Grandpa's S&W 38 spl


March 28, 2010, 06:42 PM
I had my 40th birthday this weekend and my dad gave me my grandpa's Smith and Wesson Airweight .38 spl ctg Model 37, photo attached. SN 698503. I'm not really interested in the value, because I wouldn't ever sell it. I have hunted my whole life and have shotguns, and I've wanted a handgun for a while now. Just interested in talking about it. If anyone has info on this particular model, it would be nice to know when my grandfather bought it and any other information. Dad said he carried it in his pocket everyday while he ran his little country store in the North Carolina mountains.

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Ron James
March 28, 2010, 07:17 PM
:) You know, you could get a lot more information if you posted the serial number, other wise no one can help you.:) Also this needs to be moved to either the handguns section or the Research Forum.

March 28, 2010, 08:17 PM
Thanks Ron. I have the serial number in the message, it's right after "SN". Sorry for putting it in the wrong area, that was my first message. Do you know how I can move a message?:) Thanks Again

March 29, 2010, 01:04 AM
I don't have a m37, but I do have a m36 which I carry frequently. Great guns! I prefer my m36 to my mom's 637.

March 29, 2010, 03:38 AM
Smith and Wesson Airweight .38 spl ctg Model 37, photo attached. SN 698503.

Your M37 was made between 1979 & 1980.

Since it's a family heirloom and you're interested in its history, you might consider contacting S&W historian Roy Jinks for some detailed info about it.

tasco 74
March 29, 2010, 04:27 AM
like they said "isn't great to have an old family heirloom"........ my wife was given the old colt .38 spl det spl her carried when he was a town cop here in the early 70s......... she cherishes(sp) it and likes to out with me to the range now and again to shoot it..... i think she has shot it a lot more than her dad ever did.........

March 29, 2010, 04:46 AM
My family has had an S&W Model 38 Airweight Bodyguard since before I was born. Due to the grips, it generally was regarded as a very unpleasant gun to shoot and thus never used, until I upgraded it to Hogue grips this year. Those old Airweights are nice guns, but they really, really need new grips. Keep it and cherish it, but if you're going to shoot it, get new grips. Your hand will thank you.

When my grandfather passed away last year, we inherited his like-new Smith & Wesson Model 10-5. Very nice revolver, although we haven't taken it out to shoot it yet. I did, however, clean it and reload it with modern +P Gold Dot hollowpoints (he'd had it loaded with some nasty old cast lead hardballs).

March 29, 2010, 06:52 AM
Your Model 37 Chiefs Special Airweight falls into the serial range for the period 1962 to 1969, being 295000 to 786544. As it has the concave cylinder release it was manufactured after 1966. Assuming the grips are original, then the grip style dates to 1968 or later. So 1966 1969 is the period it was manufactured in. Mr Borland's date would be correct if there is a J stamped in front of the serial number.
Your Model 37 was built on the square butt J frame if you need to source replacement grips.
Generally you will find most people do not recommend shooting PlusP or +P+ higher pressure ammunition through these aluminum framed guns as it will cause premature wear. Stick to a decent standard pressure hollowpoint.

The Model 37 was manufactured from 1951 to quite recently, when the modern taste for hammerless revolvers lead to it's deletion from S&Ws product range, so spare parts will not be a problem.

March 29, 2010, 08:38 AM
A member on another forum recently fired 1,000 factory +Ps through a Model 12 for fun. As I expected nothing happened to the gun. Factory +P is not a hot load. It's marketing myth and any quality gun is fine with it.

Take care with the stocks. The 12 does not share stocks with other models and they can be hard to find if you need replacements.

March 29, 2010, 11:38 PM
Thank you everyone for the helpful feedback. There is no J in the serial number, the grips are original. I bet the gun hasn't been fired in 20 years. 1968-69 sounds correct. Papa carried it daily in his pocket I am told. Hence the slight wear in the blue. I think this will be a good handgun for travel. Thank you all again for the great discussion.

March 30, 2010, 04:52 AM
A member on another forum recently fired 1,000 factory +Ps through a Model 12 for fun.

That may be the case but remember a Model 12 is a K frame with more metal and stronger than the J frame.

I've seen someone with a Model 37 put about 500 rds of +P through it in the 70s. Stretched the frame and there's no fix for that.

+Ps really don't give you a lot anyway.

March 30, 2010, 08:51 AM
A 37 that stretches with +P is defective.

+P is loaded well below maximum allowable chamber pressure.

March 30, 2010, 08:59 AM
Enjoy that 37! My dad recently gave me a pre model 10 that was my grandfathers'. It's a great feeling when you hold a gun that has family history.

March 30, 2010, 11:15 AM
I had a 37, great pocket gun, or even better using a Galco paddle holster. I traded it off for who-knows-what years ago, replaced it with a S&W 442. I liked the idea of having a concealed hammer, I guess.. I often think about buying another 37, but just haven't done it.. It is a great looking gun, though!

March 30, 2010, 11:34 AM
reply removed due to stupidity! thanks for reminding me parasite... i apologized

March 30, 2010, 09:05 PM
can2boy, start your own thread about your own gun.

This thread is about kfboones gun.

March 31, 2010, 09:07 PM
Thanks again for the good discussion. I think my next move will be to sign up for the concealed weapons class, thanks to the laws here in NC. I need that just to be able to carry it in my glove compartment or under the seat. At least there are a lotlot of reciprocal agreements with neighboring states. The more I read about this old S&W model 37, the more I like. I really thought I wanted my first handgun to be something like a Glock 40, but I am really pleased with this old S&W.

Four Knives
March 31, 2010, 09:27 PM
You'll love her Boone.

Sounds like she has plenty of stories locked away in those chambers.

March 31, 2010, 09:30 PM
Saxon Pig spake:

A 37 that stretches with +P is defective.

No, it's not. Even steel frames will stretch, given enough use. The smaller the frame, the faster it stretches with a given ammunition recoil level. Aluminum alloy makes it even easier. I've stretched the frames on two Model 29s, and even a Super Blackhawk to the point that it wasn't repairable...and "they" say that can't be done.

March 31, 2010, 09:37 PM
Awesome heirloom; it doesn't get any better than that!! Enjoy it and the part of your grandfather that comes with it. Thanks for sharing with us.

March 31, 2010, 09:45 PM
SAAMI list's .38 special at 17000 psi as max and .38 special+P as 20000 PSI max. That don't sound like the same pressure to me. That said I don't really care for +p's in my snubbie's. More noise and recoil for a little more power. 158 swc with a pinch of clays works well enough.

April 1, 2010, 09:04 AM
If SAAMI now says 20,000 that is reduced from a couple years ago when I looked and represents current thinking which is based on fear of lawsuits rather than actual mechanical considerations. From 1899 until recently 38 Special revolvers operated just fine at 21,500. Lawyers caused the downgrade.

However, most current +P is loaded to 18,000 so IT IS STILL WELL BELOW MAXIMUM ALLOWABLE.

1911Tuner- If my 37 stretched with factory loads I would send it back for repair or replacement. An alloy frame gun (or any gun) SHOULD NOT BE RUINED BY FACTORY AMMO.

You want to speak in dismissive absolute terms? Fine. You're wrong. It's a well known fact that SW had trouble over the years with alloy guns due to defective materials. Remember when the 66s were recalled? Any alloy S&W that is ruined with factory ammo is defective.

April 2, 2010, 02:36 AM
Saxton, funny you mention that. Before I checked saami's website my memory was telling me 19000psi for STD loads. Possibly something I had read a couple years ago. Anyway they may have dropped pressures recently due to the many new airweight, lightweight, polymer and who know's what else revolvers coming on to the market. CYA kinda thing I suppose:D

April 2, 2010, 08:47 AM
SaxonPig is 100% accurate on this issue (and others for that matter. He is a smart fellow)

Current +P ammo is less powerful than the standard pressure ammo from when the gun was made.

Shoot the wimpy cartridges that the marketing weenies call +P but do not call them "hot."

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