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.

  • 12 thoughts on “Shooting the Smith & Wesson 69 Combat Magnum Revolver in .44 Magnum

    1. 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 that’s that for the IL. In regards to the five rounds for the 69. I have seven j-frames. I love them. Not much more needs to be said for me in regards to a five round capacity. I’m used to autos with hi cap; I’m a retired infantryman of 24 years, and a master gunner. Learn to reload fast or something if that capacity bothers you, but i fail to see the huge difference between six and five rounds. Now, finally, here’s what sold me on the 69. The full size N frames have always been that slight edge of too large for my small hands.mthe K/L is just right and with Kim Ahrends combat finger grooved tactical a perfect fit for my hand. No other grip frame in the enormous number of weapon systems I have used matches my hand like that combination. For me, the 69 with that Ahrends grip is the best fitting and balance of a .44/.45 I have ever owned. I have a Model 22-4 that I love, but not like this 69. It’s a perfect match of weight, balance, barrel length, grip size and finish.

      One last note. I remember the older Rugers, had a very “offensive” deep cut warning etched in them; they still do, but not as bad as yesteryear models. I didn’t care for it either back then, but it never stopped me from buying them. It always amazes me that such a small detail will create such emotional outbursts from people. I guess my years as a soldier taught me to focus on less “aesthetic” issues, and focus on reliability, dependability and longevity. The 69 seems to represent that to me, perhaps not to others.

      1. @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?

    2. 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!

    3. 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.

    4. 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 .

    5. 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.

      1. 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).

    6. 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 do work as a gun counter guy so yes it definitely hurts their sales.

    7. 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.

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