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Different sized J-frames?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Jim PHL, Feb 3, 2005.

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  1. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    I just handled nice older M36 and M60 for the first time today. I used to own a newer (mid-90's) model 640 .357 and until today, thought this J was pretty much the same size and weight as the older ones. I got rid of the 640 a while ago so maybe I don't recall correctly but it seemed that the older original j-frames made for .38 Spl are much smaller and lighter than the current ones designed to handle the magnums. (I know, "duh" on the cylinder length but it just felt smaller and lighter overall.) Am I nuts? I have been considering a 642/637 because I considered the 640 too big/heavy for pocket carry but these two seemed small and light enough to fit the bill for me. If I am correct about the size difference between the older and newer J's here's another question: Is a newer J-frame 637/642 the same size as a newer (magnum) jframe or the same size as the older 36/60 j frame?
     
  2. SnubbyMan

    SnubbyMan Member

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    The .357 mag version of the 640 is a little larger than the 442/642. The 442/642 is more similar in size to the older 36s. On S&W's site, the 442/642 has a "Small" frame designation, while the .357 640 has a "J-Small" designation.

    The 640 weighs 23 ounces, while the 36LS weighs 20 ounces.
     
  3. WT

    WT Member

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    In one of the late S&W catalogs, they referred to them as 'J frames' and 'J-magnum frames.'

    The J-magnums have longer frames and longer barrels.
     
  4. Mike Kerr

    Mike Kerr Member

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    There are many physical differences, albeit small, in many of the models, series etc.

    Regards,


    :) :) :)
     
  5. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    My 642 is a tad wider and "beefier" than my 1980 vintage 37. Even so, the 642 conceals better than the 37, since the 37 is a square butt.
     
  6. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    That was just to be consistent with the K magnum frame.
     
  7. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    Sistema, I had the same impression when I checked out a 37 a few days ago. (Same impression meaning the 37 was smaller than a "current" j frame.) At some point did they start making the 37 with a round butt. I don't recall exactly but my impression was it was round.
     
  8. SnWnMe

    SnWnMe Member

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    You observed correctly.

    The J Magnum frame, introduced in the mid 90s, is the standard small frame size. It is slightly bigger than the old J frames (for obvious reasons)

    All the current J frames regardless of caliber are built on the J Magnum frame.
     
  9. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Jim, I believe that S&W made both Square butt and Round butt model 37's concurrently.
     
  10. Erich

    Erich Member

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    (Ahh, there's something about a square-butt J-frame.)
     
  11. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    SnWnMe, You state all the current J's are now "J Magnum". I assume that includes the current crop of airweights, even if they are not .357's?
     
  12. SnWnMe

    SnWnMe Member

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    Yup. All of em regardless of construction or "body" style.
     
  13. mjb

    mjb Member.

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    I have a S&W model 49 and have recently put a Colt Cobra on layaway. :D I like them both.
     
  14. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    Is there a way to tell, (a model # "-" dash something) that I am looking at an older "j-small"? I guess it would be easy with the steel versions because an older M60, 640, etc would be a .38, not a .357. If I'm not mistaken, though, S+W has made the 642/637 since before all J's were J-magnums and they've always been .38's. Unless you're holding both, I wonder how obvious the difference is? (especially in the airwieght)
     
  15. Erich

    Erich Member

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    The differences are not super-obvious. If you're not a S&W geek, you probably wouldn't even notice. (I'm a S&W geek. :) )
     
  16. SnWnMe

    SnWnMe Member

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    The SCOSW will tell you what dash numbers were built on the J Magnum frame.

    J frames are everywhere. It shouldn't be hard for you to find a 60s, 70s or 80s gun. Look for the flat latch models, or pinned models or models with the old style thumbpiece and you should be ok.
     
  17. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Hey Erich,

    How is that 36 that you bought in Santa Fe?
     
  18. BluesBear

    BluesBear member

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    Yes S&W model 37s (as well as 36s) were made in both round and square butt versions at the same time.


    The easiest way to spot the difference between a J-frame and the J-Magnum-Frame is the Magnumframe has the elongated cylinder stop while the J-frame has the older round one.

    I have made a poster that illustrates various S&W identifying features. You can see it HERE.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2005
  19. dinosaur

    dinosaur Member

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    Mjb

    The little guns have a certain charm. :) Watchng the old movies or detective shows our heroes usually carried a J frame Smith or the Colt D. :cool:
     
  20. CB900F

    CB900F Member

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    Fella's;

    And then there were the S&W I frame guns. The Terriers & such.

    900F
     
  21. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    My latest acquistion is a '93 model S&W 37, round butt built on the
    standard J-frame. Weighing only 15 ozs, this gun competes favorably
    with the alloy S&W 637 with one exception; its blue instead of the
    more popular stainless. I wore this 'lil gem at work all day last Sat,
    and I couldn't even tell I had it on. :uhoh: :D

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  22. Erich

    Erich Member

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    Sistema, thanks for asking. It is a lovely little square butt 36 with perhaps the nicest trigger pull I've ever felt on a J-frame. Not the most accurate J-frame I've shot, however. I've only tried one type of ammo (WWB 130-grainers), but it would only group 1.75" at 10 yards - really a one-inch group with one consistent flyer. I'll have to try it with some nice wadcutter reloads, but I don't think it's going to be setting any records.

    On the other hand, a touch-up blue job has brought it back to looking really lovely. The square butt points really well for me and feels wonderful. I had to have some adjustments made on the sights of the Glock I usually carry the other day, so I carried this 36 and a 36-1 3" instead . . . oddly, carrying the old steel wheelies was more psychically comforting than the ultramodern plastic wundernine. :)

    And my wife thinks the 36 is pretty. :D
     
  23. Jim PHL

    Jim PHL Member

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    ALA DAN,
    Do you shoot +P's in your M37? If so, do you know in what date range it became OK to do so?
     
  24. unspellable

    unspellable Member

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    Frame differences

    This question comes up with the K frames too. I've always heard it said that the K frame for the 357 Mag was a little beefier in the area around the barrel threads and where the upright of the yoke rests as compared to a K frame for the 38 Special. I've never been able to detect a difference though.
     
  25. Sistema1927

    Sistema1927 Member

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    Erich,

    Have you been able to determine if the "one consistent flyer" is coming from the same cylinder hole?

    If so, then I wonder if somebody slipped while boring it.

    (BTW, do you know who is offering a reasonably priced NM CCW class? My Dad asked me today about it, both he and my brother want to get permits. Zia doesn't have anything scheduled anytime soon (where I did mine as a member), and I have heard that Calibers wants $300!!)
     
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