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Question on S&W K38 Target Masterpiece

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by bac1023, Jun 27, 2012.

  1. bac1023

    bac1023

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    My local shop just took in a beautiful 5 screw K38 Target Masterpiece. Its probably about the nicest one I've ever seen. There's a very faint hint of holster wear on the muzzle, but its barely noticable. The rest of the gun and grips are pretty much mint. The bluing is amazing.

    I'll be back in gun buying mode in a few weeks and was thinking of picking it up. Somehow, I still don't own a 5 screw Smith. I'd like to know when it was made. I always have difficulty dating Smiths.

    The serial is K231***.

    I'm thinking mid 1950's, but I'm not sure. :dunno:

    This revolver is a real beauty and I'd hate to pass it up. You don't see many pre model number K frames in this condition. I guess this would be a pre M14. Its got the old upward pointed target hammer and everything.

    Any help from the many S&W experts here would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks! :wavey:
     
  2. countrygun

    countrygun

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    I don't have the numbers handy at the moment But IIRC a 5 screw should be about pre-'55
     

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012

  3. ArtCrafter

    ArtCrafter ¤Hocker Mocker¤

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    According to the SCSW (1st ed.):


    1954 K210096-K231255

    1955 K231256-K266164


    HTH :wavey:
     
  4. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Thanks Art.

    It look to be a '55.

    I think I'm going to call the shop and ask them to put it in the back for me. :cool:
     
  5. Bruce M

    Bruce M

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    Supica's excellent Standard Catalog indicates the K-38 Target Masterpiece was manufactured c. 1946 to 1982 and is a companion to the K-32 and K-17.
     
  6. ArtCrafter

    ArtCrafter ¤Hocker Mocker¤

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    You're welcome. :)

    On 5/5/12, pennlineman posted pics of a 4-Screw K38 from 1956 here on GT.

    For reference, his has the standard hammer, which is also called the 'fish hook' type. (It also happens to be my personal favorite among the modern/post-war hammer styles, although I don't have one at this time.)

    Note that the fixed-sight Miltary & Police models from the same period featured hammers with the same profile, but they were single-thickness, not widened at the thumb pad.

    The adjustable sight K22, K32 (rare), and K38 were also available with a Target Hammer having an even wider, longer thumb pad. More or less identical K-frame hammers continued in production right up until the time the current frame-mounted firing pin replaced the hammer nose on the centerfire revolvers.

    In contrast, the 'fish hook' hammer was changed around 1957 or so to a more 'square' profile. The new hammer worked fine, but IMO it could never match the elegant lines of its predecessor.

    Lastly, the K-frame itself has been dropped. They still produce things like the Model 617 (stainless 'K22'), but they are actually made on the L-frame.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  7. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Thanks for the info, Art.

    This one has the same hammer as his. Also, what's the difference between the 4 and 5 screw frame?

    Thanks again
     
  8. countrygun

    countrygun

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    As opposed to the modern "3 screw" the"5 screw" has a screw on the sideplate in front of the hammer and a screw on the underside of the frame in front of the triggerguard/below the barrel fram junction. The "4 screw" lacks the latter screw.
     
  9. Hawker Man

    Hawker Man

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    Arkansas
    I believe the 4 screw lacks the screw at the top of the side plate and has the screw at the front of the trigger guard. I could be wrong but I think not.
    BAC, if yours shoots half as good as mine, you will love it.
    [​IMG]
     
  10. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Yeah, I thought both of them had the screw above the trigger guard, but I wasn't 100% sure.


    Also, which years distinguished the 5 and 4 screw models?
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2012
  11. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Very cool :thumbsup:
     
  12. countrygun

    countrygun

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    I oopsied and put "latter" instead of "former"

    some days are like that. Youjusthljabg
     
  13. bac1023

    bac1023

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    No problem, my friend. :cool:

    Any idea which year Smith switched to 4 screw frames? I asssume the 4 screw frames weren't used very long. :dunno:

    Once the model numbers were given, I believe they were all 3 screw.
     
  14. countrygun

    countrygun

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    Well, as I understand a redesign let them cut costs using just the tab to eliminate a sideplate screw and then using the forward side plate screw to hold the crane, thereby eliminate yet another "drill and tap"
     
  15. bac1023

    bac1023

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    Makes sense.

    The 3 screw frames are certainly a more efficient design than the old 4 and 5 screw models are.
     
  16. Rinspeed

    Rinspeed JAFO

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    The 4 screw has one less screw. :dunno: :rofl:
     
  17. pennlineman

    pennlineman

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    The K-38 was introduced in 1947. It was a 5 screw gun until 1956 when they dropped the upper side plate screw. 4 screw models can be had in the K-38 (pre model 14) until the introduction of the 14 no dash in 1957. The 14-1 was also a 4 screw revolver made from 1959-61.

    Thw 14-2 was introduced in 1961 was the first 3 screw model 14. So, from 1956-61 you had three different variations of the 4 screw revolver. The pre 14 for about a year, 14 no dash for 2 years and 14-1 for 2 years. There were many more of the 5 screw models made so the 4 screw models are sought after by collectors. The 4 screw guns are on the scarce side but certainly not rare.

    At any rate revolvers from this era take you back to a time of quality, fit and finish you don't see any more. Be it a 4 or 5 screw example they are all great guns.
     
  18. ArtCrafter

    ArtCrafter ¤Hocker Mocker¤

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    The standard barrel length was 6" (in later years, 8⅜" was also available on the Model 14).

    HTH :wavey:




    PS: The same gun with a 2- or 4-inch barrel was the Model 15 Combat Masterpiece.
     
  19. Model 15, that's what I want, then :) In a 4".