I was in the Marines as a Military Policeman in the 1970s. We had Model 36 (2 inch) for CID (Investigators) and Model 15 (4 inch) for the Game Wardens.Why? I spent a part of my military career in the Air Force, where I carried one daily and qualified twice per year. We fired the ball ammo which was known as the PGU-12/B Velocity is given as 1125 fps. Pressure is 20000 psi. That is the Plus P max limit. Back in my time, when I actually used the model 15, 72 million rounds were made at Lake City for the USAF in 1979-80, the only time Lake City made .38 Special ammunition.
I was also issued a SW model 36 square butt with the 3 inch barrel. We fired the same stuff in the little gun. It had some recoil but they held up well. One I have is the Model 14 the forerunner to the Model 15, I shoot it that hot and hotter and never ever had a problem. The pin barrel model 15 is a sturdy gun, in my opinion you can never hurt it with any 38 or 38 Plus P ammo, they are just that good. IMHO
Anybody have any data otherwise?
1969; Caliber .38 Special, Ball PGU12/B High Velocity Cartridge 20,000psi approx 1125fps 6" test bbl, 950 to 980fps 4" revolver
The Model 14 is a six inch and the Model 15 is a four inch, both had adjustable sights. They were both made during the same time span.
S&W Model Listing
Model year year Frame Caliber Name
intro Discon Size
14 1947 1982 KT 38 Spl K-38 Masterpiece
15 1949 KT 38 Spl K-38 Combat Masterpiece