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Old August 23, 2012, 11:47 PM   #1
three-fifty-seven
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Smith&Wesson:K38 Masterpiece vs Model 14-2

Hey guys, I got a problem.

I was browsing around when I found my one of my dealers had recently got a shippment of a bunch of older K-framed Smith and Wessons. Now older revolvers are extremely hard to find in Canada (thank the RCMP and their stupid 4.2" barrel rule ) so I decided I should jump on this opportunity.

Out of all the models the seller has, two of them stood out;

1.K38 Masterpiece
http://www.shop.tradeexcanada.com/co...ece-38-special

2. Model 14-2
http://www.shop.tradeexcanada.com/co...4-2-38-special

The big question is; which of these two revolvers is the better one? I am bit green when it comes to older Smith and Wessons so I am asking for some help on this one.

Thanks.
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Old August 24, 2012, 12:07 AM   #2
Winchester_73
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Well the seller is IMO ignorant of the fact that the earlier S&Ws always bring a premium. Nothing against a 14-2, but its a 3 screw design, at least the one pictured appears to be.

These K-38s / model 14s arrived in 1946/47 as the K-38 target masterpiece. 6 in heavy barrel, 38 special, with any combo of target grip, target hammer, target trigger as options. In 1956 or so, the 5th screw was dropped (upper side plate) and then in 1957 they were renamed the model 14. In around 1964 or so, the trigger guard screw, aka 4th, was removed. While these changes didn't necessarily lower the quality, the popular opinion is that the 5 and 4 screw guns were overall better than the 3 screw ones. Bangor Punta acquired S&W from the family around 1965 and guns made after the acqusition are said to be a lower quality overall by many people. Although that era of course produced some damn good guns as well.

K38 / model 14s have an excellent reputation as shooters and are getting to be collectible in the early forms. If the gun he calls a "K-38" is an actual K38, it should have a screw in front of the trigger guard (4 screw) status and possibly a screw in the frame directly in front of the hammer (5 screw) status. It also will not be marked "MOD 14" or any of the like inside the crane (the part of the frame revealed when the cylinder is opened).

So both are $549 - what do you do? You gotta buy the K-38 because its either a 4 or 5 screw gun which is more valuable. They are connected with the pre Bangor Punta era of S&W where they were still making guns that were damn near pre WWII quality. The bangor punta guns, such as the 14-2, (an early 14-2 could possibly be pre banor punta) did not have the same consistant quality as earlier guns. They also came up with the 3 screw guns in that era. Of course, you could have a bangor punta gun that is just as good, but its not just as valuable regardless.

The added bonus I see here is that the gun he calls a K-38 has unrelieved diamond target grips. Those grips are worth $100 or so alone. They were only on K frame guns as an option prior to the mid 50s when the relieved version came out. Pretty neat that the gun still has em on. The same gun also appears to have the target hammer with a standard trigger which is a little better for shooting than a standard hammer. Now believe it or not, the other gun has relieved diamond targets, which are nearly as valuable, well over $50 on ebay. It also has the target hammer / std trigger combo.

Both are fairly priced, but the K-38 (if it is) is the better deal from the pics and info you gave.
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Old August 24, 2012, 04:09 AM   #3
BillCA
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Winchester 73 covered it pretty well.

I'll add that I'd opt for the K-38 as well. I would take those grips off and store them to prevent further wear, then buy a set of Eagle Heritage grips that are similar to use when shooting.

The K-38/Model 14 is very accurate. Match shooters used them with .38 Special wadcutters and some of those guys would simply shoot out the X-ring at 25 yards without a single flyer. Our initial training was with the Model 14 though the issue gun was the Model 15 (4-inch version).
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Old August 24, 2012, 07:16 AM   #4
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Well, Winchester 73 said it all. The grips and target hammer on the K-38 are the icing in the cake. I'd jump on it. Specially since my 1958 no dash 17 has the same combo.
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Old August 24, 2012, 07:23 AM   #5
Don P
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K-38 Combat Masterpiece is the way to go. From what I could see it looks like a 4 screw.
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Old August 24, 2012, 12:29 PM   #6
three-fifty-seven
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Wow thank you for the responses as that was just what I needed (I would give you rep if I could ).

Even though I have the money I am torn if I want to get that revolver or a SIG P226 Swiss Police surplus.

First world problems man.
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Old August 24, 2012, 02:19 PM   #7
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Quote:
K-38 Combat Masterpiece is the way to go. From what I could see it looks like a 4 screw.
Well you would have to see the other side to know. The 5th screw is the upper side plate screw on the RIGHT side in front of the hammer. When I referred to it as a 4 screw, I meant at least a 4 screw. You can see the trigger guard screw but that doesn't make it not a 5 screw either. That screw is there on any 4 screw OR 5 screw gun. Is there another way you can tell? You could also tell by SN by I don't see the SN listed anywhere.

Here are some K-38 variants I have.

Here is the daddy to the K-38, the M&P 38 target. This one is a 1905 4th change and dates to approx the early 1930s. SN 63XXXX.



In this photo, there are 2 M&P 1905 1st change guns, top and middle. They date to the teens. The one has "1914" and some other notes which I believe to be a name and address of a previous owner on the grip panels. Both guns have their original K frame concave grips which are hard to find today. The bottom gun is a 5 screw K-38, K111XXX IIRC. Unfortunately some genius removed teh case hardening from the hammer and trigger. It has the standard diamond magna grips (target grips were optional) and a fish hook aka speed hammer, also standard in that era.

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Old August 24, 2012, 05:55 PM   #8
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Let me add that if you are interested in the revolvers to use for defensive purposes, you might want to consider the Model 14. The K38 Combat Masterpiece is not rated for +P pressure ammo but the Model 14 is. The higher pressure loadings allow for some additional velocity and potentially better penetration/expansion of bullets. If this is a range gun, then I would also go with the K38.
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Old August 24, 2012, 06:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
Let me add that if you are interested in the revolvers to use for defensive purposes, you might want to consider the Model 14. The K38 Combat Masterpiece is not rated for +P pressure ammo but the Model 14 is. The higher pressure loadings allow for some additional velocity and potentially better penetration/expansion of bullets. If this is a range gun, then I would also go with the K38.
I suspect that the primary reason S&W won't rate pre-model number K-Frames for +P is because of the variances in the quality of their metallurgy before WWII and because model numbers are an easy point at which to draw the line. That being said, the K-38 Masterpiece was not introduced until after WWII so all of that particular model will have reasonably modern metallurgy. Because of this, I would place a pre-Model 14 K-38 Masterpiece in the same category as a pre-1999 steel J-Frame: they're OK with limited use of +P ammo so long as they're not fed a steady diet of it.
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Old August 25, 2012, 11:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
I suspect that the primary reason S&W won't rate pre-model number K-Frames for +P is because of the variances in the quality of their metallurgy before WWII and because model numbers are an easy point at which to draw the line. That being said, the K-38 Masterpiece was not introduced until after WWII so all of that particular model will have reasonably modern metallurgy. Because of this, I would place a pre-Model 14 K-38 Masterpiece in the same category as a pre-1999 steel J-Frame: they're OK with limited use of +P ammo so long as they're not fed a steady diet of it.
I concur!

Quote:
Let me add that if you are interested in the revolvers to use for defensive purposes, you might want to consider the Model 14. The K38 Combat Masterpiece is not rated for +P pressure ammo but the Model 14 is. The higher pressure loadings allow for some additional velocity and potentially better penetration/expansion of bullets. If this is a range gun, then I would also go with the K38.
All opinions being stated and I disagree with the above reasoning on not wanting this revolver because of + P ammo. S&W revolvers without model numbers in the crane opening are getting harder and harder to find at reasonable prices.
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Old August 25, 2012, 01:44 PM   #11
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Regarding 38 special standard rounds for SD - its been doing the job longer, and has done it more often, than just about anything else.
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Old August 26, 2012, 09:37 PM   #12
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The K-38 Masterpiece is the Model 14, and S&W continued to call the Model 14 the .38 Masterpiece for years; the only difference is the model number stamped on the frame. The .38 Combat Masterpiece is the 4" barrel version with a ramp front sight; neither of those guns is a Combat Masterpiece, and the OP doesn't have that choice.

I see no practical difference in the guns; both have the target hammer but not the target trigger. To me it would be a matter of whether one individual gun is in better shape than another individual gun.

Jim
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Old September 5, 2012, 10:31 PM   #13
raceroch
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this may help... http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-rev...-w-14-3-a.html
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Old September 6, 2012, 07:26 AM   #14
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Both guns have a trigger stop but neither appears to have a 4th screw, so be sure they are described accurately. The prices aren't out of line, but you can find Model 14 shooters for less than that.
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Old September 6, 2012, 07:59 AM   #15
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To me it would be a matter of whether one individual gun is in better shape than another individual gun.

Good advice. And if the condition of the two revolvers is identical (not very likely but possible), then do as Winchester_73 suggested and get the earliest one.
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Old September 14, 2012, 10:52 PM   #16
Winchester_73
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Quote:
Both guns have a trigger stop but neither appears to have a 4th screw, so be sure they are described accurately. The prices aren't out of line, but you can find Model 14 shooters for less than that.
Well the K-38 appears to have something in front of the trigger guard. The screw would be very small in such a photo and hard to see. I can't say for sure that I see the screw, but those grips are 4/5 screw era, if original to the gun. You also have to reason that if one is a "14-2" and the other not a 14, that the seller has checked the yokes. If the K-38 does not say "MOD 14" in the yoke, it is a 4 screw or 5 screw by default.

Model 14 shooters might be cheaper where you live, but the OP is in Canada which I'm sure raises the prices.
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