Archive for July 2005

What makes an airgun quiet?

by B.B. Pelletier

The REAL question is “What makes an airgun noisy?” because quiet is just the absence of noise. People who shoot airguns like them to be quiet. With the race for power, they often stumble back into the noisy realm, again. This is not a post about silencers, but about passive ways to quiet an airgun.

Air is the culprit!
High-pressure air is the real noise culprit. And, CO2 under pressure acts the same as air, so you might as well toss it into the same pot. Spring-piston guns are the quietest because they use the smallest amount of high-pressure air. By the time the pellet gets to the muzzle, the air in a springer is under a lot less pressure than the muzzle blast from a PCP or other pneumatic.

Even among pneumatics, there are quiet guns. Consider Daisy’s Avanti 747. It’s a single-stroke pneumatic target pistol, yet it has a relatively quiet report. A similar single-stroke match pistol, the IZH 46M, is much louder. Of course, the IZH is more powerful, which means the air that leaves the muzzle is under more pressure, which is why it makes more of a pop.

On some guns, YOU control the volume!
With a multi-pump rifle like Daisy’s 22SG, the number of pumps you put in determines the power and the noise the gun will make. If you value quiet, learn to make do with fewer pumps for a quieter gun.

The AirForce Talon is another gun you can shoot quietly. Because it has adjustable power, you can dial the power down to the point the rifle makes very little noise. You’ll still get plenty of power – just not the maximum the rifle has to offer. This is how many owners of the super-powerful Condor shoot their rifles most of the time.

Another feature that only the AirForce rifles have is that the owner can change the barrel in a few minutes. That means you can also change the caliber. A .177-caliber AirForce barrel will shoot quieter than their .22 because less air escapes with each shot.

Springers are the kings of quiet
For the quietest shooting of all, spring guns are the way to go. A well broken-in Beeman R9 can be one of the quietest airguns you never heard, as can a TX 200.

Where you shoot affects sound, too
By picking your shooting spot, you can control how much sound will escape the area. Some shooters have constructed cardboard box “tunnels” lined with soft fabric through which they shoot. As long as the muzzle is inside the box tunnel, very little muzzle report will escape. This works best for shooting off a bench indoors so you don’t disturb the other residents of the house.

Using your house as a silencer
An entire house can be used quite effectively as a sort of silencer. Simply shoot through an open window with the muzzle several feet inside the house and very little noise will escape. Of course, it’s going to be louder for the shooter inside the confines of the house, so before doing this make certain that everyone approves. This is how some homeowners take care of garden and flowerbed pests without disturbing their neighbors.

Even a powerful airgun can be made quieter without resorting to the expense and legal entanglements of buying a silencer. Think about these things and see what you can do to make your airgun quiet.

The new Big Bore 909S may be the ideal hunting rifle!

by B.B. Pelletier

This post is for all who love big bore rifles. The new .45-caliber Big Bore 909S from Sam Yang has the features you need and want to thoroughly enjoy shooting a big bore. Let’s take a look.

It’s a single-shot breechloader
This is a MOST important feature. Know why? Because it lets YOU load any bore-sized projectile you desire in the gun. You are not held to just the pellets and bullets available from this company or anyone else. That means you are free to experiment with bullets until you find the right one for your purpose. A powerful shot that fails to hit the target is meaningless, while a less-powerful shot that connects does the trick. If you can’t hit the target, nothing else matters!

Repeating big bores force you to use pellets and bullets that feed through the magazine. That limits what you can shoot. Breechloaders and, better yet, single-shot breechloaders let you load anything you want into your rifle – and the 909S is a leader among those rifles. It has a sliding breech cover that exposes the rear of the barrel in the most convenient way. If you want to shoot perfect lead cylinders that you cast yourself, there is nothing to stop you!

Lots to shoot
Pyramyd has a wide variety of ammo for this rifle, but if you don’t find what you like, go to any good gun store and see what they have in 0.451-cal. to 0.452-cal. lead bullets There should be several. Or, you can buy a bullet mold and cast your own! The breechloading facility of the rifle allows that kind of choice and flexibility.

Personally, I would look at bullets in the 170-grain to 200-grain range, because I find them to be the most accurate out to 50 yards. Don’t overlook round balls, which will really scream due to their relatively light weight. Bullets heavier than 225 grains tend to shoot open groups at long ranges. If you plan to use them, keep the distance below about 75 yards.

Pump or scuba tank?
This is a VERY important question, because the 909 uses a LOT of air for each shot. You will get 5 to 10 decent shots, with the first 5 being your best power shots. If you’re hunting, top off after number five. A hand pump will get you off the support grid, but don’t buy one if all you plan to do is shoot the rifle from a bench at the range. Then, a scuba tank is mandatory.

New gun – new look!
The new rifle has a single large air reservoir tube instead of the two stacked tubes on the old model. This gives a sleeker look and a profile that is not as tall. It also makes a gun a little bit lighter weight.

That’s not all
Pyramyd Air is giving away a free plastic rifle case when you buy this gun! When the gun arrives, you’re ready to go! Since many owners plan to hunt with their rifles, the hard case is essential for transporting your gun to the hunting area.

Even better is Pyramyd’s price! Usually, a new model costs more than the old, but this looks like a reduction to me. I always liked the 909 for all the reasons mentioned above, but now there’s a real cost incentive to get one.

Big bore airguns are a specialty area, but if you find yourself bitten by the bug, this is the rifle to get.

How to use a peep sight

by B.B. Pelletier

A lot of air rifles come with peep sights. With fewer people going into the military these days, are shooters aware what a wonderful sight this is? Let’s take a moment today and consider the peep or aperture sight.

Peep sights are relatively new
I don’t know when the first aperture sight was used, but the 1873 Trapdoor Springfield rifle was, I believe, the first military rifle to offer it as an option. In 1884, the Buffington sight was added to the Springfield. It was on a long leaf, combined with conventional open sights, so troopers could select the sight they needed. Buffalo hunters had already proved it’s worth for precision long-range shooting, as had Creedmore target shooters. All American military rifles since then have had some kind of peep sight, and most have had them exclusively – including today’s M4!

They’re easier to use
Once you learn how to use them, peep sights are easier and faster to use than open sights. What you do is position your eye so you look through the rear aperture or peephole. Your eye automatically centers the front sight element because the brightest light is at the center of the peephole. All you have to do is align the front sight element with the target and shoot! It’s that simple.

Peepholes come in different sizes
For military use, the rear aperture has to be large enough that a quick sight picture can be formed. That lowers the precision of the sight. While you can hit a man-sized target at 300 yards with a battle-ready M1 Garand, you’d be hard-pressed to shoot a 4″ group at the same distance. For target use, the peephole has to be smaller, to the point that some peepholes are so small that they can be used ONLY under the exacting light conditions found on a formal indoor target range. But, a target peep, which is available for the Garand, can give you that 4″ group at 300 yards.

In fact, the peephole size actually affects accuracy to a great degree. A rifle that usually has a large peephole can become more accurate simply by pasting a paper over the peephole and poking a smaller hole in the paper. I am not kidding about this, and it does work!

You can add a peep sight!
Many airguns can be upgraded with peep sights. Beeman sells a very nice one that’s been around for many decades. It fits a lot of fine air rifles that have 11mm dovetails. Daisy sells a peep sight for their line of target rifles, and it also works on their 499 BB gun. Not to be outdone, Crosman also has an optional peep sight for their Benjamin Sheridan line. And, on their Challenger 2000, a peep comes standard, as they do on all Daisy target rifles.

If you haven’t tried a peep sight, you might consider it. It will make all your non-optical sighting more precise. Isn’t hitting the target what it’s all about?

The Crosman S1008 Air Mag is a nifty shooter!

by B.B. Pelletier

A reader asks if the Crosman S1008 Air Mag pistol is worth the money. I can’t answer that but can give my opinion of the gun, since I’ve shot it and played with it.

This is more than just a gun
This is a complete shooting package that includes a sticky target, shooting glasses, powerlets, ammo and the gun. The sticky target is a great way to shoot airsoft indoors because the BBs stick to the target face instead of going everywhere. I do recommend that you buy extra BBs and powerlets, though, because you’ll go through them pretty fast.

Powered by CO2
The pistol is powered by CO2 powerlets, which isn’t common for an airsoft gun. Because CO2 has more potential power than green gas, this pistol is more powerful than the average gas pistol. Because of that, you might experiment with heavier BBs, though 0.12-gram BBs come with the gun.

It’s a repeater!
At this price you won’t find very many repeaters other than spring-piston guns, and for them you have to pull back the slide for every shot. The S1008 gives you 7 shots as quick as you can squeeze the trigger. The only other gun in this price range that does that is the Neonfire UG-161SB, which uses green gas instead of CO2.

Buy extra magazines
Two magazines come with the gun, but you can get two extra magazines for just little more. You’ll probably want to load up a lot of mags before you start shooting, because once you start, things happen fast. Extra mags keep the fun going.

Because the S1008 is a repeater that shoots just by pulling the trigger, you’ll find yourself shooting fast. This is something the gun does very well. The basic gun is a pellet pistol converted to airsoft, so the design has been proven for quite a while.

No Hop Up!
The one detractor is that the pistol lacks a Hop Up feature. So, all your shooting has to be at close range. I found the BBs didn’t drop as much as they curved left or right after 20 feet. Hop Up would keep them flying straight. If you plan on shooting at 12 feet, this isn’t a big concern.

That’s my take on the Crosman S1008 airsoft pistol. Did I leave anything out?

Do breakbarrels loosen at the joint?

by B.B. Pelletier

This is an answer to a question asked last week: “I was wondering if breakbarrel springers ever wear loose at the hinge and become inaccurate?” That’s a common question that deserves an answer.

Some history about the ancestors of modern breakbarrels
You must understand that spring-piston airguns are a more recent development. They’re just over a century old, so there’s not a lot of real history to support this answer. The earliest models were made with soft iron frames and they DID wear, as our reader suggests. One of the more popular types of breakbarrels are the Gem-type rifles, and they almost always wear loose.

On a good modern airgun, the joint compensates for wear
Coming to the recent past, breakbarrel design has been improved to the point that wear has become a non-issue. Most quality breakbarrels, such as the Beeman R1, have some kind of thrust washer to provide a lower coefficient of friction at the joint. When airgunsmiths tune a breakbarrel, one of the things they do is lubricate the thrust washers and the pivot bolt with some good heavy-duty lubricant to further reduce friction.

The pivot bolt is the fulcrum as well as the axle around which the barrel rotates when the gun is cocked. The mark of a good breakbarrel is a wide-diameter bolt to spread the cocking load as broadly as possible. They all have bolts that can be adjusted to take up any slack that might form over time.

The spring-loaded detent assures a good breech seal and barrel lockup
Besides thrust washers and thick pivot bolts, breakbarrels rely on a spring-loaded detent to maintain pressure on the breech joint when the barrel is locked up. The best detent, in my opinion, is the chisel type. It pushes the hardest because it has more travel by design than the ball bearing type that RWS and the Chinese companies use. Still, I’ve never seen an RWS (Diana) breakbarrel with a loose joint, so I guess the ball bearing works well enough.

If you DO find a loose breech joint, tighten it!
It’s the owner’s job to watch the breech joint for looseness and adjust the pivot bolt when necessary. If you grab the barrel and can wiggle it side to side between the action forks, the breech joint is loose. Consult your owner’s manual for instructions. Lacking a manual, tighten the pivot bolt until the barrel remains in any position after the gun has been cocked.

I hope this eases your minds about breakbarrel guns. They really don’t have problems with loose joints any more.

My favorite spring guns

by B.B. Pelletier

This posting reflects my personal taste, and I don’t want to offend any of our readers. When it comes to good spring-piston air rifles, my list becomes very short. I’m only going to comment on guns that are available today.

TX 200
This is my favorite spring-piston air rifle. I used one in field target competition for many years and, whenever there was a job to be done with a pellet rifle, my underlever TX was one of three airguns I would consider. The TX 200 HC looks just like the standard rifle, only it’s a few inches shorter. Since the regular TX already has a super-short barrel (less than 10 inches), nothing is lost with the HC except a little length and weight in the extreior package.

The trigger is a copy of the famous Rekord trigger that’s been around since the mid-1950s and has earned a spot in the airgun hall of fame. I believe it is as good as a factory Rekord, or maybe a little better. The adjustability seems better on the TX, where the Rekord is easier to disassemble and lubricate. Both are wonderful airgun triggers.

The firing behavior of this gun is very smooth. It’s to the point that a tuneup can make very little improvement over what is already there. And, accuracy is first-class. It’s my top spring gun choice.

HW 77
The HW 77, made by Weihrauch, served as the foundation for the TX 200. The TX is not a copy, but a lot of the design technology is similar. The HW 77 is a classic underlever spring gun. At one time (the late 1980s to very early 1990s), it was the top spring gun in the world.

The 77 has the Rekord trigger, so enough said. I find the firing behavior to be smooth, but this rifle can benefit from a tuneup. Like the TX 200, the HW 77 is very accurate, but I do find that it requires a bit more technique to get all the accuracy that it has to offer. It’s not completely neutral and should be handled gingerly when fired.

The Webley Tomahawk
The Tomahawk is the result of a Webley custom shop effort that resulted in a production spring gun of near-custom performance. It’s a breakbarrel, but it’s also a Webley, which means the barrel joint will be held tightly closed until YOU want it open!

The trigger is in the same class as the Rekord and TX. The firing behavior is ultra-smooth, but there is forward recoil that requires shooting technique. The one criticism I have of the Tomahawk is the strange-looking muzzle weight that Webley claims is some sort of advanced technology. It looks like a squirrel-cage muzzlebrake to me.

That’s all, folks! That’s my shortest of short lists for spring rifles. Yes, they’re all expensive. If your goal is to save money, just cut a slot in your tummy and pretend you’re a piggybank. This is airgunning – and, sometimes, fun costs money!

How to pull the trigger

by B.B. Pelletier

With a title like that, you’d think I wouldn’t have much to say. “Just PULL it!” is all anyone needs to know. Right?

Actually, there’s more to pulling a trigger than many people know.

What KIND of trigger?
There are more kinds of triggers than we have room for here, so I will just address two popular ones – the single-stage and the two-stage trigger.

Single-stage triggers
A single-stage triggers is ready to go when the gun is cocked. Just pull back on it until the gun fires. The correct way to “pull” a single-stage trigger is to squeeze it straight back with the pad of your fingertip. Your finger should move in such a way that it does not influence the gun by moving it from side to side. This is very hard to do with a handgun, which is why the two-handed hold has become so popular. With a rifle, it’s easier to not push the muzzle to one side while squeezing the trigger, but it’s not a given. It still takes practice.

Apply steadily increasing force until the sear releases and the gun fires. The very best triggers release the sear without a jarring movement. If there is an overtravel screw, adjust it to stop the trigger’s movement at the moment of release.

As you become accustomed to the trigger, you should gain a sense of when it is about to let go. This sense will help you select the proper time for the sear to release.

Two-stage triggers
These are more popular among shooters because they give a better feel to the trigger. Nearly all military triggers are two-stage. The first stage of the two-stage trigger is usually just the resistance offered by the trigger return spring, though there are target guns that allow some of the trigger’s total pull weight to be loaded into the first stage, as well.

When the trigger stops moving, you’ve come to the second stage, which is the one that releases the sear. An adjustable trigger can be set to have a light first stage, then a VERY light second stage. Yet, it is safer than a heavier single-stage trigger because of the feel when the second stage is reached.

Once I know a gun’s two-stage trigger, I often pull and release the first stage several times before getting serious with the second stage. Treat the second stage just like it is a single-stage trigger, with the benefit that you know absolutely when you have begun your pull.

Be careful not to “snipe”
Sometimes, when you’re on the trigger and the target is in your sights, there is a tremendous desire to just pull the trigger and be done with it. Avoid doing this, as it is a leading cause of missing. Also, avoid hooking your first finger joint over the trigger for extra leverage. That leads to pulling the gun to one side. If you need that much leverage to work the trigger, you need a better trigger. If you can’t take your shot for some reason, relax your trigger finger and get it out of the triggerguard entirely.

This has been a brief look at proper trigger technique. I may expand on this if there is enough interest.

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