frame game

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by mitchell38, Sep 2, 2012.

  1. mitchell38

    mitchell38 Former Guest

    May 8, 2012
    North Carolina
    j-frame,k-frame,l-frame etc. how exactly do you define them,are the letters brand specific or is it universal? cant't find a good answer online anywere else,i'm shooting a colt cobra 38,not sure i see any letter in the shape of it,j maybe?
  2. PanhandlePop

    PanhandlePop Member

    May 27, 2011
    The frame designations you cite were coined by Smith and Wesson. They denote the size/bulk/weight of their various revolver frames. J being the small frame like the 5-shot Model 36. L frames tend to be the big boys that handle magnum cartridges. There may be other mfgs that use these designations for comparison purposes, but they are basically a S&W "thing."

  3. Twicepop

    Twicepop Well-Known Member

    Jan 9, 2012
    NW Ohio
    The J, K, and L frames you ask about are frame size designations from Smith and Wesson revolvers. Colt has their own frame sizes that are different from the S-W guns, I'm not familiar enough with their guns to add them to what I already put in the post. With the S-W revolvers the J frame is the smallest, followed by K, L, and N and then the X frame as the largest in that order.

    those who beat their guns into plowshares, will plow for those who didn't
  4. ozo

    ozo Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Nashville TN
    The Colt Cobra is a Light-Weight .38 caliber Double Action (or Single Action) Six Shot Revolver. The Cobra was made of a special aluminum alloy and this gun is nickel plated.

    It was an earlier version of the Colt Cobra that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. The serial number of Ruby's Colt was 2744LW (note the LW stands for Light-Weight). The Jack Ruby Colt Cobra was returned to his estate many years later and was sold at auction. An anonymous New Jersey gun collector paid $220,000 for it.
  5. ozo

    ozo Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Nashville TN
    Serial Number Table For:

    Cobra, Aircrewman, Courier, Agent
    Begin Aircrewman 1951
    Begin Courier 1954
    End Courier 1956
    End Aircrewman 1959
    Begin Agent 1962
    Begin serial # for 1950 with 1LW and so on:
    1500LW, 1902LW
    26150LW, 26275LW
    44600LW, 56001LW
    85000LW, 90470LW
    171400LW, 175955LW, 200101LW
    274000LW, 275115LW, A60000
    A84900, A99999, B60000, B61701
    B61701, B83550
    B83551, B99999, C61001, C68950
    C68951, C99999
    F60001, F99999, H60001, H66000
    H66001, H99999, M60001, M84900
    M52001, M59999, M84901, M99999, 60001M, 71400M
    71401M, 99999M, 60001R, 63400R

    The Colt Cobra was manufactured from 1950 to 1981.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2012
  6. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    As twicepop said, that J-K-L thing is Smith and Wesson. It usually will work for Taurus and/or Rossi, because they are copies of S&W.

    Colt has different sizes. The Cobra is a Police Positive/Detective Special/Diamonback size. Colt called it the D frame. It is bigger than a S&W J frame, but smaller than a S&W K frame. Nothing made for a J or a K will fit it.

    The Colt Python and Trooper are built on the Colt I-frame, which is the same size as the S&W L-frame. So holsters for the Python will work for a Smith 686, and vice-versa. Speedloaders won't interchange, though. Neither will grips.
  7. Lanrezac

    Lanrezac Well-Known Member

    Sep 18, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI
    The I frame was S&W's small frame, dating back to the 1890's. It was a 6 shot 32 Long, 5 shot 38 S&W, or 6 shot 22. Over the course of the 1950's, it was replaced by the J frame, which could be a 5 shot 38 Special. Nowadays the J frame has been strengthened to take 357 Magnum.

    The I and J frames can use the same grips, pretty much; in fact, I have put J frame grips on a 38 S&W "Perfected Model", the last of the S&W top-breaks.

    The K frame was S&W's medium frame, dating back to just before 1900. It was generally a 6 shot 38 Special or a 6 shot 32-20. In the 1960's S&W made it as a 6 shot 357 Magnum, but it wasn't really happy with shooting Magnums full time, so in the early 1980's, S&W introduced the L frame, which was slightly larger.

    I've never had an L-frame, but I believe its grip frame is identical to the K frame. The Ks were ultimately chambered in a wide range of cartridges - 22 rimfire, 22 Jet, 32 Long, 380 Enfield, 9mm Parabellum, and so on. S&W still makes K frames, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was phased out one of these decades.

    The N frame was the largest, and was introduced as a 6 shot 44 Special in 1907, I think. It has been modified a lot over the years, but I think the grip frame has always stayed the same. It's most famous in 44 Magnum now.

    Now that I think of it, I don't know if the frame S&W builds the big hand-cannons on (revolvers like .500 S&W) are just stretched N frames or have their own letter. Can anyone say?

    Trivia note: Back around 1900, S&W made a tiny 7 shot swing-out cylinder revolver in 22 Long (not Long Rifle) called the Ladysmith. I believe it was called the M frame. You will never see one; they are like hen's teeth.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2012
  8. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    The 500 is an X-frame.
  9. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Member

    Nov 15, 2011
    nc mountains
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  10. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    And not a word about the S&W M frame:)
  11. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  12. hardluk1

    hardluk1 Member

    Nov 15, 2011
    nc mountains
    jray the m frame at wiki, model 38 only.
  13. RJay

    RJay Well-Known Member

    Feb 22, 2004
    Goodyear, Arizona
    M Frame, smallest hand ejector revolver model ever made by S&W, the original Lady Smith , 22 Long. 1902 until 1921.:)
  14. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Feb 3, 2007
    NW Florida
    I believe whoever made that picture is confused.

    The Model 1 frame was a 7-shot 22 tip-up.

    Model 1 1/2 was a slightly larger 5-shot 32 tip-up.

    Model 2 was a "medium frame" 6-shot 32 tip-up or 5-shot 38 top break.

    Model 3 was a large frame 6-shot 44 break top.

    When they went to hand ejectors they quit using numbers and went to letters.

    M - tiny 7-shot 22

    I -small, 6-shot 32

    Improved I - slightly larger, still 6-shot 32 or 5-shot 38.

    J - basically an I, but with the hole in the frame stretched so they could put a 38 special in there.

    K - medium frame 6-shot 38

    L - "medium +" frame - larger than "medium", but smaller than "large". 6-shot 357 magnum

    N - large frame 6-shot 44

    X - extra large frame for the 500 S&W

    These additional ones nobody but the S&W factory uses.

    E - stainless steel J

    F - stainless steel K

    H - stainless steel L

    G - stainless steel N

    Can't find any reference anywhere, except for that page, for a "C" frame.
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