Dan Wesson 2-1/2 inch Snub Nose

Dan Wesson 2-1/2 inch Snub Nose Revolver Part 1

Airing out the smallest of the DW CO2 Models

By Dennis Adler

Using the same frame and grip frame as the 6-inch and 8-inch barrel length models, the 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson does not have the shrouded barrel or vent rib, just like the original Model 715 pistols. It does bear the Dan Wesson signature on the barrel.

Using the same frame and grip frame as the 6-inch and 8-inch barrel length models, the 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson does not have the shrouded barrel or vent rib, just like the original Model 715 pistols. It does bear the Dan Wesson signature on the barrel.

Although more than 200 years have passed since the first handgun was designed for concealment, the idea has always remained the same: place the greatest possible firepower in the smallest possible size—something fit to be hidden in a trouser pocket, vest, coat, or discretely carried in a belt holster. For cartridge firing revolvers, the first significant pocket gun was the six-shot S&W Model No. 2, chambered in .32 rimfire. The Model No. 2 brought into reality the idea of a small revolver in a modest but effective caliber, a six-shot capacity and relative ease of loading and reloading. And if that sounds like many of today’s concealed carry guns, it is no coincidence. Snub Nose revolvers were the gun of choice for police detectives for more than 50 years, and many still carry them as back up guns. Small, easy to handle revolvers have earned their place in history for more than a century, and Dan Wesson owns a piece of that history, too.

Available in both BB and pellet models, the pellet model uses cartridges with threaded bullets that are removed to insert the pellet inside the cartridge. The Dan Wesson is the only snub nose pellet revolver on the market. It comes with six rounds and a speed loader.

Available in both BB and pellet models, the pellet model uses cartridges with threaded bullets that are removed to insert the pellet inside the cartridge. The Dan Wesson is the only snub nose pellet revolver on the market. It comes with six rounds and a speed loader.

A little “snubby” history

The first cartridge firing snub nose revolvers were Colts. In 1882 the Hartford, Connecticut, armsmaker introduced the 2-1/2 inch barrel length Peacemaker. It was followed by other short barrel Single Actions with 3 and 3-1/2 inch barrels and in 1877 by the first double action/single action snub nose, the Colt .38 caliber Lightning. In the 20th century Colt’s introduced a new 2-inch barrel length Police Positive Special in 1926. This year would have marked the 90th anniversary of the gun destined to become the Detective Special in 1928. The .38 caliber Detective Special remained in production for 68 years, from the classic pre-war issue 1927 model to slightly modified post WWII second, third and fourth issues beginning in 1947. The Detective Special was discontinued in 1995 but remains an iconic symbol of the Colt double action revolver, and while small in size, it chambered six rounds, instead of the usual five, making it one of the true all time best concealed carry handguns. There were other famous snub nose models as well, including the Colt Diamondback .38 Special with the 2-1/2 inch barrel, and the S&W Chief’s Special (Model 36). To remake any of those guns today as a CO2 model would be challenging to say the least, but there was one other that not only fits the bill, it fits a CO2 mechanism, the Dan Wesson Model 715 with 2-1/2 inch barrel!

Unlike the original (and current) Dan Wesson design, the ASG model uses an S&W-style cylinder latch release mounted on the frame.

Unlike the original (and current) Dan Wesson design, the ASG model uses an S&W-style cylinder latch release mounted on the frame.

Dan Wesson was established in 1968 by the great-grandson of S&W co-founder Daniel B. Wesson. D.B. Wesson II was raised in his family’s business and worked for S&W from 1928 until 1963 when ownership of the company changed hands. Five years later he started his own company. The Dan Wesson revolver introduced an innovative concept invented by arms designer Karl Lewis, interchangeable barrels.

The Dan Wesson line was only modestly successful, and when D.B. Wesson II passed away in 1978 the company began a continuing decline into multiple bankruptcies, until it was finally saved in the late 1990s. It thrives today as part of CZ-USA, which purchased the company in 2005 and maintains a Dan Wesson division.

The metal pellet shells are stamped DAN WESSON around the rims. The frame-mounted cylinder release lever also functions as a manual safety by pulling it to the rear.

The metal pellet shells are stamped DAN WESSON around the rims. The frame-mounted cylinder release lever also functions as a manual safety by pulling it to the rear.

The Dan Wesson design has always marched to the beat of a different drummer than its famous S&W forbearer, most notably by the design of the cylinder latch, which was mounted on the cylinder crane, rather than on the frame behind the cylinder. The design was to give the gun greater strength, which it did. The design is still used today in the latest Model 715 revolvers.

The CO2 powered Dan Wesson Model 715 with 2-1/2 inch barrel does not use that cylinder latch design but rather the contemporary S&W latch on the frame. (There is also a 6-inch barrel length Dan Wesson Model 715 with the correct cylinder latch mechanism, which will be reviewed later this month).

The pistol has a fully adjustable rear sight with click stops for elevation and windage.

The pistol has a fully adjustable rear sight with click stops for elevation and windage.

Being a “fan” of snub nose revolvers both of the Old West and mid 20th century variety, this pellet cartridge loading version of the 2-1/2 inch barrel Dan Wesson Model 715 is as close as you can get, at present, to a 2-1/2 inch Colt Python or Diamondback, and it is a legitimate Dan Wesson-licensed revolver with the Dan Wesson signature on the barrel.

In Part 2, we’ll run the CO2 model and see what this 2-1/2 inch wheelgun can deliver.

13 thoughts on “Dan Wesson 2-1/2 inch Snub Nose

  1. I shoot revolvers more than semiautos ,and carry them more often as well. For personal protection will usually carry a D frame Colt, an Agent or Detective Special. This represents to me, the best compromise of size ,weight and power. A properly loaded 38 lhp will get the job done . If you are familiar with the snub nose ,and practice it will do what it was designed to do, and with the better ammunition available today it is more than a pocket pistol. The next step up is the K frame 2 1/2 incher 357 or for me a 65 3 inch barrel, or my favorite , the under appreciated Colt Lawman Mark 3 2 1/4 barrel 357. The Dan Wesson is a great understudy for the larger short barrel revolvers and a must have. I practice drawing and firing out of a Desantis number 2 Holster, one of my carry holsters. I use the Speed loaders designed for the Colt since they work with the Dan Wesson cartridges. I would love to see a replica airgun version of the Colt Detective Special, and the Smith model 19, but until then ,this is the go to revolver.



      • Can’t fix perfect. I carry the Colts in either a Bianchi 9r ,aka the Berns Martin, a Desantis number 2 speed scabbard, or a pocket holster, usually for a Colt Agent with hammer shroud ,post 72 style


  2. I have a Colt snub-nose .38 Bankers Special that was my grandfathers when he was a cop, and that I inherited and used as my off-duty/backup gun when I was a cop back in the early 80s. Still shoots great, though it uses .38 S&W ammo instead of standard .38 or .38 Special ammo, so ammo’s a bit harder to get (none of the local gun shops carry it). There are still some sources on the internet, fortunately, so I was able to get a couple of boxes for reserve.

    This little CO2 snub-nose is a nice looking little gun, gotta say.




  3. One thing that could be done to the Dan Wesson Snubbie, would be to offer smaller wood type grips. Some people like oversized wrap around rubber grips. I don’t. They make for a longer reach for da shooting and make the revolver about as concealable as a grapefruit. To see how much more shootable this revolver could be , completely pop off the rear part of the grip and you have almost a K frame S&W with a tyler t grip. Smaller grips would be a welcome option. I think that replica air gun manufacturers should start thinking about grip options instead of offering a one size fits all product. Replica shooters are a more discriminating bunch than kids buying air soft revolvers in Walmart. We are almost adults


    • I was hoping the 2-1/2 inch Dan Wesson would have smaller grips, but not yet anyway, still the same grips as the 6 and 8 inch guns. The original style Dan Wesson Model 715 that I will be testing later this month has smaller combat style grips, so I’ll make a point of mentioning the different feel in the hand.


      • The 715 is more user friendly ,the grips are better but still rubber and too big for my liking. The 715 is ,next to the Webley , the most accurate reproduction of an actual da revolver, except for the cylinder release . All told a nice revolver. Would like to see a snubbie and a 4 incher. How about interchangeable barrels as an option?


  4. I already had the Dan Wesson silver snubbie bb version so I picked up the Crosman matte finish SNR 357. It came with the same front loading loading bb shells but , with pellet shells identical to the Dan Wesson 715. Found out later that the Crosman is a smoothbore. Not sure why they would market it as a pellet revolver . The close range accuracy seems with the pellets akin to the bbs. Some tried this with the early Umarex Peacemakers. They used pellets in the bb shells and got about the same accuracy.


  5. In a real shocker, Colt is showing a new snub nose 38 revolver at the Shot Show and ad from Gun World is online. It is very similar to the Magnum Carry, in 38 plus p, steel frame, fiber optic front sight. I don’t like them but the revolver , named Colt Cobra, has Hogue grips. This would make it possible to come out with an airgun pellet understudy. A new dawn in firearms and airgun revolvers


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