Shooting the S&W Model 14-3
Hello. A past range session was with an “old friend”, a shooter that was common
decades ago but that has sadly gone the way of too many classic firearms
in my opinion. In today’s world, it is probably not” tactical” enough for
many shooters…and that’s fine. While I don’t expect all shooters or handgunners
to share the exact same opinions on handguns, I do wish that expense or interest
or whatever had remained such that more of the classics could have survived.
The handgun in question is an S&W Model 14-3 in the common 6-inch barrel length. In the early ‘70’s, I saw lots of these being shot on target ranges by both private citizens and police. None of the officers I ever worked with or met carried one on duty, although I understand that at one time some police departments such as Los Angeles, CA did authorize the 6” K-frame Model 14 for duty use. The police shooters I saw using these revolvers were those on the pistol team or those simply wanting to shoot teeny-tiny groups from 7 to 50 yards or so. To some, slow-fire accuracy shooting might be a bit too pedestrian but it still piques my interest and is one aspect of shooting that I personally remain committed to. In my opinion, Jeff Cooper had it right when he suggested that the triad of handgun effectiveness might be tied to “speed, accuracy and power.” I see the need for all (in self-defense or to a degree, hunting scenarios) but sort of think that as a whole, maybe some of the shooting community has begun placing less emphasis on being able to make precision shots. I could be wrong, but based on the types of shooting I read about and see on the range, I may not be.
This Model 14-3 was purchased NIB from a friend and at a fair price for both of us. It came with the target rather than service type S&W checkered stocks along with the serrated target trigger and wide-spur target hammer. Grips shown are some long-discontinued Fitz “gunfighter” grips. I don’t intend to do any gunfights with this revolver, but do find this old design very comfortable.
These two 18-shot groups were fired double-action at 15 yards and from a seated position with my wrists braced with sandbags. No effort was made at speed. Ammunition used was from Georgia Arms and is available as “canned heat”. This nicely reloaded ammo is constructed of new components and groups well enough for my purposes. For those who might be interested, Georgia Arms has a site at www.georgia-arms.com . The ammunition on the right is listed as a “Plated Semiwadcutter” but is actually a plated flat point bullet. The 158-gr. LSWC is rated at 775 ft/sec by the factory while the plated bullet is listed at 25 ft/sec faster. Both chronographed a bit faster than 800 ft/sec from this revolver’s 6” bbl.
These shots were taken at 25 yards and were fired single-action. I was seated with wrists braced as mentioned previously. The target is the NRA B-24. I suspect that the revolver/ammunition combination is capable of tighter grouping but I am not. This is plenty tight enough for me but a younger shooter with sharper eyes, better reflexes and the shooting foundation to really group, might find a better one. I fear that I no longer can. I would encourage those who can to try. One can still shoot the more “practical” type drills and be capable of “dotting the I”.
Here you can see not only the wide target hammer and trigger but the trigger stop that was available on some of the S&W line. FWIW, I did see one of the stops come loose on an early Model 19 and really lock up the gun. Were I using a revolver for “serious” purposes and it was so equipped, I’d make very sure that the stop was really secure or might remove it entirely.
I have read in several places what the “purpose” of the handgun is. As I’ve mentioned before, the purposes of my handguns are whatever I want them to be. Others may disagree and that’s fine but this Model 14 will be used to work on precise shooting and just having fun. Speaking only for myself, shooting strictly for enjoyment has significant merit and this revolver “just fits my pistol” in that application.
If you get the opportunity to shoot one of these old things, I suggest giving it a try. It may hold but six shots and be "only a 38" but I really think some shooters would be very pleasantly surprised. If this sort of thing is not a shooter's "cup of tea", great but give it a shot so to speak before deciding.
How I wish these things were still around NIB and as common as they used to be. I really believe that many of us didn't realize how nice we had it back in the "good old days"...