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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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  #1  
Old 08-14-2014, 12:58 AM
Hawgleg44 Hawgleg44 is offline
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Default Why send a Smith revolver to Karl Sokol?

This is why!

Karl (http://chestnutmountainsports.com) has been building my custom carry and competition Smith and Wesson revolvers since my first carry gun (a 3" Model 65) when I turned 21. That was a long time ago, and he's been building competition revolvers for my father longer than that. He's done other rifle and shotgun jobs for me too and I've always been very happy with his work.

Several years ago I had Karl build me two more carry guns, a 3" 13 and a 2-1/2" 66. I use them both constantly for carry and IDPA, but there are a few details I wanted to change.

First, I like the 2-1/2" barrel length but I hate the fact that you don't have a full length extractor with it. Even if I would overlook that, the 66 has adjustable sights and I prefer fixed. So I decided to spec out my "Perfect" carry revolver and have Karl tackle the project.

First off, it had to be a K-Frame. I find the K to be just the right size, large enough to shoot all day and small enough to easily conceal with a good holster. Next, I wanted a .357 magnum, so I could train with my .38 Special cast bullet reloads and carry my favorite 125gr Hornady Critical Defense .357's. Stainless Steel, fixed sights and a round butt were also necessities.

I dug through my pile of Smith K-Frames and found the perfect donor gun for the project, a 4" police trade-in Model 65-3 that was still mechanically tight. Now for the specs:

-Square to Round Butt conversion and the same smooth Precision Gun Specialties hard nylon "Hideout" grips that Karl put on my first 3" Model 65 he built for my 21st birthday.

-Double Action Only conversion. If you don't know why, take Michael de Bethencourt's snub class and LEARN!!! I decided to retain a small rounded hammer spur so I can thumb back the hammer for the ability to spin the cylinder to check for high primers without having to slightly pull the trigger.

-Chambers chamfered for easier reloads.

-Internal trigger overtravel stop.

-4" barrel shortened to 2-1/2". Obviously, the barrel markings would be partially cut off so Karl slab-sided the barrel and recessed the muzzle. On a factory S&W revolver there are two cylinder locking points. One is at the rear in the middle of the extractor star and the other is at the front of the ejector rod. With a 4" barrel shortened this much the front locking point has to be removed. Karl left a small amount of the front locking point under the barrel after TIG welding the hole to protect the ejector rod from being bent. Karl then added a ball detent on the yoke to act as the second cylinder locking point.

-Every carry revolver I've ever had Karl build for me has the same specs for the trigger. I always tell him to smooth the action without lightening the weight of the pull. I've never found that a light revolver trigger pull is necessary for accurate revolver shooting. As long as the trigger pull is smooth and consistent throughout the pull, the weight is irrelevant.

-Next came the front sight. Karl dovetailed the barrel and made a custom fiber optic sight. You can't buy a fiber optic short enough to work on a Smith revolver with fixed sights. Karl simply machined a front sight, then when he had the sight height regulated, he machined it and installed a red fiber optic rod.

-All that was left was a complete dehorning of all the sharp edges and a bead blasted finish.

I took all of these pictures tonight because starting tomorrow, the holster wear will start. This is a tool, not a safe queen. When I pass it on to my daughter, it's not going to look anything like it does now!

Here it is. It is truly my perfect carry revolver. Even when I tackle my 5-shot .44 Special Ruger GP-100, I don't think this one will ever be dethroned as the King of my carry guns.



















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Last edited by Hawgleg44; 08-14-2014 at 09:02 AM.
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:44 AM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Quote:
I decided to retain a small rounded hammer spur so I can thumb back the hammer for the ability to spin the cylinder to check for high primers without having to slightly pull the trigger.
This is a GREAT idea, especially if you shoot reloads, especially if you shoot competition and those reloads have to shoot all day.
I am sorry I did not realize it when I had my M686 set up for SSR and let the guy completely bob the hammer.
I wonder if I could get a spur added back somehow.
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:47 AM
nyeti nyeti is offline
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That is an exceptionally well thought out and well executed carry gun. Nice work.
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:08 AM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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An excellent example of knowing what you want and getting exactly that built! I hadn't heard of your 'smith before, but he is very obviously good at what he does if it works as well as it looks. Congratulations.

Froggie
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:30 AM
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Default Great Work

It is sure nice to see the work of someone who knows what he is doing.
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:52 AM
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I could never get that excited over fiber optic sights, but I have to admit...the front sight on your revolver is a thing of beauty. It simply looks exactly right for that revolver.
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:42 AM
qballwill qballwill is offline
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That is truly a well thought out and laid out custom gun. Very practical. I would much rather see that come from S&W Performance Center than the Gunsmoke 637. Absolutely Beautiful!!!!
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Old 08-14-2014, 08:50 AM
Hawgleg44 Hawgleg44 is offline
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Originally Posted by qballwill View Post
That is truly a well thought out and laid out custom gun. Very practical. I would much rather see that come from S&W Performance Center than the Gunsmoke 637. Absolutely Beautiful!!!!
Unfortunately, you won't see a revolver of this quality from the PC anymore. I've owned a PC Model 66 F-Comp and was extremely disappointed in the quality of the "custom" work. I would put any of my Sokol guns up against it, and have at the club, and everyone who shot them both felt my Sokol guns were 10x the gun the F-Comp was.

The Performance Center had its day when they turned out truly custom guns, and their work rivaled the best custom gunsmiths out there. Unfortunately with the retirement of the old timers who built the PC into that level of a shop, the PC has turned into a semi-custom production shop now.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:43 AM
AveragEd AveragEd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
I wonder if I could get a spur added back somehow.
Sure - just replace the hammer with one modified to suit your latest desires. Just because you aren't female doesn't mean you aren't allowed to change your mind.

Ed
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:06 AM
MikeinCO MikeinCO is offline
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Perfection! I have heard of Karl's legendary work for years but never had a project worthy of his talent. Your vision and his work have created an truly amazing piece both in function and form. Congrats!
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:08 AM
nsl nsl is offline
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How much does something like that cost?
Also, can guys like this take a revolver you are not really satisfied with, and make it the way S&W should have?
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:11 AM
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VERY nice gun, Karl does great work. I've had him work on several of my smith revolvers. and had him build a custom long range (1000 meter) .223 rifle using a Savage 110 as a donor, with the right loads that thing shoots 1/2 MOA
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:51 AM
tango-papa tango-papa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyeti View Post
That is an exceptionally well thought out and well executed carry gun. Nice work.
^^^What he said...^^^

I have a similar type project in mind involving a pair of S&W M28-2 HP's with 6" barrels.
They will be done at the same time and will be identical (5" barreled defensive weapons).
Mr. Sokol is at the top of my list of Gunsmith's I would like to have bring my project to life.

Thank you taking the time to post the details and photos of your build.

tp

Last edited by tango-papa; 08-14-2014 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:14 AM
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How much does something like that cost?
I'm guessing this is one of those times: IF you have to ask; you can't afford it!!!!


Beautiful, strictly business looking, revolver! Congratulations to the owner.............

Last edited by Road Rat; 08-14-2014 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:37 AM
GrantA GrantA is online now
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NICE pistol!
Quote:
Originally Posted by nsl View Post
How much does something like that cost?
Also, can guys like this take a revolver you are not really satisfied with, and make it the way S&W should have?
See here Chestnut Mountain Sports Prices
It's truly a custom now and I'm sure it shoots and handles like a dream
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:38 AM
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It's awesome the way he machined(milled), blended and smoothed the slab side. I think it's an optical illusion but it almost looks like the barrel gets larger at the muzzle.
Well done.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:50 AM
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Man do I ever want on of those!
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
This is a GREAT idea, especially if you shoot reloads, especially if you shoot competition and those reloads have to shoot all day.
I am sorry I did not realize it when I had my M686 set up for SSR and let the guy completely bob the hammer.
I wonder if I could get a spur added back somehow.
Why not just get a new hammer? You'd have to remove the old one anyway if you were going to try and add a new spur. And while you have the hammer off, get a new action job if you need it. In for a penny, in for a pound.
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Old 08-14-2014, 12:29 PM
Hawgleg44 Hawgleg44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Road Rat View Post
I'm guessing this is one of those times: IF you have to ask; you can't afford it!!!!


Beautiful, strictly business looking, revolver! Congratulations to the owner.............
Karl is very reasonable with his prices for the quality of work he does. He's a true one-man shop, which most of the gunsmiths you THINK are actually aren't.

I think you would be very pleasantly surprised at his price for the work. Shoot him an email to discuss your projects. Email is the best way since, being a one man shop, he can't keep stopping work on customers' guns to answer the phone. But if you send him an email, he WILL get back to you.

Karl makes custom guns like this affordable for the average person. Just because you see articles on his guns in the magazines doesn't mean he triples his prices like everyone else did when they started to become well known!
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Old 08-14-2014, 01:50 PM
nyeti nyeti is offline
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I have one of the Black and Green PC 681 3" guns back at Smith right now because it doesn't go bang and has several issues. If it ever gets back, I will probably send it to Sokol for the same front sight and some other upgrades. To me it is the near perfect defensive revolver, but it needs some work better than the base that was done at the Performance Center.
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Old 08-14-2014, 03:45 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is offline
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Originally Posted by WATCHDOG View Post
Why not just get a new hammer? You'd have to remove the old one anyway if you were going to try and add a new spur. And while you have the hammer off, get a new action job if you need it. In for a penny, in for a pound.
Because it has a very nice action already; smooth and light DAO.
If I could get a spur inset into the existing hammer it would save having to start over.
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Old 08-14-2014, 04:22 PM
CIsland CIsland is offline
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I'm a big fan of 65's. Yours is a work of art!!
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Old 08-14-2014, 05:42 PM
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I hear Karl does awesome work and by the looks of it, theyre right.... happy shooting!
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:08 PM
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That gun is an absolute work of art in both planning and execution. Just doesn't get any better than a fixed sight K frame.

How long did you have to wait for the build?
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Old 08-14-2014, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nsl View Post
How much does something like that cost?
Also, can guys like this take a revolver you are not really satisfied with, and make it the way S&W should have?
Karl is very reasonably priced. I've had him work a 617 that I used for bullseye shooting so that the double action pull was pure pleasure, I've also had him work on IDPA revolvers, and a carry revolver. he know what he's doing and does a great job listening to what you need and makes it happen.
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:04 PM
Hawgleg44 Hawgleg44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KLYDE View Post
That gun is an absolute work of art in both planning and execution. Just doesn't get any better than a fixed sight K frame.

How long did you have to wait for the build?
The time I had to wait for mine to get done wouldn't be the same for yours. I've been friends with Karl well over 20 years and I tell him the same thing every time I send a job to him. I have plenty of guns to carry so I tell him to work on my projects as fill-in jobs whenever he has spare time. When you email him about your specific jobs, he can let you know an approximate timeframe.

That said, he is a one man shop so keep that in mind. If he says it should be done in six weeks, DON'T start calling and emailing him on day 43 complaining your gun isn't delivered back to you yet! He has had customers like that before.

I look at custom work like this like I do my NFA stamps. I know approximately how long it will take, so I send it off and forget about it until I get the surprise that it's ready. If you call constantly checking the progress of your build, you are only taking time away from your build and making it take longer!
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Old 08-14-2014, 09:11 PM
Hawgleg44 Hawgleg44 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
Because it has a very nice action already; smooth and light DAO.
If I could get a spur inset into the existing hammer it would save having to start over.
The amount of welding and blending that would have to be done to add a spur to an existing bobbed hammer would cost far more than installing and fitting a new hammer, then doing another action job.
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:20 PM
9mmsubgun-m11 9mmsubgun-m11 is offline
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Beautiful piece of equipment!
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Old 08-14-2014, 10:44 PM
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I knew Karl when he was here in MA, and have also had him work on a couple of 1911 guns since he went up to VT. He does superb work, whether it's a minor project or a full-house custom like the beautiful Model 65 above.
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Old 08-14-2014, 11:18 PM
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Thoughtful mods, Ö executed with style. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Jerry
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Old 04-15-2015, 06:14 PM
Shorty 45 MK2 Shorty 45 MK2 is offline
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I know I'm digging this one up.

But had to say WOW! That is one sweet set up. Thanks for sharing.

Any chance on a up date? Ok, just an excuse for more photos.
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