Introduced in 1990, the S&W 442 revolver is part of Smith and Wesson’s Centennial family of 5 shot revolvers. While most people believe the 442 to be a hammerless model, it actually has a completely enclosed hammer in the frame. This enclosed hammer makes the SW 442 function in double action only mode as the hammer cannot be cocked.
When S&W first brought the 442 to market, it was called the 442 Centennial. S&W would later build the 442 with a lightweight aluminum frame with a steel cylinder and rename it the 442 Airweight. Today, S&W has transitioned almost all their revolver models to a model number, so the 442 Airweight is now known as the S&W Model 442.
Like many of the SW Centennial family of revolvers, the 442 is a five-shot model chambered in .38 Special. The 442 was originally available in a satin nickel finish but is currently only offered in a matte-blued finish. The current 442 revolver offered by S&W is available in models with or without the S&W internal lock system.
In 2019, S&W introduced a new variant of the Model 442, called the Performance Center Model 442-1. Coming out of the S&W Performance Center, the 442-1 is an upgraded Model 442 with a few more bells and whistles. This model comes with a tuned action, stainless steel cylinder, no internal lock, and a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips.
The Model 442 has been an excellent seller for S&W and is still one of their top-selling J frame revolvers.
The size and lighter weight of the SW 442 make it very popular for concealed carry and personal protection. While some might not like the double-action-only operation, the concealed hammer design reduces the chance of an exposed hammer catching on something during the draw.
The top-selling SW Model 442 holster styles we carry are:
The concealed hammer of the 442 makes it an extremely popular choice for pocket carry. Not only does the internal hammer reduce the overall size, but it also makes drawing the revolver from the pocket less difficult.
Our most popular leather pocket holster models for the 442 are the Don Hume 001 Front pocket holster and the MTR Custom Front Pocket holster. While we do carry rear pocket holster options for the S&W J frame revolvers, the width of the cylinder can make it challenging to conceal in the back pocket of jeans or shorts. Therefore, we find the front pocket holster option to be a more effective holster choice.
The reduced weight and compact size of the 442 revolver make it a viable option for concealed carry using an IWB holster. Even though the 442 lacks an exposed hammer, the most popular IWB holster styles are models that feature a body shield (also called a sweat shield).
If you aren’t interested in pocket carry or IWB carry, another potential CCW option is a belt holster. Also called OWB holsters, a belt holster rides on the outside of the belt. The more popular belt holster models for the S&W 442 (or any J frame revolver) are high riding models that keep the revolver positioned above the beltline.
Here are some frequently asked questions that we see dealing with holsters for the Smith and Wesson 442:
The 442 is part of the Smith and Wesson J frame family of revolvers, so it will fit into a holster made for a S&W J frame.
Any of the MTR Custom leather holster models displayed below are available in a version to fit the Performance Center 442 with Crimson Trace lasergrips. Unfortunately, the Don Hume holsters pictured below are not designed to accommodate the laser grips and may not work correctly.
While we carry holsters to fit a S&W J frame revolver with a 3” barrel, we are not aware of S&W ever offering the 442 with a 3-inch barrel.
While we don’t have a dedicated appendix IWB holster, the IWB holster options that work best for appendix carry are the MTR Custom Adversary or the Don Hume H715M holster with a body shield.
The early model S&W J frame models came with barrels that were actually 2” long. Over time, Smith & Wesson decided to reduce the barrel length on most of the J frame revolvers down to 1 7/8”. Rather than having to make a holster for the 2” and the 1 7/8” models, most holster makers fit both barrel lengths in the holster made for the slightly longer 2” barrel. So, a Model 442 with a 1 7/8” barrel works just fine in a holster made for a 2” J frame.