BAM B51 - Part 1
A look at the "Chuntsman"
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin today's post, I have to comment on the recent test of the RWS Diana 460 Magnum. This air rifle now tops the list as the No. 1 "trigger" gun in this blog. By that, I mean it triggered more responses than any other airgun. Based on all the comments, I have ordered a .22 caliber rifle to complete the look.
For the gentleman who wondered when I would be testing the RWS Diana 350 Magnum, I already did - back in February of 2006. Read the report.
For those who criticized the low velocities I reported, didn't you read the other TWO velocity tests I reported? Both were considerably faster than my test rifle, and in the general realm of the advertised velocity. We need to get past this hype of velocity in a spring gun because it is meaningless without accuracy. And, the 460 is accurate. Compare the accuracy of the Gamo Hunter Extreme to the accuracy of the 460. The 460 is as accurate at 35 yards as the Hunter Extreme is at 25.
Now, on to today's topic - the BAM B51 precharged pneumatic air rifle. I have one in .22 caliber, which is the only caliber Pyramyd Air currently stocks.
Why the "Chuntsman?"
The name is a slur of Chinese and Huntsman. BAM copied the Daystate Huntsman to make this rifle. Nothing wrong with that because most other single-shot PCP rifles are also derived from the Huntsman, which was the first modern PCP. The B51 is lighter in weight than my old Huntsman by quite a lot. The unscoped weight is around 8 lbs., give or take for wood density. The stock is quite a bit slimmer than the Huntsman's stock was, and there may be dimensional differences inside the gun, where I can't see, such as the wall thickness of the reservoir. At any rate, I like the lighter weight.
The wood is plain with straight grain, much like beech. I found only two small areas inside the thumbhole where it had been filled with wood putty. The raised cheekpiece is well-formed with sharp edges in the European style. A thick, black, ventilated buttpad is fitted well with only a few small overhangs. The stock has no checkering.
The metal is mainly steel, including the receiver and reservoir. It's finished to a low shine, one step better than a hunter matte, and evenly blued. You would see a difference if comparing it to a Daystate Huntsman with its mirror polish. A muzzlebrake is for decoration only, though several new shooters have panned it on the forums because it isn't a silencer. From what they said, it was obvious this was their first precharged experience and the loud report startled them.
The rifle has the vintage "swan's neck" brass cocking handle of the Huntsman. It also has a rocker safety at the rear of the receiver. This is a single-shot rifle and as straightforward as PCPs ever get - by which I mean there is no air pressure gauge, no facility for attaching a repeating mechanism and no power adjustment. With this air rifle, you're back in the 1980s.
Classic swan's neck cocking handle and rocker safety is just like the old Huntsman.
There has been talk
Ever since this rifle hit the U.S. market, it has been hotly discussed and scrutinized. A fear of unreliability is one issue many have raised, and accuracy is another. We know the Chinese can rifle a barrel when they want to, but will they keep up the standard over time? Well, by waiting two years, I hope to find out. I was offered B50s and B51 a long time back, but I wasn't sure they weren't just set up to get a good review. I know where this rifle came from, and I know it is as random as can be. What I'm about to test should be the same as what you will get when you buy one.
Reliability - Does it hold air?
I filled the rifle to 3,000 and tested it for pressure a week later. If it lost any pressure, it wasn't more than 100 psi, which took 11 pump strokes to replenish. I say "if" because I used two different gauges to test the pressure at the two different times, and all gauges do not read the same.
The fill adapter for this rifle is a female Foster hydraulic quick-disconnect fitting with a male Foster on the rifle. A black-anodized dust cap covers this fill nipple between fillings. This is the best connection for a PCP, and several makers have now switched to it, so I am glad BAM decided to go this way. There's nothing more frustrating than a new precharged air rifle that cannot be filled because you don't have the right adapter.
With the dust cap removed, you can see the Foster fill nipple. All it takes is a Foster female quick-disconnect fitting such as the one on the right.
Next time, I'll mount a scope, sight in and shoot for accuracy.