The first Smith & Wesson 78G air pistol(s): Part 1

by Tom Gaylord
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

02-S&W 78G
A very early S&W 78G air pistol. Though the picture looks matte because of the cloud lighting, this one has glossy paint. It’s like new!

A history of airguns

This report covers:

  • Behind the curtain
  • This pistol
  • How early is it?
  • Refinished?
  • Let’s look
  • So what?
  • Trigger
  • Interests?
  • Summary

What? Another S&W 78G? BB — we know you love this air pistol but you just finished a 5-part blog on one last June! Enough already!

Behind the curtain

There is a good reason why I needed to write this blog. I spent 10 hours yesterday (all day Friday) and this morning (Saturday) trying to tune my Diana 27S air rifle so I can report on it. At this point I have one piece of advice to anyone trying to tune one of these rifles. DON’T REMOVE THE TRIGGER BLADE ASSEMBLY!!! Eight and one-half of those ten hours have been spent trying to reinstall the trigger assembly and it still isn’t in! I will get the rifle back together and give you a great report on the tune and troubles I had in good time, but if a blog was going to be published today it had to be something else that was quick and easy. read more


A day at the range

by B.B. Pelletier

This isn’t Part 2 to yesterday’s report, but it could be. Today, I got out to the range for the first time since February. And, man, did I need it! I took a bunch of guns that I’d never shot before and tried them all out.

1862 Peabody
This rifle was patented in 1862 as a breechloader for the U.S., but it was never ordered. However, three states did buy it for their militias, including Connecticut, which later returned all their rifles to the maker to be converted to .45/70. That is the caliber mine is, so I quickly cooked up 20 rounds of my Trapdoor Springfield load, knowing that the stronger Peabody falling block action would have no trouble with it.


Like a Sharps rifle only different, the Peabody isn’t as well-known as some of the other big bore single-shots. This one is a .45/70 made in about 1868.


The Peabody was the forerunner of the Martini falling block action. The difference is the Peabody has an exposed hammer that must be manually cocked. The rifling is Alexander Henry-type, and the bore on this rifle is perfect!


A good friend of mine takes a shot at the 50-yard bull.


Compared to a .45 ACP (bottom), the .45/70 rifle cartridge is huge and imposing.

I spent no effort making accurate rounds. These were just for function firing, and the bullets varied in weight by as much as five grains. Still, I shot a very decent first group with the rifle. Good enough that I’m now interested in seeing what it can be made to do. Anytime you get bullets landing near each other with a big bore rifle on the first go-round, you’re doing something right. I suspect this rifle can shoot into less than a minute of angle when everything is perfect.

While this is no screamer, it does indicate that the Peabody wants to shoot. Better sights, a refined powder load and finding the correct seating depth will all serve to tighten the group considerably. read more