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Smith & Wesson’s small J-frame revolvers are among its most popular. They’ve been going strong for 70 years, starting with the introduction of the gun that would become the Chief’s Special back in 1950. Going back even further, one of S&W’s first firearm offerings, 1857’s Model Number One, was a small-framed wheel gun. 

A Certified Used Smith & Wesson Model 60 engraved ‘Chief’s Special’ from the Vault.

This traditional 5-shot .38 Special revolver with an exposed hammer was immensely popular and spawned several variants including the somewhat famous aluminum-framed Model 37. It retained the traditional lines of the Model 36 but was lighter in weight. Today, the Model 37 is no longer in production but its descendant, the Model 637, is alive and kicking.

The 637 is One of S&W’s Most Popular Carry Revolvers

Like most snub-nosed revolvers, the 637 has a short ejector rod. Give it a firm smack to clear stubborn cases from the chambers. (Photo: Terril Herbert/

The Model 637 has an alloy frame to keep weight down but the cylinder, crane, and barrel are all made of stainless steel. The 637 also bears some of the new Smith & Wesson features like the keylock above the cylinder release and the lack of a hammer-mounted firing pin.

Fully loaded, the gun weighs 14.3-ounces and sports a 1.875-inch barrel. The 637 has a rubber boot-style grip instead of the original walnut grips that came on the M37.  Although less sexy, the rubber dampens recoil, as the 637 is rated for +P ammunition. Further, there is no shortage of aftermarket grip replacements available. 

The 637 is One of S&W’s Most Popular Carry Revolvers

The fixed sights on the 637 seemed to prefer 158-grain ammunition. The Hornady Lite and Monarch PPU produced recoil that was not unpleasant. (Photo: Terril Herbert/

The small-framed S&W revolvers are considered to have one purpose and one purpose only – concealed carry.  They’re lightweight and their curved appearance naturally blends with the curves of the body. Yet, they pack a real punch and are reliable. That’s why they still endear themselves to so many people.

The 637 is One of S&W’s Most Popular Carry Revolvers

A group taken at 7 yards, firing double action. (Photo: Terril Herbert/

The Smith & Wesson Model 637 has an MSRP of $477 which makes it an affordable and solid contender in the small revolver market.

The debate as to carrying a revolver with an exposed hammer is a whole other matter, one that often steers folks more towards picking up a shrouded-hammer DAO model such as the S&W 642. What are your thoughts?


Have a gun that’s collecting dust, let us make you an offer! 

The 637 is One of S&W’s Most Popular Carry Revolvers

The sights are basic on the 637 but do the job. (Photo: Terril Herbert/

The 637 is One of S&W’s Most Popular Carry Revolvers

The Smith & Wesson Model 637 Airweight revolver in .38 SPL, rated +P. (Photo: Terril Herbert/

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