Summertime Concealed Carry: The S&W Model 360 .357

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I have a love/hate relationship with summer.

While I love warm weather, it has some disadvantages in terms of carrying concealed. During the winter, I can easily carry any handgun I want in a belt holster hidden by a sweater or a coat. This is especially important for me these days because I don’t really tolerate an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster long-term. As a result, I try as often as possible to carry my concealment handguns in an outside-the-waistband (OWB) holster. It also means that my summer handguns differ from my winter guns. A great new summer handgun is the Smith & Wesson Model 360 five-shot .357 Magnum revolver.

About the S&W Model 360 .357 Revolver

The new Model 360 starts with a Scandium-alloy frame. Scandium alloy allows the 360 to withstand the shock generated by .357 Magnum cartridges while keeping the overall weight of this five-shot gem to a mere 14.9 ounces loaded. The 2-inch barrel and the cylinder are sturdy stainless steel, and the cylinder is PVD-coated for additional rust resistance. An unfluted cylinder gives the 360 a striking appearance. A red ramp insert improves visibility of the front sight.

The Model 360 has an exposed hammer spur for single-action, thumb-cocked fire. Grips are FDE synthetic rubber with finger grooves. Rubber grips offer comfort and control, considering the type of ammo the 360 is capable of firing. The trigger is roughly in the 10-pound pull range and is smooth throughout its range of travel.

Testing at the Gun Range

I tested the Model 360 with two types of ammo. One was SIG Sauer’s 125-grain .357 Magnum Elite loads with V-Crown hollow-point bullets rated at 1,450 feet per second muzzle velocity and 580 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Earlier testing of this SIG .357 load from a 2-inch Ruger LCR resulted in a reduced muzzle velocity of 1,163 feet per second and 375 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. We should expect the same results from the 360. The other load was DoubleTap’s Colt Defense 110-grain .38 Special JHP load. The Colt Defense .38 ammo rates at 1,100 feet per second muzzle velocity from the Colt Cobra barrel with 296 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

I fired the first of five SIG Magnum rounds double-action. I thought, “Well, that’s not so bad.” Then came round two, which I felt a bit more. By round three, I had to make myself fire the last two before gladly passing the 360 on to my shooting partners.

Their faces showed discomfort by the third round as well. No one wanted to move on to rounds six through 10. My five-shot group at 21 feet measured about 6 inches. My partners’ groups — both fired single-action — measured in the 4.5-inch range. While the 360 was uncomfortable to fire with .357s, I still think it’s a great carry gun. Just keep reading.

The Colt Defense .38s were much easier to shoot. The groups shrank down to the 3-inch range, and recoil was significantly reduced. Yet the Colt-branded loads still packed considerable “oomph.”

Conclusions on the S&W 360

The S&W 360 is designed to be carried a lot and shot a little. It is a powerful, close-range defensive revolver. Loaded with .357 Magnum ammo, it packs a great deal of punch. But what about that recoil?

While you will notice the recoil and blast at the range, you won’t in a life-or-death situation with your fight or flight biological mechanisms in full swing. I would feel comfortable carrying Magnum loads in the 360, maybe backed up by .38 Special reloads. It would be a great wilderness hiking companion.

While the 360 may not excel as an all-day target-shooting gun, it certainly shines as an all-day summer carry gun. It is about as rustproof as it gets, incredibly lightweight and extremely concealable. It can be carried in any type of holster for hours on end. Pack a couple of speedloaders to back up the first five rounds in the gun.

The Smith & Wesson Model 360 has an MSRP of $700 — a reasonable price for a Scandium-frame handgun. One word of caution about ammo used in the 360 or any lightweight .357: Never use .357 deer hunting ammo in it. Neither you nor your gun will like it.

S&W Model 360 Specs:

Caliber Weight Capacity Barrel Material Overall Length Barrel Length Action
.357 Magnum or .38 Special +P 11.7 ounces empty 5 Stainless Steel 6.3 inches 1.875 inches Single/Double

Sources:

Smith & Wesson: Smith-Wesson.com
SIG Sauer: SIGSauer.com
Double Tap Ammunition: DoubleTapAmmo.net
DeSantis Holsters: DeSantisHolster.com

About Scott W. Wagner

Scott W. Wagner is a criminal justice professor and police academy commander from Columbus, Ohio. He has been a police officer since 1980, working as an undercover liquor investigator, undercover narcotics investigator, patrol officer, SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader. Scott is currently a patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. He has been a police firearms instructor since 1986 and is certified to instruct revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.