S&W jframe

Smith & Wesson J-Frame

When it comes to concealed carry there are few guns that put in as much CCW time as the Smith & Wesson J-frame revolver. Wheel guns have a storied history as formidable defensive tools and although Smith’s snubbie is small and only carries 5 rounds it serves as a primary, a secondary and a back up for those who need dependable protection in a small package in whatever role they serve.

Every day my Smith & Wesson J-frame lives in my front left pocket and serves a very specific role as a secondary gun for niche circumstances I have to deal with as a professional defensive firearms instructor. My model 442 is customized and worn, but it has served me well for years day in and day out. You can learn more about my trusted friend, why I carry it and what makes it special as our month of content continues.

Others may carry other guns for specific reasons that are important to them, but my 442 is just right for me. I’m constantly evaluating my EDC and my Model 442 continues to pass the evaluation. Maybe a J-frame like the 442 might be the right gun for you as well.

Throughout the month Of January we will be taking an in-depth look at the J-frame and revolvers in general. Make sure to check back in often as this post is updated with more quality information on the Smith & Wesson J-Frame revolvers.

My S&W Model 442 and What Makes it Special

The S&W Model 442 is a solid favorite for folks that trust the J-frame.

 For more than 1500 days my Smith & Wesson Model 442 has come along for the ride in my front left pocket as my trusted secondary gun. It has a custom, “battle worn” finish that has been earned through daily carry, consistent use and plenty of rounds down range in training.

Like most J-frames, my Model 442 J-frame isn’t easy to shoot, but it is easy to carry and over time I have come to enjoy its company even when its barking sharply in my hand.

Before my Model 442 I carried a S&W Model 342 in exactly the same manner and in exactly the same holster, a Milt Sparks, leather pocket holster that successfully melts the shape of the 5 shot into an inconspicuous blob in my pocket.

Changing to the Smith & Wesson Model 442

I made the change from the Model 342 for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m paranoid. My S&W Model 342 had an integral lock. I wasn’t much of a fan of that lock. At one point I experienced a situation in training where the tigger on the gun froze. To be fair, I had replaced a spring to try to lighten the trigger press just a touch and then there was the trigger freeze… Maybe it was the action work I did, or maybe it was the lock. I’ll never know. That gun was quickly sold and replaced with the no lock version of the 442.

Once I made the replacement I realized that the 442 had another big advantage over the Model 342. The 342 has a stainless steel barrel sleeve that is threaded into the frame. This sleeve consistently worked it’s way loose in my pocket and began to unthread. This lead to a larger than normal gap between the cylinder and the barrel which I didn’t prefer. This was just one more thing I needed to keep my eye on when I was looking for a relatively maintenance free solution.

When I compare the 342 to the 442 I also appreciate the slight but real extra mass of the 442 and it has served faithfully through years of service and many thousands of rounds of training and practice. the time I have spent with my 442 has helped me to refine it into a solid pistol that works well for me day in and day out.

Customizing the Model 442 for Concealed Carry

When I first headed to the range with my new 442 the first thing I noted that needed to be addressed were the stock rubber stocks. As is the case with many j-frame grips the factory grips aren’t compatible with speed loaders. Now I want to be clear here. I don’t think reloads are terribly important when it comes to concealed carry, or secondary guns, or to my specific use of the revolver. BUT, when I train with my j-frame, I need to reload it every 5 rounds or so to keep it running. In training I use a combination of speed strips and speed loaders to feed my wheel gun. The first time you try to mate a full speed loader with a Smith J-frame you might feel a touch of disappointment. Then you might wonder if your speed loader is out of spec or maybe that you somehow mixed up some  .357 magnums with your 38’s. Nope, speed loaders just don’t fit.

Let’s start with why it isn’t such a big deal for me in my day to day. It is really two fold. First off I don’t see a tremendous number of situations where armed citizens need to reload in defensive gun uses. It is pretty much unheard of. I’ll also add that I never carry a speed loader for a reload on a daily basis. In training, sure. I’m early in a revolver only course when I train and in order to keep up it makes some sense to use some speed loaders. So, I want them to work.

There are a couple of ways that you can make your 442 or 642 compatible with speed loaders. If you are handy and adventurous you can make your factory stocks work. I removed the left side of the grips and simply got after it with a drum sander locked in the chuck of my drill press.  I took off a bit of the soft rubber at a time and tested every so often to see if I had reached the magic point of speed loader functionality. If you have the tools, this method is effective and cheap. There is however, another option, aftermarket stocks.

My Solution for Speed Loaders

When my factory grips started to separate from their inner core, I decided to replace them. I elected to get some serious purchase on my j-frame while I worked read speed loader compatibility. I ordered up a set of VZ Grips Diamond Grips.

J-frame VZ Grips

The VZ Diamond Grips not only allow for the use of speed loaders, but they also have some serious bite to them. Not so much that it is a problem, but enough to help to increase the positive purchase of my hand on my 442. When it comes to managing the recoil in a small, light revolver with real recoil, having a solid purchase is going to help increase your control.

There are certainly other options for J-frame revolver stocks that will improve the performance of your wheel gun, but I’ve stopped looking, the VZ Diamond Grips are going to do me well.

More J-Frame Issues

When Shooting the J-frame, I typically run into another issue. Regardless of the several grips I have used with the Centennial revolvers, it seems that in recoil, my right hand thumb comes in contact with the bottom of the cylinder latch. Now, if the latch came in contact with the meaty part of my thumb, no biggie. I’m sure I would just develop a callous, but that isn’t how it plays out. Instead, the sharply checkered latch impacts my first knuckle and catching the skin between the latch and the boney knuckle, results in a consistent removal of skin.

J frame 642 cylinder latch

Above you can see the smart checkering on the cylinder latch on a stock S&W 642. For me, this checkering is just too sharp for the place that it impacts my thumb.

Cylinder Latch Solutions

The solution was pretty simple. I grabbed a screw driver, removed the cylinder latch and hit the sharp bottom edge with a file. The sharp edge beams a rounded edge and I no longer worry about recoil driving the serrated latch into my knuckle.

J frame 442 cylinder LAtch

Above you can see the rough work I performed on my Model 442 cylinder latch. It smooths out the checkering just enough to ease its impact on my thumb knuckle.

I really enjoy carrying my J-frame. It is small, light weight, easy to carry and with some simple modifications, it is very shootable. I am really looking forward to making a comparison between the 442 and the 340 M&P. Who knows how that head to head comparison will turn out, but one thing I know for sure, is that although the 340 M&P might be an improvement over it’s .38 special J-frame cousin, it doesn’t need to be. I’m perfectly happy with my S&W Model 442.

J-Frame Podcasts

I am thrilled that I already have 4 podcasts recorded for J-frame January. Each episode is more than an hour in length and features an expert from the firearms industry and related to J-frames in general.

You can learn more about the Safety Solutions Academy podcast by heading to Ssapodcast.com where you will find the latest episodes of the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast.

Please consider subscribing to the Safety Solutions Academy podcast so that each and every episode of the Safety Solutions Academy podcast will be delivered right to your phone.  You can subscribe and even leave ratings and reviews by heading to safefysolutionsacademy.com/itunes.

The Safety Solutions Academy podcast is currently a podcast that is sponsor free and it is supported completely by it’s listeners. You can support the Safety Solutions Academy podcast by heading to safefysolutionsacademy.com/support and becoming a patron. In addition to helping to spread the Safety Solutions Academy podcast and it’s important personal protection podcast to a larger audience of people just like you, becoming a patron provides you with access to exclusive content available through a private feed for patrons only. Finally, patrons are eligible for exclusive rewards like training with Safety Solutions Academy, ammunition and even a chance to receive a new handgun. Head to safety solutionsacademy.com/support to become a patron today.

436 – Massad Ayoob

J-frame Massad AyoobMassad Ayoob wrote his first article for a gun magazine in 1971. Since he has been a consistent contributor to the firearms industry media. As a long time law enforcement officer and competitive shooter, defensive shooter, Mas had a front row seat for the LE transition from revolvers to semi-auto handguns.

You can listen to the podcast in your browser by clicking the play button below, or head here to listen and subscribe. You can also read a detailed summary of the podcast with Massad Ayoob here.

Massad Ayoob has been competing with handguns for more that 30 years and on many occasions, the revolver was his gun of choice. In addition, Mas has spent a large amount of time on the range teaching students that shoot revolvers in the Massad Ayoob Group flagship course, the MAG-40. Safety Solutions Academy will be hosting Mas and his crew for a MAG-40 in May.

As far as I am concerned there is no better way to start off a month on the small wheel guns than by talking to a man that is a legend in the gun industry and is himself an accomplished revolver shooter, Massad Ayoob.

Mas is a frequent guest on the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast and for good reason. He has a very strong background in the legal aspects of self-defense and the use of lethal force as well as in defensive shooting. MAs is the owner of the Massad Ayoob Group and travels the nation teaching defensive shooting, the ins and outs of the legal aspects of the use of lethal force though his flagship course, the MAG-40 which we will be hosting in May of 2018. In addition, Mas is a prolific writer and he has teamed up with Marty Hayes of the firearms Academy of Seattle to offer instructor development courses in the use of deadly force.

Today we are going to talk about fun, interesting and educational topics such as:

  • Who should be looking toward the revolver as a self defense tool
  • How you can learn to shoot a revolver better through a better grip and trigger press
  • How a revolver can help you to learn to get your hits
  • Why revolvers are great tool for learning to shoot your Semi-Auto better
  • A comparison between the 442 and the 340M&P
  • And a whole lot more.

437 – Chuck Haggard

Jframe JanThis is episode 437 and we will be continuing our month of content focused on the J-frame revolver. You could think of it as J-frame January if you like.  We have 4 revolver centric podcasts recorded and ready to launch with supporting blog posts and unique video content that is certain to help you learn a thing or two about revolvers.

This week we will take our J-frame content in another direction as we talk with Chuck Haggard of Agile Training and Consulting.

Chuck is a career law enforcement officer who retired as a Lt. from the City of Topeka Police Department and resumed his career in LE in a rather unique situation as a LE officer, fire fighter, and air crash rescue at a Kansas airport and it’s surrounding community.

I have had the opportunity to train in and observe Chuck as an instructor in multiple courses both at the Rangemaster Tactical Conference and at Paul-e-Palooza. Several of those classes were classes specifically related to effectively shooting small guns.

Today we are going to talk about fun, interesting and educational topics such as:

  • Sleep deprivation and the problems it can cause in life and in personal safety
  • Revolvers and pocket poppers and why they were so popular
    • Back up guns and why the revolver fits so well in that role
    • Colt Cobras and Detective Specials
  • Revolvers and their reliability and is it really as good as people think?
  • The Advantages of the J-frame when it comes to
    • Concealment
    • Quick draw
  • The best defensive ammunition for short barreled revolvers and what parameters you should be looking at when selecting your ammo
  • And a ton more.

438 – Sherman House

Revolvers with Sherman houseWelcome to the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast! If you are working to sort out the complexities of personal protection, increase the efficiency of your defensive training and demystify the tools you need to keep yourself and those that you love safe then the Safety Solutions Academy Podcast is the place of you!

I am your host Paul Carlson and I am so glad have joined me today.  You can contact me by sending comments, questions and topics for future shows to [email protected] I would love to hear from you!

This is episode 438 of the Safety Solutions Academy podcast and in today’s episode we will be continuing our month of content focused on the J-frame revolver. You could think of it as J-frame January if you like. Just more like August…  We have 4 revolver centric podcasts recorded and ready to launch with supporting blog posts and unique video content that is certain to help you learn a thing or two about revolvers.

This week we will take our J-frame content in another direction as we talk with Sherman House of civiliandefender.com.

Sherman has a very diverse body of experience. You can (and should) read about his history here.

I have had the opportunity to train in and observe Sherman as an instructor in multiple courses at Paul-e-Palooza. Several of these classes were classes specifically related to effectively shooting small guns.

Today we are going to talk about fun, interesting and educational topics such as:

  • Sherman’s morning routine
  • Why Sherman rarely reviews gear
  • The fact that the firearms industry is full of people that aren’t gun people and what the impact is.
  • Innovation in the gun industry
  • The fact atet the New York Police Dept. stops allowing officers to carry revolvers.
  • and lots of information about revolvers.

440 – Julie Golob

Coming soon!

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