The BB Conundrum Part 1

The BB Conundrum Part 1 Part 2

Smart Shot, lead, steel and dust

By Dennis Adler

BB cartridge loading revolvers have it easy, semi-auto designs not so much when it comes to .177 caliber steel BB alternatives. There are plenty of options like Smart Shot (far left) copper plated lead BBs and traditional 4.5mm round lead pellets like Gamo Round. You have steel BBs like the Umarex Precision, which have proven to be among the best for blowback action pistols, even with rifled barrels, and then there is the innovative frangible Air Venturi Dust Devils (shown in a non-factory tin at far right). Dust Devils are designed for use on metal or hard surfaced targets and virtually disintegrate on impact to prevent ricochets, but they have another advantage.

Every so often we shoot ourselves in the foot (metaphorically speaking), and the ammunition of late seems to be Smart Shot. It is a great idea, a lead ball with a copper coating designed to minimize ricochets off hard surfaces, like reactive steel targets and pellet traps. Obviously no one should ever shoot a steel BB at a steel, metal or other hard surfaced target unless they’re willing to reap the ricochet whirlwind. Smart Shot was designed to make that less likely. For action shooting with an Umarex Colt Peacemaker or any BB cartridge firing revolver, Smart Shot is worth its weight in, well, copper and lead with reactive targets (more on this later in the year when the weather decides what season it is!) The question of late is how well it works in semi-auto designs with vertical magazines (stick magazines and self-contained CO2 BB magazines) and as I discovered it doesn’t have to be a blowback action pistol for Smart Shot to jam up the works. This has prompted me to look at other alternatives, especially when the air pistol is designed to shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets, as well as BBs through a rifled steel barrel. Steel BBs work perfectly in these guns according to the manufacturers but as I have said before, over time the hard steel rounds traveling down a rifled barrel will begin to erode the lands and grooves. How much time? I don’t know; I tend to like shooting pellets in pellet pistols and have never quite settled into the idea that some can shoot BBs, too. If I wanted to shoot BBs I’d have purchased a BB pistol. But for the sake of argument, let’s look at some of the options available for dual ammo firing rifled barreled pistols. read more


Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

The You Asked For It Gun Test Part 4 Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Down to the wire, the Umarex S&W Model 586 and Gamo PR-776 are nearly an equal match despite their significant price difference, but only one will turn in the best accuracy.

There are some surprises with these two CO2 pellet revolvers and not the ones you may be expecting! Right off the top there was a big difference in average velocity with the Umarex S&W Model 586 averaging 415 fps with 7.0 grain Meisterkugeln Professional Line lead wadcutters. With a fresh CO2 cartridge the highest velocity the S&W clocked was 429 fps. A second run through the ProChrono chronograph averaged 411 fps and standard deviation for 10 rounds was 13 fps. I expected the Gamo PR-776 to fall fairly close to the S&W but it averaged 430 fps with a high of 446 fps and a standard deviation of 10 fps. So for velocity with the 7.0 grain lead wadcutters the Gamo outperformed the Umarex by a small but consistent margin. But velocity does not in and of itself make one CO2 air pistol more accurate than the other. read more


Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

The You Asked For It Gun Test Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

Umarex and Smith & Wesson teamed up to build a very accurate pellet pistol with the Model 586. In the absence of an L Frame Model, I am showing the CO2 model with an N-Frame S&W Model 57 .41 Magnum. Overlooking the full length L Frame lug on the 586, notice how well the airgun duplicates the hammer, rear sights, cylinder thumb release, and triggerguard contours. But what is that little lever sticking out behind the trigger on the 586?

With a price differential of $175 you could purchase a pair of Gamo PR-776 pistols for what one Umarex S&W Model 586 costs, so why make this comparison? The answer is simply that the Gamo is a heck of a lot of air pistol for the money, especially when you stack it up against the much more expensive S&W branded wheelgun.

Facts on the ground

Thus far we know that the Gamo is made the same way (and very likely in the same factory) as the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8. That happens when you have airguns built in Taiwan, an international manufacturing hub for brand name air pistols and air rifles. Taiwan is followed by Japan and Germany for the majority of CO2 airgun manufacturing. Germany is where most top-of-the-line Umarex pellet firing CO2 airguns are manufactured, like the Beretta 92FS, Walther CP99 and S&W 586. Umarex also has guns produced in Japan and Taiwan, but when an air pistol wears Made in Germany on its frame, the price is more often going to be higher. And commensurately you expect better fit, finish, and quality for the money. The S&W Model 586 does not disappoint. read more


Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

The You Asked For It Gun Test Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

The Gamo PR-776 was introduced in 2016 and is a very close relative (in design and manufacturing) to the Umarex S&W licensed 327 TRR8 BB cartridge-loading CO2 model. The main difference, aside from the absence of accessory rails, is that the Gamo uses a swing out cylinder that loads an 8-shot rotary magazine, and thus it looks more like an actual centerfire revolver than the Umarex S&W 586.

The Gamo PR-776 is a relatively new entry into the pellet-firing revolver market, introduced in 2016 it is a variation of the Umarex S&W licensed Model 327 TRR8 (introduced in 2012), without the accessory rails and, ironically, with a correct 8-shot cylinder. The Umarex TRR8 is a 6-shot BB cartridge loading CO2 model, but the similarity of design and general operating features, right down to the double action, single action trigger and S&W Performance Center-inspired barrel contours, is straight out of the TRR8 mold. The best aspect of the Gamo then is that it offers a rifled steel barrel and is designed for 4.5mm pellets, rather than steel BBs. Out of the box, the PR-776 is a better air pistol than the TRR8, despite not using individual cartridges. And I have to add that, “right out of the box” is the big letdown because as nice as the PR-776 appears, it does not come in a box, but rather an un-reusable blister pack. read more


Gamo PR 776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

Gamo PR 776 vs. Umarex S&W 586

The “You Asked For It” Gun Test Part 1

By Dennis Adler

A big, hefty pellet-firing CO2 revolver, the S&W licensed Model 586 with 6-inch rifled steel barrel is a high-quality German crafted target pistol. The finish is a semi-matte black with white lettering.

And we’re back. During the week off I have been looking into availability for a number of very interesting new CO2 models coming out this year, but I have recently been reminded by a few readers that there are some older CO2 models that are still exceptional and that should be written about in Airgun Experience. While older models that have been around for almost 20 years, they can be compared, not only to newer guns, but to each other. One such pair is two pellet-firing revolvers based on classic Smith & Wesson wheelgun designs, the Umarex S&W 586 and newer Gamo (S&W-inspired) PR 776. Both are rotary magazine pellet revolvers capable of 400 fps velocities and superb accuracy out to 10 meters with their 6-inch rifled steel barrels. read more


Proofing a theory

Proofing a theory

Shooting .177 (4.5mm) Round Pellets through a rifled barrel pistol

By Dennis Adler

Smoothbore BB revolvers like the Bear River Schofield and Remington Model 1875 can fire BB-loading cartridges and also fire pellet-loading cartridges, and do so quite accurately as evidenced by these 21 foot shot playing cards ala John Wesley Hardin.

As we have proven in earlier articles, cartridge-loading smoothbore CO2 BB revolvers that have pellet cartridge-firing counterparts (or pellet-loading cartridges available), can also shoot 4.5mm lead or alloy pellets quite well; not as accurately as a rifled barrel model, but well enough to make it worthwhile with models like the Schofield and Remington. The cartridges are interchangeable, but you would not want to shoot a steel BB in a rifled barrel Colt Peacemaker; it’s a one-way street, unless you want to risk damaging the rifling with a steel BB. read more


Gamo PT-85 Tactical Part 2

Gamo PT-85 Tactical Part 2 Part 1

From all the bells and whistles down to just a whistle

By Dennis Adler

If you need more than this to hit your target better get a shotgun…The Gamo PT-85 Tactical comes with everything you need to do some serious target shooting. Shown with the bridge mount optics rail, multi dot scope, red laser and tactical light mounted. For left-handed shooters the laser can be mounted on the right side of the gun.

It’s time to deconstruct the PT-85 Tactical, an airgun that comes with a lot of extras for the money. To begin this final review of the PT-85 Tactical I am going to do three separate tests beginning with the total package; all the bells and whistles, optics, laser and light. In this fully outfitted configuration the PT-85 is a spymaster’s handful, so let’s begin there.

The Gamo PT-85 loads the CO2 inside the pistol grip by removing the backstrap panel. The seating screw is large and easy to use, folds and is completely covered by the base of the backstrap panel. Extra magazines come two to a pack.

The Tactical version comes with three sets of accessories, actually four if you count the removable bridge mount. The faux silencer is not removable for all intents and purposes since it exposes the internal barrel, which is a little too delicate (as in could get bent) to remove the protective shroud that fronts as a silencer. Taking the fully equipped gun into the filed it is ready to shoot since there is no holster combination possible that could hold all this. The first test is a run through of the basics, average trigger pull, weight and balance, and velocity. read more