Turning an AirForce Condor into a Talon SS
by B.B. Pelletier
This post was requested by Bill, but I think a lot of you will find it interesting. There's a lot of interest in AirForce air rifles these days. Perhaps, that's because they sell for half to two-thirds the price of a European PCP, yet they shoot just as well and have features no other airgun in the world can match. Among these features are interchangeable barrels that an owner can swap quickly. Therein lies today's posting.
By now, every airgunner knows that the Condor is the world's most powerful smallbore air rifle. It delivers 20-25 shots at greater than 60 foot-pounds when the heaviest pellets are used. Now, it is true that several of the Korean rifles, such as the Career 707, can get one or even two shots at that power level, but no other air rifle gets as many as a Condor. AirForce built the Condor to be a powerful hunting air rifle. Ah, but they also make the Talon SS, a quiet PCP that uses legal technology to muffle the muzzle report. And, that's the problem! Wishful airgunners read the specifications of the two rifles and they want everything put into a single airgun! Quiet AND powerful - in one rifle! Well, you can't have both at the same time, but it is possible to have both in one rifle.
Turning a Condor into a Talon SS - the secret that no one has told you!
The Condor and the Talon SS share a frame of identical length. The Condor frame has a longer scope rail, but that's the only difference, and it has nothing to do with the power potential. The Condor is so loud (1) because of the tremendous amount of air that blasts out of the muzzle and (2) the fact that the muzzle is not hidden inside the frame like the Talon SS muzzle. There are aftermarket frame extenders that shroud the Condor's longer barrel, but I have tested them and find no difference in the report. However, if you install a 12" .22-caliber barrel, a Talon SS end cap and a standard air tank on a Condor, the rifle will then perform exactly the same as a Talon SS! Same velocity; same quite operation and the same accuracy. In other words, the extra power AirForce puts into the Condor powerplant is neutralized by the standard air tank!
That mean you can turn your Condor into a Talon SS with a 12" barrel, an SS end cap and a standard air tank. Talon SS owners cannot do the reverse, because the standard powerplant is not strong enough to operate the Hi-Flo valve in the Condor tank. You'd wind up with a rifle that won't go faster than 550 f.p.s. in .22. An SS owner can send his rifle to AirForce to have it converted to Condor specifications, and from that point the gun works in the way described above. Pyramyd Air can sell you the SS end cap, but there hasn't been any demand for it before now, so they don't have it listed as an optional part.
Best Talon version of all!
I don't own a Condor, though I've certainly shot them. My personal AirForce rifle is a .22 caliber Talon SS. I also have an optional 24" .22 caliber barrel. When I install it, my SS jumps from a maximum of 25 foot-pounds (that's a 21-grain Kodiak at 732 f.p.s.) to 45 foot-pounds (a 28-grain Eun Jin at 850 f.p.s.) in five minutes - just by changing barrels! In my opinion, the Talon SS (or the regular Talon, because they both have the same powerplant) with a 24" .22 caliber barrel is the best AirForce rifle of all. It has about double the shots of a Condor with two-thirds the power at the high end. It also adjusts LOWER on the low end, where it is also much more stable! That's the 24" barrel at work! I don't need a Condor, because I don't need those extra 20 foot-pounds. I have all the power I need in my SS with the 24" barrel installed. Yes, it is louder at full power, but when I dial it back to the SS maximum of 25 foot-pounds, it isn't much louder than my SS. In my opinion, the 24" barrel on an SS is the way to go, but if I owned a Condor I'd buy the parts to convert it to an SS (12" barrel, SS end cap and standard air tank).
What if I put the 12" barrel and SS end cap on a Condor and left the Hi-Flo tank in place?
The folks at AirForce tell me they get this question about 10 times a week. People think they must have not thought about the possibility of a quieter Condor. The problem, of course, is that the power depends on the 24" barrel. Without that, you're just wasting air. What you get with that combination is the power of a regular Talon, but half as many shots. And, the gun is as loud as a regular Talon, too! If that's what you want, save your money and buy a Talon.
How do you get the Condor's power without the noise?
Legally? I don't know. I have a .22 rimfire silencer that I'm going to adapt to a Condor to see if that works. But my silencer took longer than a year to get and cost more than $600, when all was said and done. As for the aftermarket extension tubes people are selling as barrel shrouds for the Condor, I can only comment on the ones I tried - they didn't work. There may be some that do, but I've never seen them.
In a nutshell, there's the untold story of Condor convertibility in a nutshell. The rifle is extremely flexible and this capability just adds to that range.