Archive for September 2008
by B.B. Pelletier
More than a decade ago, I saw a curious rifle at the Little Rock Airgun Expo. It looked something like a Beeman R1 but was quite a bit larger. When the seller told me that it was a handmade, one-of-a-kind rifle that was designed to be a more powerful R1, I couldn’t resist buying it. I had just published the R1 book, and here was a great follow-on story that needed to be told.
The inventor of this rifle, Steve Vissage, had seen the Beeman R1 and wanted a rifle that would put a .22 pellet into the supersonic realm. That was quite a goal for a spring-piston gun of the early 1980s, and it still hasn’t been reached today by any except a few PCPs. Steve thought the best approach was to increase the diameter of the piston and to increase the length of the stroke – some of the same topics we frequently discuss on this blog.
Now I’ll tell you why I am making this report. A number of our new readers are asking the same questions that Steve Vissage asked back in 1981. What does it take to get more power from a spring-piston air rifle? Back in 1982, the R1 was the most powerful spring-piston gun in the world. At 940 f.p.s. in .177, it offered velocity undreamed of 5 years earlier.
When the R1 came out, Robert Beeman wrote in his catalog that it took more than just a powerful mainspring to boost power in a springer. But, because those catalogs are now collector’s items, a lot of newer airgunners haven’t had the opportunity to read them. Many who might have read them don’t believe what Beeman said. What Steve Vissage did is what many of you think should be possible today, and I want to share my observations on that topic.
Steel dreams become real things!
Vissage built three rifles, of which mine was the first. Let me explain what’s so different about talking about airguns and actually building them. When guys start discussing airguns, anything seems possible; but, whenever Vissage made a decision, it got locked into steel…not easily changed. Even if he did make some changes, there was still a cost involved for the original decision that was not followed. Steel dreams cost more and take longer than daydreams. If you don’t understand what I’m driving at, you will by the time this report is finished.
Let’s look at this rifle
A stock R1 weighs 8.9 lbs., give or take. Many new airgunners feel it’s far too heavy, and they’re also impressed by it’s sheer size. The Vissage rifle weighs 11 lbs. It’s also longer than the R1, but I don’t seem to have recorded the length. The barrel came from an Anschutz target rifle; and, since Anschutz doesn’t make target air rifles in .22 caliber, I think that means it’s a .22 rimfire barrel. So, accuracy was out the window, because .22 rimfire bores are several thousandths larger than air rifle bores, and don’t fit pellets very well.
The spring tube, end cap, baseblock and cocking link are all custom-made parts. Steve told me he reckoned he put $600-700 1980′s dollars into making this one rifle. The wood stock came from an HW80. It was opened up to receive the 40-thousandths-larger spring tube. The forward stock screws are very close to the end of the forearm. Look closely at the first photo, and you’ll see they had to be moved forward almost an inch.
The sights are stock Weihrauch items, the same as come on an R1. There is no provision for mounting a scope. The entire rifle is plated with Armaloy, a tough material used on tactical handguns. It is said to resist wear and to be self-lubricating.
The trigger is a Rekord, which was very popular back in the 1980s. Vissage would have been able to get one easily, since they had been on the HW35 for at least 20 years at that time. This is a good place to reflect that he used the factory trigger and sights instead of inventing his own. By this point in the project, he’d sunk a lot of money into this rifle, and inventing a whole new trigger would have cost him more than all he had spent to this point. Don’t forget that all the internal parts – the piston and mainspring, for instance, have to be made from scratch, because the entire rifle has different dimensions than a standard R1.
Speaking of different dimensions, how does Vissage get a stock Rekord trigger to line up with the piston hook if all the internal dimensions are different? Details like that are always overlooked when guys talk about airguns; but, when you actually build one, you want to cock it!
I disassembled this rifle to examine the innards. I also tested it before and after disassembly. Next time, we’ll look deeper into the Vissage SS-1.
by B.B. Pelletier
Let’s take a look at the velocity of the new .22-caliber Evanix Renegade pistol. As we do, pay attention to how I adjust the fill level as I go. This is a classic demonstration of why a PCP owner needs a chronograph.
Velocity with Crosman Premiers: single-action
Remember that this pistol, and all Renegades for that matter, will be more powerful in the single-action mode. That’s because the hammer has more inertia in this mode. I filled the pistol by hand pump to 3,200 psi and got the following from .22-caliber Crosman Premiers:
The average was 785 f.p.s., which is a muzzle energy of 19.57 foot pounds. The pellets were loose in the chambers and the straight drop of velocity leads me to suspect the Premier is not the pellet for this pistol.
Velocity with Crosman Premiers: double-action
I learned a lot from this test. First, a 3200 psi fill is WAY over the top for double-action work! The valve is partially locked a long time, as you can see by the rising velocities. Second, after this string, the gun was down to 1,500 psi, just like the rifle was! So, it needs a much lower fill to achieve top velocity – just like many of the first-generation Condors.
I won’t give you an average velocity, but I would limit my fill to 2800 psi after seeing this string. Maybe that would start the velocity at 719 f.p.s. I would then get 9 or 10 good shots that would average around 730 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 16.93 foot-pounds.
Velocity with Beeman Kodiaks: single-action
I filled the pistol to 3300 psi for the Beeman Kodiak pellets fired single-action. That gave the following string:
The average of that 8-shot string is 692 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 22.34 foot-pounds. I got perhaps one additional usable shot for the extra pressure, but only owners of Hill pumps and AirForce pumps (and Benjamin Discovery pumps) can go that high. That pressure will destroy an FX or Axsor pump.
Velocity with Beeman Kodiaks: double-action
I stopped the fill at 2800 psi for the double-action string. That gave these results:
I let the string go on longer to demonstrate how fast the velocity falls after you’re off the power curve. And, 2800 psi is still too much starting pressure for double-action work with this pistol. So, again, no average is given. A 2600 psi fill might net about 7-8 good shots. If we use 620 as the average, the gun produces 17.93 foot pounds.
Velocity with Eun Jins: single-action
In the Renegade rifle report, we saw that Eun Jin pellets are the best, and they continue to be so with this pistol. I filled to 3300 psi and got this string:
Once again, I let the string go longer than I felt was necessary to demonstrate how quickly the power drops off after the power curve is gone. I normally would have stopped after shot No. 7 if I were chronographing the shots, or stop after one cylinder if I were in the field. That’s easy to remember. Then I’d have an average of around 610 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 23.47 foot pounds. In a PISTOL!
Velocity with Eun Jins: double-action
This time I filled to only 2600 psi and got the following string:
I computed the average for this 9-shot string, and it was 551 f.p.s., which is a muzzle energy of 19.15 foot pounds. Not too shabby for a fast-shooting revolver.
What have we learned?
First, that powerful air pistols don’t get many shots. Their barrels are short for pneumatics and so are their reservoirs. Both conspire to limit the number of shots. Second, we see that the Renegade valve works the same way in both the rifle and pistol. For the record, you’ll shoot the gun single-action most of the time (for improved accuracy) and only resort to double-action for a fast follow-up shot.
Next, we’ll look at the accuracy.
by B.B. Pelletier
I get many questions about where to oil certain airguns, so this multi-part report will address all the places. This information has been written in owners’ manuals for some airguns but not for them all. Think of this as your universal tutorial.
Whether the gun pumps from the bottom, the side or has a rod coming straight out the front, they all need oil to seal their seals and internal o-rings. If I haven’t shot a gun in a month, it gets oiled the first time I pick it up. If I shoot it often, it gets oiled once a month.
What oil to use?
Use some form of petroleum oil for most multi-pumps unless the manual warns against it. Crosman Pellgunoil is 20-weight motor oil with no additives except an o-ring preservative, making it the perfect oil to use.
Vintage Benjamin guns
Some vintage Benjamins have a warning that says, “Do Not Oil” next to the air hole located near the muzzle of the gun. Benjamin recommends removing the pump rod and greasing the leather pump head with petroleum jelly. If you don’t want to do that, you can use oil, but the small hole where the warning is located is the air hole. Don’t plug it with grease or oily residue.
Oiling CO2 guns
Put a drop of oil (Pellgunoil is the best) on the tip of EACH NEW CARTRIDGE you pierce. The gas pressure will blow some of the oil through the gun, where it will get on the seals and o-rings. It is impossible to over-oil a gun, if you do it this way.
When I get a new CO2 gun and want to give it a huge shot of oil, I try to put the oil directly on the cartridge piercing mechanism. More than one drop can be put there and I usually give a new gun five drops or more. This is also helpful when oiling a vintage CO2 gun. It puts a lot of oil on the internal seals, which may have dried out.
Don’t forget AirSource and bulk-fill guns!
I always oil AirSource and bulk-fill CO2 guns this way. These guns shoot a lot more shots between fills than guns using 12-gram cartridges, and it’s good to have extra oil available for the seals. My own bulk-fill 10-meter pistol is now about 9 years old and has fired perhaps 30,000 shots, yet it still seals well because I oil it with every fill.
Here are some topics I will cover in this series in the future:
- How to oil a spring-piston gun:
- Underlever and sidelever
- How to oil a BB gun
- How to oil a single-stroke pneumatic
- Should you oil a precharged pneumatic?
- Oiling airguns for lubrication, not sealing
Have I missed anything?
by B.B. Pelletier
One of our blog readers apparently doesn’t know how to leave comments on the blog, so he emailed them to Pyramyd Air. If he is reading, the way comments are left is by clicking on the Post a Comment found at the bottom of the comments for each blog report. To get to the Comments section, click on the (number of) Comments at the bottom of each blog report. If there are no comments, each new blog has the Post a Comment at the bottom of the blog, itself. That brings up a window in which you write your comment and then scroll down and submit it. If possible, give yourself a name, so I can respond to you by name, and try to remember which blog entry you asked your question on. I see all the questions, but if you don’t remember, you’ll never find my answer. On some blog entries there are now over 200 comments, and in the comments window you have to also click on “Newest” at the top of the comments window to see your comment and my answer.
Just this once I will address his question without him commenting. Marc Wasserman asks if I’m going to ever do the additional report I mentioned in the third part of the Ruger AirHawk report – where I said I wanted to look at the trigger further. Well, Marc, you caught me! I’d forgotten about that promise until reading it today. I’ll look at the AirHawk, which I still have, and see what can be done.
Please don’t use this method as a means of bypassing the word verification that is required for every blog comment. Yes, it’s clumsy and buggy – but that’s Google, not Pyramyd Air. This blog is so popular that if we were to take that off we would be flooded by spams that I would have to delete.
Pyramyd Air Garage Sale
Many of you are interested in the Garage Sale Pyramyd Air held last weekend. Owner Joshua Ungier took some pictures and asked me to share them with you.
If you couldn’t make this sale, don’t forget Pyramyd Air will be at the Roanoke Airgun Expo on Friday and Saturday, October 24 & 25.
Today, I’ll look at the velocity of Wayne’s HW 55T. From examining and shooting the gun, I’m getting lots of indications that is was recently tuned, and perhaps hasn’t had time to break in, yet. The barrel latch is too stiff, like it was recently adjusted. And, the gun fires with just a “thunk.” A factory 55 would vibrate just a little, so I anticipate finding either black tar on the mainspring or a super-tight spring guide. Finally, I’ve spotted a lot of moly paste at the pivot point, but the factory uses only clear petroleum grease. So, that was added later. It all adds up to a recent tune.
You may remember that I reviewed the HW 55 SF I found at Little Rock for you. I thought I’d compare the velocity of that rifle against this one, just as a baseline of expectations. Here are the 4 reports on that gun.
I must say that I’m not pleased with the way this rifle performs right now. The barrel-locking latch is too stiff, as I noted, and there’s a dragging of the cocking shoe over the mainspring that, while normal on some tuned springers, is distracting nevertheless. I’ll see what can be done, if anything, when I go inside the rifle to examine the powerplant. I also don’t like the trigger setup. This is a special Rekord, and it’s capable of a very light release, yet this one is set up like an R1. Of all the Rekord triggers, the HW 55 trigger is special and deserves to be adjusted properly. I plan to make some adjustments, which I’ll describe for you in detail.
Velocity with Meisterkugeln
My HW 55 SF averaged 543 f.p.s. with RWS Meisterkugeln wadcutter target pellets. The spread was just 18 f.p.s., which is pretty good for a springer. This Tyrolean averages 516 f.p.s. with the same pellet and the spread is 27 f.p.s. That’s not too large, but it’s a clue the rifle is still breaking in, as is the slower velocity. The barrel latch may have something to do with this because the breech seal appears to be mashed pretty flat.
Velocity with RWS Hobbys
My 55 averaged 631 f.p.s. with RWS Hobbys with a spread of 38 f.p.s. That’s a little high, but at 10 meters you would never notice it. The Tyrolean averages 598 f.p.s. with the same pellet and exhibits a 40 f.p.s. spread. Not much difference except a little slower.
Velocity with Chinese blue-label target pellets
Back when I competed in 10-meter pistol, I found a Chinese target pellet that out-performed RWS R-10s and Beeman H&N Match pellets. They weigh a little less than H&N match pistol pellets, but since I don’t have enough of those for testing, I used this 7.6-grain substitute. They’re no longer available, so when my small stash is gone, I’ll have to find a new pellet. I got an average velocity of 598 f.p.s., with a spread of 21 f.p.s., the tightest of the test. The H&Ns gave an average of 622 with an extreme spread of 19 f.p.s. in my SF.
So, what did I learn?
A pre-tuneup test like this is a very helpful diagnostic for an airgunsmith. I now have a list of things to look for and several adjustments to be made. I’ll check to see if too much vibration-deadening grease has been applied to the mainspring. And, I’ll check the breech seal carefully. I’ll also adjust the trigger until it performs like I know a target Rekord can. And, I may adjust the barrel latch if it still seems too stiff when I get to it.
The next thing we’ll do is dive inside the rifle.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll test the Air Venturi Pro-Guide spring retainer in an RWS Diana 34 Panther – the same rifle that was used to test the new Leapers drooper base. This rifle has been broken in and used a lot in the time I’ve had it, so the powerplant should be ready to accept the new Pro-Guide system.
Installing the Pro Guide in the breakbarrel 34 was easier than installation in the RWS Diana 48 because there is no sidelever mechanism to remove. In fact, now that I’m familiar with how the T05 trigger comes apart, I find this action faster to strip than almost any other breakbarrel – even the easy Weihrauchs that have the screw-in end cap. I did not use any washers in this rifle – just the basic Pro Guide system as it comes.
Assembly is equally easy, though I must comment that the T05 trigger doesn’t want to cock after assembly. I had to really tug on the barrel to cock the rifle the first several times after putting it back together. Then, it settled in and became docile once more.
Though the spring tube of the 34 is a smaller diameter than the tube on the 48, the same Pro-Guide fits both rifles. It fits to the trigger instead of the inside diameter of the spring tube.
The transformation was incredible! Not that the 34 vibrated before the Pro-Guide, but after it was installed, the gun just went “Thunk!” To a greater extent than the 48 we tested, this rifle accepted the Pro-Guide willingly and thankfully – which is to say the firing behavior rivals the best tune job you can imagine. Only the Gamo Whisper with the gas spring conversion is as dead-calm as this rifle with the Pro-Guide.
Velocity with Kodiaks
Before the Pro-Guide installation, this rifle averaged 820 f.p.s. with Beeman Kodiaks (they were H&N Baracudas, but the same pellet). With the Pro-Guide, the average was 825 f.p.s., so a slight increase. That’s 16.02 foot-pounds. The spread was 21 f.p.s., from 816 to 837.
Velocity with Premier Lites
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets averaged 919 f.p.s. with the factory spring and 936 f.p.s. with the Pro-Guide. There was one anomalous shot that went 952 f.p.s.; otherwise the average would have been lower in the 930s. The spread was 926 to 952, and the average energy was 15.37 foot-pounds.
Velocity with Hobbys
The average with RWS Hobby pellets was 1021 f.p.s. before and after the Pro-Guide was installed. The spread was from 1008 to 1031 f.p.s., and the muzzle energy was 16.21 foot-pounds.
If you own an RWS Diana 34, get the Pro-Guide for your rifle the next time you need a tuneup. Or just get it now – I don’t think you’ll regret it. The firing behavior becomes so smooth and positive that it’s a different rifle. This is an option that is even worth installing on a brand new rifle if you want smooth operation.
by B.B. Pelletier
Hot on the heels of the Renegade rifle test, I’m now testing the Renegade pistol. In the photo, the pistol may appear normal size, but looks are deceiving. This is a very large air pistol. That said, it isn’t any larger than the Falcon, Daystate or Air Arms PCP pistols that have sold over the past 15 years. To work at all efficiently, a pneumatic pistol needs some size for barrel length (to achieve acceleration of the pellet) and for reservoir capacity.
Because there may be some crossover interest in other Renegade guns, I’m giving you the links to all five reports for the rifle.
The Renegade system is new to Evanix airguns, which until now have been the latest versions of the AR6 family of Korean pneumatic rifles and its associated relatives. The Renegade is a departure because, for the first time, the double-action trigger-pull is feasible to use. That means you get up to 6 quick shots by just pulling the trigger. How fast they happen is up to you.
Precharged air pistols have not been plentiful up until now, and the few that existed were nearly always very expensive – as in $700 and more. There has been an AR6 air pistol for at least the past 8 years, but for a long time it was based on the rifle and was little more than a cut-down carbine. On the plus side, it developed 50 foot-pounds. On the minus, it was as large as a small carbine. The current AR6 pistol looks very similar to the Renegade, with the difference being it is a little more powerful but doesn’t have the double-action facility.
The Renegade pistol is sized as a real pistol, weighing a trifle over 3 lbs. without sights. The grip is sized for the average hand, though shooters having larger hands should find it handy because there is an abundance of gripping surface. Your fingers have places to go if they wrap around farther than average.
You cannot fault this pistol for looks! The wood stock is finely crafted of light walnut with panels of fine checkering on either side of the grip. There are scalloped finger grooves on the front of the grip. The triggerguard is formed from the wood in a single piece, adding style to an attractive piece. All metal parts are polished and deeply blued in the equal of a good European finish. This is an airgun of which to be proud.
As with the rifle, the trigger doesn’t work properly until the rifle is pressurized. Since that is the state in which you should always maintain it, you won’t notice anything except when the pistol is brand new or has just been received from a common carrier.
If you want to fill from a hand pump when the gun is empty, the hammer must be cocked first. Always put the safety on when you do this; and, for extra safety, remove the cylinder. Without the cylinder, the pistol cannot shoot anything but air.
The air intake port is at the front of the pistol under the free-floated barrel. It has a captive cover that simply has to be rotated open when you want to insert the fill probe.
There are no sights on the pistol, so either a scope or dot sight must be added. This is one time you will want to use a real pistol scope for the added eye relief. I don’t have one, so I plan to use the Leapers UTG Tactedge 4×40 scope, whose long-eye relief will at least let me hold the gun 5″ from my eye. The pistol has a conventional 11mm dovetail on top of the aluminum receiver, and of course recoil is not a problem.
No shooting in this report, but let’s all get ready for it. This is an air pistol, so it’s not going to get a large number of powerful shots. Because of the small reservoir and short 10″ barrel (short compared to a rifle, that is), it will either get a few powerful shots or many low-powered ones. Knowing where this one came from, I’m pretty sure it will get fewer more powerful shots. The specs say 841 f.p.s. in .22 caliber with a 14-grain pellet. We’ll compare our stats with theirs, plus I think we’ll see a difference between single-action and double-action power. I’ll document that, as well.
This pistol is meant for hunting, pure and simple. It’s not for target shooting, and no formal air pistol sport will tolerate power like this Renegade delivers, but it’s perfect for hunters. So, once again, the goal will be long-range accuracy.
This should be interesting!
by B.B. Pelletier
First order of business: the Pyramyd Air Garage Sale was a huge success! Both days were active and the sales were so good that Pyramyd Air wants to do this again twice a year. Saturday was busier than Sunday and the next time they say they will hold it Friday and Saturday. People came in from Canada, New York and Missouri…among other places. There are nice hotels close by, so fly-ins are accommodated well. Not knowing what to expect, Pyramyd was overwhelmed on Saturday for a while. Next time, they’ll plan for a big crowd. I’ll keep you informed.
Next…if you missed this sale but plan to attend the Roanoke Airgun Expo on October 24 & 25, Pyramyd Air will have tables there, as well. That’s on Friday and Saturday. For added incentive to come, there’s a regular gun show in the same Roanoke Civic Center where the airgun show will be held (but in a different hall). The gun show starts on Saturday.
This is the largest airgun show in the world and usually has over 120 tables of rare and vintage guns as well as modern guns from dealers like Pyramyd Air. Each day is unique. On Friday, the long-distance buyers are there in force; on Saturday, the locals stream in. On Saturday the firearm show attendees can come to the airgun show for free, and that definitely bumps the attendence. I’ll have a table there, too, so please stop by to say hi.
Well, last Friday’s blog hit a nerve with some of you. Apparently I’m not alone in wanting more quality in airguns. I have to say that I’m impressed with how well many of you understand the market. You don’t fall for that “build a better mousetrap” pablum. Keep submitting your comments on that blog, and I’ll summarize them for you at some point.
Ironically, today I continue the test of the Air Venturi Avenger 1100. This test was most enlightening.
I’ve now tested three Mendoza pellet rifles – the RM-200, RM-2000 and RM-2800. The Avenger is the fourth Mendoza. In the last test of the RM-2800, I experienced wild velocity swings and no shot was up to the advertised velocity. I stopped the test after that, rather than continue on with a rifle that varied by over 200 f.p.s. Well, the Avenger 1100 did the same thing! Let me share my results with you.
Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers
From the start, the Crosman 7.9-grain Premiers exhibited signs of being inappropriate for this rifle. They fit the bore too loosely, which probably caused several detonations I experienced in 4 shots. The velocity ranged from 612 f.p.s. to 892 f.p.s. – a range of 190 f.p.s. There were several sharp detonations that spewed fire out the muzzle, so I stopped testing after the fourth shot.
Next, I shot the 8.4-grain JSB Exact domed pellet. I thought a pure lead pellet like this would fill the bore better and stop the detonations, but in only three shots I could see I was mistaken. Like the Permiers, these JSBs also fit the bore very loosely. The velocity for the three shots was 724 f.p.s., 794 f.p.s. and 820 f.p.s. A final detonation that shot flames from the muzzle caused me to stop testing this pellet.
Air Arms domes
The next pellet I tried was the Air Arms 8.44-grain domed pellet. Weighing almost exactly the same as the JSB it should have performed the same, but I noticed it fit the bore a little better. No matter, however, because in just 4 shots the velocity ranged from 734 f.p.s to 843 f.p.s. Detonations again!
Mendoza solid skirt pellets
I figured it was time to use Mendoza’s own pellets on the off-chance they might be better-suited to the rifle. These are hollowpoints that have a solid skirt, so there’s no possibility for flaring. I thought that might stop the detonations, because the pellet, which fit the bore of the rifle best of all up to this point, would also stand up to the explosions behind it. The gun still detonated, but I hung in for 8 shots. Velocity for this 8.4-grain pellet ranged from 769 f.p.s. to 944 f.p.s., and there was another flame-producing detonation.
Crosman Silver Eagle hollowpoints
As long as I was detonating, I figured the velocity with this speed champion (Crosman Silver Eagle hollowpoint) would be dramatic, and it was. I went from a low of 1052 to a high of 1427 f.p.s. with a flame-producing detonation. I stopped after shot three.
The rifle was detonating too much for good work, so I reckoned a heavier pellet might calm it down. Crosman 10.5-grain Premiers were selected for this because they fit the bore so well. They stopped all but 2 detonations in a total of 10 shots…the first string of 10 I was able to get with the rifle. Velocity ranged from 489 f.p.s. to 923 f.p.s. – a span of 434 f.p.s. So, although the detonations stopped (or at least slowed down), the gun still dieseled pretty bad.
I can’t tell much from this test, except that the Avenger 1000 I’m testing wants to diesel and even detonate with every pellet it shoots. Also, though the velocity of 1100 f.p.s ., can be reached with non-lead trick pellets, no lead pellet will go that fast.
Reader K. Rihanek didn’t see how a plastic end cap could stop the setback of the scope mount, so I promised him I’d show a picture of it. Wayne talked about the rifle’s lack of a baseblock, so I’m showing you that, as well.
I ended the test of the RM-2800 without accuracy testing because of wild velocity swings. Since I’ve read several favorable comments about this particular model, I’m going to proceed with accuracy testing next. Then, I’ll revisit velocity testing once again, to see if a greater number of shots through the powerplant have quieted it to any extent.