Pistol test: SMK XS26
PUBLISHED: 12:12 04 November 2016
Phill Price tries a pistol that promises power all the way
It’s been a long time since I’ve shot a pistol of this kind. It reminded me of the superb BSA Scorpion a friend had as a kid, which we all loved because it was by far the most powerful around. It would shoot through cans other pistols only dented. It also had lots of recoil and was quite noisy. We thought it was great – all that kerfuffle surely meant it was really powerful!
The XS26 is much the same. A large break-barrel, spring-piston design, it contains a spring so powerful you need to add the slip-on cocking aid to compress it.
SMK promises the full 6ft.lbs. legal limit power, and suggests it could be used for jobs such as despatching squirrels caught in live traps. Perhaps this is why they offer it in .22 only. But despite them saying the XS26 is suitable for vermin hunting, I disagree. I don’t believe anybody is accurate enough with a pistol to kill even a rat humanely – and I’m sticking to that!
The grip is an integral part of the moulding that forms the stock. It is made from a high-impact polymer, meaning it’s unaffected by moisture and is as strong as can be. I found the grip fitted my medium-sized hand perfectly and for once, the finger grooves suited me as well, (they’re often oddly spaced and become more of a hindrance than a help).
Despite being ambidextrous, the grip has a good palm swell that fills the hand for better control, delivering the index finger correctly onto the broad face of the trigger blade. Overall, I’d say the ergonomics of this pistol are very good.
It comes with a set of fibre-optic enhanced open sights. As my eyesight is getting worse, I appreciated the bright, clear image they provided, heightened by the long sight base. It’s some 12” from the front sight to the rear, which helps to ensure precise alignment and aids accuracy. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, allowing you to zero properly.
There are grooves machined on the top of the cylinder to accept a scope, and anybody looking to get the most from the accuracy might well want to consider adding one. However, please be sure to use only the strongest mounts as the snappy recoil might well move the scope around if you don’t.
The trigger has what feels like a two-stage action, but the first movement doesn’t engage the sears so, in practice, it’s actually a single-stage unit.
There’s no adjustment available and the test gun’s trigger broke at around 6 1/2” pounds, which is pretty heavy, but the sears are holding back some serious spring pressure so I guess it’s no surprise. The broad face of the trigger blade helped to spread the load, so it didn’t feel quite as heavy as the scales showed it was.
Cocking creates some odd clacking sounds, caused by the articulated cocking linkage I guess, but I’m sure they’re nothing to worry about. With the cocking aid fitted, I found the effort needed quite small, and long shooting sessions caused me no fatigue.
Over the chronograph, the XS26 averaged 355 fps with the SMK Black BS55 Domed pellet (15 grains), which calculates out to 4.2ft.lbs. This is somewhat less than advertised, but it’s still very powerful for a pistol.
At 10 yards, no tin can will be safe and I don’t doubt the same will apply at greater distances once you master this gun’s idiosyncrasies.
Despite its weight, I found the trigger pleasant to use, being quite predictable at its release point, but as with all spring-piston guns, consistency is the key to accuracy. To get the best from this gun, regular practice will be your friend as will a consistent hold and stance. The sights also add to the pleasure of shooting it and are a welcome upgrade to pistols of this kind.
Just like my friend’s old Scorpion, the XS26 is a big handful of power and will punch through cans other pistols can’t touch. It’s not an easy gun to shoot, but the dedicated shooter who puts in the time and effort will find pleasure and reward from mastering it.
Length: 16.9” (43cm)
Weight: 2.2lbs (1kg)
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