Dear Michael:

Currently the only alloy frame snub I have is a Colt Cobra, newer style with the shrouded ejector rod.  I am not crazy about it since it has exposed hammer and the trigger pull is not as good as my steel J frame smiths.  I have run across a S&W 642 pre-lock model that is plus p rated and looks as new.  I am contemplating getting rid of the Colt and getting the 642.  The 642 is priced at $425.00 which is probably on the high side for used, but I have had little luck finding these without the internal lock.  Does it make sense to you to make this swap-I know I am giving up a six shot for five, but otherwise it appears to me the 642 has more pluses for carry.  Please advise from your perspective and desirability of the pre-lock 642 in general.  Thanks.


Dear Randy:
Thank you for your question.
Here are a few quick thoughts.
The Hammer can be fixed with either a Hammer Shroud (I can put you in touch with the maker) or with a quick trip to the gunsmith to get the  hammer “bobbed.”
I prefer the hammer shroud for several reasons but the bobbed hammer is a good 2nd option.
The important question is will the J-frame fit you  hand?
The K-frame (S&W) and the D-frame (Colt) were build to fit a man’s hand. The J-frame was built for a woman’s hand (based on the older I frame) and does not always fit a man’s hand.  This is especially true if you have large hands or if you wear gloves in colder weather.
If the J-frame fits you hand you may be able to find a less expensive J-frame with a lock and have a skilled gunsmith remove it.  Karl Sokol in Vermont does a great job (e-mail me if you wish his contact information) but some of your own area area gunsmiths should be as to do as well.
Remember that the lock is not a safety – it is an access denial feature – so is a well made trigger lock. 
I prefer the D-frame Colts and the K-frame Smiths (both 6-shots) to the J-frames only because they fit my hands.
The one reason I might trade my Colt for a J-frame Smith is if I was worried about repairs is the future.
Finding a gunsmith skilled on the Colt and who has Colt parts is getting harder to find than hen’s teeth.
My conclusion – I would keep looking for a light weight J-frame IF it fits your hand and IF I found one closer to the mid – to high- $300.00 range. (I don’t know the market in your area) I would then buy that one. 
After that I would then sell the Colt to an area Colt shooter and buy a second J-frame in steel (same style as your 1st J-frame)
That way you could shoot the steel J-frame often and never worry about the wear-and-tear on the light weight carry gun. I would of course shoot the light weight J-frame a few time a year so the stiffer recoil wouldn’t be unexpected in a self-defense situation.
This is a short answer but I hope this helps.