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Anyone own, or fired a Smith and Wesson 396 Night Guard .44 Special?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by markallen, Mar 4, 2010.

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  1. markallen

    markallen Member

    Aug 7, 2007
    NE Ohio
    I've been looking at the S&W 396 Night Guard, and just wanted some input from any owners out there.
    How is the weight? I know that it weighs 24 oz, and I have never shot any lightweight revolver.
    How is the fit and finish?
    Any problems finding holsters that fit?
    I am familiar with the .44 Special I have been loading, shooting and carrying them in my Ruger Alaskan. Along with .44 Mag. So recoil is not an issue.

    RKRCPA Member

    Sep 5, 2009
    I'm gonna venture a guess and say the recoil in a 396 will be significantly different than a Ruger Alaskan. :)
  3. Stainz

    Stainz Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    Pinson, AL
    The grip on the 396NG is larger than the boot grip on my 296 - and covers the backstrap, too. Add the 4.6 oz+ additional mass of that SS cylinder has over the 296's Ti cylinder, and the 396NG has got to be nearly friendly recoiling in comparison. The 296 has a pretty good whack with the Speer 200gr Gold Dots loaded by Georgia Arms. These chrono the same from the 296's 2.5" barrel as the same bullet in the Al-cased Blazer - and are actually cheaper. They leave you with a nice Starline brass case, too. Great personal protection. Without the Ti cylinder, lead loads should be fine as well as the shorter case .44 Russians, not that they are easily found.

    Of course, the weight of that SS cylinder and the exposed hammer combine to take it out of the pocket carry - you'll need a belt mounted holster. My 296 is like the 642 - just a bit larger - and carries in 3/4 of my britche's pockets in a Mika pocket holster. Corrected for inflation, it's last MSRP - nearly $780 - wasn't far off from the 396NG's current MSRP of ~$1,080. I bought mine once they were canned - closeout price was ~$350 over eight years ago.

    As to longevity - I wouldn't consider the 296/396 family as a plinker - they are protection pieces. The SS 696 is a great plinker. All of the X96 family are limited by that thin forcing cone - a design restriction dictated by the use of the L-frame. If you want 'Keith Level' .44 Special capability on a frequent bases, get a 29/629 - they are inherently 'Keith Level' compliant. My 296 has a home - great carry/home piece.

  4. The Filthy Spitoon

    The Filthy Spitoon Member

    Feb 25, 2010
    I own one that is back at S&W for repair.

    I have not fired it, but did have a 396 Mountain Lite .44 Spl. a few years back. If it is anything like that one, recoil was manageable but included some significant muzzle flip. I don't remember it hurting my hand, it just whipped up rather quickly, which reminded me of shooting a magnum moreso than the tame ol' .44 Spl.

    But you will have flip with anything light enough to actually carry, and that's where the 396 NG shines, as a carry gun. You probably won't want to shoot more than a few cylinderfulls in one range session unless you download some light specials just for plinking.

    The gun itself is a fantastic package that I find very practical, and as far as holsters I would think any holster that takes a 2.5" L frame such as a 686 would work for it.

    Mine had some QC issues but S&W sent me a shipping label and are repairing it by now hopefully.
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