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SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:08 PM

Informal Pictorial Essay - K-38 Masterpiece (and Model 14) variations
It's been awhile, but here is the Third in my series of "Informal Pictorial's"......

The truth has - unfortunately - started to get out, the K-38 Masterpiece is truly that - a world class Masterpiece. This model is an outstanding shooter, a great piece of S&W history, a finely crafted work of art..... For the longest time, they languished on dealers shelves while shooters and enthusiasts rushed to acquire the more popular (and powerful) .357 Magnum models. I'm concerned about the reputation getting out, the remaining guns out there are only going to be harder to find and higher in $$ as the word gets spread.... bummer as there are a few more I need to fill out the collection.

This essay will include guns spanning all three revolver time categories, so I'm posting it in the middle area. :)
Starting off with a couple "paper" scans.... Note that after Model numbering was introduced, the K-38 Masterpiece was also assigned the Model 14 nomenclature, in addition to, not to replace the Masterpiece name, FYI.

Note below, the K-38 Masterpiece designation on the original guns, but when the non-tapered wide rib barrel was offered, the factory made both versions concurrently for awhile, calling the newer heavier barrel profile the "K-38 Heavy Masterpiece". This continued until the narrow rib, tapered barrel versions were discontinued and then the name resorted to the original - K-38 Masterpiece.

Interesting old flyer/ad noting how the K-38 Heavy Masterpiece was used to set a World Record in November, 1954. Note that the gun shown has the non-relieved Diamond Targets as well as the Target Hammer, but standard trigger (just right!)

The following pics will show a chronology of gun configurations starting with my earliest example (1948 gun) through the non-lock Model 14 variations (up to M14-7). Hopefully these pics will show how the finish evolved over time, as well as several examples of hammer/trigger configs, trigger stops, barrel profiles and grips (to include some aftermarket grips shown on later model guns that came originally with rubber examples).
Unfortunately, in the early non-model numbered guns my earliest is 1948, and I'm missing examples for 1950, 1953 and 1954 (the search continues :))


SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:31 PM

K232xx - 1948 Example
This gun is from 1948 and has the original narrow rib tapered barrel. This gun is original, has numbered magnas with high horn/ridge, trigger stop, standard serrated trigger and "fish-hook" Hi-Speed hammer. Backstrap and frontstrap both have the coarse serrations (6). Frame marked with one-line address (Made in USA) on right. Finish is the matte blue (frosted blue?) typical of the early post-war production. Serial number is evident in six places, unsure if the sight is numbered as I've not had it off. No Box.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:36 PM

K759xx - 1949 Example
This gun is from 1949 and has the original narrow rib tapered barrel. This gun is original, has numbered magnas with high horn/ridge, trigger stop, standard serrated trigger and "fish-hook" Hi-Speed hammer. Backstrap and frontstrap both have the coarse serrations (6). Frame marking on right differs from the above gun in that it has the four line address (Made in USA, Marcas Registrada...etc.). Finish is the typical matte blue finish seen on early post-war guns. Serial number is evident in six places, unsure if the sight is numbered as I've not had it off. No Box.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:46 PM

K1049xx - 1951 Example
This 1951 example is a K38 Heavy Masterpiece due to the newer non-tapered wide rib barrel. The gun has the original numbered magnas, trigger stop, standard serrated trigger and fish-hook hammer. The serial number is still evident in six locations. The gun has it's original two piece Gold Box. The gun is unfired (since leaving the factory anyway).

SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:50 PM

K1091xx - Another 1951 Example
This K38 Heavy Masterpiece is the virtual twin - configuration wise - to the above 1951 gun, except that it's a bit less in the rating (probably 98/99% due to an ever so slight spot of muzzle wear on both sides :)). Original Gold Box. The right Magna panel has a small chip out of the top, bummer... :(

SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:56 PM

K1410xx - A nice 1952 Example
1952 - a Great year!
This revolver continues with the (now) standard wide rib, non-tapered barrel. Still equipped with standard serrated trigger, fish hook hammer, trigger stop, etc. The Magnas on this particular gun are period, but not original. Finish is the matte blue finish in use at the time. Serial number still on all normal places (5 on this gun since the grips aren't original). No box. Slight amount of muzzle wear... they can't all be perfect... :D

SmithNut 05-04-2010 07:59 PM

K2319xx - 1955 Example
Jumping up to 1955 this gun differs from the previous in that it is equipped with a Target Hammer (however still has the standard trigger), as well as the finish is now the bright blue style (the previous guns all had the matte blue finish). This configuration (Target hammer, Standard trigger) was fairly typical of the time. Grips are the original Magnas. Slight muzzle wear, indicative of some use. The ampersand on the left of the barrel is a smaller version than previous guns, while still appearing to be elongated, it's less so than the earlier guns and the lettering is smaller than the earlier guns as well. The serial number is still evident in six places. Note also that the front and backstrap has a finer serration (10 lines) than earlier guns.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 08:12 PM

K2720xx - 1956 Example
This revolver is similar to the above gun, (TH, ST, Bright blue), but it is equipped with non-relieved Targets. I've also installed a S&W muzzle brake, although it is not original to the gun. Again, as with the previous gun, the Target Hammer and Standard trigger are often seen in this timeframe. Like the above gun, this also has the finer (10 line) serrations on the front and backstraps.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 08:18 PM

K3036xx - 1957 Example (and a very special gun)
This gun is one of the original Illinois State Police guns, shipped on Oct 14, 1957. Equipped with a five inch barrel and ramped front sight, this gun also has standard hammer and trigger. Currently it's wearing diamond Targets, but it letters as having Magnas as original. The gun was shipped in a two piece blue box with a tag indicating "K-38 Heavy Masterpiece" with the 6 (barrel length) over-written with a 5 in grease pencil, again a typical way these boxes were marked. The serial number is not present on the back of the cylinder or on the underside of the barrel, not sure if this is due to the special production or the late manufacturing date (likely both). I was very pleased to add this to my collection a few years back Thanks to the generosity of an advanced collector (Thanks Mike!)

SmithNut 05-04-2010 08:34 PM

K3398xx - 1958 Example (and also marked as a M14)
The first of my Model numbered guns, this is another very special gun (to me anyway). First, it's my earliest 4 screw example, second - I bought this gun at a pawnshop in downtown Seattle in 1995 for the princely sum of $175 (afterall - it's just a 38 Special...:). This gun was my "league" gun for many years, has probably had 5k-6k rounds through it, and has an absolutely fantastic original DA action. The Diamond Targets are also unique, the speedloader cutout/relief area is different than any others I've had (these have been confirmed by some knowledgable trustworthy collectors as original).
The finish is the original bright blue, standard trigger and the (still!) fish-hook hammer make this a great gun. It's performed well for me and will likely do so for many years with one of my grandsons down the road.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 08:49 PM

K3665xx - 1959 Example - Another M14 - 4 screw
This Model 14 is an interesting gun, unfortunately not sure how it'll letter, probably as an original blue gun. Bought from a local collector (and past President of the S&WCA), this gun is my only 8 3/8" gun currently (got rid of the longer barrels over the years), and is unusual with the nickel finish. The gun is marked with an R-N in a rectangle box under the grips.
Neat gun, it caught my eye and displays well, not key to the collection but neat nonetheless. Features include Target hammer and trigger, blue ramped front sight with red insert and trigger stop.
Note - Nickel M14's do exist but are very scarce.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 08:55 PM

K4140xx - 1960 Example - Model 14-1
The Model 14-1 engineering change is a fairly scarce unit. As with many of the original guns, the -1 engineering change was only made for a short period of time. This gun is a 4 screw and has Target hammer and trigger, Target Diamond stocks, trigger stop, bright blue finish and standard sight package. There are a few scratches on the sight plate due to improper screwdriver handling by a previous owner, but as indicated above, the -1 is too scarce to worry about the little things.... :)

SmithNut 05-04-2010 09:04 PM

K5515xx - 1964 Example - Model 14-2 Single Action Only
This revolver, a factory Single Action Only version, was shipped Feb 3, 1964 to Loven firearms, Midland Park, NJ. Equipped with a TT/TH and standard stocks, this gun still has the original diamond Magnas. The serial number is not present on the barrel or back of the cylinder, but IS stamped on the frame in the crane area on this particular gun.
Of interest, while the gun is stamped as a M14-2 and is a 3 screw example, the factory letter notes that it shipped as a Model 14 (more specifically, a Model 14 Single Action)....... interesting....

SmithNut 05-04-2010 09:19 PM

Model 14-2 Dayton Gun Headquarters Examples
Starting off with the original flyer for this model:

The three revolvers in this pic below were from the special production run of 4 inch guns for Dayton Gun Headquarters. The Hanen Special is just that, a very special run of guns made with a heavy four inch barrel (probably from the Model 10 HB lineup). Made in blue and nickel finish, with options of Target or Magna stocks, and various ST/TT/SH/TH options, these guns were noteable in that the factory made them up with a reserved serial number range. While the Model 14 (and K-38 Masterpiece) models were not normally seen with 4" barrels, there have been some special production guns made over the years in small quantities. These Dayton guns were notable in that there were a couple thousand made. Mike Priwer wrote an article on the Dayton Guns a few years back for the S&WCA Journal, these are the guns he wrote about, I'm happy to have these in my collection now (Thanks again Mike!).

Info on the guns below:

s/n K624232 - Shipped Aug 16, 1965, Blue, TH, TT, TS
s/n K660961 - Shipped Feb 7, 1968, Nickel, SH, ST, PC Magnas
s/n K623405 - Shipped July 16, 1965, Blue, SH, ST, Std Magnas

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:25 PM

K7510xx - 1967 Example - Model 14-2
This Model 14-2 is a nice speciman from 1967 featuring standard hammer and trigger, Target stocks and trigger stop. As with earlier noted guns, the serial number is no longer found on the barrel or back of cylinder. Standard bright blue finish and sight configuration.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:29 PM

6K662xx - 1975 Example - Model 14-3
Jumping forward to 1975, this -3 is a a pretty standard configuation for a Model 14 in the 1970's. Target hammer and trigger, Target stocks with football relief area, bright blue finish, trigger stop, etc. Serial number on butt and crane area.
Nothing exceedingly special, just a nice clean Mod 14-3.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:35 PM

75K02xx - 1980 Example - Model 14-4
Another late example of the traditional Model 14, this gun is from 1980 and features the standard of-the-day TT/TH,TS with speedloader cut-out, along with bright blue finish and trigger stop. Nice clean late gun, note the barrel is still pinned.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:38 PM

94K21xx - 1981 Example - Model 14-4
This Model 14-4 was a bit rough so it became a candidate for a project (after finding a BoMar rib in an estate sale). This gun, kind of unusual in that it has standard trigger and hammer (my favorite ), so the addition of the rib made it my retro target special... :)
Note that this still has a pinned barrel....

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:45 PM

BRB06xx - 1994 Example - Model 14-5
After ~ 1982, the original Model 14 line was discontinued. The factory did some strange things for the next few years, merging the longer barrel versions of the Model 14 into the Model 15 (Combat Masterpiece) line.... in 1991, the Model 14 was re-introduced with a full-underlugged barrel in the Model 14-5 engineering change.
This example - with BRB serial prefix is from 1994 - features all forged parts, square butt gripframe, Target hammer and smooth combat trigger. These later frames do not have the cut behind the trigger for a trigger stop, however there is a trigger stop rod inserted in the rebound slide (internal). Since most of my later Model 14's (full underlugged models) came with aftermarket rubber grips, I've installed Spegel Targets on this gun to give it the respectible look & class it deserves.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:49 PM

Model 14-6 - Square Butt versions
The Model 14-6 engineering change replaced the Model 14-5 in 1994, bringing the new rear sight assembly and drilled and tapped frame, along with a change to the extractor. These early Model 14-6 guns have square butt gripframes. As with the Model 14-5 above, I've added aftermarket Spegel Targets to these guns to dress them up a bit... :)
These guns have BRS and BSB serial prefixes, making them 1994/1995 production.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:53 PM

Model 14-6 - Round Butt versions
The two guns here are later Model 14-6 guns, featuring the later style cylinder release (thumbpiece), wide forged hammers and round butt gripframes. The gun in the foreground, s/n prefix CBN also has a forged smooth combat trigger, while the other gun, s/n prefix CCP has a MIM smooth combat trigger. As well, the later gun (CCP) also has a white dot front sight and square white outline rear sight. Both of these guns are wearing Nil RB to SB conversion grips.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 10:57 PM

Model 14-7 - Last of the non-lock models
The Model 14-7 engineering change moved the firing pin from the hammer to the frame. This has the intregral frame lug/cylinder stop. The hammer and trigger are MIM and the gripframe is RB. The serial prefix is CDB making this an early 1999 gun. The Model 14-7 was not made in large quantities. This gun is also wearing Nil RB to SB grips.

SmithNut 05-04-2010 11:09 PM

Model 14-6 - Roper Supply revolvers
Last, but not least, this special group of four inch full underlugged guns were made for and distributed by Roper Supply of Picayune, Mississippi.

Over a period of ~5-6 years a very small number of these revolvers were produced by the S&W Performance Center for Roper Supply. Initially these were made as awards for the National Police Shooting Championships held in Jackson, Mississippi. The first 6 were made and awarded to the winning Police team in 1996, another 6 were awarded in 1997. Over the next 3-4 years, the balance of the production was shipped to Roper, in small batches. The total production is estimated between 100-125 guns.

I found out about these just after the last batch of guns were shipped to Roper in 2000 and was able to get my dealer to order a few. Suffice to say these are very special and scarce versions.

They feature high profile sights, of course the four inch barrel and a special target crown on the barrel muzzle. Hammers and triggers are forged, as all PC guns are.

Note the last picture below, one of the revolvers in my collection is marked as a Model 14-6 (as all the others), however it's really a Model 14-5 frame (note the older style rear sight, and the frame is not drilled and tapped like the others). All these are wearing Spegel grips.....

That's all I got, let's see yours....

kennyb 05-05-2010 12:18 AM

very,very nice indeed...i only have one model 14-3 and i love it! your history presentation was very interesting..thanks for going to all the work putting this together!

GyMac 05-05-2010 12:50 AM

Beautiful collection. Other than the Dayton guns, did K-38's ever come with PC magnas?

Troystat 05-05-2010 01:10 AM

Hey Smithnut thanks for posting all of the great photos. I love the Rosewood diamond target grips on one of them.



Jimmymac46 05-05-2010 02:18 AM

Very nice assembly and I appreciate you going thru the effort to display them for us.

I have two, a 95% circa 1952 I acquired a few months back, and a 98+% circa 1949 that I have had for 10 years or more. My 1949 (according to the 3rd edition) has the heavy non-tapered barrel. I assume from that, it was in that year they changed to the heavy barrel. Mine is serial #810xx. Thanks again for explaining the differences in each model.

SPDGG 05-05-2010 02:26 AM

Thank you very much for taking the time to post all these photos and related information.

Trooper224 05-05-2010 02:47 AM

Thanks for the excellent pictoral essay.

Here's my 14-4 I acquired from a local gunshow a couple of weeks ago.

niklas 05-05-2010 05:07 AM

Super nice post sir!! Love it! Here's mine M14-2 from 1966, factory single action.

bgrafsr 05-05-2010 07:06 AM

Excellent pictorial and essay. You have an outstanding collection of K-38's.

GF 05-05-2010 07:49 AM

Smithnut your essay is the kind of info I remember from when I first joined this forum. This level of S&W education has been missing, I thank you for bringing it back.


Iggy 05-05-2010 08:09 AM

A great presentation. Thank you for taking the time to create and post it.

We need more of this kind of thing.

SaxonPig 05-05-2010 08:52 AM

Super collection. I only have one K38 Masterpiece, a 14-3 from around 1969 that I bagged on GunBroker about 4 years ago at the starting price of $100.

bamabiker 05-05-2010 09:06 AM

Excellent thread. Thank you very much.

SmithNut 05-05-2010 09:27 AM

Thanks all, appreciate the comments....
I really enjoyed putting this together, the K-38 Masterpiece family has been sitting idle for some time and needed to get some sunlight... :)


Originally Posted by GyMac (Post 135462872)
Beautiful collection. Other than the Dayton guns, did K-38's ever come with PC magnas?

GyMac, the only K-38 Masterpiece variation that I've confirmed as shipped with PC Magnas is the Dayton gun, as you note. It's certainly possible that somewhere, showhow PC Magnas made it on a regular production gun, but it would have been one of those examples where they were out of standard Magnas and grabbed what was available, IMO......
The only other possibility would be one of the special order 4 inch guns made (other than the Dayton run) that could have been shipped with the PC/Modified Magnas......

Joe Kent 05-05-2010 09:51 AM

SmithNut, as always, a truly spectacular presentation. Thank you for sharing with the Forum. All My best, Joe.

Frank237 05-05-2010 10:07 AM

Thank You for an entertaining as well as educational post on the K-38.

FN in MT

DCWilson 05-05-2010 11:15 AM

A great collection and wonderful information! I didn't realize how little I knew about K-38s until I started reading this; it's nice to have a chance to reduce the ignorance a little.

I have only two, both five-screw pre-14s. The first is K100091, from December 1950. The gun is in pretty good shape except for a horrible area of localized corrosion around one cylinder flute; apparently the gun was left lying on a hostile surface for a period of time. The pitting is too deep to buff out and refinish, so this gun is just a nice old shooter. I'll show the good side. :)

The other one is a little more interesting -- K78197, February 1950. This came to me with the target hammer installed, and that may be its original configuration. I am awaiting a factory letter that should address that question. If this hammer is original, I believe this will be the lowest-numbered K38 known to have shipped with a target hammer. (But it won't be the earliest; I believe Mike Priwer has a target-hammer K-38 that shipped a month earlier but with a slightly higher serial number.)

The stocks on this one are not original, but the unrelieved diamond targets are age-appropriate. With the standard trigger it is currently a "2T" gun.

Deluxe64 05-05-2010 12:09 PM

This is the stuff that noobs like me need. Thanks for your efforts!


Pilgrim 05-05-2010 12:16 PM

Beautiful write up as usual. Thanks

I think we ought to have a special section in the forum where all these 'informal pictorial essays' of Mr SmithNut should be stored so all can see and learn.

These are too good to let disappear to the bottom of this section never to be seen again.

SmithNut 05-05-2010 12:54 PM

Thanks again, all....
Appreciate all the comments and would like to add that this info is just what I've learned from my long term interest in the K-38 Masterpiece (M14). It's certainly not, by any stretch of the imagination, a definitive piece of info, there's lots more to learn about this long-ignore (for the most part :)) model.
I've learned and benefited from others on this forum and within the collector community - notably Mike Priwer - who has shared his knowledge with me and others over the past few years. I've also benefited from being able to add to my collection from his generosity.
As relates this thread, I'd request that any and all who have pics or information on this fine example of S&W craftmanship, please add to and share what you know.
This is truly what this forum is about, learning and sharing. There are many new folks that join here looking for info to guide them, whether for a one-time request or long term enthusiast reasons. Let's help them where we can.

Regards, and Thanks again!

Be still 05-05-2010 01:43 PM

Glad to see your only Model 14 with the 8 3/8" barrel was from 1959, as I think that may have been when they were first offered. I never even thought of finding one from every year. That is quite a feat and I wish you well in your search. I have never seen a full lug version in 8 3/8" and it would be interesting to know if any were made.

I only wish there was a way to have your posts and pics together in a brochure.

Thank you for sharing. That was uplifting today.

wayneb 05-05-2010 04:13 PM

Well done!I hope the moderators save this somewhere.This is the kind of
presentation that is fundamental to the hobby.Great pictures,advertising
materials ,etc..Thanks
Wayne Byram

HAWKEYE10 05-05-2010 04:46 PM

:) Simply unbelievable!!! What a great show. Thanks Don

SmithNut 05-05-2010 07:27 PM


Originally Posted by MeAmMe (Post 135463313)
I only wish there was a way to have your posts and pics together in a brochure.

You are welcome to copy any and all the pics in this thread for your reference.
Thanks for the nice comments.
Knowing you were a K-38 Masterpiece/M14 guy I thought you'd enjoy the info.


wheelgun28 05-05-2010 07:54 PM

Nice thread, impressive collection!!

I have one 14-2 close in Sn to the OPs 1964 gun. My SN is K5513XX. Its also marked Mod 14-2 with the SN in the crane area. No markings on cylinder or barrel. Has target trigger and hammer, its wearing non marked diamond targets. I have no box for it or prior history. Mine is a shooter grade gun and a darn good shooter at that. Makes me look like I can shoot and I'm a bad shot :)

handejector 05-06-2010 03:40 PM

NICE thread, SmithNut.

kwill1911 05-06-2010 04:00 PM


It would be an easy matter to use your text and pictures to turn this into an article for the S&WCA Journal. Why not? My only wish would be to add some info/pics about the U.S. Military purchases of Model 14's.

Kevin Williams

TheHobbyist 05-06-2010 05:12 PM

Excellent Post.

The Model 14 / K38 masterpiece is a target-shooters best friend.

Thumbs up! :-)

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