Shooting the Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver in .44 Magnum

By Lars Dalseide
Lars, along with Glen Hoyer, report on first shots with the Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver.

Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver in .44 Magnum
Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver in .44 Magnum
Lars Dalseide
Lars Dalseide

Boulder City, Nevada, USA –  -(  SHOT Show’s Media Day was a little different. Now before starting with the rumors and speculation just stop. It wasn’t all that different for anyone else … just me. I walked up and down the lanes of the Boulder Rifle & Pistol Club with Glen Hoyer, the director of NRA’s Law Enforcement Division.

Glen’s background in law enforcement provides a unique take on the guns and gear offered up at these events. Questions such as will it work in the field, how many holsters does it fit, is it light enough to work as a backup kept rolling off his tongue.

Only a few of those we took out for a test drive met with his rigorous standards. One was Smith & Wesson’s new 5-shot .44 Magnum revolver.

Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver in .44 Magnum

Loading Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver
Loading Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver

Built on stainless steel cylinder with a stainless steel frame and a two piece barrel, the Smith five-Shot revolver can carry everything from the lightest .44 Special loads to the heaviest of the .44 Magnums. But what makes it unique, for Smith & Wesson at least, is the L-Frame design.

“It’s our first attempt at the l-frame .44 mag,” said company rep Jeff Puckett, at the time. “Everything turned out better than we had hoped. It is an awesome gun.”

Handing his prize to the ever skeptical Hoyer, Puckett stepped back, folded his arms and smiled. “Don’t worry. He’s going to smile after this one.”

A shot later and Puckett was right.

Taking his time with every round, Hoyer emptied the S&W 69 Combat Magnum once, twice and three times. This was something to put on the wish list.

“The L-frame size was just what I hoped for,” Hoyer explained. “They have a relatively compact grip and the recoil is manageable considering it’s a .44 magnum.”

“I would certainly buy one especially as a backup gun on a hunting trip. If you’re packing it on your hip while hunting then the lighter weight is going to be an advantage. Because when you’re in the woods, the less weight the better.”

Puckett and Hoyer filled the next five minutes going back and forth over the specs and performance of the new found favorite. But a quick review of the line, and the anxious patrons waiting for their turn, signaled it was time to go. Just as well.

With all that SHOT has to offer, you can’t afford to get stuck on just one product. What you can do, however, is put it down on the wish list. And that’s exactly where the Smith & Wesson 69 Combat revolver currently resides.

Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver 5 shot cylinder
Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver 5 shot cylinder

About Lars Dalseide

Lars has been with the National Rifle Association for 8 years. Starting in the program side of the association’s Media Relations department, he worked on productions from Discovery Channel, History Channel, and Outdoor Channel while writing for American Rifleman, American Hunter, and NRAblog. Now as a Media Liaison and spokesman for NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, he follows firearm-related policies and legislation for almost 20 states.

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I have about fifteen S&Ws, all revolvers (does S&W make anything else?). I let a several get away from me, unfortunately, to include an original M1917, that I had no choice about selling, very sadly. I have old and new ones, some even with IL. O don’t care for it, but it’s simply not a big issue for me, and they are simple enough to disable if they hurt ones tender feelings so badly. Never had one seize and I have tried to make the do so. I fired the hottest loads through the magnums with ILs, no issues. So… Read more »

Wild Bill

@M2MG, Thank you for your service. I have several S&Ws, but I never understood their model number system. I know that S&W has the J, K, L and N frame, J being the smallest and N the largest but why those designations? What happened to the A, B, and C frames? Can you say a few words about the frame designations and the S&W model numbering system?


Don’t you love it when the guy behind the counter asks you. Why do you want a 300 mag or why a S&W over a Ruger or a Glock!

Samuel Stephens

Why buy a 5 shot when 6 shots and larger calibers are available? Just because something is manufactured by a big brand name, does not automatically make it good and reliable.

JorgeNorberto Pedace

Este arma,es mi milagroso amigo y partner en mis cacerías .Puedo llevar el rifle más potente,pero si no llevo mi 629 en 44 magnum SW,tengo la sensación de que estoy desguarnecido .

James Brigham (Bigg) Bunyon

I always thought the “6” in “629” mean it was stainless steel construction. Now I’m just not sure if that’s still true and now maybe means 6 rounds. If I wanted a five shot .44 Magnum I’d just buy a six shot and keep one chamber empty. But then, the factory box of .44 Magnum ammo I was looking at yesterday was 20 count. That’s four full cylinders for this gun. It it were a six-shooter it’d be 3.3333 full cylinders which obviously is confusing to the S&W design guys.


I’ll never buy another S&W with that POS lock. Why 5 shot revolver instead of 6?


If you want six shots you have to go back to the N frame guns which are noticeably larger and heavier (easier on the hand, though).


This article is a bunch of nothing about this gun. How about some details?

Will Clayton

To bad that ugly, lawyer approved and end user hated internal lock is still present. All Smith & Wesson would need to increase profits and increase customer base is design this flaw out of their revolvers. Everyone I can get to listen will hear about how unsafe and not completely reliable their weapons are. Yes I have had two Smith revolvers tie up on me while shooting because of the lock. If it hasn’t happened to you yet your not shooting enough! Get this trash off of defensive revolvers for good or suffer lackluster sale of your product. Yep I… Read more »


SWEET ! But not much metal left at the outside of the cylinder at each chamber… Not going to take HOT loads for long before splitting the cylinder. I don’t think it will live long with constant shooting of standard .44 mag loads.


The 69 is on my wish list for my hiking and hunting sidearm.