My dad came to me looking for a concealed carry gun. He wanted a small revolver, and he had a number of requirements.
First, he wanted at least a .38 Special +P. Second, he wanted an exposed hammer, and third, he specifically did not want what he called a’ dinky’ little grip.
I translated those requirements to my local FFL, and he said he had the gun for me. He pulled out a familiar blue box and unveiled a Smith & Wesson 637, specifically a 637-2.
To be even more specific, this is the Performance Center model. “Heck of a deal,” as my LGS owner described the gun, and at $400 out the door, I agreed. Since, at the time, Father’s Day was just around the corner, I figured this was the perfect gift.
The gun fit my dad’s bill of particulars perfectly. The beautifully finished wood grip is slightly longer than average for a J-frame revolver, a bit longer than your standard snub nose setup. The rosewood color paired with the stainless finish gives the gun a striking but far from gaudy look.
The S&W 637 – A Classic Reborn
In Smith & Wesson parlance, the number six means stainless. After the six is the standard model number. The O.G. model 37 was the lighter-weight version of the Model 36, which is the classic Chief’s Special. The Model 37 first came to be in 1951, but was discontinued in 2006. The current S&W 637 is descended from a proud legacy of snub nose revolvers.
Performance Center means top of the line at S&W. These firearms typically feature a number of different features that aren’t on the standard production models. The Model 637 includes very nicely crafted grips as well as an enhanced action. At just under 15 oz., this little J-frame has some bite to its bark, and admittedly, I never got time to shoot it. Until recently, that is.
While my dad has owned the gun for more than a while now, only recently have I had a chance to get it to the range and and feed it a little lead. I’ve been sitting on a few hundred .38 Special rounds for a few years now, so when he had the gun on him, I figured that was as good as time as any to get rid of those rounds.
A Handful of 637
I’m no revolver pro and I’m especially not a snub-nose revolver fan…but I like to learn. With some 130gr. Winchester White Box, I aimed to get a little better. A five-shot, J-frame .38 Special that weighs 14.6 ounces is a great way to learn recoil control, at least. It’s as light as the 340 PD and it’s got some real buck and meanness to it.
The bigger rosewood grips make the 637 a bit easier to handle. Actually, they make it a lot easier to handle. Getting a full grip on the gun makes it easier to control and keeps recoil manageable, if not pleasant. It bucks, but it doesn’t slap your hand with each shot. It became obvious why my dad preferred the longer grips rather than the short ‘boot’ grips you find on most snub nose guns.
The sights are the simple trench and post you’d expect, and at snubby ranges, it works. I passed the Hardwired Tactical Super Snubby Test with all my shots in the black.
What really helps is the 637’s enhanced Performance Center action. The trigger pull is absolutely glorious. It’s better than even a nice production trigger like the LCR. The double action breaks at nine pounds, not bad by any margin.
The single action pull shines at 2.5 pounds and is all-around fantastic. Combine a great trigger with those full grips and the gun is fairly easy to control and shoot accurately. At least easy for a snub nose.
On and On
I’m no pro with a revolver, but I was able to get some solid double taps in, and that refined trigger really did a fantastic job. This type of gun is made for combat and concealed carry use, and that trigger lends itself well to those roles. Obviously, the sights aren’t great, but they work. A real rear sight would help, but would probably be out of place for this gun.
After 270 rounds with the little S&W 637, I had no failures of any kind. It’s a revolver from a reputable company, so I didn’t expect any failures.
It barked every time I pulled the trigger and did so without complaint. My hand felt pretty beat up after a good day at the range. My dad shared the same sentiment, and the good thing about revolvers is that you won’t have to lay down suppressive fire with one.
Specifications: Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 637 Revolver
Caliber: .38 Special
Capacity: 5 Rounds
Barrel Length: 1.87 Inches
Overall Length: 6.3 inches
Weight: 14.6 ounces
MSRP: $605 (anywhere from about $400 to $550 retail)
Accuracy * * * ½
It’s fairly accurate for a J-frame revolver. The excellent Performance Center trigger helps, but the snubbie-short sight radius of a J-frame doesn’t lend itself to precision shooting. This is a bad breath distance self-defense gun.
Reliability * * * * *
The Smith Model 637 runs exactly as you’d expect a quality revolver to handle. It goes bang every time you pull the trigger.
Ergonomics * * * *
The bigger grip is nice and easy to use. It helps tame the gun and looks good while still fitting comfortably in your pocket. The ergonomics are still those of a J-frame, a design that’s been largely unchanged for decades and decades. Not terrible, but I’ve handled some more modern designs with better ergos.
Overall * * * *
The Smith & Wesson Model 637 Performance Center revolver is a fantastic little gun. It packs a punch and is very much at home for concealed carry. I think I might need another snub nose in my life.