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Old 02-02-2020, 09:33 AM
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Good morning,

Recently I purchased as m29-3 to replace my model 21 as my daily carry for my job. Not so long ago I got into a sticky situation where my tried and true .44spl was (it sincerely pains me to say) inadequate, so as soon as the 29 arrived I began cooking up some more potent loads using a 310gr LSMC "Keith Style" bullet, and then a 300gr "Hammer" with a very wide nosed produced by Missouri Bullet Company, each with 18.6gr h110 as a starting point.
Setting up 25 yards away from a rest, my first few shots were several inches above the paper. After lowering my rear sight as low as possible, I found I still had to drop my front blade below my rear sights to even make it onto the target.
I've had several single actions modified, but never any of my Smiths. As I am a user and not a collector, I do not mind modifying a classic if it means making it more functional for my purposes, (in this case, putting down an angry steer.) Granted, on the day in question I was on horseback and had very little use for a front sight. Nevertheless, I would like you aficionados to weigh in; is it time to have a smith build and install a taller front sight, or should I experiment more with lighter bullets?

Edit: If I were to go the new front sight route, is there a smith, or an Old Hand who might weigh in on the process, possibilities, and options? Have any of you had it done?

Last edited by Burnston; 02-02-2020 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:55 AM
Rogeronimo Rogeronimo is offline
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One might consider the Swift 280 gn. A-Frame. They offer load data for your application.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:04 AM
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ALL my 44 mags get my cast 250 gr SWC pushed by 20-22 grs of #2400.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:05 AM
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Welcome! I'm sure we would be interested to hear under what circumstances a .44 Special was "inadequate" for your line of work!

In any case, slower bullets tend to print high due to longer barrel dwell time. A lighter projectile of similar shape with the same powder charge 'should' (all other factors being equal) probably print closer to the sights if you think these may be just as effective.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:26 AM
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Just a suggestion, but consider a bullet in the 250 grain range. Unless a heavier bullet provides incredible accuracy or it will be used for shooting at very long range, there is probably no practical advantage over .44 bullets of more conventional weight. Also, the front or rear sights may not require any alteration with 250 grain bullets. Recoil may be lessened with the lighter bullets as well, depending on the powder charge.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:44 AM
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Burnston, first of all, welcome to the forums, man! There are a whole bunch of very knowledgeable folks that hang here.

As to your problem, instead of changing the front sight, why not change to a shorter rear sight blade instead. It's much easier and cheaper too. Your model 29 came with a .146 height rear sight blade from the factory. S&W also makes a .126 rear sight blade that can simply be swapped in place for that .146 sight blade that is presently installed on the rear sight base.

Smith & Wesson has a .126 blade kit for sale for $11 and includes the screw and nut, which will need to be replaced with the blade change. You can buy the sight blade kit and bring everything to your gunsmith and have him swap them out.

Here is a link to it on the S&W website: <<<<LINK>>>>
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Old 02-02-2020, 12:53 PM
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Those big heavy lead slugs penetrate like no tomorrow & will shoot lengthwise thru a steer .Not something that can be said for many jacketed bullets being sold . Many good cast bullets between 240 to 300grs . Elk , Moose & Buffalo not to mention African game have been taken with heavy cast bullets . I usually shoot such loads from a Ruger SBH or a rifle .
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Old 02-02-2020, 05:58 PM
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You don't need 300+gr heavier bullets in your 44 magnum . A 240 gr cast / jacketed / plated bullet traveling @ 1200 fps will take care of anything needed in the lower 48 . That is easily obtained with a 4" barrel and you won't run out of rear sight adjustment . I hope this helps , regards Paul
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:10 PM
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I like 265 hard cast at a little over 1300fps from a 6'' pipe.I guess it'll still do a little over 1200fps in a 4'' and I don't load at primer flattening pressure.
The 250 to 275 gr option would probably save you from having to change your front sight.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
Welcome! I'm sure we would be interested to hear under what circumstances a .44 Special was "inadequate" for your line of work!

In any case, slower bullets tend to print high due to longer barrel dwell time. A lighter projectile of similar shape with the same powder charge 'should' (all other factors being equal) probably print closer to the sights if you think these may be just as effective.
Sincerest thanks to all of you for the welcome, and all of the productive responses. A lower rear sight is certainly a better option than raising the front, as is considering lower weight bullets. I felt I owed it to myself, (and Smith and Wesson) to experiment with a heavier bullet given the result of the following experience.

My job often puts me in confrontations with angry critters, from unreasonable broncs to blood thirsty bovines. The instance in question concerned a 1000lbs+ steer whose life goals contradicted my plans for him. In his protest he absorbed two 260gr #429421 in front of 7.7gr Unique, one behind the shoulder and another through his brisket, after finally being put down by a third between his eyes. My horse was our only salvation, as his cow-sense outweighs mine dramatically. Penetration was adequate, but there were no exits. I would have preferred putting him down with one, and I acknowledge that better shooting and a hotter load would have accomplished that end with my Special. My .44spl has done everything I've ever asked of it in my normal day-to-day work. My experimenting with the m29 is an attempt to make up in velocity and punch what I lack in horseback shooting skills.
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:19 PM
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Genuinely curious what daily carry scenario in Oklahoma warrants a hard cast 300 grain 44 magnum load. Not judging but I think we all want & need some additional information.

Cory
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Old 02-02-2020, 08:44 PM
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As is probably obvious, I am new to the forum and have not yet figured the ins and outs of responses, quotes, etc. That said, I thought I had already responded to one inquiry, but I do not see my response. Please forgive my repetition in the event that my response appears.

First of all, my sincerest thanks for the warm welcome and the multiple useful responses to my inquiry. Now, allow me to elaborate on the situation in question.

My work often puts me at odds with angry animals, such as broncs that object to being ridden, or bovine beasts of short temper and shorter patience. On the occasion in question, I happened upon a 1000lbs+ steer whose life goals differed from those I had for him. Understandably, he reacted violently. My horse, being much more educated in the ways of unreasonable cattle than I, saved us from certain injury and significant hospital bills. Unfortunately, in spite of my good horse's gallant agility, the beast needed put down before our luck ran out. The steer absorbed two 260gr #429421s in front of 7.7gr Unique, one behind the left shoulder and another in the brisket. We finally put him own with a third in the forehead. Penetration was adequate, but no bullet exited. Granted, this was indeed a unique situation and is by no means a normal occurrence.
Admittedly, this pistol and this load has been more than adequate for anything I've asked of it through my day-to-day central Oklahoma duties, and I am not ready to depart with it. However, I feel I owe it to any future angry steer, (and Smith&Wesson) to at the very least satisfy a curious itch, and perhaps allow increased velocity and a bit more of a punch to make up for my poor horseback pistol work.
For those of you questioning this load in this part of the country, your skepticism is valid. Had I been a better shot on a moving horse, it would have done it's job. Perhaps more practice is needed as opposed to a caliber/pistol switch.

Thanks again for your participation, all.


Last edited by Burnston; 02-02-2020 at 08:48 PM.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:26 PM
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I had to assume it was a large animal. I would have no problems with a 300 gr carry load but would not consider it a range load. 2400 or H110 are your friends and I see no need to run it at book maximum. That bullet should penetrate deeply.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:43 PM
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Pre-enhanced S&W Model 29's don't last too long when shooting those heavy bullets. I would think that a 240-250 grain hard cast semi-wadcutter or jacketed soft point bullet will provide all the penetration and power you would need for most animals native to North America.
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Old 02-02-2020, 09:50 PM
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Thank you for your contribution. Will you please elaborate on your "pre-enhanced" comment?
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:16 PM
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Hi from Stillwater....
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Burnston View Post
Thank you for your contribution. Will you please elaborate on your "pre-enhanced" comment?
He meant the “endurance package”. Longer stop notches in the cylinder, larger cylinder stop, and locking bolt intercepter. Basically to keep the cylinder locked and prevent it from counter rotation under recoil. The silhouette shooters in the pre 29-5 era experienced the above mentioned issues unlocking and rotation problems. S&W responded with the “endurance package”.
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Old 02-02-2020, 11:21 PM
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OP, thanks for the update. Great looking carry gun. Hope you find a new setup you like.

Cory
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Old 02-03-2020, 07:57 AM
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Quote:
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Thank you for your contribution. Will you please elaborate on your "pre-enhanced" comment?
The Model 29-3E began introducing S&W's endurance package. The 29-5 and later have the most desirable features for withstanding the recoil with bullets heavier than 250 grains.



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The steer absorbed two 260gr #429421s in front of 7.7gr Unique, one behind the left shoulder and another in the brisket. We finally put him own with a third in the forehead.

That would actually be a light load in 44 Magnum, not really suitable for such situations.
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Old 02-03-2020, 10:07 AM
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A 29-3 does not have the endurance pkg which includes additional heat treatment to the yoke for additional strength . The endurance pkg included quite a few changes . Will your Smith take shooting those 300 grainers at full throttle . Well -- for a short while . I just wouldn't make a habit of shooting them only . A 240gr swc cast bullet over 20 grs of 2400 , 22 grs of H110 or 22 grs of IMR 4227 will be all you need for sure . 10 grs of Unique will get you close to what you need for power if that's the only powder you have . You should not run out of rear sight adjustment with the above loads . I understand your dilemma , I have ran into a few " ornery critters " a time or two in the past . , Regards Paul

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Old 02-03-2020, 01:56 PM
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If you keep the 4" velocity of the 300gr to no more than 1100fps, your pistol will outlast you. Problems start when folks try turning the 44mag into a 454.
I like the feel of a 300gr pill better than a 240gr - thats just me.
Have you tried a 6 o'clock hold?
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Old 02-03-2020, 11:24 PM
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Paul- I appreciate the load advice. I keep a steady supply of both 2400 and h110, and I have a few lighter bullets at my disposal, so I will employ a few of your recommendations. As per the 10gr Unique load, I use it exclusively in my OM Ruger Flattop .44. Great load, especially for my part of the country.

dla- I will readily admit, I cannot tell you what hold I use. I've always shot in whatever position or hold comes natural to me in congruence with the pistol and situation. Truth be told, I am not entirely sure what a 6 o'clock hold is. Is such a hold even achievable on horseback?
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Old 02-04-2020, 08:22 AM
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Burnston - I have never had to shoot a steer, but after reading your account, I don't think it was so much a cartridge / bullet failure as it was a bullet placement failure.

To expect to drop any worked up 1000 lbs plus animal in its tracks with a handgun and a body shot is unrealistic. I am going to guess, the same as the mythical "best bear load" discussions we see here all the time, that bullet placement in the brain / spine is key for fast stop on an animal for which handgun levels of foot pounds of energy on target means little or nothing.

Larry

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Old 02-04-2020, 02:02 PM
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Quote:
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Burnston - I have never had to shoot a steer, but after reading your account, I don't think it was so much a cartridge / bullet failure as it was a bullet placement failure.

To expect to drop any worked up 1000 lbs plus animal in its tracks with a handgun and a body shot is unrealistic. I am going to guess, the same as the mythical "best bear load" discussions we see here all the time, that bullet placement in the brain / spine is key for fast stop on an animal for which handgun levels of foot pounds of energy on target means little or nothing.

Larry
Mr. Larry,

Very well stated; you are right, of course.

I have not lost faith in the noble .44spl. I do not expect to become a one shot one kill artist on horseback. Still, I would like to see an exit wound, thus the dabble in unfamiliar territory.
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Old 02-04-2020, 03:33 PM
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Burnston,

I think your 429421's with 21 grains of 2400 will shoot through any steer you come across.(I prefer 18.5 gr.) I once put one in the forehead of a 1200 lb steer from a 44 Special loaded to 1200 fps and it dropped like it was hit with a lightning bolt. Another bullet that has given me great penetration and accuracy is the LBT 260 WFNGC. I cast them but you can buy the same bullet from Montana Bullet Works. Not cheap plinking bullets but high quality hand cast.

44 Mag, LBT, 260gr, WFN-GC - Montana Bullet Works

I know my example is an apples to oranges comparison because of bullet placement. I've never tried to shoot a critter from an excited pony but I'm guessing precise sighting and bullet placement works better in the movies than it does in real experience.

You can't go wrong with a 4" M29 in my opinion. (Still like that 21 though)

Dan

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Old 02-04-2020, 09:02 PM
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Burnston,

I think your 429421's with 21 grains of 2400 will shoot through any steer you come across.(I prefer 18.5 gr.) I once put one in the forehead of a 1200 lb steer from a 44 Special loaded to 1200 fps and it dropped like it was hit with a lightning bolt. Another bullet that has given me great penetration and accuracy is the LBT 260 WFNGC. I cast them but you can buy the same bullet from Montana Bullet Works. Not cheap plinking bullets but high quality hand cast.

44 Mag, LBT, 260gr, WFN-GC - Montana Bullet Works

I know my example is an apples to oranges comparison because of bullet placement. I've never tried to shoot a critter from an excited pony but I'm guessing precise sighting and bullet placement works better in the movies than it does in real experience.

You can't go wrong with a 4" M29 in my opinion. (Still like that 21 though)

Dan
Hey Dan, thanks for the tip. Stay mounted and and eventually the steer will find you....

Good to see you so far from the singleactions forum!
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Old 02-04-2020, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
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dla- I will readily admit, I cannot tell you what hold I use. I've always shot in whatever position or hold comes natural to me in congruence with the pistol and situation. Truth be told, I am not entirely sure what a 6 o'clock hold is. Is such a hold even achievable on horseback?
Basically align the top of the front sight with the top of the rear sight and place that at the bottom of wear you want the bullet to go.


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Old 02-06-2020, 11:47 AM
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I never had a need to load hotter than 18.5 grs 2400 with 240-250 gr cast SWC (12 BNH) in my long departed S&W Mod 29.
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Old 02-28-2020, 12:57 AM
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As 38 SplHV so aptly stated about 18.5 grains of 2400 under a Keith bullet in a 44 Mag or 16 grains of 2400 under a Keith bullet in a 44 Spl case is a hard combination to beat for accuracy, penetration and terminal ballistics. Keith developed his bullet design as a working cowboy and big game guide in the upper Salmon River country of Lemhi County, Idaho.

The reason they are used today is: they still work, just as Keith wanted them too. He tells in his writings that he was being drug by a horse after his foot slipped through the stirrup and something spooked the horse and it took off running. Keith stopped the ride by putting a slug of his design between the ears of the running horse.

Quick action and results were tanamount to solving the dilemma of flying hooves and being drug to death in the blue sagebrush of the Salmon river plateau. I knew Keith and spent some time with him in his home at Salmon. Idaho in 1973, he was still a big proponent of his bullet and the 44 Mag.
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