Relum Supertornado – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Okay, today I’ll continue with the description of this rifle and test the velocity, as well. You may remember that the Relum Supertornado is an underlever that’s loaded through a tap. A tap is a loading chamber that turns 90 degrees to accept a pellet, then realigns with the breech for firing. It’s located in front of the compression chamber and behind the barrel. When aligned with the barrel for firing, it sort of forms an extension to the air transfer port because it’s still behind the rifled barrel. So taploaders are usually lower-powered than other types of airguns that load directly into the barrel.

Loading tap
The Supertornado is a spring-piston air rifle, but loading taps have been used on precharged pneumatics, as well. Loading taps have to be as airtight as possible while still being able to rotate. That said, most of the taps I’ve seen and used have rotated smoothly and without great force. The tap on this Supertornado rotates with very little effort at all. However, there’s one quirk. This is the only loading tap I’ve seen on a pellet rifle that rotates down. The handle moves counter-clockwise until its pointing straight down when the loading port is opened. On all other taps I’ve seen, the tap rotates clockwise and points straight up when the port is open.


When closed, the handle on the loading tap points forward.


The handle rotates down to open the tap. A pellet is now dropped nose-first into the tap, which is rotated closed to fire.

Quick check for the fit of the tap
One test to see how tight the tap is, is to let the piston go forward while the tap is down. This is done with restraint on the underlever to prevent the piston from slamming into the end of the compression chamber. I’ve had Hakims hold their pistons in place with the compressed air this way, however the tap on the Supertornado doesn’t seal that well. There’s a hiss of escaping air, but the piston doesn’t pause when going forward.

Firing behavior
When I cocked the rifle the first time, I could see why it’s a favorite of the owner. The cocking effort is a mere 21 lbs. according to my bathroom scale. That is just one pound above my criterion for a youth gun! The single-stage trigger that was originally adjustable but now is not, pulls smoothly between 4.5 and 5.5 lbs. It’s so smooth that it feels like a pound less.

The underlever has a ball bearing in its end that makes it hold tight to the socket, yet pop away from the barrel when you’re ready for it. And the light cocking effort makes this an all-day rifle, for sure.


A large spring-loaded ball bearing holds the underlever in place.

Inside the rifle there are two mainsprings, one nestled inside the other. These two springs are wound in directions counter to each other to cancel any tendency for the rifle to twist or torque at firing. Owners of RWS Diana 48 and 52 air rifles notice this twist more than most spring rifle shooters because their rifles are slightly heavy on the right side due to the extra weight of the cocking lever, and the direction of the torque is also to the right but it’s noticeable in many spring rifles.

When Jim Grossman acquired the rifle, he told me he cleaned out the powerplant, which was full of dried factory grease, and lubricated the two original springs with a light coating of Jim Maccari’s spring-dampening tar (a thick viscous grease that deadens vibration). He learned that some UK websites tell how to upgrade the power with a Gamo or OX mainspring, but he was happy with the factory setup. So, let’s see what the gun gets in terms of power and velocity.

The rifle fires without vibration. There’s just a solid “thunk.” And that, coupled with the easy cocking and smooth trigger, make this one endearing air rifle. If it also turns out to be accurate, it’s a classic “go-to” airgun.

RWS Superdome
The Relum Supertornado is a .177, and we suspect that it has low- to mid-level power. So, I selected pellets that I felt were appropriate for that power range. RWS Superdomes were first to be tested. They gave a velocity average of 515 f.p.s., and the spread went from 503 to 529, for a total of 26 f.p.s. That’s an average power of 4.89 foot-pounds.

I chose Superdomes for another reason besides their weight. Taploaders need pellets made of pure lead and those with thin skirts, because the air blast has to flare the skirt out to seal the tap. Otherwise, there will be some blowby air and the velocity will suffer. I’ll show how in a moment.

Gamo Match
The lightweight 7.5-grain Gamo Match pellet went a little faster. It averaged 562 f.p.s., with a spread from 553 to 571. That’s a total of 18 f.p.s. Average energy with this one was 5.26 foot-pounds, or a little more than with the heavier Superdomes. This relationship (lighter pellet being more efficient) is to be expected from a spring-piston gun–especially one that’s vintage.

Crosman Premier hollowpoints
Crosman Premier hollowpoints gave me a problem in the Supertornado, and they illustrate what I said earlier about soft lead and thin skirts. Premier hollowpoints weigh a nominal 7.9 grains, so they should be about as fast as an RWS Superdome. Perhaps slightly faster, because they’re supposed to be almost half a grain lighter. But that wasn’t the case.

These pellets averaged 487 f.p.s. But the real story is in the spread. It ranged from 397 to 518! A spread of 121 f.p.s. I was going to throw that 397 out as an anomaly, but on the 10th shot I got a 416 f.p.s., so it stayed in.

The problem, once again, is that a taploader needs a soft, thin pellet skirt that can be blown out into the walls of the tap to seal the air behind the pellet. Crosman lead pellets are all made from a hardened alloy that makes them well-suited to work through repeating mechanisms. While they’re pretty much the standard for action guns, they do have a problem in most taploaders, and these velocity results show that as graphically as can be. The firing behavior on that slow first shot was also noticeably sudden and quick. I wouldn’t say it was harsh, because it seemed to be the opposite of harsh. But it was different from all the other shots, and I could tell that while shooting through the chronograph. Had I gotten two more shots like it, I would have stopped right there, but it never felt that way again.

That takes us through velocity. Next stop are the bullseyes.

29 Responses to “Relum Supertornado – Part 2”

  • CJr Says:

    BB,
    Good article, but…
    I noticed an error in your illustration of the underlever and ball bearing. The caption is the same as the that under the tap illustration.

    -Chuck

  • Anonymous Says:

    CJr,

    Blogger has a new bug that does not allow us to edit any previous blog entries. We can create new ones, but we can't schedule blogs to publish some time in the future, and we can't go in & correct blogs that have been posted.

    Hopefully, the Blogger software will be fixed soon. We're not the only ones with this issue, but it IS very specific. For instance, there's no issue with the podcast…it seems to function the same as usual.

    Edith

  • CJr Says:

    BB,
    Are there any rifles in production today that use the tap? If they are not in production do you have a guesstimate as to what the latest year/decade to start looking? I liked the idea a lot until you mentioned its air loss/lower power situation and the need for soft tails.

    -Chuck

  • CJr Says:

    Edith,
    Don't you just love computers?!
    -Chuck

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Chuck,

    If you are saying that you want to get an air rifle with a tap, try a Hakim. They are around and cost about $300.

    Older BSAs have taps, and they run about the same.

    There are some from the '70s from Webley that might satisfy you, but I think they are more money.

    Check out the Blue Book.

    B.B.

  • wayne Says:

    Good Morning all,

    My old BSA loading port rotates forward and up to load. I haven't checked the cocking effort, but it's pretty light too.

    Mine's got a cool flip up peep sight. Very sweet old gun, especially after Vince worked it over.

    Chuck,

    I haven't checked out the online target contests yet.. so I don't know how or if I could play with you… my partners think I should do some work for our business, instead of playing around with guns all the time..

    …isn't that the craziest thing you've ever heard?

    I'm going to have them checked out for sanity.. something must be very wrong with their heads.. right?

    Anyway, I'll check out the games sometime after the pigout weekend..

    BTW.. did anyone shoot their turkey?? I didn't!!! butterballs here I come.

    Wacky Wayne, Ashland Air Rifle RAnge

  • Anonymous Says:

    Wayne – I don't know if you've ever had wild turkey before, but I think you'll be a lot happier with the butterball. Having said that, I do have a favorite recipe for wild turkey. Start with a large pot, big enough to submerse the turkey completely in water. Line the bottom of the pot with rocks, no special rocks required, just anything you can find. Fill the pot with water, add the turkey and boil for several hours. When you think the turkey is good and done, throw it away and eat the rocks!!

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone

    -Aaron

  • kevin Says:

    Aaron,

    Interesting. My recipe for wild turkey on the rocks starts with a glass of ice.

    kevin

  • CJr Says:

    WW and everybody else,

    Hope you can do it.

    The only effort required is to print off a target (provided at the site), shoot 25 shots at it within 20 minutes and record the results online (you do have to register to record results). The current competition for 10m air rifle benchrest any gun any scope ends Dec 6. So you have 13 days.

    Here's the target. Print with scaling set to none:

    http://www.airgunarena.com/images/2/22/10_Meter_Benchrest.pdf

    Here's the site and rules:

    http://www.airgunarena.com/index.php/Competition_-_eMatch_Info

    If you can't make this one, they have two every month.

    -Chuck

  • Mr B. Says:

    Edith,

    Would you please, if you already haven't, delete the post by 123 123 on the Mendoza RM-200 Part 1 blog that appeared there today. We don't need to be advertising for an escort service! Thanks!

    Mr B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Mr. B.,

    I deleted that message at 6 a.m. this morning. Dump your cache and reload the page.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Kevin – Well played!

    -Aaron

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    I can't even remember what this rifle looks like.

    Jane and all, with all of the talk about wind deflection and distance I thought that I better go back to my sources and make sure I got it right. Otherwise, I would be in the position of the villain in the film Running Man, who, when he sees Arnold Schwarzeneggar bearing down on him at the end says, "[Arnold] you look pretty pissed, and, you know, you've got a right to be…."

    I was right about the disagreement between Tubb and Tompkins, but I see I overlooked a critical piece of information. Tompkins says that the reason downrange wind counts more is because of the reduced velocity of the bullet AND the fact that the wind is stronger the higher up you go.

    This is a fact known to any radio controlled pilot, and I experienced it myself for a recent flight of the repaired Corsair. (By the way, playing a one-man arsenal of democracy, I did get the thing repaired, but now I am turning my attention to reversing the effects of glue after spilling a good deal of my Gorilla superglue all over my hand. The best solution appears to be vegetable oil, and it took an hour of rubbing to get most of the glue off.) Anyway, the bullet is higher than the muzzle for almost all of its flight. I think we might have a tipping point here. 1000 yard shooters shoot higher than 600 yard shooters. When you throw in BG_Farmer's transsonic effects at 1300 fps, you have the material for erasing a lot of the 18X discrepancy between Tubb and Tompkins. I would look for the effects of downrange and muzzle wind to roughly balance. Tubb and Tompkins are both too good to be substantially wrong about something like this. It probably is not that important among all the other factors in play. I don't know how pellet trajectories (and elevations) compare to highpowered bullets so I don't know how this effect transfers to airgunning.

    So, it could be that the answer does not lie in some subtle new effect of physics but plain old elevation. Cut to the Star Trek movie with the Great Khan where the Enterprise and Khan's ship are stalking each other in some sort of intergalactic cloud.

    Kirk: Analysis, Spock.
    Spock: Khan's movements indicate high intelligence but inexperience, especially an inability to think in three dimensions.
    Kirk: Mr. Sulu, take it up.

    Jane, I see you have noted the gender of Nancy Tompkins. I was reading about her and noted that her daughter is almost as good as she is. At the 2005 Camp Perry contest, Tompkins said that her daughter was set to be the first person to win the X and Y trophies, but that "she has to beat her mother to do it." That's not what you expect to hear at the elite shooting level and trashes quite a few stereotypes.

    FrankB., thank you for your package received last night. You know the first thing I did, of course: try out the knife on the forearm hairs. That's as close a shave as I've ever had and without the benefit of shaving cream. You're the man. You're weren't joking and I am newly inspired. I can get a burr easily enough. So what's the rest of the process to get these super-sharp edges? Do I just use the ceramic rod with a regular honing motion? Thanks again.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Jane,

    Glad to hear your assurances about the hand pump, especially since you said you're not a giant. Are you still using your leverage system?

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Matt61,

    Excuse my lack of scientific foundation for the next question:

    "Wouldn't a 1mm shift in direction near the muzzle have a greater effect than a 1mm shift in direction near the target?"

    Essentially I'm asking, doesn't a deflection early in the flight have more bearing the later?

    G.

  • Cougar94 Says:

    Hello,B.B.

    Sorry for going a bit off the topic:

    What type/make of grease did you use with the Pro-Guide kit you tested in the RWS Panther 34? (It looks blueish in colour.)

    Cougar94

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Cougar94,

    The grease was put there by the manufacturer of the Pro-Guide. A good moly grease would work, too.

    It has no damping effect.

    B.B.

  • tunnel engineer Says:

    Re: Field Target

    This weekend, I will be showing up at a nearby FT competition with absolutely no hope of doing well at all. I will bring my Gamo Whisper with the GRT trigger and a Leapers 4-9X scope and there may not be even a class for springers…

    Of course, I will be holding under/over.

    Any advice to make this experience more pleasurable? I want to get a taste for this sort of thing. I won't bring the Disco as I do not have as much experience shooting it as the Gamo

    Update on the Mosin. Got surplus ammo. Still have same issue with feeding. Extractor does not always engage the rim. It engages maybe one out of three or four casings the first time around. Eventually, I am able to feed 3 out of 4 casings, but I would be dead as a rock in a battle situation. I am about to get a Dremel and thin out the extractor "hook" to increase clearance…

    T.E.

  • Jane Hansen Says:

    Matt, G:

    For sure, and ANGular deflection has a massively greater impact at the muzzle. No debate here.

    Tompkins observes that deflection due to wind is more critical at the targte than at the muzzle. I agree. Our Fan experiment does not consider changes in wind speed, nor is it as important as velocity.

    Consider this, the fastest round I've hunted with, the 30-06 Spr. accelerator, has a muzzle velocity over 4000FPS. At 500 yards, it's already dropped to 1700. That gives it more than double the time in the down-range wind than the up-range. Beyond 700 yards, the time differential is close to triple.

    Please refer to my original note: "Time in the breeze" is the deciding factor.

    regards,

    Jane

  • Jane Hansen Says:

    Matt et al:

    I still pump, (waiting for BB's $500 compressor), and I did rig up a crude lever. I was watching a crude "Dirt E Harry" review of a PCP and he put a horizontal broomstick perpendicularly across the top of his pump handle. He stuck one end under a table, and pushed on the other end. Very crude, but effective.

    So, I figured, I could make this somewhat better by using length of 1×4 and actually screwing the pivot end to a door frame, making a hole to slide the pump handle in, and then working the free end.

    I've had to tweak it a bit, (the pump base needed to be weighted down, but still free to wobble), and I don't get "full" strokes, but the force is manageable and I can pump pretty fast..

    regards,

    Jane

  • wayne Says:

    TE.

    Set your scope for the peak of the arc your gun shoots with it's most accurate pellet.

    Now the cross hairs are at zero, more than likely 24 yards or so… test this out on paper targets set from ten to 55 yards at least 5 yards or closer apart… two yards would be best.

    Now you only have to hold over.. no holding under…

    ..that makes it easier..

    ..next notice how much you have to hold over for the ten yard shot.. most likely 1" or so… where as 40 yards is only 1/4" to 1/2".. then 55 ends up 2" to 4".. guessing the holdover in that distance is the hardest for me.

    hope that helps a little

    Wacky Wayne, MD.
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • tunnel engineer Says:

    Wayne,

    well, thank you very much. That is certainly a great piece of advice. I was worrying about the hold under issue until I read your post !
    T.E.

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    BB,
    I love that SuperTornado, looking forward to more.

    Wayne,
    That's really clever. I'm still hoping you will revolutionize FT! It seems like there is a lot of grumbling about equipment requirements always being driven upwards, even in the Hunter class, and you seem to be bucking that trend in the hardest class.

    Matt,Jane,
    I'm with Tomkins — there is no way she is wrong about something so critical to her success. Just a matter of figuring out how it works the way she says and determining if its true at all ranges or just the longer ones.

  • Jane Hansen Says:

    Grantland:

    I don't know too much about silencer technology, so I don't grasp the desire to use cones. "Air Splitters" use cones to deflect the air behind the pellet so that it won't alter the pellets trajectory, but they don't try to contain it, they just vent it sideways.

    I would think the goal of any silencer is to provide a place for the compressed air behind the pellet/bullet to go and "decompress" before it exits the barrel. Shrouds route the compressed air all the way to the breach, and thus have a large "expansion chamber". Screw-on suppressors are nothing more than a series of "cans" stacked in a tube to form a series of chambers to collect the gas and cool it before it exits, (slower, with less noise)… larger the diameter, shorter, individual cans, (and more cans), give more effective silencing…

    I'm not sure about the cones..

    Best of luck..

    Jane

  • Anonymous Says:

    Nice to see an impartial review of the old girl, and by a pro. As BB said, the shot cycle on this rifle is really sedate, especially considering there's no spring guide at all. I think it has to do with the all-important power to weight ratio. This one's pretty low powered, but a full-sized, relatively heavy gun. While not even close to a match rifle, it does share a similar power to weight ratio. I don't have a chrony, so I always guessed it at somewhere close to 600 fps. I guess my guesser isn't that far off. I had never thought about pellet selection based on softness and skirt thickness for this gun, but it makes sense to me now. Make sure to try RWS Hobbies when testing for accuracy. I've had good luck with them in this gun at short ranges. The Relum Supertornado is one of my favorite rifles for indoor standing practice during the winter months. Like I said, it's certainly not a match rifle, but if you treat it like one, it can give satisfying results.

    Jim in PGH

  • Anonymous Says:

    G.,

    Yes, indeed, deflection at the muzzle is more important than deflection later. Moreover, deflection at the muzzle increases in direct proportion as you go downrange. Hence the minute of angle calculation where a half inch group at 50 yards equals one inch at 100 yards equals two inches at 200 yards and so on.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Matt61,

    So my trig math was useful after all.

    G. :o)

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Jim,

    I hope I have .177 Hobbys to test.

    B.B.

  • ogilkes Says:

    So this is a .177? Thats a model that was rarely if ever imported into the UK (though I think they got to the continent). I've never seen one and I have seen quite a few Tornado's now.

    The double spring arrangement does work reasonably well, though there is a tendency for them to become srong bound to the detrimemnt of operation. So in the UK there has been a movement among those who still occassionaly use these FEG unedrlevers to rebuild them with other springs. A popular one is BSA Meteor spring, though cut down airsporter springs (and others) have been used too. However, I would be most careful, the whole sproing assembly is held in by a very thin steel spring and too much power might lead to disaster. A Ox is far too powerful a spring to use I would think, and would make a very harsh firing cycle.

    The downward moving tap is most odd, but I have never used one that did not hold its station correctly.

    The biggest problem was replacing the leather piston seal which is riveted on. It requires quite a bit of work to replace these correctly.

    Anyway, again, BB its great to see such a classic being reviewed.

    Ollie

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