Gamo PR-776 vs. Umarex S&W 586
By Dennis Adler
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.
Let’s begin with the trigger design and trigger pull. The trigger is pretty wild and vintage arms collectors will pick up on this almost immediately. This is not a normal S&W trigger, yes it is the about the right shape but it is not the actual trigger! This Umarex model is utilizing a double action trigger and hammer design that dates back to 1855 and the Starr double action percussion revolver developed by New York armsmaker Ebenezer T. Starr. The Starr .36 and .44 caliber percussion double action revolvers were used throughout the Civil War and well into the 1870s. Why Umarex chose this 19th century method of operation for their S&W 586 CO2 model is a question I’ll have to get an answer for sometime later, but here’s how it works. Similar to the Starr double action, the trigger is actually a lifter that rotates the cylinder and cocks the hammer, but does not actually fire the gun. That job is carried out by the small lever projecting at the back of the triggerguard just behind the trigger. When the trigger presses this lever inward, it releases the sear allowing the hammer to fall. Unlike the Starr design, however, the S&W CO2 model allows you to also manually cock the hammer. The Starr was designed differently and manually cocking the hammer tended to jam the gun; it was meant to be fired double action only, and this is one reason it became unpopular with Union soldiers during the Civil War who were accustomed to single action revolvers and cocking the hammer to fire the gun.
For whatever reason Umarex chose to use this unusual trigger design, it works like a charm on the Model 586 allowing the gun to have a very smooth trigger press that delivers all of its effort to the hammer release with an average of 8 pounds, 15 ounces. This is light for a double action trigger. The DA pull on the S&W Model 57 .41 Magnum revolver pictured, averages over 12 pounds.
The Starr-style design on the CO2 model also allows you to easily and consistently stage the hammer for aimed shots (which was one of the great advantages of the Starr as well). You can, of course, also stage the hammer on S&W revolvers, one of their many great features, but not as easily as with the CO2 pistol. On single action, the trigger only requires 5 pounds, 5 ounces of pressure to trip the hammer release. This is about equivalent to the single action pull on the Model 57 S&W revolver. The trigger on the Umarex Model 586 is unique for an S&W CO2 revolver.
The Gamo PR-776 has the same light DA\SA trigger design as the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8 with an average double action pull of 7 pounds, 8 ounces and single action trigger press of 5 pounds, 10 ounces, making it very easy to keep on target whether fired singe or double action. It is also easy to stage the hammer when fired double action.
Coincidentally, the DA/SA trigger pull on the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8 is 7 pounds, 5.5 ounces and 5 pounds 7.5 ounces, very close. (And this begs the obvious question; if the TRR8 and PR-776 are this close and share so many parts, for example, like the BB cartridge smoothbore Peacemakers and rifled barrel pellet cartridge Peacemakers share everything but barrel liners and cartridges, why isn’t there a rifled barrel TRR8 that can fire pellet-loading cartridges? It’s just a different barrel liner. Of course, if I knew the answer to that, I’d probably be working at Umarex.
Next week we will conclude with the back-to-back shooting results and how to trick out the sights on the Umarex S&W Model 586.