Monday, June 29, 2009


SO, having a really lightweaight pistol is nice. You can carry it much easier than an all steel version. But I've heard from several source that you don't want to shoot the crap out of one.

For one thing, they can hurt. Not a lot of weight there to absorb recoil.

And folks recommend you not shoot too much to avoid excess wear on the softer metal, anyway.

But lets say you ARE a masochist. And your hands are particularly tough. And you just go to town at the range.

How soon before you DO damage the pistol? You shoot your snubbie loose or wear out a scandium slide? Would it be safe to say that if I shot 5000 rounds through a featerweight I'd notice some problems and warpage? How bout 1000 rounds? Has anyone ever heard of someone wearing out a lightweight gun?


Wirelessguy said...

I have a SW 4040PD. This is a compact (3 1/2" barrel)3rd generation Semiauto. The barrel is stainless, the slide steel and the frame scandium alloy. As I understand it, this is the first scandium pistol SW released. I now have in excess of 2000 rnds and have no evidence of excessive wear. However, I would expect more wear in a revolver, de to the nature of the design.

James R. Rummel said...

Good post, and a good question.


none said...

I have put several hundred rounds of plus P through mine and it still locks up like new.

Mike said...

My SW 329 .44 Mag cut through the blast sheild and started on the frame after 400 rnds of heavy loads. I now practice with a stainless version or reduced loads.

Jay G said...

I've got probably close to 1,000 rounds through the Snubbie from Hell™ (Smith & Wesson model 360PD, the scandium-framed, 12 ounce .357 Magnum monster) with no apparent ill effects.

Now, granted, only perhaps a third of those rounds were .357 Magnum; however, the majority have been +P or +P+ .38 Special...

Ed Harris said...

In a former life it was my job to conduct accuracy, endurance, rough handling and environmental testing on various handguns contracted by government agencies. I had the opportunity to shoot many revolvers to destruction, including numerous small steel and light alloy frame .38 Special, 9mm and .357 revolvers of various makes.

My advice for anyone carrying an airweight revolver is to set up an otherwise identical steel-framed version of the same model to use for practice, and to use the airweight only for carry, shooting it no more than necessary than needed to establish its safety, reliability and accuracy.

In my experience steel S&W K and steel J frames of early 1970s to early 1980s production would develop excessive headspace and end play to the point of causing misfires in less than 500 rounds of military PGU/12-B and Olin government Q-4070 +P+ ammunition. Longevity firing commercial +P such as the X38SPD "FBI Load" required armorer maintenance at 1000 round intervals, to correct end shake, head space and timing due to wear. It was considered normal to replace a revolver after 2 or 3 minor rebuilds, as by that time cyilnder gap would be excessive and require setting the barrel back, and all the factory supplied "oversized parts" would be been used. Longevity when limited to standard pressure 158-gr. LRN or wadcutter rounds was not expected to be more than 5000 rounds. An alloy frame gun used occasionally with +P for duty carry, and otherwise used with standard pressure .38 Specials should receive maintenance by a factory-trained armorer every 500 rounds, if you are to "stake your life upon it." The permissible ratio of +P to standard pressure rounds should not exceed 1:10 unless you can afford to scrap out and replace revolvers.

Follow Grant Cunninghams's advice on the D-frame Colts.