What is the difference between a Smith and Wesson K frame and L frame revolver? Both are listed on Smith and Wesson's website as "medium" frame revolvers. So other than that, what is the difference, does anyone know? How do you know if you are holding a K or L frame at a gun show if they are both "medium" frame?
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May 8, 2007, 01:24 AM
The guns are marked on the frame, under the barrel where the cylinder yoke sits.
Both use the same size grips.
The "L" frame has a slightly larger, beefier frame, and the cylinder is significantly larger in diameter then the "K" frame.
The "L" frame guns usually have full length lugs on the under side of the barrel, the "K" frames usually have a half-length lug.
May 8, 2007, 01:52 AM
As mentioned the L frame is a little larger than the K frame so that it will accomodate a larger sized cylinder. This in turn allows more metal between the cylinder holes for better strength or allow the ability to put 7 rounds of 38/357 cartridges in it.
May 8, 2007, 06:19 AM
How do you know if you are holding a K or L frame at a gun show if they are both "medium" frame?
Sometimes it's hard to tell. The very easiest way is by model number (which is imprinted on the yoke). For "medium frame S&W revolvers" the ones that say Model 581, 681, 586, 686 will cover 98+% of the L-frames you will ever see. The '5' is blue, the first '6' is stainless. The '1' is iron sights, the second '6' is adjustable sights.
There are a very very few other L-frames that are out there. The model numbers for the others are 3 digits and will use the the x86 format (i.e., 386) or x96 (i.e, 296, 696). The x86 are .357 and the x96 are .44 spl.
There is one other L-frame oddball out there, a model 242 that is so weird looking only a Smith nut would want one. (If you ever see a 242, PM me immediately.)
May 8, 2007, 06:27 AM
You can't always tell by the half lug re K's... I have a half lug 5" 686+ L frame! You can see that the L frame's cylinder opening is taller - for the 7-shot cylinder (or 5-shot .44 Special cylinder). Note the 6" 66 and 5" 686+: