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Old 10-16-2015, 02:36 PM
Al(Gilbert,AZ) Al(Gilbert,AZ) is offline
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Default Is this a K38 Masterpiece or Combat Masterpiece?

Recently acquired this well used K38, serial number 208537.
It has a 4" barrel with a Patridge front sight. I can't tell if the barrel has been customize, it doesn't look like it has been to me, but I'm no expert. Would appreciate your thoughts.
Additional info.....
It has a target hammer, and serial numbers on frame, cylinder, and barrel, all match.
So is it a Masterpiece with a 4" barrel, or a Combat Masterpiece with a Patridge front sight, or just a customize K38?
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Old 10-16-2015, 02:38 PM
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I'd say it's a cut down 6" barrel,the 4" of that era had a taper.
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Old 10-16-2015, 05:16 PM
smithman smithman is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arjay View Post
I'd say it's a cut down 6" barrel,the 4" of that era had a taper.
Would the lettering on the barrel be so centered if it were cut down?

Is that a dollop of JB weld holding that front sight on??!!
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Old 10-16-2015, 05:37 PM
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I'm with Smithman, if the barrel had been cut I don't think the lettering would be so well centered.
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Old 10-16-2015, 06:04 PM
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The key factor here is the shape at the top of the frame boss, just behind the barrel. That frame came with a heavy barrel, not a tapered barrel. Given that a serial number of K208537 puts shipping in 1953, this gun could not have shipped as a .38 Combat Masterpiece. None of those, by that time, had lost the angle taper on the front frame boss, because they were all still shipping with a tapered barrel. Only the K-38 Masterpiece at this time would have the flat frame boss.
I can't speak to the origin of that barrel and sight arrangement. But I'm absolutely convinced of the frame model.
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Old 10-16-2015, 06:09 PM
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Okay. I'm going to retract my comment about the barrel.

Take a look at the five screw revolver in this picture. It shipped in 1951, with a 6" heavy barrel. You can clearly see that the location of the cartridge designation is in the same place as the one in the OP's photo.

As previously established, the OP's frame is a K-38 Heavy Barrel Masterpiece frame that should be wearing a 6" barrel. Ergo, it almost certainly has a cut down six inch barrel.

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Old 10-16-2015, 10:50 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Why, oh why.
Bubba did a very nice job on the barrel crown after sawing it off, and then ruined it all by setting the sight ramp wrong.
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Old 10-16-2015, 11:41 PM
OIF2 OIF2 is offline
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Good chance that's an old LAPD-issued K38 that was cut down. Probably several hundred K38s got that treatment; a gunshop in Alhambra did the work. It also has a target hammer and narrow trigger, which most of the K38s from that era had.
Bob
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:05 PM
Al(Gilbert,AZ) Al(Gilbert,AZ) is offline
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Thank you all for the information provided, it's greatly appreciated. As a result, the seller has agreed to take the gun back. He said he was not aware the barrel was shortened and I believe him. Any idea what this gun is worth? Thanks again for your help.
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:45 PM
duckloads duckloads is offline
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The last time I was in Bud's gun shop, they had 4" K-38, (M10's) police trade-ins for around $280-$300.
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:45 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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I don't know the dollar value, but if it were cheap enough, I would buy it for a shooter. I don't have a 4" K frame except my Show and Tell early M19.
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Old 10-17-2015, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OIF2 View Post
Good chance that's an old LAPD-issued K38 that was cut down. Probably several hundred K38s got that treatment; a gunshop in Alhambra did the work......
Bob
Bob:
Was that done FOR the LAPD or to surplussed guns? If it was an on-duty modification, that would give it a certain interest from a police gun collector's point of view.
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Old 10-17-2015, 02:41 PM
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I think at some point the LAPD mandated 4" barrels on all duty revolvers. The 6" guns had to be swapped. Some guys loved their old guns and didn't want to swap them

BTW- Whenever I see a Patridge sight on a 4" K38 I am 99.99% certain it's been cut. I have never seen one that came that way.
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Old 10-17-2015, 03:15 PM
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Early first year 4" tapered CM's have been observed with the Patridge FS / short ramp base , IIRC special order 4' Wide rib 5 screw Masterpieces have also popped up but IMO the revolver pictured in the OP is a cut down 6" "Heavy Masterpiece" as indicated by the muzzle crown and FS mounting method.

Although collector value is gone if mechanically correct and shoots good I would have no problem paying up to $300 for it,

Last edited by Engine49guy; 10-17-2015 at 04:14 PM.
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Old 10-17-2015, 03:34 PM
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On a side note while not an "Official" S&W product name I refer to a 4" wide rib 4 or 5 screw revolver as a "Heavy Combat Masterpiece",
This is not to be confused with the 14-2 Heavy Barrel "Hanen Special" aka Dayton gun .

Model marked guns are easier as you can just say its a "Factory four inch Model 14-3" etc.
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Old 10-17-2015, 03:46 PM
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"Although collector value is gone if mechanically correct and shoots good I would have no problem paying up to $300 for it"
As would be the case today for most any K-frame meeting that description that's short of being downright ugly.
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Old 10-17-2015, 10:04 PM
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Below file photos of a Combat Masterpiece, K87xxx, Masterpiece K23xxx and a Heavy Barrel K185xxx; all in 38 Spl.
Just from the pix, I don't see any clear frame difference between the two light weight barrel models. The heavy weight does appear different in frame top - forward region. Sorry no better pix readily available, but hope these help!
iskra
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Old 10-17-2015, 10:48 PM
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The post war 6" Masterpiece and 4" Combat Masterpiece had the same frame and tapered barrel profile with different lengths and front site styles until 1950 when the 6" wide rib "Heavy Masterpiece" appeared ,
Initially both versions were produced simultaneously but by 1955 the 6" wide rib Masterpiece had totally supplanted the 6" tapered barrel version.

After 1955 the 4" CM and 6" Masterpiece had a frame design that did not interchange because of the barrel profile where it meets the frame.

During the dash 5 revision the Model 14 and 15 frames finally shared the same frame but again had different style barrels.

Last edited by Engine49guy; 10-17-2015 at 10:55 PM.
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OIF2 View Post
Good chance that's an old LAPD-issued K38 that was cut down. Probably several hundred K38s got that treatment; a gunshop in Alhambra did the work. It also has a target hammer and narrow trigger, which most of the K38s from that era had.
Bob
Had one of those cut down guns issued to me at Alhambra PD when I was a Reserve. It shot surprisingly well. Done by "Wayne the Gunsmith" who had a shop at New and Valley in Alhambra. APD had him cut down all their 6" guns around 1979 or so.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Engine49guy View Post
The post war 6" Masterpiece and 4" Combat Masterpiece had the same frame and tapered barrel profile with different lengths and front site styles until 1950 when the 6" wide rib "Heavy Masterpiece" appeared ,
Initially both versions were produced simultaneously but by 1955 the 6" wide rib Masterpiece had totally supplanted the 6" tapered barrel version.

After 1955 the 4" CM and 6" Masterpiece had a frame design that did not interchange because of the barrel profile where it meets the frame.

During the dash 5 revision the Model 14 and 15 frames finally shared the same frame but again had different style barrels.
This is correct. If you go back to my post #6, the point I was making is that the OP's frame came on a Heavy Barrel model and since the CM did not have heavy barrels at this time, the frame could not be a CM frame, it had to have been a K-38 frame.
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Old 05-19-2017, 03:50 PM
automan71 automan71 is offline
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I have one serial# k790xx, dates to 1949. I started a thread about it recently, and I'm in the process of having it lettered. Yours is the only other one I've seen with this configuration. Mine has the wide rib, non-tapered barrel as well. The only difference I see with mine is that the sight is about 3/16 from end of the barrel. Most that have looked at it, say its appears to be factory. I guess with the letter we will see. Lol
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Old 05-19-2017, 11:56 PM
GerSan69 GerSan69 is offline
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How about another one?
4-inch .38 Masterpiece
I picked mine up back in January here in the Phoenix area.
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Old 05-22-2017, 06:16 PM
iskra iskra is offline
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Below is a photo of my 'normal' 6" barrel c. 1951 "Heavy Masterpiece" 38 Spl., SN K185xxx. File pix, quality-mediocre, yet perhaps discernible the nomenclature location. The positioning appears identical with the subject gun. Also in an adjacent Thread (above) within this Forum, discussion concerning a 5" Masterpiece. There including photo(s) of such like guns. Visible nomenclature also appearing in quite similarly close (1 mm) positioning.

My impression that the subject gun serial number does not refute such special configuration. That the nomenclature placement does not especially support it. The side observation, A partridge sight perhaps inferentially inconsistent with four inch barrel configuration.

Without supporting factory documentation, the case for non-factory alteration seeming greater under 'more likely than not' probabilities.
Just my take
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