Gun Tests Grade: A
In our opinion, the Smith & Wesson Model 351 PD is highest on this 22 WMR revolver food chain. It offers good sights, light weight, a nice grip, and good accuracy. Of course, it also carries a heavy price tag.
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.
|Action Type||Revolver, double and single action|
|Overall Length||6.2 in.|
|Overall Height||4.75 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.3 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||11.2 oz.|
|Weight Loaded||15.4 oz.|
|Barrel||1.87 in. long, 1:9 RH twist rate, 6 grooves,|
matte-black stainless steel w/aluminum sleeve
|Cylinder Gap||0.008 in.|
|Frame Front Strap Height||1.8 in.|
|Frame Back Strap Height||3.1 in.|
|Grip||Smooth laminated wood w/finger grooves|
|Grip Thickness Maximum||1.2 in.|
|Grip Circumference Maximum||4.62 in.|
|Front Sight||Hi-Viz fiber-optic orange tube, pinned|
|Rear Sight||Fixed U-notch topstrap groove|
|Sight Radius||3.0 in.|
|Trigger Pull Weight Double Action||12+ lbs.|
|Trigger Pull Weight Single Action||4.2 lbs.|
|Trigger Span Double Action||2.9 in.|
|Trigger Span Single Action||2.3 in.|
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.
The front sight is a Hi-Viz orange fiber-optic tube pinned in place. The rear sight is a U notch milled out of the topstrap. The very rear portion is further milled to reduce glare. In our opinion, these sights were very user friendly. The matte-black rear sight is adjustable, and the base of the sight is serrated to reduce glare.
During accuracy testing, our best five-shot group with the 351 PD measured 1.71 inches firing Speer Gold Dots. We also discovered the 351 PD had the lowest muzzle velocities and muzzle energies of the pistols tested. This can be a result of a wide cylinder/forcing cone gap, which was high at 0.008 inches, but we did not experience any splash. Average accuracy across all ammo choices ranged from 2.79 inches to 3.98 inches at 25 yards, which is okay.
In speed shooting, the S&W offered good control, and the larger front sight allowed for faster target acquisition. In hand, the S&W felt lithe but with a grip that made it easy to shoot. The S&W did not fully eject cases.
Our Team Said: The 351 PD checked a lot of boxes for us: lightweight, smooth trigger, big bold sights, easy pocket concealability. This is the 22 WMR we would pick, but it is nearly twice the cost of the Taurus. If you want a premium pocket 22 Magnum revolver, this is your gun.
22 Magnum Range DataTo collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest at 25 yards. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
|22 Magnum Range Data|
|Winchester Super X|
Model 351 PD
|Average Velocity||1025 fps||966 fps||961 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||93 ft.-lbs.||83 ft.-lbs.||82 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||1.99 in.||3.41 in.||3.62 in.|
|Average Group||2.54 in.||4.03 in.||3.98 in.|
|Speer Gold Dot|
Model 351 PD
|Average Velocity||1118 fps||1039 fps||963 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||111 ft.-lbs.||96 ft.-lbs.||82 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||1.10 in.||3.25 in.||1.71 in.|
|Average Group||2.18 in.||3.71 in.||2.79 in.|
|Hornady Critical Defense|
Model 351 PD
|Average Velocity||1047 fps||1021 fps||935 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||110 ft.-lbs.||104 ft.-lbs.||87 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||3.00 in.||3.89 in.||2.59 in.|
|Average Group||3.17 in.||4.71 in.||2.79 in.|