This week we are continuing our exploration of replica air pistols with one of my personal favorites, the Smith & Wesson 6″ revolver. This .177 caliber revolver is a replica of the Smith & Wesson powder-burning revolver, and it looks and feels like the real thing.
The 6-inch Smith weighs 2 pounds 12 ounces and is 11.5 inches long. It has a 6-inch rifle barrel, a 10-shot rotary magazine and is powered by a 12-grain CO2 cartridge hidden in the pistol grip. The Smith can shoot both double action (where you pull the trigger to cock the hammer and discharge the shot) and single action (where you cock the hammer first, then discharge the shot by pulling the trigger.
The entire pistol is polished, blued metal, with the exception of the rubber grips (it also comes in a nickel finish). On the left side of the frame, below the hammer and just forward of the pistol grip, is the pellet clip release lever. To ready the pistol for shooting, press the pellet clip release forward. This will release the pellet clip, allowing you to swing the 10-shot magazine out to the left. Remove the magazine from the shaft. Set it aside for the moment.
Next remove the right hand grip by prying it up at the forward edge near the trigger guard. This reveals a chamber into which you will insert a 12-gram CO2 cartridge with the small end pointed toward the hammer. Pull the cartridge lock lever at the bottom of the pistol grip down as far as it will go. Loosen the gold-colored cylinder screw by turning it clockwise. Insert a new CO2 cartridge into the chamber. Tighten the cylinder screw by rotating it gently counterclockwise until snug. Return the cartridge lock lever to its original position by pushing it upward – this may require considerable effort. This should pierce the CO2 cartridge. To confirm this, point the pistol in a safe direction, and squeeze the trigger. You should be rewarded with a “pop.”
If you don’t hear a pop, swing the cylinder lock downward, tighten the cylinder screw a bit more, and try again. Once you are certain that the pistol is discharging CO2, it’s time to load the rotary magazine. With the ratchet teeth facing you, insert pellets headfirst into the ten pellet bays, taking care that the pellet skirt is level with or slightly below the edge of the pellet bay.
Slide the magazine back onto its shaft with the ratchet teeth facing toward the hammer, and swing the magazine back into position. You are good to go, and you can shoot the S&W either double action or single.
And this is the point in the testing process where I was mightily surprised. This is my favorite replica pistol, and I enjoy shooting it a fair amount. My personal pistol is tricked out with a red dot sight but otherwise it is unmodified. Further, I never found it particular bothersome to shoot double action, although I prefer to shoot it single action because the trigger is lighter.
So imagine my surprise when I tested the Smith with my electronic trigger gauge and found that double-action shooting required an astonishing 9 pounds 4 ounces of effort on the trigger. Shooting in single-action mode, the trigger weight is considerably less but still required 6 pounds 4 ounces of effort. Before I made the measurement, I would have guessed that double-action mode required about 6 pounds of effort and single action, maybe 2.5 pounds. I tested both my pistol and the sample that www.airgunsofarizona.com sent me and got similar results with both.
So why doesn’t the S&W feel heavier to shoot? My theory is that the ergonomics of the grip and the trigger work together especially well (at least for my hands), particularly when shooting with a two-handed weaver grip.
The factory says that the Smith will deliver up to 426 fps, and I believe it. At 10 feet, I found that it would punch through a soup can most of the time, and, if you loaded the magazine with ultralight non-lead pellets, it would blow through one side of the can all the time and very often punch an exit hole through the other side. Of course, like other 12-gram CO2 powered air pistols, if you shoot very fast, the velocity and the penetration force will drop. Nevertheless, I think that the Smith packs enough wallop that it could be used for control of small pests (for example, a rat trapped in a garage) at short range.
In the end, I like the S&W 6-inch revolver a whole lot and can recommend it for pistol shooting fun.
Til next time, aim true and shoot straight.
– Jock Elliott