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SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79

Mark Camoccio checks out three of SMK’s CO2 powered rifles – the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79

Sportsmarketing (SMK), based in Colchester, import an enormous selection of air rifles and accessories, offering shooters a wide choice of options.

My test models here are three of their ‘Supergrade’ rifles all based around the same robust action. They all utilize carbon dioxide gas (CO2) as the power source, which should mean maximum fun for minimum input. It should also be pointed out that something of a cult following exists for these rifles, largely the result of that simple yet streamlined action, affording the QB78 and XS78 models at least, the appearance and uncluttered lines of a cartridge ammo stalking rifle. With a burgeoning after-market in spares, specialist modifications and tune-ups, all dedicated to these CO2 favourites, their future is assured. So let’s take a closer look and see what all the fuss is about.

CO2 as a power source can be a little unstable, so velocity and energy can vary depending upon ambient temperature. Given that all three rifles on test are beginners models, their modest power output and any slight fluctuations, will probably go un-noticed, so as such, is largely irrelevant. Despite their asking prices - placing these models strictly in the budget category - they have a solid feel and a level of finish which is bound to impress. So let’s look at the first one.

The XS79

The XS79 model takes the large bulk fill 88gramme CO2 cylinder, which, once screwed into place, is good for 180-200 shots. Of course the cost of these disposable cylinders needs to be factored in (at around £6.99 a throw), but they do allow fairly prolonged shooting sessions to take place before a refill is needed. The downside of this design is that, because the forend is curtailed, the CO2 cylinder itself becomes the forend, meaning the leading hand has to grip a cold cylinder instead of the comfort of woodwork.

The hardwood beech stock fitted to this model exhibits some very attractive grain pattern, whilst the thick lacquered finish and rubber butt pad all add to the overall impression.

Conventional iron/open sights come fitted to this XS79, although they are rather basic and awkward to adjust. Most owners, I suspect, will be fitting glassware of some sort fairly early on, and this is made easy by the provision of extended scope rails, which run the full length of the breech block.

Removing and replacing the 88gramme CO2 capsule is made easy and safer by the addition of a knurled adapter collar, which allows any unused gas to escape safely via the vent hole.

The XS78 and QB78 Deluxe

Both these models follow the same layout, and require two 12gramme CO2 ‘bulbs’ to be inserted back to back inside the cylinder. Once the knurled end cap, just forward of the forend, is screwed into place, the bulbs are pierced and CO2 is released as required. This arrangement provides around 40 shots before the power drops, and with the 12gramme bulbs costing around 75p each, again, the extra cost of shooting needs to be borne in mind.

CO2 basically offers its own contained power unit, so the action can be free from springs and pistons, purely requiring a simple internal valve to meter the CO2.  This allows for much lighter designs, and with these models tipping the scales between 5.28 and 5.75lbs, any newcomer should find them wholly manageable.

The QB78 Deluxe model offers a gold anodised bolt handle and trigger blade, which adds a touch of class to an already attractive rifle. Add in a properly adjustable set of fibre optic open sights, and the extra £20 suddenly seems a bargain.

Bolt and trigger

All three rifles incorporate the same barrel over cylinder arrangement, and all three include a bolt mechanism, which is very easy to pull back, then slightly irritating to push forward and lock down. I have been reliably informed that this should improve with use, but the bolt is definitely over-sprung and a little stiff, which just takes the edge off an otherwise enjoyable experience. As for that plastic barrel support (fitted to all three models), this could be removed by the more adventurous owner, restoring true floating barrel status at a stroke.

Truly appreciated

I believe all these niggles are the subject of the XS78/XS79 Appreciation Society (I kid you not), so someone out there will be tuning, modifying and re-jigging these idiosyncrasies as we speak. The bolt and single stage trigger would be a good place to start, yet consider those RRP’s again, and the slightly creepy trigger is both perfectly usable, and even attractive, given its curved shape within a cast guard.

Being CO2 powered, all these rifles are recoilless, and with accuracy of around 3/4 inch at 20yds (achieved using the recommended .22 Milbro Select), close range hunting is also a possibility.

CO2? It’s a gas…

Ok; I’ll admit, I’m normally no great fan of CO2, yet legions of shooters are. All I can say is I certainly warmed to these models whilst they were in my care, representing as they do, some of the best examples out there.

Technical Specifications
Model QB78 Deluxe / XS78 / XS79
Manufacturer SMK / SMK / SMK
Type Single shot/bolt action / Same / Same
Calibre .22 only / .177 or .22 / .177 or .22
Weight 5.75lbs / 5.28lbs / 5.28lbs
Overall Length 40inches / 40inches / 40inches
Barrel Length 21.5inches / 21.5inches / 21.5inches
Stock Beech sporter / Same / Same
Power Source 2x 12g co2 capsule / Same / 88g cylinder
Shot Count 40 shots (within 25fps) / 40 / 180
Velocity Average 523fps / 523fps / 540fps
Shot to variation 25fps / 25fps / 30fps
Energy 9ft/lbs average on test / 9ft/lbs / 9.6ft/lbs
Trigger single stage-3-way adj / same / same
RRP £129.95 / £109.95 / £109.95
Uses Beginners rifles/close range hunting

All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates

Distributer information
Gun Mart Shooters Forum - Get Involved in the Discussion!
User Comments
  • I have an QB78 .177 that I bought several years ago.

    Firstly, the reason the bolt is harder to push forwards (to the firing position), is because unlike most bolt actions, it cocks when being closed to the firing position.
    so until the bolt is locked forwards, the gun is safe.

    On mine the bolt was stiff (both directions), and the mechanism was generally rough around the edges.

    I decided to strip it down, and then semi polished some parts and smoothed the burrs of other parts...
    And I removed the filter from the co2 valve (its not needed, and I believe later guns dont have them)

    Mine QB78 is now very smooth and predicable, and is great fun.

    With a bit of tuning, and modification or replacement of parts, they can easily get to the 12lb-ft. I am going to tune mine to around 11~11.5lbft.

    From the info I have read the .177 models will just about get to 12lb-ft, but the .22 can exceed it very easily.

    All in all, I think they are a good, underestimated gun that you can tune have some fun with.

    Strongly recommended.

    Comment by: K     Posted on: 09 Jan 2011 at 04:13 PM

  • ive just got the smk xs78 put it up two 12lb as they are set at 9lb when i had mine on the 17/ 5 /11 got 4x4/9 40 scops fitted silencer as well and put it to the test this saterday and it was great to see this gun acted like a pre charge gun i got 40 shots at high power then after that the co2s died out but the gun is very good at the price of £100 pounds my day state was £800 pounds with bottle scops and silencer and the smk xs78 is just as powerful .lovely gun in lools and power.

    Comment by: MICHAEL DONNELLY     Posted on: 13 Nov 2011 at 02:45 AM

  • I bought a SMK 79 I didn't expect too much given the price but I was suprised at how accurate it was. I shoot up to twenty metres and use my gun to hunt.
    I can hit three quarter of an inch groups at twenty metres easily and time and time again. The power is advertised at around ten foot/LB which is ok for shooting up to twenty metres. The gun it self was very well made in comparison to my old Crosman rabbit stopper , No plastic bolt bolt assembly , heavier metal work and it came with proper scope mounts which took my one piece mount.
    I have owned Wierauchs, BSA,Webley and others including a PCP over the years . I would say this rifle is as accurate as any of the guns I've owned . My only criticism would be the stock cheek piece is very low . I may get my tuned but it seems perfectly ok as it is. Over all I would be very confident of hitting a kill zone on small vermin again and again with this rifle. Ive owned lots of more powerful rifles(spingers) in the past but I have to say I've never had quite such an accurate rifle which I'd be confident to hit on the bulls eye every time.
    Ive fitted a SMK silencer and it is very quiet.
    I would recommend this rifle to any one.

    Comment by: Martin ROGERS     Posted on: 16 Jan 2012 at 04:53 PM

  • For pound per pound its No1, an entry level with out a doubt. The basic workings of this gun also make it a good tuning project. If you are interested in tuning your 78/79 email me at highviss @googlemail.com and i would be happy to provide you with info on this.

    Comment by: Tony     Posted on: 27 Feb 2012 at 09:48 AM

  • For the money you cannot complain. The QB78 .22 cal. is the best one. Fit the Terry Robb tune up kit and make sure you clean out the gun properly as swarf is a major problem and causes valve malfunction. Make certain you have a chrono because using lighter pellets could put you over the limit and carry you into the long arms of the law. On warmer days you will have a sweet handling bang on the limit 12ft.lbs rifle.

    Comment by: Pete John     Posted on: 10 May 2012 at 07:26 PM

  • just recently i have sold my smk 19 .22 and im wanting the th78d in .22 have you guys got any info of the gun if its a good buy or watevea realy would like opinions and power info thanks .

    Comment by: steve hayes     Posted on: 19 May 2012 at 12:12 AM

  • Th78 is a Qb78 with a thumbhole stock which makes it more money for basically the same gun. Look at the TR Robb (gunsmith of Southend) website. He has lots of stuff for this gun. Buy a Qb78 and the Robb tuning kit and have a full power gun for the same money as you will pay for a medium power Th78.

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 20 May 2012 at 01:37 PM

  • I bought an xs78 (.22) recently to help deal with a rat problem in our garden. I have killed two of the blighters so far with ease at about 20 yards - the accuracy is great once the scope is zeroed in. Whilst cheap this rifle feels solidly built and for the money I don't think I have much to complain about. I was initially going for higher end stuff such as an Air Arms Pro Sport - but for close range ratting this does what I need and more (saved me £400). I would have appreciated the power being up to 12lbs to begin with as messing about with mods is not something I can be bothered with frankly. Still, if you're on target , (head shot) my experience is the rat dies immeidately. Watch out for the diminishing power as the CO2 goes down as one rat had just a nasty headache.

    Comment by: Tim     Posted on: 03 Jul 2012 at 03:24 PM

  • Could someone tell me please if the screw holes on the XS78 and QB78 match? I have a XS78 and want to fit fibre optic sights. Can't find them for my XS78. Bought some supposedly off a QB78 and assured they would fit but are totaly different. Many thanks

    Comment by: Allan     Posted on: 30 Sep 2012 at 11:33 AM

  • Apart from the QB having a much thicker barrel, the screw holes are in different places. The QB rearsight is further from the breech and even if you could fit the fibre-optic to the XS it would overhang the end of the barrel.

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 09 Oct 2012 at 07:08 PM

  • Just had given a QB78, I'm afraid it needs some love and attention, ie sites, seals, safety catch. Where is the nearest place to get these spares , i live in Warrington Cheshire.

    Comment by: Bryan     Posted on: 17 Oct 2012 at 09:53 PM

  • John Knibbs sells spares for these air rifles.

    Comment by: Troll Hunter     Posted on: 18 Oct 2012 at 01:43 AM

  • That's www.airgunspares.com.

    Comment by: Troll Hunter     Posted on: 18 Oct 2012 at 01:44 AM

  • T.R.Robb Airgun Specialist, South Benfleet, Essex. Top quality parts. much better than original, good price, better design and if he hasn't got he makes it.

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 18 Oct 2012 at 06:18 PM

  • I recently brought the smk xs78 and have to say that I am disappointed with the after sales service. After only charging the gun with co2 5 times the main seals blew. My dealer rang smk and was told that if he sent the gun back they would repair it and send it back in a few weeks (hopefully before Christmas) . The issue here is that my dealer would have to pay the charges to return a faulty item to the manufacturer and as an independent retailer the costs are prohibitive. The solution was that smk sent a set of seals to my dealer for them to fit, full marks to my dealer for their willingness to do the repair, but zero to smk for their customer service on an item that in fairness should have been replaced. Buyer beware!!!

    Comment by: Pat     Posted on: 10 Dec 2012 at 05:31 PM

  • That's poor and I can see why you are cheesed about it. The gun is basically sound and solid but the some of the internals are low quality and underdeveloped.

    Speaking for myself, I once bought two of these guns for their potential and what I could do with them. For a little work and about £80 on top of the purchase price these guns can be made into a real gem.

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 10 Dec 2012 at 08:08 PM

  • Just picked up a QB78 DL today for £140, secondhand, oh it did have a Webley Xocet with it!

    For the money these are a great way in to the highly addictive world of gun tuning. If I was Mark I would be asking SMK to gift me one as a project then get in touch with Welsh Willy, spend £13 with him on a seal and bolt kit.

    Then get stripping, polishing and fettling. These are addictive little rifles.

    Comment by: Mike Carter     Posted on: 20 Jan 2013 at 01:08 AM

  • When you've tuned your QB try using round ball ammo instead of waisted pellets..

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 20 Jan 2013 at 07:20 PM

  • Firstly mark is wrong about the barrel bands they are plastic on both 78models but black coated alloy on the 79 secondly if any of the bands are removed it would not give a floating barrel it would give a wobbly barrel as it is only held in place with. One small grub screw. I don't like co2 so on my 79 I fitted a hpa bottle and with a little modification just tops 11ft lbs I have several multi shots but when you mod, something yourself it seems more fun and have several good hunting under its belt

    Comment by: anthony lightowler     Posted on: 24 Dec 2013 at 06:09 PM

  • When are we going to see the "Archer Airguns Repeater Conversion kits for the 78/79 models" in the UK.?

    These kits are for sale only in the USA "WHY" ?

    I think there is a good market for them in the UK.

    Comment by: Colin Philemon     Posted on: 14 Jan 2014 at 12:55 PM

  • Rowan Engineering make a multishot adaptor for these rifles for £59.95. The company's products are very good and although I've not actually used one myself, I'm sure they'll work well.

    Go to www.rowanengineering.com

    Comment by: Troll Hunter     Posted on: 14 Jan 2014 at 01:12 PM

  • I recently bought in Italy the Norconia QB78. In Italy this airguns is free sale for 18 yr and require no license license.
    Is wonderful, very light and very accurate up to 25/30 meters.
    I was impressed by the sites and the amount of accessories that can be found on the net.
    For what it costs in Italy (180 €) is the real deal.

    Comment by: HeavyHorse from Italy     Posted on: 26 Feb 2014 at 05:11 PM

  • Hi I'm thinkin of buying either the smk qb78 deluxe, or th xs79, can anyone tell me how much it will cost to tune them to full UK powder?

    Comment by: Keith Robison     Posted on: 03 Aug 2014 at 07:52 AM

  • A full tune-up kit from T R Robb will cost about £50. His valve removal tool cost £10 extra but if you go to a £ shop and buy a BIG screwdriver, which works just as well, you save £9. T R Robb also has a video tutorial on his site. If you do a 'full' tune be very careful because it can take you over the legal UK power.

    Comment by: Allan     Posted on: 03 Aug 2014 at 09:43 AM

  • Yep, about £60-80 quid from Terry Robb should do it.

    As said by Allan be careful not to go over the limit. Stay legal, don't drill the extra holes in the valve body (they are partly pre-drilled as far as I can remember) and don't stretch or fit the stronger hammer spring or you could put the gun over and have the police on your case.

    Just for 2-3 extra ft. lbs. you could become a prohibited person and never be able to own any sort of rifle again, it's not worth it !

    Comment by: pete john     Posted on: 03 Aug 2014 at 06:45 PM

  • Saying on the right side of the law will potentially keep you out of prison too!

    It really isn't worth straying over the 12 Ft/Lb limit, whether you intend to or not; if you want FAC power, get an FAC and have 30-50 FT/Lbs at your disposal.

    Comment by: Troll Hunter     Posted on: 09 Aug 2014 at 10:15 PM

  • hi anyone out there could give me the safe CYL. pressure for the co2 receiver on an smkqb78dl rifle as I would like to convert this to PCP but don't fancy being blown up someone mentioned 68bar max. if anyone out there can give me this info I would be very grateful This 78dl performs very accurately at my club range 5 shots in area of 2penceAT 35 METRES CONSISTANTLY.
    HERES HOPING

    Comment by: PATRICK HAND     Posted on: 19 Sep 2014 at 04:43 PM

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SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
SMK’s CO2 powered rifles - the QB78 Deluxe, XS78 and XS79
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