1) Local dealer has a 629 Classic with 5" barrel for $655 plus 6% sales tax (about $40). Is this a reasonable price to pay for a new 629 Classic with 5" barrel?
2) How much extra should I expect to pay for a 6.5" barrel?
3) I'm just going to be using this as a range gun to have some fun with, what benefits would the 6.5" barrel give me over a 5" barrel? I may get some flak for asking this, but I also want it to look good, in your opinion does the 6.5" barrel make the gun look more "impressive" than the 5" version?
That's the going rate for a 5" 629 Classic here in Fl.
I can think of only two very small advantages of the 6 1/2" over the 5'. One, 4 ozs of barrel weight to help with felt recoil and muzzle lift and two, a slightly longer sight radius.
FWIW. I own a 6 1/2" and a 8 3/3" 629 Classic. The next one will be a 5" just because I like the 5" profile.
I'd say that's okay. However, I will tell you this, a buddy of mine just picked up a very lightly used 629 6.5" classic with a leupold scope for around $640 shipped (IIRC). If you want to look a little, they can be found used IF you want to go that route.
I think the 6-8" barrel length is nice for a .44mag. Many times, A.)the extra sight radius is nice if you wanna reach out with it a little B.) If you handload/have an addiction to velocity, sometimes the slower powders in such magnum calibers will like the extra bbl length. C.)As RGT stated, it's nice to have something extra in front to tame that recoil.
That said 5.5" is certainly feasible, but personally I would have one no shorter (recoil starts to get a little jumpy IMO)
Currently I have a ruger SRH with a 7.5" barrel, and I adore it, barrel length is just perfect for my uses.