Wheelgun Wednesday: Enduring Legacy of the Smith & Wesson Model 29

by Sam.S

This week on Wheelgun Wednesday we’re showcasing the renowned Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver. While some may argue it’s overhyped, few iconic firearms command as much respect. The Model 29 isn’t just a technical achievement; it’s a symbol of American ingenuity that pushed boundaries. Though potentially overrated by some, this doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a work of art that will forever be enshrined as a legend. The Model 29’s place in history is undeniable.

Smith & Wesson Revolvers @ TFB:

The Chicken or The Egg – The .44 Mag or The Model 29

The birth of the .44 Magnum cartridge created a need that Smith & Wesson answered definitively. In the 1950s, Elmer Keith, an avid handgun hunter, experimental reloader, and outdoor writer, worked with Smith & Wesson and Remington to develop a much more powerful handgun cartridge than anything commercially available at the time.

The Model 29’s legacy traces back to the early 20th century and the quest for more powerful handgun hunting cartridges. Outdoorsmen like Charlie Askins and Phil Sharpe experimented with hot-loading existing rounds like the .44 Special but desired something with even more capability. This paved the way for the collaborative efforts between Elmer Keith, Remington, and Smith & Wesson in the 1950s.

Keith’s quest for even bigger, hotter handgun rounds led to the .44 Remington Magnum, which Remington released commercially in 1955. While not necessarily intended just for hunting, the .44 Magnum’s potent combination of heavy bullet weight and high velocity made it an instant hit with hunters seeking a more capable big-game handgun cartridge. However, existing commercially available revolvers could not safely handle the .44 Magnum’s substantial firing pressures.

The Smith & Wesson Model 29 Story (Abridged)

Introduced in 1955, the Model 29 had the distinction of being the first revolver manufactured at scale to properly harness the power of the new .44 Magnum cartridge. This potent round required a revolver of exceptional strength and precision – something Smith & Wesson’s engineers meticulously developed.

Smith & Wesson Model 29 Circa 1955-1956

Lot 491: Inscribed Smith & Wesson Model 29 Double Action Revolver – Inscribed Smith & Wesson Model 29 Double Action Revolver with Case. (n.d.-f). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved April 24, 2024, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/70/491/inscribed-smith-wesson-model-29-double-action-revolver.

While meeting the .44 Magnum’s strength requirements, the Model 29 also introduced ergonomic innovations for controllability. Its curved grip design and precisely tuned trigger mechanics helped tame the magnum’s punishing recoil, enabling more accurate shot placement on game. The adjustable rear sight additionally allowed precise elevation adjustments for varying ranges.

The Smith & Wesson Model 29 displays masterful engineering and manufacturing. Machined from solid carbon steel, it exhibits remarkable durability capable of withstanding harsh conditions. Every component, from the barrel to the finely tuned cylinder assembly, demonstrates a fine attention to detail.

Over the decades, Model 29 has incorporated new quality of life changes (hence the “29-# marks, dashed numbers being the state of evolution) while staying true to its fundamental design principles. Each iteration builds upon the model’s legacy, ensuring it remains a capable and relevant firearm.

It would be hard-pressed to find an article that does not at least mention the Smith & Wesson Model 29 in the movies. The Model 29’s cultural impact is undeniable. It has been featured prominently in popular media like Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry” and numerous action films, solidifying its status as an iconic and recognizable handgun.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

These days you can still pick up a Smith & Wesson Model 29 (now on the Model 29-10) in the classic series offered by Smith & Wesson. Its retail price is pretty high but in comparison to its original price and adjusted for inflation, it is basically the same give or take a hundred bucks. Not saying that price hurts any less, just stating an interesting fact.

For firearms enthusiasts and collectors, the Model 29 represents the pinnacle of classic revolver design and performance. Its quality construction, powerful caliber, and cultural significance make it a prized possession.

Final Thoughts: Smith & Wesson Model 29

I have a lot of love for this gun and plan to do a review on it but for now, let’s close the story out. The Smith & Wesson Model 29 has cemented its place in history as an engineering landmark. From its inception to modern iterations, this revolver reflects the commitment to push technical boundaries and meet the demands of discerning shooters and collectors. The Model 29’s enduring legacy is a testament to the ingenuity of its creators and American manufacturing aspirations.

Parting Note: If anyone wants a super in-depth history of the Smith & Wesson Model 29, shout it out in the comments and I will do the research! Thanks all!

Hopefully, this was a fun and informative play-by-play on the Smith & Wesson Model 29. Hard not to love it when you look at it but oh boy try shooting the hot stuff!. What do you all think? Is this revolver up your alley or should it be over on Hot Gat or Fudd Crap? Worth the price of admission (ownership)? Let us know in the comments and safe shooting out there!


Writer | TheFirearmBlogWriter | AllOutdoor.comInstagram | sfsgunsmithOld soul, certified gunsmith, published author, avid firearm history learner, and appreciator of old and unique guns.

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