Smith & Wesson model 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle: Part 4

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
Part 3

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Number of pumps?
  • Scope
  • Bug Buster?
  • Rings
  • Sight-in
  • The test
  • First Hobby group
  • Second Hobby group
  • Discussion
  • Eley Wasps
  • “Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright…”
  • Summary

I have what will be a quick report today, but it will also be one of great interest, I think. This will be my last look at the Smith & Wesson 77A multi-pump pneumatic unless I refinish it.

Number of pumps?

Reader Pgray said he had found a manual for this rifle online that said not to exceed 20 pumps. We were already hearing from several sources that 20 was the maximum, but this came from a manual, so I felt I had to test it for you.

Remember, the RWS Hobby pellet had gone 631 f.p.s. with 14 pumps. So today I tested the same pellet with 20 pump strokes. I only shot three shots, because I still think 20 pumps is a lot for a rifle as old as this. Here is what I got.

Shot……Velocity
1………….684
2………….690
3………….700

I checked the gun after each shot and no air remained in the reservoir. Looking at that short string, it seems to me the pump seals are warming up. I bet if I was to shoot 10 shots the average would be in the low 700s. But I’m not going to do that. Now we know, and that’s enough.

Scope

Several of you felt the rifle deserved a scope, so I mounted one and that’s what I will shoot today. The scope I mounted is one you cannot buy today. I have found it to be a superior scope for many special applications, including scoping this 77A. It’s a UTG 1.5-4X28 scope with a 100-yard fixed parallax. But with just 4-power who cares where the parallax is set?

The closest you can get to the scope I used is the UTG 1.5-6X44 scope. Both scopes have a generous eye relief that allows flexible scope positioning on the rifle.

Bug Buster?

Why didn’t I mount a Bug Buster scope? Simple — it didn’t fit. The places on the scope where the rings have to attach are much closer together than the 11mm dovetails on the rifle. I might have been able to make it work with offset scope rings, but I didn’t want the fuss. And the scope I selected is one of my better optics.

Rings

The scope has a 30mm tube, so I selected UTG POI rings with 11mm bases. I shimmed the rear ring with a piece of credit card to elevate the rear and I didn’t tighten the rings too tight to keep from damaging the scope tube.

SW 77A scoped
The 77A scoped. I didn’t have to use high rings, but when it was time to shoot the scope eyepiece was where I wanted it to be.

Sight-in

The first shot from 12 feet hit the target at 6 o’clock on the bull. So I backed up to 10 meters and shot again. It took a total of 5 shots to sight in the scope. However, I felt the Hobby pellets might not be accurate enough to sight in with less than 5 shots (in other words, shoot a group). I just got that feeling while sighting in.

The test

I shot from a rested position at 10 meters. I pumped the rifle 6 times for each shot. The rifle was rested directly on a long sandbag rest with a second rest under the buttstock. So the rifle was absolutely still for every shot.

With the scope mounted it was impossible to hold the rifle the way I wanted during pumping. I held it back at the top of the pistol grip. If it wasn’t so easy to pump this would have been a problem.

First Hobby group

The first group of Hobbys showed me the rifle was still shooting a little to the right after sight in, though the elevation seemed okay. Five Hobbys went into 0.75-inches at 10 meters. That’s three-quarters of an inch.

SW 77A Hobby 1
The 77A put 5 RWS Hobbys into 0.75-inches at 10 meters when scoped.

After seeing that first group I adjusted the reticle three clicks to the left and shot a second group.

Second Hobby group

The second group of Hobbys measures 1.134-inches between centers, with four of the five in 0.613-inches. That one high shot was the third in the series of five and I watched it fly up there with a mind of its own. So, in my mind the closeness of the other 4 shots is pure luck.

SW 77A Hobby 2
The second time five more Hobbys made this 1.134-inch group at 10 meters, with four in 0.613-inches.

Discussion

At this point it was obvious that a scope didn’t really make any difference. I had gotten all the accuracy from the rifle and this pellet with iron sights. And that’s good because I don’t like scopes on multi-pumps. Unless they are something special like the Daystate Sportsman Mark II I once owned or a Seneca Aspen that is made for a scope, multi-pumps don’t need scopes.

Eley Wasps

I wondered whether a different pellet would help? Now that there was no question about the sights was the perfect time to see. I had thought after Part 3 testing that an oversized pellet might grab the rifling better. What is the largest .22-caliber pellet I have? The 5.6mm Eley Wasp. The next group would be shot with Wasps.

“Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright…”

The first Wasp went into the bull at 7 o’clock. How about that? I was right! Then shot number two hit at two o’clock, an inch and a quarter from the bull. No, I wasn’t right. In the end, five Wasp pellets crowded into a tight 2.234-inches at 10 meters. I could probably do better with a slingshot while spinning on a barstool!

SW 77A Wasp
Where is the inside of that barn when I need it? Five Eley Wasp 5.6mm pellets are in a super-tight 2.234-inches at 10 meters.

But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out!

Summary

In the end what we have in the S&W 77A multi-pump is a horse of a different color. For a multi-pump it’s solidly built, powerful and unique. But this one isn’t accurate — at least not with the pellets I have tested. I remember that at the same time this rifle was produced some of the Crosman barrels were also a lottery. The barrels on their 160 and 180 CO2 rifles were usually pretty good, but the tubes on the 140 and 1400 multi-pumps were always a gamble.

I could keep on testing different pellets, and perhaps I will, but unless one proves stunning, I won’t show it to you. I am finished testing this rifle.

27 thoughts on “Smith & Wesson model 77A multi-pump pneumatic air rifle: Part 4

  1. B.B.,

    While pumpers may not need scoping capability,… it is nice the there is that option for those that have difficulty with open sights,… for whatever reason. It would allow the option of a rear peep too. I think it is a good design feature then and (now) for new production.

    In the “Sight-in” section,………… might no(t) be accurate ……….

    Good Day to you and to all,……….. Chris


  2. BB,

    I am sorry it did not turn out to be “interesting”. Sometimes the old gals just aren’t, anymore than the new ones are. Sometimes they are just for fun.


    • Yes, B.B., I second what RidgeRunner said: “I am sorry it did not turn out to be ‘interesting’.”
      It’s a shame she did not turn in some better accuracy, but thank you for trying! =>



  3. B.B.,

    Sometimes, knowing when to quit is a good thing. I would agree – it looks like you spent enough time on this one.

    A scope question though — One of the Sheridan Blue Streaks I picked up at the TX show has a scope mounted. it’s a 4x, no-name, very skinny tube model. It reminds me a bit of the 4x scopes you’d see on the .22 long rifles sold at Sears back in the 60’s and 70’s. What scope and mounts would you recommend to replace that? Something with long eye-relief, preferably.

    Thank you.

    Jim


  4. “I could probably do better with a slingshot while spinning on a barstool!” LOL – thanks for the good laugh this morning, BB. Have a great weekend to you and everyone else reading this blog and still working for a living. Me, every day is like a weekend!

    Fred formerly of the PDRoNJ now Happily in GA


  5. B.B.,

    I too was hoping for better accuracy, it is what it is.

    With the long pump stoke on this gun and a 20 pump recommendation in the manual. I would guess the design has enough dead space that you will not got any more pressure (pellet velocity) with 40 pumps. It has reached its limit. The pressure in the dead space between the piston and valve is effectively equal to the valve pressure. This is a good way to design a multi-pump for those that want to exceed the limits.

    Don


  6. BB
    Everytime this happens it makes me wonder if there is things wrong somewhere.

    Maybe burrs at the transfer port hole in the barrel that the pellet snags on? Or how is the lead in chamfer on the barrel where you load the pellet? What about the crown? Is the rifling messed up some way or wore out?

    Maybe there is something that could be done to the gun or barrel that is fairly simple to do and the gun could be more accurate.

    And why stop now. You have put more time in on other problem guns than this one. I say start looking for a problem. Maybe this gun has some hidden accuracy sitting right under our noses. And we will never know if you stop now.

    Oh and are you sure there isn’t a parallax problem with that scope. To me it seems that your cheek won’t contact the comb of the stock. And if parallax movement of the reticle is there that will surely cause a accuracy problem if your not placing your cheek the same for every shot.

    Anyway just throwing some things out there. Are you sure you don’t want to give this old gun another chance?


    • GF1,

      Not sure if B.B. can spare the time, but pushing a pellet through the barrel would be my first test. On this gun though it would require removing the barrel unless you push the pellet through the barrel from the muzzle. I would bet some work on the leade, crown and bore polish would make a significant improvement in accuracy. Even a significant improvement in accuracy may not be that good.

      Where do you stop.

      Don


      • Don
        Yep I’m sure BB is busy.

        If I owned the gun I would have to at the least push a pellet through the barrel like you suggested. That would tell something.

        Where do you stop. Well that depends on what kind of person you are I suppose. 😉


        • GF1,

          I think BB has enough on his plate. I find it amazing that we get what we get. In fact,…. (who) else delves back into the odd balls and classics and gives us the full review? Back when they came out, there was only print. Much of it now long obscure. I look it at like BB being a historian in a sense. Making a record that will last. The Blue Book does that to a very large degree too. Any surprise that BB is a large part of that as well?

          And then,…. we get a full review of the (new) stuff,… but,…. from the perspective from someone that has pretty much seen it all. That lends itself to some (very) unique perspective. Like,…. that idea was a dud then and it is now,…. just getting recycled. (not a quote by the way)

          All in all,… very happy and I will take what I can get and be thankful for it. I do like the innovations on the new stuff though,.. that seem to be moving in the right direction,.. for the most part.

          Chris


          • Chris
            Right I’m sure he does.

            But why deprive this gun the extra effort.

            From what I have seen throughout life I don’t get to make a choice. Matter of fact the problem child’s I’ll call them are the ones that need extra attention. And I’m not just talking airguns.

            You see what I mean.


            • GF1,

              People are one thing,…. a pellet gun is something else. Given the hit-miss quality of some of the older guns,…. when you have a dud,… you have a dud. There is a bit of wisdom to be gleaned when you realize that it is better to just move on and take your lumps. At least you gave it your best.

              How many times have you “moved on”? From your postings,… I would say plenty.

              Maybe when you retire,.. you can open up a ” GF1’s Home For,…. Can’t Get It To Shoot, Home For Misfit Airguns ” ? 😉

              Chris


              • Smith and Wesson air gun it’s been nice knowing ya.

                Maybe someone will put the effort in on ya. Don’t know why your the one nobody cares about all of a sudden.

                Wonder how many owners let this gun go cause it don’t shoot like they want. Reminds me of other guns people know about. What ones are they? Will they ever get a chance. We’ll see.


              • Chris
                How many times have I moved on?

                I maybe have. But I gaurentee you I put my effort in to make it shoot the best it can before I give up. Come to think of it I don’t give up. That’s how I am. And I usually do make it shoot the best it can. And probably better from what I seen over time on the blog with some.


  7. B.B.,

    “…unless I refinish it.”

    “I could keep on testing different pellets, and perhaps I will, but unless one proves stunning, I won’t show it to you. I am finished testing this rifle.”

    I’m not a betting man but I’m going to posit that you like the looks of this S&W and have a hankering that will only be fulfilled once you refinish, at least, the lever and the receiver. You will hang it on the wall as a handsome showpiece. Once you do that, if granted the time, you will take it down off the wall and put a “new” couple of pellets through it.
    Perhaps on a day when your range plans get weathered out or another test subject almost writes the report for you you will find the ONE! As you said we won’t hear about it unless a/the magic stunning pellet is found for the handsome S&W Air rifle. ENJOY!

    A tall tale by:

    shootski


  8. Hey BB,

    Accuracy with my 77A was disappointing as well, until I tried RWS Superdomes. I know all barrels can show variation, but you might give them a try..


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