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Old 06-17-2012, 04:51 PM
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Default S&W 638-3 finish peeling ?!?

I have a S&W 638 and today I was changing out the factory rubber grips and installing some Pachmayr compac grips. While the grips were off, I noticed that there were chips in the frame under the grip. The gun still functions great and I only noticed this today. Is this normal with these airweights or should I get it checked out? I live in Florida and carry this revolver in the waistband, it gets real hot here and there is no escaping the sweat. I acquired this revolver in a trade and I don't know if S&W will honor their warranty, and another is that this is my only gun for summer carry, so I would hate to be without it. I wanted to know, has anyone else experience this problem? Will this effect the function,reliablity, or longevity of the gun? I posted a pic it's not great, but it will show you where the chipping is located.
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:06 PM
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I have the same gun (638-3), over a year old and carry it everyday.

No issues like that....I would call them and explain the problem. You don't
have to say if you were the original purchaser, I think.

If asked, I would just say it was a gift.


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Last edited by oldafsp; 06-17-2012 at 05:08 PM. Reason: added photo
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Old 06-17-2012, 05:25 PM
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I've seen that happen with other guns. You will need to contact Smith & Wesson and see if they will refinish the gun. Another option is to have the gun refinished by someone like Robar.

The condition is cosmetic only and will not effect the functioning of the gun.
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:22 PM
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I have had 5 stainless airweights all made since 2003. 637's, 642's, and
638's. They ALL peeled. My wife and I still have and use the two 637's.
You just have to keep an eye out for corosion. I keep a coat of wax on
ours. This is an issue that S&W just refuses to admit that it IS an issue.

I hear and read comments that say " I carry mine every day for 10 years
and no peeling" Trust me if you have strong fingernails you can peel the
coating off of your stainless airweight.Thats just the way it is. I love my 637 but I would not buy anotherone because of the finish.
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Old 06-17-2012, 06:29 PM
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I own a 342 that has been carried for over 10 years and has no peeling, or chipping? I think it has something to do with your type of sweat, or holster you use? Just guessing.? Or maybe the type of cleaner that is used to clean the gun?
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeBee View Post
I own a 342 that has been carried for over 10 years and has no peeling, or chipping? I think it has something to do with your type of sweat, or holster you use? Just guessing.? Or maybe the type of cleaner that is used to clean the gun?
DeeBee----no offense here but we are talking about the gray colored paint
that S&W puts on the Airweight series aluminum frames. My wifes 637 was NEVER cleaned and peeled while she carried it. My 637 was fired
5 times, wiped out with a clean patch no solvent. Does this mean that
my wife and I both have BAD sweat??She uses a leather holster, I use
a cloth Uncle Mikes. Or do you really think that S&W simply wants to
continue cutting costs with an inferior "paint job"?

Last edited by JAREDSHS; 06-18-2012 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:27 PM
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I have a 642 purchased in 1997. No issues so far. I am curious as to what dash number this coating started with?

This gun has hardly ever been properly cleaned but still looks pretty new. I checked it today.
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Old 06-17-2012, 08:31 PM
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I have had one for six or seven years, carry it a lot, shoot it a lot, and no peeling so far. I have keep a coat of wax on it since day one. I assume that helps somewhat.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:29 PM
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I have a 642 purchased in 1997. No issues so far. I am curious as to what dash number this coating started with?

This gun has hardly ever been properly cleaned but still looks pretty new. I checked it today.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:32 PM
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Thanks for all the info and advice guys. I'm trying to avoid that call to S&W by any means. If its just cosmetic I can live with that. I can't afford to be without my snubbie for one day much less two - six weeks. My M&P40 and my SR9 is way too big for summer carry. Another member told me to put some Johnsons Floor Paste Wax on the gun and this should put an end to my peeling/corrsion problem, all I have to do is coat it every two weeks. If this works I should be fine. It's a tool and some scratches here and there won't hurt, I just don't want it to foul up on me.
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Old 06-17-2012, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InTheWoods View Post
I have had one for six or seven years, carry it a lot, shoot it a lot, and no peeling so far. I have keep a coat of wax on it since day one. I assume that helps somewhat.
What kind of wax do you use and how do you apply it?
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Old 06-17-2012, 10:35 PM
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The gray and clear "coatings" are nothing more than paint. Like any painted surface, it will not last forever if you actually ~use~ the gun. The peeling, scratching and wearing thin is all to be expected and is cosmetic only. It will NOT effect the functioning of the gun.







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Old 06-18-2012, 08:57 AM
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Photoman44, thanks for those pictures. I'm thankful that I am not the only one. I was beginning to think I had a lemon. As long as it doesn't interfere with the guns primary function, I should be fine. Thanks guys
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Old 06-18-2012, 09:22 AM
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One thing I've found especially w/rubber grips is that they trap moisture against the gun's frame. I sometimes use rubber at the range and ALWAYS remove my grips, rubber or wood, when cleaning. Some of my revolvers date back to the early '60's and this has really helped.
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:30 PM
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Old cop thanks for that piece of advice,I will start doing that everytime I clean it. One thing I have to remind myself of though, is the fact that (God forbid) if this revolver is used in a self defense shooting, it will be taken away for evidence. If by that time it has lost all it's "beauty", law enforcement would be doing me a favor anyway by taking away my ugly gun. Thanks again guys
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Old 06-18-2012, 07:56 PM
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I've carried a 642 for a couple of years and the finish is worn in the usual places and some others...not a very strong substance. My question is 'why do they put paint on an alloy gun in the first place?'
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Old 06-18-2012, 08:12 PM
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Because a painted finish is cheaper than the hard anodizing that S&W used to use.
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Old 06-19-2012, 09:54 AM
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If this kind of corrosion continues, what's the worst that can happen?
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Old 06-19-2012, 10:10 AM
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MY 637 showed the same peeling under the grip that the OP described. I called Smith & Wesson and the service rep laid the blame on the cleaning solvent I was using - Hoppes #9. Nothing in the owner's manual about which solvents to use or not use. Anyway, I sent the gun back to Smith and they replaced the frame instead of recoating. No reason was given as to why they did that. Turnaround on the fix was 2 weeks or so.
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Old 06-19-2012, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewSmith View Post
If this kind of corrosion continues, what's the worst that can happen?
It is the painted on finish being either worn off or chipped off. In the case of cleaning solvents getting between the frame and paint, I guess you might be able to call it corrosion (chemical reaction?).

It's easier for the factory to replace the frame than to repaint it. I also suspect they are concerned about repeatedly removing and replacing the barrel on an aluminium frame leading to a cracked frame.
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Old 06-19-2012, 05:08 PM
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Our Shop has sent back a few 642s that did that. Some were refinished and some replaced.
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Old 06-19-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Photoman44 View Post
It is the painted on finish being either worn off or chipped off. In the case of cleaning solvents getting between the frame and paint, I guess you might be able to call it corrosion (chemical reaction?).

It's easier for the factory to replace the frame than to repaint it. I also suspect they are concerned about repeatedly removing and replacing the barrel on an aluminium frame leading to a cracked frame.
I won't swear to this, but I'm not sure they will replace or reuse a barrel. My 637-2's frame cracked and I thought they would pop out my barrel and the rest. I got a new frame and barrel with the rest of my parts recycled. I thought it was odd they wouldn't salvage my barrel.
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Old 06-20-2012, 09:18 PM
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I had a 638 that was carried a lot. It had a bad chipping on the frame and loss of finish on the cylinder. Finally polished the rest of the finish off the stainless cylinder and barrel.
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Old 06-21-2012, 01:29 AM
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I just picked up a lightly used 638-3 and so far no finish issues. I am sure it will wear but I am not worried about it. Pretty much every S&W j frame I have owned has started showing lots of wear in a few months. Just adds charm as far as I am concerned
Probably the most durable finished revolver I ever carried was an LCR. Carried daily for two years and just started to show some wear on the front edge of the front sight.
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:09 AM
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Here is a better picture with the grips off. I am going to sand off the finish in that area and see how it looks. I will post some pics when i'm done.
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Old 06-21-2012, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewSmith View Post
Here is a better picture with the grips off. I am going to sand off the finish in that area and see how it looks. I will post some pics when i'm done.
You can sand the paint off and polish the frame. A member here did that with a 642.
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Old 06-21-2012, 08:02 PM
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Default This is a before and after

I sanded off the chipping and I like it this way better. Couldn't stand to see that chipping anymore.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:18 AM
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Gray paint? Yeesh. I'll stick with stainless steel. It's only 4-oz heavier.

Ruger has the right idea with the LCR - polymer for the trigger housing and grip, hard anodized alloy for the cylinder frame and barrel shroud, stainless steel for the cylinder and barrel.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:25 AM
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Hi:
In the past I had "Finish Issues" with a Model 642 and a Model 638.
The weapons began having minor black pimples on the finish.
S&W refinished the Model 642 and re-placed the Model 638 (no charge).
Jimmy
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:29 AM
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I still dont know why everyone insists on getting the 638 and 642?.. makes no sense to me, when there is a 438 and 442 available? All newer production 442s and 438s have stainless barrels and cylinders....I guess its just me?
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Last edited by DeeBee; 06-22-2012 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 06-22-2012, 04:10 PM
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I acquired the 638 in a trade deal, and I heard that s&w only honor the warranty with the original owner. But I like this gun too much to sell it, so i'll live with it's flaws.
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Old 06-22-2012, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeeBee View Post
I still dont know why everyone insists on getting the 638 and 642?.. makes no sense to me, when there is a 438 and 442 available? All newer production 442s and 438s have stainless barrels and cylinders....I guess its just me?
Sights are the big difference between the light and dark guns. Then again, one could just paint the sights...
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