Smith & Wesson M442 Mag-Na-Ported .38 SPL

Smith & Wesson has a long history of producing special…

Smith & Wesson has a long history of producing special runs of semi-custom firearms for their distributors. These special runs are usually a combination of features, barrel lengths, and calibers that do not warrant becoming a full production run. However, when a large distributor commits to buying 500 or 1,000 units, S&W can justify the production of a non-standard pistol. The distributor then takes on the financial obligation off getting the guns into the hands of the dealers and ultimately the buying public.

I routinely cruise S&W’s website to see if there are any new products that I may have missed. Such was the case when I recently came across a two-tone, M442 Airweight Centennial that had a Mag-Na-Ported barrel. Being a J-frame aficionado, I was immediately interested and called to get one. I learned that this was a special production item for Bangers Distributors and the complete run had already been shipped. My next call was to the great people at Bangers, who have been in business since 1986 and actively involved in limited edition S&Ws for many years.

The J-frame Centennial was first introduced in 1952 to celebrate the 100th birthday of the company. In 1957, Smith began assigning model numbers to their firearms and the Centennial became the M40. It was a true pocket pistol with a concealed hammer, sleek silhouette, and a grip safety that protruded from the backstrap of the frame. It was chambered in .38 Special, which at the time was considered a “powerful” cartridge. The only drawback was it weighed a solid 21 ounces. The popularity of the M40, and the demand for a lighter revolver, resulted in the alloy framed M42. Sadly, the M40 and M42 were discontinued in 1974 and, as with many things, we don’t really appreciate them until after they are gone. Fortunately, in 1990, S&W introduced the M640 all stainless Centennial and later brought out the aluminum framed M442 and the M642.

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