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.