The Smith & Wesson K-frame is a six shot medium frame revolver that was designed in 1898 to fit an adult sized man’s hand. Its frame size and shape makes it easier to get a full fist on, its ergonomics made it a natural pointer and its weight soaks up the majority of the .38’s minimal recoil. With a two inch barrel it is an excellent choice for weapon retention in a home defense situation. Its operation can be easily taught to any responsible adult and the option of using appropriate +P ammunition can enhance its self-defense value.
There are many K-frame variations. These include the ubiquitous .38 blue steel Model 10 and stainless steel Model 64, the alloy framed .38 Airweight Model 12, the adjustable sighted .38 Model 15 and the blued steel 2-1/2-inch Model 19 and stainless steel Model 66 both in .357. Each of these individual models had something to offer the snub owner.
The Model 10 in blue steel snub and the Model 64 in stainless steel were always popular with elements of the law enforcement community, armed home and shop owners and occasionally elements of the military.
The Model 12 was an alloy framed version of the Model 10. It offers all the features of the Model 10 with a noticeable reduction in weight. When it was commonly available, the Model 12 never had the cachet of Colt’s competing light weight Cobra or Agent models. This may have been due to the Model 12’s slightly larger size vs. Colt’s Cobras and Agents. Ironically it now enjoys an almost cult status among those luckily enough to own them. The Model 12 was never rated for +P ammunition but there are several manufactures producing ammunition that offer +P levels of performance at both standard pressure levels and fired out of 2-inch barrels. It is worth noting that Smith & Wesson denoted improvements to many of their models with the addition of “dash numbers.” Many of the Model 12, 12-1, 12-2 and 12-3 parts are not interchangeable with common Smith & Wesson K-frame parts. This is because in the models made prior to the 12-4 had a frame width 1/10” thinner than the other K-frames.
The adjustable sighted Model 15 was something of a connoisseur’s snub. It was always popular with target shooters and/or anyone who wanted to shoot ammunition with a variety of bullet weights. The Model 15’s adjustable sights gave shooters an easy option for adjusting for point of aim/point of impact.
The 2-1/2-inch blued steel Model 19 and stainless steel Model 66 in .357 were once commonalty referred to as the “Cadillac of snubs.” It is worth noting that at one time the 2-1/2-inch Model 19 was an issued weapon for the U.S. Secret Service. The Model 19 and Model 65 offered nearly all of the best of the K-frame’s feature along with the advantage of being chambered for the substantially more potent .357. Had it been available in a lighter weight version in the age when revolvers dominated the conceal carry option, it might have been the holy grail of snub fraternity.