Archive for November 2007
by B.B. Pelletier
Clean the bore
It’s back to Beeman’s dual-caliber RS2 SS1000H today. The first step before velocity or accuracy testing is barrel cleaning, if at all possible. I don’t clean those rifles whose designs make the barrels difficult to access, like the Gamo CF-X or the TX200 Mark III, but breakbarrels are pretty easy to get at, and a rifle whose barrel comes off has got to be the easiest! So, out comes the JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound,eddie and it’s 20 strokes through the barrel in both directions with a new brass brush. For a complete explanation of what I do, read this post. Pyramyd Air doesn’t have any .177 brass brushes in stock as I write this, but there’s nothing wrong with using a brush bought at Wal-Mart or a gun store. Nylon brushes are not good for this procedure, and .17 caliber firearm brushes will work in .177 pellet guns, as .22 caliber firearm brushes will work in .22 pellet guns. The brushes are tens of thousandths too large for the bore, so we are not looking for a precision fit.
What pellets should we choose?
This is a spring gun, which we know from experience usually does better with light- to medium-weight pellets. By “better,” I mean it produces the most muzzle energy, which signifies the greatest transfer of energy from the spring-driven piston to the pellet. And, if it has a gas spring, the same thing is true, because compressed air is also a type of spring. The greatest energy transfer means the least piston bounce, so that is what we look for when picking pellets for spring guns. However, after finding a range of good pellets that fall into the same general power level, accuracy testing will nail down the one best pellet for that particular gun. As long as the rifle is performing within a reasonable range of power, getting the last tenth of a foot-pound isn’t as important as hitting the target, which is what this whole drill is about.
Install the barrel
After the barrel is clean, it’s installed on the rifle. The stub slides into the baseblock and a single cross-screw tightens it in place. As the Allen screw is tightened, it seems to draw the barrel in tighter to the baseblock. After the screw was tight, I could not detect that the barrel was separate from the gun. It felt just like any breakbarrel.
The rifle cocks with relative ease, at 30 lbs. of force. Cocking is smooth and quiet. And this rifle fires with very good behavior for a new airgun. It is so smooth that I believe the powerplant components are fitted pretty well. The two-stage trigger, which is very positive, by the way, breaks at 3 lbs., 12 ozs. It has some creep in the second stage, but feels pretty nice.
Now, let’s shoot!
There were some surprises. Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets that loaded very easy wanted to average 880 f.p.s., but five shots out of 13 dropped below 850 f.p.s. The lowest went 819 f.p.s. If we take 880 f.p.s. as the average (a range of the other shots from 868 to 886), the energy is 13.59 foot-pounds.
Next, I tried the Beeman Trophy. It weighs 7.9 grains and averages 901 f.p.s. without any pellets going dramatically slower. That is 14.24 foot-pounds. It also loads loose in the breech.
Beeman Kodiaks weigh 10.6 grains and average 806 f.p.s. – also without any slower shots. That’s 15.29 foot-pounds – a shock for me, based on my past experience! They also load very easy.
Beeman Ram Jets averaged 850 f.p.s., but were all over the place in velocity, ranging from 822 to 880. They weigh 9.8 grains, which makes them a heavier pellet. At 850, they deliver an astonishing 15.73 foot-pounds. The way they load may present a clue to their bizarre performance. They fall into the bore, but the skirt is flared so wide that they will not go all the way into the breech. A seating tool would have been a help.
JSB Exact lightweight pellets (8.4 grains) averaged 937 f.p.s., but they had a single slow shot at 722. Taking the average of 937 (the slow shot wasn’t calculated into the average) they put out 16.38 foot-pounds and are the power leader in this test.
Finally I shot some Gamo Raptors – just to see what they would do. They averaged 1189 f.p.s. if I disregard the one shot that went 863 f.p.s. That would give the 5-grain pellet 15.70 foot-pounds.
Clearly, the rifle is dieseling significantly at this point. I cannot trust any of these numbers, even though several pellets only had a 10 foot-second spread from the slowest to fastest shot. Here’s what I’ll do. I’ll try all of these pellets for accuracy next, because clearly the heavier pellets are not having a problem in this gun. Then, I’ll test the .22 barrel for you, and, after all is finished, I will return and re-chrono the gun with these same pellets. By then, the powerplant will have several hundred shots on it, and the dieseling should be under control.
The heavier pellets tested were in the same ballpark for power, while the lighter ones (except the Raptors) gave LESS power, which really surprises me. Only the JSB Exact, which is on the high side of light for this test, had any power for a lighter pellet. I really thought the heavy pellets would have a lot less energy. I hope when I test again that I’ll be able to make more sense of the numbers, because right now I don’t trust them.
I didn’t expect that I’d like this rifle, but my first impression changes all that. It’s smooth, light to cock and the trigger is very usable. The changeable barrel is rock-solid when installed, so no problem there. You’ll recall that I liked the look of the package in the first report. Let’s hope the good news keeps right on coming!
by B.B. Pelletier
An announcement before we begin. After speaking with the manager of the Firearms Division of the Michigan State Police, Pyramyd Air has changed their policy regarding sales to addresses in Michigan. Unfortunately, she is the same person who gave out erroneous information 9 months ago! When they spoke to her this time, they quizzed her about the legality of certain airguns, such as the .50-caliber Dragon Slayer, and she replied that the federal government regulates those types of airguns! In fact, she even stated that federal law prohibited felons from owning airguns.
Of course, the federal government does not make specific laws concerning pellet and BB guns. So, Pyramyd Air has changed their policy for shipping to addresses in Michigan to reflect what they were just told, and that’s how they’ll be handling orders from now on.
On to today’s blog….
A reader asked me about barrel shrouds after reading the Air Arms S410 series. He figured out how they work, but there are subtleties that I thought the rest of you might like to know about, so today I’m looking at shrouds.
The simplest type of shroud is a jacket that encloses the barrel and contains the violent release of compressed air from the muzzle. It lets the pellet escape but forces the air to use up much of its energy before it leaves the shroud, thus reducing the report. In effect, it acts like the simplest form of silencer, and the only difference is that the shroud covers the entire barrel, while the silencer is just a component added to the barrel. Let’s look at the AirForce Talon SS, which has one of these.
There can be more to shrouds, however. For one thing, only a few guns have a frame large enough to use as a shroud. Others must install an actual jacket around the barrel. This jacket must be rigid so it doesn’t move and hit the barrel. It must also have its end cap hole aligned precisely with the true muzzle, so the pellets don’t touch the sides of the hole when they exit. And, it must look right on the gun. That drives makers to use a smaller-diameter tube (smaller than the AirForce frame diameter) and to attach it rigidly at the action. But that’s not all.
Holes are the secret
To keep the shroud to an overall length that doesn’t ruin the looks of the gun (and longer barrels are better for PCPs), the wise maker does everything he can to direct the flow of energetic air backwards after it leaves the muzzle, so it has to run the entire length of the barrel and back again before exiting the end cap. That way, the outer shroud diameter can remain small yet still have a lot of space for the air to expand (length instead of width). Some wise person discovered that if they allowed ambient air to exit the shroud at the rear, it wouldn’t build a pressure wave and reflect the compressed air back to the end cap so readily. So, the shrouds on really advanced PCPs will have small holes just in front of where they exit the receiver.
There’s one final consideration for a good shroud – materials. Use the wrong materials and the shroud becomes a gong, amplifying the sound instead of dissipating it. Use the right materials and deaden them further by installing vibration dampers at the right place, and you’ll get a dead-quiet rifle that has nothing you can remove and install on a firearm. Yes, by machining the materials from a removed shroud, you might make an effective silencer for a firearm, but anyone clever enough to do that is better off starting with common PVC pipe from the hardware store.
The wrong material to use would be thin aluminum tubing – something I see a lot of hobbyists using to make shrouds. It’s easy to get, so they use it, without realizing what it does to the outcome of their project. It buzzes and resonates with sound unless you take pains to dampen it.
As you can see, there’s a little more to shrouds than you may have thought. Done well, they are as effective as silencers and can also be quite attractive – like the “barrel” on a TX200 Mark III, which is really an attractive shroud.
by B.B. Pelletier
An announcement before we begin. Pyramyd now has the Beeman P1/HW45 pistol shoulder stock back on the shelves. It comes in a choice of four different woods – walnut, cherry, oak and birdseye maple – and I’m told that some types are in very short supply, so act quickly if you have a preference.
Today, we’ll take our last look at the Air Arms S410 sidelever PCP rifle. Scott298 asked me to shoot it at 75 yards for you and I agreed. Let’s see how that went.
Setup for long-range air rifle shooting
You don’t just switch from a 50-yard zero to 75 yards by adjusting the scope. Pellet drop is too great even with a super-powerful magnum to do that. And, with the S410, I was already pushing the limit of the elevation on the scope, so I had to make a correction to the adjustable mount. Fortunately, I had used B-Square adjustable rings to mount the 6-18x Swift scope, so all I had to do was adjust them higher in the rear.
Unfortunately for me and for this report, I live in an area where the wind never stops blowing. We get almost no calm days here, and shooting at long range with a pellet rifle demands a calm day. On the days when the wind was calm enough, I was doing other things I couldn’t cancel, so it took a lot longer to get the weather needed for this test. Wind of even 5 miles per hour can blow a pellet off-target by 5″ and more at 75 yards, even when the rifle shoots very fast and you use heavy pellets.
The day I finally selected was not dead calm. There are fewer than 10 such days every year where I live, and they aren’t even days. They are short pauses during a weather change. I’ve caught them before, but only by luck. The day I finally settled for had a light breeze of 3-5 mph with intermittent lulls. I tried to shoot only during the lulls, but sometimes the wind was blowing at the target but calm where I was. When that happens, you do the best you can.
I had to test a lot of pellets before I found the right one
I brought several pellets, because what’s accurate at 35 yards isn’t necessarily the best at 75. Once I got the rifle striking close to the bullseye I didn’t bother adjusting the zero, because I was racing the clock before the wind picked up. The Crosman Premiers that did so well in Part 3 refused to group for this test, so after about 7 attempts, I switched to JSB Exacts. They did better, but still gave groups of two inches and larger, so I switched again. The Logun Penetrator 20.5-grain pellet is not one I tested earlier, but it was next. For the first three rounds, I thought I had a winner. Then, shot No. 4 opened to 1.392″ and it was over. The group ended at 1.741″. I didn’t try them again.
Kodiaks to the rescue!
Beeman Kodiaks were the best pellet in this rifle on this day. The first several groups were promising, at around 1.5″. Then I put all my technique together and waited for perfectly calm air. The best 5-shot group of the day measured 1.069″. It’s not a bragging group, to be sure, but it was the best I could do under the circumstances. I then shot two more confirming groups that measured less than 1.5″ and wrapped things up. It took more than three hours to get these results, as I am leaving out all the setup work required to get on paper at 75 yards.
Is the S410 accurate at long range? Certainly. Is this the best it can do? Absolutely not. On a perfect day, that best group size could probably be reduced by at least 40 percent. Am I going to do it? No.
The question you have to answer is whether shooting at long range is something you want to do. Your rifles have to be sighted in for that range, which makes them useless for anything closer, so this is a sport you are either dedicated to or you don’t do at all. If you just want to try your luck at it, though, you can make a dark aimpoint on a large sheet of paper and allow 12-18″ below that for the pellets to register. That way, you can keep your 0-50 yard zero and still play at the longer ranges.
by B.B. Pelletier
What a package!
Now, for something completely different, let’s look at Beeman’s dual-caliber RS2 SS1000-H air rifle. This rifle has many of the bells and whistles people want in a spring gun today. Not only does it come in the dual calibers of .177 and .22, it includes a scope and it comes in a black cloth carrying case. Everything fits inside the case with Velcro straps to keep it snug. It’s a very neat case!
You better know what you’re doing, cause the instruction manual won’t tell you much!
The owner’s manual, on the other hand, is virtually useless! You would think that Beeman has no one on staff who can write a manual, because the pamphlet that accompanies this rifle has snippets of information from Beeman manuals dating back 32 years! It includes such useless information as how to cock a sidelever (which this isn’t) and how to handle an air pistol. I’m not kidding. A drawing of a spring rifle is taken from a Beeman/FWB 124/127 manual from 1976! The model you bought isn’t mentioned once.
Although this rifle FEATURES interchangeable barrels, there isn’t one scrap of information in their manual or anywhere else on how to change them! Beeman certainly hasn’t squandered any money on technical information!
However, changing barrels does seem to be very straightforward. I doubt if it will challenge most shooters.
This is a powerful gun, yet the markings say it shoots less than 7.5 joules!
Another problem with this rifle is the presence of a German Freimark on the barrel, clearly and legally indicating the rifle develops less than 7.5 joules of energy. That’s about 5.5 foot-pounds. Yet, Beeman advertises the rifle as a 1000-f.p.s. rifle in .177, which would be around 20 joules. That makes the Freimark illegal, but only if the rifle is exported to Germany. I’m thinking the Freimark is there because these barrels are also found on different Beeman models that are truly at or below 7.5 joules.
Lefties can shoot this one, too!
The stock has a Monte Carlo profile but no raised cheekpiece, so everything is completely ambidextrous. This stock reminds me of a modern BSA stock. The pistol grip is very thick and the contours of the stock are all “melted,” meaning a very soft, rounded edge characteristic of BSA rifles and some Gamos. The wood finish is dark reddish brown, another BSA characteristic.
This is a large rifle, measuring about 46-3/4″ overall, with a pull length of just over 14-1/2″. The hardwood stock is extremely straight; there’s almost no drop to it. I can’t wait to shoot the gun because it should be a different experience.
The trigger is a Chinese copy of a Gamo with an automatic safety built in. That affects cocking to the point that you have to pull down the barrel a little harder and faster to cock because the safety has to be set at the same time. The safety also releases easily, making this an easy rifle to operate. It can also be reapplied at any time, if the rifle is still cocked. The trigger blade is wide with both longitudinal and cross grooves providing purchase, and a bright nickel finish making it stand out.
This is quite a package! I hope it shoots as good as it looks.
by B.B. Pelletier
This test comes from the August 2001 Airgun Letter. Mike Reames was kind enough to loan me the rifle to test. And, as you have already learned, I found it the most accurate air rifle I’ve ever shot.
The Scan M32 is a 32-shot pump-action repeating air rifle. It’s a precharged pneumatic, and the pump-action refers to how the rifle is cocked and loaded. Pulling back on the pistol grip cocks the rifle and loads the next pellet. In that respect, it differs from all other pumps I’ve used because they use a sliding forearm for this purpose. Also, you must depress a lock release on the left side of the gun before the pistol grip can be moved, so this is not the rapid-fire pump we’re used to. If you go too fast, the magazine-advance pawl will hang up and stop the gun.
The clip is a double-stack cylinder that feeds radially outward from the center of the circle. There are two cylinders stacked on each other. When one is empty, the clip is removed, flipped and reinserted. The manual recommends loading 15 pellets per cylinder, but it is possible to load 16, hence the M32 name.
When you pull back on the pistol grip, a pawl advances the large clip to the next pellet, and this is where the gun was hard to manage. That pawl on the rifle I tested was an iffy thing, sometimes working and other times not. I had to check the alignment of the clip before every shot. That and the difficulty of sliding the grip made the rifle a very slow and deliberate operation.
The air tank is in the removable butt, like an AirForce rifle, only Scan used the design many years earlier. It’s a small tank, and the fill pressure is 230 bar, or just over 3,300 psi. I didn’t own a Hill pump at the time, and the AirForce hand pump was still many years away, so I babied my old Axsor pump and it did the job. I would not recommend that you try it, because that’s 300 psi above the pump’s rated capacity.
With .22 caliber Crosman Premiers, the gun averaged 810 f.p.s., for 20.84 foot-pounds and an extreme velocity spread of 20 f.p.s. I didn’t record the velocity for the most accurate Beeman Trophy Hunters (an obsolete pellet, but probably the same as the H&N Field & Target Trophy), but they weigh pretty close to the same, so there shouldn’t be more than 20 f.p.s. difference.
If you’ve noticed that the M32 looks something like an AirForce rifle, you’re right. The smaller air tank, though, made it difficult for me to find a good spot-weld on the stock. The result was extra parallax. In the end, I had to use the scope to tell me when I was in position. It got brighter when I held my head at the correct spot. Once I learned that, I shot that group you saw last Friday.
While I was shooting targets at 40 yards, a spider walked out on the wooden target frame. I was looking through a Leapers 6-20×56 (an obsolete scope), so the quarter-inch arachnid body was quite visible. Since I knew exactly where the pellets were going, I shot the spider dead-center and sent him through the wooden target frame. That was the best shot I ever made with an air rifle and reminiscent of the time I shot a hovering carpenter bee at the 100-yard target with my Mauser .22/250. This time, though, I had a witness watching through his own scope and saw the hit clearly – just as I did.
The Scan M32 is an interesting air rifle, and the most accurate one I ever shot. I didn’t like the operation, however, and I wouldn’t choose the rifle because of that.
Tomorrow, I will finally shoot the Air Arms S410 at 75 yards for you.
by B.B. Pelletier
I started out as a child
I loved to shoot as a kid, but there weren’t many opportunities before I turned 12. Once I had a paper route and could buy my own guns and ammo, my mother relented and let me buy airguns. But that wasn’t when I became an airgunner.
Jump ahead 12 years
I served in Germany from 1974 to the end of 1977 and bought a Diana model 10 target pistol on a whim one day. I shot that gun the rest of the time I was in the country and I loved it, but that wasn’t what made me an airgunner.
I am bitten
In 1976, I bought a copy of Airgun Digest, First Edition and read it cover to cover. That edition was written mostly by Robert Beeman. It opened my eyes to the world of adult airguns, but it wasn’t what made me an airgunner.
Those darned catalogs
I also sent off for catalogs from Air Rifle Headquarters and from Beeman Precision Airguns. I read those from cover to cover, too, and that’s what made me an airgunner. Robert Law, the owner of Air Rifle Headquarters, was a salesman in the same way as George Leonard Herter. He wrote lengthy descriptions that explained in detail why the guns he sold were the very best money could buy. By the time I got through his catalog, I wasn’t wondering which gun I could afford, but rather how I could afford them all!
Beeman was the best
Robert Beeman was even more masterful with words, plus he showed the insides of airguns in his beautiful catalogs with their stunning color covers. With Beeman, I really did have to choose because he had such a wide range that there was no hope of buying them all. I finally settled on an FWB 124D breakbarrel, though I also wanted an HW35 almost as much. The FWB was faster than the 35; and in those days (the late 1970s), that meant breaking the 800 f.p.s. barrier.
You always want what you do not have
As an armor officer and company commander, I had at my disposal enough ordnance to command serious attention (we had Mod Deuces on all our armored personnel carriers, mortar carriers and scout vehicles); and though I shot thousands of rounds of ammo each year, precision adult airguns really sent me into orbit! Go figure! I had an arms room full of full-auto rifles, submachine guns and 1911A1s, yet I lusted after a .177 breakbarrel that might go 800 f.p.s.
When I returned to the U.S. in November of 1977, I did three things I had dreamed about for several years. First, I kissed the first patch of U.S. soil I came in contact with (it was the cement at the airport in San Jose). Second, I went shopping at a mall at 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday evening just because I could (Germany rolled up the sidewalks early Saturday afternoon and wasn’t open for business again until Monday). Third, I drove up the peninsula, across the Golden Gate and on to the Beeman store, where I purchased my 124D. Forget the fact that Christmas was coming! I wanted it NOW! Anyone who has pulled several dozen 24-hour guard shifts, duty officer shifts, numerous alerts (short unannounced field deployments called without warning), annual two-week REFORGER field manuevers and too many month-long deployments to training centers such as Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, will understand that a promise made to oneself at such times is sacrosanct.
That early pellet rifle was scoped with a Tasco 2-7×32 riflescope. It wasn’t corrected for parallax, but it was accurate all the same. I tested it by shooting at a tin can hung on a tree branch about 50 yards from the back door of my government quarters at Fort Knox, where I was later stationed. I pounded the can every chance I got. The Diana M10 I had bought in Germany was used for shooting in the living room. I was an airgunner, but not yet complete in my conversion.
This really clinched the deal
In 1992, the airgun magazine I had just subscribed to (American Airgunner) went belly-up, taking half of my subscription money with them. I became very cranky until my wife suggested I start my own magazine about airguns. When we thought it through, we realized I wouldn’t be able to write (or afford) a magazine, but a monthly newsletter would be very possible. So, we promoted it as best we could (there was no place to advertise!) and in March of 1994, we published the first edition of The Airgun Letter.
A lot more stuff happened after that, but that’s how it started. Now on to the most accurate airgun I ever shot.
What’s the most accurate pellet rifle I ever shot?
Easy! The most accurate airgun I ever shot was a loaner British Skan M32 pump repeater. It wasn’t smooth to operate and changing the magazine was cumbersome, but it was easily the most accurate air rifle I ever shot. At 40 yards, I got 5-shot groups so small they would almost not allow pellets to drop through.
If you ask real nice, I might blog this gun for you some day.
by B.B. Pelletier
First, Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers! This year has given me many reasons to be thankful, and I hope the same is true for all of you.
Here’s a head’s up for all you parents and grandparents with daughters and granddaughters who want to shoot. Crosman has just released a hot pink 760! In case you aren’t aware of the trend, hot pink is a real attraction in the shooting sports today. There are aftermarket places turning out pink AR-15s and .22 rifles like mad, so Crosman wanted a cut of this new market. You collectors better set a few of these aside, because who knows how long they will be available? They just went up on the site yesterday, but they will blow out the door fast in the Christmas season.
Today, I tested the accuracy of the Webley Typhoon. Given the extremely heavy trigger and the fact that this is a pistol, I decided to shoot from a rest at 10 meters.
The trigger is horrible!
Not only is the trigger more than twice as heavy as it should be for a sporting air pistol, but when you squeeze it, the entire upper powerplant moves backwards in the grip frame. That’s what causes the sights to appear to move as you squeeze. And, there’s a lot of creep! Let’s be clear on what creep is. It happens ONLY in the FINAL STAGE of a trigger-pull, so only in the second stage of a two-stage trigger like this one.
The trigger-pull is so heavy that I could not pull it with my index finger after about 25 shots. I had to shift to using my middle finger for the remainder of the test.
Sights are functional
I don’t care for the way the rear sight adjusts, but the sights are entirely functional. I was able to dial my groups onto the bullseye target.
The pistol wants to be accurate, but the trigger and the action’s movement in the stock prevent it.
From the velocity testing, I selected the pellets that did the best with the pistol to use for accuracy testing. They were the RWS Superdome, Crosman Premier 7.9-grain, Gamo Match and H&N Finale Match for pistols. This is one of the few times I will tell you that I don’t think these groups represent the potential accuracy of this pistol. In a moment, I’ll tell you what I think could be done, but this test doesn’t represent what the Typhoon is capable of. It does, however, represent the best I can do with it in its current state.
Only the Gamo Match is not shown here, but they group about the same as the Premiers. There were groups that opened up to 4″ when I accidently rested the butt of the pistol grip against the bag. I’m not showing them, but they were there – resulting from my poor technique.
Can anything be done?
As the Typhoon stands today, it has very little to recommend it. However, I believe there is a wonderful airgun hiding just beneath the surface. This pistol would make a wonderful youth air rifle! I didn’t figure that out – a reader calling himself Western PA planted the idea in my brain, but I wish I had thought of it! If the barrel were lengthened with a shroud/tube, and the gun was mounted in a rifle stock and given some other type of rear sight mounted to the base block, and if the trigger could be fixed, then I think this new gun could give the IZH 6o a run for the money. Excluding the trigger that I’d need to look at, my modifications would add about $8-10 to the cost of the gun, unless the factory already has a stock that would fit it.
The world has missed the Diana model 70 and 72 target air rifles, and this new gun could take their place for a lot less money. At least, that’s what I think.