Dan Wesson Signature Series 8-inch Revolver

Dan Wesson Signature Series 8-inch Revolver

Bringing optics into the mix Part 3 Part 2 Part 1

By Dennis Adler

What’s more impressive than a revolver with an 8-inch barrel? One that has a reflex sight mounted on top of it! Although the C-More costs four times as much as the Dan Wesson CO2 model, if you shoot centerfire pistols with optics, this is a great choice to serve both needs.

Adding optics to handguns is nothing new. I still have one of the very first red dot scopes made, a comparatively massive Aimpoint electronic Mark III that I used on my AMT Longslide in the early 1980s. The gun with the Aimpoint fit into a custom competition holster made for me by Alfonso Pineda of Alfonso’s of Hollywood. I still have the rig and the Longslide, too. Aimpoint makes much smaller red dot scopes these days, and there are a variety of reflex sights like the C-More line that are excellent choices. Adding the C-More STS to the Dan Wesson 8-inch CO2 model is going to up the game for the smoothbore pellet firing revolver. Now you can add any kind of red dot pistol scope or optic, you don’t have to mount an optic that costs nearly three times as much as the gun, but as I said in Saturday’s article, if you happen to shoot centerfire and rimfire pistols and have high quality optics for those guns, they will work on the CO2 models. You just have to readjust POA.

You will need two tools to mount the Weaver rail on the Dan Wesson, the small hex head wrench that comes with the gun and a good gunsmith’s screwdriver.

Mounting the Dan Wesson Weaver optics rail

This is a fairly straightforward process as outlined in the Dan Wesson instruction book. In practice it is not quite as simple because there are some steps (or missteps) that are not covered. The first thing you do is remove the elevation screw from the rear sight and set it aside, or you can leave it in the sight as I did. This allows the rear sight to rise about ¾ of an inch. You will notice there is a small coiled spring under it. This is not attached to either the underside of the sight or the topstrap and you have to watch it as you take the next step to ensure it (a) does not fly out and (b) get lost. This is the spring that tensions the rear sight for elevation adjustment. The next step is to use the small hex head tool that comes with the gun to push out the forward sight retaining pin that passes through the topstrap. In the instruction book, this just pushes out. In reality it takes a little more effort than that. I found that laying the gun on its right side and pushing the tool into the pin slot of the frame and then lightly tapping it with a screw driver handle will get it started. Then pick up the gun and carefully pull the pin out from the right. At this point you need to lift off the entire rear sight making sure to watch the spring underneath and keep it with the sight. You will also note that there is a round depression in the topstrap that corresponds to where the spring should sit and another in the underside of the sight, so you know where to position it when remounting the sight.

The first step is to completely unscrew the elevation setting screw…

…with the screw totally removed (but left sitting in the sight if you choose) the sight can be raised about ¾ of an inch. If you look close, you can see the coiled elevation spring under the middle of the sight. Make sure it stays with the sight when you finally remove it. It is not affixed to either the base of the sight or the topstrap.

The first simple step that isn’t as simple as the instruction book indicates is removing the forward retaining pin for the adjustable rear sight. The small hex head wrench needs to be inserted into the hole in the topstrap to push the pin out but it needs a little incentive. I used the handle of the screwdriver to lightly tap it through. You can see part of it exposed on the right side of the topstrap. Tap it all the way out. Then you have to keep the sight raised and withdraw the wrench from the hole. Then lift the sight and spring and remove them.

With the sight removed, you slide the Weaver Mount accessory rail over the vent rib with the beveled edge facing the front sight. Slide it down the rail a few inches and make sure it is fully on the vent rib (can’t be lifted off), then let it slide freely out of the way (forward) and begin reattaching the rear sight. You first have to make certain the elevation spring is properly positioned under the sight and on the topstrap as you slip it back into place. Then push the front of the sight into alignment with the hole in the frame and reinsert the locking pin. You need to allow the back of the sight to be elevated the same height as it was when the pin was removed (and be sure the elevation spring stays in place). Again, you will need to tap the pin lightly to get it back in and be sure the ends are flush to the topstrap on both sides when you are done. Next, reinsert the elevation screw and turn it down all the way. Then let off a quarter turn so there is some play in the rear sight when you push it down.

Here you can see the elevation spring under the rear sight. I kept them together. The spring fits into a small recess in the underside of the sight and rests in a corresponding recess in the topstrap (arrows) when reattaching it. After the rear sight is removed, slide the Weaver Mount rail over the vent rib with the beveled edge facing forward. When reattaching the rear sight, after sliding the rail over the vent rib, you need to be certain the elevation spring is in the correct position. The rear sight has to be tilted up in order to reinsert the retaining pin. This properly aligns the sight with the hole in the topstrap.

The last step is to position the rail where you want it along the vent rib, and use the hex head tool to turn down the two small hex head locking screws. You need to make them tight so the rail stays in place. I can tell you from experience, you will have two small marks on the vent rib if you decide to remove the accessory rail later. Other than issues with holstering, there is actually no reason to remove it, as the front and rear sights are high enough to see over the rail when there is no scope or reflex sight mounted.

After the rear sight is reattached, position the rail where you want it and use the hex head wrench to tighten the two locking screws. The channel through the middle of the rail allows the open sights to be used even with the rail mounted.

The C-More and other reflex sights

As I mentioned earlier, competition level reflex sights like the C-More cost almost four times as much as the Dan Wesson CO2 model, MSRP for the latest C-More STS-2 is $420. As an option I am also going to mount a Walther MRS (Multi Reticle Sight) which, although not currently available from Umarex, is almost identical to the CenterPoint Optics 32mm Red/Green reticle sight currently available from Pyramyd Air, and sells for less than $40.

The C-More STS was a perfect fit for the Weaver rail and the Dan Wesson 8-inch model.

The same can be said for the much more affordable Walther MRS or CenterPoint open reflex sight. I got the best groups at 10 meters with the MRS.

Downrange

I am using Sig Sauer Match Ballistic Alloy wadcutters for this test and beginning with a new run through the Chronograph for velocity from the 8-inch barrel. The Dan Wesson delivered a high of 498 fps and an average velocity of 480 fps with the alloy wadcutters; none too shabby for a smoothbore.

For the first test I used the Walther MRS with the crosshair reticle. All shots were fired offhand using a Weaver stance from 10 meters. My best target delivered six shots at 0.56 inches. Other groups averaged 0.65 inches with the C-More. My widest spread with the optics was about 0.98 inches but any group you can cover with a dime is pretty good shooting, and for a smoothbore, the Dan Wesson 8-inch BB model loaded with pellet shells and fitted with optics really delivered the goods from 10 meters. This is rifled barrel accuracy at 10 meters!

And speaking of that best group from 10 meters, it was tight enough to cover with a dime. Expected from a rifled barrel pistol with an 8-inch barrel, but remember, this is the smoothbore Dan Wesson version shooting pellet-loading cartridges! Not all my targets were this good, but the Dan Wesson 8-inch at 10 meters doesn’t disappoint because it will deliver 1 inch or better groups. 

Addendum

Just in case anyone was wondering how well the Dan Wesson 8-inch BB model shoots double action at 10 meters with the wadcutter pellets, I ran one quick test this evening, and this is 12 rounds fired DA using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold with the Walther MRS reflex sight.

Two reloads, total of 12 rounds fired DA using a Weaver stance and two-handed hold from 10 meters.

To wrap up 2017 a special back-to-back series this Friday and Saturday before the Airgun Experience takes a holiday break.

3 thoughts on “Dan Wesson Signature Series 8-inch Revolver

  1. Hi all, sorry for the late publication of Part 3, there were some delays in my planned schedule. But as you can see the Dan Wesson smoothbore proved to be an excellent shooter at 10 meters. Even my worst groups were barely over an inch, so the extra barrel length and a good optic can make all the difference.

    Dennis


  2. Dennis,

    This has been a welcome evaluation of this most fine air revolver. I had a strong feeling this DW would perform impressively. I’m not sure the rifled version, which is the one I have, would do significantly better, or better at all, than this smoothbore.

    The rear-loading pellet cartridges the new crop of CO2 revolvers use do add to the overall effective length of the barrel, but with the rifled version of this revolver the original issue cartridges are unique. They are tedious to load as they require each cartridge tip to be unscrewed, the pellet dropped into it, and then the tip screwed back onto the rear of the cartridge. It is also, as the British would say, “fiddly,” as a good percentage of pellets, perhaps one in six or seven, are too small and fall right through the aperture.

    This last detail, I suspect, adds to the accuracy of the revolver. The pellet cartridge tips require pellet heads of a particular minimum diameter, acting as a sort of sizer, or a choke on a high-end air rifle barrel. It forces the shooter to sort pellets during the loading process.

    Loading these is indeed a chore. But then again, is more effort worth it if you hit what you’re shooting at much more often? I shoot for fun, period, and easy innaccuracy is not nearly as much fun as is laborious accuracy.

    I will purchase some of these rear loading ASG pellet cartridges to supplement my older (no doubt poorer selling screw-on models). Easy is fine if it is accurate after all. I also will start putting red dots on those air handguns of mine that can accommodate them.

    Thank you for your report on this revolver. (And please do not forgo a 21-foot, pellet-shooting showdown between the rifled battle worn Webley MK VI and the flat black smoothbore Webley MK VI.)

    Michael


  3. While the alloy pellets are more expensive, they are a better choice than lead pellets in the smoothbore barrel. The lead pellets are accurate but lead the smooth barrel more than the rifled barrel. If you shop around , there are some bargain priced , accurate alloy pellets


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