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CO2 Smith & Wesson 586 pellet revolver: Part 2

Smith & Wesson 586 pellet revolver: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

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

Let’s look at the velocity of our Smith & Wesson 586 with the 6-inch barrel. But before I get to that, let’s first look at the trigger-pull.

Here’s the revolver with the cylinder open. It’s easier to remove the circular clip from the crane and load it separately than to load it while it’s still in the gun like this.

This test gun has the most variable trigger I’ve tested recently. In the double-action mode, it breaks between 8 lbs., 10 oz. and 9 lbs., 6 oz. In single-action mode, it broke somewhere between 5 lbs., 1 oz. and 6 lbs., 10 oz. That’s a broad range in either mode, yet when I hold the gun and pull the trigger normally I can’t feel the difference. So forget what the numbers say — the trigger feels remarkably stable and even light!

I tested the gun with three pellets. Each was tested in both the single-action and double-action modes because you get different velocities in each mode in some guns.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
The Crosman Premier Lite averaged 390 f.p.s. in the single-action mode. The spread was large, ranging from 377 f.p.s. to 416 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 38 f.p.s. All shooting was done with at least a 10-second pause between shots, and the temperature in the room was 70 deg. F.

The same pellet in the double-action mode averaged 389 f.p.s., so not much difference. The range was from 372 to 403 f.p.s., for a spread of 31 f.p.s. Taking 390 as the average, Premier Lites generated 2.67 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Air Arms Falcon
The Air Arms Falcon pellet was next. In single-action, it averaged 406 f.p.s., with a 24 f.p.s. spread from 398 to 422 f.p.s. In double-action mode, this lightweight domed pellet averaged 398 f.p.s. with a spread from 376 to 425. That’s 49 f.p.s. between the fastest and slowest. At a velocity of 402 f.p.s., the Falcon generates 2.62 foot-pounds of energy. I selected a velocity that falls between the averages of the single-action and double-action modes.

RWS Hobby
The 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet is still the one I use to test maximum velocity in most airguns. In this revolver, the single-action mode gives an average 428 f.p.s. The spread ranges from 414 to 441 f.p.s., for a difference of 27 f.p.s. In double-action, the revolver averages 411 f.p.s. with Hobbys, and the spread goes from 391 to 422 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 33 f.p.s. At 420 f.p.s. the Hobby generates 2.74 foot-pounds of energy.

How many shots on a CO2 cartridge?
I got 40 powerful shots before the velocity began to decline. From 41 to 50, it declined in a straight line, starting at 377 f.p.s, and ending at 292 f.p.s. That would be where I would stop, so for casual shooting I’d say it gets 50 good shots on a CO2 cartridge. The danger of shooting more pellets in a CO2 gun when the velocity begins to drop off like this is that you’ll eventually get one stuck in the barrel. If you quit while you’re ahead, that won’t happen. Fifty shots is standard for air pistols of this power.

What have we learned?
This test was interesting because it showed there’s a slight advantage in velocity in the single-action mode. The description says the gun gets 425 f.p.s., and the results seem to agree with that number. It also shows that this pistol has a wider velocity spread than most CO2 guns. It demonstrates that you cannot judge a gun only by numbers, since the trigger-pull figures are high, yet the trigger-pull seems both light and crisp in both modes.

So far, I have to say this S&W is every bit the wonderful airgun that I remember. Can’t wait to see how accurate it is.

48 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson 586 pellet revolver: Part 2”

  1. G’day BB,
    I can see how you clean a barrel with JB Bore Cleaner on the Evanix with its battery pack. How do you clean a system using its own gas to be semi automatic? I put a bore sight down the barrel and it seems there is a spring system present in the FX. Can shooting bore cleaner wads really clean a barrel?
    Cheers Bob

    • Bob,

      Is it a spring or is it a set of baffles you’re seeing? Either way, that is a hard barrel to clean. I would nix the JB in a barrel like that and clean with a patch through a loop. You don’t want the patch to strip off inside!


  2. Could it be that you are being a little bit prejudicial in favor of this pistol B.B.? You like the looks and feel of this thing, so you are trying to ignore the numbers? Well, I guess we will see if it is interesting or not in Part 3.

    • RidgeRunner,

      What do you mean by ignoring the numbers? What numbers am I ignoring?

      The velocity is exactly as advertised, and I admitted that the spreads were very large.

      As for the trigger pull, just ask Kevin how a good trigger can mask the weight of the pull. He once under-estimated a trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB (M1911A1) by a factor of three!


    • RidgeRunner,

      I’ve got to leave for a meeting so I’m going to assume you’re suggesting that B.B. is “glossing over the trigger pull weights”.

      Let me share my experiences about this.

      A good trigger is of utmost importance to me. My view of a trigger is that it’s the heart of all guns. If it has a bad heart I don’t want to get to know that gun. I have the same feeling about people but I digress LOL!

      B.B. has taught me a lot. B.B. mentioned one of my most significant lessons about trigger pull weight while seated at his feet.

      Although I never owned a trigger gauge (and still don’t) I knew how I liked my triggers set up. I made my first trigger for a firearm almost 40 years ago. I’ve owned guns with jewel and timney triggers. I still own guns with aftermarket canjars and volquartsen triggers. I just installed an aftermarket rifle basix trigger in a Winchester model 70. I’m a trigger nut.

      My old definition of a good trigger was “light weight”. Although concise not complete. My current definition of a good trigger might be different than yours. I like a short first stage/take up, no creep and a clean, crisp break. “Like a small glass rod breaking” is a common analogy. I still occasionally shoot my colt python and in double action it has the typical trigger stack and although I’ve gotten used to it I don’t care for it. I had a daystate mct with the electronic trigger. According to marshall’s trigger gauge it had a 9 ounce trigger pull. Hated it. No feedback. Pulling the trigger on that gun was like clicking your computer mouse. The trigger pull was one of the reasons I sold that gun.

      Here’s the lesson B.B. taught me:

      Trigger pull weight alone is a poor way to judge whether a trigger is good or bad. If you’re going to judge a trigger using only one criteria make it a clean and stable break. If it has a clean and stable break, no creep, the total pull weight can feel remarkably light and most of the weight can be forgiven by me. Years ago when reading B.B.’s reviews of a trigger I focused solely on pull weight. I’ve learned to focus more attention on his great descriptions of the break.

      I’m not sure everyone appreciates B.B.’s trigger experience and how well he can describe a trigger. From years of shooting air pistols in competition, shooting FT and gunsmithing colts he knows a good trigger and describes the shortcomings of a bad one. Unfortunately I think too many readers, like I was, focus soley on trigger pull weights.


      • My apologies, you are right concerning quality triggers. Just so you understand my perspective, my plinking rifle is a FWB 601 and my plinking pistol is an Izzy 46M. I think shoot and it goes off.

  3. B.B.! I FOUND IT!!!! I found THE air rifle I have been looking for! Now if I can just figure out how to pay for it.

    You may remember our conversation at the Roanoke show about how I was looking for a SSP or multi-pump with +12FPE. I thought that Crosman should take the Katana and make it into a multi-pump. You told me that they were coming out with a new multi-pump this year and I got excited. Then they brought out that sheep in wolf’s clothing and you told me it was the one to which you referred. Boy, was I disappointed.

    Well, this morning on another blog I was reading an interview with the guy who started FX and the Independence was mentioned. I did a little digging and went gaga! Here is a high quality multi-pump that puts out over 18FPE in .177 and 30FPE in .22! You can even fill it from a bottle! Oh Yeah Baby!

    The one drawback is because it is made in Europe, it has a stiff price tag on it. Anyone want to buy my air gun collection?

      • Kevin,

        Yes, the FX Independence. From the various reviews I have seen and read so far today, it is the air rifle I have been looking for. One of the reasons I have not taken the plunge into PCP is all of the other equipment you need just to take your first shot. I LOVE my FWB 601, but it lacks the power I would like for “long range” shooting and all the other multi-pumps I have seen either lack the power, accuracy and/or quality I am looking for. Maybe one day the Chinese (read Crosman) will catch on one day and market something I would buy.

        • RidgeRunner,

          I’ve shot Scot’s FX Independence.

          The good. Stock, out of the box, the FX Independence likes to be filled/pumped to 200 bar. Very common for the Independence to get 5 shots with less than 25fps spread without additional pumping. Refilling using the onboard pump requires 3 pump strokes per shot here at 5,200 feet elevation (thin air). 3 pump strokes X 5 shots = 15 strokes. I’ve read that it only requires 2 strokes per shot to refill at lower elevations. The FX Independence is very easy to pump. Even the last stroke.

          The primary attraction for this gun is being independent from a fill source/tank. You get FX quality, good trigger and accuracy thrown in for free.

          The bad. The FX Independence is a big gun. It balances fairly well but I have a prejudice against sidelevers that dates back to a diana 54. At 8 lbs. it’s heavier than a pcp needs to be. The onboard pump contributes to this “excess” weight so there’s one trade-off. Another trade-off is since the pump is onboard you have more things to go wrong with the gun. Many of the early model FX Independence guns had problems with the cocking arm/cocking linkage galling. Apparently FX addressed this with a bushing. Still some issues being reported though. The early guns also had seal and o ring issues. Don’t know if they’ve completely sorted this out. The FX Independence has the new smooth twist barrel. Many airgunners think this is the best thing since sliced bread. I’m not among them. I’ve only shot two FX airguns with smooth twist barrels and the accuracy was mediocre. They would group 5 pellets then throw a flyer. I cleaned the barrels. I lubed pellets. I shot unlubed pellets. I shot 1,000 pellets without cleaning since some owners said their smooth twist barrels improved over time without cleaning. Nothing I did with these two guns worked. I wouldn’t suggest that you rule out trying a smooth twist barrel based on my two experiences but I’ll never own another one.

          For whatever reason the price of used FX Independence guns has dropped quickly. I was offered an FX Independence (that needs seals) last week for $1,100.00 and turned it down. I’ve seen many FX Independence guns in good working order sell for $1200-$1300 so don’t let the retail price be a deciding factor.

          In summary, I would suggest you buy a good pump for $200 and then buy the pcp you want without regard to whether it has an onboard pump or not.


          • Kevin,
            Thanks for the first hand experience. This is one of the many things I like about this blog.

            Very likely, because of the price, I will end up buying an used Edge I have had my eye on for some time and then of course I will be buying a Hill pump for it. And then since I will have a pump, I will probably buy a Talon SS and start tinkering with it. And so on and so on…

            I still wish that Crosman would take the Katana and turn it into a decent multi-pump.

  4. This is an off topic question, but seeing the Revolver sparked me to ask it.

    Has anyone used any aftermarket sight PAINT for firearms, and maybe even air pistols like this?

    If so, what brand would you recommend that you are someone you know has experience with? So far I’ve found Glow-On, Site-Glo, Bright-Sights, and TruGlo, but I see mixed reviews on all of them. Even concerns about their individual application.

    Next, what color do you recommend in your experience? It appears that white and light-green are the most common in the firearm world, and I am hoping that is because of research concerning what the eye may pick up more easily. I have seen red used, but have heard acquisition if not as good as white/green. Same for orange/yellow. I guess too, if you use luminescent paint white/green may be more advantageous in the dark.

    I also read where people have suggested paints (epoxy, krylon, nail polish, etc.) that work better than the dedicated sight paints I mentioned above, for application and durability.

    This will be for a holstered revolver.

    Thanks in advance for your responses.

    • Sighter,

      I colored the front post on a low powered springer that I use in the shade to shoot mice. I’m embarrassed to admit that I used Liquid Paper (white out) since it was handy and I know I can remove it easily.

      White works fine for my application. Maybe the other colors would work better in bright sunlight I just don’t know. Never had trouble with gunsight black in bright sunlight though.


  5. Dear B.B.

    First I would like to say that I am very pleased with the blog, your reports and the comments; it is very nice to find such free amount of knowledge, shared with such a good disposition.

    I noticed that the S&W 586 does not seem to respect the “rule” (determined by physics you have already explained) that with CO2 airguns heavier pellets should give a higher muzzle energy. Does it mean, you think, that the rule does not apply for short barrels (4-6 inches, as those of hand airguns), but it is true for longer barrels? Would a lower limit to barrel length exist, from which the rule applies?

    Thank you very much for your attention!

    • Vasili,

      I noticed that relationship between pellet weight and energy and didn’t mention it because the “rule” seems to be proven wrong a lot more these days. Maybe the rules have changed and we didn’t get the memo? 🙂


      • B.B.,

        Yes, I should read again your recent reports about other low or medium powered CO2 airguns, and may be I should perform a more detailed “statistics”. I have myself tested rather different pellet weights with my Crosman 2260 at 15 to 20 m, and the effects on the targets (mostly soap bars) seem to support a considerably higher energy for, for example, H&N of 21.14 grains, than for very light alloy (PBA) pellets (the first are also considerably more precise, at least in my 2260). But I understand that heavier pellets retain more energy during their flight, because a similar air resistance produces a smaller stopping effect in a larger mass, so I am not comparing the muzzle energies, but the energy after 15 – 20 m (unfortunately, I do not have a chrony!). A bit off-topic: it is a pitty that the 2260 is no more manufactured! Here in Argentina there are still some available, and if had the money I would buy another one before they dissapear!

        • Vasili,

          Don’t worry. Crosman will bring the 2260 back sometime in the future. And I’m talking to them now about making a new gun based on it. The Benjamin Discovery was based on the 2260 — did you know that?


          • B. B.,

            Very good news what you say about the 2260, and better if a new related gun with your ideas is introduced! Yes, I knew that the Discovery was based on the 2260, and I have heard the best about it. I would go for one, if the price here was not U$S 1000+!!! Yes, more than one thousand!

        • Vasil Z,First off,let me say I really like the way you worded your compliment to BB about the blog…..it was spot on! I also think your conclusion about heavy pellets needing a longer barrel to realize their advantage.In respect to your lack of a chronograph,the soap tests are measuring ballistic coefficient more than velocity at the ranges your tests have been carried out.You might find some good ideas for experiments by doing a search for “ballistic pendulum” or an older blog BB wrote about “Splatology” that was very neat.I too went far too long without a chronograph.I couldn’t go without mine now.

          • Frank B,

            Thank you for your response and your suggestion. Yes, I understand your point regarding the pendulum: the maximum height (or the corresponding maximum angle) reached would be related with the pellet energy at the moment of impact (I say related and not equal if multiplied by g and the pendulum mass, because of pellet and target deformation). I will do the search you suggest and thus continue learning!

  6. Your 50 round count per CO2 is spot on as about the max for good shots with the last few streaming down the target. After that the pellets’ POI fall fairly rapidly. I typically load five ten round mags and change out CO2 at the end regardless of how it’s shooting. Looking forward to your accuracy test.

  7. Eeee, stop it. I love the SW 5/686 series.

    Duskwight, Russian and space-gothic sounds good to me. I can’t wait to see it. I read about the Great Northern War and Poltava in the book, Peter the Great, by Robert K. Massie which I thought was terrific. From what I gathered, Poltava was a bit of an anti-climax as the Swedes were already exhausted after extensive campaigning in Russia. And the battlefield was selected so that they were in a hopeless situation from the start where they had a long walk into cannon fire. Some people never learn whether its the Swedes, the French or the Germans (several times over). One writer has said that the two rules of warfare are that you don’t invade China and you don’t invade Russia.

    Here’s a cool moment from the Act of Valor movie with the Navy Seals. Interrogating a criminal on his expensive yacht, the Seal officer says, “The second I walked through the door, this boat was no longer yours.” Cool. Maybe, I’ll find a use for that line someday. 🙂


  8. OT…just finished reading ‘Afghantsy’ a book by the British ambassador to Moscow in the late 70’s (R. Braithwaite).
    A fascinating book about the Russians involvement in Afghanistan, with the ability to look consider things without the blinders of the cold war.
    An official statement as to why the Russians went in:
    -stabilize the government
    -improve the agricultural/educational systems
    -improve the living standards of the people…especially the women by promoting better education and job opportunities.

    Wow…sounds so much like today. And as with today they were actually welcomed at first, but soon ‘overstayed’ their welcome. It truly seems the Afghan’s, then and now wanted us to come in, clean up, get out…but leave a ton of cash and weapons so they could continue their tribal warfare uninterrupted.
    (I completely understand if you want to get rid of this Edith…but it’s a book I heartily recommend as it give many insights as to why Afghanistan will never be ‘won’)

    • CBSD,

      I have no reason to delete your comment. By the time we reach tomorrow, your comment will have led someone to mention firearms used in the Afghan war, then later on someone will mention that they have a neighbor who fought in Afghanistan and finally they’ll find out that the neighbor shoots airguns in his basement…we’re back to airguns again 🙂


    • There are some really sweet looking guns for sale at that auction! I wish I could go and could legally buy more of them. There’s also a few cheap guns(I saw a marksman 1010 aka the most inacurate gun in the world) anyone knows if there was a particular reason other than convenience for the hangin of all his rifles upside down?


      • J-F,

        Many old firearm guys store their guns upside down because oils and solvents tend to migrate into actions and stocks when stored constantly on their butts. Don’t know if this is why he did it but it’s not uncommon to see guns stored this way. Old school.


        • Now if one can explain why so many catalogs and TV/Movies show katanas, et al. on racks with the edge down.

          I’ve read somewhere that they should be racked with the edge up — so that the oils on the blade don’t seep down to the cutting edge and congeal…

    • Kevin,

      No. I’m saving to buy a combination rifle/shotgun made by Nelson Lewis in the 1860s 0r ’70s. It is cased and has the original swages to make picket bullets. It’s a beaut, but it’s priced accordingly, so this is a selling year for me.


  9. I’ve had a S&W 586 6″ (.177) for several years. It has never given me any trouble, and it shoots just as good now as it did when new. Better actually, because the DA pull gets smoother the more you use it. And as B.B. noted the SA pull breaks very cleanly.

    David H

  10. Oh, I forgot to mention, one of the nice features of this gun is the case. There are numerous pre-formed foam cutouts for numerous items. In mine I have a tin of pellets, extra revolver mags, 4 CO2 cartridges and a tube of Pelgun oil. Everything you need right there!

    David H

  11. I started the hobby just about a year ago with a Gamo cfx, I’m 64 now ,eleven rifles into the game. Got the Marauder, the Disco, Rws etc. but the cfx continues to make my days , it’s real accurate, hardly any kick good all around for fun. Picked it up for 100, but now it busted the spring and the game is getting harder. I live in Puerto Rico,by the way capital of iguana hunting,and its been hard to find the parts for the cfx . Can’t send it to Gamo not feasible, any ideas as to where I can get the spring without having to show credentials of an air gunsmith ? As for the iguanas they have become a huge nuisance farmers down here are glad to have them eliminated . PR has no restrictions on airguns thank goodness .

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