The Mountain Gun

The idea that led to Smith & Wesson’s Mountain Gun started as a conversation between two world class shooters. The conversation took place back in the 1980’s, when these shooters were known for their prowess with semiautomatics in action pistol competition.

Tommy Campbell and Ross Seyfried discussed their thoughts on the perfect revolver. They took what they considered to be the best features of guns from the past and combined them with the advancements of that day.  It’s gratifying to know that they were RevolverGuys at heart…

History

They agreed that the aesthetics and light weight of the pre-war .44 Hand Ejectors were peerless. The term “.44 Hand Ejector” referred to the size of the frame, not necessarily the caliber. They were typically .44 Specials, but were also chambered in .44-40, .38-40, .45 Colt, and .455, among others. Regardless of the chambering, all the large frame guns wore tapered barrels up until 1955. This tapered “pencil” barrel kept the weight of the 6 ½” barreled guns around 38 ounces, with the rarer shorter barrels (4”, 5”, and 5.5”) even less.

The Hand Ejectors culminated in the 4th Model in 1950. That change incorporated the newly developed short throw hammer, known today as the short action. Target variants were typically delivered with a 6.5” barrel and were equipped with Smith’s micrometer click-adjustable rear sight and a Patridge front sight. The shorter barrels had the micrometer rear, but wore a Baughman ramp front sight. All were square butt frames with .265” serrated triggers and .400” hammers.

The bull barrel on the Model 29 (top) is much heavier than the svelte tapered barrel of the Model 24.

The Target Model of 1950 with a 4” barrel was the epitome of a practical sixgun. The balance created by the slim, short barrel was just right. It carried comfortably in a belt holster and earned favor with savvy lawmen and outdoorsmen. Chambered in .44 Special, it could be sanely handloaded to drive a cast 250-grain Keith bullet to 950-1000 fps. That load was powerful enough for almost any need and was controllable in the handy 1950. It made a great combination of gun and cartridge. This was the type of revolver Campbell and Seyfried wanted.

The difference in profile is profound when you see the barrels of a 624 and a 29 from the front. It makes a big difference in how the guns handle.

The .44 Magnum was introduced in 1955 and brought a new level of power. It also ushered in a shift in the way N-frames were built. It shipped with a .800” diameter bull barrel which added weight up front to help deal with the recoil the magnum produced. The extra weight changed the gun’s balance and robbed it of some of its nimble handling qualities. The new target trigger and hammer were fully 1/2” wide. Coke bottle grips and sights with white outlines and red ramps became the norm. The .44 Magnum with a 6 ½” barrel weighed in at nearly 48 ounces. With rare exceptions, big bore N frames followed this trend going forward.

The Skelton Intervention

When S&W went to their numbering system in 1957, the 1950 .44 Special became the Model 24, and the .44 Magnum was designated the Model 29. They existed side by side- for a while. Some thought that since the Magnum would also chamber and fire .44 Specials, there was no real need for the Model 24. Sales weren’t great, and this line of thinking eventually resulted in the Model 24 being discontinued in 1966.

Skeeter Skelton was one of many sage shooters who was dismayed with the loss of the Model 24. He embarked upon a long, patient crusade to convince S&W to bring it back. They finally conceded and released the Model 24-3 in 1983. It was available for about 2 years before production ceased in 1984.

The Model 24 was a special six-gun. This one is a 24-3 from the 1980’s run. Thank you very much, Mr. Skelton.

Skelton had often hinted that the only way a Model 24 could be better was if it was made of stainless steel. Smith & Wesson again honored Skelton’s request, and released the stainless Model 624 in 1985. The 4” gun could be had with a .312 smooth-faced combat trigger, making it even more “shootable” for most people.

As good a woods gun as the Model 24 was, the 624 is arguably better with its stainless construction and smooth trigger.

Things were right in the world for a few years. The 624 was as good as the guns of old. Smith & Wesson ended production on the “Target Model of 1985” in 1988.

Campbell Steps Up

Tom Campbell was in a unique position to make the gun he and Seyfried dreamed about a reality. He had worked for many years at S&W; First as a model maker and then as a test technician. He also represented them at the highest levels of pistol competition in the late 70’s and 80’s. He was consistently a high finisher (usually in the top 5) in the big matches he competed in–the IPSC Nationals and Worlds, the Bianchi Cup, and the Steel Challenge, to name a few. Campbell taught at the S&W Academy and instructed his own classes on IPSC competition. He was instrumental in developing the Model 745 Pistol, which was based on “Super Gun II,” a .45 version of the Model 459 that he created and competed with. His experimental pistol also led to the development of the Model 645 that truly got S&W into the .45 semiauto business. He was a hunter and an all-around handgunner; He was (and is) a gentleman respected by his peers.  Fortunately for us, he loved revolvers.

The 624’s smooth combat trigger. Campbell used the same trigger in his Mountain Gun.

Campbell built the first Mountain Gun essentially by hand in the model shop (located in the original Springfield Armory testing facility and range). He used the Target Model of 1950’s barrel and rib profile as the template for his barrel. Campbell selected the then-new round butt frame for the project. The narrow .400 hammer of old and the 624’s smooth trigger were chosen for the lockwork. Smith’s proven micrometer adjustable rear, and a plain, black, Baughman serrated ramp (pinned in) were chosen for sights.

Seyfried Adds a Signature Element

Seyfried was a rancher from Colorado and fellow competitor who won the IPSC World Champion title in 1981 (with a lightly customized 1911 Government Model in Milt Sparks carry leather, no less). Seyfried wore out a couple of Model 29’s mastering the .44 Magnum cartridge when he was younger, and carried a 4” Model 29 daily on his ranch. That .44 was a constant companion during his days as a professional hunter in Africa, too. It accounted for many trophies there and fed his crew faithfully. Few people have the experience with a .44 Magnum that Seyfried does.

A couple of his friends had a custom Model 629 built to commemorate his world championship. It was highly embellished, but the most distinctive feature was the radius applied to the front edge of the cylinder. It was chamfered, in a nod back to the early revolvers—a feature originally done to keep the cylinder from tying up with black powder fouling. It gave a distinct look, not seen on a S&W revolver in a long time. Seyfried sent the cylinder to Campbell so he could reproduce it for his project gun.

Finishing Touches

Campbell appreciated the graceful look the chamfer provided on Seyfried’s 629. He also studied first-generation Colt Single Action Army cylinders to make sure the cylinder had the correct radius for the cylinder diameter. He created a special fixture to grind the black powder scallop on the leading edge of the cylinder. He ground each chamber’s leading edge to shape one at a time on a surface grinder. When the cylinder was complete, he assembled the gun and tuned the action. The gun was vapor blasted to an all-business, “no shine” satin finish. Campbell put a set of Pachmayr “Gripper” stocks on the gun and test fired it.

Satisfied with his work, he shipped it to Seyfried for him to behold and enjoy. Seyfried was thoroughly impressed with the prototype, and he appreciated its significance. He wrote an excellent article about it in the October 1989 edition of Guns & Ammo magazine.

Production

S&W wisely decided to catalog the Model 629-2 Mountain Gun as a production gun, and made 5,000 of them in the initial run. This was the first time a .44 Magnum had been released with a tapered barrel, and it was well-received by the shooting public.

The 629 Mountain Gun as it came from Springfield. This one lacks the “vapor blasted” finish of the original run of .44 Magnum guns.

Tom Campbell’s masterpiece was validated- it was a smashing success. He left S&W and went to work for Safariland shortly after production started, but the gun he left behind was a hot seller. The gun’s popularity demanded additional runs in 1993, 1994, 1999, 2002, and 2005.

The vapor-blasted finish was replaced with the now common, matte stainless finish soon after the first run. The Mountain Gun was subject to the same engineering changes as any other Model 629: The endurance package; The transition to Metal Injected Molding (MIM) parts; Floating firing pins; New-style thumb pieces, and; Internal key locks. Smith & Wesson made one run of Model 29-8 blued Mountain Guns in 2003.

My Experience With the .44 Magnum Mountain Gun

I had many rounds down range from various Model 29’s and 629’s and was no stranger to .44 Magnum recoil when I acquired a Mountain Gun. Full-house magnums are best fired in moderation through a 4” Model 29, even more so with a Mountain Gun. Looking back through my loading data, I ended up basically duplicating heavy .44 Special field loads for a 624, only in magnum cases.

This .44 has been lightly customized with Herrett Stocks, Tritium sights and chamfered charge-holes from Cylinder and Slide and a SDM Thumbpiece. Keith 429421’s on the strip and 280 grain WFN’s in the speedloader.

That’s the sweet spot for controllability in a revolver of this weight. Keith bullets at about 1,065 fps and 280 gr. WFN’s around 980 fps work just fine for woods loads. Launching these bullets faster will improve trajectory, but the performance gained is not worth the price paid in recoil. Looking back, Seyfried gave that blueprint for ammo choices in his 1989 article, amongst many other bits of wisdom. My .44 Mountain Gun has also seen some time in a duty holster loaded with 200 gr. modern JHP’s.

The .45 Colt Mountain Gun Arrives

Seyfried also opined that as good as the .44 Magnum gun was, a Mountain Gun chambered in .45 Colt might be better. It could drive 250-300 grain bullets to reasonable velocities (800-1,000 fps) with less pressure than the magnum.

Smith & Wesson paid attention and released a Model 625 .45 Colt Mountain Gun in the mid 90’s. It was identical to the original except for the chambering. They followed this with one chambered in .45 ACP soon after. Smith & Wesson did at least one additional run of 625 Mountain Guns in each .45 caliber. They also did a blued Model 25-13 .45 Colt in 2004.

The .45 Colt Mountain Gun comes into its own with heavy cast bullets like these 260 grain Keith’s. Ironwood stocks by Dwayne Worley of Preferred Stocks, Roswell NM.

I’ve never owned one in .45 ACP, but I bought the first .45 Colt model I found in a local gun shop. My initial experience with factory .45 Colt ammo was disappointing. Velocities were anemic and accuracy was only mediocre with 200-250 gr. jacketed bullets. Handloading with cast bullets completely transformed this gun’s performance. Loading a 280 gr. Keith-style SWC from RCBS mold .45-270-SAA, sized for the guns chamber throats, on a nearly-max charge of Hodgdon Titegroup, yielded an extremely consistent average of 900 fps. Accuracy was exceptional, stacking these big bullets into a grapefruit-sized group at 50 yards from field positions.

The 625 Mountain Gun has been outfitted with a Bowen Classic Arms Rough Country rear sight and lanyard ring. The Hogue grips for the .500 S&W X Frame do a nice job of soaking up recoil on N frames, too.

True Keith bullets, from two Lyman molds, as cast by my friend Mark, have been outstanding, too. Alliant’s Unique will safely propel the 256 gr. #452423 to 946 fps and the 273 gr. #452424 to 920 fps. They give deep penetration and cut big sharp holes. Seyfried nailed it back in the 80’s–this is plenty of power, with mild manners, in the .45 Colt Mountain Gun. This performance level can also be achieved in the .45 Auto Rim case loaded within .45 ACP +P pressures, if you happen upon a .45 ACP Mountain Gun.

Even the .41 Magnum Gets a Little Love

S&W made a stainless Model 657 Mountain Gun in .41 Magnum in 1998 & 1999. This was also the first time a .41 Magnum had left the factory without a bull barrel. Sightings of these guns are few and far between. As far as I can determine, there was only one production run of the 657 Mountain Gun.

The 657 custom Mountain Gun ready for the hills- Trausch grips, Heavy cast bullets. True Shot 265 gr. WNFPGC on the strip, 250 grain WFN’s in the speedloader.

In 2005, they also released a blued 57-5 Mountain Gun. Upon discovering this, I ordered one directly from the factory. Like most S&W revolvers at that time, this Model 57 had a MIM trigger and hammer, and a frame mounted firing pin. It was equipped with the internal lock and the bluing looked black, in comparison to older revolvers.

The Model 57 Mountain Gun in .41 Magnum. This one is sporting a factory “earring” and tritium sights.

Thankfully, the action was as good as any MIM parts action I had felt. It was accurate with everything fired, but most factory .41 ammo was geared towards the hunting market and gave significant recoil and blast from the little gun. Winchester’s Silvertip, and a 170 gr. JHP from CORBON, were the only game in town for controllable Mountain Gun loads.

The 57 Mountain Gun decked out for urban carry. Stocks are Spegel Bootgrips and it has a Cylinder and Slide fixed rear sight.

Keith’s Lyman #410459, sized to .411, weighs 208 grains as cast by my buddy Mark. Its accuracy is noteworthy, and it makes a superior everyday round when fueled by Unique or Power Pistol to 1,050-1,115 fps. Cast bullet choices to provide “thumpers” (as Seyfried called the slow-moving heavy bullets) are out there for the .41 Mag as well. Wide Flat Noses and heavy-for-caliber Keith bullets can be had from 250-275 grains. My handloads with these types of bullets end up in the velocity window that Seyfried suggested back in the day- go figure.

Author’s 657 Classic Hunter after successful surgery. Stocks by Craig Spegel.

In 2007, I purchased a 657 Classic Hunter with a 7.5” barrel that belonged to an old lawman who had gone on to his reward. I decided to have it converted into a “Mountain Gun” and carry it in his honor. I contacted Jim Rae, who was running S&W’s Performance Center at the time, and asked if he could dig up a barrel. Rae told me to send the big gun east. Gunsmith John Seifert swapped barrels, chamfered the charge holes, and had it laser engraved with a simple sideplate inscription to honor its former owner.

Author’s custom .41 Mountain Gun built by the S&W Performance Center on Jim Rae’s watch to honor its former owner: Randall G. Miller.

I was very pleased with the custom revolver they crafted. The non-fluted cylinder gives it a “one of a kind” look. Holstering it makes you realize the chamfer on the cylinder front of factory Mountain Guns isn’t just cosmetic- it definitely makes them holster easier in a tight leather rig.

The Present Day

We got kind of spoiled with the wealth of Mountain Guns released from 1989 -2005. I took it for granted that Smith would just keep surprising us with new versions of this amazing six-gun. That blued .41 appears to have been the unannounced finale- the Mountain Guns quietly disappeared.

Today’s S&W catalog shows only two revolvers with tapered barrels- both from the “classic” line. One is the Model 27 in .357 Magnum, the other is the Model 25 Classic .45 Colt which is (inexplicably) only offered with a 6.5” barrel. This proves that they can still make them if they choose to.

Mountain Guns can make suitable fighting guns with practice and proper ammo. Easy shooting coated RNFP’s for training and Short Barrel GDHP’s for a duty load work well.

The woods of the U.S. may not be as wild as they used to be, but these big bore, skinny barreled guns still make sense. A Mountain Gun of some sort has been on my hip for hunts and hikes for over 30 years now- I have trusted my life to them on many occasions. Thanks to Tommy Campbell and Ross Seyfried for the impact they have made on the industry, and on me.

Author: Kevin McPherson

Kevin McPherson began his career as a police officer in New Mexico in 1987. He served for 23 ½ years, the last 19 ½ with the New Mexico State Police. There he worked in the uniform bureau and narcotics enforcement section and did two tours in the NMSP Training Bureau, retiring as a Sergeant in 2011. Kevin ran the firearms program and was the chief armorer for NMSP for 13 years. He served as a member of the NMSP Tactical Team (SWAT) for 10 years, eventually becoming the counter sniper team leader. He was commander of the NMSP Pistol Team and competed with a revolver throughout his career. He is a master firearms instructor through NMDPS and continues to instruct in retirement. He has had several articles published in American Cop Magazine, SWAT Magazine, and the NRA Law Enforcement Quarterly. He started his career carrying a revolver and has always been partial to them.

63 thoughts on “The Mountain Gun”

  1. Regrettably, the Mountain Gun is “the one that got away” from me because I had failed to see the writing on the wall at the time, which signaled that those (and other) quality firearms were soon to be kicked to the curb and never return. By and large what’s replaced them are plastic semi-auto junk guns and cheesy MIM/ internal-lock revolvers.

    Of course, I don’t have strong opinions on this topic!

  2. Great article, Kevin. I’m not a big bore guy myself (I’m content with .357 for most things), but the appeal of the Mountain Guns is obvious even to me. I was also surprised to find that Trausch made grips for these guns. I considered buying some Trausch grips for my SP101 at one point, and I was only aware of SP101 and Beretta 92 grips from them at that time. Based on their reputation, I think the loss of Trausch grips might be as bad as losing some of these practical wheel guns.

  3. The Mountain Guns were certainly among the most beautiful to come out of Smith and Wesson, ever.

    If anyone is listening at the mothership, it would be pretty cool if you brought them back, and while you are at it, build some L frames in the same configuration in .357, 10mm/40, and .44 mag (5 shot, of course). Square butt, if you can, please.

    Great content, as always.

    1. I wish the mothership was listening to you, Mike 2. The Mountain Gun concept applied to the L frame would be superlative. I believe they built a 7 shot Mountain Lite in .357 for a bit, and they teased us with the 646 in .40 S&W around 2003. A 10mm L frame is at the top of my wish list, too. How cool would that be? I’m glad they brought the 610 back, but an N Frame seems overlarge for the 10mm cartridge when you have that L frame out there…

      1. I have a 7 shot L frame Mountain lite in 357, along with a 44 magnum Mountain Gun, both being some of my favorite revolvers

        1. Thomas, I think you could make a pretty strong case for that Mountain Lite being the ultimate backpacking sidearm, at least in the lower 48 and with thoughtful ammo selection. The .44MG for when you step off the plane in Alaska.

  4. Thank you, Greyson. You make a good point about the Trausch grips. I bought a pair for an N frame square and N frame round butt about 15 years ago. I should have bought more.

  5. I owned two 657 Mountain Guns and of course regret selling both. I somehow managed to fill a doe tag with one using my own handloaded 210 gr. XTP over H110. I downsized the calibers I load for and walked away from the .41 Magnum when money was tight. I had no idea how much they’d go up in value…yet another stupid move on my part.

    That S&W hasn’t brought these back continues to amaze me. I’d love to see all of the originals back plus a 610 version. Come on, S&W!

    1. You had TWO of them, Brent??? I have seen exactly one 657 Mountain Gun in the flesh. It was a couple of years ago and priced out of my league. We have all been there on that regret/remorse when we have to let good ones go.
      I’ll bet that 210 XTP did the job nicely on that doe. Filling a mule deer tag using a Mountain Gun is on my bucket list, too. Not sure which one I will use, but any will work if I do my part, I think.

      Yes sir, come on S&W!

  6. As usual, fantastic article. I always walk away from this site more intelligent than I showed up. (Well…at least I have more information…I’ll leave it at that!)

    Any chance of sharing what those bullets are in the stag stocked .44spl pic? Looks like a RNFP of some design…

    Jim

    1. Thank you, Jim! The bullets you asked about are a LBT 240 grain Wide Flat Nose, Plain Base cast by Montana Bullet Works. They hit to the same point of aim as my carry load with Keith 429421 bullets but are easier to sink into charge holes under stress for reloads. I carry the SWC’s in the gun but use the WFN’s in my speedloaders in case things get sporty. They hit really hard with that huge flat front. I was dismayed to see that Montana Bullet Works is not currently showing this bullet, but they are still selling a gas checked version. I don’t need the gas check at the speeds I shoot them, but at least you can still get the profile.

  7. If I remember correctly, the original run of .44 Magnum guns were not “Mountain Guns”, they were called “Mountain Revolvers”. I have several “Mountain Guns” and a pair of the “Mountain Revolvers”. I carried and used my original Mountain Revolver extensively with Black Talon .44 Magnum ammunition all over both urban Southern California and fishing the Eastern Sierra’s.
    Great article! Thank You!

    1. Hey Darryl, I think your memory is correct, too. Seyfried refers to the original as the Mountain Revolver in his article. The S&W Standard Catalog refers to the first run from 1989 as “The Mountain Revolver” and subsequent runs as “Mountain Guns”. The original gun was marked like a normal 629 with “Smith & Wesson” on the left side of the barrel and “.44 Magnum” on the right side. It looks like very early guns were marked that way. Are your pair of Mountain Revolvers inscribed with “Mountain Revolver”?
      Mike enlightened me that the actual original that Tom Campbell built and sent to Seyfried is (or was) for sale on Sportsmanslegacy.com a while back. It’s neat to see it there, I wish I had the disposable income to pony up for it!
      It made happy to think of you carrying that Mountain Revolver stoked with Black Talons all over Southern California. I loaded mine with 210 grain Silvertips and then 200 Grain short barrel GDHP’s when they were introduced (as my hands got older and stiffer!). Thanks for reading it and for commenting, Sir.

    2. That’s interesting Darryl! I didn’t remember that, but as Kevin says, Supica does list an earlier “Mountain Revolver” in his Standard Catalog—5,000 of them, made in 1989. They came with Pachmayr grips, unlike the 1993 “Mountain Gun,” which came with Hogues. The latter Mountain Guns were drilled and tapped, too—something S&W started doing across the board, in 1993. Good memory! Now, what did you do for lunch, yesterday? ; ^ )

      1. You didn’t say there would be a test. My ability to remember obscure gun trivia far outweighs my ability to remember names and what I did five minutes ago.

        I kind of hate the Mountain Gun engraving on the barrels and really wish S&W had stuck with both the finish treatment and clean barrel of the original Mountain Revolvers. I fell in love with their clean utilitarian pure business look the second I saw my first one and bought it within minutes.

        1. Amen to that. I worked with a dude in the late 80’s that carried a round butt (before L frame RB’s were a thing) 4″ 686 with that vapor blasted dull finish. It was the coolest gun I’d ever seen. He swore he bought it new that way, I didn’t believe him until the Mountain Revolver came out. Pure business is right. Are you listening S&W? Clean barrels, vapor blasted finish when you guys bring them back, please.

        2. I have a 45 colt mountain gun, no lock it was “special order” it does not have the Lazer engraved mountain gun on one side or 45 colt on the other side. It has mountain gun in regular smith and wesson print and 45 colt in regular print . The finish is polished stainless steel , and came with 2 sets of grips one is of white pearl. This was special order, still is new in the box never fired and never turned the cylinder.

          1. Wow………. How cool is that? My .41 Magnum Mountain Guns are the only ones I have that have the normal caliber and “Mountain Gun” engravings on the barrel. Yours is one to treasure, Mr. Melby!

  8. What I wouldn’t give to have a 357 Magnum Mountain Gun released by S&W today. The tapered barrel and ramp front sight really do create a beautiful silhouette. I’d be happy to see some half-underlug L-frame options too. (Of course, all with the option of not having that accursed lock.)

    Thanks for the great article!

    1. Zach, do you remember the 620? It was a half-lug version of the 686 and it didn’t last very long (nor did the fixed sight, 619, that had no shroud). I thought they were very attractive guns, and the lighter snouts made them handle well, but they apparently didn’t sell very well. I would have eagerly purchased both if it wasn’t for the darned lock, which was a deal breaker for me. I think S&W would be smart to return a half-lug model to the line, since the full lug of the 686 adds a lot of weight for a carry gun.

    2. Zach, the fact that S&W still catalogs a Model 27 Classic gives me hope. They can still manufacture a one-piece tapered barrel if they choose to. It takes craftsmen to assemble them, and it makes them more expensive, but I think the market would support them. You’re right about that silhouette, and they would be a dream to carry. Thanks for appreciating the article!

  9. As a street copper in Detroit from 1969-89, my focus was on one N frame, the Model 58 .41 Magnum. It seemed the ideal choice for coppers issued a Smith nickel Model 10 with a 5 inch that allowed larger caliber Smith or Colt Revolvers but not hollow points. Even today, in 2022, Detroit does not issue hollow points.

    Yes, I owned a couple of Model 57s and even Model 29’s, but the Model 58 was just the gun of my dreams. I foolishly let go of it and recently after 33 years of looking acquired other one. This one was a gift from Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged holsters and yes once we get the paperwork ironed out, I will carry it daily in a Simply Rugged iwb holster with a second gun, A Smith 442, in a Simply Rugged pocket holster. A .41 Magnum and a Smith J frame got me home on several occasions when things looked grim
    Great article with precious information!
    Evan Marshall

    1. Glad you got reunited with a Model 58, Evan, and very glad to hear from you in the comments! A focused article on that gun is on my “To Do” list. I’ll reach out to you about that.

      1. Mike,

        When you get ready to write the model 58 article, look me up. I have a plethora of info and a long-running thread on the S&W forum about that model. I even own one of Darryl B’s former duty guns that has quite a history – SFPD, CA DNR, DEA, and a few other agencies before it retired to my safe.

        Scott

    2. Thanks for the work you did in Detroit and also for the ammo info you have tirelessly provided. No arguments on your Model 58 focus, what a pure fighting revolver. I’m glad you got one back (thanks, Rob!) and glad you’re going to carry it. A Model 58 and a Model 442 will continue to bring you home quite well, I think. I confess to being a member of the .41 Magnum Cult, Guild, Band of Zealots, etc. I never carried one on duty, but I have relied on a Model 58 or 57 Mountain Gun since retirement to get me home safe on many occasions. Moreso in the winter when I can layer up to hide it well. Thank you kindly for reading it and for shouting out, Sir.

    3. Wow. When I was a young Federale in a Midwestern city that wasn’t Detroit, I used to read Mr. Marshall’s writings all the time. I worked with several agents who had transferred from Detroit, and I knew that Motown was the home of the big-bore revolver, Dirty Harry notwithstanding. It’s good to know that Mr. Marshall is still kicking; the last thing I read from him was shortly after he retired and went to Roscommon County.
      I have a question for Mr. Marshall: I read (or was told) that when the Detroit PD issued Model 10s, they were nickel-plated for two reasons: 1) to make them look bigger, and 2) to make them easier to find if they were dropped. True? Knowing how bureaucracies work, I could believe either or both stories, but I think Mr. Marshall would be the guy to ask.

  10. Just what I needed on a Sunday afternoon!

    Thanks Kevin, you have re-affirmed my love affair with the 657 Mountain Guns. I just located a second one, and it is on the way to my local FFL, soon to be with me roaming TX, OK, NM, LA and other destinations.

    I really like the look of the Herrett (?) Trooper stocks on your MG. Were they a special run for the NMSP? I would love to find a pair for my 657MG.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this piece.

    Scott

    1. Hey Scott, I’m pleased to help with that, it’s a noble cause regarding 657 Mountain Guns! You will be well armed as you roam.
      Yes Sir, those are Herrett Jordan Troopers on my 629. They are very handsome and handle recoil exceptionally well. When I ordered them, Herrett’s asked me if I would like to add a patch or badge onto the stocks- what a cool idea! They just needed a digital image of our patch to do it. The cost was very reasonable, and they turned out great. I carried that gun on duty for a bit before I retired, I had them put the patch on the right panel and the call sign of a fallen comrade on the left. I asked them to use the grip screw hole for the zero in my friends call sign, “606”. You’re sure welcome on the article, thanks for reading it.

  11. The MG is the best revolver S&W has released since 1955… Excellent in all calibers, the 629, has proven to me to be the most versatile. A 629 was my constant companion , when I lived in Alaska. Great article.

    1. Great to hear from you, Rob, and glad you enjoyed Kevin’s excellent article. After hearing about Evan’s good fortune, I think I should start volunteering to sweep the floors in your shop. I’ll be happy to help you find a home for any other surplus Model 58s you have hanging around! ; ^ )

    2. Well spoken, Sir. The .44 Magnum will do the most in the platform and would be the best choice for Alaska duty. I bet that 629 was a source of comfort up there! I will follow your lead on hardware choices if I ever make it to Alaska. I know a guy who can make a pretty great holster and ingenious chest suspension system for it when I do. Thanks, Rob…

  12. The mountain guns are among my favorite smith offerings. I’ve been able to acquire the 357, 41 mag, 44 mag, 45LC, 45acp mountain guns and each of them are very fun revolvers. The 686-5 357 Mountain gun gets the most use by me. They are getting harder to find and not to mention pricey.

    1. Tailwheel, you are set up! I commend you on your wisdom in acquiring all those while you could. I honestly don’t think I have ever bumped into a 686 Mountain Gun. What a sweetheart that thing must be. I see why it gets the most use, you have given me one more to put on my “someday” list of revolvers. When S&W starts making them again, I’m okay with them starting with that one!

  13. The original prototype Mountain Gun mentioned above is currently listed for sale. It’s a little expensive.

  14. Another home run Kevin. Your great article and images caused me to long for my crop of model 24s and 624s. I decided a few years ago I needed to thin down and I managed to clean out all of the 24 family, and other great .44 Specials. Only one left, a 3rd HE.

    Oh well we are all just temporary caretakers. Enjoy them, take care of them and pass them on to some one else to enjoy.
    Nostalgia grabs us all.

    1. Thank you, Tony. You make a very good point- we are just temporary caretakers. You can only carry a few of em at a time anyway. A 3rd Model Hand Ejector was a good one to keep!

      I know the 24’s and 624’s you passed on to others were well taken care of; may they be appreciated and enjoyed.

  15. It is that, David. If I thought I could get away with it I would buy it. The price goes beyond the “asking for forgiveness instead of permission” rule in my house. I would be in trouble I couldn’t get out of!

  16. I’m one of those ‘swing and miss’ guys; saw the Mountain Gun(s) years ago and thought ‘I’ll get me one of those—later’. Back when I worked for a living, there was a period when I carried a 4″ Model 29 in the car as a bail-out gun, filled with rhino roller loads; and occasionally for off duty (with Special lead hollow point loads). The .44 Mountain Gun would have filled that niche wonderfully well, and the slightly lesser weight likely would have saved some effort walking around all day.
    Good article, but I wish you guys would quit coming up with subjects that make me look back on what I missed. Now I have to resist the temptation to look and see how much I’d have to increase the mortgage to get one, if one would even be findable.

    1. Rhino Roller Loads? Excellent!
      Ace, I have carried both all day in the woods and I attest to the Mountain Gun being noticeably more ‘trudge friendly” than a standard Model 29.
      Sorry about the mortgage pondering!

  17. As always, great article, Kevin! As a big bore fan, these are some of my favorites. A tip of the hat to Skeeter and all the others who made these classics possible!
    Kevin Massey

    1. Thank you, Kevin. I second your hat tip. I’m glad guys like Tom Campbell were in a place to build them, too.

  18. Love this article; 45 Colt is my favorite cartridge to hand load. I’m to the point where it’s all I hunt with anymore with a 16” carbine.

    I wish I could find a snub in it for as a carry companion…

    1. Thank you, Kenneth! I like the way you think. I often carry a 16″ Winchester 94 Trapper in .45 Colt with handloads: 250 grain Gold Dots or 265 WFN’s loaded to about 1300-1350fps from the carbine- big medicine! Charter Arms is making a 5 shot snub in .45 Colt, might be worth looking at. I wish I had some personal experience with one, I don’t though.

  19. The closest I’m getting to a ‘Mountain Gun’ is probably what I’d call a Molehill Gun – a S&W Model 27-2 .357 Magnum made in the late 1970s with a four inch barrel, nickel. It’s easy to shoot and keeps my chiropractor happy. It always yields the right of way to my K Frame Magnums.

    Back about 30 years back, I did have a love fest with the S&W Magna Classic .44 Magnums with 5″ barrels, round butt, and so nicely balanced.

    1. I’m picturing that nickel plated 27-2 “Molehill Gun”- Sweet! If you carry an N frame, a tapered barrel 4″ is the best way to stay on good terms with your chiropractor in my experience too.

  20. I ordered my Mountain Revolver as soon as I finish Seyfried’s article back in the day. Mine is vapor honed, simply marked 44 Magnum on the right side of the barrel, and came with Pachmayr grips. These were too large for me so I put on a Hogue grip. The suited my medium-size hands better, but with heavy loads I could feel the soft rubber flex under recoil and give me a taste of the square edges at the top of the exposed backstop. Other than loading it with Federal 300 grain Castcores for a canoe trip in Alaska years ago, I soon settled on a 240 SWC @ 900 for most work. That load worked quite nicely on the only whitetail I ever shot with my 629-2, leaving cookie cutter divots in the ribs coming and going. More recently I installed a set of Tactical Diamond grips from VZ. They’re finely crafted and between the finger groves and sharp checkering, give me all the purchase I need. BTW, being something of a Seyfried acolyte in my younger days, I have always carried my Mountain Revolver in a 200AW from Milt Sparks. I have never felt the need for another holster.

  21. Michael, that issue of Guns & Ammo sits in my nightstand drawer along with other “special” gun magazines. I have read that article more than any other- Seyfried captured the magic with it. You got one of the original “all business” guns! I have had similar experiences with my slightly younger Mountain Gun. I’ve loaded it with that same Federal Cast Core or equivalent handload to protect my family on high altitude camping trips. Hard to beat a 240 SWC@900fps for most things you might do with a Mtn Gun, Proven by guys like Keith, Skelton, and Seyfried. Someday I hope to take a sight picture on a mule deer with a Mountain Gun, and mine will be similarly loaded, I’ll bet.I ordered the same holster from Milt Sparks after seeing it on Seyfried’s hip and I agree with your assessment completely. Thanks for writing in!

  22. Nice article! I am a Mountain Gun fan. I carried one almost everyday for 6 years, when I lived in Alaska. They look great and shoot great and pack easy. It’s nice and tough, so they stand up to all the heavy loads you can stand to shoot. Jordan Troopers really help tame the recoil. The real sleeper is the L frame MG 686+. For the lower 48, I think it is about the Perfect Packin Pistol.

  23. Thank you, Rob. I can’t think of a better gun for up there. Man, I overlooked the L frame Mountain Guns in this article, and now I’m going to be scouting for one! A 7 shot L frame with a thin tapered barrel- I think you’re right… Very cool!

  24. A little late to the conversation, I bought a S&W M-69 when they first came out and have very happy with it. I hand load .44 Special with .250 gr RCBS Keith bullets to 1100 fps. It’s a sweet spot load also, full house Mags are just too much for me. I wear it in a chest rig in my jeep when out in the mountains. I remember the Mountain Guns and always wished I had bought one.

    1. Hey Brett, that is a sweet spot. Your load is identical to the “heavy” .44 Special Load I craft for my 624. If I ever hunt deer with that gun, that is the one I intend to use. That Model 69 is about the closest thing we have to a Mountain Gun these days, I think.

  25. I use a S&W 624 (no dash) .44 Spl. 4 inch. Hike with it a lot. 250gr hard cast at 850-900 (Skeeter Skelton Load.) I have no complaints.

  26. Deaf Smith, I carry that combination often too, and I also have no complaints. Skeeter was pretty astute!

  27. Great article I just discovered. I bought a 629-5 (no lock) in 2000 to carry in Colorado while fly fishing in the back country. I hunted with a Ruger Super Blackhawk in 44 magnum so I was already set up as a reloader. The Ruger was just too big to carry while fishing, and the Mountain Gun was perfect. Now that I’m 78 my field gun carries Skeeter’s old 44 Special load most of the time, but it’s still a faithful companion after 22 years. The only change I have made to the gun is I installed Hogue Tamer grips that come on the X 500 guns. They truly are tamers. Thanks again for a great article.

  28. Thank you for writing in, Marv, and for appreciating the article! Those X frame Hogue tamers are a beautiful thing on light N frame revolvers! They are usually on my Mountain Guns when I’m off the pavement, too. Skeeter’s .44 Special load is hard to beat for an everyday load, it has stood the test of time. There is magic in a 4″ skinny barrel N frame so loaded, I think!

  29. Yes, I lusted after Mountain Guns ever since they came out. I didn’t get one until recently, in 45 Colt. The reason? Those darn round grips. In my mind a proper N frame has square grips and at least a 4″ barrel.
    Having been fortunate enough to find a Model 625-6 Mountain Gun in excellent condition I contacted Eagle Grips and purchased their round to square conversion Rosewood Heritage Grips. They are beautiful and I am satisfied with the fit.

  30. Mr. Smith, I commend you for picking up that 625-6, even if it was a round butt! Eagle does a great job making it look and feel like a square butt, and who knows if we will ever see a new 625 .45 Colt again? Seyfried was right, it is hard to imagine a better revolver than yours for venturing into the woods…

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