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

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

BBs vs. Pellets

By Dennis Adler

It is without doubt the best looking and most authentic CO2 revolver made today, the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 with the 2-1/2 inch barrel. As a pellet-cartridge loading revolver it has proven very accurate, but ASG also offers the same model (right) as a BB cartridge-loading pistol. Is there a reason to pick one over the other? (Guns are shown with the Dan Wesson Firearms brand handgun carry bag.)

There is absolutely no better CO2 revolver than the ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 and specifically the 2-1/2 inch snub nose model. Or should I say “models.” The excellent true to original-style features of these CO2 wheelguns makes them both ideal for indoor and backyard target practice and plinking, as well as getting a feel for carrying a traditional six-shot revolver as a personal defense handgun. Revolvers are a time-honored means of concealed, as well as open carry (hip holster and cartridge belt) since the mid 1800s. Of course, until the very end of the 19th century, there were no semiautomatic pistols, so revolvers had no actual competition, you carried a six-shooter (or five-shooter depending upon the size of the pistol) or something smaller, like a single or double barrel Deringer. The interesting thing is, that after the advent of semi-auto pistols and their general acceptance by the public (mostly small .32 caliber and .25 caliber pistols, like the Colt 1903 and 1908 Vest Pocket Hammerless models, and 1908 Hammerless version of the 1903 in .380 ACP), revolvers remained the dominant choice among law enforcement and civilians alike, well into the mid 20th century. Only the U.S. military formally adopted a semi-auto as its standard issue sidearm (the .45 ACP Colt Model 1911). Even today, revolvers represent a large percentage of personal sidearms and backup guns for law enforcement, as well as a popular choice for concealed carry use. Why? Because a revolver is simply the most durable and least complicated handgun there is. And if this were not true, there would not be innovative new revolvers in the 21st century, as well as the continued manufacture of double action and DAO designs dating back as far as the late 1920s (Westerns guns not included).

The Dan Wesson concept was unique for a modern-day revolver when it was developed back in 1968. Pictured is a complete Model 15-2 set with four interchangeable barrels and shrouds, (2-1/2, 4, 6, and 8-inch barrels). Wide smooth adjustable target and serrated target hammer, and fitted with smooth three finger target grip. This grip design was later used for the textured black rubber grips with finger grooves used today on both .357 Magnum and CO2 models. The set also included an extra set of checkered hard wood grips with DW medallions, a Dan Wesson patch and belt buckle, and barrel tool. It came complete in a padded pebble grain hard case. (Photo courtesy Rock Island Auction Co.)

The Dan Wesson models are of a newer, mid-20th century design that have continued to be produced since the original Dan Wesson Firearms Co., founded in 1968, to the current Dan Wesson line, including 1911-style semi-autos, manufactured under CZ-USA.

No padded case, no interchangeable barrels, but the ASG Dan Wesson models come with an excellent cardboard box equivalent to many centerfire handguns sold today. The big deal about this is that there are a number of commensurately-priced CO2 pistols that come in a non-reusable blister pack. The white box is for the BB model, black for the pellet version.

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The ASG Dan Wesson Model 715 line (licensed by Dan Wesson/CZ-USA) covers the standard barrel lengths of 2-1/2 inches, 4-inches, and 6-inches, with the correct original forward cylinder release design, barrel shroud, and later hard rubber combat style grips that replaced the original hardwood grips used on the .357 Magnum revolvers. The ASG models are as true to the Dan Wesson design as possible for an air pistol, which is a considerable step up from other CO2 revolvers based on actual models like Smith & Wesson and Ruger, for example.

Both boxes hold the 6-round speed loader and there is room underneath the insert for an extra seating screw wrench (there is one built into the grip panel) and extra shells or a small tin of pellets or BBs. It is a well made and durable box that will keep the gun protected and easy to store.

Short perfection    

Dan Wesson revolvers were intended to be an all-in-one design with interchangeable barrels that allowed one revolver frame to be used for anything from a concealed carry or backup pistol with the 2-1/2 inch barrel, all the way out to competition shooting with the 8-inch barrel (and at one point in the Dan Wesson series there were 10, 12 and 15-inch barrels available as well). I owned a Pistol Pack with the 2-1/2 inch, 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch barrels (like the example pictured above). I used the 8-inch barrel for silhouette shooting, sometimes shot the 6-inch, but mainly had the DW with the 2-1/2 inch barrel as a personal defense gun. This would have been the Dan Wesson 15-2 Series, which evolved into the current Model 715 line and new Pistol Pack version.

A Tale of the Tape in one photo, the pellet and BB models are physically identical with 2-1/2 inch external barrel shrouds and internal barrel lengths. The 4.5mm barrel recess is only 0.125 inches from the .357 Magnum-sized muzzle. Both guns have the same overall length of 8.5 inches (muzzle to back of combat grips) and height of 5.75 inches. It is a magnum-sized gun, not the equivalent of a .38 snub nose Colt or S&W.

The ASG models look like they have the interchangeable barrel design, which is nice, visually, but the barrels are not interchangeable and you have to choose barrel lengths. The 4-inch is also not authentic because it has a built-in under barrel Picatinny accessory rail, nice option, but I’d prefer the correct barrel design. Overall, I still like the 2-1/2 inch barrel configuration best. What ASG offers is either a BB or pellet cartridge firing model, and for this series I have elected to put the BB and pellet guns head-to-head for comparative accuracy and velocity with their respective loads.

The grips are hand filling, but not overly wide, making them easy to grasp for the majority of users. For more precise shooting accuracy, when firing single action, the ASG Dan Wesson hammer is wide and grooved for easier manual cocking of the action; this is the same grip design as the centerfire Dan Wesson Model 715 revolvers.

Having a choice between a smoothbore BB model and a rifled barrel pellet model at only a $10 difference in price makes you wonder why anyone would pick the BB model over the pellet pistol. For training with a CO2 revolver and wanting higher velocity and better accuracy the pellet model would seem the logical choice, but sometimes you just was a nice looking, very authentic BB pistol for good old fashioned paper target and tin can work, and if you want to shoot BBs rather than pellets, you don’t always find the exact same gun offered in either version. The ASG Dan Wesson gives you this option for all three barrel lengths, but only the 2-1/2 inch Model 715 versions share the same bright nickel finish, the other two alternate between high polish steel grey and nickel to separate BB from pellet cartridge models. This is just another reason why I prefer the 2-1/2 inch Model 715. It is just a really sharp looking revolver that gives little away to its CO2 inner working. I also like that they come in a box that can be used for storing the gun, spare cartridges, BBs, seating screw wrench, and speed loader. Some air pistols at the exact same price point come in blister packs, so credit where credit is due to ASG for delivering their guns in a box comparable to a centerfire pistol’s.

The rear sight is windage and elevation adjustable and the ramped front blade is easy to pick up in the wide rear notch. You can also see the added manual safety (on the gun at left), which is required for air pistols based on centerfire or rimfire guns that do not have a manual safety as part of their design. ASG made it as inconspicuous but easy to operate as possible.

Another Tale of the Tape  

Both guns are exactly the same except for the barrel liners and the type of cartridges they use. The real difference is the pellet model uses the latest rear-loading pellet shells while the BB model uses the older style front loading BB shells. The front loading shells have proven, in comparison with Peacemaker rear loading BB and pellet shells, and the older style front-loading Dan Wesson pellet shells, to have slightly lower velocities on average. And no, you can’t load BBs into the back of the pellet shells. The ASG BB shells are similar to the BB shells used for the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8, as well as (but not the same) as the front-loading BBs shells for the Bear River Schofield. The velocity differences are really not that significant, and with the speed loader that comes with the guns, it is much faster to load BBs into the front of the shells, so there is an advantage to the velocity tradeoff on the BB model.

The Dan Wesson handgun case accommodates one gun and multiple speed loaders, BBs and small accessories. The gun fits into the back section, which is held closed by a Velcro strap. This handgun case offers a secondary means of carry and storage, in place of the box. The BB cartridges (right) load from the front, while the newer and more up-to-date ASG pellet cartridges now load from the back (like the Colt Peacemakers, for example). The original style (and more authentic looking) front-loading pellet cartridges are also still available.

In Part 2 we will begin comparing BB vs. pellet velocity between the two Dan Wesson Model 715 snub nose models.

[Footnote: The reason this article is publishing late Tuesday night instead of last Saturday, and Part 2 will be Wednesday night, Part 3 on Thursday, and Part 4 on Saturday, is due to something that happened last Thursday. As one of my favorite comedians, the late John Pinette, explained in one of his stand-up routines, some of the worst horror stories begin with, “Well, we were hiking…” Well, we were gardening. To make a long story short, a couple of hornets came up out of the ground and stung me on the left side of my face and left eyelid, which swelled half closed. It took a few days to recover from that along with some prescription medication. So, sorry for the lateness of this series, but things are back to buzzing along as usual. Eh, bad metaphor.]

5 thoughts on “Dan Wesson Model 715 2-1/2 inch Part 1”

  1. The ASG is hands down the most accurate rendition of an actual revolver.,Smooth, da action and accurate. I would prefer a smaller wooden grip . Da revolvers are still powerful , reliable handguns for sport and defense.

  2. Fits nicely in an old Roy Baker holster designed for Colt Python/ Lawman. These cartridges work with almost any medium frame revolver HKS speed loader as well as the supplied ASG loaders

  3. First of all wish you a complete recovery. Similar incident cost me five days of my last year’s vacations… Can you please test the BB model with pellet cartridges, using pellets and maybe round balls?
    Sorry for the trouble I cause.

  4. Dennis, wishing you a complete recovery…..I have the 1st Generation DW Snub-Pellet version with the Thumb style cylinder release… also I use rear loading pellet cartridges and have a rail on the barrel top…… Love this Revolver….I just finished reviewing your Archived reviews on DW and recommend others to do the same for a better understanding of BB vs Pellet………………………….Looking forward to your continuing review of the DW.

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