In praise of the 3" K-frame revolver


November 19, 2006, 10:31 AM
I thought that given the discussion of various revolvers as self-defense tools, and other threads on various barrel lengths, I'd jump in with what is undoubtedly my favorite carry revolver.

I submit that the 3" K-frame in .38 Special or .357 Magnum is just about the quintessential carry revolver. Consider:

- The 3" barrel is just long enough for a full-length ejector rod. Drop to 2", and the rod has to be shorter.

- The round butt can accommodate literally dozens of different grip styles, making it very easy to find one that's just about perfect for your hand and fingers. Crimson Trace also make grips for them.

- The fixed sights on most 3" models are tough, durable, and won't go out of whack if you drop the gun. They won't adjust to accommodate different bullet weights, of course, but you can manually adjust them (file them down or use a bit of weld to build them up) to suit your preferred carry load. For combat accuracy (as opposed to target accuracy) they're perfectly serviceable.

- The overall size of the gun isn't that much larger than a J-frame, making concealment relatively easy.

- The 3" barrel is just long enough to give good performance with most defensive loads (e.g. about 900 fps with Speer's 135gr. Gold Dot JHP in .38 Special +P), but short enough that it doesn't get pushed up by the car seat when you sit down.

- The overall balance of the gun is about as good as it gets.

- With a moon-clip conversion (, reloading is almost as fast as a semi-auto pistol (if you practice, that is!).

A close second choice is the 2" adjustable-sighted Combat Magnum (19 or 66), with the slight drawback of lacking a full-length ejector rod.

I must have owned 8 or 9 of the 3" K-frames. I give them away regularly to my disabled and handicapped students, many of whom are on welfare or social security payments, and can't afford a latest-generation uber-blaster (and probably couldn't shoot it well if they could). Given that many of them have problems with 'limp-wristing' pistols, the revolver's the perfect weapon for them, and this size conceals easily next to their leg or hip in a wheelchair. With a decent action job, it's a wonderful weapon for them - and for me, too! :D

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November 19, 2006, 10:45 AM
Preacherman in my younger days I had a model 15 in 2.5. Great shooter and being nickeled was a real looker. I have to agree about K frames as a whole. They are my favorite revolver platform. I have not been blessed with a 3". I would like to find a Model 13 bull barrel in that length.


November 19, 2006, 11:13 AM
Preacherman ,

Agree. For too many years I have felt the 3" RB K frame is THE Best as well.

November 19, 2006, 11:24 AM
If I could just find it in blue.....................

Be careful, I just might start considerin' stainless.....;)

November 19, 2006, 11:52 AM
I've carried a 3" 65-3 for the last 3 years on a
daily basis and wouldn't trade it for anything
else.Not too heavy/not to light,plenty of
ammo and grips to chose from and the
sights are easy enough to see.I think they
are the perfect carry revolver for ccw except
for pocket carry but ive got my 642-2 just for

November 19, 2006, 11:57 AM
I don't have any 3" revo's but must say the major factor that would attract me is the ejector aspect.

Trying to get a clean drop of cases when restricted by shorter ejector rod is sometimes a pain - and often seems to require two stabs - whereas with a full eject throw it is possible to clear all in one hit.

Yep - 3" K sounds good - it would make a nice addition.

November 19, 2006, 12:04 PM

November 19, 2006, 12:32 PM
I'll chime in with my agreement. I got your 2nd place gun, a 2&1/2" M66 a few months before I deployed. I love the fixed front ramp coupled with S&W excellent adjustable rear - a surprisingly low snag adjustable sight. Even though it lacks the full length rod as long as one gets the muzzle tilted up and gives the ejector a firm push, as should be done with any revolver, case extraction as been quite positive and reliable. As sm says "They don't eject up." Balance is excellent, and the old K-frames just sit right on the hip in a holster IWB or OWB. The balance and grip surface of the mid size frame also make it quite shootable. The accuracy potential of that little M66 snub surprised me - I can't wait to get home to shoot it more and get better with it.

With the K-Frame recently discontinued in 357 Mag versions, and only a few variants chambered in 38 Special still hanging on we've lost some great carry guns. Fortunately Ruger still makes the slightly bigger than a J Frame, slightly smaller than a K Frame, SP-101. As I said in the SP-101 thread currently running, were I not able to find a good used short bbl K-Frame the SP-101 would be my next choice. Yes, you lose one round with a capacity of 5, but 5 rounds of 357 Mag, or even 38 Spc. +P is nothing to scoff at. I'll stick with K Frames as long as I can, but it's good to know that there's a viable alternative if need be.

Old Fuff
November 19, 2006, 01:05 PM
The easiest solution I've found to adjusting the sights for point-of-aim/point-of-impact is to have a gunsmith mill down the original front sight, and then cut a dovetail to fit one of the popular sights made for various automatics. You can drive it in the dovetail to adjust for windage, and file it down to do the same for elevation. Works on any barrel that has a heavy rib.

November 19, 2006, 01:05 PM
Last month I bought a 3" Model 65 Smith from CDNN. I'd been wanting a Model 13 for a long time, but NOBODY in this part of Ohio has any. I'm not a fan of stainless steel, but I was willing to compromise in order to get the equivalent of a 13.

It's the ideal size for a CCW revolver, has the flexibility of .38 Special or .357 Magnum, and points naturally.

When I took it to the club, everybody who handled it asked, "Who did the trigger job?" I just said, "It came that way."

Brian Williams
November 19, 2006, 03:07 PM
This would be my ideal, a 3" mid-weight barrel on a K frame. These were made for a Model 10 and a very few model 12s, I would love one on a 13.
This is my 3" 13 and a 4" 65 that was a 3".

November 19, 2006, 03:15 PM
Prefer the L frame in .357 but everything else is SPOT ON FOR ME.

November 19, 2006, 04:03 PM
It seems to me that three-inch K-frames are the revolvers that look the most balanced. Four-inch guns are close, but three-inchers are just closer.

I have a Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 three-inch and haven't shot it yet.
It sure feels good in the hand and points right where I look when I bring it up one-handed. A three-inch M657 is bigger but still feels good to me. A K-frame would probably feel better than either.

An M65, or an M64, is on my "get" list.

November 19, 2006, 04:51 PM
I have been looking for a 3" k-frame .357 for YEARS!
Somebody have one they want to sell?

November 19, 2006, 05:17 PM
That's what I'd like to know Steve. I love the K frame Smiths and the 3" barrel intrigues me, but I don't ever recall seeing one.

Bullet Bob
November 19, 2006, 05:45 PM
Here's one of mine:

November 19, 2006, 07:15 PM
I have been looking for a 3" k-frame .357 for YEARS!
CDNN had a bunch last month. All gone now.

Keep an eye open there and at Summit Gun Broker.

November 19, 2006, 07:47 PM
I was issued a Model 65 3" just before leaving federal service, I think it was developed for that. We were issued the 110grain +p+ treasury load for it. It was a pretty good concealed carry weapon , I used a Bucheimer scabbard that was pretty flat , with no complaints .:cool:

November 19, 2006, 07:59 PM
I ran across this 3" 65-5 that has been made DAO by the S&W Performance shop. It has the nicest trigger of any revolver I have ever shot. It is super accurate.

November 19, 2006, 08:13 PM
I have had a J-frame for a few years, and THEN I stumbled across a k-frame snub.

Then I had to have one that was pinned and recessed.

Then I had to have a 3" P&R round butt.:cool:

Now the 3" is at S&W for an action job, & reset cyl. gap:)

November 19, 2006, 08:16 PM
Baker - you have a 3 FOOT K-frame at S&W? :what: :eek: :uhoh: :scrutiny:


November 19, 2006, 08:35 PM
If I could find a 3" round butt M10, i'd have bought it already:banghead:

November 19, 2006, 08:48 PM
It's one of a kind:neener:

Marko Kloos
November 19, 2006, 08:49 PM
Got two...a Model 13 and a Model 10. Both take turns as carry guns.

The Model 13 by itself:

November 19, 2006, 10:19 PM
Here's mine. Picked it up at JG sales. Australian trade-in.

November 19, 2006, 10:28 PM
but I really like my Model 36 J frame with a 3" barrel. 3" seems like a real good compromise between concealability and accuracy.

November 19, 2006, 11:23 PM
My daughter picked up one of those (J&G?) 3" pencil barrel, square butt Model 10s about a year ago. I did a little inside work on it and smoothed the trigger for DA, and by the time I was done I wished I had gotten one too.

I think it was instrumental in getting her away from the Glock Side, as she followed up with a Model 19 and a Model 64 shortly afterwards.

Shows real maturity to my way of thinking.

November 21, 2006, 12:00 AM
I curently have a 4" Model 65 as my stay-in-the-truck gun. I have been looking, on and off, for years for a 3". I'd love to find 3 or 4 of them and have my Visa w/ me.

November 22, 2006, 05:01 PM

November 22, 2006, 06:38 PM
I had a 3" model 65 (pre lock) and a 3.25" model 66. I traded both of them. The Model 65 was traded for a mint '70s Wingmaster riot gun, the 66 was traded for a pinned and recessed nickel model 19. I miss them but they served no purpose when I have 3 4" K-frames and a pair of J frames. I shoot the 4" guns better and they generate more velocity with the 158gr LHP+P I like to carry in them.

I really don't see a need for 3" revolvers when you can have more than one gun. They were great when they were my only two wheelguns though.

November 22, 2006, 07:01 PM
A SWEET 65-6 Lady Smith!!!

Martin Aston
November 22, 2006, 08:11 PM
No firearm feels better balanced or more natural to my hand than my 19;

and, BTW, with the ambidextrous grips it feels right at home in either hand...

Martin Aston
November 22, 2006, 08:28 PM
Isn't that the beauty of the revolver? It's almost organic in how it becomes an extension of your arm whereas an auto feels like you're holding a machine. Kinda like the differance between driving a Porsche 911 and a Ford Explorer...;)

Sorry. Didn't mean to get off topic. I'm still praising...:)

November 23, 2006, 11:11 AM
I'm lucky enough to have a 3" M65 and a P+R 2.5" M19. I agree that they are pretty much #1 and a very close second as carry revolvers. The 3" M65 is the one gun I would keep if I had to get my small collection down to only one. I prefer the fixed sites on a carry gun.

November 24, 2006, 05:48 PM
I have a PC M13 3" in Black. Trigger is the smoothest ever.

Being from MA, we will soon be able to marry our firearms, after, sisters, and dogs [cats if you're a fan] and I've chosen my bride.

Common sense, the rarest of all senses:evil:

December 1, 2006, 03:30 PM
All this talk of 3" K-frames has piqued my curiousity. As far as 3" fixed-sight k-frame revolvers go, it seems I mostly hear about Model 65s and 13s (with a few Model 10s thrown in -- which I think was only chambered in .38). Model 19s were adj sights only, right?

To facilitate the search -- could one of the THR gurus please list S&W model numbers that feature all of the following:

Three inch barrel
chambered in .357
Blued or stainless.


December 1, 2006, 03:43 PM

This site doesn't have all the info you are looking for, but its a start.

If some has something more all-inclusive, please post!!!

Brian Williams
December 1, 2006, 04:20 PM
That would be S&W models 13 and 65, blue and stainless respectively

I forgot a few model 10s for the Michigan State Police(pre 13) and a few 19s were fixed sight for Peru

W Turner
December 1, 2006, 04:22 PM
I bought a 3" model 13 a little over a year ago and have been very happy with it. I watched it sit on the shelf at a local pawn shop for well over a year before I bought it. The balance and "feel" of it is second to none and the only reason it has not made it into my carry rotation is because I haven't had the money to order some quality leather for it.

BTW- Old Fuff- Since you mentioned it, would a slip-in dovetail Trijicon night sight be the proper height to do what you were talking about? They run .185" if my memory serves me correctly. I would love to have mine slicked up, have a dovetail machined where the front sight is currently and install a night sight of some sort.


December 1, 2006, 04:26 PM
While I do like the 3 inch K's

I am starting to more and more appreciate the 3 inch J

December 1, 2006, 04:34 PM
Thanks everyone for the info. Jad, I'd seen that link ( before...but it unfortunately doesn't list barrel length information so I wasn't sure which models were available in 3".

Sounds like my search should center on Models 13 and 65. The Model 10s are probably too rare for me.

December 1, 2006, 04:59 PM
Don't forget the 3-inch GP100. It might be as hard to find as a 3inch K frame but it is still manufactured. It's a little beefier but very nice and easier on the hand when shooting magnums.

December 1, 2006, 05:13 PM
Don't forget the 3-inch GP100. It might be as hard to find as a 3inch K frame but it is still manufactured

I actually saw a stainless 3" GP100 at a Denver gunshow a few weeks ago. Nice piece, not too used (but definitely not NIB). The dealer wanted $529 for it and he wouldn't budge on price...but he was willing to throw in a Lorcin .25 to sweeten the deal :scrutiny:

I took a pass.

It's my understanding the GP100 is a tad larger than the K-frame. More like an L-frame, right?

December 2, 2006, 07:32 AM
The 3in K is still manufactured in the round butt version in stainless. Check budsgunshop, they have them in stock. M64.

December 2, 2006, 06:23 PM
The 3" k's are nice but there is another that I like better and wish I had the extra $$$ to buy. On gunbroker there is a NIB 4" Colt Police Positive, around 1978 mfg, with 4" barrel and one of the best feeling factory wood grips made, IMO. The D frame Colts are smaller than the K but larger than the J smiths and hold 6 rounds.

Just my 2 cents worth.

December 2, 2006, 06:49 PM
Just bought a 3" Taurus blued M66. Does that count? It was at a gun show and the only reasonably priced gun there. I like it IWB much better than my 4" guns. It seems a little lighter on the hip and it doesn't poke down so far in the pants. I am going to the range for its first testing tomorrow.

Nomad, 2nd
December 3, 2006, 03:12 AM
Till I picked up a S&W 3" 66.
I now carry a 3" Bodyguard as a BUG and am always looking for 3" Smiths...

December 3, 2006, 08:31 AM
I just purchased one.........Why? This thread. You dadgummed enablers!
S&W Model 65-5

Adam Selene
December 3, 2006, 08:48 AM
Nice Lady there XavierB, Treat her nice, and she will work well for you...:D

December 3, 2006, 06:45 PM Here's my M64-3 with a 3" tube sporting tulipwood grips with finger grooves made by Hogue. Shoots simply awesome. Hope it's warm and dry where you are.

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