by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

S&W 78G has reached the status of icon among air pistols.

Today, I’ll finish the report on the .22 caliber S&W 78G, covering both velocity and accuracy. You may remember that I sent my pistol to Dave Gunter to modify it to shoot faster, and today we’ll see what that means. A standard 78G shoots Crosman Premiers at around 395 f.p.s. or so. Mine goes a bit faster.

I’ll also tell you how many shots I get per CO2 cartridge. I don’t have a standard 78G to test for you, but I remember getting about 35 good shots per cartridge. Perhaps some readers who own the gun can tell us what they get.

I told you before that the trigger is single-stage. I measured it with a gauge, and it lets off at variable weights that range from 3 lbs., 2 oz., to 3 lbs., 10 oz. I mentioned the creep in the first report, and perhaps that’s why it’s so inconsistent.

Crosman Premiers
Crosman Premiers averaged 486 f.p.s., with a spread from 484 to a high of 490. The average velocity gives an energy of 7.5 foot-pounds, which is quite a bit for an air pistol. It’s certainly hotter than a Beeman P1, which is considered to be a powerful pistol. In factory trim, this same gun would produce about 4.96 foot-pounds, so this is half again as powerful.

RWS Hobbys
RWS Hobbys produced 7.15 foot-pounds, which is still rather impressive.

Shot count
Now for the bad news. The pistol gets only 15 shots in a reasonable power band at this level. There are another five shots afterwards that also sound good and if you are close enough they’ll hit the target. After that, you’re finished. Power takes gas, and this isn’t a conservative pistol. I was told of this relationship before agreeing to the modification, yet I still opted for it. I don’t shoot this gun often enough that it matters, but if I did, this would not be the way to go. I wanted to see just what the gun could do wide open, which is pretty much what I got. I could back off the power adjustment screw, but I’m not going to. That would be like owning a Ferrari and removing half the spark plugs.

My 78G isn’t as accurate as a modern 2240 or my Crosman Mark I. However, as powerful as it is, it has more of the firearm feel and sound when it goes off. The experience is more like shooting a .22 LR pistol.

Best group of five Hobbys at 25 feet.

… and the worst group.

I think if the trigger were a little crisper I might do better, but it’s difficult to say. However, I think the comparison to the 2240 is an eye-opener. I discovered that it was more accurate while writing a large article for Shotgun News.

Final impression
Accuracy aside, the S&W 78G is a blast to own and shoot. It harkens to a time when airguns in general were made of better stuff, though the current crop of lookalikes leaves little to be desired. I think I’m right about the 78G and 79G being too close to the Mark I and Mark II Crosman for them to be anything except close cousins.

This is an air pistol to put on your short list. Fortunately, they’re still affordable.