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Old October 28, 2012, 08:52 PM   #1
FLChinook
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Best "Classic" S&W .38 for hunting back-up carry?

I just got my first S&W revolver and am looking to expand my collection with another "classic". My "need" (as explained to my wife) is for something to carry when I'm deer hunting and may confront snakes and other critters (which I often do...). That seems to me to be a .38 Special that can have snake cartridges in 2 or 3 chambers and regular loads in the others.

I turned with hopeful expectation to my new S&W book which lists practically every S&W ever made but it does not have sections for calibers; just models (OK, calibers go with models but the format of the book seems to be geared for information on a gun and not for considering guns cross-model).

According to Supica & Nahas, the S&W models in .38 Special are:
10, 12, 13, 14,15, 20, 23, 32, 33, 36, 36LS, 37, 38, 40, 42, 042, 49, 50, 56, 60, 60LS, 64, 67, 68, 242, 337, 337PD, 337KG, 342, 342PD, 442, 460, 637, 638, 640, 642, 649. Whew!!! You have to be a glutten for punishment to want to collect S&Ws.

The 66 was almost my first S&W revolver but I ended up with a pre-27.

I suspect some will recommend the 66 for my new task (the .357 will handle .38 Special) but what about others such as the 36 or 60? How would one choose between the 36 and 60 (both Chiefs Specials)?

Does the smaller J-frame jump uncomfortably with 38 Special loads?

Thanks
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Old October 28, 2012, 09:02 PM   #2
Deaf Smith
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From the mid-size line up any of these:



and from the J frames



The J .38s that are all steel don't kick so much,especially the .357 magnum variety.

Weight helps.

Now also the Rugers pictured are not bad picks either.

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Old October 28, 2012, 09:12 PM   #3
surveyor
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smiths..

yep the SCSW is a nice coffee table book..

and classic smiths are like potato chips, hard to have just one..

enjoy..

very nice collection Deaf..
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Old October 28, 2012, 09:21 PM   #4
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Comfortable grips are a must for a J-frame IMHO.
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Old October 29, 2012, 10:30 AM   #5
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38 Spl Revolver

Choosing between the M36 and M60 depends on if you prefer blue or stainless. Same gun otherwise; I prefer the M60 between those two. As for recoil, that is hard to answer because some people are much more (or much less) sensitive to recoil than others. To me, a classic S&W to carry is a 4" model 15. Once carried by many Police officers nation wide. Very accurate, low recoil (much less than an M36/60), usually found for very fair prices.

Mine is a former FWPD (Ft. Worth?) issue.



I think that it is the classic S&W 38 Special.
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Old October 29, 2012, 10:36 AM   #6
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The model 15 is hard to beat but is heavier than a J frame, more fun to shoot.
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Old October 29, 2012, 10:44 AM   #7
FLChinook
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Both the 15 and 66 use the K-frame. Would you say the 66 evolved from the 15 but in stainless steel? Other than the steel, are the 15 and 66 similar?
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Old October 29, 2012, 11:15 AM   #8
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The 15 was a K-frame .38 Special in blued steel, & it was called the 'Combat Masterpiece'. I believe its stainless counterpart was the model 67. (Someone will correct me if that's not right.) My dad was issued a model 15 when he was first employed by the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

The 66 was a stainless version of the model 19 'Combat Magnum' chambered in .357 Magnum. The magnums had a shroud over the ejector rod, but they were otherwise similar. (THP later carried the 66.)

Any of them are fine guns and can handle the .38 Special with aplomb.
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Old October 29, 2012, 04:51 PM   #9
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The steel J-frames with 3" barrel are a nice size and weight for the trail. Not too large or heavy to carry, but with excellent accuracy and recoil control. Model 60 or 36. Some versions have fixed sights, others have adjustable sights and target triggers. It's well worth tracking one down while they are still affordable.
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Old October 29, 2012, 05:10 PM   #10
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Quote:
Would you say the 66 evolved from the 15 but in stainless steel?
Yes, although it's more accurate to say that the M66 evolved from the M19.
Quote:
Other than the steel, are the 15 and 66 similar?
Mostly yes, although the M66 and M19 have shrouded ejector rods, and were available with slightly different barrel lengths- 2-1/2", 3", 4", and 6" for the M19/66 vs. 2", 4", 5", and 6" for the M15, although the latter two are quite rare. IIRC there is also a minor difference in cylinder length and forcing cone thickness.

The SS equivalent of the M15 is the Model 67- which curiously was available more or less exclusively with a 4" tube.

FWIW some recent-production M67s came with a 2-piece barrel consisting of a steel inner barrel and a SS outer liner with the front sight mounted on it. IMHO these guns are best avoided due to a number of incidents in which the barrel blew off the gun upon firing. (Curiously, I haven't heard of nearly the same number of barrel separation incidents involving 2-piece J or L frames, but I digress.) S&W has reportedly switched back to the traditional 1-piece barrel recently.

OTOH most M67's on the used market are 20+ years old anyway; S&W doesn't sell many .38Spl K frames anymore, and reportedly keeps them in the catalog mostly to cater to armed security guards in areas with laws requiring them to carry .38Spl revolvers.
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Last edited by carguychris; October 29, 2012 at 05:13 PM. Reason: Minor reword...
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Old October 29, 2012, 05:42 PM   #11
FLChinook
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Yes, although it's more accurate to say that the M66 evolved from the M19.
I see that now. Goodness, never as a single gun manufacturer made so many versions of so many different calibers..

I assume the 15/67 is lighter than the 19/99??

Would you say they're equally pleasant to shoot in .38 Spl?

Thanks
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Old October 29, 2012, 06:14 PM   #12
Elmer
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You said "Classic", so why not the most classic Smith .38 Special?



Nice old M&P's can still sometimes be bought for reasonable prices, but that's certainly changing.
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Old October 29, 2012, 06:19 PM   #13
FLChinook
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Very nice! What model is the M&P?
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Old October 29, 2012, 06:31 PM   #14
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I like carrying a 642 Airweight when I'm hunting with a rifle or shotgun. It doesn't really seem like a classic that a model 36 is. If I was going to be in a hunting camp where the long gun might be stowed for a while, a larger revolver such as an M&P/Model 10 with a four inch barrel might be nice.

The four inch K frames are easier to shoot accurately than the two in J frames but that 642 does carry easy.
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Old October 29, 2012, 08:36 PM   #15
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I'll echo the recommendation of a model 15 (or model 10 if you're OK with fixed sights). Another worthwhile consideration is a model 60 with 3" barrel & adjustable sights.
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Old October 30, 2012, 04:56 AM   #16
Baba Louie
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Quote:
What model is the M&P?
S&W's Model of 1899 Hand Ejector Military & Police evolved into what we now call the Model 10... with it's own myriad of later models; 11 (.38 S&W not spl.), 12 (airweight), 13, 14, 15, 16 (.32 Long) and 19 (not to mention the stainless variations). Perhaps the K-Frame .22s as well, 17 & 18 as close cousins.

Don't forget the WWII Victory model as well.

A true American classic handgun.
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:47 AM   #17
carguychris
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Quote:
I assume the 15/67 is lighter than the 19/99??
Yes, but only by a few ounces.

The extra weight of the Magnums is in the barrel, partially from the ejector rod shroud, and partially from the generally heavier barrel profile. Most earlier M15s and M67s came with a slightly tapered barrel, whereas the Magnums more often came with straight-sided bull barrels, but YMMV.
Quote:
Would you say they're equally pleasant to shoot in .38 Spl?
Certainly yes.

The main benefit of the M15/M67 is that prices are lower and the guns are easier to find, particularly in "shooter grade" condition; relatively more M15s and M67s spent the first few decades of their lives in a cop's holster rather than an enthusiast's safe.

The main benefit of the M19/M66 is the added flexibility of being able to shoot Magnum ammo, the availability of a few more barrel lengths and types of front sights, and the slightly more muzzle-heavy balance.
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:47 AM   #18
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carry gun while hunting non-dangerous game

I carry either my old Blackhawk or my Smith K-38 with wadcutters, for humanely finishing off birds while upland hunting. If I were a gun nut and kept buying and 'optimizing' I suppose a four inch version would be perfection- whatever that particular model might be.
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:51 AM   #19
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All that being said...

...IMHO another great choice for a woods gun would be a 5" M10 / .38 M&P (the middle gun in Elmer's picture).

These have almost the exact same balance as a M15/M67, coupled with a slightly longer sight radius, and no worries about the rear sight snagging on clothing or breaking off if the gun is dropped.

The 5" barrel was less popular than the 4" barrel because it's harder to wear in a holster while you're seated in a patrol car, so the guns are harder to find, but arguably worth it once you do.
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Old October 30, 2012, 03:39 PM   #20
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In that there are a bunch of sub-$300 police trade-in Model 10s, if you get a decent one, they'd be pretty hard to beat for what you want.

I bought one and I ended up using it in a PPC match. I haven't seen the scores, but they told me I did all right.
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Old October 30, 2012, 03:42 PM   #21
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If you want to carry snake cartridges in the first few cylinders and real bullets in the rest, then you have to have a means to rotate the cylinders. That effectively eliminates all the hammerless models.
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:31 PM   #22
Elmer
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In that there are a bunch of sub-$300 police trade-in Model 10s, if you get a decent one, they'd be pretty hard to beat for what you want.
Those days are numbered. Decent ones are getting scarce at that price. If S&W reintroduced the model 10 today, wholesale would be well over $300, and it would be a pale replica of the original.

Everyone should have a good old M&P... or a dozen or more...
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Old October 30, 2012, 08:37 PM   #23
Elmer
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...IMHO another great choice for a woods gun would be a 5" M10 / .38 M&P (the middle gun in Elmer's picture).

These have almost the exact same balance as a M15/M67, coupled with a slightly longer sight radius, and no worries about the rear sight snagging on clothing or breaking off if the gun is dropped.

The 5" barrel was less popular than the 4" barrel because it's harder to wear in a holster while you're seated in a patrol car, so the guns are harder to find, but arguably worth it once you do.
Lots of guys carried 6" guns back in those days. I think the biggest reason for the 5" being less popular was the lack of holsters available. Most of the production made ones weren't offered in 5".

But you're correct that the 5" is probably the best balance of the three.
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Old October 31, 2012, 06:27 AM   #24
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My choice per your op would be a 4" Model 10 HB. My fixed sights are perfectly regulated with a 158gr lead SWC hand load (3.8gr Red Dot) that is listed in the Alliant manual as a +P.

No adjustable sights needed with this gun and load. Simple, dependable, accurate, and not too heavy.
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Old October 31, 2012, 08:35 AM   #25
carguychris
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Those days are numbered. Decent ones are getting scarce at that price.
Bud's still has 'em. Buy today!
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If S&W reintroduced the model 10 today, wholesale would be well over $300, and it would be a pale replica of the original.
Reintroduced...? You can buy one today, SKU# 150786.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...layErrorView_Y

Of course, MSRP is $719, and IIRC it has been quite a few years since S&W offered a flavor other than the 4" HB. However, from what I've heard and seen, quality of the recent-production M10s is quite good.
Quote:
My choice per your op would be a 4" Model 10 HB. My fixed sights are perfectly regulated with a 158gr lead SWC hand load (3.8gr Red Dot) that is listed in the Alliant manual as a +P.
This has been my experience with almost any fairly hot 158gr load.
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