The Smith & Wesson revolvers have evolved over the years and the full under-lug, pre-lock, stainless steel guns are among the most aesthetically pleasing revolvers in my opinion.
Smith & Wesson's advertising department once described the 629 Classic as "the most beautiful gun you'll probably never shoot".
I guess they figured the guns were too pretty for use or that collectors would gobble them up and they would spend their life in display cases or gun safes.
The 629 was introduced in 1978 as the stainless version of the model 29. As with most S&W revolvers, they simply added a 6 in front of the model number to designate the gun's construction was of stainless steel. They also included all of the upgrades of the current production blued model, in this case it was the 29-2. So the 629(no dash) was the same mechanically as the 29-2.
By 1982 the 29-3 & 629-1 arrived, unfortunately, without the pinned barrel and recessed chambers.
in 1988 S&W introduced a semi-custom factory revolver for .44 Magnum hunters. The gun was called the ".44 Magnum Classic Hunter". It sported an unfluted cylinder, 6" full under-lug barrel, .500" target hammer and .400" smooth combat trigger along with Hogue soft rubber grips on a square butt frame.
By 1989 S&W engineers had added an "endurance package" to both the 29 & 629. This was due to issues with the gun unlocking and the cylinder turning backwards during recoil. The new model numbers were the 629-2E and later the 629-3.
There have been many changes and special editions offered over the years including:
629 Magna Classic
629 Classic Hunter
629 .44 Classic DX
629 Lew Horton Special
629 Classic Power Port
There were also distributor exclusives and Performance Center offerings. Barrel lengths were from 3" to 8 3/8", some were round butt, some square butt. Some had unfluted cylinders, some were fluted. Some of the fluted cylinders had a "black powder chamfer" others had no chamfer.
The 629 Classic is still in Smith & Wesson's catalog:
I purchased this 629-3 a couple of years ago. I was searching for a pinned and recessed model 29, but I didn't find one at the gun show that day, instead I came upon this beauty. It did not have a box or the original papers, but I didn't care.
629-3 Classic Hunter (re-introduction, a run of only 2000 made) Mfg. 1990
.500" target hammer, .400" grooved target trigger
Square butt N frame
6" full under lug barrel
Endurance Package, no MIM parts, no lock, no laser engraving
After giving the gun a good polish I added this set of Altamont grips.
Here it is with a younger brother, also a 629-3, but built a few years later, the differences:
- laser engraving instead of roll marks
- 6.5" barrel instead of 6"
- Red ramp front sight
- Round butt grip frame instead of square
- S&W logo moved to right side of frame
Here are some pictures of other 629 Classics:
for more reading on the .44 Magnum cartridge click here
The pictures above were found freely on the world wide web and are used under the guidelines of Fair Use, per Title 17 of the U.S. Code.
If you own the copyright to any of these images and wish them to be credited or removed, please contact me immediately.
Smith & Wesson
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Six Guns by John Taffin
Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson 3rd ed. by Jim Supica & Richard Nahas