ASG Dan Wesson Revolvers

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The Dan Wesson revolvers from Danish distributor Action Sport Games are very popular, and it’s easy to see why.  These are good looking, relatively inexpensive and nicely finished pistols and were amongst the first revolver replicas to use pellet holders which look like centrefire cartridges.  I have owned two Dan Wessons – a 2½” version in silver and a 6″ version, also in silver.  Both were 4.5mm models.

Real steel background

Dan Wesson Firearms was founded in 1968 as the Wesson Firearms Co. Inc by (the clue is in the name) Daniel B. Wesson, the great-grandson of one of the founders of Smith & Wesson.  The company was originally formed to create high quality revolvers of innovative design and which were powerful, accurate and virtually indestructible.  Dan Wesson revolvers were also amongst the first to be “modular” and many were sold in the form of a kit (the “Pistol Pack“) comprising the revolver, spare grips,  three alternative barrels of different lengths and tools to allow changing barrels (as well as extras like embroidered patches and belt buckles).   The company continued after Daniel Wesson’s death in 1978 and in 2005 was bought by Ceska Zbrojovka (Czech weapons factory, more usually known as CZ), the world’s largest manufacturer of firearms.  Dan Wesson currently produce a range of sporting and hunting weapons including rifles, shotguns and handguns.  Dan Wesson handguns are now mainly semi-auto 1911 clones and it is notable that no revolvers are listed as part of the current range.

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DW Model 15-2

One of the most popular Dan Wesson revolvers was the .357 Model 15-2 introduced in 1975.  This range was the first revolver to feature interchangeable barrels, and these were available in sizes up to 15″.  Model 15-2s were available in stainless steel or black oxide blued carbon alloy finish and provided with adjustable rear sights.

The ASG Dan Wesson Revolvers

Action Sport Games A/S (ASG) is a Danish distributor of air and airsoft weapons and accessories.  The company was formed in 2003 following the merger of what were then two of the largest Danish airsoft distributors: Pederson & Grobelnik A/S and Vestergaard ApS.  ASG have license agreements with a number of firearms manufacturers including CZ and Dan Wesson Firearms.  The Dan Wesson replicas are manufactured in Taiwan by WinGun Technology Co. Ltd.  WinGun also act as OEM for a number of other air and airsoft weapon distributors.

The ASG Dan Wesson revolvers don’t seem to be a replica of a particular Dan Wesson revolver, but most closely resemble the Model 15-2 series (though they are also similar to some versions of the later SuperMag Frame series).  The ASG revolvers are available as 2½”, 4″, 6″ and 8″ models and are manufactured in 4.5 and 6mm calibre.  Operationally and functionally all models and calibres are identical.  All have fully revolving, six-shot cylinders, metal frames, barrels, triggers, hammers and barrel shrouds and rubberised plastic grips.  CO2 is stored inside the grips, BBs are loaded into removable shell casings and the rear sights are adjustable for elevation and windage.  Barrels are smoothbore and a combined safety catch/cylinder release is provided on the left side of the frame.  These are available in polished silver (all models), black (2½” and 4″ only), grey (6″ and 8″ only) and gold (2½” only) finish.  Grips are generally black, but brown wood-effect grips are also available.  All models come with six shell casings, a speed loader, an attachable over-barrel accessory rail and a unique serial number.  2½” and 4″ versions have a rounded barrel shroud, while 6″ and 8″ versions have a deeper, oblong shroud.

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2½”, 4″, 6″ and 8″ models in, respectively, gold, black, polished silver and grey finish.

6mm version are available in both full and reduced power 1 joule (for airsoft skirmishing) forms.

Spec;

Calibre: 4.5/6mm

Magazine capacity: 6 BBs

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 2″, 3.5″, 5.5″ and 7.3″

Weight: 2.3 pounds (8″), 1.9 pounds (2½” )

Overall length: 13.6″ (8″ version), 8.4″ (2½” version)

Sights: Fixed front, fully adjustable rear

Action: SA/DA

Packaging and presentation  2.5/5

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Most 6″ and 8″ versions come in a card box which includes an inner polysterene insert with cut-outs to fir the pistol and accessories.  2½” and 4″ versions come in a simple card box.  However, I have also seen all versions offered in a plastic bubble pack.

All versions come with six shells, a speed loader, an over-barrel accessory rail and an allen key for fitting the accessory rail.  A decent user manual is also included.

Visual accuracy  5/10

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Dan Wesson Model 15-2, top, ASG Dan Wesson (with wood effect grips) below.

Given that these aren’t a replica of any particular Dan Wesson revolver, it’s difficult to judge visual accuracy.  All the ASG versions feature a prominent Dan Wesson signature on the barrel, but this isn’t a feature of the original.  The frame and cylinder arrangement is broadly similar on the replica, though the grip shape and size and Smith & Wesson style cylinder release are very different.  This is more of a generic air/airsoft pistol rather than a replica of a specific firearm.

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Taurus Raging Bull revolver (top), ASG Dan Wesson (bottom)

Oddly, these are actually a closer visual replica of the Raging Bull series of revolvers made by Brazilian gunmaker Taurus.

Functional accuracy  12/15

The removable shell casings mean that the ASG Dan Wesson revolvers very closely replicate the function of shooting with a real revolver.  The hammer and trigger work as per the real weapon, though a safety catch isn’t provided on the original.  The weight of these replicas is also good, though only around 2/3 of the weight of the original.

dw10All Dan Wesson revolvers have a distinctive crane release catch/latch in front and to the left of the cylinder.  On the replica, a thumb catch similar to those fitted to Smith & Wesson revolvers is provided behind the cylinder, on the left of the frame.

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Cylinder release catch/latch on a real DW revolver

The rear sights can be adjusted using simple slotted screws, one for windage and one for elevation.

Shooting  30/40

To prepare any Dan Wesson revolver for shooting, the rear part of the grip is hinged back, revealing the CO2 compartment.  CO2 is inserted, then pierced and tightened using the rather flimsy plastic tab.  The grip is then closed – on both my examples, the moving part of the grip was easy to inadvertently pull off altogether when opening and moved slightly when closed.  Shell casings are ejected either using the ejector rod or simply by tipping the cylinder so that they fall out.  BBs are loaded by pressing them down into the nose of the shell casing.  When new, this takes a fair amount of pressure, and there is a distinct feeling of the BB clicking firmly into place.  After some use, loading gets easier.  Shell casing are loaded into the cylinder, either individually or using the speed loader.  I found the speed loader difficult to use – it seemed difficult to get it at an angle where shells would load cleanly.  The cylinder is then closed – there is pronounced resistance as it passes the sprung rear end of the inner barrel, but it closes positively and with a pronounced latching action.

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Next step is to wrestle the safety catch off if applied.  With the safety on, the hammer cannot be cocked or the trigger pulled.  On both my Dan Wessons, the safety was very stiff indeed, and I almost never used it.  The grips have a very nice, slightly rubberised feel.  As you’d expect, double action trigger pull is long and fairly heavy, but it’s smooth, without distinct stages and the release point is crisp and consistent.  The broad hammer means that cocking for single action isn’t too hard on the thumb and the single action trigger pull is very nice indeed – short, crisp and light.  The white dot on the front sight does help target acquisition and the notch in the rear sight is the perfect width.  The pistol shoots with a satisfying bang.  Being non-blowback, there is of course almost no recoil.

Shooting ability is varied.  As you’d expect, longer barrelled versions fire with more power and generally produce slightly smaller groupings.  However, my experience with the 4.5mm, 6″ version wasn’t great.  From new, it fired noticeably high and with little power – I could clearly see the steel BBs arcing towards the target and there was a distinct pause between the bang of firing and the sound of the BB hitting the target, even at six yards.  Shooting over the chrono showed just 280 – 300fps dependent on temperature.  Even with the sights adjusted as far as possible, it still hit about two inches above the point of aim at six yards.  Groupings were around two inches at six yards, though with flyers approximately every six shots which hit anything up to four inches from the centre of the group.  It also felt unbalanced, with too much weight carried forward, though it was very frugal with CO2 – I was able to get 80 – 90 full power shots per CO2.

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My 2½” – note that shell casings have been drilled out to allow pellets to be loaded from the rear.

I enjoyed shooting the 2½” version much more.  It felt compact, pointable and well balanced.  However, my 2½ had been converted to fire .177 pellets through a rifled barrel, so it’s unfair to make direct comparisons.  For the record it produced groups of approximately 1¼” – 1½” at six yards, and it was possible to adjust the sights so that the point of aim and point of impact were coincident.  Fps was around 240 – 260 and I got 50-60 full power shots per CO2.

However, it’s clear that my experiences with the Dan Wesson are not typical.  I have seen anything from 450 to well over 500fps stated for the 4.5mm versions, with groupings of 1½” at six yards.  Which fits with the ASG claim of 320, 344, 453 and 540fps for respectively the 2½”, 4″, 6″ and 8″, 4.5mm versions.  My 6″ certainly seems to have been very underpowered compared to most.  Now, I don’t feel that fps is particularly important in a target shooter compared to consistency and accuracy, but unfortunately my Dan Wesson didn’t deliver either of these either.

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The experience of shooting the 6mm versions is identical, though performance differences between models are smaller.  You can expect around 420 – 450 fps (with .2g BBs) from the full power models, and around 300 – 330 fps for the reduced power (1 joule) versions.  Groupings should be around 1½” – 2″ at six yards, though owners of 6mm versions also report occasional flyers.

If you get a good one, these seem to be very nice shooters indeed.  If like me you get one that doesn’t seem so good, it’s less fun.  I checked my Dan Wesson over carefully and partly dismantled it to try to find the cause of the low power and poor accuracy.  I didn’t find anything wrong – no wear (which you wouldn’t expect as it was new) and nothing obviously broken or incorrectly assembled.  I never did find out why it performed so badly.  It’s possible that it might have improved with use, but given its problems, I probably didn’t shoot more than 400 rounds through it.  I have based the shooting score on the wider experience of shooting the ASG Dan Wesson rather than on my problematic 6″.

Quality and reliability  12/15

I have generally been favourably impressed with the build and finish quality of most ASG products, and the Dan Wesson revolvers are no exception.  They have good weight (though to me, the 6 and 8″ versions feel unbalanced) and the finish is of good quality.  The machining, fit and finish on external parts is very good and seams are nicely hidden.  The polished silver and glossy black finishes look particularly striking, though I’m not a big fan of the speckled grey finish available on the 6″ and 8″ versions.  The gold finish available on the 2½” version also looks good though I haven’t owned one of these so I can’t say how durable it is.  All finishes appear to be hard-wearing and scuff resistant.

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Apparently the grips have a slightly rubberised outer coating, which can wear with use, though this didn’t happen on either of mine.  The CO2 tightening tab does feels a bit flimsy, but I’m not aware of problems with these and the tab is hidden when the grip is closed.  The fit of the movable part of the grip isn’t perfect, and some movement can be felt when you hold the pistol.

I had no reliability problems with either of my Dan Wessons, but I’m aware of other owners reporting wear of the hammer sear, wear of the rear nose of the floating inner barrel and even a few bent cylinder cranes.

Overall Impression  12/15

The Dan Wesson revolvers feel good in the hand.  I particularly like the 2½” version – it’s less than half a pound lighter than the 8″ version, but its compact size actually makes it feel more weighty.  I also preferred the balance of the shorter versions – I found the weight on the 6″ and 8″ versions biased too much to the front.

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My 6″ version wasn’t a great shooter, with poor accuracy and low power, but this seems to have been a particular fault with that pistol.  Most owners report good accuracy and power with these replicas.

Tweaking Dan Wesson revolvers

Power on these replicas can be increased or decreased by adjusting pre-tension on the hammer spring.  This easily achieved (the YouTube video below shows how as well as giving advice on other power mods), but this can cause increased wear on internal parts, particularly the sear.  Increasing the power in this way also increases CO2 consumption and having tried this on both my Dan Wesson’s, I found the change in fps to be minimal.  ASG also offer power reducing 6mm shells for these pistols, with a restrictor controlling gas flow through the shell.  These are used to reduce power to less than 1 joule to meet skirmishing requirements.

Barrels on these revolvers are not interchangeable, though it is fairly simple to detach the barrel and shroud by removing the two rolled steel pins in the upper part of the frame.  There isn’t a particular advantage to this, as you can’t buy barrels and shrouds separately.  However, it is theoretically possible to fit any length of barrel to any frame and grip as otherwise all versions are identical.  It’s a pity ASG don’t offer these in a “Pistol Pack” with a range of interchangeable barrels included.

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Drifting out the two pins arrowed above allows the barrel and shroud to be removed.

A more interesting possibility is replacing the smoothbore barrel with a rifled version and shooting pellets rather than BBs.  My 2½” version was modified in this way.  In addition to the new barrel, the shell casings also need to be drilled out to allow a .177 pellet to be inserted from the rear.  Best results were obtained by using flat-nosed pellets and pushing each pellet through from the back of the shell casing until the nose of the pellet was level with the nose of the casing.  After modification, the pistol was just as reliable as the original and notably more accurate, though it did seem to use more CO2.  However this mod may not be required for much longer as ASG have recently announced that they will be producing a .177 pellet version of the Dan Wesson.  This will be available in 6″ and 8″ versions and will feature a rifled barrel and solid brass shells from which you’ll have to unscrew the end to insert a pellet.  Could be very nice indeed!

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2½” version loaded with .177 pellets rather than BBs

As with all modifications to air and airsoft pistols, undertaking these can damage your pistol, invalidate any warranty and even cause injury.  Only attempt modifications if you are confident you know what you’re doing and always consider safety.  Never work on a pistol which is loaded with CO2.

Conclusion

These are relatively inexpensive and well made and finished revolver replicas.  Most owners seen happy with power and accuracy, though my 6″ version was  poor in both respects.  Reliability seems generally good, but there are reports of premature wear on some examples.  They’re hefty and fun to shoot and they look pretty good too.  They are fairly easy to mod for more power or even to convert the 4.5mm version to shoot pellets, but both these things will increase CO2 consumption and neither provides a significant increase in accuracy over a good original.

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Overall, I’d have preferred a replica of a specific firearm rather than a generic revolver, but that’s purely personal taste.  However, if you’re looking for a replica which reflects the revolver experience, you could do a whole lot worse than one of the ASG Dan Wessons.

Total score: 73.5/100

Buy:

You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.

Related pages:

Umarex S&W TRR8 revolver review

Umarex S&W 586/686 revolver review

Wingun/Gun Heaven Nagant M1895 revolver review

 

Links

ASG Revolver range

7 thoughts on “ASG Dan Wesson Revolvers

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