Dan Wesson Signature Series 8-inch Revolver
Shooting the long barrel BB model Part 1 Part 2
By Dennis Adler
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. (California), I had a Dan Wesson Pistol-Pac with an 8-inch barrel. The remaining pair of interchangeable barrels for my Model 15-2 was a 2-inch and a 4-inch. This was the gun of my dreams at the time (around 1980) and I took it with great pride to the shooting range where a lot of folks were impressed with the gun’s interchangeable barrels (still a bit of a novelty at the time). I mostly shot it with either the 8-inch or 2-inch barrel. But the real story here is not “my” Dan Wesson 8-inch barrel model, but another 8-inch DW that turned heads and dropped jaws in 1980. At the time I was Editor of Four Wheeler magazine and aside from testing four wheel drive vehicles in some of the roughest terrain in California my other favorite pastime was the sport of Metallic Silhouette Shooting.
Silhouette Shooting is a competition where you try to knock down steel silhouettes of animals that are set up at specific distances. The course of shooting (in my pistol class) began with five chickens at 50 yards, five pigs at 100 yards, five turkeys at 150 yards and five rams at 200 yards. All the silhouettes were scaled to the size of the animal and you had to knock the target down to score a point. Shooting from left to right you got one shot per target, so if you missed or didn’t knock it down, you moved to the next target. This was repeated row by row out to the rams at 200 yards and it took a large caliber pistol to do the job. Most shooters went with rifle caliber single shot pistols (mine was a Thompson Center Contender with a 10-inch bull barrel chambered in .30-30 Winchester). Others used Remington XP-100 bolt action pistols another popular model at the time.
After awhile some folks with more money started showing up with custom built pistols and winning more matches. I admit it was a bit disconcerting to those who could not afford a custom made Wichita Silhouette Pistol or one of the other $1,000 to $1,500 plus models. Most of us prevailed in the face of those with more serious disposable income. The point of my story, however, was the day when a young girl (I say girl because she couldn’t have been more than 20) showed up with a pistol case. She checked in and signed up to compete in a full match. Now, most of the competitors fired from the Creedmore position, lying on your back and supporting your head with the left arm, knees bent, and the gun resting on the outside leg for support. There were a few variations. The legendary Elmer Keith had his own version but you were still on your back. You were also allowed to shoot from a standing position using a two handed hold, but I rarely saw anyone try it. The young girl pulled her blonde hair into a ponytail, unzipped her pistol case and removed a Dan Wesson 15-2 with an 8-inch barrel. The match began, she loaded the gun, took a Weaver stance with a two handed hold and cleaned the first row. She reloaded and proceeded to clean each row out to 200 yards winning the match. She then put the DW back in the case, looked at all the men with dropped jaws and left. And that is why I sold my TC and ended up purchasing a Dan Wesson Pistol-Pac. I was never any better at Silhouette Shooting with the DW but I became a pretty decent target shooter, a skill that eventually led to my becoming a writer and gun reviewer for a number of leading handgun magazines. The rest, as they say, is history.
The ASG Dan Wesson 8-inch model
Although none of the Dan Wesson CO2 models have interchangeable barrels, there are a variety of Dan Wesson Signature Series CO2 revolvers with fixed barrel lengths from 2 inches to 8-inches available, including an 8-inch rifled barrel chambered for 4.5mm pellets (this is only available in the black finish). The big nickel silver Dan Wesson BB model has the DW logo inlaid in the large combat style finger groove grips (this current version with wood grained finish) and the revolver has the general design of the Dan Wesson Model 15-2 Series. The one exception is the use of an S&W-style cylinder latch instead of the original Dan Wesson latch mounted on the cylinder crane. This appeared on the later Model 715 CO2 revolvers introduced last year. The older style 8-inch model has a full length vent rib and full length barrel shroud bearing the Dan Wesson signature embossed in black. The new 715 series only reaches a maximum barrel length of 6-inches, so if you want the big boy you have to live with the S&W cylinder latch. On the plus side, it also works as a manual safety by pulling it back, which is pretty slick.
The ASG Dan Wesson CO2 models are all good looking air guns with a heft and balance that makes them easy to handle and fire accurately. The weight on the 8-inch model is 36 ounces empty, which is very close to a .357 Magnum Dan Wesson Model 715. The air pistol’s hammer is wide for easy cocking and single action accuracy; the double action runs smoothly and cleanly stages the hammer as you pull through. Trigger pull on double action averaged 8.5 pounds and on single action 6.25 pounds.
The 8-inch model has a rear sight that is windage and elevation adjustable. The ramped front sight has a red dot for easy target acquisition and the grips have a pebble grain finish for a solid hold. The grips on the 15-2 models break at the frontstrap to allow the main one-piece panel to slide back and expose the CO2 cartridge channel. The CO2 is easily inserted and a hidden seating key keeps the lines of the gun very authentic.
The DW comes with a 6-round speed loader that makes filling the cylinder as fast as the real deal. The BB loading cartridges that come with the gun are the original style, which have a hollow point bullet nose and a heavy brass cartridge. The BBs just press into the nose of the bullet. These look more like real .357 magnum cartridges and are pretty much SOP for the Dan Wesson BB models. There is also a kit that comes with an extra set of grips (black and wood grain) and six pellet-loading rounds.
This is an impressive-looking revolver and for the price it’s hard to beat. The question is will the 8-inch model deliver an equally impressive score 10 meters downrange with steel BBs and with pellets fired from a smoothbore barrel? We’ll find out in the next Airgun Experience.