I've never purchased a firearm online before and frankly was stunned by both the outrageously low prices + superior service offered by Buds. Their good reputation is WELL deserved in my estimation. I ordered the gun on a Thursday night at midnight and picked it up at my local FFL Dealer Tuesday afternoon.
This gun is fantastic and well worth the high S&W price if you're looking for one of (if not THE) most concealable .44 Magnums available. I came down to this or the Ruger Alaskan and decided on the S&W Night Guard due to the black frame plus stock tritium night sights (which the Alaskan does not have), and in my opinion a good carry weapon should be black anyway. The gun arrived in perfect condition right out of the box and the high quality of S&W engineering and machining is readily apparent.
The gun kicks hard, so be prepared for that if firing magnum rounds right off the bat, though it must be said the high-tech scandium alloy frame does in fact seem to absorb much of the felt recoil given its significantly low weight as S&W claims. Did I say how hard the recoil is? This isn't a good gun for recreational target shooting (though maybe with .44 Special it would be fine), but I would trust my life to it in the event of a bear attack, a home invader, OR both a bear AND a home invader attacking at the same time. The gun is very agressive and threatening looking, and the snub 2.5" barrel makes the bore in the muzzle appear large enough to climb inside. The mere sight of this thing would be enough to frighten away any but the most insane thieves hell-bent on stealing your meager possessions (and believe me your possessions are indeed meager after paying this price for a gun).
I'm not an expert enough to claim why exactly, but the sights on this gun are awesome and I personally at least can draw a bead on the target far faster than with any other handgun I've used. The front sight is a tritium night sight surrounded by a white dot for daytime use, and the rear sight is a solid black standard "v-notch," the elevation of which is easily adjustable with a screwdriver.
The only "con" I can think of is the grip... I have medium sized hands for a man and the grip is just a tiny bit smaller than I would like, but on the other hand it is excellent for concealability. If you have larger hands and don't mind losing a bit in the way of concealment, I would probably pick up a good Hogue grip for S&W N-Frame revolvers with a rounded butt. In fact, you can buy one of these directly from Smith and Wesson's website. A bigger grip would probably help with the recoil a little as well. Don't get me wrong, the stock Pachmayr grip is excellent, it's just designed for maximum concealment. I would recommend checking one out and holding it at your local dealer first (then of course actually buying it from Bud's).
And final thing I discovered quite by accident... this gun actually will fit quite well in a cheap Bulldog Inside the Waistband holster for a Glock 22/17. Not snugly, mind you, but well for normal highly concealed carry. Just don't do any handstands.
Thanks Buds! Will definitely come again!
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars!