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Thread: S&W 637 and .38 Special +P Loads

  1. #1
    Regular Member jhfc's Avatar
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    S&W 637 and .38 Special +P Loads

    I have a S&W 637 J-frame and am trying to determine if .38 special +P loads are safe/recommended in my particular gun.

    According to S&W's website, +P loads are definitely OK in current production guns. Apparently there are "dash" models with -1 and -2 being +P acceptable.

    Googling around on the net gives a mix of answers. Some saying +P shouldn't be used in older guns. I bought mine new from a gun store in Aug 1998.

    Does anyone know how to tell definitively whether or not my gun can safely handle +P loads? How do I tell which "dash" model my gun is? I don't see anything to indicate this on the gun itself.

    At the range, I'll shoot standard .38 special. I have yet to fire any +P in this gun. Just haven't used it too much, but plan on carrying it more frequently as a bug and would prefer to carry it with +P loads.

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    Regular Member WalkingWolf's Avatar
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    I carried +P for SD in my light weight snub Colt(Cobra) years ago as a BUG. All of us in the dept did, we did not use +P for range. I had fired one cylinder through the gun to get the feel. The gun handled them just fine, S&W like any company tries to cover their backside. You have to do the same, decide whether you need them in a SHTF situation or not.
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    Regular Member WCEarp's Avatar
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    The model and dash number should be stamped into the frame behind the cylinder crane. You will have to swing the cylinder out to see it. If it only has 637 stamed there, then you have a 637 "no dash".

    1996 should be when the "-1" change was made and S&W started rating them for +p.

    2000 is when I think "-2" came out.

  4. #4
    Regular Member jhfc's Avatar
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    Thanks WW for your insights. I'll have to fire a cylinder or two of the +Ps. Standard .38s are quite a handful as it is.

    WCEarp - I checked and see the model is a 637-1. Don't know how I missed that before. Never noticed it. So that answers the +P question.

    Thanks!

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    I shoot plus Ps in my light weight 357s they are not bad after all compared to shooting full house 357s in a 20oz or lighter gun.
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    As said above, yours is safe for +Ps.

    The higher pressure rounds will accelerate frame stretch in an alloy gun. Personally, though, I find them uncomfortable enough to shoot with +Ps that I tend to limit my use of them and don't think that I'll wear out my 438 with +Ps any time soon. I typically only fire one cylinder of +Ps per range trip.

  7. #7
    Regular Member jhfc's Avatar
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    Even with standard pressure .38s, some of my digits get abused in a range session. I doubt I'll run many +Ps through such a light gun.

    This did get me thinking, I wouldn't mind a small .357, but recoil and muzzle blast is rather unpleasant.

    In any case, thanks for the help in figuring this out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jhfc View Post

    This did get me thinking, I wouldn't mind a small .357, but recoil and muzzle blast is rather unpleasant.
    I like +p 38 in my light 357s the 357 mag loads are a real blast and flame thrower might even burn the hair off the BG up close.
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    Regular Member Elm Creek Smith's Avatar
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    Re: S&W 637 and .38 Special +P Loads

    I have a 1982 vintage Model 37 and keep it loaded with 135 grain Speer .38 SPL +P "Short Barrel" ammo. I only fire a few rounds of it at the range, preferring not to abuse the gun or my hand. Most shooting is done with standard pressure ammo.

    I don't figure a few rounds will destroy the 37, and I like the performance of the GDSB loads. I'd carry a 649 to back up my 686, but as heavily as I'm loaded at work it just might be the straw that broke the camel's back.

    UPDATE: I've put the Model 37 in semiretirement. It was just too hard on my hands with +P loads, and I worried about straining the little J-Frame. I'm carrying my slightly heavier, quite a bit beefier Taurus 85SSUL that handles +P ammo with aplomb. Still considering a S&W Model 649.

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    Last edited by Elm Creek Smith; 07-10-2013 at 04:15 PM. Reason: Updated carry info.
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