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Smith Wesson 317 Airlite 22 LR

This review is to cover the pro’s and con’s of the S&W 317 Air-lite 22 revolver. The thing weighs less than 11 oz, it holds 8 rounds, the trigger is a bit heavy double action and not what you’d expect from a Smith 357 in the single action either. A bit rough and heavy. It also has an aluminum alloy frame with a 1 7/8 inch barrel and NON adjustable sites. The sites are part of the frame and NOT removable or replaceable that I can see anyway.

The good: It’s light and easy to carry and the finish is tough and durable. It goes bang every time you pull the trigger, no light strike misfires common in some rim-fires. The grip is small and excellent for smaller handed people.  This is an ok choice when you take a new shooter to the range, it’s not intimidating, it’s light and recoil free as well as simple. Just pull the trigger. It would make a decent little trail/snake gun for trappers or trail walkers, NOT with big, mean animals obviously, it’s a 22. I would never choose it myself but for a close range, totally panic proof defense gun for say my Mom or Gram?? Yes, I would feel fine handing this over loaded with something fast like CCI stingers or Aguila Super Maximum. Yes, the 317 Airlite is a .22 but I don’t want to get shot with it.

The not so good: I won’t say bad, nothing really wrong with it, it’s just if you are going to buy this make sure it’s for the right reason. I talked in the last paragraph what it might be good for. This is what it’s NOT good for. It’s NOT a target gun, the sights leave a lot to be desired and are not replaceable. It does not have the smoothest target trigger either. The barrel is short for that anyway. It does NOT shoot point of aim with any of the numerous ammo I have tried, sights being what they are at 20 yards it’s “Kentucky windage” all the way. It costs WAY too much for what you get, I think that is my biggest complaint, for over 5 bills and it won’t shoot point of aim past 10 yards?? C’mon, at least put some adjustable sites on it. I was disappointed about that.

So to wrap up: Does it work 100%? Yes, mine has definitely. Tough and well made? For sure. Is it my first choice in 22′s? Absolutely not. Again nothing really wrong with it, not like it’s broken,  just not worth what you will pay for it. So review my pro’s and con’s, if it fits your needs have at it. If not, look for something different.

Thanks for reading and happy shooting.

By: Cary Kieffer

 

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  • Judy Stockstill

    Is the 3″ barrel considerably more accurate than the snub nose?

    • Cary Kieffer

      Judy, I don’t have a 3 inch but I tend to doubt it. It may be a tad bit so but I would think that comes from having the longer site radius. The bullets should be moving a bit faster out of the 3 inch though. So there would be more energy on the receiving end. That’s a bonus but for anything else I shoot barrel length and accuracy do not really go hand in hand. Examples would be I shoot better with the XDS subcompact 45 than I do with the 5 inch XD Tactical model 45. I shoot better with a Rem 20 inch LTR than I do with a Rem 26 inch Target Tactical. If your looking at this for a carry or self defense gun I wouldn’t worry about the length, just get the one your most comfortable with.

    • Cary Kieffer

      Judy, I forgot to mention this earlier. If your looking for a 22, please read the Ruger SR22 review here on the site. That is MUCH MUCH better a gun. Still a 22 and you get so much more. You get adjustable sites, great accuracy, great reliability and it’s an auto so faster reload as well as 10 round magazines. All that and it costs 200$ LESS :) That pistol is my favorite 22 ever. It is very concealable too. You really can’t go wrong with that Ruger. Thanks for stopping in to see us.

  • Airborne Bob

    Mr. Kieffer, Iam one not to make waves, but I thought about those people who might own and carry the S&W 317 for protection. S&W does list this gun as one that can be carried for personal protection. My 317 had only been fired a few times before with no problem. I asked S&W if there had been a recall on this weapon, and was told no. I thank you for your reply Cary.

  • Airborne Bob

    Mr. Kieffer, I own a S&W Model 317. I am a retired police officer, and carry this gun (have permit) as a last resort weapon. While on the range, about 4 months ago, I had about 18 to 20 misfires with this gun. I was using 2 types of very good ammo too. I sent this gun back to S&W,
    and they replaced the firing pin and the main spring. To all of you who read this comment, and own a S&W model 317, I would test fire and check your gun out before going out with it ! It is possible that you could also have a model 317 with a bad firing pin and main spring !

    • Cary Kieffer

      Good comment Airborne Bob, I never heard of this issue with those…did they have any serial number ranges that were affected?? I might give them a call myself and see…thats a pretty serious issue for sure. Especially when considering it being used for self defense. Thanks for letting us know. Semper fi.

    • DB

      I’ve owned a Model 317 since they became available. It has sent well over ten thousand rounds downrange over that time without failure. The heavy hammer spring makes trigger pull really heavy but gets the job done. Despite that, at 25 feet I have learned to put all 8 rounds double action into a silhouette. Even at 50 feet I can get most of them on target double action. This little gun is an excellent back up and the light weight makes it possible to always have it with you. I use it for a pocket gun when walking through the woods or where I want to be armed.