Steel Frame vs. Aluminum Alloy Frame

This is a discussion on Steel Frame vs. Aluminum Alloy Frame within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I've been making a habit of carrying a couple of popular Smith & Wesson 5-Shot .38 Specials lately, alternately toting either the Chief's Special or ...

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Thread: Steel Frame vs. Aluminum Alloy Frame

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    Steel Frame vs. Aluminum Alloy Frame

    I've been making a habit of carrying a couple of popular Smith & Wesson 5-Shot .38 Specials lately, alternately toting either the Chief's Special or the Model 642. I'm trying to determine if the light weight of the Airweight model is that much of a boon to concealed carry over the original steel J-Frame and how both compare with the Colt Detective Special I've been frequently carrying around town in recent years.

    I've toted both with and without pocket holster, in Levi's 550 jeans pockets, Dockers' pockets, and in business suit trouser pockets (with De Santis Nemesis holster-trouser pockets are flimsy). I have a belt holster but haven't used it because I don't generally wear a covering garment except to church. Any Smith & Wesson 5-shot .38 Special holstered and riding on a belt is no chore to pack anyway.

    I can't really tell much difference for my purposes. I can tell a little more difference in shooting the two side by side. I've put a lot of stock in the weight advantage of shooting the steel-framed model but really there is not even all that much difference in the two styles. In great quantities, the +P 158 grain ammunition is not that much of a joy to shoot in either revolver. Both of my revolvers have standard factory walnut stock panels.

    Have y'all formed an opinion about the relative advantages of these two types of Smith & Wesson revolvers? The Airweigth is ok but I'm thinking it is a bit overrated simply because I can't tell much difference.

    There ain't no flies on the Detective Special either.
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    If used as a pocket gun, I appreciate the difference in weight. However, once it's in a good holster, on a good belt, the weight just doesn't make any difference to me.

    When it comes to concealment, I'm generally more affected by dimensions than weight.
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    For pocket carry, at least for me anyway, there is a noticable difference in the two. I do prefer steel over aluminum. But for the pocket, I really prefer the lighter gun.
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    I prefer the weight and heft of a steel frame revolver especially combined with a good belt and holster. The only problem I see is that you are wearing Levi's and you love you gun rights because Levi Strauss and Dockers want to take them away. Remember when you bought a pair of Levis and they were heavy??? Now they take the extra money and instead of putting it their product they use it to take your guns!!! Levi Strauss Supporting Gun Prohibitionists
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    Quote Originally Posted by glockman10mm View Post
    For pocket carry, at least for me anyway, there is a noticable difference in the two. I do prefer steel over aluminum. But for the pocket, I really prefer the lighter gun.
    I agree with Glockman10mm on this. In a belt holster, I will go with my 640 every time, but for a pocket holster the 642 gets the nod.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siddhartha View Post
    The only problem I see is that you are wearing Levi's and you love you gun rights because Levi Strauss and Dockers want to take them away. Remember when you bought a pair of Levis and they were heavy??? Now they take the extra money and instead of putting it their product they use it to take your guns!!! Levi Strauss Supporting Gun Prohibitionists
    Thanks for posting this. There are certainly other makers of jeans and docker style pants & shirts. I will use them.
    It's the Land of Opportunity, not the Land of Entitlements - Vote America!!!

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    I prefer the alloy snubbies for carry, but not owning one currently, I make due with an old Dick Special or a Model 60.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ksholder View Post
    Thanks for posting this. There are certainly other makers of jeans and docker style pants & shirts. I will use them.
    I am a big fan of Carhartts, They are the only pants that have lasted 3 years or more for me, comfortable, big pockets, lotsa pockets, wider at the ankles for ankle carry, plenty of places to hide spare ammo etc etc...
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    I'm a one of each guy. The 640 usually gets carried in a Burns-Martin repro on my belt and the 642 goes in the pocket. I really can tell the difference in weight. They both wear smooth, slightly oversized grips and I don't use a pocket holster. As far as the pants thing goes, I believe after a certain age men shouldn't be allowed to wear jeans. They're for youngsters and cowboys and chicks. I love big khakis (not dockers) as they are the most well thought out multi-functional j-frame holster ever invented. The Carrharts are nice in the Fall but not in Summer (AZ or Iraq). If I carry IWB I just use the Barami hip grip along with a Tyler T-Grip and I am one old school hipster..............
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    Quote Originally Posted by Siddhartha View Post
    I prefer the weight and heft of a steel frame revolver especially combined with a good belt and holster. The only problem I see is that you are wearing Levi's and you love you gun rights because Levi Strauss and Dockers want to take them away. Remember when you bought a pair of Levis and they were heavy??? Now they take the extra money and instead of putting it their product they use it to take your guns!!! Levi Strauss Supporting Gun Prohibitionists
    I'd love to get away from Levis, specifically for this reason, but I'll be darned if I can find another brand that fits. Every other brand I've tried (and it's been a lot) have been too tight or too loose in all the wrong places. I just have weird proportions.

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    Carhartt jeans have similar fit to Levis, but I do admit that they aren't the same. The sad thing is that nothing feels better, with that said I refuse to give them any more of my hard earned money, so I will pick out a pair at the thrift store, but I wont give money to them. I hope I am still young enough to wear jeans forever and I still wear converse all-stars as well. I hate that we have hi-jacked this thread, so I will say that I love my steel framed Taurus 605 tucked away neatly in a Thunderwear knock off holster in my jeans and I don't notice the extra weight
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    Carry a Star Firestar. Every other gun you'll ever see will seem light compared to it! I personally prefer the all steel Walther PPK/S, Ruger SP101, Taurus 908, and the Firestar for my regular carry. The aluminum guns just seem flimsy to me. One advantage to carrying the Firestar, if you run out of bullets you can drop the gun on the bad guy's foot -- that would incapacitate him for life!!

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    I agree with many of the other posters that for pocket carry an aluminum Smith shines over steel framed revos, not so much on the belt or with recoil in +P loads.

    I laughed when I saw you mention 550's, I was an athlete growing up (Lacrosse, Football, Track, Basketball), and my legs were more muscular than average to the point I couldn't comfortably wear Levi's 501's. I didn't own a pair of jeans until the 550's came out sometime in the late 80's early 90's when I was in High School. The were loose enough that I could move in them.

    Try Lucky Brand or Big Star Jeans, They have several different fits. I don't like baggy, but the loose fit sits perfect on my frame. I am not sure what their politics are though.

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    I have an exceptionally nice pair of J-frames; a 649 and a 640. At the time I acquired them, my employing agency prohibited Airweights and mandated approved snubs be loaded with +P's, before S&W formally endorsed the use of them in their J-frames. I'm retired now, and use Federal Nyclads in my snubs, so maybe I ought to try out an airweight. I just might like them after all for pocket holster carry.

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    I have an Airweight 638 that loves to ride in my front pocket. I put Crimson Trace 405 grips on it which reduces felt recoil, and the gun is a pleasure to shoot. I am still working on mastering the double action trigger pull, but I am much more accurate with that than with my Keltec 380.

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