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I Carry: Smith & Wesson Model 360PD in a PHLster Holster

Welcome to another episode of "I Carry," Shooting Illustrated's weekly video series covering the guns and gear needed to put together a potential everyday-carry kit. Today we have a Smith & Wesson Model 360PD .357 Magnum revolver in a PHLster City Special holster. We also have Altamont grips, a SureFire Stiletto flashlight and a CRKT knife.

Smith & Wesson Model 360PD (MSRP: $1,019)

We’re carrying the Model 360PD today, which is an exposed hammer, small-frame, super lightweight revolver. Normally, we’ve recommended either shrouded or enclosed hammer options for concealed carry, for snag-free draws from a pocket or IWB holster. However, today’s rig is an appendix-carry variant, and there’s a specific reason for the exposed hammer: it’s an aid for reholstering. One of the criticisms levied at appendix carry has to do with, well, where the muzzle points. Should one be carrying a firearm with no external safeties, like a revolver, the act of reholstering can be complex and fraught with potential danger. Having an exposed hammer you can cover completely with your thumb while reholstering greatly mitigates this danger, and is a great reason for choosing this type of revolver.

The 360 PD is chambered in .357 Magnum, and at just under 12 ounces is quite the handful to shoot with full-power .357 Magnum loads. I don’t recommend it, unless you really, really want your hands to feel like you’ve beaten them with a mallet. However, it does mean you can feed it a steady diet of .38 Special Plus P ammo and not worry about potential damaging recoil. It also leaves the door open for full-power magnum rounds when facing four-legged threats should be you in such a situation.

Choosing a 5-shot J-frame over a 7-shot .380 ACP or 6-shot 9 mm semi-auto really boils down to a personal decision. What it boils down to, mainly, is familiarity. If you’re a revolver fan, you’re going to be comfortable carrying a small version for defense. Five rounds of .357 Magnum or .38 Special +P shouldn’t make anyone feel like they’re not adequately armed, however with a specialized tool like the J-frame, dedicated training is absolutely a must. Seek out a qualified trainer dedicated to the small revolver to maximize its effectiveness.

PHLster City Special Holster (MSRP: $79.99)

PHLster’s City Special holster brings the ease of appendix carry to the small-frame revolver (and there was much rejoicing). Designed for Smith & Wesson J-frames and Ruger LCRs, the City Special is ambidextrous, relieved for Crimson Trace Lasergrips and comes with the Tuckstrut to keep it properly oriented on the belt line. An extremely interesting feature is what PHLster deems the “reload cut,” which allows you to deposit an empty revolver in the holster by the cylinder to allow single-handed reloads. Obviously, it works with two hands, too…

Altamont Wood Grips (MSRP: $43)

If you’re looking to increase purchase on your small-frame revolver while simultaneously upgrading aesthetics, wood grips from Altamont might be the ticket. With a wide variety of wood grain finishes and textures, it’s simple to match the feel in the hand with a pleasing appearance. Whether you prefer stocks with or without finger grooves, like checkering or basketweave patterns or simply want a dark wood or light, the options are many. Form and function – what a concept!

SureFire Stiletto Light (MSRP: $109)

Keeping minimalist gear doesn’t leave you relegated to a miniscule light with low power, not with the SureFire Stiletto around. Featuring high, medium and low settings and power output of 650, 250 or 5 lumens, the Stiletto offers a battery that recharges via a micro-USB cable and a pocket clip. It’s easy to carry, easy to keep charged and even has a tailcap switch for momentary-on activation of the highest setting. There’s even a programming switch if you want to change how the primary activation switch cycles through settings.

CRKT Caligo Knife (MSRP: $49.99)

With a 3.185-inch, plain-edge drop-point blade and aluminum handle, the Caligo by Columbia River Knife and Tool is an excellent EDC choice. Factor in the ball-bearing pivot mechanism that opens quickly with a thumbstud, liner lock and black oxide/black aluminum finish on the blade and handle, and you’ve got a purpose-driven knife to meet your EDC needs.

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