Archive for November 2008
by B.B. Pelletier
Today we’ll finish with spring guns. In Part 2, we learned how to oil the piston seal and breach seal on a springer; now it’s time to discuss all the other stuff.
What else is there?
How a gun is designed determines where it needs to be lubricated. A breakbarrel, for example, has fewer places to lube than a sidelever or underlever. But if you think in terms of friction, you should be able to figure out the lube points on any new gun, whether it comes with a manual or not.
The cocking effort must be transmitted through some kind of mechanism. In the Gat-type guns that have push-barrel cocking (The Crosman M1 Carbine, for example), the mechanism is greatly simplified, and the need for lubrication is reduced. Still, they have surfaces in contact with one another as the barrel slides back to cock the gun. Those need some kind of lube. Oil is probably better than grease because Gat guns have a long run of close tolerances, and you don’t want the lube to gum up the action.
The Crosman M1 Carbine is a BB gun that cocks like a Gat.
A breakbarrel, in contrast, has only the pivot bolt, the sides of the breech or base block and the parts of the cocking link that need lube. For them, the load factor is higher, and a tough grease that won’t break down or run off when hot is the way to go. I use Beeman’s M2M moly grease for this part of the gun, and so do a lot of tuners. The moly particles bond with the metal surfaces they come in contact with, and they provide lube long after the grease is gone.
When the sliding cocking link is installed, it keeps the piston from rotating. It’s also lubed with moly.
For underlevers and sidelevers, a lever takes the place of the barrel and the need for lube remains the same. Find the spots where the pivot points are located and lubricate every surface that touches.
I’ve seen just the basic lube job I described above reduce the cocking effort by several pounds. Of course, the gun that did respond so well was in dire need of lubricant. Most guns won’t be in that shape, and a lube job will not have as dramatic an effect.
Here I have to burst some bubbles, as there has been a great disservice done to airgunners for the past 40 years. I’m speaking about oiling the mainspring of a gun. The disservice is the fact that oil isn’t normally the right lube to use on a mainspring. It is, however, the easiest lube to apply, which is why I think it has been pushed so hard. On many spring guns, there’s a cocking slot through which at least part of the mainspring can be see once the gun is out of the stock, so airgun dealers have told shooters they should apply oil through that slot.
But oiling isn’t enough for most mainsprings. They need grease, and the only way to do the job right is to disassemble the action and apply the grease directly to the spring. Sorry, folks, but that’s a fact. This is especially true for the modern magnum springers. Oiling just doesn’t get it, but it’s easy and shooters feels they’ve done their part when they do it.
With guns that shoot under 12 foot-pounds and have leather piston seals, I like to see a medium-weight grease used–something lithium-based, perhaps. For all others, I like the more viscous greases that don’t fling off–the black tars, if you will. How much you use depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. You may remember that I recently tuned an HW55 with just a kiss of black tar. It sped up the gun without bringing any vibration into the operation. That’s about as perfect as you can hope for.
Nothing responds to a lube job as much as a cheap trigger. And an expensive one barely changes at all, if you even notice it. There are triggers that become unsafe with lubrication. Those found on BSF rifles and pistols come to mind. I lube my triggers with Beeman M2M moly grease. Dr. Beeman once wrote that moly was too slippery for triggers, but I found that only the unsafe triggers had a problem. You shouldn’t lubricate them at all.
Well, that’s it for lubricating airguns. I’ve covered CO2 guns, pneumatics and now spring guns. Remember that it’s usually best to lube less than more, with the exception of Pellgunoil on pump piston heads and CO2 cartridges. There, it’s impossible for a reasonable person to use too much oil.
by B.B. Pelletier
In the first report, I told you this sight set is the Edge sight set, but that was incorrect. The front sight in this set is not the same sight that’s on the Edge rifle, though the two look similar at first glance. How they differ is the subject of today’s report.
The photograph on the Pyramyd Air web page is one of the actual front sight used on the Edge. What I’m showing you here is a pre-production prototype that will become the front sight of the set when it’s released by AirForce in a week or two. After today’s blog, you’ll understand why the difference is important.
I also tricked you when I showed you the photo of the front sight in the first report. It was turned backwards, so you couldn’t see what makes it special.
Here are three pictures that are worth a thousand words.
These three pictures portray the broad range of adjustability found in this front sight. You’ll notice that not only can the globe be raised and lowered on the long post at the side, the plate that carries the globe also has grooves that allow it to be positioned high and low on the plate. Plus, the plate can be turned sideways for more mounting options. And, as I show in the last picture, the plate can be swapped to the other side of the sight, where all the elevation possibilities are also available.
For all these globe locations, the aperture will remain centered over the barrel. You can adjust the globe up or down to fit any gun you put it on. Don’t be fooled by the offset split in the sight base–the center of the globe is directly above the center of the 11mm base.
The transparent aperture is a proprietary AirForce size. They will offer different apertures, as well as a set of graduated sizes as an option.
What does it fit?
To use this sight, your rifle must have dovetails set 11mm apart. Just because there are dovetails on the muzzle of your gun, don’t assume they’re 11mm apart, because many are not–especially on sporting rifles. The dedicated target rifles, however, often do have 11mm front sight bases, but always check before you buy.
What about the Edge?
I told you that this sight is not the one that comes on the new Edge target rifle. The reason is the Edge is always set up the same way, so its front sight doesn’t need to adjust up and down. This sight is made for rifles other than the Edge, where the correct sight height will have to be established.
In the next report, I’ll look at the rear aperture sight.
by B.B. Pelletier
The first step was to mount the scope that comes with the rifle. It’s a 3-9×32 that has no parallax adjustment, so whenever you shoot closer than about 25 yards you dial the magnification down until the image becomes clear. The scope comes already inserted in one-inch rings, so all you have to do is mount the rings on the base that’s on the spring tube of the rifle.
The scope rings are already installed on the scope. The bases have no scope stop, but you can use the stop on the rifle base.
The rifle base is a strangely notched 11mm dovetail. It would seem that these notches have a purpose, but they don’t work with any scope mounts we know of. The scope stop plate is a plain plate screwed into the top rear of the base.
The scope mounted with the reticle aligned correctly and the rings attached with slotted thumbscrews, so the job was quickly finished. Use a coin to tighten the thumbscrews.
I knew from testing the Walther Falcon Hunter that this rifle doesn’t respond to the artillery hold. This one wants to be held firmly, like a deer rifle. My range was 21 yards and I began the test with Beeman Kodiak pellets. The rifle was on paper in three shots, and the scope adjusted fine. The optics were not as clear as I would like, but you can always upgrade the scope later.
Kodiaks settled into a 3/4″ group. The rifle wants to be held firm into the shoulder and a firm grasp on the forearm, and then it will become very predictable. I also tried Crosman Premier 10.5-grain heavies, but they didn’t group as tight as Kodiaks.
A typical group of Beeman Kodiaks looked like this at 21 yards.
As I shot, two things became clear. First, the trigger was getting smoother very fast. I could actually sense it becoming smoother as I shot, so it probably won’t take but about 500 shots to break in all the way. The second observation is that the scope mount screws need constant attention. They loosen from the harsh vibration of each shot.
I tightened the stock screws just once and was surprised to find that the forearm screws have a LEFT-HAND TWIST! The triggerguard screws are right-hand.
RWS FTS pellets
I also tried RWS FTS pellets. They’re an older domed pellet that weighs 10.5 grains. But they weren’t even on the paper at 21 yards, and since the other pellets were, I didn’t adjust the scope to get them on.
JSB 8.4-grain domed pellets may be best
I ended the test with JSB Exact 8.4-grain domed pellets. They grouped about the same as Kodiaks, on average, but one group was tantalizingly tight.
JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets grouped about the same as Kodiaks at 21 yards.
This one group of JSBs was much tighter than the rest. I don’t know what caused it, but with more testing this may prove to be the best pellet for this rifle.
The bottom line
Some of you have to shoot a .177 caliber rifle because of legal reasons. If that’s the case, this one’s a real bruiser. But if you can shoot a .22 or .25, I would go with the .22 caliber Walther Falcon Hunter. I say that because there are more good .22 caliber pellets available than there are .25s, and they’re less expensive. And the .22 produces so much more energy than the .177 in a powerful spring rifle like this.
But if you’re going to hunt with a .177 breakbarrel, this one offers a lot of value for a very low price.
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s a link to Pyramyd Air’s official Gift Guide.
Sorry to rush things, but tempus fugit. Today’s post will include some airguns.
For those who are not familiar with these guns, here are a few pointers.
1. For target practice, the velocity can be very low–350 f.p.s. is all that’s needed.
2. None of these airguns are recommended for hunting, but a few that get up to 750 f.p.s. have limited use in pest elimination.
3. BB guns such as the Red Ryder and the Crosman 760 shoot steel BBs that bounce back from hard targets. Be sure to get safety glasses for everyone who will be in the vicinity of the shooter. Get a good BB trap that will stop the BBs without letting them bounce back. Lead pellets do not bounce back, but they still require a good pellet trap for safe shooting.
4. In this price range, the CO2 guns will not last as long as more expensive CO2 guns. The most reliable guns are the spring-piston BB guns like the Red Ryder.
Beeman swinging silhouettes
Gamo 50″ padded rifle case Fits a longer scoped air rifle up to 49″.
Plano rifle case, single scoped Fits a single scope rifle up to 52″ long. Hard case.
Blue Book of Airguns 7th Edition Every airgunner needs this book.
Daisy pellet trap Perfect for low-velocity pellet guns that don’t shoot faster than 650 f.p.s. Not for steel BBs.
Next week, I will do a guide for gifts of $100 and under and the last guide will be for gifts of all prices.
by B.B. Pelletier
The Wildlife Ranch puts you up for a night, so there are no room rents but you’re on your own for food. Fortunately, the town of Mason has several nice restaurants, as well as a small grocery store. We were in town during the height of deer season, which runs all November and December, and everywhere we went we ran into other hunting parties hunting on different ranches. The signs in every building in town told us that hunting is the principal industry in this central Texas community.
The morning of the hunt dawned with the threat of a thunderstorm. By the time we arrived at the ranch to pick up our guide, it was 6:45 and the heavens finally opened, delaying our start for an hour. Not that we might melt in the rain, but a Texas thunderstorm is not weather in which you want to be walking outside. So, it was about 8 a.m. when we finally reached the hunting grounds.
Eric ran his gas-powered compressor to fill a pony bottle to 4500 psi, which gave him three refills of air for the hunt. We would be hunting several miles from the trucks, so this is like carrying extra cartridges for a firearm.
We initially stalked a herd of Sitka deer, but after more than an hour and a couple failed stalks, they ran into a huge open field where we lost all chance of getting close.
Going through the country, we came upon several places where coyotes had finished an animal and left the remains to be picked clean.
Eric decided to finally go after the aoudad ram he’s been wanting. Also known as the Barbary sheep, the aoudad is the most elusive animal at the Texas Wildlife Ranch. They live in the high rocks that offer them good visibility of any approach, and they spook easily. Getting to within airgun range or under 100 yards was going to be an ordeal.
Why a hundred yards, when I already told you Eric had bagged a goat two days before at 147 yards? Well, the aoudad is several times the size of the goats Eric bagged. They can weigh 225 to 300+ lbs. and are tough as nails. It takes not only great power to drop one but a perfect shot in the boiler room, which is the heart-lung area. Eric’s Quackenbush .308 is simply not enough gun for this game. It can drop a whitetail deer, but not an aoudad.
So, he was hunting with a Quackenbush Outlaw .457 Long Action, a 550 foot-pound rifle. He scaled back to a light 300-grain bullet to get a flatter trajectory, but that was as far as he dared to go. And that combination gave him a 100-yard rifle. However, with some careful movement through the high rocks that are this sheep’s natural habitat, he was able to get closer.
Three times he stalked the animal, and three times the game bolted before he could take the shot. Our team of four plus the guide probably walked two miles through the high rocks before a good shot was possible. But when it came down to business, one was all it took!
We broke for lunch after Eric’s successful hunt. A drive into Mason landed us at the local pit beef barbecue place for our maximum daily ration of cholesterol. Then, back to the ranch to meet Richard, our guide for the second hunt.
This time, Paul Capello was the hunter and Eric armed him with the Quackenbush .457 Destroyer. He chose .457 Hornady round balls because Paul’s intended animal was a Merino sheep–a little smaller and less secretive than the aoudad.
When we unloaded in the hunt tract, we immediately saw small herds of different exotics roaming in the field. We were on a tract in which the animals would cost either $185 or $300, depending on the size and horn development. The Merino sheep is widely regarded as having the finest and softest wool in the world, as many sweaters and high-grade mattress pads can attest. They’re pure white, though in the wild they get covered with dirt and look dingy gray.
We walked about a quarter-mile into the tract before spotting a pair of Merinos that looked interesting to Paul. It took two stalks in the 85-degree heat of the Texas sun before he got to a good spot, but all was not well with the sheep. The two males were standing side by side, and one shot would have taken them both, so Paul had to wait for them to separate. It took several minutes before the larger of the pair decided to walk off on his own, giving Paul a good shot at about 40 yards. Remember, he was shooting with open sights.
His first shot was right through the boiler room, as we learned later, but the animal didn’t fall. This is characteristic of hunting with a big bore and it’s very similar to bow hunting. After waiting several seconds, the animal became wobbly, so Paul put a second ball through him within two inches of the first one. That knocked him over, and it was quiet shortly thereafter. Both balls completely penetrated the sheep and were lost, but a fragment of one was embedded behind a rib, where it had become lodged on its way out.
Eric’s aoudad is a $3,500 trophy–highly sought-after by hunters around the world. Paul’s Merino was $300. Prices at the Wildlife Ranch start at $185 for smaller animals and go up to $4,000 for a trophy bison. A whitetail deer trophy runs a flat $1,500. Compare that to paying a minimum of $2,500 a year for a deer lease, which brings additional expenses and no guarantee of success. Texas has almost no public land on which to hunt, so these are the best options for most hunters. Having lived in Washington state, Maryland, Kentucky and Ohio, where public hunting is free and plentiful, I know how absurd that sounds. After living in Texas for five years, I also know it’s the truth.
For those of you who don’t live in Texas, exotic game ranches are a huge boon, because you can fly in, hunt and fly back home. The trophy and any taxidermy can be shipped to you later, and the meat can be frozen for shipment, as well. Many hunters choose to let the meat be donated to one of several local food kitchens, so nothing goes to waste.
Remember, this was a blog about hunting game with a big bore airgun. No state has yet enacted legislation to allow big bore hunting, so this is one very viable option. When you buy that Career Dragon Slayer, you can start dreaming of your own big bore hunt.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll put the HW55 back together (finally!) and see how well it performs. You’ll recall that I cleaned, adjusted and lubricated the trigger in the last report. This will be the first time I’ve been able to examine the job with the rifle in the stock. That makes a huge difference in the feel.
You may also recall that I had a choice of mainsprings to try. In part 5 of the report, I talked about how to measure a mainspring before fitting it to the rifle. Well, I was surprised this time. The spring I chose was so close to the internal dimensions that, when it compressed, it became too large to fit and the rifle could not be cocked. The length was never an issue because I couldn’t break the barrel far enough to cock it anyway. My initial plan was to remove coils to get the right length, but that didn’t take the width of the compressed spring into account. On to plan B.
Plan B was to use a smaller spring that would certainly fit the rifle. And it did. In fact, it’s a much better fit than I had hoped to get. It’s only slightly smaller than the mainspring I took out of the rifle. I put just a kiss of black tar on the coils to dampen any vibration–so little that the spring now looks dirty rather than black. That’s going to give the max power the spring can generate, so let’s hope it has what it takes.
The spring guide is Delrin, a self-lubricating hard synthetic often called engineering plastic. That’s a modern change from the steel guide the 55 came with; being self-lubricating, it offers maximum velocity without lubricants. It fits the spring very snugly, so all hint of vibration is gone from that part of the gun.
The new spring expands to take up the entire inner space inside the piston, so another vibration cause is gone. When the rifle fires, the spring goes back to its almost uncompressed diameter. That’s where the hint of black tar should come in.
The piston seal got a coat of Beeman Metal-2-Metal moly paste. Some of that will burn off with the first hundred shots, but it will also burnish into the compression chamber walls where it’ll provide lubrication for many years to come. The last tuner did the same thing, so this gun is probably lubricated for at least the next 10 years. No chamber oil is required. The piston seal fits the chamber very tightly, so compression should remain at its peak for all that time.
This tune will either work well or not, and the only way to tell is to button up the rifle and shoot it. So that’s what I did. And the first shot was very satisfying. The gun is now a bona fide HW55! There’s no vibration and the trigger breaks as crisp as a glass rod snapping.
I found that the locking lever had been adjusted as loose as possible, but the mechanism was very dry so I lubricated it. That reduced the required effort to unlock the barrel a little, but not as much as I would have preferred. The rifle is still too new and needs a few thousand shots to wear in. The breech seal is in perfect shape and is sealing the barrel exactly as intended.
Cocking is still light and smooth, though the barrel does have to be pressed all the way back for the trigger to catch the sear. On the closing motion, the dreadful “ratchet-y” drag of the cocking arm over the mainspring has been reduced about 80 percent. You can still detect it, but it’s a world better than before.
The trigger is HW55-fabulous! I adjusted it to about 14 ozs. That’s heavy for a pure target rifle, but good for use by non-target shooters. It still takes getting used to, but it isn’t dangerous.
Velocity with Meisterkugelns
Before the tune, the rifle averaged 516 f.p.s. with RWS Meisterkugeln pellets. The extreme spread for 10 shots was 27 f.p.s. After the tune, it averages 546 f.p.s. with an extreme spread of 15 f.p.s. Slightly faster and considerably more uniform.
Velocity with RWS Hobbys
Before the tune, the Tyrolean averaged 598 f.p.s. with RWS Hobby pellets, and the extreme spread for 10 shots was 40 f.p.s. After the tune, it averages 631 f.p.s. with a spread of 15 f.p.s.
Velocity with blue-label target pellets
Before the tune, the rifle averaged 598 f.p.s. with the Chinese-made target pellets I use for air pistol competition The spread was 21 f.p.s. After the tune, it averages 633 f.p.s. with a spread of 19 f.p.s.
In summary, the tuneup turned out very well. The barrel lock still needs to be worked-in and there ‘s still some drag on the closing stroke, but this rifle has taken a new lease on life. I wouldn’t think of opening it again for at least a decade and maybe longer if it holds up.
I’m going to use the rifle for one more test of the new AirForce aperture sight.
by B.B. Pelletier
Here’s a link to Pyramyd Air’s official Gift Guide.
A reader asked for this about a month ago, and it’s time I got started. I’m breaking this into price points so gift-givers can choose their limits. The way this works is you send your relatives and friends to this page, and I point them to things I think airgunners might enjoy. Each item will be linked, but as we get closer to Christmas, Pyramyd Air will run out of many things, so have a fallback plan in place.
Note to the gift-giver
The things in these Gift Guide blogs are my choices for airgunners. Please ask your favorite airgunner to point you in the right direction, so I don’t steer you wrong. I’m doing this because I know how difficult it can be to find a gift for someone with a specialized interest like airguns.
First, ask your airgunner what caliber or calibers of airguns they shoot. Pellets come in many calibers, but the most common smallbore calibers are .177, .20 (which is also called 5mm), .22 and .25. I will only name those pellets I feel are the very best for each caliber.
JSB Exact Diabolo Heavy pellets (10.2 grains) My top pick.
JSB Exact Diabolo pellets (8.4 grains)
Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy pellets (10.6 grains)
Crosman Premier Heavy pellets (10.5 grains)For pneumatics and CO2 guns
Crosman Premier pellets (7.9 grains) For spring guns.
RWS Hobby pellets (7 grains)
JSB Exact Jumbo pellets (15.8 grains) My top pick in this caliber.
JSB Exact Jumbo Express pellets (14.3 grains)
Crosman Premier pellets (14.3 grains) A close replacement for JSB pellets.
Beeman Kodiak Extra heavy pellets (20.1grains) Better in guns producing over 20 foot-pounds of energy.
RWS Hobby pellets (11.9 grains)
Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy pellets (30.7 grains) My one and only pick in this caliber.
Don’t overlook Pyramyd Air’s “Get the fourth tin free” offer. If you buy 4 tins or packages of smallbore pellets (the calibers above), they’ll give you the least expensive package or tin in your order for free. That offer extends to multiples of 4 tins, so if you buy 8 tins, 2 will be free. You have to put the 4th tin in your shopping cart, and the money will be subtracted when the order is placed.
There are a few BB guns available for less than $25:
There are also some airsoft guns that I can recommend in this price category. Airsoft guns shoot 6mm plastic balls that the Asian manufacturers call BBs. They’re not the steel BBs that American-made BB guns use. These plastic BBs are both larger in diameter and lighter in weight than steel BBs, so they don’t have the same potential for injury if they strike a person. Nevertheless, Pyramyd Air does not recommend or condone shooting any gun at a person or animal, except in the specialized practice of hunting and pest elimination. Parents must be warned that airsoft guns can produce serious injuries and should not be given to young children to shoot without supervision.
The guns I’m selected are the best in their price class and will give decent service. Don’t expect them to last like a higher-quality airgun.
Airsoft 904 by UHC Buy any brand of 0.12-gram BB for this gun (click on the “Ammo” link in the description). The same holds true for all the recommendations that follow.
I’m giving you a link to the airsoft spring pistol page because there are other models in this price category that might suit you better. At this price, you are going to be able to purchase only spring guns, which is where that link takes you.
There are a few long guns in this category, but I didn’t recommend them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t good. I just don’t have any experience with them.
Other things for under $25
This is my list of other items that are priced under $25. There are too many items for me to get them all, so this is just a smattering.
Crosman Airsoft Target For use with airsoft guns ONLY.
Crosman Auto-Reset Electric Airsoft Target For use with airsoft guns ONLY.
Cybergun Magic Sticky Target For use with airsoft guns ONLY.
Gamo Squirrel Field Target For shooters who want to try their hand at field target.
CO2 cartridges For shooters who need CO2 cartridges for their guns.
Crosman Pellgunoil The perfect stocking-stuffer. Most airgunners need this stuff and always forget to buy it.
American Air Rifles A great book for all airgunners.
Ballistol Another stocking-stuffer every airgunner needs.
Beeman M-2-M Moly Paste The slickest grease known. This stuff is messy, so get some Lava soap for the mud room to go with it.
Crosman clear adjustable safety glasses Every airgunner needs to wear a pair of these when shooting or when standing near shooters.
That’s my list for under $25. In the near future, I’ll also produce lists for under $50, under $100 and unlimited prices.