smith & wesson 386 air light
Smith and Wesson Revolver Reviews

Gun Reviews by Women – S&W 386 Air Light – Rebecca

S&W 386 Air Light Review

by Rebecca


S&W 386 Air Light Specifications

Gun Manufacturer: Smith & Wesson

Model: 386 air light PD

Caliber: 357

Barrel Length: 2 1/2 inches

Ammunition Capacity: 7 shot

Price: not made any more, $850 approx.


S&W 386 Air Light Usage and Features

Primary Use

Concealed Carry

Are you right or left handed?


What features does this gun have that appealed to you?

  1. It was a revolver. It is made out of Skandia material—-super lightweight. I have small hands, and this fit my hands I also am able to shoot either left or right-handed. I broke my wrist-it has never healed correctly, so being able to shoot from either hand is important.

Tell us about shooting this gun.

If you aren’t expecting it, this will spank your hand. Because of the lightweight material that it is made from, keeping a very tight grip is important. The recoil is a bit more than a regular 357, and while I shoot it once a month, I can only put one box through. the plus side is that this little revolver is right on when it comes to accuracy. My shot pattern is nice and tight, and I freely admit I’m not what would be considered a great shot with a handgun. with this one I am, and I like that feeling.

How would you describe the recoil, is it manageable?

the recoil is manageable, but there are others that are easier on the hand. I put a larger grip on to help control the recoil.

How does it fit your hand, are the controls of this gun easy to use? (Safeties, slide pull, magazine release, trigger pull, etc.)

as I have small hands, this pistol fits very well. I did put a larger grip on for better control. totally changed for the better my ability to shoot. The trigger pull is super smooth and while not a “hair” trigger, it does have a light pull.

Do you like the sights on this gun?

The factory sights were okay, I had night sights put on in addition. Helps with low light/night shooting. I practice in day and night shooting so I can be ready for whatever comes up.

How reliable is it?

It is a revolver. Unless the barrel is plugged with something, there isn’t much that will stop this gun from functioning. It doesn’t jam, super easy to load.

Any problems with any type of ammunition?

Yes. this gun needs ammo called plus P. you can shoot 38 or 357, but the 38 has to be plus P. the grain has to be 125 grain or larger because of the lightness/frame of the gun. If you are not very familiar with guns, don’t buy one like this. the manufacturer wants a heavier grain, so the other shells don’t get jostled and go off. Thus, the heavier recoil. the plus is that it takes either 38 or 357 loads. If you get familiar with it, this is a sweet gun, but the possibility does exist of putting wrong ammo into the gun, and that can lead to a very large problem. I have 2 other revolvers and they are nice guns, but not as lightweight as this one. this is my preferred carry, but I can and do sometimes use one of the other.

Was it easy to take down and clean?

Nice thing about revolvers. there aren’t that many parts to come apart and put back together. there is a cylinder, a yoke, the barrel and action are all together. the grips can come off for cleaning, but rarely need it. super easy to clean and keep clean.

Is there anything you dislike about shooting this gun?

The recoil if my hand hurts. I have taught myself to shoot both right and left handed.

For someone considering this gun, what would you tell them?

Go to a gun shop and shoot before buying and take lessons if you aren’t familiar with handguns. there are other Skandia/lightweight material models out–this particular one isn’t made any more. It was purchased over 20 years ago. To me, it is very important to know what type of ammo goes with what gun. and this one needs special ammo if shooting the 38. If shooting the 357, you are okay.

Would you recommend this gun? If no, do you have a preferred gun?

Yes, I would recommend. I have a couple of semi auto pistols. while the recoil is less in some, if you don’t have a strong wrist, you can end up with a jam. have never had a problem with a revolver. some say pistols are faster to reload, guess it depends on how much you practice with it and if you use speed loaders. I can reload just as fast with a revolver and speed loaders as with a semi auto pistol.

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