Dan Wesson Model 715 2-1/2 inch Part 4
BBs vs. Pellets – Pushing the limit
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.