Archive for July 2006

Teach a person to shoot: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Teach a person to shoot: Part 1

Making students aware of safety
How do you make a student as aware of gun safety as the instructor? You make a game of it. First, you teach the students the most basic safety rules, with the first one being Never point a gun at anything you do not intend shooting. That’s sometimes watered down to Always point a gun in a safe direction, but I have seen too many people (myself included) who cannot initially appreciate how far a bullet or pellet can reach out. That’s why I like the first way best. If you think it’s necessary, you might want to set up a few demonstrations of what it looks like when a pellet hits something. Rotten fruit is good for this, as are plastic milk jugs filled with water dyed red.

Make the students repeat the safety rules, and let THEM discuss what each rule means. To make sure every student participates in the discussion, to hold it in a setting that is as informal as possible, while still maintaining control over the class. Then, demonstrate what an infraction of the rule looks like. In the beginning, some students will get the idea right off, but some will require more processing time before they start responding to the infraction. The goal is for every shooter to respond to an unsafe act without thinking about it. For example, I have found myself shouting, “Cease fire” at airgun shows when someone dry-fires a gun indoors. I was as surprised as those around me, but the shooter got the message.

Testing without the formal structure
You can test the students on all the safety rules by committing infractions during the rest of the training. This is an old training tip, and it’s a far better method than a formal paper or memory regurgitation test. However, once again, your students will not all respond at the same speed. You’ll have a bright young girl who is as quick on the draw as Wyatt Earp, and there will be a quiet thoughtful boy who seems to be a half-second behind everyone else. You must find a way to test every student without embarrassing any of them.

Never stop testing the safety rules!
Continue to throw in a careless act from time to time during the rest of the training. The students will become so immersed in the shooting safety rules that they will surprise you someday. I have seen children shooters catching coaches and officials in unsafe acts at public events. I’ve been caught, myself. When the shooter knows the rules to that level, you have succeeded as an instructor.

Teaching shooters to use sights
This is the first lesson in training someone how to shoot. Guns are not required for this lesson, so you can even work it into a demonstration class held in a place that’s inappropriate for actual shooting! I learned this in the NRA introductory class I took almost 50 years ago, and we practiced it for three successive weeks before ever shooting a gun. As a result, all the bullets from the first-time shooters landed somewhere inside the black bullseye!

The triangulation method
This method uses a flat stick (such as a yardstick), a chair for the instructor to sit on, two cardboard boxes, a target, a piece of paper and a lead pencil. An instructor is needed for each student. First, a sturdy set of paper sights is attached to the flat stick. You can also use real sights taped to the stick, but the front sight may have to be raised up on a block to align properly.

The sight trainer is simple and inexpensive to make.

Notice that we made an aperture rear sight. The shooters in formal training programs will be shooting with aperture sights, so it’s important to not confuse them during training. Also, an aperture is MUCH more precise than any other open sight.

In the next lesson, I’ll tell you how this training method works.

Colt M1911A1 Tactical: Part 2Another action pistol from Umarex

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, we’ll look at the performance of this pistol. It has a 5″ barrel, so we expect it to be in the 400-425 f.p.s. region with lighter lead pellets. I’m interested in a pellet that shoots as accurately as possible.

Make mine wadcutters
All the Umarex action pistols are .177 caliber only. I use wadcutter pellets exclusively because the low velocity means the pellets will try to tear the target paper and wadcutters don’t do that at the velocity these airguns can generate. If I were shooting action targets , I’d want accuracy but the shape of the nose would be less important. My choices for the Colt M1911A1 Tactical are Gamo Match, JSB Match Diabolo (pistol), RWS Diabolo Basic, RWS Club, Crosman Wadcutters, Crosman Premier Super Match and RWS Hobby pellets. I chose these on the basis of pellet shape and price. An action-pistol shooter is going to shoot a lot, so price has to be a factor…the same as accuracy.

Velocity and number of shots per powerlet
I chronographed the pistol with three different wadcutters to give you a good feel for the gun’s potential. From a fresh powerlet, Crosman Super Match averaged 397 f.p.s., with a spread of 24 f.p.s. and a high of 410. RWS Hobby averaged 416 with a spread of 27 f.p.s. and a high of 430. Gamo Match averaged 408 f.p.s. with a spread of 10 f.p.s. and a high of 414. This pistol gave over 60 good shots per powerlet – a big suprise, because I only saw 45 good shots from the Walther CP88 Tactical!

Accuracy was best with Gamo Match, by a wide margin. With a careful hold, they will give 1″ 5-shot groups or better at 25 feet. I feel they are capable of even a little better, like 3/4″, but I didn’t see it. Crosman Super Match pellets were second, and, being smaller, they loaded easiest of all. All other pellets have to be pressed into the magazine with a tool to get the skirts in all the way. A pellet seater works well for this. And RWS Hobbys gave surprisingly large groups – in the 1.5″ range.

Adjusting the dot sight
The sight adjustments on the Walther MDS sight are backwards. Turn TOWARD the right to move the group left, and so on. This is in line with German target sights in general, and opposite how most of the rest of the world marks sights.

The grip safety on an Umarex Colt pistol has always been a bit “clicky” compared to the firearm. I mean, you can feel a click in your hand when it takes the gun off safety. The test gun’s grip safety was very noticable. The single-action trigger-pull, however, is as crisp as I have come to expect on this model. A couple weeks ago, I commented on the nice trigger on the new Walther CP88 Tactical. That trigger broke at 6 lbs., and I liked it. Well, the trigger on this Colt breaks at 3 lbs., 4 oz. and is just as crisp! I can do some good shooting with a trigger like this!

The Colt M1911A1 is my favorite of all the Umarex pistols. Only the S&W 586 shoots better for me. This tactical version has a great dot sight that really enhances the gun’s performance. If you’ve been wondering which Umarex to get, I’d suggest one of these Colts.

Colt M1911A1 Tactical Another action pistol from Umarex

by B.B. Pelletier

The 1911 Colt semiautomatic pistol is a handful! I used to swear it couldn’t hit a barn wall if the shooter was on the inside, but then I met a member of the 2600 club (NRA High Master rating) who taught me how to shoot the .45. After that, I knew what millions of shooters have learned – the M1911A1 Colt is one of the all-time best handguns ever made.

What’s good about it?
Many of the reasons for the firearm’s greatness do not transfer to a pellet pistol. The .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) is one of the top manstoppers in military history; the 1911 action is virtually unstoppable in the field and maintenance is a breeze. But the accuracy, the grip and the training value of the Colt M1911A1 Tactical pistol are worthy reasons for buying one.

What makes it different?
All the pistols Umarex makes have similar features and performance. Most use the 8-shot circular magazines, all are powered by 12-gram CO2 cartridges, and all have similar accuracy, velocity and the ability to mount accessories. What makes the Colt M1911A1 different is that the design of the gun copies the original Colt pattern so faithfully. A shooter can actually derive training value from this pellet pistol because it mimics the weight, the sights and the special hold required for the firearm. It has a real functioning grip safety that I tested. It works! Unlike the firearm, the hammer falls on the pellet pistol when the trigger is pulled without the grip safety being depressed, but the gun does not discharge CO2.

This is an 8-shot repeater that fires with each pull of the double-action trigger. The firearm has a single-action trigger, and the recoiling slide cocks the hammer for each new shot besides loading the chamber with a fresh round. The pellet pistol has no recoiling slide, so a double-action trigger is required for rapid fire capability. The trigger-pull is very light and smooth – especially after you get used to it. It makes the rapid engagement of targets such as Daisy’s Shatterblast as fun as a practical pistol match. That’s where Walther’s Multi Dot Sight really shines.

Walther Multi Dot Sight (MDS)
The MDS is different than other dot sights, in that you can adjust the SIZE of the dot as well as the brightness – that’s the “multi” in Multi Dot. Shooters find that different lighting situations call for flexibility in the illumination of the dot, and the MDS is one of the most flexible sights in its price range. It comes already mounted on the pistol, so everything is ready to shoot when you get it. I found this sight very useful on the different ranges where I tested the Colt. Even in bright afternoon summer sun, the dot was always visible outside. As an acid test, I sighted on yellow flowers and bright clouds in a sunny sky and, with the largest dot set on the brightest intensity, I could still see it easily. This sight is part of what makes this a tactical gun.

There is the adjustment for dot size under the MDS module. It’s a feature not often found in this price range.

It really doesn’t silence the gun, but the tactical silencer spins on the muzzle, just like the real thing. It’s quite light and does not change the balance much. The foam-lined hard case is cut to house the silenced gun with dot sight mounted without any disassembly.

Tomorrow, I’ll give you some performance data and discuss shooting.

Sighting-in a scope Don’t get carried away!

by B.B. Pelletier

Sighting-in a scope must be frightening to many shooters because, of all the technical questions we get, a large percentage deal with problem scopes. Many of the problems can be traced to the fact that they haven’t been sighted-in correctly.

Problem 1. Sight-in distance IS NOT YOUR CHOICE!
You can choose any distance you like to sight-in your scope, so what can I be saying? Just this – yes you CAN choose ANY distance at which to sight-in, but you aren’t going to like more than a very limited selection of distances. You will be frustrated if you sight-in at ALL OTHER distances, then I will get a confused comment like this:

B.B. I sighted-in my rifle to hit dead-on at 40 yards, but at every other distance the pellet shoots below the aim point! I can understand when it does that at ranges farther than 40 yards, but why does it also shoot lower at 20 yards? CONFUSED

Dear Confused,

Your gun shoots lower at all other distances because THAT’S THE WAY YOU SIGHTED IT IN!! If you want your car to stop within 25 feet of applying the brakes, don’t slam them on at 70 mph!

The laws of physics are more unforgiving than the laws of man.

When your pellet leaves the muzzle, IT IMMEDIATELY STARTS FALLING TOWARD THE GROUND! It doesn’t rise up above the bore and then fall, like the drawings seem to show. It falls instantly, and it falls at the same rate as a pellet dropped from the same height as the muzzle. If the bore is parallel to the earth and the shot and dropped pellets both take off at the same time, they will both hit the ground at the same time. The shot pellet will hit some distance from the gun because of its velocity.

To compensate for the drop of the pellet when we sight-in, we point our scopes slightly down toward the ground, so the exiting pellet will SEEM to rise above the line of sight. That is why we speak of TWO distances at which the pellet will be dead-on with the crosshairs. I discussed this in an earlier posting about sight-in distances (At what range should you zero your scope?).

Here is where physics steps in. Those two distances are determined by the velocity of the pellet AND the rate at which it slows down because of drag. With modern adult airguns all shooting at pretty similar velocities (750-950 f.p.s.) and with diabolo pellets being so similar, the choices of aim points is limited – IF YOU WANT TWO AIM POINTS, THAT IS.

If you insist on sighting-in at 40 yards, go ahead. But don’t ask me why the pellet shoots lower at all other distances. You have selected the spot in the trajectory curve where that will happen. Actually, given a spread of velocities, there is a short span of distances, all hovering around 37-45 yards, at which this will happen.

Yeah, well, B.B., I want to sight-in at six yards, because that’s the distance from my back door to the garbage cans, and we have problems with raccoons. Now, can you tell me why my pellet is so much higher at all other distances? I mean, until I get way out past 50 yards, my pellet is in orbit! Please tell me how to get it back on target at 30 yards, because that’s where the bird feeder is.


[B.B. has left the building - escorted by two nice men in white coats.]

Spring gun tuning: Part 8 – Disassembly of other spring guns (contd)

Spring gun tuning: Part 1
Spring gun tuning: Part 2 – Building a mainspring compressor
Spring gun tuning: Part 3 – Mainspring compressor continued
Spring gun tuning: Part 4 – Let’s disassemble a gun!
Spring gun tuning: Part 5 – Powerplant disassembly
Spring gun tuning: Part 6 – Disassembly completed
Spring gun tuning: Part 7 – Disassembly of other spring guns

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, I’ll discuss sidelevers, underlevers and anti-beartrap mechanisms. All these things are additions to what is basically the same mechanism we looked at in the breakbarrel Beeman R1. In fact, there are some Walther target rifles that are breakbarrels with the same type of anti-beartrap mechanisms as the underlever HW77. So, what you already know about spring powerplant disassembly still applies.

Both sidelevers and underlevers usually employ a sliding compression chamber that moves the piston into the cocked position. The exception is any gun with a different type of breech, like BSA’s rotary breech (the Gamo CF-X has one), all taploaders and guns that use a flip-up transfer port to gain access to the breech, like the Diana 46 and the Webley Eclipse.

When a gun has a sliding compression chamber, disconnect the cocking mechanism from the sliding chamber and remove it from the gun. In some cases, certain underlevers are held on by rivets, so just take off the connecting link.

The Diana 48 and 52 sidelevers are fairly easy to work on. Pop the sidelever away from the receiver and remove the pins that hold it to the cocking link and receiver. Notice that the cocking link is slightly bent. The bend goes against the receiver to keep tension on the sidelever when it is stored. Leave the cocking link attached to the sliding chamber until the mainspring is out. Finally, remove the ratchet safety mechanism located under the receiver.

You can now install the receiver in your compressor, put some tension on the end cap and remove the two crosspins we discussed yesterday. Back off the tension on the compressor and the trigger block will be pushed out of the gun, followed by the mainspring. The piston can be removed now, too.

The sliding chamber can now be slid to access the Allen screw that holds the cocking link. Then, the chamber will come out of the tube as well. Other sidelevers are just variations of this theme.

Think of an underlever as a sidelever turned 90 degrees, because that’s all it is. Look at the TX200.

The TX200 cocking link looks similar to the R1 link. This link is connected to the sliding compression chamber that houses the piston. It must slide back to cock the gun, then forward to act as a compression chamber when the piston springs forward. Notice the large vertical bolt (extreme right) that holds the TX powerplant together.

The cocking link connects to the sliding chamber.
Anti-beartrap devices
Most anti-beartrap devices are simple, like the ratchet on the RWS 48/52, but Weihrauch uses a sliding steel bar that connects the cocking lever to the trigger.

The big bolt in front of the HW97 trigger doesn’t hold the mainspring. It’s a bushing for the stock screw and holds down the anti-beartrap mechanism (small spring).

The HW97 anti-beartrap mechanism is disassembled.
That’s the end of powerplant disassembly. Next, I’ll show you how to tune a gun. The mainspring compressor will be shown in greater detail in that segment.

Spring gun tuning: Part 7 – Disassembly of other spring guns

Spring gun tuning: Part 1
Spring gun tuning: Part 2 – Building a mainspring compressor
Spring gun tuning: Part 3 – Mainspring compressor continued
Spring gun tuning: Part 4 – Let’s disassemble a gun!
Spring gun tuning: Part 5 – Powerplant disassembly
Spring gun tuning: Part 6 – Disassembly completed

by B.B. Pelletier

Thanks for being patient. Today, I’ll show the other common types of spring gun disassemblies. Few other airguns have the screw-in end cap like Weihrauch (except for many Beeman R-series guns, of course); but, in the 1950s, Ansch├╝tz made a military model called the Hakim and a civilian version of the same gun and both had a screw-in end cap.

Stock disassembly
When disassembling the action from the stock, you’ll find both triggerguard screws don’t attach to the action on some rifles. Usually, the rear screw is just a wood screw. When you find this, just leave it in place. Some modern guns, such as the Gamo CF-X, have only a single stock screw in the triggerguard area. Because the stock is a one-piece molded affair, the triggerguard doesn’t have to be held on, and this is obviously just the rear action screw.

Study the action
Something has to hold the powerful mainspring in place. If you study the action long enough, it becomes clear what that is. There are two very common methods of holding a spring gun powerplant assembly inside the mainspring tube – the vertical bolt and the crosspin.

Vertical bolt
This type is found on the FWB 124, the TX 200 and others. A large bolt comes up from the bottom of the mainspring tube and holds either the trigger housing or a sheetmetal sleeve that restrains the mainspring. Some guns, such as the 124, come apart in pieces, and you have to catch several small parts and springs as the assembly backs out of the mainspring tube. Others, such as the TX200, are modular. The TX trigger unit is held in place by the same two pins I showed you in the R1. The end cap is held in by the bolt.

A large vertical bolt holds the FWB 124 together
Before you start to remove the vertical bolt, try to relieve the tension the mainspring is putting on it. There’s usually something in the end of the mainspring tube that can be pushed by your mainspring compressor to do this. This is where you’ll need to make various pusher blocks to augment your compressor. If you look at the R1 disassembly, you’ll see I put folded cardboard inside the headstock cup to push on the end cap.

The other mainspring restraining method is with crosspins, and two is the normal number. Diana has long been using two crosspins on their rifles. The older models had trigger assemblies that were not constrained by anything more than the mainspring tube. When disassembling these guns, watch for trigger parts that try to fly everywhere. Reassembly of these guns is an art that must be learned and practiced often. Newer guns have unitized trigger assemblies that contain all the little parts. These guns are much easier to work on, except for the automatic safety bar that has to be fiddled in between the two crosspins.

This vintage Diana 27 has two pins at the very rear of the spring tube. Modern pins are farther forward than this.
Often, one crosspin will have all the tension on it, and the other is just a backup. Dianas are like that. In older Webley guns, one crosspin is held by a grub screw that is hard to locate. If pins don’t drift out easily, look for things like this.

Tomorrow, I’ll write about underlevers, sidelevers and anti-beartrap mechanisms.

The Logun Domin8tor: Part 2 The rest of the story

Read the first part of this review (The Logun Domin8tor: Part 1/A light hunting rifle worth consideration).

by B.B. Pelletier

I’ll finish looking at the Logun Domin8tor today. Let’s start at the range.

Getting ready
It took 60 pump strokes to fill the rifle from 2,000 psi to 3,000 psi. On high power, you get about 18-20 shots. That’s about three pump strokes per shot. While filling the gun, I noticed that the fill port is always open. That’s unacceptable for a hunting airgun; however, the solution is simple. Just cover the fill port with something that prevents dirt and debris from entering the port. If dirt is blown into the reservoir during a fill, it could cause a leak if it gets onto the surface of the valve. Keep the fill port as clean as possible!

The bolt and magazine pin are both withdrawn.

Loading the magazine
Nothing could be easier! Pellets seem to drop into the funnel-shaped chamber openings in the circular magazine. The Logun Domin8tor is made by FX of Sweden, so their magazines fit the gun. I found JSB Exacts especially easy to load. Be sure to inspect the pellet skirts before you load them, or have a ballpoint pen handy to pop out the bad ones.

The Logun Domin8tor stock has enough drop at the butt to feel comfortable shooting off a bench. When the rifle fires, a strong puff of air is felt on the left hand. It’s coming from the magazine slot and is completely normal. The magazine rotates counterclockwise when the bolt works, and there’s an inspection slot in the right side of the receiver so you can see if a pellet is available for the next shot.

Other features
There’s a pressure gauge under the stock to tell you when its time to refill. There’s also a Picatinny rail molded into the bottom of the synthetic stock to accept a bipod. If you own a silencer, you can attach it to the muzzle. It’s threaded on the outside with 1/2″ fine threads. My own .22 rimfire silencer has 1/2″ by 28 threads that are common on firearm silencers but too coarse to fit the Logun Domin8tor. Of course I could have an adapter made. The 19.7″ barrel is entirely free-floated.

I shot on two different days. One day there were breezes gusting to 10 m.p.h.; the other day was dead calm. The results from both days were similar. On high power the best 50-yard 5-shot group of JSB Exacts measured 0.821″. The average JSB group was just under nine-tenths of an inch.

Best 50-yard group of JSBs measured 0.821″.

On both medium and low power, the groups opened to 1.25″ to 1.5″. I did try shooting Crosman Premiers, but the groups were much larger so I didn’t pursue them.

With 20.5-grain Logun Penetrators (shot only on high power), the best group at 50 yards was 1.057″. One group with that pellet was 1.40″ but most were close to the one-inch mark.

The bottom line
The Logun Domin8tor is a lightweight, powerful rifle that should be considered by hunters. You’ll like the fast cocking action, the built-in pressure gauge, the power adjuster and the 8 quick shots.

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.