by B.B. Pelletier

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The Dan Wesson CO2 BB revolver with the 8-inch barrel is a large and impressive all-metal airgun.

Several of you have mentioned wanting to see a review of this BB revolver, plus the customer reviews are quite good. And I also wanted to see how good it was, so everything came together today.

This Dan Wesson revolver resembles the classic firearm somewhat, but misses the mark of being a perfect replica. However, only a Dan Wesson nut would spot the flaws.

The cylinder latch is made like the one on a Smith & Wesson instead of the traditional Dan Wesson, which would be a flat button located on the left side of the crane. I never liked how that latch worked, which kept me from ever owning a Dan Wesson revolver, and the omission looks like an improvement to me.

It has a safety!
Flying in the face of firearm revolver design, but validating every female British mystery writer ever born, the Dan Wesson revolver actually has a safety catch. So, Agatha Christie was right after all. Pull the cylinder latch straight back and the gun is on safe. The trigger is blocked and the hammer cannot move.

Yes, Virginia, this revolver has a safety catch. Slide the cylinder latch back, and the action locks up.

This revolver comes in 2.5-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch versions…and some come in black and others come in a stainless finish (that Pyramyd Air is calling “silver”). Only the 8-inch version was available when I ordered, so that’s what I’m testing.

Let’s start off with some insight into the Dan Wesson revolver concept and the history of the gun.

Dan Wesson
Dan Wesson was founded in 1968 by Daniel Baird Wesson II, the great-grandson of one of the two founders of Smith & Wesson. His concept for revolvers was the modular approach, which in 1968 was quite new and innovative. And the hallmark revolver that company made was the .357 Magnum model 15-2, which in its highest form was sold in a “pistol pac” that contained the revolver, an extra set of grips, three extra barrels of different lengths that the owner was expected to install, a belt buckle and the wrench and feeler gauge for the barrel and shroud. When I was a young man, this was one of the most coveted handguns on the market and was revered for its strength, beauty and for the facility to change barrels and therefore also control the cylinder-to-barrel gap. The only real reservation I had, as I mentioned, was the cylinder latch that was hard to work and a deal-breaker for me.

The Dan Wesson name passed through a number of hands since the founder’s death in 1978, and today they produce several other models that are not as distinctive as this revolver system. So, the BB gun we’re now testing is supposed to copy the original firearm that had interchangable barrels, though this one does not.

The BB gun
Rejoice, fellow airgunners, for this is an all-metal revolver! You pay for that realism — and it’s delivered. Nothing on the outside of the gun but the grips is anything but metal. Still, the gun is very light for having such a long barrel. It weighs 2.29 lbs. or about a full pound less than a typical firearm with the same length barrel.

The cylinder is mounted on a real crane that swings out to the left side when the cylinder latch is depressed and the cylinder is pushed out. Twenty years ago, such realistic features were only dreams for airguns and even for some lower-priced rimfires. Since it does swing out, you’ll need to restrain yourself from flipping it closed like you see on TV, as nothing will ruin the mechanism faster.

This revolver has a real crane that allows the cylinder to pop out for loading.

The cylinder revolves freely when the gun is not cocked, being restrained only by a spring-loaded barrel that pops into a mating recess in the front of each chamber, just like the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver that Mac is testing for us. The bolt at the bottom of the frame comes into play only when the trigger is pulled, so the gun locks solid when fired either single- or double-action. In this respect, it’s not unlike a suicide special revolver of the late 19th and early 20th century.

The gun comes with a second set of six “cartridges” that hold the BBs and a speedloader to load them into the cylinder. The speedloader does not do the job like its firearm component. The cartridges are not held in the loader at all and will fall out if it is tipped past level, so it’s more for looks than for function. You can’t carry a loaded speedloader in your pocket the way you can with a firearm speedloader. However I did find it very convenient for unloading the cylinder, as all the cartridges fall back out into the loader when the gun is tipped up. Since there is relatively low pressure running through each cartridge, they do not swell when fired as firearm cases do.

The speedloader with six extra cartridges comes with the revolver. Also included is the accessory rail and installation wrench.

The sights are a post on a ramp at the front with a white dot in the top center and a traditional square notch at the rear. I find them easy to acquire, and good for precision aiming. I hope the gun is as accurate as most of the reviews claim. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions with a flat-bladed screwdriver.

Accessory rail
The revolver is also provided with an accessory rail that takes the place of the rear sight. You can mount a dot sight on your handgun with this rail.

The double-action trigger-pull ranges from 10 lbs., 8 oz. to 11 lbs., 8 oz. and is stiff and creepy. It stacks towards the end. As I recall, the double-action pull of the firearm was also heavy and stiff. The single-action pull breaks between 7 lbs. and 7 lbs., 13 oz. and is reasonably crisp. Though it’s a trifle too heavy for the absolute best work, it’s very usable.

One look at the manual tells me this revolver was made by an airsoft manufacturer. The details are sparse and the print quite small, with line drawings to accompany the important points. Older owners will have to use a magnifying glass to read it, but I don’t suppose they’re the target consumer for this revolver.

What’s next?
Well, if I were Full Ruler and Controller, I would make up some sort of pistol pac for this revolver. That’s such a great idea, and you know that owners could never tolerate having an empty slot in a case for their favorite airgun!

Since the barrels cannot be changed, I would include a nice miniature holographic dot sight, two full speedloaders with six additional cartridges (24 cartridges in all when you include the ones in the gun), some kind of neat case for BBs, a belt buckle and safety glasses.

I’ll show the BB cartridges and how they’re loaded in detail in Part 2 when I test velocity. For now, back on your heads — the break is over!