S&W 586 Air Pistol Test Review
1 May 2015
Purchased new at retail. Owned by HAM tester Paul Manktelow.
An old model but very little used. Overall near new.
Very realistic looks, action and feel.
High price, but it's worth it!
Can't think of anything else.
Nope, we're still trying...
VALUE FOR MONEY
At a Street Price of around $240, the S&W is not cheap for a replica air pistol. Nor is it a new model: the 586 has been in production almost unaltered since 1998.
Yet it remains a strong value for its combination of great accuracy, good realism and high overall quality. And, of course, it’s an officially-licensed replica with genuine Smith and Wesson branding.
|HAM Test Rating||90%|
|Value For Money||Realistic looks, operation and great accuracy.|
|Firearm it Copies||Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum|
|Best Pellet Tested||H&N Field Target Trophy|
|Street Price at Time of Test||$240.00.|
|Ammo Type||.177 caliber pellets.|
|Power Source||1 x 12 Gram CO2 cartridge.|
|Useful Shots per Fill||About 62.|
The inclusion of a hard plastic case (quality made by Negrini in Italy), two rotary clips, three front sights, cleaning brush and a barrel removal tool all add to the value of the S&W 586 air pistol. Pellets are not included with the gun.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD AIR
Smith & Wesson 586
BUY FROM AMAZON
Smith & Wesson 586, 6-inch Barrel air pistol
REALISM – LOOKS, FEEL
The S&W 586 air pistol is an accurate copy of the Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum “L” frame revolver firearm with 6-inch barrel. HAM tester Doug Wall’s comment in his test notes was simple and to the point: “Very realistic!”
Weight of the air pistol is identical to that of the firearm at 46 oz. This is because the S&W 586 is of all metal construction, including the rotary magazine, except for the rubber grips.
Balance and feel are incredibly realistic. The rubber pistol grips have the same feel and size as that of the firearm they copy. The overall balance and “pointability” of the S&W 586 air pistol replicates that of the 357 Magnum firearm exactly, too.
There’s no question that this air pistol feels exactly like the real thing.
Although obviously not in the same league as a 357 Magnum load, S&W 586 is fairly loud for a replica air pistol, although a little less so than some models with shorter barrels.
REALISM – TRIGGER AND ACTION
The trigger and action of the S&W 586 air pistol are also very close to those of the 357 Magnum it copies.
The 10-shot rotary clip is released using the thumbslide release lever, just as with the firearm. This allows the crane to be swung out – again just as with the firearm. The rotary clip can then be removed from its spindle and reloaded. The clip/crane assembly clicks back into place just like the firearm.
Trigger action is similarly realistic. The S&W 586 air pistol can be fired both single action and double action – as per the 357 Magnum.
More impressively, the trigger pull weights are also similar to those of the firearm. Single action pull weight for the S&W 586 air pistol is just under 5 lbs. Double action pull weight come in at 9 lbs. Both of these figures are typical for the firearm prototype as well.
In single action shooting, single stage trigger pull is very clean and predictable. No doubt this – together with the relatively low pull weight – is one reason why HAM tester Doug Wall’s test targets showed such good accuracy. (He shot the HAM test targets single action).
Double action trigger pull is as expected. The long “first stage” rotates the clip and cocks the trigger, accounting for the heavier pull weight. Yet the heavy double action pull is not unmanageable, probably due to that 46 oz weight of the pistol.
ACCURACY AND POINT OF IMPACT
Accuracy of the S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM was outstanding for a replica gun,
All shots fired were “minute of soda can” accurate at 6 yards using the standard HAM set of pistol test pellets. The best group gave a CTC size of just 0.4-inches and was achieved using H&N Field Target Trophy pellets!
No doubt this accuracy is a product of the quality rifled steel barrel, tight tolerances on the rotary pellet clip and the excellent trigger already mentioned.
The point of impact tended to be a little low on the test gun, the sights are still at their factory setting. But this could easily be rectified. The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation using a screwdriver. Further, the S&W 586 air pistol is supplied with a total of three – yes 3 – front sights. These are retained by one screw and give the owner a choice of front sight post heights and outlines.
At 10 yards the group opened-up, of course. Shooting at this range, the S&W 586 air pistol was again loaded with the H&N Field Target Trophy pellets that were so accurate at 6 yards. As you can see, the shots strung down the target, but with just a little elevation change, all again would have been easily within “minute of soda can” accuracy.
Overall, the S&W 586 demonstrated outstanding accuracy for a replica pellet-firing air pistol.
BUY FROM PYRAMYD
H&N Field Target Trophy .177 Cal, 8.64 Grains, Domed, 500ct
COMPARISON TO MAKERS CLAIMS
Maximum muzzle velocity for the S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM was 399 fps with alloy pellets. This is below the 425 fps claimed by the manufacturer. But note that the HAM pistol test range has a typical temperature of 60 degrees F and this is cold for CO2 pistols. These muzzle velocity numbers could increase by as much as 30 fps if fired in temperatures of 90 degrees F.
This means that the 586 would match – and possibly exceed the manufacturer’s claim at higher ambient temperatures.
Umarex USA claims that the S&W 586 “completely duplicates of the legendary Smith and Wesson 357 in both weight and handling, with a 10-shot magazine that swings out for easy and realistic loading and replacement”. That’s a fair assessment, in HAM’s opinion.
As with any CO2-powered air pistol, best velocity and consistency will be with slow fire. Some velocity will be regained by resting the gun between strings, thus allowing it to warm up. You can see the drop in muzzle velocity from the Chrony printout on the targets as each string was fired. Standard Deviation, the statistical measure of that velocity change was also consistent at 10 – 15 fps for each string.
During HAM testing, the S&W 586 air pistol delivered no jams or misfires.
Accuracy was consistently very good to excellent with all the standard HAM pistol test pellets. Trigger pull weight was very consistent too, at 4 lbs 12 oz.
Muzzle Energy held to a tight band between about 1.8 and 2.0 Ft/Lbs.
There’s no doubt. The S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM is a very consistent airgun!
The S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM gave about 62 shots at 60 degrees F with a muzzle velocity of above 300 fps from one 12 gram CO2 cartridge. This is a fair shot count and – like muzzle velocity – would be higher if shot in a warmer environment.
HAM testers agree that 300 fps is the minimum “useful” muzzle velocity for fairly accurate shooting. Once below that number, the muzzle velocity fell off rapidly and the point of impact with it.
As with any CO2-powered airgun, muzzle velocity is very dependent on ambient temperature and speed of shooting.
Maximum muzzle velocity for the S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM was 399 fps with alloy pellets. It was typically in the 310 – 340 fps range with lead pellets at 60 degrees F. As described above, the fps will be higher in warmer ambient temperatures.
This is very adequate for the intended use of the 586: shooting paper targets or hitting soda cans. Indeed, much higher muzzle velocity is undesirable for the many people who shoot replica air pistols in their basement or garage ranges.
|Pellet||Average Muzzle Velocity||Average Muzzle Energy||Accuracy|
|H&N Field Target Trophy Green 5.56 Grain||399 FPS||1.96 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|RWS Meisterkugeln Pistol 7.0 Grain||337 FPS||1.77 Ft/Lbs||Very Good.|
|RWS Hobby 7.0 Grain||340 FPS||1.80 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|Crosman Premier HP 7.9 Grain||339 FPS||2.01 Ft/Lbs||Excellent.|
|H&N Field Target Trophy 8.64 Grain||312 FPS||1.86 Ft/Lbs||Excellent. Best Tested|
APPEARANCE AND FINISH
Appearance is right on. It’s very difficult to fault.
About the only way to tell visually that this air pistol is not a firearm are the the slightly different markings “Made in Germany by Umarex” for example, and the rotary pellet clip that’s not the full length of the firearm’s cylinder.
If you look VERY carefully, you’ll see that most of the “cylinder” is actually cast in place and doesn’t rotate (unlike some more recent replica revolvers). It’s only the rotary pellet clip that rotates. This is one of the few ways in which the 586 shows its age compared to more recent replica air pistol designs.
Beyond about 3 yards range, you’ll never see the difference compared to the firearm original.
Finish of the S&W 586 air pistol tested by HAM is very good, with well-concealed mold edges and very carefully-finished metalwork. The rubber hand grips are well executed and give a pleasant, “grippy” feel.
(Note that the HAM test gun was purchased in the short period that these guns were marketed in the USA by Crosman, before Umarex USA was established. Hence the Crosman markings on the right side. These guns were otherwise the same as current production).
BUYING AND OWNING
Like most replica air pistols, the S&W 586 air pistol is powered by a single 12 Gram CO2 cartridge. These, of course, are widely available and are a practical, inexpensive form of propellent.
Unlike the firearm 357 Magnum, no cleaning is required after shooting as there’s no powder residue to remove. And the prices for CO2 cartridges and .177 caliber pellets are very low compared to 357 ammo!
This, together with the proven long-term reliability of this model, make the S&W 586 air pistol good and easy to own. A 12-month warranty is provided by Umares USA although the owner is responsible for the cost of shipping both ways in the unlikely event of a warranty claim.
HAM tester Doug Wall commented that the 586 has one of the best and easiest to use CO2 cartridge loading/puncturing mechanisms he’s seen. He found it easy to use yet with no need for external screws or separate Allen wrenches, as is often the case with CO2-powered air pistols.
As a high end model, you’re not likely to find the S&W 586 air pistol in your local “big box” sporting goods store. But it’s readily available online. A Google search will immediately show Pyramyd Air, Amazon, Airgun Depot and other leading online retailers as sources of supply.
As with the original 357 Magnum, the S&W 586 air pistol has no safety, either automatic or manual. This means that you must exercise consistently good gun control practices whenever handling this gun.
And there’s one other intriguing possibility. As the barrel unit is removable, you could buy a replacement 4-inch barrel assembly from Umarex USA, and change your 586 to a short model at any time, should you wish. Unfortunately, having supplied the barrel removal tool with the gun, Umarex does not give instructions on how to use it.
Of course, Stephen Archer had to take it apart, to find out how it works! The tool fits into the end of the nut inside the barrel shroud. Turn it and the nut comes out. The barrel shroud slides off and the barrel itself screws out. Simple really. And he was able to put it back together, too!
SAFETY FIRST. Due to the realistic appearance of this product, handle it as you would a firearm. Do not display it in public or in any place where it could be mistaken for a cartridge firearm.
6 YARD TEST TARGETS
10 YARD TEST TARGET
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BUY FROM AMAZON
Smith & Wesson 586, 6-inch Barrel air pistol
This entire article including scoring, test targets etc is Copyright Hard Air Magazine and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the publisher.