Just picked up a gently used, or as I like to call them, broken in, S&W 340PD with fairly new CT laser grips. Guy who owned it shot it a few times and never shot it again. He decided to sell it to get something he could shoot at the range. Gun is like new but then again I find a lot of guns like that in my retirement community. People with guns die, ammo is too expensive on a fixed income and old age makes shooting difficult. This gun is the 11.4 ounce J-frame that is made of Scandium and Titanium. It carries easier than my wallet in the other pocket sitting in a $30 Mika custom made pocket holster. It is my new favorite carry gun as it does not intrude on my life and can handle the best man stopper out there, the .357 magnum if I so choose to carry it.
For some reason people buy this gun and insist on shooting hard recoiling .357 magnums in them and when they cannot take the recoil they trash the gun in gun forums. I do not even load my heavy Ruger GP100 with hot .357 loads. No need to unless you hunt or may come across some wild animals. There are many good .38 spl +P loads out there that do a fine job and in fact, some regular .38 spl pass the FBI Denim protocol.
First off, the gun is light. Feels like a toy, even when loaded. It is a dream to carry in your pocket or on belt. Has the typical back notch sight and mine uses a fiber optic front which I prefer. Mine came with CT laser grips which I promptly removed as it stays light late these days and I rarely am out when it is dark. If I go out in the dark I usually take one of my 9mm Sigs with night sights. Quite frankly if you need something to see where you are aiming, it is too dark to be shooting anyway. Carry a penlight flashlight. I do.
Trigger is typical S&W J-Frame although mine has been smoothed out by the former owner. I replaced the CT grips with Hogue Bantam mono grips which tend to reduce felt recoil. It seems to direct it to the sides of my hands rather than into the web. I started off with some Golden Saber .357 magums. I already know that they are mild recoiling as I have used them throughout the years in my .357 revolvers. I shot two cylinders full and while they did make their presence known, it was far from what I read on gun forums about it taking off your hand or refusing to shoot more than one round, etc.. I can understand though how it would not be pleasant to shoot a lot of them. I did not want to shoot more than two cylinders full myself but it was no deal breaker. If I wanted to shoot .357 magnums in a J-frame I just use a heavier J-frame.
I liken the recoil of a .357 in this light J-frame to be about the same as slapping the helmet of the offensive tackle opposite me when I used to play football. It stings but nothing you cannot suck up and do again the next play. The mild pain is not really the problem because in defense you are not going to be shooting more than a cylinder full of .357 magnums, unless you carry .357 as reloads which I do not advise. The .357 rounds were very accurate but the problem was that the muzzle flip made follow up shots take longer than I like. The muzzle flash was there but only a problem indoors in confined areas.
Next up were Golden Saber .38 +P. Very mild round in this gun and from what I have seen, penetrate deeper than similar short barrel Gold Dots on most gel tests. No problem shooting a few cylinders of these. After that I put 50 rounds of practice .38 spl through the gun and was very happy with the groups when I shot groups. I shot mostly one handed and some left handed. Before I left the range I shot the Hornady 110 gr. FTX loads. They penetrate 12″ through 4 layers of denim into ballistic gel. They will penetrate as well as many +P rounds without the flash and recoil and are pussycats in the 340PD.
I was very impressed with this gun. Having shot close to 100 rounds I did not notice any soreness in my hands. Heck, after 25 rounds of .45 in my XDs my hands are shaking from being battered by the recoil and I am not recoil shy at all. I do not enjoy shooting small calibers because there is not enough recoil to satisfy me. With a proper grip recoil should not be much of a problem. Jeff Copper once said that recoil is 80% mental and I tend to agree with that. If you think it will hurt; it will.
I bought this gun because I was looking for a sub 12 oz. gun for pocket carry in the summer. There were no good choices other than the LCP and its ilk and I consider those guns as BUGS or as guns for those times when you cannot carry you regular defensive handgun. I went into this knowing full well that I would not be shooting .357 magnums. I considered it a great lightweight .38 spl that I could also shoot .38 +P for defense, type of gun.
However I still read a lot of post by people who insist on putting on fancy wooden grips and loading it up with 158 gr. .357 magnum loads and then complain about the recoil and trash the gun in forums. Apparently some people have not taken physics and are unaware that big bangs in lightweight guns equals harsh recoil. I was chastised on another forum for suggesting this so now I am aware that it is not common knowledge and no offense intended to those who spend almost a thousand dollars on a 11.4 oz. gun and are surprised at the recoil. The gun was very accurate and I knocked out the X on a few targets at 7 yards. Head shoots using slow fire of about 1 second per shot were also very doable at that range and even out to 10 yards with any of the ammo I tested.
In short, I recommend this gun for experienced shooters, who are not recoil sensitive and who understand how to make this kind of gun work for them. It is not for the person who thinks they can have their cake and eat it too. It is not an inexpensive gun for seniors and not for seniors with hand problems. I traded in a few guns to get this. I could not afford to buy it otherwise. However, it is the most comfortable gun I own to carry. I am surprised that a bigger 11.4 oz. gun feels so much lighter than a 14 oz. gun half its size. I guess it has to do with the weight being distributed over a great surface in my pocket. I have seen these guns sell for $600 used which puts them in the same range as the Sig P238 which weigh more and uses the small .380 bullet.
I was hesitant to even review this due to is weight and cost but then again I also carry a XDs on occasion and so do a lot of other .45 loving seniors around here and that cost $600 new so I figured why not as you can find a used 340PD for about that amount. The 340PD will be a gun I can easily carry well into my next decade as it is light. If I have trouble with the recoil I can switch to the new light Hornady FTX 95 grain bullets or even cowboy loads. That is what is great about a .357 or even a .38 +P revolver; lots of choices in ammo to suit anyone’s needs. Other good choices are the old Nyclad nylon coated soft lead .38 spl. bullets made for snub noses when they were standard issue to detectives. The FBI lead semi wadcutters are also another good load in both standard and +P versions although they are a 158 grain bullet and therefore will recoil more.
With the right grips and ammo this is a extremely comfortable carry gun and worth some consideration if you can afford it although most who own them do not sell them. My attitude is that I rather have one gun that I can carry comfortably than 5 sitting home in the safe. I trade a lot of guns each year to find those gems that are both comfortable and comforting.