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Super light S&W is ideal for concealed carry.

The average woman carries the contents of a small drugstore around in her purse. There are brushes, makeup, tissue, mints, aspirin, a wallet, keys, sunglasses, and other "just in case" items rattling around in her handbag. A self-defense minded woman adds to this menagerie by carrying a flashlight, pepper-spray, a folding knife, a cell phone and a gun. Her handbag now weighs 50 pounds and is responsible for a sore back that's making her think it's time to reevaluate the contents of her purse and remove the heaviest items. A new gun from Smith & Wesson may mean that her most important means of self-defense won't be the first to go.

The Smith & Wesson Model 342 AirLite Ti is the first widely available firearm with a major component - the cylinder - made from titanium. The thing that makes titanium so special is its lightweight strength and resistance to corrosion. It is also possible to refine titanium to greater strength than steel, allowing thinner dimensions of higher resilience. What this means to the shooter is a firearm that is as strong as steel, but weighs only slightly more than aluminum.

The AirLite Ti weighs in at 11.2 ounces, or approximately three Quarter-Pounders from McDonalds. It weighs just 1.2 ounces more than S&W's earlier lightweight aluminum AirLite Model 317. Unlike the Model 317 which was chambered in .22, the AirLite Ti is chambered in the minimum caliber for a self-defense gun, .38 Special +P. This gives a woman five rounds of manstopping ammunition with which to end a fight. Not bad.

The Model 342 looks like any other S&W J-frame Centennial revolver and has the same Clear Cote aluminum finish as used on the .22 AirLite models plus the darker gray of the titanium cylinder. Several strengthening features have been added to the Model 342 that are not on the .22 AirLites. There is a titanium bushing where the center pin passes through the bolt face: a titanium-nitride center pin; and four heavy duty titanium studs to carry the trigger, hammer, rebound slide and cylinder stop.

The Model 342's unique composition means that in some areas it needs to be treated differently than other firearms. For example, S&W is warning Model 342 owners, dealers and gunsmiths that the barrel should never be removed with a standard barrel wrench because it will destroy the barrel shroud and possibly the frame. The barrel can only be removed with a special tool used by authorized S&W service center gunsmiths.

Your customers also need to know that some special cleaning provisos apply to the Model 342. Regular cleaning and use of gun oil is recommended, but no abrasives should be used on the cylinder's chambers or face. Abrasives will ruin the titanium's protective surface layer and reduce cylinder life due to excessive erosion when firing. It will also void the warranty.

When recommending loads for the 342 to your customers, be sure to point out that the barrel of the firearm says, ".38 Special +P Jacketed." S&W's extensive testing showed that lead-bullet +P ammunition has a lighter taper crimp than jacketed-bullet +P amino. A light crimp combined with the rapid recoil of the 342 may cause the bullets in the remaining chambers to unseat from their cases and move forward in the cylinder, causing the gun to jam. Standard velocity .38 Special bullets will not cause this problem.

While on the subject of ammunition, be sure to recommend a load that your customer will be able to comfortably shoot. Just because the 342 is approved for +P ammo, doesn't mean your customer has to use it. Federal's 110 grain Personal Defense ammo, Winchester's 110 grain Silvertip and Pro Load's 110 grain Tactical are all good non +P loads that deliver adequate velocity without excessive recoil. It's more important for your customer to he able to shoot her gun without pain and flinching than it is for the gun to be loaded to the max. After all, we're talking about a gun that will be carried a lot and hopefully shot very little.

The Model 342 comes with Dymondwood grips or rubber grips for recoil reducing cushioning. The bobbed hammer guarantees a smooth draw. Rear sights are a fixed channel notch and the front sights are pinned black ramp blade. The AirLite Ti will also be offered in .32 H&R Magnum.

Bag It

Coronado Leather Co. is now offering its first handbag with a key-locking holster compartment. Made of high quality full-grain leather with brass hardware, the Coronado Hobo is a roomy bag with modern styling.

In addition to the key lock, the holster compartment features a large zipper pull for quick and quiet access. The adjustable shoulder strap is 1 1/2 inches wide to help distribute weight. Other features include five separate compartments, including an outside gusset pocket for glasses or a mobile phone. The Hobo is available in black, tan and mahogany leather.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Parsons, Lisa
Publication:Shooting Industry
Date:Mar 1, 1999
Words:825
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