Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum: Power Without the Kick
The decision to purchase a gun for concealed carry usually involves several decisions. Some of the more important include looking into a weapon’s caliber, weight, magazine capacity, and print profile. Yet one important consideration that often becomes apparent after a few hours at the range is firearm recoil.
The perfect lightweight gun with impressive stopping power is out there in the form of a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver, but unfortunately, the recoil on these Holy Grail pistols is intolerable to many shooters.
Luckily, a happy medium exists in the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum snub-nosed revolver.
This lightweight revolver is on the way to becoming a heavyweight player in the concealed carry market. The frame and cylinder are constructed of a matte black aluminum alloy and tips the scales at a mere 10.8 ounces unloaded. The 351PD fires using a single-action cycle made possible with the exposed hammer.
The grips on this gun are another nice feature. They are made of wood and ergonomically designed with finger grooves. The only thing this model is missing is the traditional S&W emblem that’s usually emblazoned on the grips.
Since the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite doesn’t have the formidable appearance of some of its heavy-hitting counterparts, author Scott W. Wagner explains how to boost the 351PD’s first impression in his article “S&W 351PD AirLite .22 Magnum Revolver: Zero Recoil Seven-Shot Defender” at USConcealedCarry.com:
“…I decided to give every tactical advantage to the 351PD and mounted the CTC LG-350G Green Lasergrips that I reviewed in last week’s column. Not only does the bright green laser beam enhance the psychological intimidation capability of the 351PD, [but] the ability to adjust the Lasergrips proved quite handy as well.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
For targeting purposes, the sighting system on the 351PD is fairly intricate. The rear sight is the standard S&W black channel sitting atop the frame, but the front sight is a HI VIZ Fiber Optic setup. This device is attached to a square bracket and comes with a high-visibility orange insert that allows for easy eye-to-sight transition when practicing rapid-fire scenarios.
At the range, the Smith & Wesson 351PD AirLite proved to be reliable and accurate. Using two different types of ammo, Hornady 30-grain V-Max and CCI .22 Magnum Maxi Mag, groupings were consistently in the 3-inch range from 30 feet with negligible recoil. There were no malfunctions, though the trigger pull was slightly heavy. Muzzle velocity averaged about 1107 fps.
Smith & Wesson’s .22 Magnum 351PD proved its mettle at the range. For personal defense concealed carry, its light weight, reliability, and accuracy make it a viable option. As a home defense weapon, the capability to mount a laser light gives the shooter an additional psychological advantage during any confrontation. The 351PD AirLite will serve well as a multi-purpose firearm. It’s also priced reasonably with an MSRP of $759.