Have you ever shot a 396 Night Guard (S&W 44 Special Light Weight Revolver)

Have you ever shot a 396 Night Guard (S&W 44 Special Light Weight Revolver)

This is a discussion on Have you ever shot a 396 Night Guard (S&W 44 Special Light Weight Revolver) within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I never have shot a .44 in a smaller frame (2.5 inch). I am considering a .357 Mag vs .38 Special Airweight S&W J-Frame. How ...

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Thread: Have you ever shot a 396 Night Guard (S&W 44 Special Light Weight Revolver)

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array Thanis's Avatar
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    Have you ever shot a 396 Night Guard (S&W 44 Special Light Weight Revolver)

    I never have shot a .44 in a smaller frame (2.5 inch). I am considering a .357 Mag vs .38 Special Airweight S&W J-Frame. How does the 396 Night Guard stack up in feel.

    I admit not full understanding where the .44 ranks with other rounds in SD choices. I understand it vs a .30-06 for hunting, but for SD, it just "feels" like a .38 / .357 Mag is better for the SD options.

    So .44 for "what" I find in the woods but .38 / .357 for "who" I meet.

    For example, the .357 Mag, from personal experience, is not much fun to shoot in a j-frame light weight. No problem with the .38 Special or .38 Special +P.

    Looking at the balastics, .38 +P is like a 9mm. The .357 Mag (even out of a smaller gun) is like, well a .357 Mag (better than .45 ACP, about as good, better than 10mm depending on what the rounds are being shot from). So in theory (for SD) .44 special is better than a 9mm, like a .40 S&W, maybe as good or better than .45 ACP.

    There would be some advantages in my near future to get a .44. I may soon have a 5" .44 mag revolver / .44 carbine combo. Plus there is a reload advantage. However for SD weapons, I tend to stick to factory ammo.

    Not considering .44 Mag pistols for SD (just a little to much for me, more power to you if you go that way).

    #1 So I'm just looking for some thoughts on the .44 Special 396 Night Guard.

    #2 Would like to be torn a new one concerning my caliber for SD thoughts as long as it is a little more involved than choose the most powerful weapon you can handle.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array jhh3rd's Avatar
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    Jun 2006
    I have shot a model 296 in .44 special. It too is a light weight 5-shot on the L frame. I do remember it being fairly stout recoiling with standard pressure 246 grain ammo. It made for a nice carry gun but practice would have been unpleasant for me after say 10 or 15 rounds.

    My experience with the model 296 has tempered my desire for the new Nightguard model. Good luck with your decision and post results if you get one. john

  3. #3
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    Array HotGuns's Avatar
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    I've never shot the gun mentioned but I have shot the .44 Special 5 shot Taurus which is a comparable gun.

    The Taurus like the Smith, is lightweight.

    Those guns are made to be carried alot and shot little. Its not bad for a couple of cylinders, but it gets to be a bit tedious if you shoot more than that. There just isnt a lot of weight there to absorb the recoil much.

    In comparison with the .38/.357, I think either one of them will do the job if need be.

    Me, personally, I like big holes and beleive that bigger is better. The main advantage to the .38/.357 is that the ammo is so much more available than the .44 Special, which can be very hard to find at times. Some Walmarts dont even know the .44 Special exists, but you can find .44 Mag there all day long.

    #2 Would like to be torn a new one concerning my caliber for SD thoughts as long as it is a little more involved than choose the most powerful weapon you can handle
    No need to tear you a new one.
    Not this time anyway...

    Both calibers will work.
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  5. #4
    VIP Member Array pogo2's Avatar
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    .44 Special for self defense

    I have shot .44 Special a few times, and have shot .44 magnum quite a bit, as I have two guns in .44 magnum. But they are both steel and fairly heavy, at 40 ounces plus. The .44 Special Night Guard is an aluminum/scandium frame gun weighing about 25 ounces empty, with a 5 shot capacity.

    The .44 started back in the 1800s as a black powder cartridge and was once very common in revolvers. In recent years it has declined in use, being eclipsed by the .44 magnum which uses a similar bullet in higher velocity. I tend to think of the .44 Special as having similar ballistics to the common .45 ACP, with a 230 grain bullet and a muzzle velocity of 800 plus feet per second. It will certainly do a good job of stopping someone with a solid hit.

    I am going to guess that the .44 Special fired from a 25 ounce revolver will have a fairly healthy recoil, but probably nothing unusually heavy. I personally would not buy one as I am sold on the .357 magnum as a revolver defensive round against human attackers, with a smaller bullet and much higher velocity. The .357 magnum also gives you 6 rounds instead of 5 in a similar size gun, and is very widely available in different bullet designs and weights.

    My choice in a .357 snubby for defense would be to look for a used, pre-lock S&W 66 or 19 with 2.5 inch barrel, which should cost you about $450 to $500. It will weigh about 32 ounces empty, is all steel, and handles .357 recoil easily but allows practice with lighter .38 special. It conceals very easily in a belt holster because of its rounded shape and will probably cost less than the Night Guard.

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  6. #5
    VIP Member Array crzy4guns's Avatar
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    My Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special is not all that bad to shoot and I have arthritis to deal with too. This is not an all day target shooting at the range, or plinking gun for the back forty. Shoot 20 or 30 rounds for practice at time and you are good to go. The S&W 396 is a good carry option and like the Bulldog is probably best as a carry a lot, shoot little defense gun.
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  7. #6
    Senior Member Array Danimal's Avatar
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    My Charter .44 weighs in at 21 oz. Like others have said, it is not an all day plinking gun, and I usually throw in the towel after about 50 rounds. It is more of a heavy thump as compared to the nerve damage feeling of shooting .357 in my 13 oz. Smith M&P.

    I recently just started rolling my own and have some 185 grain jhp that I am going to load this weekend. I am interested to see what kind of difference this will yield from the 240 gr. that I have been buying at the range.

  8. #7
    Member Array Blademan21's Avatar
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    .44 spl

    I have 2 5-shot .44Spls that are my winter carry handguns. A Bulldog,and S&W 696. I have no problem shooting a box of factory out of them. Any more than that,why? They conceal very well and I don't feel undergunned at all. In summer I carry a 642 in a pocket holster or my G36. Go for the light weight Smith,knowing that ammo is a little pricey. Again you may not shoot it as much as a 38/.357.I have not shot the light weight Smith,but knowing how 38+p's recoil out of my 642,I know what to expect. Good luck.

  9. #8
    Member Array OM44's Avatar
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    I just discovered that S&W makes the model 396. My question concerns what size it the gun? It is a large ("N") frame or it it smaller?

    The reason I ask is that I have relatively short fingers for which the larger frame Smiths are just a bit too large.

    Can anyone tell me how large the mod. 396 is?


    The Second Amendment is NOT about hunting!

  10. #9
    VIP Member Array raevan's Avatar
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    I just looked in the Sportsman Guide shooters catalog. .44 SPC ammo,when listed, was $6.00 to$10.00 more expensive then comperable .357 MAG ammo. That should be considered. That comes out, more or less, that for every 3 boxes of of 44 SPC, ammo you could get 4 boxes of .357 MAG

  11. #10
    Member Array philbo's Avatar
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    I have the 396 Night Guard. It is a 5 shot L frame, which in my opinion is the perfect combination of power and size for CCW. The recoil with self defense rounds while noticeable, isn't bad... better than +p+ out of a S&W 642. My wife, who does not like recoil and refused to shoot a Charter Arms 44 Bulldog more than once, has no problem shooting the slightly heavier Smith. Compared with the lighter but ported Taurus 445 Titanium below, recoil is about the same or slightly in favor of the 396. Really hard to tell. Accuracy at combat distances is very good, capable of consistently putting 5 rounds into less than 1.75 inches at 30 feet. Shoots to point of aim with 165 grn Corbon, 200 gr Silvertips and Gold Dots, and my 180 and 200 grn hand-loads. Haven't tried a heavier bullet. The self defense loads are pushing the listed bullets at 45 acp speeds so draw your own conclusions about its effectiveness. The 44 special with modern hollow points is a terrific CCW choice in my opinion.

    The 396's sight system is superb. XS night sight on the front, rounded notch in the rear. The only thing I didn't like out of the box were the grips it shipped with. The oversize factory rubber grips certainly tamed recoil well, but were too large for me. Someone with larger hands would like the grips it shipped with, I opted for a set of hogue boot grips and love them.

    The only downside is ammo. 44 special factory loads can be difficult to locate and almost always more expensive than 38/357. It's the only drawback to this caliber, which is why I reload for it!

  12. #11
    VIP Member Array clarkston_cz's Avatar
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    I've owned 2 J frames and a Ruger SP-101. Much prefer the Bulldog PUG to
    any of them.
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  13. #12
    Member Array propex's Avatar
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    Oct 2008
    +1 on the .44 and the bulldog.....

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