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I have a 29-2 and a 27-2. Older N-frame S&W's are some of the sexiest and slickest revolvers ever made. The only better I would concede them having are some of the Colt revolvers made around the same time.
 

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I've owned a 27-2, a 28-2 and a pre-28 "5-screw". You can't beat the N-frames.
 

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Blued, 6.5" barrel, 'Classic' Model 29 (29-10).

One of my two favorite revolvers... the other being an S&W Model 19! ;)
 

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I have a 29-2, after shooting more than 75+ rounds I'm ready to shoot a different caliber. I'm going to tone down the powder charge to make it more enjoyable.


"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"- Benjamin Franklin
 

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I have a 29-2, after shooting more than 75+ rounds I'm ready to shoot a different caliber. I'm going to tone down the powder charge to make it more enjoyable.



"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety"- Benjamin Franklin

Consider loading for the .44 Special.
 

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If you're new to revolvers, I would strongly suggest that you rent one before buying. Fact is that revolvers don't have a slide cycling to dampen the recoil and even the "lowly" 357 Magnum can be a real eye opener to someone new to wheelguns. Fact is I don't shoot many Magnum ammo due to the cost and the flinch building nature of shooting them. IMO, any 44 caliber revolver is really only a wise choice if you've hit the lottery or do your own reloading, because that ammo trends to be pretty expensive if your buying off the shelf.

As for the model 29, it's a great 44 spl., however it's not now nor never was intended for heavy use of the 44 Magnum. Extensive use of the 44 Magnum will lead to end shake issues developing and the models produced prior to the Endurance Package refinements have issues with the cylinder unlocking during recoil and backing up.
 

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I have a 4" 629 Mountain Gun.

I like it a lot; it's actually fairly comfortable to carry (I load it with .44spl when I do carry it..however, my reloads are full-house .44 mag).
 

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...As for the model 29, it's a great 44 spl., however it's not now nor never was intended for heavy use of the 44 Magnum....
Source for this claim, please.
 

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I have a 629 Classic stainless. Lot's of fun with 240 grain Magnum loads. I also like that I can let new shooters try it with 44 Special light Cowboy loads.
 

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I have one and like it. Mine was scoped and used for deer hunting. It rarely gets shot these days and two cylinder fulls is about all I enjoy. Never loaded .44 special, which would probably be more fun.

CX
 

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Source for this claim, please.
Spend some time over on the S&W forum. Issues with extensive use of full house 44 Magnums are well known and admitted to. Fact is that over on the S&W Forum the consensus is that someone who want's to shoot lots of 44 Magnums should just purchase a Ruger Blackhawk or super Blackhawk.

BTW, there are currently rumors that S&W has working prototypes of the 44 Magnum in the larger X frame and it's a 7 shooter. If it weren't for the mystique of Dirty Harry and his model 29, I expect that the X frame would be the only 44 Magnum made. However, that mystique is what keeps the model 29 and it's siblings in the catalog despite it's weaknesses. BTW, the model 19 also had issues with heavy use of the 357 Magnum and you won't find any K frame 357 Magnums in the current catalog, they've wisely moved that caliber to the L frame which was specifically designed for the 357 Magnum.

There are 2 critical weak points, neither of which present a safety issue in a range setting. However the issues with the cylinder stop dis-engaging during recoil could be a real problem in a Defensive situation.

One weakness is the Yoke tube is basically shared between the K, L, and N frames. The lengths vary but the diameter and wall thicknesses are shared. When you take a yoke tube that was originally designed for the 38 spl. and hammer it with a 44 Magnum it will peen even if it's using modern heat treated steel. Quite simply it just doesn't have enough "bearing area" to stand up to what the 44 Magnum can deliver.

The second weakness is the cylinder stop. Problems with this were so widespread that S&W redesigned the cylinder stop around 1988 in the so called "Endurance Package". Prior to the Endurance package the model 29 had a habit of unlocking the cylinder during recoil, and due to the twist direction of the rifling, the gun would twist in the hand enough to "throw" the cylinder back to the previous position. As a result a pull of the trigger would bring up the casing that had just fired. The solution implemented in the Endurance Package was a stronger cylinder stop spring in combination with longer cylinder stop cuts in the cylinder and a re-profiled cylinder stop. BTW, that did provide a total solution in a well maintained 44 Magnum, let that stop spring get weak due to lack of maintenance and I expect the cylinder will still unlock.

Pre Endurance Package 44 Magnums also tended to beat up the cylinder stops a bit more. However, with any revolver a lot of rapid fire DA shooting will eventually beat up the stop notches so it's really not worthy of consideration. IMO N frames beat up stop notches more than any of the smaller frames simply because the cylinder is larger and heavier. It's simply a product of the design that any owner has to accept and expect if he engages in a lot of rapid fire shooting.

Bottomline, the model 29 and it's siblings are GREAT 44 specials that can tolerate occasional use of the 44 Magnum. I'll also note that in Magnum Force Dirty Harry admitted to using a "light special" in his model 29, so even that movie character knew about the minor weakness of the model 29. BTW, it's not really a safety issue, it's simply a matter of End Shake developing more rapidly than desirable. My impression is that the End Shake will need checking every 1000 rounds and correction in the range of 2000 to 3000 rounds of 44 Magnum fired. Considering that commercial ammo in 44 Magnum runs between 0.80 and 1.00 dollar per round, it means you'll have to have your 1000 dollar handgun serviced for every 1500 to 3000 dollars of Magnum ammunition expended.

PS; I have yet to actually meet a 44 Magnum shooter who only uses that caliber in a S&W. Everyone I've met who has a model 29 or 629 mainly shoots 44 spl. or Magnum casings loaded to 44 spl. equivalent. Fact is that the recoil of the 44 magnum is a bit too stout for the average EXPERIENCED shooter to tolerate more that 20 or 30 rounds in a range session. However, with the 44 spl. it's a joy to shoot, especially in one with a longer barrel.
 

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Spend some time over on the S&W forum. Issues with extensive use of full house 44 Magnums are well known and admitted to. Fact is that over on the S&W Forum the consensus is that someone who want's to shoot lots of 44 Magnums should just purchase a Ruger Blackhawk or super Blackhawk.

...
I used to spend considerable time lurking over at a couple different S&W forums, and don't recall seeing this topic discussed. Perhaps you can point to a couple specific threads?

Boiling down your detailed post to its essence, the post-1988 Model 29s and 629s do not have the issues you describe? The modern (1988 and later) manufacture Model 29 "Classic" can shoot magnum loads 100% of the time?
 

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The later models don't have the problem of the cylinder unlocking during recoil but they are still limited in terms of End shake. Quite simply when the model 29 was designed most owners of Magnum revolvers only actually used Magnums on rare occasions. In the case of the 44 Magnum it was for hunting trips and in preperation for those hunting trips. The rest of the time they were content to use it as a 44 special. So, a design that worked quite well in the 50's and 60's is today a bit marginal.

BTW, End Shake is the total amount the cylinder can move forward and back with the cylinder closed. In a 357 Magnum a total movement of just 0.001 inch is considered acceptable. Once it gets to 0.002-0.003 inch it needs to be corrected because that cylinder can act like a slide hammer and the End Shake will rapidly increase to the point where the cylinder starts smacking the rear of the barrel. On a 44 Magnum with it's heavier cylinder and higher level of recoil, I would consider a total End Shake between 0.0003 and 0.0005 inch to be ideal, BTW, those dimensions are NOT a typo. To reduce the battering it's best to limit the total travel of the cylinder to the point where it's nearly binding because slide hammers need room to slide to do their dirty work.

Some of the same went on in regards to the K frame 357 Magnums. When they were first introduced the standard 357 Magnum was a 158 grain LRN or semi wadcutter. The problems with the K frame didn't start to crop up until the 70's when 125 and 130 grain Rocket loads became a common choice. Then the K frames started splitting forcing cones, which is rather expensive to repair because it requires replacing the barrel. It was this issue that led to the design of the L frame and S&W dropping every 357 Magnum K frame from the catalog later on.

Fortunately, correcting End Shake is much easier. The optimum method for doing this is by stretching the yoke tube using a tool that looks a bit like a tubing cutter. However the common method used by most is to insert a hardened shim of the correct thickness into the bore of the cylinder that the yoke tube bears on. Brownells and various other gunsmithing suppliers carries these shims in their catalog and the shipping usually costs more than the shims.

As I said, it's not a huge issue, however it is an issue that anyone shooting a lot of 44 Magnums in a S&W needs to be aware of and pay attention to. Personally, I find the 44 Magnum to be more punishement that I care to submit myself to even in a 6 or 6 1/2 inch barrel.

I'll also note that I don't currently own a 44, tried one round in a friends 6 1/2 inch 29 and that was enough for me. On the other hand I found 44 spl. in that 29 to be relatively mild and a bit of a hoot. If I ever to pick up a 44, it'll only get fed the specials, I'm not really into beating myself silly. BTW, that same friend tried to talk me into trying is 4 inch 460 and I told him not for 500 bucks. As Dirty Harry said in Magnum Force "a mans gotta know his limitations" and in a Magnum 357 is plenty good enough for me. I'll leave the self abuse to those youngsters with less wrist and hand issues than this old dog. I'll also warn you that before you know it you won't be that 30 year old who thought nothing could hurt him.
 

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I've experienced cylinder back-jump in my 29, but I don't see how it's something worth arguing over. If you're looking to carry a model 29 for heavy use, you have more money than you have sense.

S&W periodically has had to suffer the pitfall of being the first to offer guns for particular calibers. The model 19 suffers gas cutting when fed a steady diet of .357, which was exacerbated by the advent of new loadings beyond the original commercial loading from Winchester.

The Model 29 does have the tendency to suffer from a jumpy cylinder, and I can definitely see where the 27 has its weak points. I just don't see a real need to argue over this anymore than I see a need to argue over weak roll pins in the XD.

This all being said, my model 27 is my favorite gun to shoot, although it's fed a steady diet of 38's instead of 357's because I'm a tightwad like that. I think the large frame does a fine job of absorbing the recoil of the 357, and I have no problem shooting 357 in it all day if my wallet were to allow it. Automatics and revolvers are different beasts. Trying to compare the characteristics of one over the other is a non-starter as far as I'm concerned. As with everything, tradeoffs are made between the two. Accuracy traded for round capacity, caliber choice traded for reduced weight, etc...
 

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my 29 has seen more magnums than specials through it and it has issues to where I won't shoot it right now. Love the gun but I won't argue that they don't like a life of abuse.

.44 Special is an excellent load anyway....and I have a Super Blackhawk hunter if I really wanna have some fun.

That said, if I could only have one gun, it'd be a 4" 29 like the one I have.
 

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The model 29 is a great handgun and very accurate. You can roll a gallon milk jug around at about 250 yards with hand loads. I have the 8 3/4 in barrel and it is the perfect length for hunting or range work. I have shot thousands of full power loads with no problems. It is now 34 years old and is still the most accurate handgun I own. I generally load full power for hunting and lighter loads for range work. The only recoil that I found objectionable was full power 310 grain loads. Hope that helps.
Also most all the 240 jacketed bullets work fine on deer. For big pigs and bear I would use a 240 to 250 grain hard cast bullet. The 300 work well but recoil is harder and your may have to change your sights.
 

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If you only buy one big bore revolver, it should be a prelock M29 or M629. Pure classic elegance in a big bore. If I was reduced to only one handgun period, it would be a M29 or M629. From mice to moose, it can do it all. Even makes an exceptional SD piece w/ reduced loads for DA work. Not much stands upto a 250grLSWCHP @ 900fps.
 

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I have a S&W 29 4" since the 1980s. With full house loads it hurts. Swapping out the factory grips for Hogues helped a bit. But I have whimped out over the years and just shoot a mild 200 grain SWC with a small charge of Bullseye. Which is essentially a 44 Spec. load
 
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