Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Double Action Revolver – Review

Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum

GRAND RAPIDS, MI USA -(Ammoland.com)- When it comes to .44 Magnum, the first gun that most people imagine is the Smith & Wesson Model 29, of course in the hands of Dirty Harry himself. The revolver is a huge part of American pop culture and is instantly recognizable, even to people who aren’t into guns. Today we are going to be taking a look at one of the modern variants of the old Model 29, the new Model 629 in stainless steel.

Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum

Because the .44 Magnum has deep cultural significance to the American shooting public, it has seen constant production since it was first introduced. The cartridge itself is on the upper end of what most shooters consider to be reasonable in terms of recoil and power. While not for everyone, the .44 Magnum has a widespread and loyal following and excellent guns are available at just about every gun shop.

Smith & Wesson has been synonymous with the .44 Magnum from the very start. This latest incarnation features a 4” barrel and is constructed almost entirely out of rugged stainless steel, including the six-round cylinder, which is a big plus for the outdoorsman and enthusiast alike. While not a small gun, the 629 weighs a manageable 41.5 ounces and is not difficult to fire, even for a new shooter.

This latest incarnation features a 4” barrel and is constructed almost entirely out of rugged stainless steel, including the six-round cylinder, which is a big plus for the outdoorsman and enthusiast alike.
This latest incarnation features a 4” barrel and is constructed almost entirely out of rugged stainless steel, including the six-round cylinder, which is a big plus for the outdoorsman and enthusiast alike.

In the course of my testing with this fine revolver, I fired about 500 rounds, most of the full-power variety, and experienced no failures to fire or eject. Only some of the most powerful and heavy loads showed signs of sticky extraction, which itself is the result of the higher pressures generated by the cartridges themselves, not any problem of the revolver itself.

For the accuracy and velocity portion of this review, I fired a number for factory loads over my Oehler 35P chronograph at a distance of five feet from the muzzle. The accuracy and velocity numbers here are the result of three, five shot groups. Accuracy was recorded at 25 yards.

  • Buffalo Bore 270gr JFN .44 Magnum———————-1330fps, 2.5”
  • Buffalo Bore 225gr Barnes XPB .44 Magnum———–1404fps, 1.9”
  • SIG SAUER 240gr .44 Magnum V-Crown——————1213fps, 2.9”
  • SIG SAUER 200gr .44 Special V-Crown——————–808fps, 1.5”
  • Black Hills 240gr JHP .44 Magnum————————-1204fps, 3.3”
  • Black Hills 300gr JHP .44 Magnum————————1015fps, 3.25”
  • Black Hills 160gr HoneyBadger .44 Magnum———–1522fps, 1.5”
  • Black Hills 210gr .44 Special Cowboy———————737fps, 3.5”
  • Black Hills 125gr HoneyBadger .44 Special————-1233fps, 2.0”
  • Hornady 300gr XTP .44 Magnum————————–999fps, 3.75”
  • Hornady 225gr FTX .44 Magnum————————-1320fps, 1.8”
  • Hornady 180gr XTP .44 Special—————————861fps, 3.25”
  • Hornady 165gr Critical Defense .44 Special———–866fps, 3.5”

Overall, this revolver did extremely well with all rounds fired. While not particularly suited to any given bullet weight, the revolver did tend to do better as far as handling with the 240gr full-power loads. It was very easy to shoot with the .44 Special loads, but those rounds are better suited for practice and small game in a gun this size. I do think that the SIG SAUER 200gr .44 Special V-Crown was especially nice, offering high accuracy and low recoil. A shooter new to the gun would be very, very well-served with this round.

While it is far too large a gun to carry on a daily basis for most people, the 629 is perfectly at home in a defensive role during outdoor excursions, being light enough to carry easily, but weighty enough to absorb recoil.
While it is far too large a gun to carry on a daily basis for most people, the 629 is perfectly at home in a defensive role during outdoor excursions, being light enough to carry easily, but weighty enough to absorb recoil.

I noticed in the course of my testing that making follow-up shots at close range was very doable as compared to other .44 revolvers I have tried prior to this. While it is far too large a gun to carry on a daily basis for most people, the 629 is perfectly at home in a defensive role during outdoor excursions, being light enough to carry easily, but weighty enough to absorb recoil. This is a huge consideration because I have recently reviewed guns chambered in .44 Magnum that were either too heavy to be an advantage or too light to control with full-power ammo. This is a perfect balance.

While this is a modern take on an older design, the basic premise of the Model 29 is still valid today. At the time it was first made in the late 1950’s the Model 29 was, although briefly, the most powerful handgun in production. Elmer Keith, a name inseparably linked to the development of the magnum revolver and widely considered the father of big-bore handgunning, designed the .44 Magnum with the idea that it would be used as a sidearm for the hunter and outdoorsman. The 629 I used here is ideal for this role.

The heavy bullet weight and excellent muzzle velocity means that Model 629 is an excellent hunting gun not just as a backup, but as a primary at close distances.
The heavy bullet weight and excellent muzzle velocity means that Model 629 is an excellent hunting gun not just as a backup, but as a primary at close distances.

My impressions of the gun, and its corresponding theory of use, made me realize just how well suited the design is to the environment it was intended for. While I did not take it out bear hunting, it did ride in my chest rig while I was deer hunting and it proved to be a good companion for the field. The heavy bullet weight and excellent muzzle velocity means that Model 629 is an excellent hunting gun not just as a backup, but as a primary at close distances. It should be said that Keith himself landed some hits on a wounded deer at 600 yards using his own Model 29 in .44 Mag, although this is not something that should be attempted today.

I think that, for the right person, the Model 629 is an excellent choice. I can’t think of a better revolver for hard use in the field and I can’t name a better handgun cartridge for all game than the .44 Magnum.
I think that, for the right person, the Model 629 is an excellent choice. I can’t think of a better revolver for hard use in the field and I can’t name a better handgun cartridge for all game than the .44 Magnum.

I think that, for the right person, the Model 629 is an excellent choice. I can’t think of a better revolver for hard use in the field and I can’t name a better handgun cartridge for all game than the .44 Magnum. The range of power available to the .44 bore is hard to deny, and as a result there is lots of room for both the fans of wrist-wrenching loads and the recoil sensitive.

If you think that you may be in the market for a solid, hard-use revolver that is steeped in history and pop culture, look no further than the Model 629. For the shooter with an eye for the classics, Smith & Wesson also makes both a 4” and 6 ½” classic Model 29.

For more on Smith & Wesson go to www.smith-wesson.com. Ammo used in this article can be seen at www.hornady.com, www.sigsauer.com, www.buffalobore.com, and www.black-hills.com.


About Josh WaynerJosh Wayner

Josh Wayner has been writing in the gun industry for five years. He is an active competition shooter with 14 medals from Camp Perry. In addition to firearms-related work, Josh enjoys working with animals and researching conservation projects in his home state of Michigan

  • 32 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Double Action Revolver – Review

    1. My current 629 is a magnaported 3”. I have owned many 29/629 s over the years. Every barrel length up to 6.5”. Always keep 1 or 2 in my inventory.

    2. Living in bear and cougar country, and being interested in keeping my nice pink skin intact, I carry Buffalo Bore +P ammo in my Ruger Super Blackhawk. (I have never tried this round in my S&W 629, but should be safe). This load is a 340 gr. lead bullet that develops 1649 ft. lbs. at the muzzle. Lots of recoil, but lots of peace of mind, too.

    3. No S&W PC Lock Guns ever!!! PLENTY of pre-lock Smiths of all types out there & available for not much more $$$ than the posers…

    4. I’ve got the 629 that is 5″ and it is my absolute favorite. More fun to shoot than any of my other guns.

    5. Excellent article and informative comments. May I inquire of commenters what brand/rig is best for front / ‘chest’ carry of a 61/2″ 629 .44 mag? I run a strong-side holster but would prefer a front chest rig when in bush and getting on & off the motorsickle. Thanks for any recommendations.

        1. Thanks v much Tom for the fast reply. Just went to their site – looks exactly like what I was after. Appreciated!

      1. I have a 629 6” and use a Diamond D Leather chest rig made in Wasilla Alaska and would highly recommend their product.

    6. I have a 629-2 when I bought it it had been fired 48 times by original owner then wrapped and kept up oiled I have a 629-2 8/38 barrel a357-2 never fired it’s on n frame 2 inch barrel a686-4 no lock and other s&w the 357 -2 was used by a lot of soldiers that went in tunnels in vietmam

    7. By the way, just a side note on ammo: for a reloading experience in .44 caliber that is a bit off the beaten track, consider the 44 Russian. Brass and dies are available online. You can have the fun of a full-size .44 that has the felt recoil of a .22LR and is also quite accurate—mostly because it’s so easy to shoot.

    8. I own and have shot many rounds out of my 4″ 629. One caution: Do Not Fire Without Adequate Hearing Protection. It is a noisy combination.

    9. Hey,
      I’ve had 3 44 magnums and want to get a 4th one,but need to know if it would do me as a security detail pistol like a semi auto would ?

      1. You might consider the Smith and Wesson Model 69 .44 Combat Magnum. It is a five shot L-frame revolver. I have one with the 2.75″ barrel which is easy to carry. A four plus inch version is also available.

        1. Ok.Honestly, will it serve me better by doing that than getting a 40 or 45?Honestly, the reason I love the 44 magnum is dual purpose caliber.self defense against 2 legged varmints/hunting? The only thing I get picked on is only having 6 shots and having a revolver?

    10. Ever heard of a Ruger Redhawk? Bigger, stronger, cheaper, full lifetime warranty. When handloading you can take the.45l.c. up past the .44 mag. When it comes to on target living creatures. Not useless paper energy.

    11. I own four S&W guns and I have never had an issue with any of them. Two of them are M&P models while the others are Model 29 44 Magnum ( my Dirty Harry gun), and the last is a S&W Bodyguard 380. I love all my S&W guns. I’m currently looking to buy another 44 Magnum by S&W. The Combat 44 Magnum. I read the extensive review by AmmoLand. I feel confident that this will be a good decision based on that.

    12. Good article. I carry my 6″ 629-3 in the backwoods almost daily, for 20 years now…it is the perfect “field gun” from deer to ight handloads for even small game and varmints. Mine is wickedly accurate, and I suspect even your accuracy would be cut in half if you had some time to play with it. Even though it is an icon, I still feel it is underrated as a practical firearm. Its like a small rifle. My neighbor scoped his 8″ 629 and dropped three deer with it in one day. It is legal in most of the 50 states as well. I had a grizz walk around my tent in Wyoming at night…never had to shoot, but after seeing its shadow move across the tent wall in the moonlight, I was sure glad I had it along!

    13. I’ve been collecting 29s and 629s for almost 40 years, have 49 of them and they’re all different.they are works of art compaird to the stuff that their making today! Gary of wis.

    14. I’ve got numerous model 29’s & 629’s, all early model, pre-lock 29-2’s & 29-3’s. My absolute favorite is my Lew Horton 1 of 5000 blued M29 with the 3″ barrel. An absolutely stunning wheel gun. I will NEVER by any firearm, S&W or otherwise, that has that asinine “lock” that the current crop of Smith’s seem to come equipped with. For not much more than current day MSRP for a “lock” gun, you can find all kinds of very nice early M29’s & M629’s. And if you come across a Lew Horton M29 3″ er , grab that sucker!!!

    15. Awesome handgun. I let one get away (6 1/2″ bbl.) in a fit of pure stupidity. Have it’s twin brother now and sleep better at night. This new iteration looks really, really interesting…..hmm.

    16. I just love my two: 629 Deluxe 3″ and a 6″ 629-6. Both have the accursed lock (which has never been a problem in any way to me) and both are fabulous guns. The 3″ is a bit harsh with full power loads, but I bought it as a 6 round .44 Special gun anyway and for that it’s superb. In fact, I was so impressed with my first S&W revolver, the 629-6, I bought a couple more: 625JM and 617 4″.

    17. That is a fine revolver-except for the Clinton hole on the left side. I have personally experienced a Smith and Wesson lockup due to this ridiculous addition. Until it is done away with I will continue to keep my money firmly in my wallet and advise everyone I can get to listen to do the same. Do not trust your life to a proven unreliable gun. You should do a little research before fawning over every new gun you come across, you will get someone killed with your uninformed advice.

      1. @ Shotgunslayer We who aren’t afraid to buy the guns with locks appreciate you helping us out by letting the ones you don’t buy stay in inventory and available. As to the locks being a life threatening situation, methinks you’re a bit uninformed but that’s your right. Considering the numbers of them “in the wild” vs. the number of original complaints you read on the internet (and we all know about “internet truths”), the percentage of malfunctions is extremely small. In fact, you’re more likely to be struck by lightning than suffer a S&W lock malfunction. My advice to you is to take your own advice and “do a little research” on that one.

        1. And if the locks really bother you any experience gun Smith can remove the lock. I’ve had at least 15 629s and Classic model 29s. I’ve never had even a hiccup. They all shoot perfectly. And they won’t kill you if you drop your revolver with a round in the chamber like the old guns with the firing pin built on to the hammer. I personally love all Smith and Wesson revolvers old and new. Their semi auto m and p guns are junk. I wouldn’t even use one to pistol whip someone. But if you think my 629 44mag is junk then kick my door in and we’ll find out

        2. You sir are a simple minded idiot. I clearly say that I have experienced the lock up. No internet myth here. You can try to justify you ill concived purchase with no research to yourself all you want but don’t try to push it on those of us who are actually in the know and are aware of the problem. YOU CANNOT FIX STUPID! Why pay a gunsmith or remove it myself- something that shouldn’t be there in the first place. Liberals are destroying my country!

          1. BooYah! You clearly did indeed state you had personally experienced the unintended Hillary hole lockup but somehow that got missed completely in the reply to you. A lot of folks still stayin away from Hillary holes on S&Ws.

            The other thing (Bigg) Bunyan said that I didn’t quite get is the comment asking you, shotgunslayer, to leave the rifles with the Hillary hole in inventory and buy them. . . .

    18. Looks like this revolver has a satin finish? Hope so. Certainly would NOT buy it if it had a matte/brushed finish.

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