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S&W Performance Center M&P R8

SKU 170292
Caliber 357 Magnum
Action Double / Single
8 rounds
Barrel Length
Rate of Twist
1:18.75″ RH 5R
Frame Aluminum/Scandium Alloy
Finish Matte Black
Grips Synthetic – Black
Front Sight
White Dot Interchangeable
Rear Sight
Black V Notch Adjustable
Overall Length
Overall Height 6.3″
Weight 35.9 Ounces
Trigger Pull SA/DA* 4 Lbs 6 Oz / 11 Lbs 2 Oz
MSRP $1,329

Revolvers have a personality not found in auto-loaders, which sometimes causes revolvers to be dismissed as interesting art from a by gone era. However,  they can generally be more powerful, more accurate and more simple to use. Add to that list some pretty slick double and single action triggers, devoid of poly gun sponge, and the only advantages a modern autoloader has are increased capacity and some degree of conceal…ability. Yes, I did just make up that word. Thank you for noticing.

Extra capacity may not be necessary unless invaded by hordes of the living dead, but then revolver speed loaders in reserve should cover that eventuality nicely. Just as selecting a compact auto-loader would aid concealment, selecting a snubbed nose, hammerless revolver would do the same. My comments are not directed at placing a revolver above an auto-loader for the purpose of self defense, but rather to say if you like and shoot revolvers, they are perfectly good tools for that purpose.

The Performance Center M&P R8 is not your typical revolver. Introduced in 2007, it is primarily suited for use in open, unlimited and enhanced tactical shooting events and also suitable as a defensive weapon. Where the N frame and eight shot cylinder would make it difficult to conceal at the beach, its light Scandium Frame makes it a reasonable all day carry. Its stout stainless steel cylinder and yoke, stainless barrel and barrel shroud and eight 357 Mag round capacity make it trail gun ready. Above Top – The four holes along the barrel rib are the mounting points for the included rail. Packaged with the rail are four plug screw that fill the holes when the rail in not in place. The rail is undercut where it passes over the revolver’s top strap so it will clear with the rear sight in place.

The Performance Center M&P has the familiar internal lock above the thumb piece, which give owners the option of locking the gun’s hammer when stowed. For others it provides an endless source of social media whining. The rear sight has a “V” notch rather than a more typical and predictable “U” notch. The centerline of the rail is grooved so, with optical sights removed, it can be left in place without obstructing use of the revolver’s metallic sights. The front sight blade is interchangeable; grab hard, pull back and rotate up in front and out.

The Performance Center slicked up trigger has an adjustable over travel stop, smooth surface and measured 0.265″ in width. The target hammer spur is 0.400″x0.500″. The subject R8 pull checked 4 lbs 6 oz in single action and 11 lbs 2 oz in double action. The combination of grip and hammer spur angle work. From a high grip, I could easily ignore all of the reasons for having a double action revolver and cock the hammer. But I actually train and shoot double action and the R8 has a good one DA trigger.

The M&P R8’s cylinder is cut to accept moon clips and the chamber openings are chamfered to facilitate faster loading. Cylinder diameter is 1.720″, length is 1.60″. Throat end outside chamber wall check 0.095 “, adjacent chamber walls measured 0.090″ which is not a compromise. Cylinder gap measured 0.006” at the onset and at completion. A small stainless shield in embedded between the barrel shank and top strap to protect the alloy frame from vented gases.

The grip frame is round butt, the cushy grip is not. It is long enough and full enough to spread recoil across the palm and with sufficient finger grooves spacing to provide good purchase. The underlug rail provides space to mount… stuff. Like what? I would say TAC lights and laser pointers.

A top down view before moving onto the percussion section. Much nicer than a graphic line break.

Three type of ammo were selected for the subject revolver’s assessment and shot over the chronograph and then through targets; two over the counter and one handload.

Cartridge Bullet
5 Shot
American Eagle 158 JSP 1240 1289 1.9
Blazer Brass 158 JHP 1250 1243 2.0
Handload 158 SWC 1330 1.4

Shooting was done from a rest with red dot sight installed. In addition to shooting a target that had no chance of escape, I entertained myself by shooting 6″x6″x6″ blocks of wood cut from 8′ length of post stock…. I was supposed to use to make a raised herb garden. Oops. The R8 was fast tracking and enjoyable enough to give it and me a workout.

Conclusion…. head scratch. head scratch

A range rod passed cleanly through the bore and chambers, lock up remained tight and the durable finish looked as good as it did when the project began. The finish is easy to keep clean, which may not sound like much for anyone who likes to clean firearm, which is no one I’ve ever met over the course of my life. Self defense, trail gun, competition equipment? Yes, nice firearm for all categories that would instill pride of ownership.

The Performance Center M&P R8 weighs approximately 4 ounces less than an all steel N frame of similar configuration, same barrel length and cylinder capacity, but it felt considerably lighter. In fact, it weighs about the same as my relatively compact Ruger GP 100. It was very controllable shooting and recoil was modest for a 357 Mag. The red dot sight was fun to shoot with, but by the time the end of the project came around, both sight and rail were off and I was shooting through metallic sights. Setting aside the bench and rest shooting, this was a revolver I could shoot well from a standing two hand hold, double action. At 10 yards, 30 feet, it was easy to chew the one inch bullseye out of a target with a cylinder full, with minimal time between shots fired.