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Old 01-10-2008, 11:40   #1
Glockanatorrrrr
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J Frame info ---post here

A lot of people have already come to that conclusion; hence the evergreen popularity of the Smith & Wesson J-frame line of 5-shot revolvers. Introduced at the 1950 International Association of Chiefs of Police convention (where the attending chiefs named it the “Chief’s Special”), the 2- and 3-inch J-frame 5-shot revolvers were a replacement for the earlier I-frame revolvers chambered for the less powerful .38 S&W cartridge. These new guns were designed for plain clothes police officers and they have gone through many iterations since that original all-steel model.

In 1952 lighter frame compositions were introduced in the form of the Airweight aluminum-framed models, differing from the standard Chiefs Special revolver by having an aluminum alloy frame (while the cylinder and barrel remained of steel). In the 1998 S&W introduced its AirLite Ti series of the guns, which featured Aluminum alloy frames, cylinder yokes and barrel shrouds. AirLite Ti model’s cylinders are made from Titanium and the barrel liners from stainless steel. In 2000, S&W announced it line of AirLite Sc revolvers, which used a scandium alloy for frame, yoke and barrel shroud (the cylinder in these guns is titanium and barrel liner is steel).

Body-style wise, in 1955, S&W introduced a different frame, the Centennial, its first compact revolver with a DAO trigger. The original Centennial model was dropped in 1974, but latter reintroduced as the all-stainless Model 640 (without the original grip safety.) A Centennial Airweight with aluminum frame and stainless steel cylinder and barrel came next, and in 1993 it was joined by the Model 442 revolver, which has aluminum alloy frame and carbon steel cylinder and barrel. Recently S&W has introduced some more Centennial configuration guns in Airlite Sc and Airlite Ti frames. Another frame variation, the Bodyguard AirWeight model 38 revolver came out in 1957. This gun was a basic Chiefs Special but with a shrouded hammer. It soon was followed by other variations in the Bodyguard configuration.

Today there are many alternatives in materials and body style of the basic J-frame. From the lightest 10 ounce model to the all-steel versions, these little snubbies make a comforting—and comfortable—pocket package. Nothing’s free, of course, and the lightest numbers are the devil to shoot, but at close range and in fear of your life, you’ll probably not fret too much about the recoil.

Brent Purucker, former Michigan state trooper and long-running member of the Smith & Wesson Academy staff, has won several IDPA national revolver titles, with some of those matches including snubbie stages. Brent says that the accuracy of the little J-frame is nothing to sneeze at.

“I’ve easily gotten 2 to 3 inch groups at 15 yards,” he says, a feat echoed in many articles over the years in this magazine.

Not surprisingly, Brent favors the 640-1 all steel model for its extra controllability, while other authorities, such as Wiley Clapp in his book Concealed Carry, published by Paladin Press, come out in favor of the very light models. My own choice is the 342PD, the lightest J-frame of them all.

“The biggest mistake that people make,” says Brent, “is loading these little guns with .38+P or, God forbid, .357 magnum ammunition.” I concur. Mine is loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs from CorBon, with standard load .38 Federal Nyclads in a Bianchi Speed Strip for a second load. That’s not powerful enough for you? Well, you do have five shots — keep shooting.

I chose the light 342PD because it’s a pocket gun for me; on my waist, I can comfortably carry a larger gun. However, many people aren’t as weight sensitive as I am. I know people who carry even larger all steel revolvers in their pants pocket all day, every day, and they see no need to go to a lighter unit. Also, as a revolver, the S&W J-frames have all the advantages of one. They are instinctive and simple to shoot, easy to maintain, and can be easily fit to any hand by simply changing out the grips. In fact, a little while ago I wrote an article for Combat Handguns on the two dozen reasons that instructor Michael DeBethencourt favors a revolver over a self-loader, and they are indeed compelling.

When you can, take the sage advice to “carry the largest gun you can shoot well.” When you can’t, or doing so is so uncomfortable that you’re tempted to go unarmed, do what all of us in the industry do: slip a S&W J-frame snubbie into your pocket.

I found this piece of info while searcing for J frame info. I couldn't find the authors name. But it does have some good info in it!
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Old 01-10-2008, 21:02   #2
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There is some great historical and technical info located at "The Snubnose Files"
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Old 01-14-2008, 19:07   #3
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I forgot to make this a sticky earlier... duh...


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Old 01-14-2008, 21:04   #4
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III. Firearm Information by Type
B. Revolvers
2. Models and Manufacturers
e. Smith & Wesson
3. J-Frame
by Chris Luchini (luchini@scrye.com)
Smith & Wesson Bodyguard J-frame

The Smith and Wesson J-frame revolvers are the classic carry gun, used by police for decades as the official off duty gun. The J-frame guns are usually seen in 38 Special caliber, though both 32 H&R Magnum and 22 Long rifle and 22 Magnum versions have been made. The J-frame guns are 5 shot in 38 Special, and 6 shot in the other calibers. Most of the J-frames guns intended for carry came with 2"-3" barrels, and 'gutter' sights, where the rear sight is a gutter cut in the topstrap. Some, usually those with barrels longer than 2", were made with adjustable sights.

Notable among these J-frames intended for carry are the Airweight series, an aluminum frame 5 shot 38 Special that came with a shrouded hammer. The hammer has a sheet of metal on either side, with just a tab exposed. This reduces or eliminates the possibility that the hammer will catch on clothing, while still allowing the hammer to be manually cocked for single action fire. These Airweight guns are listed at a weight of about 12-13 oz, making them almost the lightest 38 Special guns in production.

Another variant on the J-frame is the Smith & Wesson model 40/640/940/642/442 (Centennial) The Smith and Wesson model 40 was the first of this type of revolver. It is a 5 shot 38 special revolver built on a slightly modified J-frame. It has no external hammer, and is thus double action only. The original model 40 had a grip safety, a projecting lever at the back of the grip that had to be depressed in order for the gun to fire. When Smith and Wesson reintroduced the model 640 Centennial, this grip safety was deleted. The 640 is a stainless steel gun made with modern steels, and is quite strong. The first few thousand of the 640 Centennials produced were marked at the factory as rated for +P+, however the lawyers got into the act and this marking was removed for subsequent production. This action is due to a lack of a SAMMI specificatio n for +P+ 38 Special. At least one gunsmith has offered to ream out the chambers in the 640 Centennial to allow the use of short bullet (125 grain bullet) 357 Magnum ammunition on an emergency basis. Obviously this practice is not recommended, especially since S&W has come out with the 640-1, designed for the 357 Magnum chartridge.

The 640-1 has a cylinder 0.060" longer than the 640, and the frame window is 0.090" longer. This extra clearance is to allow a greater radius on the corners of the frame window. The greater radius reduces the stress during firing, as stress tends to collect at corners. These changes have increased the weight of the gun to 23.5 oz or so. The barrel length has also increased from 1.890" to 2-1/4", allowing a full length ejector rod. The barrel also has a blued pinned in front sight blade, allowing good contrast with the stainless barrel.

Smith and Wesson plans to make these changes to all of their J-frame line in the upcoming months. I am attempting to prevail on S&W to take advantage of this changer over to rate the aluminum frame J-frames for +p ammo. If you would like to contact S&W to express a similar desire for a +p rated airweight, you can reach them at 1-800-331-0852

As of June/22/1995, some J-Frames are: Model Caliber Comments
640 38 Special Stainless, 2" barrel (3" barrel d Rated at +p, but stronger than that.
640-1 357 Magnum Stainless, 2.25" barrel.
940 9mm Stainless, 2" ( 3" discontinued)barrel. Uses full moon clips.
642 38 Special No +p ammo, Aluminum frame, bright finish, 2" barrel ~16 oz Discontinued in 1993, replaced by the 442
Note: According to Glenn Meyer, 642s are back with the Craig Spiegel rubber boot grip and as a Ladysmith with the thinner wood grip.
442 38 Special No +p ammo, Aluminum frame, finish, or bright nickel, 2" barrel ~16 oz
36/37/60 38 Special Blue/aluminum/stainless fra , 2" and 3" barrels, comes with Uncle Mikes Boot grip.
Ladysmith 36LS/60LS 38 Special Same as above, e with rosewood grips, 2" barrel only
63/651 22LR /22Mag 6 rounds, 2"/4" and 4" barr Uncle Mikes Combat grip.
Glenn Meyer writes: The snubby 651 isn't a standard model but a special run for somebody. There was a brief write-up in Guns and Ammo about it in the past two years.
38/49/649 38 Special Aluminum/blue/stainless frames, shrouded hammer, 2" barrel, Boot grips.
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Old 01-14-2008, 21:31   #5
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SMITH & WESSON'S J-FRAMES

...JOHN TAFFIN

The first small frame double action Smith & Wesson, a .38, was built in 1880. This was not the famous .38 Special which would come later, but the less powerful .38 S&W. The first .38 DA weighed 18 ounces and would go through five design changes, thirty-one years of production, and number more than one-half million examples of top-break design. These were followed by the Perfected Model .38 with a solid frame/trigger guard combination , but still of the top break design, that led the way for the solid frame, swing out cylinder revolvers to come.

At the same time that the top-break .38's were being made, the same basic design was offered in .32 S&W caliber with nearly 300,000 of the smaller caliber being made. Shortly after production began on the .38 and .32 Smith & Wesson Double Action Models, D.B. Wesson worked with son Joseph to develop a completely different style of revolver. Lucian Cary, a well known gunwriter of forty years ago relates the following legend.

"When Daniel Wesson read a newspaper story about a child who had shot himself with the family revolver, his conscience hurt. He told his wife that he would make a revolver that could be safely kept in the bureau drawer. It was his custom to receive his grandchildren every Sunday. No doubt it was tough on the grandchildren. Daniel Wesson must have been a fearsome man, with his thick body, his great beard, and his virtue (Cary obviously did not understand grandfathers and grand children and the bond between them!) But on one occasion it was his young grandchild who put it over.

Daniel Wesson made a revolver he thought no child could fire. He gave it to his grandson, Harold Wesson, now president of Smith & Wesson (this was in the 1950's) and challenged him to fire it. Harold was only eight years old but he knew that his grandfather expected him to fail. Maybe that gave him a shot in the arm. Harold tugged at the trigger with all his strength and fired the gun. His grandfather went sadly back to his shop--not that day, of course, which was Sunday, but on the following Monday. Some weeks later he again presented a revolver to Harold and asked him to pull the trigger. Harold did his best. But he failed.

The gun the boy couldn't fire was the New Departure, also known as the safety hammerless. It had a bar in the back of the grip supported by a spring. You had to squeeze the grip hard enough to depress the spring and pull the double action trigger at the same time in order to fire the gun. No child of eight had the strength to do both at once. The New Departure was an uncommonly safe bureau drawer revolver."

The Safety Hammerless, so designated by the fact that the hammer was completely enclosed by the revolver frame, became the first really practical pocket gun. Five hundred thousand of these were made in .32 and .38 caliber from 1886 until 1940.

With the advent of the I-frame Smith & Wessons in 1894, the basic design was changed from top break to a solid frame, swing-out cylinder style of revolver. Over the years from before the turn of the Century until 1960, the I-frame was offered in .32 Hand Ejector, .22/32 Hand Ejector, which became the .22 Kit Gun, .32 Regulation Police, .38 Regulation Police, and .38 Terrier.

In 1950, one of the most famous of the Smith & Wesson revolvers arrived. A five-shot, compact revolver to fire the more powerful .38 Special instead of the .38 S&W was introduced at the Conference of the International Association of Chief's of Police in Colorado Springs, Colorado and has been officially and lovingly known as the Chief's Special ever since. This was the first J-frame revolver and was larger than the I-frames and chambered in .22, .32 S&W Long, and .38 S&W. In 1960, all I-frames became J-frames.

The Chief's Special has been offered in a number of versions along the way: the standard Model 36 in both round and square butt versions, the Airweight Model 37, the Model 38 Bodyguard which had an extended frame that protected the hammer and exposed only enough of the tip to allow for cocking. The Number "39" was used for Smith's new double action 9MM Semi-automatic in the 1950's, but the J-frames resumed with the Model 40 Centennial, a J-frame "Safety Hammerless".

In 1965, a most significant J-frame variation appeared. One that was to have far reaching consequences throughout the firearms industry as the Model 36 Chief's Special was offered as the Stainless Steel Model 60. Instantly popular with peace officers and outdoorsman alike, the first stainless steel revolver revolutionized firearms and stainless steel revolvers are now a major part of the handgun industry. Stainless is so much a part of the handgun market, and especially with the small frame concealable firearms that are carried closest to the body, that of the five J-frames I have been testing, four are stainless, and the fifth has been custom finished to look like stainless.

Metalife was applied to a Smith & Wesson Chief's Special, a two-inch Model 36 .38 Special. Depending upon the weather, it has been carried in an inside the pants holster, in an ankle holster, in a boot top, and in the pocket of insulated coveralls. This particular revolver has been further customized by sending it to Teddy Jacobsen. Jacobsen is an ex-cop now in the gunsmithing business and he did one of his famous action jobs on the little Chief's Special along with polishing the trigger smooth, de-horning the hammer spur, and also jeweling both hammer and trigger. When combined with the Metalife finish, these modifications make the Model 36 into a near-perfect pocket pistol.

The only thing left to do to finish off the round butt Chief's Special was to fit it with custom grips. I just happened to be carrying this little gun when I visited Herrett's. I soon had a pair of Detective stocks for the Chief's!

The modification makes the little Chief's into a beautiful close range double action defensive pistol and the hammer can still be cocked for a longer deliberate single action shot by starting the trigger back and catching the hammer with the thumb to finish the cocking procedure.

As a companion piece to the 20 ounce Chief's Special, I have been testing the same basic gun, in this case a Model 60 Stainless Steel "Chief's Special". Friend and gunwriter Terry Murbach certainly deserves at least some of the credit for suggesting the .38 Special Stainless Steel that Murbach feels should be known as "The Trail Masterpiece". This little 23 ounce, round butted .38 sports a three inch full underlug barrel and fully adjustable sights. The sights are exactly the way they should be, black both fore and aft. Yes, even though the newest Model 60 is stainless, the rear sight assembly is black and the front sight blade is quick draw style, plain black and pinned to the stainless steel ramp.

Anyone who has read many of my articles know that my usual forte is the big and bold, the Magnum and beyond sixguns and the big bore semi-automatics. But I have definitely found a place in my collection for this little five-shooter. A Plus P five shooter I might add as Smith & Wesson does classify this little .38 as one that is able to handle the hotter loads. No little strength certainly comes from the fact that the Model 60 carries a full length cylinder with very little barrel protruding through the frame unsupported. The cylinder also, being a five shot, has the bolt cuts between chambers rather than under them.

When the J-frame Smith & Wessons came in, I went to the local gunshop, Shapel & Son's, and found three dusty old boxes down behind the counter containing long-out-of-production Jay Scott Gunfighter J-frame stocks. At the present time they ride unaltered on three J-frames but all will receive extensive customizing in the future which will see the removal of the finger grooves and the checkering that adorns two pair.


The firing tests of the Model 60 .38 Special Trail Masterpiece gave quite pleasant results. Considering the short sight radius the three-inch barrel affords, and also considering that the test groups were fired at 25 yards, and especially when one considers that the groups were fired by my hand and eye combination, some groups border on the phenomenal. The two-inch .38 Special Chief's Special was fired double action only on combat targets and not for group size. It proved to be quite capable as a defensive revolver.

SMITH & WESSON J-FRAMES

CALIBER: .38 SPECIAL TEMPERATURE: 60 DEGREES

CHRONOGRAPH: OEHLER MODEL 35P GROUPS: 5 SHOTS @ 25 YDS.

MODEL 060 3" HB MODEL 36 2"
LOAD MV GROUP MV
RCBS #35-150 /6.0 UNIQUE 975 2 1/2" 961
LYMAN #358156GC /5.0 UNIQUE 716 3" 691
LYMAN #358429 /5.0 UNIQUE 758 1 5/8" 720
158 SPEER SWC /5.0 UNIQUE 750 2 5/8" 735
BULL-X 158 SWC /5.0 UNIQUE 782 3 1/2" 708
LYMAN #358429 /6.6 AA#5 890 3 1/8" 815
158 SPEER SWC /6.6 AA#5 830 3 1/2" 795
BULL-X 158 SWC /6.6 AA#5 821 3" 785
BULL-X 148 WC /6.0 AA#5 861 2 3/8" 841
SIERRA 110 JHP /8.8 AA#5 1067 2 3/4" 1017
SPEER 140 JHP /6.0 UNIQUE 934 1 5/8" 913
CCI LAWMAN 125 JHP +P 1019 2 1/2" 932
BLACK HILLS 125 JHP 864 3 1/4" 792

To go along with the J-frames, I requested samples of the wares of

Feminine Protection by Sarah. Sarah uses a very catchy name to offer a serious product, namely purses and belt bags that double as holsters. The handbags and J-frame guns are naturals together and both the Patriot and Classic leather bags supplied accept readily accessible J-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers, and still leave room for all the other stuff that women seem to carry in their handbags.

Both bags open on the front edge to allow instant access to the concealed weapon that many women are going to legally as more and more states are providing licensing systems. The closure system consists of both snaps and velcro, but they do open instantly when the two halves are parted.

Along with the leatherbags came two belt bags or fanny packs. I'm not quite sure I'm ready for a fanny pack but I also remember how difficult it was to carry a concealed weapon last summer during our heat wave. Both belt bags supplied easily carry two- or three-inch .38 Special J-frames. I'm sure my wife and daughter will have something to say about whether these test bags are returned or purchased.

After thirty-five plus years of shooting N- and K-frame revolvers, it is quite enjoyable to add J-frames to my shooting battery. The .38 Special three-inch Trail Masterpiece and the four-inch .22 WMR Kit Gun are destined to experience a lot of use in the future and my wife already has her eye on the .32 Centennial. Oh, well we can get ahead next month.

Last edited by Glockanatorrrrr; 01-14-2008 at 22:01..
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Old 03-01-2008, 01:14   #6
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From the first post, above:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Glockanatorrrrr View Post
...

I found this piece of info while searcing for J frame info. I couldn't find the authors name. But it does have some good info in it!
The title of the article is "The J-Frame solution", by Ralph Mroz (link to entire article, as the above version is slightly shortened):

http://www.policeone.com/police-prod...icles/1240834/

Lots of good info, but at least one inaccuracy. At one point, he states:

"My own choice is the 342PD, the lightest J-frame of them all."

A 342PD weighs 10.8 ounces, according to the 2002 S&W catalog. The 2" 317 in .22LR weighs 10.5 ounces (same source). Even if you discount the rimfire, Smith also made the 337PD in .38+P with a weight of 10.7 ounces. In fairness to the author, I'm not sure when the 337PD was discontinued, so at the time of the article the 342PD may have been the lightest centerfire J-frame still in production. But the rimfire still has it beat, hands-down.
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Old 08-23-2008, 22:11   #7
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I saved the article because it was one of the better gun magazine articles, that I've read. It was in the 3-03 issue of Combat Handguns. Ralph Mroz wrote a list of 25 reasons the snubbie is a superior sidearm. His source is Michael DeBethencourt(former Sigarms instr. who uses a Colt Cobra & S&W M12). I'll paraphrase the reasons for you folks.

1.world's safest live round indicator- just look
2.minimum maintainance
3.superior reliability
4.fast into action- not flat on table
5.ya seen one, ya seen them all- all the same
6.few shots needed to function test
7.feeds all ammo in correct caliber
8.misfires reflexively corrected- pull trigger again
9.always availible to second user- point n shoot
10.easy for beginners
11.loading is easy
12.easy to unload, make safe
13.easy to shoot- no da/sa,safeties,no limp wrist,no hair trigger
14.less expensive
15.greater tactical versatility-contact shot with no jams
16.looks nicer- jury friendly
17.grips are adjustible with aftermarket grips
18.pocket fire
19. four season carry
20. cheap pratice-.22lr understudy
21.points well
22.can't fatally foul grip- even poor grip can shoot gun
23.less likely to AD- DA trigger
24.stopping power in small package
25.safer after incident no decock/safeties
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Old 04-04-2009, 13:10   #8
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The J-Frame solution
By Ralph Mroz

A Story

I have a little story for you that illustrates the entire point of this article. At the last SHOT show (the firearms industry trade show), I’m sitting in on a presentation by Chuck Buis, the industry veteran and former big-city cop, and he’s introducing the new line of CQC holsters from Blackhawk Industries. This line is Chuck’s baby, and he pretty much had carte blanche to put whatever he felt was right into the product lineup. The last thing he shows us is an updated, but faithful to the original, version of the famous Berns-Martin speed holster, which was designed…well, decades ago when Chuck and I were still learning the alphabet. Holsters do not get better with age, but some holster designs are indeed timeless. The Blackhawk Berns-Martin version is available only for Smith & Wesson J-Frame snub-nose revolvers.

As he holds up the holster, a big smile comes over Chuck’s face. "Who’s old enough to remember this?" he asks. I raise my hand, along with a few others. "And what’s the point of this holster?" Chuck again asks. Some of us recall that it was intended as a speed scabbard of minimalist design for small, hide-away handguns.

“Yeah!” Chuck exclaims, "And we make it only for J-Frames. Because no matter what we say people should carry, and no matter what we write and tell them to carry, everyone really carries a J-Frame. Right?”


We all agreed, and smiled. Chuck then went on to tell a story on a big-name writer in the industry who is very fond of big-bore handguns, and promulgates them tirelessly in his writing. He, it turns out, understood and smiled at Chuck’s remark too…because a J-Frame is what he really carries.

It’s a specific tool

A handgun is a tool. It was developed by its inventors as for a specific purpose, and the practitioners who carried and used this tool—before handgunning became a sport—understood its delineated purpose and used it for that. A handgun is a tool designed for close quarter interpersonal combat. It was meant to be carried on one’s person for extended periods of time for emergency self-defense purposes, for use against men who attacked you at close range.

The guns and calibers of these self defense weapons were never intended to be hunting implements, nor were they meant to engage enemies at anything approaching 25 yards. People understood that that’s why they had rifles. Likewise, personal defense handguns were not considered items of sport. Sure there were some fancy carnival shooters who could push the handgun beyond it’s limit, but the purpose and basic capabilities of the handgun remained close quarter self defense.

And so it is today still. The tool hasn’t changed all that much. What people do with it, though, has. There is a basic drive in men, given license by the decadent leisure of our times, that takes simple things and items and turn them from their fundamental purpose and into items of artificial competition. Balls are no longer simple play toys but are now at the center of hyper-competitive professional sports for over-paid aging adolescents. Handguns have morphed into space-age frankenguns that are used in games of pin ball with bullets. And in these peaceful, artificial times, too many people thus think that what they need to accomplish the actual purpose of a handgun — close quarter self defense —are these big, tack-driving, hair-trigger, tricked-out items of sports gear. But what most people really need is no more than a simple 2-inch revolver.

The J-Frame Solution

A lot of people have already come to that conclusion; hence the evergreen popularity of the Smith & Wesson J-frame line of 5-shot revolvers. Introduced at the 1950 International Association of Chiefs of Police convention (where the attending chiefs named it the “Chief’s Special”), the 2- and 3-inch J-frame 5-shot revolvers were a replacement for the earlier I-frame revolvers chambered for the less powerful .38 S&W cartridge. These new guns were designed for plain clothes police officers and they have gone through many iterations since that original all-steel model.

In 1952 lighter frame compositions were introduced in the form of the Airweight aluminum-framed models, differing from the standard Chiefs Special revolver by having an aluminum alloy frame (while the cylinder and barrel remained of steel). In the 1998 S&W introduced its AirLite Ti series of the guns, which featured Aluminum alloy frames, cylinder yokes and barrel shrouds. AirLite Ti model’s cylinders are made from Titanium and the barrel liners from stainless steel. In 2000, S&W announced it line of AirLite Sc revolvers, which used a scandium alloy for frame, yoke and barrel shroud (the cylinder in these guns is titanium and barrel liner is steel).

Body-style wise, in 1955, S&W introduced a different frame, the Centennial, its first compact revolver with a DAO trigger. The original Centennial model was dropped in 1974, but latter reintroduced as the all-stainless Model 640 (without the original grip safety.) A Centennial Airweight with aluminum frame and stainless steel cylinder and barrel came next, and in 1993 it was joined by the Model 442 revolver, which has aluminum alloy frame and carbon steel cylinder and barrel. Recently S&W has introduced some more Centennial configuration guns in Airlite Sc and Airlite Ti frames. Another frame variation, the Bodyguard AirWeight model 38 revolver came out in 1957. This gun was a basic Chiefs Special but with a shrouded hammer. It soon was followed by other variations in the Bodyguard configuration.

Today there are many alternatives in materials and body style of the basic J-frame. From the lightest 10 ounce model to the all-steel versions, these little snubbies make a comforting—and comfortable—pocket package. Nothing’s free, of course, and the lightest numbers are the devil to shoot, but at close range and in fear of your life, you’ll probably not fret too much about the recoil.

Brent Purucker, former Michigan state trooper and long-running member of the Smith & Wesson Academy staff, has won several IDPA national revolver titles, with some of those matches including snubbie stages. Brent says that the accuracy of the little J-frame is nothing to sneeze at.

“I’ve easily gotten 2 to 3 inch groups at 15 yards,” he says, a feat echoed in many articles over the years in this magazine.

Not surprisingly, Brent favors the 640-1 all steel model for its extra controllability, while other authorities, such as Wiley Clapp in his book Concealed Carry, published by Paladin Press, come out in favor of the very light models. My own choice is the 342PD, the lightest J-frame of them all.

“The biggest mistake that people make,” says Brent, “is loading these little guns with .38+P or, God forbid, .357 magnum ammunition.” I concur. Mine is loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs from CorBon, with standard load .38 Federal Nyclads in a Bianchi Speed Strip for a second load. That’s not powerful enough for you? Well, you do have five shots — keep shooting.

I chose the light 342PD because it’s a pocket gun for me; on my waist, I can comfortably carry a larger gun. However, many people aren’t as weight sensitive as I am. I know people who carry even larger all steel revolvers in their pants pocket all day, every day, and they see no need to go to a lighter unit. Also, as a revolver, the S&W J-frames have all the advantages of one. They are instinctive and simple to shoot, easy to maintain, and can be easily fit to any hand by simply changing out the grips. In fact, a little while ago I wrote an article for Combat Handguns on the two dozen reasons that instructor Michael DeBethencourt favors a revolver over a self-loader, and they are indeed compelling.

When you can, take the sage advice to “carry the largest gun you can shoot well.” When you can’t, or doing so is so uncomfortable that you’re tempted to go unarmed, do what all of us in the industry do: slip a S&W J-frame snubbie into your pocket.

The Laser Solution to the J-Frame Solution

Brent Purucker of the Smith & Wesson Academy and I prefer different J-Frame models, but we do agree on the fact that the Crimson Trace Lasergrip provides a huge advantage as far as self-defense sights for the J-frame are concerned. Not only does the laser compensate for the small sights and short-sight-radius on the little guns, but in the situations in which the handgun—and the J-frame specifically—is likely to be used: close quarter, high-stress self defense—the laser allows not only target-focused shooting, but shooting from non-traditional positions. The former is a necessity in those circumstances, while the latter is a distinct possibility.

Lasers were dismissed by many people when they first came out as toys, and worse, actually dangerous additions to your handgun. Why the specialized teams who train full-time and who actually go into harms way on a regular basis used them was never adequately addressed by these early nay-sayers. And indeed, the enlightened world has come around to the laser over the last decade. Virtually every single competent trainer — famous and otherwise — who has actually given them an honest try has come to advocate them. If lasers aren’t such a big advantage, why are they not allowed at so many competitive events? And finally, there is no, even potential, disadvantage of a laser that can’t be countered by “Use your iron sights—they’re still there!”

I have made the same journey, too. I just shot my state’s handgun qualification course with my featherweight 342PD J-frame. On this 15 yard and in course I managed to keep all my shots in the area of a pie plate, despite the little gun’s diminutive mass. From 10 yards and in I didn’t even use the gun’s sights — I just looked at the red dot on the target and controlled my trigger press.

The rightfully dominant force in the handgun laser business, and the manufacturer of the unquestionably highest quality and reliability, is Crimson Trace. Their units are also the most user-friendly, to boot. Crimson Trace executive Clyde Caseres — himself a trainer of no small repute — came to CT several years ago as a doubter…and he’s now the most articulate advocate of the laser’s advantages. Two were mentioned above, but many more are not only explained, but demonstrated in Clyde’s excellent video, Shots in the Dark, by Paladin Press. I highly recommend this video. A lot of books and videos come across my desk as a writer and trainer, and this is one that I kept.

ralphmroz@comcast.net Copyright 2004
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Old 04-06-2012, 19:03   #9
RVER
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Great read. Thank you!
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Old 12-29-2012, 18:33   #10
WT
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Good stuff!

I think S&W made a mistake by producing J-frames in .357 Magnum. They went to a larger cylinder, a longer barrel, and a larger frame. Sort of counterproductive when one considers the 'real' use for the J-frame.

Of course, S&W is selling bunches of them and making a nice profit. Good for them.
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