.44 Magnum is probably not the first caliber that comes to mind when one thinks of snubnose revolvers. After looking at these beauties, you may change your mind. And, after all, if you’ve only got six shots, why not make it a howitzer?
The Model 629 is the stainless version of the Model 29 .44 Magnum. Usually, when a Smith & Wesson model starts with a “6” it means that it’s a stainless version of a model. Introduced in 1955, the Model 29 achieved legendary status as Dirty Harry’s “Make my day” gun in the Dirty Harry series of movies. All of those great scenes like, “I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself a question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk? “ were shot with a Model 29. For nearly fifty years, the Model 29 retained its crown as “the most powerful handgun in the world.”
The stainless model 629 was introduced in 1979 with a 6″ barrel. There are rare 5″ and 8 3/8″ prototypes built at that time, but the 5″ and 8 3/8″ versions didn’t go into production until 1981. The 3″ barreled snubnose version was begun in 1985 as the Model 629-1 Combat Magnum. A special run of 5,000 was done for Lew Horton Distributing. Unfortunately, they are no longer in regular production, but they can still be special ordered from Smith & Wesson’s Performance Center, but they don’t even quote a price on their web site if that tells you anything.
The Model 629 weighs 39 ounces empty, the same weight as a Government Model .45 automatic. It’s a large, beautiful N-frame revolver. When you fill your hand with one of these, you know you have a serious revolver in your hand. If the .44 Magnum is too much of a load for regular shooting, you can also run .44 Special through these guns. I am of the opinion that the .44 Special is an under-appreciated self-defense round. Its ballistics are very close to the .45 ACP.
The Model 629 gives up one of the great assets of the standard snubnose: the lightweight conceal-ability of the j-frame and similar snubs. In doing so, it gains the formidable stopping power of the .44 Magnum that will easily deal with a bear or wild pig. Stoked with .44 Special hollowpoint ammunition, it becomes a highly effective personal defense handgun.