Thursday, June 01, 2006

Some Notes Before I Head for Armadillo...

...or Amarillo...whatever...the place in the George Strait song. We're going ranch rodeoing for COWBOYS. It should be about 300 degrees and sunny.

When I get back, my new S&W M329PD should be here. I bought it — Hear that? Bought! — after shooting the one Hamilton Bowen had dinked around. The short version is that it's an ultralight .44 Magnum revolver. You see lots of these 26 ounce babies on sale at gunshops with the notation, "Barely fired!" That means someone bought it, took it to the range with a box of 240-grain JHP screaners, fired four, then returned the gun to the gunstore and went home to soak their hand in ice. Lightweight guns recoil a lot...that's what you get for sleeping through high school physics!

However, like most of the guns in the "don't weigh a thing" genre, the 329 is meant to be carried a lot and shot a little. Hamilton Bowen believes the 329 is one of the best, most useful guns S&W has made in years with one proviso — that it be fitted with the Hogue grips designed for the big X-Frame .500 blaster. Those grips are fitted with a soft sorbothane-like rubber pad right where the grip meets the tender web of the hand, and they will soak up recoil. Yes, yes, the wood grips are pretty, and perfect for people who like pain. Otherwise, go to the S&W accessories part of the website and order: S&W Accessories #29467 ($35) Model 500 Impact Absorbing Hogue Square Conversion grips. Your hand will thank you.

I got the gun, which already has the softie grips and a Rob Leahy Sourdough Pancake holster, because we're putting together a new handgun hunting show, and I'm loath to go into the field without a gun...particularly, a gun of the .44 Magnum persuasion (and yes, I know I'll probably have to pony up for a hunting license to carry during season blah blah). I've got M29s and M629s, but they are heavy beasties; a viable alternative would be Thumper, my packin' .44 Magnum Blackhawk fitted with an aluminum frame and a short barrel. But Thumper will hit you hard with a heavy load, heavier than the lighter 329 with trick grips. My ultralight (and much loved) .44 Specials are hindered by the necessity of no more than 200-grain bullets in the smaller L-Frames.

When I was up at Hamilton's, I was surprised at how much I liked the M329, since I'd disliked the other ones I'd shot. Besides, I got it at a great price and I can always rationalize another .44 revolver!

BTW, after many, many requests, I'm happy to announce that in mid-June we'll be going to St. Louis to film the exclusive SHOOTING GALLERY interview with John Ross, author of the controversial hit novel UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES, semiprofessional S&W gadfly, machinegun fanatic and the only person I know who uses a cut-down S&W .500 Magnum as his daily carry gun!

Hey, you can ONLY see this kind of stuff on SHOOTING GALLERY!


shooter said... you're making me jealous. Of course, a 329 would be a nice addition to my collection. Just the thought of that wrist snapper would freak my dad out. This from a guy who owns matching 629s (consecutive serial numbers), yet doesn't shoot anything in a caliber beginning with 4.

And seeing as how my cable provider (read that as my wife) won't let me have the Outdoor Channel, are you gonna be providing tapes of the John Ross special? I've read the book twice and have visited his website, too. Very interesting man.

Have a good weekend Bane!

Michael Bane said...

Gotta say, there's something time warpish about the whole Texas panhandle.It's like slipping back into the 1950s...Stockman hats, twin fiddles, handshake bonds, etc. Makes it fun to visit there.

The Coors Ranch Rodeo and chuckwagon cook-off was a screaming hoot, too! Biscuits to die for. Enough Coors to float a battleship.

You'll be able to buy DVDs from the SHOOTIJNG GALLERY site ( I'm trying to get MPEG-4 dowloads on the site, but The Outdoor Channel is bringing the site onto their servers, and I'm not sure what all the implications of that are...


Anonymous said...

I've always thought the 329 was the best of the new sixguns out there (but then the 327 came along... ;) ) The perfect packin' .44 Special that can shoot Magnums in a pinch. Even better than when the Model 19 & the Chief's Special were introduced...

Looking forward to the new season. Keep up the good works....

Anonymous said...

Ordered and just received the new Hogue grip from S&W, seems to fit my 686 CS-1 just fine. Looking forward to testing at the range.

Thanks for the heads-up, Mike!

RSR in Canada

Anonymous said...

The CP (used to be JCP, used to be SOF CP) "commercially available" clause is kinda already there, has been since the begining.

From the pre-solicitation notice:

The USSOCOM intends to issue a solicitation to obtain commercially available non-developmental item (NDI) Joint Combat Pistol (JCP) system, Caliber .45 (ACP).

Anonymous said...

(2nd. attempt @ posting; doesn't appear 1st. one went thru.)

When I retired from my last career (24 year cop; 22+ with Longmont, Colo.. P.D.) I decided that my retirement gift to myself was going to be a new S&W Mod. 329PD, something that seemed custom made for my longtime desire to have a reliable (i.e. trustworthy D/A revolver design I was already familiar with), lightweight .44 mag D/A revolver to carry on my yearly elk/mulie hunting trips here in Colo. Had just very recently heard about the new S&W revolver & knew I had to have one. So I went down to my favorite Denver gun shop, looked one over and it indeed quickly proved to be everything I'd been waiting for so long to see become available in a lightweight anti-bear cannon, I immediately purchased one. Several weeks later I took it along on a camping trip in the mountains north of Craig in order to test fire & sight it in with several different factory .44 mag loads. I did indeed leave the grips that were already on it alone (also came with set of Hogue S&W marked rubber grips but you know, those Arhend wood grips were SO beautiful and after all, I WAS a very experienced magnum revolver shooter....Uh-huh!!!) So went ahead & fired a cylinder full of Federal .230 gn. JHP's (it was VERY accurate) and although the recoil was indeed quite stout to the point of entering the realm of pain, what I couldn't figure out was why my right hand was both numb AND BLEEDING!! I then noticed that the web of my right hand had actually split wide open, something that surprised me as I've never been recoil sensitive nor had any similar physical issues with while shooting all kinds of full house magnum revolvers, some also relatively lightweight. So I reluctancly decided to quit shooting it; it simply hurt too badly to continue with the web between my thumb & index finger split wide open. But I DEFINITELY decided not to shoot it anymore when, while I was cleaning it while still at the same campsight, I did what I always do after firing magnum revolvers & instinctively started checking its timing. I then noticed that the timing had gone sour on two of the 6 cylinders (I was a factory trained S&W armorer while with the P.D.); the hammer was dropping prior to positive lock-up of the cylinder. Wasn't sure if the hand had become bent or exactly what the problem was, but since it was less than a month old I called and made arrangements to send it right back to S&W. Got a call shortly afterwards from one of their armorers confirming they'd noted the same problem, and shortly after that received it back from S&W with timing problem corrected. Never could get a definitive explanation, however, of what exactly had been the problem. The experience with it, specifically the timing problem after so few rounds were fired in a brand new gun, has made me wonder since then if S&W's use of lightweight scandium in their .44 mag N frames has simply exceeded the scandium's ability to handle such a stout factory round as the .44 mag. It's since been sighted in again but recreational shooting definitely is NOT the S&W 329 PD's forte', although I still like it a lot for the purpose for which I bought it: to carry along while hunting FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY. Years of working in uniformed patrol & plainclothes has taught me the value of lightweight sidearms while being carried for hours on end. I still love the concept AND the revolver and will continue carrying it while big game hunting in bear country (and other threatening species.) But don't believe that I'll be planning any more lengthy shooting sessions with it, and not just because the the split web of hand issue either. I just don't see any reason to put any further unnecessary strain on what I see as being definitely at the very edge of functional practicality for an such a lightweight framed .44 magnum revolver, especially since I own one of the early (pinned & recessed) production Mod. 29 6" revolvers anyway and can much more comfortably shoot it recreationally for hours on end with no such web of hand issues!!

An interesting footnote: just the other day, I noticed on P. 1515 of my 27th. Edit. Blue Book of Gun Values that it states "All Model 329-1 Airlites were recalled by S&W during July 2004"...ironically enough the exact month & year I bought my S&W 329 Airlite PD. I'm assuming the Mod. 329-1 may have been a predecessor to the Airlite PD, but nevertheless plan to contact S&W in the morning to confirm that my particular 329PD isn't one of the recalled revolvers.

One question after reading your article: is the Hogue Mod. 500 Impact Absorbing grip you recommend in your article a different one than the Hogue rubber grip that S&W provides with all new 329 Airlite PD's now? "RetiredColoCopper"