AirForce Edge - Part 2
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: The first shipment of AirForce Edge rifles has arrived at Pyramyd Air!
Today, we'll continue our look at the AirForce Edge 10-meter target rifle. Normally, the second report is dedicated to velocity testing, but today I'm going to finish the special features in our look through the gun.
In the 10-meter world, guns come in vibrant colors. It's one thing that sets 10-meter shooters apart from most other shooting sports. Daisy has even added color to the dies in their laminated stocks on the 853 in recognition of this trend. So, AirForce decided to join the fun and offer colors. The rifle I'm testing is red, but on the Pyramyd Air website, the rifle shown is blue. At this time, those are the only two colors offered, but I wouldn't be surprised if they came out with others before too long. Right now, they're pushing production to fill all their backorders. When they catch up with those, they'll have some time to play a bit.
Sealing and inspection of the rifle--a story within the story
What follows isn't a feature of the gun, but it's germane to the Edge story. In fact, it runs parallel to the experience Crosman had when they first set up their PCP production lines for the Benjamin Discovery and the Benjamin Marauder, so it's worth knowing. The Edge is a different rifle for AirForce. Until now, they've had the luxury of one of the largest air reservoirs on the market. Their 490cc air reservoir, which also serves as their butt, holds so much air that even with the powerful Condor there was air to spare. Not so with the Edge, though.
You may never have noticed, but the air reservoir of the AirForce rifles has always been a scuba dive tank. It's stamped with the information found on all dive tanks, and more importantly it's 100 percent tested and certificated for diving. The fact that AirForce uses it as their gun reservoir does not take away from the rigor each tank must go through and pass. That tank is a costly part of the gun--VERY costly!
The Edge had to be priced right (read that as cheap) to satisfy the sporter class shooter, as well as the youth clubs that want to buy several guns for their teams. While many people are criticizing the cost of the new gun, they don't realize the hoops AirForce is jumping through to hold the cost down. I'm sure Crosman is running up against this with their new Challenger PCP, as well.
One way to trim some cost was to make the reservoir in-house rather than buying those expensive dive tanks. That also allowed the length of the stock to be shorter, which was necessary for a sporter rifle. However, the reservoir has to be made of material that meets known strength specifications, and that means it not only has to be made from the right materials, but also it has to have a certain minimum wall thickness. So, the available volume for the compressed air was quite small--about what would be found in a conventional 10-meter air pistol.
For that reason, an air regulator was required, to stretch the use of the limited air that was available. That regulator had to be designed, tested and to pass through several design stages before passing through to the production gun. If you're interested in why the Edge took so long to come to market, the regulator was a large part of it. I'll test my Edge with several target pellets for you, and I'll test at least one full string to see how many total good shots are on a fill. The goal AirForce set for the gun was 100 good shots, which gives them a match plus sighter shots in each position.
Because of the design, there was no huge air supply to draw on in order to get those 100 good shots, so the Edge had to be super-sealed to make the most of what little air there was. A lot of time went into the selection of seals and o-rings and also in the shaping of sealing surfaces and o-ring seats. More of the development time that prolonged the development.
Each regulator also has to be set by hand before it's installed in a gun. When I worked at AirForce several years ago, one of my jobs was testing every valve that went into the guns. That was done after the valve was assembled, and the procedure not only tested the valve against leaks but it also seated the valve against its seat for a perfect seal. That work still has to be done with the Edge, of course. Setting the regulator is a new requirement on top of that. So, there's extra testing and extra complexity in this rifle.
One last comment before I return to the rifle's features. Do you remember that I showed you the positive bolt lock on the Edge bolt raceway in Part 1? Well, that lock plays into the overall sealing of the rifle upon firing. It brings the bolt back over the top hat, so the small o-ring inside the bolt can seal the air from escaping. With all sporting rifles, there's a puff of air that escapes the breech. On some guns that bury their actions deep in wooden stocks, this puff cannot be felt. Others like the AirForce guns are exposed and it's easy to feel. You won't feel it with the Edge, though. All the air goes out the barrel behind the pellet.
Like all AirForce rifles, the butt removes, however it cannot be filled from the front like the other AirForce rifles. A Foster male quick-disconnect fitting on the back end of the butt allows the gun to be filled without removing anything. Disassembly simply makes the rifle smaller for easier transport.
Weight and see
One thing John McCaslin noticed when he visited sporter matches was that the guns were coated with lead weights. Stuck on with tape and glue, there were lead weights everywhere on some guns. They are allowed to add weight up to the limit of 7.5 lbs.
The basic Edge without weights weighs 6.15 lbs., so almost 1.5 lbs. of additional weight can be added. What McCaslin did was create a weight plate that's fitted to the shape of the gun and held in place with a large rubber o-ring. These plates are added as required and can go anywhere along the long axis of the rifle. Though my picture doesn't show it, they can even be bolted to the butt. They go on and come off quickly.
The forearm, which has an accessory rail built in the bottom, slides along the frame from the receiver to almost the muzzle. Most shooters will want it in close so they can triangulate the hold and offset the weight.
Well, that completes our cursory look at the Edge's features. Next time, we'll test the velocity.