1. Great video as usual Ian.
    FWIW it is my understanding that during the filming of Dirty Harry the first of the series, blanks for the .44 had become difficult to obtain so for shooting scenes they substituted Model 25’s in .45 Colt for the Model 29.
    It would be interesting if we could confirm this but many years and the legend of the Model 29 still grows. RichardX

  2. A friend of mine had both the Model 29, and the Model 25 (.45 Colt). The first one he bought was fantastic, until he tried to shoot it in bright sunlight. The red ramp front sight disappears in the sun,and all shots would string vertically. He took it back to Smith, and they changed the insert to a black one while he waited. The red ramp and white outline rear sight look good in the gun shop, but not on a range.

  3. I had a friend who had one with a 4″ barrel (blued) and it was a handful just to hold. Firing it with magnum loads was nasty but with .44 spl loads it was a very pleasant and accurate gun.

  4. I can remember when American Rifleman was the magazine of the gentleman and Guns & Ammo was the porn and the surge in popularity of the Model 29 (and the eventual bust). My brother won two Turkeys even against rifles with an 8 3/8 barrel (nothing like a wide bullet to cut string). One virtue of this gun of course was that it was aesthetically beautiful. The wooden case was considered a standard with these pistols back then. It was the pistol you pulled out to impress your guests in your upper middle class suburban home. The guns price paid for itself in “showing off” as it impressed even laypersons that weren’t even gun conscious. It was like in the 1830’s when you showed off your cased dueling pistols to your guests.

    • I watched “Johnny Dangerously” back in 1984 when it first came out, and still find a lot of amusement whenever I watch it again on occasion. Altogether, a terrific modern classic spoof on the 1920’s-1930’s “Gangster” era here in the U.S. I don’t think there has ever been a firearms-related line anywhere near as funny as that of Danny Vermin ( Joe Piscopo ) as he slowly draws the “.88 Magnum” from under his jacket.

    • There was also the 1980s TV show “Sledge Hammer”, where the main character carried a S&W Model 629 and occasionally talked to it. Once the gun was being repaired, so he was given a Beretta 950 in .25ACP instead. While practicing at the police range, he wondered why he couldn’t hit anything with it, but it turned out that the bullets haven’t even reached the target. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. I have a Model 29 with a 8 3/8 barrel, It’s a sweet shooter, I do admit I use mid-range .44 Special loads in it, although I do have a box of .44 mag +P that I am slowly working through, when the big macho types want to try the gun.

  6. When he used the 44 Auto Mag in “Sudden Impact” he made my day and I own (and shoot) # 85 of the original Pasadina 44 Auto Mag. It is a lot of pistol to shoot, I also have a Dan Wesson in 44 Magnum with both the 6″ and 10″ barrel but it is not as much fun to shoot as the Auto Mag. Harry

  7. I shot a 629 along with a Remington XP-100 in 35 Remington in Handgun Silloutte competition. I also hunted with the 629 and a Model 29 I bought later, I also hunted with a Colt Delta Elite, which was quite effective as well.

    Of the Silloutte guns, the S&W were good guns, but the Dan Wessons were really popular as well, amount the double action revolvers. Now with single action, Ruger seemed to rule the roost, so to speak, as they were accessible and at one time had a 10 1/2 bbl, I beleive.

    All in all, the Model 29 and its siblings, the 27 and 57 were some of the one of the very few premium handguns (along with the Python, which was not all that popular) The 27’s, 29’s and 57’s were exceptionally fitted and for post-war guns, had great blueing.

    BTW, the American Rifleman was one of the more limited in publishing of the gun magazines, there was Guns and Ammo, (not gun porn at all), there was Shooting Times, Gun World and s v real others. Actually, a lot of the experimentation for rifles and handguns for shooters was reported on in Guns and Ammo and Gun World.

  8. I admit, I bought a .44 Magnum Model 29 because of Dirty Harry. It was a beautiful pistol! The first time I shot it, I was just astounded at the blast wave radiating from the muzzle. But, I did not find it enjoyable to shoot. I tried to like it, forced about 6 boxes of ammo through it trying to force myself to enjoy it. But it was just not fun to shoot (for me). I traded it for a .357 Magnum, and never turned back. Still own and shoot the .357 and love it.

  9. It’s interesting to note that through most of the original movie, Clint Eastwood was using a S&W Model 57 .41 Magnum 6′, because they only had one 6.5″ M29 and they were afraid of damaging it.

    The punch line is that at that time, the standard issue sidearm of San Francisco PD’s uniform division was the S&W M58 Military & Police .41 Magnum 4″ heavy barrel fixed-sight revolver. It had been adopted in 1968 due to a lawsuit by the ACLU preventing SFPD from adopting either the .357 Magnum, or hollow-point ammunition for their previous M10 M&P .38 Special 4″ revolvers. The .41 M58 loaded with the 210-grain lead semi-flat-point “police” load at 1100 F/S for 560 FPE was considered as reasonable compromise between “stopping power” and not engendering another legal attack by the Forces Of Social Good.

    In the end, the M58 was retired in 1977 in favor of first the S&W M65 (basically a stainless-steel M10 4″ heavy barrel in .357), followed by the 4″ M686, and finally a succession of 9 x 19mm self-loaders.

    Ballistically, there is so little difference between the .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum cartridges in most loadings that the 1955-introduced .44 has pretty much rendered the 1964 vintage .41 extinct. Conversely, if the .41 had been the one introduced first, odds are the .44 Magnum would never have seen the light of day.

    Interestingly, the .41 Magnum is in all respects except bore and cartridge case diameter a near-duplicate of the .401 Herter’s Powermag proprietary round introduced in 1961;


    I tend to suspect Remington and S&W took a long look at the Herter’s round before launching the .41 Magnum project.



    • “Conversely, if the .41 had been the one introduced first, odds are the .44 Magnum would never have seen the light of day.”
      I am not sure about it – .44 Magnum fire-arm have advantage that can fire .44 Special, that mean even if .44 Magnum can’t be obtained it still might be used.
      There is always risk when combination of new-fire-arm+new-cartridge is that if even firearm is very good, without cartridges it is useless from user point-of-view.
      Additonally .44 Special might be used when full power is not necessary.
      There seems to exist cartridge known as “.41 Special” but it seems to be not CIP compliant.

  10. Did you consider including a cut to a few seconds of your video showing Elmer’s early hand loading? There is also a good description in ‘The Road Warrior’ of what one round of .44 magnum can do.

    I wonder about the market for functional guns based on movie and particularly video game guns. I would rather like to have a copy of Fallout 4’s 10mm pistol, the ghost rifle from StarCraft and/or ‘the Mexican’ from ‘the Mexican’.

  11. I have one like auction model. 6.5″ barrel, pinned and recessed. Love the trigger. The single action pull is the textbook definition of “crisp” or “lacking creep”.

    Admittedly, I got it because it’s an iconic movie gun. I’ll admit that. But it is super fun to shoot with that wonderful trigger. It’s very accurate too.

    • Ian would carry his trusty Ballester-Molina and Karl, being a fan of the P38 and recently the Beretta M9, would perhaps carry the M9A1 or M9A3. Or something completely different…

  12. I used to have a Virginian Dragoon, the barrel was a little over 8 inches and it was the most accurate 44 Mag I have ever shot. Someone before me had done some trigger work on it and it was very crisp and almost too light but very sweet for accuracy.

  13. About a decade ago a gun dealer friend of mine asked me to meet him at the police range (I was the firearms guy for the PD). Among various suppressed firearms and other cool stuff he wanted to test fire he had a newly acquired S&W model 629 “Mountain Gun.” It had a skinny 4″ barrel and though it was all steel great pains had been taken to make it as light as an all steel N-frame can be. He had what seemed at the time to be and endless supply of vintage S&W brand .44 magnum ammo featuring 240 grain JHPs. I cranked off six rounds, then he cranked off six rounds, and we did this a couple times each then took a break to shoot the other guns. We kept coming back to that .44 though. In short order we got to where I’d shoot 3, hand it to him and he’d shoot 3. Later I’d shoot one, he’d shoot one … this went on until we ran out of ammo (saving either of us then He-men from admitting our hands were throbbing). A bit later, he dug into another box of mixed ammo he’d gotten as part of some trade. I heard him let out a string of curses. I asked him what was wrong. “I just found another #@%& box of .44 mag ammo!” he said. I sighed a weary sigh. “Load ‘er up!” and there we went again. Heh, fun times though I still think that had something to do with how much arthritis I have in my hands now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Dang … now I want one of the new L-frame S&W 69 5-shot .44 magnums with a 2.75″ barrel. ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. I remember it distinctly from my times in the 70’s at the Houston Gun Show, the hysteria just got crazy. Six inch 29’s went from about 225 to 450 overnight and then got scarce.

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