There have been numerous discussions on this site about the Smith M329. Some like 'em, others think the recoil is too vicious. Another group seems to think that nothing less than a M500 (a "real man's gun") is up to the job. I'm of the opinion that for daily Alaska woods carry, the heavy handguns are annoying to wear. I've been thru 3 different 44 magnums - a Blackhawk, M29 6" and a M629 Mountain Gun. All of them were annoying to wear ALL the time in the woods. They ended up left at home, on the truck seat or, in winter, in the bag of my dog sled. After a number of moose incidents with my dog teams, it became apparent, that the pistol had to be on my person to be of immediate use. So I bought the lightest, quality 44 Special available at the time .... the Smith M396 Mountain Lite. 18 ounces unloaded, 21 ounces loaded. Had the S&W Performance Center do an action job. For ammo, I use Buffalo Bore's "Heavy 44 Special" ammo ... hardcast 255 gr gc at 970 fps in my pistol. A potent load for the little beast. Several years later, S&W released the M329PD. Had it been available in the late 90's, I would have grabbed one.
After participating in many of the threads on the M329, and being particularly impressed with BrownBear's opinion and experience, I have no longer resisted the temptation. I found a new-in-box M329PD at the Airport Way Fred Meyers (miss-marked?) for $779. Bought it immediately. It was priced at $950 at Sportsmans Warehouse, $940 at Wal-mart, and $979 at Frontier Sporting Goods. Must have been a pricing error. I'm happy.
Still haven't fired it. Probably won't until it is made perfect (?). I've installed M500 grips. It is being shipped next week to the S&W Performance Center for an action job. I'm particularly interest in a somewhat lighter, smoother double action trigger pull. S&W is then sending it to Magnaport for porting, and then back to me. Then, as far as I'm concerned, it will be perfected. And I intend to shoot it alot. I've been shooting my M396 for about a decade and am quite used to the violent muzzle jump with the stout Bufffalo Bore loads. I expect the "perfected" M329 to be more comfortable to shoot than the M396. Once the project comes together, I'll report the results. (I'm going to start with Buffalo Bore's M329 specific loads, and then begin rolling my own.)
Should be a fun project. Thanks to BrownBear and Murphy and all the others with real Alaskan experience who post on here for the great information from them that's really doin'.