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Old December 14, 2011, 04:59 PM   #1
BarryLee
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S&W Scandium Revolvers

I have heard a variety of urban legends about the S&W Scandium revolvers and how difficult they are to shoot. However, none of the folks I have spoken with actually own one of the guns and are only parroting what they have heard from someone else. So, I was curious how those of you who own and/or shoot one of these on a regular basis feel about their performance? I am considering one in .357 Magnum along the lines of the Model 340/360.
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Old December 14, 2011, 05:28 PM   #2
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Can you find a local range where they'll rent one to you to try?

The 340/360PD models have titanium cylinders. This restricts the Magnum loads used to bullet weights of not less than 120gr to help reduce the possibility of premature erosion in the titanium cylinders (gas erosion in the charge hole throats, cylinder face, etc).

S&W also warns that ammunition which is going to be used in their Ti, Sc & PD revolvers needs to be checked to make sure it doesn't exhibit signs of the bullets becoming unseated by recoil (see page 12 of their revolver manual for modern style revolvers http://www.smith-wesson.com/wcsstore...01-30-2011.pdf ).

Now, the M&P 340/360 differs from the PD models in some ways, one of which is they use a PVD coated (black) stainless steel cylinder, instead of titanium. That adds a little bit of weight to the guns, but when I bought my first M&P 340 (I own 2) I checked a number of Magnum loads for signs of bullets coming unseated, anyway. I found some Magnum brands/loads which exhibited bullet pull (unseating) and some which didn't ... when I was shooting.

I mostly carry +P loads in my M&P 340. Why? Because that's what I carry in my 642-1's that are rated for a steady diet of +P, as well as in an older steel-framed 649 (although it sees mostly standard pressure rounds for practice, with only occasional use of +P for function check, continued familiarization and carry use). I prefer the balance of controllability & recoil management I can wring from the +P loads I use. Sure, I've demonstrated in practice & quals that I can do well with Magnum loads, even doing rapid doubles & triples in some demanding qual courses-of-fire ... but I can do it just as accurately, and even faster & more controllably when using +P loads.

The Magnum loads in the M&P 340 develops substantially heavier recoil than +P loads (which generally develop more felt recoil than standard pressure loads). Is it too much? Dunno. That would depend on the individual shooting the gun & loads at any given time.

I tend to think the even lighter 340/360 models with the titanium cylinders develop even more felt recoil than my M&P 340's, based upon my experiences and perceptions when shooting Magnum loads in PD models. (I was shooting 125gr Magnum loads in the last Ti/Sc Magnum J I used on the range.)

Recoil force is real, but how it's perceived, meaning felt recoil, is a pretty subjective thing can vary among folks. It's not uncommon for folks to describe they feel more recoil directed into the palm/web of their hand with heavier bullet weights than lighter bullet weights, though. For example, the 125gr Magnum loads may generate more muzzle blast and whip, but the 158gr Magnum loads usually kick harder against a shooter's palm/hand. I've found some 135gr & 145gr Magnum loads that were somewhat of a 'compromise' for me when it came to felt recoil and muzzle blast. I still wouldn't call them a "fun" experience, though.

I've seen some folks experience injury to their thumb from not having it properly positioned (the rear of the cylinder or the cylinder latch cut their thumbs under recoil). It also pays to be mindful of the barrel/cylinder gap and the danger of hot gasses (or bullet fragments shaved off). There's a reason they put that steel insert above the B/C gap in the aluminum Sc Magnums.

Personally, I tend to 'feel' pain to the bottom of my index finger's last knuckle, caused by the trigger guard rising and hitting it under recoil, whether I'm shooting +P or Magnum loads. I just feel it sooner when shooting Magnum loads. (And I'm a long time Magnum revolver shooter who used to think an enjoyable afternoon was one where I fired a few hundred rounds of .357, .41 or .44 Magnum through medium & large framed revolvers. )

You really need to try one, if possible, with whatever factory ammunition you anticipate using ... which meets the requirements contained in the safety warnings in the user's manual, as well as whatever range policies & restrictions may exist ... and decide for yourself.
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Last edited by fastbolt; December 14, 2011 at 05:46 PM.
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Old December 14, 2011, 07:19 PM   #3
BarryLee
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Quote:
Now, the M&P 340/360 differs from the PD models in some ways, one of which is they use a PVD coated (black) stainless steel cylinder, instead of titanium.
Thanks for the feedback and I should have been more specific in that I am considering models with the steel cylinder. Yes, I would really like to demo one before I buy, but I wonder how likely I am to find one for rent at a range.

So, do you prefer the single/double action models or the double action only models? Also, has anyone heard reports of failures from a mechanical standpoint?
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Old December 14, 2011, 07:51 PM   #4
Shadi Khalil
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Fastbolt hit pretty much every point. I have never owned a 340 but I did own a 342, which is a .38 only version of the PD series. My main problem was getting smacked by the trigger guard my finger smashing against the cylinder. It was down right uncomfortable to shoot and my follow up shots were real slow. I now carry a 637 and the difference 3 ounces makes is really mind blowing. I can shoot the 637 all day and it's easy to handle. I would make every effort to try before you buy. The PD/MP/Ti revolvers are not cheap and they can sometimes be hard to sell, as was my experience. I would consider one of the Airweight revolvers as well. They are inexpensive, easy to shoot and well made.
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Old December 14, 2011, 07:55 PM   #5
mete
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From all I've read the scandium [ aluminum with small amounts of scandium] framed gun owners are more comfortable with 38 spl or 38 + P rather than 357. It certainly makes sense.
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Old December 14, 2011, 08:12 PM   #6
Nathan
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I have shot an sc with 357 loads and a boot grip. I have a 640 magna ported with same grips and carry 357's in 125gr.

I found the sc gun less controllable, but not unbearable. I would probably carry +P's, but maybe 357's, if I improved.

In my SS gun, I can shoot 357's as fast as I can pull the trigger and keep on a paper tactical plate at 7 yards!

So, yea, I think it is a super gun.

Unbearable is my 45 Colt with 325 grn loads at 1300fps. I can bleed from the trigger guard if not careful. Longer sessions like 25 rounds should be followed with a concussion check!
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Old December 14, 2011, 08:18 PM   #7
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I have a big one, the model 325, and it does quite well ... thank you! I shoot heavy Buffalo Bore .45 ammo, and with my short barrel hit mid 1100s and, it is controllable to a fault!!! Stock .45 ACP is like feeding candy to a baby!
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Old December 14, 2011, 08:27 PM   #8
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I have an Sc version with the Ti cylinder, 38spc model, it's a less common model and very light. With hot loads it's not a lot of fun to shoot, but with my light reloads it's fine all day long.

Haven't had an issue with the trigger guard smacking me with it, could be a function of the grips some. I have nice wood ones on it that fit my hand well.

I don't see a lot of gain in the .357 version due to the short barrel and flash. Your call there though.
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Old December 14, 2011, 09:08 PM   #9
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I put a few regular speed .44 magnum rounds through a Smith & Wesson scandium revolver. The recoil was somewhat more noticeable than that from a steel-framed model, but by no means punishing or uncontrollable. The lighter weight would make it considerably easier to carry all day every day.
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Old December 15, 2011, 12:20 AM   #10
Jim March
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Ruger has a 17oz 357 version of the LCR, and S&W has all-steel snubbies in the 20-21oz range. With the right holster those will carry just fine. At 17oz a few 357 heavyweight loads will start to "recoil pull" out of their shells, but most defensive ammo (esp. jacketed) won't.

I just don't see the need to go down into the 15oz or less range where some of the hotter 38+P loads start to yank out.

I mean...seriously? How is 17oz "too heavy"?
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Old December 15, 2011, 01:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
S&W has all-steel snubbies in the 20-21oz range. With the right holster those will carry just fine.
Yes, I initially started out looking at the Model 60, but it seemed kind of heavy. So, I decided to consider some of the light weight options, but I suspect some perspective is in order. Even though the Model 60 is the heavier of the J-Frames at 22 oz. weight really is probably not an issue. I suppose a bigger question for me is will I end up shooting primarily .38 +P ammo. If so one of the Airweights like the Model 442 probably makes a lot more sense and is significantly cheaper. Dang we are cursed with so many fine choices…
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Old December 15, 2011, 07:47 AM   #12
Walklightly
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#5

Quote:
mete

From all I've read the scandium [ aluminum with small amounts of scandium] framed gun owners are more comfortable with 38 spl or 38 + P rather than 357. It certainly makes sense.
Thank you!

The gun is made "aluminum" not scandium, but it uses a minuet amount of scandium in the mixture.

Goggle it, and learn.
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Old December 15, 2011, 09:49 AM   #13
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All I can tell you is I had one, I qualified with it for CCL, and I sold it. That was a bear to shoot. Granted this was a titanium cylindered J-frame with a 1 and 7/8 barrel. In .357, it would make you hurt. .38s were brisk, but not painful. I prefer my 637 power port. It's a bit heavier, but much more controllable.
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Old December 15, 2011, 10:22 AM   #14
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I have the scandium framed 329PD, the .44 Magnum version.

I'm here to tell you if you shoot this weapon with full power loads, especially with the OEM wood grips, you will notice the recoil. If you keep shooting these full power loads, it will start to hurt.

Excellent gun to carry, excellent gun to shoot - with .44 Special loads.

I love my 329PD and I'll have it until the day I die.

Good luck.

Last edited by FTG-05; December 15, 2011 at 09:23 PM.
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Old December 15, 2011, 10:25 AM   #15
Shadi Khalil
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I forgot to add in my previous post that the grips on my old 342 were also a problem. I like houge boot grips on my 637, they fit my hand well and the exposed back strap is no problem. However, I found the boot grips on the 342 to be a little too sticky. It wasn't a problem when drawing from concealment but they did give me a bit of a blister when shooting. I don't have that problem with my 637 because the grips are smoother and not as tacky.

Despite all my gripes and bad memories, I'd still like to own another Airlite some day.
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Old December 15, 2011, 10:42 AM   #16
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Slightly off topic, but, I have a Taurus Total Titanium 455 Revolver. It weighs 23 ounces, unloaded and is a five shot 45 acp. Taurus states it is validated for +P ammo. I don't mind shooting it at all with regular, but the +P is a bit more than I'd like to handle, and I'm not generally bothered by hot loads much in normal guns.
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Old December 15, 2011, 10:43 AM   #17
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Up north there have the Titanium .357 model with the 1 7/8 barrel. (or is it 2") With .357 mag loads of 158 swc with 7 grains Unique it flat hurts with a nasty stingy trying to rip out of my hand twist. Backed that load off to 5.5 and that is what I carry in it.
The sherrif deputy who was 1st owner fired 10 rounds of factory .357 mag 140 grainers, returned to the sales desk and told the owner to"sell that thing today". I happened to walk in the shop about 3 hours later and happily paid $350 for it.
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Old December 15, 2011, 01:24 PM   #18
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I have shot a 360 with 158gr factory loads.
It was easily the most violent handgun I've ever shot.
Loud, sharp recoil....no damping of recoil or blast at all.
I've shot SW 500 and 460 and they are pussycats compared to a 360 with full-house ammo.
Unless you believe that an adrenalin charge will make you superman or have hands like a vise, there's no way you could fire more than one round with a single-hand grip.
Takes two and then some.
38spl or 45acp makes more sense in a scandium gun.
BTW I have the Taurus Ti 45acp 4 inch revolver and while the recoil is sharp, it's very controllable and accurate....fine little gun.
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Old December 15, 2011, 01:39 PM   #19
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I think - these scandium guns are what they are .....they're light / and have small frames ( J frames for the most part ) ....

....and light and small frames in a gun chambered in a magnum caliber like the .357 mag will give you a lot of recoil and they're difficult to shoot with any degree of accuracy beyond 15 feet...

but if you want something really light ...and you intend to shoot it no more than 15 feet ....they can be accurate enough/if you practice with them enough to maintain your proficiency.

Personally, I have larger hands - so J frames don't work well for me / a little arthritis in my hands ...and violent recoil in a light gun is an issue for me. So if I want to carry a revolver - then I'd opt for something a little bigger and heavier like a K frame model 19 or 66 in a 2 1/2" or even a 4" barrel. Rather than the light revolver....maybe a Sig 239 in 9mm or .40S&W is a better option ....or something like a Kimber Tactical Pro II model, a 4" barrel, and an alloy frame in either .45 acp or 9mm. I have one in 9mm ....and its a light gun to carry ....

My point is - there are other light guns out there --- that might be better than the scandium J frame revolvers....but it comes down to what fits your hands the best ...and what you'll practice with to remain proficient. Even consider dropping down to a .380 like the new little Sig that's been out there for a year or so ...is a better little gun than the scandium option, in my mind.

Getting too wrapped up in weight alone ...vs what fits your hands ...is a mistake in my mind. But to really tell ...you need to go to a range and shoot them and decide for yourself. My buddies and I have done that ...and none of us thought it was a good option...vs many other ways to go. But you have to find that combination of weight and caliber and size that suits you - and fits your hands the best - not what suits me.
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Old December 15, 2011, 01:54 PM   #20
BarryLee
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My point is - there are other light guns out there --- that might be better than the scandium J frame revolvers
Yes, an excellent point and I do not really disagree. I already have many of the other options you mentioned such as .380s and a Model 66, but want to add a smaller/lighter revolver to my collection. Regardless I want something that I can carry and handle competently, so all the feedback has been very helpful.
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Old December 15, 2011, 03:10 PM   #21
BigJimP
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That's partly why there are so many different guns on the market ....a little something for everybody ...what suits me, may not suit you ...that's ok, but I still suggest you shoot these like J frames before you buy one ....that's the only way you'll really know.
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Old December 15, 2011, 03:55 PM   #22
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I spent some time trying guns while I was looking for my pocket gun. Th Ti revolver I tried was just a bit too much for me to handle and quite a bit more expensive. I realized that I wasn't going to be able to carry magnum rounds in the thing so I opted for the less expensive .38 +P version with stainless steel barrel and cylinder. The 638 I chose was 3 oz heavier than the Ti version and was significantly easier to handle the second and third shots. I was amazed at how much difference 3 oz makes and the comparison was made at the same range visit. I shot the 638 first and then directly to the Ti version with the same +P ammo. I had planned to shoot magnum loads out of the Ti revolver but stopped at the +P. I never shot the Ti version with magnum loads.

In my testing of the .38 +P I found that the butt of the Ti gun would contact a nerve in the palm of my hand and when I was done shooting my hand would shake for several seconds/minutes after. Follow up shots had to wait until after I reset the gun in my hand as the recoil shifted the gun on each shot. Now that told me that my grip was incorrect. But I also don't know if in a stressful situation I could do things any different.

I am a smallish person with fairly small hands and someone who grips the weapon correctly might be able to do well with the Ti guns. Just my experience.
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Old December 15, 2011, 04:18 PM   #23
Lzwo
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Love my 340PD

I've got a 340PD. Love it. Both IWB and pocket carry, I barely know its there.
When I go to the range, I generally shoot 50 or so rounds of 38, then 25 or so of the 357 self defense load I carry. No problems for me.
You know you're shooting the weapon, but I wouldn't say it beats me up too badly. No problems for me with stinging or cutting or bruising, etc. I'm a normal size guy with normal hands. I have the hogue boot grips, and they fit me fine.
Would I take it to the range and shoot 200 rounds of max power 357 every day? No. But I didn't purchase this weapon as a range gun, or a target gun, or a plinking gun. I purchased it so that I could have a small, light, take it with me everywhere self defense weapon. For me, it fills that role perfectly. Along that line, I prefer the hammerless DAO, since I want to be able to draw and fire, and not have to think about whether the safety is on or off, did I chamber a round, will the hammer catch on something, etc.
As all the other posters have said, its really a personal decision and what fits you and you are comfortable with. I love mine, and would simply say, I hear everyone's posts about how unpleasant it is to shoot, but thats not my experience, and I'm not sure I'd change my decision even if it were.
I will say I take a lot of ribbing from my friends, most of whom carry either compact or even full size 9mm/45 semi-autos. Its great that those work for them - they don't for me. Go with whats right for you.
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Old December 15, 2011, 07:19 PM   #24
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I've got the M&P 340. Sometimes I'm curious as to what having single action would be like since it has a trigger like all other j-frames. But from what I understand there isn't much of a place for single action in a defensive shooting with a 2 inch barrel and I do appreciate the fast draw the 340 gives me out of a pocket. No problems with the gun. I really like that XS tritium sight up front.

I also have a 642. I shoot mostly 38 special. I'll tell you shooting a 642 with a heavy bullet (158 grain) is a lot harder on your hand than shooting the 340 with a light bullet (125). I hadn't tried light bullets until I got the M&P and it was surprisingly pleasant in comparison. I'm pretty sure I could shoot light factory loads all day. I have shot magnums out of the 340 and with the grip setup at the time (factory boot grip, exposed back strap) it didn't hurt so much as make my hand feel weak/clumsy as the nerves took a beating.

Bullet weight and grip choice can put a lot of people's fears about the scandium frames to rest I think. Except the price tag.
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Old December 15, 2011, 08:54 PM   #25
orionengnr
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I have owned a 360, two 340s and a 325.
All are long gone, and not missed in the slightest.

The 360/340s were downright brutal with "real" .357 Mag rounds, and merely nasty with any decent .38 Spls.

I also had a 396, which is also long gone.
The 325 and 396 were merely unpleasant with "real" .45acp/.44SPL SD loads.

Ultra-lightweight revolvers are great to carry, but very few people will shoot them anywhere near often enough to attain/maintain any degree of proficiency.

Each of mine was bought used with a few rounds through it, and there are many more for sale out there in a similar condition.

The guy who bought my 360 fired it once (about four years ago) and hasn't fired it since.

I seriously doubt that anyone will ever shoot one loose. The bones in your hand/wrist will be shot loose long before the revolver will.

Last edited by orionengnr; December 15, 2011 at 09:00 PM.
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