Archive for October 2006

Testing BBs for accuracy

by B.B. Pelletier

Yesterday we looked at BBs to see how uniform they were. I didn’t measure or weigh them, which I normally would have if uniformity was what I was after, but what I really wanted to know was whether it made any difference on target. A lot of airgunners waste their time (I think) worrying about details that really do not matter in the end. If pellet B shoots the best, who cares that it has the largest weight variance or the greatest dimensional difference? Obviously, not the gun! Since the purpose of shooting is to hit the target, I usually cut to the chase as soon as possible. How does it do at the range?

The test
I used a Daisy Avanti Champion 499 to test all BBs. The targets were placed at 5 meters (16.4 feet), and the range was lit properly for shooting with aperture sights. I shot offhand. Although I’m not a great rifle shooter, I can usually keep them on a dime at this range. I shot about 20 warm-up shots to get into the groove and to allow my pupils to dilate to the target light. Once I was warmed up, I shot three groups with each of the three BBs – Avanti precision ground shot, Daisy Premium Grade BBs and Crosman Copperhead BBs. The shooting was in rotation, with the first type of BB, then the second and then the third. Once the first three targets were completed, I rotated back to the first BB for target No. 4, and so on. That way, each BB got a fair break from me.

Uniformity is demonstrated
The 499 is loaded for each shot by dropping a BB down the muzzle. You can hear it roll down the precision smoothbore barrel and click to rest against a magnet at the end. How long it takes to roll down demonstrates both the size and the uniformity of the BB being loaded. Avanti BBs took the longest to roll down, ranging from 2 to 5 seconds apiece. However, there were a few that made it down in less than a second. Daisy Premium Grade BBs were all down in less than one second, with most ranging between one-quarter and one-half second to make the trip. Crosman Copperheads went the quickest, at between one-eighth and one-quarter second. That doesn’t tell too much about the standard BBs, but it does indicate that the Avanti precision ground shot has the largest size variance of all. Who woulda thunk it?

Shooting the 499
The 499 is very light, so holding steady on target is more of a chore than it would be with a 12-lb. target rifle. Also, the single-stage trigger has a very long pull that doesn’t help much. I tried to shoot before becoming tired in position on every shot, but holding a 3-lb. rifle is like holding nothing. I’m sure my technique was poor as a result.

I didn’t go downrange to look at the targets until all shooting was finished. That kept me from biasing the results by trying harder. BB holes don’t show up well in target paper. Since a lot of them were in the black, I really didn’t know how it was going until the whole thing was over. I zeroed the gun with Avanti shot, and both standard BBs shot low and to the left.

The results
All three BBs turned in great targets. I cannot say that there is a difference between them, except I did get one really great group with Daisy’s Premium Grade. That group was pure luck, because the other two groups were no smaller than either of the other BBs. The largest group was made by the Avanti shot, but it’s clearly a case of a bad shooter, because the other two groups are right in there with the other two BBs. The most uniform groups were shot with the Crosman Copperheads, which had the smallest cumulative group size. I guess that lays to rest any doubt about their accuracy potential. Like everything else, that was luck, too, but it demonstrates that if the shot is good, the BB goes where it should.

This group of Daisy Premium Grade BBs was the best of the session. The rest grouped about three-fourths the size of the dime, except one really bad group of Avanti shot.

My verdict is that both Daisy and Crosman BBs are equally accurate, despite how they appear. I plan on shooting the Avanti shot in the 499 from now on, simply because it is made for the gun. Maybe some day I will shoot good enough to merit it.

Who makes the best BBs?

by B.B. Pelletier

This posting was suggested by a reader who commented that Crosman Copperhead BBs don’t seem as uniform and well-finished as Daisy premium grade BBs. He wondered whether they would be as accurate, so I thought a little test was in order. Just for the record, I’m talking about steel BBs today.

First, the BBs
To most of us, all BBs look the same. I don’t suppose most shooters look at their BBs through a jeweler’s loupe, but that’s what I did to see what our reader was talking about. He said Crosman BBs are much rougher on the surface than Daisys, and that they had the flat spots left from the forming process. I was surprised to hear the latter, because I thought all BB-makers had gotten rid of the flat spots, so I looked at a brand new Crosman Copperhead BB with a loupe. Indeed, it had a flat spot, while the Daisys did not. Also, the surface was much rougher, just as our reader had said.

I also pulled out an Avanti precision ground shot to compare it to the modern Daisy Premium Grade BB. It appears to be no smoother than the standard Daisy BB and is still not a perfectly smooth sphere like a ball bearing.

How BBs are made
A BB starts out as a piece of steel wire that is chopped into rough chunks quite a bit larger than BB size. Those chunks are fed to two steel plates that have a long spiral tapering groove. One plate turns while the other remains stationary, which rolls the rough chunk into a sphere. From there, it goes on to grinding, where it is reduced in size to the desired caliber. Next, it gets a flash plating of some anti-oxidant, such as copper or zinc. Then, it’s sorted by centrifugal force in a long spiral slide. The good BBs go on to packaging and the rejects become scrap. I saw this process in the Crosman plant, where they produce 10 million BBs every workday.

Each spool of steel wire (stacked in twos) in the Crosman plant weighs about a ton. About 100 spools await the wire cutter. Making 10 million BBs a day takes a lot of material!

Daisy made some upgrades
I haven’t see Daisy’s process; from articles others have written over the years, I know it’s essentially the same. Joe Murfin, their vice president of marketing, told me they installed a new sorting machine a few years ago, and it made a big difference in the quality of their BBs. According to him, it isn’t that their process is that much better, but their sorting is controlled very tightly. I haven’t seen it, as I said, so I can’t comment, but I’ve taken extreme closeup photos of all the BBs and I’ll let you be the judge.

Crosman’s BB looks roughest, and is the only one that has the flat spot (looks like a crater in the center of the BB).

Daisy premium grade BB is smoother, but not without imperfections. The dark spots on the upper left are reflections.

Avanti precison ground shot looks no smoother than the standard Daisy BB. It is unplated.

We’ll test them!
Following the first reader’s comments, there was some speculation about whether or not it mattered that a BB was more uniform. I really don’t know the answer myself, so I thought I would devise a little test to see if there is a noticeable difference. You airsoft guys should enjoy this, because you have the same situation with the BBs you shoot.

BAM B40 in .22 caliber: Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

I love my job! Yesterday I got out on the range with the .22 caliber B40 for the accuracy test. The day was fairly calm; but the wind that was there, was squirrelly. It was swirling in all directions, so I had to wait for quiet periods to shoot.

Same scope
I used the scope we saw mounted yesterday, which took three shots to sight-in at 10 feet. At 25 yards, the pellet was a little high, so a couple more shots brought it down to where I wanted it. After that, it was a five-shot group after group after group of 3/4″ spreads. That’s good but far from great. And, I had such high expectations for this rifle!

Excuses, excuses…
Any good rifleman worth his salt can manufacture multiple reasons for his inaccuracy at the drop of a hat. In fact, the skill becomes second nature in most shooters. As I cursed the mediocre groups, my mind began turning over some possibilities. The wind is always a good scapegoat, but on this day it wasn’t bad. Probably no gusts over 5 m.p.h., but coming from all directions as I noted earlier. However, as light as it was and only shooting at 25 yards, I couldn’t really use it. Well, maybe as a backup!

The same annoying bugs were out that I complained about when I tested the .177 B40. They were perhaps a little less annoying, but they still flew into my eyes and nose, which bothered me a lot. I shot well before, despite their pestering, so that was another good excuse down the drain.

The trigger became bad
Remember in Part 1 how happy I was about this rifle having a real two-stage trigger? Well, yesterday it reverted to the same ultra-light trigger that plagued the .177 test, and I didn’t have the tools to correct it at the range. Sometimes it let off with a two-stage pull; but most of the time, it broke at about 4 oz. of single-stage take up. I would slowly take up the slack as the reticle was settling down and then WHAM! – the shot went off when I wasn’t prepared. After blowing a few groups past the one-inch range, I realized what was happening and settled down to use the trigger the way it now wanted to be used. The shots were still surprising me, but I was locked on target when they went off, so once again, excuse blown.

And then a miracle happened!
I had taken four pellets to the range, but realized at this point that I’d only been shooting JSB Exacts. Well, sure I was. JSBs turn out to be the most accurate pellet time after time, so why would I want to waste my time trying anything else? But that doesn’t explain which I also put Logun Penetrators, Beeman Kodiaks and that old tried-and-true Crosman Premier in my range bag. I had to acknowledge that each of the other pellets had been known to beat out JSBs in specific rifles in the past – that was why they were in the range bag.

So, what the hey! I loaded a Crosman Premier into the breech and let fly. It made a hole in the target, a little higher than the JSBs. Then I shot a second one. No new hole. Hey, I know Premiers may not be as accurate as JSBs, but there is no way I could miss that huge 10″x12″ target at only 25 yards. I fired a third shot. This one landed a short distance to the left. Could shot two have gone through the same hole as the first shot? It must have, because that’s where shots four and five both went! The group measures exactly one-half inch, and the four in the same hole measure 0.159″, center-to-center.

The .22 B40 out-shot its .177 cousin! This half-inch group was the best 25-yard group I shot, and the four in one hole measure a bragging 0.159,” c-t-c.

Apparently, the B40 in .22 caliber is also a good shooter – just not with JSB Exacts. At least the rifle I tested seems to think Crosman Premiers are the cat’s pajamas. I am reminded that not every air rifle likes the same pellet. I only shot a little more, but the Premier was firmly established as the pellet of choice for this rifle.

What have we learned?
I have learned that some Chinese airgun manufacturers can rifle barrels for sporting airguns, and this BAM company really seems to deliver the goods. I still will guard my enthusiasm because the Chinese do not have a good track record for staying the course. If BAM were to do so, I think the end will have come for British and German sporting airguns. The Brits are having their own problems just making the guns, and now there seems to be a viable replacement on the street.

However, the BAM still needs trigger work and a stock without wood filler. They could also stand a higher polish on the metal surfaces, but let’s stop right there. These two rifles, the .177 and .22 caliber BAM B40s, have exceeded any requirements I might have for accuracy. They are both powerful and accurate, which is 90 percent of the game, in my opinion.

BAM B40 in .22 caliber: Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Let’s move right along. Now that the rear ring is secured against the scope stop, it’s time to attach the front ring. Get it attached to the dovetail but don’t tighten it yet. First, you have to determine where it should go. Use the scope for this. The scope has a tubular area on each side of the turret where the scope rings will clamp. I like to position each of my rings close to the middle of this area. This is where two-piece rings are better than one-piece, because with one-piece you have no choice where the rings are. Positioning either one of them also positions the other.

The rings are installed, but the front ring still needs to be positioned using the scope.

On smaller scopes, this tubular area is short. The scope I’m using is considered a compact scope, but Leapers also makes some compact scopes that are even smaller. The smallest of these absolutely must have two-piece rings, as there is no room to maneuver. The reader who asked for this post was obviously concerned about a scope being too long for the B40, so the objective bell would be located over the place where the rifle is loaded. There is no fear of that! I positioned this compact scope too far forward because of the recoil stop that was used. If the rings had had a stop pin, I would have mounted the scope another inch back. I could still slide it back a little, as the picture shows, but I left it there for the sake of clarity. Lift the rifle to your firing position and check the eye relief of the scope. If you do this carefully, the scope will stay put.

Position the front ring with the scope, so there is equal distance on either side of the ring. Then tighten the ring in place.

Once you slide the front ring to where you want it, tighten it and the rings are mounted! The next step is to attach the scope caps and position the scope.

Attaching the scope caps
I’m using 4-screw scope caps and so should you. The 2-screw caps are too narrow and put too much force on the scope tube when tightened. You may not notice this on a Leapers scope because its tube is machined from a solid billet of aluminum; but on other scopes that have thin tubes of drawn aluminum, denting will occur. Do not tighten the caps yet.

Leveling the reticle to align the scope
This is an easy step, but shooters go to great lengths to make it complex! Simply align the scope until the vertical reticle seems to bisect the rifle. The drawing should help. Believe me, I have used collimators, I’ve leveled the gun and scope against a bubble level at 50 yards and I’ve gone through all sorts of silly gyrations. Nothing works better than what I’m showing you here. You don’t need any tool for this; you do it by eye. And, every time you pick up that rifle, the scope alignment will look right to you because you aligned it yourself!

Simply move the scope until the vertical reticle bisects the rifle.

Tighten the scope caps
This next part is important. Don’t randomly tighten the cap screws. There’s a procedure. Look at the picture. Starting with the front cap, tighten the top right screw. Tighten it only until it is snug – no more. Then, do the same to the lower left screw. You have now snugged two of the four screws on that cap. Move to the rear cap and do the same – top right and lower left screw. Come back to the front cap and tighten the top left screw, followed by the lower right screw. Do the same for the rear cap screws.

Go around again in the same pattern as before. Keep doing this until the screws no longer move. This procedure will be recognized by mechanics as the same one used to torque the cap bolts on connecting rods in an engine. It spreads the force as evenly as possible. The cap screws do not have to be incredibly tight to hold well. They just have to be uniformly tight.

Use the pattern of tightening recommended in the text.

That’s it! Once the rings are tightened, you’re ready to sight in. If you later discover that the scope seems to be canted, you can always go back and do the alignment procedure again. After you’ve mounted a few scopes, the process becomes second nature and goes pretty fast. This would be a good time to read Tom Gaylord’s article about how to sight in a scope.

BAM B40 in .22 caliber: Part 2

Part 1

by B.B. Pelleiter

Before I begin today’s post, here’s an update on the Evanix AR6 pistol review I promised. Josh Ungier of Pyramyd Air told me yesterday that they sold out of the first pistols, so he ordered 100 more. He also said the grip will be smaller because the one on the first batch was quite large. He expects to receive those guns in a couple weeks, and I get the first one to test for you.

Now, for today. I was going to just shoot the .22 B40 for accuracy and let that be it, but one reader who seems to be a potential buyer has asked a lot of scope mounting questions. When I reviewed the past B40 posts, I saw that I glossed over that process. When you have the gun right there staring you in the face, it’s difficult to envision what it must be like for someone who has never seen it. I told him I’d do a special post about mounting a scope on this B40. Then, GadgetHead asked me about the sliding compression cylinder that drags on this rifle. I told him I thought it was a burr; but I said I’d lubricate it, and then we would know for sure. That turned out to be a good idea!

It’s a burr!
I cocked the rifle, which slid the compression chamber all the way to the rear. I used a Q-tip to spread Beeman M-2-M moly grease around the inside of the outer tube. With the rifle cocked, I could easily slide the chamber back and forth. I expected the lube to reduce the friction, but instead it acted like layout fluid, immediately revealing the presence of a definite burr. The dark gray grease was scraped away from just the place where the scratches are. Thanks, GadgetHead! Now I know how to fix it.

Scope stop holes
Okay, on to mounting a scope on the B40. Let’s look at the top of the receiver. At the rear of the 11mm dovetail grooves, there are three holes for a vertical scope stop pin to drop in. The stop pin is either located on the scope rings or it can be on a separate scope stop that goes behind the rear ring. The pin drops into whichever one of the three holes you select (I always use the rear one) and the pin is butted against the back of the hole. That way the scope mounts (rings) cannot move under recoil.

Use one of these three holes on top of the receiver to anchor the scope stop pin.

Scope stop
I used a separate scope stop because the 30mm rings I’m using don’t have a stop pin built in. The stop is mounted first on the receiver, and the pin is positioned at the back of the rear receiver hole.

This scope stop has a pin that sticks down into one of the holes on the receiver. This is the underside of the stop. The two white things are synthetic bumpers to cushion the scope ring when it recoils into the stop. The yellow thing is a bubble level, but I don’t use it because it’s too close to my eye to see the bubble.

Mount the stop first
The scope stop is mounted first. It serves as the reference point for the rest of the work.

Position the scope stop with the pin at the rear of the preferred stop hole and tighten it.

The rear ring is attached next. Back it up against the scope stop and tighten the screws.

Mount the rear ring
I’m using two-piece rings, so I mount the rear ring first. I slide it back and butt it against the scope stop. Even though you tighten the clamping screws, this ring will continue to slide back as the gun is fired until the synthetic cushions on the scope stop are flattened out. No amount of clamping pressure alone can keep the rings from sliding back on a recoiling rifle.

Tomorrow, I’ll finish this scope installation so we can move on to test accuracy.

Crosman’s new C11 BB pistol

by B.B. Pelletier

The new Crosman C11 BB pistol is a powerful new air pistol with exciting looks!

I was at Crosman recently and had a chance to test the new C11 BB pistol. This review is for a reader who learned about the gun before the rest of us and asked to see it a month ago.

A LOT of confusion!
There are two Crosman pistols that have the model designation C11. The first is a 6mm airsoft pistol (Crosman’s term is “soft air”) that uses CO2 to power the plastic ball. Now, most of you know that Asians call 6mm balls BBs, so this gun is called a BB gun. But, it doesn’t shoot real steel BBs. When Crosman came out with a real CO2 BB gun this month, also called the C11, confusion began! The customer reps at Pyramyd are getting phone calls from customers who are mixing up the specifications of the two different pistols.

The airsoft C11 looks a lot like the BB gun except for the orange muzzle tip.

Here are the differences
The airsoft model has the federal-mandated orange muzzle. According to Pyramyd’s site, its muzzle velocity is 350 f.p.s. And its full model name is the Air Magnum C11. The CO2-powered BB gun (the one that shoots real steel BBs) is all black, has a muzzle velocity of 480 f.p.s. and is called just the C11. As far as I know, neither pistol copies any firearm exactly. Except for the orange muzzle on the airsoft pistol, these guns look remarkably alike.

The BB pistol
The C11 BB pistol is very powerful. With a muzzle velocity of 480 f.p.s., it really pumps out the steel! Although my test was less formal than usual, if memory serves, I got about three magazines from one powerlet. Since each mag holds 15 BBs, that’s about 45 powerful shots.

The pistol feels very smooth and ergonomic in my hand. The grip is substantial but not overly large. I shot it only double-action, and I can’t remember if it also shoots single-action. Double-action shooting is more difficult, of course, and I found I was pulling all my shots to the left. Once that became apparent from an enlarging hole to the left of the bullseye, I was able to compensate and do better. My impression is that the sights were right on for targets at 25-33 feet.

Get more magazines!
One nice thing about Crosman’s shooting range is that there are boxes of loaded magazines, powerlets and AirSource cylinders behind the line, so I didn’t have to do any work to reload. But, you’ll want to have at least two spare mags loaded up because this pistol shoots fast! You keep on pulling the trigger and hitting targets. Before you know it, you’ve shot all 15 BBs.

Easily replaced powerlet
The grips slide back to gain access to the CO2 powerlet. You will note that no hint of the powerlet mechanism appears on the outside of the pistol. Crosman knows that buyers dislike any external cues to how a pistol is powered, and they’ve taken measures to conceal it in all their new pistols.

Remember safety!
This gun shoots steel BBs that can ricochet with force, so don’t shoot at hard targets and always wear safety glasses when you shoot. Several years ago, I was shooting an Anics pistol of similar power when my lip was split by a BB that rebounded 33 feet from a steel trap. Crosman’s model 850 BB trap is a great one for stopping BBs!

The biggest selling point is the price, of course. For what you get…power, accuracy and good balance…the C11 is quite inexpensive.

A look at China’s B26 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

My first look at the BAM B26 was back on September 18. At that time,.
00 I was surprised by the rifle’s quality and seeming accuracy potential, though it didn’t live up to that potential in the first test. The trigger was working poorly and I wanted a chance to look the rifle over before testing it again, because I felt it harbored more than it showed the first time out.

Into the trigger – NOT!
You will recall that the B26 is BAM’s second attempt at copying the Beeman R9 (or HW 95). It has a lot going for it, but the trigger on the rifle I am testing is single-stage and lets off with varying force. Because this is a copy of a Weihrauch rifle, I was hoping that I would find an exact copy of a Rekord trigger when I popped the action out of the stock. Alas, that was not to be. Weihrauch and Beeman owners can rest easy; their Rekord trigger has not been knocked off. What we have instead is a Bizarro Rekord – if you understand the Superman reference. For those who don’t…this trigger is an imperfect copy.

What it lacks is the Rekord’s sophisticated sear adjustment. Instead, a much cruder adjustment mechanism takes its place. So, I didn’t go to the effort of removing the trigger, but I did do something else that worked quite nicely. By tightening the trigger adjustment screw, I increased the pull to about 2 lbs. I now have a light, single-stage trigger – sort of the redneck approach to a Rekord. But, hey, it works!

Tightened all the screws
When I removed the action from the stock, I noticed that all the stock screws were loose…except for one. That never helps accuracy. When the rifle went back together, I made sure all screws were tightened the same.

Do as I say…
Two recent projects have renewed my interest in spring guns. The first was the long series on tuning a spring gun, where I was forced to come face-to-face with the internals of a springer once again. That awoke many old memories that are again fresh in my mind. The second big influence was the posting about Making a new spring gun ready to shoot. All those hard “rules” I dictated to you were things that I sometimes skipped. So, the loose screws on the B26 reminded me to do the other right things to give this rifle a fighting chance.

One very big thing I did was clean the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound. You might think that the bore would still be clean after just a hundred pellets have been shot through it, but that wasn’t the case. Though it did clean up much faster than a brand new barrel, this bore was in need of some serious cleaning. After that it was on to the range – again!

Three pellets for best accuracy
The B26 is a .22 caliber, so I selected JSB Exact Jumbos (15.8 grains), Logun Penetrators (20.5 grains) and Crosman Premiers (14.3 grains). I could just as easily have included Beeman Kodiaks, but I felt the Loguns deserved a chance at bat.

Leapers tactical scope
You may remember that I used the Leapers 3-12x44mm SWAT Mini tactical scope with side parallax adjustment. The 30mm tube allows a lot of light to pass through, making this scope one of the brightest in my inventory. The reticle is thicker than I like for target shooting at long range; since I was shooting at only 25 yards, it didn’t make much difference.

Wow! That’s the best way to describe how this gun shoots. Of course, it is a breakbarrel and a copy of the Beeman R9 at that, so it takes buckets of technique to shoot well. But, when you do – wow! JSBs were good, as usual, with a 0.387″ group being the best at 25 yards. The WORST group of JSBs was 0.581″. The Loguns were also good, with a 0.381″ group, but it looked larger than that, so I didn’t shoot a second one. They are definitely a pellet to try. Crosman Premiers would not group at all in this rifle, which is strange, but it happens.

This was the smallest group made by JSB pellets. It looked like the smallest group of all, but Logun Penetrators squeaked past it.

This group of Logun Penetrators looks larger than the JSBs, but it measures slightly smaller. At 0.381″ it was the best group of the day.

This is my last look at this B26, though I do have one with a thumbhole stock that I’ll also test. Based on what I saw with this one, the B26 is a pretty nice air rifle. It’s available in .22, something that’s getting rare these days!

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