+P+ S&W Model 640

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by shouldazagged, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    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.

    Shouldazagged
    Louisville, KY
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2013
  2. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

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    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!:)
     

  3. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    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.
     
  4. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    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+.
     
  5. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    "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...
     
  6. michael80

    michael80 New Member

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

    shouldazagged New Member

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    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>.
     
  8. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    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...
     
  9. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    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.:):)
     
  10. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    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.
     
  11. CHLChris

    CHLChris New Member

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    These days the 640 is only .357mag and has the 2.25" barrel. I didn't realize there was a 1.875" 38spl version.

    To anyone who knows... Is this when the 642 was designed? The current 642 sounds like the old 640 you have (except for the +p+ part).
     
  12. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am in LE (30+ years) and the 640 was used as a 'back up' for my duty weapon and some off duty carry.;)
     
  13. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    You and lots of other LEO's, apparently. Fine choice! Though I carry mine in a front-pocket holster, I don't mind the weight at all. My hands are pretty much eaten up with arthritis, and the extra heft makes the gun less painful to shoot with +P. A nice smooth professional trigger job helps too.
     
  14. jd45

    jd45 New Member

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    I also had one of these 1st-run 640s back in the day and, yes, it was laser-etched "+P+". What made it strong enough to handle the hi-pressure loads was AND is the way it's machined internally, as I understand it, meaning no weakening of the frame to allow for an exposed hammer. As far as I know, it's still as strong as it ever was, S&W decided to not pup the +P+ on later runs cause, wouldn't you know it, guys were trying to turn them into .357s & blowin em up. jd45
     
  15. jd45

    jd45 New Member

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    BTW, I run the Speer .38SPL+P short barrel 135gr ammo in mine. I get between 880FPS & 905FPS from my 1-7/8" barrel. Kicks hard tho, even with the lighter weight bullet and lots of flash. jd45
     
  16. shouldazagged

    shouldazagged New Member

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    Thanks for the info about how they made these, jd. I had wondered if it was something like that or the metallurgy.

    That's the first I'd heard about the flash of the Speer round, and it probably means I'll stick with the lead SWCHP stuff. Even when my hands could deal with magnum recoil I didn't like the idea of carrying a .357 after dark because of concern about being blinded temporarily by the godawful fireball of the first shot. I've learned since that they have reduced that a good deal with flash retardants in the powder, but now my arthritis is too bad to shoot the magnums.

    Anyway, elderly eyes readjust much more slowly after a sudden flash.

    Nice velocity on that new ammo, though.