Hi guys and Dan, I have been lurking here periodically, so thought I would share this story. I bought this S&W 29 in the early 80s. Standard Dirty Harry model. I made some grips for it that fit my hand much better than the issue target (?) stocks. The gun saw a lot of rounds, both really hot to 1000 fps plinking loads. I also had the cylinder metaloyed for cosmetic and anti-rust reasons. The throat of the original barrel eroded away, large grooves from hot loads of ball powder. I got one of the 10.5" silhouette barrels which is thicker than the regular barrels and cut it back to 6.5" and installed a Power front site. It shot really good and is still going strong. My cylinder though had seen its' days though. The cylinder face around each throat has ring around each chamber from erosion. One chamber is out of whack somewhere, and even really mild loads have to be hammered out. This throat measures .431 still, it was a 5 shooter for a long time. The other throats measure .437-8". Lots of rounds. It took some time but I finally recieved a new stainless, unfluted cylinder from Brownells. Throats measure .429" Wow. After fitting the cylinder at a .002" cylinder gap, and getting it to time, a new hand was required because the new cylinders have a different ratchet design, I also slugged the barrel. At least a one thou constriction at the barrel threads. Bore was .430" but barrel throat .429".Just a note here: I had been shooting a 285gr 70% meplat, design with great accuracy, sized .430 from one of Dan's molds. Velocity just under 1300fps with 24.0g of H110. NOTE: Any idiots reading this, work your own loads up in your gun. I take NO responsibility.
So I fire lapped the barrel using a Neco lapping kit. The LBT lap seems to be somewhere between 220 and 320 grit which I think is fine for truing up things but not a very fine polish. The Neco kit goes to 1200 grit. The bore is now .430-.4305" with no constriction at the barrel threads, and cylinder throats are now .4305".
Came the big day a week ago and testfired the setup. My mild loaded 240g commercial cast shot into little clusters offhand at 25yds. My working loads had to be hammered out of the cylinder. I only shot 8 of those. They chronographed at just over 1400fps. Reworking the loads showed my best accuracy with the 285gr was again just under 1300 fps again, but only 22.0gr of H110 required now. Back in business. I hunt but I also do a lot of wildlife photography. The .44 is my bear defense gun. The 285 gr bullets will go through 12-14 inches of green poplar trunk. Blocks of concrete explode. The blue gun sure looks sharp with the stainless unfluted cylinder. I was impressed with the ballistic changes now that tolerances are more in line. The gun shoots better than me now, but I will be practing lots this summer.
I'll try and get a picture of this gun onto the forum sometime.