Haenel 303-8 Super – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part


Haenel’s 303 Super is a large breakbarrel target rifle from East Germany.

Before I begin, I have to tell you that my illness and the bad weather we have had here in Texas (rain for two straight weeks!) has kept me from getting out to the range to finish the Blizzard test. I’m really anxious to see if I’m right about the baffles being the cause of the inaccurate shooting. But I can’t go in the rain, because the range won’t support it.

It’s been close to two months since we last visited this curious target rifle from East Germany. Today, I’ll look at accuracy and throw in a couple surprises to boot!

A funny thing happened…
I guess getting to know this Haenel has been a voyage of discovery for me. Remember that I mistakenly listed the model as the 303-8 Super and then I found the model number stamped on top of the spring tube? It’s really a model 303 Super, which must have preceded the 303-8 Super.

Well, the funny things keep right on happening. This time it’s the front sight. One of our readers suggested that it was mounted backwards on the rifle, so I obligingly turned it around. As it turns out, though, it shoots too far to the left in that configuration, so I had to mount it the way it originally came to get in the bull at 10 meters. There’s an old saying, “If it ain’t broke–don’t fix it.” I guess that applies here.

While trying to sight in, I discovered that the rear peep sight has an extremely limited range of windage adjustment. There’s also the provision of moving the entire rear aperture mechanism to the right or left, but even that turned out not to be enough adjustment for the rifle, so I reversed the front sight and got on target after that.

And then it came to me…
Much later, after the shooting was finished, I learned that the rear sight isn’t as range-limited as I initially thought. It’s just a very simple design that has gotten dirty over the years, so I took it apart and cleaned all the mating surfaces. The sight is so simple inside that, once it was clean and lubricated with Break Free, it went back together and works perfectly. I wish I had known how easy it is to clean this sight before the test.

I decided not to shoot 10-shot groups with this rifle. In the end that turned out well because I shot more targets than I normally would.

Round one – Chinese wadcutters
Okay, you can’t buy these anymore, but I still have a few tins and they often shoot very well in certain real target airguns. In the case of the 303 Super, they were the best–at least on the first round.


Five Chinese wadcutter target pellets made this group at 10 meters. It was the tightest group of the first round. In fact, if the others hadn’t done any worse, this would have been the only round.

Round one – JSB Match
This was my first time trying JSB Match pellets in a target rifle. I expected them to equal H&N and RWS target pellets.


Well, this was a surprise. I expected a better group from these JSBs.

Round one – RWS R-10
I expected RWS R-10 pellets to be the best of all. Usually, they’re either first or tied for first when shot from a target air rifle.


RWS R-10 pellets at 10 meters. Given the first target, something is wrong with the rifle.

Another funny thing…
The JSB group was uncertain, but the RWS R-10 group told me something was wrong with the rifle. Not that every rifle should shoot R-10s accurately, but no rifle should group like this one did with the Chinese wadcutters and then spray R-10s all over the bull. I had noticed that the barrel wasn’t holding itself in position after it was cocked, so the pivot joint was loose, and this group confirmed it. So, out came the screwdrivers and all the stock screws plus the pivot joint screw were tightened. They were all loose. Now you understand why there had to be a round two.

Round two – Chinese wadcutters
On this go-around I sighted with the greatest precision. The rifle was rested on the backs of my fingers and the flat bottom of the forearm assisted in getting the same hold, shot after shot.


Another good group of Chinese wadcutters, only this one has a flyer that wasn’t called. It could have been a damaged pellet. Note the point of impact has changed since the first group, yet no sight adjustment was made.

Round two – JSB Match
This time, I got what I expected from JSB Match pellets. In fact, that was the best group of the session.


This cloverleaf was made by five JSB Match pellets at 10 meters. This is what I expected the rifle to do.

Round two – RWS R-10
I fully expected the RWS R-10 pellets to out-shoot the other two. But I was wrong.


Imagine my surprise to see this open group from RWS R-10 pellets. This just illustrates that every gun will shoot different pellets differently.

Observations
The Haenel 303 Super isn’t quite the target rifle that an HW 55 is. The reason for that may be because this rifle has been tuned by someone. I found moly grease on the baseblock and the automatic safety wasn’t working–two good clues that someone has been inside. The 303 trigger has a lot of creep in the second stage, though it releases light enough. But it’s not a Rekord, and you can easily tell the difference. Also, the stock is much blockier and doesn’t hold as nice as a 55. But the main difference is that the 303 isn’t quite as accurate as a 55, and that’s the one thing that really counts with a target rifle.


Five RWS Hobbys grouped like this at 10 meters from a rest with the HW 55SF.

On the other hand, the chief attraction of the 303 is its price. You’re only going to find it used, and it costs quite a bit less than a used HW 55 of any configuration. That makes a big difference to shooters on a budget. For everyone in that category and anyone who just wants something a little different, the 303 Super is a great rifle to find.

26 thoughts on “Haenel 303-8 Super – Part 3



  1. B.B.

    Is this still the gall bladder thing, or something else? Hate to hear you're not feeling well.

    I know how you feel about the rain. For the past two months here it has been incessant. September 20-21 my town received 20 inches of rain. That's right twenty. We exceeded the 500-year flood level. That's on the heels of a 4 year drought.

    Nature can be so cruel. Luckily much of my shooting is done indoors.

    Get well soon.

    Slinging Lead in Powder Springs



  2. B.B.,

    Hope you get to feeling better. You need to be in top shape to move into a new project. Will it have a better shooting range?

    Anthony in Guadalajara,

    Hope to hear more from you. I tried posting late last night, but it got lost somewhere.

    Boyd


  3. BB,

    Sorry your gall bladder is still giving you trouble! Keep us updated. Mine was removed about 11 years ago. I'm curious if gall bladder remedies really fix things so please let us know.

    You'll be in our prayers for a fast recovery.

    Thanks,
    A.R.


  4. Sorry to hear you ar not feeling well. Get weel soon.
    This is off subject but I wanted others to know that the 5039 beeman mount solved the inability to previously zero the the scope mounted on the shadow Matic gamo in .177 cal.
    It took almost all the height adjustment and a few turns on the scope at about 20'ft. to zero the gun but after about three months and various mounts and lots of expendature the problem with the gamo is solved.
    I hate to be defeated by something like this, I could have gotten out cheaper if I had just dumped the rifle and purchased another. Anyway I now have a R-1 beeman priced rifle in gamo configuration.
    Thanks for your several suggestions regarding this rifle.
    Earl Cox


  5. BB,

    I'm wishing you well, friend. You have a good group of friends on this blog that are wishing you well, also. You should begin feeling some of that wishing washing over your rebellious gall bladder soon.

    Also, I don't think you should have to apologize for shooting 5 shot groups. I make a motion that from now on you shoot only 5 shot groups, unless there is a very special reason to shoot more.

    I know there has been a huge amount of discussion on this blog about the best number of shots in a group and I don't want to spark more but, for the purposes of your reviews, 5 shots is enough for you or anyone to prove the accuracy of an airgun and whether a particular pellet is working for one or not. I would rather you spend your time reviewing more guns than introducing shooter fatigue in your results.

    Best wishes,

    -Chuck


  6. The front sight is right as it is in the picture. I know looks odd but that is how it goes.
    While living in Cuba I had a friend who had a Haenel 312. Same front sight, very accurate gun.
    Haenel 312 are the best airgun you can find in Cuba. The government has them in the best practice shooting ranges. Although they are not sold to the public once in a while some comunist crook sells one… and a lucky sun of the gun like my friend gets it. :)

    I hope you get well.

    O.B.


  7. B.B.

    I’ll second the five shoot groups. Certainly if you feel the need for ten proceed, but don’t worry about it on our behalf.

    Is Wayne with you today? I am guessing that would be an enjoyable meeting. Take a few pictures of the two of you together that so we can see if you get the chance.

    I understand your desire to treat your illness naturally, but I wouldn’t rule out medical treatment completely. I am guessing that natural method comes from having moved to California at an early age. In Ohio an individually is still considered somewhat of a health nut if they smoke filtered cigarettes and drink lite beer.
    As I recall, the folks in Dallas also had health infatuation that was very foreign to me at the time of my stay.

    In the 1980’s down there running was the big thing, I instinctively would look behind these folks to see who was chasing them. Took me awhile to figure it out…

    Take care,

    Volvo


  8. Volvo,

    No, California isn't the reason I'm into alternative medicine. Edith, who once wrote Dr. Atkin's newsletter, is a fanatic on the subject. She's blogged and written many articles, plus she was editor for a number of medical doctors who embraced alternative medicine.

    I am her Ken doll, and I came into the marriage with a lot of problems. 27 years later, I'm apparently still a work in progress.

    Yes, I took Wayne's picture. He was standing next to his–wait for it–Volvo!

    B.B.

    B.B.




  9. BB,
    I've liked that rifle since the first part, so it good to see it shoots pretty well and something about the front sight being on "backwards" isn't surprising:).

    If Wayne still hasn't patched up things at home, he can stay with me for a while:).




  10. Just a thought, but maybe the barrel latch on older springers was supposed to help keep the barrel from vibrating? as opposed to falling open?


  11. B.B.

    Hope you're feeling better. What is Wayne doing in Texas?

    On the subject of groups, my problem with 20 or 30 shot groups is not so much shooter fatigue (although that is a consideration) but that nobody shoots groups of that size so there's nothing to compare them to. And I would say that accuracy is inherently relative. So, if a rifle shoots a 1 inch 30 shot group at 20 yards what does that mean? Good, bad, indifferent–it's hard to say. I think that 5 shots do the job and 10 at the most.

    Anthony, welcome and don't forget the Marauder.

    BG_Farmer, since you're from Kentucky have you heard of Maker's Mark? I understand that is the ultimate class act from the home of corn whiskey, but when I tried it myself, it didn't seem to be anything special–just fairly smooth. My interest now is the James Bond martini, known as the "Vesper." He invents it in Casino Royale and the recipe is supposed to be online. My brother makes it and I'm anxious to try it.

    Matt61


  12. Matt,

    Remember all my harping on statistics and sample sizes? Now you are experiencing them first-hand.

    A one-inch group at 20 yards is not good accuracy. Period. Don't have to ask anyone else. It isn't good.

    I don't care whether you shoot 30 shots or 100; a one-inch group at 20 yards is not good accuracy.

    HOWEVER, that SAME Rifle will give you five-shot groups at 20 yards that are much smaller. I just bet they are. Shoot some and see. That is what statistical sample size does for you.

    Now, here is an important tip. Do not let your pellets hit the aim point, or all bets are off. Why, you ask? Because, as the aim point is worn away by the impacting pellets, your aim grows sloppy. You don't know exactly where the intersection of the crosshairs is, in relation to the target, because your hits have blown away that portion of the target.

    So sight the scope so that the impact point is an inch below the aim point. Then you will see the true capability of the rifle.

    And remember, a one-inch group at 20 yards is poor accuracy from a pellet rifle.

    B.B.


  13. Matt,
    Makers Mark is good (I always thought it was considered the gold standard), but I've always felt it was too smooth and a little sweet. Wild Turkey is more to my liking, although plain old Jim Beam is my usual pick for safe, and even at that I'm always tempted by the rockgut brands, which I won't name for fear of offending. Thats why I was so shocked by the Woodford Reserve: very well made but not too sweet and with a nice kick, which is usually the first thing lost when a drink goes to the yuppies:).

    You wont catch me drinking a Martini — the gin comes back up faster than it went down:).


  14. Bg farmer,
    Well, we all know what to get you for Christmas now. It’s odd how Kevin assumed it was me when you mention whiskey. : 0 )

    Matt61,
    Needless to say what B.B. said is true about large groups. If they are to the point of aim you end up with just a hole by shot 8 and it becomes pointless.

    Volvo


  15. B.B.

    Yes, I certainly do remember the harping about statistics. :-) I have no doubt that a 5 shot group is smaller than a 30 shot group. How much smaller? I would be tempted to use my earlier result applying the radial normal distribution. Supposing, as a rough approximation, that the increase in group size is roughly proportional to the number of shots for most of the normal distribution curve, then a 5 shot group should be 1/6 the size of a 30 shot group or, in our example, .22 inches. Using minute of angle geometry, that is about .10 inches at 10 yards which is good indeed. But that obviously does not apply here. Why? Because the normal distribution (statistics) only applies within one's call radius, and any decent shooter from a rest should hold all of his or her shots within less than an inch at 20 yards. So how much smaller is a 5 shot group than 20 shots at 20 yards? Beats me. It would be individualized and probably best seen from observation. I believe I will shoot some groups to see for my next showdown with BG_Farmer next month. Anyway, I think this all tends to show that 5-10 test groups tell us what we need to know.

    Regarding not shooting to the point of aim, that makes a lot of sense with the caveat that it takes a certain amount of discipline to aim differently from your point of impact. Elmer Keith himself says so.

    BG_Farmer, spoken like a true connoisseur. I will just add the name of Jack Daniels which is a longtime favorite of my Dad's enjoyed in large quantities over the years.

    Perhaps you've heard:

    One martini
    Two martini
    Three martini
    Floor

    For that reason you might consider the apple martini–two parts vodka and one part apple schnapps–and greatly enjoyed by me, recently, at the San Francisco airport.

    Matt61


  16. RE: 5 shot vs 30 shot group

    The herd has moved on, so I'll explain this again. The tables in the following paper are the key.

    "Approximate Probability Distributions for the Extreme Spread"
    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?D=ADA006586&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    What the tables assume are that the horizontal and vertical deviations are equal. The tables then give the appropriate values for the sampling of "shots" in a "group" when the variation is measured by "extreme spread" or group size. The problem is that group size doesn't follow any "nice" distribution like the normal distribution which can be integrated using calculus. So rather than using calculus, the function has to be evaluated numerically (by calculations).

    From table 1:

    5 shots = 3.066
    30 shots = 4.788

    So the average 5 shot group will be:
    3.066/4.788 * 100% = 64.0%
    as big as a 30 shot group.


  17. (Continued…)

    There are a lot of other considerations here.

    (1) A particular 5 shot group and a particular 30 shot group are only "samples" of the infinite number of such groups.

    In other words, you shoot a million 5 shot groups and a million 30 shots groups. No two are ever going to be exactly the same. But the million groups of each size will form a distribution. Just one group is a very small sample from the whole distribution and represents the whole distribution rather poorly.

    (2) A 5 shot group is more "variable" than a 30 shot group.

    Since a 5 shot group and a 30 shot group are not the same size, you have to look at relative variations not absolute variations. The appropriate statistic is the relative standard deviation (RSD).

    In column 3 of Table 1 in the paper referenced, there is an expected standard deviation given.

    3 shot RSD = 0.887/2.406*100% = 36.9%

    5 shot RSD = 0.828/3.066*100% = 27.0%

    10 shot RSD = 0.745/3.813*100% = 19.5%

    So a 10 shot group is a lot more repeatable than a 3 shot group. In other words, it is a lot harder to shoot a "lucky group" with a 10 shot group.

    You have to remember though that the distribution itself isn't "bell shaped", particularly for small group sizes (less than 10). By the time that you get 30 shots in a group, then the distribution will be essentially bell shaped.

    (3) The mistake that shooters undoubtedly make is setting the "BEST" (smallest) group as the "gold" standard. The gold standard should be the EXPECTED group size, or essentially the average group size.

    So if you did a million 3 shot groups, there would be a wide variation in the results. The "best" group in the million would be considerably better than the average group size. The problem with selecting the "best" group is that how small the best group is depends statistically on how many groups you shoot. So, if you shoot 100 million groups, then you'd expect that one group in the 100 million would be smaller than the smallest group of the million groups. The average group size of the 100 million groups, and the million groups would be the same however.

    (4) All of the above discussions IGNORE the possibility of a "flier." I'm not a good shot and make too many bad shots. Also I don't weigh and sort pellets. So I'll get some "abnormal" shots. So all in all, it seems reasonable to shoot 5 shots groups and get a group size. You shoot about twenty (thirty is better) 5 shot groups and you have enough groups to calculate a meaningful standard deviation. You can now use the experimentally determined standard deviation to reject fliers, or "outliers" as they are called in statistics.

    Twenty 5 shot groups from the "standard pellet" type would also give you something reasonable to determine if a group from another type of pellet is larger or smaller than expected from the "standard pellet" type. If the two types of pellets are roughly equal in performance, then you'll have to shoot a lot of groups to decide which is better. The less difference between the types, the more groups you have to shoot to statistical verify the difference.



  18. BB If the jsb and r10 fail..try gamo match…

    Good luck with your health…
    My wife and son have been sick lately.

    We have had constant annoying drizzle of rain for the last week or so…..it sucks….not to mention a light snow this last weekend. That was a shocker.


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