Umarex Fuel air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

 

Umarex Fuel air rifle
That’s right! The Umarex Fuel carries its own bipod legs tucked against the forearm until you deploy them.

This report covers:

• A modern breakbarrel
• Stock with an integral bipod
• Two-stage adjustable trigger
• SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
• ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
• Firing behavior

A couple weeks ago, I started a new reporting format that combines Parts 1 and 2 for airgun reports of standard airguns. I felt that would speed up the reporting process a bit, since many of these guns are so similar. Well, today’s report is on the Umarex Fuel air rifle, which is different enough to warrant a standalone Part 1 description. I think as I describe the rifle, you will agree.

I’m testing rifle number 00514010. It’s in .177 caliber, which is the only caliber offered at this time.

A modern breakbarrel
The Fuel is a modern breakbarrel air rifle in every sense of the term. First, and I think foremost, in everyone’s mind is the set of permanently attached bipod legs that fold flat against the sides of the forearm when not in use. I know there’s a lot of curiosity about these. Heck — I’m curious! Of course, I’ll test the rifle resting on them, but let me answer the biggest question I see right now. Yes, it’s easy to cock the rifle with the legs deployed because they attach to either side of the stock and the barrel passes between them during cocking.

The rifle weighs 8.1 lbs. and is 44.1 inches long. The narrow stock makes it feel lighter than the weight would imply. This is an adult-sized air rifle, but not a huge one.

Stock with an integral bipod
What really drove me to say the Fuel is a modern breakbarrel is the shape of the synthetic stock. Just in front of the triggerguard, there are angled ridges that fit the fingers of your off hand nicely. They invite you to grasp the stock there. I’ll have to see if they help or hinder shooting, vis-a-vis the artillery hold. The stock is narrower here, so the rifle sits low in your hand and has a decidedly muzzle-heavy balance. It feels like a rifleman’s rifle!

The stock has different ridges at the forward end that don’t seem to invite the hand like those at the back. The bipod legs are held tight to the stock by powerful magnets in the tip of each leg that contact the stock screw heads. When they’re against the stock, that section is naturally wider than the rear portion.

The bipod legs are made of the same synthetic material as the rest of the stock. They lock into position when set up or when folded flat against the stock. There’s only one deployed position and no height adjustment. They raise the rifle 6 inches off the ground.

I should also mention that the forearm seems to have 4 screws — 2 on each side — holding it to the barreled action. In truth, the back 2 screws are only screwed into the plastic material of the stock and are just there to provide steel to attract the magnets in the bipod legs. The triggerguard has only one screw, located at the rear of the guard.

The stock has an exaggerated thumbhole design that’s completely ambidextrous. The vertical pistol grip invites the shooter to pull the stock into the shoulder. Only by shooting will I discover if this is desirable, but I can tell you it gives you a lot of control over the rifle.

The pistol grip has minor stippling on its forward edge that doesn’t add anything to the grippiness, but also horizontal grooves that do add something. The stock material is rough and doesn’t slip around in my hands.

The buttpad is a thin, black rubber pad that’s very sticky. It’ll hold the rifle on your shoulder or keep it from slipping when you lean it against something.

Two-stage adjustable trigger
The trigger is two-stage, and stage one adjusts for the length of travel. The pull weight doesn’t adjust, but I find it to be very crisp and free from creep. The specs say it breaks at 3.3 lbs., which I’ll verify in the velocity test.

Umarex Fuel air rifle trigger
The trigger adjusts for the length of the first-stage pull, only. The safety lever moves forward when the rifle’s cocked and must be pulled to the rear to make the gun ready to fire.

I must comment on the shape and location of the steel trigger blade. It’s very vertical, which feels just right to me, and the placement is perfect for my medium-sized hands. This is where that vertical pistol grip comes into play.

The safety is a steel lever forward of the trigger blade. It’s automatic and must be pulled to the rear before you take the shot.

SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
Both front and rear sights have fiberoptic tubes. The front sight is a post on top of a ramp. It’s atop a SilenceAir baffled muzzlebrake that should help with cocking leverage, except that the fiberoptic tube is in exactly the wrong place for your hand. Good thing the Fuel is easy to cock!

Yes, this gun has a baffled silencer permanently attached to the muzzle. While it does somewhat quiet the report, the shooter will hear all the powerplant noise transmitted through his cheek where it touches the stock. While the rifle’s not silent, but it isn’t that loud, either.

Umarex Fuel air rifle front sight
The front sight sits on top of a muzzlebrake/silencer.

The rear sight is a fully adjustable sporting unit. The fiberoptics can be defeated with proper lighting, and then you see a sharply defined square post up front inside a square notch at the rear — perfect for precision sighting.

Both adjustments have definable clicks for precision. The horizontal adjustments use a scale for reference, while the elevation wheel is numbered.

Umarex Fuel air rifle rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for windage and elevation.

Of course, the Fuel does come with a 3-9X32 scope and mounts that fit on the Picatinny rail that’s attached to the top of the spring tube. That rail is clamped by 4 screws to a set of 11mm dovetail grooves cut directly into the top of the spring tube. So, if you want to use a set of 11mm scope rings for some reason, you can.

ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
The Fuel comes with the ReAxis gas piston, which is the name Umarex gives to their gas spring. They mention this in the advertising, but don’t push it. I find this rifle to be easy to cock and a very smooth shooter. Couple that with a trigger that breaks cleanly and the lower discharge noise, and you get the impression that the Fuel is less powerful than its numbers convey. The velocity test will be very informative.

Umarex says the cocking effort is 30 lbs. I can’t wait to see what this test rifle registers on my scale, but right now I would say they’re pretty close to that number.

Firing behavior
I’ll report more on the firing behavior in later reports; but because this rifle is easy to cock, has a crisp trigger and is quiet, I had to shoot it several times just to get acquainted. I have to say I really like how it feels when it fires. The impulse is quick and has no vibration after the shot. I’ll be able to tell a lot more when we begin accuracy testing.

I intend testing the rifle for accuracy with the open sights before I mount the scope. Open sights allow me to become familiar with the rifle’s behavior, as well as finding the best pellets for accuracy. Umarex sent a tin of Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets with the test rifle, so they’ll be included for sure.

The one thing that is a burning question in my mind right now is how the rifle will perform off the bipod. I’ve never recommended shooting spring guns with bipods because of their harmonics issues, so this will be an interesting test. I’m looking forward to it!

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1
Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 2
R.A.I. Adjustable AR Adapter for Crosman 2240 pistols: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable AR Adapter for Crosman 2240 pistols: Part 2

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

Crosman 2240 air conversion long barrel
The steel breech and longer barrel increase the 2240′s length dramatically.

This report covers:

• Installation of a steel breech and longer barrel
• Easy steps
• First velocity test
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• What have we learned?
• Replace the striker spring with a heavier spring
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• Evaluation to this point

This is the third look at converting a Crosman 2240 CO2 pistol to run on high-pressure air. In the last report, we saw how the conversion works with the factory barrel and factory striker spring. Today I will install a longer barrel with a steel breech and see what that does. Then I will add a stronger striker spring and see what that does.

Installation of a steel breech and longer barrel
Installing a Crosman steel breech and a Crosman 14.50-inch barrel on the 2240 pistol took all of 10 minutes. Four screws were removed, and both the plastic breech and barrel came off. After the detailed disassembly you saw in Part 1 of this report, this modification was a walk in the park.

Easy steps
The new breech was made by Crosman and sold by Pyramyd Air for $38, plus shipping. The barrel was also made by Crosman, and I bought it off eBay for $37 plus shipping. Together, these two parts have added about $85 to the cost of the gun, on top of the $65 for the air conversion that was given to me by Rick Eutsler. That’s an additional $150 I’ve put into this gun. And I’m not counting the adjustable stock and adapter that turns this pistol into a carbine. I’m not complaining about the cost, but don’t let anyone say this is a cheaper route than buying a Benjamin Discovery outright. What you get with this conversion is the time you need to make the investment. You can do this in easy steps.

First velocity test
I left the factory striker spring in place for this first test and pressurized the pistol to 2000 psi. Then, I shot the same 3 pellets I’ve been testing all along:

14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets
11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets
14.5-grain RWS Superdome pellets

Below are the velocities on CO2 for the factory gun; then the velocities for the factory gun with the high-pressure air conversion; and finally the velocities for the gun with the steel breech, longer barrel and factory spring — all operating at 2000 psi.

Crosman Premier pellets
CO2 avg…………..Air in factory gun average…………..Air in long barrel average
448 f.p.s…………………..486 f.p.s………………………………………517 f.p.s.

I got 15 shots with this pellet and the longer barrel. They ranged from 504 f.p.s. to 524 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby pellets
CO2 avg…………..Air in factory gun average…………..Air in long barrel average
482 f.p.s…………………..526 f.p.s………………………………………564 f.p.s.

This pellet gave me 18 shots from a 2000 psi fill with the longer barrel. They ranged from a low of 548 f.p.s. to a high of 573 f.p.s.

RWS Superdome pellets
CO2 avg…………..Air in factory gun average…………..Air in long barrel average
455 f.p.s…………………..483 f.p.s………………………………………525 f.p.s.

Superdomes gave 14 shots on a 2000 psi fill. With the longer barrel, the low was 516 f.p.s. and the high was 534 f.p.s.

What have we learned?
Obviously, the pistol shoots faster with the longer barrel and no other changes. Adding the steel breech does strengthen the rear of the barrel, but it doesn’t add anything to velocity.

All 3 shot strings posted above started out slow and increased as the shots were fired. So, the pressure curve is about ideal when the fill is at 2000 psi.

The velocity increase from CO2 in the standard pistol to high-pressure air in the longer barrel is very significant. But by leaving the factory striker (hammer) spring in the gun, we’re not getting all this conversion has to offer.

Replace the striker spring with a heavier spring
The kit Rick Eutsler sent me contained two striker springs — both of which are stronger than the factory spring. I removed the factory spring and installed the spring that was the weakest of the two, though stronger than the factory spring. I wanted to keep the fill pressure at 2000 psi, and the strongest spring would not be the way to do that.

I filled the gun to 2000 psi and proceeded to shoot Crosman Premiers. Here are the first 8 shots.

581
577
576
575
578
576
570
568

The velocity dropped with almost every shot. Yes, there are a few exceptions, but the trend is generally down. What this means is that the new spring is too strong for the fill pressure of 2000 psi. The pistol wants to start at a higher pressure with this spring.

I decided to fill the gun to 2250 psi. This is above the maximum I wanted to use, but it illustrates the relationship I just mentioned and is worth a look. Let’s look at the velocities at this pressure.

Crosman Premier pellets
588 f.p.s. average, low 582 f.p.s., high 594 f.p.s.

Compare the above to the average velocity with the factory striker spring and longer barrel, which was 517 f.p.s. This is a huge increase of 71 f.p.s. The stronger striker spring gives more of a boost than the longer barrel by itself. But — and understand this — without the longer barrel, the stronger spring would only waste more air. This is a modification that requires all the components to work together. You can’t just pick one item and be done with it.

RWS Hobby pellets
640 f.p.s. average, 632 f.p.s. low, 646 f.p.s. high

The remarks are the same for Hobbys as they are for the Premiers.

RWS Superdome pellets
590 f.p.s. average, 580 f.p.s. low, 596 f.p.s. high

Same remarks apply to this pellet as to the others.

All three pellets gave me maximum shot strings of 10 shots when set up this way. Obviously, more air is being used and the volume of the reservoir has remained the same.

Evaluation to this point
We’ve taken this Crosman 2240 pistol from one power on CO2 to a much higher power with high-pressure air, a longer barrel, a stronger spring and a steel breech. These modifications cost a total of $150 over the cost of the initial pistol ($60). Is it worth it?

The answer will depend on who’s talking. Some shooters enjoy putting their hands on the parts of their airguns and making their own creations. Others look at the total investment and just want something that shoots well for the least amount of money. This 2240 modification is not for the latter group, because we still have to add a $60 RAI adapter and a $60 UTG Adjustable Stock. That brings the cost of the gun we’re modifying to a total of $330.

The next step is to try this modification for accuracy. For that, I’ll attach the adapter and stock, again. I think it has to be tested to at least 25 yards with a scoped gun.

Tech Force TF90 dot sight

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Tech Force 90 dot sight
Tech Force TF90 dot sight

This report covers:

• Tech Force TF90 dot sight
• Description
• How does a dot sight work?
• Parallax?
• Easier to use than open sights
• Not the latest and greatest

Tech Force TF90 dot sight
I was right there when this Tech Force TF90 dot sight was being designed. I watched it evolve over several years of development, as each new model was revealed at successive SHOT Shows. I even tested a forerunner of this sight in the 1990s for The Airgun Letter by mounting it on a Beeman P1 pistol.

The Tech Force TF90 was developed by Compasseco, who used a Chinese optics factory that also made sights for their military. According to Duane Sorenson of Compasseco, the optics and manufacturing details of this sight were superior to similar Chinese-made dot sights because of who built it. In the 1990s Compasseco did a lot of business in China and had enough influence to get products designed to their specifications, and Duane was especially proud of this sight.

Description
You can see from the picture that the outer shell of this sight is square, yet the optics are round. The objective lens is 28mm in diameter, which is in the middle size range for today’s dot sights. Still, when you look through the sight, everything is clear and sharp, because the optics are very clean and there is no magnification.

The base is adaptable to both 11mm dovetails as well as Weaver dovetails. Everything you need comes with the scope, including elasticized square lens covers. It can fit on a wide variety of airguns and firearms.

The base is integral with the sight tube. There’s nothing to do except clamp the sight to your airguns or firearms, and, yes, this sight should work well on firearms of at least the rimfire class. You’ll need a recoil stop if you mount this on a gun that recoils and use the 11mm mount base, because it has no stop built in. The Weaver base takes care of that, of course.

Tech Force 90 dot sight Weaver base
Here, the Weaver base has been installed. Note that the rear screw hangs below the base and engages the Weaver or Picatinny slot to serve as a recoil stop.

Tech Force 90 dot sight 11mm base
The base hardware can be swapped to make the base fit 11mm scope dovetails, too.

This is a very small sight. It’s only 4-1/2 inches long, and the clamping base is just 2-3/8 inches long. That makes it ideal for those vintage air rifles that weren’t really made for scopes but have 11mm dovetails for peep sights. I mounted it on my Hakim rifle and there was room to spare. Now, guns that are difficult to scope – such as the vintage Walthers, FWBs and Dianas — can have this optical sight installed.

The adjustments are the same elevation and windage knobs you’ve used with scopes. I don’t have any information about how far each click of the adjustments will move the 3 MOA dot, but I’ve been adjusting it as though it has quarter-minute clicks, and so far (at 10 meters) it seems to have adjusted correctly.

What appears in the first picture to be the adjustment knobs are really caps. Remove them, and the knobs are adjusted with a screwdriver or coin. The clicks are very precise in both directions. The scales on the knobs, however, have no corresponding reference marks on the body of the tube. So, adjusting the sight is a matter of counting the clicks for each adjustment.

Tech Force 90 dot sight adjustment knob
The dot’s adjustment knobs are operated by a screwdriver or a coin. The clicks are precise, but there’s no reference scale on the sight’s body to register where you’ve adjusted.

The lenses appear to have a ruby coating. The tint is red, and I remember Duane telling me something like that. Ruby coatings are not really made from the mineral ruby. They’re just called that because of the color. The red may help with certain light transmission. Steiner made them famous years ago, but they aren’t commonly seen today. They can leave the other colors looking washed out, but they don’t look like that to me. I am red-green colorblind, so I’m not the best judge.

The dot is a 3 MOA dot, which means it covers approximately 3 inches of area at 100 yards. But there are 7 different rheostat settings, so the dot can be made very bright. I find this sight to be many times brighter and more visible than the cheaper sights that sell in the same price range. This is more in line with my vintage Tasco Pro Point sight, as far as visibility is concerned.

As the light is intensified, the dot expands in size. There’s no good way of measuring this, so don’t ask how much. You use only as much brightness as you need to see the dot against the target, and I believe that cancels the expansion tendency. In other words, if the dot is just bright enough to see, it will always me about 3 MOA.

Tech Force 90 dot sight dot
This image shows the dot larger than it appears. This is a camera reaction to the shutter remaining open long enough to see the dot. The image you’ll see is crystal clear.

How does a dot sight work?
A dot sight works like a telescopic sight. When the adjustments are changed, the internal mechanism (an LED aimed at a lens with a reflective surface on one side) moves the dot without apparent movement to the user. The dot remains centered in the window as long as your head is on the stock at the same place every time.

Parallax?
People will tell you that dot sights don’t have parallax, but that’s incorrect. They have the same tendency for parallax as scopes. Because they don’t magnify the target, the movement (of the dot against the target as the aiming eye moves) is hard to see — but it’s there. And the sight will do its best at one range over all others.

Easier to use than open sights
But here’s the deal. The amount of parallax error from a dot sight is less than the aiming error that results from an incorrect sight picture with traditional open sights. Said a different way, it’s easier to be accurate with a dot sight than with traditional open sights. And, as eyesight degrades, this benefit becomes more pronounced. So, people with poor eyesight will often find that dot sights help them shoot better than they’ve been able to shoot with open sights.

Not the latest and greatest
A lot of time has passed since this TF90 was new, and the technology has certainly advanced far in this field. Today, we have dot sights with different colored dots, as well as different reticles to select — all in one sight. The TF90 was advanced for its day, but in today’s market the same features are offered by a number of manufacturers. However, there’s one huge difference. Nobody is selling a sight of this quality at this price! You get a bundle of quality for the price of a bargain-basement sight. That is what you have to consider when looking at this one.

There are a limited number of these available; and when they are gone, there will be no more. If a dot sight is something you’ve thought about buying, you may want to consider getting one or more of these. I have 2 Tasco Pro Points that I’ve owned for more than 15 years. At one time they were considered very good sights. Today, they have been surpassed by technology — but that doesn’t make them worse. They’re still very good dot sights, and so is the TF90.

I’ll be reporting on this sight in future reports of other airguns — with the Hakim air rifle at 25 yards being the next one I do (click to read the Hakim 10-meter test with this sight). While there won’t be a Part 2 to this report, you’ll get to see how well this sight performs. I don’t think I’m sending this one back to Pyramyd Air, because I can always use one more good optical sight!

Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7X44 Scout scope: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

This blog post was mistakenly published a day early, and we got some comments to it before we discovered that. So, for those of you who try to be the first to make a comment, it looks like you’ve missed your turn!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope
Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7X44 Scout scope is a remarkable sight!

This report covers:

• Scout scope on centerfire rifle
• My Mosin Nagant
• A powerful round
• What today’s test is all about
• What about the scope?
• The mount
• Overall evaluation

Scout scope on centerfire rifle
This is a special report I promised several readers who are interested in this UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope. When I tested it on an airgun, I used the Crosman MK-177 Tactical multi-pump pneumatic because it allowed me to mount the scope out away from the eye. That was a good test, but it was also a forced one because I could have mounted any scope on that airgun. Scout scopes are made for those troublesome arms that don’t allow the mounting of scopes in the conventional way. I asked Leapers to send me a mount for my Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifle — a centerfire rifle that needs a scout scope because of its straight bolt handle. While the bolt handle can be bent down to clear the scope, the scout scope is a non-gunsmithing solution that allows you to preserve the rifle in its original condition. Not that any Mosin Nagant in existence today is still in its original condition!

My Mosin Nagant
My 91/30 is built on an early action with a hex-shaped receiver. It didn’t start out as a 91/30 but was converted by an arsenal at some point in its existence. The markings on the metal parts tell a story of numerous overhauls and refurbishments over the past century. Some early marks have been removed by grinding and polishing, while others are new and fresh. The action was very possibly made in the 19th century, yet the barrel is like new, as are many of the metal parts and the wood. The Soviet Union made good use of these rifles and refurbished them as necessary after each conflict, not unlike many countries. As a design, the Mosin Nagant has been in continuous service longer than any other military firearm.

A powerful round
This rifle is chambered for the Russian 7.62X54 rimmed cartridge made for what the Russians refer to as the “Three-line rifle” — with a Russian “line” being equivalent to one-tenth inch. It refers to the bore diameter of the bullet. It was adopted as standard in 1891 and is still in limited service today.

The cartridge is roughly the ballistic equivalent of our .30-06 Winchester cartridge. It’s shorter — though much larger at the base. It is a rimmed cartridge, which means the action has to be made to handle the cartridge case without feeding problems. Rimmed cartridges give repeating actions feeding problems, which is why the majority of cartridges made for repeaters are rimless. But the Mosin Nagant action handles this cartridge reliably.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope 762-54R-and-30-06
Mosin Nagant 7.62X54R on left, .30-06 cartridge on right. Both deliver similar ballistics in military loadings.

This Mosin cartridge exists in numerous different loads. The current sniper round has a 152-grain bullet leaving the bore at 2700 f.p.s. The standard for accuracy at 300 meters is all rounds inside an 80mm (3.1-inch) circle. Of course, the standard military battle ammunition is less accurate — keeping 50 percent of its shots inside a 90mm (3.5-inch) circle at the same 300 meters.

What today’s test is all about
With such power must also come recoil, and that is what today’s test was for. I wanted to see that this scout scope could stand up to the punishment of a heavier recoil. I fired 20 factory rounds and 20 reloads through the rifle, which is not a very big test. But if there are any major weaknesses, they should show up. And they didn’t. After zeroing at 50 yards with the factory loads, I shot a 3-inch 10-shot group at 100 yards, and then rang the 6-inch gong at 200 yards with the remaining few rounds.

My reloads didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. The bores on these rifles can vary in diameter from 0.309 inches to 0.313 inches, so you really need to slug the bore to know what diameter bullet your rifle likes. I haven’t done that yet and was hoping to squeak by with some 170-grain lead bullets sized 0.312 inches, but it was not to be. I did manage to ring the 200-yard gong once out of 5 shots, but that’s not what I’d hoped for.

What about the scope?
You can see in the photo where the scope is mounted relative to my eye. My head looks very erect on the stock, which it has to be to see the scope, but the image fills the eyepiece. The target is sharp and clear, even at the top magnification of 7X. The reticle is thick enough to pick out quickly, even against the deep woods; and, of course, it’s illuminated, which is a blessing on a scout scope.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope mounted
The UTG Mosin scout scope mount clears the action for loading and ejection. The straight Mosin bolt handle can be rotated up without interference.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope Tom shooting on rest
As you can see, my head has to be high on the stock to see the scope. This is due to the Mosin’s stock, which drops away, but the scout scope is also mounted very high.

The adjustments worked as they are supposed to, and I got on target very quickly at 50 yards. I used the old standard of removing the bolt and sighting through the barrel to align the scope. The first shot was about 4 inches from the aim point, which is excellent for this kind of rough sight-in.

The mount
I haven’t told you about the Mosin Nagant mount that Leapers makes. It replaces the rear sight blade and leaf, using the rear base to secure a Picatinny rail with 2 side rails. Rubber pads slip over the mount’s side rails to keep them from cutting your hands when you handle the rifle.

Removing the rear sight leaf and attaching this mount was very easy. It took about 20 minutes total to finish the job, which included removing the sight parts first. The instructions are clear and concise, even though they address two different sight base kits for rifles and carbines. Once on the rifle and snugged down, the mount is rock-solid. It remained solid throughout this test.

The base is a tri-rail system with Picatinny rails on both sides, along with the main scope rail on top. These can be used for anything like lasers and tactical flashlights, though on a Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle such accessories seem out of place. Perhaps hog hunters would like a light, though.

Overall evaluation
I’ve now used this scope on two different rifles — both with success. The first was an air rifle, and the second was this powerful centerfire. This is the first scout scope I’ve ever tested or used, so I don’t have experience with the type – but I do know this one works as advertised.

I wondered if the image would be clear and easy to see, since the eyepiece is 10-11 inches from the eye. No worries there. The image is very large and bright, though your sighting eye can see things other than the target, if you want. Once you focus on the target and reticle, though, nothing else seems to matter.

If you need a scout scope, I can certainly recommend this one from the standpoint of functionality. The size and weight, though, are a different matter. This is a large scope that sits high above the barrel, so you need to give that some thought when making your decision. Most scout scopes are either fixed power or low-powered variables. I believe this one has the highest magnification on the market. If that’s important to you, this may be the best scope out there.

Ruger Air Hawk: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
• RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Exact Heavy pellets
• RWS HyperMAX pellets
• New Arlington field target club
• Beautiful course!

Ruger Airhawk Combo

Ruger Air Hawk combo

Parts 1 and 2

Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
I hadn’t planned to do this test, but the velocity numbers in the previous blog post were so far off expectations that I felt compelled to try it, again. I was curious about the poor velocity performance of the Ruger Air Hawk combo. Someone suggested the breech seal might be too low and others agreed, so I shimmed the seal. It appears to be ever so slight higher now, but the velocity is definitely higher.

Ruger Air Hawi Combo breech seal before shim
Before the shim the breech seal was low and flat.

Ruger Air Hawi Combo breech seal after shim

The shim raised the breech seal slightly.

RWS Hobby pellets
In the first test, RWS Hobby pellets settled into a range of 750 to 810 f.p.s. I didn’t give averages because the gun seemed to be detonating too much.

This time, the range went from 1014 to 1088 f.p.s. Two shots registered 649 and 761 f.p.s., respectively. My gut feeling is that the velocity has increased, but the rifle’s still detonating too much to know anything for sure.

JSB Exact Heavy pellets
The second pellet was the JSB Exact Heavy that weighs 10.34 grains. In the last test, these ranged between 534 and 757 f.p.s. In this test they ranged between 572 and 893 f.p.s., with all but two shots above 623 f.p.s. There’s a definite velocity increase this time; but, again, I can’t be precise.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
The last pellet tested was the 5.2-grain RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets. Previously, these ranged between 817 and 970 f.p.s. In this test, they ranged from 906 to 1203, with only one not going above 1180 f.p.s.

I think it’s clear that the breech seal was too low during the first test. Raising it with a shim did boost velocity, though the gun is still burning too much oil to tell for sure how much velocity has been gained. When it stabilizes, we’ll have a better idea – but it does seem the gun is on the numbers now.

My next test will be for accuracy at 10 meters, using the open sights.

And, now, for something completely different!

New Arlington field target club
We have a new field target club in North Central Texas. The Arlington Sportsman’s Club has started a field target club, which held their second trial match last Saturday on 10 of the club’s 35 3D archery lanes. These lanes are carved into a wooded section of the club’s property and are ideal for field target matches.

This is the second FT match I’ve attended in the past few years, and I have to comment that the sport is now more popular than ever! When I competed in the 1990s, field target was run by a rigid set of rules that put older and less mobile shooters at a disadvantage. And there were some clubs that enforced offhand-only shooting to the extent that the sport just wasn’t attractive to many shooters.

Today, I see relaxed rules that allow seating and bipods for the rifles, changing everything! The shooter doesn’t have to get into a seated position on the ground and hold the rifle so nothing touches the ground. Now, it’s fun! And I can tell that the shooters are 10-20 years older than they were when I competed in the 1990s. That still puts them at my age — only, now, they’re having fun.

Beautiful course!
The Arlington match director, Chris Simmons, showed me around the course, which was the finest FT course I’ve ever visited. Of course, having those lanes premade by the 3D archers made all the difference.

match directors briefing
The match director’s briefing started early, so the match started right on time.

Chris allowed one point for every target that fell, which is the common way of scoring a match. The Pecan Plantation club I visited some months back allowed 2 points for a target fall and one point for just hitting the target. Either way works fine, but seeing the target fall is what the sport’s all about.

Chris left all the kill-zone reducers off for this match, so every kill zone was 1.5 inches. In the future, that will change. I know these targets seemed easier to kill, but when they have half-inch kill zones and are 25 yards distant, that will change.

target
The kill-zone reducers were left off all targets for this match.

tower
The match used archery facilities like this tower, which was designated for offhand shots, only. We never had features like this when I was a match director!

You might think that because this is a startup club all the shooters were duffers, but that was not the case. I saw many shooters who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. One man was shooting a Whiscombe JW 70, which is rare at any FT match. And another shot an Air Arms Pro-Sport he received only the night before the match. He got zeroed before the match started and did very well shooting from the offhand position.

Whiscombe
Here is a Whiscombe JW 70! How many of these have you seen?

The shooters from the Dallas FT club weren’t able to make this match because they were working on a new venue for their club on the same day. But they’ll attend matches in the future. And I think I may blow the dead bees out of my Air Arms TX200 and shoot a few matches, myself. It’s been over 15 years since I competed; but the way things are run today, this looks like fun!

Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE
Hatsan’s AT44S-10 Long QE is packed with features for airgun hunters.

This report covers:

• Inconsistent shots?
• Most accurate pellet?
• 100 yards means scope adjustments
• JSB Exact Jumbo heavy pellets
• Crosman Premier pellets
• H&N Baracuda Green pellets
• Gamo Hunter pellets
• Call it a day
• Conclusions
• Pyramyd Air sale

Today is a test of the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE at 100 yards. I don’t do this very often for many reasons; but when I find a PCP that’s exceptionally accurate at 50 yards, I feel it’s worth testing at the greater distance. It takes a perfect day for this test because any wind will push the pellet around. We don’t get many windless days here in Texas, but this past Wednesday was one of them. It was so calm that dandelion fuzz would fall straight down.

You also know from reading this blog that groups do not always open in linear fashion as the distance increases. A rifle that shoots a half-inch group at 50 yards will not automatically shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards — even though the day is perfect.

Inconsistent shots?
While testing this rifle, I’d seen that the first 10 shots could be less accurate than the second 10. They sometimes contained fliers that didn’t seem to exist in the second group. Yesterday, blog reader Jerry in Texas asked me why one shot out of 10 from his Benjamin Marauder was dropping in velocity by over 250 f.p.s. I told him I thought some PCP guns do that in certain places in the power curve. I saw evidence of that on the 50-yard range and again at 100 yards, as I’ll show you.

Most accurate pellet?
I also hedged my bets by taking several pellets to the range that hadn’t been tested in this rifle before. I was getting such great performance at 50 yards from one pellet in particular — the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy — that I sort of stopped testing other pellets. That’s not very scientific of me, though it’s very much in keeping with being a gun crank. So, I took some other pellets along and gave them a try at 100 yards — even though they’d not been tried by me before in this rifle.

100 yards means scope adjustments
I knew the pellet would drop a lot going from 50 yards to where the rifle was sighted to 100 yards. I guesstimated the drop would be at least 12 inches, which would be 48 clicks on the quarter-minute elevation knob to bring things back up. But when I adjusted the scope, I stopped at 40 clicks because you never know if the clicks are exactly quarter-minute or if that’s just an approximation. As it turned out, both my guesstimate and the adjustments were close to correct, and I had to adjust the scope another 16 clicks up to get close to the point of aim.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets
The first pellet up was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jubo Heavy that had given me a group of 10 in 0.522 inches at 50 yards. If any pellet was going to excel in this rifle at 100 yards, I felt this one had the best chance. Alas — the best-laid plans….

The best I was able to do with this pellet was 10 in about 3 inches. I shot the same pellet in both the first 10 shots and the second 10 shots per fill with pretty much similar results, except there was a flier in the first group. I’m not going to show you those groups because they don’t help the report and also because the first group fell below the target paper and hit the 2×4 backer paper I always use when I’m not sure where the pellets are going.

At this point, I decided to punt — as in testing something I hadn’t tried before. One reader had recommended trying the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellets, and I thought it was a good choice. It happens to be one of my favorite .22-caliber pellets, and I normally would have tested it at 50 yards; but when the heavier JSB did so well, I decided to just shoot it to the exclusion of all others.

I refilled the rifle with air and loaded 10 JSB Exact Jumbos into the circular clip. The first group was very telling. Nine out of 10 pellets landed in a 1.668-inch group, but the first shot hit about 4 inches above the top of this main group. Remember what I said about inconsistencies in the first 10 shots after a fill?

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 1 100 yards
Nine of the 10 JSB Exact pellets landed in this 1.688-inch group at 100 yards. The first shot was 4 inches higher. This is a very good group for any pellet rifle at 100 yards.

After that group, I refilled the clip and shot a second group with the same pellet. This time, all 10 went into 2.385 inches. I know that doesn’t sound very good, but I ask you to reserve your comments until you have shot some 10-shot groups of pellets at 100 yards. It isn’t easy! And guns that group in a half-inch at 50 yards do not necessarily group in one inch at 100 yards.

Look at the shapes of these holes. Many are oval in shape, which indicates they didn’t go through the paper straight-on.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 2 100 yards
Here are 10 of the same JSB pellets in a 2.358-inch group. These oval holes show some evidence of a tilt on axis.

Crosman Premier pellets
One of the most accurate .22-caliber pellets is the domed Crosman Premier that comes in the brown cardboard box. Sometimes, they’re the most accurate, and other times they’re among the top 3. But in PCPs they don’t do as well — especially when the PCP is more powerful such as this Hatsan. And this was no exception to that rule, as Premiers couldn’t stay inside 6 inches at 100 yards. I didn’t even complete a group with them after seeing the first few shots land so far apart.

I’d planned on trying Eun Jin pellets, as well; but when I started loading them, I discovered that the tin I picked up were .25-caliber pellets.

H&N Baracuda Green pellets
The next pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Green. While lead-free pellets are not that accurate as a general rule, Baracuda Greens are an exception. In the Hatsan, they managed to put 10 shots into 5.25 inches, with 9 of those shots in 2.988 inches. That’s pretty good for lead-free pellets; and, yes, this was the first group of 10 after a fill.

Gamo Hunter pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Gamo Hunter. While I have very little experience with this pellet, I do recall it working well in one spring rifle years ago. But it was not suited to the Hatsan AT44. I didn’t see where the first Hunter struck the target; but I saw the second pellet’s flight through the scope, and it was a wild spiral curve to the right that landed a foot off the target! Clearly this rifle is not suited to shoot Gamo Hunters.

Call it a day
After this last attempt, I decided to call it a day. The shooting had worn me out by this time. I think it’s clear that of the pellets I’ve tested so far, the JSB Exact 15.89-grain Jumbo is the best. Out to 50 yards it may do no better than the heavier 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Heavy, but something about this lighter pellet carries it to 100 yards in better form.

Conclusions
I believe the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the finest PCP rifles on the market at any price. It has power, accuracy, a great trigger and very quiet operation –all for a wonderful price. If you’re in the market for a good PCP, I would put this one on your short list.

Pyramyd Air sale
Pyramyd Air is having a “Christmas in July” sale. If you’re planning to make a purchase, click here to visit their sale pages.

Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition: A review

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

book cover
This is the softcover version of the book.

This report covers:

• When is 12 foot-pounds more than 12 foot-pounds?
• How long is long enough?
• Ka-boom!
• Hodges catapult gun
• Why do airguns lose so much power?
• What kind of power can I expect?

This is a brief book review of The Practical Guide to Man-powered Weapons and Ammunition by Richard Middleton, copyright ©2005, published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York. Dennis Quackenbush sent this book to me just because he thought I needed to read it. Well, I’ve read it and now I’m recommending it to all of you.

The subtitle is Experiments with Catapults, Musketballs, Stonebows, Blowpipes, Big Airguns, and Bullet Bows. That should give you an idea of what’s included. Mr. Middleton explains dozens of different experiments in which he advances his understanding of pneumatic and spring-operated projectile launchers. He calls them weapons, as is the custom in the UK and also Australia, where he’s from. Here in the U.S., we define weapons as things meant to injure or kill; and, while most of what is in his book will do exactly that, our American culture sets the word weapon apart as a term charged with emotion. Most of us don’t consider airguns to be weapons.

That aside, this is one of the most interesting nonfiction books I’ve read in years, and it may be the very best one on the subject of pneumatic guns. The author addresses several scientific subjects without referring to formulas and equations, and the way he backs into each new subject makes you think he is a normal guy — just like the rest of us. But it’s obvious that he’s spent a lot of time and devoted much thought to making these complex subjects seem simple.

When is 12 foot-pounds more than 12 foot-pounds?
I don’t know about you, but I rarely read an introduction to anything. But in this book, I found the first profound concept on page viii — you know, one of those odd-numbered pages you flip past when turning to the real book? The author tells us he is puzzled by something he’s seen. He has a ballistic pendulum hanging from the ceiling of his garage. The bob weighs 12 lbs. When he shoots the bob with a .22-caliber airgun pellet going 620 f.p.s., it swings one-half inch from the impact. When he shoots it with a .451-caliber lead ball launched from a slingshot at 196 f.p.s., the bob swings an inch and a half — three times as far! The interesting thing is that both projectiles develop an identical 12 foot-pounds! Does that make you stop and think?

How long is long enough?
This topic comes up all the time. We “know” that a longer barrel allows an airgun projectile to go faster when fired from a pneumatic gun, but where does it end? How long is long enough? I see endless discussions on this blog between two or more readers wondering what the optimum barrel length might be for a certain airgun, yet nobody seems to know how to figure it out. Well, Mr. Middleton knows, and he conducted several experiments to demonstrate it to the reader.

Ka-boom!
We recently introduced the Air Burst MegaBoom Supersonic Target System here at Pyramyd Air and several of you were enchanted by it. Mr. Middleton made one a decade ago and describes how it worked. He took his experiments to places the MegaBoom folks don’t want you going, and he tells you what happened. You really should read this.

Hodges catapult gun
You veteran readers may remember that I reported on the Hodges catapult gun a couple years ago. This book not only talks about Hodges guns, it gives ballistics for several of them and tells you what to expect if the ammo is changed. This is stuff you cannot find anywhere.

Why do airguns lose so much power?
Our blog readers ask these intriguing questions all the time, and this book has the answers. Why does the mainspring in a breakbarrel rifle that’s rated at 150 lbs. of energy only put 21 foot-pounds out the muzzle? What happens between the spring and pellet that wastes most of that energy? And why is a .22-caliber gun always more powerful than the same gun in .177? This book explores these themes and explains them through the results of several experiments.

What kind of power can I expect?
“If my rifle develops 20 foot-pounds in a .22, what sort of power can I expect from the same gun in a .177?” I get that question a lot. This book answers it and tells you how to figure it out for yourself.

I could go on, but I’m going to stop here. I see questions every day about airgun fundamentals from many blog readers. Here’s a book that answers a lot of them and suggests how you might answer others on your own. The writing is easy to follow and almost conversational — like this blog!

I have an extensive library about the shooting sports and those books have helped me write this daily blog for you. Questions we ask today were also asked 150 years ago and have often been answered more than once by some very creative people. You can now add Richard Middleton to that list.

Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell this book, but you can certainly find it on Amazon. It’s not expensive, but it’s worth many times the $12 price. If you really want to know more about airguns, this is a place to start looking and learning.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

You've seen tons of movies with guys spraying bullets from their Uzi submachine guns and probably thought it would be a blast. Except for the cost of ammo! You can have all that fun with this Uzi BB submachine gun at just pennies a round. Throw shots downrange for hours on end with all the fun, none of the firearm hassles and a fraction of the cost.

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