The AirForce Condor – Part 4 Micro-Meter tank

Andreas – this is for you!

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

When I started this series on the AirForce Condor, it quickly became apparent that our readers have a lot of questions about this rifle. I tried to answer those questions in the series, but as soon as I answered two, you asked me three more. There are two that are still unanswered, so today I want to get to one of them.

Andreas from Cyprus asked this question many months ago. I thought I could get to it quickly, but some problems delayed me until now. AirForce was out of 24″ .177 cal. barrels and I don’t own one. I had to wait for them to arrive and be processed before I could borrow one for this test. Andreas joined the military for two years just last week, so he may not get to read this report for some time, but I still want to do it now, just in case he can get to a computer that connects to the internet.

Andreas told us that in Cyprus only .177 caliber is legal to own, so even though he wanted a Condor, it had to be a .177. He wanted lots of shots for hunting small birds, and the Condor isn’t really made for that. It gets about 20 shots on full power and perhaps 40 shots on reduced power, so one of our readers suggested that he buy the CO2 version of the gun that gets several hundred shots per tank. Well, it turns out that CO2 is also illegal on Cyprus! That left only the Micro-Meter tank with the special low-flow air valve, if one of the goals was a high number of shots.

In the time, since he posted the question, Andreas revised his thinking and now believes a Talon SS with an optional 24″ barrel is probably more what he needs, but he asked me to do this test just the same.

How many shots can you get from an AirForce Condor in .177 caliber when using the Micro-Meter tank?

An unlikely pair
I doubt this test has ever been conducted, because it just isn’t in the mainstream of the technology. The Condor is capable of 65 foot-pounds in .22 caliber, which is its recognized forte. The MicroMeter valve is capable of giving lots of low-powered shots for indoor shooting and plinking in any caliber. Today, these two converge in a most unlikely test.

I’ll test the velocity difference between the power wheel on the lowest setting and the highest setting, and the velocity of a couple of heavy pellets on high power. I filled the Micro-Meter tank to 3,000 psi with a 12-year-old hand pump. It’s entirely possible to fill an AirForce tank from empty (I’ve done it many times), and hand pumps don’t have to break or wear out over time. There are two quick object lessons before we start shooting!

I cleaned the barrel in the recommended way with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound before testing. I used Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets for the bulk of the test. It really doesn’t make any difference what pellet is used, as long as it remains consistent throughout the test.


These are the recorded velocities for Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets for the first 63 shots. Those shot numbers with three zeros, like shot number one, were shots where the chronograph failed to record anything. Shot 34 is probably a Crosman 10.5-grain pellet that was loaded by mistake.

We learned several things
The table shows several things. First, the total number of shots seems to be less than 100 with the Condor powerplant. I stopped at shot 63 because the velocity dropped below 790 f.p.s., but anyone can draw the cutoff point anywhere they desire. Second, if we use an average velocity of 833 f.p.s., which was certainly available for the first 30 shots, the Condor produces 12.23 foot-pounds of energy with a 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. I expect that energy to rise slightly with a heavier pellet. The third thing we learned is that the power wheel does not control power when the Micro-Meter tank is used. So you might as well run the gun at the lowest setting. Finally, shot number 34 must have been pulled from a box of 10.5-grain Premiers that were sitting close to the 7.9s. In the second test you will see that’s a velocity more appropriate to that pellet.

A second look
After the first string of shots the pressure in the tank had dropped to 2,250, which is pretty standard for a Condor. I refilled it with the pump, and that took 112 pump strokes, for those who like to keep score. On the second string, I decided to test the heavy pellets to establish the rifle’s maximum power with the Micro-Meter tank.


The second string lasted six more shots before 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers dropped below 790 f.p.s. The numbers below 10.5 are for heavy Crosman Premiers and the numbers below 10.6 are for the Baracudas/Kodiaks.

String two has some slight differences from string one. First, it starts faster; second, it lasts longer. The differences are not large enough to concern us, but they do need some explanation. The first tank was stored overnight, then used the next morning, so there could have been a small pressure drop as the compressed air cooled. However, the tank was filled from a pump, so the temperature drop would not have been as large as if it had been filled from a scuba tank.

On the first string I adjusted the power to as high as it would go for 14 shots (shots 22 through 34). Although the velocity didn’t appear to increase on those shots, it is possible that more air was lost that way. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense, in light of the 24″ barrel and the velocities that were obtained. The only other explanation is that the gauge on the AirForce refill clamp may have read slightly wrong or I may have misread it on the two fills.

Don’t obsess over small inconsistencies like these, because you will always have them. However, the data are clear enough to catch obvious errors like shot number 34 on the first string. That one wasn’t a blip in the gun or tank – it was the wrong pellet.

How much power?
The 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers averaged 761 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 13.51 foot-pounds. The 10.6-grain H&N Baracudas (Beeman Kodiaks) averaged 769 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 13.92 foot-pounds. That’s seven-tenths of a foot-pound higher than with the 7.9-grain Premiers, so heavy pellets produce greater power in PCPs.

This much power
Andreas wanted to know if a Condor could be used to take small game when fitted with a Micro-Meter tank. I think this test proves that it can. He wanted a lot of shots. I thought we would see more, but the number we did get is quite useful. I don’t know when he will see this report he waited so long for, but Matt61, who loves to relate life to novels, will tell us why I feel like the main character in The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman, because I’m posting this for Andreas without knowing when he’ll read it.

The one Condor question that remains is one Mr. Experience has stated – that a Condor filled to 3,000 psi and set on a low power setting will soon float up to full power. Dr. G. agrees with him. This isn’t anything I’ve ever tested, so that will be my next look at the Condor.

43 thoughts on “The AirForce Condor – Part 4 Micro-Meter tank

  1. hi bb itried to comment on favourite airguns last friday but failed anyway im 72 and still shooting, have got back into airguns i recently found a 1954 webley 22 mk3 underlever in mint cond. i had one of these in 1951!a great gun. i have put a williams aperture sight on it and it is very accurate and a lot of fun. i also have an hw77 with a maccari spring etc,stunningly accurate, i will never outshoot either one! thanks for a great blog. mick in oz.


  2. Mick,

    I have had a couple Webley Mark IIIs, but never as old as the one you found. They are truly great air rifles! The HW 77 was my very first really accurate spring gun. I wish I still had it.

    B.B.


  3. BB,

    Your numbers certainly don’t appear to be inching that velocity upwards either as both Experience and Dr.G have commented previously. Just the opposite in fact. I’m really interested in what’s going on with some of the rifles they’ve encountered.

    Derrick


  4. hi bb, yes the hw77 is the best i will never sell this one! i have shot two rabbits, headshots,its a dream to shoot, so smooth, lewis of beeman australia did the job! i built a spring compressor from your directions works fine i do the webley myself i’m on the second spring already,due to dieselling wrong lube in chamber thanks to you i’m much wiser now. many thanks, mick in oz.


  5. I was wondering if there is a way to reduce the “sight over bore” of the Condor? Everything that I have read says that one should get tall rings for the scope but it looks to me like if one has a long enough scope the objective bell would be in front of the handle with the eyepiece still a reasonable distance from the shooters face. Why won’t that work? Does the tank get in the way of the shooters face?


  6. B.B.
    The numbers that you get show me that the extra long condor barrel simply does not increase velocity much when using a micro.After all, the micro works on a fixed volume of air that is going to run out of steam and provide very little velocity increase with increased barrel length.
    The valve comes full open and dumps the whole charge with the lowest power wheel setting on a Talon, so the Condor with it’s hammer weight is extreme overkill.
    There will never be an increase in power with a micro as the pressure runs down.
    I was getting 750 fps with the micro and JSB 8.4 gr. in my 12″ .177……and I only fill to 180 bar pressure. Seems that I shot the micro on the 18″ .177 and got in the mid 800′s.

    With all this in mind, why go to the extra length and weight of a Condor when the Talon or the SS is going to give you about all you are going to get with a micro in the first place?
    Twotalon


  7. Derrick,

    In fairness to both men, the Micro-Meter tank and valve is a different animal. It is restricted in a couple different ways from a power increase, so I don’t think it can count. That’s why I plan on testing the standard tank in another report.

    B.B.


  8. Mick,

    It’s been many years since I have spoken with Lewis Reinhold on the phone, but I’m glad to hear he did a good job for you. He is a great gentleman and a real torch-bearer for airguns Down Under.

    B.B.


  9. Sight height,

    The problem with all three AirForce airguns is their straight line. The butt is level with the bore. So using scope risers has nothing to do with clearing the gun – you could mount a 60mm objective lens in low mounts and still clear. The problem is shooters try to hold the rifle like a deer rifle, with the butt centered on their shoulder. If you do that, the scope will be too low for most shooters.

    I teach putting just the toe of the stock in the hollow of your shoulder, thus elevating the rifle about three inches. With my way, medium mounts work without risers.

    The feel takes some getting used to, and a lot of people say they can’t do it.

    B.B.


  10. B.B. run the test again with .22 cal and Beeman 21.1g Kodiaks. On the micro-meter tank what is the top hat setting? Is it safe to assume you DO NOT mess with it? I am about to throw my Condor in the river and run. Under the exact same conditions, my friends Condor shoots with full power from a 3K fill. Mine shoots weak. WEAK, till it drops to around 2500. We have the same guns (as much as two guns can be the same) and all variables that i can think of have been removed. Same scuba (two of them) tanks, same (two of them) gauges, same fill location, same pressures, shooting together so same temps, same pellets. We have compared our scuba clamps and the dive shops gauges and filled both bottles at the same time from the dive shop. I’m shooting over a chrony. I’ve played around with different settings on the top hat. I can open mine up to .099 and have his set to .070 and his will still smoke mine. We’re talking numbers like 650-700 fps compared to 950-1000fps, major difference. I’m sure i’ve forgot to mention some variables, but i bet i didn’t forget in the field. Suggestions B.B.? btw this gun is stock and has never been torn apart or modified. From SavageSam


  11. Twotalon,

    Like I said at the start of the report, this test is one that puts two vastly different components together – whether they should ever be together or not. Even Andreas eventually saw the futility of using a Condor this way. And by the way, you are exactly correct with your explanation of how the MM valve works. The air port that fills the valve is so small that only miniscule air can flow into it when the valve is open, so the velocity wouldn’t increase if you hit the tophat with a sledgehammer!

    And that brings up another interesting observation. Though it is a vastly different design, this is the same reason that Mr. Condor was so wrong to put a heavier striker in his Condor. He didn’t keep the valve open any longer. He just beat the valve stem and seat with a slide hammer that soon broke his gun.

    That’s why I rail so much at the hobbyists who advocate such things to others without knowing what they are doing. Sometimes they do hit a happy spot where things do work best, but that spot is located in the eye of a hurricane of troubles. When the next person attempts to experiment, using the new happy spot as their point of departure, they quickly get into trouble. I had to rebuild many guns for these people when bad things happened.

    You pointed out what the Micro-Meter tank experiment demonstrated, and I guess I hadn’t thought of it until I read your comments.

    B.B.


  12. Sam, Sam, Sam!

    Have you not listened to the discussion? If your gun becomes powerful at 2500 psi, then STOP FILLING IT PAST THAT POINT! For YOUR gun, 2500 is where you stop.

    The top hat on all new Condors is factory-adjusted to the point that the cocking handle will JUST fit into the locking notch. If you don’t put it in the notch, you lose velocity.

    The older Condor top hats were adjusted to 0.090″ by me. That was as far forward as we could put them and still be able to lock the cocking handle on all guns. But to get the last bit of performance from the gun, run the top hat as far out as it will go and still allow the cocking handle to lock in the notch.

    You asked me for suggestions. Here goes. Call AirForce and arrange to have your Condor valve upgraded to the new valve. They do it for free, I believe. You will not get any more velocity, but you will be able to fill to 3,000 psi.

    Right now you have the ideal gun. You get full Condor power at 2500 psi. So you get many more fills of your tank from a standard scuba tank than your buddy. Or are you saying that at 2500 psi, your gun is still hundreds of feet per second slower than your buddy’s gun?

    Leave the Micro-Meter tophat alone. It doesn’t affect velocity and it is set in the best place by the factory.

    B.B.


  13. Shadow express dude,
    BB, While I was squirrel hunting this very hot southern day, I nearly stepped on a copperhead. I got a head shot with my remington 77, but he just kept coming. I wipped out my 1088 and shot him 15 times with Crosman destroyer pellets. He finally deseased. Maybe you could do a trial to find the best all around hunting/defensive pistol(defensive implies that it be a repeater). Also recomend a good defensive ammo. Crosman should make a rival to the Winchester Black Talon.


  14. B.B.
    There is another point about the micro that I would like to make……
    Advertised shot count of 200-300.

    Certainly you COULD shoot that many times before the pellets stick in the barrel, but….

    What I see in the determination of shot count depends on this…
    How many shots do you get before the POI drops too much? What pressure range is most accurate?

    The slower the velocity, the less velocity you can lose before the POI drops too much at any given distance.
    For example ..I like to shoot starlings in my back yard in the winter. Range will be from 20-30 yds. I want to start out with a fill pressure that shoots good and go from 1/4″ high to 1/4″ low before refill.
    With the micro and the 12″ .22 barrel I can only lose about 20 fps to stay in this range. With the standard tank and the 18″ .177 barrel I can lose 150 fps to stay in the same poi drop range.

    So it appears that how you want to use it to best effect is going to determine your REAL shot count. It’s not based on some universal majic number to look for on a chrono.
    It’s how fast you lose the air pressure, and if you can tune to conserve air….which you can’t on a micro.

    twotalon


  15. B.B.

    Haven’t heard of The Forever War but I’ll take a look. However, I’m sure that anyone who has written any academic work, like a Ph.D. dissertation, can identify with wondering whether their work is read (generally not).

    What an interesting report. There must be something about PCPs that makes all of this worthwhile. I’ll watch the progress of the Crosman’s successor to the Discovery. A shroud would remove one major objection for me.

    Regarding JB Non-embedding bore compound, I’m still on the fence about using my unopened bottle from Pyramidair. I came across one guy claiming to be a gunsmith for precision rifles who claimed that he used some sort of bore microscope to find that JB had rounded the edges of the grooves on the rifling and degraded accuracy. Naturally, this must be taken with skepticism like most things on the internet. But I’m wondering, how do you make sure that you’ve cleaned the abrasive out of the barrel when finished? It seems impossible to remove all of the particles, and my vision is of them tearing up a barrel when a projectile is fired through it.

    Matt61


  16. B.B.
    On the subject of velocity increase as the pressure runs down when the PW has been set to reduce velocity…
    Talons do it too.
    Velocity is lower and erratic until pressure drops off enough to bring the valve open to full flow. It creeps up with a ragged slope until it gets maxed out.
    If you shoot the pressure low enough, the PW has no effect…max possible velocity with remaining pressure.
    Twotalon


  17. Matt61,

    A polishing compound like JB paste has particles that are both abrasive and soft at the same time. They break apart and keep reducing into ever-finer particles because of their softness.

    Anything, including pure running water, will eventually abrade a hard surface, but you and I don’t live long enough for it to happen within a timeframe that matters.

    You can shine a boot with nothing but a soft cotton cloth and constant rubbing. You can polish an oak table or a walnut stock just by rubbing it with your hand. JB paste simple speeds up the polishing process by being small enough to fit into the crevices. It isn’t a hard abrasive.

    B.B.


  18. So every time I think I’m going to take the plunge and buy a PCP, I read something
    like the above discussion and throw in the towel.

    I will admit that springers are somewhat difficult to shoot, but an underlever like the HW77 which the first gentleman has is fairly easy. (I have a JM tuned Beeman 97 – very similar) You grab it and go.

    What has been tempting me is I have a CO2 850 Magnum that I enjoy the multi shot no cocking required set up. Unfortunately, I can not get it to shoot as good as my least accurate Springer. I have put my best 6-18 scope on it which was more $$ than the gun.

    I know I can shoot, which is why the 97 will never be sold. When a gun will not group, I pull out the 97 to prove it is not me.

    While I do have a Chrony and weigh pellets and so on, the PCP discussions always seem overly complicated. I enjoy this as a relaxing pastime, and it doesn’t seem to be the case with the PCP when I read of guys wanting to throw them in a river.
    Am I just getting the wrong impression?


  19. Afternoon B.B. I’m new to the PCP world with a Discovery in .22. TwoTalon and his 1/4″ POI change got me thinking about an pressure gage besides the one on the pump that came with the Discovery cause my old eyes sure cann’t read it that close. What do you recommend? Thanks much


  20. Anonymous…
    I really love my pcp rifles..other than pumping them back up.
    Some have a glitch here and there. Glitches can be fixed.
    Just like any other kind of gun.
    Each kind works in it’s own way. You can’t make them work in a way they don’t like. The only time you are hearing about them is if someone has one that has a glitch, or is , for some reason, expecting them to work in a different way.

    Each kind has it’s own particular nature even when it’s working right. You have to live within it’s limitations , just like you have to do with everything else.
    twotalon


  21. Frustrated,

    I know how you feel! You hear so many conflicting reports and how do you know what is right?

    That’s why I took the idea of the Benjamin Discovery to Crosman. I wanted a simpler rifle that anyone could use right out of the box.

    Yes there are interesting physical attributes to discuss, but springers have them, too. Breech seals and the springs themselves are two things that are always in turmoil.

    If you want to see what a PCP is all about, get a Discovery with pump and start from there. You will love it and it will out-shoot your 97 with way less work on your part.

    B.B.


  22. Bruce…
    You don’t need a better guage.The one on the pump is good enough.
    If you have found a good fill pressure for best accuracy and poi consistency then use that.
    Shoot at whatever distance you desire and keep shooting until the poi drops to your desired limit.
    Then just refill and put that number of pellets in an empty tin.When the tin is about empty, you need to refill the rifle and the tin(to the same number of pellets).

    Of course you will need to keep the velocity spread tighter to maintain the same poi drop at longer distances.
    Piece of cake.
    twotalon


  23. Bruce,

    I wear bifocals and I use a Sharpie on the dial of several of my gauges so I can tell when the guns are full. My .22 Discovery likes a fill of about 1800 psi, so that’s where the mark goes.

    B.B.


  24. B.B.

    Okay, the JB compound is still in the running. I’ll give it a try if the Savage 10FP is really not grouping on Saturday when I break it in. Also up for testing is the Leapers 6-24X50 scope. If I get this rifle anywhere close to the great reports I hear, I’ll consider this a confirmation of the scope as well as the rifle. If not, it was probably me.

    Matt61



  25. BB,

    Did you ever wrote an article that discuss how to convert a co2 airgun to use compressed air? Such as converting the IZH Drozd BB Pistol?

    Joe




  26. Joe,

    Actually several of our readers have already posted messages about how to convert certain CO2 guns to air. They were not only specific, they also listed parts and places on the internet where conversions were discussed.

    Read the old postings about the Drozd and the RWS 850 AirMagnum and I think you will find what you are looking for.

    And if any reader wants to post a guest blog about how to make this conversion, they are welcome.

    B.B.



  27. How does the Condor compare to the Walther 1250 Dominator?
    I don’t see any review for the dominator on any website!
    Are we going to see one here sometimes?


  28. The 1250 Dominator only recently became available. I will test one for you. Until then I can’t compare it to anything.

    I did test the RWS 850 AirMagnum, which is the same gun running on CO2.

    B.B.


  29. I read your 850 AirMagnum review and bought one after that and I am very happy with it, however I am looking for more power now. One good thing about the AirMagnum, besides its accuracy, it can be changed to be quite easily. Also I like the fact is a repeater. So right now I am trying to decide which one I should buy the 1250 dominator or Talon SS and I am waiting on your review… Thanks in advance.


  30. 1250 Dominator,

    If you mean the 1250 can be quiet (you said quite, but it wasn’t modifying anything, so it looked like you dropped a word), then so can the Talon SS. A bloop tube like AirHog sells makes it very quiet.

    Anyhow, more reason for me to test the 1250 Dominator.

    B.B.


  31. B.B., I have two Benjamin 22 Rocket Model 262, and I’m looking for two rear sights, do you know where I might be able to find them. Also, do you know what value might be of the Mode 262.



  32. BB.

    I own a Talon SS with a 24″ long .22 barrel and another with a 18″ long .22 barrel. FYI,both have a “Frame Extender” on them and are quieter than the standard Talon SS when shooting with HPA.

    I normally use C02 on the 24″ barrel with CP’s and get the advertised 734 fps and over 600 shots per 12 oz tank refill. I saw the ads on the Micrometer Tank and was thinking wow, 200-300 shots; “great substitute for the C02 in the winter. Then I saw your Condor Micrometer results and was a little discouraged. I get around 60 shots from my HPA on the 18″ at PW 6 before noticable POI drop off, so getting 90 with a micrometer tank doesn’t excite me much. Do you have any info on my config? Does Micrometer performance increase with the Talon powerplant, with the .22; how much?

    Thanks,

    JC



  33. Thanks BB, I had read that before and was hoping you might have additional information on shot counts than “well over a hundred accurate shots” as the same comment for Talon SS, Talon, and Condor. If you do any additional Micrometer tank testing on shot count please post detailed results.

    Just a couple of responses to items that have been posted here by readers. I too have tried fiddling with the standard HPA tank top hat settings per the Talon Forums. What I found is what BB said and AirForce engineering recommends. Position the top hat so when the cocked hammer is closed and locked, it is just at the point of no play. Then you can fiddle with the power wheel.

    On another topic, it was said: “So every time I think I’m going to take the plunge and buy a PCP, I read something like the above discussion and throw in the towel.” I would like to point out that my pretty much standard Talon guns are great. I put the tank on and shoot til the POI drops off and then refill – In the mean time, they are tack drivers. I bring my TX200 with the 32 power scope out and shoot Field Targets and spinners along side the Talons at distances from 20 to 55 yards and might get a rare miss from one or the other. If we shoot paper, its unfair, the Talons are twice as good with their 12 power scopes. What’s really unfair is the 24″ barrel on C02. Once its sighted in, it can shoot forever (600 shots) without dropping off POI! This configuration shoots at 17 ft lbs and is phenominal (except in the winter, but you get the idea!)

    JC


  34. JC,

    I probably won’t do any more testing of the MicroMeter tank unless there is a very compelling reason. Now that I have this baseline data, there are too many other projects pulling on me.

    B.B.


  35. B.B. read your last paragraph. It’s time for an update. Now for a question. If you had a condor pushing 21.1 Gr. Beeman Kodiaks at 1000 Fps. From a Hi-flow valve, What would you expect the same gun using the same pellet to do using a talon valve?


  36. BB,

    Do condors come with the hi flo valve or is it a separate thing that I have to purchase? I know nothing about condors so I'm sorry if this is a stupid question.



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