I'll give it a stab. The frame of the L is slightly larger than the K (while maintaining the same size of the grip portion of the frame). The forcing cone of the barrel is noticeably thicker. The L was designed to sustain constant use of magnum rounds. The K could crack the forcing cone as well as shoot itself loose with a steady diet of mags.
The K is slightly lighter in weight & to some more comfortable in the hand. The rule of thumb w/Ks is to shoot 38s, carry mags if for self defense purposes. I think the change came about mostly through l.e. using magnum ammo more frequently than when the K frame was initially brought out. Hope that helps.
yes it does help. All this time, not wanting to ask ...but trying to figure out any difference on looks, I thought it was the shape of the handle, frame or something noticiable that I could pick up. You have indeed explained it to Me .....and I give My thanks to you
You perfectly correct, Doc. I'll ad a little, just cuz I can't keep my big mouth shut. It's basically a blend of the K and N frames. For the .357/38 use it was designed for, it is as strong as the N, while still keeping the same grip size and similar overall frame size (both are considered medium frames). As for telling which is which, I think you just go by the model. L frames are 686, 586, 681, 581 (may be others) and K frames are models such as the 19, 66, i think the 10 is too, and others. I'm sure someone here can help with the models.
Hey could you guys tell my sons that I actually do know what I'm talking about :biglaugh: ? Seriously, I inherited a 686 4" & 66 2.5" from my father 12 years ago as well as owned lots of k-frames (& a few N) over the years. Outside of my 1911s, my Smith revolvers get the most amount of range time. If your real serious about Smiths get a copy of "The Standard Catalogue of Smith & Wesson" by Supica & Nahas. An outstanding resource. The 2nd edition available now is from '96 I think, but supposedly they're working on the 3rd.
A quick way to tell the difference if you can examine one is to swing out the cylinder and look at the forcing cone. The L-frame will have a full round forcing cone. This is the area where the revolver was beefed up over the K-frame. The K-frame's forcing cone will have a flat area milled on the bottom to allow the closing of the cylinder.