Opinions on S&W Mod 317 .22lr airlite (for wife)

Discussion in 'The Snubbie Club' started by coltm4a3, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. Well, my wife is interested in the Model 317 .22lr for a "quick and easy, better than nothing" purse or pocket gun. She fully understands what a .22lr can and can't do, and just like how I carry my scandium revolver, it's the same reason she wants this gun- very light, and since she can't handle the recoil on an aluminum .38, figures this would fit the bill as the "better than nothing" gun.

    That being said, has anyone fired the 317, and if so, how's the felt recoil and handling of the gun? I'm sure most men wouldn't object, but what about a 90lb woman with small hands? Does anyone have one of these for their wife? I know it would be a nice little trail gun also.

    Just looking for opinions on this gun before I drop $500 on one...

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  2. I've owned both the 2" and 3" versions; still have the longer one. Even with the heaviest loads (probably Velocitor), recoil doesn't begin to approach the level of a .38 in a similar size/weight weapon. The double-action trigger pull is somewhat heavy, and the springs can't be lightened much or you may get misfires in DA mode. If you get the 2" version, expect the point-of-aim/point-of-impact to be off by 2" or more at 10+ yards, and it could be MUCH farther, depending on the load and the shooter (that's why I ultimately went to the 3" with adjustable sights).

    Mine primarily pulls trail-gun duty because, as you mentioned, it's perfect in that role. I'm hesitant to recommend a rimfire for defensive purposes, mostly due to the quality of the ammo, but it would be better than a rock/sharp stick/no weapon at all.

    My older model, w/plain black sights (preferred over the neon dot stuff currently offered):

  3. Here are a couple of other options...

    Take a look at the S&W 351PD and the new 632 Carry Comp.

    The 351 is a 22 magnum, almost no kick (but a big BOOM), and has better ballistics than the 22LR.

    The 632 is the new 327 magnum (not 357), so it can shoot the very docile 32 S&W long ammo, the 32 Magnum (much better than either 22), and the new 327 magnum which is said to be between the 38 Spec. +P and 357 Magnum in performance.

    Good luck,
    Bob S,.
  4. I don't have alot of experience with .22lr revolvers but we used this one during our nra instructor pre-qual test. As mentioned, the double-action trigger pull felt on the heavy side but other than that, I liked it. In fact, I'm interested in getting one as well but in my area they are selling for $650!!!!

    Silver Member

    22's = hours and hours of fun.
  6. Mike2x

    Mike2x Enthusiast

    I bought my wife the 3" 317 several years ago. The recoil is negligable. Light weight, eight rounds, heavy double action, pretty crisp single action. My 12 year old son uses it mostly at the range. My wife has carried it a few times on road trips. I love the airlite/airweight J frames.
  7. Hi,

    I have read that the trigger pull on the 317 is very heavy.

    Not all 38 spl is the same in an aluminum snub. You can find some pretty mild 38 stuff that might be much better. I think Federal makes some low recoil 110gr stuff that might be worth checking out.

    32H&R might be worth looking into as well, you get an additional round (6 shot) and it can shoot 32 S&W Long's as well.

    There is a 32H&R S&W Snub on gunbroker right now NIB:


    I'd be real hard pressed to not find a very low recoil 38 load, even the real tame 148gr lead double ended wadcutter, and go with a 38 special myself. I'll bet if you try hard enough you could get a 38 to work for her with the right load.

    Grips may make a big difference as well. For the price of that 317, you could get a 642 or 442 and add some crimson trace lasergrips, model LG-405 which has rubber cushioning in the front and back to control recoil.

    Plan on paying for a trigger job.

    Good luck,


  8. Well, I'm going to pass on the 317 for now because of the trigger pull... my wife does not like really heavy trigger pulls, and this sounds like it fits in that category. I had an old Jennings p-380 that had a 15# trigger pull, and she couldn't fire it. Again, she's a petite woman and I need the gun to fit her needs and work well for her in a stressful situation.

    THe .32 H&R airweight looks like the next step, so does anyone know how the trigger pull is on it? It's a centerfire round, so that should take care of the heavy trigger pull. What about Round selection? I don't know alot about this round. Perhaps a lighter round in this gun would be just as good as a .22lr or .22mag, correct? Plus if I ever decide to use the gun, I can always load it with the .32 MAG rounds, which would be a plus.

    As far as grips goes, I plan on getting her the larger Crimson Trace grips (I think the 305's), she likes the larger rubber grips so she has more control.

    It may be hard finding one in my area, also, as they no longer produce it... UGH. This is turning into a challenge!

    Maybe a .327 MAG Airweight with an underpowered round for her, and the .327 mag rounds for when I carry it?

    This is a tougher decision than I thought it would be....
    #8 coltm4a3, Feb 27, 2009
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2009
  9. Order a reduced power spring kit from Brownells for the J-frame and replace just coil mainspring in the 317. My 317 had a very heavy pull and I did this and it dramatically reduced the pull weight but is still reliable. $9 from brownells.

  10. That's interesting -- I may consider doing that swap-out myself...

    Can you tell me approximately how many rounds you might have put through your 317 since doing the spring swap?
  11. Have you shot it much in double-action mode, or is most/all of your firing done single-action (cocking the hammer first, for those who might not know)?
  12. ...........
    #12 joeshmow, Nov 22, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2009
  13. ---------------------
    #13 joeshmow, Nov 22, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2009
  14. I know that this is an old thread but I have a suggestion for adding light springs to the 317. That is, to purchase an extended firing pin from Brownells. The 317 use an offset round firing pin that is identical to the K frame pins. By putting an extended firing pin in when you reduce the mainspring power, you lessen or eliminate the misfires.

    I speak from experience as I own a 3" 317 and, since I added the long firing pin, does not miss a beat. I also changed the front sight to one with a orange insert and find it is easier to aim outdoors. You can also add a fiber optic front sight if you so desire.


  15. I picked up a 3 inch 317 several years ago. I like it. My wife took it one year to Alabama in the summer and in hot weather while target shooting when the gun got hot it would bind up. Never had that problem in Alaska. Of course it would not be an issue when firing the gun cold.
  16. Just curious -- when you say "bind up," do you mean the cylinder wouldn't rotate, the casings wouldn't eject, or some other difficulty?

    I have a S&W 63 and 317, and have never encountered that phenomenon. I've shot on some pretty hot summer days also -- but maybe not as hot as Alabama can get... :)

  17. She said the cylinder was hard to rotate. It could have been from the hot weather or perhaps the gun needed to be cleaned. It is pretty tight. This has never happened to me.

  18. Thanks -- I guess that's the classic definition of "binding." Wow -- that must be one heck of a tight cylinder!

  19. Wow, just found the thread again and I never answered you guys.
    I always fire my 317 double action as it is hard to cock due to the stubby hammer. I've had no problems with any misfires and I've probably put 500 rds thru it since the spring change.
  20. Same situation here. I've owned both, and yes the 3" with the adjustable sights is much more accurate, and yes the 2" is off by a few inches at the range, but then it's not a range gun - and the 2" handily fits in the pocket - and it is lighter and more compact than even the Scandium 340PD. And while the .22 is a weak round there is virtually no recoil and consequently follow up shots can be more accurate, and it holds 8 shots vs. the 340PD's five. I like it.

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