Gun Report

Smith & Wesson Model 638/38 Airweight 38 Special, $459

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We felt this small 38 Special revolver was a little tough to control with its smaller, narrower grip; but it would still be our choice for a backup due to its light weight and small size. Not needing moon clips and having the option for single action makes the Model 638 the winner in this test. For a lower-priced blued option, look for a Model 38 on your favorite auction site.

Smith & Wesson Model 638/38 Airweight 38 Special, $459

Gun Details

Model Name
Model Number
Home Defense
Law Enforcement
Concealed Carry
Caliber Plus Cartridge
Weight Unloaded
Overall Length
Barrel Length
Sight Radius
Overall Height
Front Strap Height
Back Strap Height
Maximum Width
Grip Thickness Max
Grip Circumference Max
Frame Material
Barrel Material
Grip Material
Trigger Pull Single
Trigger Pull Double
Trigger Span Single
Trigger Span Double

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The hammer on the M638 was grooved steel. The frame shrouded it.
The rubber grip on the 638-series J-frame revolver exposes the backstrap. That is not really a problem unless you are shooting stout loades from Buffalo Bore. With only five shots, you might want to practice with mild loads, but carry Buffalo stoppers.
Both the M638 and M38 lacked a shroud underneath the barrel, leaving the ejector rod unprotected. The ejector rod provided additional lockup. The ejector rod itself was very short. The front sight was milled in.

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