Tuesday, 30 August 2016

S&W Model 69 Combat Magnum .44mag

I consider myself to be relatively inexperienced when it comes to revolvers.  My first was a single action Ruger in .44mag.  It was a lot of fun to shoot but it was quite slow to reload.  It reminded me of classic western films where the cowboys hid behind rocks whilst reloading their guns.  I found in the end that I wasn't shooting it as much as I should, so I sold it to my brother-in-law. 

Earlier this year I was lucky enough to purchase a Model 36 Chief's Special with a 3" Barrel. Its a lovely little gun to shoot but unfortunately I cant use it in any competitions thanks to Australia's oppressive gun laws.  I do however have a large calibre endorsement on my license for metallic silhouette shooting.  I knew I wanted another revolver for competition but I really didn't know which model until one day I walked to the letterbox and opened a big yellow envelope containing the NRA's American Rifleman magazine. On the front cover I saw the Model 69 and from that point, I knew exactly what I wanted.  

It has the classic look of the K frame Model 66 in .357, but this is one better. A .44mag squeezed into an L-frame can only be a good thing.  There is only one disadvantage, and that is the gun's reduced cylinder size. The capacity was reduced to 5 rounds in order to fit the smaller L frame.

The fit and finish on a new Smith & Wesson is excellent.

Everything about the pistol is typical of a new Smith & Wesson. A nice stainless steel finish, comfortable black rubber grips and black screws, trigger, hammer & cylinder release. I have not measured the trigger pull but I would put the single action pull at around 4lbs and the double action at around 11-12lbs. 

 5 shot cylinder means there is one less chamber to clean!

The sights are easy to use and are adjustable for windage and elevation. The red ramp front is very easy to see and line up with the white outlined rear.  Simple yet functional.

The 4.25" barrel is a 2 piece design and it seems to be very accurate at 100m with my favourite target load. I cast the Lee 429-255-SWC from wheel weights in front of 10gr of ADI AP100 and it works quite well.  I also fired some full house loads featuring the 180gr Hornady XTP and some 300gr Sierra JSP's.  Hot loads recoil quite heavily due to the short-for-a-44mag barrel but are easily manageable for experienced shooters.  This is definitely not the gun for a new shooter, especially with full house magnum loads.  All of the above loads carried more than enough energy to knock down the metallic pigs at 100 metres.

 2 piece 4.25" barrel

Its hard to beat the timeless look of a revolver

I paid a little under $1400 for this gun and I did have to wait some time for it to arrive.  I can say it was definitely well worth the wait. I could have purchased one immediately but it would have cost me $500 more.  That's money id prefer to have in my pocket!  

I do have a gripe!  Smith & Wesson don't clean their guns after test firing them. It was fired from 3 of the chambers as evidenced by the fouling that remained. A very good clean using JB's Bore cleaning compound had the barrel as shiny as a mirror.  This took around 30 minutes or so to get it to that point.  A clean barrel is easier to keep clean.

If you get the chance to shoot one, do it, or if you see me at the range, come and ask to have a go.  I like to share!

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  1. OH MY LORD, your cost down there is insane... I JUST got one of these here, new, for $689 USD. Glad you like it! Hope I get to shoot mine soon!

    1. They are a great gun. I hope you are enjoying yours!