RARE PERFORMANCE CENTER 940 IN 356TSW

Very Rare S&W 940 Chambered in .356 TSW

According to the S&W Catalog there were only 300 of these revolvers ever made. Not only are the revolvers and pistols hard to find, the 356TSW ammo is just as hard to locate. This makes it an extreme pleasure for me to be allowed to have this one in my possession for a day on the range.

RARE PERFORMANCE CENTER 940 IN 356TSW 2

When offered this pistol for a review there was one major problem, this pair is so rare I have to admit there was very little I knew of it and very little about it within my library.

What Is The 356TSW

What I did know, again this is a very rare combination of a Smith and Wesson Performance Center 940 356 TSW revolver and now defunct 356TSW ammunition. The TSW was for Team Smith & Wesson designed in the 1990’s by S&W for IPSC competition. The 356 TSW is a 9×21.5 round which almost duplicates the ballistics of the 357 Magnum, 140gr round at 100 yards. S&W would later change the name to coincide with the branding of pistols they were manufacturing “Tactical Smith & Wesson” I also knew there was plenty of controversy among the 357 Magnum lovers that this was a comparison to weak 357 140gr loads. During the short popularity of this cartridge advertisements often made this comparison causing this heated debate.

RARE PERFORMANCE CENTER 940 IN 356TSW 4

 

I was really interested in the claim of this advertisement. I believe if this round was active today it would be considered to be a self defense round, especially when paired with the PC940 Revolver for concealed carry. So the first thing I wanted to do was compare the TSW to proven concealed carry self defense cartridges of today across the chronograph. A ballistics gel test video will follow this writeup shortly.

The one thing I did notice right away is that the 356TSW is a longer cartridge than the 9mm due to its 9×21.5 SAAMI designation.

 

GoldDot Short Barrel 125gr 38spl+P Not Pictured, GoldDot Short Barrel 135gr 357Mag, 147gr 356TSW, Hornady 147gr 9mm

PistolBarrel LengthAmmunitionCOALBullet WeightBullet TypeVelocity FPSAverage Velocity FPSESSD
S&W 6402 PowerportGold Dot 38+p125grHPHi 924912259
Low 899
912
917
911
S&W 9402 PowerportHornady 9mm147grHP86586793
Low 864
Hi 873
866
870
S&W 9402 PowerportFederal 356TSW147grFPLow 111611497126
Hi 1187
1162
1135
1145
Ruger Service Six2.5Gold Dot 357 Short Barrel135grHP108411087633
Low 1064
1133
1123
Hi 1140

The 38spl+P in the PC640 was the most comfortable to shoot of all.

Luckily I would eventually run into Daniel E. Waters who knows quite a bit about the 356TSW and would provide me with some of his comments on the history of the 356TSW as it pertained to IPSC.

Comments from Daniel.

“It wasn’t so much that .356 TSW was banned from USPSA competition. The USPSA Board of Directors simply changed the rules for Limited Division just as the .356 TSW cartridge was about to become eligible for scoring at Major Power Factor. The previous Limited Division rules demanded that Major PF ammunition be available from a minimum of three manufacturers for a cartridge to be eligible for Major PF scoring, otherwise it would be scored at Minor PF. As written, this had prevented the .38 Super and 9x19mm from becoming eligible Limited Major PF cartridges because no company would load these hotter than SAAMI maximum pressure. However, the .356 TSW was already spec’ed for the higher pressure levels necessary. The revised rules added a minimum caliber clause (0.400″) for Limited Major PF.

The timing of the rule change was terrible as S&W and its distributors had just begun promoting the Model 3566 semi-auto pistol and the .356 TSW cartridge as an eligible Limited Major PF combination. By all rights, the .356 TSW should have killed the .357 SIG in childbirth. Since it could use 9x19mm magazines, the .356 TSW would have offered a much higher ammunition capacity in many models over the fatter .357 SIG, which required .40 S&W type magazines.”

 

“Besides the “Pocket Rocket” Model 940 and the Model 3566 Limited, there was a really nice Open Division Model 3566 variant built in conjunction with Briley. (Briley’s head pistolsmith Claudio Salassa and the S&W Performance Center’s head pistolsmith Paul Liebenberg had worked together back when they lived in South Africa.) However, no one in the US really wanted to compete using anything other than a M1911 variant once the widebody frames became available. S&W also briefly offered a couple of Model 6906-sized pistols in .356 TSW known as the Model 3566 Compact.

The most prolific .356 TSW pistol may have been the commercial export model named the Super 9. It was basically an economy model of the Model 3566 Limited, eliminating the fancy stepped slide contours, two-tone finish, and magwell funnel. The Super 9’s 5″ barrel had a standard 3rd Gen. muzzle profile instead of being machined straight for the spherical bushing of the Model 3566. In addition, the Super 9’s long slide had a standard Novak rear sight dovetail with an aftermarket LPA adjustable sight instead of the Model 3566’s BoMar sight. The version I encountered had three barrels: 9x19mm, 9x21mm IMI, and .356 TSW. One interesting thing I found was that the sear for the single-action Super 9 was originally meant for the double-action only models. I want to say that it used a standard hammer as well. The Model 3566 Limited, as with the other S&W single-action autos of its day, used what looked like a cropped version of the Model 52-2 hammer.”

Daniel also provided me with some additional advertisements.

 

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William C Chapin
William C Chapin

I’ve had my eye on the 940 in 356 TSW for quite some time – they don’t come along often. I have a box of the COR-BON 124 Grain BHP rated at 1,450 FPS. As an interesting aside – 356 TSW will chamber in my 929 PC 9mm N Frame – it’s more or less chambered 9×21.5 – and is a topic for speculation.

Loads of Bacon
Loads of Bacon

Thanks for sharing! I had heard of the round, it didn’t know anything about it. Great article!