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Next Post has picked up on a story starting to fly around the internet: a Smith & Wesson 329 PD .44 Magnum Revolver sheared in half. TTAG is calling Smith & Wesson PR for comment . . .

A Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum model 329 PD revolver recently broke in half while shooting Winchester factory ammo. The whole front end of the gun sheared off forward of the cylinder. Cause of the failure is unknown, but it does not appear that the barrel was obstructed, as there was no visible damage to the barrel assembly forward of the frame. We really don’t know why this revolver broke in half, though some observers speculated there may have been hairline fractures in the frame. That’s just a guess. It’s also possible that the factory ammo was over-charged. The pictures below were posted by the gun owner on Photobucket and first linked on

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  1. I'm a real novice, but as I noted elsewhere, it seems that arms makers are doing their best to deliver more firepower, like 44 Magnum in lightweight and 357 Magnum in concealed carry guns. One of the knocks on the arms market is that guns last too long, so they always have to find new customers. Are we now looking at planned obsolescence, as powerful, lightweight guns fall apart after a few years of use?

    • Oh, I don't think it's planned obsolescence. That's a little too "tinfoil hat" to make sense. Besides, if a gun maker knowingly made a gun that had any inherent weaknesses they'd expose themselves to lawsuits that would damage them far more than they'd gain by any replacement purchases (and think about it, if your $1200 gun "wore out" after a few years, how likely would you be to replace it with another one from the same manufacturer?)

      I think it's more the "New! Improved!" aspect of using "high tech" materials. But why on a .44? Is anyone really going to be packing a .44 as a concealed carry gun? Lightweight materials work great on guns that are small and light enough to be carried covertly but on a big honkin' revolver I don't see the point.

      Give me cold, hard steel, any day of the week.

      • Well, instead of "planned obsolescence," let's say, "market pressures are trumping concern for quality."

  2. The 329 was manufactured primarily for the Alaskan Market. A lightweight gun with some horsepower for the guides and outdoorsmen. My 329 was a salesmans sample and one of the first guns produced. It has thousands of rounds through it with no obvious structural problems. There should be a steel shield above the forcing cone against the top strap but I fail to see it there. If this shield was missing during live fire the damage could have resulted from that.

  3. I just bought a 329 PD.

    I know these are not a handgun for hunting, target or casual shooting. They are for those situations where the choice is between not carrying something and carrying something very light in a locale where you may encounter a threat requiring the power of a .44 Magnum. You try them out/sight them in with the ammo you intend to carry and then don’t shoot them much more (IMO).

    While brown bears are usually not a threat (more people are injured or killed by moose in Alaska than bears), especially in the lower 48 states, and I don’t hunt predators like bears, if a person has the resources to buy this handgun and doesn’t want to carry around something heavier, it is a viable option.

    I would not carry it as a defensive gun against humans, there are better choices for that, but I do intend to carry it anywhere there may be something like a brown bear, even when I am carrying a hunting rifle – I would want it as a last ditch backup.

    As for the cause, I don’t think manufacturing defects would show up in two places in the frame. If there were cracks then they were there from use, not manufacture.

  4. just checked my 329. the metal clip between the barrel and top strap is only half there. there is erosion of the top strap about 1/8″ deep. just wrote smith and wesson about the problem. i couldn’t have more than 2-300 rounds through it, all midrange lead loads. the things so light, i won’t shoot hot loads. wish me luck…………….on second thought, i guess i am lucky i caught it before the above happened to me.

    • Hi Supe, I have a 329 with the same problem only my metal clip is completely gone. I have about the same amount of erosion as you described, maybe more. I also am glad I discovered this before I experienced the same catastrophic failure as in the picture above. I am writing you to find out what Smith Wesson’s response was after you wrote them. Did they offer to replace your 329 or repair it. I am hoping that they cover it under warranty. Thank you in advance for your response.

  5. Thanks for any information. I have a S&W 629, but was thinking about buying one of these as on my properly (and my families property) we have seen bears on walks and even walk across the front lawn here in N. Michigan. More incidents happen all the time.

  6. WOW! Inspect your S&W for the small, steel piece. It looks like it is missing on the broken revolver pictured…

  7. It may me possible that the shield was lost when the frame separated. I carry the 329 while guiding elk hunts due to the presence of mountain lions, which normally are not a threat, but they can do a lot of damage to your body in very short order.

  8. I bought a Model 629 stainless, six-shot 44 magnum cylinder from Brownells, and when I get my own Model 329PD I will replace the titanium, six-shot 44 magnum cylinder supplied with this new stainless one. Why? Because the titanium cylinder is prone to pitting and erosion over time, with certain types of ammunition.
    It was only $148.00 to purchase the new stainless steel six-shot cylinder from Brownells and with shipping, the total came to $155.00. It will add just a little weight and is a more durable and proven metal for a cylinder. I will also use an X-frame rubber grip and maybe have it Mag-Na-Ported. I like the idea of carrying alot and not shooting it alot.

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