Which 4" 44


April 4, 2011, 12:08 PM
I’d like to think I’ve searched every gun forum out there on this topic, but I figured what the heck I’d try a post.

I’m looking for a 44 Magnum, it’s going to be carried more then it’s going to be shot, and 90% of the shooting will be with mild reloads.

It’s going to be carried semi-concealed from the front range of the Metro Denver Rockies on up to the Canadian border in the pan handle of Northern Idaho. 80% on the front range 20% up North.

My one and only other 44 Magnum was a 6.5” S&W Classic, which unfortunately I had to sell at a loss back in October ‘08. It was a nice gun, but not necessarily a good carry when out and about in the woods all day.

I’ve been carrying and still intend to carry a 4.25” Dan Wesson Commander in 10mm, a CBOB, loaded with Double Tap 200 gr. FMJ, XTP or 200 grain WNFPGC or 180’s.

I can shoot it quickly and well and like to think it can handle most any 4 legged threat on the front range, however I do get concerned about it’s abilities regarding Moose and larger bears. Moose in particular are a concern since I fish the river systems they inhabit whenever I get the chance. I don’t want to further hot rod my current 10mm loads in the 1911 and realize it will never be a 44, so it’s time to up the caliber and the platform.

I like 1911’s and I’d like to go the .460 Rowland and or .45 Super route and probably will in the future when time and money allow, but for simplicity sake and for something that I know will work right now I decided to go the 4” 44 Mag revolver route.

From the 70’s through the 80’s I was a revolver guy, my favorite carry being a .357 686 with a 4” barrel. I switched to the semi-auto 10mm in the early 90’s and for me it’s like having a semi auto in .357, but easier to carry, shoot and quickly reload.

Funny how we go back to our roots…

I’ve narrowed down my choice to a Smith and Wesson 629 4” or a 4 5/8” Super Black Hawk. I’ve learned from my reading that the Ruger will handle the heavier loads better, but with the 4” barrel I will probably limit the loads to mid-range 280 gr. WNFPGC or lighter 250-265 grain loads depending on felt recoil. Not the real hot stuff, but something along the lines of the Buffalo Bore’s 255 grain reduced level load. I’m thinking velocity in the range of 1000-1200 fps with 250-280 grain H.C. bullets is going to be a better choice for stopping larger animals then the 10mm.

Cost is a consideration, the Ruger is about $250 less in my market. I’ve only been able to handle a few Ruger’s it’s rare in my area the Smith is available and feels right in my hand, the Ruger Super Blackhawk grip just feels odd to me and I doubt it’s going to get any better if I shoot it, (could be wrong here). I had a Single Six that sat in the safe for over 20 years and it didn’t get shot much because the grip just never felt quite right to me when compared to Smith revolvers. But before I place the order on the 629 I’m going to try and find another SBH to handle, I’m thinking the SBH with the smaller grip is going conceal better and I can somehow adapt to shooting it if necessary. I have fired the SA .357 Ruger’s in the past, it’s just been many years.

I know the answer would be to shoot both before ordering, but I don’t know anyone who can accommodate that need.

Carry and the ability to conceal is of primary concern, I can conceal the 1911’s just fine during summer months, with a good OWB pancake holster and a t-shirt with an un-tucked lightweight short sleeved cover shirt or if cooler a heavier shirt like a Carhart or a lightweight jacket.

I’m thinking concealing the grip is going to be the hard part, but if the cover shirt is oversized and unbuttoned it’s less of a problem, I’ll button the bottom button if windy. And with the Smith I could always go with a combat style wood grip to help things along. For shooting sessions I can always put the factory rubber grip back on.

For a holster, the Simply Rugged pancake looks like a good choice as does the Kramer Scabbard, the downside of the Kramer being the 6-8 week wait time along with the extra cost. El Paso has one or two that look ok and I do not want a thumbreak holster.

I’m looking for some input from individuals who actually carry quite a bit in the Rockies, Northwest or Alaska, (although I don’t have any large browns in my neck of the woods) faced with the same dilemmas, wanting protection from wild life yet having to deal with the many Sheeple. If and when in the back country I don’t concern myself as much with open carry as I do on the Front Range, it’s just my nature to be discreet.

As a long time resident, hunter and fisherman of Colorado a main concern is the many Moose now appearing on the fishing streams as well as the bears in the Metro area, each year they’re growing larger and being more habituated to humans and I do occasionally run into Bison on the fishing trips.

There will be the occasional road trips to visit a ranch up on the Canadian border, fishing and hiking along the way. I intent to visit the Yellowstone and exercise my newly recognized 2nd amendment rights while there, yet doing so discreetly.

So any input as to gun, grip and holsters from those who actually carry under these conditions would be greatly appreciated.

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April 4, 2011, 12:39 PM
I recently acquired a 4 5/8 SBH. While I like the grip on the SBH Hunter, the grip on the 4 5/8 is somewhat smaller and did not work well for me. I put a Hogue Monogrip on it with great results. Fills the hand better and prevents banging your middle finger against the trigger guard. The Monogrip goes for under $20 bucks and looks like a double action grip - not the Ruger SBH "plowhandle". Shot about 30 factory (WWB) rounds through it with no issues.

You can find pictures on Hogues Webpage and find reveiws on Midwayusa's website.

April 4, 2011, 12:45 PM
you can buy a lot of grips for $250.


April 4, 2011, 01:21 PM
I carry a 4" 629 concelaed pretty regularly. There's really no big mystery to it, or any hassle. I use and OWB holster most of the time and occasioanlly use a Kydex IWB rig from Hoffner's. For the purposes I carry a concealed sidearm, a single-action would not be nearly as advantageous as a double-action.

I'm carrying that gun and three speedloaders in this picture:


April 4, 2011, 01:30 PM
I carried this 4 M-29 and two speedloaders for a month just for fun. I used an OWB Kydex holster.


Its a pretty big gun for a 142 lb guy, but not uncomfortable. I had to walk with my right arm held out a bit which should have looked funny, but no one noticed anything.

I loaded the gun with CorBon .44 Spl ammo.

The advantage of the Smith over the Ruger is that you can get a significantly lighter DA pull with the Smith.

April 4, 2011, 01:45 PM
Sam and Japle

What brand of holster's are you guys using?

April 4, 2011, 01:46 PM
Nice looking grips Japle, what are those?

April 4, 2011, 02:03 PM
I'm curious why you're comparing the S&W 629 (double action) to a Ruger Blackhawk (single action), especially if you consider the single action grip frame awkward. You should be looking at a Redhawk instead. They make the 4" in 44 Magnum, and it is the superior gun to the 629, IMHO.

I've had both. I had a Dirty Harry 29 (8-3/8" barrel) and it shot loose a lot. Great SA trigger. DA trigger was heavy but smooth. Finally, I sold it because I was worried what else was loosening up that I couldn't see, if the side plate screws kept getting loose? (blue loctite didn't solve the issue)

So I sold it and bought a used Ruger Redhawk, also .44 Magnum, with the 7.5" barrel. Great gun. The barrel broke off due to a manufacturing defect in the 80s, but Ruger fixed it at no charge and with no back-talk. It has been fantastic ever since.

Aside from comparing apples to apples, you seem like you'll be wanting to carry it as a defense gun. Unless you're an expert cowboy, double action revolvers are superior here.

They also make the Redhawk in the 5.5" barrel, which is a great compromise size for OWB carry. Much better for target shooting than the 4" version, but not as big as the 7.5" Redhawk or any of the Super Redhawks.

I shoot mostly lighter reloads in mine too. Occasionally a couple cylinders of magnums, just to stay sharp.

Oh, and don't rule out the longer barrels too quickly. You carry those in a shoulder holster, not a belt holster. I have a shoulder type hunting holster for my Redhawk Hunter. (Hunter model is milled for Ruger scope rings) Much nicer than having a huge heavy gun on the hip, giving backaches and such.

Personally, I think you'd be fine with the hotter 10mm in your Dan Wesson. A few rounds from that would protect you from moose and browns, I bet. I would probably tend more toward a flat pointed bullet than an expanding one though, if you're concerned about penetration in big animals.

April 4, 2011, 02:04 PM
When needed I carry a 4 inch Smith 29 in a COM holster.

April 4, 2011, 02:04 PM
I use a "tunnel" sytle leather OWB holster from Rays called the Sable. http://www.shado.com/Leather-Holsters/Sable-Leather-Belt-Holster.html

The IWB is the "Miurage" from Hoffners: http://www.hoffnertactical.com/matrix.aspx?id=3&lookupcode=ITPMIR

April 4, 2011, 02:07 PM
The Hoffner's IWB:




April 4, 2011, 02:10 PM
Thanks Sam


Yep, I considered a 4" Redhawk, Ruger catalogs them, but they are rare, none available on the auction sites and nothing local. A buddy of mine has had a 7.5" .41 Mag for many years and loves it.

I wouldn't rule out shoulder carry, especially with a longer barrel, but for my current purpose a 4" gun on the hip is what I want. Eventually I might look into a shoulder rig for all day carry and comfort.

The only reason I considered the SBH is profile/size, I'm thinking it might be easier to conceal?

April 4, 2011, 02:11 PM

I like Ray's prices!

April 4, 2011, 02:19 PM
I like Ray's prices! Yeah! No kidding!

They don't have a huge variety, and don't copy some of the more advanced and optimized varieties that Milt Sparks, Alessi, or some of the other top end makers do, but the holsters I've seen from Ray's are very well put together and tough-as-nails.

The "Sable" in that pic shows an auto, of course, and the N-frame revolver version doesn't look exactly like that (straight drop, for one) but for $35, you'll be very impressed.

April 4, 2011, 02:30 PM
Based on your intended use, the 29/629 Mountain Gun is tailor-made for you.

April 4, 2011, 03:33 PM

I was using a Blade-Tech paddle holster.

The grips are Jerry Miculek's design. I have them on all my N-Frame guns.

April 4, 2011, 03:41 PM
Because you state the gun will be carried a lot and shot little, and even then mostly with moderate loads, why not consider the S&W 329PD Scandium gun. It's a 4" .44 mag that weighs nothing. Not everyone likes it, it is tough shooting very many full-bore loads, but I have read that the Buffalo Bore loads are great in this gun (have not had a chance to try them myself). Mine rides in a Galco holster that can be worn strong-side or cross-draw, with a retention strap which I think is desireable in outdoor settings.

CSA 357
April 4, 2011, 04:01 PM
I have a 4 inch 629 no dash its sweet! should be just what your looking for , the ruger would work too just takes longer to reload. i have a 45/8 ruger black hawk in 45 colt i would have no problum packing it for what ever reason

April 4, 2011, 05:38 PM
the S&W 329PD is worth a look. Very light gun, but if you are shooting mild handloads it may be just the ticket. They sell for close to a grand.

April 4, 2011, 05:42 PM
Lot's of good suggestions...thanks guys...keep 'em coming.

I've handled the 329PD, the LGS has a used one for sale, lots to like about it. I can't remember the price but I thought it was reasonable, yep for carry it would probably be perfect and I may pick one up in the future. I did run a cylinder of standard 240 loads through one years ago at the range and at the time recall thinking it wasn't bad at all...could have been mild loads without my knowing it though.

More and more I'm leaning towards the standard 4" 629 and I probably will shoot it a bit the first 6 months to a year, but again mostly mild reloads, once the novelty wears off and I feel proficient with it, it will become like most of my carry guns, carried a lot but only fired to remain proficient with it.

If I found a good deal on a Mountain gun or the newer 3" models I don't think I'd hesitate, although I really don't want to go below 3" and feel a bit better about 4".

Smaug: I'm a huge fan of the 10mm and have been for many years, for an auto loader it's hard to beat, what I've found out though is that advertised velocity and actual are two different things. And as a re-loader I think some of the "boutique" ammo makers that are getting high advertised velocities might be pushing it to the ragged edge...more then a few blown guns out there to read about.

My Dan Wesson has an unsupported chamber, it's a 1911 and it's a Commander at that. Probably not the best platform for "hot" 10mm loads. A 5" 1911, with a supported chamber is on the "wish list". Probably next up after the .44 if money allows, can't have too many 1911's.

For the 10mm, I'm working towards a 200 grain WFNGC Hard cast going about 1100 fps, anything more then that I personally feel is pushing it too hard. Other setups and longer barrels can do a little better.

I can't recall the figures off the top of my head here, but I think I can get a 250-280 grain WFNGC going about 1100-1200 fps in the 4" 44, which should give me the extra penetration for the heavier critters.

Over this past weekend I read an article by Marshall Stanton on his Beartooth Bullet website, IIRC he advocated a heavy, wide meplat going around 1100 fps, suggesting there really wasn't a need to go any faster for anything in the lower 48...food for thought.

April 4, 2011, 08:37 PM
I have my fair share of S&W's but now that I have got used to Ruger triggers this 4 inch 44 magnum is my choice.

I wrote a review of it here
Ruger 4inch 44mag Initial Review (http://www.dayattherange.com/?p=71)

when I first got it 4 years ago. It still locks up tighter than a bank vault after 2000 rounds of 44magnum. It is time for me to do an update review.

April 4, 2011, 09:34 PM
Make mine the 629 pleeease!


April 5, 2011, 07:18 AM
For carrying and shooting you have to go a long ways to beat the N frame S&W revolver. I've had the others and while they can be loaded "hotter" you don't seem to be interested in that aspect. The others are also heavier to carry around, especially on your belt. I carry a 4" Nframe daily and have no problems. Mine is cut for the 45 ACP but one chambered for the long Colt would weigh about the same. The 44 Magnum would be a bit heavier.

The 686 would not be a bad choice, if you still have it.

April 5, 2011, 08:13 AM
I owned a 4" 629 Mountain Gun - I own a 4" 629 production gun. It's just 2 oz heavier - mostly in the non-tapered barrel, but comes with a larger hammer & trigger as well as a w/o rear and rr front sight - vs the blk/blk of the MG. I bought a new 5.5" SS Redhawk in .45 Colt - it went back within days for several QC faults. I had it back from Ruger in a month - it was an odd duck - long trigger pull, ftf's, and the sloppy ejector would skip over the spent cases on occasion, making reloading then an involved three handed affair. My 625MG in .45 Colt was more accurate - never hiccupped. I sold the RH - and traded for another 625MG. An N-frame S&W is a finer firearm - and will outlast it's owner if he stays with SAAMI spec'd .44 Magnum ammo. If you need more oomph - get a .454/.460/.500.

Speaking of .500 Magnum... a modern RB 629 can wear the Hogue grips made for OEM .460/.500 Magnums - available from S&W Accessories. They do add ~3/16" to the trigger reach - but pad that backstrap - great recoil aid. My 4" & 6" 629's sport Ahrends wood grips for their usual wimpy loads here - but the X-frame Hogue grips are available, should I need to shoot with more 'emphasis'.


April 5, 2011, 08:55 AM
ported one not. I used an old Bucheimer pancake holster and carried them under a long untucked shirt with NO problems. I also used a fanny pack at times. I used mostly mid level Magnum loads with JHP's...I liked the CCI Blazers a lot-they were pretty consistane and accurate.

I'm down to an old Highway Patrolman .357 magnum-Getting older...


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