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Smith and Wesson 340PD Range Report

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jamz, Nov 11, 2006.

  1. jamz

    jamz Participating Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    I'm a maniac, maniac at your door
    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: Nov 11, 2006
  2. GunNut

    GunNut Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Washington State
    Nice Range Report. Very well written and very nice pictures.

    But I have to ask, where are the bullet holes in your truck?:neener:

    You are really asking for trouble with that setup...You might want to pick up a small folding plastic table.

  3. jamz

    jamz Participating Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    I'm a maniac, maniac at your door
    Bullet holes in your truck adds character boy! Where you from? :scrutiny:

    ;) :D
  4. orionengnr

    orionengnr Mentor

    Jan 3, 2005
    My results were similar.

    That's why I recently (reluctantly) sold the darn thing and bought a Kahr PM-9.
    BTW, a range session of 100 or 150 rounds is now no big deal, including Ranger 127+p+, which should surpass any 38+p and approach the 357 Mag.
  5. P. Plainsman

    P. Plainsman Participating Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Red America
    Useful and interesting report, jamz. Thanks.
  6. paul105

    paul105 Member

    Dec 7, 2003
    Very nice post with good info and great pictures. Re your "Box-o-truth" -- was going to say "hope you didn't shoot that on your tail gate" -- but that has already been covered.

    A few comments and some additional chrono data.

    1. The 158gr LSWCHP fact Rem listed below is the Plus P version. I shot close to a box of those before I noticed extreme bullet pull. Being a handloader, any factory ammo I chose for the Scan/Ti 357s immediatedly go thru the Lee Factory Crimp Die.

    2. The 185gr WFNGC at 1,000 + listed below does not jump the crimp when the aforementioned Lee Factory Crimp Die is used aggressively. That load, to me, isn't noticibly different from the 130gr Fed Factrory Hydro Shok and the two 158gr H2400 loads. I think that once you reach a certain level, more, relatively, isn't that much different. People that shoot more than one or two cyls of full house 357s per session, must have Kevlar hands -- my hats off to them.

    3. I spit the web of my hand and had to have stitches with the Hogque Bantams when I first got my 340. Have subsequently installed the Crimson Trace Lazer grips (the old model with the soft rubber and the covered backstrap), and changed the way I hold the gun. Still batters the trigger finger with mags, but web of hand is no longer an issue (gun hold, not grip related). For me, the lazer grips are a must -- not a lot of use in direct, midday sunlight, but make a world of diff up close or in low ligh conditions.

    4. 38 Special Ammo is a lot of fun in this gun, and should be used for most practice -- follow up with a cyl of your chosen carry loads, and you should be in good shape.

    Additional Chrono Info:

    S&W M60 3" 185 LFNGC 14.7 Lil'Gun 1,175 fps
    Ruger SP101 3" 185 LFNGC 14.7 Lil'Gun 1,161 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1.9" 185 LFNGC 14.7 Lil'Gun 1,023 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 158 CSWC 13.5 H-2400 1,075 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 158 JHP - XTP 13.5 H-2400 1,009 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1.9" 158 LRNFP 9.6 Blue Dot 1,020 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1.9" 158 JHP 9.6 Blue Dot 946 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 158 LSWHP .38 Rem Fact 753 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 130 FMJRN .38 Am Eagle 680 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 130 Hydra-Shok .357 Fed Fact 1,159 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1.9" 180 LWFN .357 Fed Fact 905 fps

  7. Curare

    Curare Member

    May 30, 2003
    Buckeye Country
    Now that's a range report.

    The 342 probably would have been a better choice.
  8. Phlegyas

    Phlegyas New Member

    Nov 14, 2006
    North Carolina
    Proud owner of a 340 myself

    Great range report, with great pictures and info. I do agree that with .357s it is a bear to shoot. I have a bantam grip from Hogue on mine and on the upper portion of the backstrap I have installed a limbsaver recoil pad. Many Glock owners have used this set up for comfort.

    Yes, it is not perfect and they have to be pealed off to remove the grips; however my hand appreciates it. I have tried grips with rubber around the backstrap but they are not in the same size category as bantam grips and the rubber does not go high enough. I use super glue to re-attach them to the grip portion. Maybe if I use grips that are secured through the sides rather than on the bottom dissasembly will be easier.

    This setup allows me to carry Remington .357 125 grain semi jacketed hollowpoints and shoot them with confidence.

    Once again, nice range report.

    Attached Files:

  9. jamz

    jamz Participating Member

    Nov 28, 2003
    I'm a maniac, maniac at your door
    Negative, Curare, shooting .357s out of a 342 would probably be a lot more disastrous. ;)

    As an update, I installed Hogue Monogrips on there and .357 round is very controllable now, and I can place 5 shots quickly and without pain. Not the case with the nice wood or the stock grips!

    Now it is going to be a trick to find the balance between carryable and shootable grips. Phlegyas, where did you get the limb saver? That looks like the perfect solution for this gun!
  10. miko

    miko Member

    Aug 10, 2005
    It's not twice the energy but 75% more - still, quite substantial difference.

    I have not shot my 340 with this modified grip yet but it feels extremely comfortable.
    Shooting 357s with Bantams is quite unbearable.



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