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(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

By Richard Dahl
I’m an old guy who really enjoys shooting and firearms. A collector of guns I’m not, but I am an accumulator. An accumulator is one who enjoys shooting and working on a great variety of firearms.

Before 1957 Smith & Wesson named their revolvers rather than numbering them and those named revolvers make up a fair number of my accumulation. Which brings us to the Target Masterpiece K38 in the photo above.

Last July I was in one of the local gun shops when I noticed an old Smith revolver that looked like it had been ridden hard and put away wet. Someone had painted the patridge front sight red, the rear sight white, replaced the grips with way too large grips with the screw head so buggered that the grips were loose on the frame.

The main spring had been bent so that it didn’t work correctly and the whole revolver was filthy. Nick came over and asked if I’d like to buy the old gun. I asked how much for that wreck. It was mine for $350.00 out the door.

Now comes the part that I enjoy, bringing an old gun back to life. I disassembled it, removed the paint, re-cut the screw slot, cut the grips down and refined them. Then I corrected the main spring, cleaned and lightly lubed and reassembled the revolver.

Now I have a very good shooting K38 which left the factory in 1955, (the year I graduated from high school), which loves the w/c loads that I feed it. From my prospective being an accumulator rather than a collector is both financially and enjoyability rewarding.

The other revolver is a model 610 with a five-inch barrel in 10mm. It was made in 1989 and I purchased it in 1992.

When I acquired it I disassembled and tuned it and replaced the front sight with a gold bead patridge sight. This revolver is a real can killer. Which means that it’s very good at hitting reactive targets, (bean cans, olive cans, tomato cans, etc.). I find shooting paper rather uninteresting so I go to the desert and shoot cans, bring them home and properly dispose of them.

The reloads are 200 grain cast bullets with enough powder for about 1000 ft/sec. Note that they are in 1/3 moon clips, which I find much easier to use than full moon clips. This model 610 is a very nice shooting revolver and any reactive target within 50 yards in in dire straits.

Being an old guy I shoot using a Weaver stance with my support hand index finger foreward on the trigger guard. I find that this lowers the handgun into my hands and gives me better control. You young whipper snappers, give it a try. You’ll like it.

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  1. I thoroughly enjoy seeing before and after’s of destroyed products. Not just guns, but all things. Some people have a great vision and creativity to do things I’d never think of.

  2. Nothing like working on old Smiths. They’re a fine gun to make your own, and I mean really make your own, not just just popping some pins or wiping down a striker. You can’t beat real steel, especially old cop guns: quality without pretension. I’m less than half your age but with you in spirit 100%!

  3. “Being an old guy I shoot using a Weaver stance with my support hand index finger foreward (sic) on the trigger guard.”

    As a fellow old guy, I started shooting that way sometime after the dawning of the Age of Aquarius but before The Bronx became the Boogie Down.

    It still works.

    • Support hand forward the trigger guard, doesn’t that risk getting bit by the cylinder gap?

      • Sounds a bit like a modified tea cup. Wraps the shooting hand and extends the index out around the trigger guard. I do that with *gasp* Glocks.

  4. As a fellow accumulator and modified-weaver user, I appreciate your perspective.

    I have no Smith with a lock and will not in the future.

    Was thinking yesterday that some up-start company needs to build the old, lean-forged K frame for all us curmudgeons.

    I had a 6inch 586 once and removed the underlug. It made better balanced and easier to carry all day in the field.

    It was almost as nice as a K-Frame.

  5. I wish people wouldn’t waste food. There are needy people that could use those cans of beans or tomatoes. Instead of shooting the cans full of food, shoot the empties. It’s not clear the author does this.

    •’s not clear he doesn’t, either, and shooting empty cans is the epitome of ‘plinking.’

  6. When they in season, and available really cheap, water melons make good reactive targets and ballistics gel.

  7. Man I love the look of revolvers with 5-inch barrels. Revolvers with 4-inch barrels look too short and 6-inch barrels look too long.

    As far as I can surmise, revolvers with 5-inch barrels also optimize balance versus recoil reduction. (The 5-inch barrel provides more mass and more recoil reduction than a 4-inch barrel without having so much weight forward and degradation of balance as a 6-inch barrel.)

    I wish Ruger, Smith, and Taurus would offer all of their revolvers with 5-inch barrels.

  8. While I’ve been fortunate to acquire a very nice K38 I have yet to get a 610. Most that I find are the 6.5″ barrel version that don’t really excite me. A 310NG or 610 5″, now we’re talking.

    I don’t believe it was ever called “Target Masterpiece” by S&W. It’s just the “Masterpiece” and the 4″ the “Combat Masterpiece”.

  9. The cans I use for reactive targets are indeed empty. Empty cans are the classical target for plinking.
    The name Target Masterpiece in found in Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson, 3rd Edition p.144. I hope that clears up these two points.

    Richard Dahl

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