S&W PC Enhanced Action Model 642 and 637: Coming to the Range
S&W Performance Center Enhanced Action Model 642. mfg photo

If you’re unfamiliar with the Smith & Wesson Performance Center, it’s where regular S&W guns go to get tuned up and made into some of the smoothest factory guns on the market.

This year, S&W released Performance Center versions of one of its most popular concealed carry and back-up revolvers, the 642. Recently, I got a chance to try out of of these enhanced snubby wheelguns at the S&W test range in Massachusetts.

So what’s the big improvement? It’s a J-frame revolver that’s been around since the mid 1990s, but the tweaks on the PC version are mostly on the inside.

The trigger on small guns is always an issue, regardless of the size of your hands. With a short sight radius, there is less room for error when pulling a double-action trigger, and a shooter must practice to make sure they have a smooth pull throughout. The smallest twinge or staging of that trigger pull will throw off the sight alignment, and a shot could be off by far too much.

There’s a great way to counter this problem, though: install a really nice trigger.

The Performance Center Model 642 Enhanced Action puts its most essential improvement right in its name. The action on this little, concealed-hammer double-action only revolver feels like polished glass when you pull the trigger, the cylinder rotating smoothly with a solid, tangible trigger reset, which is extremely important when follow-up shots matter most.

S&W PC Enhanced Action Model 642 and 637: Coming to the Range
S&W PC Enhanced Action Model 637 has an exposed hammer so it can be fired in single- or double-action. web photo

Combined with the concealed hammer and some new, excellent ergonomic wood grips, the PC 642 is a lightweight, easy to carry, easy to draw, and easy to shoot revolver for shooters of any experience level. And being chambered in .38 Special means it’s also pretty cheap to practice with at the range.

Its predecessor, the Model 640, was originally introduced as a 5-shot, steel J-frame revolver with a snubby barrel featuring a concealed hammer.

In 1995, S&W released the 642, swapping the steel frame for aluminum and designating it the “airweight.” The gun was offered with a 3-inch barrel, but that version has since been dropped.

This enhanced, PC version has a 1.875-inch stainless steel barrel with an overall length of 6.3 inches and weighs in at a feathery 15 ounces with a stainless cylinder and a matte finished frame.

S&W PC Enhanced Action Model 642 and 637: Coming to the Range
The other side of the 642. author photo

There’s also a Performance Center version of the Model 637, which is pretty much identical to the 642, except it has an exposed hammer and consequently can be fired in DA or SA.

In single action, the trigger on the 637 is about as smooth and crisp as you can ask for, making slower, more accurate shooting much easier.

Both the PC 642 and 637 come with custom wood grips that offer a three-finger grip, as opposed to a two-finger grip found on many sub-compact revolvers. Depending on how you carry, the slightly longer grip could cause a printing problem, but the fact that the rounded wood grips also taper at the third-finger groove should minimize any concealment problems. Both models have cylinders cut to accept moon clips for super-fast reloads without the additional bulk or weight of speedloaders.

Another PC 642 model is available with shorter synthetic grips with wood inserts and a two-tone finish with a polished cylinder and matte frame.

S&W Performance Center Model 642/637 Enhanced Action
Caliber: .38 S&W Special +P
Capacity: 5
Barrel Length: 1.875″ stainless steel
Overall Length: 6.3″
Front Sight: Integral
Rear Sight: Fixed
Action: 642, DAO; 637 DA/SA
Grip: Custom wood
Weight: 15 ounces
Cylinder: stainless steel
Frame: aluminum alloy
Frame Finish: matte silver
MSRP: $525