Born To Protect Join USCCA Cart
Born To Protect 24/7: 800-674-9779 0

The Smith & Wesson Model 317 Kit Gun


It seemed about time to write up a fun and practical handgun review. This Smith & Wesson Model 317 brings me back to the days when my dad would take my brother and I out to shoot his .22 rifles. During one such excursion, when I was about 14, we got a chance to shoot the one handgun my dad owned: a Smith & Wesson Model 1953 22/32 Kit Gun.

The 1953 22/32 Kit Gun, introduced in 1953, was a six-shot .22 LR revolver built on the .32-caliber-pistol frame (later becoming the J-frame). It was very compact and was designed to be carried in an outdoorsman’s “kit” — think tacklebox or backpack. It was made of deeply blued steel throughout and featured black, adjustable Patridge sights; a 4-inch barrel; and the traditional S&W thin, service-style checkered walnut grips. It was a beautiful gun I could never imagine actually carrying in a tacklebox.

That 1953 Kit Gun was a smooth shooter and so much fun to fire, especially because we were with our father.

Fast Forward to the Model 317

The S&W 317 is a 21st-century version of the old 1953 22/32. While the 317 retains the same overall profile as its forebear of 67 years, it is a significantly different gun and better adapted to both outdoor recreation and self-defense.

Smith & Wesson Model 317 Kit Gun Specifications

Weight: 11.7 ounces
Caliber: .22 LR
Barrel length: 3 inches
Overall length: 7.2 inches

Part of S&W’s Airweight series, the 317 weighs in at a mere 11.7 ounces. This is due to the aluminum construction of all its major components: frame, cylinder and barrel shroud. The 3-inch stainless steel barrel fits inside the shroud, and the eight-shot cylinder uses stainless steel inserts inside each chamber. The Model 317’s all-stainless counterpart — the Model 63 — weighs in at 24.8 ounces by comparison. That’s a noticeable weight difference when on a long hike on the trail.

The sights are also a big improvement over the sights of the original. The 317’s front sight is a green HI-VIZ fiber optic, while the rear is a fully adjustable S&W Micrometer with “V” notch. Trigger operation is traditional double-action with single-action capability.

S&W Model 317 at the Range

I conducted my test using Remington Target Standard Velocity .22 LR lead round-nose ammunition, which is likely similar to what I shot in dad’s original 1953 Kit Gun for the very first time.

The double-action trigger pull on most rimfire revolvers is heavier than those on similar centerfire revolvers. A stronger mainspring is needed in rimfire guns to ensure reliable ignition of the .22 rimfire cartridge. After running the first eight shots though the 317, I noticed the trigger and action needed a bit of lubrication. After applying a few drops of Hoppe’s gun oil, the trigger smoothness was much improved. Carbon steel trigger and action components will smooth out easier than stainless steel ones with a bit of shooting and lubrication.

The HI-VIZ front sight seemed almost illuminated on that sunny day. I was consistently able to fire 2-inch groups (and sometimes better) at 25 feet. I fired using the “trigger staging” method rather than pulling all the way through without pausing. There were no malfunctions. The oversized rubber grips were a big improvement over the thin walnut grips on the original Model 1953.

Wrap Up

It was a fun and relaxing range testing session. Nothing evokes pleasant memories like the distinctive smell of .22 rimfire cartridges being fired. The Model 317 is a superb trail gun, and if stoked with high-velocity hollow-point ammo, it could be called upon to provide eight rounds of reliable rapid-fire self-defense for the user who wants the lightest-recoiling/carrying revolver available. Oh, and it would be much more at home in a tacklebox than the original due to its rust-resistant construction.

MSRP is $766. MSRP of the stainless steel Model 63 is $780.


Smith & Wesson:

About Scott W. Wagner

After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.


This article is featured in the following categories:

USCCA Comment Policy

We welcome relevant and respectful comments. Vulgarity, Profanity, Name Calling etc. will be deleted.

Are you Born To Protect?

Get Your FREE USCCA Sticker! Enter your email below:


You’re Ready to Begin Your Journey to Becoming an Ultimate Protector.

But the USCCA is about more than a look or a tagline…

Laptop and mobile training view

We’re the lifesaving resource every protector needs to keep their family safe.

Learn More