S&W 637 Airweight


Cactus Jack Arizona
February 11, 2011, 01:09 PM
As many of you have read in some of my previous posts, I have a very bad back. I've been through it all, including lower back surgery. Nothing yet has helped. Therefore, I've been looking for a lightweight firearm for my CCW pistol. Weight wise, I found it. :) The S&W 637 Airweight .38 Special +P. It is a pleasure to carry.

Now, I'm a dead eye with my HP and my Makarov. But this little 637 is all over the place, whether I'm using regular .38 Special or the +P variant. :what: I've even changed the grip to a three fingered Hogue, and at 7 yards, sometimes I don't even hit the paper. :banghead:

Does anyone else have this kind of problem with their 637 Airweight? What could I be doing wrong at the range, besides embarrassing myself? :o

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February 11, 2011, 01:20 PM
There are a lot of things you "could" be doing wrong. It is not surprising that you shoot an autoloader well but have difficulty with a revolver. They are just different designs and are shot differently.

Here's a couple of tips though. The 637 has a lot of perceived recoil compared to the other handguns you listed. It can almost hurt depending on your grip and the loads you are using - especially the +P. This leads a lot of people to anticipate the recoil and leads to flinching. Flinching occurrs quite often without the shooter even realizing it. If you are shooting generally low, this may be the root cause. Considering that you are at least occassionally missing the paper at 7 yards, I would say that this is highly likely.

Here's a way to diagnose that particular problem and at the same time help resolver it. Load four live rounds and one empty into the cylinder. Do not let yourself know where the empty is. Attempt to shoot five rounds. When you reach the empty, you will know whether you are flinching or not. Continue practicing in this manner and you will go far to alleviate that problem.... if that is indeed what is occurring.

The 637 is simply a different design than you may be used to. While it can be a very accurate little gun, it's sights are made for concealed carry and not precision, the sight radius is very short, and depending on the size of your hands it can be difficult to obtain a full and proper grip.

Nonetheless, the 637 is a great firearm. Do some dry-fire practice to really familiarize yourself with the platform and then go to the range and practice that anti-flinching drill I described above.

If you are not shooting low, perhaps you could fill us in on where most of your shots are tending to impact.

February 11, 2011, 01:31 PM
Dry fire. Slowly.

Lots of people have trouble transitioning from single-action auto shooting to double action revolver shooting, especially when they pick an airweight.

Nothing wrong with the gun, I have a 642, your 637's hammerless sibling. I have a CZ75 and a Makarov, too, so our gun choices are very similar. :D

I have seen people at the range with a double action that they aren't used to, especially when they are used to a short, light, single-action trigger, reach into the trigger guard and yank the trigger back all in one panicky move because the sights were aligned for an instant and they wanted to make sure they got their shot off while it was lined up right. Of course, yanking the trigger just yanked the whole thing out of alignment worse than it ever was, wobbling out there at the end of their arms.

Not saying you're doing anything that dramatic, but ... you may well be doing something similar in a smaller way.

So, dry fire. Put your finger on the trigger. Slowly roll the trigger back until the hammer falls. Don't single-action fire this pistol at all, at least for now. Treat the trigger like it's on ball bearings, and you're trying to get it to roll smoothly across them. Let the hammer surprise you when it clicks. Don't watch it, watch the front sight. Don't let that front sight move. Align it on a spot on the wall, on a light switch, or a target you have pasted up. (You're going to check 3x to make sure it's empty first).

Roll through that double action trigger over and over. Don't let the front sight move. Do that 50 or a hundred times, take a break, and do it again.

Then do it again tomorrow, and every day after that. Don't go shoot your gun again until you've done that 1000+ times. Get that picture in your mind - I slowly roll this trigger across these bearings, and the front sight doesn't move the whole time. With all that practice, your trigger finger will get just a bit stronger, and develop more stamina and control. You'll need that later.

See, you're training your brain, as well as your fingers and hands. Once you've got that 1000+ repeats of the correct action, go shooting. Set up some targets, pretty close, and shoot a few rounds through your gun. Your trigger control will be much improved, and your mind and hands won't let that front sight move - nothing different is happening with your live ammo, except that there's a bang after the hammer falls. Your fingers and hands and eyes and brain do everything the same before that.

Once you know you can hit with it, you can extend the range, start practicing rolling that trigger faster so you can shoot your defensive revolver faster, like in an emergency, and start training yourself how you would fight with it.

Have fun with it. This is some work, but you can do it!

Cactus Jack Arizona
February 11, 2011, 01:57 PM
Thanks for your reply J. I rarely fire DA. I've dry-fired it, both SA and DA in the past. When I dry fire SA, I don't flinch. However, when I dry fire DA, it pulls to the right. Because of this, I fire SA about 98% of the time while at the range. This is why I can't figure out why the target hits are almost always above the bullseye and on around to the right, kind of like looking at a non-digital clock and my hits between 12 & 3.

The round count is roughly 300, mostly the .38 Special variety. Seriously, I'm at a loss on what to do. I've never had this much trouble lining up any other pistol.

Cactus Jack Arizona
February 11, 2011, 02:11 PM
Thanks SixG. I think I'll give it a try. I would think that it couldn't hurt.

One question. I hold the 637 at about mid-grip. Is there a preferred way to hold the pistol: high grip, mid-grip, low grip?

February 11, 2011, 02:27 PM
I prefer to hold a double action revolver with the web of my hand as high as it will go on the backstrap. I find I get the best balance of trigger and recoil control that way.

February 11, 2011, 02:35 PM
2075, a couple thoughts. JScott's 'ball and dummy' drill is the greatest thing for self-diagnosis and remediation of all sorts of shooting sins.
Now, that said, your Airweight Chief is one rappy little gun. I have a 340 SC Centennial that kicks less with equivalent loads due to the lower bore axis of the humpback Centennial. You want to choke as high on the grip as you can, and you can choke much higher on the concealed hammer gun. Oversize grips can cushion the recoil somewhat, but make the bore axis situation worse.
Whether you swap guns or not, you need to learn to shoot double action with a defense gun. If I'm scared enough of something to point a gun at it, I want more than a 4lb squeeze between me and 'blam'. Shaking like a leaf is not the time for a light trigger. Further, if you cock the gun during a confrontation and need to de-cock it, there is a great chance of fumbling under stress and having an ND.
There are easy things that can be done to lighten the double action pull on a Smith.
Finally, practice with lighter loads until you become more proficient; a mean kicking little gun with hot loads is not a good path to proficiency. I loaded some 107 gr bullets with Trailboss for my daughter when even 148 WCs were too much; something to shoot in her 640 until she gets used to it.

February 11, 2011, 08:45 PM
You might find this helpful on grip. I can't think of anyone better to learn from than Jerry Miculek. About 2 minutes into the video Jerry talks about the J frame grip.


February 12, 2011, 08:40 PM
I shoot primarily glocks, so for me the 637 was a big change. I had to dry fire and shoot it a lot before I got good enough with it to carry it.

Cactus Jack Arizona
February 13, 2011, 04:58 PM
I want to thank you all for your advice. However, I have decided to go with another lightweight pistol for now. Truth is, the 637 and I have not been on good terms for quite some time now and I probably should've asked for help long ago. Thanks again.

ps. I did enjoy the video with Jerry's instruction on how to grip revolvers. I will watch it again once I buy a Ruger GP100.

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