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Need a backpacking gun: 44 mag, 30oz max, is the 329PD the only option?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by JLStorm, Dec 18, 2010.

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  1. JLStorm

    JLStorm Member

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    Hey all. Im looking for a 3 - 4 inch barrel 44 Mag that wont be more than around 30 oz empty. I dont want anything as short as a 2.5" and anything longer than 4" is just too much, since some areas I backpack in, the gun needs to be concealed, which I do fine in a small lumbar packs, which is just a bit bigger than the standard fanny pack. I just fit a gun with the dimensions of the 329PD . I'll be using this gun in the North East from PA to ME and in AK, primarily Denali. The gun is going to be one that will be carried a lot and shot a little. Its just for personal defense from large 4 legged critters.

    Ive had w 357s below 2.5" barrels and I am not a fan due to my ability to be accurate with them. I know some of you may be deadly accurate with those 2.5" but I am just not a fan so please dont try to convince me...been there done that.

    The only gun Ive come across that fits the bill is the 329PD, which fits the bill in all areas, but it is a little lighter than I need and an extra 5 oz would surely make a difference in recoil, not to mention that it is quite expensive. S&Ws other 44 mags are just too heavy to be worth while carrying day in and day out for many miles. Ive looked at ruger and they dont make anything that works either. Ive had too many problems with Taurus revolvers over the years, so they are not in the running.

    Is my only option given my going to be the 329PD? I currently carry a gun that is 33 oz fully loaded and its manageable, but I do not want to go any heavier. Yes, I know people say oh its only a few ounces, you wont notice, but I have to shed ounces everywhere I can or else before yo know it its pounds of extra weight. Remember, this is a gun that will be carried a lot and used very little, so while its a priority, it certainly isnt one of the top priorities when it comes to allowing extra weight.

    Any options I may have over looked in 44 mag (and only the 44 mag, please dont turn this into a caliber debate)? Thanks.
     
  2. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Yes, I think the 329PD is the only .44 Mag that fits all your criteria.

    However, be forewarned.
    As a .44 Magnum, they make a much better .44 Special!

    If there is another gun that hurts worse to shoot, it would have to be a Sc J-Frame with full bore .357 Mags. But I'd still give top honers to the 329PD for Hurts!

    As for your lightest best defense against 4-legged critters?
    The most dangerous animal in the woods of which you speak is standing on his hind legs, wearing a wife-beater T-Shirt, smoking crack, and tending his meth lab or marijuana plot.
    A .357 or 9mm will handle him & his friends quite well.

    If you are concerned about black bears, get a can of pepper bear spray.
    It's lighter then a 329PD, hurts far less to use it, and is probably more effective.

    rc
     
  3. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    For some the light weight, heavy recoil, (357, 44 or what have you) have ruined their ability to shoot, anything else I have noticed...

    Before you think about getting one, go to a range that has some for rent and shoot them, do yourself a favor...;)
     
  4. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    I realize this is in the revolver section, but I really think a Glock would fit the bill nicely.

    Any caliber really, for the reasons rcmodel already pointed out.

    Don't get me wrong, I have some revolvers and enjoy 'em, but they are not always the best answer.
     
  5. David E

    David E Member

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    Have you had some close calls with the 4-legged hostiles out there?

    A 30 oz .44 magnum is tougher to be accurate with than the 2.5" barreled .357's you can't hit with.

    I always consider snakes of the two-legged variety to be more likely threat than a 4-legged predator. Therefore, as has been pointed out, there are better gun choices to handle that threat that fit your arbitrary weight criteria.

    If you insist on a .44 Magnum, the S&W Mountain Revolver in .44 magnum weighs 39.5 oz. If that weight increase is too much, then cut it elsewhere or hit the gym.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2010
  6. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    A Taurus Tracker would almost fit your perameters and weighs in at 34oz. That would be the next closest, except for your anti Taurus condition.

    Seriously, you can't shoot a 2.5" .357 and you expect to be able to shoot a 4" 30oz .44 mag? A 2.5" M19/66 with full power loads is significantly easier to shoot than a 329.
    Your options are:
    1. Get the 329
    2. put up with more weight
    3. go down in caliber
     
  7. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Member

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    I know you didn't want to turn this into a caliber debate, but have you considered a different .44 caliber, the .44 Special? My M396 AirLite (Mountain Lite) has a 3-3/8" barrel and weighs 18oz empty. It's my usual companion on romps in the woods here in Colorado. I'm not sure I'd trust it against a grizzly, but then I'm not certain I'd trust a .44 Magnum against one either. When I'm in the woods, I worry much more about the two-legged varmints than the four-legged variety. With my loaded M396 on my hip, and an extra speedloader in my pocket, I'm more prepared than 99% of the other people in these mountains.

    Just a thought.
     
  8. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Sounds like the Smith is your choice...but

    I know that you specified 44 Mag, but please consider that a Ruger in 45 Colt would be slightly lighter than the same gun in 44 mag and the 45 Colt can be loaded to 44 mag levels of lethality (for use in Rugers and similarly strong guns).

    Would a 4" Ruger Redhawk in 45 Colt with handloads or heavy loading like Buffalo Bore meet your needs? Carried in a chest holster on on your backpack, weight is less of a consideration.

    rcmodel's suggestion of pepper spray is right on. Lighter to carry, easier to hit with than any handgun, cheaper and having a MUCH better track record of preventing injury to the humans in human-bear encounters. Oleoresin Capsicum, or the newer UDAP spray.

    There is also no more certain way of ruining a good hike or fishing trip than to interrupt it with a DLP shoot. (Defense of Life or Property) You have to report it to the (Alaska State) Troopers, who investigate. You are also responsible for recovering the skull and cape and turning it over to the state, and the meat, if edible, isn't yours either (unless you have the license)

    And if you don't kill the bear, you have left a more dangerous animal in your wake. On the other hand, a sprayed bear may just be safer for other humans (after recovery from the effects of being sprayed), as he/she is likely to be MORE averse to humans.

    Just some off-topic thoughts that may be pertinent.

    Sounds like the Smith will be your choice, though I carry a 7.5" Super Redhawk in 454 Casull, myself. In addition to the spray. And, if only one, the spray. Make sure all your cartridges have a good, strong crimp.

    Good hiking. Good luck.

    Lost Sheep
     
  9. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Short-barreled Ruger Blackhawk?

    Just a thought. With an aluminum grip frame, it is lighter, speedy reloading is not usually a factor and, with practice, shooting is just as effective.

    Lost Sheep
     
  10. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Remember the crimp

    If you have a lighter gun, the tendency for unfired rounds to "jump crimp" and protrude from the front of the cylinder (thus tying up the gun) increases.

    The lighter the gun, the heavier the bullets and the more powerful the loadings, the greater the tendency. The last bullet fired (if you empty the cylinder) has been subjected to 5 recoils tending to extract the bullet from the case.

    Make sure your ammunition has a good, healthy crimp to it. Then take one cartridge and subject it to the recoil 10 times, measuring the overall length at the beginning and end of the test. If it has lengthened, use a heavier crimp.

    Twice that I know of, it has happened that a mere two shots has left a revolver unable to deliver a third against the bear that prompted the first two shots. Most recently to Greg Brush of Soldotna, Alaska, August 7, 2009.

    Good luck,

    Lost Sheep
     
  11. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    Using it from PA to ME, you can't carry it in NJ, NY, or MASS without major permits. I am not sure about either ME or NH but VT is a free state and anything can be carried by anybody who is legal. PA requires a permit to carry concealed but you could carry openly.
    Good luck.
     
  12. SharpsDressedMan

    SharpsDressedMan member

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    Back to the original question, the 329 is a great gun. Yes, it kicks hard (obvious laws of physics, etc), but it does much more damage to the target than it does to the shooter. For packing a powerful gun in a comfortably carried package, that is the sacrifice to be made. My hand stung a bit when I fired mine fast with six full loads, but it was controllable, and easily accurate for animal targets to 25 yards. I caved in and let my brother's friend talk me out of mine (we're both lefties, and he wanted the LH Blade-Tech holster, too), and I do miss it it. What a sweet gun to carry. Also, the heavier duty Hogue grips that S&W puts on the 460 and 500 mags would probably make the 329 more bearable, as it has rubber padding on the back strap.
     
  13. JLStorm

    JLStorm Member

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    Mods you can close this thread. This, of course turned into a caliber discussion. I give up. Its gone so off topic that there is no point in continuing with the conversation.
     
  14. paul105

    paul105 Member

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    Get the 329. Equip it with the Hogue 500 S&W grips. Load it according to the threat level in the area you are hiking. With heavier loads, make sure that bullets aren't moving under recoil with your chosen ammo. Make sure you understand reported problems with the "lock".

    Might not do you much good burried in a lumbar pack. While elk hunting, a friend of ours had to kill a mountain lion (self defense) with his bow -- when his mom asked where his sidearm was, he replied "in my pack".

    I live in Montana and the 329 is my all day, everyday carry gun. It provides the perfect power to weight ratio for my purposes. For up close and personal defense, it should work just fine for you also.

    FWIW,

    Paul
     
  15. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Member

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    JLStorm,

    I'm not trying to be rude, but what do you think discussion forums are for?

    Take it easy! :)

    Looking back at the thread, it looks like you had already made up your mind, and when other people's input didn't match with your decision you got upset.

    Like has been stated already by others, the .44 mag under 30oz you have the sole choice of a 329.
     
  16. wgp

    wgp Member

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    Don't be afraid of the 329PD. Great gun with .44Special and absolutely shootable with .44Mag. Like you, I have found nothing else that can deliver that power with such light weight, and my model 29 stays at home due to weight. Just carried my 329 for a few days of deer hunting, you hardly know it is there. I use a Galco holster made for that gun that has a retention strap and can be worn on the hip or cross-draw. Use ammo with a good crimp as otherwise the recoil will cause the bullets in the rounds in the cylinder to start to back out of the brass. You are perfectly on target: this is a gun with a particular purpose, that being to mostly be carried, and I believe in the face of a dangerous situation the recoil won't be felt very much. Shoot it enough to be able to hit.
     
  17. Grey Morel

    Grey Morel Member

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    The first thing you need to realize, it that from a snub barrel, most 44 mag ammo will be making 600 foot pounds of LESS - many factory load swill be SUB SONIC in the revolvers your looking at...

    So basically, your looking at 45acp +P power, but burning 3 times the powder and generating 3 times the free recoil energy.

    A Glock 36 holds the same number of rounds as a revolver (6) and weighs in at only 27oz LOADED... I know your looking at a revovler, but this solution makes a FAR better backpacking gun. It gets you a slimmer smaller gun with the same number of rounds and most of the power.
     
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Very bad idea. If you have any hope of hitting and stopping a griz you're going to need to be exceptionally proficient with your short gun. So if as it appears you are determined to get an underweight .44 mag, you'll need to shoot it till you're sore then shoot it some more. So there is no hesitation, no flinch, and dead-on accuracy.

    I realize you don't want opinions, but Waywatcher's point is sound. With your parameters a Glock 20 would work. Not an easy gun to shoot, but it's easier to deal with than powerhouse 44's out of the light S&W. The 329PD firing full power .44's (let alone bear loads) is described by Jeff Quinn as "brutal after a few shots."

    http://www.gunblast.com/SW329PD.htm

    Jeff's not someone you'd call recoil sensitive! So that's something you should keep in mind.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  19. Grey Morel

    Grey Morel Member

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    I think this is a pipe dream, regardless of what gun you lug with you...

    But I agree with Cosmoline - the only practical solution to this is to get something you can become proficient with for a reasonable amount of money and work. Most of us would suck up the weight and carry a shotgun or rifle for this reason - but since you insist on doing things the hard way, your best bet is to practice until you get tendinitis.
     
  20. pacpiper

    pacpiper Member

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  21. oldrevolverguy

    oldrevolverguy Member

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    329 I could not make it work for me.

    I have 40 years of handgunning experience and extensive trigger time with the 44 mag. I will cut to the chase; I got rid of my 329. I purchased it for the same purposes you are considering. I have owned a couple of 4" and 6" 29s over the years and enjoyed them thoroughly. The 329 feels flimsy to me and mine had to be rebuilt by the factory after 100 rounds of magnum ammo. Recoil was ridiculous, unmanageable for me. I have handloaded, hunted and competed with 44 mag and the 329 is not a viable model for me.

    I carry a Glock 10MM 29 and a 870 with slugs in the circumstances you are discussing.

    My two cents worth.
     
  22. fmcdave

    fmcdave Member

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    You didn't mention what kind of bear you were worried about. If it is a 250lb black, then I would argue that a .45LC or .357 magnum would be sufficient. If it is a 2000lb Alaskan Brown, then I would say get a light pistol and just use it to shoot yourself.

    That said, I would argue for going with a higher weight and get a S&W .44 Mountain Gun with a 4 inch barrel. Sure, it weighs a lot, but you will find yourself practicing more...practice means that you might actually be able to use it when the time comes. I'm personally not a believer in the "carried a lot and shot little" philosophy. My philosophy is if you carry it, shoot it a LOT. I have a .45LC S&W Mountain Gun, probably the most accurate pistol I own. I shoot it a LOT and carry it from time to time.
    [​IMG]
    Finally, consider some of the new front draw holsters which are now in the market. They strap across the chest and the weight is carried by the shoulder strap.

    If I was in grizzly territory, I'm thinking I'd be carrying a Marlin .450 guide rifle. I'd carry my Glock for those more dangerous and pesky two-legged varmits.
    Dave

    Dave
     
  23. pintler

    pintler Member

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    FWIW, I have had a 329 since they came out, and carry it backpacking a couple of months a year. I haven't had any problems other than a little holster wear. In particular, I haven't had any corrosion problems, despite week long trips in the rain.

    In brown bear country I carry the load Garrett makes for the 329 - 310 gr at 1020 FPS. Recoil is severe, especially because I have hard plastic laser grips. I normally practice with powderpuff 44 special equivalent loads, and maybe a half box of full power (e.g. Winchester White Box) rounds at the beginning of the season. I use a shooting glove for those. I'm lucky enough to have a normal 629 set up with the same sights as the 329, and I practice with that all the time. The glove helps a lot.

    My humble opinion is that if you practice enough to shoot well under pressure with lighter loads, the extra recoil won't be a factor given the adrenaline of a real situation. The point of aim will change drastically[1], and I normally keep the 329 sighted in for the Garrett loads and the 629 for a mild load (240 LSWC @ 950 or so).

    [1]In fact, I had to mount a taller front sight on the 329 - I ran out of sight adjustment for the Garrett loads with the stock sights).

    (p.s. - if S&W is listening, I think the 329 would be a great candidate for a polymer frame like the LCR and the new J frame)
     
  24. Prosser

    Prosser Member

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    Having had a 360PD lock up on me dry firing, I would remove the lock on ANY 329, ASAP.
     
  25. rockhunter

    rockhunter Member

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    Taurus 444Multi Ultralite also fits your general requirements. 44 mag. 6 shot 4 inch barrel 28 oz. Titanium cylinder, alloy frame(Scandium?) and just as painful to shoot with full power loads as the S&W 329.
     
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