Bear River Schofield 4.5mm Pellet Shells
Running on lead
By Dennis Adler
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!
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 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.
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.
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?
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).
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!
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.