I took a somewhat odd route. In revolvers, I'm a Smith & Wesson guy, through and through, and MORE, if possible. Also, I prefer double action revolvers so much that it's not even a contest, and I also shoot my revolvers double action around 90-95% of the time. Quite simply, these are just my preferences.
Even still, I have a GP-100, a Dan Wesson, a Colt, and a Taurus. All have a place. But beyond those, I have a bunch of K, L and N-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers and they are always my first choice.
When I decided a .44 Magnum was to be added, I had two options, IMO-- same ones you're looking at. I wanted either a 29 or a Redhawk. (or a 629 or Stainless Redhawk, of course)
I ended up going with a 7.5" barreled blued Redhawk. Why? These reasons all played a part in my decision:
- .44 Mag has always been overly "punchy" to me. I wouldn't consider myself "over sensitive" to felt recoil, and I enjoy every shot of 10mm, .460 Rowland, .460 S&W Mag and .500 S&W Mag I've ever launched, but it has ALWAYS seemed like .44 Mag hits me in a nasty spot. So I wanted big and heavy. And the Redhawk wins in that regard
- The older S&W .44's have a slight reputation for being "not as stout" as other, newer .44's no the market. Such is backed by Buffalo Bore, who specifically excludes older ones from some of their ammo. So I was swayed a bit by this, most likely FAR MORE than it actually matters. I would imagine you need to put a whole lot of nasty through an older 29 to loosen it. But it played a part in the decision
- Redhawks are typically lower in price/cost, everything else being equal. And I found what I considered to be a pretty decent deal on a very lightly used one, and SN look-up says it was made in 1985. I paid $500 for it about a year & a half ago. Snagging a Model 29 (of any vintage) in as good a shape as this one for $500 can be done, but I think you'd need to find a really nice deal to pull it off.
- Variety is fun for me. No doubt, I enjoy the DA system on a Smith & Wesson far more than anyone else in the game, but I enjoy variety in my safe. This revolver has proven to be a lot of fun.
First time I shot it was with the original grips and though it was big and heavy, it was MURDER on my hands.
Just awful. I quickly replaced those cute tiny wood panels with a classic Pachmayr decelerator and that helped. I also sent it off to Mag-Na-Port and had the four-port job done to it, and that has helped also. I still find that it punches more than I like.
(it simply -HAS- to be me at this point!) So mostly, I run it with a great LSWC load that I crafted to run 870 FPS. Which, YES
, is a really wimpy load for a .44 Magnum. But please understand, I didn't craft this load because I can't or won't shoot it otherwise... I did this because my club's steel plate range will not allow or handle horrendous magnum loads and this load is a heap of fun for mowing down steel plates.
I still run heavy stuff in it, just not a lot of it. It's absolutely capable. It's accurate. The guts are 100% original and the double-action is -NOT- "Smith & Wesson"-like, but it works and I can adapt to it. Curiously, the single action trigger break feels far heavier than I believe it ought to, but no matter because I typically shoot in DA anyhow.
For me, the Redhawk was the answer.