Last month, the Colt’s gun knocked off Ruger in a comparison of Hunter Pistols; this time, it takes on the venerable Model 29.
We recently tested three .44 Magnum revolvers suitable for use in various silhouette disciplines, and we reported on two of them last month: Ruger’s Super Redhawk GKSRH-7, a stainless-steel gun with a 7.5-inch barrel that retails for $589, and a Colt Anaconda MM3080, a $629 8-inch stainless .44 Magnum. At the same time and under the same conditions, we also gathered data on Smith & Wesson’s $566 blued Model 29 .44 Magnum wheelgun, which comes with an 8.4-inch barrel. Initially, we preferred the Anaconda over the Redhawk, and after mulling over the data, we also like the Colt product instead of the Model 29, for reasons we describe below.
Smith & Wesson Model 29
Introduction: Like Ruger and Colt, the S&W; revolver line is extensive, and it includes several silo-ready items in the .44 Magnum/.44 S&W; Special group. The Model 29 and 629 are twins except for their color. The 29 features blued steel, and the 629 is stainless. Both guns are built on the company’s N-Large frame to accommodate the pressures the .44 Magnum develops. The 29 line includes barrels 6 inches and 8.4 inches in length. We tested the 8-incher, catalog number 101208.
Physical Description. The Model 29’s 0.5-inch-wide, deeply grooved target hammer spur was lowered for better scope clearance. On the gun, an interchangeable red ramp front sight was paired with a white-outline adjustable rear sight. The six-round 29 had a 0.4-inch-wide serrated trigger, Hogue black rubber grips, and an overall length of 13.9 inches. It weighed 54 ounces without a scope. The sight radius was 10 inches. The trigger broke between 4.5 and 5 pounds. The barrel/cylinder gap measured 0.005 inch. The Model 29 had a hammer-block safety that required the shooter to activate the trigger for the gun to fire. Fit and finish on all the parts was excellent. Our gun was drilled and tapped to accept a scope, like the other companies’ target models.
Accuracy Evaluation. As the accompanying table shows, this gun shot best with Blount CCI Blazer 240-grain jacketed hollowpoint rounds. They produced 3.64-inch groups on average and a best group of 2.90 inches. The gun’s overall average across all three rounds was 4.27 inches. We didn’t note any accuracy variation among the gun’s six cylinders.
Operation Evaluation. Handling the gun, we thought the S&W;’s hammer movement and cylinder rotation were smooth and on time. The trigger broke cleanly between 4.5 and 5 pounds. The rubber grips cushioned the stiff recoil of the .44 Magnum. Without barrel porting, the .44 Magnum’s muzzle would be tough to control. We had our gun Mag-Na-Ported to reduce recoil-related accuracy problems. The white-outline rear-sight notch was easy to align. We had no malfunctions during firing. Without rings and a scope, the gun easily made weight for Hunter’s Pistol. We added steel rings and mount and a 2X Leupold scope, which brought the unit’s total weight to 68 ounces. Thus, the gun can make weight in a number of silhouette classes.
Performance Shooter Recommends
We tested the blued Smith & Wesson Model 29 hoping to find a more economical handgun silhouette choice than the Colt Anaconda we reviewed last month. However, the lack of a factory-supplied comp, plus middling accuracy, make the Model 29 less suited to the silhouette game than the other tested revolvers, we feel.