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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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Old 05-21-2020, 10:44 PM
38SPL HV 38SPL HV is offline
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Default S&W J Frame Airweights- Continuous use +P

S&W makes mention that their current 38 Spl +P J frame Airweights (642, 637, 638, 442, etc) are made for continuous use with +P ammunition. What exactly does continuous use mean, 1K, 5K +P rounds?

Iíve shot in one J frame Airweight (2018 manufacture) at least 1K rounds with at least half with +P 158 gr SWCHP loads without any problems. Action is still very tight.

Appreciate your inputs on todayís S&W J frame Airweights and their durability with +P ammo
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:35 AM
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I'm neither a gunsmith nor a metallurgist, but my opinion is that regardless of S&W saying they can handle a continuous diet of +P, it's going to cause accelerated wear over non-+P. Not to mention the wear-and-tear on your hands. So I do most of my shooting with standard pressure rounds, but whenever I shoot my 642-1 I make sure to include at least 2 or 3 cylinder-fulls of +P since that's what I carry.

I think S&W keeps it intentionally vague because there are a lot of variables. One Airweight off the line may end up going 5,000 rounds of +P before failure, but the next one may end up going 1,000. It'd be really hard to put a number on it.

FWIW, my first 642-1 had to be replaced by S&W after its hammer pin broke. This was after ~1,500 rounds, ~500 of which were +P, as well as 1,000s of dry fires with snap caps.

So, basically, just practice with it. Shoot +P if that's what you carry, but it'd probably be best not to shoot a steady diet of it. And keep up with regular maintenance and inspections on your gun. It would probably be a good idea to have a second Airweight as a back-up to your primary, if you have the means to do so.

Just my opinion.
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:49 AM
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I've no doubt my 642 and 637 could withstand 1000 rounds of +P. But I don't worry about the gun 'cause my hand/wrists wouldn't take nearly that. I shoot my "J" frames quite a lot, but never anything but plain jane .38.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:41 AM
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While it may be rated for continual +P use, I have to believe the more powerful the rounds you put through it - the faster wear will occur - just common sense to me. I guess they count on the fact that the +P's recoil alone in an Airweight would discourage most people from a steady diet - not to mention the expense.

Personally I would shoot a few +P's for familiarization but shoot mostly standard velocity for practice. Your hands will thank you also.
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:44 AM
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+P is all I shoot in my 642-1.
That's what it was made for.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:03 AM
Dragon 1 Dragon 1 is offline
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Thatís a great question that Is a question thatís always on my mind I remember many years ago reading Massad Ayoop about his SW 442. He had work done by Ted Yost many years ago when he worked at gunsite with a Birdsong finish and a trigger job and he had shot tons I donít know what tons means I guess a lot of the old FBI 158+ P rounds. This particular 442 was built in the early 90s before they raided it for plus P and before it was put it on the barrel. Later on in years it went back to Smith and Wesson because it blew out a timing or something I canít remember the article and they fixed it refinished it and put a set Eagle Secret Service grips on it. Karl Sokol had A customer that had a 642 that was rated for plus P that really he told me shut the heck out of it and didnít have any breakage. Karl did tell me that you should practice with it and maybe one or two times a year shoot plus P carry rounds out of the gun not to really hammer it with plus P in his opinion.

Last edited by Dragon 1; 05-22-2020 at 09:06 AM.
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Old 05-22-2020, 09:03 AM
studenygreg studenygreg is offline
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I shoot the **** out of my j frame with +p and everything else. At around $400 it can be easily replaced if I happen to break one.

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Old 05-22-2020, 09:11 AM
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Default Always some but not all +P

WHENEVER I go to the range (rifle or pistol) I take my 642 or 360J for practice. Iíll usually shoot a majority of hand loaded standard velocity then finish off with a few cylinders of my go to load, Remington +p 125gn If itís the 360 Iíll shoot a little more +p. The frame has scandium alloyand the pins are steel inserts.
BTW I do not feel under gunned with standard velocity full wadcutter
148 grain for home defense.
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Old 05-23-2020, 10:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
While it may be rated for continual +P use, I have to believe the more powerful the rounds you put through it - the faster wear will occur - just common sense to me.
Actually, that's a basic principle of engineering, sooner or later everything fails, a matter of materials fatigue or wear. Fatigue of any kind is a function of total force applied. More force = faster wear. Common sense for sure.

My thought is that if standard level .38 loads are not enough for what's ahead, I need to take a .357.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:10 AM
rockquarry rockquarry is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TMan51 View Post
Actually, that's a basic principle of engineering, sooner or later everything fails, a matter of materials fatigue or wear. Fatigue of any kind is a function of total force applied. More force = faster wear. Common sense for sure.

My thought is that if standard level .38 loads are not enough for what's ahead, I need to take a .357.
I agree with your good common sense point on the use of standard pressure ammo in these guns, but I think those of us that share your belief are certainly in a minority.
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:37 PM
Johnnu2 Johnnu2 is offline
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I never abuse my J frame; that being said, I read an article in Shooting Times (I think) quite a few years ago where they did a test on a J frame (Airweight I think). They ran 2500 continuous +P rounds thru it and then 'measured' all the necessary tolerances and found.... NOTHING; no problems as a result of their "torture test". I was very surprised !!!
J.
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