Smith Wesson M350: Legendary Hand Cannon Review

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Smith & Wesson focuses on the handgun hunter with its M350 big-bore revolver. The pistol features the X-Frame and delivers seven rounds of the hunting round. Not to mention the level of accuracy and reliability that you want in any hunting scenario.

The Smith & Wesson M350 X-Frame Hunting Wheelgun Review

It is often said that the thrill of the hunt is not in the kill but in the chase. And if you think of your most memorable hunts, you will undoubtedly recall the preparation involved. Everything from gear selection to scouting to the final stalk and even adding the last few ounces to the trigger to break your shot were important.

What you harvest is the result of months and even years of planning and experience and, sometimes, luck. Of all the factors involved in a successful hunt, however, the one you don’t want to rely on is luck. Having a dead-nuts reliable gun that is accurate and possesses adequate power for your quarry, is essential! This is even more critical for handgun hunters.

(Photo by Alex Landeen)

When Smith & Wesson recently rolled out the Model 350—an X-Frame revolver chambered for the relatively new 350 Legend cartridge—they left nothing to chance. The gun is built from the ground up as a dedicated hunting gun. For this reason, it possesses many features that savvy handgun hunters demand!

All of the M350’s major components are machined from stainless steel—from its beefy cylinder that easily contains seven 350 Legend rounds to its massive X-Frame, to its 7.5-inch barrel with a full-length underlug and serrated integral top rib.

To understand the desirability of the new M350 as a hunting handgun, we must first understand the cartridge.

Winchester’s Latest Legend—The .350

Winchester introduced the 350 Legend cartridge in 2019 as a new option for Midwest and Eastern states that offer a straight-wall cartridge big game season. Regions that previously offered shotgun-only seasons because of nearby populated areas began looking for new ways to cull deer herds.

Archery and primitive gun seasons helped, but more states have included a straight-wall cartridge season. By design, straight-wall cartridges have limited range, in contrast to bottleneck cartridges like the .30-06 or .243. Winchester lists the cartridge’s maximum range as 250 yards.

The straight-wall case has no taper, is 1.71 inches in length, and is loaded with a .357-inch diameter projectile.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The straight-wall case has no taper, is 1.71 inches in length, and is loaded with a .357-inch diameter projectile. Its overall case length of 2.25 inches and .378 inches nominal rim diameter were purposefully chosen by Winchester ballisticians. The purpose of that is to work within the confines of the AR-15 platform.

In fact, most AR magazines will work without modification with the 350 Legend cartridge. Handloaders will be able to select projectiles from 125 grains all the way up to 280 grains. As a result, they can customize their loads based on their needs. The versatility of the 350 Legend cartridge is what caught Smith & Wesson’s attention.

Full Moon Monty

Winchester’s new Model 350 uses the X-Frame as a platform because of the round’s overall length. S&W chambers the big, beefy cylinder for seven rounds, and there is plenty of meat between the charge holes. S&W includes two stainless steel moon clips with the gun, and it is easy to clip the 350 Legend rounds into them at the round’s extraction groove.

S&W includes two seven-shot moon clips with the revolver, handy additions for loading and unloading the cylinders.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

The gun can be fired without the moon clips. However, you’ll need a pencil or similarly sized dowel to punch the rounds out of their chambers. The moon clips do not hold the rounds rigidly. So, it can be a chore to line up the rounds with the chambers.

The easiest way I found was to put my index finger through the moon clip’s center hole and hold it 90 degrees to the charge hole while slowly easing the rounds into the chambers.

The author uses his index finger to help align the rounds in the moon clip.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Suffice it to say, you will not be doing speed reloads, like Jerry Miculek does with his M625 loaded with .45 ACP rounds that he literally throws into the cylinder. Given the gun’s chambering, you should not be hunting dangerous game with it, anyway.

S&W outfits the M350 with a 7.5-inch barrel with a full underlug and integral top rib. This gives the gun the sight radius needed for distant shots and also gives it a decidedly muzzle-heavy balance. Additionally, S&W cuts a vent at the top of the barrel and internally cuts an expansion chamber inside the barrel. These features are designed to vent gas through the port to drive the muzzle down for quicker follow-up shots.

The Impressive Trigger on the S&W M350

What impressed me most about the new M350 was its lock-work. The double-action trigger pull registered at just 8.25 pounds! It is smooth, and you can feel the cylinder bolt lock into place just before the hammer falls. Considering the mass of the M350’s cylinder, I was amazed that S&W engineers could deliver such a relatively light double-action trigger!

Smith & Wesson equips the M350 with a standard width trigger. It is devoid of any grooves or serrations and has radiused edges for smooth double-action shooting. Cocking the behemoth’s hammer is easy, and it possesses a sharply checkered spur. This is because S&W understands that most hunters will take advantage of the gun’s light and crisp single-action for a precision game shot.

Smith & Wesson understands that most shots at game will be fired single-action and sharply checkers the M350’s hammer spur.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

My test sample, when firing single action, required just 3.25 pounds of pressure to break.

The Test Zone

My M350 showed up not long after our summer monsoons had started. Here in the desert southwest, our salvation are these annual rains. They not only break the blast-furnace heat but also turn our normally brown scenery emerald green.

My two range sessions with the M350 were in the afternoon, and temperatures were in the mid 80’s, with little wind. I honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather.

I set my targets out at 25 yards and used a Shoot N C 2-inch diameter target. All rounds were fired from a seated rest with the M350’s barrel underlug resting on a Millett BenchMaster. All rounds were fired single-action for accuracy, five rounds to a group.

The author shoots the Smith & Wesson M350.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

I’ll have to admit I had a bit of apprehension before firing the first cylinder of ammo. Accuracy was so-so, and I knew that the anticipation of the muzzle blast and concussion were causing me to flinch.

After a few cylinders, I settled down and started producing some nice groups. I was able to easily adjust the sights to the point of impact. After 100 or so rounds, an unrelenting thunderstorm forced me to pack my gear and head home.

Taking the M350 Out for a Second Spin

My second outing with the M350 went even better, and groups continued to shrink. Both loads featured a 170-grain spire point bullet going between 1,450 and 1,500 feet per second (fps). Likewise, they produced between 800 and 850 foot-pounds of energy.

My two best groups were 1.25 inches to 1.39 inches at 25 yards. My only criticism of this revolver is there is no provision for mounting a red-dot or low-magnification scope to stretch the M350’s legs. I know this gun is capable of making distant hits—beyond what I am capable of with iron sights.

It probably won’t take long for Smith & Wesson to offer a Performance Center gun or production model with the ability to mount an optic.

I had brought along two MGM BC C-Zone steel targets and set one out at 50 yards. From my bench I was able to produce a seven-shot group of about 4 inches while shooting it single action. The other target I set out at 25 yards and had no problem making all seven hits, shooting it double-action.

Smith & Wesson’s M350 possesses tremendous inherent accuracy with our groups ranging from 1.25 to 1.5 inches at a range of 25 yards.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

Is the S&W M350 Ready To Hunt?

The more I shot the M350, the more I began to like it and become more comfortable with it. It went from being a concussive, fire-breathing monster to a comfortable, precision gun. This makes it perfect for hogs, javelinas, whitetail and Coues deer, antelope and coyote.

There was nothing painful about shooting it. And the Hogue-style finger groove grips and recoil absorbing 4.5 pounds of weight made shooting the gun a blast!

If you’re a hardy individual who enjoys the challenges of handgun hunting, the new Smith & Wesson M350 chambered for the 350 Legend cartridge might be just what you’ve been looking for!

It possesses inherent accuracy, complete reliability and is entirely machined from rust-resistant stainless steel. Priced at $1,599, the M350 represents a tremendous value for those in search of a medium-size game-getter!

For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com, Hornady.com, and HSMAmmunition.com.

Smith & Wesson M350 Specs

Caliber: 350 Legend
Barrel: 7.5 inches
Overall Length: 13.5 inches
Weight: 4.5 pounds (empty)
Grips: Synthetic Hogue-style
Sights: Adjustable rear, ramp front with red insert
Action: DA/SA
Finish: Stainless
Capacity: 7
MSRP: $1,599

Performance

LOAD  VELOCITY ENERGY ACCURACY
Hornady 170 Spire Point American Whitetail 1,500 849 1.24
HSM 170 Spire Point 1,454 798 1.39

Bullet weight measured in grains, energy in foot-pounds, velocity in feet per second (fps) by tripod and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 25 yards.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy today at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

The pistol features rugged all stainless steel construction and a massive cylinder that holds seven cartridges.
(Photo by Alex Landeen)

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