Smith & Wesson’s Model 360 (which has a retail price of $770) is a new old gun. It is new because it is a recent release with some updated features, but it is old because it is based on the decades-old, tried-and-true J-frame.
I will admit my biases up-front. I love these guns and always have. I think I always will. Depending on the day, I choose a J-frame over a slim nine, over a Glock 19 and over lots of other guns. I don’t always, but most of the time I do. They are not perfect, however. I wish every J-frame carried 10 rounds, not five. I wish they were equipped with lights and lasers that changed nothing about their external dimensions. That said, I have had the Model 360 with me for a few months now, and I carry it a lot. Here are the five things I love and hate about it. Enjoy!
1. Love: Trigger
J-frame triggers are very smooth but very heavy, relatively speaking. If you want to fire this gun, you’ve got to mean it, and that is what I love. If it ever comes to the time when I need to squeeze the trigger, I want it to be a very deliberate action that makes it happen. Granted, other guns with lesser trigger-pull weights require intent to fire them, but there is just something about this trigger squeeze that brings an added dose of intent.
The Model 360 is a single/double-action too, so I can cock the hammer back and enjoy a much lighter, shorter trigger squeeze if so desired. I do not ever advocate for that during real-world encounters, but I enjoy it during range times.
2. Love: Holster Selection
With so many holsters available, there are more options for customizing how you carry this gun on your person. You can find everything from outside-the-waistband leather belt slides with maximum coverage and thumb-snap retention to minimalist holsters which cover only the trigger and send a single loop over a gun belt to hold it all in place.
I have carried J-frames on my person in more places than any other gun: IWB from 1 to 11 o’clock, OWB from 2 to 5 o’clock, ankle, shoulder and numerous pockets. Beyond holsters, J-frames also have a seemingly unending number of accessories for stocks and grips, lights and lasers, sights and more.
3. Hate: Style
While I enjoy the classic look of a snub-nosed revolver, I was not too fond of this one. The flutes on the cylinder are gone, which is interesting, but I miss them. The stocks remind me of a banana past its prime. This is all aesthetics, mind you, and I understand that functionality takes precedence over the form.
The smooth cylinder does not serve any functional purpose that I can find (yet), but the stocks are excellent. They fit my hand perfectly, provide a place for a pinky finger, provide excellent purchase overall and tame a bit of the bite of the .357 Magnum when fired. Still, it is a good thing this gun stays concealed for about 99 percent of its life.
4. Hate: Front Sight
A snubby (or J-frame) is mostly a point-and-shoot weapon, but I still think there is a better front-sight option than the short, red ramp. Sure, it is better than a ramp with no color at all, but it is still difficult to see and use in any kind of combat shooting exercise. It is better to practice some kind of point-shooting technique and to get exceptionally well-acquainted with how the gun points and where your point of aim naturally falls during use.
Probably the reason the front sight is so awful is because the rear sight is a trench. Getting these two to line up for an aimed shot is not impossible, but it is difficult unless you invest in some significant training and practice.
5. Love: Dual-Caliber Capability
Today’s ammunition choices are excellent. We have access to .38 Special +P self-defense cartridges that are significant improvements over what was available 10 years ago. So, even with five rounds on board, no one should feel under-gunned while carrying .38s. Still, if you want to go big, you can. Firing .357 Magnum rounds, while uncomfortable and even painful at times, can be a load of fun at the range and very effective in a self-defense encounter.
Regardless of what caliber you carry, make sure you’re practiced up. Some people like to practice with .38s and carry .357s. That’s fine. I actually like to do the opposite: carry .38s and shoot .357s. I figure if I can be combat-effective with .357s, then surely I can do the same with .38s. Probably the better advice, though, is to practice with what you will actually be carrying and carry what you actually practice with. That means expending actual self-defense rounds at the range during practice, which is costly, but at least you will know how you and your gun will perform with that gun and that ammunition.
As for reloads: If I’m carrying .38s in the gun, I will bring along a speed strip or two of .357s. Having to reload a J-frame means the situation that I am in has significantly deteriorated, so why not load up with something stronger to help facilitate my escape?
Carry a Model 360 or a J-frame? If you do, there is a reason. Let us know those reasons, what you love and what you could do without. Even better, for the features we tend not to like about these guns, how do you mitigate against them, if at all?
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