“I know what you’re thinking. “Did he fire six shots or only five?” Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kind of lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?”
That wonderful paragraph was spoken by Inspector “Dirty” Harry Callahan in the 1971 film Dirty Harry. In it, he’s referring to his Smith & Wesson Model 29, chambered in .44 Magnum.
The Smith & Wesson Model 29 is an N-frame revolver chambered in .44 Magnum (that will also fire .44 Special), and came into being in 1955. It has been discontinued (and resurrected) several times since then, and is currently being produced as the Model 629.
You could get a Model 29 with barrel lengths ranging from 3 inches all the way to 10 5/8 inches standard, with other lengths being special ordered from the S&W Custom Shop or by having a gunsmith custom build you one. Original factory finishes were either a highly polished blue, or nickel-plated.
Inspector Callahan is seen using both an 8 3/8 inch and a 6 inch model in the film, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you guys.
When Dirty Harry was made, the Model 29 was actually not in production that year. So, there are two different stories as to what Harry was actually carrying in the movie.
Theory number one is that since the producers couldn’t get Model 29’s (being as how it was out of production that year), they actually used Model 57’s, chambered in .41 Magnum. This is plausible, because on film, who the hell is going to be able to tell the difference in bore size between .41 and .44?
Theory number two (the one that I choose to believe, because it’s cooler), is that Clint Eastwood contacted a rep for S&W prior to filming to try and acquire one direct from the factory. The script for the film called for Callahan to carry a 29 with a 4-inch barrel, but, since S&W wasn’t producing any 29’s that year, they were only able to build a 6-inch and an 8 3/8 inch model from parts they had on hand.
See what I mean about theory number two being the cooler one?
Also, another little fun fact: Callahan says that the .44 Magnum is “the most powerful handgun in the world”, when, it actuality, it wasn’t. .454 Casull and other cartridges existed then, and were more powerful, but there weren’t any production guns chambered in them at the time. So, while it wasn’t the “most powerful in the world”, the .44 Magnum was the most powerful production gun in the world at that point.
Anyway, enjoy the video.