Custom Barrel Shapes for a S&W N-Frame Revolver

Which barrel shape do you feel would be most attractive on an S&W N-Frame?

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Dec 26, 2002
Hello Everyone,

I am working on a project to convert a slightly used Smith & Wesson 657 .41 Magnum with a 6-inch barrel into a 5-incher in .44 Magnum. While cutting and reboring the barrel is an option, I am seriously considering using a match grade blank and have a custom barrel mounted to the gun.

In reviewing Hamilton Bowen's book "The Custom Revolver" I am presented with several different barrel shapes that could all make this very special custom revolver all the more special in appearance, and I am looking for opinions here.

Of the standard round factory style barrel and the custom shapes consisting of the banded, octagonal, slab sided, and ovate ribbed patterns which would you find most attractive when applied to a custom N-Frame revolver?

Before anyone jumps up and sings the praises of the .41 Magnum let me say that I already have several other .41 Magnum revolvers and am wholeheartedly dedicated to the caliber, but I only have one .44 Magnum at the moment. Further, this particular 657 was built after Smith & Wesson began installing their durability package into the design but before the internal locks appeared. Therefore, it is an ideal specimen for using the many heavy .44 Magnum loads on the market today once properly converted.

Thank you for your input.
Other than a couple of factory thin no underlug, and some full underlug barrels I only have one custom. A sweet slab side 25-2 with the cylinder cut, and the barrel set back about an inch. Looks a little weird at first but shoots sweet and I love it.

Do you happen to have a photo of this slab sided beauty you could share with us?
It's an old bowling pin gun from the early 80's. Has probably 10,000 or more rounds through it. And still runs like a champ. Recently put the big trash can on it, new grips, new springs, tightened the barrel, etc.


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A few years ago, the barrel of my 4" S&W Model 29 was damaged during a repair. S&W had no replacements, and there were no new factory style replacements available from anyone I contacted. All of the custom gunsmiths only had stuff that belonged in "Men in Black". I can't stand the "modern" stuff. It's so "fanboyish".
i wish my model 27 had a barrel made from a model 29 barrel blank and fluted.......... i like the fluted heavy barrel on my 1022 custom and i think a model 27 fluted heavy barrel would be neat looking!!

I like the looks of the 625 that has a 5" round barrel with a partial underlug. There is a photo of it in the most recent issue of Guns Magazine on an article about USPSA. However, being a reasonably old codger and opposed to most any form of change, I vote for replicating the factory 5" barrel N frame contour. But, ultimately, ya pays your money and do what makes you happy (or what seems like a good idea at the time).
The original style. As far as I am concerned, there's no such thing as a good looking slab barrel on a revolver. It's like trying to marry cubism to the Mona Lisa or pickles with fudge. No amount of blending and shaping will make those two go together, in my mind.

After that, octagon could be interesting.
Yahhhhhhhh...'Round' Barrel, is my vote...

Round with 'rib' is nice too...either way...
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