A Steroid Streak
by B.B. Pelletier
I'm doing this report for Mr. B, but I suppose many of you multi-pump shooters will be interested. In the world of Sheridan Blue Streaks and Silver Streaks there are two modifications that make the gun different. One is the pump-assist gun, and that modification is really applied to a Benjamin 392 instead of a Streak. The two guns are very similar except for the caliber. A Sheridan Streak is always .20 caliber.
The pump-assist gun develops the same power as the stock rifle, but the pump strokes are easier--especially the last few. There haven't been very many of them produced, and they're no longer being sold by Pyramyd Air, so that version is now in the collectible realm.
The other modification for Streaks is the Steroid modification that increases the rifle's power. I bought one of these and tested it for The Airgun letter, so I will draw on that experience to present this report.
Tim McMurray of Mac-1 Airguns developed the Steroid Streak in answer to customer requests for more power. Of course, more power is always the request, but Tim got a Streak up around 20 foot-pounds, where the standard rifle is down around or just under 14 foot-pounds. The difference is significant--especially to hunters.
Our rifle was a Silver Streak that Tim brought to Maryland when he paid our field target and 10-meter clubs a visit one year. We bought the rifle to test it for our readers. As a side note, we had also recently tested a special one-off Blue Streak made by Greg Fuller that developed up to 25 foot-pounds, but in a moment I will explain why that one was only a science experiment. It was documented in Airgun Revue #1.
The Steroid pumps just like a regular rifle except a little more efficiently. On the 8 pumps that marks the maximum for the stock Blue Steak, the Steroid developed more velocity than the standard gun. It went an average of 683 f.p.s.. with .20 caliber Crosman Premiers, while the standard rifle will usually shoot the same pellet around 645 f.p.s. But the standard rifle stops there, and the Steroid continues to as many as 14 pumps.
I was curious about the performance with more than 8 pumps, so I tested it carefully in that range. I discovered that up to 10 pumps, the rifle still exhausted all the air with the shot, which was good for 730 f.p.s. Starting with pump 12, there was some air remaining in the rifle after the shot. This increased with each additional pump until, at 14 pumps, enough air remained in the gun to fire a second pellet at 265 f.p.s.
On the Mac-1 website, it says that every pellet produces different results with air left in the gun. This is because of pellet weight. And, no doubt, every gun will differ somewhat as well.
Nothing was done to the barrel, so the accuracy didn't change, except that the greater velocity lets you reach out farther. Our test gun had a burr at the air transfer port; after it was removed, the rifle was as accurate as any Streak.
Tim McMurray told me the Steroid tune has two distinct advantages, and three if you want to take advantage of them. First, the rifle is capable of greater power. That's the No. 1 reason for getting the modification. But the gun also becomes more efficient to pump after being "Steroid-ed." The valve modifications make the gun shoot with greater authority, even when the max of 8 pumps isn't exceeded. Finally, the modification includes strengthening the pump linkage so it can take the added stress of higher pumping efforts. And they offer additional optional things to beef up the mechanism even more. So, you get a rifle that's more reliable, to boot.
Overlooking the greater number of pumps for a moment, the final strokes do take more effort than any stroke with a factory rifle. Pump No. 7 took 42 lbs. of effort, and pump No. 14 took 51 lbs. Let me put that into perspective by telling you about Greg Fuller's experimental gun and valve. Greg's rifle can accept up to 18 pump strokes to generate up to 25 foot-pounds, but the final strokes take 100 lbs. of effort to complete. That's why I said earlier that Greg's gun is just a science experiment.
When I tested the Steroid, the Sharp Ace was a pneumatic with comparable power that sold at the same time. An Ace got about 22 foot-pounds on 10 pumps. As the number of pumps increased, so did the trigger effort. That isn't true for the Steroid. For less money, a Steroid lets you keep the good trigger and get the same power. The trigger on our test gun broke cleanly at 34-40 oz.
Is it worth the money?
A Steroid tune costs $75 on your gun or adds $45 to the cost of the new gun. Whether or not you think it's worth it depends on how much you value power in that gun. But this much is certain--there's no easier way to get more power from a Sheridan Streak than by having a Steroid tune.