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S&W Model 637, Buyer Beware

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Gunmeister, Mar 7, 2004.

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  1. Gunmeister

    Gunmeister Member

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    In my opinion, one shared by others, the S&W 637 and other similar S&W models are not of great quality. Although they look nice when new, the clear coat (paint by any other name is paint) which covers the glass beaded faux stainless steel appearing finish does flake and wear off and comes off with some solvents.
    The crane does not have a viable front locking feature, consequently the cylinder and frame can be rocked back and forth when in the locked up, ready to fire position. I can easily slide a .012" feeler gage between my crane and frame at the front. My dealer says that all 637's and similar J-Frames do the same thing and it is not a problem. He actually took several small Smiths out of his showcase and they all had the same problem., I could be wrong, but I have long been taught that there should be no gap or loosness between the crane and frame.
    To add insult to injury, S&W has ordered a huge wholesale price cut on the 637 and similar J-Frames, I assume this is an effort to unload them. S&W says this is a "promo" what a farce. I am told that 637's are available on dealer's shelves for $299 and up depending upon what some poor sucker like me will pay and how unscrupulous the dealer is. I paid $389.00 plus 7% tax or a total of $413.23. Now I am stuck with a poor quality firearm that I won't sell, manufactured by a supposidly trusted name in the business.
    Keep in mind, everyone, this is a brand new, never fired gun purchased by me on 03/04/04. Rest assured, this is the last S&W product I will ever own, BUYER BEWARE!
    Once again, big business triumphs over the little guy.
     
  2. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Many thanks for the insight there, Gunmeister.
    I had seriously considered retiring my little S&W
    old model 60 .38 caliber "Chief's Special", in favor
    of a new S&W 637. But, after this report (and a
    few others) I have decided against that decision.

    Best Wishes,
    Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
     
  3. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Gunmeister,

    You did note Rule #2, right, "usnavymasterchief"?


    FWIW, my prewar I-frames, also with no "viable front locking feature" (other than the ball-detent on the tip of the ejector rod, like most every other Smith, from M-frame through N-frame) still function fine after over 80 years of shooting.

    Education on the topic of your rant is desirable before putting fingers to keyboard...
     
  4. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Ala Dan,

    Don't thank him, as your Model 60 has "no viable front locking feature" by his lights, either. :rolleyes:
     
  5. albanian

    albanian member

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    I recently bought a &SW 642. It does have a coating of some type on the alloy parts of the gun but that is nothing new. I would rather have the alloy coated than bare. It will scratch off but I have not found any solvents that will remove it.

    I am happy with my gun. It is a new one with the trigger lock:barf: but other than that, it seems well made. I have looked it over and shot it many times and I can't find any obvious defects in the workmanship. I don't doubt that you got a bad one but this is what S&W is known for latley, i.e. spotty quality control. It is still much better than Taurus or Charter Arms and the price is not that much higher now that the sale is on.
     
  6. usnavymasterchief

    usnavymasterchief member

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    TAMARA, Do you always wake up in a good mood? Tell me knower of all things, how does one remove a username he or she doesn't care to use any longer?
    Do you own a 637? If so check the side to side play on your locked up cylinder. If you don't own a 637, then I suggest it is you who needs to educate yourself prior to putting finger to keyboard.
    As you obviously are aware, older Smiths are much stronger than these newer light weight models.
     
  7. usnavymasterchief

    usnavymasterchief member

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    ALBANIAN, I don't know from personal example but I have been told that Gunscrubber or brake cleaner will soften the clear coat on these models.
     
  8. Kentucky Rifle

    Kentucky Rifle Member In Memoriam

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    My newest revolver is a 642. It was my first "Centennial" model. (Felt plumb weird for a while not to have a hammer of any type showing.) Plus, I couldn't get used to the trigger. I had immediately installed Crimsom Trace laser grips on my new 642 and I could SEE how far I was pulling the muzzle to the left. So, I went with Tamara's "Dry-firing is a way of life" theory and, after a few hundred dry fires with A-Zoom snap caps, I actually got pretty good. (Or the trigger got much better. That's probably what happened.:) )
    As far as the finish goes, I haven't found a cleaning product that affects it yet. All in all, I like my 642 (and my 638) pretty well. However it does seem like my older Smith & Wesson's are put together better. Or it could just be that I miss that great blue finish so much that it just FEELS like the old ones are better.<shrug>

    KR
     
  9. Josey

    Josey member

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    I got rid of my 637. The reasons were simple. The finish was pealing. The Uncle Mikes Kydex holster was rubbing the finish off of the revolver. The revolver was too big in feel. Bulky for a J frame. My gunsmith suggested another pistol instead of installing Wolff springs. He emphasized QC problems. I switched to a 3" M10 S&W.
     
  10. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Josey,

    That's odd, as the 637 is the same size as every other J-frame. :scrutiny:




    :rolleyes:
     
  11. ColtShooter

    ColtShooter Member

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    I bought a 637 about 2 years back and it has since digested about 1,000 rounds (probably all most folks ever do with one). I agree the barrel-cylinder gap is pretty big, but otherwise mine has a decent finish and shoots well. I paid about $400 before they went on sale.

    I think it's a decent gun for the money, particularly at $300.
     
  12. ruger357

    ruger357 Member

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    As I replied on another post my 637 is almost a year old with no problems with the finish.Took it out today and shot 50 rounds. I cleaned it with hops #9 and even used it on the frame with no problems with the finish. The side to side play on my cylinder is no worse than my PC F-Comp 66. Again the fit is not the same as my 1947 M&P but that goes for everyting else these days such as cars etc. Did I mention the 637 is dead on accurate?:D The only gun that has no cylinder yoke to frame play I beleave is the Ruger because of it's unique locking system.
     
  13. usnavymasterchief

    usnavymasterchief member

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    Old Colts lock up solid and tight also.
     
  14. Tamara

    Tamara Senior Member

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    Kinda curious as to why my '76 Model 37 would be any stronger than an '03 Model 637, given as how they're more or less mechanically identical, except for the newer gun having the flatnose hammer... oh, yeah, and the new one's +P rated, unlike mine, since the new one's so much weaker. :rolleyes:
     
  15. klover

    klover Member

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    Picked up a used 638-2 in a pawn shop for $300. Compared it to several new 637s and another new 638-2. Yes, there was more cylinder rotation during lockup than my older 19s. Yes on the cylinder gaps on all these was pushing .006 (my 629 is about .0035 with VERY little rotation).

    Was very impressed with the smoothness of the trigger in SA and DA. I do think it is the best I've ever felt on any gun yet (maybe lots of good breaking in or perhaps someone did a trigger job?).

    Took it to the range. It is the first snub nose I placed all shots in a pie plate at 25 yards in DA mode.

    I have yet to empty a box through it, but I think I will never part with it.:D
     
  16. Josey

    Josey member

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    Tamara, I should have been clearer. I didn't care for the Uncle Mikes bootgrips. I felt they were bulky or thick. They hung up on my clothing and left red marks on my skin in the summer. I wanted to put a different set of grips, replace the springs and tune my 637 to stop the drag line on the cylinder. My gunsmith simply talked me into trading to the M10. I have not been sorry. I tried a 637, I wasn't satisfied or happy with it. I still bought another S&W product.
     
  17. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    The 637/642 descended from the old 'Aircrewman' of the USAF from the early fifties. That version originally had a five screw frame, alloy cylinder, and weighed less than the current units - only 10.75oz. It was designed to be small and light - and to get one out of trouble. S&W has continued that tradition - with obvious improvements, such as the SS cylinder, +P rating, etc. It's role is the same... a last ditch CCW. If you want a target piece, you need a larger frame & attendant grip, adjustable sights, and a longer barrel.

    As to price... S&W apparently reduced the price last year at the SHOT show - a local dealer had the 637/642 at $340/$350 since last Spring, while others remained at ~$420+. I believe that sales were dropping - folks wanted smaller .357 Magnums, for example. This year, they have a Crimson Trace Laser-equipped version as well. At the closeout mail order price now of $300/$315, I may even have to have one!

    I work part-time at a local outdoor range as the public range RO. I have helped many folks with the Airweight J-frame .38's - the price has been quite attractive over the last year. The most common complaint has been the grip size... everyone thinks it is too small. That, coupled with the lite weight revolver 'pulling' under trigger squeeze leads to poor accuracy. We cannot keep the larger Hoque replacement grips in stock... they really help accuracy. I have shot many 637's - and a few 642's, which I prefer. I had a fellow break his in by dry-firing 500-1,000 times - and bring it back. It really was better - he easily noticed it. They are not 'bad' as delivered. I would never replace that coil hammer spring - it is, after all, an adrenaline-powered firearm. They are somewhat ammo-dependent as to POI vs POA - as one would expect of a short barrel/fixed sight.

    I have not noted excessive lock-up play in any of the 637/642's I have seen - even a very abused 642 'truck gun'. I have seen scratches through the finish... but no peeling. S&W may have had some frames improperly finished at one time - rumors as that do exist. A call to S&W with your S/N will find any atttendant problems - and you can always return it to them should your finish ever peel - they will fix any problem... they have a great warranty.

    I have a 2" M10 for a snubby .38 +P - real nice, albeit just over twice the weight of the 637. With it's 1/8 inch longer barrel, it is much more accurate than any stock 637/642 I have shot... of course, it is a larger frame - with larger grips, the real answer. For <7-12yd protection, the 637/642 is fine.

    Stainz
     
  18. wally

    wally Member

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    IMHO, put a bigger grip on a J frame and you'd have been better off simply buying a bigger gun. The grips are the single most difficult part of the gun to conceal. Sure it helps when shooting, but it works against you for concealed carry.

    --wally.
     
  19. Blueduck

    Blueduck Member

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    Great post by Stainz.

    I just picked up my 642 this morning, no shooting yet, but so far timing check, range rod, and feeler gauges show all as being well.

    Amazing how much different carring the 642 all day was compared to my 3" 65. Maybe I'm getting old and out of shape but first thing I did when I got home with the 65 was take it off. 642 still tucked in the same place it started at 8:15 am:)
     
  20. MR.G

    MR.G Member

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    I have several Airweight S&W J frames. Models 637, 638, and 642. I like them better than my older J frames, model 36 and 60. Some of my new ones are tighter than some of the older steel J frames that I bought 20 years ago. The Airweights are a lot lighter to carry, and I have not found them to be any less durable. I have had a couple of them that have been fired quite a bit. Even shot +P in them with no problems. The finish is my only complaint. It is easily scratched off of the cylinder and barrel. I have polished the barrel and cylinder of a couple of then to remove the "paint". The barrel and cylinder end up polished stainless. I like the two tone look. Havn't had much trouble with the finish on the frame. I havn't noticed much of a price decrease around here on the J frames. I have enough of them now, but at the right price I would buy a couple more of them.
     
  21. MR.G

    MR.G Member

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    Was just over on Gunbroker.com. Prices for the 637 are still pretty high there. Then you have to add shipping and FFL fees.
     
  22. Wildalaska

    Wildalaska member

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    Having sold many of them, having seen many more, having shot a few and having carried some...

    Hgwash to the concept of the 637s being POS....

    WildenoughofthisAlaska
     
  23. munk

    munk Member

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    As has been noted, the J frame series of guns does not need to be strengthened for the rounds in which they are chambered. The talk of lock up is silly, in my opinion.

    The surface coating peeling wouldn't be good, if true, but I can't see it changing the function of the weapon any.


    I think if I could get a small Smith on sale and wanted that kind of weapon, I'd look hard at it.

    it might be cheap enough to ignore any finish peal problems later.


    munk
     
  24. treeprof

    treeprof Member

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    I just saw 637's at $297 and 642's at $307 locally yesterday! I was almost tempted to backslide on my "no new S&W" pledge, but I really dislike the mechanical safety "feature". I have "older" 642's and will pick up more pre-safety j-frames when I find good deals.
     
  25. Gunmeister

    Gunmeister Member

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    I'm not sure everyone understands what I was trying to point out. The gap I was trying to explain is at the front of the gun where the crane meets the frame. When my cylinder is locked up I can lightly push the cylinder on it's left side with my thumb and open up a .012 gap between the crane and the frame. The dealer at the store where I bought the gun tried several other 637's and they did likewise. One of the items in Mr Jim March's excellent post was that there should be no gap at that point, the gap should be almost invisable. Tamara took me to task about no viable locking feature where the extractor rod snaps in when the cylinder is locked up.
    It is my belief that the older Smith's like Tamara's were made of much stronger stuff and weren't subject to as much flex as the newer models and that type of locking method was acceptable in the older Smith's. Not being a metallurgy student, I can't explain that to you. I can only tell you that my 637 opens up a .012 gap at the front where the crane meets the frame when the cylinder is locked in the ready to fire position. My Colt DS and Python don't do that, even my inexpensive Taurus' don't do that.
     
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