In the April 2021 issue of Gun Tests Magazine, Contributing Editor Robert Sadowski compared three snubnose revolvers for possible concealed-carry use.
To see how three wheelguns might work in this role, we acquired an S&W 351 PD, Ruger LCRx, and a Taurus 942. All are compact double-action-single-action revolvers with barrel lengths of 2 inches or shorter and reasonable, if limited, sights.
We would not normally recommend the 22 WMR as a cartridge used for self defense. There, we said it. But if you are recoil adverse and use the right ammo, we think a snubnose revolver in this chambering can make an adequate defense weapon.
One characteristic of most 22 rimfire revolvers, including the 22 WMR, is a heavy double-action trigger pull. This heavy pull is required to ignite the primer in the rim of the 22 WMR cartridge. A heavy firing pin hit is needed, and that means the DA pull weight on all these revolvers was more than 12 pounds. Our Lyman digital scale, with a 12-pound maximum, could not read the pull weight on these revolvers as a result.
The First Look video below offers more details of the S&W 351 PD revolver reviewed in the April 2021 issue.
The 351 PD is built on S&W’s J-frame, and it uses an aluminum-alloy frame and cylinder. The barrel is stainless steel and has an aluminum shroud. The barrel is also inset into the cylinder window. Because the frame is made for the longer 357 Magnum cartridge, S&W reduced the length of the 22 Mag cylinder and made up the difference with the barrel inside the cylinder window. This is a design style S&W uses frequently.
The benefit is a lighter gun and no long jump for the bullet from the case to the forcing cone. The muzzle is also deeply crowned. The seven-shot cylinder locks in the front via a detent pin in the underbarrel lug and the front of the ejector rod. The pin in the ejector locks the cylinder to the rear of the frame. The cylinder had no wiggle and was tight.
S&W fluted the cylinder with long cuts and also fluted the backstrap, outside trigger guard, the barrel shroud, and underlug. S&W did a lot to shave the weight off this revolver, which weighs 15.4 ounces loaded. We appreciated the light weight of the 351 PD. Elsewhere, there is a lanyard loop at the butt of the backstrap. The fit and finish were excellent. The metal wears a matte-black finish and is contrasted by a matte-gray trigger and hammer. This a smart-looking revolver.
The reddish grip is smooth laminated wood with a finger groove and palm swell. You can easily wrap your small finger under the butt. Because there is nearly no recoil with the 22 Magnum cartridge, there really is no need for a toothy texture. We also found the 351 PD slid in and out of our pocket with ease due to the slick grip.
The trigger is wide and smooth and no doubt helps make the 12-pound-plus double-action pull feel less. The single-action pull weight is a very crisp 4.2 pounds. The spur is relatively small compared to the other revolvers and sported coarse checkering. This is a good combination for better concealability and secure cocking.