By July 1947 a pair of tool-room-made semi-automatic .22s were made and given to the Smith & Wesson pistol team for testing and evaluation.

Smith & Wesson’s president, Carl Helstrom, diligently sought out the input of shooters, be they target, sportsmen, hunters or law enforcement.

He was known to take copious notes during his research and incorporate the best ideas into Smith & Wesson’s product line. In the case of the rimfire target pistol, Helstrom would take iterations of experimental pistols to the National Matches and cultivate evaluations and criticisms into subsequent pistols.

After 10 years of development and research, Smith & Wesson debuted what it believed to be the ultimate rimfire target pistol, the Model 41.

The first Model 41s featured a 7 3/8″ barrel, blued-steel construction, Patridge sights and a muzzle brake to reduce recoil.

Interest in the new autoloader was instant and stratospheric. Smith & Wesson could not keep up with demand.

In its initial year the factory turned out just 679 Model 41s. By the end of the following year at total of 9,875 were made, and the Model 41 was still backordered.

A Model 41 is remarkably simple, yet extremely well-made. Operation is single-action, straight blowback, but the slide is not the entire top of the gun as with most recoil-operated pistols.

Smith & Wesson cleverly scalloped out enough metal to house the firing pin, extractor and ejector assembly. The barrel and sights are mounted upon the remainder of the top-end metal.

Since none of this assembly moves during firing, the relationship of these critical parts remains identical from shot to shot. The pistol is fed from a single-column, 10-round detachable magazine.

A Model 41’s grip angle is the same as found on 1911 pistols, making it easier for the competitive shooter to have a single, familiar grip on all of his competition pistols.

Stocks were walnut—now laminate—that are checkered, ergonomic, with a flared bottom and a thumb rest for right-handed shooters. Southpaws must get their stocks from a custom, aftermarket vendor.


Barrels are honed and button-rifled for accuracy, and have a reputation for being the most accurate available for a handgun.

A thumb-operated safety and slide are on the left side, again set up for right-handed shooters.

The Model 41 steps up at 10 1/2″ long and 41 oz. in weight. Today the target barrel is 7″ long. A concealed (internal) hammer and a .365″ wide grooved trigger make up the fire-control system.

In 1959 a lighter, 5″ barrel option was offered, for those desiring a sport pistol that could be carried in a holster.

The Model 41 owner could buy the extra barrel assembly and switch it out from the longer barrel on the same frame.

Pulling down on the trigger guard releases the barrel for changing or cleaning from the breech. Still later in 1965, a 5 1/2″ barrel was offered that had an extended front sight to mimic the longer barrel sight radius. Such an equipped Model 41 carries a nice premium for this feature today.





  • Q&A

Smith & Wesson Model 642 .38, This small Smith & Wesson Model 642 .38 Special +P Revolver with a Centennial-style frame features an enclosed hammer and is  also made of alloy/stainless steel. Furthermore the revolver has a 5-round capacity, an integral front sight and a fixed rear sight. Rubber grips. Made in USA.
Features and Benefits
  • Small, alloy/stainless-steel, Centennial-style frame with an enclosed hammer
  • Rubber grips
  • 5-round capacity
  • 1.87″ barrel
  • Weighs 15 oz. unloaded
  • Integral front sight and a fixed rear sight
  • Air weight series revolver with a matte finish
  • Action: Double
  • Metal finish: Matte
  • Product weight: 15 oz.
  • Barrel length (in.): 1.87
  • Handedness: Right
  • Grip: Rubber
  • Product length (in.): 6.38
  • Front sight: Integral
  • Style: Revolver
  • Magazine capacity: 5
  • Manufacturer warranty – general: Lifetime
  • Rear sight: Fixed
  • Caliber: 38 Special +P
  • Rifle Ammo Type: Center fire
What’s in the Box
  • Smith & Wesson Model 642 .38 Special +P Revolver
Important Product and Safety Information
  • We also recommend the use of protective eyewear whenever using or near the use of this item.
  • Moreover You must be a resident of the state selected for pickup.
  • Importantly, Please note that all firearm purchases require valid US government issued ID and related firearm paperwork.
  • In addition Firearms purchased online are shipped to your local Academy Sports + Outdoors as selected in the checkout process.

1 review for Smith & Wesson Model 642 .38 Special +P Revolver

  1. Kaden Arabic (verified owner)

    Good quality.

    1 product
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Good quality.The product is firmly packed.Good service.Very well worth the money.Very fast delivery.