Smith & Wesson sent their Model 351 C for T&E review. This is a seven-shot DAO revolver chambered for the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge.
Included in the box: Safety & instruction manual, cable padlock, and one pre-fired .22 magnum rimfire cartridge case.
Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson
Model: 351 C
Caliber: .22 Magnum
Capacity: 7 rounds
Weight: 11.3 oz.
Length: 6.344 in.
Height: 4.25 in.
Width: 1.304 in.
Barrel: 1.875 in (mfr)
Trigger lbs: OVER
Unboxing revealed an attractive lightweight compact handgun. To help save weight it features a hybrid barrel assembly consisting of an aluminum shroud and a stainless steel barrel sleeve. Additionally both the frame and cylinder are constructed of aluminum alloy. Its frame configuration is built around a shrouded internal hammer. The fit is excellent with an evenly applied matte black finish. I was somewhat concerned with the trigger pull – my Lyman digital gauge has a maximum weight limit of twelve pounds – after several tries resulting in an ‘OVER’ display and no usable readings. The range test is anxiously anticipated.
Temperature was 58° F. -5 mph south wind. Hornady, Speer and Winchester ammunition was allocated for the test.
Velocity results were first priority.
Hornady Critical Defense 22 WMR 45 gr. FTX…..1079 fps
Speer Gold Dot 22 Mag 40 gr. GDHP……………..1056 fps
Win. PDX1 Defender 22 Win Mag 40 gr. JHP…….1063 fps
Well, up to the range test I was about 90% sure this handgun was going to find a home – but not all things work out as anticipated. I tried my damnedest from a bench at 50 feet to get some decent groupings, to no avail. The double-action-only pull was long and heavy with some stacking. Sometimes it takes a few rounds before you become acquainted with a firearm, but with a 12-plus pound trigger pull sometimes you have to know when to call it quits. After quite a few wasted cartridges and a rapidly fatiguing finger I decide to move to more practical defensive distances.
Standing at 3 yards I realized I had spent too much time trying to achieve some good results at the previous range and my finger was feeling it. While the 3- and 5-yards were no sweat, by the last two rounds at 7 I was gritting my teeth; those were the two holes outside the three inch dot. After velocity recordings, some steel plate plinking, the 50 foot and 3, 5 and 7 yard ranges and 65 rounds my finger was wore out; admittedly rimfires require heavier springs to properly function – but I’d had enough.
On a positive note, the revolver never malfunctioned and all fired cases extracted without sticking. The large XS white dot front sight cradled perfectly into the rear notch providing fast targeting. Its compact grip offered a good purchase with the last digit tucked underneath. My overall impression of the S&W 351 C is mixed. Aesthetically it’s a fine looking package. Barring the trigger this compact wheelgun would make for a perfect lightweight concealed-carry option or backup with the new personal defense loads offered in .22 Mag for shooters that may be recoil sensitive.