I grew up watching 80s films, so revolvers always seemed present in my gun repertoire. My father and grandfather both shot revolvers whenever they had the occasion to shoot a pistol. My tastes have changed over the years, but I can still appreciate a cylinder with holes bored for six.
Today’s subject is one of those classic pistol designs that seem timeless in their execution, the S&W 629 Mountain Gun chambered in the admirable .44 Remington Magnum.
The Model 29s are more modern versions of the gun that made the .44 magnums famous. The pistol features double and single-action functions, one of the most simple and easy to not screw up designs ever. The cylinder has chambers for six cartridges and is opened by pushing the left side release actuator.
The gun comes with a rubberized grip, making it easy to hold onto, and an adjustable rear sight to make sure you hit whatever you are aiming at. The 4-inch barrel was in very good condition, almost new to the naked eye.
The .44 Magnum
I’ve been loading .44 Magnum since I got my first wheel gun over a decade ago. I’ve found it to be a relatively easy cartridge to load. In the interests of fun, I’ve also loaded up a few .44 Specials. The .44 Remington Magnum offers big bullets going real fast, at least for a pistol. With bullets in the 200 to 240-grain class, you can shoot velocities near double that of the very popular .45 ACP.
Harnessing all this power has been the job of many strong revolvers over the years, but it has also been popular in some lever gun models. Perhaps the ultimate duo, a Winchester 94 in .44 magnum with a S&W revolver to match.
Since buying ammunition these days is still as pleasant as washing stray cats, I decided to use some of my own rolled magnums. Several comfort loads that I’m used to would do the trick. The first is my old standby, a 240-grain cast lead slug with a grease ring. Loaded with some H110, it has always been a soft and accurate shooting load, I’ve been able to reliably hit targets at deer-hunting distances in the past.
The next load up was some Berry’s 240-grain copper-plated flat points loaded again with H110, which seems to be the go-to powder for many of these pistol cartridges. Once I had a box of each loaded up, I headed to the mountains to see how this Mountain Gun fit into the scenery.
On the Range
One thing I appreciate about the .44 Magnum is that even though it’s just a pistol, it still has enough energy to shoot further distances than one would typically shoot pistols. It’s not exactly long range, but I like the idea of a strong handgun that a guy could actually use to sneak up on a deer and take a shot.
I started out shooting at paper targets at approximately 15 yards, hitting NRA targets at that range was easy, so much so that I began to try shooting some groups to see just how accurate the gun was.
Once I had convinced myself I could shoot no better at that range, I decided to shoot at a steel target 50 yards away. A full-size silhouette was still relatively easy to hit, and I stacked a bunch of lead on the front of that target for the next few minutes. The 629 seemed to like the lead bullets better than the plated ones, but both loads shot well enough for predictable hits.
The .44 is no slouch, you are quite aware of its presence every time it goes off. The soft rubber grip was very comfortable to hold onto, and its sticky quality made it easier to hold onto under recoil. The short 4-inch barrel sure loved to climb, I probably need to work on my pistol driving skills, but I think it wasn’t just me.
Perhaps the thing that impressed me the most was the clean and perfect trigger break. It felt so good it reminded me of a good rifle. I think this also made the pistol so easy to shoot well. I only needed to line up the sights, apply a touch of pressure, and watch the impact through a small cloud of smoke.
There is an allure to cranking the hammer back on these heavy revolvers, like thinking back on one of those old 70s movies and imagining a quivering villain before you as a cunning threat rolls off your lips. The heavy feel in your hand and the impressive recoil and noise seem to command attention.
Pros and Cons
For me, the best parts about these pistols are easily summed up. The quality finish and slightly petite build for a .44 Magnum make this an ideal gun to have along on an Alaskan fishing trip, not too heavy to make carrying it uncomfortable but still plenty of gun. The crisp trigger and clean sights are also very nice when it comes to shooting the gun, as is the aforementioned rubber grip.
If I had to mark it down for anything, it would probably only be due to my personal preferences. I like a 7-inch barrel better than a 4-inch one. I think it would make this gun just a bit more shootable. But understanding the purpose of this gun as a light and carry-friendly option kind of counters that point, or at least reduces its validity.
A Smith and Wesson Model 629 Mountain Gun would be an excellent firearm to have on your side for mountain adventuring. As its name suggests, the Mountain Gun is an excellent fit for when you may need a gun out of necessity more than by choice. It’s a fisherman’s friend in grizzly country, a cougar hunter’s perfect weapon for downing a treed cat, and a backcountry adventurer’s friend when heading out for the hills.
The great quality of this pistol’s construction as well as its perfect performance in the field would give me great confidence in these activities, so check one of these out and see if your collection needs a Mountain Gun.