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Smith & Wesson J-Frame Airweight

Updated on July 2, 2013

The Smith & Wesson model 637 Airweight J-Frame revolver is an ideal concealed carry personal defense revolver. My revolver is chambered for .38 special +P, which means it can safely fire the higher velocity rounds designed for personal defense. It has a 1.875” barrel and with its aluminum alloy frame it weights a mere 15 ounces. It is available with three hammer designs, exposed, shrouded and internal. I prefer the exposed hammer. The other hammer designs eliminate the possibility of snagging the hammer on clothing when drawn from concealment. Other calibers are offered, 22LR, 22 magnum, and .357 magnum.

Advantages with carrying this revolver

First, the fact that it is a revolver makes it ultimately reliable. There are no concerns with feeding, jamming or dud rounds that exist with semi-autos. Since the revolver is a double action, a simple squeeze of the trigger rotates the bad round and next round is fired. Secondly, the size and weight of the revolver make it comfortable to carry, making it more likely to be in your possession when you need it. A more powerful, high capacity semi-auto which is larger and heavier will do you no good if it is left at home in your gun safe.

Concerns with carrying this revolver

The revolver has a five round capacity. A personal defense weapon should stop an attacker allowing you to retreat to safety. Five rounds should be sufficient. If you think you may engage in a gun battle you may want to carry high capacity semi-auto or extra speed loaders for your revolver.This revolver is available in .357 magnum which is a potent cartridge for self defense. The recoil in this small frame will be harsh, which may make it difficult to control when the time counts. The .38 special is sometimes considered at the low end of effectiveness when it comes to stopping an attacker. A larger caliber like .45 would definitely be more effective, but you have the disadvantages of carrying a larger weapon that I mentioned. A +P 38 is usually the minimum recommendation for personal defense.

This can be carried as a primary weapon or a backup. I have about four options for concealment of my revolver.

It is small enough to merely stick in my pocket. For women it would take little space in a purse. I sometimes just put in a jeans pocket or coat pocket when I leave the house.

A more secure method is using a Fobus paddle holster. This holds the revolver tightly and comfortably at your side. The paddle tucks into your pants and features on the holster hold it tight against your belt. The revolver snaps in place so there is no fear of it dropping out if you bend over.

A simple sleeve holster designed to tuck the revolver into your pants at the waistline can be used. This places the revolver closer to your body and is slightly more uncomfortable. It is also a bit less secure because the revolver may tend to move up as you walk.

An ankle holster is a very secure and fairly comfortable choice. It is more difficult to access quickly but is a good choice if the revolver is used as a backup weapon. My jeans fit nicely over the holster but keep it concealed. I wear it on the inside, that is between my ankles on my left leg. This holster is easy to draw from when seated in a car. Just tug your pant leg and lift your knee and the revolver is easily within reach.

Selection of a personal defense weapon is a matter of personal choice. There are a lot of opinions out there, but my feeling is you should choose one that you are comfortable shooting and carrying.


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