Concealed Carry

Review: S&W 340PD — The Lightest .357 Magnum Revolver

S&W 340PD and Ruger LCP Max

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.

J-Frame Revolvers

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 on Sticky Holster
The S&W 340PD can be easily stowed in your front pocket.

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.

Specs

Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special
Action: Double-action-only
Frame: Scandium alloy
Cylinder: Titanium
Sights: Red ramp, Hi-Viz fiber-optic, or night sight
Barrel length: 1.875 inches
Length: 6.3 inches
Weight: 11.8 ounces

S&W 340PD open cylinder
This model with the red ramp front sight does not feature S&W’s internal lock.

Carry Options

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.

Two Snub Nose Revolver Holsters
Leather or kydex, the 340PD carried comfortably IWB.

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.

340PD Muzzle
There is a steel insert above the cylinder gap to protect the scandium frame. Note the warning on the barrel to not use cartridges with bullets lighter than 120 grains.

Conclusion

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.

Do you like J-Frames for self-defense? What do you think of the S&W 340PD? Let us know in the comment section.

  • S&W 340PD on Sticky Holster
  • 340PD on table
  • 340PD Muzzle
  • S&W 340PD open cylinder
  • 340PD grip
  • S&W 340PD and Ruger LCP Max
  • Two Snub Nose Revolver Holsters

About the Author:

Alex Cole

Alex is a relatively young firearms enthusiast who’s been shooting consistently for around seven years. Though he is fairly new to the industry, he loves consuming all information related to guns and is constantly trying to enhance his knowledge, understanding and use of firearms. Not a day goes by where he doesn’t do something firearms-related.

Alex tries to visit the range at least a couple of times a month to maintain and improve his shooting skills. He also enjoys disassembling and reassembling firearms to see how they work and to keep them properly cleaned and maintained. He installs most of the upgrades to his firearms himself, taking it as a chance to learn.

Additionally, he is very into buying, selling and trading guns to test different firearms and learn more about them. He is not only interested in modern handguns and rifles, he appreciates the classics for both historical value and real-world use.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (17)

  1. I own and carry a 340 on a regular basis, got mine when the model came out. it’s is one of my favorite carry weapons. I have added a set of laser grips. Yes you can forget you are carrying it’s so light. Prefer IWB carry. It all fits well in my back pocket. I have owned and carried several J frames revolvers. .45 &.357 are my favorite calibers.

  2. I’ve had one since they came out & have had j frames forever. As a pocket gun they are great, but I always prefer something that starts with a 44 or 45 & 357. My everyday carry are the 325PD 45 & M60 357 or various 45 autos. I don’t have a problem shooting hot loads in lt guns but the 360 is not a lot of fun but can be shot double tap with practice. But…if I’m carrying a “357” its the M60. It’s 10ozs(m/l) heavier, shoots easy with 125 PDs, is accurate & u can shoot all 5 fast & easy & is almost as easy to conceal.

  3. I have tried steel and aluminum-framed J-frames. I am not a fan. The triggers are heavy and stack up at the end of the stroke making the revolver difficult to shoot accurately. I tried the Ruger LCR after if became available. That is what I carry now. Ruger changed the trigger linkage so the DA pull is smooth and medium-heavy making the revolver easy to shoot accurately. My carry loads are either standard-pressure Underwood .38 SPL Defenders or the Speer 135gr. Gold-Dot .38 +P short-barrel. Right front pocket holster and I’m dressed for peace and armed for trouble. These Scandium revolvers are niche conversation pieces IMHO. Firing ANY .357 Magnum load from a 12 oz. revolver will never be practical for self-defense purposes.

  4. I have 27 years in Law enforcement, and always carried the 360PD as a back up gun. But there is a piece of knowledge id like to share that will benefit all. When off duty, I always carry my duty pistol with plenty ammo. I’m not about to engage a mall shooter with a 5 shot snubnose. However, when I am in a city, in addition to my duty pistol I always carry the 360PD in my front pocket. If someone pulls a gun on you and says , “Give me your money,” you will never get your duty pistol out in time. He will beat you. But if you have your hand on your 360PD in your pocket, you will beat him every time, even if he had his gun pointed right at you with his finger on the trigger. Action is quicker than reaction, every time. Try it unloaded and you will see. It’s the best insurance when someone gets the jump on you.

  5. 32 years as a deputy sheriff. Have been retired for 15 years now. 8 years as a FFL dealer. As a retired guy, I go back and forth from a S&W 340 to a Sig 365. Both are carried in my front pocket of my jeans. I am required to qualify each year with my department to keep up my CCW. At least 8 of those rounds are from the 15 yard line and they all hit the man-size target with little effort, but I do practice often. I carry .38 +Ps as my defense rounds. As stated, the .357 can be a hand full. Nothing wrong at all with a five shot revolver, just keep in mind its capacity and practice with it. Nothing wrong with a semi auto either, just keep it clean and practice all your jam scenarios. Stay safe out there and at least carry something!

  6. I have the 360PD version, which is the same scandium-alloy frame but exposed hammer. I carry it when hiking, mountain biking, and riding my dirt bikes because it is so light. I practice with wadcutters and semi-wadcutters, but carry Gold Dot Short Barrel PP .357 in the woods (which I also practice with, but not as much for obvious reasons). The .38 special loads are no big deal to shoot, but with .357’s you have a handful of fire and fury!! This gun will kick like a mule, if you aren’t ready for it, and follow up shots are not quick. If you are hoping to “double-tap” with .357’s this gun is probably not for you! That being said, I find it very accurate at snubby ranges and I reach for it much more often than my S&W 686+ because it is so light and easy to carry.

    To address the restriction on bullets less than 120gr: There is a prohibition against using ammunition with bullet weight less than 120 grains due to the risk of frame erosion from powder that is still burning after too rapid exit of the light projectile. Another warning in the owners manual is recoil may pull the cases of unfired rounds in the cylinder rearward with enough force to unseat the (lighter and shorter) bullets, causing the cylinder to jam. I follow the directions and have not had any problems.

  7. I love the PD models. I have the 329PD, had the trigger done over at the S&W custom shop. It shoots great. We can ring steel plates off hand at 50 yards consistently. I have the simply rugged convertible IWB/OWB holster. It Carry’s high and tight. Not my every day carry but great back up while hunting dangerous game and just a great feeling gun to hold. You just don’t want to put it down….

  8. I have had my 360 PD for many years now. The most important modification is to get it Mag-Na-Ported. Then recoil is very manageable. Perfect gun for hiking, Mt. biking, etc. I carry mine with CCI shot in a couple cylinders and 38 Special in the rest. Speed loader with .357.

    Per the comment on percentage on Scandium, if one studies metallurgy, very small percentages of alloy metals can totally change attributes.

  9. Don’t understand the 120gr min bullet weight stamp on the barrel and this wasn’t explained in the article. Lesser weight bullets can have higher velocities so if that’s why then a “+P” type warning should be used. Shotshells are probably lighter than 120gr so can they be used? And while the Hogue grips look nice I wouldn’t want to shoot this gun unless it was fitted with standard rubber grips.

  10. if you’re going for a snubbie,consider the semi bobbed hammer Charter Arms,preferably in 45Colt or 44Special.Big hole,limited muzzleblast.357Mag muzzleblast is horrendous in a snubbie.

  11. I’m an old revolver guy and have a soft spot for snub nose revolvers. I carried a nickel plated model 442 IWB behind my hip for so long that my sweat wore away the nickel plating. S&W replaced it with a 642, no charge AND included a duty action trigger job because the 442 had one. But… that’s a 38 that weighs ~16 ounces. A 12 ounce 357? I think I’ll pass. Actually, that LCP MAX is looking pretty good.

  12. Why. My goad of self defense is to live. Best way to get away. As pictured, the LCP Max is so easy to fire. I’m not outgunned with 13 rounds of 380. 25 with my backup mag. Sure, the airlite is an amazing 1 hit wonder. Just hope you hit target and can get back on target if you don’t or if there’s more than one perp. Of course you could load her with 38 spcl, but then again, I’d argue 380 capacity once again.

  13. Have (3) “J” frame S&W revolvers. For almost everyone, the “lightweight” series of “J” frame S&W revolvers, even in .38 spl., are difficult to control. Hence the need to spend a considerable amount of time on the range learning to control shooting these lightweight revolvers. My 3″ – #60 in .357 is much easier to shoot than the 2″ – #638 in .38 spl. because of the difference in weight. If you want to carry one of these lightweight revolvers, understand that recoil management is a much bigger problem than having to carry the extra weight of an all steel “J” frame. Today’s holsters can easily compensate for the heavier all steel “J” frame, but don’t help with recoil management.

  14. why not try the S&W Mountain Gun if its still available?It was in 357Mag,44Mag,45Colt.Not for steady use of hot loads..unlike the Ruger GP100,Redhawk

  15. S&W’s claim that its light weight revolvers are made with Scandium frames is a marketing gimmick. The frames are at least 90% aluminum and well under 1% Scandium. The Scandium is added to improve both tensile strength and the finished appearance of the product. Scandium is a very expensive and hard to find rare earth element that is currently mined in small quantities in China, Russia, and Ukraine. Deposits have been located in Australia, but are not currently being mined. The world demand for scandium is expected to grow, which means the price will continue to rise. Recent improvements in magnesium alloys which contain silicon carbide are showing great promise. These alloys are nearly as light as aluminum alloys and as strong as titanium alloys. They can be more challenging to work with due to the risk of fire, but this same issue presents itself when shaping titanium products, so the risk can be mitigated. Perhaps the greatest advantage over aluminum-scandium alloys is the ready availability of magnesium. Only time will tell if this newest allow will seriously challenge or supplant readily available and affordable aluminum alloys.

  16. I carry the 360PD everyday – in my jeans pocket, with a Blackhawk TecGrip size 4 sleeve covering the trigger.
    You are correct that most 357 loads – even those that are advertized as for self-defense and not full-house are rough to fire – but the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 357 rounds (135g JHP) seems perfect. Not a great deal of flash and the bullet is designed for the short barrel velocity…
    For 10 yards or closer – these 5 shots will be all I need or have time for…
    I think you could follow-up with the unique cleaning and service recommendations from S&W regarding the Scandium Frame and Titanium cylinder… I understand some have been ruined using cleaning brushes and solvent that is normally used on steel guns…

  17. I love wheel guns, they are sturdy and functional. I had an old retired sherif deputy tell me that, “one thing about a wheel gun is that it will never lie to ya”. He had an old S&W 357, it is a beautiful firearm.

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