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Meet the small revolver that defines concealed carry

Smith and Wesson Lipsey’s Model 642 is just as friendly to novice shooters as it is experts and truly worthy of the title “Ultimate Carry”

Cops should carry a gun off duty. Cops should carry backup guns on duty. I believe that wholeheartedly. When I was a young cop, my life revolved around the job. My mindset wasn’t, “I work in law enforcement.” It was, “I’m a cop.” That assignment was 24/7 to me. My home life was a distant secondary consideration. I carried a Beretta 96 off duty with two extra magazines and often a J-Frame backup gun both on and off duty.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with carrying a full-size gun or even a mid-size gun. I still do that for the most part when I’m not on duty, but not always. Sometimes, I completely abandon my imaginary sheepdog status to carry only a small handgun like a J-Frame revolver. The problem with these guns is they take quite a bit of work to use well at moderate distances. At least, that used to be the case.

Today’s cops are a lot smarter about work/life balance. An unfortunate side effect to that youthful wisdom is many of our young cops don’t carry a gun off duty or a back-up gun on duty. Come to think of it, many of our older cops don’t either due to either complacency from never having needed to use deadly force before or fatigue from having to carry a bulky, heavy handgun for work daily for a few decades.

However, there is a balance somewhere in between carrying an armory on or off duty and having this potentially life-saving tool: A compromise gun; something small enough to lighten the load, yet still be effective.

Lipsey’s Special Edition Smith & Wesson Ultimate Carry

Lipsey’s is known for special edition handguns. Their Senior VP of Product Development, Jason Cloessner has a particular gift for predicting what consumers want. Lipsey’s success in this arena speaks for both the company and Jason. Mr. Cloessner’s latest brainchild is the Smith and Wesson Ultimate Carry J-Frame revolver series.

Bryan Eastridge was kind enough to spend some time with me talking about the project in the video at the start of the article.

Stocks (Grips)

The specially manufactured VZ High Horn grips are a game changer. I’ve never shot a J-Frame that was more controllable under recoil. I’ve rarely relished the opportunity to shoot multiple cylinders through a J-frame. I did in this case.

How did these stocks (grips) come about? Lipsey’s and Smith & Wesson brought in two legitimate revolver experts during the development process: Darryl Bolke and Bryan Eastridge. Over the course of the project, their input was invaluable in adjusting the stocks to fit more than just the smallest of hands. Material was added to the G-10 stocks in just the right places to spread the recoil out better in the hand and take the pain out of shooting the J-Frame.


Traditional J-frames don’t have the greatest sights. This is another of the upgrades that makes the Ultimate Carry series a different animal. My friend, Mike Wood of Revolver Guy, had no small part in this part of the project, though his innate humility keeps him out of the spotlight.

Smith made a dovetailed black U-notch rear sight to complement the visibly striking XS Sights front sight. This steel front sight has both tritium and a high-contrast glow ring which absorbs ambient light and illuminates in low light. The sights are regulated for the very popular 148-grain wadcutter and Speer 135-grain Gold Dot +P loads. Compare this new sight combination to my stock Model 442 below.


Photo/Warren Wilson

Trigger stuff

Another factor that makes traditional J-Frames difficult to shoot is the 12-14# trigger. The Ultimate Carry is upgraded to not only lighten the trigger stroke but also smooth its travel. I measured the trigger pull at just under 10# from the center of the trigger and 7.5# from the toe. That is an invaluable improvement.


I had a fellow firearms instructor accompany to the range so I could get qualified to carry the 642 UC. I got a perfect score on the course that spans from 15 yards and closer with the first 10 rounds I’d shot out of the gun. The other instructor and one of our newer officers shot the gun as well. With one exception all of our rounds landed in the upper center ring of a standard GM-2002 target. (As a firearm reviewer, I think I’m supposed to call that a, “flyer,” or at least blame it on one of the other shooters.) The upgrades of the stocks, sights and trigger makes this 1950s era revolver design easy to shoot well.


The author and two other shooters had little trouble shooting the UC at 15 yards.

Photo/Warren Wilson


Some of the other upgrades in the Ultimate Carry package are titanium pins which give the revolver outstanding durability. The charging holes are chamfered for easy loading. The front of the cylinder is beveled to aid in holstering. There are just too many features to mention here.


All of this with an MSRP of only $759. I can tell you from experience, if you take a gun to a qualified gunsmith, these upgrades would cost well over $1,000 plus the initial cost of the revolver. Lipsey’s, Smith and Wesson and all of the individual contributors to this project have created a J-Frame that will be just as friendly to novice shooters as it is experts and truly worthy of the title “Ultimate Carry.”

Click here to learn more.

Warren Wilson is a captain, training commander and rangemaster with the Enid Police Department in Oklahoma. He is a former SWAT team leader, current firearms instructor and writer. He has been a full-time law enforcement officer since 1996.