In the years immediately following World War II, experimenters had been developing ever more powerful loads for the .44 Spl. cartridge. It was natural that a more powerful counterpart to that round should be developed in the same way that the .357 Mag. evolved from the .38 Spl.
Out of production and somewhat obscure, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 was once well known only to serious big-bore handgunners. Then in 1971, it became one of the most famous and desirable handguns of all time. Do you know why? Well, do ya?
As the 20th century was about to debut, the brass at Smith & Wesson decided on a new double-action revolver design called the Hand Ejector Model. More powerful cartridges were in high demand so the company developed a solid frame with a swing-out cylinder to replace its top-break double actions.