Q regarding N vs L vs K frames


October 31, 2004, 04:16 PM
I often hear that K-frames can't handle steady diets of magnum ammo. I also hear that K frames are easier to carry than L or N frames.

Thing is, I checked them out at the local gun shop and saw some interesting things.

I compared my 4" 629 to a 4" 686 and 4"66.

I found the length and height to be about exactly the same. The width was negligible in difference between the .357s and about 1/8" wider for the 629, though I'm not sure if that's a frame issue or the fact it's a .44 and the otehrs are .357s.

So what makes the K-frame "smaller and weaker" than the L-frame? What makes them harder to carry than an N-frame (surely 1/8" of width isn't a big deal?)?

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PI Rob
October 31, 2004, 05:56 PM
Most of the time, I think the issues are the width of the cylinder and how much of it pokes you in the side and the weight of the gun. Having carried both the N frame and the K frame, the K frame is more comfortable to me. I don't have any experience with the L frame other than fondling them at the gun shop. Hope this helps.


October 31, 2004, 06:11 PM
OK, I never CCWed an L or K frame, didn't know if the cylinder width was the big deal or not. I carry the 629s IWB, appendix style, so it never bothered me.

What about the weakness thing? Is the topstrap thinner (didn't look to be, but I didn't have my calipers there either)? Is the forcing cone different?

PI Rob
October 31, 2004, 07:18 PM
As far as the weakness thing goes, I don't think the K frame is weak. There are alot of threads on this forum and the smith-wesson forum that cover this topic and then some. My opinion is that it will take more time, effort, and money than I have to shoot my K frame to pieces. I shoot two or three boxes of 38's (whatever is on sale) and maybe a box or two of .357's (usually Win 145gr silver-tips) for practice. The silver tip is my carry round. I'm comfortable with my K frame and it makes me happy.

I really couldn't tell you about the thickness of the top strap. I've never measured one. The forcing cones are different on the K and L frames, but again, I haven't measured them. I'm sure some other forum members could give you the exact mesurements.

If one type of frame feels better than another, if it catches your eye, or if there's just something about that gun, then that's probably the one you should go with. I'm a firm believer in gut feelings.

On the other hand, I've never owned an L frame and now I'm thinking I need one. Hmmm....

October 31, 2004, 08:32 PM
The L and N frames weigh more. Basically the L frame, they beefed up the K frame cylinder a bit and some other parts, which make a tiny bit bigger, and several ounces heavier (more steel).

November 1, 2004, 01:58 AM
If you look at the forcing cone of a K-frame you will see that the bottom has a chiseled flat surface to allow the yoke room to close in the frame. This makes the forcing cone thinner in that one area and therfore weaker.
The frame window of the L-frame is bigger and there is no cutout on the forcing cone giving it more metal all the way around therefore stronger.
If you weigh all three frames you will see that the K-frame is the lightest, followed by the L-frame, and the N-frame being the heaviest of the three.

November 1, 2004, 06:16 AM
Majic, thanks, so the K-frames have been cracking at this cutout in the forcing cone?

Would thqat mean that the L-frame guns would be as strong as the old N-frame .357s (model 27)?

November 1, 2004, 08:58 AM
The biggest thing to take into consideration is the thickness of the cylinder walls. It's usually the cylinder that blows up first.

A few thousandths of an inch can make a big difference.

Especially on six shot revolvers where the locking notch is cut directly over the chamber.

November 1, 2004, 10:27 AM
The L-frame is a compromise. It is stronger than the K-frame, but it still doesn't have the mass of the N-frame and will never equal it's strength. The N-frame is really overkill for the .357 caliber as it was designed for the .44 caliber big bore.

November 2, 2004, 05:52 AM
OK, thanks for the answers, guys.

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