There is a soft spot in my holster for big wheel guns, there is something romantic about their husky built cylinders and the intimidatingly large muzzle. With so many things you can do with them as well, which makes them not just fun but useful. Today’s review is the Smith & Wesson Performance Center® Model 629 Competitor.
As we take a look at one of Smith & Wesson’s big Performance Center Competitor pistols built on an N frame. You might be thinking the same thing I was when I first saw the pistol; who competes with a .44 Magnum?
But I stopped asking questions that start with “I wonder why people…” a long time ago. The Performance Center model 629 Competitor is a robust and impressive handgun, so I guess whoever has it in their hands can do whatever they want.
This Competitor is built from stainless steel all the way around, which helps it build up the weight to over 57 ounces. Big pistols like this are a lot easier on the hand with their additional weight. And the Competitor also includes a weighting system to add additional weight to the gun to better balance it. Smith & Wesson’s big pistol is just over 11 inches long, which gives it a large sight radius. But it also has a rail for optics mounting across the top of the barrel, which gives you even more sighting options. Different rubberized grips make it very easy to hold onto, which is definitely a plus with this big pistol.
When I opened the box containing the Competitor, I wasn’t exactly ready for it. Immediately impressive is the size of this handgun, it is certainly not for the faint of heart. As is typical with Smith & Wesson revolvers, it felt fantastic in the hand. All controls of the pistol all worked smooth and without taxing effort. Every part of me wanted to feel the trigger, as I wondered just what a competitor’s trigger would feel like.
Drawing back the hammer for that satisfactory click as the trigger set, I rested my finger on the smooth chrome trigger and started pressing. The smooth crack of the hammer dropping was extremely clean and the gun barely moved as a result. A smile to came over my face thinking this gun was going to be a blast to shoot.
Curiously I inspected the sights which looked very high quality, and easy to pick up. But like a real optics weenie I really wanted to get a red dot mounted to the pistol, since I don’t have a pistol scope.
We started putting together some supplies to take the gun to the range and get it warmed up. I had some Hornady Lever Revolution 225 grain ammunition to shoot in the gun. In addition I also had some handloaded 240 grain semi-wadcutter handloads that I figured I’d try out as well. I also had the proper mounting devices to incorporate a red dot to my shooting, so I grabbed that as well to see how the gun shot using the optic.
On the Range
With ammo, tools, red dot, and the weight system for the Competitor all in tow I hit my favorite shooting spot. I spread it out on the tailgate of my truck, and started my process of evaluation.
The large size of the revolver definitely reduced to feeling of recoil some, and it wasn’t bad at all to shoot. My initial concerns about why someone would want to competitively shoot a caliber this big were immediately resolved.
Shooting the big Competitor was actually very fun and enjoyable, the trigger felt immaculate, even the double action pull felt better than I expected. Though I don’t know how accurate I would be able to shoot with it that way.
The Competitor came with a set of various weights that you can add to a vacant bore that runs underneath the barrel itself. The system allows you to add or take away the cylindrical weights to tune the recoil of the pistol. While the system seems to have a good purpose, I didn’t notice a significant change in my ability to shoot it much better. This could just as easily been me, and nothing to do with the S&W.
Shooting the pistol at 10 and 25 yards to see how accurately I could shoot the gun was actually pretty impressive, even without the fine aimpoint of a red dot sight.
Pros and Cons
The 629 Competitor definitely has some good features, the high quality of its parts and function are surely at the top of my list. I can’t get excited about guns that aren’t accurate enough to be useful, and this one is certainly very useful. While I am not competitive pistol shooter material, I still found it easy enough to hit just what I was aiming at with this pistol I’m more of a hunter, and I could easily see myself taking down a deer or elk in the deep dark forest of these Rocky Mountains with just such a pistol.
The weight system I could take or leave, it didn’t seem to make a difference for me. But the smooth rolling cylinder and crispy clean trigger sure go a long ways. The sights are perfectly suitable for most of my kind of shooting but the added bonus of being able to mount an optic only increase my affinity for this gun.
If you are a competitive shooter then you surely might find the weight of this pistol to be an asset, whereas if you aren’t a competitor you might find it a bit heavy. The good news is that either way it’s going to shoot well for you.
I really wish I’d of had a pistol scope, so I could try shooting the Competitor with a scope. As it was I tried shooting it with a red dot mounted to the rail, which turned out to be pretty interesting. I like the fine aiming point and the ability to keep my eye focused on the target and not worry about the sights.
Smith & Wesson Performance Center® Model 629 Competitor