 PM
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Looks like you got your answer. I am surprised that it isn't rated for +P, I thought everything since 1950 or 1960 was.

Not offering any advice or suggestions, you need to make up your own mind as to what is safe and what isn't, but this is the way I think of it:

.38 and .38 +P pressures are so close, if a firearm can't safely shoot +P, it isn't safe to shoot regular .38 either (sort of a reverse way of thinking about it).
I think you are correct. It's loaded with +P now. At the range I'll use the target rounds.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:04 PM
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...I am surprised that it isn't rated for +P, I thought everything since 1950 or 1960 was...
You might be thinking of the old Forum standard, which I think was once (and might still be) S&W's official line that all model marked (as in the numbering system since the late '50s) all steel revolvers are rated for +P, as distinct from aluminum-framed ones.
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Old 01-12-2021, 02:06 PM
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For the last 40+ years I’ve sited in multiple Snubs with plus P 38. I practiced with standard loads of the same weight. I carried the plus P rounds. I’ve never had any problems with any of the Snubs. If you’re worried about shooting the plus P I’m sure there are standard loads suitable for self-defense shooting. You could probably trade somebody the plus P loads for standard loads.
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  #48  
Old 01-12-2021, 04:27 PM
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You might be thinking of the old Forum standard, which I think was once (and might still be) S&W's official line that all model marked (as in the numbering system since the late '50s) all steel revolvers are rated for +P, as distinct from aluminum-framed ones.
Ah, that's it. I forgot about the steel requirement.
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:33 PM
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"all steel†revolvers are rated for +P, as distinct from aluminum-framed ones".

Does this mean my aluminum framed 637-2 revolvers are not capable of handling +P even though they are marked +P ?
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Old 01-12-2021, 10:55 PM
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It's a triple answer!

1. "I contacted Smith&Wesson by email. Got the answer today. They say my 642-1 is Not rated for +P ammunition."

Simply incorrect. Another factory customer service representative may give you the right answer but I wouldn't count on it. Perhaps the reply came from someone not familiar with the J Magnum frame, or didn't want to tell you that your 24 year old gun was safe to fire at all sight unseen.

2. "You might be thinking of the old Forum standard, which I think was once (and might still be) S&W's official line that all model marked (as in the numbering system since the late '50s) all steel revolvers are rated for +P, as distinct from aluminum-framed ones."

Close but not quite. S & W stated that any model stamped K and N frame steel revolvers in .38 Special were + P approved. For steel J frames it wasn't until the models 60-7 and 640 in the 1990s.

3. "Does this mean my aluminum framed 637-2 revolvers are not capable of handling +P even though they are marked +P ?"

The alloy J Magnum frames like your 637-2 are + P approved. So was the 637-1, similar to the 642-1 that started this thread.
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