i got the s&w 642 with laser love it and paided 539.00 plus tax i bought it becouse it was light and had a laser which i feel is needed on such a small gun and with such small sights i have put 200+ rounds thought it and not a problem yet......
The Taurus has some design improvements over the S&W. From what I've heard from several J-Frame S&W owners is that they tend to shake loose with +Ps over an extended time. I've not heard the same from the Taurus owners I know. Personally, I don't like any of the .38 snubbies as well as the .357s. I know the .357s will handle +Ps with no problem. I did see a S&W Model 60 in .357 with 3" barrel and adjustable rear sights I liked the other day, but not enough to drop the $650 & change the wanted for it. Also, I know 2 guys at the local range that sell the S&W Js, but carry the Taurus Ti. That tells me alot.
My son gave me a NIB S&W 642 for Christmas. I carry it as a back-up gun at work, in a Desantis pocket holster, and I hardly know it is there. It is loaded with Speer Gold Dot, 135 gr. +P Short Barrel loads. Taurus has a design feature on their version that I like, an ejection rod shroud. I'm ceretain they function identicaly, since they are basicly the same gun.
They've gone up a little, were selling 642 airweights for about 310 at a local gun shop here. I've fired a few, trigger is rougher and stiffer than my M85SSUL, prefer my Taurus and prefer (a personal thing) a hammer spur even though I pocket the gun a lot.
To each his own. The 642 is probably Smith and Wesson's BEST bargain, great little defense revolver and actually affordable. I've been tempted, but never bit because I just like my Taurus and it fits the niche fine for me.
I own a bri....uh....SP101 and it's not in a class with the light weight J frames as a pocket gun, for sure. It's the smallest, lightest .357 I can comfortably shoot. BUT, at 27 ounces, it's about as easy to carry my 3" Taurus M66. I do like the round butt profile of the Hogue I put on the SP101, though, very nice. It carries well IWB, but I pocket carry a lot and don't haul it around in a pocket. I have thunderwear which carries the SP101 comfortably.
A 17-19 ounce gun like my 85UL or the 642, I'll put .38s in it. Even with the J frame .357s, I'll shoot .38s in 'em. BUT, they ride in a pocket nicely, you forget they are there. The SP101 is heavy enough to be a total pain and, besides, the Hogue (necessary for me because ot the recoil with hot loads) doesn't conceal like a boot grip does, either. My SP101 rides in an ankle holster rather well, too. Can't say that about the SP101. Kinda like putting on ankle weights to work out.
Taurus does not have any gun that is equal to the S&W...unless you're talking new. I'd take a new Taurus over a new S&W because S&W's lock is something I refuse to buy. It fails too often for my tastes. I've not heard of the Taurus lock failing at random.
Here is another article by Chuck Hawks that might shed some light on this topic. I still think that after looking at both guns schematic drawings, the Taurus is a little better made and has some improvements over the S&W. I've been looking at the 3" SP-101, too. In 357 the extra inch barrel would help the caliber some and would really add to the .38 +Ps. http://www.chuckhawks.com/smith-wesson_dark.htm