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S&W M-29
Length Overall Barrel Length Weight Caliber Action Type Magazine Capacity
 16" 10 5/8"  55.5 oz .44 Mag D.A. Revolver 6
    A specialized version of the venerable M-29, 44 magnum revolver, this is not Dirty Harry's gun. This is essentially a standard (if such a thing can be said about a model 29) pistol, with a couple of enhancements. The first, and most striking, is the length of the barrel: 10 5/8 inches. This is the longest barrel on any production S&W revolver. While custom guns have been made with 12", and possibly longer tubes, no other production model has been available with a longer barrel. The second enhancemet is the replacement of the normal blade front sight, with an adjustable unit. That's right, both the front and the rear sights of this model are adjustable. Naturally, the gun is equipped with a target rear sight, target trigger, and target hammer, as well as target grips; but these are not uncommon on the regular garden variety M-29.
    The silhouette model was designed for long range shooting. In particular, it was designed for the sport of silouette shooting, in which metal targets, in the shapes of animals, are engaged at rather long ranges. This is long range precision shooting, with no combat element. The shooter is generally prone, well braced, and unmoving. Speed tends not to be a factor in these competitions. The pistol was introdced in 1983, and was produced, in limited quantities, until around 1991. This year saw the discontinuance of the Model 29 altogether, though the 629 has stayed in production.
    This type of shooting requires a powerfull cartridge, to knock down the heavy targets at long range. It also requires excellent, and precise sights to engage targets which may be visable as little more than dots off in the distance. Three pistol types dominated, and pretty much still dominate, the sport. The first is the Thompson Contender line of single shot pistols, available in rifle as well as pistol calibers. The second type consists of a number of custom, single shot, bolt action pistols. These tend to be chambered in rifle calibers, and are, for all practical purposes, single shot, stockless, cut down rifles. The third, and most conventional, are the Dan Wesson revolvers, either in standard magnum chamberings, or one of the Supermag chamberings, developed specifically for the sport.
    The big framed Smith has never been what you would call a small,  handy gun, but the 10 5/8 inch barrel makes it particularly unwieldly. Aligning the front blade with the rear notch, down that long sighting plane, is very precise, but rather slow. The gun isn't so much aimed, as it is brought to bear, somewhat like firing a canon rather than a handgun. My Contender sometimes feels like this, with some of it's longer barrels. The gun can not really be carried in a belt holster, requiring the use of a shoulder holster or a scabbard type. It is big, heavy, and cumbersome, certainly not what most people would consider a field or carry piece.
    Complaints aside, this pistol is a real ego builder. I am proud to say that I have achieved my first ever sub one inch group. This was from a rest, and was deliberate, slow, single action firing, but all six shots went into something like a 3/4" circle, essentially one big ragged hole. A single quarter covered the whole group. Though I have shot my share of 2 and 3 inch groups with this gun, on bad days, the sub inch group has repeated itself on several occasions, so I know it to be no fluke. It has to be the sights, as I can not believe that an extra couple of inches added to the barrel would make such a difference. It could also be that a bit of extra tuning went into this piece, but I really can not say.This gun has the usual excellent double action, and incredable single action pull, which I have come to associate with all of the N frame Smiths.