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[FIREARM REVIEW] Smith & Wesson 442 Revolver

I am always amazed at how many people carry their CCW gun in their front pocket. When people watch my videos on a subcompact gun, a question often asked is, “how is that gun for pocket carry”? Maybe it’s just because I’m a behind the hip holster guy but I am taken back by how many people carry like this. I am not saying it is wrong, I am simply making the point that millions of Americans carry a gun in their pocket.

A snub nose revolver is a very popular choice. The Smith & Wesson 442 “Airweight” is often referred as one of the best J­frame revolvers for pocket carry. It is extremely light at 15 ounces, has an internal hammer making it snag free, the barrel is only 1.875” and the heavy double action trigger pull provides “somewhat” of a safety to prevent accidental discharges. Given all of this information, I had to give it a try and carry it in the front pocket and I have to admit the S&W 442 Airweight was quite nice.


Model 442
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Capacity: 5 Rounds
Barrel Length: 1.875”
Front Sight: Black Blade
Rear Sight: Fixed
Grip: Synthetic (rubber)
Action: Double Action Only
Frame Size: Small – Internal Hammer
Finish: Matte Black
Overall Length: 6.31”
Material: Aluminum Alloy Frame, Carbon Steel Cylinder
Weight Empty: 15 oz
MSRP: $469


Many consider S&W revolvers the best on the market. With their quality and excellent reputation, they demand a hefty price at the register. Not this little 442 Airweight revolver. Online, these average right around $400 and I’ve seen them on the used market for a little over $300. I acquired my 442 Airweight in a partial trade which put the value right around $300. This was always one of the guns I wanted to get some day but when it became available, I had to make the deal happen. Definitely, no regrets on my end.


When first gripping the revolver the user notices the weight. The 442 Airweight is amazingly light and the rubber grips make for a tight feel. The grip allows for a two finger grip however the bottom of the grip works well for the third finger to grasp. The matte black frame is made of aluminum alloy which provides decent strength and very light weight. With a fully loaded cylinder, the S&W 442 Airweight weighs 17 ounces on my scale. This explains why so many people prefer to pocket carry this. An inexpensive Galco front pocket holster prevents the revolver from printing and offers a fair amount of retention of the gun.


The sights for the 442 Airweight are similar to most snub nose revolvers. The low profile rear sights are fixed and the front sight is a ramped up blade which is snag free. I consider the sight picture minimal compared to semi auto subcompacts therefore I view the 442 Airweight as a point and shoot gun more than a precision shooter where the user focuses on the sights.


The fact that this revolver is double action only, the 10 lb trigger pull is a bit heavy and long. The advantage to the long pull is that it serves as a safer choice compared to shorter trigger pulls for pocket carry. Properly inserted in a pocket holster, I cannot possibly see how the trigger could be manipulated. The disadvantage to the heavy trigger is that many revolver shooters enjoy short single action trigger travel for accuracy. The 442 Airweight is just not that type of gun. It makes for a reliable self defense revolver but as for precision shooting at the range, not so much.


When firing the 442 Airweight, the shooter will feel significant recoil especially with .38 special +p rounds. The recoil is surely manageable for the experienced shooter however the novice user may struggle. It’s lightweight package delivers a nice “punch back” but that is expected for an aluminum frame revolver. I also believe the .38 special round is significant for self defense despite the thoughts of many firearm “experts.”


Overall, I think the S&W 442 Airweight serves well in the concealed carry market. The size and weight make it ideal for pocket carry or a backup gun and the internal hammer encloses the frame that protects the internal parts from annoying dust and dirt. It is also very reliable. From the day I
received the 442 Airweight, I am yet to experience any type of failure and that is with a variety of ammo brands. Understanding that accuracy is a little compromised with the short 1.875” barrel and the heavy trigger pull, with some good range practice the 442 Airweight is a quality CCW choice.

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