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shouldazagged 02-04-2013 12:41 AM

+P+ S&W Model 640
Some time ago I bought a Model 640 (no dash) in .38 Special which has the words "Tested For +P+" etched into the inside of the frame. I read somewhere that this variant was made only briefly before Smith began adapting J-frames for .357 Magnum. Does anybody know when this run occurred? I've e-mailed the company, but don't have an answer yet.

I love this little gun, and have carried it daily for over ten years. Immediately after I bought it, in used but very fine condition, I fitted it with Pachmayr Compac grips which fit my large arthritic hands very well, and had a gunsmith give it a nice trigger job, an orange insert in the front sight blade, and a rounding/polishing of the trigger--I hate grooved triggers. I have NO intention of selling it, and it will go to my son when I croak. I carry only +P ammo in it. I'm just curious about when the +P+ versions were made.

Louisville, KY

JimRau 02-04-2013 01:16 AM

I have no idea, but I had one like that MANY years ago. It was my back up gun.
Contact S&W and they can give you more insight in your quest for answers.
Welcome to the forum!:)

shouldazagged 02-04-2013 01:39 AM

Thanks for the welcome. Haven't heard back from S&W yet. I'm 75 and don't get around as much anymore, but there have been shootings all around the quiet senior apartments where I live. The 640 isn't a backup, it's my ECW, and I have a lot of confidence in it with Remington +P LSWCHP ammo (and a couple of Speed Strips) as up-close-and-personal defense.

c3shooter 02-04-2013 01:54 AM

Shoulda, welcome- when you get a minute, drop by the intro thread and say howdy.

You may have had a revolver with a +P marking, but +P+, well- not likely.

There is a trade association called SAAMI that establishes standards for ammo- dimensions, pressures, etc. There are only FOUR official +P cartridges- the 9mm Parabellum, .38 Special, .45 ACP, and ALL .38 Super ammo.

But there IS no one accepted legal standard for +P+. In theory, you could load anything you wanted into a .38 Special case, and call it a +P+. With no recognized standard, it is unlikely that Smith would mark a gun as being suited for +P+.

shouldazagged 02-04-2013 02:16 AM

"You may have had a revolver with a +P marking, but +P+, well- not likely."

I assure you, "Tested For +P+" is precisely what is very neatly etched (looks like laser or electrochemical etching) inside the frame of the piece. And in something I read a few days ago it was stated that Smith did in fact make a few +P+-rated 640's before deciding this was a half-measure and going to .357 Magnum with a reinforced frame and a 2.125 inch barrel instead of 1.875. If I can find the article again I'll post a reference. Meantime, I'll hope Smith & Wesson comes up with an answer.

I can't imagine why they would make such a piece if there was no reputable +P+ ammo available. Of course, I'm older than the domestication of cattle...

michael80 02-04-2013 02:46 AM

My 38 is rated for +p but in the owners manual states that you should not fire +p on a regular occasion

shouldazagged 02-04-2013 06:37 PM

It appears from further research that while there is no SAAMI-approved standard for +P+ in .38 Special, it has been manufactured and is still available in LE-only-marked boxes. The Federal 147gr and Winchester Ranger 110gr +P+ (the old "Treasury load) apparently can still be had at premium prices. Several people on one thread I read said they routinely shot the Federal load in L-frame guns without problems. I would NEVER shoot +P+ stuff in my beloved Model 640, of course, though I have no qualms about +P ammo.

As to "Tested For +P+" variants of the 640, the Smith & Wesson forum has a thread which seems to indicate that lots of people own them and that because they are relatively rare they may command a slightly higher price. (Again, immaterial to me as I'm far too fond of mine to consider selling it). I haven't found any info as to when they were made, barring my sending S&W the serial number of my gun. Their immediate response to my inquiry was to lawyer up and say they don't recommend using +P+ in their guns, which I knew already. I didn't ask if it was safe to use, just when those guns were made. The phrasing of the reply was pure boilerplate CYA.

I've found suggestions that the +P+ ammo may have been requested by LEO's as a "hot .38" load and an alternative to going to .357 Mag, and that it may have been partly in repsonse to public sensitivity about the term "magnum". Seems the more things change, the more they stay the same <sigh>.

shouldazagged 02-04-2013 09:07 PM

Just heard back from S&W. My 640 was built in March of 1990. No info about the duration of the production run of "tested for +P+" versions. I don't think they much want to talk about it...

locutus 02-04-2013 10:24 PM

Remington SWC??

If that's the lead, semiwadcutter hollow point +P you have the old "METRO" load:) AKA, "FBI" load.

I carried that ammo for several years. It was law enforcement standard for a couple of decades.

I don't think you could find better ammo for a snubbie. This stuff works.:):)

shouldazagged 02-04-2013 10:31 PM

Yeah, the +P 158gr. LSWCHP is what I carry, Remington for choice. Researched its track record, and it's been getting the job done for a LONG time.

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