Browning 800 Mag – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The big Browning is extremely powerful, and has several surprises.

Today we’ll look at the accuracy of the Browning 800 Mag. We know it’s a hot number, but can it keep them in a tight group, too? That’s the big question.

How to hold this one?
You may remember me talking about shooting another air pistol when I wrote about the accuracy of the RWS LP8. This was the other pistol I was testing. I had just completed testing three different pellets with the Browning 800 Mag when I discovered that the LP8 likes to be rested on the barrel. So, I returned to this one after completing that test and I ran the whole test again. Ill tell you the results.

Trigger
The trigger on the 800 Mag remained heavy but crisp during all the accuracy testing. The automatic safety blade is inside the triggerguard, and your trigger finger can take the gun off safe when you’re ready.

Sights
The fiberoptic sights are dark, and, with the lighting I had on the target, they darkened enough so the front sight looked like a target post. The rear notch is in the center of a downward-curving rear blade, so it doesn’t present quite as crisp a sight picture as I would like, but it’s clear enough to do good work as long as the pistol is held out at arm’s length and you sight carefully.

The Browning rear sight slopes down toward the notch. A precise sight picture is a little harder to get, because it’s difficult to know where the top of the rear sight is.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets were the first to be tried. They fit the bore extremely tight, not seating flush most of the time. Ten shots netted me a group size of 2.128″.

Ten shots with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets at 10 meters, using the hold described in the earlier report, gave this 2.128″ vertical string.

Ten Crosman Premiers from a rested barrel gave this 2.653″ vertical string. This is not the way to go.

But when I tried resting the barrel, which worked so well with the LP8, the group size grew to 2.653″. So, the big Browning doesn’t like to touch anything when it shoots. The hold I told you about a couple weeks ago is the way to go with this pistol.

RWS Diabolo Basic
RWS Diabolo Basic pellets fit the bore much easier and seated flush every time. But they grouped in 3.284″ for nine shots. I was distracted while shooting and apparently miscounted the string. This was using a classic hold with the barrel touching nothing. When it touched the bag, I lost several shots off the paper, so the group grew to over five inches. Obviously, the Browning does not want to touch anything when it fires.

Nine RWS Basics gave this 3.284″ group.

Okay, we’re not doing so well, are we? Large groups, here. Will I ever be forgiven by those who want the big Browning to be even better than the RWS LP8?

But wait–there’s one more pellet to test.

Gamo Match
The Gamo Match it a wadcutter target pellet that I have often said can be surprisingly accurate. Well, today was the day. Using the classic rest–where the pistol doesn’t touch anything–I shot a nine-shot group (yes, I miscounted again!) that measures 2.078″. As you can see, it’s also rounder and not as much vertically strung out, which means this pistol wants to shoot. This may not be the best pellet for a Browning 800 Mag, but it does show that the pistol can shoot better than the first groups indicated.

Nine Gamo Match pellets gave this 2.078″ group at 10 meters.

Summary
So, what do we think of the Browning 800 Mag. Without a doubt, it’s the most powerful spring-piston air pistol on the market–now and maybe ever. If you read the owner reviews on the website, most owners mention the hard cocking and several have held off mentioning accuracy because they haven’t found the right pellet. May I suggest starting with Gamo Match and then looking for something that’s even better? If you want a powerful spring pistol and don’t have the money for the LP8, this would be the way to go.

32 thoughts on “Browning 800 Mag – Part 4

  1. BB
    I know this is meant to be a powerful
    pistol,and many folks want it for that,
    but I'll bet a stock and semi permanent
    bbl.extension would help the accuracy.
    not to mention turning it into a great
    low to mid powered carbine!
    It's already faster than a lot of rifles
    that claim to have as much fps.but don't.

    I know not everyone likes light wt
    rifles but some -like the 13xx carbine
    owners – do like them.I like 'em short
    and light too.I've heard that light wt
    springers can be harder to shoot well
    but I don't have near enough experience
    to know.Even the Izzy-61 has been
    called difficult or very hold sensitive
    by some folks.So what does everyone
    think? Good carbine,or leave it alone?

    JTinAL


  2. JTin AL,

    What's not to like about short, light carbines? Love my JC Higgens (Crosman 180), Crosman 140, Benjamin 392 and my powder burning M1 Carbine.

    On the other hand there is alot to like about a powerful handgun so lets have both!!!

    Mr B.


  3. AJVenom,

    Nice pictures. You've got a nice gun collection.

    JTinAL,

    Interesting idea to make this powerful pistol into a carbine assuming it could be made accurate (longer barrel? better pellet? scope?). After the time and expense you would have a lightweight carbine that shoots 700 + fps that would have a lot of competition from other guns that have proven accuracy. Accuracy is number one reason for me to own a gun. This one in B.B.'s hands hasn't impressed me and the reviews on accuracy are as of yet inconclusive.

    Matt61,

    Glad you got them. Hope they fit tighter and give you decent accuracy.

    kevin



  4. JT,

    On my 1377 I shot it in pistol form while it wore open sights. Once I added a red dot sight to it, it became a little heavy and awkward to handle as a pistol, so I added a shoulder stock and a carbine it became. I find it easier to shoot accurately, especially off-hand, with the stock. But I can take the dot sight and stock off in a matter of minutes and I've got the pistol again. I think this is a great option for any of the powerful pistols.

    So, I was able to shoot the disco quite a bit over the weekend. It is now wearing a Leapers 3x12x44 mini swat scope, which I think is just about the perfect scope for this gun. 1" groups at 40 yards (what I estimate to be about the max effective hunting range using 10.5 premiers)were a piece of cake. I drew first blood on a squirrel up in a tree at about 20 yards. He poked his little head out from behind a branch just enough to take a peek at me and that's all the diso needed. Shot him right under the eyeball for an instant kill. That made me real happy!!

    I've only run about 300 pellets threw it, but the trigger does seem to be lightening up somewhat. It's still stiff, but crisp and consistent. I find my fondness for this gun growing every day!!

    -Aaron


  5. Vince – I saved your email address and I'll get back with you about fixing up the RS2. Between the disco purchase and the new scope to go with it, my airgun funds are a little depleted at the momnet.

    -Aaron



  6. Herb, Mike T. and all, thanks for the info about increased light gathering with scopes. I could have sworn that I read on the blog somewhere that scopes reduced the amount of light the eye was receiving. Anyway, I'm glad this is wrong. I was fairly crushed to hear it. I'll try things out with my Leapers 6-24X tonight.

    And did you know that a look of warmth and love has been traced to a slightly dilated pupil in those feeling this emotion? Heh heh.

    Okay, try this one on for size. I've never been able to understand how large obstructions at the end of a barrel like a front sight or even a laser are invisible to a high power scope. This is equivalent, in effect, to the cutting edge technology in the F-35 fighter plane where the pilot can look right through the floor of the airplane although this is done with sensors all over the airframe. The way I see it, for a rifle there is a light ray going from the front sight, right into the scope, so what happens to it that it never reaches the eye? Some scientists explained this to me once in terms of light curvature, but I didn't understand.

    Matt61


  7. Matt,

    Well let's be honest. Any scope isn't 100% efficient so in an absolute sense, yes the scope does lose some of the light which hits the objective lens. That is part of why expense scopes are expensive. The extra optical coating to increase transmission efficiency are extra manufacturing steps. But even with some light loss, a large scope should increase the absolute amount of light that passes through your pupil.

    As far as an obstruction, it is still "there." But since the obstruction is out of focus it is blurred into a very indistinct shadow.

    Think of looking through a window screen. Back off a little distance and you can't see the screen. However it does reduce the amount of light passing through by a bit.


  8. All my airguns are on the economical side, but with a little work, they all can usually shoot 5 round groups .200" or better at 10M.

    My 1377 is my second airgun. I started out about 5" ctc groupings at 10m with original sights. With a bug buster scope, two stage adjustable sear, jsb exacts and a bench to shoot from I can get down to .200" ctc. With the scope, I shoot it like a carbine.

    As for the Browning 800 Mag, I am a little dissapointed. With BB's experience, you would figure the groupings would have be better. There must be something that can be done or a pellet that can be found to make the Browning shoot better.


  9. Another test showed different results shooting the Browning. Jock Elliot apparently used the Creedmoor position with a 5-shot group at 13 yards and was able to produce .57 ctc. I don't think I could shoot from a bench with a pistol to get goood results in accuracy. I WOULD use the Creedmor. I can't exactly take a bench every where I go, nor would I want to. Any chance B.B. ever used this method for either the LP8 or Browning? I know he blogged about the actual Creedmore postion but does he use for testing airguns?


  10. JTinAL,

    Regarding the IZH 61, I made a slight modification to my shooting technique the other day and the rifle was right up there with my B30. Such light guns can be as accurate as ANYTHING I believe, but they're not as consistent. I just use that inconsistency as a challenge to my shooting technique.

    Herb, the windowscreen does bring this phenomenon down to the every day. But what happens to the light ray from the sight? It enters the eye. Is the eye lens not directing it onto the retina? And what about the light rays from the target that are obstructed by a laser? Those rays should be reflected away from you. Instead, you get a complete image of the target as if the light rays are somehow doglegging around the laser into the scope and into your eye. I was never very good at those optics diagrams one draws for various lenses, and maybe the answer is in some construction there. It really is the darnedest thing.

    Matt61


  11. Fellows…

    Geeze, seems like we need to give Tom some consideration. Isn't it enough that he tries out a number of different pellets to try to determine what the pistol can do? Now he has to try a half dozen different shooting positions too? Tom obviously uses a bench rest to try and be as consistent as he can.

    Look back at some of his other pistol evaluations. He shot much much better. It isn't Tom, the pistol must have a recoil like a mule kick.

    A PCP air pistol, or a CO2, air pistol would have virtually no recoil. It isn't the recoil from the pellet, it is the recoil from the piston.

    But that does bring up another interesting question. Would training with a air pistol that has such recoil be of any help in learning how to shoot a firearm pistol like a 45?


  12. Matt,

    Since the front sight is out of focus, but close, it is blurred into a large indistinct shadow.

    I'd guess that you probably haven't used a 35mm SLR camera. But the lenses on such a camera have a diaphragm ("adjustable pupil") which can be set to have a larger or smaller hole. It is call the f-stop of the lens. If the f-stop is a low number then you're have a large hole and letting a lot of light through the lens. If the f-stop is high, then the hole is small and less light is getting through the lens.

    Think of a pin-hole camera. It has a very small hole (very high f-stop) and everything is in focus. On the opposite end if you have a large f-stop then a lot of light is getting through, but then only a very narrow range of distances is in focus at any given time.

    That is why field target shooters can use the AO on their scopes as a range finder. Their scope has a large hole (small f-stop) and only a narrow range of distances is in focus. So they focus on target, then read distance off of the scale on the scope.

    This also tells you something about fixed objective scopes. They have an internal diaphragm to raise the effective f-stop. So the scope will have everything from say 10 yards to infinity in focus. If you used a pin-hole then everything would be in focus. But you'd need massive amounts of light (more than bright daylight) for your eye to be able to see anything.



  13. Fireants in Texas. I guess I wouldn't use the Creedmoor position either.

    Herb-
    Slow your roll. I wasn't attacking Tom. I was saying that maybe one could get better results using the Creedmoor position. Since there are bitting creatures in Texas I understand why he doesn't use the Creedmoor position. No need to defend what wasn't being attacked. Chill out.


  14. Herb,
    I must be missing something, why would fixed objective scopes have an internal fixed diaphragm to raise the f/ratio? Doing so reduces the size of the objective. I have seen a couple of cases where cheap astro scopes did something like that to produce better image quality (which improves with f/ratio generally), but only because they were almost unusable without them.
    I think if you look at the focal lengths of rifle scopes versus the size of the objectives, you'll find that except for the largest ones they all have slow f/ratios (focal_lenght/objective_diameter) and ample depth of field for lower magnifications.



  15. BG_Farmer,

    Sorry, it was an educated guess that such a internal aperture (I used diaphragm before which wasn't the common term…) was used on fixed magnification scopes with large objectives to get a larger depth of field. I have no specific knowledge of any actual scope design, but I do have experience with different lenses on a 35mm SLR camera.

    PA for example sells a couple of 4x40mm fixed scopes, as well as a number of 40mm scopes variable power and adjustable objectives(AO). Thus it seems a reasonable assumption that an internal aperture of some sort exists within the fixed 4X40mm scopes. The larger objective gathers more light, but the internal aperture gives you depth of field.

    You wouldn't need an aperture for small diameter scopes, or say 2X scopes.

    I hope that this explains my remark…


  16. Creedmore Conquest,

    On the day I was testing the Browning for accuracy I was also testing and photographing a couple other guns for the blog. I was rushing to finish because I had to fly out for the TV show the next day, and I wanted to have a couple reports of guns that were recently being tested to go along with all the vintage reports I was posting.

    Where I conducted the test I could not use the Creedmore position, because I was shooting through a window of my house. You are correct about the Creedmore position being a stable shooting position, and if Jock Elliott got a good group with the Browning from that position, that should satisfy the requirement. Jock may well be a better shot than I am in the Creedmore position.

    B.B.


  17. Herb,
    By masking off the full aperture, either before (sub-aperture mask) or after the objective (clipping the light cone, with baffles, eyepiece tubes, etc.) in order to increase the f/ratio, you effectively decrease the size of the objective.

    Think about it mathematically: f/ratio = focal_length/objective_diameter. The focal length does not change, so the objective diameter is effectively reduced, losing not only light but also resolution. I agree that the 4×40 scope you mention is a likely candidate and a dubious product of marketing science, since the depth of field is probably much reduced over a smaller objective in exchange for little benefit (perhaps easier eye placement due to large exit pupil) — which is why in past days 4x scopes had objective diameters of 15-25mm.

    So, if any scope does clip the light from the objective, it is being falsely advertised in regard to objective size. I suspect that the 4×40 is simply fuzzier outside its exact focus than a smaller diameter 4x scope and that 4x is simply too low a magnification for most people to notice. I have a 6-24×42 scope, and you have to get to 12x or so to focus very precisely.


  18. ok …I checked out the 5 round .57" ctc grouping at 13 yards Jock got with his Browning 800 Mag using the Creedmore position and a red dot sight. Not bad, although a bench rest or hunting scenario would be more realistic setting for me.


  19. BG_Farmer

    Thanks! Your explanation and equation make sense. As you explained an internal aperture would effectively reduce the size of the objective, thus also changing the depth of field. The aperture would not function as a neutral density filter as I had supposed. A neutral density filter would of course admit less light, but the depth of field would stay the same.

    So it would make no sense to have an internal nonadjustable aperture which would effectively reduce the size of the aperture. Many thanks for the refresher on optics!


  20. B.B.

    Thank you for your honesty. I hope I didn't come off too blunt. I understand you are busy with many projects. No, I do not expect you to test the Browning again. The Creedmoor position has intrested me since I read about it in your blog. It was the first time I've heard of it. Been gathering all the info I can on the subject. So thanks for the enlightment. I 've been applying it to air pistols with great success. Changes things up a little as well. Laying prone has been best for me using air rifles. Now that I know about the Creedmoor position I use it when shooting air pistols. Maybe you could do a more in-depth report on the subject someday. Thanks.


  21. I recently purchased an RWS 48 in .177 caliber. The rifle itself is top quality. I live in a residential neighborhood. I've only put a few pellets through this rifle because of the amount of noise it produces. It almost sounds like I am shooting a 22 rimfire.

    My question is…..how much quieter will the rifle become after break in (say a couple hundred shots)?

    If it doesn't get much quieter than most likely I will need to exchange it for either the Gamo Whisper or the Crosman NPSS. Which would you recommend more & why?


  22. Michael,

    You came very close to todays article by B.B. and the comments section directly underneath todays article. Your question (and this comment) is under the article that B.B. did on Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

    Let me copy and paste your question in the comments section under todays (Thursday, September 17, 2009)article "Roger Blaisdell's remarkable finds". Please look in comments under that article later today for answers/opinions addressed to you from the other airgunners.

    kevin


  23. Hey BB,

    Quick question. I just purchased a Daisy Model 25, early 1960's, which seems to be in prime condition…it looks new. But I think there's a problem with the shot tube. The slide on the shot tube is very tight in places. I can get BBs in the tube, but when I load and fire the gun, no BBs come out, but one seems ready to go.

    When I fire the gun without the tube, it feels quite powerful, more so than others I have that are 350 fps. But with the shot tube in, it feels weak.

    Does it sound like I just need a new shot tube?

    Thanks,
    BarefootBB


  24. BarefootBB ,

    It sounds to me like the air tube is broken–a common fault with the 25. The shot tube is supposed to be fairly tight. That won't inhibit the passage of BBs unless there is a real problem. And the follower (what you call the slide) has nothing to do with the BBs leaving the bore.

    When the air tube breaks, the gun can still sound powerful, but it won't shoot well or at all. If you have other 25s as you indicate, try one of those shot tubes in this gun as a diagnostic.

    B.B.


  25. I watched the review by Paul Capello on the Pyramyd Air website. Please, PLease, PLEASE tell the guy to buy a tripod for his camera guy to use. I got motion sickness from the bouncing around.
    Nice review to listen to but I couldn't watch it.
    With some of the reviews on the site about problems with the pistol, is quality control where it should be? I dont' want to buy something and then spend another hundred dollars sending it back and forth for repairs.



  26. I noticed on some sites that there is a .22 version of this gun now available. Does anyone know if that means that it is possible to obtain the .22 barrel and swap it with the .177? Where does one find this info? There is no mention of this gun on the Browning site.



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