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S&W 639 opinions?

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Gear' started by tyr_shadowblade, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. tyr_shadowblade


    Jan 3, 2006
    Well, I have been looking for a proper nightstand gun for a while now and have gone through about a dozen over the years. I decided for a nightstand gun I don't like: magnums, big bores, tac lites, night sites, lasers, polymer frames, alloy frames, compact frames, DAO, SAO, low capacity, or jam-o-matics. I decided to stick with 9mm, DA/SA, and stainless steel.

    So I have opportunity to pick up a pistol I don't know too much about: a S&W 639, which is a 2nd generation, full sized, stainless, DA/SA 9mm with an 8+1 capacity and adjustable rear sight. Supposedly this one is accurate and feeds any ammo flawlessly, and the trigger is supposedly better than most other Smith autos. Comes with 4 factory mags and extra grips. Round count unknown, but it looks to be in very nice shape.

    I figure heavy frame combined with 9mm and 4" barrel will minimize recoil. Single stack and good ergos provide a very comfortable grip. This will not be a carry piece. This is an earlier 639 (early 80s?) with left-side decocker and rounded trigger guard.

    I'm thinking I'll probably give it a try. Anyone with any experience with the 2nd generation 639 have any opinions? I checked the usual forums and it seemed like 90% were of the opinion it was the best steel DA 9mm ever made, and 10% said theirs either jammed frequently or broke. What do you guys think?
  2. shunsui

    shunsui Gold Member Gold Member

    Aug 12, 2008
    If I recall correctly Novak can bring that up to a 3rd Gen for you. Give him a call and ask if I'm right. ;)
    I shot the double stack version and it was very easy to shoot the 9mm as the gun was relatively heavy.
    I'd go with a revolver, but whatever. :D
  3. Unk

    Unk Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    My first civilian 9mm was a 59, a double stack which followed the 39 which is the ancestor of your 639, more of less. The 39 was well loved especially when SuperVel ammunition became available...lot of love even today for 39's.

    SS 639 would be heavy and sure fine for your purpose. Picked up a 6906, S & W, 3 rd gen, LE trade at LGS..not light but 13 rd of WW Ranger Series T 124 gr +P adds up.

    Here are my pistols;


    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012
  4. tyr_shadowblade


    Jan 3, 2006
    I briefly owned a 669 (grip was too wide, groupings too large) and a 3913TSW (recoil too snappy, ambi safety was loose, tac light threw the balance off). As long as the 639 runs well with HP I'll probably keep it. It is a very nice looking pistol and feels good in the hand.

    What brand is that SA OTF? Is that a Paragon?
  5. Unk

    Unk Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    ProTech's Dark Angel..my first OTF .

  6. ElConquistador

    ElConquistador Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 12, 2007
    My very first pistol was a S&W 5904... ...3rd generation, double stack, alloy frame. I bought it in 1990 (or so), I didn't consider Glock because they were the controversial new fangled plastic pistol and I thought they were ugly. In hindsight if I had to get a sa/da pistol I wish I had bought a Beretta 92fs, or CZ 75, even a single action Browning Hi-Power.

    There's nothing wrong with the old S&W autos but there's nothing especially good about them either. As I recall the double action pull was terrible and the single action was bad as well. I'm also not a fan of the slide mounted safety.

    If it were me I'd buy a Glock and call it good. If you're set on a da/sa gun then maybe a Beretta 92. If you're still set on sa/da and you can talk yourself into plastic then maybe a H&K USP (but they're expensive). There's a lot of other good choices too, I'd take about any new pistol over the 639... ...XD, M&P, etc. Take your pick. I'm a fan of no external safety DAO pistols (KISS theory).

    To sum up: unless they're giving the 639 away I'd pass and get something else.
  7. tyr_shadowblade


    Jan 3, 2006
    I am not a fan of DAO except in hammerless Airweights, but I don't like external safeties either (unless it's a 1911). One of my favorite 9mms was the SIG 239, single stack, alloy frame, with decocker-only.

    Well, I took the stainless 639 to the range and I'm in love. It is true that DA trigger pull is between 12 and 15 pounds, but SA is very smooth, crisp, and consistent -- not mushy at all like on a 469, 459, or the 3913. I agree that S&W autos tend to have bad triggers and poor accuracy. Trigger is excellent for a S&W and accuracy is satisfactory. All the bullets are in a 5" grouping at 30 feet which is good enough. I do not need a tack driver. I once owned a stainless Springfield Armory Loaded 1911 in 9mm that had been accuracized and had the trigger lightened to 2 pounds. I could put every round in the bullseye with that piece, but I needed it for my bedside and did not think a SAO gun with a 2 pound trigger was appropriate for bump in the night duty, and I did not want the burglars to get a thousand dollar pistol. The Smith (with 4 mags) was 375, which might be a little high for what it is, but I'm happy with it and think it's a keeper. Fired about 150 rounds of assorted HP without a single malfunction. Recoil is light and accuracy is adequate for my poor eyesight.
  8. Sid Post

    Sid Post

    Oct 14, 1998
    In 9mm, a classic Hi-Power is hard to beat though I'm a Glock'aholic at heart. For a bed side gun though, I want a large caliber pistol. In an auto-loader that means either 40S&W or 45ACP to me. In a life or death encounter, I'm not worried about wounding the criminal so his criminal buddies have to care for him and haul him off the battlefield. The US learned a hard lesson in the Philippines as well that is forgotten by many though they didn't have the modern wonder bullets we have today. Personally, I'd rather learn from history rather than repeat it personally.

    A 12 gauge (or 20 or 16) with Buckshot or Slugs have their place beside any bed IMHO. Outside the subdivision and away from the apartment, even a rifle has it's place.

    There is a difference between a teenager looking for a quick "smash and grab" for gas money or shopping mall funds to impress his girlfriend and a doped up drugged out or drunk hardened criminal. Think carefully, screen out the hype, advertising, and error'net rumors and shoot your firearm and test it.

    My father was curious why I bought one box of every 12 gauge ammo I could find, a huge roll of full-size silhouette targets and various things like sheetrock and plywood scraps. I know what my shotgun will really do with birdshot, various buckshot, and slugs against different barriers and how it patterns at various measured distances. Yes, pattern quality does vary with ammunition brand (given the same manufacturing parameters) and varies over distance. What does you shotgun do? ;)

    While I'm not the biggest fan of the older S&W autoloaders in general, they are generally good serviceable pistols that are much better then the equivalent new firearm in the same general pricepoint. And, while not my first choice, the 9mm has its place in nightstand pistols. The key is to have a good pistol that won't fail youl. Brand, caliber, etc. really don't matter if it works when you REALLY need it.
  9. tyr_shadowblade


    Jan 3, 2006
    I tried .45s and .357s, but I prefer accurate rapid follow up shots as opposed to BOOOOM! I also have only the use of my left hand (and I'm not left handed) and genetics cursed me with thin wrists. 9mm loaded with +P Golden Sabers is sufficient for me. I have 9 rounds ready to go with 3 spare 8 round magazines, so that is more than sufficient for my needs. I got rid of my assault rifles, battle rifles, and shotguns (with the exception of my Cobray derringer, which probably doesn't count).
  10. Guns&Ukuleles


    Jan 11, 2016
    The Smith and Wesson model 639 spoiled me to all steel 9mm semi auto 23 years ago. I have missed mine since selling it twenty years ago. its a find and a half it feels great in the hand and fires very smoothly. I never had a jam with mine and it was very accurate. What more could you ask for in a sporting piece or a personal defence piece. they are just magic.
  11. Practical Use

    Practical Use

    Apr 1, 2001
    Great gun. My first semi-auto. Carred it some on my permit for a couple of years and decided it was a bit too heavy. Gave it to my wife's son a couple of years ago when he got out of the Marine Corps.

    Accurate, easy to shoot, and reliable.

    Sometimes I mss it.

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