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Advice on S&W Model 36 / Chief's Special

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by gossamer, Dec 27, 2012.

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  1. gossamer

    gossamer Member

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    I'm looking to pick up a Model 36 or Chief's Special. Primarily for CCW. This would be my first revolver purchase. (I'm open to the idea of a 586 also.)

    So far I've strictly been about semi-auto pistols, Sigs, FNH, Ruger. I just really like the look of the 36 and they remind me of the old crime dramas I grew up on.

    My question is, what should I be on the lookout for? I understand rust, general damage, etc.. What about tightness in the chamber/frame locking, what's acceptable and what's a no-go?

    Also, what does "No Dash" mean?

    Any other advise would be a huge help.
     
  2. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Check out the Jim March's Sticky in this very sub-forum.

    No Dash means it's the original iteration of the model. Later version are designated as -1, -2, etc.

    The 586 is a fine gun, too, and chambered in .357mag, but as an L-frame, it's 2 steps up in size from the J-framed M36. Many would consider it a bit big for one's primary carry.

    Practice with it. A lot. No matter what you get. Especially practice shooting double action. Despite it's appearance, a J-frame snubby is a particularly tough gun to shoot well.
     
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  4. Nathanael_Greene

    Nathanael_Greene Member

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    I carry a Model 37 Airweight, which truly lives up to its name. I think it's a great choice.

    There's a sticky thread at the top of this forum on what to look for in a used revolver. It's very helpful.
     
  5. JellyJar

    JellyJar Member

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    For pocket carry consider either a 442 or 642 J frame. I see on S&W's web site that they still offer no-lock versions of each.

    Being centennial versions with no exposed hammers and air weight frames they are very easy to carry and draw from a pocket!
     
  6. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    My first J was a 36. It got carried a lot, and shot little. It was gone when the 60 stainless became available. But it got heavy at 16oz. Love the light 337pd at 10oz. I forget its in my pocket. There all good.
     
  7. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    Any J frame is a hit! I have some Js and some I frames. They pack well and pack a punch.
     
  8. gossamer

    gossamer Member

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    Thanks everyone for the responses and advice. I just came up from the rabbit hole of reading the sticky above about checking a revolver. That was a great read and now I have another use for my feeler gauges besides setting valve clearances twice a year.

    I'll keep my eyes out for a nice 36 (or some of the others mentioned) and report back.

    I'm getting excited.
     
  9. KenW.

    KenW. Member

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    I recently traded for a 1980's vintage 36 in nickel with a 1 7/8 barrel. Perfect condition.

    To check lockup, empty the gun. Have someone verify it really is empty, then thumb cock the hammer. Pull trigger and let the hammer down without releasing the trigger. Grasp the cylinder with the other hand and try to rotate it. If it moves very much, have it checked by a pro.

    Firing one with the smalling J-Frame grip is not comfortable too long. Get a Tyler T-Grip or any one of the number of available aftermarket grips. I got a T-Grip for Christmas and it is simply wonderful.
     
  10. rswartsell

    rswartsell Member

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    The 36 is indeed a fine snubby. I prefer the Colt Detective Special, but that's just me. I value the 6th round on board and the feel and action suit me. I will admit also to a love affair with classic Colts.

    A big second to practice and using some patience until you develop the knack of shooting well with a 2" revolver. The inherent accuracy is as good as I can ever be with the Colts and Smiths 2"ers. They however amplify any flaws in your technique and depending upon model, sights can take some getting used to.

    Enjoy!
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    I suggest trying to find one with a 3" barrel, preferably the heavy barrel. The extra length/weight is not noticeable in holster carry and will provide a better sight radius plus add a bit more weight when shooting hot loads.

    I like the steel square butt (not the wood filler stocks) but the round butt is fine and doesn't "print" as much.

    Here is one I carried for a long time and never felt unarmed.

    http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=42846&d=1154223501

    http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=42847&d=1154223534

    The holster is a Bucheimer Federal Man, one of the best thumbbreak holsters ever designed. It dates to the days when there were no qualms about having the finger on the trigger when drawing; today the safety first folks would have the vapors.

    Jim
     
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2012
  12. rswartsell

    rswartsell Member

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    Wow! Nice flat latch Jim!
     
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I own a M36 no-dash and I think it's a great revolver. I carry a M442 because it's light enough for my preferred method of carry, pocket carry. The M36 is the original Chief's Special and it's a very good snub nose revolver. I'm sure you will like it when you get one. I found one made in 1975 a few years back almost unshot and it cost me only $300.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. icanthitabarn

    icanthitabarn Member

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    I have that same holster, Jim K, now I know what the FMA on it means, or at least the FM part.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Bentonville

    Bentonville Member

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    I often carry a Model 37 Airweight with a factory bobbed hammer with no internal lock. It's great. Even my wife enjoys shooting this little pistol if she uses wadcutters. I carry it in this: http://www.gunnersalley.com/product/H715SOOTSALE/Don-Hume-Snap-On-IWB-Holster-H715M-SOOT.html or a pocket holster. This holster works great for my stainless steel J frame as well as for my 3 in. bbl model 36 J frame both made in the '70s.

    I like the option of pocket carry so I like the airweight bobbed hammer or I would get the 642. Just my opinion.
     
  16. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  17. gossamer

    gossamer Member

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    Anyone have any thoughts on a S&W Model 40 "Lemon sqeezer?"

    Thanks for all the feedback and holster recs. I really appreciate it.
     
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    The lemon squeezer is also a nice carry revolver. Some people like the fact it has a grip safety especially for pocket carry. I'm not convinced it adds safety since the only real safety you need is between your ears.

    The Model 40 is .38 Special +P rated and weighs 21oz like the M36. The Model 42 is an Airweight Lemon Squeezer and weighs only 14.4oz wihch is slightly lighter than the M442, M642 and the other Airweights in the line which are 15ozs.
     
  19. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    Since I shot that Model 36 mainly DA, it was little different than a Model 40. The only difference is that the Model 40 (like the 442, 642) has a hesitation point where the trigger pull can be stopped so the rest of the pull is almost like SA. The 36 has no such point, so the DA pull is straight through.

    Jim
     
  20. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Member

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    ALL of the little J-frames are great for concealed carry. Frankly, nothing conceals better that has that kind of lethal punch!

    The Colt DS is a great little six-shooter, but the cylinder is roughly the same size as the K-frame S&W and, if I'm going to carry that sized gun it isn't going to conceal as well (meaning you'll have to forgo carrying that sized gun sometimes.

    Here's my Model 36 (original nickle plate from 1964) and an ALUMINUM framed version of the Colt Detective Special (the Colt Agent) from '61. Look how huge the cylinder is on the Colt vs. the 5-shot S&W. Heck, if I'm going to carry a revolver concealed with a cylinder that big, I'm going to carry a S&W K frame!:
    [​IMG]

    THE THREE BASIC KINDS OF J-FRAMES . . . and no, I'm not talking hammer types this go around . . .

    Steel Framed - These, such as the Model 36 weigh the most, and as such can be a tad heavy to carry under certain circumstances.

    Aluminum Framed - S&W calls these the "Airweight" guns. Barrels and cylinders are steel but the frame saves a bunch of weight being aluminum. BEST CHOICE FOR CONCEALMENT AND LIGHT WEIGHT!

    Titanium/Scandium Framed - S&W calls 'em the "AirLite" models SUPER light BUT . . .
    1. Recoil is brutal . . . meaning that people won't practice with it.
    2. Recoil is brutal . . . meaning that sometimes bullets will "jump the crimp" (actually move forward out of the cartridge case), and this can cause the bullets sometimes to move forward enough as to stick out if the cylinder fronts and then prevent the cylinder rotating to the next round . . . TOTALLY LOCKING UP THE GUN!
    3. Recoil is brutal . . . so novice shooters develop a "flinch" anticipating the pain and the kick . . . this not become able to "hit the side of the barn" with one.
    4. Recoil is brutal . . . causing the gun to twist out of one's perfect grip during fast shooting such as happens in competition or in self defense. When the grip is no longer perfect the accuracy quickly goes to pot even worse with every subsequent shot.

    BOTTOM LINE ON AIRLITES . . . IMHO they are designed to sell to folks who know nothing about handguns, but who go into a gun shop wanting the most powerful but lightest gun out there. If I were dictator of the world I'd ban these flyweights from being made and sold! They ruin a lot of potentially fine shooters.

    BEST COMPROMISE . . .
    The aluminum framed Airweights are what most accomplished J-frame toters carry! Fast from the pocket, sufficient weight to damp recoil and prevent problems, accurate and heavy enough to get back on target quickly, yet light enough to almost forget you have one in your pocket!

    I own a Model 36, and sometimes carry it on a belt holster. However, in my POCKET will be my "always" revolver, the aluminum framed version of the Model 36 . . . the legendary Model 37 "Airweight."

    Heck, I just patted my front pants pocket, and sure enough, my Model 37 THERE! An Airweight can be carried virtually all the time its legal. Any gun that can't always be carried due to either size or weight will never be an "always" with you gun . . . and you won't have time to go get a gun when trouble comes!!!
    [​IMG]

    My wife? She carries a rarer-to-find 3" barreled Model 37 "Airweight," which she shoots with great confidence and accuracy that the 3" barrel affords her.

    I CONCUR with the advice on the Tyler T-grip. Used with original magna wood grips (or with magna style elk stags as pictured below), this combination is VERY comfortable to shoot . . . much more so than even the "rubber" grips of today.

    Hope this helps . . .

    PS: You may notice, my Model 36 and Model 37 posted both have pinned barrels that went away on S&W revolvers in 1982. Fine, vintage S&W J frames come on the market all the time, and generally haven't been shot much. Lots of 'em also haven't been CARRIED much either . . . simply bought as "nightstand" guns by their owners "back in the day." Once grandpa dies, his widow will contact a gun store and sell that "old gun." These vintage guns are as good, or better, than the brand new ones of today . . . and are MUCH CHEAPER to buy too than new ones with the d____ internal locks!

    My Model 36 was made in 1964; the Model 37 was made in 1971. Both were rarely, if ever, carried as you can see!
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  21. gossamer

    gossamer Member

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    S&WFan: thanks for the great rundown. Those are handsome guns indeed. I've seen a few 37s around. I'll probably opt for the 36 just because I prefer to shoot with a bit more heft. I may change my mind come summer when I'm just wearing a tshirt and jeans. But that'll just be a cause for another purchase:)

    I've also seen a model 28 that looks beautiful. Thinking about trading in an FNP .40 for one of those.
     
  22. KenW.

    KenW. Member

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    Spoken like a true Glockophile.
     
  23. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    It definitely adds safety if a young kid gets hold of it around the house.
    If you ain't big enough to squeeze it, you ain't gonna shoot it!

    Or say, May West is checking to see if you are packing heat, or just glad to see her.
    But she was big enough to squeeze it I betcha!

    So that wouldn't work then I guess??

    rc
     
  24. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    So what did I do to deserve that? I thought we were friends! :neener:

    Actually, the concept is the same and I agree the safety is you but to tell you the truth, I have never owned a Glock. I have shot a few and I only own 2 semi-auto centerfire pistols. One is a 1911 because every man should own at least one 1911 and the other a Kel-Tec P-32 for those times only an extremely small gun will do. A Glock, I don't think so... (but not because of the lack of an external manual safety)
     
  25. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    As an afterthought?

    We will never know how many ND's a grip safety on various model guns has prevented over the last 100 years.

    Because they didn't happen to count them.

    rc
     
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