The 44 Smith & Wesson Special should be one of the most popular revolvers in the country. It’s not. Today, it’s known mostly as the parent cartridge of the vastly more popular 44 Magnum. For years, 44 Special ammunition was loaded to feeble levels out of concern for the older revolvers chambered for the cartridge.
The revolvers are few and far between, a few Italian Colt clones, the 50th Anniversary Ruger Blackhawk, Taurus, and S&W have runs from time to time. I never see one in gun shops, new or used. Of course I suppose they can be ordered, but the 44 Special remains a rear item. One problem is ammunition availability. Usually available in well stocked gun shops or outdoor super stores, the 44 Special usually isn’t found at the local hardware store or China Mart. The more powerful and more available 44 Magnum usually attract the gun buyer looking for a large bore revolver.
In the 1980s, famed gun writer Skeeter Skelton wrote of the virtues of the 44 special and the long gone M24 revolver. This prompted S&W to bring out a version in stainless steel, the Model 624. The Ideal 44 Special revolver had arrived. Well, sort of. Initially there was a recall over the quality of steel used in the barrels. This was easily solved, but the fact that the new 624 was very close to S&Ws’ 629 44 Magnum let to a tepid reception by gun buyers. Why buy a gun nearly identical to the 629 is size and weight but is less powerful?
The answer is the 624 is a magnificent revolver. I purchased a used one in decent, but not perfect condition for a song about 8 years ago. I discovered the 624 is uncommonly accurate, powerful with the improved loads available today, and pleasant to shoot. Recoil and blast are manageable and encourage good shooting.
My 624 rides in an old Bianchi X-15 shoulder holster or a belt holster. It is a constant companion in the woods and in the outdoors. Inside, it’s a home defense gun. It may be forgotten, and underappreciated, but I find it invaluable.