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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I posted an earlier thread asking about the price of a used Airweight <s>6</s>38 snubbie I found in our local gun and pawn shop. I put some $$ down on it then, and this week went back to claim my prize.

Today (Saturday) I got a chance to run out back of the house and try it out for the first time. I live a bit out in the boonies, and am lucky enough to be able to shoot in what essentially is my backyard - just inside the far tree line I have a big dirt pile for a backstop. There was a gap between thunderstorms, so I grabbed a couple boxes of .38 ammo I've had for 10 years and hurried out to "The Range." (Scared up a deer on the way, and scared me too-almost stepped on her in the tall grass - she sprang up and bounced off thru the trees.)

I grabbed a couple pieces of cardboard box on my way out and set them up at 7 yards. Drew 1.5 inch square boxes to aim at, loaded up with Winchester 125 grain JSPs, and fired away.

First thing I noticed is that I have to cant my hand down just a bit to line the sights up properly. I first pointed the gun "naturally" and discovered the front sight was significantly above the rear notch. I have to ever so slightly push down to get the sights aligned properly.I am wondering if I can put a different set of stocks on it, that maybe go around the backstrap at the top so as to change the overall angle a bit.

Fired 40 rounds of the 125 JSPs. Seemed to pattern just abit high and to the left. I am thinking that the horizontal displacement may be due to right-handed me pushing the trigger a little. When I started revolver shooting some years ago, I noticed that I did that in double-action shooting, and had to work to eliminate it. Since I got my Hi Power a couple years ago, I haven't put in much revolver time, and I wonder if my bad habit has creeped back in. The elevation tho, I am wondering about. Seems to impact a little high whether I am shooting it single or double action.

Switched to Win 158 gr lead SWCs. Got similar impact patterns. Got off about 25 rounds, then had to head back in as the next thunderstorm was arriving.

Gun seems really light, with the aluminum frame, but didn't notice recoil being a problem -- these were not the hottest loads available by any means,of course. Noticeably lighter than my Taurus M-85, which is all blue steel. The Airweight did squirm a bit, I have to keep a tighter grip than I am used to with my Hi Power.

Now for some pix. I took these pix right after shooting, so there's still some powder residue on it.

Right Hand View:



Ok, now for the Left Hand View -- what on earth?


Aha. A passerby had to check it out.


Ok, unobstructed Left Hand View:



The target, patterned with 3 cylinders of Winchester 125 gr JSPs. Except I shanked one low and right, under the tape measure, so you see only 14 holes in this picture. For the first five rounds I put the front sight in the middle of the 1.5 inch square box. For the next two cylinders, I lowered my aim point just a bit. I did one cylinder single action, and put two rounds in the box. Overall group is 4.25 inches high by 3.5 inches wide. I fired as fast as I had a clean, focused sight picture, but not real fast -- probably one every one to two seconds.



I like it! Especially the weight. It does not have a lock, which is OK by me. I don't gnash my teeth at integral locks, but I really don't think they are necessary and I do not use it on the one gun I own that has it, for fear it will jam in position or I will lose the stupid keys. Since there is no lock, I am guessing this was manufactured prior to, what, 2001 I think?

Will have to work on the POA/POI geometry, and run some different ammo thru it, but that's part of the fun. Oh, and get a decent holster or two...or three...or...

elb

Updated to reflect the correct model number... ;)
 

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Howdy Mr. ELB,

Congradulation on your newest lady sir, and thanks for the range report complete with pics. Btw scratch your passerby between the ears for me, and I hope they did approve of it too. (Lol, great pics so thanks for including them.)

I think it is very easy for us to exert a little pressure with our trigger finger at times, especially on a platform as small as a J frame, when getting used to them again. As far as the grips go, I know what is on it now is a bit more friendly for concealment. But I have always found the Pachmayr combat grips to feel much better in my hands and helped me point more naturally with a J frame. There is full backstrap coverage too which to me is a real plus during extended range sessions too. Since it filled my hand more fully, it also seemed to reduce the tendency to have more trigger finger too - at least for me.

If you have a friend with a set of the Pachmayrs you might borrow them to see how they feel on your pistol. Or take it to a store and ask them to put a set on for you, to see how it points for you before buying them. You might also like the Hogues as well. But both will add a bit more to the concealment issue. So it simply becomes a tradeoff in my view. Since I always carried my J frame in an ankle holster the slightly larger grip was not an issue for me, and its benefits won out as the Pachs did make the J frame more of a natural shooter/pointer for me too.

Thanks for another great range report sir, and I am indeed envious of you being able to step a few feet into the back yard and be on your "range". Enjoy them both as a situation like that is to be appreciated in my view sir.

Btw, another suggestion I will offer on shooting single action. Keep your existing grip, and use you left thumb to cock the hammer. Your shots will be a bit quicker and your groups a bit tighter, as you are not having to reacquire your shooting grip each time for each shot. Give that a try on your next range session when using SA and see how it works for you.

twoguns
 

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Hi ELB,

No doubt about it, the M38/49s are great guns, very handy, reasonable power and emminently concealable. I let a mint M49 with box and papers go a few years ago and have regretted it every since.

By the way, I will second twoguns advice - I had the same POA/POI problem you describe with a S&W 442 - changing the stocks from the factory style you have there to Hogues round butt solved my particular problem. After that it was spot on with 158 grainers at reasonable distances.

Thanks for the report!

PGM
 

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Is that a 638 or a 38? The 638 is stainless.

I like yours way more than mine, in any event. Very good shooting, and a nice looking piece to boot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Twoguns and PGM,

Thanks for the hint on the Pachmayrs. I will go check that out.

I do use my left thumb to cock the revolver with -- it does work much better. (And twoguns, the "passerby" regularly gets his head scratched -- he demands it as part of consenting to live with me).

Leland Ray,

The actual model number listed inside the frame is "M 38". I originally went off of what is on Smith and Wesson's website, which seems to make it out to be a 638 even if it is aluminum instead of stainless. Here's what they have for the Airweight series:

<blockquote>When you need a lightweight carry revolver, you turn to Smith & Wesson's Small Frame Airweight Series. They are the original aluminum, small frame revolvers chambered in .38 S&W Special +P.

They are available in three distinct hammer styles
 

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Yours is a Model 38. The major difference is that the barrel and cylinder on yours are of carbon steel, while the 638 uses stainless for those parts. The frames of both are aluminum. Yours would be a relatively late 38 (I'm guessing middle 1990s).

Does your gun have the firing pin on the hammer nose? I bet it does.

Here's my MIM / post lock 638, which has been carried so much that the cylinder's been polished bright.



A friend of mine's son is carrying a Model 38 his dad bought new in 1971. Want to see a WORN finish? But it works perfectly.
 

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Hello Leland and other Bodyguard Airweight users/carriers--

My 638 looks about like Leland's, except it does have the firing pin in the frame, but does not have the lock. My finish is getting might worn. I'm fairly sure it has the mim parts but I'm not sure. The trigger and the hammer have a sort of quasi-case hardened look to them and don't appear to be stainless. Great carry gun. Good luck with yours.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yours is a Model 38. The major difference is that the barrel and cylinder on yours are of carbon steel, while the 638 uses stainless for those parts. The frames of both are aluminum. Yours would be a relatively late 38 (I'm guessing middle 1990s).

Does your gun have the firing pin on the hammer nose? I bet it does.
Interesting! The current S&W website does not list a Model 38 at all -- I wonder if you can even get a black finish Airweight with carbon steel barrel & cylinder, or if they only make them with stainless steel now? I prefer stainless for its rust resistant properties, but I very much prefer the black finish overall. More "business-like."

And you are correct, mine has the firing pin on the hammer, and as I compare pictures, I see mine has the older style cylinder release latch too.

Thanks for the info! I am going to update my previous post a bit.

elb
 

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About the only way to get a blue steel J frame is to buy one made before 2000.

For what it's worth, though, while your gun might not have the +P designation on the barrel, it's perfectly safe to fire with +P ammo. Smith & Wesson added that marking as much as a marketing tool as any other reason. Most J frames are safe with +P pressures.

PS: As I type this, I have a black, 16-year-old cat sitting on the corner of my mouse pad. :)
 

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That's a fine looking J-frame you got there Mr.ELB. I been wanting one of the 638's or m-38's for awhile. I just got to find one priced right and no hole in the side as I want to carry it. I sure do like the black finish on yours. Good luck with it.

Best,Baldy.
 

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I've got no cats to photograph (the bobcats outside in the yard won't sit still), but I like my airweight .38 Bodyguard a ton:




 

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The Secret Service grips from Eagle work very nicely for me on my Model 38. While they look a lot like the boot grips you've got on there now, there must be enough difference, because I do not have the "push down" problem that you mention. It all lines up very nicely for me. As well as being darned handsome.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I forgot to note in my original post that when I went to Richard's shop to pick up my gun, Richard told me it was a good thing I jumped on that used one, because he has not been able to get new ones from his distributer. He's had several people come in and order them, but they apparently are selling so well (or S&W isn't making enough, or both) that he can't get one right now.

Brerarnold,

Thanks for the heads-up on the Secret Service grips, I will add them to the list of grips-what-have-to-be-investigated. I recall they have been praised in other threads here. Been perusing the Pachmayr and Hogue grips on the internet, but will have to go somewhere where they have them and physically check them out.

Erich,

Don't worry not having cat pictures -- I have spares!



elb
 

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Hello ELB,

Very nice M-38 and a very good choice for a carry revolver. I am quite fond of my S&W 642-2 that I report on here in my thread "A little snub fun". Why? Because they are quite a challange to shoot for me.

Mr. Camp has written an excellent article on "Getting a Grip on the J-frame". You might be suprised at some of the conclusions he draws on form vs. function.

http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Getting%20a%20Grip%20on%20J%20Frames.htm

You might want to buy a Mika Pocket Holster for your latest aquisition. They are of very high quality for a reasonable price.

And yes sir, I do like the cat pictures as well.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks Chris,

I do remember Mr. Camp's article (his site is how I found this forum) and am re-reading soon. Also, I ran across this website -- I think either thru a link on this board or on the USRange.org site -- and am perusing it for anything good:

http://www.snubnose.info/

Leland - We better cool it before the non-cat population rebels! I tried to get mine to pose with the snubby so as to at least stay vaguely on topic, but, well, herding cats, you know. Besides, the yellow lab was in the background grumbling "What are you thinking? Arming cats can come to no good."

elb
 

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"Leland - We better cool it before the non-cat population rebels! I tried to get mine to pose with the snubby so as to at least stay vaguely on topic, but, well, herding cats, you know. Besides, the yellow lab was in the background grumbling "What are thinking? Arming cats can come to no good."

elb "

TOO Late! Ahh-choo! As one of the non-cat people (they are OK, it is just I have allergies), my eyes are already watering and nose running...

Thanks for the Bodyguard Airweight pics all round. The part on the grips was very interesting to add too. I really like the heft and weight of those so-called "banana grips" or stocks, but I'm worried that since they are just a shade longer they might interfere with a quick draw from the front pocket. For that reason I've stuck with the boot grips for now.
 

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If you have any interest, consider putting a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips on the Bodyguard. You will be amazed at the accuracy you can obtain over iron sights.. (Or I did anyway).



I can hit pretty much what I aim at with the 638 at any reasonable self defense range, with the other five it's a crap shoot... (And generally I can't hit crap).
 

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That is a mighty fine looking collection you have there Mr.PX. When I get that many nice J's I'll quit. Naw I won't. Good luck with them.

Best,Baldy.
 
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