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Handguns

Smith and Wesson Night Guard Revolvers

Introduced at the 2008 SHOT Show, the Night Guard line of revolvers from Smith & Wesson offered a blend of high-quality features in self-defense firearms.

Although the guns are no longer manufactured, they represent a high-water mark in 21st century revolvers using conventional technology.

Let’s dive into what the guns were and the specific models produced.

Table Of Contents

Features of the Night Guard Line

As the name Night Guard suggests, these pistols were specifically developed for personal protection. Caliber options and sizes varied, but the guns always focused on self-defense needs.

[The Night Guard series of revolvers were] specifically built for self-defense.

Tom Taylor, President of Smith & Wesson

Many of Smith & Wesson’s self-defense revolvers use the small J-frame. The Night Guard revolvers utilize the company’s larger frames: the K, L and N frames depending on the cartridge for which the gun is chambered.

Model 327 Barrel

Larger guns tend to be easier to run in combat, but they can also be heavier to carry. To counter this, Smith & Wesson opted to use scandium allow for the frame construction. While more expensive than aluminum or steel, scandium offers steel near-strength at a fraction of the weight.

All cylinders were made of stainless steel.

Like many of the company’s modern revolvers, the Night Guard series used two-piece barrels. While these are seen as an abomination by some Smith purists, I’m more interested in performance – something these guns proved to be good at.

Another feature common to all models in the Night Guard line was the sight set. Up front, Smith & Wesson installed the XS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot. These sights are now known as the DXW Standard Dot.

Smith and Wesson Night Guard Model 329 Trigger

Should you care for something different, the front sights were pinned.

The 24/7 sight used a tritium insert surrounded by a generous paint circle. In low light conditions, the tritium would glow while in brighter conditions the bright paint would provide your aiming point.

In back, Smith & Wesson went with the Extreme Duty Fixed rear sight from Cylinder & Slide. Cylinder & Slide, if you are not familiar, is a gunsmithing business that’s been around since 1978. Bill Laughridge, the company’s owner, built the business from the ground up and provides incredible work.

Exposed hammers on all Night Guard revolvers gave the shooter the option for a precision, single-action shot.

One additional commonality among the Night Guard revolvers is the finishing: matte black. The company applied a standard finish to the frame and barrel while the cylinder of each gun received a PVD (physical vapor depositing) process.

Sadly, the Night Guard line of revolvers had internal locks built into the frame.

Night Guard Line at a Glance

Before discussing the individual models, here is an overview of the entire Night Guard line. Not all guns were available at the same time.

CaliberCapacityMSRP
Model 31010mm6$1,153
Model 315.38 Special6$932
Model 325.45 ACP6$1,082
Model 327.357 Magnum8$1,082
Model 329.44 Magnum6$1,082
Model 357.41 Magnum6$1,153
Model 386.357 Magnum7$1,011
Model 396.44 Special5$1,011
MSRP listed is the suggested retail price at launch. During the production life, the MSRP of some models varied.

At this time, I have not been able to obtain production numbers or serial number ranges for these revolvers. As I locate additional information, I will add it to this article.

Let’s dig into the individual models.

Model 310

The S&W Model 310 was chambered for the heavy-hitting 10mm cartridge, but would also shoot milder .40 S&W rounds. Both fired from this gun using moon clips.

Model 310 Night Guard

Introduced at the 2009 SHOT Show, this handgun was a full year behind the other Night Guard revolvers. According to the Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (4th Edition), this was the first 10mm-chambered N-frame made from the Scandium alloy.

Unloaded, it weighed 28 ounces. For a six-shot, N-frame revolver – that’s not very heavy at all.

Model 310 Barrel

It is not known how many of these revolvers were made, but its production run ended in 2011. I expect Smith & Wesson manufactured fewer of these guns than the other models in the Night Guard line.

Model 310 Specifications

SKU163426
Caliber10mm Auto/.40 S&W
Capacity6
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.75″
Overall Length7.625″
Weight28.0 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,153

Model 315

I’m willing to wager that more .38 Special revolvers have been sold for self-defense than any other caliber in the past 100 years. So, it makes sense that the Model 315 – part of the initial Night Guard lineup – would be offered in this chambering.

Built on the K-frame, the gun had a six-shot cylinder and a 2.5″ barrel. I’ve always liked short barrel K-frames in .38, so this one was a real joy for me. It had great balance and very modest recoil.

Other than the frame and cartridge, it was very similar to the other guns in the line. However, production ended a bit early on this one as compared to the others. Manufacturing ceased in 2010 – perhaps due to demand for the Magnum flavored Night Guard revolvers.

Model 315 Specifications

SKU163425
Caliber.38 Special
Capacity6
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.0″
Weight24.0 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$932

Model 325

Revolvers chambered in .45 ACP might sound a bit odd, but such things go back almost as far as the 1911 itself. In World War I, the U.S. could not make enough 1911 pistols to arm the troops, so the M1917 revolver was introduced – a wheel gun chambered for the same cartridge.

Model 325 Two Piece Barrel

Fast forward a century and Smith & Wesson is still making wheelguns for the classic cartridge. The Model 325 was the company’s Night Guard chambered for the venerable round.

Surprisingly, a lot of the information on this revolver has been lost. Nevertheless, it was a real gun introduced in 2008 and manufactured for several years thereafter.

Model 325 Specifications

SKU163421
Caliber.45 ACP
Capacity6
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.75″
Overall Length7.625″
Weight28.0 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,082

Model 327

First of the Magnums in the Night Guard line, the model 327 was chambered in .357 Magnum. It could also fire .38 Special cartridges. Built on the N-frame, it accommodated a large cylinder that allowed 8 cartridges.

Night Guard Model 327

For a lot of people, the additional capacity likely outweighed the few extra ounces and they opted for this gun instead of the K-framed 315.

This model enjoyed a full production run from 2008 – 2011.

Model 327 Specifications

SKU163422
Caliber.357 Magnum
Capacity8
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.875″
Weight28.0 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,082

Model 329

For the ultimate in Night Guard power, you want the Model 329 chambered for the .44 Magnum. 

Smith and Wesson Model 329 NG

Even though the S&W 329 is heavier than the other Night Guard revolvers, it still weighed less than 30 ounces (unloaded, of course). I just don’t know if you want to spend a full self-defense course running full-power Magnum loads in it.

Model 329 Specifications

SKU163420
Caliber.44 Magnum
Capacity6
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.75″
Weight29.3 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,082

Model 357

Few modern revolvers are chambered for the .41 Magnum, but the Smith & Wesson Model 357 was one of those rare guns. This gun also had a 2.5″ barrel and generally shared the same dimensions as the model 329. However, the gun was heavier (29.7 ounces) because of the smaller bore.

Smith Wesson 357NG Barrel Detail

Like the model 325, this gun was not part of the original Night Guard introduction. Combined with the relative niche cartridge, I would expect production numbers to be low on this gun as well. 

Model 357 revolver

The internal stock keeping unit number (SKU) was higher than all of the other Night Guard revolvers, suggesting that this was the last model in the line developed. It was also the most expensive with an MSRP of $1,153 at introduction.

Model 357 Specifications

SKU163428
Caliber.41 Magnum
Capacity6
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.75″
Weight29.7 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,153

Model 386

Unlike the model 327 that was built on the beefier N-frame, the 386 Night Guard was a .357 Magnum revolver built on the L-frame. Consequently, the gun was lighter at 24.5 ounces and holds seven cartridges instead of eight. 

Smith Wesson Model 386NG

The barrel length was 2.5″ and the overall length was 7.625″. This model rolled out in 2008 and hung around until 2012 – the longest of all the Night Guard revolvers.

Model 386 Specifications

SKU163424
Caliber.357 Magnum
Capacity7
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.625″
Weight24.5 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,011

Model 396

Also built on the L-frame, the model 396 was chambered in .44 Special. Due to the size of the cartridge vs. the size of the cylinder, capacity was limited to five rounds only. 

This gun was one of the lightest of the line at 24.2 ounces. 

Model 396 44 Special

I’ve always liked the .44 Special as a self-defense round. I guess it is a throwback to my youth when handgun bullet performance was always an iffy proposition. In those times, a big piece of soft lead going downrange was often the best bet for effectiveness.

Model 396 Cylinder with PVD

I imagine a 240-grain LSWC-HP would still work wonders today.

Model 396 Specifications

SKU163423
Caliber.44 Special
Capacity5
ActionDouble Action/Single Action
Barrel Length2.5″
Overall Length7.325″
Weight24.2 oz
Front SightXS Sights 24/7 Standard Dot
Rear SightCylinder & Slide Extreme Duty Fixed
GripPachmayr Compac Custom
FrameScandium alloy
Cylinderstainless steel
MSRP (at launch)$1,011

Final Thoughts

The production run of the Night Guard line was short as compared to many of the company’s wheelguns. While the guns were clearly good self-defense handguns, it appears the demand just wasn’t there for the high-dollar revolvers. 

Keep in mind that at the same time these were on the market, Smith & Wesson was strongly marketing its high-capacity pistols in the M&P line. And those guns sold for half the cost of the Night Guard models.

Smith & Wesson produced a lot of quality firearms throughout the years. However, I think Smith and Wesson will always be known for making some of the finest revolvers in the market. 

These Night Guard revolvers are some of the nicest self-defense revolvers probably ever made by the company. I would expect that examples in pristine condition will appreciate in value. Hold ’em if you got ’em.

Last update: May 26, 2021

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By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

7 replies on “Smith and Wesson Night Guard Revolvers”

I just purchased a new 2.5″ 386NG today. I hope the one I got isn’t indicative of the quality one can expect from S&W. I fired 50 rounds of Remmington 38 special ammo through it and had 4 misfires. I also fired 11 rounds of Hornady 357 magnum 158 gr. XTP with FIVE misfires. The only way I could count on this gun as a dependable defensive weapon would be if I used it as a hammer. Sad, but true. I was told by the dealer that even though it was brand new, I’d have to send it off to S&W for repair. Nothing like spending $800 for a hammer.

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