This is my S&W Model 686 .357 revolver that's going to miraculously turn into a .44 Special Mountain Gun, courtesy of the good offices of Hamilton Bowen.
The genesis of this gun goes back to the discussions we had on the first iteration of the S&W Thunder Ranch Special .44 Special. I talked a lot about my favorite existing revolvers in the "fighting gun" context, but it got me to thinking about what would be an ideal fighting/trail gun. I looked a long time at the .44 Magnum Mountain Gun, whichis built on the N-Frame (like the M21 .44 Special), the one of the numerous varients of the M29 .44 Magnum 3-inch (here's the only current cataloged version), the now-discontinued M696 L-Frame .44 Special 3-inch, the now-even-more-discontinued M396 "Mountain Lite" .44 Special 4-inch, the even-more-and-more discontinued Scandium-framed 296 .44 Special 2-inch and the Scandium-framed M329PD, all of which are good choices. Each, however, has a few problems. The steel N-Frames are heavy (and the specialty guns dreadfully expensive); the Scandium .44 Magnum gun, which I will have one of these days, is a BEAR to shoot. I speak from painful experience here, folks! The super lightweight .44 Specials aren't as bad, but I have profound worries about the longevity of Scandium-framed guns if you shoot the heck out of them (which you should do).
All the discontinued .44 Specials have gotten increasingly rare and expensive, and since there aren't any more of them, I doubt the prices are going to plummet anytime soon.
I wanted a relatively lightweight .44 Special with adjustable sights that balanced well...like the .44 Magnum Mountain Gun. So, I foraged a 696 .44 Special cylinder and extractor from Brownells, a five-shot hand and .357 4-inch barrel from the discontinued L-Frame .357 Mountain Gun, and a 686 from the back of my gunsafe. Hamilton will rebore the .357 barrel to .44 Special, put all the parts together and tune up the gun. Then he'll matte-finish the stainless, fit a lanyard ring and a set of Hogue "Lamo-Camo" el-coolo grips and send it on home. You'll see it on SHOOTING GALLERY and in HANDGUNS Magazine later this year.