To me, the greatest single development in double-action revolvers for the 20th century is Smith 8 Wesson's introduction of the K-Frame in 1899. Its introductory caliber was .38 Special, although K-Frames have also been chambered for .22 LR, .32 S8W Long, .32-20, .38 S&W and .357 Magnum.
Right now some big bore fanatics are bellering, "Hold up, Duke. The N-Frames are holy. The Smith & Wesson .44 Special is without sin and N-Frame magnums have been movie stars."
OK. That's probably true. No movies were ever made about K-Frames I know of. But consider this: Roy Jinks, S&W historian and author of History of Smith & Wesson (13th Printing from 2003), claimed more revolvers built on the K-Frame had been made up to 2003 than all other S&W handguns combined.
S&W used names for their revolvers until 1957. Some K-Frame examples? How about Victory Model, Masterpiece, Combat Masterpiece, Combat Magnum and Military & Police (M&P). After 1957, K-Frames received model numbers such as Model 10 (M&P), Models 14,16 and 17 (Masterpieces in .38, .32 and .22 sizes respectively) Model 15 Combat Masterpiece and Model 19 Combat Magnum. And there were others.
S&W K-Frames were made in an amazing variety of barrel lengths: 2, 2-1/2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6-1/2 and 8-3/8 inches. Perhaps I've missed one, but most are there. The K-Frame's intended purposes have been small game hunting (.22), combat (.32, .38 and .357) and bull's-eye target competition (.22, .32, and .38).
A FRAME FOR MEMORIES
The very first handgun I bought for myself was a K-38 Masterpiece (aka Model 14). I purchased it from a Mr. Robert Hendricks of Red Jacket, W. Va., for the sum of $50. Mr. Hendricks and I later became shooting buddies.
Another shooting buddy at the time was Mike Bucci (nicknamed "Butch"). We were seniors in high school together. His father was chief of police of our small town in the West Virginia coalfields. Mr. Bucci gave his son a K-Frame M&P .38 with a 6-1/2-inch barrel so we didn't have to share my K-38.
As young fellows more interested in shooting than sitting in classrooms, Butch and I figured out a scam. The easiest class for seniors was journalism. It was the last period of the day and the class's job was to put out the school newspaper. With neither of us having much interest in writing, Butch was assigned as ad salesman, and I was advertising manager. Butch would tell the teacher, Mrs. Jessie, that he was having trouble selling ads about town and could I...