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S&W should stamp the Mt Gun moniker on the 329 PD

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Frulk, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    Having read most of the older THR threads on Mt Guns before I started writing this it's apparent that the moniker means different things to different people depending on where you live and the potential apex predator you may be sharing space with when you leave the pavement.

    I like to fly fish. A lot! I also like to fish in solitude. In the area that I live, to get to some of the best spots that provide both exceptional fishing and the prerequisite solitude to go along with it requires a concerted effort on foot through very remote, wilderness designated, challenging terrain. Altitude always exceeds 10,000 feet, and many times while crossing passes and the Continental Divide 12K-/+ is eclipsed. I'm not speaking of walking from the truck on a 1/2 day leisurely hike up a trail with 200-300 foot net gain/loss at a general altitude in the area of 3,000 feet. Carrying nothing more than your rod, a daypack (maybe) and your Mt Gun strapped to your waist. I'm talking multi-day (5-9) day treks. Unsupported by horse, requiring heavy packs right from the trail head. Pack weight is based on how many days out but usually in the 40-45 pound range but can push close to 60.

    As a visual reference, this is what Mt Gun country looks like from my perspective. Taken at 12,600 feet looking west across the interior of the Wind Rivers Range.

    u0aYnPg.jpg

    Based on the description of the geographical area and distance the gun will be carried through weight is of paramount consideration. Add to that the potential (however remote) to encounter a large cat, black bear, grizzlies of substantial stature and caliber consideration for me at least, precludes the .357 Mag. Mind you, that's a not a judgment call on anybody that chooses to carry it where there are very large predators. It's just not for me based on experiences in my "yut" hunting black bear in Canada. I pay my respects at the altar of the wide meplat, 300+ grain hard cast when I'm in bear country.

    iDXuSgz.jpg

    I've carried all four of the guns shown in the pic below over various mountain ranges in the terrain mentioned above. Over the years the Ruger Blackhawk with .45 Colt 315 gr. hard casts on board logged approx. 500 miles on my belt. Always carried in a cross draw up front to the left of the bear spray. Of the 3 Ruger's it carried the easiest. The 2 inch Redhawk in .44 mag was carried once on a 3-day trip and has never been out again. It carries like a BRICK. Even in the Galco Outdoorsman(?) holster which did an admirable job of restraining it's considerable bulk from flopping around. Next up is the Redhawk in .45 Colt. It too went for a 3-4 day trip and has never seen the remote back country again except in one instance. In that case it rode in a holster on the back of a horse. They've now been relegated to carry duty in bear country when I'm mushroom hunting from a vehicle supported base camp or ATVing, etc.

    TS8HtPU.jpg

    This is a good time to point out something about the two Red Hawks. They're great guns for the back-country if you're going in on horse or standing on a stream bank in Alaska after you've been dropped off by your outfitter. In any other context as a Mt Gun they are impractical if you're the sole mode of transport for them over mountainous terrain on foot for extended distances.

    That finally brings me to the 329PD. I'll borrow a description someone used for it in one of those older THR threads. "It's a gun that's meant to be carried a lot and shot very little". In that context it sums up EXACTLY what I'm looking for in a Mt Gun. I've carried it extensively and only shot it at the range. It's lack of weight precludes it from becoming noticeable even after a hard day (say 10+ miles with a main pack and lots of vertical gain). We keep clean camps (no food etc. in sleeping area). Everything is bear bagged high up in trees. We cook away from main camp. Everyone makes noise in thick growth or when heading into the wind. We all consider our bear spray the primary choice in an encounter. I don't expect to ever have to resort to the 329PD in a life or death encounter miles from nowhere. However, if all else fails its there as a last resort.

    My previous 329PD became a wedding gift for one of my best friends son. I taught him how to fly fish and he grew up backpacking with us and spends a lot of time in bear country, such as the Frank Church wilderness etc. He's just starting out in life with his career and family and I wanted him to have a quality, lightweight piece to carry when he's back in there without me.

    This particular 329PD came home Monday PM.

    oBgPDR1.jpg

    It will reside in the holster (sans the wooden grips) that I carried through the back country on many outings. It's inaugural trip will be in August 2019. A 105 miler over 8-9 passes in 10-11 days with two retired friends.

    Lghmc4h.jpg

    I'll close with this. I'm surprised that S&W doesn't stamp the "Mountain Gun" designation on the 329PD. From my perspective it's the only one they sell that perfectly meets the criteria for the loosely defined mountain niche.

    Hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year....
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2018
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  2. jamesjames

    jamesjames Member

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    329PD is also my choice for wilderness carry. I understand your enthusiasm for it. In his Book of the .44, Gun writer John Taffin praises the 329PD as a “a Practical Packin’ Pistol” and is a “dandy .44 special” revolver.

    I’ve been shopping for a Mountain Gun, but you are right that, in spirit, the 329PD is the heir-apparent to the steel MG.

    Don’t forget the Buffalo Bore reduced recoil hard cast Keith’s made especially for the 329. I also prefer Karl Nil grips as they cover the back strap and are more hand filling and distribute recoil over a wider area of the web of the hand.
     
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  3. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    As a person never venturing far west of the Missisippi river, I thankfully don’t have to put a whole lot of thought into my defensive gun. A 10mm auto pistol or .357 is typically more than enough for the areas I’m in. As such, I have been looking at the lightweight full sized .357s recently. No I will not likely be buying one, but I’m having a ball window shopping. If I were going to be doing much hunting where I live now, I would certainly be buying one though. Black bears aren’t common, but the ones that are around here seem to really rely on humans a lot for food. I would not want to have a black bear boar or big momma sow come in for a handout and get upset when one isn’t offered. If I were in the area you folks play in, I would be packing a serious gun, and a 329pd would at least be in the running. I’m not sure a 44 mag or 45 colt would satisfy me though because if I have to use a gun I want to use a lot more gun than I need just to ensure that the fight is tipped in my favor. Is there an airweight X frame yet? .460 with a 3” barrel and a lightweight frame sounds about right, even if it has to have a kickstand to not break bones in the wrist.

    I hope I keep reading stories about the guns you have but don’t ever NEED.
     
  4. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Regardless of the markings on the gun, if an S&W 329PD suits your purposes, who cares.

    I'd shoot it some with the ammunition you plan to use in the mountains so that it is not a surprise.

    Looks like you have some pretty country side to fish in. Have fun and stay safe.
     
  5. BigBlue 94

    BigBlue 94 Member

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    I'm a prairie dweller, so a 22 is about all that's needed, but I can appreciate the lightweight aspect. I'd much rather carry my papoose than my heavy barreled 10/22.

    When I do get to the wilds of Colorado, I carry a 1917 army in 45acp and my buddy packs my G20 in 10mm. Long story short, two of the three of us got altitude sickness and had to pack out, leaving one buddy at 11,000ft overnight with much of the gear. He was very happy to have that g20 when a wolf walked through camp that night. No shots fired, but having that pistol was peace of mind. I also realized that trip that I over pack, by a lot.

    Alaska and 105 mile treks are a whole 'nother deal.
     
  6. joed

    joed Member

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    I'm sorry but at 25.2 oz firing .44 Mags you're a better man than I. I have an MG and I rarely fire mag ammo out of it. Maybe when I was younger I was more tolerant but I no longer am a masochist.
     
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  7. straightshooterjake

    straightshooterjake Member

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    I appreciate your feeling that the 329 PD is an ideal gun for use in the mountains. It is clear that you have a lot of knowledge in this area.

    However, I am not a fan of Smith & Wesson's recent penchant for changing the use of well established names. So I would prefer that Smith & Wesson continue to reserve the mountain gun name for steel framed revolvers with lighter weight barrel profiles, just as they have used it for several decades.

    Of course, to me, a bodyguard should be a J-frame 38 special with a shrouded hammer, and an M&P is a K-frame 38 special revolver. So possibly, my ideas about naming are completely antiquated.
     
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  8. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Nice views, nice handguns...I'm jealous! :D

    The PD as you're using it is exactly what it was designed for; lots and lots of carry back into places where it may be needed. :thumbup:

    Stay safe!
     
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  9. paul105

    paul105 Member

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    Nice writeup and beautiful country.

    One of my all day, every day carry guns (have had 3, still have 2) for the better part of a decade.

    329%20033.jpg

    Shown with a well worn Simply Rugged sourdough pancake.

    329%20045.jpg

    I still carry one when bow hunting elk here in MT.

    Enjoy every mile you can while you can, eventually the body wears out. I'm lucky to do a couple of miles every day walking the dog and that's with trekking poles (LOL).

    Oh, and for what it's worth, Buffalo Bores "low recoil" .44 mag ammo is basically the same as standard .44 mags sold by the big mfgs.

    Unique piece that I've found very useful since they first arrived on the scene.

    FWIW,

    Paul
     
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  10. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    Since the "Mountain Gun" name is already in use, perhaps they should change the PD to BP for "Back Packer". Just a thought.

    Dave
     
  11. Rock185

    Rock185 Member

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    Hadn't thought about it, but that 329PD might be the ultimate Mountain Gun. Perhaps S&W should have marketed it that way? I've handled, but never shot a 329PD. With a bum wrist now, I don't think I ever will. My brother, a big strong guy, has shot my .454, and the .460 and .500 S&W, along with the 329 PD at a S&W event. He said that the one that might do nerve damage was the 329PD with Magnum ammo. I have owned and reloaded for several .41 and .44 Magnums, and still have a Freedom Arms .454. All with steel frames. But in my dotage, I guess I must admit I'm probably not up to the 329PD. I suspect a lot of other shooters might not be up to it either.....
     
  12. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    I have 329s in 4 inch, as well as both x- frames in 8 7/8 inch barrels. The 460/500 is more push to the wrist. The 329 is more like a hammer handle to the palm. I've fired 100+rounds through the x frames in a session. Never had a pain. 30-40 through the 329 with the wood grips bruised my palm. The factory rubber grips are better, but just. mine both wear x- frame grips. They fit perfect and really tame the gun. As far as bad wrists, years of weight lifting and breaks haven't helped mine but the 329 really doesn't hurt my wrists at all. The x- frames don't hurt but definitely jar them worse. Of the people who have shot my 329s no one has mentioned their wrists, only their hands.
    As far as the 329, its a perfect mountain defense gun. But I keep 2 just to keep one in working order. With magnums they won't last long. Smith will fix them, I just got one back a couple months ago (I have a thread on it just fyi). But how long will they keep doing it. For carry and defense it's perfect. Light and easy to forget your wearing it. For any amount of practice or target shooting, I'd go another route. 629/ 29, redhawk, etc. I'd honestly trust a tracker to last longer.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
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  13. dawei

    dawei Member

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  14. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    It weighs 3 more ounces, which on a sub-30 ounce gun is considerable. Over 10 percent more. Its also a light weight Taurus. Ive not heard anything good about the smaller Taurus 44s. The tracker is heavier and half that price. I doubt that light weight model would fare any better than the 329, if it fared as good. But no experience at all. I just don't think you can make that trade off of weight and keep much durability.
    For that price and 15 more ounces I'd get a 4 inch redhawk and never worry about it again. Otherwise, if weight was the end all, I'd probably just get the 329. Smith and Wesson had my gun back to me faster than taurus would have replied to my email from the personal experiences I've seen.
     
  15. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

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    We share enthusiasm for both flyfishing and packing handguns. 20180603_165619.jpg
    I truly enjoyed the thread and seeing what others pack on backcountry jaunts.
    We dont have big predators, but I do fish places that do. The 329PD would fit the criteria. Since "mountain gun" is already being used....maybe they could call it the Yellowstone or the Madison or the Bighorn...?
    2013-08-15_19-24-36_380.jpg
    Here's my North Fork gun.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
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  16. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    I reload and shoot a lot of heavy loads in the guns shown in the pics above. That keeps me proficient for the most part as it relates to heavy recoil. I plan to work up a load or maybe refresh myself with the Buffalo Bore offering and practice a little a couple of weeks before hitting the trail in August. Again, the only use the gun will see is those practice sessions and in the unlikely event it needs to be deployed while in Americas outback. As mentioned above in my original post, I bought it for one purpose only. Range time with .44 specials, CCW etc. wasn't what I had in mind for this piece.

    I mentioned using the "Mt Gun" moniker for it because I was surprised at the lack of marketing or discernable target demographic S&W was/is going for with the 329PD. Go to their site and the gun really isn't aimed at a specific use. More like it's just a showpiece for their technology along the lines of 'Hey, look what we can build if we put our mind to it'. Couldn't find anything on the internet related to advertisement of it either.

    I really like Dave T's suggestion to call it the 329BP (for Back Packer). Maybe a missed opportunity by the S&W advertisement department right there. The more I think about that the more I like it.

    'dawei' asks above if the Taurus 444 Ultralite is a "viable alternative to the 329PD". Sure. Wasn't a conscious decision on my part to snub the 444. It's approx. 3 ounces heavier. While some folks would laugh at that you carry those 3 ounces for the entire distance. Little things like that here and there in durable equipment start to add up quick in pack weight. When I was 25 pack weight was pretty much dictated by what I could afford. Now-a-days its driven by my never ending quest to cheat age and maintain my daily mileage expectations. In that regard titanium and high end gear is your friend and it doesn't come cheap. Most people would be surprised that a tent/pack/sleeping bag can easily exceed the cost of a 329PD, never mind the cost of what you're carrying besides that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2019
  17. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    Agreed.
    I was just throwing out there that if your wanting a 44 to shoot a lot, buy a mountain gun, redhawk, etc. Call smith and Wesson and they will tell you the same. (Probably leaving out the redhawk). Ive carried a redhawk or a 29 on occasion for all day hiking/ climbing. My hip joint hurt every time after 10 or more hours. With the 329 I'm fine. So the extra few ounces absolutely makes a difference. I don't like the chest holsters everyone else prefers so it's a bianchi cyclone most of the time. So its all about what your intended use is for the gun.
     
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  18. dawei

    dawei Member

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    Thanks, Frulk.
     
  19. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I always liked the idea of a 329 for heavy 44 specials/ low end magnums. Don't have any real need for it though, not deer legal in my home state and not any real predators either.
     
  20. Catpop

    Catpop Member

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    Do you fly fish so you can buy new HD guns?
    Just wondering if it will work with my high sheriff? I’m running out of other excuses!
    Have fun!
     
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  21. Frulk

    Frulk Member

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    Catpop, since you touched on it. True story here: 2 decades ago a good friend introduced me to kippered herrings on one of those back packing trips. I also used to eat them in the house on occasion. I had mentioned to the spousal unit I was in the market for a new lighter gun and got THAT look. Most of us know THAT look. So anyway, one day I was sitting at the kitchen island counter eating a can of kippered herrings minding my own business when my wife walked by and casually said "If you promise to never eat those again in the house you can get whatever gun you want". Every word of it is gospel. That's how that first 329PD came home to live with me. I haven't ate those kippers in the house in probably 8-10 years or so, even when she's not around. A Man's only as good as his word.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2019
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  22. ric jackson

    ric jackson Member

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    I have a 5 shot tracker in 44 mag for walk in fishing in the mountains. Due to injuries these are limited to a few miles or horse pack trips.It was a compromise in price, weight and intended use. Carried a lot shot a little mostly .44 It has short cylinders and the heaviest 44 mag. it will take is B.B. 270 g hard cast. Taurus gets a lot of bad p.r. but it has worked for me for last 10 years. That's my mountain gun.
     
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  23. dawei

    dawei Member

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    I can certainly relate to what you are saying. I have the same SS Taurus® TRACKER™ albeit in 41 Remington® Magnum. I load mine with a horded stash of Federal® Premiem® Vital-Shok® CastCore® 250gr WFNGC ammunition. Like you my TRACKER™ is my mountain gun.

    Regards...
     
  24. Stumper

    Stumper Member

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    Frulk, Sounds like you have your needs and wants well sorted out. The 329 is emminently packable. I shot one cylinder full of factory 240 JSPs out of a 329 once, hit what I was aiming at 6 times, handed it back and told my friend that I didn't want to shoot it again. Ever. I like to shoot my guns and I decided at that point that the steel 4 inch Mountain Gun was as lightweight a .44 mag as I would enjoy. Ironically I find the 3 inch 360 M&P airweight .357 tolerable and super packable... It is a lot smaller and lighter than the 329 ....but of course it is not a .44 mag.
     
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  25. Gordon

    Gordon Member

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    I wonder why S&W didn't put the tapered Stainless half shrouded barrel of the Mountain gun on the 329 frame ?. While my long and heavy hiking like yours is 10 years gone, I too found the Mountain Revolver of 1989 the best solution for such purposes since the begining of the Ninties . You bring back memories.
     
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