The Smith and Wesson .44 Magnum was made famous by Clint Eastwood in his Dirty Harry movies. Dirty Harry carried a Smith and Wesson model 29, “The most powerful handgun in the world”, and it was at that time. My favorite Dirty Harry quote is from the movie Sudden Impact when Harry says to the bad guy “Well, we’re not just gonna let you walk out of here.” The bad guy says “Who’se we sucka?” While slowly drawing his model 29 Harry says: “Smith and Wesson… and me.” He then proceeds to calmly take out all the bad guys.
The .44 Magnum was designed by Elmer Keith and was first produced in 1955. The Magnum is slightly longer than the .44 Special and delivers a large, heavy bullet at high velocity. Firing this powerful handgun produces considerable recoil and muzzle blast which makes rapid follow up shots difficult. It is generally considered to be unsuitable for use by law enforcement.
The Smith and Wesson model 629 is a stainless steel version of the blued model 29. Although I prefer the all stainless 629, the vintage blued classic model 29 is probably more desirable for collectors.
The case of a .44 Special cartridge is approximately 1/8th inch shorter than the Magnum. This allows the 44 Special round to be chambered in a Magnum revolver, but a Magnum round can’t be loaded into a 44 Spl. The Magnum’s longer case length also allows more powder to be loaded that generates higher chamber pressures and higher velocities. The 44 Special is quite less powerful than the Magnum and is easier to shoot. It exerts less strain on the gun and develops less pressure and less recoil which makes it much more pleasant to shoot. The 44 Spl is very close to the .45 ACP in power which so many shooters like. Unfortunately the cost savings of shooting the Special in the 44 Magnum isn’t as much as shooting .38 Special in a .357 magnum. The 44 special is less popular and more expensive.
The trigger on the S&W 629 is typical Smith and Wesson. The double action is smooth and the cylinder clicks into lock giving warning just before the hammer drops. I like to use this idiosyncrasy of the Smith & Wesson trigger to stage the trigger when shooting in double action. The single action is just smooth and crisp and makes the Smith and Wesson Model 629 a pleasure to shoot.
This large frame high-powered revolver has a full length lug under the barrel which adds to the weight and helps somewhat with recoil. The Model 629 is a heavy gun weighing in at 41.5 oz for the 4” barrel version, 39.6 oz for the 2.625” barrel, and 49.7 oz for the 7.5” barrel gun. The weight helps to manage recoil when shooting magnum loads.
Smith and Wesson 629 Specs
- MSRP: $949.00
- Caliber: .44 Magnum and .44 S&W Special
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 4″
- Front Sight: Red Ramp
- Rear Sight: Adjustable White Outline
- Action: Double and Single Action
- Frame Size: Large – Exposed Hammer
- Finish: Satin Stainless
- Overall Length: 9.63″
- Material: Stainless Steel
- Weight Empty: 41.5 oz
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