Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald, unless otherwise indicated


S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Mac’s back! As we enter the end of year season and approach the Christmas holidays, I want to review as many new guns as possible, while continuing to address my ongoing tests, so I asked Mac to give me a hand. Today, he starts with the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver.

I’m conservative, so whenever a company starts to use a model name inappropriately (in my opinion) it bothers me. When Benjamin used the name Super Streak for a breakbarrel spring rifle — where the name Streak has always been used only for Sheridan multi-pumps — it bothered me. When Smith & Wesson used their time-honored Military & Police (M&P) title to designate a semiautomatic pistol instead of a revolver, I was deeply concerned.

It seems the people in the marketing department that select these product names either don’t know the fine history of the company they work for, or they think the established name brings a lot of fetch with it. Of course it does, but look at what happened to the Weihrauch HW50 when the configuration of the gun was changed. Remember the lengthy conversations we’ve had on this blog and the lengths some people have to go to differentiate between the older HW50 and the one that’s now produced?

There’s still an M&P revolver, and today we’ll start looking at a CO2-powered BB gun by the same name. So, now you know what the M&P means, what about the R8? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s code for a revolver that holds eight shots.

Mac was very impressed by this handgun. Even though it comes in a blister pack, it has many interesting features that are worthy of note. The first is that the cylinder is released from the frame to swing out to the left side of the gun just like the firearm it copies.


Though it comes in a blister pack, the M&P R8 has advanced features.


The cylinder swings to the side just like on the firearm. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Gas control
Perhaps the most exciting feature of this BB revolver is the length to which the designers went to control gas. The pistol is powered by a conventional 12-gram CO2 cartridge that fits inside the Hogue-like grip. Normally a gun like this might give 50-60 good shots on a single cartridge. But this one has several features that more than double that number without sacrificing power.

Like a Nagant firearm revolver, this CO2 BB revolver mates the cylinder to the rear of the barrel to reduce gas loss when firing. The 7.62 Nagant moves the cylinder forward to seal with the rear of the barrel. The M&P R8 has a spring-loaded barrel (a soft, weak spring) with a rounded rear that rides over the mouth of the cylinder, popping into each chamber in turn when the gun locks up.


The rear of the barrel is rounded to move over the mouth of the cylinder as it revolves. The barrel is held in place by a weak spring, so it always pops back to this position, yet doesn’t hinder operation of the mechanism.


And the front of each chamber in the cylinder is shaped to receive the rear of the barrel to form a gas-tight junction. It really works, according to Mac.

Safety
Of course, revolvers don’t have safeties, except in cheap novels and the one exception that nobody ever hears about, but these days the transfer bar that connects the hammer to the firing pin only when it’s safe to fire is considered a safety. And this gas pistol has one! It’s not a bar at all, but rather a piece of thick wire that moves up when everything is right to fire the gun. It won’t prevent a fool from shooting himself or someone else, but they better not get me on the stand if that happens, because shooting this airgun requires a deliberate act!


This photo shows the transfer bar in position to connect the hammer to the valve stem that is analogous to the firing pin. You can also see the V-shaped rear sight notch that ought to be changed to a square one.

Sights
The M&P R8 has a decent front post and a ridiculous rear V-notch that’s better-suited to a .22 autoloading rifle. That kind of front sight needs a square rear notch, and I am surprised by its lack — especially given all the thought that went into the rest of the revolver! However, it IS entirely accurate, because the firearm has the identical rear sight. The front sight has an unnecessary white bead, but it goes away in the right lighting conditions and the post appears square against the target.

The manual says the sights are fixed, but Mac found that they are, indeed, adjustable. The rear notch can be slid sideways after the locking screw is loosened and actually be shimmed with paper for up and down adjustment. Had the makers put a spring under the sight, there’s even a screw that would allow vertical adjustment; so they’re selling themselves short by excluding it.

It uses a clip
Besides the cylinder swinging out to the side, this revolver also uses a circular BB clip. Only one clip comes with the gun; but as Mac reports, you could carry loaded clips easily and use them like a firearm revolver speedloader if you wanted. He noted while loading the one clip that one chamber always seemed looser than the others. We’ll see if that had any effect in the accuracy test.


This shot shows the circular clip out of the cylinder.

Robust action
Mac was particularly impressed by the robust appearance of the revolver’s action. The hand (lever connected to the cocking mechanism) that advances the cylinder with each pull of the trigger is metal. Mac noted that it didn’t appear to wear from his shooting test. He ended up firing well over 100 shots. Not showing even a shiny spot means the part is correctly hardened for the task it’s been given. While you shouldn’t expect a BB gun at this price to last forever, this is a good sign that it will shoot well for a long time.


Here you see the hand that advances the cylinder. Mac says it looks rugged.

Bottom Line
I guess Mac really likes this one. We’re going to be looking at a lot of new guns in the coming weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out!

43 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 1

  1. Twotalon,

    Thanks for the mount recommendation. The Leupold EFR came today as scheduled and when I went to sight it in it was practically dead on for elevation, a meager 4 clicks away!

    After a long 8 months I was finally able to shoot the Beeman HW50M.

    I owe you a beer or a tin of pellets.


    • Volvo…
      Only if it’s good beer or good pellets. No Schitz unless it is the malt liquor, no Rolling Rock,no Old Milwaukee. No Daisy or Gamo pellets.

      Ever try Four Loco? Its a malt liquor that comes in a BIG can, tastes something like red Hawiian Punch that is mixed very strong, and it will kick your butt.

      twotalon


      • Four Loco?? Good heavens…..wasn’t that stuff banned in a bunch of places? A great big energy drink with 12.5% alcohol included.I knew someone that apparently underestimated the alcohol content and drank 4
        of them.That’s the equivalent of that big huge can full of 100 proof liquor.I know you can’t legislate morality or intelligence…..but locally it was pulled from shelves due to Colledge students overindulging
        in very dangerous ways.Think drunk,but not gonna pass out anytime soon…..like Absynthe,with it’s “Petite wormwood” which contained Thujone (sp?) a powerful stimulant.To each their own.


        • Frank..
          I tried one can just for grins. Interesting taste, but it will buzz you faster than a bad spring guide. You would not want to get drunk on the stuff. Hits fast and requires great caution. If you live through it, you may wish that you had not…for several days.

          twotalon



        • Wow the memories… that’s what I used to drink when I started drinking beer (almost 18 years ago already)!
          Then it disapeared for a while and it’s starting to come back on the shelves now.

          J-F



    • I was seriously anticipating this gun. When I go it I was excited until I noticed it was a PLASTIC GUN. I shot it a few times ant threw it in the infamous ” drawer of forgotten guns”. That drawer might not be so full if air gun companies would stop this love affair with cheap plastic. It totally screamed “TOY!” That’s the only reason this made it to the drawer of forgotten guns.



        • Let’s forget cost. To some people cost can be a deal breaker. I would have beggared myself to have the gun in metal. To date all the plastic “toy” guns have been dumped uncerimoniously in a drawer. My favorite gun remains the new tanfglio witness 1911. Now that is a gun worth way more than I paid for it. I fire it mor than any other because it is so close to the real deal.


  2. Good evening all. I have never been a real fan of BB pistols. No reason that I can defend with any authority. However, the first time I laid eyes on this pistol, I was hooked. Everything just seems right. The low price is a real bonus too. Going by the adage that what looks good, performs good, (don’t quote me here), this should be an excellent little gun. Thanks Mac, for the review.
    Just a short note on last weekends’ blog. I too check the mail and then hit the Pyramid Air Blog app. A good way too start the day. With a steaming cup of tea or coffee. Your choice. There is so much to learn, and this blog has a real eclectic group of people. The knowledge I have read here astounds me at times. Not just about airguns, but I see archers, guitar players, cyclists, etc. I can’t wait for tomorrow. By the way. It is 10.34 p.m. as I write this sentence. I believe the time is Eastern or Atlantic that is shown under the persons “handle”. Thank you and good night from the sunny Okanagan, Canada.
    Titus


    • Titus,

      Okanagan, eh? I once visited Okanogan, Washington, a bit north of where beautiful Lake Chelan lies. That’s apple country, and I love apples. Is Ocanagan, Canada, close?

      Mac is really impressed with this BB gun, so I think you will be too. And it comes in under the 500 f.p.s. wire, so no problems there.

      B.B.


      • Hello B.B. Yes, the Okanagan Valley extends about 100 miles into Canada. Paradise knows no boundaries Lake Okanagan is is one of Canada’s premier summer vacation destinations. Major cities are Penticton, Kelowna, and Vernon. Each city has an excellent ski resort an hours drive too.No airgun clubs though. I think I will go out and pick an apple from my Golden Delicious tree.
        Titus



          • B.B. O.K., You got me there. However, it was 11 c, or 52 f. and beautiful blue sky with no wind today. Last Sunday was another story. 4c.,or 39.2 f., and gusting winds up to 40 km. or 25 mph. I have a 20 meter range in my back yard. It made for interesting shooting. I bought some Daystate Rangemasters ( $26.00 for 650 in .177, 8.5 gr.). They say they are supposed to cheat the wind. I found that they did shoot straighter with only an inch drift. Compared to JSB 8.44 gr., which had a two inch drift. Are they worth $26.00 ? I guess it depends on how much wind you get and how much it bothers you. Have you ever tried these pellets? The shape is a round head, followed by a straight body and a small flair at the end. They seem to retain more speed at distance than the regular “badminton bird” pellet. I have not chronied them though. Just my guess. Oh well, back out to the range. Still a couple of hours before dark. Might Even snow by the end of the week. Shudder.
            Titus


            • Wish I understood more about aerodynamics. From what I remember the Daystate Rangemasters aren’t supposed to have the smallest groups in calm air, but are designed to not drift as much in a wind.

              Since the overall shape is more bullet like, I’d expect the Center of gravityy (CoG) to be very near the middle of the length. The small tail (flange) also wouldn’t seem to move the center of pressure (CoP) as much rearward as with a more normal diabolo pellet which has a small waist and a larger flange section. I’d certainly expect the pellet to be drag stabilized, and that the CoP would still be behind the CoG as measured from the tip of the pellet. But less torque between CoG and CoP means less drift in the wind.

              Herb



  3. You’ve got to hand it to those designers who can shoehorn the workings of a Co2 airgun into a conventional design pistol.Especialy a revolver like this is.
    Clever stuff.
    DaveUK


  4. Morning B.B.,

    Great looking pistol! You and Mac have me really sniffing around this one which appears to be very sophisticated especially for its price.

    I have a question for you: “the one exception that nobody ever hears about” ,that my coffee starved brain thought was the Korth revolver, is what revolver? Maybe someone reading my post knows the answer.

    Bruce



    • JTinAL,

      Nah, we were talking about an actual button that can be moved to make the revolver safe. It’s the stuff of British novels, and some American ones, as well.

      B.B.



        • JTinAL,

          I owned a Heritage and never saw what you are talking about — unless you mean the cylinder pin that can be pushed in to block the hammer? That feature exists on quite a few single actions made today and isn’t what we are talking about.

          B.B.


          • B.B.
            Was just on the Heritage site lol.
            It seems only the .22 & new .32 version has what
            I am talking about.It is a button/lever
            beside the hammer that they call a
            frame-mounted hammer block.
            It seems to be manually operated.
            By the way I think I found 2 new plinkers πŸ™‚
            The Heritage for RF and the S&W for BB’s
            if the reports is good on it.


            • Hey JT! Something else we have in common…..I have a Heritage in .45 LC and had one in .44/40.The .45 is the nice Nickel plated one.I really like mine alot,but the ammo costs way more tha I like to spend “plinking”.Mine has a built in safety feature,a “transfer bar” that conducts the hammer strike to the pin only when the trigger is pulled.This prevents a dropped gun from firing if the hammer spur takes an impact, the impact won’t transfer to the pin thus preventing an accidental discharge.The impact is conducted straight to the frame where the hammer rests…..a very good idea.Of course the hammer should rest on an empty cylinder…..where you keep a neatly folded $10 bill,so if you die in a shootout they will find the money for a “proper burial”. πŸ™‚


              • Hiya Frank
                I’m still laughing about the rolled up bill
                in the empty chamber but I think I’ll just
                leave a note.If I’m using a .45 and they still
                get me I’m just gonna leave an I.O.U πŸ™‚

                The only thing I found so far not to like
                about the Heritage is that too skinny
                trigger.I am kinda worried about accuracy
                in the RF since they seem to be LR/WMR combos
                and I usually only shoot LR.


                • I don’t have any issues with the trigger,it’s light and crisp enough to touch off shots where I want ’em.It is after all a single action.But then again I’m no cowboy action hopeful either…..



  5. BB,
    Great write-up and pics of a deceptively sophisticated little revolver. The gas sealing at both ends of the cylinder looks good, with the o-ring at the rear and a decent metal-to metal (I think) interface at the front. So leakage is minimal or almost undetectable?

    I will see if I can find some pictures of how the Nagant cylinder moves forward to seal better. That is very intriguing. Is it just a few thousandths of movement? I’ve read your comments about cross fire (chain fire?) at the front of black powder pistol cylinders. Scary stuff.

    The safety link? The heavy wire link stays shifted out of alignment with the valve stem until all the planets come into alignment, and then it transfers the hammer blow through itself to the valve stem? Is that correct? And then when the link is in the “safe” position, the hammer hits a solid stop and doesn’t transfer its force? Sorry for all the questions, but my T4 CO2 pistol has a very similar arrangement that I could never quite figure out, and this is the info I have waiting for !!! Does that also effectively limit (with a positive stop) the valve stem travel to control the amount of CO2 that is dispensed?
    Thanks very much!
    Lloyd


    • Lloyd,

      The Nagant cylinder moves more than a few thousandths. It’s more on the order of a fraction of an inch.

      Yes, the transfer bar works as you have described in all ways.

      B.B.


      • BB,
        I found some info about the Nagant, and the entire bullet is seated inside the brass shell. Then when the cylinder shifts forward, the casing actually seals inside the barrel. The descriptions say that it makes loading and unloading laborious, but gives the bullet a 50 to 150 fps boost. Interesting.

        That little transfer link in the CO2 revolver seems like a place to start looking for some minor power increases, probably at the expense of reduced shot count, I would think. Seems if the link were very slightly thicker it would push the valve open a tiny bit more. Might require a marginal increase in hammer spring strength, too. With the apparently better sealing on this revolver, I wonder if it would benefit from a little more CO2. Maybe pellets would be needed to see an increase. Hmm, I don’t know.
        Lloyd


        • IIRC, the Nagants are also one of the few (if only) revolvers that can successfully wear a suppressor. Precisely because the case seals into the barrel. Don’t you just know that the commies put that one to use at some point. Unfortunately.


        • I’d tend to suspect that the valve movement is mostly inertial driven — that is, the hammer/transfer bar will bottom out against the frame, but the momentum will push the valve to the limit before rebounding. A thicker transfer bar may not, then, do anything.

          I’m trying to recall if the Ruger Security Six has an inertial firing pin — it was one of the early revolvers to use a transfer bar that is lifted by the trigger, but I think the firing pin is also inertial sized (that is, if one were to hold the transfer bar up and push in on the hammer, the firing pin would still not protrude toward the cylinder — it requires the momentum of a high-speed strike to compress a spring and let the pin hit the primer)


          • Wulfraed,
            I understand what you are saying, and suspect you are correct. I just did some measuring on my T4 pistol, and when the hammer has bottomed against the frame, the transfer bar has pushed the valve stem maybe .035 at the most. From this position, I can force another .035 movement out of the transfer bar/valve stem interface. I don’t know if the valve stem, coupled with the inertia of the transfer bar is achieving the full .070 of possible travel. I suspect not, but could be wrong. I have a tension spring that will fit inside the existing hammer spring and should increase the hammer strike velocity/momentum and thus the valve travel, if it is indeed inertia driven. It seems that in most of these systems, removing one air/CO2 flow restriction only exposes the next. And after removing too many restrictions, the shot count and flatness of the velocity curve, goes out the window. It seems like some of those choke points play a definite role in achieving consistent, an purposely limited velocities.
            Lloyd


  6. B.B., wasn’t the original Smith and Wesson M&P officially the model 10 in .38? It was iconic and revolutionary but its now pretty dated it seems. Well Smith and Wesson is certainly not resting on its laurels and is using the M&P name with abandon with both its AR line and its new semi-auto pistol. What do you think now about these products? I hear good things about them on all hands. The pistol is described as sort of an improved Glock that is more ergonomic with a better trigger.

    Interesting about the Remington 788 flexing its bolt on shots. My Mosin flexes its bolt when I pull the heavy trigger… Very odd behavior. I’ve never seen this in a gun before.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      I don’t care for AR rifles in all forms. They creep me out. So I don’t care for the S&W ARs, no matter what they are called.

      Bolt flexing isn’t the same as bolt movement. Almost all bolt actions have some amount of that. Flexing means that the bolt changes dimensions when the cartridge bears back on it. Either that or the receiver flexes, allowing the bolt to move under pressure. I am talking about the elasticity of the metal under pressure. Either way, it is just a rumor.

      B.B.


  7. B.B.

    I knew a guy one time who had a 357 Dan Wesson that would freeze up when firing hot loads. Mild loads were not a problem.
    Best I could figure is that the nearly zero gap between the cylinder and barrel disappeared when the cylinder got hot and put the brakes on.

    Ever see that?

    twotalon


    • Twotalon,

      Yes. Just recently a friend and I fitted a cylinder to an S&W Highway Patrolman that has a tight cylinder gap. We finally got it free with hot loads at 0.002″. But the Dan Wesson barrel is installed by the user, so your friend could adjust his until it was free.

      B.B.


  8. Kinda -sorta off topic. A couple of weeks ago I inquired about 90 gram JT brand CO2 cartridges. They do indeed work in a 850 Air Magnum. Physically they are about a quarter inch longer than an Air Source cartridge. The diameter is the same ( or so it would seem with my aging eyes). It has fewer threads and a different taper below the threads. The local department stores in my area stopped selling the Air Source a while ago and just recently started carrying the JT line of paintball stuff. They cost about the same. Made in Taiwan. Toby


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