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Old 08-04-2018, 11:03 AM
27 Man 27 Man is offline
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Default Cracked frame on model 38

I just discovered that the frame is cracked on my airweight bodyguard. The crack is directly below the barrel where the barrel screws into the frame. I have no idea when this occurred but needless to say I have retired it. Is this type of thing repairable or do I have a really nice pristine wall hanger now? I bought this gun new back in the early 80s. I would post a picture but havenít figured that out yet.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:08 AM
Toolguy Toolguy is offline
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I would call S&W and see what they have to say about it. You are correct to retire it, as more shooting could cause the barrel and frame to part company.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:18 AM
stansdds stansdds is offline
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Toolguy has given you excellent advice, I highly recommend following that advice.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:32 AM
WR Moore WR Moore is offline
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That's not repairable, take Toolguy's advice. There simply isn't much metal in the threaded boss in a J frame and cracks in the yoke cut aren't as scarce as hen's teeth. Particularly with the alloy frames.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:41 AM
gmborkovic gmborkovic is offline
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Yea, paperweight. Sorry glue or Duct Tape dont work.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:58 AM
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Factory has been good to me. bet they will take care of it...be armed with good pictures to send them..call and discuss it first. let us know
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:22 PM
27 Man 27 Man is offline
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I’ll call S&W on Monday. Anyone in particular you recommend I talk with?Thanks for info but I think I know what I am going to hear.
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:42 PM
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Are these cracks caused by metal imperfections, overpowered cartridges, over torquing barrel, or magic?
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Old 08-04-2018, 12:50 PM
Loyaljeeper Loyaljeeper is offline
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Quote:
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Are these cracks caused by metal imperfections, overpowered cartridges, over torquing barrel, or magic?
Overtorqued barrels and shooting, and not always high pressured ammo.
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:33 PM
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If it is a model 38, it may have been made before the "Lifetime Warranty" era. If so, depending on with whom you speak at the factory, they may tell you there is no recourse or offer you a very good (discounted) deal on a new equivalent model. You can understand with a 30 year old gun with no history why they may be reluctant to replace it for free. Please let us know what happens?
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmborkovic View Post
Yea, paperweight. Sorry glue or Duct Tape dont work.
You are forgetting about Flex Glue

It will fix anything
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Old 08-04-2018, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiefbob81 View Post
Are these cracks caused by metal imperfections, overpowered cartridges, over torquing barrel, or magic?
This has been occuring since Smith and Wesson began making allow framed revolvers more than half a century ago

This is not limited to J-frames. It happens to the K and N frames as well. They all crack in the same spot

The rifling in Smith and Wesson barrels is such that every time a round is fired in the the revolver, the torque that occurs as the projectile engages the rifling tightens the barrel

That hammering sometimes causes the alloy frames to crack, even the Scandium framed guns are susceptible to this
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Old 08-04-2018, 02:43 PM
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They replaced a cracked-frame Model 38 for me about ten or so years ago with a lesser gun, but least they replaced it. I don't know whether they still do this, but it's certainly worth a call.
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Old 08-04-2018, 03:28 PM
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See if it falls under the Lifetime Warranty! If it does - you will get a new gun. If not, you have a new piece of wall art or parts donor.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:41 PM
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27 man, Not safe to shoot, not repairable, and a wall hanger as is. If S&W warranties it, I suspect they would just replace the gun. I've seen photos of the cracked alloy frames, and tend to examine my 642 more often than in past. That area beneath the barrel is super thin. I'm surprised it holds up as well as it does. My perspective on alloy frames in general, is that I accept the fact that they may not be as durable as steel, in exchange for their lighter weight. My 642 has not cracked.........yet. But my Alloy framed Colt Commander cracked after only moderate use with standard pressure ammo........ymmv

FWIW, I have occasionally dealt with S&W, for both warranty and paid work, over a lot of years. I don't know what their current attitude might be, but they have routinely gone above and beyond for me.
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Old 08-04-2018, 04:57 PM
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27 man; Please let us know what you hear from S&W!!
Thanks!
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Old 08-04-2018, 05:11 PM
NovaJoe NovaJoe is offline
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I had a similar situation last year. Crack under barrel on airweight frame. I bought it used, originally made 1982.

Called S&W, sent them pictures. At their request, I shipped it to them. They called stating that they could not return it, but they could give me my choice of a new 637, 638, or 642, shipped to my FFL. So I took the 642.

Last edited by NovaJoe; 08-04-2018 at 05:14 PM.
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Old 08-04-2018, 06:48 PM
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If you really think its a paperweight and want to sell it for paperweight price, PM me.

I have long suspected these guns were cracked from the factory and will provide years of service in their cracked condition. I'd love to prove it by shooting one until (presumably) nothing happens.
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Old 08-04-2018, 09:27 PM
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Thanks for the offer sig220.45 but I would hate to see someone injured.
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Old 08-04-2018, 09:28 PM
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Thanks for the offer sig220.45 but I would hate to see someone injured.
Ok, but what do you think would happen?
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:45 PM
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You read more about such failures with the Model 12 snubby. I have seen three cracked M12s personally, all cracked in the same place. I have not seen a definitive reason for this, but many believe that it is the result of over-tightening of the barrel at the factory. I am not so sure that's the reason, but it is a possible reason. I cannot imagine it is a dangerous condition, but it is possible that the barrel may go flying off somewhere downrange, although I don't know of that ever happening. Repairable? Definitely not. You have a paperweight. Or at best, a parts donor gun.

This is the principal reason I will not consider buying any alloy framed S&W. I don't trust them, never had one, never will. I'll stick with steel.
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:49 PM
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S&W will certainly replace it. I had a pristine nickeled 38 that had the same crack appear. They gave me a 638 as a replacement. This was about 3-4 years ago.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:12 PM
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Last summer I discovered a crack in the same place on my M-37. S&W requested it be sent back. After examining it they replaced it under guarantee with a brand new M-637. I am happy.
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Old 08-05-2018, 07:58 AM
CZU CZU is offline
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I have a nickel 37 that is cracked, I wonder if they would replace it but not with another 37 variant. I would be more interested in a 351C.
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
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I have a nickel 37 that is cracked, I wonder if they would replace it but not with another 37 variant. I would be more interested in a 351C.
You'll get a list of options for even replacement, and a dollar value for credit. I recently replaced a cracked 637 with a 442, even swap. That 351C stickers higher than a 37, so you'll get credit towards the price if that's what you want . . .
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:54 PM
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Are these cracks caused by metal imperfections, overpowered cartridges, over torquing barrel, or magic?
Chiefbob81 it can very well be some of the issues stated.
During the manufacturing process the frames "recievers" are heat treated, beneath the barrel portion of the frame becomes a little more brittle due to how thin it is. Now add a heat, kenetic energy and a slight misaligned cylinder, if you fire a round into the forcing cone again and again where those thin threads are it can and will eventually fail, and as others have stated you absolutly should retire the frame.
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Old 08-05-2018, 11:43 PM
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Another thing that may add to the problem is that the coefficient of expansion for steel and aluminum is not the same. Gun warming up and cooling causes the barrel and frame to expand and contract at different rates causing stress. Aluminum work hardens much faster than steel.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:18 AM
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It would be interesting to take an air weight with "the crack" remove the barrel, coat threads with Belsona, an industrial 2 part metal epoxie, then shoot it to see when it failed. Might be surprised by how long it lasts, but I could never really trust it. But, let me ask this.. If it fired once would it be as trustworthy as one without the crack that may well crack on the very next shot fired???

I picked up a very nice alloy pre model 38 and have never fired it. I guess it is my safe queen.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:45 PM
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Update:I called S&W this morning and explained my situation to Josh. He told me to send them the gun and they would evaluate it and either repair or replace it. He sent me instructions on how to send it along with a FedEx mailing label. Should they decide to replace it, would I have to go through a FFL or could they FedEx it to me as they would with a repaired gun? Didn’t think to ask at the time. Also, is anyone aware if a 638 is available without a lock like the 642 and 637 are? Turnaround time is about 90 days.
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Old 08-06-2018, 02:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigp220.45 View Post
If you really think its a paperweight and want to sell it for paperweight price, PM me.

I have long suspected these guns were cracked from the factory and will provide years of service in their cracked condition. I'd love to prove it by shooting one until (presumably) nothing happens.
...if you ever do experiment...please post the results as I have the same feeling you do...

...frame has stress relieved itself and will continue on with the recommended ammo...
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