The Lipsey’s Exclusive UC Series J frames

The Lipsey’s Exclusive UC series J frame
By Darryl Bolke

Coming off SHOT Show 2024 where the hot new release handguns were the Lipsey’s Exclusive UC series J frames, I thought I would provide an inside look for those who could not attend and would like a factual explanation on the why’s of the guns.

Starting from the frame: These are aluminum frame guns with no internal lock system. This keeps the cost and weight reasonable. The guns come in at around a pound that was the goal weight. By using aluminum for the frame it limited the calibers to .38 plus P or .32 H&R Magnum. As a long time user and more importantly, a trainer on these guns, the cost and effort to make these guns chambered in .357 Magnum or .327 Federal Magnum is not worth the effort for a ton of extra wear, cost, recoil, blast, and all for almost no gain on the ballistic performance side. If you want to shoot those calibers, there are lots of steel guns available that are a far better option.

Grips: The grips on these guns are a real first. Most people do not realize that originally the S&W Centennial’s, Bodyguard’s, and Chief Specials all had grips for their unique frames. It became easier with time to make J frame grips that fit the Chief’s Specials and would fit all the others, just not optimal to the concealment frames. The test grips on these guns looked and felt great. We immediately saw issues when the test team shot A LOT of high performance ammunition with them. It got painful. The nice thing about having historical experts on board was being able to speak to the owner of VZ on a Zoom call from the range. We asked him to build an enclosed “high horn” style grip that is unique to the Centennial frame these guns are based on. This grip is designed fit the Centennial frame and work to spread recoil around the web of the hand rather than the metal frame being driven into the hand. The result is a smooth boot grip that works great for daily deep concealment, but also has a better distance for trigger reach to optimize performance as well as recoil absorption. The name of the guns “Ultimate Carry” or U/C that we in cop world translate to “undercover” put the emphasis on concealment over shooting performance. If you want a grip for pure shooting performance, or to better fit a hand, a simple screwdriver will address those desires. The screwdriver will also address any issues with not liking the selected colors.

Sights: The use of an X/S Standard dot sight with a tritium center and green ring lets the shooter see a very distinctive front sight under stress under all lighting conditions that is the same color 24/7. Green is a confirmation of “go” in the eye-line during a high stress lethal force situation. Using a U notch black serrated rear sight allows for precision shooting with these little guns using a “drive the dot” sight picture. We were able to shoot some very impressive groups during testing with Speer 135 gr.+P Short Barrel Gold Dot ammunition that is a top choice in defensive performance ammunition. I shot a single hole center X group at ten yards, a solid group at ten yards and Bryan Eastridge shot a standing off hand 3.5” group at 25 yards. People often say these small revolvers are just “get off me guns” and thus do not need good sights. While they are exceptional in the close quarters role, your problem may not conform to that and if you need to make a precision shot due to circumstances completely out of your control, these guns are capable IF YOU are. With training and practice they can be shot exceptionally well, which is why good sights were put on them. The rears are also windage adjustable.
Test groups at ten and fifteen yards with Speer Gold Dot

The Barrel: The U/C J frames use a two piece barrel system that is typically found in many of the higher priced J frames from the Performance Center and Airlite series guns. Many traditionalists bemoan this, but from the standpoint of people who really use these guns hard and at a high level it has some great benefits. By setting the barrel in the frame without requiring sight alignment these barrels get set with a very consistent cylinder to slide gap that helps accuracy and reliability. The outer sleeves allow for the front sight to be set dead center. For those who love the one piece barrels, many forget the issues or do not shoot well enough (or often enough) to understand the issues. Back with my first fixed sight traditional guns I used as a cop, the process of centering the sights with a lead babbit is not a process anyone would enjoy watching and is highly dependent on the skill of the person wielding it. We had to qualify at 25 yards with all our guns so they had to be adjusted to hit. Many guns today have sights that are slightly misaligned or cylinder gaps that are questionable if the sights are on. The two piece barrel eliminates a ton of these issues. I have also had several older Airweight J frames crack due to barrels over torqued at the factory trying to center them. Again, this becomes a non-issue with the newer system.

Cylinder: The front of the the cylinder has a Black Powder style bevel that allows easier reholstering and eliminates a sharp edge. The chambers are chamfered to allow easier loading. These two touches are normally part of customization by a gunsmith or found on higher end guns like the S&W Mountain Guns.

Internals: This is an area that falls better into the purview of Bryan Eastridge. Suffice to say the internals of these guns have unique engineering changes to make for a much better trigger feel that allows for easier manipulation of the trigger. There is also an endurance package to allow for longer term reliability and less parts wear. The triggers on these guns come from the factory really good and in past experience with these types of components get better with use.

Caliber: They come in .38 Special and .32 H&R Magnum. The .38 needs no real explanation as it is the accepted caliber for a small personal defense revolver. I fought hard to add the .32 H&R. The problem with sub pound guns with traditional defensive ammunition is they have a lot of recoil. This causes issues for novice shooters as well as experienced, or older shooters with hand injuries. I have found .32 caliber revolvers have a lot to offer. .32 H&R Magnum performance ammunition comes in close to .38 Special +P performance but with 6 rounds in the cylinder instead of 5. That is a 20 percent increase in capacity without sacrificing much in performance. These guns will also shoot .32 S&W Long. This caliber is legendary for be a highly accurate round for target shooting. We have found in testing with hardcast Wadcutter bullets that it also performs well in ballistic gel testing and will meet FBI protocols with very little recoil. .32 S&W (short) is about like shooting a Rimfire .22 round in these guns with almost no recoil that would be a benefit for training new shooters or youths. In a pinch, often .32 ACP can be shot in .32 revolvers but will not reliably extract from the guns. The .32 H&R chambering offers a lot of benefits and all of this series guns I have ordered are in this caliber. Many find that with a gun that is not painful or hard to shoot, people enjoy training more and will do it more often, which is a huge positive in a daily carry handgun.

The overall reality for the Lipsey’s Exclusive U/C series J frames is they need nothing. Take them out of the box and carry and use them. No trips to a gunsmith, no customization, just shoot and train with them and their warranties stay in place. All at a cost well below the more expensive guns in the S&W line and not much more than the base models. Our team at American Fighting Revolver are extremely proud of our involvement in this project and are impressed with the final results from S&W and Jason Cloessner’s team at Lipsey’s Distributors.


  1. Bobby on January 30, 2024 at 7:47 pm

    Good job! Keep it up!

  2. Karl G Beining on January 30, 2024 at 7:48 pm

    Nice, cant wait to get the 32!

    • Bill on February 18, 2024 at 8:06 pm

      Please release this to CA market

      • Darryl Bolke on February 19, 2024 at 4:54 am

        S&W isaid they will try to get these CA certified.-DB

  3. Brent Mitzel on January 30, 2024 at 7:58 pm

    I am definitely going to be looking at getting one of these. These look great and they have the features that seem to make it well worth the money.

  4. Brent M. on January 30, 2024 at 8:35 pm

    I believe you have helped a good thing along the way. I’ve spent good money getting more than one J-frame to exactly this configuration! Well, done!

  5. Erik Banks on January 30, 2024 at 10:04 pm

    I think you did a great job promoting the .32– probably too good, as everybody seems to be stating they will be ordering one with very few mentioning the .38. .32 H&R and .32 S&W Long ammo is already expensive when you can find it, and Dillon Precision is currently on a 44+ week backorder for .32 dies. Stock up while you can! (I also plan to get a .32 when they come out… and I have ammo on order!)

  6. SHOT SHOW 2024 | Active Response Training on January 31, 2024 at 5:05 am

    […] The Lipsey’s Exclusive UC J frames […]

  7. […] The Lipsey’s Exclusive UC J frames […]

  8. I Sanchez on January 31, 2024 at 2:25 pm

    Cant wait to get mine.

  9. Dave on February 1, 2024 at 1:36 pm

    I haven’t been this excited about a newly released handgun in a long time! I’m the outlier apparently…can’t wait to get my hands on one of the .38s, and I’ll take a .32 as well if I can get it!

    Can you speak in any detail to the internal changes that improve the trigger pull? What parts are affected, and are the updated parts going to be backwards compatible with existing J-frames? Do we know if S&W is considering incorporating those changes into future J-Frame production?

    Thanks for working with Lipsey’s to make this a reality…these are an awesome step forward for a very practical and under-appreciated platform, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.

  10. […] The Lipsey’s Exclusive UC J frames […]

  11. Alex Wendt on February 5, 2024 at 11:07 pm

    I can’t wait to get one of these and carry it all the time. I think I’ll need two.

  12. Mike Pipes on February 18, 2024 at 5:23 pm


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