The market is packed with hunting handguns, but the cream rises to the top. Smith & Wesson does just that with their Model 629 Magnum Hunter. does an in-depth review of this Performance Center wheelgun and optic combo. 

S&W Performance Center Magnum Hunter

This gun’s given name is a long one – Performance Center Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter. That’s a long moniker for a wheelgun that delivers quality, looks, and performance. This six-round, N-frame revolver is single/double action and chambered only for .44 Remington Magnum/.44 Special. It is built of stainless steel with a two-tone finish that gives it unique looks and a 7.5-inch barrel. Synthetic rubberized grips offer ample purchase and negate recoil. 

Performance Center firearms are much more than production guns. They are hand-cut, hand-fitted, and custom-tuned firearms for the best in, as S&W says online, “old-world craftsmanship with modern technology.” There’s a dovetailed red ramp front sight and adjustable rear, as well as an integral Picatinny rail. A custom muzzle brake tames recoil and muzzle jump. 

The Smith & Wesson Magnum Hunter is made in American and built of stainless steel with a two-tone finish. The 7.5-inch barrel is an optimal length for hunting with a .44 Remington Magnum chambering. The gun also came with a UTG red dot. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Rounding out the package are a chromed hammer, chromed trigger with trigger stop, and a specially tuned action. The Magnum Hunter is backed by S&W’s lifetime service policy. The wheelgun ships with a padded and embroidered zipper case as well as a UTG red dot optic. The Magnum Hunter measures 14 inches in overall length and weighs 59.4 ounces, or roughly four pounds with the optic.

MSRP on this ultimate hunting handgun package is set at $1,378. 

Field Work


The S&W Magnum Hunter is a six-round, N-frame revolver in single/double action and chambered only for .44 Remington Magnum/.44 Special. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

We headed to the range with a nice mix of premium factory ammunition: Hornady Handgun Hunter 200-grain MonoFlex, Barnes VorTX 225-grain XPB, 240-grain Federal Fusion, Hornady Custom 300-grain XTP, 240-grain Sig Sauer Elite, and Federal Premium 280-grain Swift A-Frame.

Accuracy was excellent with all types of ammunition, cutting holes at 25 yards and maintaining tight groups at 50 yards. Things opened up a bit more at 75 yards, but all shots remained within a minute-of-deer-heart accuracy from a sturdy rest. The Magnum Hunter grouped equally well with bullet weights and composition types from 200 grain up to the heaviest 300 grain tested. While the iron sights are excellent, we opted to make use of the included red dot optic.

This six-shooter is a true hunter’s dream revolver, especially for lovers of the .44 Magnum chambering. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

There were more than a few questions about S&W’s decision to partner a budget-priced UTG optic with their top-of-the-line revolver, so we wanted to tempt it to fail. Even after over 100 rounds, and less than gentle handling, the rig not only held zero but performed exceptionally. With red and green dot options, the sight picture acquires quickly in all types of light, which was truly tested on the hunt. Of course, with the provided rail, end users can easily opt for the optic of their choosing. 

Hunting With the Magnum Hunter


We had the opportunity to hunt – and harvest – both whitetail deer and free-range Texas wild boar with the S&W Magnum Hunter. The field performance was exceptional. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

We can test functionality, accuracy, and quality on the range day after day, but nothing quite compares to the test of hunting. The reason we wanted to feature this wheelgun started with a wild boar hunt in Texas, when I was lucky enough to borrow the piece. With one shot of Buffalo Bore to harvest a massive, free-ranging, angry boar, I was hooked on the Magnum Hunter. 

The smoothness of the action is unsurpassed in the modern market. Partner that with good looks and low recoil in a .44 Magnum, and we have a winner. When our T&E revolver arrived, we finished zeroing on the range and packed it along on a Midwest whitetail hunt. When the opportunity arose to harvest a solitary doe, the Magnum Hunter again got the job done cleanly with one shot of the new Hornady Handgun Hunter ammunition. The more we shoot and hunt with the Magnum Hunter, the more we wish for new adventures with this wheelgun. 

With a heavy stainless-steel build, overall weight of 59.4 ounces, and a Performance Center muzzle brake, felt recoil on the .44 Magnum is surprisingly light even from heavy hunting rounds. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/

Those who have handled and fired many wheelguns will immediately notice the quality difference in this Performance Center hunter. The action is silky smooth and the lockup is drum tight. Partnering the heavy stainless build with a PC muzzle brake and quality grips makes felt recoil exceptionally light, though the report is quite loud. Trigger pull breaks cleanly at just under 4 pounds in single action, and the trigger stop is a nice addition. The Magnum Hunter easily becomes an extension of the hunter. It’s a trusted tool and efficient companion. 

The Magnum Hunter is exceptionally special because it comes from the Performance Center. S&W advertises “old-world craftsmanship with modern technology,” and that’s true on this smooth, accurate, quality-built hunting wheelgun. (Photo: Kristin Alberts/


There is no doubt this wheelgun will be around for future hunts for generations, and it’s capable of taking much larger game. For any hunters considering a move to a handgun, or those looking to upgrade, the S&W Magnum Hunter should be at the top of their shopping list. Where else can you get Performance Center custom features in a modern revolver with low recoil, good looks, and one of the smoothest actions on the market for production prices? 

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