Bear River Schofield 4.5mm Pellet Shells

Bear River Schofield 4.5mm Pellet Shells

Running on lead

Build a Custom Airgun

By Dennis Adler

The new 4.5mm pellet rounds come six to a package, so you’ll need at least three packs to fill out a cartridge belt. The Adams & Adams engraved Schofield models are shown with TrailRider Products holsters and cartridge belt.

The one thing that everyone has been waiting for from Bear River (aside from a model with a rifled barrel) is the long anticipated rear-loading pellet firing cartridges. This is one big step forward for the very popular Schofield CO2 model, which only needed fresh ammo to kick accuracy, velocity, and shooting enjoyment up a full notch. The new pellet-loading cartridges look like the pellet rounds for the Colt Peacemaker CO2 model, but they are specific to the Schofield’s cylinder design and, just like Colts and Schofields in the 1870s, are not interchangeable. Score a point for historic accuracy? I don’t know, score a point for Bear River for getting these new rounds into circulation!

The great difference between earlier range tests with the Bear River Schofield and this evaluation is the switch from the airgun’s original front loading BB cartridges to the new Bear River rear-loading 4.5mm pellet cartridges.

If it sounds like I have high expectations for what the pellet cartridges will do for the Schofield, you’re not mistaken. The engraved pair of Adams & Adams models was ready and waiting for the new shells and a trip to the range with chronometer and targets did not disappoint. Neither does the look of these special limited edition, hand engraved Schofield CO2 models. The engraving is based on an original S&W American attributed to legendary frontier scout and showman Texas Jack Omohundro, and the work is done by renowned American engravers Adams & Adams. Sold by Pyramyd Air as the Schofield Texas Jack, the hand engraved models are individually numbered on the triggerguard and limited to just 100 examples. The engraving is in the style of L.D. Nimschke and his famous New York engraving studio, which catered to the likes of Tiffany & Co. in the 1870s.

The new pellet rounds load the lead wadcutters into the rear of the shell where a primer would go on a regular cartridge. This puts them in direct line with the valve when the gun is fired putting all of the force immediately behind the pellet, as opposed to traveling down the length of the cartridge to fire a BB from the nose of the original-style Bear River cartridges.

The Nimschke design has been faithfully rendered on the Bear River Schofield models along with elements from another hand engraved S&W done for Theodore Roosevelt. Patterns from both guns have been combined to give the Schofield CO2 model a unique style of its own, with deep scrollwork and punch dot background on the side plates, scrollwork along both sides of the barrel, backstrap and the triggerguard. Handsome is the word for these pistols. And now with the addition of the pellet firing cartridges you can add another word, accurate.

Speed rated

Whether you shoot the standard nickel version or the Texas Jack model, the Schofield will deliver respectable velocity and decent accuracy with steel BBs. However, switching from steel BBs to 4.5mm lead wadcutter pellets makes this pistol shine more than its nickel plated finish. The ProChrono chronograph recorded averages of 419 to 429 fps for two consecutive 6-round tests, with a high of 446 fps and a low of 418 fps shooting RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters. To check the Schofield’s velocity with .177 caliber steel BBs I ran a duplicate test using Hornady Black Diamond black anodized steel BBs (using the front loading Schofield BB cartridges) and average velocity came in at 405 fps with steel vs. lead. The Schofield is a fairly high velocity CO2 pistol that is factory rated up to 445 fps. But it reaches peak performance with the new rear loading pellet rounds.

All the differences in accuracy and velocity for this airgun comes from changing to the rear-loading pellet cartridges, which are a solid cast brass shell, compared to the BB rounds with a molded rubber hollow point bullet to seat BBs.

Accuracy at 21 feet

The test gun is the same one used in Airgun Experience No. 115, and has a short, light hammer draw of 3 pounds, 13 ounces, and a light 3 pound, 5 ounce, average trigger pull. In that earlier test the Schofield delivered a best 12 shots at 2.25 inches, with two BBs just cutting the edge of the X ring on either side, and a best 6-shots measuring 1.25 inches. In another test I fired two 6-round groups and the best average for the Schofield was 12 shots measuring 2.28 inches center to center with a best 6-rounds inside 0.875 inches; the gun’s first sub 1-inch group. By now I have this gun pretty much dialed in, so how much better is it with lead wadcutters fired from rear-loading cartridges?

For the test I loaded 18 pellet cartridges and carried them in the TrailRider Products cartridge belt which has .38 caliber loops that perfectly hold the pellet cartridges. I swung the belt around so the buckle was in the back and I had quick access to my rounds for faster reloading. With this holster setup I can pull the cross draw gun with my right hand or draw the strong side gun. I’m also able to twist draw the left gun (Wild Bill Hickok style) when pulling both revolvers.
A fast reload from the cartridge belt can be achieved by twisting it around your waist so the bullet loops are in the front and the buckle at the small of your back.
No Old West revolver loads and unloads faster than an S&W American or Schofield with its topbreak action. Note the pellet cartridges with the pellets seated at the back of the shell.

Getting the lead out

Dressed for the occasion, I ran the Meisterkugeln wadcutters through the Schofield Texas Jack using a two handed hold (not necessarily the “cowboy way” pictured but more accurate for the occasion of the first test of lead pellets).

While a standup western gun test should be fired single handed (as shown) to gain greater accuracy for the review I shot the actual test using a modern two-handed hold. Did cowboys ever shoot that way? I can’t believe some didn’t when better accuracy was required. A two-handed hold isn’t an invention, its common sense and it is allowed in SASS competition.

My best 12 rounds grouped with an impressive 1.24 inch spread and a best 6-shots, all overlapping, at 0.685 inches. The Schofield with its new rear-loading pellet cartridges almost unseated the rifled barrel 7-1/2 inch Peacemaker as the most accurate pellet firing revolver at 21 feet. The Colt still holds the record with 6-shots at 0.5 inches, but the Schofield only lost by a mere 0.185 inches with its smoothbore barrel!

Best group ever from the Bear River Schofield tested from 21 feet. Using the new 4.5mm rear-loading pellet cartriges, a total of 12 rounds hit the Shoot-N-C target at just over an inch spread with a best 6-shots at 0.685 inches.

So, how badly does this gun need a rifled barrel? We’ll see when the Schofield and Colt square off next time at 10 meters.

Next week we test the long awaited Sig Sauer P320 pellet-firing blowback action semi-auto.

21 thoughts on “Bear River Schofield 4.5mm Pellet Shells”

  1. Now that’s a barbecue gun! How they could build such a sophisticated gun with 19th century technology is utterly astounding. The Bear River Schofield is definitely a doozy. I’ve been waiting to use that phrase since I learned its origin, thanks again Dennis. And is the rear sight also the cylinder latch.

  2. Vindicated! The Schofield makes a horse race of it. I just ordered 24 cartridges to try in the Schofields and the Webley. I would suggest that Pyramid offers these cartridges in bulk packs of at least 18-24. Just curious if you found more leading in the smooth barrel after shooting pellet. That had been my experience with the da Crosman smoothbore revolver.

    • With steel BBs cleanup is minimal. With lead pellets there is a fair amount of lead fouling in the Schofield’s smoothbore barrel. I put 156 rounds though the gun before cleaning and the first several passes with cleaning patches came back pretty heavy with lead. Ran the Umarex cleaning kit bore brush through it a few times, then more patches until it was clean. Took about 15 minutes and a dozen patches to clean up. A bit more fouling than with rifled barrels, but not significant. Lead pellets leave lead behind.

      • That has been my experience withlead pellets in smoothbore revolvers. Would be interesting to see what alloy pellets will do . Possibly more accuracy than bbs, loess than lead ,but no fouling

        • Good point. I didn’t try alloy pellets in the Schofield for one reason, they cost so much more than lead, and then there is the question of whether anyone would use them in a smoothbore pistol? After cleaning the Schofield, I would be more inclined to shoot alloy both for the increased velocity and faster cleanup. I’ll let you know next time I break out the smoothbore repeaters.

  3. WOW, been waiting for these. Thank you Bear River and Pyramyd Air for bringing these out. Waiting now for a test of the Webley MK 6 using these shells. If you get a satisfactory test, will save up my hard earned shekels for a Webley also. Dennis, I must compliment you for the extra work you do , and expense to dress up for the part and the excellent photography. Have fun!

  4. I wonder if lightly pre-lubing barrel and/or pellets with a non-petroleum super-slick product like Track Lube would reduce/eliminate leading? Or maybe a Moly product like Dri-Slide?

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