Smith & Wesson’s J-Frame snub-nose revolvers have been around since 1950, when the Chief’s Special was introduced—later to become the S&W Model 36, but it’s always the “Chief’s Special” in the minds of those who knew the gun back in the day. The Model 36 was a traditional double-action/single- action (DA/SA) model, really Smith & Wesson’s response to the much older and then more famous Colt Detective Special.
New S&W Model 42 on an Airweight frame posted in the new products section on S&W's site. I like it, wonder why it's not listed in the 2009 catalog and no mention at SHOT? Apparently about $600 MSRP.
The S&W Model 42 was too difficult for many shooters to shoot well and comfortably. It was easy to hide, though, and we feel there are good reasons why the 42 evolved into the 442/642.