For the Rekord! - Part 1
by B.B. Pelletier
Good morning! I'm attending the Airgun Breakfast at the 2009 SHOT Show in Orlando, where the airgun community is being shown a trailer video of American Airgunner--the first television program devoted entirely to airgunning! Remember the big bore hunt I went on, back in November of last year? We were filming the pilot episode, from which the teaser was made.
I'll get a link to the trailer for you shortly.
American Airgunner is a half-hour video magazine that explores all aspects of airgunning. We chose big bore hunting for the pilot for several reasons. One, because it's so amazing that such airguns exist (the wow factor) and that they are capable hunting arms. Another reason is because the outdoor networks will recognize big game hunting, even if they've never heard of airguns that can do it.
We are meeting with potential sponsors at the SHOT Show and hope to have the bulk of the first season budget nailed down by the show's end on Sunday. This will be a prime-time broadcast of 13 episodes the first season. We have not finalized which network we'll sign with, so I can't tell you where to watch for it, yet.
I write the show, and Paul Capello is the host. We have secured Heather Parcells as our co-host, and I can tell you she is a dynamic and attractive young lady, as well as being very polished on camera.
There will be a website, and we'll be in-tune with our viewers. So, there's the possibility of another airgunning website on the horizon.
Vince wrote today's guest blog. If you'd like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them) and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won't work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.
Now, on to our guest blog!
When Weihrauch developed the 4-lever Rekord trigger system a few decades ago, a new standard in airgun triggers was set. Here was a trigger with a genuine 2-stage action that could be adjusted to give a very light and crisp second stage and be safe while doing so. If you pulled the trigger though the first stage and released it, the internal mechanism would reset itself to the just-cocked position. There are quite a few trigger designs that can't do that; and if you released the trigger after pulling it part way, the internal mechanism would stay right where you left it. This could be right on the edge of the second stage and very close to firing. Since the trigger blade will probably return to its normal position (it usually uses a separate return spring), the shooter might not even know he or she is handling a gun that might be unstable and could go off if bumped or jarred.
The Rekord trigger, installed on several Weihrauch guns (and the Beeman-badged variants), quickly established itself as the one to beat. But as the old saying goes--if you can't beat 'em, join 'em--and that's where the Chinese come in.
China had been making low-quality airguns for quite some time, but BAM (Best Airgun Manufacturer) was genuinely trying to produce a better product. They produced close copies (not clones, mind you, the guns were never identical) of Gamo and Diana rifles and of the Beeman R9 (Weihrauch 95). The R9 Chinese copy was called the B-20. The later (and slightly revised) version was the B-26. They sold for approximately one-third of what the R9 sold for and was supposedly equipped with the same fabulous Rekord trigger.
Of course, it didn't have a REAL Rekord despite what the ad copy always suggested. It was understood that it was a Chinese COPY of a Rekord, and exactly how good a copy was always a matter of debate. Some shooters claimed it was very good, others that it was horribly unsafe. Personally, I exchanged a B20 after it went off unexpectedly upon closing the breech and punched a hole in a wall, although I eventually learned what caused that mishap and how to prevent it. I did get the trigger on the second one adjusted and found it to be pleasant and reliable once I figured out how to keep the tensioner from backing out during use.
Still, I always wondered--if the B20's trigger was nice, how much better would the real Rekord be? I thought I'd never own a real R-series Beeman or the Weihrauch equivalent, being the cheapskate that I am, but I found a gun shop that had a used R10 sitting on the shelf. I thought the asking price was a steal, so I jumped on it.
Turns out that the price was, well, so-so, and the gun had a bad piston seal to boot. But it DID have a real Rekord, and I'll be darned if it didn't feel nicer than the trigger on my B20. With a smoother and lighter second stage, the real Rekord certainly lived up to its billing. When I looked at the mechanisms side by side, I sure as heck couldn't see what the difference was. I don't like mechanical mysteries, so I decided to find out the differences.
I removed both triggers from their respective rifles (which does not require pulling the spring), dismantled them, and compared the parts and construction. There were three general categories of comparison I was looking at: overall trigger design, quality of machining and lever geometry. I wanted to find out--for the Rekord (sorry!)--exactly what was the same and what was different between these two triggers.
This is a clear, functional diagram of the workings of the Rekord trigger. We'll use this as a reference for the rest of this article.
I dismantled the triggers as far as I could take them easily. I wasn't looking to grind off any factory rivets, welds or peening. As it turns out, both triggers had 2 pins peened in place, so I initially left those alone. Besides, I believed I could find out what I wanted to find out without disturbing those pins.
This is what I found when I laid out all the parts side by side (German Rekord is on the right).
As for levers 3a and 3b, which remained inside the trigger group, this is what they look like from the top.
It's pretty obvious that BAM had copied the design of the trigger--lever-for-lever, screw-for-screw, spring-for-spring and pivot-for-pivot. With the trigger assemblies apart, there are few detail differences visible to the naked eye that distinguish one from the other. The outer shell is dimpled on the Rekord, smooth on the BAM. BAM uses a black finish on levers 1 and 2, the Rekord has a bright (probably nickel) finish. The Rekord trigger blade is made out of aluminum, steel on the BAM. The forward face of the Rekord is grooved, while the BAM trigger is smooth. The head on the tension-adjuster screw is larger on the BAM trigger and the screw itself is shorter. The rear triggerguard screw fits into a threaded hole on the Rekord but into a semi-captive nut on the BAM unit.
So far, it doesn't look like there should be any functional differences between the two.
When I started measuring everything, I found that the exact dimensions of most of the parts vary a few thousandths here and there (and pin diameters vary), but certainly not enough to seriously impact trigger performance. The two hairclip springs were virtually identical, although the trigger-return springs were not quite the same. The Rekord spring was made from a slightly thinner wire and had one more coil, which means that it is softer than the BAM spring by about one-third. Since this spring operates directly on levers 3a and 3b, which in turn are lifted directly by the trigger, this tells me that the BAM trigger effort will rise faster than the trigger effort for the Rekord. So I've got at least part of my answer, but I'm thinking there might be more to it than that.
There was one other significant difference I found at this stage of the comparison. The rear locating bushing on the BAM trigger was located about .035" further forward than on the Rekord. This has no bearing whatsoever on trigger operation, but it does insure that the trigger assemblies cannot be easily interchanged.
Unfortunately, I had no way of quantifying the relative hardness of the steel used in either trigger. I would expect the German original to be harder, but I have no way of knowing for sure. But the well-used B20 trigger parts betray no sign of excessive wear, so I don't believe the Chinese copy is particularly deficient it this respect.
Read the second part of Vince's guest blog on Monday, Jan. 19.