Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl (Mac) McDonald, unless otherwise indicated

Part 1
Part 2

S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Today we look at the accuracy the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver offers. Because this is a BB revolver Mac tested it at 15 feet, but he also tested it at 25 feet as well. So we’ll get a look at what is considered to be a long distance for any BB pistol.

Oddly, Mac found the revolver more accurate when fired double-action and timed-fire. Timed fire means he got off all eight shots in about 20 seconds. It gets its name from a type of handgun shooting in which the competitors are given a certain amount of time to fire all their shots. So perhaps it is best understood as deliberate aimed fire, rather than slow aimed fire.

There was some question last time as to whether the velocity reported was obtained from single-action or double-action fire. Mac says it doesn’t matter because both ways produce the same results. The hammer on double-action releases at the exact same place as it does single-action, so the only real advantage is that in single-action you can slow down. However, that brings up a second controversy.

Several readers wondered about the high number of shots from a single cartridge. Mac advises that he charged the pistol twice and got the same results, so it isn’t s fluke. It really does get 120 good shots per cartridge, as long as the shooting is deliberate.

Many of you commented that the single-action trigger pull seemed very heavy, and at over nine pounds I guess it is. Mac says it doesn’t feel that heavy when you are shooting, but he does admit that the single-action pull is a bit stiff. He thinks that may be linked in some way to this action that is different than most other BB pistols he’s tried.

He felt the light weight of the gun did not hinder him while shooting, but adds that if he were keeping it, he would find ways to increase the weight. Putting lead in the cavities in the grip is one way to do this, and adding accessories is another.

During all the testing Mac used Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

From 15 feet Mac got an eight-shot group that measured 1.2-inches between centers. He shot this group single-action, using Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

The accessory rail under the barrel of the S&W M&P R8 revolver is the perfect place for a compact laser. At BB-gun distances, the dot would be easy to see. Also, Mac feels the extra weight would be nice.

Next he moved back to 25 feet and tried again. This time he tried it in both the single-action and double-action modes.

Shouting single-action the best Mac did was this two-inch group at 25 feet.

When he switched to double action at 25 feet the group tightened to this 1.85-inch size.

One more observation
Mac also noticed that one of the chambers in the plastic BB clip seemed loose. He noticed that there was always one or more fliers in his groups and he thinks this may be the reason why.

Mac feels there is a lot to like in the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. He likes the realism and the large number of shots he gets from a single CO2 cartridge. For the price he thinks it’s a pretty good buy.

Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl (Mac) McDonald, unless otherwise indicated

Part 1

S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

I overlooked mentioning the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver in the first report on lookalike airguns last Friday, but of course it is one, as well. I’m not familiar with the firearm M&P R8 revolver, so it was natural to think of this as a standalone model. But there is a firearm counterpart, if that is of interest to you.

I also neglected to mention the short Picatinny rail on the underside of the barrel near the muzzle. I suppose it is for mounting a compact laser with a pressure switch located close to the firing hand, though since most shooters use two hands to shoot handguns these days I suppose you could also turn it on with your non-firing hand.

Plastic fantastic
We heard a complaint about the use of plastic and I thought I would comment on that. Guys, I don’t like plastic, either, but more and more firearms are being made with at least some of it these days. You have to understand that when you get into this price range for an airgun, there are very few options. Basically it’s either plastic or zinc. The dies for these two materials are very expensive, so the maker has to calculate how many guns they think they can sell against the tooling costs to produce. And there are also short-run tools that are less expensive, but which wear out faster and long-term tooling that lasts longer but can cost many times as much as short-term tools. All of this is a gamble on how well the manufacturer thinks the gun will sell.

Then there is the general public’s acceptance of plastic as a legitimate manufacturing material. As crass as this sounds, if a manufacturer can sell a hundred thousand pieces of a product, the fact that it is criticized by a few hundred or even a thousand aficionados makes little difference. That is the reason there are so many firearms being made with engineering plastic these days.

And finally there is the fact that if the part is correctly engineered, plastic has few shortcomings and actually offers significant advantages, like strength and resistance to wear (over zinc), corrosion resistance, the ability to accept a finish more uniformly, and even things like providing a low-friction surface that doesn’t have to be lubricated to work well.

Don’t think that I like plastic in airguns. I’m simply acknowledging the reality that exists today, when our telephones are also GPS devices, televisions, alarm clocks and 157 other things. But the “buttons” that work them are mostly in software, and if they don’t respond you can be in a serious pickle. Also, you can’t repair plastic when it breaks. That is just one of the reservations I have about plastic guns.

Good reception
The overall reception of this revolver was positive and enthusiastic. Many readers commented on the realistic look. The manufacturer even went to the point of copying the V notch in the rear sight. The reason for this is that on the firearm the front Patridge sight has a white dot, so the BB gun has it as well. If you can see the dot, the V-notch is entirely appropriate, making the centering of the dot quick and easy. If you can’t see the dot, you just have to struggle to estimate where the sides of the front post are. Since most handgunners don’t shoot at targets (the assumption must be), this is a compromise in favor of rapid target acquisition.

Mac really enjoyed shooting his M&P R8. He was very impressed and tells me every time we talk. So my opinion has to be that this revolver is worth your consideration and the money, if you buy it.

Today is velocity testing day. I went to the manual to see how the 8-round clip is loaded and believe it or not, it doesn’t specify. However, the photo shows loading the BBs from the front of the clip, which is how many other similar BB pistol clips have to be loaded, and that is how Mac did it.

The clip is loaded from the front.

The loaded clip is inserted in the back of the cylinder. Notice the ridge around each chamber that helps seal the gas behind the BB.

Mac used Daisy zinc-plated BBs, because experience has shown they are the most accurate and the most uniform BBs on the market. Another BB that also works well and is actually finished even smoother than the Daisy is the Walther BB, but Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry them. Though these BBs are slightly larger than Crosman Copperhead BBs they usually get higher velocity and almost always the velocity variation of the shot string with them is tighter.

The 12-gram CO2 cartridge goes in the grip, like everyone assumed. Push in on a tab under the grip and the back opens to receive the new cartridge.

The back of the grip swings opens to accept the CO2 cartridge.

The screw that pushes the CO2 cartridge into the piercing pin is entirely concealed by the grip when it is locked closed. That satisfies those who dislike being able to see the mechanism. I am surprised no one mentioned that about the Walther PPK/S in the lookalike report, because it is the number one complain I hear about those replica air pistols.

Trigger pull
Mac measured the single action trigger pull at 9.6 pounds and the double action pull at 10.2 pounds. Remember that single action means the hammer is pulled back to the cocked position which also rotates the cylinder to the next BB, so when you pull the trigger all you are doing is releasing the sear to let the hammer fall.

The temperature was 60 degrees F (15.6 C) when Mac tested the gun. That is close to the bottom temperature at which CO2 should be used. Because it is a refrigerant gas, CO2 will cool the gun as it is fired, thus decreasing the velocity on each successive shot. On a 60-degree day, there isn’t much ambient temperature to warm the gun back up again, so once it is cooled, it tends to stay there. Mac allowed a minimum of 15-20 seconds between shots for the gun to recover from cooling, but on this day, there wasn’t much recovery.

He fired a string of eight shots, getting an average of 359 f.p.s. That works out to 1.52 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The low was 336 and the high was 379 f.p.s., so the spread was a bit larger than we normally see, but on a cool day that is to be expected. Also expect to see higher average velocity when the temperature warms up 20 degrees.

What Mac noted that surprised him was the great number of shots he got from a single CO2 cartridge. After shot 120 the gun was still sending them out at 320 f.p.s., which is petty astounding. There are certain BB guns that get many shots from a cartridge, but their average velocities are always well below 300 f.p.s.. So the evidence points to the fact that the design (barrel mating with the cylinder and ridges around each chamber in the clip) is very economical.

So far
This pistol just keeps getting better and better, as far as Mac is concerned. It’s a delight to shoot and now we find that it conserves gas like a hybrid car. Accuracy comes next, and I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Smith & Wesson M&P R8 BB revolver: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald, unless otherwise indicated

S&W M&P R8 BB revolver. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Mac’s back! As we enter the end of year season and approach the Christmas holidays, I want to review as many new guns as possible, while continuing to address my ongoing tests, so I asked Mac to give me a hand. Today, he starts with the S&W M&P R8 BB revolver.

I’m conservative, so whenever a company starts to use a model name inappropriately (in my opinion) it bothers me. When Benjamin used the name Super Streak for a breakbarrel spring rifle — where the name Streak has always been used only for Sheridan multi-pumps — it bothered me. When Smith & Wesson used their time-honored Military & Police (M&P) title to designate a semiautomatic pistol instead of a revolver, I was deeply concerned.

It seems the people in the marketing department that select these product names either don’t know the fine history of the company they work for, or they think the established name brings a lot of fetch with it. Of course it does, but look at what happened to the Weihrauch HW50 when the configuration of the gun was changed. Remember the lengthy conversations we’ve had on this blog and the lengths some people have to go to differentiate between the older HW50 and the one that’s now produced?

There’s still an M&P revolver, and today we’ll start looking at a CO2-powered BB gun by the same name. So, now you know what the M&P means, what about the R8? Well, it’s pretty simple. It’s code for a revolver that holds eight shots.

Mac was very impressed by this handgun. Even though it comes in a blister pack, it has many interesting features that are worthy of note. The first is that the cylinder is released from the frame to swing out to the left side of the gun just like the firearm it copies.

Though it comes in a blister pack, the M&P R8 has advanced features.

The cylinder swings to the side just like on the firearm. Photo provided by Pyramyd Air.

Gas control
Perhaps the most exciting feature of this BB revolver is the length to which the designers went to control gas. The pistol is powered by a conventional 12-gram CO2 cartridge that fits inside the Hogue-like grip. Normally a gun like this might give 50-60 good shots on a single cartridge. But this one has several features that more than double that number without sacrificing power.

Like a Nagant firearm revolver, this CO2 BB revolver mates the cylinder to the rear of the barrel to reduce gas loss when firing. The 7.62 Nagant moves the cylinder forward to seal with the rear of the barrel. The M&P R8 has a spring-loaded barrel (a soft, weak spring) with a rounded rear that rides over the mouth of the cylinder, popping into each chamber in turn when the gun locks up.

The rear of the barrel is rounded to move over the mouth of the cylinder as it revolves. The barrel is held in place by a weak spring, so it always pops back to this position, yet doesn’t hinder operation of the mechanism.

And the front of each chamber in the cylinder is shaped to receive the rear of the barrel to form a gas-tight junction. It really works, according to Mac.

Of course, revolvers don’t have safeties, except in cheap novels and the one exception that nobody ever hears about, but these days the transfer bar that connects the hammer to the firing pin only when it’s safe to fire is considered a safety. And this gas pistol has one! It’s not a bar at all, but rather a piece of thick wire that moves up when everything is right to fire the gun. It won’t prevent a fool from shooting himself or someone else, but they better not get me on the stand if that happens, because shooting this airgun requires a deliberate act!

This photo shows the transfer bar in position to connect the hammer to the valve stem that is analogous to the firing pin. You can also see the V-shaped rear sight notch that ought to be changed to a square one.

The M&P R8 has a decent front post and a ridiculous rear V-notch that’s better-suited to a .22 autoloading rifle. That kind of front sight needs a square rear notch, and I am surprised by its lack — especially given all the thought that went into the rest of the revolver! However, it IS entirely accurate, because the firearm has the identical rear sight. The front sight has an unnecessary white bead, but it goes away in the right lighting conditions and the post appears square against the target.

The manual says the sights are fixed, but Mac found that they are, indeed, adjustable. The rear notch can be slid sideways after the locking screw is loosened and actually be shimmed with paper for up and down adjustment. Had the makers put a spring under the sight, there’s even a screw that would allow vertical adjustment; so they’re selling themselves short by excluding it.

It uses a clip
Besides the cylinder swinging out to the side, this revolver also uses a circular BB clip. Only one clip comes with the gun; but as Mac reports, you could carry loaded clips easily and use them like a firearm revolver speedloader if you wanted. He noted while loading the one clip that one chamber always seemed looser than the others. We’ll see if that had any effect in the accuracy test.

This shot shows the circular clip out of the cylinder.

Robust action
Mac was particularly impressed by the robust appearance of the revolver’s action. The hand (lever connected to the cocking mechanism) that advances the cylinder with each pull of the trigger is metal. Mac noted that it didn’t appear to wear from his shooting test. He ended up firing well over 100 shots. Not showing even a shiny spot means the part is correctly hardened for the task it’s been given. While you shouldn’t expect a BB gun at this price to last forever, this is a good sign that it will shoot well for a long time.

Here you see the hand that advances the cylinder. Mac says it looks rugged.

Bottom Line
I guess Mac really likes this one. We’re going to be looking at a lot of new guns in the coming weeks, so it’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out!