Archive for March 2009

Air Arms Alfa Competition pistol – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll look at the Alfa Competition pistol from Air Arms for a second time. You may remember me telling you that this would be a longer report because there are complexities with target guns that you don’t normally encounter with a sporting gun. The biggest of these is finding the right pellet for the gun. That can take a very long time, so I’ll tell you how I do it, but I’m not going to actually find the very best pellet for this particular pistol, because I haven’t got enough time. That will be in another report, though.

Let’s look at the power curve. I want to know if this pistol has enough air for a men’s match, which is 60 shots, plus sighters. I’d normally skip this step because all the 10-meter PCPs pistols I’ve tested are regulated and have a more or less standard-sized air reservoir under the barrel. This one does not. It stores the air inside a small tank in the grip, so I added this important step just so we’d all know if the gun was useful for match shooting.

Filling the gun
Since this is an air pistol, I’ll fill it with a hand pump. It takes so little air that i think a scuba tank is unnecessary. The number of pump strokes that are harder (i.e., those above 2,500 psi for me) is so small that it’s easy enough to just grin and bear it.

The instructions say to fill to 200 bar. Since 3,000 psi is only 6 bar more, I filled to that pressure the first time, just to get a good look at both ends of the power curve. As it turned out, that was unnecessary, because this gun does not like to be filled even to 200 bar. I’ll look at the velocity data and pick a better stopping point for the second fill. I’ll talk you through the logic of how this is done, including some shortcuts.

You may remember that I dislike the Air Arms fill adapter. It works fine, but the gun always ends up in a strange position because of how the adapter fits, so it’s not my preference. It does screw onto a standard 1/8″ BSPP thread, though, and that’s a known standard for PCP gun charging equipment.

This is the fill coupling on the butt of the pistol. The two o-rings needed silicone grease before the adapter would slide on.

The Air Arms fill adapter slips over the two o-rings and locks up with the gun through a key on the fill coupling.

Checking the power curve
Those who are thinking about getting into precharged airguns, this procedure is an important one. It requires a chronograph, which I feel is an essential part of PCP equipment. What you do is chronograph all the shots, using the same type of pellet.

A regulated gun will start at a certain velocity and remain close to that velocity until the pressure in the reservoir has dropped below the minimum pressure the reg can handle. After that, the velocity declines.

An unregulated gun will usually start slow and then climb if the gun is slightly overfilled. That’s a good thing, because after you have the velocities recorded for all the shots you will test, a velocity curve will be revealed in the numbers.

The Alfa Competition Pistol is definitely unregulated, and the velocity curve shows it. Shot No. 1 with 7-grain RWS Basics was 395 f.p.s. Shot No. 2 was 411 f.p.s. and the gun never again dipped into the 300s. Shot No. 6 went over 420 f.p.s. But it took until shot No. 22 to go over 430 f.p.s.

Shot No. 34 went faster than 440 f.p.s., so the curve was still on the upward slope. Can you see clearly that this pistol exhibits the classic signs of being unregulated? And can you also see why this test was necessary? Until I know the performance curve, I cannot know how many good shots there are, nor can I know what the starting fill pressure really should be. This is why a chronograph can be so important when testing a new PCP. They don’t all perform like it says in the book!

Shot No. 43 inched above 450 f.p.s  for the first time, but the velocity was still climbing. It didn’t get back that high again until shot No. 50, but after that it didn’t want to come back down, either.

Shot No. 58 topped 460 f.p.s. for the first time. And shot No. 74 went 474 f.p.s. At this point, I knew the pistol was not going to exhibit an inverted “bathtub curve” with an upward slope followed by a relatively large flat spot at which all the velocities are very consistent and then a similar downward slope. From my experience, this gun looked like it was going to keep rising and then flatten at the end for a short string, followed by a precipitous drop when it came off the curve.

Shot No. 98 finally topped 480 f.p.s. for the first time, and I expected the velocity to tank fairly soon thereafter. At shot No. 113, the falloff began. Shot No. 112 went 460 f.p.s. and the next shot went 435 f.p.s. Four shots later, we were at 415 f.p.s.–having fallen sharply off the performance curve.

So, what does this tell us? First, that this pistol is unregulated. Second, that no matter where we select the best fill level, we will have to be content with a broad velocity swing over the number of shots we’ve chosen. Target pellets are heavier than Basics, so the swing won’t be as large as 40 f.p.s., but it’ll be close.

At 10 meters, a 40 f.p.s. total velocity variance won’t affect accuracy that much. While I would prefer less of a swing, I can live with it. So, let me look at the performance curve and try to select the best place for competition.

Since I cannot avoid going 480 f.p.s. (the fastest shot went 481 f.p.s., and there were only three like that), I selected the final shot of 460 f.p.s. (shot No. 112) as my end point. If I want 60 shots with five extras for insurance/sighters, that makes my first shot on this string go back to the first shot at 455 f.p.s. There were three shots before that were 450 f.p.s. or faster, so I credit this pistol with a total of 68 good shots. I’ll predict the starting fill in a moment, but I’m not done with the analysis, yet.

Although my first shot is 450 f.p.s., the velocity does dip below that mark in this string. The slowest it goes is 443 f.p.s. The fastest is 481 f.p.s., so the maximum velocity variation in a string of 68 shots is 38 f.p.s. As I mentioned, a heavier pellet will tighten that variation a bit, so expect maybe 32-34 f.p.s. across a 68-shot string. That’s more than I like, but for 10 meters it isn’t going to make much of a difference. So, the question of whether or not the Alfa pistol holds enough air to complete a men’s match has been answered. It does. If you have to shoot the extra 10 shots afterward, you’ll have to refill the pistol.

Determining the starting fill pressure
The way to determine the starting fill pressure for a PCP is to keep decreasing the fill pressure by 100 psi, until the first shot out the muzzle is within the desired power curve. But I have a faster way to get there. Experience tells me that a partially valve-locked valve uses far less air than that same valve uses when it’s shooting within the power curve. Looking at the total shot string I fired, it took me 48 shots to climb to where I wanted to start shooting. That’s very close to half the total shots fired, but from an air usage standpoint, it’s more like one-quarter to one-third the total air used.

I know the start point was 3,000, so I need to connect to the gun and determine the point at which it starts to accept a fill. In other words, the end point. Since I shot four shots after falling off the power curve, I’ll add 100 psi for them and call that number the low end of the fill.

My low turned out to be 700 psi, even with that extra 100 psi added-in (hard to believe, isn’t it?), so I guesstimated the high fill point to be at 2,300 psi. The first shot on a fill at that pressure went 435 f.p.s. and not until 14 shots later did I see 450 f.p.s.–missing the targeted start point by a total of 15 shots. On the next fill, I’ll stop at 2,100 psi and see where that takes me.

My method takes far fewer times than the 100-psi-per-time method. As an airgun tester, I have to use it to cut down on my test times.

I know that there are those among you who want to know absolutely everything that happened in my tests. Herb, for example, will create several algorithms to construct an alternate universe from my data and then attempt to occupy that universe, even as Rocket Jane Hansen seeks to destroy the universe he presently inhabits ;-) You guys and gals are lucky I love you!

So for those who want to know, here are the data, in even columns as they were gathered. They run top to bottom, left column to right column.

I’m sorry those two columns are longer, but when dealing with 116 numbers in sequence and discovering that I screwed up the presentation around number 70, I just punted. The numbers are sequenced exactly as they were recorded and the one that is missing was a shot I lost. It actually went into the wall of my office, where it took my wife about 90 minutes to discover. She wants me to write yet another expose on how stupidents happen (stupidents are “accidents” that should never happen).

So, here’s what I know. This pistol is going to want to shoot slightly heavier target pellets at around 435-460 f.p.s. I don’t want to shoot any slower than that, so the total shot string is going to be about the same as it is now. Therefore, I will not adjust the gun’s power.

That’s it for this time. Next time, I’ll look at some pellets.

Hey! You! Get offa my cloud! – Part 2

Introduction by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Boy, you guys don’t cut any slack! You roasted me for splitting this huge report in two last Friday. But it was so large that I had to.

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Hey! You! Get offa my cloud! – Part 2

by Vince

In Part 1, I introduced the pellets and rifles I’ll use in this test. Added to this mix are two pistols. Both are vintage Crosman CO2 guns that belonged to my dad, a Crosman 38T in excellent shape that I resealed a couple of years ago, and an early 1008 that’s never been apart but still works well. I figured that if THESE guns wouldn’t work with Super Pells nothing would–heck, the box for the 38T shows Super Pells on its cover!

So, a shootin’ I will go. Rifle first, indoors, open sights, 10 yards. But before I relate the results, let me point out a few things. First, none of the tested pellets worked really well with any of these rifles (with one exception). I did not test any rifle with its favorite pellet. I’m comparing low-end ammo to low-end ammo and nothing else. That’s one reason most group sizes seem inordinately large. The second reason is that as a marksman I stink. The last reason is that these are 10-shot groups, which tend to yield larger groups than the more common 5, especially when the marksman stinks.

With that out of the way, how’d my memories fare in comparison to cold, hard numbers?

1) Hammerli 490
Gamo: .80
Super Pell: .77
Beeman: .35
Daisy: .58
Industry: 1.14
Crosman: .64

The 490 setted down nicely after I got it straightened out. It really likes those Beeman pellets and really hates Industry. Will the other guns concur?

2) Gamo Sporter 500
Gamo: .74
Super Pell: 1.10
Beeman: .95
Daisy: .66
Industry: 1.19
Crosman: 1.41

This is a shock–Industry beat Crosman! And Super Pell is STILL not the worst!

3) Slavia 634
Gamo: .50
Super Pell: 1.16
Beeman: .97
Daisy: 1.07
Industry: 1.55
Crosman: .72

Super Pell does poorly, Industry does badly.

4) RWS/Cometa 93
Gamo: 1.04
Super Pell: 1.32
Beeman: .83
Daisy: .56
Industry: 1.00
Crosman: .52


5) Diana 26
Gamo: .75
Super Pell: 1.04
Beeman: .68
Daisy: .72
Industry: 1.79
Crosman: .62

That’s more like it.

There’s one more rifle, but next, chronologically, were the pistols. Since I’m even worse at pistol shooting than at rifle (hard to believe, I know), I shot at 15 feet. The number of shots was determined by the size of the magazine. Again, open sights were used. All shots were fired single-action.

6) Crosman 1008 (8 shots)
Gamo: 1.00
Super Pell: .79
Beeman: 1.30
Daisy: 1.14
Industry: 1.36
Crosman: 1.08

What the…Super Pell was BEST? Take THAT, B.B. man!

7) Crosman 38T
Gamo: 1.00
Super Pell: .81
Beeman: 1.53
Daisy: 1.36
Industry: 1.97
Crosman: .75

Hmmm. Another GOOD showing for Super Pell. The newer Crosman beat it by a hair, but realistically it’s almost a tie.

8) Finally, after letting its original leather seal soak oil for a few days, I took the Slavia 619 out for a whirl. Same as the other rifles…10 shots, 10 yards, open sights.

Gamo: 1.06
Super Pell: 3.70
Beeman: .61
Daisy: .59
Industry: 2.60
Crosman: .69

Nahhh, can’t be….My trusty old Slavia would NEVER have been this bad with Super Pells! That’s worse than some steel BB guns might do. But I noticed something funny thing about that group. Virtually all the spread is in vertical stringing. The gun didn’t sound right, and the first shot with the next pellet (the Beeman) hit low by about 2″ before they started grouping again. Since that first Beeman shot was obviously a fluke of some sort, I tossed it out. After running through the rest of the pellets, I gave the Super Pells one more chance and got 1.24″ group. In case you’re thinking of whining about my not giving Industry pellets a second chance, I’ve got two very good reasons for not doing so. First, the Industry pellets were scattered to the four winds and not just spreading up and down (indicating a gun problem). Second, I ran out. So there.

A side note: Just on a whim, I took 5 quick shots with the 619 using CPLs, and it delivered a .36″ group, which shows that I’ve finally got the barrel back up to snuff after my ill-conceived butchery. I really don’t think that even in its prime it would have ever shot any better than that. Given the sentimental value attached to it and my hearbreak when I thought I’d ruined the barrel, this is really great news to me.

In summary, where does that leave the Super Pell? In general, ranking the Super Pell averages #5 out of 6. Industry averaged 5.80, Gamo 3.50, Beeman 2.30, Daisy 2.20, and Crosman 2.70. If I take the average group sizes (for the rifles), I get .70″ for the Daisys, .73″ for the Beemans, .77″ for the Crosman wadcutters, .815″ for the Gamos, 1.10″ for the SuperPells, and 1.55″ for the Industry pellets. The overall ranking doesn’t change.

According to my rifle results, was B.B.’s original statement correct? When put into a group–ANY group–of modern pellets, are the old Super Pells absolutely the worst! HECK NO! They’re the only the second worst! Just as I thought. B.B. was exaggerating wildly! Well, maybe not wildly. Regardless, and far more importantly, are my memories vindicated?

I guess the best way find out is to put the old Super Pell container lid on top of the Super Pell group and see if I can place it so that all the pellet holes overlap it. They do! My memories ARE vindicated! Super Pells COULD consistently nail that bit of plastic at that range if the sights were dialed in just right. Take into account my better eyesight at age 12 and the fact that I would only hit it MOST of the time, and my childhood recollections remain undisturbed in their credibility.

But what about pistol results? First, let me say that I NEVER shot a pellet pistol as a kid, so to me the issue is far less important. But why on earth did the Super Pells do so well, even at 15 feet, being the best in the 1008 and the second best in the 38T?

It comes down to a question of “Who knows?” Certainly not I. But I can tell you that the 1008 box has a Herman’s Sporting Goods price tag on it, and that dates it as a very early model (1991 or so). I believe Premiers started production in 1992, so it’s possible that the 1008 was actually produced concurrently with the Super Pell. As can be seen by the box, the 38T certainly was. Maybe that’s the answer–they were quite literally “made for each other.”

What does all this say about the OTHER Chinese pellets–the Daisys and the Beemans? Generally speaking, pretty darned good for the money and quite adequate for shootin’ “on the cheap.” Good foolin’ around pellets, I guess. Which is more than can be said for the Industry stuff. After seeing the incomparable spread of shapes and sizes in that tin, I wouldn’t even use ‘em as run-in pellets after overhauling a gun. Absolutely worthless, and I’m convinced that the not-so-bad RWS 93 results were a fluke.

There’s a lot more I could do with this–shoot more groups (I’d have to buy more Industry pellets), do a comparative analysis of actual group sizes (my rankings are not very precise), shoot the pistols at longer ranges and so on. But thanks to Wayne, I’m rather busy at the moment and found out what I wanted to find out. In essence, B.B. was right–pellets have gotten much better over the past few decades (my pistol results notwithstanding). For a kid in 1970, Super Pells out of a rifled barrel were still light years ahead of anything out of a smoothbore Daisy. Lastly, joy of joys, my old Slavia is back up to snuff! And that, as they say, is priceless!

Vince mentioned in Part 1 that the Crosman “Flying Ashcans” had cupped heads, so I took this shot to show you what that looked like.

Hey! You! Get offa my cloud! – Part 1

Introduction by B.B. Pelletier

Well, good old Vince is standing on the turnbuckle, ready to pounce on me today with ABSOLUTE PROOF that B.B. Pelletier exaggerates! The nerve of that cheeky fellow!

Even so, I will permit his feeble attempt to embarrass me in front of all you readers, as we learn whether the old Crosman flying ashcans were really better or worse than cheap Chinese pellets.

Go on, Vince. Give it your best shot!

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Hey! You! Get offa my cloud!

by Vince
“Believe me, you wouldn’t want to go back to those times! The cheapest Chinese pellets are better than what we used to get from Crosman.”

Those immortal words, which cut me to the quick, were spoken by our very own B.B. back in Feb. 2008, and he was referring to the old “Super Pells” that Crosman used to make pretty much until the current Crosman pellets started production. I dunno what makes this guy think he can come along and just squish some of my fondest childhood memories just because he knows what he’s talking about…but a-squishing he did go!

You see, one of the fondest joys of my preteen and early teen years was shooting the Slavia 619 my Dad gave me, one that I think he bought in the ’50s shortly before I was born. Before he gave it to me, he made sure I understood that THIS WAS NOT A TOY, and it was light-years above the Daisy-Sears 1894 he had gotten me a few years prior. It had a RIFLED SOLID STEEL BARREL, just like the guns in the WWII fighter planes I read so much about, and it could actually KILL THINGS. He once did in a garter snake with it.

I shot the dickens out of that Slavia. I savored every trigger-pull as if I were unleashing some SERIOUS POWER on an unsuspecting tree, target or old model airplane. And it was ACCURATE! My Daisy 1894 couldn’t hold a candle to it (my 179 pistol was a joke), and I prided myself on being able to whack the old metal Crosman pellet tins very consistently at about 30-35 feet. Doesn’t sound like much now, but back then it would handily out-shoot any BB gun owned by anyone else I knew.

And it did all this usually while shooting Crosman “Super Pells.” In fact, I remember when they phased out the metal containers and switched to plastic. As they got empty, I’d shoot at those little red lids (about 1-1/8″ square). I usually did so with success. More often than not, I’d nail ‘em, but they were certainly more difficult to hit than my usual victims. I seem to remember thinking back then that those were about the smallest targets I could reliably hit at that range.

So, 35 years later B.B. comes along and tells me that these pellets with which I dazzled my friends and myself were ever so horrible, so I’m thinking that I must be mis-remembering and overestimating my standards of youthful marksmanship. Because the “cheapest Chinese pellets,” as most of us know, are the Industry brand globs that set a standard of inconsistency second to none. When I’d gotten back into airguns a mere 5 years ago, I made the mistake of assuming that pellets were all pretty much the same. After all, the Slavia of my youth didn’t seem to care if I was using Daisy or Crosman. Predictably, then, I wasted a lot of money buying those Industry pellets before I discovered exactly how bad they really were (yes, sometimes I’m a little slow on the uptake!). If the old Super Pells were even worse than these, as B.B. says, I NEVER would have been able to shoot as well as I seem to remember.

A year or so ago, I bought a QB57 that included the NEW Industry brand pellets (in the red tin) which I coincidentally was itching to try out. You see, I knew that Shanghai was trying to clean up its act with its new series of airguns–the AR1000, QB15, QB18, and so on–and I figured that they MUST have done something about those horrible pellets. Well, they did something, all right. These are obviously from a different mold. When I finally got to try them, they seem to shoot just as badly. Maybe even worse.

Back to my snit. How could B.B. possibly say that the old Crosman flying ashcans were as bad as these Industry brand lumps? Is it possible that my memories are that horribly distorted? Or is B.B. wildly exaggerating and just playing games with my head? So, when my Dad recently gave me his old Crosman 1008 CO2 pistol with a couple of containers of Super Pells stuffed in the box,it dawned on me that I could find out for myself.

I decided to shoot these against the much-loathed Industry pellets just to prove a point. And I would shoot them against other inexpensive wadcutter pellets just to see how they fare against modern stuff that ISN’T crap-in-a-can.

The contestants

Starting at upper right, the tried and trusty Gamo Match had to be included in this test. After all, it’s cheap–as low as $1.86 per tin of 250. Accounting for inflation, that’s certainly cheaper than the 99-cent Super Pells of the early 1970s.

Next to the Gamos are the late, lamented Super Pells that were so callously slandered on these very pages, in the later plastic container. They look ready for a fight, don’t they?

Middle left and middle right are two Chinese wadcutters that would prefer to pretend that they aren’t related by nationality to the Industry Brand stuff. Both the Beeman on the left and the Daisys think of themselves as respectable pellets, even though either can be found for about $3 per tin of 500. Of course, ANYTHING with the Beeman name is going to be good, right? And as for Daisy, they call theirs “Precision Max.” The “Max” stands for either “Maximum” or “Maxwell” (or “Maxine”?), and this test is gonna find out which!

Lower left is the Industry brand tin. As we’ll see shortly, the container is made with infinitely more precision than the actual pellet.

Lower right is the tried-and-trusty Crosman Copperhead wadcutter. A lot of guys still like them. If you can still find them in the clear plastic boxes, you’ll usually see that the price is often under $4 per 500.

You can doll up anything and make it look good, so let’s strip away the fancy packaging and see what the pellets inside actually look like:

Ok, Ok. I’ll admit it–the Super Pell doesn’t look too good. In fact, it looks downright funky with that dished–yes, dished!–nose. Maybe it’s a parabolic reflector that gathers up stray gamma rays and concentrates them onto the target to increase the destructive energy unleashed upon impact? I dunno. But it’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

For pure wonderment (or bewilderment), the Industry pellet rapidly draws the eye away from the roughly hewn Super Pell. To my eye, it sorta looks like it’s in motion even while standing still. Maybe a little like a hula dancer in mid-hip-wiggle, or something like that.

Already I’m getting encouraged. But which guns to test with?

The weapons:
Since the Super Pells were designed back in the days before the magnum wars, it seemed only fair to avoid using the heavy-hitters in my gun closet. I’d want to use guns that were of the general velocity range that Crosman might have anticipated for these pellets.

Starting from the top there’s my Hammerli 490, which after a going-through and a SERIOUS amount of coaxing in the pivot area has turned into a nice shooter. It’s sort of a descendent of the old Shanghai-built Industry B2 except that it looks much better, shoots much better and is probably more reliable because it has a bit less power. It does mid-500s with normal weight pellets.

Next is a Gamo Sporter 500. The same basic gun has been around for quite a while and was also sold under the Daisy name a few years ago. It’s typical Gamo in that it has a mediocre trigger, a lot of spring twang and is quite accurate with the right pellet. This gun tends to shoot around 700 fps. A while ago, an online dealer was closing these things out for $60 and I got two of them.

At mid-700s the Slavia 634 is a bit more potent than the Gamo, and is a better-made gun in every respect. It’s one of the few guns I’ve got which has never been apart (except for the trigger) because it just didn’t need any improvement.

The RWS 93 is the most powerful gun of the test, generally doing about 800 fps. It’s full-sized and heavy for the power (heavier than a model 94), but is a very pleasant gun to shoot. It’s made by Cometa of Spain and can be very accurate with the right pellet.

The next rifle is a Diana 26 I recently picked up used at a local, hole-in-the-wall gun shop. It’s in decent shape and tends to shoot in the low 700s. A very nice rifle with the older T01 trigger, it’s another gun that is a joy to use.

And lastly, but not leastly, is my old, trusty, still-in-very-good-shape 300 fps Slavia 619. But there’s a little history here I oughta explain first.

The 619, like some other early Slavias, had a delicate post front sight. When I was a kid, I broke it off. For years, I made do with a makeshift front sight fabricated from a coat hanger and held on with a small hose clamp. When I got older, I decided to fix it right by brazing a new post in place. While doing so, I also boogered up the front 1-2″ of the bore. Still don’t know what happened, but to my horror the bore in that area got really rough and accuracy went in the toilet. Instead of seeking sage advice, I did the next worst thing: I drilled out the front 2″ of the bore with a 13/64″ drill bit and recrowned the now-recessed end of the rifling as best I could. That improved things, but it still shot poorly until I did a better job on the crown and scrubbed the bore really well with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound and a brass brush. After that treatment, the bore and the crown looked REAL GOOD–but only shootin’ will tell if it’s right.

Well, that’s the lineup for this test. Next time, we’ll find out once and for all if B.B. Pelletier EXAGGERATES!

News from the 2009 IWA

Introduction by B.B. Pelletier

Guest blogger
Mel is a European blog reader who visited the 2009 IWA show–that’s the European SHOT Show. He was kind enough to write this guest blog and provide these photos for us so we could take a peek at some different airguns. 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.

News from the 2009 IWA
by Mel

I had the opportunity to visit the IWA in Nuremberg. For those who don’t know, it is Europe’s largest sporting arms and outdoor exhibition and a good place to see what airgun makers have in the pipe. My visit there was not airgun-related, and the following report far from being comprehensive. But if you are interested to see a few of the new developments, join me on a little stroll through the IWA.

Ceska zbrojovka
Let’s start with Czub, maker of the Slavia 631/634 springers and the Cz 200 that most of you know as the Air Arms S200. It is now available with a beautiful adjustable one-piece stock. This model is also fitted with Cz’s diopter and 5-shot bracket magazine. Both accessories are already available.

Cz’s new adjustable stock–and not the last one you’ll see.

Cometa is a Spanish company that sells mainly in Europe. Their new Fusion rifle is based on their 400 model and is equipped with an adjustable stock and a muzzlebrake that is meant to increase accuracy by stripping off the turbulent air.

This rifle has a silencer; the original Fusion comes with a small stainless steel brake.

Did we have any adjustable stocks yet? The new Gamo SOCOM is another breakbarrel that follows this trend.

Gamo’s new SOCOM rifle. Note the big air pistol advertisement in the background.

Diana had quite a few new products in their booth. Their new LP8 breakbarrel pistol looks a bit like the pistol equivalent of the Panther 21. Its 580 fps power, scope rail, aluminum frame and the mentioning of its low price makes sure we will hear more of it. Diana also introduced the model 470 Target Hunter–I guess they want a slice of the HW97/TX200 cake! It looks like it uses the model 52 action. Take a look at their catalog for more news. Also, have a look at the new color options for the Panther 21 and the new compact Panther 31 rifles. The catalog is complete except for one new model–the new 56, which is also available with an adjustable stock.

I don’t have to tell you Crosman exhibited the new Marauder PCP! Who am I to comment on it? You’ll find high-quality pictures on the Pyramyd Air website and a thorough review by BB when the time comes. And, of course, there was the Recruit–a rifle based on the Powermaster with an adjustable stock.

Another Spanish manufacturer that exports guns to America–the Hammerli Storm, Razor and Nova rifles plus some Beeman breakbarrels. They decided to put some of their existing models in a glossy red/grey plastic stock:

In case you wondered, the stocks feel just as they look–hard and very smooth.

Based on their big advertisement videos, their new flagship is a new line of bullpup rifles. What looked like a PCP at first glance turned out to have a very conservative single-shot breakbarrel powerplant. Hmm…bullpups get used by military forces because they can have a longer barrel at the same overall length, at the expense of a long linkage between trigger and sear, and a line of sight that sits far above the barrel. The latter is not so bad for a military rifle, it helps to manage recoil and the resulting sighting problems on short ranges are negligible when your target is torso-sized. But a spring-piston airgun has no need for a long barrel. You could build a conventional airgun with the same length as the bullpup without sacrificing power or accuracy–and we tend to shoot at targets that are a lot smaller than the distance between bore and line of sight than Norica’s new bullpup allows. [Editor's note: The problem with bullpup sighting is extreme parallax.]

Here they come in tactical black, digital camouflage green and “Aunt Judy’s psychedelic carpet from the ’60s” brown! The stock is adjustable, of course.

You’ve never heard of Hatsan? Sure you have. Hatsan is big. Think Gamo-big. They make the Daisy spring airguns; they make the new Pneuma PCP sold by Hammerli; they make the Walther Falcon Hunter and the Talon Magnum; and they make the Webley Jaguar, to name just a few! It’s not the topic of my blog entry to discuss my fear what may happen when airgun manufacturers cease to make airguns and slap their names on a wild mix of products made by someone else. So, let’s just say that Hatsan is really, really big and the first thing you see when you enter IWA is a very large Hatsan poster at the entrance.

Their flagships at this IWA were the PCP that has already hit the market, and their Torpedo line of underlever rifles. What makes these guns interesting from a technical point of view is the loading mechanism–the complete barrel can be moved in a sleeve to insert the pellet. [Editor's note: See the new Daisy from the first SHOT Show report this year.] What’s really new is the model 95, a breakbarrel equipped with a shock-absorbing mechanism that seems to be simply a dampening plastic tube around the front screw that holds the action and stock together.

Norconia is an importer of the Chinese Norinco airguns to Germany. This sounds like a boring company to US readers, but take a look at what they had in their booth: A real blast from the past–a Sharp Inova! This multi-pump pneumatic with its highly efficient blow-open valve was made in Japan and is now considered a sought-after rarity in the Western world. Production never ceased. It’s made by Cannon Air and ZOSCN, but import stopped long time ago. Seeing this rifle available again will increase the heartbeat of many multi-pump pneumatic fans!

A real (plastic stocked) Sharp Inova! I was allowed to shoot a puff of air with it. I did so without cocking. It definitely has the original hammerless valve.

And now for something completely different
I must admit that I didn’t expect much technical innovation in this economically shaky time. So far it was mostly true–a truckload of adjustable stocks, a traditional PCP here, an underlever version there, but nothing that I’d count as something really new. Until I came to the Armscor booth. For many years, this Philippine company has been the maker of a small line of CO2-powered airguns with the classic Crosman 160-style layout. You know what I mean–single-shot CO2, bolt pulls back, striker for the knock-open valve, etc. Frankly, this was not the place where I expected to find something out of the ordinary. But there it was–a beautiful .22 caliber PCP with an unusual mechanism. Mr. Chua, the chief designer, was in the booth and allowed me to handle the rifle. One could clearly see that he was proud of it and liked it a lot, which seems a good sign to me.

The picture was taken with permission from the Armscor page. You won’t find airguns and pellets so close together at IWA!

What makes the rifle so special is its cocking and loading mechanism: A breech part swings to the side to give access to the free-floated barrel. This design carries a lot of advantages in it: First, there’s no bolt probe behind the pellet, and the air passage channel in the breech part is curved. Both considerably increase the efficiency. Second, you can inspect the bore visually. Third, you can load a pellet without having to cock the rifle, which can be done when the rifle is already on the cheek by gently pushing the hammer with the thumb. The external hammer can also be decocked if needed. The power is adjustable with a wrench, but Mr. Chua said the rifles will be factory set for a 60-shot string at 850-750 fps (with normal weight lead pellets), as faster pellets enter the trans-sonic range and become less accurate. Thus, the rifle is advertised at the average 800 fps. What refreshing and rare honesty in today’s airgun world! Other than that, it has a very good trigger, a threaded muzzle end, pressure gauge on the underside and a removable air tank with quick-fill valve on the front. I couldn’t shoot it to test the velocity and, much more important, the accuracy. The PDF on their page looks promising but isn’t proof. I left their booth feeling that this rifle will quickly win a lot of hearts when it is sold in the Western world!

How to quiet the big guns for indoor shooting

by B.B. Pelletier

I wrote this last year, but didn’t publish it because there was some question about whether this constitutes a silencer. I don’t believe that it is, according to the intent of the law. Dr. G. asked me yesterday about how to quiet powerful airguns for shooting in the home, and I thought about this report. So, today, I’m publishing it.

This one’s for Anatoly, who asked about installing a shroud on his AR-6. It seems he’d like to shoot his rifle indoors. He’s not alone. Many shooters have a powerful hunting air rifle they would like to shoot indoors. That’s no problem as far as safety is concerned. Get a heavy-duty metal bullet trap designed for .22 rimfire and no smallbore airgun in the world will overpower it. But the noise these guns can generate is another matter.

I told Anatoly that it’s possible to install a shroud on his rifle, but the fact that he was asking probably meant it wasn’t a project for him. There’s a lot of machining needed to shroud an AR-6. If you don’t have the tools or the inclination, it’s not a job to undertake. But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a quiet gun indoors.

This trick is older than me and it’s perfect for loud pneumatic and CO2 guns. It isn’t as effective on spring guns because most of the noise they make is produced in the powerplant, where this solution has no effect. What is it? Nothing more than a simple cardboard box lined with sound-deadening material.

The portable silencer
The box has two holes cut in opposite ends. To be effective, it should be at least 18 inches long, but 24 inches would be better. It doesn’t have to be a big box. The sound-deadening material can be any soft material, but pink fiberglass insulation is probably the best. This goes on all surfaces inside the box and can be held in place with staples or tape.

The box works by sticking the muzzle of the rifle inside at least one-third of the way. With experimentation, you’ll discover how far is best. The holes have to be large enough so the sights or scope can see the target unobstructed. And the box needs a stand so it can be positioned.

The quiet box is simple to make from a cardboard box. It will reduce the report of your more powerful smallbore air rifles so they can be discharged indoors without disturbing the family.

Even though there’s a large opening on the muzzle end of the box, the sound of the gun will be cut significantly. I call a 4-inch wide by 6-inch high opening a large one. That gives you plenty of room to aim the rifle but still traps most of the major sound waves. Those it doesn’t trap get broken up. What escapes the box sounds much quieter in comparison. It must be obvious that an adjustable stand for the box is going to be essential, and that’s up to you to make or find. It doesn’t have to be that difficult. If you’re a non-handy man like me and Red Green, you can bungee the box to a tall pole that has a firm base–like a light stand, for instance. Not elegant, perhaps, but entirely functional and adjustable.

Works for big bores, too!
I remember telling big-bore maker Gary Barnes about this trick and I’ll darned if he didn’t build one for his shop. He calls it his “ballistic mailbox,” and it’s made of steel with fiberglass insulation inside. With it, he can test 500 foot-pound airguns in his shop, which is located in town. Though he used metal, you don’t need that kind of strength for a smallbore that’s only producing 80 foot-pounds or less.

Don’t like fiberglass?
You can use things other than fiberglass insulation to line the inside of the box. Other types of insulation would be a second choice, but even soft carpet will muffle the sound more than you think. Shag would be better than a Berber weave. What you’re making is a variation of an acoustic anechoic chamber, which is a chamber that absorbs sound waves and doesn’t reflect them back. The opening in the muzzle end of the box also disrupts the discharge sound waves and doesn’t allow them to leave the box with the same strength they left the muzzle.

Give this project a try if noise is a problem in your house. Be sure to tell us the results!


by B.B. Pelletier

I have a new toy. It’s a Remington rolling block rifle in .43 Spanish. I’ve wanted a good rolling block for 20 years, and I just stumbled into this one. Now, my world is suddenly in turmoil. Should I preserve this rifle as is or should I rebarrel it? If I rebarrel it, should it be to a caliber for which I already have the loading equipment or for a caliber I think I might like better than the ones I now shoot?

I want to shoot lead bullets, but the heavier they are the more the gun will recoil. On the other hand, a light 275-grain bullet doesn’t carry as well as a 550-grain bullet. But at 550 grains, the bullets use up my lead supply much faster.

Should I just rebarrel it to .30-30 and shoot smokeless powder, or should I put a bull barrel on to increase the weight to 16-18 lbs. and chamber it to .45-90 to reach out real far? Of course, then I would have to shoot black powder, which brings up a dozen other major questions.

What should I do?
And then it hit me. This is the same process new airgunners go through all the time. If they spend all their money on that RWS Diana 54 or TX 200 I recommend, they have very little left for a scope and mounts. However, that Gamo CFX looks pretty good, and people say nice things about it. Would they like that just as much?

Is there any difference between my dilemma and theirs? Except for the topic, I don’t think so. That’s because every time you make a choice, you always do something else–you EXCLUDE all those other choices you had right up to the moment you decided. What a terrible thing! By choosing one thing you eliminate so many others.

Here’s a good one. A guy wants a powerful pellet pistol. He examines the possibilities and comes up with this list: 

Beeman P1/HW 45
RWS Diana LP8
Crosman 1377
Evanix AR6 Hunting Master pistol

Before he did the research, he thought that 600 f.p.s. was as powerful as air pistols got. In doing the research, he learned about the AR6, which exceeds 600 f.p.s in .22 caliber and is actually three or four times more powerful than any of the other guns.

Now he has even more choices to make. Instead of narrowing the field, he broadened it.

That happened because he doesn’t know himself very well. By that I mean he doesn’t know what he likes until he sees it. And that’s at the crux of many problems we have. Let me give you another example.

John has been reading about airguns for a while and he thinks he wants the most powerful pellet rifle made. So he starts looking around. At first, he finds the Walther Falcon Hunter in .25 and thinks he has found what he was looking for. Then he learns that Gamo will soon bring out their Hunter Extreme in .25 caliber. While he’s reading about that, he stumbles across the .25 caliber Sumatra by Eun Jin and learns that it is more than twice the power of the big Gamo. Wow!

Unfortunately, John then finds out about big bore airguns and he progresses through the 9mm and .45s, on up to the 20mm super guns that are handmade to order. Now he thinks he needs a $1,500 custom big bore air rifle.

Unfortunately, John knows very little about himself. If he did, he might be surprised to learn that he lives in an apartment in Wilmington, Delaware, and seldom leaves town for any reason. If he’s going to shoot, it’s going to be in his apartment or nowhere.

But since he doesn’t know himself, and since his tax refund was only $837 this year, he settles on the Sumatra and a hand pump.

Right after that, Pyramyd Air gets the calls:

“MAN! This air rifle is LOUD!”

Yes, it is.

“And this hand pump is hard to pump to 3,000 psi. And the gun goes through air really fast!”

Yes, it is and yes, it does.

John will probably give up airgunning and try something else pretty soon. But if he had just known a little more about himself we (all of you experts on this blog, along with me) would have advised him to buy an IZH 61. He could have safely shot it inside his apartment and his neighbors would never have known. He could have used the extra money he didn’t spend to buy a Quiet Pellet Trap and lots of good pellets. Maybe even a nice dot sight or Bug Buster scope.

The answer
I lived about 55 years before discovering that this dilemma really can be solved. You have to be honest with yourself–brutally honest. Follow me, on the question of rebarreling my rolling block:

How often will I REALLY shoot this rifle? About 100-500 rounds a year.

Will I EVER hunt big game with it? Probably not.

Will I EVER compete in a big bore silhouette match with it? Absolutely not.

If I were to rebarrel it to a smaller, lighter caliber that’s easier to reload for and easier to clean up after, how many shots per year will I probably shoot? About 100 to 500 per year.

Answer–leave the gun as is and just shoot it. If you feel the need for long-range big bore blackpowder fantasies, watch Quigley Down Under again.

For John in Wilmington–get an IZH 61 and shoot it until the barrel wears out (in 2,000 years). If you do win the lottery and move to Texas and buy a 10,000 sq. ft. house, buy a second air rifle.

And now, a word from our sponsor The Pyramyd Air moving sale

by B.B. Pelletier

Last week, I hinted at what’s about to happen, and today I’ll come right out and tell you. Pyramyd Air is moving! They’ve purchased a building and will move there this year–the exact date is still being determined.

Here’s what the move will mean to you. They plan to have a blow-out sale of odds and ends to lighten their load. Last year’s Garage Sale was just a warm-up for what’s coming this time.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for airgunners to land some buys they’ll be bragging about for decades to come. Pyramyd Air has more product to put into this excess sale than the entire inventory of many of their competitors.

Before we get into that, though, I’d like to give you a little history of the company.

Joshua Ungier was a dealer of gem stones, plus he owned a marble-importing business operating under the name Pyramyd Stone. Being a shooter and loving airguns in particular, he decided to open a mail-order airgun business in 1993-94. Pyramyd Air started in 440 square feet of Josh’s basement. But it took off pretty fast and soon had to move into a larger rental space of 2,000 sq. feet. The new space was so large compared to the basement that Josh wondered if he would ever grow into it; inside a couple months, he had. He had to build a second level in that space just to be able to stay there awhile.

But even that space wasn’t enough. So, once again, Pyramyd Air expanded into a similar space two doors down, doubling their size to 4,000 square feet. That held them for a few years, but then they outgrew that and had to move again–to their current 12,500 square-foot building.

But their current building isn’t suited to their type of business. There are too many garage doors in back, which makes the place hard to heat in the winter. Being in Cleveland, it’s winter for almost half the year. They also have too many passageways between what used to be separate businesses, so it takes forever to go somewhere inside their offices and warehouses. All the businesses that were there before had put in their own unique interior walls and doors. Pyramyd Air has tried to stay current, but they aren’t about to gut a rental property and do a major remodel on something they don’t own. The current situation is less than ideal. They also now have 43 employees, so their parking lot is maxed out.

They just bought a 20,000 square-foot building. This one they own and can do anything they like. And before they pack up to move, they want to clear out all the excess stuff that’s piled up over the years. Let me tell you about some of that to get your imagination started.

Whenever a manufacturer has a new gun to sell, PA will buy samples to evaluate. This can range from one to as many as 20. It can happen 10-20 times each year. After the evaluation, they have these samples taking up space and getting older.

Then, there are the repair guns customers send in. When they learn how much the repairs will cost, they sometimes ask how much of a trade-in PA will offer on their old gun toward something new. That generates more old guns laying around.

There are also the hopeless basket cases that come from a number of sources. A pallet gets stabbed by a forklift during shipment, or a pallet falls over and smashes a few guns, or a repair job is abandoned by the customer or any of a thousand other things can happen. Now, you have more guns just laying around. Some get refurbished and sold, but many others do not. Some aren’t worth the effort.

And, speaking of refurbished guns, what does that mean? At Pyramyd Air, they use a specific term to describe each type of condition.

Used guns are those that a customer has taken out of the box and fired at least a single shot. They’re the guns I use to test for this blog. The point is, they have all been used and cannot be sold as new.

Refurbished guns have been gone through and brought back to original specifications. All parts that need to be replaced have been. They may have scratches and marks on them, but they should operate like new, and Pyramyd Air gives the original factory warranty–whatever it was–on refurbished guns.

Open box guns were sold to a customer who had buyer’s remorse. He never shot the gun, but he did open the box. They are also guns that the Pyramyd Air staff has had to open the box to obtain some kind of information or take pictures for the website. An examination article, if you will. They are brand-new guns, but for some good reason the box is no longer factory sealed.

Basket cases are just what the name implies. Buy them at your own risk. These are great for hard-to-find parts or for experimentation.

Speaking of parts, PA has a ton of vintage new-old-stock Diana spring rifle parts. There are enough parts to build complete guns in some models. Barrels, stocks, sights, mainsprings–everything the hobby airgunsmith needs to get the job done.

And airsoft
Besides the pellet and BB guns, Pyramyd Air has a TON of airsoft guns they need to get rid of. There are customer returns, guns that didn’t sell well, guns with known problems that Pyramyd Air withdrew from sale because they didn’t know how they would last. I’m telling you, there are enough of these guns to start a small store! Unless they’re marked otherwise, they all work when you buy them. Pyramyd Air estimates at least $60,000 worth of airsoft guns in this sale–not that they’ll be charging that much!

Scope it out
And besides the airsoft guns, they have a huge inventory of used scopes. This sale is perfect for those serious airgunners who want parts, project guns and cheap accessories. It’s also perfect for dealers who want to plus-up their inventory at a fraction of the cost.

Pellets galore
There will be the same pellet offer PA has made at Roanoke and the last garage sale. Four tins of premium pellets will be pre-bundled and sold for $20. It’s a value of up to $40, depending on what you get. If you want to buy specific pellets in dented tins, please bring a written list. A Pyramyd Air sales associate will take your list into the warehouse and fill it to the extent possible.

As a special offer for this sale only, all dented tins will be repackaged in the new rectangular blue plastic boxes Pyramyd Air now uses for .25 caliber through 9mm pellets. These are rugged boxes with closures that stay closed all the time. Only pellets from dented tins sold at the moving sale will be packed this way.

An estimated $200,000+ worth of inventory is being put into this sale. It will be the biggest airgun sale anyone has ever seen.

Details, details
The details of the sale are still being formulated, but they want to hold it sooner, rather than later. John Goff from Crosman is coming down to flip burgers on the grill, and I will be there to meet everyone as well. There will be food and beverages at the sale. Once you arrive, you can shop ’til you drop. There will also be other attractions, but those details are still being worked out.

They’re thinking that if you want to bring guns that you don’t want to ship, they will have airgunsmiths on site during the show. Some work will be possible while you wait.

They’re also thinking that you might want to bring your own airguns to trade in on new ones. This can be a real carnival if you embrace it.

What do YOU want?
Pyramyd Air would like some input from you. Is a one-day or two-day sale best for you? If it’s two days, it’ll be a Friday/Saturday. If one day, it’ll be Saturday. What do you expect to see? Give PA some idea of what kind of things you’re hoping to see at their sale by commenting on this blog entry. They carry over 5,000 different items, and all of them, plus things carried in the past, are fair game for the sale.

The only thing I will say about a two-day sale is that the sharp buyers get there on the first day and get the cherries. The second day is often just the dregs. And you can’t ask PA to hold inventory for the second day–they want to get rid of this stuff. That’s just my two cents from years of airgun shows.

Talk it up and get back with me on your thoughts.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

You've seen tons of movies with guys spraying bullets from their Uzi submachine guns and probably thought it would be a blast. Except for the cost of ammo! You can have all that fun with this Uzi BB submachine gun at just pennies a round. Throw shots downrange for hours on end with all the fun, none of the firearm hassles and a fraction of the cost.