Smith & Wesson produces dozens of different .357 Magnum revolvers, but most of them are too big to be practical for concealed carry. For instance, their flagship .357, the 4" barreled S&W 686, weighs two and a half pounds and is nearly 10" long. That's way too much gun (at least for me) to pack on a daily basis.
There are some carry-oriented .357s, though, like the S&W Model 60 Pro. Weighing in at only 23-odd ounces, and using the small five-shot "J" frame, this is one option for people who want to CCW a .357 wheelgun. But is it a good option?
Fit and Features - Going "Pro"
The Pro series is somewhere between S&W's standard production line and their Performance Center guns. The Pros are not custom guns by any stretch of the imagination, but they have features and finishes that are a bit nicer than the everyday Smith.
In the case of the Model 60 Pro, the gun has a slabsided barrel and a racy slanted underlug with a cutout for the ejector rod:
The Model 60 Pro also features special half-checkered, half-stippled wood grips. The checkering and stippling is mostly cosmetic, because the grips are glossy and smooth overall. The grips fit my hand well, mostly because they did not have any finger grooves on them:
The 3" long barrel, though not unique to this model, gives the gun some nice advantages over a normal J-Frame snubbie. One often-overlooked benefit of this barrel length is an ejector rod long enough to knock out magnum cases:
Sights and Trigger
Unlike a Performance Center Gun, the Model 60 Pro does not come with an action job from the factory. This means that the gun's double-action trigger pull is just as heavy as any other J-Frame. It's a big obstacle to practical accuracy, and will probably be a dealbreaker for people who don't regularly practice with revolver triggers.
The Model 60 Pro comes with the same adjustable rear sight as other S&W .357 J-Frames, but the front is a Trijicon green night sight. The topstrap serrations do a good job of leading your eye to it, but I found the tritium insert to be quite small and dim:
Though it has an all-steel frame, the Model 60 Pro is about as small as a .357 can get without being painful to shoot. I found the gun's recoil to be pretty stout with hot .38 +Ps or moderate .357s, and nearly uncontrollable with full house 158 grain magnums. Touching off one of those babies lit a massive fireball in front of me, and flipped the muzzle several inches into the air (I have genuine sympathy for the poor sods who buy an 11-ounce S&W 360PD
to fire .357).
I conducted most accuracy testing for the Model 60 Pro with .38s. Here is a 25 yard group, offhand, with my 158 gr lead light target handloads:
Of course, in the interests of science, I also shot some .357s through the little bugger. Here is Remington's 125 grain Golden Saber JHP load (a fairly light magnum load) at 15 yards:
Another group of my handloads, using a 158 grain LSWC, at 20 yards:
Finally, the range's .38 mystery handloads worked well at 20 yards:
In some ways, the Model 60 Pro is a poor choice for CCW. It's bigger than a single-stack 9mm, holds less ammunition, and is more difficult to shoot. If your goal is simply to carry the most effective weapon that can fit in a 23 ounce, 8" long size envelope, there are a host of other guns that I think would work better.
That being said, I do carry this gun, It's accurate, small enough to fit inside-the-waistband (a rarity for a revolver), and handles anything from powderpuff .38 wadcutters to fullbore .357s. If you need a companion gun for your Airweight .38, you could do a lot worse than the Model 60 Pro.