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The S&W model 310 Night Guard.

Many find the concept of a swing-out cylinder revolver chambered for an auto pistol cartridge extremely attractive. That's because most all auto pistol cartridges are rimless and therefore need to be held by clips for ejection.


If you have a full moon clip designed to hold all six rounds, faster reloads are possible over individually reloading each of six chambers, but it is not a always a 100% solution.

The most familiar combination of clip and revolver was the .45 ACP used in the Colt New Service and Smith & Wesson 1917 revolvers. It's an old story, but the Government (and by that we mean Springfield Armory ... the original government entity, not today's private firm) couldn't make enough of the new 1911 pistols the United States had just adopted. The answer was to fall back on the tried and true revolver from both Colt and Smith & Wesson.


Back then, the U.S. Army used half-moon clips that held three rounds of .45 ACP ammo, but competition shooters have over the years developed the full-moon clip which holds all six rounds. Yet for all this innovation, it's always been .45 ACP when it came to the caliber of these things.

Things have changed in the past couple of decades because now it's possible to have revolvers chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge as well as the shorter, but same bullet diameter, .40 S&W Most of these products have been produced by Smith & Wesson.

The Model 310 Night Guard is simply the: latest, and as such it represents a gesture to auto pistol caliber revolver lovers who wanted something different from the usual .45 cal. wheelgun. Additionally, although I'm sure it can be used as a competition gun for IDPA, the Model 310 Night Guard was designed from the get-go for the self-defense user. Considering, the popularity of the 40 S&W cartridge these days, this revolver would seem to be driven by inspiration.


The Main Feature

The main thing with all of the revolvers in the Night Guard series from S&W is their use of the scandium alloy frame. Scandium is a rare, earth alloy that provides an unusual, as well as unique; combination of strength and light weight in a powerful, but handy handgun. Scandium-framed guns have been chambered for calibers, far more powerful than the test 10mm/.40 S&W chambering seen here, so endurance is not a concern.

The barrel length is short, 2 3/4 inches, so it lends itself to the concealed carry/self-defense application, but short double-action revolver barrels also inhibit full length extraction of the fired case if the round has the normal revolver caliber longer case length.

That's not a problem here, because even with its shorter, reach, the ejector provides sufficient clearance for any fired 10mm case. However, if I were to shoot this gun in an IDPA event, I would probably go with .40 S&W for a number of good reasons. Extra clearance on the extractor for the spent cases would only be one of them.


A prominent feature of all the Night Guard revolvers is the Pachmayr Compac Custom synthetic grips. These grips are certainly not a new item. Revolver shooters have worked with these grips for decades and they are a known quantity. I like them when installed on K- or L-frame revolvers from S&W, but on the much larger N-frame revolver they increase the trigger reach distance for me as I'm sure they do for others.

The argument in their favor is they dampen the effects of felt recoil, while some counter-argue they may actually increase it because they give the gun a running start before it impacts into the web of the shooter's hand.

All I know is I have never, been able to get a good grip with these things because I have to move my hand too much to the right side, and not keep it on center with the frame in order to reach the trigger. All of which leads to a feeling of less control.


However, there is an advantage with any S&W revolver, especially one built on this frame size, in that it is not at all difficult to change the grips out for something from the aftermarket that better fits your own hand size and trigger reach.

In terms of the sample Model 310 Night Guard trigger action, it is stiff. It averaged around 13.75 pounds in pull weight for the double-action trigger pull and just over 5 pounds for the single-action trigger pull. That's heavy by match standards, but then this really isn't a match-type pistol. It just can be used as one in venues like IDPA. The front face of the trigger is well rounded and smooth and the hammer comes close to approximately the old-style Target hammers seen on the guns in the 1960s-1980s. Naturally, the gun comes with the hideous internal trigger-lock and the infamous 'zit' above the cylinder latch release on the left side. The less said about this aspect of it the better for all parties because I simply don't buy into the argument it's wanted (other than to appease anti-gun politicians) or needed.



The overall finish is black, as in almost flat-black, cast iron stove black. Yet, there is one white spot, literally. It's found on the back of the front sight blade. It is an XS Sight standard tritium dot surrounded by a white circle.

The rear sight is The Extreme Duty from Cylinder & Slide, and this rear sight is nothing less than rugged. It lacks any adjustment for windage or elevation, but again this is a gun designed for serious social purposes and really doesn't cater to the interests of those who want the gun to shoot exactly to point of aim at 50 yards.

A feature few will notice, but one that I appreciated, was the removal of the outside sharp edge at the front of the cylinder. You used to see this all the time on serious social purpose revolvers, but you don't so much anymore.

On the bottom of the barrel shroud lug that encompasses the ejector rod is a curious milling groove which to the best of my knowledge serves no other purpose than to reduce the gun's overall weight. With its scandium alloy frame, lightweight outer barrel shroud, stainless steel barrel and cylinder, this large revolver only weighs 28 ounces.

If it were chambered in a more powerful cartridge, that would prove a handful, but when loaded with .40 S&W ammo, it is more than manageable by even the most novice of revolver shooters.


I can't say I'm a big advocate of auto-pistol cartridge revolvers, other than for use in competition venues. In the real world I've found the full-moon clip to be a promise that often gets compromised by reality.

They work wonderfully when they are flat, straight and true, but misbehave terribly once they are bent. I've taken these bent clips to an anvil and with a heavy hammer tried to straighten them but the problem is hard to correct even then.


A bent full moon clip creates drag against the recoil shield of the revolver, increasing double-action trigger pull. It's been my experience that sometimes this drag will be so great as to require thumb cocking.

Still, these revolvers have their advocates and their uses. I've used a 4-inch Model 610 in local IDPA competition. I think the Model 310 Night Guard offers great utility to the revolver oriented consumer who might also want to spend a weekend afternoon perfecting and practicing his skills during such a friendly outing. The Smith & Wesson Model 310 Night Guard has a suggested retail price of $1,185.
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Title Annotation:Double-Action or Semi-Auto ...
Author:James, Frank W.
Publication:Shotgun News
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Apr 10, 2010
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