Legends Ace in the Hole vs. Dan Wesson Model 715

Legends Ace in the Hole vs. Dan Wesson Model 715

Short barrel revolvers meet by chance

By Dennis Adler

Can a gun that never existed in the 19th century, be compared to a gun that didn’t exist until the 20th century? It is a curious question that you can only ask in the world of CO2 handguns.

Built for Sylvester Stalone’s character in The Expendables the gun at top is a heavily modified 3-1/2 inch barrel length Colt SAA with a ported barrel and unusual hammer made for fanning the gun. The ported barrel is used to reduce muzzle lift by letting gasses escape allowing the upward force of the gasses to help push the muzzle down. Ported barrels, also known as Mag-na-port (the company that invented barrel porting), are used today for competition guns, as well as general firearms, rifles and even shotguns.

The Umarex Legends Ace in the Hole is the gun that never existed as a real gun in the 1870s, at least not in the entire configuration of the .45 Colt that was made up for The Expendables movie, upon which the Ace is copied, but there were snub nose Peacemakers in the past, even ones with shaved hammers and no front sight. But, there were no ported barrels and no fanning hammers back then. The Ace in the Hole falls into a hole that makes it unique, but not authentic to actual Colt designs. But given that at least three such Colt Peacemakers of The Expendables design now exist (with custom movie guns, rarely is a single gun built, usually at least three are made so there are backups in the event a gun is damaged during a scene).  read more

Dan Wesson Valor

Dan Wesson Valor

A 1911-style pellet slinger Part 2

By Dennis Adler

There are currently only three ways to fire pellets from a semi-auto style air pistol. The first was using an 8-shot rotary magazine, as originated by Walther and Umarex over 20 years ago with the first CP-88, a non-blowback action semi-auto introduced in 1996. It was, and remains, one of the most authentic looking CO2 air pistols on the market. It was followed by the equally authentic looking Beretta 92 FS pellet-firing model in 2000. Both are still manufactured today along with a Colt Model 1911 version, and they have yet to be surpassed. They are however, non-blowback action by virtue of the firing mechanism. read more

Dan Wesson Valor

Dan Wesson Valor

A 1911-style pellet slinger Part 1

By Dennis Adler

One expects several things from a CO2 powered 1911, first is a self contained CO2 BB magazine, the other is fully operational controls, and last, but not least, blowback action. That’s just the basic requirements. This does not apply to the Dan Wesson Valor, because it is not a BB pistol, it is a pellet pistol. This is a non-blowback action air pistol, and unfortunately, has an inert grip safety and a dead hammer. By that I mean it does not cock because the Valor is a DAO, yes, a double action only design with a long-pull trigger blade. Don’t throw up your hands just yet…there’s more. read more

Free Wheeling

Free Wheeling

Why Revolvers still thrive in the 21st century

By Dennis Adler

Longevity and technology are strange bedfellows, most often in opposition of one another because technology seeks better ways to accomplish tasks which in turn leads to obsolescence. The internal combustion motor, for example, improved factory manufacturing long before it was used to power a horseless carriage in 1886 (Carl Benz Patent Motorwagen) and that in itself offers an interesting perspective on revolvers. Six-shooters belong in the 1800s when they were the most advanced handgun design in the world. Thanks to Samuel Colt, after 1835 revolvers flourished as a design, stumbling a little at first (Colt’s first venture building revolvers in Paterson, NJ when broke in 1842) but through Colt’s ingenuity and better technology, oh there’s that word gain, Colt’s revolver designs from 1848 on never looked back. Colt’s began building single action cartridge loading revolvers in 1871-72 and the Peacemaker in 1873. Even when early semiautomatic pistols were being developed in the 1890s, revolvers were regarded as the best sidearm of choice by military, law enforcement, and civilians alike. However challenged by newer and better semi-auto designs following the turn of the century, even with designs by the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Mfg. Co. and John M. Browning for semi-auto pistols, revolvers remained the choice by a resounding majority of law enforcement, U.S. government agencies (like the F.B.I.) and civilians. Even when the 1911 became accepted by some law enforcement agencies, like the Texas Rangers in the 1920s, they often carried a revolver as well. The legendary Frank Hamer did. When semi-autos reached their highest level of use by law enforcement, government, and civilians, from the mid 1980s to the turn of the century (and thereafter), revolvers did not decline in manufacturing (with the exception of Colt’s DA/SA models and they are making a comeback). In fact, manufacturers like Smith & Wesson and Taurus increased the number of DA/SA models and dove headlong into the 2000s with new designs, new manufacturing technology, like Titanium cylinders and aluminum frames. Models from Taurus and Ruger began combining alloy and polymers for lighter, more durable revolvers and in a wider variety of calibers, including those used in semi-auto pistols. The revolver wasn’t going away. Why? read more

What makes a winner?

What makes a winner?

Last year’s Top 10 Selling air pistols

By Dennis Adler

Umarex and Glock walked away with 2019’s largest number of sales and guns from Pyramyd Air, with the Third Gen Glock 17 CO2 model (right) taking the number 1 spot in sales, the non-blowback Model 19 (back) taking the number 2 position, and the new Gen4 model placing 7th out of the Top 10 for the year’s sales leaders.

For what it’s worth, I picked and reviewed six of the Top 10 selling air pistols for 2019, and of the six I had written up over the last couple of years (yes, they were not all 2019 models), my top guns reviewed in Airgun Experience were in the first three places as well as 5th, 6th and 7th place as the most purchased air pistols of 2019. What is interesting, and perhaps a bit telling, is that they are all based on semi-auto pistols. I wasn’t so much surprised by that, as I was with the number 1 selling air pistol of the year for Pyramyd Air, the Umarex Glock 17 Third Gen. I would have expected the newer Gen4 to be the best seller, then the Third Gen or the G19X, which didn’t even make the list as a best seller! Instead, the first Umarex Glock Model, the G19 non-blowback slipped into the number 2 position ahead of the Sig Sauer M17, Beretta 92A1, and Sig Sauer P365, which came in an impressive 6th place for sales over the 7th place Umarex Glock 17 Gen4!

The first Umarex Glock model laid the groundwork for the three blowback action pistols that would follow in 2018 and 2019. Glock and Umarex went with an entry-level, non-blowback action model at a retail price point that placed the new CO2 pistol on big box store sales racks as well as at the forefront of internet retailers like Pyramyd Air. The exemplary fit and finish and details of the G19 set the standards for the blowback action models that would follow.

There is an interesting parallel here, which also plays out exactly in the centerfire handgun market with Glock and Sig Sauer being among the top selling handguns globally, and in the U.S. with civilian, law enforcement and military (in other words just about everyone). The Micro Compact 9mm Sig Sauer P365 is a double Gun of the Year award winner for 2018 and 2019, the Sig M17 is the new U.S. military sidearm, while Glock pistols still have a solid role in the U.S. military and law enforcement. Comparatively, Sig and Glock air pistols hold five of the top seven sales positions for 2019. The 8th, 9th, and 10th places are held, respectively, by the Crosman 2240, Crosman Vigilante CO2 revolver, and the old-style ASG Dan Wesson revolver with 6-inch barrel. That last one surprised the heck out of me, too. I would have bet on the correctly designed 2-1/2 inch pellet cartridge ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 to be among the year’s Top 10 sellers. But, sales figures are the real bottom line.

Another older CO2 model that certainly surprised me by being in the Top 10, albeit number 10, is the old-style ASG Dan Wesson. It was an impressive gun when it came out in 2016 as both a pellet loading cartridge model with rifled barrel and a BB cartridge loading version with smoothbore barrel. Nicely done but not authentic to the Dan Wesson design, it has been up against its own stiff competition from the newer ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 pistols with 6-inch and 2-1/2 inch barrels, which are dead ringers for the centerfire revolvers. This is also the most expensive of the Top 10 guns at a discounted price of $139.95.

What we have learned from 2019’s best selling air pistols is that improved design features like interchangeable backstrap panels and field stripping capability (in other words the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4), did not win out over the much higher velocities of the top two Umarex Glock models. Here’s something else, the only semi-auto pellet pistol to make the Top 10 was 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year, the Sig Sauer M17. If you’re counting, Sig Sauer holds only two spots on the list (whither thou WE THE PEOPLE, or any 1911 design for that matter?) while Glock holds three.

The second Glock model was the full size G17, introduced as a Third Gen design (while Glock already had the Gen4 and Gen5 models in production as centerfire pistols), making the first blowback action Glock air pistol released in the U.S. an unusual choice. Nevertheless, the airgun’s design allowed it to achieve an impressive average velocity of over 350 fps and accuracy out to 10 meters and beyond for training use. Selling for around $100 it became a hit despite the older Glock design and not being able to fieldstrip the pistol. (It also became the internal platform for the 2019 Umarex Glock 19X).
One of the most physically impressive CO2 models ever built, the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4 hit the U.S. market with all the right stuff, correct Gen4 features, interchangeable backstraps, and full field stripping capability, but sacrificed the Third Gen’s impressive velocity to do it. Shooting at an average of 317 fps was the gun’s only disappointing feature. Going on sale in the summer of 2019 gave the gun less than six months to compete against the earlier Glock CO2 models that had been out over a year. Still, the Gen4 earned 7th place in sales against guns that had all been on sale for a longer period.

The most noteworthy absence for 2019 is any single action CO2 revolver from the Top 10. Umarex, which, for reasons unknown, has let the Peacemaker stall after an impressive start with 5-1/2 and 7-1/2 inch models in BB and pellet versions; Bear River, under new ownership, is waiting in the wings with new models, and the (Crosman) Remington Model 1875, well, it just failed to challenge the Colt and Schofield (history repeats itself).

In 2020, my hope is for some new Schofields via Bear River, and for Umarex to awake from its Glock euphoria (though with the forthcoming M1A1 “Tommy gun” probably not), and remember how important the Peacemaker is to American firearms history.

Speaking of guns that had been on sale longer, in this instance, much longer, the Umarex Beretta 92A1 has been selling strong since 2016 and managed to hold on to the 5th place in 2019 sales. The newer M9A3, which has proven to be a better gun, wasn’t on sale until spring 2019 and didn’t sell enough guns to earn a spot in 2019’s Top 10 sellers.

There are two other interesting lessons to be learned from 2019’s Top 10. First, is that price matters more than we (hardcore airgun enthusiasts) realize because the number 2 gun of the year, the Glock 19, was also the least expensive CO2 pistol (at $69.95 discounted), and the easiest to handle, because aside from loading CO2 in the grip frame and BBs in the stick magazine, the only other thing on the gun that moves is the trigger (and its crossbolt safety). It hit the market with ease of use, striking authenticity in its attention to details, even if they didn’t have to work, and a quality of fit and finish that excels over any other entry-level BB pistol on the market. It was also the very first ever Glock licensed air pistol, so even as inexpensive as it is, it has a certain panache as the “first” to ever bear the Glock name. Were it not for the blowback action G17 Third Gen’s success, it would have been the best selling air pistol of 2019! One can live with loosing to one’s self.

Sig Sauer grabbed the 3rd place for sales in 2019 with 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year winner, the M17. The solitary blowback action pellet pistol to end up in the Top 10, the Sig remains the only model with a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine, but that may change soon when Umarex introduces its first blowback action pellet models with self-contained CO2 pellet magazines. As they say, fame is fleeting.

The second thing that 2019’s sales figures tell us is that innovation has appeal, not just features like interchangeable backstrap panels and being able to fieldstrip the gun type innovations, but innovation through technology; the Sig Sauer M17 being the first blowback action CO2 pistol with a self-contained CO2 pellet magazine, and the Sig Sauer P365 being the smallest blowback action air pistol ever to have a self-contained 12 gram CO2 BB magazine, as prime examples.

The new Sig Sauer P365, which only came out this past summer, managed to come in right behind the old Beretta 92A1 in 6th place with only six months on sale. The P365 actually blew past the M9A3, which was out at least three months before the new Sig! A 1:1 gun for training with the popular 9mm P365, the CO2 pistol fell short of velocity expectations, but has still managed to attract a lot of sales.

The two oldest designs that made the Top 10 epitomize popular longevity, the Crosman 2240, which has been around since 1999, and the very inexpensive ($30) Beeman P17, which copies the original German-made P3 design ($230) introduced in 1999 (and still in production), and brings it down to a very affordable entry-level price with the famous Beeman name.

Entry level airguns may not be the big topic for Airgun Experience readers, but every airgun enthusiast needs to get experience. The popularity of low-price leaders, like those among 2019’s Top 10 sales list, means that more people are discovering the world of airguns.

Decades of change

Decades of change

What lies behind could be in the future

By Dennis Adler

I had a chance to test the Umarex Colt Commander at the Umarex factory in Germany six months before it was introduced to the U.S. market in 2014, leading a revolution in blowback action air pistols that changed the very face of the CO2 air pistol market in five years.

Here we are at the beginning of a new decade, a very special one to me. When I was young I had remarkable expectations for the far, far distant 21st century and the year 2020, which had seemed to me, would be something momentous, it was so far away in the future. When I was 20, I saw Arthur C. Clarke and Stanly Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey with wide-eyed optimism for a world that was still more than 50 years away from the mesmerizing images on the screen. As far off as 2001 seemed at the time, I believed Arthur C. Clarke’s vision of the future, at least from a standpoint of technology. I shared his vision of incredible possibilities; it was not implausible, we could do this, and a year later Neil Armstrong walked on the moon; it was a beginning, and that was 51 years ago this coming July 20. We have not reached Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions of the 21st century, but in spite of the difficulties, setbacks and politics, we are treading on the periphery of that future, stalled perhaps, by a world that is far different than Clarke envisioned so many decades ago. How does this relate to air pistols?

A little over 50 years ago, the air pistols we have today were just as implausible as Clarke’s space station and spacecraft, and honestly, compared to Gene Roddenberry’s vision of the far distant future in Star Trek, Clarke’s reality wasn’t science fiction so much as was yet un-obtained science fact, and that future is no longer so distant.

Variations of the Umarex Colt Commander design were used over the next five years by Swiss Arms, Air Venturi, Tanfoglio, and most notably by Sig Sauer, which built matching CO2 and .45 ACP models of the Sig Sauer 1911 WE THE PEOPLE model making the Colt Model 1911 still the most revered pistol in any caliber.

In 2001 when I wrote the First Edition Blue Book of Airguns (see, there is an analogy after all), back then we were treading on the periphery of the future of air pistols. I had used two words to describe the new models appearing in this first edition, “Authenticity” and “Performance” and everyone from Anschutz and Beretta to Daisy and Walther had something new for the dawning 21st century. At the top of my list in that book were Umarex models built in cooperation with Beretta and Walther, the 92FS and CP99 pellet pistols, which exuded authenticity and performance for the time, since blowback action models were all but non-existent, except for the then impressive (in concept) Walther PPK/S, an anemic but fun little pistol to shoot, because of the moving slide and some tangible sensation of recoil like a real handgun. But the important guns of that new decade were not blowback actions, they were the Beretta and Walther pellet models, and no other proof need be offered today, than that these guns are still being manufactured 20 years later.

A perspective on two decades of design, an Umarex Beretta 92FS pellet model, one of the earliest and most expensive of Umarex pellet models (and still being manufactured after 20 years) and the 2018 Sig Sauer P320 M17 blowback action pellet-firing model with self-contained CO2 pellet magazine. The groundbreaking Sig design won 2018’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year.

By 2010 (coincidentally, the year of Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey Two) the world of air pistols was advancing faster than Star Trek sequels and the very world of air pistols was about to change as new blowback action designs were being developed. I was fortunate to test the first of this new era of authentic blowback action pistols in Germany the summer before the Umarex Colt Commander was introduced. In 2014, the Combat Commander was the most realistic, mainstream brand name CO2 air pistol on the market (and it had coincided with .22 LR versions also manufactured for Colt by Umarex) putting the venerable Model 1911 center stage in two markets, entry-level .22 LR pistols and blowback action CO2 pistols. It was the CO2 pistols, however, that would capture an emerging audience of airgun enthusiasts who had grown up in the era of the 1911’s emergence as the most famous semi-auto pistol of an entire generation – postwar Baby boomers. I would have to say that a majority of Airgun Experience readers fall into that category of kids who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, and by the time the Umarex Colt Commander had been introduced, were well-familiarized with the real thing, either through first hand experience, or through the voyeuristic experiences of television and film. Air pistols built to duplicate their centerfire counterparts would become the touchstones to our youth, whether we had handled the real guns or not. And that is where the past decade of air pistol design and technology has finally taken us; back to our own futures.

In a handful of years over the past decade we saw the development and introduction of such impressive CO2 models as the Umarex Mauser Model 712 select-fire Broomhandle, the remarkably authentic ASG CZ75 SP-01 Shadow (and modified Shadow Blue shown) the Sig WTP and various models of the Colt Peacemaker built by Umarex. Deluxe models like the hand engraved 7-1/2 inch version were a very limited edition aimed at airgun collectors.

The technology confined in the brief period between 2014 (actually 2012 and 2013 in Europe) to 2020 has eclipsed almost all the designs from the previous 50 years. The latest technology for modern air pistol design, particularly as pioneered by Sig Sauer, Umarex, and most recently Air Venturi’s partnership with Springfield Armory, is still breaking new ground as we head into the second decade of the 21st century.

The modern manufacturing of Umarex not only brought us new contemporary models, but impressively built pre- and WWII German handguns, including WWII models with aged finishes, like the Luger P.08 and M712 Broomhandle. The WWII Mauser was a limited edition.

Interestingly, over that same short span of time, this technology has also taken us back in time, through the efforts of Umarex and its deeply rooted history in Germany. The stars of that back story are pre-WWII and WWII-era blowback action models like the 1932 Model 712 Broomhandle Mauser, Luger P.08 and MP40 submachine gun, each a groundbreaking design for CO2 powered airguns. Conversely, pushing the limitations of modern handgun design, as it translates to air pistols, we have seen the evolution of impressively authentic models like the Glock 17 Gen4 and Springfield Armory XDM series. Their success as air pistols, however, is based in the realization that late 20th and early 21st century technology, as applied to cartridge-firing handguns, also moved into the future with the use of plastics (polymers) for frames and other parts. Once, air pistols that used plastics were regarded as mere toys. Today plastics are being used to duplicate centerfire pistols that are themselves made with polymer frames! The only person I can think of from my youth, who would not have found this a strange turn of events, would have been Gene Roddenberry.

This past year was another groundbreaking one for 1:1 authenticity with the Umarex Glock 17 Gen4, a CO2 pistol built to an almost uncompromising standard to match the 9mm model.
Stealing the Glock’s thunder for 2019, the Air Venturi Springfield Armory XDM 3.8 became the most authentic blowback action air pistol ever made and Replica Air Pistol of the Year, raising the bar even higher for any new blowback action models to come in 2020.

And boldly going  

Of all the new models that were introduced in 2019, there is one that stands out in my mind as the air pistol that achieved the most technological breakthrough, and though it did not win 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year title, it opened a door to what is possible when every accepted norm of design limitation is upended and reinvented, when the bottom line is a line that can be crossed, allowing designers to work with a clean sheet of paper. We have seen it in the recent past with the M712 Broomhandle (still a unique design that is unmatched), and we see today with the Micro Compact Sig Sauer P365. What remains now, is to remember where we were 10 years ago, and where designs like the P365 can take us in the new decade. It’s a lot to think about on the subject of air pistols, in a world that is as unpredictable as ours.

Oh, and lest we forget what significant improvements were made in double action revolvers over the last decade. Certainly the best of the best was the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 snub nose revolver with rifled barrel and pellet loading cartridges.
Innovation and authenticity can take more than one form. The gun that broke the rules by becoming the first Micro Compact to be built as a 1:1 blowback action CO2 pistol with a self-contained CO2 BB magazine came from Sig Sauer’s remarkable Sig Air division. For the 2020s, this one lays the groundwork for smaller air pistols with full operating features and self-conation CO2 BB magazines.
In terms of size, a pistol as small as the CO2 version of the 9mm Sig P365 was not possible until Sig Air designers figured out how to make a self-contained 12 gr. CO2 BB magazine and pistol firing system smaller than ever before. It may not have ended up being the Replica Air Pistol of the Year, but for technology, it is the air pistol of the decade.

If there is a message in my ramblings, it is that we, as air pistol and airgun (air rifle) enthusiasts and collectors, are the benefactors of technology that has not only given us a second chance at our past with CO2 air pistols and rifles that were simply unimaginable in our youth, but a present that is unrivaled in the history of airgun design with true 1:1 models for serious handgun training and the leisure of sports shooting. The subtext may appear to some to be on the wrong side of history at the moment, but history is what we make it.

Dan Wesson Model 715 2-1/2 inch Part 4

Dan Wesson Model 715 2-1/2 inch Part 4

BBs vs. Pellets – Pushing the limit

By Dennis Adler

It would be rare, darn near impossible, in fact, for the BB model to outshoot the pellet model Dan Wesson snub nose. But we’re going to find out in this last part of the DW 2-1/2 inch series.

The first time I shot BBs vs. pellets was in the second and third Airgun Experience articles back in 2016, where I was comparing the Sig Sauer licensed P226 S X-Five blowback action BB model against the then new Sig Sauer P226 ASP pellet model. I shot the guns outdoors in winter at 21 feet and the pellet model delivered its 16 rounds of lead wadcutters (8+8 stick magazine) at 1.75 inches total spread. The P226 S delivered its 18 steel BBs into 2.5 inches total spread. Pellets beat BBs. By the time I had several P226 S X-Five articles under my belt, I had fine tuned the handling and shooting of the blowback action BB model to consistent sub 1-inch groups at 21 feet; 0.875 inches and 0.562 inches in an IPSC target’s A-Zone during comparison tests with the top blowback action CO2 models in Airgun Experience number 105, in February 2017. The 0.875 inch groups I shot with the 2-1/2 inch ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 BB model this week, is within the same capability (though not same level of consistency) as blowback action CO2 BB models like the Sig Sauer P226 S X-Five. But throughout the series of articles I have done over the years with BBs vs. pellets, the lead (and alloy) wadcutters have consistently shot tighter groups at the same distances when compared to CO2 blowback action BB pistols.

The pellet model is the same as the BB version, so any thoughts of revolver training with an air pistol are good with either Dan Wesson model. The advantage to the pellet version (shown) is that it will give you tighter groups at the two basic training distances of 7 and 10 yards. These are distances used for law enforcement training as well, along with extended ranges of 15 and 25 yards for pistols. For a snub nose revolver, practical shooting distance is not much beyond 10 yards, though there are some expert shooters who can center punch targets with a 2-1/2 inch barrel revolver from 25 yards.

Comparing the two ASG Dan Wesson models is, however, a much more 1:1 test than I usually get to do. Generally, I only compare “similar” guns (like the Beretta 92 FS pellet model vs. the Beretta 91 A1 BB model), but this time it is the same gun in two different calibers. I only got to do this before with 5-1/2 inch Umarex Peacemakers, so the ASG tests are the most detailed thus far for head-to-head BBs vs. pellets comparisons. There one exception, when I shot pellet cartridges in the Bear River Schofield to see it improved accuracy.

The Dan Wesson pellet model is about as good as a CO2 pistol with a short barrel can be. Everything you need to learn about handling a centerfire revolver can be taught with this pellet model except for learning how to manage heavy recoil. You can’t learn that with an air pistol or blanks like they use in TV and movies. That’s why most of the time you never see handgun or rifle recoil. Blanks don’t kick much. I use them all the time for Guns of the Old West; they look good on film or in stills, but the recoil is not realistic.

2-1/2 inches of rifling

With some of the longer barreled airguns where I have compared smoothbore and rifled barrels, the differences have not been that great at 21 feet. The rifled barrel 7-1/2 inch Umarex Peacemaker vs. the smoothbore Bear River Schofield, for example. To that end, the last comparison in this article will be shooting the rifled barreled DW’s pellet cartridges through the smoothbore DW to see how well wadcutters do in the BB model.

Like the Schofield and Remington Model 1875 BB and pellet cartridges, as well as the Umarex Legends Cowboy Lever Action, there is no difference in BB and pellet cartridge dimensions, so loading pellet cartridges into the smoothbores is not a problem. We’ll see how this plays out with the snub nose Dan Wesson BB model.

The 1:1 shooting test began by giving the pellet model a run at the 21 foot range, which is almost unfair to the BB version. Six shots in a dime-sized group fired single action.

For serious target work when a pellet model is available you will most often find that it will be superior, but that isn’t a 100 percent certainty, even being one of the earliest and now, almost one of the most affordable blowback action air pistols, the Tanfoglio Gold Custom still remains the champion of 21 foot marksmanship with BBs, so newer isn’t always going to be better, but in this comparison of equals, it is time to be reminded of what a rifled barrel Dan Wesson Model 715 can do at 21 feet.

For this evaluation I am sticking with my own gold standard, RWS Meisterkugeln 7.0 gr. lead wadcutters and shooting at a 10 meter pistol target from 21 feet out. All shots are fired single action, using the same stance and hold as before. At 7 yards the 2-1/2 inch pellet model put six rounds into 0.68 inches with five of six in the bullseye and 10 ring at 21 feet. Best group with BBs, 0.875 inches. Pellets win.

Move that 2-1/2 inch barrel back from 21 feet to 33 feet (10 meters) and the accuracy begins to suffer. Fired single action, off hand, my group was still under an inch but hitting high.

Stepping back to 10 meters the 2-1/2 inch barrel becomes a liability for accuracy (and the front sight covers the black center of the 10-meter target), still, six lead wadcutters make a spread with the snub nose barrel that measured 1.125 inches, but all hitting high. A ran another target and did a little worse with six at 1.5 inches but a trio overlapping. The remained three triangulated around the 8 and 9 rings. Overall, not great shooting, but at 10 meters with short barrel its not bad, though certainly no match for the snub nose pellet model at 21 feet. Honestly, I would be hard pressed to shoot a 1.5 inch group at 10 meters with a centerfire snub nose Dan Wesson .357 Magnum, so probably this is not as bad as all that for the pellet gun.

In the “quit while you’re ahead” category, I went back to make POA adjustments at 10 meters and while I got shots closer to center and three overlapping (at left), my total spread increased to just over an inch. 

Try this, someone asked

So, what happens at 21 feet if you load those Meisterkugeln wadcutter shells in the smoothbore Dan Wesson? Will it shoot more accurately than with the BB shells? You’re certainly not going to hurt the barrel with lead, so let’s find out.

So the question was asked, “What if you use the pellet cartridges in the BB model?” They work just fine, but are they more accurate at 21 feet in the smoothbore than a steel BB?
Why yes they are. So if you have the BB model and want to get some ASG pellet shells, go ahead. You’ll end up with a better shooting gun. If you are still on the fence about the 2-1/2 inch, go for the pellet model over the BB version because in the battle of BBs vs. pellets, pellets win again.

And the answer is yes; it will not only shoot pellet shells, at 21 feet the gun is more accurate than with BBs (if you discount my one flyer in the bullseye). I put five out of six wadcutters overlapping in the 10 ring at about 4 o’clock with a spread of 0.59 inches. Add in the bullseye up above, and my group opens up to 1.125 inches.

So, save $10 and buy the BB model and use the extra cash for pellet shells? That would work, but with both guns so closely priced, it is really a matter of whether you want to shoot BBs or pellets. Bottom line, in the challenge of BBs vs. pellets, pellets still win and the 2-1/2 inch ASG Dan Wesson is still the best DA/SA revolver to shoot them.

Next week get ready for the blowback action air pistol you have been waiting for with our first review of the Umarex Glock G17 Gen4! Competition for 2019’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year is getting tougher.

A word about safety

Blowback action semi-autos and realistic CO2 revolvers provide the look, feel and operation of their cartridge-firing counterparts and this is one reason why they have become so popular. Airguns in general all look like guns, blowback action models more so, and it is important to remember that the vast majority of people can’t tell an airgun from a cartridge gun. Never brandish an airgun in public. Always, and I can never stress this enough, always treat an airgun as you would a cartridge gun. The same manual of operation and safety should always apply.