The .44 Magnum or, more formally, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 became the stuff of legend in the Dirty Harry series of movies starring Clint Eastwood. The gun was termed "the most powerful handgun in the world" by lead character Dirty Harry and claimed to be able to "blow a man's head clean off". Whether or not the either statement be fact, it is of known that the Model 29 does possess some powerful firing capabilities and, in its time, was ONE of the most powerful handguns in the world. Regardless, the movie skyrocketed the Model 29 into stardom and became a household name from the 1970s and onwards. The Model 29 was introduced into Smith & Wesson's lineup in 1955 and designed to take advantage of the all-new .44 Magnum round..
The Model 29 is a revolver, that is to say, it fires chambered ammunition from a revolving fluted (or unfluted) cylinder embedded within the soild-frame. The operation of the gun is conventional, featuring a trigger group with a pivoting hammer and integrated contoured hand grip. The Model 29 can sport barrel lengths of 4-, 5-, 6.5-, 8.4- and 10 5/8-inch lengths while still other custom lengths can be made to order. The pistol original showcased the 4- and 6.5-inch barrels. The 8.4-inch barrel came onto the scene in 1957. The 4-inch barrel was eventually dropped from production in 1993. The 5-inch barrel version was produced in 500 examples during 1958. The 10 5/8-inch length was only later adopted to the Smith & Wesson Model 29 barrel line-up. Sights are adjustable as a 3-dot rear arrangement. The firing action is double-action which relies on the operator only having to pull the trigger to fire as opposed to setting the hammer first. The Model 29 is chambered to fire the .44 Magnum and .44 Special cartridges, the latter a remnant from the Model 29's ".44 Special" revolver origins. The Model 29 is oft-noted for its obscene recoil effects.
The .44 Magnum (formally as the ".44 Remington Magnum") is of note as the gun received its initial naming from the type of round it utilized. The cartridge was designed as a large-bore cartridge measuring 0.429 inches in diameter (despite the ".44" name assigned to it). The .44 has since proven a successful short-range game-hunting cartridge with excessive stopping power.
The Model 629 was introduced by Smith & Wesson in 1978 to capitalize on the Model 29 line. The Model 629 was nothing more than a stainless steel derivative of the base Model 29 though it sported interchangeable foresights, scope mountings, a full-lug barrel and combat grips. The Model 629 was also developed into the Model 629 "Classic". The "Mountain Gun" was a lighter Model 29 appearing in 1989 while the "Trail Boss" was produced with a shorter barrel. A 50th Anniversary Model 29 appeared in 2006 while a reissue production run of the original Model 29 occurred in 2007 as part of Smith & Wesson's "Classics" series. A hunting revolver, the Model 629 "Stealth Hunter", was debuted in 2008.
Smith & Wesson is headquartered in Springfield, Massachusetts.