S&W K-38

Discussion in 'Centerfire Pistols & Revolvers' started by todd51, Mar 23, 2012.

  1. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    This is my latest gun show purchase. It is 1956 (I think) manufacture date S&W K-38, Ser.# K2732xx. The grips are wrong and the box was wrong but I just can't tell if the magnificent condition this old revolver is in is original or not. I look and think, oh that looks like maybe it was buffed there but then I look at it and say no way that was buffed. The seller was thinking it was original finish but I was doubtful. He asked "are you going to shoot it?" and I said sure I'm going to shoot it.

    Well I have shot it three different days. The first day with some 158gr. SWC reloads I was pleased with the results. Monday I was back at the range and couldn't hit well with any thing I had along, just me and a bad day. Yesterday I took the new to me K-38 back with some wad cutters I loaded ten years ago and a couple different 158 SWC and was going to do some 50' shooting from the bench resting my forearms and see just what is up with this new pistol. Well I forgot the camera so you are just going to have to trust me on this but the first shot with the wad cutter took out the "X" and the next four went right on top of the first but the sixth was half inch to the right. I was shocked and pleased at the same time. This thing is a shooter.

    I still don't know what I have, like new or reblued, but I was shopping for a shooter and I got one. Going to have to buy some 148gr. wad cutters and do some loading. Also going to keep my eye out for some "diamond" target grips that should be on it and make it look right. Oh yea, I gave $500 for it right or wrong.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  2. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    I too would be doubtful of a 50+ year old S&W being in the condition shown without some help. It may be a re-blue by S&W or by someone who really knew how to do it well and carefully. But it matters not if you bought it to shoot it. It sure looks good, appears to shoot very well, and you really won.

    Several years ago I bought a Model 92 winchester that looked like a museum piece. It was absolutely beautiful. I've been around guns a long time and I could not tell if it had been refinished. It was marked 32-20 so I shot a 32-20 cartridge in it and the case came out all blown out (??). After some research on this gun I found that some one had re-barrel it or rebored it to 357 Mag (a very common occurrence when these gun were $50 used in the late 1950's). But they never finished the job as it would not feed 357 mag cartridges because the cartridge guides were still set up for the 32-20. I fixed that and it became a good shooter. I took the gun to a gunsmith to try to determine if it had been re-blued or not and he immediately pointed out some "features" that showed it had been refinished.

    But who cares? I got a beautiful gun in a common caliber easy to support that shoots well and is easy on the eyes. That appears to be exactly what you wanted and got. Here's to good shooting these vintage guns!

    LDBennett
  3. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

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    Great looking Smith, Todd!
    As far as the finish, could have been kept up that well. I bought a used Ruger Single
    Six here a while back that had been mfg. back in the early 90's and looked as though it
    had never been fired, other then by Ruger.
    The gun shop owner told me some older gentleman brought it in on a trade. He figured
    the guy bought it new and kept it in the o'l safe.

    But with your Smith, you wanted a shooter and it seems it is just that with an
    outstanding finish, Nice!
  4. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    For awhile I owned a K-22 from that same era (sold it to a friend and I see the gun all the time). The finish of the pictured gun in no way matches that of the original K-22 I had. The pictured gun look to be finished more like a Colt. Not that any of this is bad. I think the gun refinished but what do I know????

    LDBennett
  5. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

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    ...hard for me to tell with just the pics and not seeing it in person as in hand.

    But I think you may be right about that LD, sure does look like that good
    old, deep purty blue of a colt!;)
  6. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. We are the way we are in that even if it doesn't matter we are always trying to determine just what we have. If this one turns out to be a re-blue so be it. It is beautiful in it's present condition. But I keep looking at it and trying to make up my mind. The camera can play tricks. I have a younger Model 17 and the finish on it is very similar to the K-38 but I also have an old beater M&P five screw and the finish on it is not the same as the K-38. The finish on the K-38 is like that of later model Smiths but not like the Colts. Here is an old Colt with that great blue they produced and it is definitely not what is on the K-38. But what the heck it is fun to try and get at the history which ever way it turns out.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2013
  7. Oneida Steve

    Oneida Steve Active Member

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    I'd say $500 is a good price for a K-38 of that age and condition. I've found K-38/Model 14's in nice condition before but seldom do I see one as nice as yours. That said, a lot of K-38's were strictly target guns that never left the shooting box except on league nights. Nice examples are still around.

    +1 to getting a set of diamond targets for your 1950's gun for the sake of appearance.
  8. Rugermanws

    Rugermanws Member

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    That's a great gun reblued or not. I think you made a very good deal for $500. Shoot the K38 and enjoy, lifes too short.
  9. Zane71464

    Zane71464 Well-Known Member

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    A big +1 on that!
  10. StoneChimney

    StoneChimney New Member

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    If you can, take detailed close pics of:

    S&W logo on the sideplate - typically the most lightly struck marking on the gun
    Screw holes on the sideplate - most refinishers do not use blind screws
    Barrel pin - almost all refinishers leave it in place and flatten the ends while polishing

    These are the 'big three' to look at on S&W revolvers to determine if it has been polished after it left the factory. From what I can see in your photos, it could be original finish. Pull the grips and see if there are any markings on the side of the grip frame.
  11. todd51

    todd51 Well-Known Member

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    OK, Stone Chimney, here is my attempt at some close ups. I am now falling hard on the side of a well done re-blue after looking at the pistol so closely. I think I see what may have been some pitting on the side plate just above the trigger and also on the cylinder and what looks like some rust that was on the trigger. Also there isn't even a hint of grip wear on the frame and after 50 years there should be I would think. I only have one other old Smith and the color on this K-38 doesn't match it. The K-38 color looks more like '70's & '80's revolvers. I am not crushed as I think the price was fair and when this old man can put five rounds through one ragged hole I am jumping with joy. Thank you all for the info and opinions. I do so enjoy this and the learning associated.
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  12. garydude

    garydude Member

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    Gorgeous Todd!

    You're killing me.
  13. Rugermanws

    Rugermanws Member

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    I'll bet it shoots as good as it looks. That has one beautiful shine to it.
  14. Shep

    Shep New Member

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    You can`t go wrong with a nice condition Smith or Colt.
  15. SFsc616171

    SFsc616171 New Member

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    The forum reader starres at the screenful of Smith and Wesson revolvers. His eyes glaze, thought processes spin. Slowly the thought reaches the reader's lips .....
    "Must buy another revolver. Must buy another revolver ...." On, he chants. Slowly scrolling back up through the high-definition pictures of Smith and Wesson's mechanical perfections, he begins to ......

    You get the picture. :)
  16. Highpower3006

    Highpower3006 New Member

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    I think it is a very nice early four screw K38. Odd because while the serial number you gave does, indeed, point to a 1956 manufacture date, I didn't think that the four screw models were made until 1957 or so. While it is much shinier than the early K38's it may very well have been produced as a bright blue gun. If it was mine, I think I would invest in a letter and see how it was made originally.

    Not the same gun, but I have a 1959 M29 (also a four screw) and it shows a similar deep blue/black as yours. The finish isn't as nice as yours as it has been carried and shot a lot.

    [​IMG]
  17. fleetwood1976

    fleetwood1976 Active Member

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    Nice todd, My father in law has the newer model 14 just like this. not quite as minty but still very nice. I try to buy it every time I visit. He was a security guard for a while after he retired and used it for that.
  18. fleetwood1976

    fleetwood1976 Active Member

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    that model 17 complements it nicely
  19. gun-nut

    gun-nut Member

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    I am the 2nd owner of mine. K38 14-3 1968. All original. It still has that same black shine as does yours. Now mine does show more ware, but still Black. It could be posible that yours still has the original finish. I saw one about 2 years ago in a gun store and it still looked good as well.

    You want some real fun, run that K38 out to 100 yards. you will be a bit shocked at how well she will do. I run mine at 100 yard and she will wipe out clay, with out braking a sweat! I have a ball of a good time with mine. I dont run copper bullets in her. But i will cast 158gr SWC. I use the Micogrove style from Lee. Run the Alox on them. Size them at .357 OD. Then rerun them in the Alox. The load i run is 4.3gr of Unique and roll crimp. CCI SP. Thats what mine likes the best and has proved the most accurate. Have fun with her! Mine is next to me when i sleep. I remember that my grandfather say that his one buddy had one when i told him i had bought one. He told me that that gun was one hell of a shooter and he had thought about getting one but never did.(he was right)
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