Last year I made a big decision regarding concealed carry. I wrote, “For years, I’ve been carrying a Model 22, .40-caliber GLOCK that I was given as a gift. As a rule, it’s great for a thigh-holstered mount when I’m on the ranch and working outdoors. But, let’s face it … thigh rigs are hard to conceal in the summer. And my arthritic shoulder screams when I carry it in a purse or bag. A GLOCK of that size and caliber prints big time under a summer tee.”
I conducted lots of research on carry guns, and in particular, lightweight ones. I shot several options.
I talked to my mentor in the industry, Julie Golob, whom I trust completely when it comes to guns. She recommended a Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight, which is a revolver. Yes, I know, she is the Team Captain of Smith & Wesson, and so you’re thinking she wouldn’t recommend anything else … but let’s face it. Her alliance with this firearms company is a two-way deal. She trusts that their guns will not only help her win competitions, but also defend her and her family. It’s a great fit – an upstanding female role model who shoots top-of-the-line firearms.
I ordered a Smith & Wesson Model 642 Airweight and received it about six months ago. The snub-nosed revolver, aka snubby, travels with me almost daily now. I crossed over the line a few years ago, from trying to decide ahead of time whether I’d need a concealed carry gun to the point of always carrying one when legal. It just became too much of a time waster to try to imagine why and where I’d need it. Better to, as 5.11 Tactical says, “Always be ready.”
Of course, this means, I don’t park in post office parking lots and other federal or state government places. It means I often stow the gun in the trunk in a locked car across the street or at least 1,000 feet away. It means I worship in a church where others carry, too, and the pastor and church elders approve. I’m vigilant, but not a vigilante.
Why the little snubby?
My experience, so far, with the Airweight is one of total ease. However, I have to agree with Ralph over at “Truth About Guns,” when he writes, “The snub nosed Airweight is most suitable for experienced and enthusiastic shooters, not for people still searching for their handgun métier or a new Safe Queen.”
Or, if you are a new shooter, you will need to practice, practice, practice with this gun — which really goes without writing anyway.
- It is lightweight. It weighs 15 ounces empty.
- There’s a reason it’s the most popular J-frame in America for CCW. It fits my hand.
- With an internal hammer, the gun can be smoothly inserted into a holster and is easily concealed.
- Made of aluminum alloy with a stainless steel cylinder, the gun takes summer heat and my perspiration without rusting.
- Some people complain about the trigger, but it is just fine for me. After all, it is a double action pistol with a long trigger pull for safety reasons.
- I shoot Winchester PDX1 Bonded .38 Special + P and at 7 yards, the groups are dead-on, nice and tight — even when I shoot fast with it. The .38 Special is a cartridge that has been used for more than 100 years and it is effective.
- The grip? Like Ralph describes it: “The Uncle Mike’s boot grips that are standard on the 642 insulate the shooter’s hand from any harshness.”
- It is under 7 inches long — 6.31, to be exact.
- I don’t have to worry about malfunctions with a revolver. As long as I keep it in operating condition, it will fire when I pull the trigger.
- It can be a great back-up gun, or is easily concealed in a day planner.
The cost of the 642 is about $400. You can argue about whether you need more than five shots. This gun is not the only gun I own now for concealed carry, but it is the one that goes out with me the most. And, you can bet, it’s my go-to back-up gun, for those times when I feel like carrying two.
I have ordered a Smith & Wesson M&P in .40-caliber. I like the slimness of this gun and the way it balances in my hand. I also can shoot dead accurate with it, so I am hoping to get this one into a holster on my waistband by this fall. There are lots of other carry guns I intend to purchase, too.
Why is that? Because now — instead of wondering IF I should carry in a legal zone, I wonder WHAT I will carry.
My next round of training with this gun will be to learn to speed reload it and to begin carrying more than five rounds. I’d like to have 10 extra.
Learn more about Smith & Wesson’s snubby carry and other revolvers.