The Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum.
There was a time when the Model 29 was the most sought after
revolver on the planet. Made of blued steel, polished to
perfection and wearing checkered walnut grips, nestled into a
wooden presentation case, The 29 was the flagship of the Smith
& Wesson fleet, hard to find and priced accordingly. Made
famous by “Dirty
Harry Callahan” on the movie screen, touted by that
character as “The Most Powerful Handgun in The World”, it
did not matter that it was not, it only mattered that folks
perceived it to be so. I remember being a teenage kid, working
after school sacking groceries, about the closest that I could
come to a Model 29 was peering through the glass case at
Grandpa’s Discount Store in Clarksville, Tennessee. In that
huge glass case was a Model 29 resting in its presentation case
for all to observe, but very few were allowed to handle that
sixgun, and there was no need for a broke, pimple-faced kid to
even ask. I did know one guy that owned a Model 29. Hargis
Chadwick had one that he proudly carried when making bank
deposits and such, and he even allowed me to fondle that big
sixgun a time or two, but it would be decades before I ever got
to fire one.
The original Model 29 was improved with a few
upgrades over the years, but eventually went away, replaced by
the stainless Model 629. Many shooters lamented the demise of
the Model 29, but it was discontinued because buyers preferred
the stainless model. Gun makers often receive abuse for
discontinuing certain models, but the fact is, a gun that is
selling well does not get the axe.
Anyway, for whatever reason that the Model 29
disappeared from the lineup for a season, it is back, along with
several others in the Classic Series, like the .357 Magnum Model
27, and the .45 Colt
Model 25 Classic and .44
Special Model 21 Classic that I reviewed a few months ago.
The Model 29 is offered in both four and six and one-half inch
barrel versions, with the gun shown here being the latter. The
six and one-half inch version comes with the same style of
gorgeous walnut grips as did the Model 25, but the Model 29 also
comes with a lined wooden presentation case, which is a nice
touch. The 29 has the excellent S&W adjustable rear and
red-ramp front sight, and also wears a wide, checkered target
hammer and a wide, grooved target trigger. Both parts are
case-hardened, and contrast nicely with the polished blued
finish. The frame is also drilled for a scope mount. This newest
29, designated the 29-10, has all the changes made up through
the years, and is of square-butt configuration like the .44
Magnum 50th Anniversary Model of 2006. Of course, it
has the internal key lock that was introduced in 2001 as the
Model 29-8 150th S&W Anniversary gun.
The test gun is very nicely fitted and
finished. The bluing is flawless. The wooden grips are thin in
comparison to the target grips installed on earlier Model 29
square-butt revolvers, are much superior for shooting heavy
loads, and fit my hand quite well. They extend below the grip
frame about three-quarters of an inch, and wear a checkered
section on each grip half. They fit the frame perfectly, and are
well-matched in color and grain pattern. Smith & Wesson made
an excellent choice in grip design and execution for the Model
The barrel/cylinder gap measured an even five
one-thousandths (.005) of an inch, and the cylinder exhibited no
perceptible end shake, with minimal rotational play at lockup.
The double-action trigger pull measured a butter-smooth ten and
one-quarter pounds, and the single action pull measured a crisp
four pounds even, which was surprising, as it feels more like a
two-pound pull, due to the wide target trigger.
Shooting the Model 29 was a pleasure, as
expected. The big sixgun weighs in at 47.8 ounces, and the
excellent grip design makes the weapon easy to handle and
comfortable to shoot. With magnum loads, you still get the
immediate feedback that you are shooting a .44 Magnum, but there
is no pain involved as can be experienced with a lighter .44
Magnum, such as the Model
329. Every type of ammo tried functioned perfectly, firing
instantly, and ejection of the fired cases was smooth, with no
hang-ups or sticky extraction experienced. My friend Rob Lemke
showed up to help with the shooting of the Model 29. Rob is a
Special Forces type, recently retired, and is a good shot with a
handgun. Like most recently retired Green Berets, he likes
semi-automatic handguns, but he also appreciates the qualities
of a fine revolver, and was well-pleased with the performance of
the Model 29 Classic. We mostly plinked at a steel plate, and
other targets of opportunity like rocks and such. That was the
fun stuff. Later, the mundane chore of trying out the Model 29
for accuracy proved to be rewarding, as the big sixgun exhibited
good accuracy with everything fed it, and excellent accuracy
with some loads. My favorite .44 Special load using the Mt.
Baldy 240 grain Keith bullet would cluster into one and
one-half inches at twenty-five yards from both the Ransom
Machine Rest and from a hand-held rested position.
While bringing back a nostalgic feeling for
the time when most sixguns were made of polished blued steel and
walnut, the Model 29 Classic is also a very practical revolver,
accurate enough for hunting small to medium sized game, and
powerful enough for hunting the big hairy things that fight
Check out the Model 29 and other S&W
products online at www.smith-wesson.com.
For the location of a Smith & Wesson
dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the 29 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
||To buy this gun online, go to:
Our friend Rob Lemke was taken with the Model 29 Classic.
Sights are the familiar, classic Smith & Wesson
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