Back before concealed carry pistols were made in polymer frames, high-tech alloys, or high-capacity magazines, my father carried a Smith & Wesson Model 37 five-shot .38 revolver. Purchased in 1974, the stainless steel, very short barreled pistol was the easiest handgun to conceal that had the chance of stopping someone. Dad worked at a bank when I was younger, and his .38 went with him every day.
Fast forward to 1983, and Dad had moved to the country. The Model 37 followed along, and Dad’s never gone back to the city since. Apparently he carried the revolver almost every day for the fourteen years I lived with him. I never knew.
Now that’s some good concealment.
So I was a little surprised when my father told me that his trusty revolver was up for auction. He is currently a deputy, and purchased an upgraded service sidearm. He hadn’t shot the Model 37 in years; selling it would help offset the cost of his new handgun.
I understood his reasons for selling it, but I wasn’t about to let some random dude (or dudette) put their hands on the pistol that Dad relied on to keep me and my family safe for years. I snuck in a bid and won the pistol without saying a word to Dad.
The revolver arrived three days later, and Sedagive? and I headed out to the range.
I noticed two things immediately: the Smith & Wesson Model 37 was in excellent condition, and damn that grip was tiny.
One of the reasons I never spied Dad’s carry piece is due to the thin, short handle. It didn’t protrude much from the waistline, and when Dad was at the bank with a suit coat on there was practically no way anyone could have seen it.
The handle is great for concealment, but wasn’t great when it came time to shoot. Between the short barrel and the small grip, my shooting wasn’t what I typically liked to see:
Considering the small size and high recoil of the Model 37, this isn’t a terrible pattern. What it does mean, though, is that I need to practice with my old man’s revolver a bit more. On the plus side, I shot very well with my .22LR Smith & Wesson target pistol, and Sedagive? surprised both of us by punching holes in the bull’s eye her first time shooting a pistol.
Shooting the Model 37 is a cross between my North American Arms Guardian .32ACP (manufacturer’s site) and my Kel-tec PF-9 9mm (my review). The .38 revolver is more balanced than the teeny-tiny Guardian, yet the trigger pull is longer and recoil worse than the Kel-Tec. The overall size of the Model 37 is roughly that of the Kel-Tec PF-9, except that the Kel-Tec is thinner in the center (no cylinder).
I am glad that Dad’s Model 37 is staying in the family. We’re not much for heirlooms or hand-me-downs or any of that shit, but it meant a lot to me to be able to get ahold of his carry revolver. Shooting it took me back in time. For a brief moment, I was a confident, powerfully-built, sandy-haired, banker-turned-farmer-turned-deputy wearing a short sleeve shirt with snaps and Wrangler work jeans.