by David Crane
A lot of gun people I know down here in Florida wear cargo pants. This is because cargo pants are lightweight and comfortable, and have big pockets into which you can put lots of stuff. As it happens, my personal philosophy is "the more pockets the better." When you combine this outlook with my "the more stuff the better" philosophy, you’ve now got at least a partial basis for this story. With that in mind, there is one concealed carry set-up that I think is the ultimate way to go, whether you’re wearing cargo pants or some other type of pant with large front pockets: a Smith & Wesson 340PD Airlite Scandium 5rd .357 Magnum revolver outfitted with a set of Crimson Trace laser grips. This package combines…
the two best and most innovative products in their respective classes, and turns them into a whole that, in my opinion, is greater than the sum of its parts.
If you’re wearing shorts or jeans, or some other type of pants with smaller pockets, a Kel-Tec P32 .32 Auto may well be the order of the day. The Kel-Tec is definitely a great little gun. However, if you have the extra room and don’t mind carrying just a little extra weight, I’d seriously recommend you take a good long look at the S&W 340PD Airlite/Crimson Trace combo, because it carries significantly more punch. The 340PD’s power-to-weight ratio is currently unmatched anywhere else in the carry-gun world. The closest second to it in the power category is Taurus’ 16 oz PT-111Ti (10+1rd)9mm sub-compact with titanium slide(DefRev will be conducting a full T&E of the PT-111Ti soon).
For those that aren’t familiar with Scandium, it’s a precious metal, more valuable than gold, that when combined with aluminum in a precise ratio, creates an incredibly lightweight, strong, and durable alloy that can handle .357 Magnum pressures. Granted, at a miniscule 12 oz., the little 340PD kicks like a mother with full .357 loads, but the gun is meant to be a lifesaver, not a range plinker. Also, there’s no rule that says you have to carry full-power .357 Magnum cartridges in it. Five well-designed .38 Special hollowpoints should do most jobs quite nicely, and kick a lot less. Remember, this is a gun for close range defensive work, so quick follow-up shots, placed accurately, can be more important than sheer power.
On the S&W 340PD Airlite Sc, the frame is Scandium/Aluminum alloy, while the cylinder is made from Titanium. This makes the gun not only very strong, but rust/corrosion-proof as well. Also, due to the 340PD’s fully-enclosed hammer design, you can fire this gun from inside a pocket if necessary, and things like clothing material, dirt, and pocket lint can’t jam-up the hammer. Of course, in this scenario, the cylinder mechanism is still potentially susceptible to foreign matter, but this problem is less likely to present itself.
Now a quick word on the laser sight aspect: The reason I like the idea of a laser sight on this type of gun is two-fold. First, for close-in work, I like the idea of being able to keep the gun well below your sight line and tight into your body, while still being able to aim it fast and accurately. The laser allows you to do that. Secondly, I like the psychological impact that lasers are known to produce often-times on aggressors.
A laser creates a unique combination effect: Most importantly, it shows the would-be attacker exactly where the bullet is going to go if he continues the assault. It has the added secondary benefit of giving the assaultee more confidence, which could possibly also play a role in making the attacker second-guess his previously violent intentions. Both of these aspects together are more likely to lead to the bad guy calling it quits, than if you didn’t have the laser. A bad guy stopping the attack before you have to shoot him will always pay huge dividends for you, the good guy. If the guy backs off and you no longer have to use deadly force, you’ve just avoided a gigantic legal problem, irrespective of whether or not you were justified in your actions. Make no mistake–if you kill or injure someone, even in a justified self-defense scanario, your life is going to be severely disrupted in multiple ways, not the least of which is your having to deal with our wonderful court system, if only in the civil variety. I say that’s reason alone to go the laser route.
Remember, anything that mitigates or even obviates the need to shoot someone, even in self-defense, even if they’re a really bad person bent on your destruction, is a good thing. Better to let the bad guy walk away none the worse for wear then spend the next several years of your life in court, or worse (like spending the next decade or more in prison). This is the primary reason why I now really like the idea of laser-equipped carry guns (even though I don’t currently have one on my carry Glock 19 that goes with me everywhere down here. I’ll eventually get around to it).
Suffice it to say, I think a Smith & Wesson 340PD Airlite Scandium fitted w/Crimson Trace laser grips is as close to the Holy Grail of pocket carry packages as one is likely to find anytime soon. On a side note, Smith & Wesson is once again under American ownership, and I think they’re doing the most innovative work with revolvers in the industry. Likewise, Crimson Trace is hands-down the most cutting-edge weapons-mounted laser company in the country right now. So, if you’ve got some big pockets, along with a few extra bucks burning a hole through ‘em, look no further. I’ve just given you the answer–as I see it, that is. This ain’t your daddy’s snub-nose.