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Longterm Durability of LCR Aluminum Frames

This is a discussion on Longterm Durability of LCR Aluminum Frames within the Ruger Double Action forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; Next month is around the corner and I'll finally have enough nickels and dimes accumulated to pickup a lightweight .38 Spec. I've got a S&W ...


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Old February 19th, 2017, 04:25 PM   #1
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Longterm Durability of LCR Aluminum Frames

Next month is around the corner and I'll finally have enough nickels and dimes accumulated to pickup a lightweight .38 Spec. I've got a S&W 442 on kinda-sorta layaway at a local emporium - but I'm concerned how it will hold up to at least monthly range trips. I did a search and saw a couple of references to how well an LCR .357 will hold up - but not much on the LCR .38.

It's not surprising that the .357 version will do well with high round counts because of the steel frame. One concern I have about getting the 442 is the proverbial loosening up after hundreds of rounds. None of the S&W's that I know of have a steel frame insert like the LCR's (below). Even my LCR .22 has the frame insert, but I'm not worried about it loosening up given the caliber. I have handled a couple of LCRx .38 snubbies and they seem just as lightweight as an S&W J-frame.

So, finally, the question - has anyone seen any reviews or testing of the aluminum frame .38 LCR's? I would want to practice around 50 rounds a month with either an LCR or a 442 - and that could add up over several years (and potentially loosen up the revolver). The aluminum S&W's will loosen up - I have handled several in the last year or so that were loosey-goosey. The photo isn't mine - I copped it from Mr. Gore's internet ...




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Old February 19th, 2017, 05:03 PM   #2
 
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I have three decades of experience with S&Ws, and I assure you that 50 rounds per month will not adversely affect your 442.
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Old February 19th, 2017, 06:06 PM   #3
 
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I did a 5300-round review (over 5000 of which was +P) on a .38 LCR & while the frame did stretch slightly, the gun remained in spec & shot better at the end than it did at the beginning.
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Old February 19th, 2017, 06:45 PM   #4
 
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Sounds like to me either S&W snub's such as the 442's or the Ruger LCR's will work out ok!
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Old February 19th, 2017, 07:04 PM   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoJammy View Post
Next month is around the corner and I'll finally have enough nickels and dimes accumulated to pickup a lightweight .38 Spec. I've got a S&W 442 on kinda-sorta layaway at a local emporium - but I'm concerned how it will hold up to at least monthly range trips. I did a search and saw a couple of references to how well an LCR .357 will hold up - but not much on the LCR .38.
For peace of mind...why not invest in an LCR .357 with the steel frame and feed it all the 38's you want?

Last edited by Argee1950; February 19th, 2017 at 07:08 PM.
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Old February 19th, 2017, 07:34 PM   #6
 
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I have shot LCRs but that is the limit of my experience with them.

My EDC is a 642.There was a poll on a S&W board about J Frame cracks here are the results.(8-20-15)



View Poll Results: Have you had one or more J frames where the frame cracked?
I have an Airweight (Aluminum) J frame and the frame cracked. 26 13.13%
I have an Airweight J frame but no frame cracks. 157 79.29%
I have a steel J frame and the frame cracked. 0 0%
I don't have any J frames. 15 7.58%

If you search smith and wesson airweight the crack

You will get a lot of results and images also. I have never had a crack.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 01:49 AM   #7
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Good information Gents - Thank-you! It's not so much that the steel-frame LCR is so heavy that I can't carry it - it's just that I believe it would 'print' more than an aluminum framed .38. I have an S&W M60 and I have tried to carry it but it bounced too much and made my winter-carry (hoodie or vest) pocket sag too much. I'm actually carrying my 637 right now and I barely know it's there. That said, I don't think the 637 will hold hold up nearly as well as an LCR would - especially given the poll results above ...
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Old February 20th, 2017, 04:34 AM   #8
 
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It's not so much that the steel-frame LCR is so heavy that I can't carry it - it's just that I believe it would 'print' more than an aluminum framed .38.
Specs are identical except for the weight differential. And at that, we're only looking at 13.5 oz. - 17.1oz. difference. I pocket carry my 357 LCR daily in a Desantis pocket holster and even with Pachmayr Diamond Pro grips its "print" is negligible.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 07:12 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoJammy View Post
Good information Gents - Thank-you! It's not so much that the steel-frame LCR is so heavy that I can't carry it - it's just that I believe it would 'print' more than an aluminum framed .38. I have an S&W M60 and I have tried to carry it but it bounced too much and made my winter-carry (hoodie or vest) pocket sag too much. I'm actually carrying my 637 right now and I barely know it's there. That said, I don't think the 637 will hold hold up nearly as well as an LCR would - especially given the poll results above ...
Sooooo...... what did you end up wth??

I bought the .357lcr for the frame over the .38 version. It doesn't see much 357action
as its a bear around 25 rounds into it
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Old March 5th, 2017, 07:55 AM   #10
 
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I just ordered the LCR .38, I'm pretty excited. I'm sure it will get shot at every range trip so I'll let y'all know if I manage to wear it out !
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Old March 5th, 2017, 10:02 AM   #11
 
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The beretta 92 has an aluminum frame it digest 10sa of thousands of round sof 9 mm. HIgher pressure than any 38. I had a 442 for 10 years probably 8k rounds thru it and no problems.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 10:34 AM   #12
 
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I never considered the .38 LCR a recreational gun.
It was not enjoyable to shoot, it tore my hand & a glove up during my testing with it, and was nothing I'd ever want to shoot regularly.
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Old March 5th, 2017, 11:07 AM   #13
 
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Just remember these light weight revolver's S&W & Ruger's are hand cannons! Find a defensive that works for the user makes all the difference. Personally there are some great loads that are standard pressure. My 2 cents worth!!!
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Old March 5th, 2017, 11:51 AM   #14
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Thanks for the continued input Gents! I actually wound up getting two snubs. Picked up the before-mentioned SW 442 last week - my credit card is in much worse shape! The FFL had a stack of six of them to go thru - so I was able to pick the best. ALL of the others had either flexy crane-to-frame retention, or slightly loose lock-up, or both. None of the looseness on the other five would bother a normal person - I just wanted the tightest lock-up. In exchange for that, it is a recent S&W after all, I had to sacrifice some finish problems at the bottom of the grip around the serial number. I haven't had time to shoot it yet - but I plan to put all of ten rounds on non+P .38 thru it and then load it with .38 Short Colt per my normal way of doing things.

Then, lo and behold, a lady listed her SP-101 on the local gun trader website and said she was looking to trade for a 9mm Shield. I contacted her and wound up trading my used Glock 43 for the SP-101 + $50. Say what, a Shield worth more (she was willing to trade straight-across for a Shield) than a Glock 43? Such is the reality of trading around here. Nothing against Glock 43's, but I think a like near-NIB SP-101 is worth a lot more than a G43. I posted a picture of it here yesterday; the cylinder needed a lot of touching up with a Revlon nail polishing stick - I think it looks better than new now. One tiny downside is the uber-tight (.004) B/C gap. I think all the SP-101 needs is an XS Express tritium front site - my first 101 (from Wave here) has that sight and it is fab ...

Here are my three snubs - including my LCR .22:



It's not the best picture in the world but I don't have a lightbox.

Here's a closer shot of the LCR .22 - kinda sorta showing why I didn't get an LCR .38 or LCRx. This particular LCR came used from Gander - it was a steal at just over $300. I've mentioned this one here on RF before; it is perfect functionally and cosmetically, but it does have a .008 B/C gap. The large gap makes for some fireworks at the indoor range but it has been 100% with all three ammo types I've tried in it. Currently loaded with Velocitors. OK, back to why I didn't get a .38 LCR - both examples I've examined around here in the past month have had what I would call the 'agricultural finish' on the alu frame and barrel stub. My LCR .22 has a very smooth finish, not quite glossy, but it looks great. You can't see it on the photo but the frame was profiled after it was cast, then it has a nice smooth and even finish on it. I hate to criticize Ruger, but the anodizing or whatever they are using on their recent LCR's looks like it was done at a blacksmith's shop in Kabul!! Also, both of the .38's did not lock up tightly - especially compared to the bank vault lockup of the SP-101 ...



Edited to add: I mucked with the serial number on the LCR because of a scam I saw in the last couple of weeks on SW Forum. Some snowflake put up a post saying someones pistol looked like it was his late father-in-law's 'service weapon'. He went on to state in kinda-sorta threatening terms that the poster should contact him about it so the snowflake could ensure that the legitimate posters pistol wasn't stolen. The entire post was deleted within a few hours, and I noticed that the accuser had a new user account. Off topic, but all the more reason, IMHO, for firearms boards to have a $5 or so registration fee to keep the rif-raf out and to have a true email account for registered users (versus them using their covert/spam account to register).

Last edited by GeoJammy; March 5th, 2017 at 12:07 PM. Reason: Mention serial number scam ...
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Old March 5th, 2017, 01:16 PM   #15
 
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Glad to see you have your Snub revolvers now. I have both the LCRX .38 Special & a SP101 3 inch .327 FM. I had the .22 Magnum LCR that you will find with any rimfire LCR they will have a very heavy trigger pull. I have never had any issues with the finish on my LCRX .38 Special its been great. I would like to find another SP101 in either .38 Special or a .357 which would be better to handle both. The Ruger Wiley Clapp in the SP101 would be nice but I do not care for the price they have nice set of sights. If a used one came my way then maybe. To get a set of Tritium front sight blade they are nice.
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