Archive for August 2005
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s a sport I never considered – using airsoft guns to play darts!
Crosman makes the entire package
Take a look at Crosman’s Stinger Challenge. It’s an entire shooting game in a box for less than $50! Most of the time, I punch paper when I shoot airguns indoors. Here is a way to add a little spice. Instead of holes in paper, the Stinger Challenge gives you a dart board with two spring-piston pistols, one red and the other blue.
The two colors keep the shots separate between competitors. The BBs are color-coordinated with the guns, so the target shows whose shots went where. The gel-trap target is 12″ in diameter, so you can back up beyond regulation dart-throwing distance if you want. The Hop-Up in the guns should assure reasonable accuracy out to at least 30 feet.
Catch those BBs!
You’ll want to hang some kind of fabric behind the trap to stop and collect all stray BBs. There’s nothing worse for domestic tranquility than having BBs everywhere! If you slant the fabric toward the firing line and down to the floor, the BBs will run down safely to be automatically gathered in one place when you’re finished shooting. If you go one step further and run the fabric into a cardboard box, the BB-collecting job will be finished when you are!
Darts isn’t the only game
With a color-coordinated set like this, you can have mock “duels.” Both shooters face away from the target while one of them counts to ten aloud. On “ten,” both players turn and fire at the target. Either the player with the highest score wins, or the player whose BB hits the target first wins. There are many ways to play this game. It’s hypnotic when a good competition gets started!
The set includes two pairs of safety glasses, but they aren’t adjustable for head sizes. Crosman also makes some that are, so consider who else will need glasses if you buy this outfit. Not only should both shooters wear glasses, all people in the same vicinity should have them, too.
If it’s too easy – back up!
Pick your distance to the target so both shooters are challenged. With some creativity – say, each player in a different room and the target in a third room – you can handicap the match by allowing one shooter to stand closer to the target. This doesn’t just work for dueling; every target match can be handicapped this way.
The pistols reach a velocity of 230 f.p.s., which means they shoot 0.12-gram BBs. When you buy the set, try some other brands of BBs to see which ones shoot most accurately. I’ve found wide differences in brands when I shoot them in different guns.
Good for one shooter or many
Of course, you don’t have to have two shooters to enjoy this set. The big target board alone makes the set worth buying. You can shoot target by yourself when you can’t interest another shooter to compete. Nothing says the limit is two shooters. If you have extra guns and buy a third color BB, why not have three shooters? Or more!
I was just fascinated when I saw this set, so I had to mention it here. I’d like to hear an owner’s opinion.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s post comes as a comment to a comment we received for a gentleman whose son’s neighborhood is overrun with raccoons. See comments to the August 24 post, What is a L-O-N-G shot? The message went like this:
Look into the Airforce Talon SS very powerful…around 850 fps in 22cal, adjustable to around 400 by turning a knob. It comes with an intergrated silencer that makes it quiet as a mouse.
Let’s take a look at this unique precharged pneumatic (PCP) air rifle.
The Talon SS is powerful
The AirForce Talon SS can generate up to 25 foot-pounds in .22 caliber when the heaviest pellets are used. That puts it ahead of almost all spring-piston air rifles except the Webley Patriot (Beeman Kodiak). The SS weighs only 5.25 lbs., instead of the 9+ lbs. of the Webley, and the cocking effort for the SS is 4-6 lbs., instead of the 50 lbs. needed for the Patriot.
A superb pest eliminator!
The Talon SS is being used extensively by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for pest elimination. They contract with other government agencies and departments to eliminate pests all over America, and they’re using the Talon SS because of its power, accuracy, reliability and quiet operation.
Commercial exterminators like to use the SS because of its power adjustability. A contractor can eliminate a rabid dog in the morning and remove sparrows from inside the local Wal-Mart that same evening. The power adjustment feature enables them to shoot small birds indoors without endangering the roof or lighting fixtures.
In minutes, you can change barrels AND calibers!
The owner can swap barrels in his SS in five minutes. That means you can change from a powerful hunting .22 to a smaller .177 for precision target practice. You don’t have to buy another air rifle to have BOTH calibers! All AirForce rifle barrels are made by Lothar Walther, a leading airgun barrelmaker. Barrel changing means even more than just different calibers.
Different length barrels give different levels of power. The standard SS barrel is 12 inches, but when an optional 18″ .22-caliber barrel is installed, the rifle jumps to 31 foot-pounds, becoming the power equal of the Talon. An optional 24″ .22-caliber barrel takes it up over 42 foot-pounds! That’s two-thirds the power of the Condor, all by simply changing the barrel! The longer barrels also give a smoother range of power adjustment, so at low power they are more consistent than the standard 12″ barrel.
The SS is quiet
As the reader notes, the SS is quieter than a normal PCP rifle of equal power. It is not completely silent, but the report is muffled by the air chamber in front of the muzzle. An SS at 20 foot-pounds sounds like a Sheridan Blue Streak developing eight. It has no silencer, but a cleverly designed muzzle cap strips away a lot of the excess noise. Of course, when longer barrels are installed, it’s as loud as any other PCP.
So, in one rifle, you get fine accuracy, great power, light weight and the ability to change calibers and barrel lengths. Yes, the Talon SS is certainly an air rifle to be reckoned with!
by B.B. Pelletier
We looked at lasers back in the August 11 post, “Spotlight on lasers.” Is a red dot sight the same as a laser, or is it something altogether different? Today, we’ll find out!
Dot sights are related to scopes
Instead of being like lasers that project their lights outward, a dot sight is really more like a scope sight. The dot you see when you look through the sight is invisible to everyone else. That’s because it’s generated inside the sight and stays there.
The first dot sight used no batteries, just ambient light. The Nydar Optical sight projected a dot surrounded by a larger circle as an aim point for shotguns. It was a simple glass plate through which the shooter looked at the target, but the sight elements superimposed themselves on the target if there was enough light.
Nydar made the first dot sight for shotguns.
Since World War II, military pilots and tank commanders have used “ghost ring” infinity sights to rapidly direct machinegun fire against area targets. These sights have illuminated circles and pips projected on a glass plate through which the gunner sighted. With no magnification of the target, this kind of sight is very fast when shooting from a moving vehicle.
Several decades ago, the idea was packed into a tubular unit small enough to fit on a rifle or pistol. Because the earliest of these had red light sources, the term “red dot sight” was born. The dot is like the intersection of the crosshairs in a scope, except that it’s illuminated and therefore easier to see against a dark target.
Use a dot sight like a scope
Although most dot sights don’t magnify the target, they’re easy to use because the dot is so visible. Most of the better dot sights have several levels of light intensity so they can be adjusted for the surroundings. Use the dimmest dot you can see easily because, as the light gets brighter, the dot grows in size. The larger the dot, the less precise it will be.
The dot adjusts for windage and elevation just like a scope, so it also has to be sighted in. The strike of the pellet will only be at the same place as the dot for certain ranges. With 800 f.p.s. rifles, sight in at 20 yards and you’ll be on target out to 30 yards. Closer or farther, and you’ll have to hold the dot above the target – just like a scope!
Red or green?
Some of the better sights, like the Leapers 40mm Red Dot, have BOTH a red and a green dot. A switch changes colors for you. Be careful to get the correct mounts, though. The same Leapers sight has an integral Weaver base that will require an 11mm to Weaver adapter to mount on most air rifles. Many dot sights have Weaver or Picatinny bases integral to the sight, so remember that an adapter will be required.
A wide range of prices
Daisy Electronic Point Sight is very affordable at less than $12! Prices go up to several hundred dollars, but those expensive sights are not suited to airguns. The dot sights that airgunners need sell for under $100.
Don’t forget batteries!
Because they’re electronic, dot sights need batteries. They come with the sight, but you have to replace them after about 20 hours of continuous use. Most often they are button batteries sold in discount, camera and electronics stores. Don’t forget to turn off the sight when you’re finished with it, or you’ll run down the battery in a short time.
When to use them
A dot sight is a fascinating alternative to a scope. It’s faster but less precise, so select it when the speed of target acquisition is most important. On a handgun, a dot sight is equal in precision to the best open sights but much easier to see, so handguns are the No. 1 application for these novel instruments.
by B.B. Pelletier
Many airgunners have chronographs and more get them every day. But why are they buying them? Do you really need a chronograph to enjoy airgunning?
A chronograph is like a fish scale
They call fish scales “de-liars.” You can guess why. Chronographs are in the same category of equipment. They tell you something about your airguns without changing how they shoot. A chronograph measures the velocity of a pellet, bullet or arrow in feet per second or meters per second. With that information, you can use the formulas here at Pyramyd Air to determine how powerful your airguns are.
Some chronographs are very affordable
For over a decade, chronographs have been affordable, with the least expensive costing under $50. The Shooting Chrony brand out of Canada starts at about $65, and they average just under $100. The units are small, lightweight, rugged and run on batteries, so you can take them anywhere. They need a good, even light source to work correctly. Although their screens are very close together and their clock speed is low by today’s standards, the Shooting Chrony is accurate enough for the hobby shooter.
Shooting Chrony makes a range of rugged,
inexpensive chronographs that airgunners love.
Next up in price is the Pro Chrono brand. They sell for around $100 and have a few more features than the Shooting Chronys, but most of those are for computer input. Like the Shooting Chrony, they can drive an optional printer, which is a nice thing to have if you plan on doing a lot of experimentation. Their clock speed is also relatively slow, but they still give reasonably accurate data when used correctly.
The Pro Chrono brand is just a trifle more expensive and has the same nice features of the Shooting Chrony, plus it connects to some computers.
How chronographs work
A chronograph contains a crystal “clock” that ocillates at a precise, known frequency. When the shadow of a pellet (that’s why lighting is so important) passes over a start screen, the clock starts running and an accumulator stores the impulses. When the shadow passes over the stop screen, the clock stops and the number of impulses is tallied in a computer. Since the crystal oscillates at a regular rate, the computer can turn the number of pulses into elapsed time, which equals the speed the pellet was moving.
If you don’t use them right, you can fake out some chronographs
If you don’t shoot STRAIGHT through the less expensive chronographs, you can get readings way above and below the actual velocity. By shooting on a slant, the chrono will read slower than it should, because the slanting path of the pellet is longer than it would be if shot straight. An expensive chronograph senses this and warns you that the shot seems incorrect, but the lower-priced ones don’t.
Top of the line
The Oehler (pronounced Ehler) 35P printing chronograph is the best available. Whenever you read an article in a mainstream gun magazine where velocities are quoted, it’s always an Oehler. The chronograph has a second “proof” channel to check the primary reading, and the crystal clock is 40 times faster than the less expensive ones. All the powder manufacturers plus the government use Oehler chronographs exclusively.
The Oehler 35P chronograph is the recognized world standard instrument.
Having said all that, I still contend that you don’t need a chronograph to enjoy an airgun. It’s a nifty thing to have, as long as you don’t end up more fascinated by the numbers than by where the pellet strikes. Because THAT, after all, is the primary objective.
by B.B. Pelletier
We all want to take care of our airguns, so today we’ll look at lubricating a spring-piston gun.
Many guns should NEVER be oiled!
This includes most recoiless target guns like the FWB 65/80/90 pistol and the FWB 150/300 rifle. All the RWS Diana target guns fall into this category, too. These guns have lifetime lubricated piston rings or seals that never need oil. In fact, oiling them can cause early failure.
Some guns require VERY LITTLE oil
This includes all current models of RWS Diana guns – both rifle and pistol. Diana uses a special synthetic piston seal that needs very little oil to work properly. They recommend ONE DROP of oil every 1,500 shots or so. Use a high-grade silicone chamber oil like Crosman Silicone Chamber Oil.
Webley is another brand that needs very little oiling. They use a different type of seal than Diana, but it is self-lubricating. Air Arms guns are the same. The guns that need more oil are the Weihrauchs and Beeman R-series guns. More means abouty three drops of oil evey thousand shots, though the R1 may need more than that during break-in. Treat the Beeman RX-2 as a special case and follow the owner’s manual, because it has a special powerplant inside.
Gamo guns also get by with a small amount of oiling. They have done a lot of R&D on their seals, and they’re almost like Diana when it comes to oil. The less expensive guns are the ones that usually need a little more oil to stay in shape, and the Chinese are the neediest of all. You can oil a Tech Force 99 with three drops of chamber oil every 500 shots.
What about YOUR airgun?
I can’t list them all, so the general rule is that less oil is better than more. The one exception is when you hear a honking or squeaking sound when cocking the gun. Then, it needs to be oiled.
How and where to oil
You drop the oil down the transfer port and stand the gun on its butt for 30 minutes to an hour. Then, shoot it at least 10 times to make sure the oil has spread around the piston seal. The transfer port is directly behind the breech of the barrel. It’s the little hole where the air comes from. On some guns, like the RWS Diana 46, you have to open a flip-up loading gate to see the hole. If you are completely baffled, just stand the gun on its butt and drop the oil down the muzzle. It will find its way to the transfer port!
Does the mainspring need to be oiled?
On a new gun, the mainspring has so much lubrication that you can leave it alone for several years. But, if you hear a crunching sound when cocking, the spring needs attention. For the mainspring, we’ll use an oil with good lubrication properties, like Weblube from Webley. If you can take the mechanism out of the stock, it will allow better access to the mainspring, but it is possible to drop the oil through the cocking slot. About 10 drops once every 3-4 years is good unless the gun is used a lot. In that case, lube it every year.
Lube the cocking mechanisms
The cocking joint needs grease more than oil. All new guns come properly greased from the factory, but storage in hot climates can speed the loss of lubricant through runoff. Breakbarrels should be greased on both sides of the action fork (where the barrel pivots when cocked), and if possible the pivot bolt could use some, too. Don’t disassemble the gun if you don’t know how! You can do more damage that way than by just leaving it alone.
Guns with sliding chambers, like the RWS Diana 48, need grease along their chamber walls. Beeman/Feinwerkbau joint grease is specially formulated for this application, but any good lithium or moly-based grease will do the job.
If all this sounds like you should carry an oil can when shooting a springer, that’s not the case. I’ve simply tried to list as many of the lubrication points as possible. Actually, a spring-piston gun will do very well if simply left alone and shot regularly.
by B.B. Pelletier
We read a lot about long shots with a pellet gun, but what really qualifies as a long shot? 50 yards? 75? 100?
50 yards is LONG!
I’ve read in gun magazines about riflemen taking 200-yard shots, but whenever I visit my local gun club, the 50-yard range is always the most crowded. An examination of spent brass left on the range confirms that 5.56mm and 7.62x39mm shooters (AR-15 and SKS/AKM shooters) like 50 yards a lot more than 100 and beyond.
So, with firearms we like to READ about 200-yard shots, but we SHOOT more at 50 yards. So it is with pellet rifles; only for us, 50 yards is a long distance.
Fifty yards is 150 feet. It’s so far that you can sense the interval the pellet takes to travel to the target. If the sun is behind you, you can often see the pellet flying out to the target.
One-inch groups are SMALL
If 50 yards seems standard in print, so does a one-inch group. An American quarter is 0.996″ in diameter. So, a one-inch group is one in which ALL shots touch a quarter. Thinking about it that way puts a different perspective on things. Can YOU hit a quarter five times out of five at 150 feet?
What makes long shots more difficult?
Sighting errors are a big problem. Any cant or parallax can throw your shot several INCHES off target. Hold is another problem, especially with spring guns. Unless you hold right, you get three-inch groups. Read about the correct spring rifle hold in the April 5th post, How to shoot an airgun accurately
The wind presents a challenge
I’ve watched pellets curve several inches when there’s wind from the side. It’s like watching through a telephoto lens as a major-league pitcher throws a hard-breaking curve ball. But the pellet doesn’t JUST go to the side! It also climbs or dives, depending on the direction of the wind and the direction the pellet is spinning.
A pellet spinning to the right will move to the right and down when the wind comes from the left. But a wind from the right will move the same right-spinning pellet to the left and UP! The upward movement won’t be as pronounced as the downward movement because gravity will offset it to a large extent, but it will move in that direction because a spinning body always moves 90 degrees to the angle of an outside force. Wind can play some mean tricks on a long-range shooter.
Last, but not least, is the effect of stabilization
When a pellet is stable, it flies true. When it is not stable, it will flutter and move about wildly. Heavy pellets that move too slowly will be unstable and may exhibit this phenomenon. You can tell when this is happening because the hole in the target paper will become elongated. That demonstrates the pellet is not flying nose-first through the target.
Yes, 50 yards is a VERY long distance to shoot a pellet rifle. That’s not to say you can’t shoot farther if you want to, but expect to be faced with all the challenges to accuracy as the distance to the target increases.
by B.B. Pelletier
Would it frighten you to learn that ALL your blued airguns have rust on them? I don’t mean the black oxide finish, itself. Yes, that’s a form of rust, but it’s not what I’m referring to. I’m saying all your blued-steel airguns have real red rust on them – unless you have taken steps to remove it already. The dark black hides the red rust, so it’s difficult to see.
Ballistol comes from good gun stores
and is a great aid to removing surface
rust without damaging bluing.
Ballistol is the secret!
This stuff has magical properties. Besides metal, it is also used on leather, wood, plastic and even the gel coats of boats! Do not use it on electronics, however. Several military organizations around the world use it on their weapons for lubrication and preservation. It has a fishy smell that isn’t pleasant, but don’t let that put you off.
Spray Ballistol directly on the metal and rub vigorously with a paper towel. Almost immediately, the towel will show a reddish-brown stain, which is the rust being removed. The longer you rub the more rust comes off, but the black oxide finish will not be affected. Sometimes, so much rust is removed that the metal shows shiny spots. That’s not from the black being removed; it’s the rust! The rust has taken on a dark appearance and eaten all the black, so when it’s gone there is nothing underneath but bare metal.
Preserving the finish
After the treatment with Ballistol, which takes about 15 minutes, you coat the metal with a fresh film of Ballistol. If you don’t like the smell, there’s another oil that works just as well. Birchwood Casey’s Sheath is a wonderful oil to protect blued surfaces. It has a pleasant smell and gets down into the metal to protect it even when it feels dry. It’s perfect for guns that will be handled a lot because it’s known for neutralizing fingerprints.
Wipe your guns with Sheath to preserve the finish.
What to do when there’s TOO MUCH rust
Occasionally, an airgun will be found with deep pits and a full coverage of rust. For these, Ballistol is not good enough. These take some real work.
First, the surface is rubbed with super-fine steel wool. That removes ALL surface finish, including any remaining bluing. Then, the surface is polished with Emory paper and metal polish. The goal is a mirror finish. The final step is to refinish the surface, and the quickest way to do that is with a cold blue such as Webley Gun Blue. Clean the surface to be blued with acetone to remove all traces of oil, which is the enemy of cold blues. Next, heat the metal (a blow dryer works well for this) to be blued until it is very warm to the touch. Apply the product with a clean cotton rag. Never touch the metal surface with your hands, or you’ll destroy the bluing agent’s ability to color the metal.
Reapply the bluing agent until the metal is as dark as you want, then rub with oil to stop the process. It is very difficult to get uniform results over large surfaces with cold blues, so practice on smaller items before you try an entire gun.
Blued finishes are beautiful, but often fragile. These tips should help you deal with small problems like a veteran.