J-frame, K-frame, etc.


January 23, 2011, 01:14 AM
Hi, everyone...

I am new to shooting, as can probably be gleaned from my posts...lol! Several members have written wonderful, informative responses in threads I've started and I so appreciate everyone taking the time to give advice/suggestions. One thing I do not understand and would like to know more about are the different frames of revolvers. I don't mean for someone to sit and type it all out, as I assume that might take a long time. Is there one place I could go (wikipedia or somewhere on the web) to educate myself on this subject?

Thanks again, everyone!

If you enjoyed reading about "J-frame, K-frame, etc." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
David E
January 23, 2011, 01:35 AM
There are different designations for different manufacturers, but 99% of the revolver frame size discussion is about Smith and Wesson's.

While they made other frame sizes in the past, the current ones are:

J-frame (smallest frame)

K-frame (medium)

L-frame (medium/large)

N-frame (large)

X-frame (XX large)

January 23, 2011, 01:39 AM
Thanks!! That was alot easier than I expected! :)

Gato MontÚs
January 23, 2011, 01:40 AM
Ahh! Damn you David! I just finished typing everything out.:banghead:

Anyway, Smith and Wesson's website lists everything according to frame size if you want some comparable examples. http://www.smith-wesson.com

January 23, 2011, 01:45 AM
Lol, Nasser! Seriously, if there's anything else you would like to add.....

David E
January 23, 2011, 01:48 AM
Ahh! Damn you David! I just finished typing everything out.

I know the feeling all too well !!

January 23, 2011, 02:18 AM
J-frame (smallest frame)

K-frame (medium)

L-frame (medium/large)

N-frame (large)
Idiot me just realized that they are alphabetically ordered. I had been trying to keep the sizes straight in my head for a couple years.... Oh, what happened to "M"? Is it just missing from the order like "E" in test grades (A B C D F)?

January 23, 2011, 04:23 AM
Ummmm... in the test grades F isn't a grade. It was just short for FAIL.

And yeah, I want a gun with an "M" frame too....

January 23, 2011, 07:55 AM
yep, that covers it !

except they left out the part about k frames being endowed with a mysterious special magic unique amongst all firearms, you know ;)
(it is rumored in some circles that the k-frame designer had a crystal pyramid parked under his workbench)
try one, and you will understand why some us "believe" that

by the way, ma'm, your Taurus 941 is a close clone of the S&W J-frame model 651
the Taurus 94 equivalent being the S&W 63
(and it is pretty widely acknowledged that Ks do have better, lighter, smoother triggers)

people do sometimes talk about other brands of revolvers in J/K/L/N sizes, merely as "shorthand speak" in describing revolver size, only because the S&W alphabet is so well known
Ruger Speed/Security Sixes are "k-frame size", Ruger GP100s are "L/N" size, meaning quite similar to (though not precisely identical), for example

January 23, 2011, 08:08 AM
I too wasn't sure about the designation but thanks for the answers. And now I know.

January 23, 2011, 09:54 AM
The S&W "I" frame was their first hand ejector, I believe, in 1896. It was a little smaller and lighter than the J frames and was a .32; they're sweet little revolvers. The .22 M-frames were the first Ladysmiths and were also lightly built.

Here's a picture from armchairgunshow.com. It's a good one for comparison.


Steve 48
January 23, 2011, 09:58 AM
Forgot the X frame!!!!

January 23, 2011, 10:02 AM
Forgot the X frame!!!!

if you are 5'9" with wrists like a teenage girl (like mine) they be real easily "forgotten" ! :)

January 23, 2011, 11:30 AM
That pic predates the X frame. :)

January 23, 2011, 12:19 PM
It's easy to forget the X frame, few people can afford the ammo to shoot it much!


January 24, 2011, 09:01 AM
You can tell the X frame by the wheels!!! :evil::D

January 25, 2011, 02:37 AM
If you are looking for a site that will match the model numbers with frame sizes and match model numbers to the older names of the S&W handguns there is a page on Handloads.com (http://www.handloads.com/misc/Smith.Model.Changes.asp) with the information. I find it very useful...

There is an "M" frame by the way, it's a 22 Hand Ejector.

Jim K
January 26, 2011, 09:04 PM
Colt also used letters. I think the following list is complete but feel free to correct or add.


AA King Cobra
D Police Positive, Detective Special, Cobra
E Old type Official Police, Officer's Model Match, original Trooper
F All percussion revolvers
I Python
J New type Official Police Mk III, Trooper Mk III and variants
G, K, and Q SA .22 revolvers
MM Anaconda
P Single Action Army


DA Double Action Government
M 1903/1908 pocket auto
N 1908 .25 vest pocket auto
O Government Model (1911)
S Woodsman .22 Auto and variants


Jim K
January 26, 2011, 09:10 PM
The S&W M frame (original Ladysmith) is really tiny, something few people realize who have not handled one. The cylinder diameter is just about the size of a quarter yet it holds seven shots. Those guns should not be fired with ANY modern ammo; the guns are too valuable and the cylinder walls just too thin to risk damage.


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