by B.B. Pelletier

Smith & Wesson 586 pellet revolver is a classic for airgunners who like shooting pellet pistols.

I’m starting a report on a classic air pistol. It’s one that is so well designed that it has caused a stir in the firearms community. I’m looking at Smith & Wesson’s 586 revolver. The 586 exists in S&W’s line as a .357 Magnum revolver, along with its stainless cousin, the 686. The pellet gun also comes in both black and silver finishes, and the silver finish is named the 686, just like the firearm. Both guns are .177-caliber pellet guns with rifled barrels. No other calibers are available.

A barrel/shroud wrench still comes packed with each revolver, and these guns offered replacement barrels of different lengths at one time. I’m testing the gun with the 6-inch barrel, but a 4-inch barrel model is also available. Spare barrels are now available only on the used gun market.

This pellet gun is a true revolver, with a rotating metal clip that mimics the cylinder of a firearm. The clip is only a little longer than a pellet and sits at the front of what appears to be a full-sized cylinder. But when the crane swings out, only the clip comes out of the gun. It then lifts off the crane for loading. The gun comes with a second clip, and each clip holds 10 pellets. All clips are black, so they look out of place on the silver gun.

The thin, metal circular clip swings out to the left like a revolver cylinder.

I’ve reviewed this gun before on this blog. Most recently, I looked at it in a 2-part report in 2008. But things have changed since I last tested this air pistol, and I wanted to update the information. If you’re serious about wanting a fine air pistol that’s affordable, this is one of the few to consider.

The biggest change to the gun I’m now testing is the finish that has gone from shiny to matte black. Pyramyd Air photos show the new finish very clearly; but if you weren’t aware of the change, you might miss it. I note that the 4-inch barrel model is currently shown on the website with the shiny finish. Maybe there are still some older guns in the system, because in the new Umarex catalog both guns have a matte finish. Edith is looking into this for us.

The gun comes with several accessories packed in the box. There are front sight blades, a spare circular clip, the barrel wrench and a bore-cleaning brush. The owner’s manual is clearly written and very detailed.

These accessories come in the box with the gun, except one of the circular clips is installed in the gun. The barrel wrench is not shown here.

The gun comes with three front sight posts of different widths to suit your personal preferences. Heck — even Smith & Wesson doesn’t do that with their firearm revolvers! Each insert can be quickly installed with just a single screw. Different width front posts are meant to suit shooters who have eyes of different focusing ability. Generally speaking, you want the widest front post that still allows light to show on either side in the rear notch. That makes aiming at black bullseyes much easier.

The rear sight is adjustable in both directions. Surprisingly, no screwdriver is included with the gun. I say that because every S&W revolver I ever bought had a silver-handled screwdriver for this purpose. I felt no crisp detents on either adjustment, but the vertical screw does pause as it turns. The horizontal screw just turns smoothly, as far as I can tell.

The 586 is both single- and double-action with really great trigger-pulls in both modes. I’ll measure the trigger and comment more in Part 2, but you can rest assured this revolver’s trigger is one of the best things about the whole gun.

The .177-caliber pellet gun weighs 45.4 ozs. The .357 Magnum revolver of the same barrel length weighs 46.3 ounces. That’s pretty close! I’ve owned a 686 .357 Mag and can tell you this gun feels like the real deal!

Where does the CO2 go?
There’s only one place for the CO2 cartridge to go, and that’s inside the grip. Flip down the bottom of the grip that also serves as the CO2 cartridge piercing lever. That gives you access to the underside of the right grip panel, which then flips off with ease. Inside is a standard CO2 cartridge adjustment mechanism that allows cartridges of slightly different lengths to seal properly.

The right grip panel comes off to access the CO2 cartridge compartment.

Nice box!
The revolver comes packed in a nice hard case with foam lining. Each accessory has cutouts at the right spot, so nothing slides around. It’s the same way firearms come these days.

The revolver comes in the same kind of box as a firearm.

Overall opinion
I guess I’m attracted to this revolver, because this will be the third time I’ve tested it for you. It’s a classic that has a great trigger, many useful accessories and, hopefully, the accuracy we have come to expect from Smith & Wesson. Though they don’t actually make the gun, they do license their brand on it and are very interested that it is perceived as a good handgun. I think it is, and I hope to show that to you in this test.

It’s a pretty gun.