What should I know about an early model S&W 29?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Rockrivr1, Oct 1, 2021.

  1. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    So I'm on the hunt for a blued S&W M29 w/ a 6" or 6.5" bbl and I'm wondering if there is anything I should be aware of in the earlier models. Any version to stay away from or that are lacking options that came in later models? As with any hunt, looking is a big part of the fun. Especially in today's climate. Just want to make sure I'm aware of anything that could bite me in the butt with any particular version.

    Thanks
     
  2. Starter52

    Starter52 Member

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    I have never heard of any problems.

    If anything, the early "no dash" Model 29 revolvers are often preferred by shooters.

    They are certainly preferred by collectors.
     
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  3. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I would add that these guns were designed around the level of the standard 240 gr loading, and are not a good choice if Buffalo Bore/Double Tap/Underwood performance is your shooting goal.
     
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  4. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Indeed! Be prepared to shell out some serious ducats for a nice specimen. They're getting so lofty that they're bordering on eternal safe queens now :(.

    Other than that, if you find one in nice shape they're lifetime guns if you don't hot rod them. :thumbup:

    Stay safe
     
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  5. 357 Terms
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    357 Terms Contributing Member

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    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
  6. Old_Grouch

    Old_Grouch Member

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    My LGS has a nickel 6"(6.5?) but I don't know the dash #. It is a pre-lock and apparently unfired. $1350.00. I'm tempted but a while back I gave away everything I had for .44; brass, dies, everything. I probably wouldn't be so tempted if it was blued instead of nickel.
     
  7. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    You are limited to what is available.
    Made from 1957
    There are over 10- changes
    6" barrel is hard to find. 5" barrel is 3 to 4 times standard value

    To many variations to type here.

    Many special variations as well

    As with all older SW revolvers, try to find one with original stocks (grips( Most have been harvested and sold separately for stupid amounts of money.
    Good luck in your quest. if you have a specific dash variation it can be looked up even better if it has the box with the product codes
     
  8. DR505

    DR505 Member

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    Early -3 variants did not have the endurance package, the -3E and -4 and above all did.
     
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  9. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Wasn’t the cylinder slightly shorter prior to the endurance package therefore too short for some of the longer semi wadcutters? My BIL has a no dash 8”, beautiful gun but cannot chamber my Keith 429421 loads as they were too long. Regular 240’s were not an issue. My 629 and Ruger SBH never had a problem
     
  10. 357 Terms
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    357 Terms Contributing Member

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    The Endurance Package actually began during the -2 run. In 1989 they were stamped -2E to catalogue the change.
    I believe (may be wrong) that the E package that was introduced in the -3 was an improvement over the -2E.

    Edit..
    I'm confused, talking about the 629!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021
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  11. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

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    The reason for the endurance package was that Handgun metallic Silouhette shooters were having problems with the cylinder unlocking durring heavy recoil, and rotating backwards. They were using extremely heavy loads with 300 + grain bullets.

    The original loading for .44 magnum was supposed to be powerful enough for hunting the largest game in North America. That included polar bears.
     
  12. bangswitch

    bangswitch Member

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    Not really. The 6" barrel was accepted as the standard length barrel in 1979, when the 6-1/2" barrel was discontinued. The 6" is more scarce than the 6-1/2", but they aren't rare. 6-1/2" still brings a better premium on price, though.
     
  13. Mike C2

    Mike C2 Member

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    1956 is the first year of the .44 Magnum shipping 5 screw guns. 1957 saw the shipment of 4 screw guns. Sometime in ‘58 the first no dash guns shipped. -1 guns aren’t common at all and -2 guns start in ‘61 with the elimination of the 4th screw and reverse thread extractor rods. S serial number through first part ‘69 and then N serial #’s after that. Only ONE known 6” barreled S serial # gun and as you can imagine it is quite valuable from a collectors standpoint… There is no function or even appearance difference of S and N guns, so no need to pay the premium that the S serials command. Grips would have been the “Oversized checked target grips” with the diamond around the escutcheon, also knows as “Coke Bottle Grips” from the beginning through 1966. Cokes are selling for about $600 a set, give or take $100 so that adds significantly to the price of an earlier .44 mag. N serial -2 guns are probably the most common variant and the best value. I’m not a heavy load shooter so no need to have the endurance package for what I do. Good luck in your pursuit of a Model 29!
     
  14. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  15. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    For those of you who aren't collectors, there's another option.

    I "settled" for a 629 that was in good shape. It's a modern version in stainless.

    It's absolutely not as cool as the early blued models, but it's a good shooter and was affordable.

     
  16. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    For those curious, this is the extra part that was added for the "enhancement package." It's purpose is to prevent the cylinder release from moving while the trigger is pulled. I couldn't find it in any of the S&W pictorials, nor in the several gunsmithing books I have. Picture of my 5" 629-6. 29's might be different, what do I know.


    IMG_0707 Bolt Block.JPG
     
  17. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Not according to the SCSW, let the OP know how many of them you find.
     
  18. bangswitch

    bangswitch Member

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    What I stated came directly from the SCSW 4th edition. Any M29 made after 1979 won't have a 6-1/2" barrel, it will be 6" unless you get a 4" or 8-3/8", or the ones that ARE rare, a 5" or 5-1/2", or a non-catalog special order length. To quote the catalog, top of page 232, right hand column, 6-1/2" barrel may bring 10% premium, even though 6" is more scarce. All that means is there are more 6-1/2" barrels than 6" barrels, not that the 6" barrels are rare. To further quote the catalog, also page 232, further down the right hand column under the engineering changes, M29-2 -1979 6-1/2" barrel length dropped in favor of 6" as standard barrel length. "Standard" would imply that if you didn't order the gun with an 8-3/8" or 4", or a non-catalog length, you got a 6" barrel.

    I have a M29-2 with a 6" barrel. It is part of a commemorative series of 1080 guns, most of which have 6" barrels (the remaining ones have 6-1/2" barrels). The reason for the mix of barrels is that the commemorative was released in 1979, the year the 6-1/2" barrel was discontinued, and this commemorative series used the remaining inventory of 6-1/2" barrels. In this series, there are more of the 6" barrels by far than 6-1/2" according to collectors, but I've never been able to find out the precise number of each. As for the number of 6" barrels in all M29 production, I know of nothing outside of company records that would have that info, and those records probably no longer exist.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2021
  19. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    It also says the 5" brings 3-4 times the value of standard

    But as I mentioned, lets us all know how many you find out there. If found buy them.
     
  20. Rockrivr1

    Rockrivr1 Member

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    Thanks everyone for the information. Much to think about. Just in my short couple days of searching around I think this is going to be a more indepth search then I thought. Many of you are right though. Those early models are going for some serious coin. I've seen a few going for more then $2K. Considering you can get a new M29 for roughly around $1200-$1300 that is some pretty good appreciation cost wise.
     
  21. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    When the .44Mag was introduced, maximum operating pressure was 43,500CUP. A good bit higher than the 36,000psi it is now. The only overpressure load in .44Mag is the 340gr Buffalo Bore, Underwood equivalent and the Garrett 330gr Hammerhead loads. Most of them are going to be too long for the cylinder anyway. That said, it matters very little. N-frames do not hold up well to a steady diet of standard pressure factory loads. A pre-29 is a valuable collectible and while I'm gentle with all my N-frame .44's, that would go double for a pre-29. I limit them to 240's at 1200fps.


    There were few if any bullets over 300gr back then. They weren't just unlocking, they were shooting loose due to frame stretching.

    Now that we're a lot smarter, a 240gr JHP is just a deer load. Any pursuit of the great bears is typically done with much heavier, much tougher bullets.
     
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  22. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    You may not want to buy a uses 29-2 that looks like my factory setback barrel. Always shot homecast 240/250 gr lswc & W296, WLP, for years. Now some10 grs of Unique. Tried 700X & 800X . full.jpg full.jpg full.jpg
    Bought the gun new. Nov 1976, N33668X, 8 3/8" Barrel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2021
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