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Smith & Wesson Model 29

Mike Morton goes into Dirty Harry mode and picks up the pellet-firing Smith & Wesson Model 29 so he can expose his targets to a bit of magnum force

Smith & Wesson Model 29

The Smith & Wesson Model 29 was introduced in 1955. It was chambered in .44 Magnum, a handgun cartridge that delivered greater muzzle velocity and energy than anything seen before, and the M29 sold in droves.

Smith & Wesson saw a massive spike in sales in 1971 with the release of Dirty Harry, the first of five films in which Clint Eastwood played tough, no-nonsense San Francisco Police Department Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan.

While the cartridges can be inserted one at a time, it’s quicker – and more fun – to insert all six using the optional speedloader

Umarex’s M29 is available in BB or pellet format. The revolver here is a pellet-firer with a rifled barrel, costing £219.95. The BB version is available in three barrel lengths, these being 3”, 6.5” and 8 3/4”, with the pellet-firing version being offered in 6.5” and 8 3/4”. In keeping with the original Smith & Wesson design, the Umarex M29 is also available in a steel finish, this variant being known as the 629, following the company’s strategy of prefixing the model number with a “6” to denote a stainless finish. Umarex’s pellet-firing 629 with 6.5” barrel retails for £239.95. 


Key specifications

Gun supplied by:John Rothery Wholesale (
Manufacturer: Umarex
Model: Smith & Wesson Model 29 (M29) 6.5”
Price: £219.95
Calibre: 4.5mm (.177)
Ammo type: Pellet
Action type: Revolver
Capacity: Six rounds
Sights: Open (fixed front, fully adjustable rear)
Safety: Manual
Barrel: Rifled
Trigger action: Single and double
Powerplant: One 12g CO2 capsule
Length: 308mm
Weight: 1,145g
Optional extras: Dedicated speedloader


Smith & Wesson Model 29 – looks are everything

Which one should you go for? Well, if you want to pick up an authentic Dirty Harry pellet-firing replica, you need the blued finish, but you can have either one. The gun Eastwood carried in the films had a 6.5” barrel, while the one used in some of the promotional stills had the longer 8 3/4” barrel, presumably because it looks more imposing. Things get more complicated than this though. Because the Smith & Wesson Model 29 was so popular, Eastwood was apparently forced to use a different gun altogether when it came to opening fire on the bad guys. Instead of the Model 29, he had to shoot the similar looking S&W M57 due to a lack of availability of blank .44 Magnum ammo for the Smith & Wesson Model 29!

Whichever barrel length you go for, do be aware that this gun is big, bold and beautiful. 

The 6.5” example is 308mm long and tips the scales at 1,145g, making it pretty much spot on for length and only 131 grams lighter than the 1,276g of the original. 

Umarex has become adept at reproducing CO2-powered replica firearms, and the Smith & Wesson Model 29 is no exception. It’s of all-metal construction apart from the grips, and the frame and cylinder have been given a deep blued finish that looks iridescent in certain lighting conditions.

One gripe is the fact that the grips are made of plastic when they should be wood. The wood effect of the plastic has been done well, but it would have been nicer, though more expensive, if a handgun of this quality had been furnished with genuine sturdy wood grips. 

A coloured S&W logo is inlaid on both sides, but the fake screw head has been left in wood-effect plastic rather than the brass of the original. It would be a fun project – if this gun was mine – to drill out the non-functioning plastic screw head and replace it with a real slotted brass screw instead.

The left-hand grip pops off to reveal the CO2 loading bay, and the hex key that activates the piercing screw is an integral part of the grip

Like many other CO2 revolvers, the left-hand grip pops off to reveal the CO2 loading bay. The piercing screw is turned in via a hex key, and this has very cleverly been integrated into the grip so it’s always to hand when you need it. 

The safety catch is located on the left-hand side of the frame and is meant to be actuated by the right thumb. I have extremely small hands and found myself having to cradle the pistol with both hands to operate the catch because the gun is just so big. In the rearwards position the catch locks the trigger and hammer, while forwards puts the gun in fire mode. You also need to hold the catch forwards in order to swing out the cylinder so you can load the M29.

Despite its weight, the cylinder will not swing open on its own because it’s a secure fit to the frame, and needs a little coaxing by applying pressure from the right-hand side. With the cylinder now swung out to the left, the six fake .44 Magnum cartridges can either be taken out one by one, or ejected en masse using the extractor. 

I was delighted to see that these rimmed cartridges measure the same as the originals, with a case length of 32.6mm and a cartridge length of 41mm including the fake bullet. That’s great attention to detail.


Smith & Wesson Model 29 – lock and load

A single pellet is loaded into a rubber gasket in the rear of each cartridge, and while the Umarex illustrations show a wadcutter pellet, any .177 pellet will fit. When all six cartridges have been bombed up with pellets, they can be reinserted into the cylinder. This would normally be done one at a time, but an optional speedloader is available from Umarex for £14.95. 

This device lets you insert all six, then release them together by pressing the spring-loaded device against the rear of the cylinder. It works exactly as intended, but I enjoyed loading each one by hand as a gun like this is as much of a tactile experience as a shooting experience.

When you take hold of the handgun it’s nose-heavy, but a firm enough grip can hold it steady, and as with some air rifles, that extra weight can actually be an advantage as it’s easier to keep it on aim over the target for short periods of time.

With the safety pushed fully forwards, the cylinder can be swung out and the six .44 Magnum cartridges inserted nose-first

I experimented with a few types of pellet, eventually settling on JSB Exact Express, and shot the Smith & Wesson Model 29 rested off bags, shot kneeling and shot standing in both one- and two-handed stances. The sights are clear to see, with the foresight blade having a deep orange insert, just like the original, and the rear sight being adjustable for windage and elevation. 

I shot the Smith & Wesson Model 29 at six metres and 10 metres, and found the sights out of the box to be perfect for windage, but shooting a tad low at both distances, but they’re simple to adjust with a slotted screwdriver.

Trigger-pull is heavy though, coming in at around 7lb 6oz in single-action mode with the hammer pulled back, and a stonking 10lb 1oz in double-action mode. This isn’t actually too bad, however, as owners of the powder-burning M29 report average pull weights of about 3lb and 10lb respectively.

As to the gun’s accuracy? At six metres, shot rested in single-action mode, the Umarex M29 was capable of delivering six-shot groups measuring 25mm, with group size expanding to 40mm at 10 metres. My kneeling groups weren’t that much larger, but when shot in double-action mode I had to increase the target size to my rabbit’s head spinner.

The dummy .44 Magnum cartridges will happily accept regular domehead pellets, so there’s plenty of scope for testing different types

There was a drop-off in muzzle velocity after 42 shots – seven cylinders’ worth – but the M29 kept on spitting out pellets for twice that number with fair accuracy. 

Having a definite break between details when ejecting the “spent” cases and reloading them probably helped as it gave the CO2 the chance to return to ambient temperature. For an unmoderated handgun, it was fairly quiet outdoors, while naturally being louder when shot inside.

As replica CO2 guns go, it would be difficult to ask for more. Umarex’s licensed M29 is faithful to the original, especially in terms of looks, size and heft. 

Dirty Harry promised the .44 Magnum M29 could blow your head clean off, but while the airgun version definitely can’t do that, this pellet-firing, beautiful behemoth might very well blow your mind. 


Umarex has pulled it off again, producing an excellent replica of an excellent handgun. Just like the original, it’s big and it’s heavy, but if you want one for your collection then go ahead; it’ll make your day