Timothy Mullin's book, "The K-Frame Revolver, the S&W Phenomenon Volume 2", is a continuation of his first book, "Magnum - the S&W .357 Magnum Phenomenon", published in 2012.  This volume more than continues the story but also focuses on the popular K-Frame Smith itself.  With S&W producing close to eight million examples of this quality handgun over the last hundred years, there are plentiful specimens to collect, and at prices that haven't risen to rarefied heights as some guns, notably the Colt single action, have.  They are collected, but maybe not so much because a lot of people are still using them for their intended purpose, for security and self-defense.

picture of K-Frame Revolvers book

The first K-Frame was built in 1899 for the US Army, who was having trouble in the Philippines with Moro tribesmen.  The military had downsized their handguns to .38 Long Colt from the older .45 Colt single actions and were now paying the price.  S&W had developed a superior .38 cartridge, the .38 S&W Special, and also developed a larger frame pistol to go with it.  This was the first K-Frame, with many upon many iterations to come, following through with the Military & Police model for WW2, of which many millions were made for the war effort, culminating in the Model 686 in .357 Magnum, one of my favorite handguns of all time.

picture of K-frame revolver

A K-Frame Model 64-3

This book runs to 750 pages.  It is staggering how many images there are.  Every conceivable detail on these guns is addressed somewhere in the book.  You can pick this up, open to a random page, and get lost for hours, as I have.  Granted you probably have to be interested in the subject in the first place, but most men and some women are, and a lot of those already know what a great handgun the K-Frame is. There are plenty of illustrations of the actions and explanations for each new wrinkle in development.  And details of S&W's competitors in the marketplace are covered also, like the Colt handguns, the .38 S&W Webleys, and Spanish copies of the 1930's through Rossi and Taurus in more modern times.  

Mr. Mullin and Collector Grade Publications have tapped the resources of many a collector, and pictures of their guns are also included along with some of my own.  I have enjoyed many K-Frame Smiths over the years, carried one in Vietnam, and hope to enjoy many more.   I recommend this book to anyone interested in the Smith & Wesson revolver.

picture of K-Frame Revolver book

The K-Frame Revolver from Collector Grade Publications

The fighter was born on April 1st, 1915.  Roland Garros, a French pilot, got his first victory in the air with his Moraine Saulnier aircraft equipped with a forward firing machine gun, the first in history.  Other planes had guns in the front, like the Vickers Gunbus, but they had gunners.  The true effectiveness of the fighter wasn't achieved until a fixed gun was controlled by the pilot. He achieved this feat by attaching metal wedges on his propeller to deflect any bullets that might hit it.  Within two weeks he was an ace.  The solution he used was pretty hard on propellers, shattering some of them anyway. He was forced down later that month, and once Anthony Fokker saw his plane he quickly developed the interrupter gear that made the fighter into the ultimate killing machine of the air.

The United States have developed the ultimate fighters of modern times, the F-22 and the F-35, which can not only carry huge payloads, but get them there without being discovered by radar.  However, even their reign will come to an end soon.  Cheap computers and sensors will soon make their life miserable in the air, and their role will be to get some payloads in the air, to be released and hunt on their own, leaving the fighters to vacate the area as quickly as possible before they are hunted and killed by swarms of networked hunter/killer missiles.

The US has been in this game for a while now, starting as long ago as 1998 with their LOCAAS or Low Cost Autonomous Attack System.  This reduces the size of the warhead and makes it better to adapt to conditions on it's own, without any influence from the pilot of the aircraft carrying it.  This system has already morphed into the SDB or the Small Diameter Bomb System.  The system extends the standoff range, guides itself with GPS and INS (Inertial Navigation System), and also carries anti-jam and anti-spoofing modules.  The size is smaller to reduce collateral damage, but it is still a killer, able to penetrate three feet of reinforced concrete.  And if they are destroyed in the air, we lose no humans or expensive F-35's.  

Another thing that will kill fighters will be the inability and cost to protect aircraft carriers.  Other countries are developing weapons that will swarm the target, each equipped with different sensors and networked together, making a carrier quite a tempting target.  It will be much cheaper to outfit a lot of Arleigh Burke class destroyers delivering the same ordnance, with smaller cross sections  to attack.  The US has developed the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) mostly because the Chinese already have better anti-ship missiles than we do.  It has been successfully tested and has autonomously flew long range, identified and hit the target.  On it's own.  

Other countries may not be able to match the US's sophistication in these matters, but they are plenty capable of building autonomous systems on their own, and sometimes cheaper is better, as you can build lots more of them, potentially swamping the defense of a ship at sea.  The aircraft carrier may not disappear, but like the battleship before it, it's time is almost up.


Birth of the fighter plane, 1915

Rise of the Missile Carriers, US Navy Institute

The Diplomat -LRASM