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Old 07-01-2017, 05:11 PM
nsfdfiremed nsfdfiremed is offline
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Default 1953 5" Combat Masterpiece

I wanted to thank the experts here on the forum for all the info on this interesting old K frame. I originally hoped that it was 1 of the 365 guns special ordered for the Missouri State Highway in 1952. Through everyone's help it appears to be 1953 manufacture, most likely using up the remaining parts. Based on some of the comments regarding the uniqueness of this gun I sent for an archive letter from S&W, I will post the information from that once I receive it. The grips are early unrelieved factory target stocks that someone has put a fair amount of effort into checkering and styling. If anyone can provide more details please do so, I greatly appreciate everyone's help so far!
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:40 PM
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Beautiful revolver. This is a learning point for me. I always thought a "combat masterpiece" was a 4" barrel.
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Old 07-01-2017, 06:03 PM
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Although very simple and plain, that's close to a grail gun for me!
My 4" CM is a favorite, and my 5" pre-27 is spectacular!
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Old 07-01-2017, 06:28 PM
linde linde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Targets Guy View Post
Beautiful revolver. This is a learning point for me. I always thought a "combat masterpiece" was a 4" barrel.
Good question . . . those of us who researched the MSHP special order concluded the factory considered the 6" barrel with Patridge target front sight a "Masterpiece" and anything less than 6" with Baughman ramp front sight a "Combat Masterpiece".

Attached is the invoice for one of the shipments to the MSHP that confirms their model name. There are also pictures of the box confirming the same but I can't seem to locate one right now.

Factory historical letters have referred to these 5" special order guns as "Masterpiece" . . . in part, I believe, because there was never a catalogued listing for the 5". The MSHP guns did not have 5" forged barrels but rather started out 6" Masterpieces and were factory modified to 5" and front sights changed.

Whatever we call them, they are one outstanding and well-balanced firearm and were revered by the Missouri troopers who carried them from 1952 to 1976.

Russ
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1953 5" Combat Masterpiece-mshp-invoice-50-units-june-13-1952-jpg  

Last edited by linde; 07-01-2017 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 07-02-2017, 12:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linde View Post
Whatever we call them, they are one outstanding and well-balanced firearm and were revered by the Missouri troopers who carried them from 1952 to 1976.
Yes. And revered by their current owners as well!
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Old 07-02-2017, 01:14 AM
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Mine lettered as a 5" MSHP Masterpiece. I called Roy asking if that was a mistake and he said it wasn't, that is the correct nomenclature. But anyway, it's one of my favorites!



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Last edited by jsfricks; 07-02-2017 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 07-02-2017, 07:00 AM
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Default 5" Model 15

Great informative thread and photos. However, I wish I hadn't read it
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Old 07-02-2017, 08:15 AM
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Also one of my favorites. Mine letters as being open in factory records so no history possible and it is stamped Model 14-2. Manufactured in the Spring of 1963 with serial # K494554. Roy's thought is that it was "used for a promotion and delivered to one of the company executives and shipped out on what is called a Memo account. These accounts sometimes were not properly recorded in the records".

Stu

Last edited by stu1ritter; 07-17-2017 at 07:26 AM. Reason: updated text from letter
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Old 07-02-2017, 08:09 PM
Walter Rego Walter Rego is offline
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This one lettered as a Model 14-2 K-38 Masterpiece "Special Production Barrel Length" and was one of 24 identically configured guns shipped to American Wholesale Hardware Co. in Long Beach, CA on 1/13/64. One end of the box lid is printed with the standard silver ink description that says 6-inch barrel but the hand written label on the other end says 5 in the barrel section. There are 23 more of them out there.
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Old 07-16-2017, 05:38 PM
nsfdfiremed nsfdfiremed is offline
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Default Nuts!

I received my S&W archive letter, Mr. Jinks informed me that my gun is 1954 manufacture that originally had a 4" barrel! Apparently sometime after it left the factory a 5" barrel was swapped onto it. Very disappointing but it is still a great gun.
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Old 07-16-2017, 05:48 PM
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Does the tapered vs. non-tapered barrel come into play on the Combat Masterpiece vs. Masterpiece?
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:04 PM
linde linde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peak53 View Post
Does the tapered vs. non-tapered barrel come into play on the Combat Masterpiece vs. Masterpiece?
Well . . . sorta-kinda.

The 6" Masterpiece when introduced in 6/47 utilized the tapered barrel. In 2/49 the 6" Heavy Masterpiece was introduced. From 2/49 until 9/53 both versions were available . . . although most buyers preferred and bought the Heavy barrel. In 9/53 the tapered barrel 6" Masterpiece was discontinued.

In late 1949 the 4" Combat Masterpiece was introduced with and continued to use the tapered barrel throughout its production years.

Hope I've sorta-kinda answered your question,

Russ
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:14 PM
linde linde is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsfdfiremed View Post
I received my S&W archive letter, Mr. Jinks informed me that my gun is 1954 manufacture that originally had a 4" barrel! Apparently sometime after it left the factory a 5" barrel was swapped onto it. Very disappointing but it is still a great gun.
I believe that's a first . . . at least in my research of the 5" CM. I've seen several 6" Masterpieces cut down to 5", but never one with a barrel replacement . . . or a barrel stretching job

The normal method of checking for an original barrel is the matching serial number to the frame. Don't recall if we discussed that or not.

If done by the S&W factory, a barrel swap would have a matching s/n stamped on the barrel flat. It would also likely have a re-work date stamped on the left side of the grip frame under the wood stocks. It would look something like 4.56 for April 1956.

A factory barrel swap would help the value but would be unusual after 1954 since most (if not all) of the 6" tapered barrels were used up by then.

Russ
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Old 07-16-2017, 07:35 PM
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This is a box from an Illinois State Police gun calling gun a K 38 Heavy Master Piece
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linde View Post
Well . . . sorta-kinda.

The 6" Masterpiece when introduced in 6/47 utilized the tapered barrel. In 2/49 the 6" Heavy Masterpiece was introduced. From 2/49 until 9/53 both versions were available . . . although most buyers preferred and bought the Heavy barrel. In 9/53 the tapered barrel 6" Masterpiece was discontinued.

In late 1949 the 4" Combat Masterpiece was introduced with and continued to use the tapered barrel throughout its production years.

Hope I've sorta-kinda answered your question,

Russ
Thanks for the clarifications. I guess my point is that a 5" K 38 with a heavy barrel cannot be a CM.
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:41 PM
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Thanks for the clarifications. I guess my point is that a 5" K 38 with a heavy barrel cannot be a CM.
Well . . . cannot is a very strong word! Your statement would be a good rule . . . IF S&W followed rules.

If we're talking about general production (i.e. catalogued) items) . . . and we accept the premise that a Masterpiece with less than a 6" barrel with Baughman ramp front sight IS a Combat Masterpiece . . . then your statement is still a good rule of thumb.

But then there are the special orders and what I call "market test" special production runs.

Under special orders for example, in 1957 S&W produced a 4" Heavy Combat Masterpiece with Baughman ramp front sight for the Kansas City Missouri P.D. And there were orders for other agencies including the Border Patrol that have been documented.

Under special production runs, we know S&W produced a group of 4" Model 14-3s with Baughman ramp front sights in 1971 that were shipped to several well-known S&W distributors for what I can only believe was a market test . . . i.e. they were not for a particular law enforcement agency or department. A picture of one such example is below.

And then there were the 4" (Extra) Heavy Model 14-2 Dayton Guns . . . but then that's a whole different story.

Probably much more than you wanted to know . . . but whenever we use words such a always, never or cannot . . . you know there will be exceptions when it comes to S&W. But that's some of the fun of studying and collecting Smith & Wessons!

Russ
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Old 07-17-2017, 01:07 AM
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Interesting modification to the checkering on the stocks too.

1953 5" Combat Masterpiece-20170701_153037-jpg
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Old 07-17-2017, 08:45 AM
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Lettered correct, or not, I like the revolver and wish it was mine! Thanks for posting.
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Old 07-17-2017, 12:05 PM
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This is invoice for what I believe were last of K 38 KCPD revolvers. No model name just called K 38


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Old 07-17-2017, 01:24 PM
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Quote:
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This is invoice for what I believe were last of K 38 KCPD revolvers. No model name just called K 38
Looks like it says M14 (as in, Model 14) K-38, 4" barrel.
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by linde View Post
Well . . . cannot is a very strong word! Your statement would be a good rule . . . IF S&W followed rules.

If we're talking about general production (i.e. catalogued) items) . . . and we accept the premise that a Masterpiece with less than a 6" barrel with Baughman ramp front sight IS a Combat Masterpiece . . . then your statement is still a good rule of thumb.

But then there are the special orders and what I call "market test" special production runs.

Under special orders for example, in 1957 S&W produced a 4" Heavy Combat Masterpiece with Baughman ramp front sight for the Kansas City Missouri P.D. And there were orders for other agencies including the Border Patrol that have been documented.

Under special production runs, we know S&W produced a group of 4" Model 14-3s with Baughman ramp front sights in 1971 that were shipped to several well-known S&W distributors for what I can only believe was a market test . . . i.e. they were not for a particular law enforcement agency or department. A picture of one such example is below.

And then there were the 4" (Extra) Heavy Model 14-2 Dayton Guns . . . but then that's a whole different story.

Probably much more than you wanted to know . . . but whenever we use words such a always, never or cannot . . . you know there will be exceptions when it comes to S&W. But that's some of the fun of studying and collecting Smith & Wessons!

Russ
Thanks for your insight! I guess this clears it up ... as much as possible
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