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Old November 27, 2020, 10:00 PM   #1
dahermit
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An old interesting k38

I have an old "5-screw" K38 that I use as a backup for my "newer" k38 (4-screw, three in the side plate, one in front of the trigger guard) falling plate gun. I have the original wood grips for it, but prefer using the Hogue monogrips as per in the photos. Note that along with the 4-screws in the side plate, there is that fifth screw that enters in front of the trigger guard.


It is old enough that it does not have a "K" prefix to the serial number nor a "Mod-14" under the serial number.
Just a nice interesting old S&W target revolver.
I looked up the date of manufacture via the serial number at one time, but I don't remember the year anymore...don't really care.

Last edited by dahermit; November 27, 2020 at 10:39 PM.
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Old November 27, 2020, 10:22 PM   #2
105kw
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Well, it's a 5 screw, pre model 14. So it. Was built prior to 1955, when they deleted the upper side plate screw. Post WW2.
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Old November 28, 2020, 05:59 AM   #3
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Are the two holes(?) on the right of the trigger for a trigger shoe?
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Old November 28, 2020, 08:30 AM   #4
dahermit
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Originally Posted by Carmady View Post
Are the two holes(?) on the right of the trigger for a trigger shoe?
That is a trigger shoe you can see...not holes in the trigger itself. I ground the grooves of it and added it. I prefer a smooth wide trigger for shooting double-action.
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Old November 28, 2020, 09:11 AM   #5
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I’m done to four M14s. I have one pre 14 and three m14 no dash. One of the m14s is NIB with all docs, tools, ect. I bought one new in 60s and that’s the one I have shot the most. I carried it in the woods but always had it loaded with wad cutters. I also have M&P Target 6”
I never shoot DA so all 3 shoot better than I can hold them. They all are strictly wad cutter guns for my purposes.
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Old November 28, 2020, 10:25 AM   #6
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I’m done to four M14s. I have one pre 14 and three m14 no dash. One of the m14s is NIB with all docs, tools, ect. I bought one new in 60s and that’s the one I have shot the most. I carried it in the woods but always had it loaded with wad cutters. I also have M&P Target 6”
I never shoot DA so all 3 shoot better than I can hold them. They all are strictly wad cutter guns for my purposes.
I shot my K38 everyday...96 rounds at falling plates when primers were still available. But I found that wadcutters were irritatingly problematic when using speed loaders. Accuracy was good with 148 grain wadcutters, but 130 grain Lee 2 ogive bullets were easier to chamber and load into my loading blocks. I also went to 130 grain bullets because they use up less of my casting lead. Also, inasmuch as steel plates do not need a heavier bullet or a sharp shoulder to cut a clean hole. In short, I was glad to see the end of my supply of 148 grain wadcutters.
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Old November 28, 2020, 02:08 PM   #7
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I also have a K38 Target Masterpiece. Five screw and made in 1954. Funny thing is, it also has a trigger shoe on it - must have been the thing in it's day. While I have the original grips, it's wearing a pair of Ahrends Retro Target grips and sees regular use.

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Old November 28, 2020, 04:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by USSR View Post
I also have a K38 Target Masterpiece. Five screw and made in 1954. Funny thing is, it also has a trigger shoe on it - must have been the thing in it's day. While I have the original grips, it's wearing a pair of Ahrends Retro Target grips and sees regular use.

Don
As I remember (it was a little before my time), a the major pistol shooting event was off-hand (dominant hand, unsupported as frequently seen in pictures) slow fire. If I remember correctly the course of fire was five shots, and the most popular firearm for than event was the S&W Target 38's.

While the narrow ribbed trigger was likely useful for single-action target shooting, the grooves and its narrow surface does not seem to lend itself to double-action shooting at speed (falling plates). So, both mine wear trigger shoes with the groves ground out and polished.
This is a little newer one (only four-screws and marked Mod-14), but I use it way more.


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Old November 28, 2020, 07:59 PM   #9
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"That is a trigger shoe you can see...not holes in the trigger itself. I ground the grooves of it and added it. I prefer a smooth wide trigger for shooting double-action."

Thanks. Very nice revolver.
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Old November 28, 2020, 08:11 PM   #10
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It is old enough that it does not have a "K" prefix to the serial number nor a "Mod-14" under the serial number.
That’s odd. S&W began using the “K” prefix serial numbers on all adjustable sighted K frames in 1946. Yours is clearly later then that. The K prefix SN should be on the underside of the grip frame.

Jim

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Old November 28, 2020, 08:16 PM   #11
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Don't have a current pic with the Ahrends grips, but here it is with the original S&W Target grips.

Don

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Old November 28, 2020, 09:07 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by laytonj1 View Post
That’s odd. S&W began using the “K” prefix serial numbers on all adjustable sighted K frames in 1946. Yours is clearly later then that. The K prefix SN should be on the underside of the grip frame.

Jim
Whoops! You are right...I pulled the Hogue grip off and there was a "K"...about one-half inch in front of the serial number on the bottom of the grip frame. The small numbers on the inside of crane area where one would expect the serial numbers must be assembly numbers or something.
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Old November 29, 2020, 01:54 PM   #13
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The small numbers on the inside of crane area where one would expect the serial numbers must be assembly numbers or something.
Yeah, it can be confusing. Throughout the years S&W has placed the serial number in several locations. The barrel flat, cylinder face, yoke cutout, grip frame and front tang. The one constant is the serial number on the underside of the grip frame and in the case of the Regulation Police series, on the front tang. Any other numbers are inspector / assembly numbers.

Jim
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Old November 30, 2020, 08:17 AM   #14
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Those post war K38 Masterpieces are such sweet shooting guns. I have a few of them and all are far more accurate than I am capable of.

USSR; the stocks on your K38 aren't target grips, they are called Magna grips. sometime in the early 50's, I believe it was around 1954 S&W introduced their target grips which are much bigger than the Magna's. Here is a pick of my 1954 K38 Combat Masterpiece with the first variation of Target stocks. If you look closely you will notice that they aren't relieved on the left side, an oversight that was quickly remedied a year of so later when a football shaped relief was milled into the left stock when it was realized that the stock would interfere with loading the gun.



Later production "football" Targets:


Later on the relieved area was made larger to facilitate the use of speedloaders:
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Old November 30, 2020, 09:10 AM   #15
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...USSR; the stocks on your K38 aren't target grips, they are called Magna grips.
Yes...both of my K38 came with the original Magna grips...I still have them. One also came with a "Tyler T" grip adapter which were a popular accessory/double-action shooting aid at one time.

An note that may be of interest, I have worked on lightening/smoothing the double-action pull on all my S&W revolvers over the years and I think it would not be immodest to say I have been successful in getting some very smooth and light double-action pulls. I find it interesting from a mechanical point of view that, although they all have the same interchangeable parts and smootable surfaces, that older pre Model 14 has the lightest and smoothest trigger pull (but still 100% reliable) of any double-action I have ever worked on. Superior, to the point where I have not been able to replicate such on any of my other revolvers.

Last edited by dahermit; November 30, 2020 at 09:23 AM.
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Old November 30, 2020, 10:46 AM   #16
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Yes, I realized my mistake after posting and looking at my pic - period diamond Magna grips.

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Old November 30, 2020, 12:33 PM   #17
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Howdy

I have a couple of K-38s.

The one at the top of this photo with the fake stag grips left the factory in 1957. Probably just before S&W changed over to the Model Number system. I really like the fake stag grips, so I have left them on it. Notice somebody reshaped the front sight from the original Patridge shape. The one at the bottom left the factory in 1950. That is what the Patridge front sight should look like.






I also have a real nice K-38 Combat Masterpiece that left the factory in 1954. This was the precursor to the Model 15.




Notice all these revolvers have the 'speed' hammer. This was the first version of the short throw hammers.



I also have a couple 38 Military and Police Target revolvers. These were the precursor to the K-38.

This photo shows one of my K-38s at the top, and a 38 Military and Police Target at the bottom. It left the factory in 1917. Notice the teeny, tiny adjustment screw for windage adjustment on the rear sight. In order to adjust windage, one needed a teeny, tiny screwdriver. There was an adjustment screw on either side. First one screw was backed out, then the sight was shoved over by tightening the other screw. Then you snugged up the first screw. Over torque something and something would break. That is why the micrometer click rear sight on the K-38 was so much easier to use. By the way, the grips on the 38 M&P Target Model were known as Service Grips.

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Old November 30, 2020, 12:57 PM   #18
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Target Masterpiece

Good memories with this K38.

It was the first centerfire handgun I bought for my daughter. By serial number it was made in 1950 and it, too, wears a trigger shoe and Hogue Monogrips.

I do have the original S&W target grips along with a pair of” custom” wooden grips I cobbled for her small hands at age 8 years old.

It remains one of the most accurate revolvers in our collection and the trigger is smooth as glass.
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Old December 5, 2020, 12:36 PM   #19
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The K-38 is one of the finest target guns ever produced. Mine is from 1955. The trigger shoe was very popular back then.


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Old December 5, 2020, 01:29 PM   #20
dahermit
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The K-38 is one of the finest target guns ever produced. Mine is from 1955. The trigger screw was very popular back then.

I am not sure what you mean by "trigger screw". Or what you mean that it was "popular". Are you referring to the screw in front of the trigger guard? If you are, I do not think it was a matter of popularity, it was more likely changed relative to economy of manufacture... the cylinder stop spring just butts up against the frame in later S&W double-action revolvers. While that screw in the old models made removal of the cylinder stop spring easier, it was not a necessity.
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Old December 5, 2020, 05:55 PM   #21
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I meant to say"Trigger Shoe", not trigger screw. Sorry about that They were very popular in the 50's.
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Old December 6, 2020, 06:56 PM   #22
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I've no idea when my 14-3 was made. I was trading at a lgs and really wanted one of the new 6" L frames but all he had was the 14. Before he gave it to me he used a range rod and a lead babbit to bring the cylinder into alignment. I was amazed how accurately it shot. iirr at 25 yards it shot 1 3/8" which was the best I'd done with anything.

I learned to shoot mine at bowling pin matches. We changed the rules a bit and all the 38's had to do was knock them over, not off the table. I finally got down into the mid 3 second range for 5 pins and was really learning my double action. I knew I was having a good run when the instant the gun was raised to horizontal, it went off and moved the the next and next pins without hesitation.

Today with all the small concealed carry and odd double action pulls, all I have to do is get the old K-38 out to put a big smile on my face. I always wonder if Smith and Wesson couldn't have kept that smooth action and still made it smaller and ligher without going to the coil spring and the J frames. Something in between - but I guess back then, that's what the K frame was.
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