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Thread: J-frame Manifesto/ How I set up my J-frames

  1. #1
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    J-frame Manifesto/ How I set up my J-frames

    Hey guys,

    I was scouting around for a gun to play with when I realized my old S&W 442 Pro was getting fairly broken in and I no longer had a backup. As my friends on here will recall, I actually believe that the J-frame is the best handgun for non-duty/military carry. Here are the usual reasons I give...

    I think the J-frame in airweight format is probably the best all-around gun for the average civillian. Here is why:

    1. Very simple. The Revolver has no safety, no movable sights, no dropable magazines, nothing. Just a gun that you can drop in your pocket and go.

    2. Intrinsically reliable. While the myth of the unstoppable revolver is BS, it is true that a revovler is more likely to go off when you pull the trigger. Any number of factors from being out of battery due to close contact, empty chamber, jam, missing magazine, etc can curse your autoloader, the J-frame will work in all of the these circumstances--and if the cylinder is empty keep squeezing.

    3. Lack of user induced malfunctions. Revolvers are far more tolerant of sloppy handling (train all you want, pressure is pressure).I have seen people induce all manner of malfunctions by either holding their autoloaders with a weak grip, or accidentally riding the slide release lever. Revolvers are far less likely to have problems like this.

    4. Reasonable cost. Autoloaders are pricey. A Glock 19 is going to run most folks around $550. You are going to need a rigid holster (at least a fobus) and probably at least another spare mag or two. A J-frame will run you $100-200 cheaper. My last Glock 19 cost $620 (Mos without moon cut) and my latest 442 Pro cost $420

    5. You can throw out the price difference buy purchasing a set of crimson trace laser grips. This is, in the words of LAV, a no brainer fro the J-frame. The laser grip is absolutely perfect for this type of gun. You can practice dry-firing, shooting on the move, barrier shots, etc using the crimson trace grips and save a LOT of time and money at the range. This is especially nice for folks who don't have a range where they can practice practical shooting.

    6. YOU WILL ACTUALLY CARRY IT. I do agree with those who say that 5 shots is the scary minimum...BUT I do think that the fact that you are much more likely to actually CARRY an ultra-lightweight revolver makes up for a G19x with RMR and 24round magazine in the glove compartment because you didn't feel like putting it back on before you went in the store. Don't tell me you don't know what I'm talking about. And the J-frame can be carried in, let's just say, "non-permissive" environments with something as simple as a phone or pair of keys on top to break up the pattern.

    7. SAFE. Unlike the safteyless striker guns, there is no real concern that something might get loose in your pocket and push the trigger. There is no real risk that you will actidently pull the trigger while drawing. I nearly shot myself one time drawing my S&W M&P 2.0 Compact. The super tacky grip caught on my shirt and pulled the barrel towards my body during the draw... which caused me to reposition the gun in my hand. Scared the poo out of me. No chance of this with a hammerless J. You could leave a J-frame loose in a purse or glove compartment with no realistic chance of discharge.

    8. Simplicity/convenience of carry(again). A J-frame is really all you need. A simple nylon pocket holster is preferable, but not absolutely needed. You can just put it in your coat pocket (and shoot through it if need be). There is no need to keep up with magazines and wait for months for holsters or any of the other doo-hickey's that you collect for autoloaders.




    Anyway, that is my reasoning. Here is how I run my J-frame. First, I get a black model. I like the idea of the 642 because of the ease of cleaning (dirt is more visible) but I end up having to paint the top of my guns black to avoid glare. The sights are bad enough without added issues. The 442 Pro and the 442 performance center are my favorites. The current performance center is probably best because you can still see how dirty the cylinder is, and I tend to get rust on my trigger, cylinder and release latches. The 442 Pro fixes this and has a nicer trigger to boot. I currently am running 442 Pros because they lack the Hillary Hole and they are cut for moon clips. The moon clips are mostly useless, but I like keeping my carry ammo in moon clips so empties can easily be ejected.


    1. The first thing I do is get a pair of Crimson Trace Laser grips, preferably LG-405. They are expensive, around $235 on amazon, but they are excellent. Not only are they more comfortable than the factory boot grip (they have a padded rear section that is much kinder to the webbing of your hand). Just zero them at the front sight post. You can fine tune them at the range.

    IMG_0674 by stoiclawyer, on Flickr


    2. Next I paint the front sight. I LOVE the fact that the J-frame sights are fixed. I can't tell you the number of times I have paid to have night sights installed and later found them drifting (kudos to Beretta for staking theirs on my 92G-SD). This may seem like paranoia, but I have seen it many times over the years. The J-frame sights may be limited, but they don't move. But what they gain in being low-profile and durable they loose in visibility. The best way to fix this is to paint it with Appliance paint, and then follow it up with a bright red or orange band. The appliance paint keeps the fingernail polish paint or whatever from easily flaking off. I learned this trick from the revolver guru Claude Werner...read this amazing post from the professor...https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress....s/#more-190902


    IMG_0673 by stoiclawyer, on Flickr

    IMG_0688 by stoiclawyer, on Flickr

    3. Next get some speed loaders. I prefer the Safariland -Comp 1 models. There about $14 and are super low profile. I usually keep it in the same pocket as the gun below the holster. I don't usually carry speed strips because they are slow. I DO however sometimes carry one with snake shot when I am cutting grass, etc.
    IMG_0670 by stoiclawyer, on Flickr



    4. Find a good pocket holster. There are tons of great ones but I like the Sticky Holster MD-5 medium. It runs about $30 but I have been running the same one for 5 years. Great piece. Just dump out the sand and grit every once in a while.

    IMG_0120 by stoiclawyer, on Flickr


    5. Usually I run Gold Dot Short Barrel .38 or HST +P. Both do quite well according the the currently fashionable FBI gel criteria They are easy to find in our local gunshops. I also keep some snake shot around since I live in rattlesnake country.

    There you go! Now, if you really want to guild the Lilly you can buy an APEX trigger kit (or similar kits from Wilson, WOLF, etc). The trigger on the J-frame starts quite heavy. The two guns I have are the same model and my 3 year old PRO with thousands of rounds has a trigger that feels to be about 60% as heavy and about 3x shooter. The trigger on a J-frame will eventually wear to mechanical perfection, but you have to put in the work. Or you can just buy a kit. They are reasonably easy to install.
    Let those who are fond of blaming and finding fault, while they sit safely at home, ask, ‘Why did you not do thus and so?’I wish they were on this voyage; I well believe that another voyage of a different kind awaits them.”

    Christopher Columbus

  2. #2
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    The J frame is truly an under appreciated gun. I’ve had 3. I had the CT grips, but wasn’t a fan, I found myself chasing the dot instead putting rounds in the target. I do like the GD Short Barrel, but they are hard to get. I’m going to buy some standard Federal .38 Wad Cutters.

  3. #3
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    I don't know how you guys pockets carry these things. I have enough stuff in my pockets to have a thick revolver take up one. I may throw it in a jacket pocket. Best summer carry gun. First thing I change is the tiny grips for pachmyer pro compacs. I use a pistol wear mini neoprene holster belt combo or a knock off summer special IWB leather holster. Test yourself in an IDPA match with your carry snubby for a real challenge. I need to change my 38 load as I currently have titegroup in them and the little cylinder gets so hot it makes reloads difficult.

    Second the trigger spring kit. Put one in mine as well.

    The pistolwear also works great for when I go on runs and carry. Stays under a pair of workout shorts and keeps the gun dry from sweat.
    Last edited by joedirt199; 01-13-20 at 18:51.

  4. #4
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    Joe,

    J-frames are super easy to pocket carry--but you are right, that is about it. Now I have a stocky build so my pants are rarely form fitting. But I wear dress pants all day and if I am outside the courthouse I have my J-frame in my pocket. I often carry a speed loader under the holster or a speed strip (with snake shot) if I am walking on my property.
    Let those who are fond of blaming and finding fault, while they sit safely at home, ask, ‘Why did you not do thus and so?’I wish they were on this voyage; I well believe that another voyage of a different kind awaits them.”

    Christopher Columbus

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    Nice write up, Greg. I have owned a 940 for over 25 years. It was my on-duty backup gun when I was on the job and now it is my hot weather/deep concealment gun. I have been shooting it so long that it is almost second nature and the ballistics of the 9mm out of the short barrel is nothing to scoff at.
    Philippians 2:10-11

    To argue with a person who renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead. ~ Thomas Paine

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  6. #6
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    I had a 642. Best I could do is throw it the pocket of a winter jacket.

    I too don't get how some of you guys pocket carry....j frame or other guns. I carry iwb so I already buy jeans a size larger, relaxed fit. But besides being clearly visible it's super uncomfortable. I can barely tolerate is a little 380. On the other hand I don't notice a 45oz full size semi auto iwb all day. And I often forget I'm even carrying a G19.

  7. #7
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    Nice write up, Greg. I have owned a 940 for over 25 years. It was my on-duty backup gun when I was on the job and now it is my hot weather/deep concealment gun. I have been shooting it so long that it is almost second nature and the ballistics of the 9mm out of the short barrel is nothing to scoff at.
    It’s amazing. I think the biggest drawback is that they are harder to shoot than modern autoloaders without good practice
    Let those who are fond of blaming and finding fault, while they sit safely at home, ask, ‘Why did you not do thus and so?’I wish they were on this voyage; I well believe that another voyage of a different kind awaits them.”

    Christopher Columbus

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    Greg’s write up is right on all the major points.

    What frustrates me with J Frames is the one issue - practical accuracy. As a 442 carrier, my frustration is the triggers never get that good and when combined with the piss poor steel sights, J Frames are hard guns to shoot accurately. Practicing helps, but I never seem to have the ease of shooting to even 15 yards that a similarly sized auto pistol allows. It is just easier to make tough shots with anything other than a J Frame - so is the juice worth the squeeze to invest in eaking out just a little more distance.

    I have 20 years in assorted J Frames, but they have been second fiddle to autos for the last 15 years. I did pick up a 351 with the swappable fiber sight. Great sight picture, less recoil, etc. but then the rimfire trigger makes the double action even worse. Presently I have found that I shoot a lot better with the marginally larger K Frame Airweight. I just want more than 10 yards reliably.

    Does the experience improve with the snubs from other companies e.g. Ruger, Colt or Kimber?

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    One trick I do is go to the tailor and have him deepen my pants pockets a bit. This allows the gun to fit in better without printing. You don't want it too deep--so that the muzzle of the pocket carried gun is tapping you on the knee.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HardToHandle View Post
    Greg’s write up is right on all the major points.

    What frustrates me with J Frames is the one issue - practical accuracy. As a 442 carrier, my frustration is the triggers never get that good and when combined with the piss poor steel sights, J Frames are hard guns to shoot accurately. Practicing helps, but I never seem to have the ease of shooting to even 15 yards that a similarly sized auto pistol allows. It is just easier to make tough shots with anything other than a J Frame - so is the juice worth the squeeze to invest in eaking out just a little more distance.

    I have 20 years in assorted J Frames, but they have been second fiddle to autos for the last 15 years. I did pick up a 351 with the swappable fiber sight. Great sight picture, less recoil, etc. but then the rimfire trigger makes the double action even worse. Presently I have found that I shoot a lot better with the marginally larger K Frame Airweight. I just want more than 10 yards reliably.

    Does the experience improve with the snubs from other companies e.g. Ruger, Colt or Kimber?
    The J Frame is a reasonably accurate defensive handgun, but it requires a bit of finesse. Go to Post # 16 and you can see the practical accuracy of a J Frame shooting offhand at 100 yards with defensive ammunition. https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread...(642)-Accuracy
    Train 2 Win

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