Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat .44 Magnum Review (and Score!)

In this episode of TFBTV, James gets his hands on the newly released (May 2017) S&W Model 69 Combat Magnum 2.75″ barrel in .44 Magnum. This diminutive magnum packs 5 rounds of .44SPL/MAG into a package smaller and lighter than a standard 1911. Truly, this gun is small enough that it can be carried concealed, but what does that mean for recoil? James puts this new revolver through the paces on TFBTV today, and then rates it using the new CCW review scoring system:

Click here for New Review Scoresheet.

James will review the following features and assign a value of 0 (poor) to 7 (excellent) for each:

Size Efficiency
Fit and Finish

There’s also a reviewer “tilt” point that can be awarded or deducted based upon the reviewer’s personal opinion. The addition of these 8 numbers is multiplied by two the get a score on a 100 point scale. The score is then saved to a spreadsheet archive which can be accessed with the above link.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]

James Reeves

• NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, 2011
• “Co-Director” [air quotes] of TFBTV
• Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
• Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
• GLOCK® Certified Pistol Operator, 2017-2022
• Lawyer
► Instagram: jjreevesii
► Twitter: @jjreeves
► Vimeo: JJReeves
► 500px: JJReeves


  • Dan

    Try a Smith 329PD or, surprisingly, a 340PD. They are worse for hand pain. Cheap gun to take to the range because you don’t want to do a full cylinder. But for lightweight backpacking/hiking there’s nothing better.

    • Nick

      There’s nothing cheap about the 329, but I will agree that full power magnum loads with it are quite unpleasant.

      • iksnilol

        He meant that they’re cheap to take to the range because you can’t shoot them much (aka won’t spend much on ammo).

        • Dougscamo

          My brother’s response on shooting his first .44 mag….”No wonder that that it’s accurate, you’re afraid to shoot it a second time.”

          • iksnilol

            That might explain the popularity of those TC contender pistols in rifle calibers.

            I always thought they were stupid (being single shot and all)…. but makes sense, who’s gonna shoot a handcannon a second time anyways?

    • scaatylobo

      125 grain magnums are a test of your manhood.
      And I would pay to see anyone put a full box through and still be able to hit anything with the 340 or 360 [ I own both ].
      They both carry +P loads .

      • Anonymoose

        Maybe they should step up to full-size Hogue Monogrips, and maybe get the barrel Magnaported for extra eardrum-busting.

  • neckbone

    That Asian gangster dude in the video looks pretty badasss with that short barrel magnum revolver. I bet he smokes about 15 cigarettes at the same time too.

    • Anonymoose

      Is James part Asian? I thought he was maybe Polish or something. Kinda reminds me of a younger, hipper Charles Bronson.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Hes in better shape, thats for damn sure.
        Its a well known fact that between 1974 and 1987 Bronson ate nothing but pastrami sandwiches and deep fried pickles.

      • Tassiebush

        Did you know that Bronson apparently is from a Tartar background? I don’t care about James background. He’d have permission to date my daughter when she’s older.

        • iksnilol

          James is a fine specimen of the human species. I’m slightly interested in his background.

          • Tassiebush

            If you get enough upvotes he might make a video outlining it. All in shorts of course. The title could be “Recipe for perfection”

          • iksnilol

            Probably won’t happen. If he did, all the fans would complain that it wasn’t *that* outline that they wanted to see.

          • Tassiebush

            You were thinking more like

        • Big mistake—–LOL!

        • Paul Rain

          Nothing wrong with Tartars.

          Polonized Tartar light cav fought at Vienna with Jan Sobieski against the Ottomans and helped save Europe. Martial Muslims can be good citizens, if you isolate them from mainstream Islam for hundreds of years, assimilate them into your culture in every way except religion, take advantage of their martial abilities while treating them harshly if they act up. Simple!

          (Not politics, just reality)

      • RealitiCzech

        Bronson? He talked more in this video than Bronson did in all his movies combined. And he hasn’t shot the Giggler.

    • LOL. I’ve heard Mexican a couple of times, but Asian is a first for me…

      My grandpa was off the boat Irish. The rest of the family is a western European mix (including Polish, @disqus_5jxOuxOxDa:disqus).

      I’ll get a genetic test done to put this to rest at some point…

    • Tp

      I bet he is a non smoking American

  • notscared

    Quit wimping out. I used to carry one on duty and qualify with it. Sheesh! Really though a carry gun with .44 Special is a terrific weapon. Nice big slug that leaves large drain holes in bad guys and attackers.

  • J-

    As a snubbie fan I LOVE THIS GUN. Granted I don’t shoot it with full house .44 mag loads. I bought it to shoot the non SAAMI 44 special loads like those form Buffalo Bore and Double Tap that are generating 45 ACP +P ballistics. Those aren’t any worse than a SP101 in .357 or a 3″ 1911 subcompact. Being built for a .44 mag, I have no fear that the hottest .44 special loads are safe in it. I can’t say that for a Charter Arms Bulldog.

    • DrewN

      I have a 69 with the X Frame Hogues on it. Full house .44M isn’t bad at all.

  • Anonymoose

    Scope on a 2 3/4″ .44? Why not a Mini-Weigatinny with an RMR on top as is the modern trend? People do it on Glock 26s, so why not on a snubby?

    • Jared Vynn

      Some nice hogue wood grips with the big butt, ported barrel, and an underbarrel rail to top it off for those who want a flashlight.

    • Michael Rice

      Don’t forget the bayonet mount and under barrel shotgun.

      • Jared Vynn

        You could probably fit a 410 deringer underneath.

        • Michael Rice

          There are NOT enough upvotes!

    • gunsandrockets

      Frame mounted RDS on a revolver makes more sense than a slide mounted RDS on an autopistol.

  • Jared Vynn

    Should have talked about the GP100 as well, it’s a closer match than the super red hawk.

    • m-dasher

      you know….aside from the fact that ones a .357 and ones a .44 mag….

      • Jared Vynn

        The gp100 is also a 44 special now. 3 inch barrel, 5 shot, 36 oz. Except for the lower price it is very comparable to the 69.

        • Dean Seaman

          I was gonna say…I wonder if this isn’t S&W’s backlash against the new chambering for the GP100.

        • I’m going to have to check that out. I’ve always loved the *idea* of the Charter Arms Bulldog, but I’ve been less impressed with their *execution*…

          A Ruger “Bulldog”? Sounds like the answer to my dilemma…

        • S. Plankenberg

          If you are going to have a gun that is in the 36 ounce range you might as well buy the Smith Model 69.
          Longer sight radius, and more importantly, a lot fewer sharp edges and corners that leave steel where it contributes nothing to strength on the Ruger.

          I am somewhat surprised there is not a thriving aftermarket where Ruger revolvers are streamlined by machining off most of the unnecessarly sharp edges.
          Those edges give the Rugers an ” unfinished look “, in my humble opinion.

  • Dave Durso

    Hey James, nice review. Thanks for being honest about the recoil. Looks like it would be great with 44 Special loads.

  • gunsandrockets

    Remington 180 grain .44 magnum? Yeah that’s hot stuff for a less than 3 inch barrel!

    I’ve got the full sized Model 69 with the 4.25 inch barrel, which weighs 40 ounces fully loaded.

    But I’m going to try it out with the cheap Blazer 240 grain JHP, which is (supposedly) lightly loaded for .44 magnum.

    • DrewN

      It’s not bad and the X-Frame grips swap right over if you want something a little cushier and larger than the factory.

    • Klaus

      I don’t know i find it to be just the opposite. I’ve been running a 3″629 for years and 240s have way more recoil compared to 180s In factory or my reloads.

      • gunsandrockets

        Just going by what I see here…

  • civilianaf

    Hey James
    Isnt anyone going to bag on your shorts or the shmedium shirt? Jeez why the hell did I stop by.

  • Mrl

    James, does it have that weird barrel sleeve in it? Don’t know why S&W goes that way now on some of their revolvers. Also. today at the gun shop, someone was picking up a revolver. From where I stood it looked like a 4″ .22. The buyer said it was an all steel .44 Special. I took a look at it, couldn’t figure out the brand and I don’t think it was more then 15 ounces. How would you like to shoot that one?? Not me!

  • Paul White

    That thing flames harder than Liberace!

  • ActionPhysicalMan

    I really like that gun too but aren’t you starting your scores a bit high? Are you going to make a playlist on youtube for these scored reviews? Thanks for the work, I enjoyed it much. I just wish Patrick would wear shorts like those and then his videos would be better too;-)

    • Oh geez you trying to make me go blind!

    • Haha, funny, because people have said “why are you scoring these guns so low?” I’ll make a playlist for rated guns.

      • ActionPhysicalMan

        Maybe you could use a cookie that remembered what gun they carried or just advocated and automatically up the scores on the video they are watching for those guns. It might sound a little disjointed when you said the score but most everybody would be happy then;-)

  • ShooterPatBob

    Remember the model 329 Night Guard with scandium frame? Another .44 mag S&W snubbie, except it weighed only 29 ounces. Probably the reason they don’t make them anymore.

  • Jonn Doe

    First….there Isn’t enough money for me to shoot that gift from SATAN as It Is.
    Better grip’s for one, 2nd just give us the DAMN full three Inch’s and port this hell spawn….even If you miss the fireball coming out of the barrel will give the attacker 3rd degree burns…….man I so want one of these.

  • Gary Howell

    Too much gun. I don’t understand why anyone would want a 44 mag. for a carry gun. That’s why there are still hundreds of almost new Model 29’s all over the place.

    • ShooterPatBob

      It’s not a practical concealed carry gun, but it would be great for bears.

      • Jack Clancy

        I just bought one of these. It’s lighter than any of my 29/629’s. I’m retired and ride in Colorado mountains 5 or 6 days a week. You may not have notice but this year especially in the Denver/Boulder area of the mountains we are having some real bear problems. They have lost their fear of man. Just this last week they put down five. They are getting into homes and cars and utterly destroying them. We also on occasion in the State have mountain lions killing dogs and livestock. My My CCW choice is currently the 44.

        • ShooterPatBob

          Wow, no, I see the occasional bear or cougar attack reported but the big increase in attacks has not been widely publicized. Did you CCW with any of your 29/629’s or just begin with this new model? Personally, I’d rather be in a gunfight with something more controllable, but in your region I’d probably carry the same thing. Statistics-wise you are probably more likely to run into bears than gunmen. I don’t have any .44’s yet, but I inherited a .41 magnum super Blackhawk that is quite enjoyable to shoot with the large Hogue rubber grips I put on it.

          • Jack Clancy

            I think you’ll enjoy the 41 magnums. Rugers are all over built. Which is good. I use rubber grips on all my 44’s. Does help.

            I’ve carried the 44 for the last 13 years. I really like the loads from Buffalo Bore. My favorite 44 to shoot is my 5″ 629 Classic it’s the most controllable 44 I have ever shot. I like it better than a 6″ or 6 1/2″ 29. I Normally stick to at least a 4″ barrel. I also have a Lew Horton 629, 3″ from 1985. Always been a fan of the 44.

            I have and do on occasion carry a 1911. No so much any more. There are days when I have business in the metro area and now days it’s Glock 22 for the two legged ones.

            The news people who know just about nothing spout a lot of nonsense about why the bears are encroaching. Probably many reasons. Amazing to hear the whining when they are put down. There no pets. They have totally destroyed vehicles one the get inside.

          • Tp

            1st I am a hunter. but if people would quit feeding them, and leaving easy targets for them, there would not be so many issues. Personally I don’t care to see a bear put down because of human ignorance, but there are some that are coming for you no matter what, and yes if I were you I would be caring a .44 mag. in at least a 4″ barrel, too short & your putting out .44 special specs.
            Be Safe!

          • Jack Clancy

            I also think it’s sad. Probably the majority of the problem is people feeding wildlife directly and indirectly.

            Frankly I don’t want a confrontation with a bear.

            They appear to have lost there fear of people in this area.

    • Jack Clancy

      Please see my reply below to ShooterPatBob.

    • Stuki Moi

      In more rural settings, many need their carry gun to perform dual duty. 2 and 4 legs. Yet don’t want to schlep around a massive cannon that they statistically will never have occasion to use.

  • Uniform223

    I intend to make this my new CCW…

  • jonp

    You just illustrated what proper grip and form will do in helping to mitigate recoil. Everyone should watch this video again and see how much he pulls off target with each shot. Not much at all.

  • hacedeca

    34 ounces? Had to look it up: 963,88 grams… Don’t forget us Europeans!

    • Dougscamo

      Now you know how we feel when one of the European reviewers gives barrel length in centimeters….

      • Tassiebush

        Well us Australians sort of have to go with a mixture in the area of guns and shooting. Quite confusing.

  • Tp

    That’s what I was thinking, can’t get the old camp fire going, looks like one shot should do it

  • jcitizen

    I’ve been looking for a short barreled Model 29 for years( with flutes). And I’ve never found what I wanted. Although this isn’t what I really want, I like it better than an old Charter Arms 44 Bulldog. I’d probably shoot 44 special out of it all day.

  • Hilltop

    Rust on a new gun??? Is this because of the bead blasting or are they using inferior metal?

    My Father-In-Law lives in coastal NC. He’s getting on up in age so I clean his guns for him these days. Until recently, he owned a S&W stainless model 64 .38 Special that he purchased new in 1972. In addition to home defense, he had carried it in his glove box and to do salt water fishing. I cleaned it for him about 4 years ago while were sitting at his bar having a drink. Off handedly, I asked when he thought he’d last cleaned it. His response was “never”. It was filthy but it didn’t have a spec of rust.