Anyone have any experience with the S&W329 PD 44 Mag? It is extremely lightweight, the one I handled felt like it weighed less than an LCR. It would not be a range gun, but a typical magic bear gun for some fly fishing trips to WY and MT I'm taking this year. It seems well made, but it's so light I wonder if it has lockup or other durability issues. http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...layErrorView_Y
The only time I'd recommend one of these for bear protection is when you're just unwilling or unable to carry a steel-framed revolver. The reason is that you really should put in at least some practice with your bear loads and with the ultra-light-weight revolver I guarantee you won't do that. I have a S&W 629 (stainless steel) with a MagnaPorted 4" barrel and with 320 grain magnum loads, it's punishing to shoot. A revolver weighing 2/3 as much would be even worse. When you're charged by a bear, you typically have 3 seconds or less to put rounds on target and you need to have practiced that.
I would strongly recommend that you go with a bigger/heavier handgun and get an appropriate holster. A holster can make all the difference when it comes to carrying the gun or leaving it at home. When out in bear country, I typically carry a S&W 500 magnum in a Diamond D chest holster and the holster distributes the weight so well that I don't have any trouble carrying it. Believe it or not, I find the 500 magnum with 500 grain loads to be easier to manage than the 629 with 320 grain loads (but it is definitely bigger and heavier). If you want to stick with .44 magnum, then go with a 629 or a Ruger Redhawk with a barrel no shorter than 3" (4" is probably better because the muzzle whip is less) and have it MagnaPorted.
All that said, the "best" gun is the one you have with you when you need it, so if you would leave the heavier gun at home, then by all means get the 329PD.