Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Hunter Revolver Review
Part 3 - External & Operational Features
July 21, 2012

Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

In this part of my Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Revolver Review, I'm going to try and cover all the external and operational features of this revolver.  My statement of external features basically means any visible features that can be seen without disassembling the revolver.  Throughout this review, you can click on any photo to bring up a higher resolution photo showing the details in greater clarity.

 

To start out the review, the revolver has an extremely attractive two-tone finish.  The frame and the majority of the barrel have a black matte finish.  The muzzle break, cylinder, hammer, trigger and flats on each side of the barrel have a polished stainless or chrome plated finish.  Since the specifications didn't say what the black matte finish was on the revolver, I started an in depth search on the internet.  After several failed attempts at finding some information that I thought was solid, I emailed Smith & Wesson and they informed me it was their Black Magic finish which is a proprietary coating that is then covered with a polymer clear coat.  This finish has a deep black, almost satin look, that creates a great black tone to really bring out the stainless/chrome features.

Figure 1
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The .44 Magnum Hunter measures 1.71" in width at its widest point which is across the cylinder.

Figure 2
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The revolver measured 6.00" in height and 14.37" in length.  The length was slightly longer than the specification length of 14".

Figure 3
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

Figure 4
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

Figure 5
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The .44 Magnum Hunter weighed in at 54.25 ounces empty which was 3.25 ounces less than the 57.5 ounces stated in the specifications.  Since I know that the current model is slightly different from that shown in a June 2011 review which showed an un-fluted cylinder, my guess is that the website specification data has not been updated to reflect the current configuration of the revolver.

Figure 6
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

If you choose to use the UTG (Leapers) red/green dot sight, doing so will add another 9.5 ounces to the weight of the revolver bringing the total weight to 63.75 (basically 4 pounds).

Figure 7
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The revolver comes with a dovetailed red ramp front sight that sticks up about .30" above the top of the barrel shroud and the revolver also comes with a stainless steel muzzle break.

Figure 8
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The muzzle break extends 1.35" past the end of the barrel shroud and has an external diameter of 0.86".  It contains a pattern of 28 holes in rows of 3 and 4 holes that are approximately 0.22" in diameter.  The bullet passes through the end of the muzzle break which has a diameter of 0.47".  The wall thickness of the muzzle break is about 0.09" which gives an inside diameter of the break of about 0.68".  The difference from this inside diameter of the break and the "pass through" hole for the bullet represents an additional flat surface for the gas pressure to act upon.  Between the holes through the muzzle break and this additional surface, I believe this muzzle break will be very effective in helping to tame the recoil of the .44 Mangum cartridge.

Figure 9
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Muzzle Break

The muzzle break also functions as a barrel nut which pretensions the barrel sleeve and holds the barrel shroud in place.  You can see in the photo below that the inside of the muzzle break is internally threaded which means it must screw on the barrel sleeve.

Figure 10
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Muzzle Break

The 7.5" barrel sleeve is made by Thompson Center and has a 5 groove rifling which is shown in the photo below.  In some more communications with S&W, they stated that they do have 5 groove rifling on various handguns, but this is not to be confused with 5R rifling which is intended for rifles.  Honestly I'm not sure of the exact difference and the difference may be in the advertising/branding of the "5R" name. Since it was not stated in the specifications, S&W also informed me that the twist rate for the rifling in this barrel is 1 in 20".

Figure 11
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review 5 Groove Rifling

The top surface of the barrel shroud has an 11 slot Picatinny measuring about 4.7" in length that will allow mounting various types of optics and sights.

Figure 12
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Barrel Shroud

S&W choose to use a all-cap black bold italics lettering on the slabbed sides of the barrel shroud in the areas of the polished stainless steel finish.  On the right side the shroud shows the model name ".44 MAGNUM HUNTER" and on the left side it proudly shows that this revolver is a "PERFORMANCE CENTER" handgun.

Figure 13
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Barrel Shroud

Figure 14
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Barrel Shroud

The one feature I would have added to this revolver would have been a short lower rail to allow the use of a light or bipod, both of which could easily be used for hunting situations.

Figure 15
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Barrel Shroud

The rear of the shroud contains a pocket for the ejector rod and also has a notch on the rear face of the shroud that interfaces with the frame tab to prevent rotation of the shroud.

Figure 16
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The bottom of the shroud also contains a detent for the ball-detent latch point which is located on the front of the yoke.

Figure 17
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

Figure 18
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The rear sight is Smith & Wesson's standard adjustable sight which is adjustable in both windage and elevations.  When making adjustments, you can clearly hear the audible clicks.  To lower the point of impact, lower the rear sight by turning the elevation screw clockwise.  To move the point of impact to the right, turn the windage screw clockwise.  Also notice the aggressive checkering on the hammer spur.  This checkering is very effective in providing a non-slip surface for your thumb when thumb cocking the hammer for single action shooting.

Figure 19
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Frame

As you can see, the cylinder is fluted and has a highly polished finish.  The trigger and hammer are chrome plated carbon steel and the revolver also comes with a rubber Hogue Monogrip that includes the S&W logo on both sides of the grip.  The right side of the frame is stamped:

MADE IN U.S.A.
MARCAS REGISTRADAS
SMITH & WESSON
SPRINGFIELD, MASS.

I believe "Marcas Registradas" is Latin and translates into Registered Trademark.  The frame is Smith & Wesson's large N-Frame and the .44 Magnum is the largest caliber currently used for this size frame.

Figure 20
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Frame

Figure 21
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Grip

On the left side of the frame, you can see the S&W Performance Center logo stamped into the frame below the thumb piece.  You can also see the yoke, thumb piece and internal lock.

Figure 22
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Frame

You can see below that the Monogrip is held in place with a single screw.  Removing the screw allows the grip to slide off the end of the frame by giving the grip a firm pull.

Figure 23
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Frame

The photo below shows the grip removed.  Although not shown, the serial number of the revolver is also marked on the bottom of the grip portion of the frame.

Figure 24
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Grip Removed

I'm a big fan of Hogue grips and love the non-slip texture and almost sticky feel of the grip on this revolver, but I question how well this grip will actually be in helping to absorb the recoil of the .44 magnum.  When you consider that the grip has an open back and the frame presses directly against your hand, there is no rubber cushion directly in the path of the recoil.  I will agree that the remaining rubber in contact with your hand will help reduce the shock felt by the other parts of your hand.  These next three photos give you a good look of the back of the revolver while the hammer is cocked.

Figure 25                            Figure 26                               Figure 27
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

In these next two photos I have tried to show the sight picture with the camera focus shifted from the rear to the front sight.  At arms length, the gaps between the outsides of the front sight and the insides of the rear sight notch are slightly larger (but not double) than that shown in the right photo.

Figure 28                                                               Figure 29
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Sights   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Sights

The two photos below shows the .44 Magnum Hunter in a double action state (hammer uncocked, trigger forward) and single action state (hammer cocked, trigger rearward).

Figure 30                                                               Figure 31
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The revolver can be fired in both double action and single action.  The trigger pull measured 11.6 pounds in double action and 5.7 pounds in single action based on an average of 5 pulls each from a Lyman digital trigger pull gauge.  I'm a little surprised at the pull weights for this Performance Center revolver and would have expected them to be lower (or at least the single action lower).   Clearly there was some type of trigger work done because the double action is very smooth and the single action is probably the most crisp single action I have ever felt.  In single action I was not able to feel any motion of the trigger before it released the hammer.  The rear of the trigger has a pin that has been fitted to a length which provides a minimum amount of over travel of the trigger so the pin stops the motion of the trigger cleanly right after the break.  The addition of this over travel stop is a Performance Center upgrade.  The trigger itself has nice rounded edges and is about 0.32" in width.

Figure 32                                                               Figure 33
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Trigger   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Trigger

The Model 629-7 features a hammer block safety (marked with the letter A in the photo below) which prevents the hammer from contacting (blocks) the rear end of the firing pin when the trigger is not pulled.

Figure 34
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Hammer Block Safety

The .44 Magnum Hunter also includes the Smith & Wesson Internal Lock.  The revolver comes with two keys.  By pushing the thumb piece forward slightly, you can insert a key and rotating the key counterclockwise will lock the revolver.  The frame is engraved with an arrow and the letter "L" showing the direction to turn the key to engage the lock.  While the revolver is locked, you can not pull the trigger or thumb cock the hammer.  For more details and schematics on the inner working of the safety lock mechanism, refer to the S&W Patent US 6,523,294 B2.

Figure 35                                                               Figure 36
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Internal Lock   Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Internal Lock

Like most revolvers, to flip out the cylinder you push the thumb piece forward and press the cylinder to the left.  The cylinder can be flipped out (opened) even when the internal lock is engaged.  When the cylinder is open (and even when the internal lock is unlocked), you cannot pull the trigger or thumb cock the hammer, which is similar to many other revolvers.

Figure 37
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

On the frame, under the yoke, you can see the serial number CTC9767 and model number 629-7 laser engraved and stamped, respectively, into the frame.  I asked S&W to clarify what the "-7" meant and they stated the dash numbers denote engineering changes and the -7 is the change that included the internal lock.

Figure 38
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Cylinder Open

The rear face of the 6 shot cylinder is flat with no counterbores for the cartridges.  If you look closely, you can see there is a light chamfer that gets put on the entrance into each chamber in the cylinder as part of the Performance Center work.

Figure 39
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Cylinder Open

This next photo shows the cylinder with a full load of six Hornady 300 gr XTP cartridges.

Figure 40
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Cylinder with Hornady Ammo

The revolver has a nice beefy looking ejector rod and thick ejector.

Figure 41
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Ejector

This next photo give you another close look at the ejector shape (square-ish), the ratchet and also down the cylinders.

Figure 42
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review Cylinder

Figure 43
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The cartridges shown below are the same Hornady 300 gr XTP rounds shown above and this gives you an idea of the cylinder free bore.

Figure 44
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

The photo below give you a look at the right side of the frame with the cylinder open.

Figure 45
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

In the photo below, you can see the breech face which has a slot for the pawl and a stainless steel bushing surrounding the firing pin.  You can also see the cylinder lock on the bottom of the cutout in the frame for the cylinder.

Figure 46
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

This photo was added to give you a peek at the forcing cone portion of the barrel along with another view at the back of the trigger.  Also there are two other drilled and tapped holes in the top of the frame which are not used.  You can see one of the holes in the photo below.  The three threaded holes could be used to install a scope/optic adapter.  Since the .44 Magnum Hunter comes with a rail on top of the barrel, you probably wouldn't be replacing the rear sight for adding some other type of sight.

Figure 47
Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum Hunter Review

 

Thoughts

The Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum Hunter Revolver is a very nice piece of craftsmanship, which it should be considering the cost of the revolver.  I have tried to cover all the details with photos so that you can come to your own opinions.  I was a little disappointed with this revolver not having a lower single action trigger pull weight, but some of the disappointment was relieved by the crispness of the trigger and the minimum over travel the trigger has after it breaks.  The real test will be how I do at the range, and depending on your hunting situation, a 5.7 pound single action trigger may be preferred.  My final thought is I can't wait to shoot this bad boy.

For more detailed photos and commentary, make sure you check out the other parts of this review and feel free to leave comments on my Reader's Comments page.  The following links are provided to help you see other parts of this review. 


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