Smith & Wesson Performance Center 629 Hunter 44 Magnum Revolver

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 14th, 2016


Click pictures for a larger version.









Barrel is drilled and tapped top and bottom for included accessory rails.





Stocks are both beautiful and functional.





Adjustable trigger stop.









The Smith & Wesson Model 629 has been in production for almost forty years now, with subtle changes and improvements made along the way. The current model is the 629-8, indicating the eighth significant change to the 629, which is a stainless steel version of Smith’s Model 29, which is probably the most famous 44 magnum revolver on the planet. The advantages of stainless construction have proven themselves over the past few decades, and while the double-action revolver is not as popular today as are the various polymer-framed semi-automatic pistols, there is still a place for a strong, powerful double-action sixgun, for both hunting and fighting.

The 629 Hunter shown here, as its name reveals, is purpose-built for hunting. Its 44 magnum chambering makes this revolver very useful for hunting game as large as the big bears, if the hunter is up to the task. The 629 Hunter is built in Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center by gunsmiths working under the watchful eye of Tony Miele. The Performance Center is S&W’s factory within a factory, which makes special runs of firearms that are a cut above a standard production gun, and they also do work on customer’s firearms. They built the 629 Hunter for those who want and expect top quality in a hunting revolver.

The 629 Hunter is built upon S&W’s square-butt N-frame, which was their largest revolver frame until the introduction of the massive X-frame a few years ago. The Hunter wears a fluted heavy barrel with an integral shroud for the ejector rod. The bottom of the barrel is drilled and tapped for an included accessory rail, and the top is drilled and tapped for an included sight rail. Also, the top of the frame under the rear sight is drilled and tapped for a scope mount, if desired. However, I think that most who choose to put an optic on this revolver will use the barrel mount, as it is sturdy, and places the optic a bit farther out for better balance and easier use.

Like all Performance Center revolvers, the 629 Hunter is hand-fitted and hand-tuned for optimum performance. The checkered teardrop hammer and smooth-faced trigger are chrome plated, and the latter has an adjustable stop. The rear sight is the familiar S&W fully-adjustable design, and the front is an orange-glow blade, which works pretty well in most ambient light.

The checkered wood grip feels really good in my hand. The stocks are thinner than most N-frame square butt stocks, which helps significantly in controlling the big sixgun under heavy recoil. I fired a wide variety of 44 magnum ammunition, as well as some quality 44 Special ammunition in the 629 Hunter. Recoil was quite manageable with even the heavy Buffalo Bore ammo. Please note that while the Buffalo Bore 44 magnum +P+ 340 grain ammo will fit, do not use that ammunition in any S&W 44 magnum revolver. The other Buffalo Bore 44 magnum ammo will work just fine, but this revolver is not built for the 340 grain +P+ level loads. I include this information, because it is a question that is often asked.

The detailed specifications of the Performance Center 629 Hunter are listed in the chart below. All linear measurements are listed in inches, and the weight is listed in ounces. The revolver’s weight does not include the accessory nor the optics rails. The trigger pulls are listed in pounds of resistance. SA is the single-action trigger pull. DA is the double-action trigger pull. Height includes the sights, set to the intermediate elevation position.

Weight, Empty

50.6 ounces

Barrel Length 8.375 inches
Trigger Pull SA 4.3 pounds
Trigger Pull DA 7.4 pounds
Cylinder Length 1.70 inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.708 inches
Chambers 6
Overall Length 14 inches
Overall Height 6.3 inches
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.005 inch
Ammunition 44 Magnum and 44 Special
MSRP as of May 2016 $1,399.00 US

I fired the 629 for function using a variety of 44 Magnum and 44 Special ammunition. Velocity testing was done at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle. Velocities were recorded at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, and are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Velocity testing was done at a temperature of seventy-eight degrees Fahrenheit, with a relative humidity of fifty-seven percent. I also tested the 629 for accuracy at a distance of twenty-five yards, with the weapon secured into my Ransom Master Series machine rest. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. TAC-XP is a homogenous copper hollow point bullet. LFN is a cast lead flatnose bullet. JFN is a jacketed flatnose bullet. Keith is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. XP is Extreme Penetrator, a homogenous copper specialty bullet from Lehigh Defense. LHP is a lead hollowpoint bullet. Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity




Buffalo Bore TAC-XP 200 1526
Buffalo Bore JHP 180 1705
Buffalo Bore Low Recoil 255 1396
Buffalo Bore Lead Wadcutter 200 1367
Lehigh Defense XP 225 1185
Bruin LFN 295 1227




Buffalo Bore Keith 255 1101
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1059

The 629 Hunter proved to be one hundred percent reliable. There were no failures to fire of any kind, and all ammunition tested ejected easily after firing. The double-action trigger pull is butter-smooth, and the single-action pull is typical S&W perfect. The 629 is match-accurate. This revolver is at home in the field or on the target range. A superb hunting revolver that can double as a target gun or for home defense. Accurate, powerful, reliable, affordable, and made in the USA. What’s not to like about it?

The Model 629 Hunter is in production now. Check out the 629 Hunter and the extensive line of Smith & Wesson Performance Center firearms and accessories online at

To find a Smith & Wesson Performance Center dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Performance Center 629 Hunter online, and have gun dealers in your are compete for your business, click on the GUN GENIE at

To order quality 44 Magnum and 44 Special ammunition online, go to,,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



629 Hunter comes with soft case, instructions, accessory rails, and cable lock.



Internal key lock renders the weapon inoperable, if desired.



Accuracy testing was done with the 629 Hunter secured into a Ransom Master Series machine rest.



The Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 629 Hunter is capable of match-grade accuracy.



Buffalo Bore Anti-Personnel lead wadcutter ammunition.



Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrator ammunition.



Lehigh Defense Extreme Penetrator ammunition, fired into a CroMagnon target.