S&W makes a pretty nice revolver. I used to have a 296 (.44 spl) that I never should have sold. I would buy one again, but they are no longer produced, and the ones on GunBroker sell for $700+. The cost that you mention is about average. That is often one of the deciding points between S&W and Taurus -- The Taurus usually sells for about $100 less.
As to the frame, they are certainly sturdy enough, but over time, they will wear faster than steel. That's why I believe you have the right idea in mind. Whether revolver or auto, an aluminum frame is for getting comfortable with in terms of shooting and then carrying. If you want to do a pile of shooting, buy something with a steel or poly frame. However, having said that, those of us who own Tauri have a lifetime warranty if the firearm was not intentionally abused!
Bottom line if you like the S&W: try it -- you'll like it!