WTS ??? .38 Special +P+ S&W Model 640

over 4 years ago
 WTS ??? .38 Special +P+ S&W Model 640
Available on
Northwest Firearms

Originally Posted by Background Info...
Up for sale is a neat little snubnose. This is a .38 Special S&W Model 640 aka the Stainless Centennial. It is from the very first run of this model’s introduction in 1989/1990. Aside from being a great CC piece, it has an interesting history in S&W’s line. The original “hammerless” Centennials were introduced in 1952 (S&W’s centennial year, which the model was named for). They were made for another 22 years and then discontinued due to low sales. One of the biggest complaints on the older Centennials was the grip safety that was built into the backstrap of the gun. Customers had been asking S&W to reintroduce the Centennial for years and when they finally did, it was actually new & improved! It came back made of stainless steel, without the superfluous grip safety and made to handle much hotter ammo than its predecessor – due to advances in materials and machining.
A neat thing only seen on the earliest of runs (~ only one year) of these 640’s is the laser-etched statement on the frame beneath the cylinder…it’s marked “TESTED FOR +P+”. This was during a time in the US when “Magnum” was a dirty word and law enforcement agencies were looking to try and duplicate their .357 loads with the hottest of .38 Specials to avoid public/media backlash of police using “murderous and super-deadly MAGNUM rounds out in the public”. I guess saying they shot a rapist with a .38 Special sounded much better than a .357 Magnum? Well, there being no SAAMI standard for +P+, it didn’t take very long at all for S&W’s lawyers to realize that marking the guns with “+P+” might not be in their best legal interest, so they dropped the marking early in the run’s life. Another cool thing (I guess for S&W nerds like me anyways) is that these first run guns also carried a “CEN” S/N prefix - kind of a tip-of-the-hat to the model’s lineage back when it was first introduced as the Centennial in 1952.
They made these new stainless Centennials, the Model 640 (no dash), from1989-1995 and then came out with the Model 640-1 that beefed up the frame, barrel & cylinder to be able to handle .357 Magnum pressures. Many see the original 640 as a better all-around CC piece, as it was built on the smaller frame with the lighter and shorter barrel, while still be able to handle the hottest .38’s your hand could handle. The good old 158gr .38+P LSWCHP has been doing the job for quite some time and is a proven performer out of snubnoses. These original 640’s were also made back when S&W still used forged steel for their internals vs. the MIM & plastic that started appearing when the 640-1 came into existence.
Great little guns. I’ve owned probably a half a dozen of them over the last few years and just about every other .38/.357/9mm Centennial version S&W has made…640-1/642/442/042/340/940/40/etc…but I always come back to these original .38 Special Model 640’s. They just seem to have the perfect balance of weight, size and firepower. The “hammerless” frame of all the Centennial variants lends them to be extremely well-suited to CC – no hammer to snag on the draw, no place for lint to accumulate, no worry about putting the gun into SA at the wrong time. Just a smooth, consistent, crisp and safe DAO trigger pull every time. And for anyone that thinks the .38 Special can’t still hold its own, I’d recommend checking out Buffalo Bore’s website to see what the .38 Special can do when loaded to its true potential. In the pocket, in the waistband, in the glove box, on the ankle, on the nightstand…anywhere you’d want to keep a CC gun, these little 640’s are excellent.
Alright then. Sorry for getting a little long-winded with the history lesson. These are probably my favorite S&W’s, so it’s not too hard for me to talk about them a little more than people probably care to hear. On to the ad…
This S&W .38 Special Model 640 (no dash) is in good condition, given it’s a quarter century old. It’s 100% mechanically sound, with a solid action, perfect timing/carry-up/lock-up, bright bore & chambers and no rust or serious scratches/gouges. No box or papers on this one.
It looks like it’s been carried at least a little in its life, but not shot much and definitely not abused. There are some light handling marks throughout the finish of the gun and on the stocks. The stocks are the ones that originally came on this gun back in 1989/1990 and would do fine for CC as they are or could be refinished into looking brand new again…no chips or cracks. This is a 4-digit “CEN” prefix S/N (CEN6xxx), so it was likely about the 6,000th-ish made. Not “extremely” rare, but I’d say they’re most definitely harder to come by than regular .38 Special 640’s (which aren't all that common to begin with).
I’m looking to sell this Model 640 for $550, preferably FTF in Everett. Not terribly interested in trades, but would consider offers of S&W revolvers chambered in .22, .38 Special or .357 Magnum made between 1930 & 1996.
Thanks for looking.