Smith & Wesson is nothing if not a prolific manufacturer of handguns. Every year they introduce new designs and refinements of older one.
One of their new lines for 2008 is the Night Guard series of double action revolvers. They are matte black Scandium framed revolvers with 2.5 inch barrels and feature XS Standard Dot tritium night sights up front, a Cylinder & Slide Extreme Duty rear sight, and Pachmayr Compac Custom Grips. The Night Guard handguns come chambered in .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, and .44 Magnum. The .44 Mag, .45 ACP, .44 Special, and the 8 round .357 Magnum are built on the large “N” frame. The seven round .357 is manufactured on the “L” frame and the .38 Special, model 315, is presumably made on the “K” frame although I cannot confirm it since all literature just says it is made on the medium frame which is commonly defined as either the “L” or “K” frame. I am assuming it is the “K” frame as the model 315 is only chambered for six rounds and an “L” frame could easily hold seven.
I was interested in finding either the model 315 in .38 Special or the 325 in .45 ACP. The 315 because it is made on the smaller medium (hopefully “K”) frame and I knew that shooting .38 specials out of the Scandium framed revolver would be fairly comfortable to do. I was looking for the .45 for two reasons: 1. I am a fan of the .45 ACP cartridge and, 2. with the rising costs of ammunition there are still some occasional sales to be found for .45 ACP ammo. The other revolvers in the series, the two .357s, the .44 Special, and .44 Magnum did not interest me as the rounds would be too punishing for the light weight Scandium handgun and the ammunition would be too expensive to shoot much anyway.
There is a lot to like in the Night Guard Series:
1. The Pachmayr compact grips are some of my favorite when it comes to the compromise of recoil absorption versus low profile for concealment.
2. The front of the cylinder is nicely beveled to assist with holstering the weapon.
3. The model 325 specimen I picked up has perhaps one of the best trigger pulls I have ever experienced on a Smith & Wesson revolver. It is very smooth and light (their attorneys must have missed this one).
4. The XS front night sight is perhaps the best on the market and I feel that a night sight is absolutely essential on a self defense handgun (especially one marketed under the name of “Night Guard”).
5. The Cylinder and Slide fixed rear sight is perhaps the best fixed rear sight I have ever seen on a revolver. I wish all of my fixed sight revolvers had this rear sight. It is simple in its design but very effective in its execution. It’s one of those things that make you sad that you did not think of it first. The fixed rear sight on most revolvers harken back to the early days of the six gun and is usually just a notch dug out of the frame. However, the fixed rear sight on most semi-automatic pistols is usually a freestanding sight manufactured expressly for the pistol and attached to the rear of the slide via dovetailing or a hex screw (or both). The semi-automatic sight offers the shooter a more pronounced sight picture and that is sort of what Bill Laughridge designed when he came up with the Cylinder & Slide Extreme Duty rear sight. Again, borrowing from the fixed sights on the semi-autos Bill contoured and rounded the extreme duty rear sight so that it would not snag on clothing, catch on seat belts, etc. This is an excellent accessory.
The first target was shot primarily single action at a range of 21 feet. I began by shooting double action and was throwing the shots so I slowed down, fired single action, and the group improved.