Smith and Wesson 340PD Range Report

This is a discussion on Smith and Wesson 340PD Range Report within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; First Impressions: This is the first new revolver I’ve ever bought. All of my other ones were bought used, and were built in the 1970s, ...

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Thread: Smith and Wesson 340PD Range Report

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    Member Array jamz's Avatar
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    Smith and Wesson 340PD Range Report

    First Impressions:

    This is the first new revolver I’ve ever bought. All of my other ones were bought used, and were built in the 1970s, 80s or early 90s. I had never bought a revolver with an internal lock, but I wanted this gun so much that the lock became a non-factor.

    Picking it up out of the box, it is light as hell. I remember the first time I ever picked up a 340pd a year or so ago, it felt like it was made out of plastic. IT practically jumped up from the table… of course I had been carrying an old Model 60 snubby, an all stainless gun that weighed in at around sixty pounds. Felt like the hard rubber Hogue type stocks were at least half the weight of the gun, so I replaced them with my much more handsome and carryable Ahrends Cocobolo stocks.

    Hearing some negative things about new guns from S&W, I carefully inspected it from all angles, looking for scratches, nicks, dents or anything of the like. It appeared to be in very good shape, except for the white lettering stamped into the barrel. The “357 S&W Mag” marking was stamped well into the barrel, but the white anodizing was very faint, where it was bright and clear on both the “No less than 120 gr bullet” and the funky S&W atom logo thingy.



    Dry firing the 340pd was not comforting exactly, and the trigger pull was considerably stiffer than the model that I had tried in the store. You have to overcome serious initial resistance before the trigger moves back in one swift movement and the hammer releases. It is difficult to pull the trigger slowly and in a controlled way due to the stiff initial pull- once you put that much pressure on it, when it gives, it goes back all the way. After dry firing it a few hundred times, the trigger becomes much smoother, with a more controllable pull back. Later on at the range I was able to smoothly pull the trigger back with no drama.

    When the hammer falls it makes a non-confidence-inspiring “tinngggg” sound that resonates a little bit, very different from the solid bank-vault like CLICK that an old steel gun makes. In addition, it seemed to me to be too easy to release the trigger just short of the stop so when you pull it again it rotates the cylinder, but does not actually engage the internal hammer.

    I can’t have a new gun in my possession for more than a few hours before firing it, so despite having a cold, and being pressed for time, on the way home I found an old dirt road, went a ways down and opened up the trunk to see what kind of ammo I could find. I found a bag of handloaded .38spl rounds that I knew to be pretty gentle- plinking rounds. The lighter powered rounds fired as expected, slight recoil, no big deal. A couple of Winchester White Box .38 +p Personal Protection rounds later proved that it was a good, controllable gun that I could put multiple shots on target, quickly.


    When I finally got to the range a couple of weeks later I was ready with the WWB +p 125 grain, Speer 125 Grain .38spl +p, and Speer 125 Grain 357 magnum HP rounds, several water jugs, a chronograph, some targets and a shooting glove.





    The first order of business was to chrono the three types of rounds and see if .357 was significantly better. At the same time I’d test the grouping and accuracy from a two handed, kneeling position. Based on strings of ten shots, the average velocity of all 125 grain bullets were as follows:

    Winchester: 749.6 feet per second
    Speer 38 +p: 826.1 feet per second
    Speer .357: 1090.3 feet per second

    Which means as far as energy delivered to target:
    Winchester +p: 155.92 ft-lbs
    Speer +p: 189.37 ft-lbs
    Speer .357: 329.87

    Looks like .357 out of a snubby delivers TWICE as much energy to the target than .38+p! Clearly .357 out of a snubby is considerably more potent than .38+p, so don't listen to the gun shop commandos. So much for the myth of there being no difference between .38 and .357 out of a snubby! The .357 was significantly faster, and the Speer was loaded a bit hotter than the Winchester. Now let’s look at the targets.

    Winchester .38 +p Personal protection


    Speer Gold Dot .38+p (Ignore the WWB box, I put it there by mistake.)


    Speer Gold Dot .357


    Seems that the Speer gold dots grouped significantly better than the Winnies, but didja notice what happened to the accuracy with the .357? :D

    Yeah I saw it and I felt it. .38 +p out or this gun is a piece of cake, and I wasn’t expecting .357 to be too much worse… but it was.

    I noticed that when I shot, the trigger guard would come up and hit my index finger right at the first knuckle. Didn’t dent it or make it bleed, but it was noticeable. Also noticeable was the kick on the pinkie finger as the grip flicked it out of the way during recoil. The gun otherwise seems to push right back instead of flip up. The first shot was surprisingly powerful, and stung my hand. The second shot stung more. The third shot actually hurt my wrist! And this was with a padded shooting glove on! No wonder my accuracy went to hell. 

    So it seems that the best grouping and accuracy comes from the Speer GD .38+p, which is probably what I’ll run in it. I noted a small amount of bullet pull in the Speers, but not too much.


    Let’s do a penetration test! I lined up some water jugs, Box-o-truth style.



    The first shot skimmed the bottom, holed the first and third jugs, and disappeared, missing the second and fourth jugs. What the heck?
    Lining them up again, a better shot penetrated two jugs just barely, leaving the fully expanded JHP nestled there.



    I couldn’t leave without firing barehanded with the .357 rounds.
    Eyyouch. I’m a righty, and shoot right handed. The gun slapped back with the first and second stunning rounds, and I became afraid of the third. By the fourth and fifth rounds I was actually pulling the gun back in anticipation of the recoil. Terrible, and I’m not at all recoil shy.

    There was no actual blood, but there was considerable pain in the base knuckle in the index finger and the web of the hand. It actually made the index finger and pinkie pains go away in comparison. :p It took me a minute to recover to try another 5 rounds. I really could not do five rounds accurately, really no more than two before my sense of limb self-preservation made me undergo silly gymnastics to compensate for the recoil.

    I took exactly one left handed shot- you can never tell if you will have to use your non-dominant hand. It was so bad, I couldn’t do another…unless my life depended on it I suppose. It is a few hours after I shot it and my left thumb still hurts as if I overextended it backwards, which I probably did. Just for fun with one of these shots I fired at a still full water jug that was coming right at me with a knife. It was entirely destroyed.



    In conclusion, I think it’s a great gun, and easily controllable with .38 +P, but not controllable for me at any range with .357. Use with that round would be limited to card table distance, and no further- at least not for more than two shots. I am considering carrying it with 3 .38+p and two .357, in that order. The two .357 rounds are all I could fire accurately anyway, and the three .38+P would hopefully get any social work job done with maximum controllability nad speed in followup shots. I’d just have to remember that the last two are real kickers.
    Last edited by jamz; November 11th, 2006 at 04:30 PM.

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    VIP Member Array TWO GUNS's Avatar
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    J frame

    Nice report ,It was a god read.Thanks
    Have Fun and Shoot Straight !!

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    Distinguished Member Array RSSZ's Avatar
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    I've owned and fired whole bunches of .357mags. in the past. One thing that I learned is >.......the recoil isn't tooooo bad but....ya gotta have something to hold on to. IOW, you got to be able to spread the recoil whackin' over a larger portion of your hand.

    I've had smallish females show up to class with one of these small,15(or so) oz. weapons and a hand full of full power mag rds. I have refused to let them fire a single shot.Luckly someone else has had some special ammo for them to try.

    Lately I have started carring some non+p special ammo with me to the range for these occasions. Not once has the lady wanted to "step up" to the mag rds. -------

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    Member Array robertmc48's Avatar
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    I also have a small .357 pistol. It is a Taurus 605 in titanium. The recoil is strong and it's not a pistol that I would want to spend the day shooting at tin cans with but it is small, light, reliable and powerful. I like the simplicity of revolvers and with this pistol there is a wide range of ammunition to choose from.

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    Senior Member Array Devone6's Avatar
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    A great report, jamz. That is exactly why I switched to the Model 60,
    as I wanted to carry 357Mag ammo because just as your test showed there is a difference between .38, .38+P, 357Mag even in a snubby. 1/4 inch longer barrel and 10.5 ounces really take punishment out of that recoil from 357Mag.
    Still, the 340 or 360PDs are great grab and go guns, absurdly light weight, shoot very well, and you can carry .38 ammo or 357Mag as you wish. Even though I carry Mag for the extra energy, I (nor anyone I know) wouldn't want to be shot with .38(+P). IMO, Good thought the the 3-.38/2-357Mag ammo combo. You can also get grips with a little more length that have a spot for your pinky finger.
    Regardless, shoot well, and again, very informative report.

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    Member Array jamz's Avatar
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    One thing I really want to try out is Crimson Trace 400 series grips- they cover the backstrap and are a bit bigger. My wallet laughs at me when I seriously think about it though.

    I may slap a big ol pair of Pachmeyers on there, damn the beauty of the Ahrends, and see how it feels. Also going to try some 135 grain bullets next.

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    Member Array NFEDERIC's Avatar
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    I had one of these for awhile. I noticed while firing .357 loads that after a couple of shots the remaining unfired rounds had started to work themselves out of the cases. They never moved far enough to stop cylinder rotation, but enough to cause concern that they might at the wrong time. Next time you go out shooting, see if you have the same thing happen.
    Nick.

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    Member Array jamz's Avatar
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    NFEDERIC: I mean to measure the .357 pull, it's actually recommended in the manual that you do so. I forgot to however, in the red mist of pain. I also forgot my calipers.

    Next time for sure!

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    Senior Member Array tanksoldier's Avatar
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    Nice report, but you've got more cajones than I shooting at your truck like that.
    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

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    Distinguished Member Array AKsrule's Avatar
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    Cool

    Thanks for the RR and Chrono Data !

    I have a .357 snubby also and as your chrono shows , it is
    mucho better SD wise carrying magnum loads rather than .38's
    -------
    -SIG , it's What's for Dinner-

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    http://www.handgunlaw.us

    "If I walk in the woods, I feel much more comfortable carrying a gun. What if you meet a bear in the woods that's going to attack you? You shoot it."
    {Bernhard Goetz}

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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jamz View Post
    I couldn’t leave without firing barehanded with the .357 rounds. Eyyouch. The gun slapped back with the first and second stunning rounds, and I became afraid of the third.
    I've shot a Ruger SP101 .357 and that was a surprise, as well, even at 25oz vs 12oz. I've shot .38 +P in a 442 Airweight, and that was brutal, too. Yeah, the little lightweight snubbies are a handful.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Member Array steve_db's Avatar
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    thanks Jamz, nice report and a good read.
    I have a 340pd - my range sessions include 5 to 10 rounds of .357 and the rest .38 special.
    I carry it loaded with .38 special.

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    Member Array fowler's Avatar
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    I like this pistol and ccw with it alot as my smallest pistol mostly for pocket carry and suburb life. I use the 135gold-dot 357 135gr. load and a reloaded 38 spec 125gr.HP ww bullet over 6.5 grs of Unique for a +P+ load for 357 mag guns only. Its very accurate with mild recoil for repeat shots. ITs the perfect load for this pistol . Hot,but not to hot to slow follow-up shots. The accuracy is great.

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    VIP Member Array frankmako's Avatar
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    hard to beat a s&w wheel gun. i carry a old model 60 with federal hydro shok 38sp +p+ issue ammo as my "bug". on range days you know when you pull the trigger.

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    Member Array Mass-Diver's Avatar
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    Great report. I own a 340PD as well (with CT laser grips).

    I'm glad to hear that someone else thinks that the recoil is pretty wild with .357mag. I'm not very recoil sensitve, but this thing is just plain painful to shoot with .357s. Great, light, carry piece though.

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