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Airlite 296 from GunBroker

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by george29, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. george29

    george29 Well-Known Member

    ....for $520

    Too late for creative critisism, deal is done, would like to know if I done did good or am I an imbecille (I have an original Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 and wanted another puny .44 for my other pocket...keep me level when I walk I suppose, but it has been many years since I owned a S&W and would appreciate pro's and con's (not about the caliber so much as I have started reloading).

    Let me have it!!!!!!!!!

    (Original message posted in the transaction area but got no replies...)
  2. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard!

    That's a nice weapon. Titanium 44 Special, hammerless, right? I have one that came out before the little key lock was put in. I think you done good! :)
  3. MBane666

    MBane666 Well-Known Member

    I am a HUGE fan of the 296, and IMO you got a great deal.

    The 296 is the .44 Special snub we all wanted, then — strangely enough — didn't buy when S&W made it. Now that it's long gone, we weep and moan. I've said in print that the 296 is probably the best back country gun ever made. It's the gun I carry in the back country, in a Survival Sheath System chest holster, which doesn't interfere with any pack/hydration system straps.

    Yes, it has bullet weight restrictions (limited to 200-grains) because of the recoil impulse through the ultralite frame "pulling" bullets, but I have used the excellent Winchester 200-grain SilverTips in my carry .44s for more years than I care to remember.

    I've never found the 296 particularly hard to shoot...yes, it barks, but it's still hang on and squeeze the trigger. It's NOT a gun I like to put a lot of rounds through because I question the long-term durability of ANY of the ultralites.

    My solution to that was to ferret out a Taurus 441 stainless steel 5-shot .44 Special (they're still around for about $350) and shoot the crap of that. A Taurus 445 or 431 are other good "shoot 'em" .44 Specials, but DO NOT get a 441 Ultra-Lite or Total Titanium, cause then you're back in the same boat! An S&W 696, the stainless version of the 296, will also do just fine, but cost you an arm and a leg these days. I take both the 296 and the Taurus to the range, do my drills with the Taurus then finish up with SilverTips through the 296. I have to confess I sent the Taurus to Jim Stroh for an action job, then rounded the butt to match the 296.

    And, yes, the 296 is BUTT-UGLY!

    Michael B
  4. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    Here's my lil humpback. ;)

  5. edw794

    edw794 Active Member

    I saw them selling in the shop when they were still in production. I wanted one then but passed on the chance. Now, since they're out of produciton, they have all but disappeared, especially in this state. Probably the only chance of finding one around here is on the auctions.

    That's a great find.

  6. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    Four years ago, I just couln't stand it anymore... the 296 and 696 had been canned for a while. My local pusher's new pair had faded price tags... $439 for the 696, $5-something for the 296... then it changed - $349! I took my two AMT Backups in .45ACP and traded for the SS 696... got out the plastic for the 296, not knowing that the 296 was closeout priced... I just thought it was a super deal. Fortunately, I am the only idiot who had regularly fondled them, drooling excessively at times (Thankfully, they are SS, Al, etc... the drool would have dissolved blueing!). They already had what I considered their .44 Special sibling at home - then a few months from new 629MG.

    The 696 is fun, but at only four ounces more, a 629MG is much more fun - add another two ounces for a standard 4" 629 - with bigger hammer & trigger, too. Honestly, while cute, I wouldn't sell the farm to get a 696... a 4" 629/629MG is a far better, at least to me, choice - and cheaper new than used 696's are running now. But, the 296 is alone... and, to me, much more desireable.

    Some caveats re the 296... lead will try to jump, even my well-crimped 200gr LRNFP's, not to mention my 240gr LSWC's. In all fairness, every cylinderful I have discharged had the fifth round beginning to uncrimp. S&W insists that the revolver should only fire 200gr or less clad-only rounds - and no short, ie, .44 Russian, cases. The 200gr GDHP Blazers, or similar loads by myself or Georgia Arms using that same Speer #4427 200gr Gold Dot, which reliably opens to .76-.79" by 800fps, hit to POA at 12-15yd - and will group well enough to hit a 16" steel plate at 100yd two of five times handheld. For a better grip, the backstrap-enclosing Uncle Mike's Combats, like the newer K-frames came with, rounded or square conversion, offer better recoil control. It is still a do-able CCW with it's original boots, but a holster rider with the UM's. Whenever you take off the grips, watch for the little lanyard pin - a drop of CA glue will keep it put - hind sight here, of course. Also, watch that cast-in-place cylinder stop - a 'Hollywood' rap or two of the ejector can cause the Ti cylinder's edge to pare it away, dumping the cylinder itself into your hand.

    Now... mine was always wearing the UM's and went to the range regularly - I am up to 1,800 of the Blazers and GA Arms rounds, and several hundred of my own reloads. I was told I 'needed' a pocket gun - a 642. I recently put the boots back on the 296 and am using it in place of a 642... like I originally intended. Not all guns are target/fun shooters... some have a dedicated purpose - the 296 being an excellent such example... which I recently 'learned'! Enjoy your 296.


    PS The HKS CA-44 Speedloader, designed for the Charter Arms Bulldog .44, fits the 296/696 quite well.
  7. george29

    george29 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Guys

    Much appreciated the comments...now I know I won't go thru "Buyer's Remorse".

    I have as yet to fire my Bulldog (bought it from the store armorer, a man who speaks little but seems honest).

    After much consideration of backing up my Bulldog with something other than the NAA, (almost went with a Kahr or P-11) but decided to try and find the 296 to stay with the same ammo, and lo and behold, it is on GunBroker. \

    I did a little research before bidding and found that this model had been sold at different locations for between $500 - $795, so I posted a maximum bid of $550 and decided I would probably lose......but the auction ended and I ended up paying $520, add to that shipping ($42) and 3% credit card deal ($16) and another $30 to the FFL (I could find it for $5 cheaper but will stay loyal to my regular place, they have been good to me) and we end up with a total of $608 which is now a totally different story, but still within the realm of the elusive 296, bought solely for CCW and as MBane mentioned, my SBH will be for more extensive shooting, the Bulldog and 296 maybe one or two cylinders at the range just for target aquirement and picture sighting.

    Thanks for all the good advice, I am happier with this forum than the previous one I belonged to for 6 years as it had become far too squabbily and too many folk were getting personal, myself included. Recognize many folk here from there, George29 is not my handle at the other forum. Thanks for the welcome and nice picture and all around good advice.

  8. klover

    klover Well-Known Member

    you won't believe this

    I didn't even know of any snub nosed airweight in a .44 special until I read this post this morning. Little did I know that a 329pd would work so well for me when I tried it on Saturday for the first time (stepped over bear scat to get to the shooting bank).

    Tons of recoil my butt. They all say that about a .500 s&w, and it's no problem at all. I've owned 638's, 649's and other small .357 snubbies.

    Then on Sunday, realized after being a potential victim, that I really needed a light weight revolver (having traded away most of my collection).

    Went looking on Monday. Saw lots of .357 and .38 in titanium lites. Tried DAO for the first time just dry firing in the store. Almost bought one.

    Ran into this thread this morning. Went to Gunbroker, and being the 33 rd person to view a 296 auction, I did a buy it now. Just sent the money order.

    Now I am on pins and needles waiting for the thing to arrive. I know
    I'm going to love this gun. (oh, don't ask how much).

    Thank you THR, internet, and Gunbroker.:D
  9. Gordon

    Gordon Well-Known Member

    My 296 and my Colt agent are the only revolvers on my Ca. CCW card. ;)
    It is carried regularly without a holster. I use a 242 (.38spl.) to practice with!:cool:
  10. Lou22

    Lou22 Well-Known Member

    I bought this slightly used 296 for about $545 a couple months back on Gunbroker. I didn't think much of the stock 296's, but then I saw the picture of this one with the rosewood grips, and I had to have it.


    Attached Files:

  11. boneboy96

    boneboy96 Active Member

    I'm not familiar with the smitty, but I do have the Charter Arms Bulldog in 44 SPL (original) and just picked up a Taurus 5 shot snubbie in 44 SPL as well...paid 250 for the Charter Arms about 15-20 years ago...hammer bobbed for sleek pocket carry, had an action job and springs replaced and resighted at the factory in Stratford Ct., and then they refinished the whole gun for me on the spot while I waited and watched. Top notch service...and a gun that is slicker than Teflon. The Taurus I just p/u in a trade...seller wanted $265 so I figure I'm about $500 into both guns...wouldn't want to get rid of either...love the 44 SPL round. Now I guess I'm going to keep my eyes open for the Smith...thanks all! :cuss:
  12. symr00

    symr00 Well-Known Member

    Does anyone have a picture of a J-Frame and the 296 side by side for a size comparison?
  13. Norm357

    Norm357 Well-Known Member

    I think you done good. I have been looking for one locally with no luck.
  14. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    I've had two different Ti Taurus .44 snubbies in my hand at the range - a bit rough on the trigger. They were an interesting light blue in color. Additionally, they started dragging by 25-30 rounds of the 200gr Blazer GD's... could never shoot a full box from either without cleaning. They are mostly Ti, rather than just the cylinder, as in the 296/396. They bounced a bit, too.

    Michael Bane,

    I can't believe you find them ugly... I like to think of my 296 as I did my .454 SRH... kind of a 'techno-ugo' - sort of form vs function. I also think the Ti atom on the sideplate is a nice touch... may have to do with my education... Okay, I guess they are an 'acquired' taste... (BTW, I enjoy your shows - thanks!).


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