Is the Smith & Wesson model 29 too fragile for .44 Mag?


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Min
September 20, 2008, 01:19 AM
I have one of the older versions, 29-2. It is blued, pinned and recessed, and has a 6" barrel. I don't shoot it hardly at all but it seems to be the gun is not as beefy as a Ruger Redhawk. I don't think the 29-2 will hold up to a steady diet of hot .44 Mag loads, that eventually it will rattle and loosen. But maybe I'm wrong and that the 29 can take as much as the Ruger.

What is your opinion on this?

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wideym
September 20, 2008, 01:24 AM
I've put over 800 rounds of factory .44mags through my M29-2 and have yet to see or feel any looseness of the barrel, cylinder, frame, or any other parts with the exception of the mainspring tension screw. That was probably because it wasn't tightened to begin with.

Rugers may be more beefier, but the M29 is just as strong and lighter to boot.

.38 Special
September 20, 2008, 01:31 AM
You can definitely shoot an older Smith loose with full-house Magnums. Of course, these days "hot" can mean all sorts of things, up to and including loads that create small mushroom clouds and fallout. I personally would not shoot the 300+ grain "max" loads out of an older Smith. These loads are really meant for the massive Ruger Super Redhawks, Bisleys, etc. and while they're not going to cause catastrophic failure in the 29, they are going to loosen it up pretty quickly, IMO.

So -- again IMO -- the 240 grain lead bullet at 1400 FPS or so is the "full power" load for older 29s, and those guns should be able to stand up to a couple of thousand rounds before needing a gunsmith's attention.

HTH!

Majic
September 20, 2008, 01:49 AM
Rugers may be more beefier, but the M29 is just as strong and lighter to boot.
If the older M29s were just as strong then why did the factory develop the Endurance Package? The modification was so named because the older M29s wasn't holding up to a steady diet of the heavier recoiling loads.

wideym
September 20, 2008, 01:59 AM
Not really sure about the Endurance Package. It could just be they wanted the sales pitch of over-enginnering like Ruger. Like I've stated I've put 800 rounds of Magtech through my 29-2 in the last 8 months or so and I bought it used to begin with.

Majic
September 20, 2008, 02:29 AM
It wasn't over engineering, but an attempt to beef up the M29 where it was failing against the other .44 magnum revolvers. The M29 was shooting loose, developing endshake, and the cylinders were unlocking under the heavy recoiling loads. The silhoulette shooters back in the 1970s and 1980s discovered the weakness and quite a few M29s were sent back to the factory for rebuild jobs. Smith decided to address the problems and the Endurance Package was developed starting with the M29-3E. Now stick with the 240 grain loads and the M29 will last forever, but use a lot of the heavy bullet loads loaded to max velocity and it will need a trip to the doctor. Don't forget the N-frame was developed for the .44 spl and only beefed up slightly for the magnum when it was developed. I have 5 screw .44 Magnum that has seen her share of magnum loads but only the 240 grainers. I'm not about to stress a grand old lady like her.

.38 Special
September 20, 2008, 02:43 AM
Now stick with the 240 grain loads and the M29 will last forever...

Elmer Keith and Ross Seyfried both wrote of destroying 29s with the "standard" 240 grain load. They, of course, tended to shoot a bit more than most folks...

Snapping Twig
September 20, 2008, 02:49 AM
You can safely shoot ANY .44 mag load (SAAMI pressure approved) in a 29 of any vintage.

You get into trouble when you go for the +P stuff intended for Ruger/TC.

Any weight bullet is OK if the pressure does not exceed SAAMI pressures.

I shoot a 265g cast bullet @ 1200fps through mine (several) and I've shot in excess of 5000 rounds through each of my 29's and 629's - not a hiccup of wear.

Jst1mr
September 20, 2008, 02:52 AM
Elmer and Ross's "standard" loads were significantly hotter than today's 240gr loads...

.38 Special
September 20, 2008, 03:02 AM
Not at all. In fact, Elmer claimed that the factories overloaded the .44 and that they would be wise to back it down a bit. Both Keith and Seyfried handloaded the 240 to 1400 FPS.

SaxonPig
September 20, 2008, 09:56 AM
Factory loads fall short of 1400. The original 44 ammo was advertised at 1510 but that optimistic. About 1350-1380 is where most factory 240 ammo shoots.

The N frame was designed around the 44 Special. The 44 Magnum does beat it up pretty badly with extended use.

Stainz
September 20, 2008, 11:25 AM
The 'Endurance Package' came out long after the 29-2... but your revolver should be fine for a lifetime of hunting, which is what it was designed for. Use it with commercial .44 magnum ammo, and it will be fine. Hunting use involves some familiarization shooting - but other than that, hunting, unless it's Zombies, will require little use.

Now, plink away with the .44 Specials - or even .44 Russians - just clean those chambers before going back to Magnums. If it's a 29-4 or later - or a 629-3 in SS - it will have the 'Endurance package', offering even more insurance of a long life with standard .44 Magnum fare.

If you are afraid that you might be tempted to damage your earlier model 29/629, please feel free to ship it to me postage/transfer paid - I will give it a proper home. I'll also shoot the crap out of it, but I'll lovingly clean it afterwards. You are welcome! I know, benevolence can be a character flaw, but, I feel I must make the offer!

TFIC.

Stainz

MCgunner
September 20, 2008, 01:02 PM
A 29 with full house hot reload magnums is a bit like a K frame 19 with hot .357s. I'd tread easy on the gun, shoot lighter loads in it for practice, use the hot stuff sparingly. No possible way the 29 can match the Redhawk for strength. Hell, what is an Alaskan, but a 5 shot Redhawk? Okay, maybe it's beefed up a little. But, a Redhawk in .45 Colt can be loaded to the same levels as a Blackhawk, would be really rough on an N frame .45 Colt. That right there should tell ya something about relative strength between the two.

So the 29 is lighter? You carrying the thing concealed? Why is lighter better in a hunting revolver? Put scopes on 'em and they're both heavy. Me, my hunting handgun is a contender. I don't mess around with puny .44s. :D

harmonic
September 20, 2008, 01:13 PM
I've been collecting and shooting Smiths for about 30 years. My personal experience is that they will "loosen" after a while. By "loosen" I mean, when you do the standard test to determine cylinder play, my new Smiths were tight. No movement. After one or two thousand rounds, there is some "play." Not enough to warrant concern, but it's obvious.

Some of the hype about Smiths shooting loose isn't necessarily due to factory pressures. The 'N' frame cylinder is really beefy. There's a lot of weight there and in repeated double action shooting, the cylinder's rotation is stopped by a small piece of metal called a "hand."

After awhile, the cylinder stop (that little indentation on the outside of each cylinder) and the hand can get pretty well battered. It creates what is known as "timing" problems.

Other than that, the Smith design is overall weaker than Ruger.

SlamFire1
September 20, 2008, 01:43 PM
I read one thread on the S&W forums and the poster sounded intelligent and knowledgable.

He had shot loose “endurance” mod S&W’s. Basically he claimed the endurance mods had improved the package, but overall the gun has not changed much since 1908 (or so). And I think he is right.

The general trend of the thread was that if you were firing something like 5000 rounds a year, and shooting heavy bullets (like 300 grain) you should expect the pistol to loosen up.

I have a M629-4, which has the hammer mounted firing pin. This was made just as the endurance mods were kicking in.

I doubt I have fired 5000 rounds total in the thing. Most of the rounds have been 1000 fps 240 LSWC, or 1200 fps 240 LSWC. Until I got the new S&W grips, the pistol was just unpleasant to shoot with full house magnums.

My 629 is still quite tight, and exceptionally accurate. I don’t plan on ever shooting the big bullets through it, and I hope it will last through my lifetime without ever having to send it to the factory.

So for you, with a pre endurance mod pistol, I think you can shoot ten of thousands of 44 Spl equivalent loads (like 240 LSWC 8.5 grains Unique) without any trouble. As for shooting full power magnums, I would shoot them occasionally. 20 rounds, 40 rounds, sighting in for hunting, won’t hurt the pistol. I would never shoot 300 grain stuff as I do believe that is hard on an N frame, and harder still on older N frames.

If you want something to shoot hottest 44 Magnums till you have elbow problems, go buy a Ruger. The Redhawk and the SuperRedhawk are for those want tendinitis in their wrists and elbows. Fun, fun, fun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tendinitis

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v479/SlamFire/Smith%20and%20Wesson%20Pistols/HogueXgriponM629-4sideviewDSCN6334.jpg

Darkness
September 20, 2008, 02:15 PM
Long ago I had a 29-2 and shot hot handloads through it all the time. I eventually shot it enough that it darn near fell apart and I went and traded it in for a M29 Classic Hunter with the unfluted cylinder. I forget what dash it was. This was an even trade at the gun shop, and long before the internet, btw, so I figured it was a good deal to trade a M29 that sounded like a baby rattle when shook for an almost new M29 with the cool unfluted cylinder. Eh, I still think it was a good trade, but I no longer have the Classic Hunter, so who knows.

Anyway, the point is, with enough shooting, the old 29s (at least my old one) will shoot loose.

Stainz
September 20, 2008, 06:13 PM
SF1,

Your 629-4 is '93 or newer, with the -5's easily distinguished, as they started in '97 - and had no serrations on the backstrap. The frame-mounted fp was started, as was the use of the MIM hammer and trigger with the -5. They were also the first to be drilled and tapped under the rear sight for a scope base. As the 'Endurance Package' began in the -2E series, your's should be fine - even has the longer notches.

I've shot 300gr LSWCs at 820-900 fps from my 629MG and 6" 629-6. They are stout, but nothing, recoil-wise, like the 180gr UMC SJHPs - those nasties make 1650+ fps - some report 1800 fps - they get your attention. The .500 Magnum grips help.

I had a 7.5" .454 SRH for years - I guess I got my fill of big blasters - my idea of .44 magnums today mainly runs in the 240gr LSWC @ 820-900 fps range, which would be embarassing to Mr. Keith. Still, I also enjoy blasting away with those same bullets in .44 Russian cases - making 700-750 fps - real ferret flatulance, but it starts over 'major power factor', as hard as that is to believe for the shooter. An early 29 would last a lifetime or two, while my current production 629s will last even longer, under such mild use.

Now, what if your 29/629 gets 'loose'? What wears? The cylinder, yoke, and hand are prime wear items under heavy use. Really heavy use can reportedly 'stretch' the frame, which is a deal-ender. The rest can be serviced - even a bulged round from blasting a stuck bullet through it. S&W, unlike Colt, seems to have some parts. Enjoy your 29 & 629 - with proper ammo.

Stainz

Stainz
September 20, 2008, 07:39 PM
http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/content/community/gun_inventory/inventory/lehi/handgun/968264_sw44of no handgun came up for me!

Stainz

machinisttx
September 20, 2008, 10:41 PM
The silhoulette shooters back in the 1970s and 1980s discovered the weakness and quite a few M29s were sent back to the factory for rebuild jobs

They discovered weaknesses because they were shooting loads the gun was never meant to handle.

You can only push a mechanical device so far before you find flaws---particularly when you're using it in a way it was never designed to be used.

Majic
September 21, 2008, 04:15 AM
Thats true Machinisttx but also that is what I was saying. The other .44s used by the silhoulette shooters were holding up just fine. The Dan Wessons ruled the roost till the Freedom Arms came about. The Seville could hold it's own and the Red Hawk was just coming out but like the SA Rugers the needed accuracy wasn't there. It became apparent that the N-frame was beefed up for the magnum and not designed for it. As others have pointed out even the older .44 magnum 240 grainers, which were way hotter than what we have today, would loosen the Smith up. Smith dropped the ball there as I guess they didn't consider the amount of recoil the revolvers would have to tolerate. They could also have been rushing as it was known that Ruger was busy trying to put out the Blackhawk in .44 magnum.
The 'N' frame cylinder is really beefy. There's a lot of weight there and in repeated double action shooting, the cylinder's rotation is stopped by a small piece of metal called a "hand."
Just minor confusion as the hands move faster than the mind (I do it all the time :D). The hand rotates the cylinder and the cylinder stop pops up into the cylinder notch to stop the rotation. Its the fast double action shooting like todays games that causes wear to the stop and peens the notches. The very same problem that is the real basis for the Colt and particular the Python stories about timing.

rondog
September 21, 2008, 04:28 AM
Does this look "fragile" to you, punk?

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b150/rinselman/guns/DirtyHarry.jpg

Master Blaster
September 21, 2008, 12:33 PM
No, as long as you shoot SAAMI spec loads it will outlive you and your wrist joints.

BTW I just recieved a copy of Elmer Keith's 1961 book, In it he mentions that his load was 16.5 grains of 2400 under a 240 lswc this was his +P 44 special load. He claims to have taken any Noth American Game with this load, Bears, elk etc.

My Lyman Pistol Manual 2005, starts at 16 grains of 2400 and goes up to 20 grains of 2400 with the Lead SWC in .44 magnum.

Part of this Smith wearing out stuff is due to insane overloads with heavy bullets. Another part is the tendancy to shoot Smiths DA in gun games, but Ruger redhawks and Black Hawks SA. DA puts more wear on the hand so a 629 may go out of time before a Redhawk or a Blackhawk because it is shot DA more often.

Lastly I have several Reloading manuals. They all seem to say Black Hawk, Super Black hawk, and contender for the super heavy loads.
None of them recommend the DA Redhawk for the super potent barnburner rounds.

But Carry - on....

Z71
September 21, 2008, 12:53 PM
Design a cartridge, put it on the market, and someone will be along to overload it!

During my LEO days, a fellow officer had a 4" model 29. The guy was also a reloader that tended to believe "more is better".

While doing some recreational range time, the fellow officer managed to bulge a chamber on his Model 29 with his carefully overloaded .44 magnums!

This was also the same guy that managed to get Glocks banned right off the bat because he had two negligent discharges he claimed were caused by the G17 being defective!

I've never been able to bust a .44 mag revolver, and never had a accidental disharge with a Glock. However it is more than possible with the right mindset.

vanilla_gorilla
September 22, 2008, 01:27 AM
I've shot 300gr LSWCs at 820-900 fps from my 629MG and 6" 629-6. They are stout, but nothing, recoil-wise, like the 180gr UMC SJHPs - those nasties make 1650+ fps - some report 1800 fps - they get your attention. The .500 Magnum grips help.

Hoo boy! You ain't joking. I ran some through my new 29 last week and promptly tore a gash in the web of my hand from recoil combined with poorly fitting grips. Them'll put a flinch in ya! Somebody starts shooting better than me on the range, and they'll fix that too. LOUD! :D

evan price
September 22, 2008, 02:40 AM
MasterBlaster: I think the one to consider here would be the Super Redhawk. Talk about overbuilt. I'd bet it can handle anything the Blackhawk/SBH could handle.

Stainz
September 22, 2008, 07:44 AM
I believe the early Redhawks in .44 Magnum had a barrel/frame connection problem, causing them to loosen their barrels. Some, reportedly, would come off while shooting. Ruger came out with an improved version, with a frame snout sufficiently large to take proper threading - and an unlugged larger OD barrel to match - the Super Redhawk. Meanwhile, they changed their manufacturing processes to enhance the barrel connection of the Redhawk and kept it in the line due to the outcry of 'traditionalists'. The SRH is an acquired taste. The larger components of the SRH permitted, with a metal change, the .454 Casull and .480 Ruger to be made. My .454 SRH, a techno-ugo, is the only Ruger I've owned that I really miss.

I am not a fan of over-powering a round beyond SAAMI spec's. It seems dangerous and somewhat silly. If you need more oomph, there are more stout calibers to move to. The chance of accidently shooting said 'specially made' rounds in a 'regular' firearm is always there.

Stainz

Master Blaster
September 22, 2008, 08:50 AM
I am not a fan of over-powering a round beyond SAAMI spec's. It seems dangerous and somewhat silly. If you need more oomph, there are more stout calibers to move to. The chance of accidently shooting said 'specially made' rounds in a 'regular' firearm is always there.



There is a reason why they make rifles too. For me anything over a standard .44 magnum goes into a shoulder fired weapon. I can take advantage of the power better and shoot more accurately for much longer ranges with a rifle than I can with any handgun. This year I will be 47, Wear and tear on the wrists has become noticable, its the cumulative effect you have to really worry about.

JMHO YMMV

gizamo
September 22, 2008, 07:09 PM
Intended use comes to mind. I wince everytime I see someone shootin full house magnums and all they'll ever do with the gun is punch paper. I think the Model 29 really shines with some reduced loads. A SWC at 240 grains with 7.9 grains of Unique is a pretty accurate load. And the hammering on the gun and the shooter is much reduced:)

giz

lonegunman
September 22, 2008, 11:24 PM
I have always thought a forged frame, well made revolver like a S&W was more than a match for a cast metal gun like a Ruger in the longevity department.

Loading 300grain bullets at the top of the saami spec actually makes a pretty miserable amount of recoil. If you need a handgun with 2000ft.lbs. you might as well buy a rifle.

S&Wfan
September 26, 2008, 11:44 PM
I've got a late 1989 Model 29-5 (which has the Endurance Package) and I've taken scores of deer with this wonderful handgun through the years.

No, I do not use 240 grain bullets either . . . I've found incredible results with the 300 grain hard cast lead flat point bullets called "Castcore" by Federal. It's a hard kicking load with wonderful accuracy and one stop kills.

Even with this stouter load, my 29-5 has remained tight and super-accurate. I suspect the tool (gun) will outlast me!!!

I like it a LOT better than my Ruger Super Blackhawk 3-screw I once used for hunting deer. I find the Super Redhawk and Redhawk bigger and heavier than needed for my intended purpose.

For hunting, form and function are both important for me . . . and the sleeker, lighter Smith wins the day when toting it around all day long vs. the heavy Rugers.

THE REAL DEAL BREAKER . . .

Nothing is as important in a hunting handgun than an incredible trigger . . . and you can't beat a Smith trigger!!!

I could NOT be happier with my 29-5!

http://216.77.188.54/coDataImages/p/Groups/246/246167/folders/183771/2078646Piebaldand29.b.JPG

T.

deanodog
September 28, 2008, 12:17 PM
I tried to trade to a model 29 nickel plated 4 inch but upon examination I found it to be loose with end play and turned away. I have owned Ruger blackhawks before and never shot one loose but it was not as nice as a S&W.

docmagnum357
September 28, 2008, 05:01 PM
I daily carry my 6.5 "629-4. I use 310 grain Lee cast bullet, of wheelweight alloy, lubed with home made lube. They will shoot into one hole at twenty five yards, and are very decisive in punch. They will put a vitally hit deer down pronto. I load them to 1100 feet per second wth 2400 or imr 4227 powder, and recoil an muzzle blast are really mild, in my opinion. Much milder than 180 grain top loads. I also have a pre model 29, 4" that I sometimes carry in a shoulder holster as a second gun. I am not afraid of this load in this gun, but I have it sighted for 240 grain Keith bullets at 1200 feet per second.

You really don't need top published loads to kill even an elk, much less deer or self defense type shooting. A good flat point bullet will shoot all the way thru any north american game broadside, and they will bleed out quick. All the extra 200 feet per second or so that you can get at maximun pressure will do is hurt your hand, make more noise, use more powder, wear out your gun faster, and give you thirty or forty more yards of point blank range. I ABHOR telescopic sights on a revolver, so I am limited to about 100 yards under ideal conditions anyway. The extra velocity just isn't a factor even at that range.

My advice? use starting loads of slow burning powder, or one or two graduations above that. Maximum loads really don't help much, and they hurt a lot of things. Shoot softly, but shoot a big bullet.

Beagle-zebub
September 30, 2008, 02:10 AM
Hell, what is an Alaskan, but a 5 shot Redhawk? Okay, maybe it's beefed up a little.

My understanding is that it is a Super Redhawk with a barrel that doesn't extend past that shroud extending from the frame.

evan price
September 30, 2008, 03:27 AM
My understanding is that it is a Super Redhawk, without the barrel added.

Pure Kustom
September 30, 2008, 04:04 AM
Factory loads fall short of 1400. The original 44 ammo was advertised at 1510 but that optimistic. About 1350-1380 is where most factory 240 ammo shoots.

The N frame was designed around the 44 Special. The 44 Magnum does beat it up pretty badly with extended use.


Huh? I have shot a few rounds through my .44's around 50 at a time.

240GR SWC at 1500 to 1700 fps. and 180GR FMJ's at 1806 fps. Is that an accident waiting to happen?:eek:

Smaug
September 30, 2008, 12:01 PM
My 29-3 shot loose with 240 gr. magnum loadings, and not after hundreds of rounds. After dozens.

But it was not shooting loose like some folks here describe. It was just the frame screws backing out.

I sold it a while ago for an unrelated reason and bought a Ruger Redhawk. I hope it won't shoot loose too. I like to shoot between 1/2 and 1 box of magnums every time I take it out, and a couple boxes of Specials.

Marshall
September 30, 2008, 12:23 PM
Why do you need super hot .44 mag rounds? I can't find much of anything that I can't kill with off the shelf .44 Mag ammo offerings.

Smaug
September 30, 2008, 03:20 PM
Marshall, they shake loose even with off-the-shelf magnums.

Marshall
September 30, 2008, 06:13 PM
Marshall, they shake loose even with off-the-shelf magnums.

That doesn't answer my question to the original poster but thank you for offering your opinion whether it's correct or not.

Deanimator
October 1, 2008, 03:17 PM
S&W, unlike Colt, seems to have some parts.
SOME, but NOT barrels, at least for 29-2s. A couple of years ago, they ruined a 4" barrel on my 29-2 doing a set back and forcing cone recut. They had NO barrels. I had to hunt for one on the internet. Nobody had one in like-new condition. I ended up buying two just to be safe. The first one they rejected as having been set back too many times. They used the second, which had some surface blemishes. Ended up having to have the whole gun refinished.

Beagle-zebub
October 1, 2008, 04:22 PM
Why do you need super hot .44 mag rounds? I can't find much of anything that I can't kill with off the shelf .44 Mag ammo offerings.

Silhouette shooting, I think. Those were the guys who were shooting their 29s out.

jjohnson
October 1, 2008, 04:45 PM
Oh, the 29 was made to handle .44 Magnum all the way up to the top end of SAAMI specifications for it. It's not "fragile."

By comparison, well, yes, the Rugers can handle more. They were designed and built with more "fudge factor" than the Smith. :what:

I wouldn't hesitate to shoot any factory ammo in the 29, even the hotter stuff, though it might be unpleasant. The Ruger will take more of a beating for a longer time before anything starts to get loose, and that applies to Redhawks and Blackhawks alike, but be fair to the 29 - it will take more of a beating with full power .44 mag loads than most of us humans really like to endure. If you can shoot one into submission, more power to you.:what:

.38 Special
October 1, 2008, 08:06 PM
That doesn't answer my question to the original poster but thank you for offering your opinion whether it's correct or not.

"...and the horse you rode in on!"

Marshall
October 1, 2008, 11:42 PM
"...and the horse you rode in on!"

Let me think....hmmm....no....think I'll pass. But since you offered, the horse might take you up on it. Just a sec, let me check.........no, you're out of luck, he turned you down too.

Jeff F
October 2, 2008, 12:57 AM
I had a 6 in 629 that I put in the neighborhood of 10,000 rounds through. It went back to S&W two times to be tightened up. They are a good gun and will last a long time.

JR47
October 2, 2008, 09:16 AM
My 29-4 developed obvious end-play in less than 500 rounds of MagTech 240 gr. ammo. I bought a case of it. The gun was bought from a S&W collector, and had no ring around the face of the cylinder, nor around the cylinder, so it hadn't been fired much, if at all.

I simply had it tightened back up by S&W, and now fire mostly .44 Specials through it. For magnum work, I have a Super Blackhawk, and a Super Redhawk. Those cast frames just eat up what the forged S&W choked on.

There will always be stronger and weaker guns produced. Not by design, but within the same group. Tolerances stack both ways.

FYI, the first Super Redhawks did have a barrel problem. It wasn't the lack of metal near the frame junction, it turned out to be a chemical reaction to the thread-locking compound that they were using. S&W K-frames had a problem with several run's barrels doing a vanishing act during qualifying with prison guards. IIRC, S&W X-frame revolvers also had a problem with barrels cracking at the frame/barrel juncture as well.

Master Blaster
October 2, 2008, 09:28 AM
SOME, but NOT barrels, at least for 29-2s. A couple of years ago, they ruined a 4" barrel on my 29-2 doing a set back and forcing cone recut.

You mean they put a 1/8" long cosmetic scratch on the outside of it?? And you insisted they replace the barrel???

tinygnat219
October 2, 2008, 11:42 AM
I have one of the older versions, 29-2. It is blued, pinned and recessed, and has a 6" barrel. I don't shoot it hardly at all but it seems to be the gun is not as beefy as a Ruger Redhawk. I don't think the 29-2 will hold up to a steady diet of hot .44 Mag loads, that eventually it will rattle and loosen. But maybe I'm wrong and that the 29 can take as much as the Ruger.

You should be fine shooting full loads through it. Although with any older gun, I'd take it to a Gunsmith to see what, if any, faults there are with the gun. I can't tell from your post if this is a new acquisition for you, or if it's something that you have had for a while. If nothing else, just ensure that your screws are tight and have fun.

What is your opinion on this?
I think the Ruger Redhawk is the beefiest gun on the market for .44 Magnum. I had a Ruger Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter in .44 Mag. That thing was a tank, more solid than any other revolver I have owned before or since. The Redhawks I have handled seem to be made in that same vein. However, since S&W was the manufacturer that started the .44 Mag craze, I think you should be ok shooting full loads through it.

19-3Ben
October 2, 2008, 12:03 PM
I daily carry my 6.5 "629-4.

:what:
'Spectin' trouble?

dbriannelson
October 3, 2008, 09:38 PM
From about 1988 to 1990 I put over 5000 Keith loads through my 629-1. I thought those were pretty kickin' loads. But in fact they were significantly under the max loads of 23.4 grains of 2400 in the Lyman book of that era.

Fear of liability has brought factory ammo way down from its early energy and jacketed bullet makers now make bullets that are undersized to reduce pressures, also because of possible legal liability.

Five thousand rounds is way less than a revolver might see in the hands of a dedicated silhouette shooter, but it's more than most revolvers see in their lifetimes. Finally, this year, I decided to tighten it up a little. After fixing a couple thousandths of end shake, it's now got a gap of 0.006" and locks up quite smartly. I'll replace the hand and maybe the cylinder lock eventually.

You can shoot any factory ammo marked ".44 Magnum" for a long, long time before you'll have a problem with the early S&Ws (because modern factory loads are stepped down the original ones). And you can load them using appropriate cautions up to the maximum (using appropriate cautions!!) that the loading books allow. And they still will be under the pressures they were designed for.

As far as the lengthened locking slots go, I've never experienced a cylinder jumping out of lock. Silhouette shooters, probably. Rugers are more robust, no doubt about it. But they are also heavier, and at least in my eye, not as beautiful.

-Don

WVfishguy
October 3, 2008, 10:54 PM
I gave up on the Model 29 in the 80's after the two I had went so badly out of time I had to send them back to S&W. That's after shooting a few hundred rounds of reduced .44 loads.

I stuck with Ruger single and double actions after that fiasco. Shot many hundreds of .44 rounds with the Rugers, never had a problem.

I'll never buy a S&W .44 again.

JR47
October 4, 2008, 11:30 AM
You can shoot any factory ammo marked ".44 Magnum" for a long, long time before you'll have a problem with the early S&Ws (because modern factory loads are stepped down the original ones).

HT44240JHP/20-44 REM MAG-240 GR. JHP-1475 FPS/1160 FTLBS

HT44260BHP/20-44 REM MAG-260 GR. BCHP-1450 FPS/1214 FTLBS

23973-44 Magnum-240gr.-GDHP-1400/1044 ft/lb

C44A 240 gr. JHP 1440 fps/1105 ft. lbs.

92782 225 gr. FTX 1410fps 993 ftlbs.

I would think that these are full-power loads under anyone's definition. The advent of truly accurate chronography equipment revealed that many factory loads were "optimistic" in stated ballistics, to say the least. The factories were also playing with barrel lengths, not posting what they used to achieve the stated values, and the production values were considerably less.

dbriannelson
October 4, 2008, 05:40 PM
"I would think that these are full-power loads under anyone's definition. The advent of truly accurate chronography equipment revealed that many factory loads were "optimistic" in stated ballistics, to say the least. The factories were also playing with barrel lengths, not posting what they used to achieve the stated values, and the production values were considerably less." - quoth JR47.

Yes, I agree with that. Even earlier reloading manuals were wildly optimistic too, not just ammo manufacturers. But despite advertised velocities, I've got a '60s Pacific manual that is far less conservative in powder measure recommendations than current manuals. There's even an older Lyman manual on my shelf that shows middlin' loads that are above the maxes in some of the current books.

But some things really have changed. Bullet diameters have been reduced to lower peak pressures. Powders too are better tailored to reduce pressure spikes.

Factory loads now are easier on the firearm than they were thirty years ago. And factory ammo marked ".44 Magnum" won't hurt a S&W or any handgun chambered for it by the factory.

Published hand loads are also more conservative than in the past and are unlikely to cause any problems.

Handloading to achieve levels inconsistent with the SAAMI spec is a dangerous practice. It works fine most of the time, in most guns. But sometimes it doesn't. Seems to me that is one wants more power, it's far better to get a more powerful handgun than to hotrod one beyond its limits.

-Don

CSA 357
October 4, 2008, 10:49 PM
Hell No! But If You Try You Can Tear Up Any Thing, Is The 29 The Strongest 44 Mag? No, Csa

JR47
October 5, 2008, 09:30 AM
Again, much of that optimism came from people trying to achieve velocities advertised from test barrels of indeterminate length. No loss of velocity from cylinder gap involved.

Many of the velocities listed today aren't any different from the loads of 40 years ago. They are just done under more realistic conditions. The use of revolvers, and revolver-length barrels has slowed many a load.

The reloading manuals also fell to this sort of truth. Better methods of measuring pressures showed that some loads were over-pressured, and were reduced accordingly. There were never any 1500 fps, 240 gr. loads from a 4" barrel, or a 6" barrel. No matter what the factory claimed.

I'm also a little curious how you arrived at the "lessened diameter" comment. Did you mean the difference between cast and jacketed bullets?

dbriannelson
October 5, 2008, 01:43 PM
JR47, actually the difference between jacketed and cast bullets does have something to do with it. Jacketed bullets these days are generally .429 and cast are usually .430-.431, though smaller and larger cast bullets are available.

Cylinder throat diameters of my guns from the '80s measure 0.431-0.432, correct for cast bullets. Throats now measure 0.428 (in my new Model 21 before I reamed them). Bore groove diameters don't seem to have changed much and are about 0.430-0.431 (Keith said the very first revolvers were 0.429), though the method of broaching the rifling and the resulting finish are very different and currently inferior.

I wish I could attribute an author to it, but I read somewhere that the throat diameters were changed because jacketed bullet diameters were being reduced to prevent overpressure conditions beyond 36,000PSI, and S&W wanted to fix the inaccuracy caused by the undersized bullets. This would imply that jacketed bullets were first produced larger than the current .429 diameter - I do not have evidence beyond hearsay that this is true. I've gone back to some of my older reference books, but can't find specific jacketed bullet diameters in any of them.

At this point, I'll have to say that my comment about reducing jacketed bullet diameters doesn't have a lot of evidence either to support it or to contradict it. If anyone does have a solid reference to jacketed bullet diameters used in early .44 Magnums, it would be very interesting and I'd appreciate it if it were posted.

-Don

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