I bought a S&W 637 Airweight today. Was it a mistake?

I bought a S&W 637 Airweight today. Was it a mistake?

This is a discussion on I bought a S&W 637 Airweight today. Was it a mistake? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; My wife and I went to my LGS earlier today and I ended up buying a S&W 5 shot .38 spl revolver. I figured being ...

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Thread: I bought a S&W 637 Airweight today. Was it a mistake?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array AmmoFan01's Avatar
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    I bought a S&W 637 Airweight today. Was it a mistake?

    My wife and I went to my LGS earlier today and I ended up buying a S&W 5 shot .38 spl revolver. I figured being a S&W revolver that it was bound to be a quality firearm, so I didn't bother doing any research. Later this evening curiosity hit me so I figured I would check up on it. It appears that a lot of folks have had some major issues with this model. I have read several cases about people having to send their pistols back for repairs. I'm not a big fan of their semiautos but I have always thought their revolvers were rock solid. So far I have fired 2 cylinders through it and everything seems to be ok . Has the quality of these pistols improved recently, or would I be better off trading it to something more reliable. I like the pistol, but I don't want a handgun that I can't rely on.
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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    I'm not sure what you saw, but I've never, ever read of reliability problems with the J-frames, and I researched them a lot before buying my 38-3. The only thing I found about the 637/638/642 models was that the finish/coating on the silver aluminum frame didn't hold up very well.

    What issues were they having?
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    I have well over a thousand rounds through the 637-2 below. I swapped out the grip and bobbed the hammer. It's my go-to j-frame now.

    Research any gun and you will find problems. Some guns have problems, some don't. That's just the manufacturing process. A user here, Rollo, had his 637 break. But I've read about others who had a <insert gun here> <insert failure here.>

    And don't go on reputation. Any gun you buy needs to prove itself to you. You might spend $1,000 on a Sig, and it may not make it though a mag without jamming.

    As for your 637, give it a light lube in the innards (a drop or two of oil and a blast of high pressure air) and you're good to go for the next 10 years.


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    Senior Member Array AmmoFan01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maxwell97 View Post
    I'm not sure what you saw, but I've never, ever read of reliability problems with the J-frames, and I researched them a lot before buying my 38-3. The only thing I found about the 637/638/642 models was that the finish/coating on the silver aluminum frame didn't hold up very well.

    What issues were they having?
    QC problems such as poor machining, rounds not firing, and as you mentioned, issues with the frame coating. I should have asked this in my post, what is the rattling sound in the gun? It sounds like something is loose when you shake it, even when the hammer is cocked back. Do you fire +p ammo in your pistol very often?
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    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
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    You can find someone on the internet who is angry at the sun for shining. It's rock solid. Enjoy it.
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    Member Array hfjeff's Avatar
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    Stop worrying and enjoy it. You can drive yourself crazy doing google searches with hopes of finding no negative comments for something-and that doesn't go for just firearms. If you like it keep it. If you don't then trade it in. It doesn't have to be a lifelong commitment.

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    VIP Member Array ShooterGranny's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmmoFan01 View Post
    It sounds like something is loose when you shake it, even when the hammer is cocked back.
    At present I only have 2 S&W revolvers: one j frame and one L frame. They BOTH rattle when you shake them. You're supposed to shoot them, not shake them..........LOL
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    Senior Member Array AmmoFan01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShooterGranny View Post
    At present I only have 2 S&W revolvers: one j frame and one L frame. They BOTH rattle when you shake them. You're supposed to shoot them, not shake them..........LOL
    Very true! Lol

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    Senior Member Array patri0t's Avatar
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    The S&W 637 Airweight is a "primo" revolver. The poor reviews on most name-brand sidearms is usually due to poor (read CHEAP) ammo or other abuse, like the cool way some folks flick their wrist to SLAM the cylinder shut.

    The "Airweight" designation does mean it is made for comfort and may wear down a bit sooner if you try to run 40-60k rounds through it.
    I once got over 25k rounds through a Charter Arms "Pug", before it began to show mechanical wear, but it took me 12 years of near e/day use (free dept ammo).
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    I'm not sure of the model (think it's the 637), but my buddy back in CT has returned his to Springfield 3 times and it's still not a gun he trusts. He and his wife took the 2-day snubby course at the S&W Academy and the gun fell apart during class. The substitute gun used for the remainder of the course was my 1992-vintage Taurus 85,which performed as expected.

    The problem with the 637 in question is that the gun tends to disassemble when the cylinder is opened to reload. Sounds simple enough to fix, but so far it's beyond the abilities of the repair folks in Springfield.
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    Senior Member Array oldranger53's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ShooterGranny View Post
    At present I only have 2 S&W revolvers: one j frame and one L frame. They BOTH rattle when you shake them. You're supposed to shoot them, not shake them..........LOL
    Humm.
    I'd better get my 442 out and shake it too! Don't know if it rattles or not! Ha!
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    Member Array thedogfather's Avatar
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    Well, the cartridges will rattle some in the cylinder, they are not flush in there. I don't know the exact specs but there has to be a little room for expansion once the cartridge is fired. In fact, empties will sometime hang up in the cylinder, especially in a J frame with a shorter ejector rod.

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AmmoFan01 View Post
    QC problems such as poor machining, rounds not firing, and as you mentioned, issues with the frame coating. I should have asked this in my post, what is the rattling sound in the gun? It sounds like something is loose when you shake it, even when the hammer is cocked back. Do you fire +p ammo in your pistol very often?
    Gotcha. Well, my 38 is 90's vintage (I think, got it used pretty recently) so I can't personally speak to how they come out these days in terms of fit and finish, but mine is nice for a "practical" gun. It doesn't rattle with the hammer back and an empty cylinder, but it does rattle a bit when loaded due to headspace (the cartridges can slide back and forth slightly between the cylinder and recoil shield). Mine doesn't have the internal lock, and from what I know of that I'd believe that it could be the source of some noise.

    By contrast, my Ruger LCR rattles like all get-out thanks to the transfer bar.

    I haven't tried +P yet; the barrel isn't marked for it, but I got in touch with S&W service and they said go for it. I still haven't found 158gr LSWC hollowpoints, but when I do I'll give it a shot.
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    I've never read anything from Gasmitty that wasn't rock solid. That said, I haven't heard anything about the 637 as a class problem. And I can't understand a j frame issue that wouldn't apply to all models. The finish on my 638 is wearing away but it's life is in a holster so I don't worry about it. It shoots. Guess I'll have to empty the wheel and shake it. I don't know if it rattles to be honest. I'm surprised by the concerns.
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    J-frames are good to go. Shoot it. Then shoot it some more. By the time you run $3000 worth of ammo through it you will know if your $450 gun is ok.

    Don't listen when people tell you they aren't accurate. You will read that also. We shoot S&W J-frames at 50 yards.
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