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Smith & Wesson M&P 45 air pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Smith & Wesson M&P air pistol is highly realistic. It shoots both pellets and BBs.

Today is the day we answer the long-awaited question of how accurate the Smith & Wesson M&P 45 air pistol really is. Is it capable of shooting out a one-inch bullseye at 23-24 yards, as one owner claimed, or does it conform to what we know about this level of air pistol?

Two different types of ammo
For starters, this pistol shoots both BBs and pellets. Usually when a gun does that, it has to give something away for the compromise, because BBs are much smaller than pellets. They are also made of steel and cannot take the rifling; so when you shoot a BB, you have to shoot it as a smoothbore. I tried them first.

BBs — not that hot
As expected, eight BBs did okay at 25 FEET. Nothing spectacular, but eight shots did land in a group that measures 1.747 inchs across the two widest centers. That’s minute-of-pop-can accuracy, but nothing more. I shot Daisy zinc-plated BBs for this.

I did discover during this session that the sights needed a lot of horizontal adjustment. The group of BBs at 25 feet was slightly low and three inches to the left. I loosened a locking screw on the rear sight and slid it to the right to correct this, and it took two corrections to get it right. When the shots were centered on the bull the rear sight was noticeably over to the right.

Now, on to pellets
I had suspected that it wouldn’t be BBs that were so accurate, but lead pellets. So I was all set for a surprise when I shot them. The distance to the target was 25 FEET from a supported standing rest. I shot single-action and I can report that my eyesight has returned to about where it was in the past.

I shot many different types of pellets, but two stood out enough to be worthy of mention. The first were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. They shot to the point of aim and grouped well, though there was always one or more that opened up the group.

I actually shot several groups of this pellet, because they were teasing me with groups that were almost perfect, but never quite. Finally I came to the conclusion that we are seeing the best the pistol can do with the two groups I’ve selected to show.

Eight H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this 25-foot group, which measures 0.936 inches.

Another eight H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this 0.955-inch group. It’s very close to the other group and also to the groups not shown.

The other pellet that really did well were JSB Exact RS domes. I tried them because they are lightweight and very accurate in lower-powered air rifles, so I thought that might carry over to pistols.

Apparently, it does, because one of the many groups I shot at 25 FEET was the best of the session. Eight pellets went into a group measuring 0.928 inches.

Although this group is the smallest of the test, don’t be mislead by the appearance. There is a ragged hole at the bottom of the bull to the left of the number six that enlarges this group to 0.928 inches. That’s good, but not that much better than H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets.

Here is another target shot with JSB RS pellets that will fool you. It looks great, but a stray shot that cuts the five-ring (to the right of the dime) enlarges what looks like a tight group to 1.342 inches.

What is the conclusion?
Is the S&W M&P pistol capable of one-inch groups at 23-24 yards? Of course not. It would be one of the most accurate pellet pistols on the market if it were. But at 25 FEET it is more accurate than I expected. Especially with JSB RS domes and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. This gun wants to group.

I didn’t shoot at 25 yards because there is no point. It will probably group eight shots in the 3-5 inch range if everything is done right and the best pellets are used. I don’t think this pistol gives us any surprises other than it is very capable for a blister-packed air pistol.

At the price, I doubt you’ll find a more accurate pistol capable of shooting both BBs and pellets — and that says something. With Christmas coming soon, maybe this is one for your gift list.

author avatar
Tom Gaylord (B.B. Pelletier)
Tom Gaylord, also known as B.B. Pelletier, provides expert insights to airgunners all over the world on behalf of Pyramyd AIR. He has earned the title The Godfather of Airguns™ for his contributions to the industry, spending many years with AirForce Airguns and starting magazines dedicated to the sport such as Airgun Illustrated.

42 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson M&P 45 air pistol: Part 3”

  1. I’ve been waiting for this day with guarded optimism. A pellet pistol that can make a one inch group at 25 yards is on a short list in my hands.

    I have an fx ranchero that can do that with an aimpoint regularly (not everytime) in my hands. I’ve shot an ld that can do that but it has a 3-9 power scope and since it’s run on co2 you need to wait between shots or the groups stink. Bear in mind that I’m a lousy shot with a pistol.

    Nonetheless, I’m impressed with the accuracy of this pistol, with open sights, at this price point.

    ps-I really hate those one or two that consistently open up the group.


  2. Probably going to open up a can of worms but…

    Would it be justifiable to put an ink mark on the pellet holder so it is always loaded in the same position, and then see if the one or two wide shots were correlated to the position in the holder?

    • Wulfraed,

      You’ve got me wondering now….does the pistol shoot the pellet out of its holder with a blast of CO2 or is the pellet mechanically inserted into the barrel during the firing cycle before the CO2 is released?

      If it’s shot out of its holder by the CO2 I’d say yes by all means to your suggestion and “open that can of worms”.


      • Since my “similar guts” Walther CP99 has an O-ring on the back face of the barrel (hmm, I see no indication that the barrel is pulled back against each chamber so that may be a friction fit as the holder rotates) I’m presuming the CO2 is thereby present in the chambers.

        Taking a chance — cocking the CP99 into single-action, then opening the loading port (which slides the barrel forward), and pulling the trigger… Nope, the brass transfer port doesn’t move forward — not sure how it seals against the pellet holder. (The internal linkage won’t permit cocking the action with the loading port open).

    • Wulfraed,

      I can see this helping make sure it’s not that. If one or two chambers were misaligned and possibly causing the pellet to get damaged when it enters the barrel, then this procedure might help in identifying them. I think it’s more likely though, that the flyers are the result of either a random twitch, or the odd pellet that has a non-uniform skirt. ID’ing any clip or chamber misalignment and sorting pellets would at least take those out of the equation.


  3. Thanks for completing the accuracy test on this pistol so quickly. Pyramyd has it on sale now for $57.95. I just might pick it up with the new Crosman M417. As I said, this is similar to my service weapon, A S&W MP40 pistol. Could be nothing but good to get a little extra trigger time with the similar pistol.

  4. Well, it’s squirrel season here at the People’s Republik of NJ. I think I got one of the critters in my attic. At least, I hope it’s only a squirrel as there was a lot of bumping going around at 1:30 this morning. Glad I didn’t sell the RWS 350 Magnum at the Roanoke show as it’s got iron sights and it’s sighted in for 28′! As Elmer Fudd would say, “be verry, verry qwiet”.

    Fred PRonJ

  5. Not much is more irritating than typing out an answer on a cell phone, only to submit it and have the spam filter reject it…… Even being whitelisted by Edith doesn’t seem to be foolproof.

    Technology is wonderful! (when it works…..)


  6. Have I missed the evaluation of the trigger for this pistol? Otherwise, that last line about Christmas seems to be speaking to me. 🙂 That supported standing rest sounds like an interesting set up. How does that work?

    Victor, now I’m intrigued. I could swear that Tubb talked about using his left eye, so I will go back and check. The level inside the front sight makes sense, but that would still complicate the sight picture I would think, although evidently people could adapt.

    Duskwight, thanks for the video.

    Chuck, well, the cameras didn’t stop the motorcycle gang from shattering the front door with a chain or pulling a Bowie knife…:-) Seriously though, my best guess is that they are filming actors doing reenactments so that there is some truth buried down in there somewhere.


    • Matt61,

      I don’t know that Tubb’s used his left eye or not, but he didn’t have to. But, of course, it really depends on the kind of front sight he’s using. For Anschutz front aperture sights, the level itself is not within the sight picture, but rather just above, outside of it. The level is mounted on a tube that inserts within the front sight tube for a firm, precise fit. As you know, in small-bore competition, you’re loading one shot at a time, so you tend to lose a little bit of your position (although you try not to). So checking the level is just a sport check of your position before taking a shot.


  7. Not going to buy one of these pistols. Nope, nope, nope.
    Have an R9 in .22 on the way.
    Have a good scope , high mounts, and a drooper mount on hand. Also have a good selection of pellets to work with.

    I might be a bit busy in a couple days.


    • Nice choice! TT,if you ever get an opportunity to get a Marksman mod 70 for a good price,get it.The 60,or 61 are also awesome.HW quality,but under most folks radar because of the name.The only difference can be the trigger…..not all of them are Rekords,the alternate is the Perfekt.Still a very good trigger once adjusted.Derrick tuned my mod.70 on his blog,and it performs like a tuned R1.

      • I plan on shooting this stock unless it turns out to be a buzzer. My present R9 .177 and 97K .177 needed Vertek kits to smooth them out.

        I should be able to find a good pellet. Have Kodiaks, CP, Preds, FTS, Superdomes, Super HP, and of course Exact 16gr.

        The starlings thought the .177s hurt !!!! HA !!!!!


        • My longest Starling kill to date was off a power pole at nearly 60 yds.I was hunting food for a juvenile
          Red tailed hawk that we were nursing back to health in New Orleans.It flew into an open screen panel on the second floor porch and beat itself up a little trying to find a way out.My friends had 2 lg. parrots,so had a big cage to put it in.The Starling was headshot,fell like a stone from top of the pole.The Hawk wouldn’t even touch it…..ended up preferring pigeons instead.I would wing the pigeons,then let my little “friend” dispatch them in the hall with all the doors closed.Ever see an indoor dogfight between a bird of prey and pigeon?? Luckily we had 12′ ceilings!I have good video of it somewhere….it might be on my dead laptop hard drive.The crazy part is we knew of that hawk because we spotted it originally on top of a power pole,I video’d it eating a big ol’ rat a few days before we caught it.It was neat to see it fly off when we let it go!

          • My longest starlings were in the 55-60yd range. TSS and 97K got them. Quite a few with the TSS. Knocked fearhers off of one around 75yds once. Should have allowed for the light crosswind. Would have got him.

            Had a small hawk hanging around last winter. He was not big enough to be a threat to the neighborhood cats. He liked to eat the dead frozen starlings under my crabapple tree. O.K. with me. Must have been hard up for something better to eat.


  8. Much like BB with the WW1 trench knife…..I hit a proverbial home run this weekend at the flea mkt!
    I found and bought 22+ troy oz. of sterling silver for $20!!!! I could NOT believe my luck.I showed up late.All the vendors know me,and this guy has been my friend for years.Over a month ago on his table of used and Harbor freight tools I found a packet of earrings that stood out to me.They were nondescript and bagged in plastic.I called his attention to them because when I examined them I found they bore a very small .925.I often point things out to my vendor friends to make sure they realize what they have.This works out nice,they reciprocate by giving me great deals or lending me cash to pounce on a “must have”! This guy informed me that he had “a bunch more” from a box he bought at auction.I asked him to please not sell ’till I got to look,he kept his word.The best part of the story is that I didn’t take advantage of him…..He knowingly set the price.This is the same guy that I bought about a dozen J.A.Henkels kitchen knives from…..for 3 to 5$ each.Now when he gets kitchen knives they don’t get sold until I have examined them,thereby giving me first dibs.That’s my story……FB

  9. OMG…I’m literally shaking.
    A client of mine just came by to give me a ride in his new Audi R8GT
    In my younger days I raced Formula Ford and did a couple of years of rallying…maybe I’m getting old but this thing scared the living beejeezus out of me.
    As beautiful as it is there is no way in heck I would want one…I’d soon be dead or have license revoked.

    • LOL you sound like me when I got out of my cousin Vette a few weeks ago. It’s that I’m not used to it, we used to drag race together but I think there’s a HUGE difference if your not the one behind the wheel.
      I watched a vid last week of one of the Waltrip bros. Riding shotgun in a car in Australia “I’m gonna die” “we’re gonna die” he did NOT like it, it’s hilarious. I’ll post it when I get home.

      Losing at least your license is garanteed with a car like this, that’s why I never bought a motorcycle, there’s no way I could last one summer (and we both know how long pur summers are 😉 )


      • I know that’s part of it (not being in the drivers seat), but at the same time this thing was just too fast for city traffic. There were a couple of times where after getting a green light we were at 100kph (60mph) by mid block. I was just waiting for some little old gramma to pull out from an alley.
        Now on a racetrack…
        He has a winter home in Arizona and is having it trucked down their next week. Says this December is when he’ll really get to ‘open her up’.
        The one though I had as I lowered myself into the seat…nowhere at all to put a rifle 😉

      • Yeah, that lap of Bathurst with DW in the V8 Supercar is a laugh riot. Pure Ricky Bobby stuff!

        B.B., your conspiracy to make us all better shooters plods along. Ever since your article yesterday, I’ve finally been paying some attention to the bubble level that I mounted on my dovetail months ago. And finally taking the time to try to plumb up my scope, which I’m pretty sure is a bit cockeyed. And shopping for a new level that’s small enough to lay on my receiver without dismounting the scope. And rigging up plumb lines, and wondering if maybe I should buy a proper plumb bob. And scheming to allocate some range time to try it all out. You have me convinced that I must be a serial canter!

        PS, as many here have mentioned before, “Yrrah’s” posts on the Yellow forum are lots of fun when you’re in a precision-shooting mood. This one has some very interesting Yrrah wisdom, along with several pointers to other articles on scope/bore alignment, leveling, optical centering, etc.:



        • Genghis Jan,

          Thanks for that link. “Yrrah” sure has tons of advice that really works, if you take the time to follow his instructions. I’ll be centering my scopes following his suggestion. Sure sounds a lot better than the card board box method.


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