FEBRUARY 24, 2011

Editor's Notebook: Constant Carry

by Rich Grassi
It's been just over three years since the Smith & Wesson M&P340 was introduced. I got one just before the year's end and I've carried it - with few exceptions - every day since then. A backup gun to complement the excellent M&P auto pistols and M&P15 carbines, the M&P340 is a Scandium frame super-light Magnum revolver. I'd avoided flyweight Magnums before this one. The steel small-frame guns got to be too much for me to shoot with any regularity. The Magnum capability of this gun was needed only long enough to shoot for a magazine article. I've since carried it with hot .38s which are by no means the equal of the cannon rounds. This slightly more than 13 ounce, five shot revolver has a concealed hammer (it's not hammerless). Originally, the M&P340 had rubber Hogue Ultra-Compact Bantam-style Monogrips of precision molded soft rubber. The M&P340 is also available with Crimson Trace LaserGrips factory installed. I installed a set a year or so after I got the sample. Whether you're a fan of sighting lasers or not, you probably have to conclude that, if they really fit in anywhere it's on the backup gun. I use them routinely and I'm a fan. The back of the grip strap is opened up and a post to which a lanyard may be attached is visible. What good is a lanyard? It's something that is handy on a gun of this type. This revolver is light enough, that you could put the lanyard over your neck and wear the 340 dangling under your shirt. The Scandium-aluminum alloy frame is blackened. The logos, "M&P" on the right and the Military and Police seal on the left, are rendered in white. The thumb latch is the newer-style "wedge." The cylinder is blackened stainless, unlike the titanium found on other "Airlite" guns. A steel insert is atop the forcing cone of the barrel and extends back past the flash gap. This keeps hot expanding gases from cutting the topstrap. The barrel is stainless steel inside with a shroud outside. The rear sight is a hogged-out notch, rounded in a "U" shape. The front sight is the XS tritium Standard Dot. My usual .38 load is the Cor-Bon 110 grain DPX. A great load in my other .38s, I bravely tried them from the M&P340. They were surprisingly comfortable to shoot. With some trepidation, I fired the gun with Cor-Bon .357 Magnum 125 grain DPX. This was a stout load but manageable. I find that the XS Standard Dot and rear U-notch combination is dead on fifteen yards and in. I originally carried the M&P340 in a left hand pocket holster by Kramer Handgun Leather. A superb design, it has the flat panel stitched to the outside so it looks like a wallet in your pocket. Mine is in shark skin. It's beautiful; too bad it has to be hidden. The M&P340 was right at home in the holster. Since then it's moved to the Tuff Products Pocket-Roo Combo. (https://www.tuffproducts.com/home.php?cat=268) This is a pocket holster with a space at the rear to carry one of the innovative Tuff Products 5-round Quick Strip. I carry more Quick Strips aboard - the six round version loaded with five rounds - to be able to feed the littlest M&P a bit longer. With the new gear from Tuff Products, the M&P340 has proven itself to be a good companion. It's always there, nicks and scuffs attesting to heavy use, Laser Grips attached, with plenty of Cor-Bon to back up whatever primary artillery is worn that particular day. The backup gun is the go-to gun, the one that'll carry you home if things go terribly wrong. The M&P340 will get you home.