Walther Forums banner

1 - 17 of 17 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Okay, technically it's a Bond gun. I'm told that in Dr. No (the book) Bond references the Smith & Wesson Centennial Airweight as used for "long range work" (questionable use). I'm re-reading the Bond books so I'll check it out further.

Unfortunately what brought me to acquire my Centennial Airweight (the modern re-released version) was a very bad situation that confronted me earlier in the week. A house two doors down was broken into during the day. The owners were home and "scared" them off after they were in the house Whether the homeowners or the perpetrators were armed is unknown to me. The car was parked in the driveway facing the street with the motor running and the homeowners were able to get the tags. A call to the police resulted in six squad cars engaging in a six mile high speed chase on the freeway with the two perpetrators bailing and getting away. Of course the car was stolen.

As it turns out, and by neighbors accounts, they probably came to my house first. I was in my lower level (my house is three levels) studio workshop and I heard voices by the front door right above me as well as footsteps. I was sure someone was in my house. My dog was barking like crazy and the voices sounded foreign. I thought it might be our maids (spanish speaking) who come later in the week so I went upstairs to tell them they were there on the wrong day. As I neared the stairway upstairs I realized that my dog's barks weren't his usual "I want to go out" and that there was not a gun in my hand as there should have been.

When I opened the door there was only silence. Apparently they moved on to the next house, or had mine by mistake as the break-in happened at almost the same time as my event. They never entered as I can tell as I was hearing them right outside the front door. I then grabbed my P99 and cleared the house. I thought nothing more of it thinking I must have been mistaken. I didn't hear about the break-in two doors down for a couple of days.

So there I was, sitting by a vault full of guns when this happened and I walked into a sitution unarmed. There was my bedside gun upstairs out of play as well as another that I could not have gotten to. I realized that I was allowing myself to be defenseless a good part of the time. I decided that I needed a good easy 100% dependable down and dirty gun to stash in the studio/workshop for quick access (but yet secure). The one solution that kept coming to mind was a revolver. My preference was for double action only.

Unfortunately there isn't a revolver in my stable. I recently traded a Taurus Judge for a Beretta Model 70S (actually made some $$ on that one), but the Judge wouldn't have been my choice anyway. So, on Thursday I took off for the local shop to shop for revolvers. I wanted something down and dirty so used was fine, and aesthetics weren't a concern. I wanted to spend no more than $400 which I knew would buy a lot. I the cases there were a lot of Smiths, Taurus, Rugers, Charter Arms, and great minty Model 19 Combat Magnum with a great trigger (I may yet go back and get it if it lasts). I couldn't bring myself to go Taurus after the miserable experience that I had with their customer service, but I knew that I would go Smith anyway. There were a lot of DAO revolvers but the one that really caught my eye was the Smith 642-2 Centennial Airweight chambered for .38 Spl. +P. I knew that the old Centennial was a classic so the newer version (sans grip safety) would be great gun. They had a new one for $399 and an identical "like new in box" for $339. The "like new" got the nod as I learned the story behind the gun and the fact that it was almost unfired. I know that this gun will take a good amount of practice to shoot well but it would seem to be fine in a use that would be in a very restricted area/distance. I put larger Hogue grips on it, but I'll also get a smaller Hogue Bantam grip for it as this will also make a fine carry gun. I picked also up two HKS speed loaders, a box of Gold Dots for a defense load, and some practice ammo. Now I just need to work with the gun some and find a good place to stash it.

A couple of questions. Does anyone have any experience with this gun and any recommendations?

Also, the HKS speed loaders seem to be really tight up on the cylinder release and the speed seems to be really hampered. Is there some special technique for using speed loaders on this gun? Is there a brand/type of speed loader that might work better than the HKS. It's really very cumbersome and I doubt practice will help much.

Here's my 642-2:
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
Que,

That was a pretty good wake-up call! It really serves to underscore the need for all of us to stay alert at all times. Glad that nothing bad happened to you or the neighbors.

I think you picked one of the best revolvers available! I just love those Centennials! They do "buck" a bit with the stouter loads, but at the range they are likely to be employed that shouldn't make much difference. The 642 is just the easiest to carry handgun in the Smith line. They are still well made, but the Internal Safety Lock has been a concern to alot of owners - some even take it out of the revolver. The ILS has been known to switch itself ON in rare cases involving very light and very heavy revolvers with heavy recoiling loads. Even though S&W makes lighter revolvers with the same charecteristics, the 642 is about as light as a revolver needs to be and is still practical to use.

It may take some shooting to get the action smooth enough to be dead eye dick accurate with it. I would practise with light loads and save the heavy HP numbers for carry and ocassional practice.

The HKS loader has always worked well for me in the "K" frame Smith's, but I haven't used them for the little "J" models. I think that grip interference is the most likely problem you might have using them. However, I don't believe there is a quicker DA reload, outside of full moon clips.

One thing is certain, it's a great revolver and you'll find it the best solution for full time carry.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
The Centennials are good choices. I would load it with either the 135 gr +P Gold dots that NYPD uses. It is a very soft shooting load so your wrists will thank you after a practice session, and the NYPD has had good results with it in actual shootings.

For J-frames I prefer a couple of Bianchi speed strips in the pocket to an HKS loader.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Hey 153, I'm going to look into that lock issue. Thanks for the head's up.

WaltherP99man, I think the Bianchi speed strips are a good option. They would also carry flatly. There was just an article in some gun mag about speed loaders and speed strips and how they compare. I'll have to go back and check it out. I seem to recall that the speed loaders were quicker but not as much as one would think. With the tightness of the HKS with the 642 the strips may even be the same or faster. I'll pick up some Bianchis and drill with both. The truth is that with this gun for its intended purpose a reload is relatively unlikely, but you never know.

It's funny, you can drill, practice, and train, but if you don't assess the risk properly to trigger all of that it all goes for naught. Lesson learned, and thankfully not the hard way.

Q
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
BTW, as of this morning the Bianchi stripper clips have been ordered. Thanks again.

Q
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
I carry my 642 daily. Great gun. It takes some practice, but it will shoot what you are aiming at.

I carry both Speed loaders and Speed strips. The speed strips are flat, and do fit in your pocket well.

I find that with the speed loaders work well, but take a lot of practice to be able to do smoothly. I usullay keep one or two in a coat pocket.

I've started to run BUG matches at my local club, and many people are starting to show up to shoot their J-Frames...Mine has many, many rounds through it. It is, by far, my most used gun.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
It sounds like I've picked a winner!

One problem is that I've been practicing the speed loader with snap caps and I believe they may be shorter than actual rounds, so maybe that will help.

The lock issue is something that I'm looking into, and the one "documented" (rather than secondhand accounts) instance that I have found involved dropping the gun. I'm sure that the S&W Forum will have more on that. Part of the issue with the locks seems to be the political aspects of their presence which has given the issue a separate life of its own. One way or the other, I would never disengage such a lock on a gun intended for self-defense out of liability concerns. If I determine that it's too much of an issue I'll find another gun for my purpose.

Q
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
76 Posts
If my feeble memory serves me correctly, start you "lock failing" search with Massad Ayoob....I think it was one of his students in one of his classes....

In either case, if you have 1 or two, hell, if you have 5 failures out of how many thousands sold? Bah, me thinks you have a better chance of winning the lottery....and still better odds than an auto jamming on you....Walthers aside, of course!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
If my feeble memory serves me correctly, start you "lock failing" search with Massad Ayoob....I think it was one of his students in one of his classes....

In either case, if you have 1 or two, hell, if you have 5 failures out of how many thousands sold? Bah, me thinks you have a better chance of winning the lottery....and still better odds than an auto jamming on you....Walthers aside, of course!!!
I tend to agree.

Tomorrow I'm going to go back and see if they still have an old (in very nice condition) Model 19 "Combat Magnum", four inch barrel. No lock on that baby. As a kid I would have given just about anything to own one (papa said yes, mama said no, guess who won) and now that I can own one I don't. I used to own an 8 3/8" Molel 686, but it isn't the same.

I remember as a teenager in the 70's being with my dad at a place in Cleveland called Sam's World of Golf. Along with golf stuff they had a nice selection of guns. Sitting smack dab in the case was a S&W .357 called the "Highway Patrolman", a Model 28, that to me was the most beautiful thing that I had ever seen. The Model 19 will go a long way towards satisfying that lust :D

Q
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
125 Posts
Do you mean to carry this concealed on your person? If not, I'd have chosen something more "shootable." After firing your first shot of +P ammunition, you'll understand what I mean. My house gun is a model 65 3" .357, much more controllable than the lightweight .38. Less someone think I don't like 642, its what I stick in my pocket when nothing much else will conceal as well.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Do you mean to carry this concealed on your person? If not, I'd have chosen something more "shootable." After firing your first shot of +P ammunition, you'll understand what I mean. My house gun is a model 65 3" .357, much more controllable than the lightweight .38. Less someone think I don't like 642, its what I stick in my pocket when nothing much else will conceal as well.
The gun may well end up as a carry gun some time down the road. I wanted something that could be used for more than just a gun to stash in my shop. Also, size and concealability are desirable for stashing the gun in my shop as it may well end up in a modified holster attached to the underside of a workbench.

Also, as to shootability, my understanding is that with proper practice the gun is very shootable. It isn't a gun for target shooting, but that isn't an intended use.

Q
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I went back to the shop this morning to take another look at the used Model 19 Combat Magnum. When I walked in I saw a Deputy Sheriff behind the counter looking at the revolvers. Before I could get a look at the gun he picked the 19 up, checked the action, smiled, and put it back down to look at others. I was then shown the gun, pretty quick after the deputy had put the gun down, and saw exactly what I wanted to see. The barrel was pinned and the cylinder recessed. Everything was as tight as you could want. The bore was bright and crisp (I carry a borelight to gun shops). The finish was as close to 100% as you can get. The trigger was incredible. Double action was buttery smooth and light, and the single action is shockingly light. I don't have a pull gauge but if it's more than a 1.0 to 1.5 lb pull I'd be amazed. I've never experienced a trigger like this in 32 years of shooting. I told them that I would take it. The gun was a grand slam. The only thing bad about it was the Pachmyr grips which I don't care for at all.

Right as I was about to start the paperwork I thought about the deputy sheriff. So, I walked over to him and told him that I had noticed that he had been looking at the gun and that if he had been interested in buying it he could have it. He gave me a big smile and said "go ahead, I'm actually looking for something else, but doggone if that gun doesn't have an amazing trigger."

The gun is now mine. The Pachmyrs are headed for the scrap heap (anyone want them?) with some Hogues finger groove grips in their place. I'll also get a set of wood finger groove grips to doll it up if I wish (probably goncalo alves like I had on my 686), but the Hogues will be for shooting.

It took me 30 years to finally get this gun, my fantasy gun as a kid, and quite a while to find the right one. Needless to say, I'm doing the happy dance.

Q
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
Que said:
Right as I was about to start the paperwork I thought about the deputy sheriff. So, I walked over to him and told him that I had noticed that he had been looking at the gun and that if he had been interested in buying it he could have it. He gave me a big smile and said "go ahead, I'm actually looking for something else, but doggone if that gun doesn't have an amazing trigger."
You're a good fella, Que. Taking a chance like that on a once in a lifetime gun. I'm proud of you. Glad it went your way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
You're a good fella, Que. Taking a chance like that on a once in a lifetime gun. I'm proud of you. Glad it went your way.
It seemed the right thing to do. LEOs aren't paid nearly enough and any time in my life when I have had an opportunity to say thanks or show respect or deference I have done it. The same with veterans/military. And teachers. And clergy.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,788 Posts
Great Find!!!

The 19 is one fine revolver, the blue steel version is the most attractive. In order to take advantage of those good looks , get some wooden Hogue handles - guarenteed to make that handgun ten times better!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Great Find!!!

The 19 is one fine revolver, the blue steel version is the most attractive. In order to take advantage of those good looks , get some wooden Hogue handles - guarenteed to make that handgun ten times better!
153, wood will be going on that gun soon, but there will now be a slight delay as something unexpectedly came across my path yesterday when I stopped off for snap caps at shop where I go less frequently.

While browsing I noticed the M&P shown below in the case. A guy asked to see it and he went over the gun thoroughly and stated that the timing was great for a gun that age. He put the gun back in the case and I left with the snap caps. As I drove home I decided the gun might be worth having. I turned around, went back, saw that it was definitely worth owning, and bought it. A bunch of us in the shop looked the gun over trying to decide if it had been re-blued. No one could decide for sure.

Since then, with the aid of some folks who know far more about these things than I do I have been able to determine that the finish is almost certainly original. Plus, all of the serial numbers match between barrel, frame and cylinder. That's all the more impressive because I've been able to ascertain that the gun was manufactured some time in the late 20's or 30's. In it's condition it spent a lot of time in a safe or someone's sock drawer. But doggone it, this is two primo Smiths where someone has gone with Pachmyr grips while not retaining the originals.

Q
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
923 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
As it turns out the four inch M&P from my last post is original finish. It's most likely from the late 1920's.

Sitting next to it in the case was a six inch M&P in nearly as nice of condition. I snagged it. I've been able to determine that again the finish is original and that it's from 1917 or 1918. It's one big handful of a revolver. The bore is bright, the rifling strong from end to end with some very light pitting (no big deal) and the timing couldn't be better. I'm told that it should be quite a shooter. I hope to be able to find a two inch and a five inch in as good shape as these two. The wood grips for the four inch should arrive today.

While I've always preferred the shrouded ejector of the modern Smiths, there's something that I really like about the old Smiths. The prices are right although I understand that prices on almost all pre-lock Smiths revolvers have risen dramatically.

Q
 

Attachments

1 - 17 of 17 Posts
Top