Saturday, May 23, 2015
Smith And Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 is a six-shot, double-action revolver chambered for the .44 Magnum cartridge and manufactured by the U.S. company Smith & Wesson. It was made famous by — and is still most often associated with — the fictional character "Dirty Harry" Callahan from the Dirty Harry series of films starring Clint Eastwood.
The Model 29 was offered with 3", 4", 5", 6", 6½", 8⅜" and, later, 10⅝" barrel lengths as standard models. Other barrel lengths were available either by special order from Smith & Wesson's Custom Shop or custom built by gunsmiths. The 5" barreled variant had a full length underlug. Finish options available included a highly polished blued or nickel-plated surface.
S&W's production of a large N-frame revolver in .44 Magnum began in 1955; the Model 29 designation was applied in 1957. It remained primarily the province of handgun enthusiasts, some law enforcement personnel and hunters until 1971, when Clint Eastwood made it famous as "the most powerful handgun in the world" in the movie Dirty Harry. After the movie's release, retailers had trouble keeping the Model 29 in stock.
At the time of its introduction, the Model 29 was the most powerful production handgun. There were a number of custom, or wildcat, calibers that were more powerful, as in the old Howdah pistols of the 19th century. Elmer Keith's achievements in maximizing the power and performance of the .44 Special was the inspiration and driving force behind the introduction of the .44 Magnum by Smith & Wesson. His intention for the new round was for it to be used in sidearms for hunters of large, dangerous game, rather than for self-defense, though with today's specialty cartridges, it can be a good defensive round.
The Model 29 will chamber and fire .44 Special cartridges, as the .44 Magnum was developed from the .44 Special. The Magnum case is slightly longer to prevent magnum rounds from being chambered and fired in handguns chambered for the .44 Special.
In the late 1990s, Smith & Wesson discontinued production of many models of revolvers, including the 'basic' Model 29; since then, at various times, the model, in limited or 'custom' configurations, has been manufactured in as many as 10 evolutions.
The original Model 29 was superseded by the Model 29-1 in 1960, with modifications made to the ejector-rod screw. The Model 29-2 replaced it the following year, with one screw that had secured the cylinder-stop spring being deleted. The barrel length was shortened from 6 1/2" to 6" in 1979. These two versions are known as "pinned and recessed". "Pinned" means that the barrels are screwed in, and additionally secured by a pin driven through the frame and a notch in the barrel. "Recessed" denotes the rear of the bored cylinder holes being recessed, so that when loaded the cartridge rims are fully enclosed by the cylinder. In 1982, the cost-cutting Model 29-3 dropped recessed cylinders and pinned barrels for crush-fit barrels.
The -4 and -5, produced from 1988 and 1990 respectively had changes to improve durability for heavy use. In 1994 the 29-6 began production, now fitted as standard with rubber Monogrips from Hogue to replace the previous wooden items, standard tapped holes also being provided for attaching scope mounts. The 29-7 started production in 1998 with changes to the locking mechanism, the firing pin's attachment, and a hammer and trigger produced with a metal injection molding process.