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Thread: S&W Backpacker

  1. #1
    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Default S&W Backpacker

    I had a look at it this past weekend. Looks very similar to the Ruger Alaskan, only a lot lighter and it is ported. I only saw it in the .44 mag. Don't know if they are making it in any other calibers. Any knowledge on it??

  2. #2

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    I have a S&W 329PD 44 mag which is basically a S&W Alaskan Backpacker 3but without the fancy bear etch. But mines not ported, and I havn't seen an S&W AK backpacker that ported either. Maybe there's a newer model that is ported?

    I am pretty sure we are talking about the same gun, scandium titanium right?

  3. #3

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    maybe a pic will put us on the same page.


  4. #4

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    I saw one this weekend, it had a 2 3/8" barrel and was ported, not the alaska backpacker....just backpacker. and stainless not scandium

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    My wife bought me an original back packer when smith made it as a limited run (rela low serial #) about 10 years ago. Mine isnt ported though. Nice guns and for having a 3 inch bbl, real decent to shoot with 300 grainers.

  6. #6
    Member BucknRut's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by highcountry View Post
    I saw one this weekend, it had a 2 3/8" barrel and was ported, not the alaska backpacker....just backpacker. and stainless not scandium
    Yup, this is the one I was talking about.

    Gremlin, how does that lightweight Alaskan Backpacker handle? Have never shot anything larger than a .38 special in the titanium models.

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    Member whateveri8's Avatar
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    I've got the 629 trail boss in 3" barrel 44.MAG stainless steel I removed the cocobolo grip and added a nice hogue grip like the backpacker has so it's essencially the same gun... I've shot a variety loads and they all come down to this:
    light loads, light bullets are very manageable
    heavy loads, heavy bullets for moose and bear defense are brutal on the hand after 6 rounds.
    but heavy loads are for defense and not for the range, so who cares about recoil or sound when your life is at stake?
    God, Guns and Guts is what made America Great

  8. #8

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    It's something you have to experience for yourself. Now that I reload I can load rounds that are completely managable, but the hot bear loads pack quite the punch. The 500 mag grips help though.


    Quote Originally Posted by BucknRut View Post
    Yup, this is the one I was talking about.

    Gremlin, how does that lightweight Alaskan Backpacker handle? Have never shot anything larger than a .38 special in the titanium models.

  9. #9

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    Hey buck if you are considering that gun, I have a taurus 450 ti which is basicly the same gun but in 45lc and made of titanium. I find it sweet to carry but the velocity lost in a snubby that is ported makes me wonder about performance. I do better with quick powders and light bullets, but have some 365 gr hardcast too.....they are a handfull! I personally am about to order a 329pd like gremlin's. It will weigh a bit more then mine and have a barrel capable of getting some velocity and speed, and I am very confident with a 44mag.

    I can hold all my rounds on a paper plate at 25 yds but recovery is not as fast as my 629-6", a lot of muzzle flip. I just think if defense is your plan you are going to have to let em' get right up on ya before you drop the hammer with a snubby, where a 4" gun is pretty accurate to 75-100yds.

  10. #10

    Default 44 scandium

    I own the S&W 44 scandium. The recoil is pretty nasty with hot loads. I have a 480 ruger and have shot a 454 casull, neither of these even come close the the scandium 44 in terms of recoil..

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    Lightbulb Fred Meyer has one

    Saw the short (<3") SS 44mag, factory ported at Cabelas in Boise earlier this month. Fred Meyer on either N Lites or Muldoon had one in stock today - they wanted like $750. I checked the S&W home page and no mention of it there, tried to google it - but no luck. It does exist, is NOT scandium and is locally available. SW did not have any as of a few days ago.

    I'm interested on thoughts of the shorter 2-3" 44 mags vs. a 4" or 6" variant in terms of packing, muzzle velocity, etc. I kinda like the Ruger Alaskan in 454 (shot one the other day). Also, for occasional use the Taurus Tracker line looks interesting.

    Hope this helps.

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    Default Found a pic and info on the new snubbie S&W 44 mag

    I'm still narrowing in on a new revolver for the collection. I'm really liking the Ruger 454 Alaskan though. Found this googling last night - this is what I saw at FM/Cabela's:

    Smith & Wesson Model 629 Backpacker Revolver, .44 Remington Magnum. Two and one half inch Matte Stainless Steel Ported barrel, unfluted cylinder and frame. Six shot revolver with Bear head acid etched on right side of frame and Bear tracks on the unfluted cylinder. Adjustable rear sight with HIVIZ blade front sight. Neoprene wrap around grips.

    Sorry to bring life to an old post.
    Last edited by blakdimnd; 01-09-2008 at 12:15.

  13. #13

    Default Backpacker vs. 329 Airlite

    I have been considering purchasing a compact .44 to carry in the woods with me and I narrowed it down to the 629 backpacker, as described above, and the Model 329 Airlite scandium gun. I read many posts about the brutal recoil of the 329 and the inability of it to handle large, high pressure loads consistently. Some posts even alluded to the gun coming apart after shooting these heavy loads! I think I will end up going with the 629 backpacker 2 1/2" because I know with a little heavier frame, it will be able to stand up to those magnum loads with minimal issues. I also like the fact that it has the unique bear engraving and that it is ported, which should help with the recoil of the 'lil snubby.

  14. #14

    Default a few thoughts

    I saw a .44 mag 629 Mountain Gun for sale at Cabela's in Lacy, WA, a few days ago. Of all the Smiths, I'd choose either it, the scandium 329, or the 629 Carry Comp if I wanted something light. All of them are under 40 oz.

    I've heard that going from a 7" .454 Super Redhawk to a 2.5" Alaskan in the same caliber only loses you about 15-25% of the muzzle energy. I think that's acceptable being that snubs are meant for defense and not hunting. Look up "Ruger Alaskan" on youtube and you'll see how huge the muzzle blast is when they fire casulls.

    I'm not sure I'd want to port anything with a barrel less than 4". I've been thinking of getting a 329, having it magnaported, and attaching a model 500 grip to help with recoil. Either that or I'm going to buy an Alaskan in .454, and there's nothing about it I'd want to change.
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  15. #15
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Josh - I own the 329 Scandium 44mag. You can take it out next time you're in town, if you'd like.

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    Default Backpacker vs 329 Airlite

    Akskidoo,

    Although I don't personally have any expertise on the topic, there was a long vs short barrel thread among forum sages that would make me wonder if there isn't more to the trade-off between these two pistols you're considering. First, are the disadvantages of a 2 1/2 inch barrel significant vs any 4 inch barrel.

    Also, for what it's worth, if you're really worried about the 329 (".. read many posts...brutal recoil...and... inability... to handle large, high pressure loads consistently... even alluded to the gun coming apart after shooting these heavy loads!"), this might help from another thread,
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ighlight=SAAMI

    Here's an excerpt from that thread:

    Dear Smith & Wesson,
    I am the satisfied owner of a 329PD, which I carry while hiking and fly fishing in Alaska. ...I [read] a posting found on an Outdoors website, raising the question of safe loads for this pistol. ...am currently carrying Alaska Backpacker ammo, 320gr GC Hard Cast cartridges in .44Mag for this pistol…

    1. Will shooting this load void my warranty?
    2. Have there been "break the gun" issues with heavy factory loads?

    RESPONSE from Smith & Wesson: "Hi. as long as the ammo you choose meets S.A.A.M.I.E. specs you can use it in our guns."

    That thread contains some interesting other contributor info about this gun and heavy loads. The gun is a frequent (some would say recurring, some might say regurgitating) topic on AOD, but quite a few like the gun.
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ighlight=329pd

    Of course, you never know. Awhile back, I found some interesting photos of a Sako barrel that caught my attention. I understand that's in the past for that rifle maker now, but I'd be very interested in any specific information that you have about SW 329PD coming apart, I'd like to check it out too. Let us know if you have a specific reference.

    Best of luck finding the one that's right for you.

  17. #17
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    The S&W's are much smoother than than the Rugers that I have had. For a double action revolover its tough to beat a S&W. Single action, the Ruger is great and can be tuned up nicely. As far as barrel length, determine how you plan to carry it and what it will be used for. If your carrying the revolver in a shoulder harness, I go with a 5-6.5" barrel. In a shoulder harness you gain little in comfort by going shorter, but loose muzzle velocity and loose the longer sight radius. If you are going to wear it on your hip, 4-5" works good. I wouldnt go shorter than 4" in a .44Mag, unless you are really used to large pistols and are going to be carrying a lot. Ditto for for lighweight frames. Most of the problems associated with stout ammo and the leightweight frames are from bullets jumping the crimp under recoil. It takes a lot of recoil to do this on good ammo. Ouch!

  18. #18

    Default Just picked one up

    I finally made up my mind and bought the model 629 backpacker with the ported 2 1/2 inch barrel. I chose this one partly for the pretty engraving but mostly because it is a little a little heavier than the 329, so the recoil won't be quite so stingy. This is my first large caliber handgun, and I plan on taking it everywhere I go in the woods from now on. (being charged by a sow grizzly with a cub and being skeptical about having only 3-.300 win. mag. bullets with you will do that to you!) Anyway all that to say I went out last night and shot it for the first time. I was impressed with the smoothness of the action and the recoil was manageable, before I knew it, I had gone through a box of 50. Mind you I was only shooting factory 180 grain ammo. I would very much like to fire a few 240 gr. rounds to compare, I imagine the recoil will be noticeably worse. Does anyone have suggestions on what bullet weight/brand of .44 ammo to load up for bear defense?

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