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Smith & Wesson pellet revolver: Part 3

by B.B.Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

S&W 586 revolver is impressive!

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the S&W 586 pellet revolver. My memory of this revolver dates to several years ago, and I had been shooting five-shot groups for accuracy back then; but for today’s test, I shot 10-shot groups. Given the nine different pellets I tried, and a couple of them twice, I shot well over 100 rounds in this test.

I shot so many shots because I was looking for a good pellet. Most of the pellets were giving group sizes of around two inches, and I knew the gun was capable of better than that. So, I hung in there until I discovered two pellets that did relatively well. All shooting was done at 10 meters with a two-hand rested hold. My ability to hold a handgun with one hand has diminished in the past several years, and I didn’t want that to influence the outcome of this test.

Nine different pellets were tested in the S&W 586. That’s a lot of shooting!

Beeman H&N Match
The first good pellet I tried was the Beeman H&N Match. They did so much better than any other pellet up to that point that they stood out. The first group measured 1.289 inches. That’s pretty good for 10 shots — it might equate to a 5-shot group that measures 0.90 inches between centers.

The first good group of 10 was this one with Beeman H&N match pellets. It measures 1.289-inches across.

After that first good group ,I settled down knowing the gun could shoot. My next group with the same Beeman H&N Match pellet was a little larger, at 1.656 inches.

The second group of Beeman H&N Match pellets was a little larger, at 1.656 inches across.

That’s still okay, but I thought the gun could do even better — so I continued testing different pellets. Only H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets were in the same league as the Beeman H&N Match, but I didn’t bother pursuing them, because I wanted to find a pellet that was even better.

Knowing that target wadcutters were shooting better than domed pellets, I continued to try them. However, the JSB S100s I tried were uncooperative. And Gamo Match pellets were only in the two-inch range.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
Finally, I tried RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. Sometimes, these pellets are the best when H&N pellets are not, although this wasn’t one of those times. The first 10 sailed through a group that measured only 1.31 inches.

This group of RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets measures 1.31 inches between centers. It’s practically a twin of the best group of Beeman H&N Match Pistol pellets.

I noticed while shooting the 586 that the second stage of the trigger-pull has a little creep in it. That could smooth out, and it would become a better pull.

I didn’t attempt to test the revolver in the double-action mode, because it really isn’t well suited to shooting targets this small. Outdoors, when the range is more open and safer, I’m sure it would be just as delightful as it feels — which is pretty darn good.

When I sighted in before this test began, the rear sight had to be moved quite a but to the left and up by a lot. Even then, the gun was shooting to the point of aim at 10 meters. So, the 6 o’clock hold produced groups at 6 o’clock.

The bottom line
I have to give the 586 a good rating overall; but since this is the third time I’ve visited this particular model, I think I must have some kind of affinity for it. Perhaps, it’s because of the realism or the beautiful double-action trigger pull. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think I’m going to let this revolver go back to Pyramyd Air.

56 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson pellet revolver: Part 3”

  1. Finale Match and R10 are top-flight pellets. We’re talking “take ’em to the Olympics” top-flight.

    Have you considered ordering a pack of Gehmann targets for these trials? They punch cleanly even down to 400FPS or so.

    • flobert,

      No, I haven’t considered that. The targets I use cost plenty, plus I back them with cardboard, so they should cut clean. Obviously they don’t, but I’m darned if I’m going to spend a bucketload of money to fix a problem that should already work.


      • I understand the money situation, I just look at the money all the guns you test must cost, the pellets, the range time, etc., and figure a pack of targets, even fancy European ones, can’t add that much to the cost and would have a huge effect. The Gehmann’s are made out of some different kind of fiber that’s apparently not available in the States, and they’re amazing. I guess you’ve never used them, you’ll be very pleased if you get a chance to.

        Maybe someone here (I don’t have any right now) would be willing to contribute some?

    • I like to use the Birchwood-Casey “Shoot-N-C” targets. They give a highly visible indication where hit.
      Might not be the best for measuring group size, like BB does here.

      My BB-gun shooting grandchildren, Melanie and Nicky, are moving into the competitive shooting phase of their education. They will shoot for ribbons a week from today, and will shoot in a traveling tournament in two weeks.

      You made it sound like I actually had a coherent plan for my career. You give me more credit than I deserve. I had actually intended to use my four-year Poli-Sci degree to go on to law school, but didn’t have the money to continue. Some of my classmates were pretty successful at that.

      I went to a college that was well-served by railroad passenger trains (pre-AMTRAK). Lacking a car most of the time, I got into the habit of using them to make trips to Minneapolis, Chicago, and Denver. It looked to me like a great industry to work in.

      After I graduated, I was actually approached by a railroad agent and offered a job. I started in station operations, making as much or more money than my classmates with their degrees. But it was not what I planned to do. I had no plan. I was guided by what I liked to do. It was never about the money.

      I’ve seen a lot of people who made more money than me, by simply working for the money and living for payday and the weekend. As it was, life worked out reasonably well for me, but not because of any grand plan I cooked up. Just having a passion for what you are doing will get you through.


      • Les,

        Getting back to your previous posting, that’s fun – I’m PhD in political science, and I also used to work on a railroad πŸ™‚ I love steam locos, so I used to work for some time as a fireman on one – “Victory” or “L” series 2200 hp, 140 km\h top speed, a hundred tons of beaty and steel. It was used to pull vintage cars for excursions and sometimes for movies, sometimes it works as a poney engine. I just love them, because they are “live” and beautiful – the sound of their whistles makes my heart tremble (as well as the earth around :))


        • I’ve ridden in the cabs of steam locomotives, but never ran one. My locomotive experience consists of running Diesel locomotives from all the “generations” of them. The last train I ran was a loaded coal train in New Mexico. It had three loco units on the head-end and two more remotely-controlled on the rear. The lead unit was very new, a General Electric ES44AC4 with variable drive axle loading.

          I’ve always had a fascination for mechanical things, and really enjoyed having a job that let me work outdoors away from people, especially in the American West, where the landscape is mostly the same as 500 years ago.


          • I took a group of motorcycle riding insurance execs to Scranton, PA years ago. Hey, we didn’t only do golf outings. It’s the newest National Park – Steam City, USA. Working steam powered locomotives and more on display. As we were looking at a locomotive from Pacific Western (huge – it was used to haul freight over the Rockies), one fellow leaned over and told me, “Fred, remind me to tell you the story of how I blew up a steam engine”. Wasn’t what I thought it would be. He related how he fired a set of air to ground missiles from his Phantom when he served in the Marines during Vietnam and blew up a steam locomotive. The punch line was one of the driving wheels rocketing past his plane which was hit by shrapnel from the exploding engine. He said he refused to tell the debriefing staff that a steam locomotive nearly took him out and said the anti-aircraft fire was intense over Hanoi. Believe it or not. I wasn’t going to call him a liar.

            My favorite locomotive, however, is Raymond Loweries’ GG1. Gorgeous.

            Fred DPRoNJ

      • Desert Dweller – When I was wasting time (and money!) in college, I saw an ad in the paper for the carpenter’s union, and talked with their representative. They wanted me, and as an apprentice would have made $7 an hour. I considered dropping college and going with them, and should have. Being able to make stuff out of wood is far more real, and pays much better, than anything high-tech. I picked up a lot about working with wood from my dad. My dad was a talented and industrious amateur carpenter, and loved it. But for a career, like me, he fell for the high-tech con also, and was a computer programmer. Lousy pay, and he died in poverty at least 10 years sooner than he should have.

        • College wasn’t a waste of time. It resulted in me finding what I really wanted to do with my life. I enjoyed the classes. My minor was a “minor in depth” in geography. I graduated only a few credits short of a double major: BA’s in both Poli Sci and Geography.

          One of my Geography professors was a railfan.

          I think God has a plan for everyone, especially for fools like me who have a hard time planning. The key is to be aware of what He is trying to tell you.


          • The “brave new economy” has resulted in a lot of free time to wander and wonder, indeed. In fact, it was almost like being knocked back to being 13 years old (except I had a motorcycle). I had to start over doing the kind of work I did at 13, like pulling weeds. I gradually worked my way up to more “adult” work, where “adult” might mean that guy who roams your neighborhood with a backpack on, collecting cans lol. If when I lost everything it was like being busted back to age 13, that would put me now at age 18, and in fact I’m finally doing grown-up type work again and have a car.

            These teeny SMT parts scare the bleep out of me but I just soldered a few really small 3-terminal devices on my practice board and they came out beautiful, nice wet connections and all perfectly aligned. Time to start on the real boards I guess.

      • There’s money in railroads now. My brother went to a professional conference hosted by a railroad, and it was held at a sort of private preserve. For activities, guests could go on various kinds of hunts, and shoot at an archery range and skeet range. And there was a perpetually open bar for three days. This was not Amtrak but some kind of freight hauler. City of New Orleans is one of my favorite songs.


        • Given our gas/oil situation, trains are the future. And, for instance, look up CalTrain jobs, just the guy sweeping up in the workshop makes like $20 an hour.

          If I were younger (I turn 50 this year!) I’m seriously look at working on the railroad. Except not an engineer! No way! People keep getting in front of the CalTrain and the engineer is the guy who’s going to feel awful when someone gets squished.

          Of course if I were much younger I’d seriously work on a music degree. Or, maybe work on the railroad and be a serious music hobbyist.

          As it is, I’m learning to work with those teeny surface-mount electronics parts, I hope to get 3 boards built today and ready to test. I just unpacked my cheerfully-colored new “Hello Kitty” soldering iron, a Hakko FX-951, and am ready to go. I’m tapering way down on coffee, no more quart of coffee in the AM. But I have a headache so I’m indulging in an RC cola here and a couple of aspirin, before I get working on these teeny parts. I managed to avoid working with SMT stuff for a long time, but now I’m learning it. Amazingly, on the practice board, I’ve already done some really neat soldering and my first fine-pitch IC was a breeze, with my old Weller iron.

          • Engineers develop a cynical attitude toward stupid drivers as a self-defense mechanism. What you cannot defend against are feelings when some innocent person is injured or killed, because the vehicle driver wasn’t paying attention. Kids are going to see the train: they are going to be watching even if the driver isn’t.

            I know one guy who killed an entire family, five people, when a station wagon was driven into the path of his train. The last thing he saw was the kids’ faces looking up at him.

            He remained a railroader, but that was the last train he drove.


        • Railroads can be incredibly profitable, especially in these days of deregulation. A loaded unit coal train, for instance, can gross over $30,000 for operation over a 100-mile run on a shortline. The delivering big railroad (that brings the train to the shortline) provides the locos and fuel. The customer (the powerplant) owns or leases the cars. Cost to the shortline railroad: two days’ pay for two crew members, plus overhead on track (track maintenance, taxes, insurance). The two day’s pay includes the cost of returning the empty train.

          Total crew cost for both days: a few hundred dollars, plus crew transportation to and from the train.


  2. I know BB has chastised us before about being cheap, but I just CANNOT wrap my head around paying $250+ for an action pistol. To me, the price point for an action pistol HAS to be under $100 for me to even consider it. The reason is that I don’t shoot such guns for groups. I tend to draw and rapid fire. Or I line up a bunch of cans and see how much I can get them to bounce around. I can understand paying more for a high quality competition gun if that is your thing. And I suppose I can understand that these type of action pistols likely are made of better materials, etc. and the quality is better. But $200 better? For the price of this gun, you could also purchase the Diana RWS 34 Striker Combo, TO6 Trigger Air rifle. If I had $250 to spend, it would be on the RWS rifle. It could be used for fun shooting targets or hunting. Basically, I’m paying for utility. And that’s worth something to me.

    Final thought, I am not criticizing anyone who disagrees and feels a high quality, collectible action pistol is worth the money. Just giving my own opinion. Perhaps I’m just jealous of folks who have the ability to buy them.

    Happy shooting!

    • Jealousy is so unbecoming πŸ˜‰
      At first I thought much like you…I started off with the Umarex PPK/s…a great little pistol that with the blowback was just so much fun. As you mentioned, chasing cans around the yard was just a hoot.
      But I was converted when a friend of mine came by with his Umarex 1911 and was accurately hitting plastic film canisters (if anyone remembers them) at 40′. I was hooked.

      • CSD,
        Don’t destroy those film canisters. They are perfect for hoarding your quarter collection, and if you have the kind with the light grey lids you can write the state name on top with a permanent marker.

        Now, has anyone found another use for spent CO2 cartridges yet?

        • Chuck,
          Film canisters make great containers for small parts,and CO2 containers make good targets if you drill out the small end to fit a section of coat hanger wire or welding rod then stick them in the ground . they are kind of like small metal cat tail stalks.

          • shaky,
            Thanks for the idea. I was looking for something more in line with recycling but I like your idea much better. Hmm… I still have to properly dispose of the critters after I bang them, though, don’t I? At least your idea provides extended enjoyment before disposal.

    • Sounds like you might prefer some of the AirSoft blowback models… Shorter effective range, I suspect, but somewhat lower cost too ($100-150?); and bags of biodegradable balls are probably cheaper than lead pellets.

      • Actually, I prefer the power of an actual Co2 pellet pistol, or bb pistol. For instance, Umarex SA 177 blow back. Also have a cheap Daisy Powerline 008 (8 shot semi auto). The airsoft guns in my house are for my boys who have “wars” in the woods.

        I like to shoot action pistols. I don’t like being shot at. πŸ™‚

    • How about this? A pure target pistol is used in the abstract where you are focused on shot technique. But an action pistol is experienced through the drawing, pointing, and snap shooting techniques. Therefore it makes more sense to pay for a gun you’ll enjoy.


      • Matt61,

        I believe you are on the right track. A highly accurate target pistol SHOULD cost more than an action pistol as you describe it. But, in my opinion, if shooting technique and small groups are what you want, I’d spend $250 on something like the Crosman 2300S. There is no need for the gun to look like or feel like an actual firearm. It’s all about GROUPS. In my mind, action pistols are all about cheaply practicing your general handgun handling….accuracy is secondary. If I were to buy a CO2 pellet revolver for the snap shooting, I’d go with the Crosman 357 which my dad has, costs about $60. Fun to shoot.

        AGAIN, these are only MY opinions…and as my wife says, they aren’t worth very much. πŸ™‚

  3. I think that there’s another lure other than a gun that shoots tight groups, and that’s the joy of shooting a very well made gun with smooth action, and near flawless construction. The Makarov comes to mind, since it also is well constructed and shoots like a dream. Yes, the Makarov is about 1/5th. the cost of the S&W, yet there are those guns where price isn’t the deciding factor. I tend not to spend much for quality, though I do occasionally encounter a gun that I’m willing to pay the price for simply for the enjoyment of shooting the thing.

  4. Oh, the air pistol. I really enjoy that it can be cocked for single action by pulling back the slide, and it’s remarkably accurate. Just don’t push a patch into the barrel to clean the bore and think you’ll be able to shoot it out. I did that first thing upon receiving it and had to dismantle the gun to remove it. It seems the Makarov shoots the bbs out of the magazine instead of being loaded into the breech. RC

  5. B.B., we know you shot off all those rounds because it was fun…. PA should let you keep whatever test gun you want.

    Kevin, your grandfather sounds like quite the character–a man out of history who would make quite the case study for modern education on domestic abuse. He also reminds me of a martial arts master who said, “Who needs friends? I can get into trouble all by myself.” As the blocker and “dog” were you supposed to go into the line of fire to start the game?

    Wulfraed, maybe the Brits are on to something. My SMLE No. 4 Mk. I* has a ghost ring battle sight which can be flipped up and exchanged for a tiny target sight that is adjustable for elevation. After this, the battle sight on my M1 does look a bit small.

    Flobert, you would love a book called Profscam (1985). An experiment is done whereby an actor is given the name Dr. Myron Fox and sent to deliver a bogus presentation at a mathematics conference. He gets up and spouts pure nonsense made up of incoherent snippets from mathematic publications. Afterwards, the audience of math professors is surveyed about what they thought of Dr. Fox and the answers were: “Very compelling”, “highly original”, “most interesting”….

    I thought that the master’s program I was in was like doing college for real instead of screwing around. And one of the things I like about librarianship is participating in continuing education where people are learning for their own purpose on their own time. Naturally, I am in the forefront of that movement!

    On the subject of money, there was a recent news article about some bankers who were going broke on their $350,000 salaries. Favorite quote: “Those who don’t have money don’t understand the stress.” …

    Any opinions on the John Carter movie? The word is that it is actually better than its weirdo subject matter and storyline suggest. I must say that I never cared for the books. They are absolute bloodbaths. The Martian Green Men are complete savages who wear their enemies’ hands and feet as necklaces and like to stick horns in each other and rip their bodies wide open. John Carter himself exterminates groups of people wholesale. I much prefer Tarzan.


    • Wulfraed, maybe the Brits are on to something. My SMLE No. 4 Mk. I* has a ghost ring battle sight which can be flipped up and exchanged for a tiny target sight that is adjustable for elevation. After this, the battle sight on my M1 does look a bit small.

      Wonder what the HK-91/G3 would look like if ghost rings were considered viable back in its day…

      As it is, I’ve read reports that the HK-91/G3 has what is considered one of the better sights for a military rifle. The front post is encircled by a protective ring, making it a pseudo-globe style; the rear sight is adjustable for elevation and windage, but consists of a tilted drum containing three peeps marked 200, 300, 400 (meters). But the fourth position is a simple unrated V notch described as a “battle-V” (apparently if the enemy are closer than 200 meters one is supposed to go to the open V for faster target acquisition — and rely on the V being accurate enough for a body sized target running toward one.

  6. OT…well, no more airguns for a while ;-(
    Over the weekend I noticed a sewage odour in my basement (where I of course have my shooting range).
    Had a plumber drop by yesterday who looked at it…he figures the 90 degree bend UNDER THE CONCRETE is the culprit.
    He says $2500 is the best case scenario…double that is worst case.
    He was at my house before I left for work this morning.
    I tell ya…one sentence you don’t want to hear when your leaving for work is…”I just gotta go to the truck to get my jackhammer”.

  7. “I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think I’m going to let this revolver go back to Pyramyd Air.”
    Honestly I’m amazed at how you can let most of them go back. Except for the magnum springers (which I’m really not a fan of) I think I’d have a hard time not keeping most of the stuff I get to try.


    • At some point storage becomes a problem. Even the good Lady Edith isn’t going to let Tom take up the whole house, adding roughly one air gun a week. Besides, learning how to be decisive is good for the soul.

      • How are you doing Pete?

        I know, I know, I’m not saying it’s not right you know.
        I’m saying I’d have a hard time returning all of them, I’d be keeping more than Tom is.
        I have in the neighborhood of 15 action pistols, I’m only using 3 but for some reason I just can’t get rid of the others (in fact I just bought a PX4) and I want to buy the Makarov Tom keeps telling us about and the Crosman Tokarev copy as soon as it comes out and will probably also buy the Browning Hi-Power Umarex is supposed to be bringing out.
        I have no idea where I’m gonna put them…


      • Petez,

        Our current house is 2x larger than the one we had for 20 years in Maryland. We have 4 bedrooms. One of our guest rooms is devoted to guns. When Mac visits, he sleeps there. I don’t clear out any of the guns. It told him it’s like sleeping in a gun vault. He likes it πŸ™‚ We have a storage locker that has lots of gun boxes, our garage is loaded with gun boxes and there are guns under our bed. Tom’s office has so many guns all over it that it’s really just another gun vault. We have guns stashed around the house, too. It’s insane around here. We seriously need 5,000-10,000 sq. ft. to accommodate Tom’s penchant for gun collecting. Of course, then he’d feel pressured to fill up any empty space πŸ™‚


        • I have a theory about guys garage and womens purse : “No mather how big it is, it will always be full.”
          Owning a large industrial building where I could have my own personnal indoor range is a dream.


          • J-F,

            I am the exception. I carry very little in my pocketbook. I have a micro wallet, eyeglasses case, pen, checkbook, nail clippers, swiss army knife, keys & my Glock. I used carry a spare loaded mag, but Tom said I probably won’t be in a firefight & could probably leave it at home πŸ™‚

            I used to wear a small fanny pack, which I loved, but they didn’t make one that could carry my gear plus the Glock in a separate compartment, so I had to get a purse πŸ™


          • I guess I could build a UIT-regulation range here if I wanted to. Just put it inside a shipping container.

            When I moved here I had visions of a house and shop made of two shipping containers, with some space between them for semi-outdoor storage, I guess now that would be where I park the Volvinator. The shop could be a 10m range when needed.

            As it is, I can set up an outdoor range any time, in an area that’s surrounded by shipping containers, my office trailer, and some fairly dense trees. It’s pretty nice.

            • Flobert you need to look at this house, it’s pure genius
              a guy here had a project in HaΓ―ti after the earthquake that ripped thru everything overthere to build houses with old containers, where the window openings were just cutouts that could be closed and locked from the inside.
              A house made of containers would be a great protection in case of zombie invasion.


  8. Why do you always use a 1962 silver dime? It is the same one in every blog you show a dime in.
    Also, I don’t check that email. So I would apprecite it if you could post it here if you answer.

    Best regards,

    • Gunner23,

      Tom keeps the dime handy so he doesn’t have to search for one when he needs it the next time. I assume you know that he uses the dime so readers will have a comparison for the group size. πŸ™‚

      I don’t know what you mean when you say “I don’t check that email. So I would appreciate it if you could post it here if you answer.” Which email are you referencing? Tom always answers questions in the blogs. In fact, he does not take a question from a blog comment & answer it by private email.


    • Gunner23,

      The dime is for scale, as Edith said. And I use the same one because it’s the dime I have set aside for this.

      I never answer questions anywhere buy here on the blog. When people email me directly I post their questions here and answer them here.


      • Can’t tell in the photo, but a 1962 dime in EF-40 condition is worth (red-book, 2012 edition [which means prices based on late 2010 since it is released in April of 2011]) $2.25. Per the book, EF-40 is “all lines of torch, flame, and hair very plain”. Blue-book prices tend to be half of that (blue book is you selling to a dealer, red book is you buying from the dealer).

        We may be concerned about the potential loss of some real money here — vs a modern clad dime…

        • I know why you show a dime for size comparison.
          I don’t check that e-mail because I forgot my password and that was my junk e-mail anyway so it doesn’t matter.

          Did you know that was a silver dime to begin with? Or was it just a random dime?

  9. B.B., if all goes well there will be a picture of a pellet where my gravatar picture hangs out beside my post. This is the pellet I asked about several weeks ago. The only thing I know for sure is that I have had them since the late ’70s. Rather than having a wasp waist the body is more like the cylindrical tube of a model rocket (and the tube is hollow). The head of the pellet I liken to a shallow conical hat like those we may liken to those often seen in depictions of Asia, particularly China. There is the barest hint of a point atop the pellet. The skirt is almost like having the same hat affixed to the bottom of the pellet.

    It isn’t overly important, but I want to offer the photo and see if anyone remembers this pellet.
    I believe I ordered from Mr. Beeman back when, but my memory has been proven faulty a few times (intended understatement).


    P.S. On the medical front we are doing fairly well. We made a trip to the VA Medical Center earlier today and are both somewhat fatigued, but otherwise doing well. Fixing to watch an episode of Perry Mason.

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