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Old September 11, 2012, 12:37 PM   #1
thecelt
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Ruger SRH Alaskan vs. S&W 629 Backpacker





i am trying to decide between these two. i am fully aware of the age old debate between the two. i am a big ruger fan due to their time tested durability in many of their firearms and i own several. i dont own any S&W's, but i have heard all about how good their triggers are out of the box.

now when it comes to these two i am having a tough time deciding. i prefer the durability of the ruger, and i like the cylinder release on it over the S&W's. Is there anything inherintly wrong with either models cylinder release, is one better than the other for any reason. i prefer the non fluted cylinder of the S&W, along with the high viz site, and its ported. I also particularly like the laser etching but that has nothing to do with function and isnt a deal breaker either way. so, besides the internal lock, and the fact that the S&W isnt meant to withstand the same beating as the ruger is there any reason to choose one over the other? I think it really boils down to the cylinder release mechanism for me.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:09 PM   #2
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I've been on a revolver kick lately and the SRH Alaskan is on the list.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:20 PM   #3
thecelt
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initially i was all over the alaskan, but since i saw this 629 i am having a tougher time deciding. but i am leaning towards the ruger due to durability, and the cylinder release. i can always send the ruger out to be magna ported, and throw on a high viz sight since those are a couple of the reasons why i like that 629, but it is more money to do so on top of the purchase of the piece.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:21 PM   #4
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At least on the GP vs 686 (so L frame vs L Frame) The Ruger locks the cylinder into the frame both front and back. S&W L frames don't. Not sure about the N frames.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:29 PM   #5
thecelt
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the gp100 is also on my list down the road.. and thanks for that info, curious to know if N frames (629) lock up front and rear, i think they do if i remember correctly.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:35 PM   #6
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Don't have a good pic but this is also an Alaskan Backpacker 629-4
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:39 PM   #7
thecelt
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nice revolver man have you ever had any trouble with the cylinder release. i havent handled any s&w's so simply looking at it with the flat tip screw in there looks like something asking for trouble to me, although I know that s&w has a great rep.
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Old September 11, 2012, 01:45 PM   #8
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I like the Ruger. I'd like to own the Ruger, and I would probably rate the durabilityof the Ruger over the S&W but...

These are not guns you're likely to put 1000s upon 1000s of rounds through and function (as a woods gun) should be paramount, so the sights, porting and a cylinder release you prefer (if ever you have time to slam in a speedloader when in a tight spot) make the S&W probably a better choice.

Plus the cylinder shape is cool, although, I'm not over fond of the paw prints, personally...

OMG!! I just suggested a S&W over a Ruger!! Very unlike me!!
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Old September 11, 2012, 03:26 PM   #9
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If a short barreled .357 is a blast, either of these must be like Nevada Test Site. I still think my model 58 is more desirable, and with the extra bbl length,
pretty close in power. Is the short bbl primarily for draw enhancement? Surely it's not about conceal-ability.
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Old September 11, 2012, 04:19 PM   #10
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“…i am a big ruger fan due to their time tested durability…I like the cylinder release on it over the S&W's.”

Have very little experience with Rugers and lots of experience with S&Ws. The S&W cylinder release has always functioned well.

I’m a sucker for paw prints on an unfluted cylinder… believe there is a bear face pic on the right side panel…I mean this gun is all about bears…actually moose spook me more, never know what they are up to, bear is just looking for lunch. Is that S&W Backpacker a scandium or a brushed stainless steel…anyone know?

Well I carry the father of the S&W Backpacker, the M29-4 snubby, which is primarily a trail gun for me, altho if Clint were to do another Dirty Harry film he would find this easier to haul around than his longer barreled M29.

Have been shooting the S&W 29-4 every chance I get, (gun is like-new tight) a hoot to shoot, and it is not phased at all by the H110 handloads, which sends everyone at the outdoor range packing, hands over ears, heading for the solitude of the indoor range. It’s a combination of flame-thrower and thunder-clap. Flame takes the bears whiskers off (don’t shoot till you see the whites of his eyes), and the sonic boom just might send it packing too.

Pictured below is the little beasty, barrel just under 3” (2 - 7/8s) small K-frame grip, heavy duty unfluted cylinder, custom sights, silky-smooth action, etc.

Hmm…if I send it back to S&W I wonder if they could etch some paw prints and a bear face on it....
Attached Images
File Type: jpg S&W 29-4 Trail.jpg (17.3 KB, 55 views)
File Type: jpg 29-4 snubby in hand.jpg (25.7 KB, 53 views)
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Old September 11, 2012, 07:11 PM   #11
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Assuming both are .44 Mag., it's really up to which gun feels best in your hand. Which sights do you like. Which trigger suits you best. Both cylinder releases work perfectly fine. Both guns will last longer than you are willing to shoot them. Durability problems with 629s were cured by S&W many years ago, early 80s I think.

RE porting. Porting snubbies is really emasculating the .44 Mag. The snub already gives up 200 fps or so. The ports lose another amount. Getting down toward .44 Spl. territory. Forget porting. Bad idea with snubs. The idea with these guns is max firepower against large unruly targets, in a portable and handy package. If you give up the max firepower, you've defeated the purpose of the gun.
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Old September 12, 2012, 06:40 AM   #12
thecelt
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again, i appreciate the replies all. it is helping to inform me on how to make my decision based on good information. if the ruger had an unfluted cylinder on the 44 (i know the 454, and 480 have it) it would basically be a no brainer for me. i do think i will end up going with the ruger (and the information regarding the porting is quite helpful), and one of my local shops has the ruger in stock so i think ill have to stop by this weekend and handle it and if it feels good put my money down. thanks again.
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Old September 12, 2012, 07:12 AM   #13
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I love my alaskan so much but I saw this same 629 just a couple of weeks ago. So I am probably going to end up with both.

I have done a range review on mine here and there are some comments from others as well that might help you.

Ruger 454 Alaskan Review
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Old September 12, 2012, 07:15 AM   #14
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It sounds like the Smiths are kind of hard to come by, and when you do they are $$$$$$$. But maybe it's not that bad. I don't think I've ever come across one though. My lgs almost always has a Ruger on hand. So that may end up being a deciding factor. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either one.
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Old September 12, 2012, 07:49 AM   #15
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Get the Ruger Alaskan. It will save you money and the trigger will be just as good as the S&W out of the box. The amazing S&W trigger out of the box is thing of yester-years.
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:13 AM   #16
thecelt
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same cost for both, $797
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:59 AM   #17
Seaman
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“The amazing S&W trigger out of the box is thing of yester-years. “

Respectfully disagree. The new L, N, and X frames have superb triggers.

“…same cost for both, $797”

I’m all tapped out right now, cruel fates, oh those paw prints and bear face and unfluted cylinder, in affordable 44 cal too, knees going weak here…would have to go with a trade-in…btw found out the S&W Backpacker is SS, not scandium…this is a good thing. Hi-viz sight...ported too, good for those paws ripping thru the tent night attacks…light’em up.
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Old September 12, 2012, 10:00 AM   #18
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I went the SRHA route, and haven't regretted that decision.

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Old September 12, 2012, 10:47 AM   #19
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I have the Ruger Alaskan in 44 and 454. Love them both. I prefer Ruger over S&W when it comes to revolvers.
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Old September 12, 2012, 11:17 AM   #20
Mr.RevolverGuy
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Quote:
It sounds like the Smiths are kind of hard to come by, and when you do they are $$$$$$$. But maybe it's not that bad. I don't think I've ever come across one though. My lgs almost always has a Ruger on hand. So that may end up being a deciding factor. In my opinion, you can't go wrong with either one.
GDawgs

Both are equally as difficult to come by. Ruger has stopped production of the Ruger 454 Alaskan and slowed production of the Ruger Alaskan 44mag. The dollars are about the same as well because both are so difficult to come by. In my area I can get both for $800.
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Old September 12, 2012, 11:23 AM   #21
Mr.RevolverGuy
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Quote:
Get the Ruger Alaskan. It will save you money and the trigger will be just as good as the S&W out of the box. The amazing S&W trigger out of the box is thing of yester-years.
EdInk

I respectfully disagree on the triggers there is no way they compare. Even though I would agree the Smith triggers are not what they were in the 50's and 60's the Ruger triggers on this specific platform still do not come close. And considering what this sort of Revolver would be used for I would still not alter the trigger. The trigger actually got the worst grade in my review compared to the rest of the characteristics.

Quoted from my review

Quote:
Trigger Grade = GoodThe trigger on the Alaskan like most double action Ruger’s has a long pull. The pull was smooth, crisp and consistent on each pull. The double action pull on this revolver was some what heavy but that is subjective, this pull weighed in at 12 pounds with my RCBS trigger guage. The single action pull was very nice with not much over travel and weighed in at 4pounds on the trigger guage. A friend and I talked about the heavy trigger pull and the possibilities of why. His thoughts were it may be needed to consistently ignite the small rifle magnum primers which are used with 454 ammunition. Though this is heavy compared to other revolvers I have reviewed on this site I suspect and trust Ruger has a reason and I will not be attempting to change anything. Again the trigger does deliver a consistent feel each and every time and with more trigger time I am sure I will get used to it. It can also be very detrimental to your health to have a gunsmith do a action job to lighten the pull, be in the backwoods of Alaska and stumble upon a grizzly and have to pull the trigger only to discover a round will not go off. As Allstate insurance would say your in good hands with the Alaskan as it is out of the box. Seems fitting considering the Alaskan was developed as an insurance policy you hope you will never have to use.
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Old September 12, 2012, 12:43 PM   #22
thecelt
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the dealer told me he can also get me the 454 srha for the same price, but from what i am hearing the 44 is a more common round, (even more so than 45lc) and i dont like worry about ammo shortages. and i havent started reloading yet, but i will be come the early part of 2013.
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Old September 12, 2012, 03:00 PM   #23
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Buy the one without THE LOCK.

The Alaskan's trigger is as good, or better, than the trigger on my S&W Performance Center 327 revolver. It is much better than that of the J-Frames I have. Frankly, I prefer the Ruger since I can buy a $25 kit and replace a few springs.


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Old September 13, 2012, 08:34 AM   #24
Seaman
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“Buy the one without THE LOCK.”

Sad but true… in the past decade, this incredibly wrong decision has likely cost S&W 20% in revolver sales, which Ruger has clearly benefited from. Unbelievable.

As for J-frames and your 327, the PC 327 should have a better trigger and J-frames are today out-engineered by Rugers new (out of the box) small frame revolvers which have excellent DA triggers. Puzzling.

But there is hope for S&W…after all your 44 Mag Alaskan does not come with an unfluted cylinder (unless you get the 454 Casull, which btw is ammo affordable if handloading), it only needs paw prints and a bears face to snare me.

In the meantime S&W can only hope that Ruger continues making small marketing errors like that wonderfully huge barrel banner – ‘ READ INSTRUCTION MANUAL’

Classy that, very classy. Wonder if it scrubs off …hmm… could always spray paint it black …
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Old September 13, 2012, 08:42 AM   #25
thecelt
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well i do believe I am just going to go with the ruger srha in 44, and i do plan on painting it black.. very similar to this one..
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