"Go ahead, make my day."
Had a great outing with my "new" Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum:
The S&W Model 29 was made famous in the Dirty Harry series of movies and brought great attention to the .44 Magnum cartridge, which had been developed by Elmer Keith in the 1950s based on his extensive research and reloading, and personal use, of .44 Special cartridges that he loaded to very high pressures.
The first Model 29 revolver was built by Smith and Wesson in December 1955 and released to the public in January 1956.
The .44 Magnum is based on a lengthened .44 Special case, loaded to higher pressures for greater velocity (and thus, energy). The .44 Magnum has since been eclipsed in power by the .454 Casull, among others; nevertheless, it has remained one of the most popular commercial large-bore magnum cartridges. When loaded to its maximum and with heavy, deeply penetrating bullets, the .44 Magnum cartridge is suitable for short-range hunting of all North American game—though at the cost of much recoil and muzzle flash when fired in handguns. In carbines and rifles, these are non-issues.
The release of Dirty Harry in 1971 gave rise to enormous interest in the Model 29 revolver, the Model 29-2. The "real" Dirty Harry Model 29 has a 6.5" barrel. The Model 29 in this video has the 8" barrel.
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 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 and 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 Model 29 featured in this video is a Model 29-3, manufactured in the early 1980s. The revolver shown was purchased by a gentleman who used it only a couple times and then tucked it in his gun safe, a common event, given the heavy recoil and noise of the .44 Magnum.