What is the best S&W .38 ?


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Tubwaa
July 30, 2006, 04:51 AM
Is it the Model 14, the 65 or the 686 ?...or something else entirely

I want to get a quality .38 with a 6" barrel. There is a great looking Model 14 for sale at my club but have been told to hold off for the Model 65, then someone else says the 686.....

thanks for any help

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Matt King
July 30, 2006, 04:55 AM
The Smith and Wesson Model 10 is a great gun, and I suggest that you check it out. I don't know if they have any with a 6 inch barrel, though.

lawson
July 30, 2006, 05:30 AM
i agree on the Model 10, but if you want in 6", get the Model 14. My dad has a 14 and it's a great shooter.

Majic
July 30, 2006, 05:39 AM
The M65 and the M686 are .357 magnums. The M10 while a great gun has fixed sights as the M14 has adjustable sights. Want the best S&W then find a nice .38/44 Outdoorsman. Now the M14 is a great target revolver, but the big Outdoorsman is a joy to shoot.

Stainz
July 30, 2006, 08:15 AM
If it has to be a 6"-er, the absolute best .38/.357M of that length I have handled is my 6" 66-6 bought new on closeout three years back. You have the great 'pointability' of the 19/66's - with that longer barrel. I use mine for wimpy .357M's (900 fps max) and .38's. Oddly, the 158gr LHPSWC .38 Special +P, aka 'FBI load', I chrono-ed at 994 fps - the fastest ammo it's seen. Great .38 plinker - I fitted it the day it arrived with Ahrends square conversion stocks, reduced power Wolff leaf spring, and a HiViz front sight.

I bought a new 5" h-l 686+ 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive' a year later. It has the same sight and stocks I put on the 66 - and a V-notch. It's the sole half lug 686/686+ I've seen - I don't appreciate full lugs like other folks seem to. I recently ignored that and traded for a PC 627 V-Comp, an eight shooter whose full shroud I can live with... it is my finest .38 - and a definite suggestion, if you can live with the 5" barrel - and without food for a while (They are pricey!).

Stainz

Master Blaster
July 30, 2006, 08:25 AM
If you are looking to buy a new gun look at the 619 or 620 they have very nice balance. I like my 4" & 6" 686 very much as well, but the full underlug makes it a bit muzzle heavy. My advice is to get a firearm that can also shoot .357 magnum as an option, I would recommend a .357 mag not just a .38 because it can shoot both and weight and size wise the currently made guns are the same. Light weight snubbies for carry may only be in .38 thought if thats what you are after.

If you are considering a used gun go for a model 19, or a 66.

What ever you get I would recommend adjustible sights.

The best .38 special only gun I have in my collection is a 1946 M&P, it has a certain balance to it with the pencil tapered barrel that the new guns cant match.

XavierBreath
July 30, 2006, 08:39 AM
I want to get a quality .38 with a 6" barrel. There is a great looking Model 14 for sale at my club but have been told to hold off for the Model 65, then someone else says the 686.....
The Model 14 Target Masterpiece is one of the finest .38 special revolvers ever crafted. It ranks right up there with the K-38 and Colt Diamondback.

If you want a quality .38, then do not buy a .357 and shoot .38s out of it. Buy a .38 from the start. You will pay less and get better accuracy. If you want a six inch barrel with the longer sight radius and adjustable sights for target work, then buy the revolver that has those features.

People who are telling you to get a Model 65, 686, 19, 38/44 or anything else are simply saying what they want or would do. You have already stated what you want. The Model 14 Target Masterpiece is the S&W revolver that meets those criteria. If the one you have found checks out using Jim March's Procedure (http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=57816) and is priced right, buy it without hesitation, especially if the "dash number" is less than 4 (pinned barrel). These things can't be easy to locate in Oz!

US Prices:
NIB=$350-400
Excellent=$285-325
Very Good=$225-275

Hutch
July 30, 2006, 12:04 PM
It depends on what you want it to do best. A model 14 is lighter and may be more accurate than the 686. The 65 is a fixed-sight revolver, more appropriate for self defense or heavy field use where accuracy is less important. It's not the 65 is INaccurate, it's just that you may not have ammunition that hits to the point of aim. In addition, I don't the 65 was ever available with 6" tube, if that's a hard-and-fast requirement. Either the 65 or 686 will withstand conditions that would make the 14 rust.

If this was going to be my one-and-only revolver, and I actually planned to carry it for use, then I'd choose the 686. If it's to be a safe-queen, only brought out for plinking or target shooting, I'd choose the 14. For SD, I'd choose the 65, but with a 3" barrel.

So, what's important to you?

Golddog
July 30, 2006, 01:47 PM
I'm a major fan of full lug 686's, but for sheer fun and amazing revolver accuracy, a 14 is unbeatable, in any barrel length. Unless you want to shoot .357's for defensive purposes, get the 14.

EddieCoyle
July 30, 2006, 02:35 PM
I have three S&W .38's. I have a 642, a Model 10, and a Model 14.

The 642 is my carry gun.

The Model 10 is my "beater" that goes in the car, toolbox, tacklebox, and with me to the range every time. It's an old cop gun with lots of holster wear. It's my favorite non-.22 with which to teach new shooters.

My Model 14 (no dash) is an exceptionaly accurate target gun that is an absolute joy to shoot.

Get the Model 14; you won't be disappointed.

Deanimator
July 30, 2006, 03:18 PM
Is it the Model 14, the 65 or the 686 ?...or something else entirely
The 65 (and 13) and the 686 are .357s, so that takes them out of your criterion. Still good guns though, if you like stainless.

I've got a 14. It's a great gun, although I tend to shoot my 25-2 better since it's got more mass and doesn't move around as much.

Deanimator
July 30, 2006, 03:19 PM
The Smith and Wesson Model 10 is a great gun, and I suggest that you check it out. I don't know if they have any with a 6 inch barrel, though.
They were routinely catalogued. A friend has one. It was his step-father's police gun.

Eightball
July 30, 2006, 03:44 PM
The best S&W .38 is a .357:D . I'd say go for a model 66--adjustable sights, after all. Can take .357, but I'm intending on using my 620 (7-shot 66, new version) with .38's more anyhow (cheaper ammo!!).

My advice? Go for an older Smith, unless you have no problem with the internal lock. A 6" 686 should be cheap and easy to come by, since there were a few thousand (just a few) that were police trade-ins at some point. Just shop around. Everyone here can tell you their prefrences, but it all boils down to whichever one feels right to you---the one you pick it up, and are like "yeah, this is it". At least that's how I've found mine (followed by a thorough inspection, of course :) ).

Smith357
July 30, 2006, 04:21 PM
If you want a great .38 Revolver for target work you are going to be hard pressed to find one better then the S&W m-14. For hunting the 6" 686 is a better choice. The 65 is primarily a defense gun with fixed sights. They are all good guns built for slightly differnt jobs, you must decide what you want to use it for and then choose the proper tool for the job

Majic
July 30, 2006, 04:36 PM
The Model 14 Target Masterpiece is one of the finest .38 special revolvers ever crafted. It ranks right up there with the K-38 and Colt Diamondback.
The Model 14 is the K-38.
People who are telling you to get a Model 65, 686, 19, 38/44 or anything else are simply saying what they want or would do.
The Outdoorsman was crafted the same as the K-38. Both are S&W target revolvers. The only difference was frame sizes. When large frame revolver matches were held the Outdoorsman competed against the New Service Target and the Shooting Master from Colt. When the medium frame matches were held then the K-38 competed against the Colt OMT.

bakert
July 30, 2006, 06:52 PM
Although I don't own one, I too believe the S&W model 14 is one of the best .38 revolvers ever made for target or all around fun shooting. For concealed carry, the model 10 good one or if you like adjustable sights, the model 15.
I own two .357s but a person can live quite happily with a good .38 special. JMHO.:o

XavierBreath
July 30, 2006, 08:09 PM
The Model 14 is the K-38.The Model 14 is what the K-38 Target Masterpiece became in 1957 when model numbers were assigned. The K-38 Combat Masterpiece became the Model 15 in 1957. Strictly speaking, a K-38 is a pre-1957 gun, and all K-38s did not become Model 14s. Is this important? Not really, it's really all semantics, until someone tells you there is a K-38 for sale 200 miles away and you spend close to 80 dollars in gasoline to drive there and find a Model 14. Then the difference is appreciated.

The Outdoorsman was crafted the same as the K-38. Both are S&W target revolvers. The original poster may not have many options, seeing as he is in Australia. If he has the chance to obtain a Model 14, it might be wise to do so rather than hold out for an Outdoorsman.

Just my two pesos

Majic
July 31, 2006, 11:48 PM
The original poster may not have many options, seeing as he is in Australia. If he has the chance to obtain a Model 14, it might be wise to do so rather than hold out for an Outdoorsman.
Using the same logic if he happens to run across an Outdoorsman it may be wise to get that rather than holding out for a K-38/M14. He needs to know his options as any model is subject to pop up at anytime and anywhere.

Dr.Rob
August 1, 2006, 04:13 AM
.38/44 Definitely. The more modern Model 10 HB (is that a 13?) with the neavy barrel is nice too.

ugaarguy
August 1, 2006, 06:20 AM
Using the same logic if he happens to run across an Outdoorsman it may be wise to get that rather than holding out for a K-38/M14. He needs to know his options as any model is subject to pop up at anytime and anywhere.

Tubwaa doesn't have to hold out for an M14. If you read his original post you'll see that his local gun club currently has a nice one for sale. If there was an Outdoorsman or K-38 Target Masterpiece currently available I'm sure Xavier would recommend one of those. Considering the limited availability of older S&Ws in Australia I think Tubwaa should jump on the M14 while he can get it.

Cosmoline
August 1, 2006, 06:30 AM
I assume you mean the .38 Special, not the .38 S&W.

The best would be a classic M&P K frame. The heavier frame is NOT needed for the .38 Special esp. now that we have the .357 Magnum.

Hammerdown
August 1, 2006, 09:03 AM
Is this important? Not really, it's really all semantics, until someone tells you there is a K-38 for sale 200 miles away and you spend close to 80 dollars in gasoline to drive there and find a Model 14. Then the difference is appreciated

HI
The differences I read Between the Model 14 & 15 are mainly Patridge sight on the 14 Models, and Baughman quick draw sights on the Model 15. The Barrel length also can fall into play here, making the two models different as MOST Model 14's were Only available in a 6 & 8-3/8" configuration, as S&W placed this Target revolver in the same ring with other Masterpieces and wanted to have the overall weight of the model 14 co-inside with it's stable mates the K-22 & K-32. I looked a very long time for a Model 15 as I like the 4" barrel better over longer offerings and could not locate one in the shape I wanted in the Factory Nickel finish. As luck turned out for me, I ended up with the Best of both world's when I found this Model 14-2. A seller had it at a local gun show, and disliked the adjustable sights and wanted a fixed sight blued model. I happened to have a N.I.B. Model 10 Hong Kong Police issued revolver with a 4" Pencil Barrel and this was just what he wanted. The trade was made and I was Leery, as I Knew that the Barrel & Sight's did not look right on this Model 14, but he assured me his Father Bought it brand new, and had special ordered it as well, and I have the original box and documents that concured with his accusations. I also knew as I read sometime before this that S&W did have a special run of the model 14 with a 4" Bull barrel, and this one had it's original grips and the Factory stamp of "N" they use on all there Factory Nickel finishes. The seller was just as Pleased to get a N.I.B. Fixed sight model 10 Blued, as he did not care for the Nickel finish on his model 14-2 and I was pleased to be able to end my hunt for a non existent factory nickel Model 15 in my area. A request to Mr. Roy Jinks confirmed this was a special ordered Model 14-2 revolver being one of a four block reserved serial number, Placed by Dayton Outdoor Sport's who was a major S&W stocking dealer back when this gun was made in 1966. They made just 2038 of these between 1965-TO-1968 and I was very lucky to come across one, that had survived, being little shot, and the seller shared with me his Father kept it in his Nightstand all these years. Mr. Jinks also shared with me there was Very Few made with the factory Nickel finish. Dayton Outdoor Sports had ordered this run of model 14's, with the special 4" bull barrel, Baughman quick draw Pinned front sight, and each could have a choice of Target triggers, Hammers or grips. I have fired this revolver much, and it is the most accurate .38 special I have ever shot and I suspect it is the Bull barrel that adds a perfect balance, along with the heavier frame where it screws into the revolver, when compared to other K-frames. I have learned after this swap to Never say Never with any S&W, when it comes to finding something we Think does not exist, Only to come across it when we are Patient. ;) Regards, Hammerdown

http://www.hunt101.com/img/387714.JPG

pierrebazukhov
August 3, 2006, 03:03 AM
That's one hell of a revolver you have there. I love adjustable-sight K-frames, especially the Model 15. But if I ever see a Model 14 like that, I'm grabbing it.:cool:

Hammerdown
August 3, 2006, 07:57 AM
Hello pierrebazukhov
Thanks for the Kind Positive comments. I never expected to find a model like this with as little as 2038 of them made, but you never know when one will pop up, or where. Another Interesting thing, is Back when these revolver's were special ordered and the Four Block serial number's were reserved by "Dayton Sport's", Smith & Wesson did NOT have a Custom shop at that time, Like they do now as we are talking about a time frame of 1965-1968. It is a Known Fact when S&W Makes a model number revolver like this they Pre-Serial number all the frames and then they are placed in Part's Bin's on the assembly line for use. I assume Back then, they did not have any way to insure these production revolver's would fall into sequence with the serial numbers when doing it this way as well. This is the reason we can NEVER Be sure of a shipping date, from a simple serial number, or by checking a reference book as many times a revolver that is not a fast selling one, will sit in their comapny Vault for long periods of time. I have heard of some that were shipped as late as Three years or Later, depending on consumer demand of that certain model, and the Only True way of Knowing when a revolver was shipped is to have it Factory lettered, by Mr. Jinks. I have been told by Mr. Jinks and other's that S&W would work on this Batch of "Dayton Sport's" reserved Four Block serial numbered revolver's, then place them in their Vault until sufficient order's were filled to allow them to be shipped. It must have been tough to keep tract of these special ordered revolver's and see to it that they were all kept together to insure the correct serial sequence, in the Four Block serial range got shipped this way. I sure would love to add a Blued version of this same revolver, but figure that would be a fluke to find two in a revolver with this low of production. The grip's shown on it are original to the revolver, and inside the original factory box it also had a Trigger shoe, to enable the revolver to have a wide target trigger. It makes it nice to be able to have the narrow serrated one, then install the shoe if and when a wider one is wanted, right at the range while Target Practicing. Good luck in your search, I Hope you find one as well. As I stated Previously, this is the most accurate .38 special revolver I have ever owned, and evident that "Dayton Outdoor Sport's" Knew Just what they were looking for in a True Target revolver when placing Their special reserved order of these. Now That I own one, and seeing just what a tack driver they are, This revolver in my eyes has Earned the Right to be called The K-38 Masterpiece. ;) Best regards, Hammerdown

Biggfoot44
August 3, 2006, 12:39 PM
For a period of time, just before the move to full lug bbls, the "14" was dropped as a seperate model number, and became a 6" bbl option on a "15". In any case the origional poster should buy the gun. FWIW sometimes a .357 will shoot .38s just as accurately, sometimes not. But using a .38 "only" will eleminate the variable.

TC-TX
August 3, 2006, 03:13 PM
637 - hands down... :neener:

Black Knight
August 3, 2006, 10:06 PM
I have only one .38 Spec. and I carried that on duty as a security officer at a local federal court facility for two years. It is a 4 inch S&W Model 10 with heavy barrel. It shoots great. I scored 275 to 280 on 300 scale every time I qualified with it on the federal course and 300 on the state course. All but two other revolers I have are .357 Magnum. The others are a Ruger Vaquero (old model) and a S&W 547 9mm revolver.

.45man
August 3, 2006, 11:13 PM
What about the 52?? Does this count?:D

asknight
August 4, 2006, 01:19 AM
I may be the lone dissenter, but I thoroughly enjoy my 67-1 Stainless Combat Masterpiece. With it's 4" light contoured barrel, it's easy packing.

Srigs
August 4, 2006, 01:58 AM
Any K-frame Smith are fine shooter. My favorite is my model 15-4 :cool:

Peter M. Eick
August 10, 2006, 03:02 PM
http://pages.sbcglobal.net/eickpm/3ods.jpg

38/44 Outdoorsman's are the nicest 38 special S&W's I have found. I really like my Pre-War one (bottom) but the top one is a 1950 version that has never been fired. My first S&W is the middle one.

Dave Markowitz
August 10, 2006, 11:31 PM
Any 6" K-Frame in .38 Special is a great gun. The older ones tend to have better workmanship, however.

Model 14:

http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/davemarkowitz/Model_14.jpg


Mid-1920s vintage M-1905, 4th Change, Target Model:

http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c340/davemarkowitz/m1905-sepia.jpg

Bullet Bob
August 11, 2006, 09:29 AM
Quit reading, go buy the model 14.

I have most of the guns mentioned, including an Outdoorsman - interesting gun, but heavy, and big hands are better for operating it - I have fairly large hands, but as a group the Model 14 is my favorite S&W, even though I only have 3 of them. Oddly enough my favorite individual gun of the S&W line is my 5" 27, but I digress.

Buy the model 14. For over 90% of the actual shooting people do, it can not be beat. I'm probably misinformed, but it's my understanding that in Australia your handgun can only be used at your club. If that's true, it's even more reason to buy the 14.

Hope I've been clear!

dogngun
August 11, 2006, 12:51 PM
I hope you have already bought the Model 14. They are excellent, a real piece of craftsmanship, and a delight to shoot.

Good luck.

Mark

wrentree
December 27, 2006, 02:33 AM
Refer to Hammerdown's Model 14-2 from page #1:

I believe I have the blued version of this excellant revolver.
It's been with me since the early/mid '60's. Serial# K66xxxx.
It looks like a Model 15 but is not. Model # on yoke is Mod 14-2.
4" Bull barrel with Baughman Ramp Sites.
I was going to request a search on this gun from S&W, thinking
that they had made some kind of error when issuing it's model #..
Now, Hammerdown has probably answered my questions.
My revolver has somewhat of a history/story behind it and I doubt
that I could ever part with it. It has served well. Accuracy is superb.

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