"Delicate" is not the term, let's re-state it as being less robust than other designs, which it is.
Not aware of the Dick Special going to war, or many of its small-framed ancestors.
Colt is losing the ability to service these guns, and C&S can only go so far without a new parts source.
Detectives did carry them for many years, but that was largely back in the days when those guns would get less than 500 rounds through them in an entire career.
My 1982 DS was carried off duty & as an on-duty backup for some time before my PD switched to autos in '88, I'd say it has not had over 400 rounds or so through it, if that. Lotta carry wear, but I just never shot it much beyond the occasional qualifier.
Prior to the 1960s, most agencies may have qualified once or twice a year, and centerfire recreational shooting simply was not done anywhere near as much as it is now.
Bottom line is the more you shoot it, the quicker it'll wear, but the gun isn't what I'd call "fragile". Just not the equal of other designs in longevity.