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  #1  
Old 03-06-2010, 06:42 PM
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Default My Bodyguard

While cruising the local gunstores for a Ruger LCR I ran across this baby and snatched her up in a heartbeat. Mid-60s vintage Model 38 Airweight Bodyguard. She came with the original box (complete with what appears to be the original price tag still attached -- $75.00), tools and warranty card. From the looks of things, I'd guess this gun spent most of the time in the box or dresser drawer -- little signs of holster wear and the cylinders and bore are pristine.






At the range this morning, I shot a couple of cylinders just to get a feel for things. One word: ouch! (the mystery of little signs of firing solved ). Anyway, I figure I'll be carrying this one often and shooting her rarely.

I do have a couple of questions for you Bodyguard fans: First, while I'm guessing +P ammo should be avoided, any problems shooting standard pressure Buffalo Bore 158 grain LSWC-HP? Second, the stocks are diamond magnas with black washers. However, they aren't numbered. Was it standard practice for J-Frame grips not to be numbered during this timeframe? Any info is appreciated.

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Old 03-06-2010, 07:02 PM
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It is OK to shoot +P ammo in your gun. I think most people shoot 38's for practice and carry +P. As you have found out the recoil is pretty bad. Don
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:04 PM
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Jon;

Cool gun! It has the high horn stocks that usually came with the Centennials (models 40 and 42), but they may have been put on Bodyguards also. I can't recall seeing one, though, but my memory is bad

I would think with a pinned barrel, chances are the stocks would have numbered to the gun, but if you post a partial serial number or know the year it was made someone will be able to tell you.
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:06 PM
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That is a sharp little gun! Much nicer than an LCR for sure.
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:25 PM
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S&W did not recommend +P in the alloy J frame guns. Shoot standard carry +P if you wish.
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:27 PM
Scary Gary Scary Gary is offline
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I love Rugers as well as S&W , but this is no LCR good buy .
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:28 PM
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Gorgeous humpback! If you wanna swap out those high horn stocks for some standard sized ones, LET ME KNOW!!!
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Old 03-06-2010, 07:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
Jon;

Cool gun! It has the high horn stocks that usually came with the Centennials (models 40 and 42), but they may have been put on Bodyguards also. I can't recall seeing one, though, but my memory is bad

I would think with a pinned barrel, chances are the stocks would have numbered to the gun, but if you post a partial serial number or know the year it was made someone will be able to tell you.
All Bodyguards and Bodyguard Airweights were sold with checkered Bodyguard high horn grips until about 1968. These grips were not as high as Centennial high horn grips. They had the diamond around the screw hole. They were checkered, while Centennial high horn grips were smooth. Centennial high horns are taller than than Bodyguard high horns are, and the washer/frame size of the original Centennial high horn grips is smaller than those of the Bodyguard or Chief's series of J frames, making it impractical to alter them to be used for the other J frame guns.

The grips should be numbered to the gun. If they are not then they are replacement and earlier Bodyguard high horns probably did not come with this Mod 38. I did the same thing to my 1971 Mod 38 because I prefer the older diamond grips to the type they were replaced by. Not only are the Bodyguard high horn grips about 1/4" higher than the type they replaced but they are a bit broader going forward, too. This gives my thumb a little better grip on the Mods 38 and 49 ( all steel Bodyguard).


Jon, does this gun have a flat latch cylinder release on the left side? If the gun was made in 1966 or before, it will have the older flat latch style of J frame cylinder release. There were some that left the factory in 1968 which still had the diamond checkered taller Bodyguard high horn grips but that was the approximate time with they were replaced with the standard shorter checkered grips which became J frame standards after that. You won't find the flat latch on one as late as 1968. Even Centennials made from 1968 to 1974 with the "L" prefix serial numbers were made only with smooth standard "low" horn grips.
I even use an extra set of checkered high horn Bodyguard grips on my Mod 640. I like 'em a lot. There was no good reason that S&W used smooth low horns on the Mod 640 except they wanted to save a few pennies on production costs. So it goes with manufacturers in any field.......

Nice one. The '71 that I have gets carried many days of the year.
Enjoy!

HTH

Last edited by Malysh; 03-06-2010 at 09:41 PM.
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Old 03-06-2010, 09:36 PM
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I have an M38 in my pocket as I write this.

It's a former MI State Police revolver with the stainless cylinder.
It has a bit more blue wear than your gun does.

I practice more with my 649s. The M38's light weight means the cylinder latch tends to take a bite out of my thumb now and then.
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Old 03-06-2010, 10:07 PM
Richard Simmons Richard Simmons is offline
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Congratulations. You're gonna love your Airweight 38.

Here's mine from 1961 with the same high horn stocks and the Tyler T-Grip I added.



As much as I like it, I just found it too nice to carry and switched back to my M49.
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  #11  
Old 03-06-2010, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malysh View Post
Jon, does this gun have a flat latch cylinder release on the left side? If the gun was made in 1966 or before, it will have the older flat latch style of J frame cylinder release. There were some that left the factory in 1968 which still had the diamond checkered taller Bodyguard high horn grips but that was the approximate time with they were replaced with the standard shorter checkered grips which became J frame standards after that. You won't find the flat latch on one as late as 1968. Even Centennials made from 1968 to 1974 with the "L" prefix serial numbers were made only with smooth standard "low" horn grips.

HTH
Malysh,

Here is a photo of the other side -- it's not a flat latch.



The serial number is 423XXX which I would have estimated at being a '65 or '66 vintage gun but considering your comments on flat latches being on pre-68 guns I'm thinking I may be off a couple of years on my estimate. Anyway, thanks to you and the other posters for the info on the M38


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Old 03-06-2010, 11:28 PM
webley green webley green is offline
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Super nice Bodyguard; mine is carried regularly. No plus p for me, airweights mean standard loads for my piece of mind. .38 wadcutters to be precise. Saw it at a little local gun show and it left it with me.
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  #13  
Old 03-06-2010, 11:51 PM
Double-O-Dave Double-O-Dave is offline
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Jon,

In case you haven't figured this out yet, a really firm grip on the little beast really helps a lot. It took me a while to learn this with my 642, and my thumb looked like hamburger for a while.

Best of luck,

Dave
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Old 03-07-2010, 02:10 AM
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Excellent find. I'd take that over an LCR any day of the week!

Quote:
No plus p for me, airweights mean standard loads for my piece of mind.
I agree with that statement.


JP
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Old 03-07-2010, 04:15 AM
plcigar72 plcigar72 is offline
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Im new here, but wanted to let you know........
I bought a 77-78 model 38 Airweight from a gun shop in January....great shape considering the age, (not as nice as yours), put 5 rounds through it and then noticed the barrel had rotated...upon further inspection the frame was cracked at the business end of the cylinder! This was 5 rounds of low power frangible ammo. Good news is I returned it to the gun store and traded it for a very good condition, (considering the age), 71-72 model 38 Airweight. I havent had the chance to shoot it yet, but hopefully it will fare better than the 1st one. I was told PLUS P was ok to carry but probably shouldnt be used for range time

Just FYI...for those who like snubbies and bodyguards...check out OMB GUNS in Olathe KS...(NOT to be confused with OMB Express in Lenexa, KS)
They recently acquired a BUNCH of guns from Puerto Rico. Mostly Colt and SW revolvers.
I was told by 2 other non affiliated gun experts that I pretty much STOLE the model 38s from them at the price I paid and the condition of the guns...yeah the 1st one cracked after 5 rounds, but they replaced it with a better, older model 38.
A couple buddies of mine paid $200-$225 for older model 60's, and a Colt Detective, stainless, in excellent condition.

just sayin..........may be worth a phone call.

Hey cool looking model 38, devilfrog

Last edited by plcigar72; 03-07-2010 at 04:18 AM.
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:16 AM
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Very nice gun!! I always felt the m38 were so ugly you just had to love them...

I purchased a slightly newer one (1968 or 69), a few weeks ago out of state and haven't gotten it yet. Mine has a blotch on the cylinder but the rest is mint. It had the box papers etc, paid $200 plus shipping, xfer fees etc. At the same time I bought a m-61 escort so the shipping cost will be split between the two. The M 61 needs heavy cleaning, look like it was stored in a holster and is now green was nickel. paid $150, with box and goodies. Enough rambling from me....
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Old 03-07-2010, 09:28 AM
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Devilfrog1911, I'm not sure how S&W did the grips in the 60's, but my 1970 vintage model 60 has the serial number on the inside of the grips. Also, the plus + ammo of today is very stout. I would be careful shooting hot loads in your new vintage snubbie (IMO). She's a real beauty, enjoy. Be safe.
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Old 03-07-2010, 11:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devilfrog1911 View Post
The serial number is 423XXX which I would have estimated at being a '65 or '66 vintage gun but considering your comments on flat latches being on pre-68 guns I'm thinking I may be off a couple of years on my estimate.
Jon: Your estimate is probably very close. I know of two other J-frames with serial numbers in the low 400,000 range that shipped in early 1966. They both have the same type of latch as your M38.
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Old 03-08-2010, 11:51 AM
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Also, the plus + ammo of today is very stout. I would be careful shooting hot loads in your new vintage snubbie (IMO).
I wonder how true this statement really is? I'm not flaming or calling Bama21 a liar I'm just curious if the statement is factual or more of an assumption? Until recently I thought felt/thought the same way however, from what I've found in older manuals and on the internet "standard" ammo from 30+ years ago seemed to be loaded as hot or hotter than todays +P. IIRC the +P rating for .38 Special is based on around a 9% higher operating pressure than the "standard" offerings.

For example, the original .38 Special loads were around 850fps with a 158gr bullet. A standard load from Federal, (American Eagle 158gr LRN is listed at 770fps). A CCI brand 158gr TMJ +P is listed at 850fps. Anyone else find this to be the case?

Last edited by Richard Simmons; 03-08-2010 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 03-08-2010, 12:37 PM
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Very nice Bodyguard!
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Old 03-09-2010, 09:37 PM
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I found an absolute mint model 38 from '69 a few weeks back.I know why now. It hurts to shoot the little sucker.Beautiful revolver but ouch!
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Simmons View Post
I wonder how true this statement really is? I'm not flaming or calling Bama21 a liar I'm just curious if the statement is factual or more of an assumption? Until recently I thought felt/thought the same way however, from what I've found in older manuals and on the internet "standard" ammo from 30+ years ago seemed to be loaded as hot or hotter than todays +P. IIRC the +P rating for .38 Special is based on around a 9% higher operating pressure than the "standard" offerings.

For example, the original .38 Special loads were around 850fps with a 158gr bullet. A standard load from Federal, (American Eagle 158gr LRN is listed at 770fps). A CCI brand 158gr TMJ +P is listed at 850fps. Anyone else find this to be the case?
Do a search under Saxon Pig's topics. He's done some nice research about this subject. I tend to agree with him that what is marketed as Plus P ammo today is not very hot ammo at all.
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Old 03-09-2010, 10:27 PM
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Default Model 49

Posted this several times before...
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Old 03-10-2010, 06:46 AM
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now THATS a bodyguard, not this new centennial framed 'bodyguard' love my 638 and I bet you love your baby too
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:02 AM
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now THATS a bodyguard, not this new centennial framed 'bodyguard' love my 638 and I bet you love your baby too
I am much more fond of my 1954 Centennial Airweight and my 1962 Mod 40 than my Mod 640, but I still have the grip safeties on both pinned in so they can be shot without depressing the grip safeties.

It's moot anyway, but I bought the Bodyguard Airweight so I wouldn't be temped to carry the two older beauties. I also have a 1962 Mod 37 that I was going to use in the carry role, but I found the hammer did hang up in T shirts and front pocket carry and I didn't want to bob the hammer on such a nice Mod 37, so I bought a 1970 or 1971 Mod 38 which I carry almost every day. I guess I just like J frames a lot!
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Old 03-10-2010, 11:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malysh View Post
I am much more fond of my 1954 Centennial Airweight and my 1962 Mod 40 than my Mod 640, but I still have the grip safeties on both pinned in so they can be shot without depressing the grip safeties.

It's moot anyway, but I bought the Bodyguard Airweight so I wouldn't be temped to carry the two older beauties. I also have a 1962 Mod 37 that I was going to use in the carry role, but I found the hammer did hang up in T shirts and front pocket carry and I didn't want to bob the hammer on such a nice Mod 37, so I bought a 1970 or 1971 Mod 38 which I carry almost every day. I guess I just like J frames a lot!
I feel your pain. You are NOT alone. I'm up to two Jaybirds now - a 2 inch, blue model 36 no dash round butt Chief's Special and a 2 inch, blue model 38 no dash round butt Airweight Bodyguard. They are both from the same era (1984/85) and both get carried damn near every day.

When did they stop making the model 40? I would like to have a blued Centennial from around the same era as my other two J frames, just to complete the "J frame tri-fecta" by owning a Bodyguard, Chief's Special and Centennial series.
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Old 03-10-2010, 01:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glock 'em down View Post
I feel your pain. You are NOT alone. I'm up to two Jaybirds now - a 2 inch, blue model 36 no dash round butt Chief's Special and a 2 inch, blue model 38 no dash round butt Airweight Bodyguard. They are both from the same era (1984/85) and both get carried damn near every day.

When did they stop making the model 40? I would like to have a blued Centennial from around the same era as my other two J frames, just to complete the "J frame tri-fecta" by owning a Bodyguard, Chief's Special and Centennial series.
The Centennial and Centennial Airweights were produced from 1952-1974.
In 1968, S&W added an "L" prefix to the serial numbers of the Centennial line. They also changed the grips from high horn smooth to standard low horn smooth grips. I prefer the look of the high horns myself. There were approx. 30,000 mfg. from 1952-1968 and almost 10,000 mfg. from 1968-1974. I think it was about 1989 that they introduced the Mod 640 which has no grip safety provision, as you know. Recently they came out with the Classic line of J frames, all Plus P rated, including a reintroduced Centennial without the lock system S&W started using in their revolvers.
They also offer a case hardened version of these J frames. Everyone has different tastes, but I don't care for the case hardened treatment on a revolver that never had them before(J frames). I also don't like the newest checkered wood stocks they are using, they look cheap to me. I prefer old diamond center S&W magnas and that's why I replaced the ones that came on my 1970-71 Bodyguard, just like the one that Devilfrog1911 posted, except his came with the high horn diamond center grips and mine came with the next generation of low horn non-diamond checkered grips.
Speaking of which, Richard S. - I just love that '61 Bodyguard you posted in the thread. I've seen you post that one before and I never get tired of seeing it. I agree I also wouldn't shoot or carry that one.
I'm also a real sucker for flat latched J and K frame S&Ws. I was stupid enough to think I could replace a standard cylinder latch for a flat latch last year, until somebody here set me straight that the bolt itself was also changed, therefore if even possible it would be a big job to change it out.
I learn something new every week on this website!

HTH

Last edited by Malysh; 03-10-2010 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 03-10-2010, 09:53 PM
Siegfried Siegfried is offline
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To the OP-

Man that's a gorgeous weapon...nice find. I LOVE my M638 but I've always preferred the blued guns, by FAR.
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Old 03-11-2010, 12:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Simmons View Post
I wonder how true this statement really is? I'm not flaming or calling Bama21 a liar I'm just curious if the statement is factual or more of an assumption? Until recently I thought felt/thought the same way however, from what I've found in older manuals and on the internet "standard" ammo from 30+ years ago seemed to be loaded as hot or hotter than todays +P. IIRC the +P rating for .38 Special is based on around a 9% higher operating pressure than the "standard" offerings.

For example, the original .38 Special loads were around 850fps with a 158gr bullet. A standard load from Federal, (American Eagle 158gr LRN is listed at 770fps). A CCI brand 158gr TMJ +P is listed at 850fps. Anyone else find this to be the case?
Look over on the Ammo forum and there is plenty of member tested and documented +P info. Many of the old catalogs and advertisements were wishfull thinking showing velocities based on long, unvented test barrels. When S&W ammo moved from the test barrels to using real guns with 2", 4", and 6" barrels some of the listed velocities dropped over 20% in the .38 Special rounds. The heyday of .38 Special ammo is today, not in yesteryear.
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640, 642, airweight, bodyguard, centennial, colt, detective, glock, j frame, k frame, k38, model 40, model 60, round butt, ruger, sig arms

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