What I Love & Hate About the Smith & Wesson Model 360

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?

Conclusion

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?

Discover how you can join more than 200,000 responsibly armed Americans who already rely on the USCCA to protect their families, futures and freedoms: USCCA.com/gunsamerica.

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About the author: Mark Kakkuri is a nationally published freelance writer who covers guns and gear, 2nd Amendment issues and the outdoors. His writing and photography have appeared in many firearms-related publications, including the USCCA’s Concealed Carry Magazine. You can follow him on Twitter @markkakkuri.

{ 36 comments… add one }
  • Cougarcop September 11, 2021, 6:22 pm

    The S&W 360 airweight 357 is probably the best version of the 360 series….it combines both scandium and stainless steel bringing the weight to 14.9 oz- still very light but not ridiculously light when using +p 38 spl or 357 mag loads.
    As a 30 yr police veteran, I own different small framed 357 revolvers; 640 pro, Ruger LCR, Kimber K6, S&W 60-7, S&W 66, GP100 2.5”, and now my S&W 360 airweight 357.
    What I would recommend is to set up your 360 with S&W bantam rubber grips, which makes it capable for pocket carry if need be. Next, I installed an Mcarbo trigger spring kit and a low profile meprolight front tritium nightlight. I would carry +P38 spl but in a pinch just know that you would have the luxury to use 357 if you had to.
    The 360 Airweight 357, is NOT the perfect gun…that would be the S&W 640 pro 357 or the Kimber k6 357, HOWEVER, it is the ONE gun that does just MORE right than the other excellent guns I mentioned…it’s smaller, lighter, more than powerful (357), fairly ergonomic, has a great trigger and still leaves enough for an owner to customize to his/her liking with trigger springs, night sights, grips and holsters.
    The S&W 360 Airweight 357 is the BEST OVERALL small framed revolver that one can own either for police purposes or for civilian carry. Get one while you can, these little gems are no longer made.
    These were also produced for the Japanese police to carry in 38spl…get the 357 version, it gives you more options. Be careful out there.

  • Douglas E Mararian July 2, 2019, 1:18 am

    I have a S&W 360 .38/.357
    1) For what the gun is the price is ridiculously high.
    2) The front sight is useless.
    3) The grips prevent you from single action shooting unless you mash the hammer back to push the grips out of the way at the backstrap top.
    For the price of the gun it should already come so it could be used properly. Shame on S & W.

  • Jframer February 27, 2019, 7:59 pm

    I had a 340PD sc frame with Ti cylinder. Loved to carry that gun but gave up the idea of being able to reload quickly. The cases would stick in the Ti cylinder and the ejection rod was not long enough. I believe the newer models have stainless cylinders and would be better. In addition, the Ti cylinder kept jumping the cylinder stop during reloads where I would hit down on the ejection rod, effectively binding up the gun. Not good. I believe that was due to the flexibility of the sc crane. Sent it back to S&W, but they told me it was fine and it came back to me unchanged. Unacceptable for carry. Sold it at some point. I recently bought the model 360, and I like it but cannot shoot anything hotter than 110 grain WWB in it, otherwise the trigger guard cuts my trigger finger on the first knuckle, every time. A friend fired it and cut his thumb on the cylinder release. Shot it with a crusher standard revolver grip and even tried the Miculek frame grip, but still no luck controlling the hotter loads. The gun just jumps violently in my hand with 357 125/158 grain loads. I couldn’t understand why since I would shoot full house 357 in my 340PD with no problems and it was even lighter. I am a long time revolver guy and shoot magnums a lot and do not mind heavy recoil. Then I noticed that the backstrap on the 340PD was about 1/4″ higher on the 340PD than on the 360 due to the shrouded centennial style hammer. I believe this allows you to get a higher grip more in line with the bore axis and makes it easier to control the recoil on the 340PD over the 360. That higher grip, for me, turns the recoil from a muzzle flip to more of a push straight back. That is why I prefer the centennial style shrouded hammers for shooting 357 in a jframe. Probably go with a full stainless 640 Pro, which is heavier, but better for shooting the full house 357, which is what I prefer to carry in 357 caliber snubbies, like the SP101. My 2 cents, fwiw.

  • Mike December 31, 2018, 5:28 pm

    I have a 360 PD one great revolver, never give it up.
    Where are the never ending supply of lights for j frames? I have the older style j frame CT grips, hope they never break, much better in my hand than the new ones. The night sight doesn’t glow now but I don’t care. Sight picture Is better than the glow ramp.

  • Wayne D.Billings December 31, 2018, 4:17 pm

    Where does the holster shown come from?

  • JCitizen December 31, 2018, 3:26 pm

    Just don’t fire +P ammo in the old Airweights – they can’t take it. I had a customer ruin one trying that. Even though metallurgy has come a long way since then. I’d have my doubts no matter what.

  • Bob December 31, 2018, 1:50 pm

    I was issued a 638 j-frame as a backup weapon when I was on the PD.
    When I retired I was able to keep this revolver and I now carry it daily with Hornady critical defense ammo, either in a pocket or in an owb kydex holster. I had the Wilson kit installed. Love this revolver and qualify twice a year with it. Only complaint is that it’s a pain in the ass to clean after a day at the range.

  • Pete December 31, 2018, 12:17 pm

    The 360 is my carry weapon of choice. It’s not the first thing I grab when I want to do some shooting due tor coil impulse. I changed out the front sight for a fiber optic. Helps a lot. I added a small checkered wooden boot grip because the guns not for shooting, it’s for carrying. I love the way it conceals, its lightweight and is a very good shooter except for recoil impulse. Highly recommend eccommended.

  • But... December 31, 2018, 11:12 am

    I love the J-frame. BUT I JUST CAN’T SEE PAST THAT ROLL PIN!!! I’m sorry. For a pistol of this price and reputation, for all the other good things going for it, that HORRIBLE PIN on the front sight just ruins it. Why? Why build an awesome pistol and finish it off with that crappy roll pin??? (Did I mention I HATE that roll pin?)

  • Griffendad December 31, 2018, 10:44 am

    I have the same J frame. I put a set of Pachmayer Comp grips on, they’re perfect for the gun. Much better feel and grip than the banana and better recoil absorption right behind the frame with it’s wrap around rubber. Oh, and they look way better while filling your palm perfectly.

  • Oldman December 31, 2018, 9:46 am

    Kimber K6s or S&W 642 without a Hillary lock! Never bet your life on a gun having that lock!

  • Vaughn Winslett December 31, 2018, 9:05 am

    Carried a S/W wheel gun while policing the hood. Love it. I will not buy a S/W with a Clinton lock.

  • Ricky Hogan December 31, 2018, 8:19 am

    i have always had and liked the J frames, good firearm,but when Kimber came out with their K6S, I never have looked back. I am really pleased with the Kimber and I am going to purchase their newer verison with exposed hammer when available, great firearms. The S&W J frames are great firearms also, always have been. Thank you for the review.

  • Tom Thornton December 31, 2018, 8:15 am

    I have the option to carry a variety of pistols, but the one I grab most often is a S&W 642. There is just something about the shape of the gun that makes it more comfortable and concealable than a similar sized semi auto. I have found mine to be surprisingly accurate, too. I replaced the hammer and trigger rebound springs with the kit from Wilson Combat (less than ten bucks), and it reduced trigger weight by nearly three pounds. Still requires a deliberate squeeze, but the gun’s manners are much improved. I am able to keep all five shots on an IPSC torso at 50 yards with this little revolver, which I consider not too shabby.

  • Jim December 31, 2018, 7:26 am

    Have carried a S&W M&P 340 in an ankle holster for nearly 15 years now. I use .38 Special not .357’s because the short barrels don’t allow enough powder burn to realize enough extra velocity to make the pain with it. I also notice that many (most) of the people shooting .357’s in J-frames have never done so at night. You better be wearing your sunglasses. I get a lot of grief from others at the range about the ankle holster. I am either sitting at a desk or driving all day and I find IWB intolerable and I live where OWB is not practical for much of the year. I remind these guys that my ankle is usually a LOT closer to me than the safe at home or the glove box in my vehicle. Nice article.

  • Mike in a Truck December 31, 2018, 7:06 am

    Flutes are designed to lighten the cylinder-this revolver dosnt need em.I like the look.The front sight is pinned-change it out.I dont screw with J frame springs, especially rim fire( my favorite) its just to balanced of a system Poor mans trigger job:Valve lapping compound applied to the innards and dry fire with snap caps-I make my own replacing the spent primer with silicone gasket maker.Make sure you flush all grinding compound out and re- lube. Grips-hard to beat CT laser grips-big aid in dry fire practise.

  • Rod December 31, 2018, 5:34 am

    I bought the 360 for my wife and the 340 for myself. Ammo is interchangeable and effective. I like the weight. I can carry for long periods of time and hardly remember it is there. Statistically, 5 shots is more than a gun fight last. Once lead begins to come back, assailants are either hit or running.

  • ejharb August 23, 2018, 12:11 pm

    Never a smith wheel with a hillary hole! Never!

  • LG July 21, 2018, 10:01 am

    Once upon a time, there were happy folks who owned revolvers WITHOUT a safety …..

  • Dale July 20, 2018, 4:16 pm

    Daily I carry a S&W 640-1 loaded with Remington Golden saber 125gr JHP .357 magnum. I carry the .357 because I wanted the stopping power. Although overpowered for the occational squirrel that I take its comforting when a black bear walks up to me. Reading reports of actual self defense shootings was my reason for choosing the 640. It does get heavy day after day and I have looked at lighter weight carry guns but, haven’t found one that I like and still be able to fire .357’s.

  • JOHN R. EUFRAZIO July 13, 2018, 7:32 pm

    MY 340 in S.S. PORTED A GREAT LITTLE GUN

  • Dennis A. Muirhead July 13, 2018, 6:34 pm

    I carried a S & W Model 340 PD, .375 cal, with titanium cyl., scandium frame, and SS barrel whenever I am hunting in the field, with bow or rifle. It is the most powerful and lightest gun available. I carry a lot but don’t shoot a lot. The revolver also has a laser built into the assembly. With many guns to choose from, this the lightest and most powerful to carry all day, day after day. At point blank range there is a lot of stopping ability with a hollow point .375 round. It has ruined a trophy antelope set of horns by putting the downed animal out with a close head shot.

  • Buffalochip July 13, 2018, 5:55 pm

    My favorite J-frame is a Centennial-style internal-hammer Performance Center M442 that S&W makes with a stainless steel cylinder and polished flutes to go along with its PC factory action job. It’s still pretty corrosion-resistant due to the black anodizing on the frame and the stainless cylinder — important for my hot and humid climate. And the Performance Center tuned action is FAR smoother and easier to shoot well than any of the non-PC standard production Centennial models. I find the standard non-tuned DAO Centennial action to be hard to hit with at distance, but the much smoother PC model takes the gun to a whole new level entirely. The gun is slightly heavier at 15 ounces versus the scandium framed models, but the extra 4 ounces of weight further dampens the recoil of the very hot .38 loads I carry in it, and further improves my ability to quickly and accurately place a follow-up shot.

    A really useful gun — and a fantastic bargain for the price, which I’ve seen as low as $399. Great as a backup, and competent as a primary carry gun if climate / mode of dress / other circumstances require that level of concealment for your primary gun. An easy carry in either a non-printing pocket holster or IWB holster, and its size totally takes away any excuse for not having a gun with you all the time — a very important consideration. I’m surprised that S&W doesn’t put more effort into marketing this very capable factory-tuned model.

  • Dan July 13, 2018, 3:18 pm

    Who makes the holster you show on your revolver? Where is it available?

  • Martingard July 13, 2018, 1:29 pm

    My Wife carries my 340SC loaded with .38 spec 90 grn Hornady and loves it. It’s never had a .357 in it and from what I hear we don’t want to have it kill on both ends. She’s deadly accurate with it, as it should be. She still complains about the recoil a little but she still loves it. I recently bought her S&W .22 mag to see if she likes it better but haven’t had a chance to really try it out. She qualified with it and has it on her CCW along with a couple of others. She’s a hell of a shot so whatever she carries she’ll be lethal.

  • DaveW July 13, 2018, 1:05 pm

    I carry, for a revolver, a Model 60 (no # no dash) .38 Spl because it is compact, has never malfunctioned. Additionally, the vast majority of shootings occur at close range (roughly 3-10 feet) and the .38Spl (or even a .380) is sufficient at that distance. Sure, a .357 makes a bigger wound channel, but that might be overkill. Now, if the perp is trying to make a break, with a snubbie, it doesn’t really matter that much. For the average shooter, including a lot of cops, the greater the distance the less chance of a hit.

    • Jim December 31, 2018, 7:18 am

      If the “perp is making a break”….you probably shouldn’t shoot him in the back. You get your training where?

  • David July 13, 2018, 9:40 am

    My favorite version is the M&P 360 scandium framed 3 inch barrel with trijicon front sight. Fantastic to carry and sufficient power to provide peace of mind. Too bad they discontinued them.
    Thank you for the article.

  • Chris July 13, 2018, 9:26 am

    M&P 340 for me, with DeSantis “Hip Grip”, which is more handfilling, helps with those 357 full house JHPs. Like my night sights better then that useless red ramp, DA only trigger is fine, especially if you actually know how to run a DA revolver. And best of all (by a looong shot!) NO “Lawyer Wart” lock to fail!!!

  • the hunter July 13, 2018, 9:14 am

    Nice Gun , a little on the small side but if your up close it’s enough . My choice is a 686 L 357 magnum it ‘s bigger full lug takes 7 Rounds of anything 38 and with a 3 inch barrel it has reach not a ton just don’t be the bad guy 25 yards away , it’s not a trench sight , the sights are awesome and the price is about the same .

  • Randy July 13, 2018, 7:59 am

    Great article. I was looking for that revolver locally and have not seen one. What is the brand of holster in your article ?

    Thanks
    Randy

  • Hendrik Haan July 13, 2018, 7:12 am

    I carry the J-frame hammerless. It has a laser grip. Two things I like: 1) Laser aim. I detest laser because in combat, I hate to give information away. But a snub nose means it’s close-in action. Therefore, no problem to “give information away” to your adversary. 2) The grip is oversize. Why do gun manufacturers make the grips sized to 6 year old kids? Purchased grips on Amazon for about $125, made by defenderseries.com
    You will need to practice with snap caps because the pistol is double action only. The DA will pull you off target if you don’t. I like that I can practice with .38 Special. It costs less and won’t hurt your hand as much. Leave it loaded with .357 if you carry it. Sight it in with .38 Special, it will have the same impact area as the .357.
    I have 6 hidden around in the store. My employees can defend themselves with the knowledge that they don’t need to remember about hammers and safeties.

  • Andy Buckmichael July 13, 2018, 6:53 am

    The weight is the best thing for me.

  • G-rat July 13, 2018, 6:48 am

    Love the venerable J frames. I often carry 2 because of the weight savings. Filled up with Hornady 110gr. +P, and 2 Safariland comp 2 speed loaders, I’ve never felt like I didn’t have enough firepower. I love my many J frames. There’s a reason S&W has been making them since 1950.

  • Tommygun851 July 13, 2018, 4:07 am

    I considered buying the 360 but I thought that you should stay with a double action only trigger so I went with the DAO 340 SC. First thing I did was to change all the springs to Wilson Combat race springs to lighten up the trigger and speed up the action. The pistol weighs just under 12 oz.! It is so light, it’s like your not carrying anything at all! I love it! I changed the front sight to fiber optic and during the day, it lights up like a Christmas tree! I put a Crimson Trace CTC grip lazer on it and besides having a lazer dot sight, the grip is a wrap around style with an air pocket right where you need it to absorb the recoil of a 357 mag! I also hand load my ammo (yes I know, maybe I shouldn’t) with 80 grain Barns X solid copper 380 bullets !! High velocity , no recoil! Same recoil as a 327 mag!
    I will keep and carry my 340 SC until the day I die!

  • Tom Lingenfield July 10, 2018, 9:03 pm

    I love my J frames. I have a 442, a 36-1 and a 60 Pro. I carry the 442 and the 60 Pro often.

    Mark’s comment about the red ramp front sight made me laugh as I have the S&W front night sight on my 60 Pro and it’s narrow .125” and the Trutium insert is only .050”. I would love to have the red front ramp sight over the J frame night sight. I guess it’s just perspective. I was thinking the red ramp would’ve the thing to have… 🙂

    I carry my revolvers mostly OWB at 2 – 5, depending on what I am wearing and what I am doing. I occasionally carry the 442 in an ankle holster but the holster I have is terrible and I am considering a couple of other options.

    I do like the grip of the 360, the color is weird but I like the shape. I was thinking I may try a grip like that on my 442.

    Thanks for the great article.

    Tom

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