The Smith & Wesson Model 29 is a .44 Magnum double-action revolver, manufactured by Smith & Wesson. It was first brought into production around 1955 and has undergone many changes since. It is capable of single and double action firing and is a favorite of Metallic Silhouette shooters since the introduction of the Model 29 and the sport itself. It is also common in the sport of handgun hunting where it is legal.
Introduced in 1955 as simply the .44 Magnum, the Model 29 is based on the large N-Frame that was introduced in 1907 in the Hand Ejector .44 Special. The development of the Model 29 took place over several years in conjunction with revolver enthusiast, hunter, and writer Elmer Keith. Keith believed that the large frame .44 Special could be beefed up to handle much more powerful loads to satisfy the long range shooters and hunters of the day. The classic size Model 29, as it became known in 1957, was the 6.5 inch barrel, but other lengths were available such as 4 and 8 3/8 inches. Rare 5 inch .44 Magnums were produced early in production.
Since its introduction, the Model 29 has undergone many subtle and not so subtle changes. Each change is accompanied by a dash following the model number; for example the Model 29-3 introduced in 1982 eliminated the pinned barrel and recessed cylinders.
Model 29s were available in both blued and nickeled finish, and in 1978 Smith & Wesson introduced the Model 629, identical to the Model 29 but in stainless steel.
In 2000, Smith & Wesson ceased production of the Model 29, but reintroduced it 5 years later as the 50th Anniversary edition with a 6.5 inch barrel, blue finish, and gold S&W emblem and a display case. The following year Smith introduced their "classics" line of revolvers one of which was the Model 29 in blued or nickle finish. The current Model 29 is the Model 29-10.
The Smith & Wesson Model 329 is a Titanium/Scanidium mix version of the revolver that is popular with hikers and self defence minded individuals. For hiking the revolver is often loaded with heavier loads to prevent mauling from bears that may attack. When used for self defence the weapon is often loaded with the .44 Special or light loadings of .44 Magnum.
Some other famous variants, besides Dirty Harry's classic 6.5 inch Model 29 are the 10 5/8 inch Silhouette Model with adjustable front and rear sights, the Model 29 Classic with a full underlug, and the Model 29 Magnum Classic with a full underlug and 7.5 inch barrel.