I had a chance to fire this Smith & Wesson 642 Airweight Centennial revolver yesterday, and holy cow, what a little monster it is.
I have fired revolvers before, including the longer-barreled Smith & Wesson I blogged about here a couple of years ago. Shooting the 642 was a different… and I must say not entirely agreeable… experience.
First of all, I couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with this thing. I completely missed a standard bulls-eye target at 7 yards with my first 5 rounds, and hit only twice on my second five. Now, I’m not likely to win a shooting competition any time soon, but I’m not usually that bad. For comparison, I switched to my XD after shooting the 642, and put five rounds in an inch-and-a-half circle from the the same distance. I have read elsewhere that the 642 is highly accurate, so I’ll write it off to user error. I can see some serious practice being required to shoot well with this gun.
Being a much lighter gun than the XD (with an unloaded weight of around 15 oz, it weighs about half as much) it makes sense that perceived recoil of the 642 should be higher—and indeed it was. The double-action trigger pull was also much heavier than the XD’s striker action, or even the DA/SA trigger on my Bersa Thunder 380, and in tightening my grip to overcome the greater tension, the recoil was transferred more forcefully into my arm. It was a little uncomfortable.
I’ve read favorable review of the 642 elsewhere (here for example) which speak to its virtues of small size, simplicity, and value, and I can certainly appreciate the perspective. I don’t think it’s really my cup of tea, however.