Smith & Wesson model 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

S&W 77A
My S&W model 77A rifle. The black paint is flaking off the aluminum receiver, but the steel and wood parts are both in good condition.

Part 1
Part 2

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • The experiment
  • Accuracy test
  • Sight-in
  • Crosman Premiers
  • RWS Superdomes
  • RWS Hobby
  • JSB Exact RS
  • Now what?
  • Zero the dot sight
  • Stuff happens
  • Summary

Today we test the accuracy of the Smith & Wesson 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle, but first we have an experiment to do. On Friday I told you I had added ATF sealant to the rifle’s pump cup, and during shooting it got blown through the valve to get onto every internal seal.

At the end of the Friday velocity test the rifle was shooting a lot faster than it had in the beginning. I said it could have been due to the pumping that had heated the seals, making them more flexible and efficient. Or it could have been the ATF sealant, which does the same thing. Or it could have been a combination of both.

The experiment

Here is the deal. If the ATF sealant was the cause of the velocity increase, the velocity with Crosman Premiers from a cold rifle with 13 pumps would be close to 594 f.p.s. If it was just due to the seals heating while operation the velocity would be closer to, well, I don’t have a velocity from a cold gun shooting Premiers on 13 pumps, but with 12 pumps it shot 545 f.p.s. So perhaps 555 or 560 f.p.s. from a cold gun, if heated seals were the main cause. But, if it was a combination of the ATF sealant and the heated seals, then a cold gun might give me around 575 f.p.s. or so. That’s faster than it gave before when cold, but not as fast as it gave at the end of testing last time.

All it takes is one shot on a rifle that hasn’t been pumped or shot in 20 hours to tell us whether the sealant, or heating the seals or both are what’s behind the velocity increase. And the shot registered 580 f.p.s. That is pretty convincing evidence that the ATF sealant did a lot of the work, but heating the seals through operation was also involved. This is one more proof that AFT sealant is a benefit for the seals in pneumatic and CO2 airguns.

Accuracy test

Now it was time to test the rifle for accuracy. S&W has not established a reputation for airgun barrels, apart from the 78G and 79G pistols, so I didn’t know what the expect. Obviously I hoped for the best. Company ads claimed dime-sized groups at 33 feet, and we decided they were talking about 5-shot groups. Well, I decided but nobody argued with me.

I shot the rifle from 10 meters (32.8 feet) rested directly on a long sandbag. I decided to pump the gun 6 times per shot, and you have already seen how easy the 77A is to pump. I used the open sights that come on the rifle, though they have no windage adjustment, so I hope they are on. I shot 5-shot groups, just because this is a multi-pump pneumatic and I wanted to finish shooting before the morning was over.

Sight-in

The first shot was fired from 10 meters. It was a gamble, but I find when I use factory open sights they are usually pretty close to right on at that distance.

Crosman Premiers

I fired the first shot with Crosman Premiers. Shot one hit the target paper an inch from the bull I aimed at, at 1:30. Okay, it wasn’t on target, but it was close enough to finish the group — I thought. Wow, was I in for a surprise! Five Premiers landed in 2.24-inches at 10 meters. The target is a poster-child for demonstrating when pellets aren’t suited to air rifles! No more Premiers for this gun!

Premier group
Holy cow! You don’t have to tell me twice — Premiers don’t work in the 77A! From 10 meters 5 went into 2.24-inches.

RWS Superdomes

Next up were RWS Superdomes. They went into 0.758-inches at 10 meters, which is a lot better than the Premiers. I wasn’t pleased with this group, but I was relieved.

Superdome group
From 10 meters the 77A put 5 Superdome pellets into 0.758-inches.

RWS Hobby

The next pellet I tried was the ubiquitous RWS Hobby. Five of them went into 0.465-inches at 10 meters. Now, we are talking! This is a group that will just barely hide under an American dime, so the S&W ad was proved correct.

Hobby group
Now, that’s a group! Five RWS Hobbys are in 0.465-inches at 10 meters. I guess the 77A can shoot, after all!

JSB Exact RS

The last pellet I shot was the JSB Exact RS dome. I though they might be the ones, but alas, the best-laid plans… Five pellets went into 0.856-inches at 10 meters. It’s the second-largest group of the test to this point.

JSB RS group
Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into a 0.856-inch group at 10 meters.

Now what?

I wasn’t satisfied that I had found the best pellet, but of the four I tested, which one was worth testing with the UTG Reflex Micro dot sight? Duhhhhhh — Hobbys?

It didn’t take much to convince me that of the four pellets I had tested, Hobbys were the best. So I mounted the dot sight on the front 11mm dovetail and I would like to say here and now — yes, the 77A does accept 11mm scope mounts!

Zero the dot sight

I had the dot sight on the gun in less than two minutes, but a quick look at the alignment told me the sight wasn’t on the paper at 10 meters. Put the dot in the center of a bull then pick your head up and see where the barrel is pointing. In this case it was low and to the left. I moved up to 12 feet and shot a pellet that hit the target paper two inches below and two inches to the left of the aim point. That’s at 12 feet. At 10 meters it wouldn’t have hit the backstop.

A quick adjustment and the sight was on target. Back to 10 meters and 4 more shots to refine the zero. Now I was ready to shoot a group. Five shots (yes, it looks like 6 shots to me, too, but I remember distinctly pulling 5 pellets from the tin) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters. That’s worse than what the JSB Exact RS pellets did with open sights. What gives?

Hobby group dot sight
Yeah, I don’t know what happened, either. Five Hobbys (not six like it appears) went into 0.925-inches at 10 meters when the UTG Reflex Micro Dot sight was used.

Stuff happens

I have no idea what happened! I just shot worse with a dot sight than I did with the open iron sights that came with the rifle. Was the dot sight on tight? Is the barrel loose? Were there gremlins in the room? Sorry guys, I don’t know — about the gremlins, that is. I do know the dot sight was tight and so was the barrel.

Hey, sometimes when riding into the sunset your horse throws you and you land in a cactus! There is a solution — don’t let it be the last time you test the rifle!

Summary

I like the S&W 77A multi-pump for several reasons. It pumps easy, has good repeatable power and feels great in the hands. I just haven’t found the best pellet yet. I found a couple of the worst ones — just not the best.

I have a thought about that. Premiers were horrible. Premiers are undersized and very hard. Hobbys were the best. Hobbys are oversized and made from soft pure lead. Maybe I need to shoot fatter pellets that are made from pure lead. H&N Field Target Trophys and Eley 5.6mm wasps both fit that description. So I’m not done yet.

20 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson model 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle: Part 3

  1. Very interesting how well airguns seem to respond to the ATF stop leak.

    Michael, Chris and RidgeRunner- sorry for the late reply.

    Michael, the Daisy you showed July 3 in the Black Widow blog is outstanding- I really like it. The way you finished the stock and the big hoop lever really sets the gun off!

    The maple gunstock on my 1938B Red Ryder was made by a friend, Shane. I’d be happy to put anyone in touch w/him who might be interested in acquiring one if that’s not against the blog/BB’s policy. Or message me (same screen name) on one of the airgun forums.

    The barrel in my Daisy 1938B is made from 1-1/2 Daisy 499B shot tubes joined together. Using a high performance spring I had made and a custom air tube, it does 430 fps and is accurate. Another friend has assembled a BB gun as a proof of concept that shoots 540 fps with an ES of 10. It uses the same spring and air tube as my gun but with a Lothar Walther barrel. Shane’s making him a maple Schützen stock so it will soon look a LOT different (as in better) than the Daisy model 1938B it’s shown in below!


    • Cobalt,

      That is a looooong bb gun. It would be a lot easier to group well at 5 meters. You could just put the barrel against the target and pull the trigger. 😉



    • Cobalt,

      That sounds and looks like the world heavyweight champ Red Ryder! If you can, please provide a bit more detail on the hot-rodding process.

      And thanks for the compliment regarding my customized Red Ryder. I can’t take credit for the work, however. A while back I decided to purchase a Chief A.J. big iron hoop and adult-sized butt stock and purchased a Red Ryder for the project. Then, when I searched online for Chief A.J.’s site, I stumbled upon this already-completed one for sale for a very good price (only slightly more than the price of the two aftermarket parts alone). So I had to buy it. It seemed like too much of a fine coincidence to turn away from. The seller had stained the wood of the butt stock nicely and then stripped the forearm and restained it to match color-wise. In doing so he revealed just a hint of flame figure in the wood! It is very nice and feels good in the hand.

      I have been thinking of asking my wife, who is the artistic one in the household, to charcoal rub the Red Ryder’s engraving and reproducing it with a wood-burning kit on the Chief A.J. butt stock on one side and then burning the Chief’s logo on the other side. Either that, or combine the two on each side.

      Michael


      • Sounds like you were in the right place at the right time, ’cause it’s sure a looker!

        Internally, the non Daisy parts in the 540 FPS Daisy are the air tube which is made of stainless tubing with a 0.157” ID (stock Red Ryder is 0.078” ID) x 0.171″ OD (stock Red Ryder is 0.163” OD). It requires the shot tube abutment seal’s ID be reamed to match the larger OD of the custom air tube. The spring is made to my specifications by a spring manufacturer. To get the Walther barrel to work in the 1938B shot tube abutment requires the barrel to be turned down on the breech end to 0.260″- same as the 1938B shot tube. The rivets that originally held the abutment together were drilled out and replaced with machine screws, washers and nuts. The barrel plug/front sight has to be opened up to accept the larger OD of the new barrel. Being as this is plastic on the factory 1938B, he went with a wide frame Daisy model 99 to do further testing. With the model 99, a barrel support/muzzle plug was machined from aluminum (shown below). It gives good support to the barrel inside the shroud. Besides the shroud/receiver, the trigger, cocking lever, plunger tube, seals and abutment are all unmodified factory Daisy parts (with the exception of the trigger pull being made lighter) and have held up fine. I’m looking forward to seeing it with the new stock. The Walther barrel may end up being shortened but that’s still being decided.


        • Cobalt,

          You da Man when it comes to modifying the little lever guns! 🙂

          Happy to see you chiming in more. I know it is a collaborative effort with you and the others at GTA,… but nice anyways to have you bring some of what is possible here to the blog.

          Chris

          (still thrilled with the RR spring mod. on the 499. I tout the 499 often and the RR spring mod. too,… but few, if any,… have jumped on board yet.)


          • We keep chipping away. When the thread began 3 years ago, my goal was a Daisy lever repeater that would be accurate at 400 fps. Never dreamt I’d see another 35% MV over that!

            I think BB said it best: “Some shooters like to shoot fast, some like accuracy, others want power and still others want to take an inherently inaccurate gun and get the most performance from it.” Tom Gaylord, April 26, 2007 at 10:10 pm



  2. BB
    Your eyes must like them sights on this gun or something instead of the red dot.

    Just to say I got the scope mount for my Daisy M14 a week or so ago and put a known good scope on it. I can shoot it with the factory open peep sights way better than I can with the scope.

    And on the other hand I can shoot my Sig MPX with the same scope better than it’s open sights.

    Maybe our eyes pick up on certian sights better than others or work better with that particular gun for some reason. All I know is the Sig MPX is scoped and the M14 is not and I can shoot the heck out of them set up that way.

    And to say I never tryed a red dot sight on either which I do like that type of sight. But both guns are staying set up as is. They are working is all I can say.


  3. Hi BB,
    These groups with the Hobbies are 5 shots. Well, I recall you teaching us that 5 shot groups aren’t as statistically significant as one would hope, that 10 shots are statistically rock solid and show the real picture by almost completely eliminating chance. 5 shots can be a lucky grouping, but not 10. Especially given a sporter level rifle and economy level good pellets… What your results seem to show is one group that was a little lucky and one group that was a little unlucky.

    Thanks for a great blog.
    Your loyal reader,
    Andy


  4. “…I would like to say here and now — yes, the 77A does accept 11mm scope mounts!”
    B.B., in light of that, I would love to see a “part 4” for this series of reports; I think that first open-sighted group with Hobbys is proclaiming, “this ol’ gal can shoot!” I’d like to see what she could do with a scope…my 2 cents. =>


  5. BB, I am enjoying reading about this gun.
    I just got around to reading last weeks blogs. I am impressed at the low pump effort required on this rifle. Is the cocking effort fairly consistent from the start to the end of the pump or does it build up as it gets closer to being all the way in?

    David Enoch



  6. I couldn’t begin to use a red dot to good effect before my cataract surgery (both eyes, like BB). Back then the dot looked like a starburst! But post surgery I found could use a dot sight just fine, but for me if the dot was much bigger than 3 moa too much of the target was covered for precise work. My favorite non magnified rear sight is a Williams FP-GR-TK rear with a Merit variable aperture peep. I believe it would be a good match to the 77A, even without the variable aperture. But in the end, a scope will likely perform very well with BB behind it.


  7. B.B.,

    I didn’t want to add this until after you had tested the accuracy, but I remember before my 77a bit the dust I shot it at 10 meters in the basement into a duct-seal trap I had just fashioned, with no targets, just aiming to the center of the duct-seal. It was my first time shooting the 77a, and it was also my first time shooting into the duct-seal trap. Incidentally, I know I had to have been shooting Hobbies because back then Hobbies were the only .22 pellets I bought, trying to get the most out of the mostly under-powered .22s in my collection (vintage Crosman CO2 models, a 99, 160, 400, and 620).

    I remember worrying that even though I limited the number of pumps to probably just 4, I must have put too little duct seal in the trap, because the first shot made a thudding sound, but the second shot was a higher pitched thud. Each shot after that was a resonant “SMACK.” After five shots I stopped, not wanting to rely on my plywood backstop. I went up to the duct seal and found a single hole, perhaps 3/4 of an inch in diameter and perhaps 3/4 inches deep. At the end of the hole were five deformed RWS Hobbies, each one pasted behind the next. I knew from that it was a special shooter! :^) I don’t think I had ever shot that well before or since.

    That tears it. I definitely need to get my 77a fixed. Who was it you thought I might contact to send it to?

    Michael



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