Moon-clip conversions on K-frame S&W's?


March 7, 2004, 12:08 AM
I'd like to hear from any of our members who have had these conversions done on K-frame S&W .38 Special and/or .357 Magnum revolvers.

I have a couple of K-frames (a "salt-and-pepper" pair of a Model 13 and a Model 65, both with 3" barrels) that I'm thinking of converting to moon-clip operation. Wild West Guns in Alaska does them. However, the good folks at Clark Custom Guns, who also do moon-clip conversions, say they won't do K-frames - only L- or N-frames - because there's not enough metal in the cylinder to do the K-frame conversion "safely". Now, I know that Wild West Guns has done many such conversions, and as far as I know has had no complaints. So, I'm hoping that one or two of the membership have had it done, and can tell us how they found it.

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Old Fuff
March 7, 2004, 01:09 AM
I don't have such a conversion because I consider speed-loaders to be fast enough. I have wondered though if turning down the back of the cylinder to provide clearence for the clip might weaken the extractor star. It wouldn't matter unless you got a case or two that were really stuck. But if you did bend one or more of the fingers on the star you'd have a real problem.

March 7, 2004, 01:28 AM
Preach you sure they giving you the right info since Clark advertises K and J frame conversions (albiet at a premium) on their web site...

I also dont understand what they mean about safety since you are not removing that much metal from the back of the cylinderr


Guy B. Meredith
March 7, 2004, 01:44 AM
Both TK Custom and Clark advertise K frame conversion. However, TK provides the clips and directs you to Clark.

So I am puzzled. I do want to convert my K frame. My L and N frame both have the moonclip option and I find speedloaders too cumbersome (and expensive) by compairson.

March 7, 2004, 01:51 AM
Im confusded too, because we have done probably 25-30 J and K conversions, and a good number more of Ns and Rugers...

Never had a prob reported...

Guy B. Meredith
March 7, 2004, 02:08 AM
Checked out TK Custom and Clark Custom pages. The info on K frame conversion is sort of buried on the TK page and way buried on the new Clark Custom page. Jand K frames are premium priced at $100 vs $80 for L and N.

March 7, 2004, 05:39 AM
I have wondered though if turning down the back of the cylinder to provide clearence for the clip might weaken the extractor star.

Why would it? You're not taking any metal from the actual star... :confused:

March 7, 2004, 08:06 AM
I had my 66 converted by Pinnacle custom guns in PA, which is another one listed for this service at TK custom (a.k.a. Anyway, it ran me 80 bucks and was, in my opinion, a great job. I can't see how this little shaving procedure could possibly have 'weakened' the gun in any way. I've certainly shot it plenty since the conversion without any problems. Accuracy, which was always fantastic in this gun, is unnaffected. I recommend Pinnacle heartily and think S&W is crazy for not clipping more of their guns from the factory.

March 7, 2004, 08:42 AM
I guess you could do it, but my question is, "Why would you want to?".

About the only advantage I see is that re-loading might be a bit faster. But not that much.

The disadvantages are the lack of abililty to do a tactical reload (if you consider that to be an option) and the logistical problem of dealing with moon clips.

But if it works for you, then by all means do it.

March 7, 2004, 12:49 PM
logistical problem of dealing with moon clips.

Actually thats the selling point...I carry a S&W Mountain gun fishing....the loaded moon clips fit right in the varioous pockets of my fly vest and a few in my more fumbling for lose rounds or loss loss of an ammo pouch (tough to wearr one on your belt when you are waist deep in water)...


Marko Kloos
March 7, 2004, 01:09 PM
Moon clips are great.

The eliminate two of the potential weak spots of the revolver: slow reloads, and possible empties getting caught under the ejector star.

With the exception of speed strips, they're also the least bulky way to carry reloads. The loaded .40S&W moon clips for my 646 fit into the watch pocket of my jeans, two stacked on top of each other, and they are easily retrieved. They'll also fit in speedloader pouches, where you can usually stack two moonclips in the same space as one speedloader.

Old Fuff
March 7, 2004, 04:15 PM

>> Why would it? You're not taking any metal from the actual star <<

While you don’t remove any metal from the ratchet where the hand engages to rotate the cylinder you do remove some metal from the star – that part of the extractor that usually pushes on the case’s rim to push it out of the chamber. The amount of metal might or might not be meaningful, but it would to some degree weaken the fingers on the star and if a case or cases were stuck in the chamber(s) these fingers might get bent. The possibility wouldn’t concern me if the revolver was used for gaming, but it might if it was used for other purposes.

When a cylinder is made to be used with clips in the first place all of this is taken into consideration and there isn’t any problem.

I have observed several .455 Webley revolvers that were converted to use .45 ACP cartridges with half-moon clips by turning down the rear of the cylinder (including the extractor) that did indeed have the star bent.

March 7, 2004, 08:15 PM
Have you done any P&R guns? Do they present any challenges?

Reason I ask is I am GOING to have it done, but I don't know what gun yet. I have a couple 19-4's (best of the 19's IMO, but may pick up a 19-5 if the recessed chambers prove problematic.

Current plans involve a model 15 for gaming and a 19 for my hip. Any comments?

March 7, 2004, 08:30 PM
if a case or cases were stuck in the chamber(s) these fingers might get bent. The possibility wouldn’t concern me if the revolver was used for gaming, but it might if it was used for other purposes.

If rounds are sticking there is more of a problem than bending the star....sticky rounds mean...

Poor maintenance
Rough chamber
Bad loads..

All three should be taken care of before the revolver is used for any purpose...

Have you done any P&R guns? Do they present any challenges?

I think we have, but dont recall the specifics..I will check with the milling machine boys....

We do the conversions on a CNC mill.....


March 7, 2004, 11:08 PM
I found this on K-Frame Moonclips

I now have the Full Moonclips for Model 66 (Non Recessed Cylinders ONLY!) Works great as all of the Full Moonclip guns do. The cylinders will have to be machined.So, it looks like recessed cylinders are not recommended for the conversion. However, I daresay it won't be a hard job to fit a replacement cylinder, without recessed case heads, and then do the moonclip conversion on that.

March 7, 2004, 11:12 PM
Sound logic and good information Preacherman. It does sound a bit like you would advocate "fixing" one I have instead of buying a new one to "fix" though, and that is cause for some concern around here:D :D :D .

Thanks for the info!!

March 8, 2004, 12:52 AM
Hsmith, I repent... (flogs back with carbon fiber cleaning rod) ... I repent... (kneels down and beats head against floor) ... I repent... (gets cats to sharpen their claws on his legs) ...

Of course you should buy a new gun to convert! What was I thinking of? :banghead:

:neener: :p :D

March 8, 2004, 03:50 AM
The disadvantages are the lack of abililty to do a tactical reload (if you consider that to be an option)


Maybe i dont know what im doing but it would take me a LOT longer to pick out three empty cases and reloade those chambers than it would to just dump the whole cylinder and start fresh even WITHOUT a speedloader/clip.

Guy B. Meredith
March 8, 2004, 04:29 AM

The method I was shown was to point the muzzle up, let the live rounds that still have the heavy bullets drop out into you hand and then punch the extractor for the empties. Follow with a new moonclip of rounds.

March 8, 2004, 04:38 AM
Ues you can to a tactical reload with a revolver. I have taught it for over 20 years. But it can't be done the same way if you're using a revolver loaded with moon clips.

If you are using moon clips you have to retain the ejected moonclips.

In regular revolver training you open the cylinder, point the muzzle upward, let the unfired rounds fall free into your hand, eject the fired rounds and reload with your speedloader or speed strip.

March 8, 2004, 06:31 AM
I would think that a tactical reload on a revolver with moon-clips would become something like one with a semi-auto pistol. In the latter case, you simply retain the magazine with some rounds in it, and insert a fully-charged fresh magazine. With the revolver, you'd retain the partly used moon-clip, and insert a fully charged fresh one. I still think it would be a HECK of a lot faster than trying to retain the loaded rounds from the cylinder, then dump the empties, then use a speedloader or Speed Strip to recharge the cylinder.

March 8, 2004, 07:53 AM
I would think that a tactical reload on a revolver with moon-clips would become something like one with a semi-auto pistol.

I agree. I was responding to FPrice who claimed that doing a moonclip conversion would make it HARDER to do a tactical reload.

Brian Williams
March 8, 2004, 08:26 AM
Ok Tac Reload is open cylinder dump heavy cartridges and then eject empties. On my S&W 13 and 586 most of the time I open the cylinder and 4 of 6 charge holes of empties fall out...... My idea of a Tac reload of a revolver is to dump all and pocket them and then fill all charge holes from a speed loader. Save the sorting till you have to, not during a hyped up time...

My 940 with its moonclips can be real fast. I have debated about getting both my 13-4 and 586- converted to run clips. but $$$$$

March 8, 2004, 08:57 AM
I have a 66 F-comp with moonclips and a newer one that is still stock. I really like the moonclip conversion; easier and faster reloads than a speedloader or speedstrip.

This gun is a hiking/walk-in-the-woods gun and I've never had to worry about a tactical reload. If I fire a few rounds and want a full cylinder, I just pop in a fresh moonclip.

Regarding tactical reloads, there was an interesting article in some recent gun mag about how the IDPA has "created" tac reloads and how they are not a very sound tactic - different hand and body motions to learn, fine vs. gross motor skills and slower than a speed reload.

March 8, 2004, 09:58 AM
and how they are not a very sound tactic
OK, you've had to shoot to protect your life.
You're behind cover but the threat is still there.
You only have 3 rounds remaining.
You have extra ammunition.

Are you gonna wait until you fire those last 3 before you do anything about it?

I'm not.

Gross motor skills vs fine motor skills?

Don't make me laugh. If your "AssIsGrass" it ALL becomes gross motor skills!

That's why you train and prepare for the absolute worst.

Old Fuff
March 8, 2004, 11:20 AM
My personal solution to "tactical reloading" a revolver is a Commander or Government Model Colt. In some circumstances the shell-shuckers have an advantage over six-shooters, and this is one of them.

While this is of obvious concern to those who use revolvers in certain games (and I give them a lot of credit for doing so) I find little to suggest that super-fast reloads are an issue on the streets - particularly for the average civilian with a CCW license. Law enforcement officers are another matter, and reloading is one reason few carry revolvers - at least as primary weapons - anymore.

One advantage of an automatic cartridge in a revolver is that it is short - much shorter then the popular revolver cartridges that were first loaded with black powder. Ejecting a short case is faster and more reliable then ejecting a long one where the elector will lift, but not necessarily fully eject the case - which is part of the reason one is supposed to point the muzzle up while ejecting fired rounds. A short case is also less likely to get hung up by the edge of the grip. (Yes I know, grips are supposed to be releaved for speedloaders, but I know of incidents where a cartridge got stuck anyway).

Bottom line. I think those who are using guns in games have some valid reasons to modify their guns. Others I suggest, might be better off using revolvers chambered in 9mm or .45 ACP and have their cake and eat it while enjoying the advantages offered by the shorter cartridges and saving a lot of money on conversions.

I depart in peace ...... You can continue.

Guy B. Meredith
March 8, 2004, 02:25 PM
whoops. I'm "mixing metaphors" by trying to be intelligent after knocking myself out in the yard. You cannot drop individual rounds with a clip, of course, and for IDPA I was using the as yet unclipped M66. For the rest, just drop the clip and insert another. With loose rounds it is easier to come back and use therm later, but I'd have to be in a fix to be inserting rounds one at a time.

Old Fluff,

The 45 acp revolvers are popular in competition because of the short rounds and it is hard to miss the huge charge holes with the clip of rounds. The .357/.38 are popular for increased number of rounds and, for some, handling. Some .357/.38 shooters use home customized shortened cases.

March 8, 2004, 03:42 PM

The article against tactical reloads is an opinion and a pretty new one at that. But it did get me thinking about all the problem points in doing a tac reload with an auto - let alone a revolver. The article's point about gross vs fine motor skills is that under stress, gross motor skills are easiest to perform and if we train one way (ie, the speed reload) it would be easier to remember than two techniques.

Consisder what's involved to tac reload a revolver - go to cover. open cylinder. remove empty cases while keeping loaded rounds in the gun (OK, so if you're in a real gunfight you need to pluck the empties out while not dumping the loaded rounds). load the empty holes with a few rounds (I don't carry rounds in a dump pouch so fumble in pockets for a few rounds, situate bullets forward). close cylinder. get back on target.

There seems to be a lot of logic to the do-it-one-way speed reload. Same situation, partially fired cylinder: go to cover. open cylinder. invert gun and whack ejector rod. insert fresh moonclip. close cylinder. get back on target.

Seems easier to me. Less fumbling, less fine motor skills to not have to use at a very stressfull time.

Old Fuff
March 8, 2004, 06:42 PM
Guy B. Meredith:

I quite agree that those who engage in combat games with revolvers should be able to make any safe modification they want which will level the playing field.

But I wonder if the same alterations are that important to the rest of us. Be that as it may, there is no reason one shouldn't set up a personal firearm the way they want - so long as they fully understand all of the ramifications of doing so. The point I was trying to make was that outside of games might it be advisable to use 9mm or .45 ACP cartridges in revolvers designed and made for them? This of course presumes that the individual has decided to go with a revolver/pistol cartridge combination.

Guy B. Meredith
March 8, 2004, 06:51 PM
Old Fuff

Actually my comment was meant to support your comments about the .45 acp. The 625 which fires the .45 acp is popular for competition and the round would be good elsewhere. Saves on having to buy extra dies, etc. for reloading, too.

The shortened .38 cases are used by those who see the value in short cases as represented by the .45 acp.

Old Fuff
March 8, 2004, 09:29 PM
Well I could sure use some support .....

One time, just for fun and no useful purpose, I fitted a second cylinder to a K-38 Target Masterpiece chambered in .38 S&W. Loads were assembled using 148 grain HBWC bullets. While the accuracy was good it wasn't superior to regular mid-range ammunition, but the short cases were much easier to eject - especially because on a range you have to keep the muzzle pointed down.

While I don't see many who would be interested in this, maybe it's an option some gamers should look into rather then shoot short ammunition in long chambers - something that can't help accuracy, but maybe that doesn't matter.

Thanks again.

March 9, 2004, 12:19 AM
Fuff, your observation of the 38 S&W cases being easier to deal with has also attracted the attention of the cowboy shooters, even in the single action guns. The ability to get working pressures at lower velocities is also another 'advantage' when gaming to lower recoil. Combining the 38 S&W with the slightly under 100 grain lead bullets of RNFP form seems to be a combination that is catching on quickly......

Old Fuff
March 9, 2004, 12:42 AM
Interesting observation. .....

What are they using for revolvers? Rebuilt/rechambered single actions or something else?

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