Lipsey’s Releases Smith & Wesson “Ultimate Carry”

Lightweight J-Frame Perfection

Here’s a group of grizzled guys listening to legendary trainer Bryan Eastridge give instruction.
I wouldn’t want to play poker with these guys.

Lipsey’s has released an ultra-cool lightweight J-Frame revolver designed for deep undercover carry. Before rolling your eyes and thinking, “Not another J-Frame,” hear me out. This gun was designed by a true gun guy, Lipsey’s Senior Vice President of Product Development Jason Cloessner, and verified by legendary sixgun instructors Darryl Bolke and Bryan Eastridge. It was later tested by a gaggle of gun writers who, in today’s world of polymer pistols, know the wheelgun is still as pertinent as ever … in the right hands, with the right ammunition and with the right training. How’s that for a run-on sentence?

A conference was held in Baton Rouge, La., home of Lipsey’s, where writers shot Lipsey’s Exclusive Smith & Wesson Ultimate Carry J-Frame. The guns were shot long, hard, hot and heavy while testing a variety of ammunition. I’d guesstimate they were shot more in one day than the typical life of most J-Frame revolvers, and they held up splendidly. The only malfunctions out of two dozen guns involved the backing out of two screws … which is normal.

Besides in-close shooting, we shot out to distances of 50 yards, hitting 10” steel plates with regularity. It’s a statement about both shooters and the sight set-up of the gun. Made to carry and made to shoot with ease!

A black nitride finished S&W Ultimate Carry J-Frame in
.38 Special looking sleek, slim and packable.

Back Story

Cloessner has the mindset and influence of having factory guns tweaked by manufacturers. This is where the famed Lipsey’s Exclusives comes from. He admits to pounding his head against the wall a few times, but if the right people listen, great things happen.

Andrew Gore, S&W’s handgun product manager, oversees new handgun projects. The friendly Aussie brings fresh ideas and, more importantly, an open mind to past practices. He’s been receptive of Cloessner’s requests, knocking down the “we’ve never done it that way before” mentality.

By working together, the S&W lightweight J-Frame has been dubbed the “Ultimate Carry” (UC). It’s chambered in either a five-shot .38 Special (models 642 or 442) or six-shot .32 H&R (models 632 or 432). The guns come in a silver or black nitride finish. The entire project went from possibility to reality in just over a year’s time span.

Here are all four versions of Lipsey’s Exclusive Smith & Wesson
Ultimate Carry J-Frame lined up for display.

J-Frame Facts

The S&W J-frame has been around since 1950. What more can be done with a gun that’s been around for three-quarters of a century? Hang onto your holster, and I’ll tell you. While J-Frames were always handy to pack, they lacked good sights, and their triggers were lagging. They were never brag-worthy, to be polite.

Small size and light weight make the Ultimate Carry J-Frame a cinch to carry.

Holy Moly

Since 2001, S&W revolvers have had internal locking devices added. Many say the lock hole allowed the soul of S&W to seep out. Boy, if we could just convince S&W to look back and make guns the way they used to — without the bloody internal lock — we could lock in the spirit of yesteryear. This development alone would boost sales. With this project, Cloessner and Gore made it happen.

The XS front sight is the key to success for the Ultimate Carry J-Frame.

Outta’ Sight Sights

It was Cloessner’s idea to use a pinned Bright Dot front sight from XS Sights for easy replacement for specific loads and a black dovetailed, snag-free rear sight made in-house by S&W. The front sight width is .140”, and the U-notch rear channel is .160”.

A two-piece barrel system allows for an enclosed ejector rod shroud, more consistent barrel/cylinder gap adjustment and easier 12 o’clock alignment for the pinned XS tritium sight. And boy does that XS Sight stand out — even with old eyes! Coupled with the large U-notch rear sight, it provides the fastest sight picture and target acquisition I’ve used.

The sights are designed to shoot by burying the bottom of the large front sight dot to the bottom of the U-notch rear and using the top of the front sight dot to place on the target. If more elevation is needed, simply create a small gap between the bottom of the dot and the bottom of the U-notch handles it. It’s very easy on the eyes to shoot this way. Adjustability paired with visibility makes the UC sight system a winner.

Lack of an exposed hammer makes the Ultimate Carry J-Frame a natural for pocket carry.

Grip Gripe?

Shooting a lightweight J-Frame with heavy .38 Special loads isn’t the most comfortable. Cloessner suggested using VZ G10 320 hand-filling boot grips for felt recoil reduction.

The hand-filling high horn VZ G10 grip took the most design adjustment to perfect for comfort when shot by a variety of shooters. The initial grips were too low for high-handed grip shooters, so a modification was made, extending the back of the grip to meet the frame horn, rectifying recoil discomfort from the lightweight gun.

The hand-filling grips extend trigger reach for a more comfortable trigger pull while being flush cut at the bottom, boot style, for ultimate concealment. Lastly, the grips were modified for use with speed loaders.

Photo showing where the titanium pins are located for
extended strength of the UC.

Other Features

The gun weighs a whopping 16 ounces. The cylinder is beveled in front for easier holstering, while charge holes are chamfered for easy loading. The UC has an upgraded “Endurance Package,” including the use of titanium pins for added durability, along with optimized geometry and springs for smoother trigger pull.

For security reasons, only the back of the legendary trainer
Darryl Bolke’s head could be shown. Very knowledgeable in all
things sixgun, DB did an outstanding job running drills for the group.


Shooting these guns is fun! Shooting .38 Special loads was comfortable and manageable. When switching over to the .32 H&R, it felt like shooting a .22 rimfire. Cloessner and crew had the sights dialed perfectly for the guns, with 135-grain JHP’s and 148-grain wadcutters in .38 Special and 85-grain JHP’s and 100-grain wadcutters in .32 H&R at 15 yards.

There were so many interesting aspects to the shooting that I’m going to do next week’s column on the different ammo tested and how it performed on ballistic gelatin.

Jason Cloesser of Lipsey’s (right) and Andrew Gore of Smith & Wesson
(left) at the briefing. Thank God for men like them for shooters!

In Conclusion

The Lipsey’s Exclusive Smith & Wesson Ultimate Carry J-Frame Series guns are well thought out and made for ease of carry. They would make a dandy kit or tackle box gun from days gone by. Mike McNett of DoubleTap Ammunition has a nifty snakeshot load I’ll tell you about next week.

Contact your dealer and have them order a gun from Lipsey’s for you. With an MSRP of $759, they’re priced to sell. You’ll be glad you did. Unlike other Lipsey Exclusives, the Ultimate Carry J-Frame is not a limited run but will continue to be made until interest runs out. From seasoned sixgun shooters to greenhorn beginners, the UC offers something for everyone to enhance your shooting/carrying experience.

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