Monday, December 14, 2009

Ruger Explorer - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

First a special announcement. I am told by Pyramyd Air that the Benjamin Marauder coupon restriction has been lifted for now and coupons are allowed. If you want a Marauder, you can now use a coupon and save some money.


Ruger's new Explorer is an exciting new budget-priced youth breakbarrel.


Youth rifles are both scarce and in demand these days. But what is a youth rifle? Well, my definition has a couple criteria. Easy cocking is a big one. I want a youth rifle to cock with 20 lbs. of force or less. That isn't arbitrary. I chose the pumping effort of a Daisy 853, because a lot of kids under 10 shoot them successfully.

Hand-in-hand with easy cocking goes low velocity. A youth rifle is an all-day shooter, not a hunting gun. In .177, it should get somewhere between 475 f.p.s. and 600 f.p.s. Some youth rifles have been made in .22 caliber as well, but the proliferation of chronographs today makes it difficult to sell a pellet rifle that goes only 325-400 f.p.s. at the muzzle.

The next thing a youth rifle has to be is properly proportioned. Here we come to a fork in the road, because some youth rifles are really small, like the Gamo Lady Recon, while others--like the Hammerli 490 Express--are closer to transition guns: sized for older kids and adults, too.

The last attribute everyone expects from a youth airgun is a low price, but that's neither historically accurate nor entirely correct today. In the 1990s, the RWS Diana model 72, which was a youth target rifle, sold for almost $400; and, today, the Beeman R7 goes for about $400. The R7 falls into the class of youth rifles that's also suited to older youth and adults.

Today's rifle, the Ruger Explorer, is the first type of youth air rifle--small, light and inexpensive. It didn't make it to market in time for my Christmas list, but at $66, it's one of the least expensive breakbarrels on the market. And it's small in all other ways. Overall length is just a hair over 37 inches. The pull is 11.75 inches (but the Umarex catalog has it down as 12 inches), so the only way adults will be comfortable shooting it is with their elbows thrown out to the side like 10-meter shooters. Cocking effort is a low 16 lbs., so even the 8-year-olds should be able to do it. In fact, that's the age group I see the gun appealing to--the 8 to 12 group, and those of similar proportions. Even for them, the weight of almost 4.50 lbs. isn't too heavy to carry comfortably for hours at a time.

The Explorer is made from metal and synthetics. The spring tube is steel, the stock is synthetic and the steel barrel is sheathed in synthetic. At the front of the barrel, an enlarged area serves as a muzzlebrake and base for the ramp-and-post front sight. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and both sights incorporate fiberoptics. Though I recommend teaching kids to shoot with open sights first, the Explorer has 11mm dovetail grooves and a scope stop for when that time comes.

The buttstock is a wild skeletonized design with a raised and scalloped comb for a cheekrest. The large cutout also makes this a thumbhole design. The buttpad is molded of the same plastic as the stock and isn't quite as grippy as rubber, but on carpeted floors it seems to do fine.

The non-adjustable trigger is two-stage, and the gun has both an automatic safety and an anti-beartrap device built in. That's great for safety, but you should still teach everyone who handles it to never let go of the muzzle while loading. That's an important lesson to be observed all their lives.


Automatic safety crisply pops out the back of the spring tube every time the rifle is cocked.


The barrel detent is the ball-bearing type, which is usually much smoother than a chisel-type--especially on smaller airguns. Adults and big kids won't find it difficult to break open, but smaller children will probably have to slap the top of the barrel to pop it open.


Ball-bearing detent keeps the barrel closed during firing but is easy to open for cocking.


Yes, of course the rifle is made in China, like most inexpensive airguns these days. That doesn't carry the stigma it once did, however. We've seen Chinese airguns that are very accurate, so the Ruger Explorer will have to stand on its own in the accuracy test, as other Chinese-made airguns before it have done.

Because of the holidays, I'm accelerating the pace for this test, so you can make your buying decision before Christmas. Expect parts 2 and 3 in a combined report later this week.

35 Comments:

At December 14, 2009 8:16 AM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

Morning B.B.,

This rifle is on many short lists, for kids and grandkids. Thanks for finishing it off before Christmans.

Mr B.

 
At December 14, 2009 8:34 AM, Blogger Mo said...

Hey B.B,

What about the Diana 24? Isn't that the same Diana Schutze as well? I love to shoot that rifle even now. And cocking is a breeze! The price may put it out of this league though..

Mo.

 
At December 14, 2009 8:46 AM, Blogger kevin said...

As Artie Johnson said, Verrry Interesting.

Anxious to hear about accuracy and hold sensitivity. How do you replicate a 9 year old holding a gun when you test it?

kevin

 
At December 14, 2009 8:55 AM, Blogger kevin said...

Frank B,

Stipling & checkering are done after the stock is finished. If done prior you risk filling in the stipling/checkering with finish rendering it less effective/functional.

Here's my last thought and will thereafter keep my opinions to myself:

Not much fun or pride in pointing to a $700.00 custom stock ruined by a checkering experiment.

Mr B. had a great suggestion. Practice on piece of hardwood scrapwood. Then, take out your favorite gun (that an aftermarket stock is available for) with a hardwood stock and checker that (you can always replace that stock). When completed I'm sure you can answer the question about whether or not you're ready to carve on that figured himalayan walnut.

kevin

 
At December 14, 2009 9:03 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Mo,

The Diana Schutze is a good youth rifle, but there was no reason to mention it here.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 9:04 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Kevin,

I never try to replicate anyone else's shooting ability. I try to show the rifle's innate capability.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 10:18 AM, Blogger CJr said...

Alan,
I haven't had time to read today's post yet but I also want to thank you for the link to the duct seal. I ordered 30 to get the discount. The total price including shipping is cheaper than I can get it locally and I don't have to burn gas or even leave the house. The total cost, including shipping, is less than the sticker price at the store and I would have to pay tax on top of that. I now have a lifetime of duct seal. Thanks again.

Now, back to today's post. Looks very interesting.

-Chuck

 
At December 14, 2009 10:37 AM, Blogger CJr said...

BB,
This gun looks like it would appeal to my g-kids. I'd be very interested in knowing the harshness of the spring when the gun is fired. As you know I got my g-kids the IZH-91's. Since I told them the guns stay here (I was trying to keep the peace at my daughter's house) they talked their dad into buying a Crossman 760 for them to share at home. Biiiiiig difference. I'm afraid the pneumatic will sour them on the spring recoil.

Hey, chalk one up for g-pa, too. Without my involvement or knowledge they had dad buy them all safety glasses, too! I think they learned something at g-pa's house.


-Chuck

 
At December 14, 2009 10:39 AM, Blogger CJr said...

Oops! I was typing upside down: Those were IZH-61's for those keeping score.
-Chuck

 
At December 14, 2009 10:41 AM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Chuck,

Firing behavior is pretty smooth. About the same as the 61.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 10:46 AM, Anonymous Frank B said...

Kevin,Thank you for being patient with me...I am now holding this magnificent piece of walnut!Thank you for the answer to my question.None of the how-to that I found established that as the order,and I knew you would know.The blank is covered with black "marblecake" on one side and 60% [rear] on the left side.For now I will follow the directions for finishing to a T.Will post pics ASAP:) Frank B

 
At December 14, 2009 10:47 AM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

BB,
I'm going to surprise you and say I like the looks of this one. Something straightforward about it that's appealing.

I've got a while before I give my son an actual gun of any type, but I like to see the options and might need one myself:). Family tradition is that once its yours, there's no supervision or worry required -- which means the boys in my family end up waiting a good bit:).

 
At December 14, 2009 11:49 AM, Blogger kevin said...

B.B.,

I always try to replicate your shooting ability to try to show the rifle's innate capability.


Frank B,

Can't wait to see pictures of your stock. If you don't mind would you wet it (don't soak it) first with water so we can see the potential of the grain in the pictures?

kevin

 
At December 14, 2009 12:02 PM, Anonymous Frank B said...

Kevin,yes I certainly will.I'm searching for my camera.everything is still in boxes after the move from New Orleans...:(

 
At December 14, 2009 12:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

brrrrr....
Saturday night it was -46C (-51F) in Edmonton, where I live. Coldest place in North America!!
CowBoyStar Dad
word verification 'maturing'...not a hope in hell hahaha

 
At December 14, 2009 12:06 PM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

CBSDad,
But it was a "dry cold", right:)?

 
At December 14, 2009 12:09 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

CSD,

It's been cold here in Texas, too. Though it's 64 F ( 17.778 C) right now, it got down to 57 F (13.889 C) last night.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 12:38 PM, Blogger CJr said...

However,
200 miles from Edmonton is the most awesome road and scenery in the entire North America, excluding Alaska. And, 200 miles from anywhere in Texas is...is...is...uh?

Wordverify: cowlytho (cowboystardad lethal)

-Chuck

 
At December 14, 2009 12:52 PM, Blogger FRED said...

Hey Mr. B,

I had left my findings and feelings about the TKO trigger kit and muzzle brake for the Discovery a while back. In short, with the break installed, the loudest noise appears to be the hammer of the Discovery hitting the pressure release valve. It's very quiet and as I previously said, Spike the cockatiel is not losing any more feathers when I shoot the Discovery.

Regarding the trigger kit, the trigger now has a nice, distinctive, two stage movement but the pull is still a bit on the heavy side. I don't mind that for safety reasons. It is extremely crisp. I still can't tell exactly when it will break. I just keep on adding pressure and suddenly, I've fired the pellet. I imagine that it will get a bit softer as the new trigger return spring wears in and the sear and primary lever in the trigger group continue to polish themselves.

Fred

 
At December 14, 2009 1:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck,

200 miles from anywhere in Texas is...the ability to carry a concealed weapon, buy guns above 500 fps, have warm temps in the winter, magnificent blue skies, the most awesome sunsets you can imagine....I don't think I need to continue :-)

Edith

 
At December 14, 2009 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chuck

Austin TX was at 75F yesterday and I had to put on shorts! The Texas Hill Country is amazing, lakes plentiful, and the coast is only a three hour drive away.

Plus everything Edith said!

G.

 
At December 14, 2009 1:48 PM, Anonymous PurcHawk said...

Chuck:

Do you make a habit of insulting Texans?

 
At December 14, 2009 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB,
Wll PA be able to carry Crosmans new benjimen legasy nitro. That seems like it could be a youth 22 break barrel with the 16lbs. cocking effort but the price isn`t quite so cheap...

anon.

 
At December 14, 2009 2:25 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Anon,

They will carry it. I'll have to test it.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 2:27 PM, Blogger kevin said...

Sure see alot of Texas license plates in Colorado though.

kevin

 
At December 14, 2009 3:35 PM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

B.B.,

The stock looks sorta spidery to me. Is there any flexing when you push down on the comb? How sturdy does it feel to you?

Thanks,
Mr B.

 
At December 14, 2009 3:42 PM, Blogger B.B. Pelletier said...

Mr. B.,

It does look spidery, but it's as solid as can be. No flexing anywhere. That's probably because this rifle has plastic in the same amount and places as all the other plastic-stocked guns have it. This one just shows the voids.

Have no worries.

B.B.

 
At December 14, 2009 4:35 PM, Blogger DB said...

Fred,
Try drilling a hole in the trigger link to change the leverage. It will provide you with a crisp and predictable trigger.
DB

 
At December 14, 2009 4:51 PM, Blogger Eric said...

Quick question, different topic:

The upgrade trigger for the RWS 54,, T06;
is there any word about when it will be available?

Thanks

 
At December 14, 2009 5:14 PM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

BG_Farmer,

Have you come up with a use for the blocks of "foam" that PA uses for shipping pellets?

They work ok for keeping soft drink cans cold, but drinking too many and getting the can back in the hole is problematic.

Mr B.

 
At December 14, 2009 8:33 PM, Blogger CJr said...

Edith,
You win.

G.
You win, too.

PurcHawk,
Not anymore.

To all,
I do spend more time in Alberta and Ontario than Texas so it helps to build friendships there. Next year, I'll make friends with Texas.

:=)

-Chuck

 
At December 14, 2009 9:00 PM, Anonymous Mr B. said...

Fred,

Thanks. I was wondering how your trigger was working out for you?

There is alot of adjustment in the sear engagement set screw from a very scarey very light pull on up. An 1/8th of a turn makes a noticable difference in feel.

Mr B.

 
At December 14, 2009 9:03 PM, Blogger BG_Farmer said...

Mr.B,
Not yet. I don't have many, as my last big pellet order was last year around this time before the revolutionary new packaging started. How about using them as framing masks (?) for pellet cans incased in acrylic poured into shadow boxes. Some of the tins are quite pretty, and you will know when a visitor is an air rifle enthusiast if he(or she) notices them!

Are you certain those are "soft drinks":)? My "cold drinks" dont usually sit around long enough to get warm:).

 
At December 15, 2009 8:38 AM, Blogger Slinging Lead said...

200 miles from just about anywhere in Texas is ... still in Texas probably.

 
At January 14, 2010 4:28 AM, Blogger itsnotom said...

it is a xisco bam b16. same gun in every respect

 

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