With all the modern semi-auto pistols available, revolvers often go overlooked. They hold fewer rounds, take longer to reload, and quality examples are pricey. However, I still argue that wheel guns still have a place for emergency defensive use and may even be the right option for your everyday carry — revolvers such as the S&W 340PD.
Smith and Wesson J-Frame revolvers have been popular carry options for decades. They’re low maintenance and don’t require frequent oiling or delinting after months of carry. The muzzle can be pressed against the attacker and the gun will still fire at contact range.
The S&W 340PD can also be easily carried in the pocket. This makes continual, daily carry a breeze for those who will not carry a larger handgun and provides a discreet option for those who need deep concealment. Some hammerless models can even be fired from inside a coat pocket or bag.
Additionally, J-Frames have a heavier trigger pull than most semi-autos, especially common striker-fired options. This adds another level of safety that many shooters find comforting. There are many different J-Frames on the market, but I believe the 340PD to be the most unique.
S&W 340PD Features
The Smith and Wesson 340PD is no ordinary J-Frame revolver, it is the lightest weight .357 Magnum revolver on the planet. This is accomplished by using a scandium alloy frame and titanium cylinder. Scandium is stronger and lighter than aluminum, and titanium is a lightweight alternative to steel. The two combine to produce a powerful .357 Magnum revolver that is unbelievably lightweight. The mere feel of the S&W 340PD exudes a sense of incredibly high quality.
Along with the change in materials, S&W added an ejector rod shroud and improved the front sight. There are versions with either a red ramp, fiber-optic, or tritium night sight; all use the gutter-style rear sight. I selected the version with the red ramp front sight, because it does not have the internal lock.
One of the fun parts of revolvers is changing out the grips. I swapped the standard rubber grips for Hogue G10 grips. They’re not as good at taming recoil at the range, but they catch less in the pocket for carry. They fit well and the seams blend together nicely.
Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special
Frame: Scandium alloy
Sights: Red ramp, Hi-Viz fiber-optic, or night sight
Barrel length: 1.875 inches
Length: 6.3 inches
Weight: 11.8 ounces
Being such a light weight, compact revolver, there are a ton of carry options. Most will carry this model inside the waistband. I often carry my 340PD in either a leather IWB holster or the DeSantis Slim-Tuk Kydex IWB holster. I gravitate more towards the Slim-Tuk because it locks into place firmly and has minimal thickness. The S&W 340PD is small enough for discreet OWB carry with just a T-shirt cover garment. For outside-the-waistband carry, I prefer the DeSantis Mini Scabbard. It’s an excellent low-profile option that carries the gun close to the body.
As I mentioned earlier, J-Frames in general are great for pocket carry, but due to the lightweight materials, you’ll forget you’re even carrying with the 340PD. Using a Sticky Holster will help cover the trigger guard and prevent an accidental discharge. Ankle carry is another good option, especially if you plan to use the snubby as a backup gun. Though I do not carry in this way, the Galco Ankle Glove seems to be the gold standard.
Accuracy and Handling
The Smith and Wesson 340PD is definitely not the best gun for target shooting or fun at the range, but it wasn’t designed for that. This is a carry pistol by nature. This doesn’t mean it’s not accurate, however. The pistol demonstrated superb accuracy for self-defense at close ranges. The heavy double-action trigger and short sight radius are something you have to train to get used to. At 7 yards I was able to get groups just larger than the size of my palm, not great but not horrible. With practice, I’m sure you could trim that down a bit.
Recoil was another matter. Firing was absolutely bearable with .38 Special target loads. Similar to your standard Airweight revolvers. .38 Special +P defense loads were noticeably more powerful, but still controllable.
However, firing .357 Magnum rounds will rock your world. You better have a firm grip and proper technique if you hope to hit anything, especially with follow-up shots. This is not a gun for new shooters or those who are sensitive to recoil. Although, with practice, the 340PD can be an accurate and dependable firearm.
The Smith and Wesson 340PD launches the revolver into the modern era with an incredible upgrade in construction and materials. This featherweight is an absolute dream to carry and packs a powerful punch. Give this wheel gun a shot and it’s sure to be your next everyday carry companion.