Saturday, April 10, 2010

Smith of the Week: Tam's purse gun, S&W 296 DAO .44 Special

It's no surprise to my faithful readers, all dozen or so of you, that I love Smith & Wesson firearms. During the past year+ that I've working in a gun shop, I've had quite an education in the bewildering nomenclature of Smith handguns with two, three and four digit ID numbers established since the line got so large in 1958 that all models got numbers instead of names.
"They've given you a number,
"and taken way your name"
goes that song of the '60s from the TV show, "Secret Agent Man."

So I have decided for furtherance of my own education, as well as my faithful readers, that I shall henceforth begin a regular feature I shall dub "Smith of the Week" or maybe day or month or whenever inspiration strikes.

This inaugural post is dedicated to Tamara, who confided in a comment post when she visited my humble blog that a S&W 296 .44 Special has a permanent home in her purse.

Bluebook sez:
MODEL 296 AIRLITE Ti CENTENNIAL- .44 S&W Spl. cal., L-frame, 5 shot, 2 1/2 in. barrel, similar to Model 242 in construction materials, alloy frame and titanium cylinder, Uncle Mike's Boot grips, 18.9 oz. Mfg. 1999-2002.
Bluebook doesn't supply a photo and Tam didn't give me one, so I stole a couple of images from an auction on gunbroker for this post. It was available for a mere $999, so that puts if out of my league.

Aside from the fact that I love Tam from afar and greatly admire her gun knowledge -- what's not to love, a good lookin' woman who has a lot of guns and shoots them regularly and shares her knowledge? -- I also got the chance to actually hold and dry-fire a S&W 296 this week.

One came into the gun shop and when I picked it up and snapped it, lo and behold it has a great double-action-only trigger. It also has a really nice set of combat finger-groove checkered wood grips of the type used on Talo and other special-edition S&W round-butt revolvers.

But alas, it was purchased by a customer from afar who had it shipped to our shop for a transfer. My hope was I would be able to shoot it and perhaps add it to my humble collection of Smith's, but that is not to be, at least immediately.

The boss lady gave me hope after informing me it is for transfer and not for sale. She said this customer often purchases guns off the Internet, tries them out and then brings them back for resale. So maybe I'll get a shot -- literally -- at this 296 yet.

It's one of Smith's alloy frame, Titanium cylinder creations that is remarkably light for its size and shooting a respectable cartridge, certainly a lot more potent than .38 Special, and I am one of the many who love .44 Specials.

My hope, if I ever to get a chance to try it out, is that it will be more shootable than the S&W 396 Scandium-Titanium "Mountain Lite" that I once tried out at another gun shop that had a range.

One writer I read termed it the "Mountain Bite" and after five rounds of full-house .44 Specials I had to agree with that assessment. It had a serious bite on the back end as well as the business end.

The 296 differs from the 396 in two regards, it is double-action-only not traditional double/single like the 396. And despite that Bodyguard-looking hump, it does have not a shrouded hammer but a fully enclosed hammer of the Centennial-Smith style.

And is seemed some gunsmith worked some magic on the trigger as it was very light and eminently shootable. Who knows if the recoil is "biteable"?

Tam likes it so it can't be too bad. Time will tell as to whether I ever get a chance to shoot this 296. But if not, it's something else I can be on the lookout for future acquisitions.

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