Author:Miller, Payton

"Well," said my shooting buddy Thomas Mackie, massaging his right hand with only a slight grimace, "now I can say I've done it...."

The "it" in question involved lighting off five reasonably quick rounds of .357 Magnum from a J-Frame S&W snubbie with a minimal curb weight--specifically, the lightweight 340 PD.

"A .357 Magnum option is okay, I guess," he said, once circulation had returned to his hand. "But I sure wouldn't wanna make a career out of it."

"You remember the way old-timers used to describe these kinda guns?" I asked. "Carry a lot, shoot a little." A cute punch line for sure, but a too-flip description of an excellent carry snubbie--a cool heir to a long line of Smith J-Frames.

There's also a flip-side to the "Plus-P's Plenty for Me" argument and I've heard it from very knowledgeable CCW types. Basically, it's "give me all the power I can get!" With the 340 PD, you're free to explore all ammo possibilities, but very few are going to want .357s for regular practice.


The original S&W Safety Hammerless ceased production in 1940 but the concept was resurrected in 1952 as the Centennial. Today there's a J-Frame subset of these "hammerless" models exhibiting the same simplicity of operation making their predecessors so highly regarded.

This "simplicity" of course, involves the tacit acceptance you're going to be shooting a snubbie double-action anyway. So why even deal with the option of "hammered" single action? After all, it could provide just one more level of distraction should it ever come time to use the gun in the type of emergency it was designed for.

The 340 PD--at $1,019 MSRP--is obviously a premium offering, featuring a 2-piece sleeved barrel, scandium frame and a titanium cylinder. There's a small stainless steel insert in the topstrap right above the forcing cone, appearing to act as insurance against "flame-cutting" from the high pressures of magnum loads. From the left side it looks like a little silver horizontal "J" against the dark anodized scandium.

There's also the admonition No Less Than 120-Gr. Bullet etched on the bottom of the barrel sleeve. I'd surmise this is to caution anyone from using short, lightweight screamers that could be more likely to jump the crimp. It's a perfectly sensible caveat. Having a tied-up CCW gun would be the nightmare of nightmares--one from which you might not awaken.

The bright green HIVIZ fiber optic front sight is very quick to acquire. Blessedly, the flat-top...

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