Saturday, July 01, 2006

My 629 or Getting a Grip on the .44

About 1985 an officer in my Brigade had a revolver he wanted to sell. It was a Smith and Wesson M629 4" with Pachmayr Presentation grips. No box, no factory grips, but it did come with 2 boxes of reloaded ammo and a Bianchi 7L holster. I already had dies, bullets, brass, powder and a fervent desire to get a compact revolver for general use and especially, legal for deer hunting in Virginia. After the exchange of pleasantries and some money that revolver was mine.

I was excited. I'd long wanted a .44 Mag of my own and had shot both Ruger Super Blackhawks and longer barreled S&W 29s. I was not intimidated by the recoil but had to admit that it was more than the .357 Magnum. Those Pachmayr Presentations really did the job on cutting recoil.

I liked it. It shot well. The recoil, while stouter than the guns I already had, wasn't so much. The only trouble, I couldn't comfortably shoot the gun double action (DA) without shifting my hand a bit so that I could reach the trigger.

Now, I'm not a tiny fellow. I'm average. 5 feet 8¼ inches tall and proportional, mostly. I should be able to do this. I tried to carry the gun daily but couldn't find a holster that I could wear that allowed me to carry the gun concealed. Frankly, that big cylinder is too much for me and IWB carry.

However, I killed a couple of groundhogs, one at 80 yards, and still liked the gun but hated the grips. Must be a better grip out there. So I bought a pair of Pachmayr's Compac Grippers. Because they don't cover the backstrap I thought that they'd let me reach the trigger for good DA shooting. Well it did that but the grips have very hard and square shoulders where the web of the hand meets the gun and when firing full-power .44 Mag loads it can hurt. Oh, one or two shots isn't bad. Might not be bad at all when adrenalized but, most shooting isn't done when you're hopped up on fear or excitement. One cylinderful was about all the fun I wanted.

For quite a while I was considering having the gun round-butted. That is, sending it to a smith who would convert the grip from square to round butt. I thought that might give me the reach my poor "little" hands needed to control the gun double action. It was suggested that I not worry about shooting the gun DA/self-cocking mode if it was so accurate. But, heck, it is a DA gun. Seems a waste to me to have a gun that good with that capability and not be able to use it! But, to be truthful, I was VERY frustrated. I've had this gun for so long and never really gotten to the point that it could be a daily companion. Of the cartridge I had no doubt, but the grips...

After some on-line inquiries I was clued in on the Hogue Auction site where Hogue auctions factory seconds and overstocks. Since I was looking for an inexpensive grip to try and had little faith this would be the "one" grip for this gun the prices were mighty attractive, especially when compared to retail. Shown here in a rig from Levergun Leather Works, these grips are very comfortable with full-house .44 Magnum loads and work well in DA.

The only problem is that they are slick. I find it difficult to thumb cock the hammer one-handed as the gun seems to be attempting to squirm right out of my hand!

I was so frustrated by now that I decided that a .45 Colt single-action revolver would work just as well for me and I got a Ruger New Vaquero 4-5/8" in just that chambering. This has become my daily carry gun (riding in the Simply Rugged Sourdough Pancake shown). It "sleeps" right beside my bed at night. But that isn't right, is it? I mean, I shouldn't ignore my 629.

I didn't, I got a Sourdough for the 629 as well. It is a good holster in which either gun rides comfortably even doing heavy work! A really great holster at a very good price made by a wonderful fella.

Still the grip size is a sticking point. I can't leave this revolver to waste away unwanted in the bottom of my safe, can I? No. So it now, once again, has a place by the bed and goes with me on my every-other-day excursions to Mom's place where it accompanies my mower rides and other chores and deals with the various varmints that I encounter. Still waiting on a coyote, but a couple of other 4-legged varmints have been hurried on their way to varmint heaven by the big .429 Hornady swaged SWC over 8 gr. of Unique. Both shots were taken double-action. I'm still working with it and perhaps there is hope yet for the big revolver.

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