Safe to shoot +P out of older S&W Airweight?


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mons meg
October 26, 2004, 07:25 PM
I can't believe I'm posting in the Revolver forum, ;) but here goes:

I recently inherited my uncle's old carry gun from when he was a detective. It's a S&W Airweight, and an older model. I would probably put it at mid-late-1960s, but I won't know for sure unless I send S&W the money for a history check and certificate. Not sure if that's worth it...

Anyway, I have shot this gun before with regular target ammo, but I was curious whether I should be hesitant about getting some .38spl +P since it is certainly in good enough shape to be a nice carry gun. Still has my uncle's original leather pocket holster and wear marks, too. :)

Thanks,

Jay

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bad_dad_brad
October 26, 2004, 07:37 PM
I doubt that it would be safe to shoot +P in that revolver. I don't even think +P .38 ammo existed when your Airweight was made. Stick with normal pressure .38 special ammo on an old piece like that one. You would not want to blow the cylinder on your Uncle's heirloom would you?

mons meg
October 26, 2004, 07:49 PM
Wow, quick response! :) I am revolver-stupid, and wasn't sure how well it would handle a hotter load since it has a steel cylinder in an aluminum frame. My dad got it after his brother died, and I took it out to the farm when I went shooting with a friend. It needed some TLC, but was surprisingly accurate at 50 feet or so. That'll teach me to make assumptions about a "3 foot gun". Now, as light as it was and as I am used to beefy steel autos, it felt like it was going to fly out of my hand...

Now that Dad has passed, my big idea was to use it as a BUG once I got off my butt and got my paperwork in. I tried it on last night under a T-shirt and it practically disappeared into my right love handle. :D Now to see if moon-clips will work in this thing...

OMCHamlin
October 26, 2004, 08:21 PM
I'm sure it would not cause a sudden catastrophic failure, but it WOULD really accelerate wear on the gun. If it were mine, I'd practice with standard and carry with +Ps, and not worry about it. YMMV.
OMC

Jim March
October 26, 2004, 10:03 PM
Any early S&W or Colt aluminum-frame 38Spl must be...well, babied. Seriously. They stretch.

If it was MY gun, I'd do 99% of my shooting with 148grain lead target wadcutters, which are the mildest load you can commonly get.

For defense, I'd see if it can shoot the new Cor-Bon 110grain standard pressure all-copper DPX. According to one credible report, a few rounds will keyhold in SOME guns so a bit of pre-carry testing is in order but if yours can shoot them, they appear to be a respectable alternative in standard-pressure 38Spl defense ammo:

http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?s=&threadid=107502

Mind you, as good as Stephen's report is, it's just ONE test. And he didn't use denim-wrapped gelatin...

But on the other hand, there's damned few factory choices in 38spl standard pressure defense loads these days. Federal's 110gr "personal defense" And the Barnes X-Bullet this is based on is a very good projectile...if it does 1,000fps as it appears Cor-Bon has gotten out of it even in snubbies, I strongly suspect it'll do it's job if you do yours (shooting to stop is like Real Estate: location, location, location).

mons meg
October 27, 2004, 07:44 PM
Thanks guys. Jim, funny you should mention the lead target ammo, because that's all I've put through it so far since I wanted to err on the side of caution. Since the only way I would employ this piece as a working gun would be as a backup to my Steyr M40, standard pressure FMJ might be the way I go. I will defintely look into the Federal lighter SD ammo as you suggest.

Then again, maybe it goes in the safe as a family heirloom, with the knowledge that it can still "do business" if needed, and I grab one o' them fancy internal hammer models in .357 for my jacket pocket.

I wish I knew more about my Uncle's time as a LEO, but he was kind of a loner and never talked about it much. He was an Oklahoma City patrol officer, then detective, then an investigator for the OSBI. Must have had many stories...

Sistema1927
October 27, 2004, 11:36 PM
Standard pressure Win Silvertips should be just fine.

In my 642 I carry 135 Gold Dot +P, but on the rare occasion that I carry my older 37 I stoke it with the Silvertips.

Standing Wolf
October 27, 2004, 11:50 PM
That'll teach me to make assumptions about a "3 foot gun".

A surprisingly large percentage of snubbies I've shot are surprisingly accurate. I have a hunch the limiting factor is the sights, which are usually fixed and poorly visible on snubbies, rather than the barrel length.

Jim March
October 28, 2004, 02:02 AM
I will defintely look into the Federal lighter SD ammo as you suggest.

Ummmm...that wasn't what I was trying to get across. I think that stuff sucks. I'd use a lead 158grain standard pressure semi-wadcutters for defense before I used the Fed 110.

But the Cor-Bon 110 standard pressure DPX shouldn't be too much for that gun in small doses, and are the defense load I'd consider if I was going to press that old beast into that role.

fastball
October 28, 2004, 10:00 AM
MM--If you will PM me the Mod # of the Smith and the serial #, I can get you the date the Airweight was shipped from Smith (through SWCA) or you can get close ( as with horeshoes and handgrenades) with the Standard Catalog of S&W in wide useage here on this forum with only the serial #.---Tom (use those full wadcutters for fun and if you can find them,factory 158 SWC for work--easy to come by as retail reloads but usually pretty dirty.)---and, Jim, at least the 110 stuff doesn't "kick" and the 158 "Do" :D

Swamprabbit
October 28, 2004, 10:26 AM
I'd be real cautious about using stout loads in that revolver. The new airweights state that they can shoot "+P but I would be careful with one the age you're talking about.

As for accuracy, I've found mine (a new model) to be quite accurate - despite the fact that it shoots about 3" to the left at 25yds. Using a little "Kentucky windage", I can hit my steel "turkeys" at 50yds fairly frequently using a load of 158g lead SWCs over 3.5g Bullseye. This is a fairly stout load that I've probably shot a couple hundred through without any problems.

mons meg
October 28, 2004, 07:37 PM
Ummmm...that wasn't what I was trying to get across. I think that stuff sucks. I'd use a lead 158grain standard pressure semi-wadcutters for defense before I used the Fed 110.

Ah, I see. Point taken. I personally am convince that FMJ ball ammo is still Very Dangerous (tm) to get hit by, and that Winchester Super-X 158 SWC stuff is even jacketed if the pictures don't lie. Plus, we're on a budget here.



MM--If you will PM me the Mod # of the Smith and the serial #, I can get you the date the Airweight was shipped from Smith (through SWCA)

Fastball, I just might take you up on that. Might save me $30.

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