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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I own a 1960s era K frame rimfire and was curious, how does the K frame compare to a L frame in terms of relative size? The catalog does not seem to show the guns to scale, but I can't be sure. They seem very close in size and weight.

Does anyone have any photos of the two side by each?

The only reason I am even looking into the L frame, is not so much for its ability to fire 357 mag but for its potential as a 7 round 38 special SD piece.

The other question, how safe is the 7 round cylinder vs the 6 round cylinder when firing factory 38+P or 357 loads?

I would not be too upset if the 7 rounder is not up to the task of using 357 hunting loads; shooting proficiently enough with a 357 to be able to hunt with it, is more of a personal goal than an absolute necessity. I could always buy a 357 hunting gun later on and keep the l frame 7 rounder as a carry piece.

If the 7 rounder can handle the 357 hunting loads I would get the 4" version, but if not I would probably just buy the 3" version and restrict it to 38+P.
 

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Howdy folks,

Nicely done Mr. BarryIN, thank you sir, a picture like that is really helpful to answer the question.

Mr. Nelson I agree with Mr. BarryIN, in that I would have no problem using a 7 shot L frame using magnum loads at all. The only issue I would have is that all of my speedloaders for the L frame Smiths hold 6 rounds. So if I ever buy one, it will be a 6 round version, in the pre-lock configuration.

As you hopefully can tell from the picture, the L frame is just slightly beefier than the K frame. You could take the grips off the K frame and they would fit perfectly on the L frame, as it was designed with the same grip frame intentionally.

Another way to answer your question, less precisely, would be to say think of a Colt Python with a K frame sized grip - that is the L frame Smith. When I bought my first L frame to use on duty decades ago, they were so new at the time, no holster manufacturer had tooled up to make L frame holsters. I simply bought one designed for the Python, and my L frame fit fine.

Hope between the excellent picture and my comments, you have a better feel for its size now.

twoguns
 

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I thought I should add that I first saw that picture in a book called "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson", by Jim Supica and... I'll have to look to see the other author.

I highly recommend that book to anyone who has an interest in anything S&W. I assumed it was a book for collectors, but it is more than that. I am not into the collecting aspect of S&Ws, but whenever I pick it up, I can't seem to put it down. It has taught me a lot, whether I was trying to learn or not!

I recently saw that picture posted by Mr Supica on another forum, and knew it would come in handy.
 
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Without dragging out any of my K-frames, L-frames and a dial caliper, this is roughly the difference:

The grip-frames (that you grip with your hand) are identical in dimensions.

The L-frame is a bit beefier overall, particularly in the area that the barrel shank is threaded into, as this is the area that the K-frames were found deficient in with splitting of the barrel's forcing cone with lots of shooting of light-bullet, high-velocity .357 loads.


In actual use, the difference between the two frame sizes is slight, give the same barrel length and form. You would never be able to notice the weight difference in carry mode, and perhaps not in shooting.

Smith & Wesson would not produce a 7-shot .357 L-frame if it weren't bullet-proof safe and durable.


If I were to get a Smith 7-shot L-frame for carry and hunting, I would get the relatively new Model 620, although there's "no flies on" the 4" Model 686 with the underlugged barrel, which dampens recoil slightly but is slightly heavier to carry. The 7-shot Model 686's can be found on the used market now, if you're patient.
 

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Cylinders with odd numbers of chambers are slightly stronger.

The thinnest section of a 6-shot clinder is in the locking recess which is right over the chamber. On a 5 or 7 shot sylinder the recess is between the chambers.


Regards,

Pat
 

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The grips are the same size, as noted up post. I think the difference is slight enough for most holster manufacturers to claim that any K-frame holster will do for a 7-shot L frame revolver. The modern offerings from S&W are 4-in. hvy. bl. only (no 3").
7-shot speed loaders: HKS model 587. It works for the 686, 619, and 620. The 619 and 620 have the lock, which some folks strenuously object to. Also the mim trigger, etc. I couldn't pass one up at half the msrp, however. I've got it loaded with Rem. 158gr. LSWCHP +P .38spl and have two speed loaders. I've shot it with .357 loads both mild and stout. I like it, but to be frank, I find myself at the range forgetting about the "extra" 7th shot!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Dave, what do you mean you forget about the extra shot? Do you mean that you instinctively put it down after 6, or that you have so much fun you dont realize you shot all 7??
 

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Oh, sorry. What I meant by that is that at the range I'll shoot six shots, open up the cylinder, and there will be that extra chamber with an unfired round. I usually carry a five-shot J-frame, so that is what I'm most used to, and I have shot 6-shot revolvers too. The 7-shooter is new to my experience, so I just plumb fergit that it has an extra chamber. I concede, however, that having an extra shot is very nice.
 

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Howdy Mr. Dave,

I have never fired a 7 shot Smith of any type, and in DA revolvers that is my preferred brand. I am so used to the J, K, L, and N frames with 6 shots, I am fairly sure I would be doing the same thing.

I agree it would be great having that 7th round, but I just wonder how often I would remember it was there.

twoguns
 

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"If I were to get a Smith 7-shot L-frame for carry and hunting, I would get the relatively new Model 620"

That's a good choice. It's lighter than the 686 and still has the "L" frame strenth. (the 620 is bottom left)

 

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I like a K Frame for a concealed carry piece but for uniform wear or pretty much any 357 loading the L Frame would be more controllable I think. N Frames come into their own in 41 and above.
 
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You have to wonder why the C frame never took off. As a direct competitor for the Colt Detective Special business of the time, I would have thought that the C frame would have stayed in production instead of being a prototype piece. It would have made a nice middle ground between the J frame and the K frame in a 2" model.
 

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For heavy use, L-frame is better. I both 686, for competition use, hunting and selfdefence. I prefer 6-shot because of the rules in IDPA and IPSC (reloading after the 6 shots).
But K-frame is more more more comfortable do carry.
 
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If you are interested in a L frame clone that is a 7 shot and very very light, you could look at the Taurus Tracker Total Titanium series. I have the 4 inch bbl and it weighs something like 25 oz. vs the 41 oz. of the 686. I enjoy mine and I carry it as a service weapon as a armed guard.
Something to think about and good luck
Rick
 
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