Out of the box, my gunsmith measured the trigger pull at 11 pounds, which is challenging, but a heavier trigger is considered preferable on a carry gun. The trigger is also a little gritty, which was easily remedied by partially disassembling it and polishing some of the moving parts.
I have to bring my finger in past the first knuckle to get enough leverage to pull the trigger, which pinches my fingertip between the back of the trigger and the trigger guard. I suspect this will improve with dry fire practice. However, I did not purchase this firearm to be a pleasure-shooter, I purchased it to save my life should the need arise, so this is not a major concern. The trigger pull may be challenging but it is still easier than racking the slide of most light carry pistols that I have handled.
The rear sight is fixed and the front sight is integral so visibility is not its strong suit. The front sight could be painted to increase visibility, my personal favorite is pink nail polish, but so many self-defense situations are so close and are over so quickly that aiming is often not an option. My gunsmith suggested getting laser grip sights, which would make quick work of aiming.
At about 10 yards the 642 shoots low but at about 5 yards it shoots true. This is no surprise considering the barrel is only 1.875” and was designed for self-defense, which usually happens within 3-5 yards.
I am not very strong so I do not want my carry gun to be a punishment to shoot. Because the 642 is so lightweight and is chambered in a relatively large round, there is conceivably a lot of recoil for the shooter to absorb. The entire first cylinder that I fired was to test recoil. I pointed the 642 down range in the vicinity of the target, wrenched my face into an anticipatory grimace, and pulled the trigger. The 642 passed the test with flying colors. The recoil is substantial but manageable. The recoil pushes the gun back into your hand and twists a little. The muzzle did not try to flip way up and it did not feel like it was going to fly out of my hand.
The Smith & Wesson 642 because it is light in my holster, does not take my hand off when I shoot it, is affordably priced, is easily concealed, and is chambered in a decently large round which makes me feel safer. The 11 pound trigger pull and low profile sights are challenging and the pinch that the trigger gives my fingertip is quite annoying. Essentially the pros far outweigh the cons with this gun; it beautifully and efficiently does what it was designed to do. I recommend the Smith & Wesson 642 to anyone who enjoys shooting.