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Living with the S&W 329PD

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by The Heretic, Jul 4, 2014.

  1. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I shot this handgun with a 300 grain Barnes heavy "bear protection" load - once.

    Once was enough. Broke a fingernail (literally - something on the gun recoiled enough to hit one of my fingers) and drew some blood.

    Put it down to shoot other guns, but had to wait a while because my hands were shaking. Handgun recoil didn't used to bother me this much - although I once gave away a Grendel .380 because it was undependable and it bruised my hands (within thirty minutes I could see the bruises). Light guns can be brutal regardless of the cartridge.

    So then I shot it with 240 grain magnum loads. Not pleasant, but controllable enough to shoot a cylinder full - only just. My hands stung afterwards. My son-in-law loves to shoot it regardless of the load.

    Then I shot it with 240 grain .44 Special loads - 900 fps. Still not pleasant - not that I expected it to be, but still stings my hands.

    Today I shot 165 grain .44 Special Hornady "Critical Defense" 900 fps. Very manageable, not unpleasant, but recoil and especially muzzle flip, very noticeable.

    So then I got some Winchester 200 grain Silvertip .44 Special out of the closet - had some left over from when I owned a Charter Arms Bulldog years ago. This is 900 fps, but muzzle energy is about the same as .45 ACP 230 grain ball (which as I recall shooting from a Star PD that is the same weight as the 329PD, was not very manageable or pleasant). Anyway, the Silvertips had only slightly more recoil and flip than the Hornady 165 grain loads, so that is what is in the 329PD now as it sits in my bed headboard.

    I got online and order both Pachmayr Decelerator and Hogue X-frame grips. I will get some more ammo and see how those work, and which is better.

    Then I will probably send the gun off to be ported and an action job done on it next year.

    This is my "field gun" that I carry when walking in the woods. It isn't primarily for self-defense - if I felt I needed to carry a handgun specifically for that purpose (SHTF or going someplace risky) I would carry a hi-cap semi-auto instead, or at least a hideout pocket pistol.

    I bought this because when I was in Alaska I got real tired of carrying a handgun that weighed over 3 pounds - to the point that when I got out of brown bear country I no longer carried it. But I still like .44 Magnums, I just don't like the weight. So I bought this handgun, knowing it wouldn't be a pussycat like my Taurus Ti Tracker in .357 Mag is, but having no idea that it would draw blood when shot with bear protection loads.

    I still like it, but I am trying to find ways to tame it.

    The Silvertips are adequate for anything I will encounter around here - probably even for a bear or cougar (both of which share the mountain I live on (a cougar was seen less than a mile from my house) - but more likely I would encounter a feral or stray dog or human.

    But I want to be able to shoot a full cylinder of the heavy loads controllably in an emergency if I ever again travel to brown bear country.
     
  2. twowheels

    twowheels portland, OR Active Member

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    I think you will really like the X frame grips. They go a long way to taming the recoil of this beast. I shoot my 329 4" with my .44 mag handloads. I load with a heavy .44 special/light .44 mag powder charge and the gun is very very manageable. I have never tried full power magnum loads in the 329. If I were going to carry it in big bear country, I'd shoot a couple cylinders of full power loads and then carry it that way. But if I were only going to carry in Oregon, my light magnum loads have all the punch that is necessary.
     
  3. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    The Barnes loads I have were advertised as 1300 to 1400 fps with 275 and 300 grain heavy jacket JSPs. They don't make them anymore - I bought them when I worked in Alaska about 25 years ago.

    Like I said, not fun to shoot at all. Very abrupt and severe recoil in such a light handgun. In an emergency I would hope I could get a cylinder full off before destroying my hands, but I would prefer to have more control, hence the grips and the eventual porting.

    I have owned and shot a number of handguns with porting of various types - mostly small multiple ports at the end of the barrel, but also a Schuemann type hybrid port which is very effective in my experience, and that would be the type I would want to go with. Just a matter of getting it done.

    I do want to do it incrementally so I can tell which modification has what effect - once ported the porting cannot be uninstalled, so grips come first.
     
  4. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Beyond that, I have to say I really like the fiber optic front sight - it was late afternoon when I shot it yesterday, and it was somewhat overcast, the sun behind the trees, so light level was down a little.

    The front sight was almost glowing. Worked well for me. I think I want at least a U-notch rear sight, but I would prefer a ghost ring. I have a ghost ring on one of my other handguns and it works well for me.
     
  5. jordanvraptor

    jordanvraptor Oregon City, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Have you considered having it Magnaported? I had a 329 but never shot it with more than 240gr loads. I kind of miss it but have a Dirty Harry model 29 now as a collectible.
     
  6. twowheels

    twowheels portland, OR Active Member

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    Boy I wouldn't want to port mine. I figure its best to shoot it with lighter loads most of the time. However, if you are going to carry it occasionally with full power loads, you should practice with them occasionally. But I wouldn't want to violate the beast by cutting holes in the barrel.
     
  7. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    It's just a piece of metal. I can buy another one. It isn't like S&W stopped making them or anything like that.
     
  8. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but I believe hybrid porting is more effective.
     
  9. Hook686

    Hook686 Northern California Active Member

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    Personally the 329PD is not a revolver I enjoy shooting .44 magnum loads out of at any level. For my field carry purposes I carry 4 - 185 grain Buffalo Bore Heavy .44 Specials, 1 - 200 grain Speer Gold Dot Hollow Points and 1 -300 grain Hornady XTP. I figure if it gets to that point I'll never notice the recoil. I practice with 200 grain GDHP bullets I load with 9.4 grains of Unique. I get about 1050 fps with this loading and I use it to practice using something similar to the Buffalo Bore Heavy 185 grain .44 Special. Maybe the softest round I have ever shot in the 329PD was the Speer CCI 200 grain .44 Special. A real soft shooter. Personally I do not think the 329PD is a big bear gun. If you want big bear protection, carry a big bear gun. Though if a big bear were coming down on you, do you really think the recoil of your hand gun would be one of your concerns ?
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2014
  10. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Me neither. I haven't shot a load out of it yet that made me think I would want to take it and go shoot a box or two of that ammo just for fun.

    1300 grains! whats the OAL on that? ;)

    The 329PD is a carry gun, not a gun you shoot a lot obviously.

    For me, it is the difference between carrying something and not carrying anything.

    Would a .454 or .460 or .500 Mag or something of that class be better for Brown Bear?

    Of course, so would a shotgun with slugs, or a .458 Win Mag, but all of those are heavy and a person will be tempted to leave them home instead of bothering to carry them.

    The 329PD is a handgun you don't even notice you are carrying, so you don't leave it home. With a 300 grain heavy load, it might get the job done if you hit the right place.

    I may never get back to big bear country, but if I do I will have a handgun that I won't feel totally naked with - at least until I am staring down and angry bear.
     
    Hook686 likes this.
  11. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Ordered and received some Pachmayr decelerator grips.

    A little softer rubber, covers the backstrap.

    Just now shot it with the 300 and 275 loads.

    It hurt, but I don't think as bad as before. I could shoot a cylinder full in an emergency situation.

    I don't like the diamond checkering on these grips though.

    I have a set of X frame grips coming. I am hoping they will be better yet.