By Dave Workman
My first J-Frame Smith & Wesson revolver was an older Model 36 Chief’s Special with a square butt, diamond grips and a slightly loose crane, but the little .38 Special five-shooter was a shooter.
Years later and many rungs up the evolutionary ladder, S&W introduced the rugged and reliable Model 360, a Scandium alloy-framed powerhouse weighing only 14.9 oz. and chambered for the .357 Magnum. Now, that got my undivided attention, and while I didn’t plunk down a wad of cash to take one home, I was —and remain — impressed with this handful of muscle.
What probably catches most eyes immediately is the unfluted cylinder. It’s made from stainless steel with a PVD finish to match the rest of the gun, and the fact it can take the higher pressure of the Magnum round says plenty about the revolver.
The contrasting flat dark earth tone synthetic grip makes for a handsome package. The grip is capable of sucking up recoil, which is no small consideration for this size of handgun. Having fired a fair number of Smith J-Frames chambered for the .357 Magnum, experience dictates when the hammer drops and this gun goes “BANG!,” you know immediately you’ve just fired a small, powerful revolver.
If the muzzle blast doesn’t scare the heck out of somebody, the muzzle flash will, especially out of a full-house magnum. It’s impressive even when shooting +P .38 Specials. Touch this gun off at night and it can light up a room or a yard.
I prefer exposed hammers on double-action revolvers, even the smaller J-Frames designed for close encounters of the worst kind. It allows the user to take time for a longer shot.
Barrel length is the traditional 1.875-inches for a Smith & Wesson snubby. This revolver is really basic, with a red ramp front sight and fixed square notch rear on the upper rear of the frame. Overall length of this wheelgun is 6.4 inches, which means it will fit into a pocket, purse or any number of concealment holsters. I happen to prefer leather, but there are nylon or Kydex models available.
Now, there’s another variation worth consideration, too. It’s the Model 360 PD and I did a little homework on this baby. The model is a variation of the Chief Special AirLite, and it’s also a single/double action, but it has a titanium alloy cylinder and stainless steel barrel with a Scandium alloy frame.
Weighing only 11.7 oz., it has a matte black finish and synthetic grip. The significant difference with this gun is that it has a Hi-Viz fiber optic orange front sight. I’ve found these sights work rather well with any ambient light, and it’s the next best thing to tritium, in my humble opinion.
The Model 360 PD is also chambered to handle the .357 Magnum, and will digest a steady diet of +P ammunition.
The S&W Model 360 may only carry five rounds, but by the time they’re gone, you’ve made an impression. Because of their light weight, they are very comfortable to carry, which translates to having a gun when you need one.
For more info: www.gunsmagazine.com/company/smith-wesson