Over the summer we took a look at the Smith and Wesson 329PD  and while this is a great revolver for backcountry packing due to its light weight, the recoil is brutal. For this review we'll take a look at the S&W 629 with a 3" barrel in 44 Magnum in the hopes of retaining the versatility of the 44 Magnum cartridge while dialing down the recoil a bit.
The Talo Exclusive 629 with 3" Barrel is an attractive, compact revolver.
The 629 is the heir to the legacy of the S&W 29, the revolver made legendary by Clint Eastwood in the movie "Dirty Harry." The 629 is constructed entirely of stainless steel and has been made in a variety of configurations over the years. Officially the 629 is in the large "N" frame category of revolver designations by S&W and is identical in frame shape as the 329PD. Our review model is not listed on the S&W website and goes by the SKU number 150715 which is only sold through dealers that purchase S&W firearms from a TALO licensed distributor.
The trigger and hammer feature a hint of color case hardening.
Besides the difference in metal, the most noticeable difference from the 329PD is the large richly stained and intricately carved wood grip. The grip fits well in the hand and the side carving gives a good grip, although the hard wood can be a bit slippery on the finger grooves when wet.
This close up shows the detailed checkering of the grip side panels.
While the grip is aesthetically pleasing, it offers no recoil reduction. Our review model does not kick nearly as hard as the 329PD, owing to its nearly 40 ounces of weight (unloaded) which is nearly a pound heavier than the 329PD. However the hard wood grips don't help to reduce the felt recoil. In fact the gun would benefit from a Hogue overmolded grip like the 329PD; but then it wouldn't be as attractive either. While the recoil is reduced considerably it is still important to get a good solid two-handed grip on a 3" barrel 629. For those that are recoil adverse, 44 Special loads are a good way to start working up to full strength 44 Magnum loads. 44 Special is far less potent than 44 Magnum and is easier to shoot for most beginners.
The front sight on our review model is the "Red Ramp" configuration which features a bright reddish orange front portion of the front sight blade. The red ramp makes it much easier to see the front sight in a variety of lighting conditions; however it is not as nearly as bright as the Hi-VIZ sight that we used on the 329PD. One nice feature of most S&W revolvers is the front sight can be changed, by driving out the front roll pin and then placing in the new sight. This process makes it fairly straightforward to switch over to a Hi-Viz style sight if a shooter should so desire.
The front "red ramp" sight is bright in most lighting conditions, but can be swapped to Hi-Viz if necessary.
The rear sight has a boxed frame highlighted with white.
Like the 329PD the 629 is capable of good accuracy even in its 3" configuration, although as distances start to stretch out the accuracy diminishes as is to be expected with a 3" barrel revolver. For self-defense ranges of 25 yards or less our review model should be more than adequate.
As equipped our review gun has a street price around $850, although it may vary from dealer to dealer. For some this may make a more attractive buy than the 329PD, because of the reduced recoil, lower cost, more compact size, and still retaining 6 rounds of capacity. If you decide to go with a 3" 629 you may still want to install a Hogue grip simply to tame some of the recoil at a marginal increase in overall size of the revolver.
For more information visit Smith & Wesson .