S&W 37 lifespan

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Big20, May 4, 2021.

  1. Big20

    Big20 Member

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    My principal carry gun is a model 37 air weight. I try and put a box of ammo through it every couple of weeks. Anybody have an idea of the expected lifespan I can count on for this revolver? I realize an exact number is impossible to arrive at. I would hate to practice practice practice only to have it break when I actually need it.
     
  2. EMC45

    EMC45 Member

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    Most likely longer than you.
     
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  3. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    As long as you aren’t running hot ammo through it and you keep it clean and lubed you should be able to run thousands of rounds through it. It is a mechanical device, though. Depending on your abilities and confidence it might be a good idea to give it a good looking over every so often or have a competent gunsmith check it out. They might catch parts wearing that should be replaced before they become a problem.
     
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  4. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    Was it new to you?

    What power of ammo are you generally running?

    Are you left handed?

    Need some particulars. In any case, post 2 and 3 nailed your concerns if it's not a greatly used pistol prior to your ownership.


    Todd.
     
  5. golden

    golden Member

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    What ammo you use and how often you use it, will determine how long your model 37 will function.

    The alloy guns, like the S&W model 37 were basically clones of the steel framed guns ( like the S&W model 36) and not designed from the bottom up as a new design They will function for a long time if you use only standard pressure, standard velocity ammo. That was what the original steel framed guns were designed for. Aluminum is not as strong as steel, but the original steel used by the gun designers in the 1950's was probably not as strong as that available now.
    You may have heard of the problems with using +P ammo, in the past. One of the reasons that law enforcement agencies dumped the .38 Special in large numbers were the problems they had with the steel framed S&W K-frame revolvers when using +P ammo. The guns when fired a lot, as they are in law enforcement organizations, tended to go out of time and suffer from frame stretching. Most older aluminum framed revolvers are not recommended for the use of +P ammo by their makers.

    The question is can you practice with what you carry?
    Using only .38 wad-cutters at the range and carrying +P ammo on the street will not give you a good training regime.
    I use standard pressure loads for training. I like the old 130 grain fmj Air Force load, which is made by all the major makers or the 158 grain lrn police load, also made by everyone. They are usually cheaper than .38 wad-cutter ammo.
    For carry, I use the WINCHESTER 130 grain Train & Defend jhp load. Recoil is similar to the 130 grain Air Force load. The problem is finding them.
    I have also used the HORNADY 110 grain FTX - Critical Defense loads. They work well and seem to be more commonly available, but the point of impact is farther from the point of aim.

    Be careful with some of the "boutique brand" ammo. They get higher performance out of the .38 Special and other calibers while claiming to be standard pressure, but even if standard pressure, a higher velocity round will have more recoil that will be harder on the shooter and the gun frame.

    Good luck,

    Jim
     
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  6. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Google "Smith Wesson Airweight frame crack," and click on "Images."

    I am not a fan.

    Yes, they still go bang, even with the crack. Yes, S&W will fix it for free.

    Still a hard no for me.
     
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  7. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    upload_2021-5-4_13-18-10.jpeg

    I bought that brand new and carried it for 25 years as a back up in uniform. I only shot it enough to qualify. Back up quals were (I think) 20 rounds, once a year.

    It’s just a revolver. I’m way dialed in on revolvers. There’s no need for me to shoot the snot out of that little gun. If I’m good with a revolver, I’m good with that one. And, I’d often go plink and play with this one:
    upload_2021-5-4_13-22-7.jpeg

    My 642 was more likely to wear out from the outside in than the inside out.

    An aiweight is not fun to shoot. It’s made to be carried a lot. Not really shot a lot. I’ve seen several with a crack in the frame parallel to the barrel under the forcing cone and, I have the remains of one that failed completely while a little older lady was firing it. The gun, though 30 years old, looked brand new. I found her a model 10 cheap.
     
  8. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    This is the ladies 37 that came apart. I’m sure the crack started under the forcing cone. No idea how long ago. It just finally let go.

    S&W would not warrant it.


    E3C29AD2-557C-4702-8CA2-A70DDC7572F3.jpeg 114595AF-680A-4A8D-89DD-ADFFE16C7731.jpeg 0B69A23B-5CFE-4215-A1F5-AF46E1258458.jpeg
     
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  9. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    Honestly? I would think 1200 rounds a year would be a pretty high round count in a J frame. I’ll bet mine doesn’t have that in 25 years.
     
  10. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    Agreed.

    I can't walk in his shoes but a hundred rounds per month seems high for the type of service that the platform was intended to perform.

    I wonder how much a fella will extend the lifespan by shooting light wadcutters for familiarization?

    Todd.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2021
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  11. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    Buy another one and carry it. Shoot your current one for practice. I personally liked carrying my 37 a lot more than shooting it.
     
  12. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    There's a good call. Cost issues and availability allowing.

    A little Taurus or Charter of comparable build might be worth looking into as well.

    Todd.
     
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  13. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    You could always get a Charter Arms UnderCover. I've had mine for over 35 years and it's just as sound as the day I bought it. It's probably had over 10K rounds thru it and most in the low +P range. Course it's solid steel in the frame and aluminum in the grip and no side plate to weaken the frame
     
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  14. earplug

    earplug Member

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    Two of my alloy J frames developed egg shaped bolt holes. This allowed the hand to slip off the ratchet. About ten years of your type of shooting.
    S&W used to cover then as life time etc. Not on my last alloy J frame.
     
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  15. Jonesy814

    Jonesy814 Member

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    Nowhere does S&W say that you should not shoot these much, but they probably figure no one could stand to run 100 rounds a day through one. I bought a 638 back in 2014. I practiced a lot to master the small revolver during the first 3 or 4 years and probably ran at least 2000 rounds through it in that time. Now it's a lot closer to 3000 rounds and it is still fine but, most of those were less than full power reloads.
    It is my primary carry gun and I really like it so a couple years ago when an area shop had air weights on sale for $337.90 I decided I had better buy another just in case something happened to the 638. I chose a no lock 442 the second time and now mostly carry the 638 in summer, the 442 in winter since the 638 should hold up better in a warm sweaty pocket
     
  16. Ru4real

    Ru4real member

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    Here is one made in 1974 with a 3 inch barrel, with the original grips as well. Shoots 148 grain DEWC at 900 fps. No cracks, but maybe the Nickel plating holds it together?

    I bought it as a gift for someone who’s birth year is 1974.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. sgt127

    sgt127 Member

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    I drive a VW GLI. With a 6 speed manual. It’s a neat little car. Pretty fast. It will do 140+.

    VW doesn’t need to tell me that if I actually drive it at 140 MPH, All the time. It may not last as long as if I drove it more sensibly.

    Unless people were shooting PPC or some other competition, carry guns, even cop duty guns, weren’t really shot that much. That’s kind of a new thing I feel.

    Grandpa had a S&W .38 he kept in the desk drawer. When him and the kids went out shooting, they grabbed a couple .22’s. Grandpa may have had a Colt detective Special he occasionally slipped in his coat pocket. A box of ammo would last years.

    That’s why we can still find 30-40-50 year old guns that look new.
     
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  18. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Made to be carried a lot and shot little. Occasional practice with standard pressure loads I am sure is fine but I don’t think it was ever intended for a aggressive practice regiment.
     
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  19. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd member

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    My favorite revolver grips.... ever.

    Not a bad looking pistol they're stuck to either.:thumbup:

    Todd.
     
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  20. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I bought my 642 about 25 years ago. I do not know how many rounds I have through it but I know I have gone through at least three 500 round loading lots for it among other rounds. So, I'll estimate I've put close to 2000 rounds through the guns over the years.

    I do not like shooting +P rounds through it, it is just not comfortable to shoot so I stick to 38 Special level loads and many are wadcutter target level loads.

    Except for the main spring getting light, the revolver has been trouble free.

    I have added a 442 and a 437 in recent years which will take some of the load off the 642.

    As an aside, all three of these revolvers are machined to accept moon clips.
     
  21. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Have a 2nd backup gun in a ankle holster.

    Most all will need some kind of repair before 10,000 rounds. If I remember the H. P. White test was in 1971.

    Another https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a122759.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjvuYK5u7LwAhWUbc0KHcr3CuwQFjAFegQIERAC&usg=AOvVaw0sSTou7g115lSLv1MWSPbl
    20210505_075421.jpg 20210505_075347.jpg

    CarryGuns_zps7llwubdj.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2021
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  22. Big20

    Big20 Member

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    Thanks for the replies. Good info such as looking for cracks near the forcing cone. I have Parkinson’s and muscle memory is use-it-or- lose-it kind of thing. Loads are almost all 125 gr target loads or dewc loads. The occasional full power load is occasionally used just to keep it honest. Looks like having a second gun is the way to go.
     
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