by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before we begin, I have an announcement. Very soon, Pyramyd Air will be launching a new social website for airgunning. When they do, I’ll be responsible for the pages that deal with technology, training and technical information.

I’m telling you this because in the past few months, we’ve had some very useful and powerful reader comments that really should be saved and archived for posterity. An example came in the day before yesterday, when Chuck gave us a good rundown of optional peep sights and scopes that fit (and don’t fit) and work/don’t work on the IZH 61. That’s the sort of stuff we need to keep handy, because there are thousands of those rifles out there and people are asking about them all the time. If someone were to do a nice guest blog on tearing one down and tuning it, we would put that right next to Chuck’s post. And then there was the comment some time back about how to diagnose magazine problems and how to remove the barrel for cleaning.The list just keeps on growing. All on just the IZH 61!

So you see the value of this. I could locate and post the dozens of scope-mounting and sighting-in blogs I’ve done so a person could make some sense of all of them. Imagine being able to locate ALL the spring-gun tuning blogs in one place!

On to today’s report on the Smith & Wesson 586. The 586 is the blued version of the gun and the 686 is the silver gun. I think Wayne, for whom this report was written, has been very outspoken about his approval for this pellet pistol. He absolutely loves it and thinks it’s a wonderful addition to anyone’s airgun collection. Wayne, if I’m putting words into your mouth, please correct me.

I happen to agree with Wayne on this. The 586/686 has to be shot to be fully appreciated. Photos and words won’t convey the feeling you get when you hold the gun in your hands. I’ve said the same things about the TX 200, and you see what new owners have to say about them!

Last time we looked at the gun and how it works. Today, we’ll do velocity and accuracy. The gun I tested had the 6-inch barrel. An 8-inch barrel will get higher velocity and potentially a trifle more accuracy, though that’s just a reflection of the increased sight radius. The velocity gain, however, is fact.

RWS Hobbys–shot double-action
At the time of the test (1999), RWS Hobby pellets weighed 6.9 grains. They averaged 410 f.p.s. in the 586 fired double-action through the 6-inch barrel. I allowed 10 seconds between shots for the temperature to stabilize, and the ambient temp was 68 degrees F. The spread was 391 to 434, and at the average velocity they produced 2.58 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

RWS Hobbys–shot single-action
Hobbys averaged 406 f.p.s. with a spread from 391 to 422 when fired in the single-action mode. Ten seconds between shots. Muzzle energy works out to 2.53 foot-pounds.

That’s pretty close performance between single- and double-action. Usually, a gun like this would have done noticeably better single-action.

Chinese blue-label wadcutters–shot double-action
This is a target pellet that I used in 10-meter competition, so I used it in a lot of my tests back in 1999. It weighs 7.6 grains. The average velocity in double-action was 370 f.p.s., with a spread from 356 to 389. Muzzle energy works out to 2.31 foot-pounds.

Chinese blue-label wadcutters–shot single-action
In single-action, these pellets averaged 367 f.p.s., just 3 f.p.s. slower than double-action. The spread was 352 to 387, and the muzzle energy was 2.27 foot-pounds.

The 586 I tested was a very stable air pistol, but better still was the accuracy, which I had to see to believe.


Chinese blue-label wadcutters delivered this tight 10-meter group from a rested gun. H&N target pellets did about the same. This is 30 percent tighter than the next-best Umarex pistol can shoot, and it’s the reason I like this model so much.

A word about the metal in the guns
After I published that short bit about not over-tightening CO2 screws when loading cartridges, I was amazed at the number of people who said they were doing just that! So I have to say something about the metal these guns are made of. They’re not ordnance steel, like the firearms they copy. They’re made of a zinc alloy that casts very well, which is why they can make them for so little money. Because of that, you can’t bang the guns around and that especially applies to the circular clips– those things we call the cylinders.

I’m mentioning this because at a public demonstration someone dropped one of the clips from my gun and dented a corner next to a flute. Zinc alloy always does that, so you have to be careful when handling the clips of any of these air pistols.

And handle them correctly!
At the same public demonstration, I watched a guy not close the cylinder properly and then try to shoot the gun double-action. He jammed the mechanism, and if I hadn’t been there he was ready to complain to the world that the gun was faulty. I know because I caught him in his windup. Another fault a new shooter might have is inserting the cylinder into the gun backwards. It works only one way because the ratchet teeth for the hand are only on one side of the clip. It’s important that you review the mechanism before you start shooting a lot.


I mentioned this in the first report, but didn’t show it. Barrel swaps make the S&W a versatile system.

How much longer?
Back in 1999, Umarex had some plans to bring out another big revolver after the 586. There was talk about the Colt Anaconda, but sales of the 586 were not encouraging enough to warrant the expense of another revolver. The action pistols seem to sell better, and the complexity of a revolver means it has to cost a little more. In this game, a little is a lot, so Umarex never went there and they probably never will. In fact, I’ve been asked by the owner of the company if I thought there would be continued sales of this model, because after the initial surge, the 586 has lagged behind the rest of the pistols. So far, it’s hung on, but I don’t know how much longer that will be true.

Then, without fail, we will have to listen to some airgunner who is not buying one right now but who will be lamenting the passing of a classic on that day. It’s happened too many times already. You now know what I think about them.

More importantly you know what Wayne thinks!