Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum: The Hammer

There are times and situations in life that call for skill and finesse. There are also times when the rapid application of as much pure brute force as possible is the best solution. For example, when a big ole momma gator decides that she wants to occupy the same little stretch of sandbar where you are camping and fishing, having a whole lotta brute force available would be a very nice thing. When you realize that the 200 pound boar with a rather impressive set of tusks that your son in law wounded has found his way behind the little scrub oak you are leaning against it is another situation where having a lot of brute force available would be extremely comforting.

While I am a big fan of 9mm and .38 Special those rounds don’t quite deliver on the level of brute force I would like to have had in those situations. There are many who will swear that .45 ACP was god’s gift to John Moses Browning and is the end all be all when it some to stopping two legged predators but against a big, angry boar with six to twelve inch, self-sharpening tusks on either side of his jaws and a couple of inches of soft body armor wrapped around his vitals I’d still prefer more power, more brute force. Something, along the lines of a .44 Magnum…

With hunting season fast approaching (and a little bonus money in my pocket) I decided it was time to make a purchase I have been thinking about for a good long time; a carry revolver for when I am out in the woods and the swamps around of (south) East Texas. A carry revolver that can handle a pissed off “Mr. Pig” or a determined dinosaur.

I did quite a bit of research on this over the years. I looked at the Taurus which definitely has a good price point but does not have a reputation for quality that I want to base my life on. I bet my life on Ruger firearms most every day of the week but was a bit heavier than I would prefer to carry while fighting through the thickets and undergrowth that most piggies like to call home. I really liked the Smith & Wesson 329 which has a super light (relatively speaking) Scandium frame however the N-frame is a bit too large for my short, stubby fingers. Like Goldilocks I eventually found one that was “just right;” the L-Frame based Model 69 Combat Magnum with a 3″ barrel.

Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum
Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum

At 34 ounces this is no lightweight but with the short 3″ (2.75 actually) barrel I think it will carry pretty well. The sights are a nice setup with a red insert in the blade front sight and an adjustable rear notch. The trigger pull is long and nowhere near as smooth as must of my other Smiths. It is also pretty heavy but like most of my Smith & Wesson’s have it will probably get better with time and use. The rubber, combat style grips fit me pretty perfectly. They don’t do much to absorb recoil though…

So, let’s address the (.44 Magnum) elephant in the room.

I like small revolvers and even enjoy shooting them. Even my Titanium-framed .357 Magnum that only weighs 14 ounces. Nevertheless, truth be told shooting hot .357s thought that gun is a lot like catching a fastball barehanded…five times in a row. It snaps and it stings. The .44 is a bit different. There is more recoil energy. It’s more like catching the bat someone swung at the fastball…barehanded. All in all it is more pleasant to shoot that the .357 but not by much and you I could feel it the next day as my wrist and elbow were both sore. Swap out the full bore .44 magnums for either some lightly loaded magnums or .44 Specials and the monster is tamed. In fact she is quite a pleasant shooter with lighter loads and extremely accurate.

But that is not why I bought this revolver. I bought it to be a roaring, fire breathing beast. I bought it to be a hammer when I need the brute force to stop a charging pig or a creeping gator and I think she will do just fine.

Take care and God Bless.

8 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson Model 69 Combat Magnum: The Hammer

  1. Nice steel yet for me it’s seldom the speed that stops, it’s the shape of the lead.
    A nice flt nose imparting the well earned ‘thump’.

    Having said that, 9×19 mm FMJ in P++ (Old school mil will know it as 2Z) was fairly effective for me.
    That and the rapid application of rounds from a 15 shot mag 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have no issue with 9mm in self-defense situations. It is a primary caliber for me and it is my “go to” caliber for semi-auto pistols. I might even pick up a rifle in 9mm at some point. However, my use case for the Model 69 is a little different than a typical self-defense situation. This is to carry in the woods where the threats are very likely to be significantly larger and tougher than a typical human. 200+ pound feral hogs (especially boars) in Texas are pretty normal and 400+ pounders are not particularly rare. They can get to around 600 pounds around here but those are actually pretty rare. Male hogs have a layer of dense fat and gristle developed over years of fighting with each other. This layer acts as soft body armor, slowing bullets especially lighter weight bullets at higher velocities like 9mm. The rounds would eventually kill the critter (probably) but to stop it before it gets a chance to slash me with its tusks or chew on my leg a bit I would prefer power over finesse.

      9mm ammo delivers around 350 ft/lbs of force at the muzzle. The heavier bullets of the .44 Magnum deliver close to 1000 ft/lbs of energy. This helps the bullets punch through a boar’s hide and armor and ensure vital organs are reached even on a less than perfect shot (which is likely when one of these critters explodes out of a bush you are standing close to).

      The ammo I plan to use in the Model 69 is a +P load topped with flat-nosed hard cast lead bullets that should offer good penetration even through Mr. Pig and deliver plenty of ‘thump.’ They should work pretty well on alligators (above the waterline) and black bears too (I will be hunting some in Oklahoma where black bears are more common). Coyotes, bobcats and wolves are pretty thin skinned and a smaller round would be fine for them (our former governor dropped a ‘yote that was going after his dog with a .380 ACP) but they are not my main concern.

      With a wheel gun I can load one chamber with a shot shell should a rattler or water moccasin decide to break our mutual avoidance treaty. I have had a good sized rattlesnake try and join me in a hunting blind one time and would not take no for an answer until I bent a folding stool around his head. I would rather not get that close to the bitey part of a poisonous snake again. I have been chased several times by water moccasins. They are faster than I was even as a kid and a darn site faster than I am now but, fortunately, they lack stamina. Snakes in close proximity tend to significantly degrade my marksmanship skills (especially when they sneak up on you) and a shot shell means I can be a little less accurate and still put a stop to them. Semi-Autos typically won’t cycle with a shot shell but revolvers just don’t care.

      There is nothing wrong with 9mm and a well placed shot (or 10) can bring down just about anything in North America. A guide up in Alaska recently had to take down a brown (grizzly) bear with a 9mm Glock 26. He did it but it took every round he had, well placed shots and a fair bit of luck.

      For a boar and dinosaur
      I’d rather a fourty-four!

      Take care and God bless.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know about boar having shot them in deepest darkest Europe and I’ve seen others bounce 7.62 x 39 off their heads.
        Yet I was using a old Mauser in 6.5mm but had better opportunities for heart and lung shots and took two in quick succession. I’m not bragging here but 6.5 soft nose was way more efficient that FMJ.

        As your guide knew (and more power to him) shot placement is everything.

        Even when facing someone high on drugs like brown-brown. They just don’t feel anything! So aiming high and tight is the only option. Shot placement again.

        p.s. Hope you weren’t part of the storm and if you were we hope everything is ok.


        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks Paul, we have not (yet) been affected by any hurricanes this year.

        For rifle rounds I have hunted feral hogs with .223, 7.62×39, .30-30 and .308. I don’t prefer .223 for hogs although with proper shot placement at fairly close ranges it will get the job done. We typically go after smaller 75-125 lb pigs. We think they taste a little better. For hog eradication hunts on farms and ranches where the goal is to reduce the population not harvest the meat .223 or 5.56 is a good choice because you can get more shots on pork before they scatter.

        7.62×39 worked fine, again with proper shot placement and within reasonable distances. I really like .30-30 within around 150 yards but .308 is my “go to” hunting caliber these days. It has more punch than .30-30 and is effective at longer ranges should I get a longer shot. The Ruger American Predator (even with a 2×7 optic) is lighter than the .30-30s I have with makes it easier to hump through the brush all day.

        Regardless of the rifle caliber, I have always used Jacketed Soft Points for hunting. From everything I have seen in the field and read they are far more effective that FMJ on just about any game I will ever hunt.

        Take care and God bless.

        Liked by 1 person

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