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Old 11-02-2012, 09:54 PM
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Default Model 29-2 and its Spanish, American and German cousins

We’ve all seen old Spanish lookalikes of S&W revolvers, typically of M&P form in .38 or .32-20. Here is a grouping of similar revolvers, except emulating the Model 29 .44 Magnum. Not strictly copies mind you, but in form and function somewhat reminiscent of a Smith. Two Spanish, one American and one outlier German specimen that stretches the bounds of my self-imposed category. I did not include .44s by Dan Wesson, Colt, or Ruger because they seem fundamentally different to me. Taurus makes a variety of .44s that ape S&W but none of them (that I know of) quite have the lines of the classic Model 29 – I’ve only seen them with full underlug barrels.


From right to left:
S&W Model 29-2
Llama Super Comanche
Astra Model 44
High Standard Crusader
RG Model 57





And from the other direction, left to right:





Everyone knows what a Model 29 looks like but I certainly have to show it as a baseline for comparison. I replaced the original grips with the Siles that I prefer the feel of.





Next is the Llama Super Comanche. As much as the factory S&W grips are (to me) excessively flared at the bottom, the Llama is more so. The hammer and rear sight are a bit clubby in form but it has a snazzy ventilated rib on the barrel.





Probably the most similar to a S&W is the Astra Model 44, though its hammer is clubby as well. Notice the sideplate shape and compare it to the Smith. Oddly, the bottom front corner of the frame is rounded off rather than square. This feature almost looks like a mistake.






High Standard came out with the Crusader in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt around 1980 in a limited run of 500 each, with fitted wooden cases. Unfortunately for them it never really took off and as far as I know, no standard models were ever made. Its sideplate has turned plum.





This magnificent beast is the RG Model 57 in .44 Magnum. (The joke I’ve heard is that RG stands for “Rotten Gun”.) I stumbled across it on Gunbroker while (as you might guess) looking for a S&W Model 57 in .41 Magnum. I’d had no idea such a thing existed but had to have it. It is, as Professor Higgins said of Eliza Doolittle, “...so deliciously low, so horribly dirty!” However I don’t think it’s ever going to pass as royalty, even with the ventilated rib.





Here they are from the other side.

S&W M-29-2. Retail price in the 1980 Gun Digest is $331.50




Llama Super Comanche. Notice the sideplate is on this side. Retail price in the 1980 Gun Digest is $349.95





Astra Model 44. Retail price in the 1981 Gun Digest is $390.00




High Standard Crusader. Check the funky cylinder release and the Dan Wesson type grip attachment. Retail price in the 1980 Gun Digest is $340.00





And the RG Model 57. They cylinder release is really about the only thing resembling S&W on it but I just had to include it. Retail price in the 1980 Gun Digest is $242.00



For real world prices you could probably knock 30-50% off the Llama, Astra and RG, but expect to pay close to full price for the S&W. The Dirty Harry mania had died down a bit by 1980 so you probably didn't have to pay double. Not sure what the commemorative Crusader went for back in the day but they're a bit pricey now, if you can find one.
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Old 11-02-2012, 10:40 PM
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Hey Tom,
Thanks for posting the pics of your shooters. Again I have learned something new on this forum. I had never saw one of the Crusader revolvers. Again, Thanks...Ray
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Old 11-03-2012, 12:19 AM
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Very interesting informative and and great pics !
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Old 11-03-2012, 05:38 AM
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That's a nice collection of 44's, a man would have hard time finding all the odd ball 44's that were made, great photos
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Old 11-03-2012, 07:58 AM
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Great post.

The Llama and Astra are the only ones I've ever seen in person. The RG looks like a high school machine shop project that I would NOT want to fire with magnum loads.
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Old 11-03-2012, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by steamloco76 View Post
Great post.

The Llama and Astra are the only ones I've ever seen in person. The RG looks like a high school machine shop project that I would NOT want to fire with magnum loads.
The seller on Gunbroker said that he had fired about 60 rounds of factory ammo through it. I will have to say that it's the best-built RG I've ever seen, although that may be damning with faint praise. It isn't the usual pot metal looking thing that their .22s and .38s are and is nicely machined steel.
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:14 AM
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Great thread that I missed the first time around!

I love the theme of knock-off Model 29s.

I really wanted one of the High Standard Crusaders when they first came out, but I never saw one in the flesh. I bet its a solid gun.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 07-25-2013, 07:53 PM
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That is a WAY cool collection. Any others you looking for?
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:04 PM
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Unusual collection. Thanks for sharing. DLB
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Old 07-25-2013, 09:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Tom K View Post
I will have to say that it's the best-built RG I've ever seen, although that may be damning with faint praise. It isn't the usual pot metal looking thing that their .22s and .38s are and is nicely machined steel.
More like praising with faint damns. As in "Damn, that is a butt-ugly revolver!"
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Old 07-25-2013, 10:15 PM
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If you have fired any of the non S&W's, what are your impressions? I seem to recall that one of those makes had a unique action where the trigger and hammer meshed together like gears. I thought it was the Crusader with the unusual cylinder release lever.

Cool collection.
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Old 07-26-2013, 06:55 AM
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The Astras were very strong guns and I know of several that are still shooting full house loads in the hands of friends OCONUS...
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Old 07-26-2013, 04:39 PM
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I always wanted one of the Astra .44s, but never actually saw one for sale. I did run across a Crusader at my LGS about a year or so ago. Nice looking gun in the presentation case and the asking price was $1000. I'm not a collector, I shoot everything I have so I passed on it, thinking if it ever had any issues it would have been a bear to get repaired. Reminds me of a beefy Trooper MK III. Kinda wish I had bought it anyway...
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Old 07-11-2015, 07:22 AM
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Wow. I'm a late comer on this one but what a great thread. Thanks for the comparisons. Fascinating. I'm really surprised that Gun Digest listed some of those other guns higher than the S&W.
As far as Dirty Harry, I bet a lot of these guns being introduced by the various companies were still to trying to cash in on "Dirty Harry mania". The Enforcer came out in 1976 then 1983 was Sudden Impact. This was a prime period for companies to sell 6 or 6 1/2" .44 Magnums. I still think that in the real world at the retail gun stores back then the S&W would have been more money than all of the rest.

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Old 08-08-2017, 02:22 PM
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I have an Astra 44 that is even more like a Model 29. note the shape of the frame near the crane hinge, pinned barrel, and recessed chambers. It uses a coil mainspring, the double action trigger pull is smooth and feels light, the single action pull is crisp but heavier than a S&W.







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Old 08-08-2017, 02:25 PM
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Also, I worked in a sporting goods store/gunshop from 1979 to 1983. The Dirty Harry effect on M29 prices was still in full effect, at least in Kansas. There was one gunshop in town that you could walk in most any time and get a 29, but it was $500+ at the time a 29 was just ver $300. We sold them for suggested retail, and had a waiting list and I doubt there were ever enough to meet the demand, even years later.

I bought the first Redhawk in town in 1981 or 82. I do remember it was $325. A new Super Blackhawk was less than $300 in those days.

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Old 08-08-2017, 06:19 PM
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Good thread, brings back many memories from the past.
Thanks, Steve
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:02 PM
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What an enjoyable post! Thank you Tom K
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Old 08-09-2017, 01:59 PM
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Great post and I learned a lot! Thank you.
But I have to agree with shouldazagged, your RG is a BUG!
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