Need help on S&W models 14, 15 and K38


June 13, 2006, 09:45 PM
I'm interested, but also confused in couple of S&W wheelguns.
Are there significant differences between the models 14 and 15.? They look the same to me, but there must be something different to go from one model number to another. Are models 14 and 15 also named K-38.? Are they one of the same.? Any pictures around.?

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June 13, 2006, 09:56 PM
They are essentially the same revolver with a very few minor differences.

The K-38 Target Masterpiece, along with the K-22 and K-32, were S&W's post-WWII return to competition revolvers. From what I have heard they were very good. The K-38 became the Model 14 in 1957 when S&W began using model numbers.

The Model 15 was a 4" version made in response to Law Enforcement requests for a 4" version of the K-38. It started life in 1949 as the Combat Masterpiece.

Roy Jinks has a good section in his book History of Smith & Wesson if you would like more detail.

June 13, 2006, 09:57 PM
The Model 14 and the K-38 are the same gun, although there are some evolutionary differences between the pre-14 K-38s and later guns.

The Model 15 is the "Combat Masterpiece". It's a similar gun, but with a 4" rather than a 6" barrel.

All of them are very accurate revolvers.

June 13, 2006, 10:14 PM
The M14 or K38 Target Masterpiece has a heavy target barrel and the Patridge target front sight. The M15 or K38 Combat Masterpiece has the lighter tapered barrel and the Baughman ramped front sight.

June 13, 2006, 10:41 PM

These various pics are all of a K-38 Combat Masterpiece with (as others before me have described) a 4" barrel and the Baughman ramped front sight. My particular example has a factory nickel finish, though they were also produced w/a blued finish as well.

June 14, 2006, 12:39 AM
Here is my Model 15-4 Combat Masterpiece. Great shooting gun.

June 14, 2006, 05:54 AM
i have the k22,k32 and the k38.the serial no,s begin with a k.are they model 14,15or what? there is no other no,s.

June 14, 2006, 09:11 AM
Back in the old, old days we used the Model 14 designation to identify the single action only version of the K-38.
The double action .38 special was always known as the K-38 Masterpiece.
Smith cheapened the revolvers up around 1986 and dropped the K-38 designation renaming the gun Model 15, 6" Target
K-22s were known as K-22s until about 1957 when Smith changed the barrel to a heavy non-tapered version.
After that they were known as the Model 17, K-22 Masterpiece.

K-32s are rare as purple frogs, same as the .22s they were known as K-32s until 1957 or thereabouts when it became known as the Model 16, K-32 Masterpiece.HTH

June 14, 2006, 12:14 PM
Are they one of the same.? Any pictures around.?

As the others have said, they are essentially the same gun. Depending on the dash number and year, they can be almost identical.



swdon, the model 14 and 15 are in .38 special. If your K-38 doesn't have the model stamped on the yoke, it would be generally called Pre-14 or 15. IE: an orignial K-38.


June 15, 2006, 05:56 AM
thanks alot joe hatley. i am new at this,will try to get pictures as soon i can. all three models are great shooters. have a good day....swdon

June 15, 2006, 09:09 AM
Any K frame .38 can be called a K38 but when someone uses that term generally they mean the Target Masterpiece (became the Model 14 in 1957). These traditionally came in 6" and 8&3/8" barrel lengths. The Combat Masterpiece (Model 15) is the same gun with a 4" barrel. A very few 5" Model 15s were made over the years.

Sometime in the 1990s S&W combined the two guns into one model and you started seeing 4" M14s.

BTW- The info posted above about the Model 14 being the single action version is incorrect. Both DA and SA models were offered but all were called thesame model number and the SA guns had no extra markings. The SA guns are fairly rare as most shooters didn't want the SA only version.

June 15, 2006, 12:04 PM
I have a Single Action Only Mod-14-3 K-38 with a 6" barrel, manufacture mid-70s or so.

The box doesn't say K-38 on it anywhere; but it does have "SA" written in the "special features" box.

The single action guns are sweet, by the way. The cylinder locks up 100% tight, with none of the play all the DAs have. Pulling the trigger without cocking just turns the cylinder.

June 15, 2006, 11:11 PM
I didn't say the Model 14 was the single action version.
I said that folks in my area referred to the single action as the Model 14 and the double action as the K-38.

June 15, 2006, 11:41 PM
The K-38 Target Masterpiece, AKA Pre-Model 14 became the Model 14 in 1957. It had a six inch barrel and a partridge front sight. There was also a full lug Model 14, as well as a single action version. Production began in 1946.

The K-38 Combat Masterpiece or Pre-Model 15 is essentially the same revolver with a four inch barrel and a Baughman Quick Draw front sight. It became the Model 15 in 1957. Production began in 1949 after the FBI and other law enforcement agencies requested that S&W shorten the K-38's barrel and add a Baughman sight. I blogged on these revolvers not long ago here ( if you are interested in a bit more info/history.

Among S&W afficianados a K-38 generally denotes a pre-1957 revolver. The Combat or Target designation denotes barrel length. It is kosher to call a post 1957 gun a K-38, but occasionally a S&W afficianado will call you on it. It's kind of like calling a magazine a clip.

Here's my old K-38.

Here's my Model 15-3

Same revolver, but the K-38 is from a different era. It shows in the fitting and trigger pull too.

June 16, 2006, 12:50 PM
I just happened to find my June 2006 copy of G&A. It had a short article about a beautiful 1959 K-38 Target Masterpiece that the author picked up from a retired LAPD Officer. Interestingly enough, the box pictured in the article (which should be the one the author has) is marked "K38 HEAVY MASTERPIECE" instead of Model 14.

Trick question: What "model" is pictured below:

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