Smith & Wesson Model 29 Serial Numbers

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1957 = 117770 - 125000. 1962 = starts at 295000. 1969 = ends at 786544. J serial Prefix serial numbers. For models 36, 37, 38, 49, 50. 1969-1970 = J1 - J99999. 1971-1972 = 1J1 - 999J99. 1973-1974 = J100000. Year starting serial number 1830 680 1850 1400 1857 1600 1900 4700 1920 6618 1930 7730 1945 8711 1951 8912 1953 8920 BOSS & CO., LTD. SERIALIZATION, cont. Year starting serial number 1963 9219 1970 9559 BROWNING SERIALIZATION PRE-1975 SERIALIZATION serialization, firearms may be serialized with either 1968 or 1969 style markings. A-5 (AUTOMATIC 5) SHOTGUN -12 ga.

SMITH & WESSON'S .44 MAGNUM

...JOHN TAFFIN

In 1872, one year before the Colt Single Action Army was unveiled,Smith & Wesson had already delivered 20,000 top-break cartridgefiring big bore sixguns to Russia chambered in the improved .44Russian cartridge. Just prior to this, the U.S. Government hadordered 1,000 Smith & Wesson single action sixguns in the S&W44/100 chambering. The Russians changed the cartridge to consist of abullet that was smaller in diameter than the cartridge case requiringa two-step cylinder chambering, as opposed to the previous method ofboring the cylinder straight through, to accept the case and thebullet.

By 1878, the Russian Model had evolved into the New Model NumberThree, certainly one of the most beautiful single action sixgunsever. Then Smith & Wesson, took a giant step backwards andbrought forth the ugly duckling Frontier Double Action. All has sincebeen forgiven as after the turn of the century, Smith & Wessonengineers went to work with the result being the double action .44Military Model of 1908, better known as the New Century or TripleLock, one of the finest examples of the gunmakers art ever.

The Triple Lock, so named because the cylinder locked at the rear,and at the end of the ejector rod as do all Smith & Wessonsixguns today, and also at the front of the frame with a Swiss watchstyle third lock that mated the frame and the cylinder crane. Smith& Wesson offered the Triple Lock in a new chambering, the .44Special. It was obvious that neither the ammunition makers nor Smith& Wesson realized what they had as the .44 Special cartridge casewas nothing more than the .44 Russian lengthened to 1.160 inches. Wehad a beautiful sixgun, a grand cartridge perfect for the twentiethcentury, so a giant step backwards was taken once again and theloading for the .44 Special was not all that different than the .44Russian of the 1870's as the powder charge was increased from 23 to26 grains of black powder. Sixguns were back in the nineteenthcentury.

The ammunition companies never did offer a loading for the .44Special that took advantage of the performance of which the .44Special and the Triple Lock were capable. The standard loading hasalways been a 246 grain round-nosed bullet at 750 feet per second.Identical to the black powder loading.

Production of the Triple Lock, or First Model Hand Ejector, lastedonly seven years as it was dropped in favor of the Second Model in1915. To cut cost, the third locking feature was gone as well as theenclosed ejector rod housing. In 1926, the Third Model arrived asWolf & Klar, a Texas distributor, placed an order for .44 Specialdouble action Smith & Wesson sixguns with the enclosed ejectorrod housing returned. By 1950, the .44 Special Smith & Wessonreached its climax with the 1950 Target Model. This final .44 Specialwould be resurrected for a short time in the 1980's as the Model 24in blue and Model 624 in stainless. Smith & Wesson provided thesixguns but it remained for men like the members of the .44Associates to bring out the best of the .44 Special cartridge. Fromthe 1920's to the 1950's, Associate members, most notably ElmerKeith, called for a 'real .44 Special' load.

ModelSmith & Wesson Model 29 Serial Numbers

Keith especially called for a '.44 Special Magnum' with a 250grain hard cast bullet at 1200 feet per second. His pleas seemed tofall on deaf ears. Ammunition companies were afraid of heavy loaded.44 Specials taking old sixguns apart. Keith then asked for a newcartridge 1/10 of an inch longer than the .44 Special to preclude itsbeing used in any old sixguns, and also a new sixgun chambered forthe new cartridge. Again, the plea was ignored.

In the early 1950's Smith & Wesson started to listen. Workingin tandem with Remington, who would supply the new .44 Magnumammunition, Smith & Wesson engineers went to work on the newsixgun. In 1954, Remington gave Smith & Wesson the dimensions ofa new cartridge that was 1/8' longer than the .44 Special. Smith& Wesson then chambered four specially heat treated 1950 Target.44 Special sixguns for the new '.44 Magnum'. The guns performed wellbut at the thirty-nine ounce weight of the 1950 Target, recoil wasbrutal to say the least. Elmer had asked for a new .44 with a 250grain bullet at 1200 feet per second. This is the .44 Special Keithload and it generates heavy recoil in the Model 1950 Target .44Special. Remington delivered a 240 grain bullet at 1500 feet persecond that was originally fired in the same thirty-nine ounce Model1950 Target .44.

Weight had to be added. The cylinder was lengthened to fill in thecylinder window and the six and one-half inch barrel was changed to aheavy weight full bull barrel style as found on the 1955 Target .45ACP, resulting in a weight of forty-eight ounces. The new sixgun, asthe first Magnum introduced twenty years earlier, was simply named byits chambering and called 'The .44 Magnum' in those pre-model numberdays.

The first .44 Magnum went to Remington, the second went to the NRAand the third, he should have received the first, went to ElmerKeith. Keith quickly developed a standard loading for the new .44Magnum consisting of the same 250 hard cast bullet he used in his .44Special loads and 22.0 grains of #2400. This loading is over 1400feet per second and Keith was ecstatic to say the least. He was alsomuch smarter than he is often given credit for by his few detractors.Writing in The Gun Digest a year later, he said that he fired the new.44 Magnum 600 times the first year. That is twelve rounds perweek!

Keith urged Smith & Wesson to also bring forth the .44 Magnumwith a four-inch barrel for defensive and peace officer use and whilewaiting for this to occur, he had at least one .44 Magnum cut tofour-inch, actually four and one-half inches and engraved and ivorystocked by the now long gone Gun Re-blue Company.

The original .44 Magnum by Smith & Wesson is one of the mostbeautiful sixguns ever offered to us sixgunners and in the four-inchlength especially it is second only to the Colt Single Action Army inbeing deserving of engraving. All of the .44 Magnums from Smith &Wesson were finished in the incomparable Bright Blue finish, andcarried a wide target trigger and hammer, and the finest sixgunsights then available, a fully adjustable white outline rear sightmated up with a ramp front sight with a red insert. Actions weresuperbly tuned and smooth.

The .44 Magnum has now been in production for more than fourdecades. The first .44 Magnum, the one that went to Remington, wascompleted on December 29, 1955 and serially numbered S130927. Alongthe way changes have occurred, some to improve the .44 Magnum, othersto make production easier or less expensive or both. The first ofsuch changes occurred in 1956, as the upper sideplate screw wasdropped. The five-screw .44 Magnum was now a four-screw with threescrews attaching the sideplate, and one in the front of the triggerguard. This change occurred at serial number S167500.

In 1957, the .44 Magnum became the Model 29 as Smith & Wessonswitched from such names as the Outdoorsman, the Combat Magnum, theHighway Patrolman, and the Heavy Duty to a system of model numbers.We lost something here as Model 15 just doesn't evoke the sameemotion as Combat Masterpiece. Stamping of the .44 Magnum with Model29 inside the crane began at serial number S179000.

It was about this same time that the first of the long barreled.44 Magnums arrived as the Model 29 joined the Model 27 .357 Magnumwith an eight and three-eighth's inch barrel length. These quicklybecame quite popular with hunters and long range shooters. At thissame time in 1958, the H.H. Harris Co., a Chicago distributor, placedan order for 500 five-inch barreled Model 29's. These sixguns are nowvery rare and quite valuable. I've never seen one.

One of the problems with those early .44 Magnums was the fact thatthe ejector rod screw would loosen under recoil, back out and moveforward making it impossible to open the cylinder. In 1960, this rodwas given a reverse left thread so it would tighten rather thanloosen under recoil. With this change, the Model 29-1 had arrivedwith serial number S270000.

The 29-1 is quite rare as the 29-2 arrived just one year later.Previous to this change the screw in front of the trigger guard helda spring plunger that provided power to the cylinder stop or cylinderbolt. This screw was dropped and we now had a three screw .44 Magnumwith the cylinder stop spring riding in a hole in front of thetrigger guard.

The 29-2 is the .44 Magnum most prevalent on the used gun marketas it stayed in production from 1961 to 1982. During this time ofproduction, the serial numbering was changed to an N prefix in 1969,while the six and one-half inch barrel model was shortened to six-inches, a negative move in my estimation. The meager extra one-halfinch of the original barrel length seems to balance much better in myhands and it definitely looks better.

With the dawning of 1982, and Smith & Wesson under the controlof those who seemingly cared nothing about providing quality sixguns,two major changes were made to cut costs. The 29-3 arrived withoutthe pinned barrel and also counter-bored cylinders disappeared. Up tothis point in time, all Smith and Wesson barrels were held tightly inplace not just by thread pressure but also by a pin that transversedthe frame through a slot in the top of the barrel threads. Withtoday's strong brass, counter bored cylinders, or cylinders thatcompletely enclose the rim of the cartridge case, are probably notneeded. They also fill with crud and must be periodically cleaned orcases will not chamber BUT they are a sign of manufacturing qualityand they are gone.

For years, Smith & Wesson refused to acknowledge a problemthat definitely existed. It became especially prevalent whensilhouette shooters started pounding hundreds of rounds of fullhouseloads down range in a single day. When a cartridge was fired, thecylinder would unlock, rotate backwards and when the hammer wascocked, the fired round would be back under the firing pin.Silhouetters literally 'beat their swords into plowshares' as far asthe Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum was concerned. About the same timesilhouetters were pounding 240 grain bullets unmercilessly throughthe Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, handgun hunters discovered 300grain bullets which put a further strain on the mechanism whose basicdesign went back to 1899.

Instead of listening to silhouetters about this problem, Smith& Wesson refused to publicly acknowledge that anything was amissand instead brought forth a Silhouette Model in 1983. This modelfeatured a ten and five-eighth's inch bull barrel and sights with astandard adjustable rear sight with a higher blade and also a fourposition adjustable front sight. The front sight was to be set forthe four distances addressed in long range silhouetting. Nothing wasdone to correct the mechanical problem. Of all the .44 Magnum Smith& Wesson sixguns I have shot over the past four decades, thisone, Smith & Wesson's answer to the unlocking cylinder problem,is the only one that I have ever encountered in which the cylinderunlocked and rotated backwards on a regular basis! Needless to say,silhouetters did not flock to the .44 Magnum Silhouette Model.

Finally with a change of management, Smith & Wesson began toaddress some of the problems associated with the .44 Magnum Model 29.By now, both Ruger and Dan Wesson had heavy duty .44 Magnum sixgunson the market that were designed around heavy usage. The Smith &Wesson had a distinct disadvantage as it was built on a platformgoing back to 1908. Should they scrap it and start over? Or shouldthey try to fix what they had? They opted for the latter and I amcertainly pleased that they did. In 1988, the 29-4 was ushered inwith two changes. The retention system on the yoke or cylinder cranewas strengthened and studs within the frame were radiused to helpremove metal stress. It was not enough. At the same time eight andthree eighth's inch models were made available with integral scopemounts on the barrel rib.

The 29-4 lasted only two years to be replaced by the 29-5 in 1990.Now we began to see obvious outer changes in the Model 29 as thecylinder notches were made longer to prevent the bolt from jumpingout of the notch upon recoil. At the same time the bolt was changedand the innards of the Model 29-5 were changed to provide a method ofholding everything tightly together when the .44 was fired to preventbattering under recoil.

Finally, the latest Model 29, the 29-6 arrived in 1994 with themain changes being a switch from wooden grips to Hogue's rubberMonogrip. The wooden stocks from Smith & Wesson had beendeteriorating for many years changing from a useable, smoothlyrounded stock that filled in behind the trigger guard in 1965 to apair of sharp bulky saw handles that had so much wood removed frombehind the trigger guard that the knuckles were routinely punished inthe 1980's. Hogue's Monogrips were a welcome change and though nothaving the beautiful grain of Goncala Alves wood, they were at leastuseable.

The 29-6 also arrived with a rear sight assembly that is roundedat the front of the frame signifying that it is drilled and tappedfor scope mounts. All the recent Smith & Wesson's I have seen,both long and short barrels, K-frame and N-frame, .44 Magnum andother calibers, are all drilled and tapped for scope mounts.

For the first time, the basic outline of the Model 29 was changedwith the arrival of the .44 Classic series in 1991. The 29-5 was alsoavailable with a full underlug barrel, non-fluted cylinder, drilledand tapped for scope mounts plus the 'strengthening' package offeredin the standard Model 29-5 and 29-6. The Classic .44 was availableboth as a 29-5 and a 29-6 from 1991 to 1994 in blue finish and barrellengths of six and one-half inch, eight and three-eighth's inch, andfor the first time in a factory production .44 Magnum, a five-inchbarrel. The Classic also ushered in the round-butted grip frame onthe N-frame series of Smith & Wesson sixguns.

A deluxe version of the Classic was offered as the .44 Classic DXwith six and one-half and eight and three-eighth's inch barrellengths, round butted grip frame, and the choice of finger grooveSmith & Wesson stocks or Hogue's Monogrips that changed the gripprofile from round to square butt. Most importantly, a new frontsight system was present on the Classic DX with five interchangeablefront sights including a gold bead as available on a custom orderprior to the 1970's.

Finally, a special custom deluxe 1 of 3000 Magna Classic wasissued in 1990 with a barrel length not seen since before World WarII on Smith & Wesson sixguns, namely a seven and one-half inchlength. These were all 29-5 sixguns with serial numbers running fromMAG0001 to MAG3000.

Today the only Model 29 cataloged is the standard blue finishedModel 29-6 with a choice of either a six-inch or eight and three-eighth's inch barrel length. Long gone is the highly polished BrightBlue finish as well as nickel plating, the pinned barrel, the counterbored cylinder, and the four-inch barrel length. That is the badnews. The good news is that the present sixguns under the Model 29banner are stronger and better shooting sixguns than theoriginals.

There have been numerous special runs of the Model 29 over theyears other than the 500 five-inch sixguns ordered by the H.H. HarrisCo. back in the late 1950's. Some notable ones are the three-inchbarreled Lew Horton Special in 1984, a Combat Magnum, round-buttedstyle of defensive sixgun; and the Elmer Keith Commemorative in 1985,a four- inch specially engraved Model 29-3 serial numbered fromEMK001 to EMK2500. The first 100 of these Elmer Keith sixguns weredeluxe models with ivory stocks.

Distributor Lew Horton also ordered 5000 Classic Hunter Specialsin

1987 with six-inch full underlug barrels and the four positionfront sight. These were all 29-3 sixguns. In 1989, 2500 ClassicHunter Model 29-4's with eight and three eighth's inch barrels weremanufactured, followed by the re-introduction of the six-inch ClassicHunter in 1991. A small number of five-inch Model 29-4's with fullunderlug barrels were also offered in 1989.

The number one variation on the Model 29 theme is the Model 629, astainless steel .44 Magnum introduced in 1978 with serial numbersN629062 to N629200 for a special run of 'pre-production' gunsfollowed by the first production gun, serial number N748564. In 1980both four- inch and eight and three-eighth's inch barrels were addedto the catalog. A very few five-inch barrels have been offered.

In 1982, the 629-1 joined the 29-3 in dropping the pinned barreland counter bored cylinder features. The 629-1 lasted until 1988 with8000 also offered with three-inch barrels and round butts. In 1988,the Model 629-2 arrived with the same internal changes as the Model29-4. Transitional changes were made in 1989 along with the cylindercrane being hardened and these 629's were stamped 629-2E.

In 1990, the 629-3 ushered in the same changes as found on theblued 29-5. Four years later, the addition of Hogue Monogrips, framedrilled and tapped for scope mounting, and a change in the extractorbrought forth the Model 629-4. This latest model remains inproduction today with barrel lengths of four, six, and eight andthree-eighth's inches with Hogue grips, target hammer and trigger,and red ramp front and white outline rear sight.

As with the blued 29, the stainless 629 received the Classictreatment with full underlug barrels first being offered in 1990.These remain in production as 629-4's with five, six and one-half,and eight and three-eighth inch barrel lengths. One year later, theClassic DX 629 arrived in the latter two barrel lengths withinterchangeable front sights. Both models remain in productiontoday.

As with the Model 29, several special variations of the Model 629have been offered over the years since its introduction. Some notableones are the 629-3 Magna-Classic. These were highly polished, heavy-underlugged, seven and one-half inch barreled .44 Magnums withinterchangeable front sights and marked on the barrel '1 of 3000'.All Magna Classics that I have known that have been shot have beensuperbly accurate sixguns. Mine is sighted in for 100 yards using thegold bead front sight insert and 300 grain cast bullets over 21.5grains of WW296 or H110.

Smith & Wesson Model 29 - 10 Serial Numbers

As with the blued Model 29-3, the stainless 629-1 was offered byLew Horton in a three-inch Combat Magnum version. Five thousand ofthese were manufactured in 1985. The 629 also received the ClassicHunter treatment with 5000 six-inch guns brought forth in 1988, 2500being offered with eight and three-eighth's inch barrels in 1989,3200 three- inch barreled models in 1989, and 2000 eight andthree-eighth's inch barreled 629-3's in 1991.

The most famous, and probably the most sought after, Model 629 isthe Mountain Gun. There have been three runs of Mountain Guns in .44Magnum all with round butts and four-inch .44 Special type slimtapered barrels. The first run consisted of special group of bluedModel 29's for the Smith & Wesson Collector's Association's 25thAnniversary. The regular factory production of the Mountain Gunconsisted of 629-2 Mountain Revolvers in 1989 followed by a secondrun in 1993.

The 629 has also been offered in numerous three-inch barrellengths such as the 629-3 Carry Comp and Carry Comp II Stainlesssixguns from the Performance Center through Lew Horton, a run of 5000standard 629's with three-inch barrels, semi-target hammer, smoothtrigger, standard 29/629 sights, and wooden stocks. In 1994, the samebasic sixgun as the latter was offered as the BackPacker.

Other variations on the Model 29 and 629 have been offered byvarious distributors and organizations. I hereby give full credit toJim Supica of Old Towne Dispatch and co-author of The StandardCatalog of Smith & Wesson for much of the model variationinformation above. The reader is also referred to this excellentpublication for information on all Smith & Wesson sixguns, andtheir current value, from the 1850's to the present.

One of the latest Model 629's available from Smith & Wesson isthe Performance Center's Model 629-4 with PowerPort. This is asix-inch heavy underlug barreled .44 Magnum with a special recoilreducing port in front of the front sight.

Smith And Wesson Model 29-10 Serial Numbers

The following is a complete listing, subject to change at any timeby Smith & Wesson's production plans, of the available .44Magnums. All N-frame Smith & Wessons now are of the round-buttedstyle.

Model

Finish

Barrel Length

Barrel Style

29-6

Blue

8 3/8'

Standard

629-4

Stainless

4, 6 and 8 3/8'

Standard

629-4 Classic

Stainless

5, 6 1/2, 8 3/8'

Underlug

629-4 Classic DX

Stainless

6 1/2, 8 3/8'

Underlug

I am an admirer, in fact a real fan of the Model 29. As such Itreat it right. There is no way that the Model 29 or 629 in anyvariation can take the punishment that larger framed and heaviercylindered sixguns such as the Ruger Redhawk, Dan Wesson Model 44, orFreedom Arms .44 can handle and beg for more.

Jaden Smith

In the late 1950's/early 1960's I would not think of shooting anyload except the Keith load in a Smith & Wesson. Anything elsewould have seemed almost sacrilegious. Today I know better. MySmith's, especially the early Model 29's, are treated like thethoroughbreds they are. I still use the heavy loads. Sparingly. Mystandard loads are either a 250 grain or 300 grain hard cast bulletover 10.0 grains of Unique for 1150 feet per second. Both I and theSmith & Wesson .44 Magnum sixguns appreciate this load and willboth last longer shooting it.

Smith

Smith College

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