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My new piece of backpacking kit - A long-winded, pic-heavy review of my new S&W Model 69 Login/Join 
Prepared for the Worst, Providing the Best
Picture of 92fstech
posted
I’ve been doing some backpacking lately, and have been looking at taking some trips to places where they have big bears and other large critters. As such, I’ve been shopping for something a little more potent than my 3” SP101 in .357 Mag or my 2” Model 360 in .38 +P. No, I don’t have any aspirations to go hunting bears with this thing...I’m going to keep doing what I’ve always done and give them their space, which has worked very well so far. But I also never want to be in that situation where Yogi decides that I look like lunch and I’m left wishing I brought more gun. If I’m completely honest, this is about 15% practical, and about 85% I want a new gun...but it did help sell it to my wife! Big Grin

I’m a .45 guy at heart, and would have loved something in .45 Colt, but it seems nobody reputable makes a short-barreled .45 Colt these days, and the few that are out there on the used market are insanely expensive. So that leaves me with the .44 Mag. I looked at the 329 PD, but the price and ultra light weight both promised to be painful. A buddy has a 4” model 69 that he let me play with, and then I discovered they offer it in 2 ¾ inch, and decided that was the one for me.



The model 69 is not a gun for the classic S&W purist. It’s a 5-shoot L-Frame, has the Hillary-hole, a 2-piece barrel, and a ball-detent on the crane instead of at the end of the ejector rod. It’s brushed stainless finish lacks the beautiful bluing and refinement of the classic guns, and the rubber grips offer more function than form. I wouldn’t call it ugly, but it’s utilitarian.



I couldn’t find one anywhere, despite weeks of looking. I finally broke down and paid far too much on Gunbroker. On the upside, I’ll say that the seller was responsive, the transaction was seamless, and they had the gun to my FFL within 2 days.

Backpacking is all about weight, and I’ll admit that this gun is pretty hefty, at 34 ¼ oz, but it does keep the recoil manageable, and it’s a full 10 oz lighter than the Redhawk in .45 Colt/ACP that I was also considering. It actually weighs in within an oz or so of my regular carry gun, a P245. Fit and finish is decent for what it is. The brushed stainless is going to show scratches, and there are already a couple of small ones on it. There were also a few burs on the breech face that I sanded smooth...not exactly a home run from S&W, but it’s a tool that’s going to get used, and I’ll likely put worse on it with use, so I’m not too worked up about it. This thing is gonna get carried in the backcountry, and will take a beating. The stainless ought to be pretty rust resistant, so that’s a plus.



The DA trigger is very heavy...I don’t have a gauge, but your finger will get tired after a few minutes of dry-fire. The SA trigger is the opposite...put your finger on the trigger, add a bit of pressure, and it goes off. No creep, no takup....just BOOM! It’s very smooth, and I’m alright with the SA being light. I wish I could lighten the DA a bit, but I also don’t want to compromise reliable ignition, so I likely won’t mess with it. The ball detent lockup on the crane may offend the traditionalist sensibilities of some, but it’s no gimmick. This thing locks up tighter than any other revolver I own.

I haven’t shot it much for accuracy, as .44 is a new caliber for me and I’ve been doing mostly load development over a chronograph. I’ve been pleased with what I’ve seen on the target, though. I’m not going to win any bullseye competitions with it, but once I got over the fear that it was going to hurt me, I could keep them in the 10-ring at 10 yards. I’m confident that the gun is more accurate than I am, and with some work I’m sure I can improve.



Recoil is stout, as can be expected from a short-barreled .44 magnum. The ugly rubber grips do a pretty good job of protecting the hands, both at the backstrap and the behind the trigger guard, and the only loads that I can say I really felt were up very near the max load data. I’ve got about 150 rounds through it now and am no worse for wear. My buddy (an experienced shooter) did blister the webbing of his hand after 5, though, so I guess YMMV.

A note on the grips...they’re just a bit too long, and the finger grooves are in the wrong place. I ordered a set of Pachmayr Compacts to replace them, as I have a set of those on my Speed-Six and I’ve been very happy with them. The grips came in today and I installed them on the gun. They fit my hand very well, providing the perfect amount of length to get all my fingers on the grip with no overhang. The backstrap is well padded and they have the same cushion by the trigger guard that the factory grips do. The palm swell fills the hand better than the factory grips, and there are no annoying finger grooves. The downside is, they don’t fit the gun as well as they do my hand. There is a large gap at the top of the front strap that will not close no matter how tight you torque the screw down. You can barely feel it when holding the gun, and it doesn’t affect the function of the grips, but it’s unsightly. I may need to relieve some material inside the grip to try to improve the fit. They also interfere slightly with a speedloader. You have to pull sharply to get it to slide out past the grips. I really like the form-factor, but Pachmayr needs to up their QC and fitment game.







Muzzle blast is interesting with this gun. The only other .44 I’ve owned was a 6” Taurus M44 years ago. It was ported and you could feel the blast in the bridge of your nose with every shot. Not so with this thing. Being short-barreled, there’s obviously quite a bit of flame coming out the end of the barrel, especially with slow powders like H110, but the pressure wave seems to mostly go downrange, and I’ve found it to be much more pleasant to shoot than that old Taurus.

Overall I’m pleased with the gun. It’s big enough to be shootable and packs some potency for the woods while still being small enough to conceal when I’m in town. I got a DeSantis thumb break holster for it and have carried it around the house and on a few walks this week, and it carries very nicely. The slimmer 5-shot cylinder clearly contributes to this. I’ll have to take it on a trip to see how the extra bulk affects me after a full day on the trail, but initial impressions are good.

 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I dont know about your grip, but many Pachmayrs have a steel liner that makes trimming or altering them quite a bit of work.


End of Earth: 2 Miles
Upper Peninsula: 4 Miles
 
Posts: 12399 | Location: Marquette MI | Registered: July 08, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by YooperSigs:
I dont know about your grip, but many Pachmayrs have a steel liner that makes trimming or altering them quite a bit of work.


Well, if that's the case maybe I should just leave it alone. I may end up with something different down the road, but like I said, I do like the design. I got a deal off Amazon so they were only $14...hard to go wrong at that price.
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Very nice. I don’t like carrying heavy unless I have to.
 
Posts: 4903 | Location: WI | Registered: February 29, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Leatherneck
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Thanks for the review. I wasn’t aware that this gun existed.

I’ve seen your posts in other threads talking about wanting a big bore trail gun so it’s cool you found one.




Georgia Carry MemberNRA Lifetime Member

“With no police to protect you, did you own a gun? Did your neighbor?” - The Division 2

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Posts: 14196 | Location: Florida | Registered: May 07, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I'll review your review:

I think you did good...

that's a lot of cartridge for a short barreled revolver and so I would suggest regular 44 loads but since I have only shot 44 mags in 'normal' barreled guns I could be over thinking it.

When I was young and doing woods tramping I was more worried about two legged critters than the four legged ones... seems no matter how hard I tried to be quiet I always seemed to make enough noise or smell bad enough to keep those big critters away.
 
Posts: 2525 | Location: Greenville, SC | Registered: January 30, 2017Reply With QuoteReport This Post
The Ice Cream Man
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I have a 329 NG, which is much lighter, but I still suggest using 222MS Loctite on all the screws.

I shot an IDPA match with mine, once, and had screws back out all over the place.

Hogue makes a very large grip which I like on mine. Not sure if it fits an L frame, as well as the N frame, or if they make a version for the L frame.
 
Posts: 4497 | Location: Republic of Ice Cream, Myrtle Beach, SC | Registered: May 24, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
I’ve seen your posts in other threads talking about wanting a big bore trail gun so it’s cool you found one.


Thanks! It was certainly a hunt...I can't begin to tell you how many gun stores I went to or how much time I spent on gunbroker looking for one of these in my price range, but I guess that's part of the fun. Big Grin

quote:

When I was young and doing woods tramping I was more worried about two legged critters than the four legged ones... seems no matter how hard I tried to be quiet I always seemed to make enough noise or smell bad enough to keep those big critters away.


Agreed, and I will likely carry light magnums in this most of the time, and save the really heavy stuff for the deep woods. I'll shoot some on the range to stay proficient, too, but something closer to .44 special should make a good carry load for 2-legged problems.

Part of my criteria for a backpacking gun is that it has to be something that I can carry on the trail, and on the trip TO the trail...which sometimes involves a multi-day road trip. I only want to take one gun, as I don't want to park my car at a trailhead somewhere and leave my "city" gun in it. We've not had a problem yet, but lots of trailheads are in remote places, and thieves know that people likely won't be returning to them for days...a very tempting situation for an innovative meth-head looking to finance his habit.

quote:
I have a 329 NG, which is much lighter, but I still suggest using 222MS Loctite on all the screws.

That's a good call...I've been down that road with my scandium J-Frame...actually lost a screw while jogging, and S&W was on backorder. A member here actually hooked me up with a replacement while I was waiting on S&W to come up with one.

How's that 329NG to shoot? I looked at a few of those on gunbroker while I was shopping for this. It seems like the perfect answer to what I was looking for, but being discontinued now, they were way out of my price range. I imagine it's quite the handfull with full-power magnums!
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
E tan e epi tas
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Nice gun. Should serve you well.

I am weird in that I am not particularly recoil sensitive but something about 44 Mags never worked for me. Blast/recoil/etc. I get the carpal tunnels just looking at it. Smile. I do really like 41 magnum though even though that round was LONG GONE by the time I really got into shooting.


"Guns are tools. The only weapon ever created was man."
 
Posts: 6311 | Location: On the water | Registered: July 25, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Pretty cool gun. That would be fun.

I think I would go the cheap, easy route and just carry a Glock 20 with 16 rounds of 10MM.


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Posts: 6162 | Location: Floriduh | Registered: October 16, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by bubbatime:
I think I would go the cheap, easy route and just carry a Glock 20 with 16 rounds of 10MM.


Yeah, I considered going the 10mm Glock route, but decided against it. I like revolvers. I'm a handloader, so a gun that tosses my expensive, hard-to-find brass all over the place, bulges cases, and doesn't play nice with cast bullets just isn't a good fit for me. I'll actually shoot and practice with this gun more than I would a Glock, because I can make bullets for it and don't have to worry about losing brass.

Now if Sig ever gets on the ball and comes out with a 10mm P320, it should address most of the issues I have with the Glock, and I'll likely buy one.
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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It will also work as a grizz gun when you hike in that sort of country (Wyoming, Montana). Hard cast lead bullets are sometimes recommended with a medium or higher powder charge.

PC
 
Posts: 1054 | Location: NW Wyoming | Registered: November 23, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I would send a pic to Pachmayr of that sloppy grip fit and see what they say .
 
Posts: 613 | Location: S.W.Florida | Registered: August 18, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by PCWyoming:
It will also work as a grizz gun when you hike in that sort of country (Wyoming, Montana). Hard cast lead bullets are sometimes recommended with a medium or higher powder charge.

PC


Yup...it was actually that planned trip to the Winds that you and I talked about briefly that got me to start looking. The Asbarokas are also on the radar. For hiking east of the Mississippi, I'll probably stick to my SP101 or even the J-Frame, depending upon where I'm going.

quote:
I would send a pic to Pachmayr of that sloppy grip fit and see what they say.


Not a bad idea and probably worth a shot. I e-mailed them. We'll see what they say.
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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S&W K, L, N, X, Z Frame Round Butt Rubber Tamer Conversion Monogrip Black

https://www.amazon.com/Hogue-1...nogrip/dp/B07DPSFMT3
 
Posts: 275 | Location: Mansfield, TX | Registered: April 08, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by bigguy:
S&W K, L, N, X, Z Frame Round Butt Rubber Tamer Conversion Monogrip Black

https://www.amazon.com/Hogue-1...nogrip/dp/B07DPSFMT3


I've had those before on other guns. They're too big, and I don't care for the finger grooves. IMO they're on par with the factory grips, which are actually pretty good, but share the same shortcomings. I'm looking for smaller, not bigger. I'm actually very happy with the Pachmayrs...would be 100% satisfied if they'd fix that front strap.
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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You shoot that thing very well at 10 yds., I'd be satisfied with that !
 
Posts: 280 | Location: Central Ohio | Registered: January 05, 2018Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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quote:
Originally posted by Genorogers:
You shoot that thing very well at 10 yds., I'd be satisfied with that !


Those were the better targets, after some warmup. I had one that I really shanked bad when shooting over the chronograph...it ended up low left off paper. I was very lucky I didn't take out my chrony! Eek
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Bolt Thrower
Picture of Voshterkoff
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What kind of speed are you getting out of it?
 
Posts: 9274 | Location: Woodinville, WA | Registered: March 30, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Haven't shot it on the clock yet. Because it's a new caliber, I have minimal .44 components, so I can only shoot so much per range trip. The first few were spent working up loads. Now I'm trying to get accurate with it. Once I'm satisfied with that, I'll throw the clock into the mix.

I can tell you right now it's not going to be 9mm semi-auto mag-dump fast, but the sights are easy to acquire and the gun returns to a natural point-of-aim, so it ought to produce acceptable speed for assessed aimed fire. It's only got 5 rounds in it, so you don't dare shoot faster than you can make hits.

If I get a chance to load some more ammo this weekend and get out to the range next week, I'll shoot a few on the clock and report back on where I'm at with it at this point...maybe with a comparison to a semi-auto, just for the data point. It's still a work in progress at this point, though.
 
Posts: 4730 | Location: In the Cornfields | Registered: May 25, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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