S&W model 15 vs 19


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zxcvbob
December 11, 2007, 06:40 PM
I have a model 15-4 (and I love it; it's one of my most accurate guns) and I wonder what's the difference between a model 15 and a 19. Is the 19 really stronger than a model 15, or are the cylinders just cut a little deeper to chamber .357 Magnums?

What I'm getting at is would a steady diet of +P ammo be OK for a model 15 if I stay away from jacketed 125 grain bullets? Or would it eventually shoot loose? I currently only shoot standard-pressure cast bullet loads in it, but I also load really hot +P's to shoot in my Security Six.

I know the model 19's will not take a steady diet of 125 grain .357's, but I think the failure mode is cracked forcing cone rather than getting loose or losing timing.

Does my question even make any sense? :confused: Thanks.

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ozarkman
December 11, 2007, 07:06 PM
Both revolvers are K frames, so I doubt that there is any additional strength built into the model 19 as a .357. Bill Jordan, author of "No Second Place winner" was the driving force behind S&W's decision to chamber the .357 in a K frame revolver. Hence the model 19 Combat magnum. With that in mind, I think you would be fine shooting a steady diet of .38 +P . The SAAMI specs run somewhere in the 22,000 cup range for the .38 +P and in the 35,000 to 40,000 cup neighborhood for the .357. While there were some reports of forcing cone erosion and frame stretching with the model 19, I think a lot of that was over exaggerated. In the model 15, you wouldn't even come close to that pressure shooting .38 +P even in 125 gr. loadings.

Gator
December 11, 2007, 07:16 PM
The yoke area on the K frame was beefed up a bit for the Model 19 to help it better handle the .357 cartridge, so the the 19 is actually stronger. As time has shown, however, this was not enough reinforcement for a steady diet of hot loads with light bullets.

So considering that a Model 19 is a minimal strength .357 revolver, I would be very leery about shooting anything other than standard pressure .38 Special loads in a weaker Model 15. As with any S&W K frame .38 Special, I'm sure occasional +Ps will cause no harm, but not a steady diet of them.

Colt46
December 11, 2007, 07:58 PM
However, don't you ever consider trading away or selling that 15. One of the finest examples of design and craftsmanship that ever came out of S & W. My buddy got one(almost unfired) from his father in law's collection. I swear everytime I fondle or shoot it I want to cry.

Starter52
December 11, 2007, 09:35 PM
I don't believe that the M15 is too weak for a steady diet of +P loads. I agree with ozarkman. IME the K-frame M15 is plenty strong enough for any .38 Spl. load.

I would not hesitate to shoot +P ammo all day long from my Model 15. I agree that it's a good idea to stay away from bullets less than 140 gr.

Old 112
December 12, 2007, 02:54 AM
My +P reloads for my 15s and Combat Masterpiece are at, but not above, what my manual calls for. My standard loads are also at the top loading.

My +P reloads for my Service Six are a bit warmer "sometimes", but it is also a stronger gun. I will also shoot these in my 19s. 99% of all the reloads are 158gr swc lead.

My S&W revolvers are way to nice to abuse, but are also way to accurate and pleasent not to shoot(a lot).

My 15-4 was my first, and, like yours, wonderfully accuate. It got me hooked on Smiths.

Old 112

ugaarguy
December 12, 2007, 03:05 AM
The yoke area on the K frame was beefed up a bit for the Model 19 to help it better handle the .357 cartridge, so the the 19 is actually stronger. As time has shown, however, this was not enough reinforcement for a steady diet of hot loads with light bullets.
The frame strength has nothing to do with it. It's the thinned area at the bottom of the forcing cone of all K Frames which allows the crane the needed clearance. That thinned area does slightly weaken K Frame forcing cones, causing them to crack when lighter bullets are fired through them at .357 Mag velocities.
So considering that a Model 19 is a minimal strength .357 revolver, I would be very leery about shooting anything other than standard pressure .38 Special loads in a weaker Model 15. As with any S&W K frame .38 Special, I'm sure occasional +Ps will cause no harm, but not a steady diet of them.
See above. I've yet to see any evidence that .38 +P loadings can push a bullet fast enough to crack a forcing cone on a K Frame.
I know the model 19's will not take a steady diet of 125 grain .357's, but I think the failure mode is cracked forcing cone rather than getting loose or losing timing.
Everything I've ever seen, heard, or read from reputable sources agrees with that assessment.

Steve C
December 12, 2007, 03:46 AM
You can shoot your +P loads in the K frames without a problem as they're a medium size steel frame, even +P 125gr bullets which in factory loading is sub 1,000 fps from a 4" barrel. As UGAARGUY noted, its the full power .357 magnum 125's that run at 1,450 fps from a 4" barrel, that have been responsible for forcing cone cracking in the thinned area on K frame S&W M19, not anything at .38 spl velocities in .38's.

Police forces shot lots of "Police Loads" In the day before it was called +P, in their .38 spl sidearms. Many of these revolvers where M10 and M15's and are still making it to the range in civilian hands as police trade in. If there would have been a problem with shooting the higher powered .38's in these revolvers it would be common knowledge to those of us who still remember the days when the revolver was the norm for police to carry. Word still got around even before the internet.

+P ammo should be avoided in older aluminum framed revolvers like the S&W Airweights Model 12 and 38 for example and Colt lightweight's like the Cobra or Agent as too many rounds could stretch the frame. Many modern alloy guns are rated for +P and some are chambered for .357 mag and any of the proper caliber ammo is fine.

ozarkman
December 12, 2007, 10:51 AM
The model 15 Combat masterpiece is just that. A masterpiece. One of the most pleasant and attractive weapons I've ever had the pleasure to own and shoot. Can somebody remind me what the designation for the Model 14 was?? As one gets older, memory fades :)

Bellevance
December 12, 2007, 11:15 AM
Can somebody remind me what the designation for the Model 14 was?? As one gets older, memory fades

Ozarkman, the S&W 14 (K-38) is referred to by many as the Target Masterpiece, since it was intended to serve as a target revolver and a companion to the K-22. But I don't think S&W ever formally applied that name to the model. :)

By the way, I share your admiration for the Model 15. I have two 15-3s, one in blue and one in nickel. They're a joy to shoot and to behold.

Jim Watson
December 12, 2007, 12:05 PM
The model name for what became the M-14 was K-38 Heavy Masterpiece.

I have a friend who wore out a K-38 with target wadcutters. But he is a High Master PPC shooter and it took him about 150,000 of them.
I know an IDPA shooter who has had a K-smith overhauled three times from high volume use of +P .38s.
The original excuse for the US military going to the Beretta 9mm was that the USAF's .38 revolvers were running about 40% unsalvageable when sent in for repair.

Just depends on what you mean by "steady use." A box a month is not a problem in a generation or two. A box a day will take its toll.

Ala Dan
December 12, 2007, 12:08 PM
Henceforth, I guess the S&W model 19 was named "Combat Magnum" in honor
of Mr. Bill Jordan of United States Border Patrol fame, correct~?

Bellevance
December 12, 2007, 12:35 PM
The model name for what became the M-14 was K-38 Heavy Masterpiece.

Jim, there was a good thread over in the S&W forum that touched on this topic. Here are two quotes:

A member wrote:

In both the 2nd and 3rd editions of SCSW the "Pre Model 14" is called "The K-38 Target Masterpiece". I started using the term "Target Masterpiece" since seeing it in the SCSW, but I do agree with you in that I have never seen the term used in any S&W literature. In fact, I don't even see the K-38 being advertised as "The Masterpiece". What I see advertised in late 40s, early 50s catalogs is four guns in "The S&W Masterpiece Line", three being called the K-22, K-32 and K-38. Only the fourth "The Combat Masterpiece", uses the word Masterpiece. In the 1942 "Shooters Bible" the K-22 2nd model, was advertised as "The K-22 Masterpiece" but that of course, was before K-32s and K38s. I guess this discussion is not much different than the one on the ".357 Magnum - Model of 1950."

An administrator (SmithNut) wrote:

The only variation to "Masterpiece" I've seen is that for a short time ~ the late 40's until around 1950ish, is that they called the wide rib versions the "Heavy Masterpiece". I have some boxes that are so marked, and have seen that on some of the All Model Circulars of the era. This eventually was dropped, probably due to the narrow rib going away and there was no need to distinguish between the two. In all my literature, I've never seen Target Masterpiece - anywhere.

http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/530103904/m/3871021512/p/2

ozarkman
December 12, 2007, 12:37 PM
Henceforth, I guess the S&W model 19 was named "Combat Magnum" in honor
of Mr. Bill Jordan of United States Border Patrol fame, correct~?

Gee Ala Dan. I'm not sure. A bit of web research yielded the following:

Jordan's idea for a "peace officer's dream" sidearm was a heavy-barreled four-inch K-Frame .357 Magnum with a shrouded barrel like the big N-frame .357 and adjustable sights. After a year of experimentation with improved-strength steels and special heat-treat processes, the result was the .357 Combat Magnum (later designated Model 19), with the first serial-number gun (K260,000) presented to Jordan on November 15, 1955.

Engineering changes were designated with a "dash-" number after the model number. The engineering changes are as follows:

* 19 - 1957: Stamping of model number.
* 19-1 - 1959: Change extractor rod, right to left-hand thread.
* 19-2 - 1961: Cylinder stop changed, delete triggerguard screw.
1963: Introduce 6" barrel.
1963: 50 manufactured with 2.5" barrel, serial range K544672-K544721.
1966: Introduce 2.5" barrel as standard.
* 19-3 - 1967: Relocation of rear sight leaf screw.
1968: Delete diamond-insert grip.
* 19-4 - 1977: Change gas ring from yoke to cylinder. (not really an "improvement". It did make it slightly easier to clean if there was heavy leading, but basically was a cost-cutting measure.)
* 19-5 - 1982: Eliminate cylinder counterbore.

:)

Ala Dan
December 12, 2007, 01:12 PM
Regardless fella's, IMHO the S&W model 19's of yesteryear remain as my all
time favorite, "classic revolver"~! I have both, a very solid (sharp detail)
4" factory nickel, P&R, 1975 edition with a 7K26xxx* serial number in its
original (gray,with dark blue lettering) box; complete with warranty card,
instruction sheet, ammo pamplet, and in the original wax (brown) paper +
a 2.5" model 66-4 in stainless with red ramp front sight and round butt,
without box and/or doc's.

*FootNote- the 4" nickel S&W model 19 looks too be in an UNFIRED state,
as there are absolutely NO cylinder drag marks; and NO trace of cylinder
burn marks on this weapon. Both, are definitely "keeper's"- too be passed
on down as "family heirlooms". Next in line of receivership is my 31 year old
daughter; with my 3 year old grand-daughter being not far behind~!

PS: I will try to get some pic's of the S&W model 19-3 up ASAP~!

WARNING: Its a very beautiful piece, that is not for sale at any price~!

def4pos8
December 12, 2007, 01:49 PM
My 15/19 pair is actually Models 66 and 67. I enjoy both regularly.

I use a "strong" special load most of the time in both. I worked up a nice +P load that is accurate in both but much more comfortable to shoot in the 66. Its extra barrel mass and round butt help it absorb warmer stuff.

The 67 (15) is lighter. The main reason I purchased it was emotional: I carried a Model 15 as a duty sidearm years ago.

The 66 (19) is a better combat revolver.

rcmodel
December 12, 2007, 02:18 PM
I wouldn't necessarily assume an older Model 15 is anywhere near as strong as a Model 19.

One of the changes made in order to adopt the K-frame to the .357 Mag in 1955 was special metallurgy & heat threating of the Frame & Cylinder.

Up until recently the K-frame .38 Specials were not heat treated to the same extent the M-19's always have been.

I do agree however that any post-war Model 15 is perfectly fine with todays +P ammo.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

Jim Watson
December 12, 2007, 03:19 PM
Bellevance,

I was working out of the 1951 Gun Digest which heads the page

The New Masterpiece Line

[left column]

All short action and matched for size
K-22 -- K-32 -- K-38 Masterpiece Revolvers

(specifications for each, including)
Weight loaded K-22 38 1/2 oz; K-32 36 3/4 oz; K-38 36 oz


[right column]

Both short action and matched for weight with the K-22 Masterpiece
K-32 & K-38 Heavy Masterpiece Revolvers

(specifications for both, including)
Weight loaded K-32 38 1/2 oz; K-38 38 1/2 oz.

Price, blue only $65.00
Special bright blue, any Masterpiece model $71.50

(followed by)

The Combat Masterpiece
A short action, target grade, holster gun for law enforcement officers.

Bellevance
December 12, 2007, 05:06 PM
I was working out of the 1951 Gun Digest which heads the page

The New Masterpiece Line

[left column]

All short action and matched for size
K-22 -- K-32 -- K-38 Masterpiece Revolvers

(specifications for each, including)
Weight loaded K-22 38 1/2 oz; K-32 36 3/4 oz; K-38 36 oz


[right column]

Both short action and matched for weight with the K-22 Masterpiece
K-32 & K-38 Heavy Masterpiece Revolvers

(specifications for both, including)
Weight loaded K-32 38 1/2 oz; K-38 38 1/2 oz.

Price, blue only $65.00
Special bright blue, any Masterpiece model $71.50


Thanks, Jim. That ad copy accords well with SmithNut's comment about the "Heavy Masterpiece," a term S&W apparently let slide somewhere close to the time the ad was printed.

Love those prices. Of course, in '51 a quart of milk was 22 cents and a loaf of bread was 15 cents, and the minimum wage was around .40 an hour!

There are a lot of good K-38 pix and info in that S&W Forum thread (link above).

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