Prior to the proliferation of the semi-automatic pistol in police work, the S&W Model 15 (Combat Masterpiece) was used by an enormous number of police departments across the country including: Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, Honolulu Police Department, Nassau County Police Department, Florida Department of Corrections as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Treasury Department. Even the United States Air Force issued the Model 15 as their standard sidearm from 1962 until 1992 (replaced by the Beretta M9).
In 1999 production of the venerable Combat Masterpiece was discontinued. A few limited runs of “Heritage Series” or commemorative models were released in 2001 and 2002 and, according to customer service, S&W was recently brought back the Model 15 in their Classic Revolver line.
As to why these two handguns are special to me personally… I owned an early Colt when I was, um, younger and my father was issued a K-38 as an officer in San Jose, CA. I also made my first handgun purchase of a Model 64 back in the 1980’s which I still own today (Note: our Editor-In-Chief purchased a 64 at the same time but I’m pretty sure his was swapped out for something or other.) Both of these fine revolvers can be had for a deal at your local gun store. I’m glad I’ve hung onto the Model 64 and I look forward to passing my father’s K-38 down to my child. Plus they’re a blast to shoot and I’ve got tons of .38 ammo!
Editor's Note: The first revolver I ever bought was a Colt Official Police .38. The first revolver I ever purchased for duty use was a Smith & Wesson Model 15. Both were 4" barrel .38s. The Model 64 I purchased at the same time as the author was indeed sold to get $$ to purchase another off-duty handgun. Now I'm in the market for a stainless steel .357 Magnum with a barrel between 4"-6".
About The Author:
Charles Bennett was born in our Nation's Capital and grew up in the Maryland suburbs. Mr. Bennett has been working in all aspects of the publishing industry since the late 1980s primarily in the fields of commercial photography and magazine production. Moving to California in 1992 to attend college resulted in B.F.A and Masters degrees. California also supplied Mr. Bennett with his wife. The two of them are avid sports persons and participate in shooting, scuba diving, surfing, running and bicycling. As a long time hobby Mr. Bennett has studied the legends of American law enforcement which led to his writing these columns.