by B.B. Pelletier
Photos and test by Earl (Mac) McDonald, unless otherwise indicated
I overlooked mentioning the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver in the first report on lookalike airguns last Friday, but of course it is one, as well. I’m not familiar with the firearm M&P R8 revolver, so it was natural to think of this as a standalone model. But there is a firearm counterpart, if that is of interest to you.
I also neglected to mention the short Picatinny rail on the underside of the barrel near the muzzle. I suppose it is for mounting a compact laser with a pressure switch located close to the firing hand, though since most shooters use two hands to shoot handguns these days I suppose you could also turn it on with your non-firing hand.
We heard a complaint about the use of plastic and I thought I would comment on that. Guys, I don’t like plastic, either, but more and more firearms are being made with at least some of it these days. You have to understand that when you get into this price range for an airgun, there are very few options. Basically it’s either plastic or zinc. The dies for these two materials are very expensive, so the maker has to calculate how many guns they think they can sell against the tooling costs to produce. And there are also short-run tools that are less expensive, but which wear out faster and long-term tooling that lasts longer but can cost many times as much as short-term tools. All of this is a gamble on how well the manufacturer thinks the gun will sell.
Then there is the general public’s acceptance of plastic as a legitimate manufacturing material. As crass as this sounds, if a manufacturer can sell a hundred thousand pieces of a product, the fact that it is criticized by a few hundred or even a thousand aficionados makes little difference. That is the reason there are so many firearms being made with engineering plastic these days.
And finally there is the fact that if the part is correctly engineered, plastic has few shortcomings and actually offers significant advantages, like strength and resistance to wear (over zinc), corrosion resistance, the ability to accept a finish more uniformly, and even things like providing a low-friction surface that doesn’t have to be lubricated to work well.
Don’t think that I like plastic in airguns. I’m simply acknowledging the reality that exists today, when our telephones are also GPS devices, televisions, alarm clocks and 157 other things. But the “buttons” that work them are mostly in software, and if they don’t respond you can be in a serious pickle. Also, you can’t repair plastic when it breaks. That is just one of the reservations I have about plastic guns.
The overall reception of this revolver was positive and enthusiastic. Many readers commented on the realistic look. The manufacturer even went to the point of copying the V notch in the rear sight. The reason for this is that on the firearm the front Patridge sight has a white dot, so the BB gun has it as well. If you can see the dot, the V-notch is entirely appropriate, making the centering of the dot quick and easy. If you can’t see the dot, you just have to struggle to estimate where the sides of the front post are. Since most handgunners don’t shoot at targets (the assumption must be), this is a compromise in favor of rapid target acquisition.
Mac really enjoyed shooting his M&P R8. He was very impressed and tells me every time we talk. So my opinion has to be that this revolver is worth your consideration and the money, if you buy it.
Today is velocity testing day. I went to the manual to see how the 8-round clip is loaded and believe it or not, it doesn’t specify. However, the photo shows loading the BBs from the front of the clip, which is how many other similar BB pistol clips have to be loaded, and that is how Mac did it.
Mac used Daisy zinc-plated BBs, because experience has shown they are the most accurate and the most uniform BBs on the market. Another BB that also works well and is actually finished even smoother than the Daisy is the Walther BB, but Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry them. Though these BBs are slightly larger than Crosman Copperhead BBs they usually get higher velocity and almost always the velocity variation of the shot string with them is tighter.
The 12-gram CO2 cartridge goes in the grip, like everyone assumed. Push in on a tab under the grip and the back opens to receive the new cartridge.
The screw that pushes the CO2 cartridge into the piercing pin is entirely concealed by the grip when it is locked closed. That satisfies those who dislike being able to see the mechanism. I am surprised no one mentioned that about the Walther PPK/S in the lookalike report, because it is the number one complain I hear about those replica air pistols.
Mac measured the single action trigger pull at 9.6 pounds and the double action pull at 10.2 pounds. Remember that single action means the hammer is pulled back to the cocked position which also rotates the cylinder to the next BB, so when you pull the trigger all you are doing is releasing the sear to let the hammer fall.
The temperature was 60 degrees F (15.6 C) when Mac tested the gun. That is close to the bottom temperature at which CO2 should be used. Because it is a refrigerant gas, CO2 will cool the gun as it is fired, thus decreasing the velocity on each successive shot. On a 60-degree day, there isn’t much ambient temperature to warm the gun back up again, so once it is cooled, it tends to stay there. Mac allowed a minimum of 15-20 seconds between shots for the gun to recover from cooling, but on this day, there wasn’t much recovery.
He fired a string of eight shots, getting an average of 359 f.p.s. That works out to 1.52 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The low was 336 and the high was 379 f.p.s., so the spread was a bit larger than we normally see, but on a cool day that is to be expected. Also expect to see higher average velocity when the temperature warms up 20 degrees.
What Mac noted that surprised him was the great number of shots he got from a single CO2 cartridge. After shot 120 the gun was still sending them out at 320 f.p.s., which is petty astounding. There are certain BB guns that get many shots from a cartridge, but their average velocities are always well below 300 f.p.s.. So the evidence points to the fact that the design (barrel mating with the cylinder and ridges around each chamber in the clip) is very economical.
This pistol just keeps getting better and better, as far as Mac is concerned. It’s a delight to shoot and now we find that it conserves gas like a hybrid car. Accuracy comes next, and I don’t think you will be disappointed.