Hammerli Storm Elite: Part 2
A trip to the range
by B.B. Pelletier
I just finished preliminary shooting with the Hammerli Storm Elite. I didn't go to my big range, so the targets were confined to 18 yards. There were some surprises, nevertheless.
Like usual, I cleaned the barrel with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a Dewey rod. As always, I used a new brass brush for this, and I have to tell you that this rifle has a VERY tight bore! It is perhaps the tightest .177 barrel I have encountered, though I don't keep a journal on that stuff. While cleaning, I detected a possible choke at the muzzle, which is a big surprise for a spring rifle barrel. I thought I must be mistaken, because no manufacturer would fail to tout such an important feature in their advertising, so I conducted a positive test.
By pushing a pellet through the bore from the breech, it is easy to feel any constriction in the barrel. I confirmed the tight breech mentioned in part 1, but there is no choke at the muzzle. Also, I can report that the entire barrel is exceptionally smooth, with no tight spots or rough areas.
I mounted a Bug Buster 2 in Accushot medium 1" rings. The eyepiece doesn't come back far enough for me to see the entire sight picture when shooting from a rest, but it's close to perfect for offhand work. The two-piece rings butted against the built-in scope stop, which made mounting very easy, because the rings were already on the scope.
This Bug Buster 2 was already mounted in rings, so it was a quick installation on the rifle. The eye relief is right for offhand but too short for benchrest.
Taking a cue from Squirrel Killer, I selected Eun Jin 16.1-grain domes. I also had some old 13.1-grain Cobra pellets from Air Rifle Specialists, so they were thrown in the pot. Beeman Kodiaks and JSB Exact domes were also tried, as were RWS Super Mags - a 9.3-grain heavy wadcutter. And, finally, I tried some 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers that would have been my first choice for this gun because of its power and the fact that it's a springer.
Some quirks to note
I like the way this rifle cocks! First of all, the ball-bearing detent means the barrel breaks open and closes like a bank vault - smooth and positive. When the rifle is cocked, there is none of that backlash where the barrel continues to travel down and has to came back several inches to where the sear catches it. The sear on this rifle catches the barrel at the end of the cocking stroke for a positive feel. The trigger, on the other hand, is extremely heavy. It's two-stage, but the second stage breaks at 6 lbs., which makes precision aiming a chore. There isn't much creep, and I noted that it was starting to smooth out and possibly lighten up at the end of the short shooting session. To the guy who remarked that the Bug Buster crosshairs are thick, I didn't think so when I examined the scope for you, but when I tried to take a precise aim at a target, I have to agree.
Squirrel, I wish you well, but I gotta tell you, this rifle cannot handle 16.1-grain Eun Jins! They do hit the trap with authority, but when the third shot landed 2" from the first one at 18 yards, I gave up on them! Cobras were a little better, but still spread to almost 2". Kodiaks grouped a little over 1", and RWS Super Mags were a trifle better. JSBs were worse, at 1.25". Then I tried the Premiers. Oh, boy, do they shoot! Sorry, Sharon, but in this rifle the 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers are the standout pellet. They will be used in the next and final test when I can get out to the longer-range course.
Five Kodiaks spread out pretty good, even at 18 yards.
Five RWS Super Mags grouped just slightly tighter than the Kodiaks.
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets were the star of this show.
All pellets were tight in the breech, but Eun Jins were extreme. Even Kodiaks that usually slip in so easily met with resistance from this barrel. I didn't have a pellet seating tool, and I wasn't able to seat any pellet entirely inside the breech.
You need technique but it's not fussy!
The correct technique with the Storm Elite is to lay the forearm on the flat of your palm just forward of the balance point. The end of the long cocking slot will be on your palm. A light, dead hold produces great results. The rifle is not as twitchy, as many breakbarrels I could name.
At this point, I am pleasantly impressed. The Storm Elite seems to be a nice little breakbarrel with good behavior, accuracy and power. The trigger sucks, but I would give it time. It will probably break-in to a nice pull.