Airguns – I’ll never test ‘em all!

by B.B. Pelletier

I’m writing this report at 3:30 a.m., because today and tomorrow I have a television show to tape. There is no more time left to test guns and to report on them, plus do all the other things I have to do! Hopefully this schedule will stabilize within a few months, but right now I am in the eyewall of the storm, and things are pretty busy.

I just answered a question from a new reader that sounds exactly like a hundred other questions I get every month. Have I tested such-and-such an air rifle? My answer was no, I haven’t tested that one (yet), but then it hit me–I PROBABLY NEVER WILL! Looking at my blog schedule and the guns I have waiting in the wings to test plus the other tests and experiments we are running, there’s no way I can ever test them all.

Rather than being the bad thing that this may sound like, it’s actually not bad at all, and I want to share the reason why. First, let’s take a quick look at how a new airgun can “happen.”

Company A decides to offer a new model. They look around and determine there’s no plant space remaining to build a new gun, nor do they want to hire the 2.1 new personnel a new model requires, so they decide to do something creative. They take one of their existing models–the Fast Pro 66, in this case. Right now the Fast Pro 66 is a traditional .177 breakbarrel that comes in a wood stock. It shoots light pellets at 1,000 f.p.s., the same as 24 other models they “make” and sell. They are having this rifle made in China, so the plant space and personnel requirements are at the very minimum. They can easily handle another gun like the Fast Pro 66 with no additional space or people. So, they tell their Chinese plant to put the barreled action in a synthetic stock instead of the wooden one and they eliminate the open sights. A sexy muzzlebrake is added to replace the front sight. They also stick on an inexpensive 4-power scope that comes in its own two-screw-cap mounts.

Voila! A new model exists! They call this one the Hyper-Pro 77 Tactical. It costs them $3.21 more to produce than the Fast Pro 66, so they bump the retail price by $25 and the MAP price by $12.91. The smaller dealers who buy them five at a time charge retail, but big dealers buy 100 at a time so they’re cheaper. The next thing you know, there’s a “new” air rifle on the market. I don’t even know about this new rifle until somebody asks me about it. Then I look and, sure enough, there the thing is. I read the specs and often I can even decode what the company has done to create the new model, but not always.

However, the Hyper-Pro 77 Tactical doesn’t sell very well, so the company only imports 1,200 of them before they decide to drop it from their line. They’re now using the synthetic stock on three other rifles that are selling well, so there is no loss for tool-up. When they make the decision to end “production,” larger dealers have sold 271 guns and all the other airgun dealers combined have sold another 296. So, there are 633 guns remaining in inventory.

Company A then decided to stock 400 of these guns with the wood stock from the Fast Pro 66–creating a new model, the Lightning Ultra 99. They stick on a 3-9×32 scope , but they reduce the retail to just under that of the Fast Pro 66, because they have a glut of 3-9×32 scopes in inventory. The new model kills the sales of the Fast Pro 66 and the Lightning Ultra 99 never takes off, either.

A year later, Company A sells all remaining Hyper-Pro 77 Tacticals, Fast Pro 66s and Lightning Ultra 99s to a large dealer. That, however, isn’t the end of the story.

Airgunners see these guns on the website for three years. They seem to be mainstream models to us. Unless we look closely, we cannot see that these are all the same air rifle, and sometimes even then it’s difficult to tell.

One day, a large dealer decides to clean house and sell off some excess inventory (maybe have a moving sale?). The remainder of these three models are piled on tables for customers and dealers to buy.

In the meantime, I am asked whether I have tested the Hyper-Pro 77 Tactical for the blog. No, I haven’t. I haven’t tested the other two models, either. I’ve been disassembling Diana 27s and testing the penetration of round lead balls and testing a hundred other new models–some of which actually are new and revolutionary.

Here’s the moral of this story and also the reason why it’s not a bad thing that I didn’t test even one of these three airguns. The performance specifications of each one of these rifles are very close to the specifications of 10 other models of breakbarrels I did test over the past 18 months. And when you consider that there are a finite number of airgun manufacturing plants in the world, it’s very likely that several of the rifles I did test are close to these guns, if not the exact same thing! Readers can learn to extrapolate from tests that are reported to models that are not tested, but which will offer similar performance in all probability.

This is not 100 percent the case, however. Long-time readers will remember when I vicariously “tested” a Gamo CF-X on January 6, 2006. I told everyone at that time that I had never laid eyes on the gun and wasn’t actually testing one for that report, but that I had tested so many similar airguns that I was able to “test” the CF-X by surrogate. Well, I heard from more than one reader about that! And a month later I tested an actual CF-X and reported on it. There were some surprises, because Gamo was in the middle of refining their spring gun powerplants at the time. The real CF-X I tested turned out nicer than the BSA Superstar I had used as a comparison.

But, folks, I have to tell you, that kind of surprise doesn’t happen very often. I always tell you in my reports when an airgun surprises me. I tell you HOW it surprises me, so you will know what to look for. If I don’t mention any surprise, there isn’t one–at least not from the gun I’m testing.

I’ll never get to them all. And now you know why. Those of you who have been reading this blog also know that airguns are similar enough that you don’t need to have each one tested to know something about most of them.

41 Responses to “Airguns – I’ll never test ‘em all!”

  • Ishaq Says:

    Wow BB,

    You sound stressed mate! Get some rest! ASAP! Go on a holiday!

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Hi everyone!

    I’m driving to Lubbock, TX today for a two-day prairie dog hunt for the TV show.

    Edith will monitor the comments and I will be answering as few as possible.

    B.B./Tom

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,

    I agree with the first post. I read your blog every day as a great start to my day, but it sounds like you need some time off.

  • Jane Hansen Says:

    So, while B.B. is trying to catch up on sleep, is there anyone else with some experience with heavier pellets.

    The war on the whistle-pigs wages on, and while I’ve eradicted the close-in threat, the enemy is massing at range at threatens to outflank my position.

    The Infinity/Eun-Jin combination is “one-shot devastation” out to 35 yards, but at 55+ yards, the Eun-Jins suffer from precession, and groups averaging 2 and 3 inches are common. You can actually watch them spiraling into the target.

    Did someone once comment that Beeman Kodiaks would fly straighter farther? PA lists “double-gold domed”, and “extra-heavy pointed”,(they both actually weigh 21.14gr).

    Any advice or experience would be helpful.

    regards,

    Jane

  • Mr B. Says:

    B.B.,

    You surprised me this morning! I thought you’d be closed for the holiday.

    To you Sir and the rest of our Veterans thank you all for your service to our Country from one who also served.

    I can almost see a Qigley Down Under type of shot on a prairy dog with a made in America Crosman Marauder. I’ll bet that with no wind and a good spotter 150 yards can be done.

    Edith(Mrs B.B.),

    As always welcome amd thank you for putting us in your busy schedule. Please tell Tom that we wish him a say trip coming and going, plus a good shoot. Ha I just got two birds with one stone.:)

    Mr B.

  • B.B. Pelletier Says:

    Jasne,

    Yes, the Kodiaks will stabilize better because of their shorter length. I hope we are talking .22s, because with .25s all bets are off.

    B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Why don’t you just resrict your testing to “GROUND BREAKING” “REVOLUTIONARY” Or some such type?

  • Brody Says:

    B.B.,
    nice psot. Im telling you man if you need some help ship me some of the rifles, and i will test them for you. Im serious. All i need is a chrony, and an crap ton of pellets, and i will help you out. Then i can report the info to you, you work you magic and Presto a new blog entry is born. But seriously if you need any help i would be glad to help.
    Brody

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB
    AS always thank you so much,both for your service in the Armed Forces,and
    for your efforts to the AG and firearms community.
    Also thanks to Edith(Mrs.bb:))
    especially fer puttin up with all us
    kids hangin around all the time.

    JTinAL

  • Anonymous Says:

    Mr B
    Here are a couple things that caught
    my eye recently.Different but with
    some strange similarities.I don’t subscribe to either but I do agree
    with some of the content.
    Reading their mission statements
    1st may save you the trouble of wasting a lot of reading time if you’re not interested or don’t agree.
    It may also give you some insight on
    how my mind works(scarrryy).

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/statbelief.htm

    http://dixienet.org/New%20Site/intro.shtml

    JTinAL

  • wayne Says:

    B.B.

    So you don’t have time to test them all huh?.. what a surprise!!

    How about a team of testers… (Brody included of course)…

    Vince has been inside a bunch of guns, and test fired them..
    So, not to worry, word of mouth is strong in the Air Gun World!!

    Just say what hasn’t been tested yet.. and I bet someone has one already, and will report.. or someone like me will buy one and test it for you..

    anyway..

    Safe travels… and happy times shooting and filming!!

    Thank you Edith for watching over us!

    Jane,

    It was me who advised using the Kodiak 21gr. .22 cal for high power guns and long range shots..

    I haven’t tried the “gold” yet.. just the regular extra heavy 21 gr. Kodiak.

    My experience with the .22 cal AR6, Condor, BSA Lonestar, Timberwolf and AAs410 all showed that the Kodiak were best for up to 75 yards.. but still try to keep them under 950fps for best accuracy.. you can expect 1-1/2 to 2″ groups at 75 yards with an accurate gun like the Condor or AAs410.

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Volvo Says:

    Jane,

    I think you will be impressed with Kodiaks, the weights you quote are for the .22 caliber so I will make that assumption also. In my experience they will out group the Eun-Jins with ease. They are often one of the most accurate pellets in any high powered air rifle.
    I keep both the standard Kodiaks and the Kodiak Match on hand, and use whatever the rifle prefers. Once again, they will both put the Eun-Jins to shame at longer distances in my experience.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB,
    Take a chillpill. What are you using for the prairie dog hunt?
    Shadow Express dude

  • twotalon Says:

    Jane

    Give them a Kodiak in the boiler room….either dead center from the front or dead center between the shoulder blades from the back. Avoid hitting the front leg.
    May kill them on the spot, or they will die in their hole within a couple minutes.

    You could also set up a blind that is within closer range.

    twotalon

  • wayne Says:

    B.B.

    After thinking about it a little..

    I'm getting that maybe when; Manufactures or Distributors make minor changes and call it a NEW & EXCITING thing, your saying.. They don't deserve a test and review!

    Why give them the time of day when they do that?

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Brody Says:

    Great idea wayne.
    We could have a team. if there were say 5 of us + B.B. if we each tested at least 2 popular rifles, we could test them all in no time. I mean it would be unfortunate that wed HAVE to shoot airguns ALL the time. and wed HAVE to constantly shoot NEW airguns. I dont know this might not be so fun. J/K. When can we start?
    Brody
    p.s. word verification whewa thats what i feel like saying now that i got my storm disassembled.

  • Vince Says:

    WARNING: RANT COMING!!!

    JT, I checked out http://www.religioustolerance.org/statbelief.htm

    and with all due respect, horse-hooey. In trying to achieve higher thought they’re not thinking very hard. Logically, their principles as stated mean very little.

    I can expand on my contention and originally planned to, but this might not be the place for it. So I’ll stop it here in any detail. But I’ll quickly point out three falacies:

    1) If consensus can declare, with a right and true authority, that some human beings are not human persons, you can justify doing anything to anybody. Just get enough people to decide that they’re not ‘persons’.

    2) All the major ethical systems we currently have were not major ethical systems at some time in the past. Why are they so sure that the ‘major ethical systems’ that are prominent right now are the only ones worth studying?

    3) You cannot speak of sanctity, good, or evil if you’re a moral relativist. To say that certain truths vary over time is to say that they are not truths, including the things they declare to be true.

  • Vince Says:

    BB, seems to me that that we might find a cross-reference useful. A ‘family tree’, so to speak, showing the inter-relations between different models.

    Any volunteers? :-)

  • Anonymous Says:

    Vince,

    The problem with a family tree for airguns is that mfrs change guns in big & small ways. A gun may be related to another gun this year, but a change in parts at the plant could make it related to another gun next year. Would that make this year's gun a different model than next year's gun? Maybe, but what if the mfr uses the same model name for both years? It happens.

    Edith (Mrs. B.B.)

  • Frank B Says:

    vince,I’m afraid by the time a family tree was finished,it would look like a hairball and cause headaches at a glance!! in reference to good pellets in .22 don’t forget JSB jumbo heavies are a good goto!

  • Anonymous Says:

    Vince
    1st:I believe (hope)that they mean
    a consensus among themselves i.e
    the 5 of them of conflicting beliefs
    (or lack thereof)who created the blog. Not a moral majority consensus of who is or isn’t a human.
    I don’t know if I said that very well.

    2nd:I think what they’re getting at
    is Tolerance for others beliefs so
    they discuss major systems at this time because that’s what people
    are familiar with.

    3rd:I agree

    It’s entirely possible that I’m
    misreading these folks.I spent most of my time reading their
    summaries of various beliefs.

    The 2nd sight brings up even more points of contention(sp.)I’m a kind
    of half breed with family on both
    sides of the monster distortion
    (Mason Dixon)line so some of it is offensive and some I can agree with.Mostly states rights and rights of the people stuff.

    Sorry for so much off topic stuff
    folks.,,, oops sorry for the pause kitty wanted pettin:)for all who want a FRIENDLY discussion of this junk:jlterry2003@yahoo.com
    responses may be slow cause yahoo
    is givin me trouble lately.

    JTinAL

  • CJr Says:

    BB, drink Mountain Dew and it will keep you alert all night. That’s what got me home from AZ last week.

    For those of you who are thinking of getting a 953 for your kids, here is something to consider. My grandkids stayed over last night. Today I got out the 953 to see if they could shoot it yet. They are 11. They could not close the pump handle. I think I have mentioned this before but think it is worth repeating.

    I was shooting RWS R-10 in it very successfully. I think either these or JSB Exact are the pellet for that gun.
    -Chuck

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    BB,
    It is irritating, but it seems to be what the consumer demands:). I think we get what we ask for, most of the time. Have fun eliminating the P.dogs — something I'd like to try sometime.

    Chuck,
    Was the Mountain Dew you got in a clear glass jar, so that you could see the quality:)?

    JT & Vince,
    I don't think you two have much to argue about, from what I know of you both. What we need to focus on is the buffoons and demagogues in both major parties and their alternatives and make politics something that honest people can stomach again.

    Volvo,
    Another lost right: certain forms of easy stump removal:).

  • Anonymous Says:

    The weaning continues. Yay!

  • Anonymous Says:

    b.b. this one is so dear to my heart.
    I’m a photographer who sells cameras to make a living (you know…same as the L.A. actor who works in a restaurant…hahahaha).
    Anyways, ever since digital came along cameras became less image making (picture) tools and more image making (the style of the owner) tools. So awhile ago the manufacturers clued in, as the computer people did years ago that if you put a new face on an old product, tell ‘em it’s new they’ll line up in droves to buy your product.
    Canon, for example now has a 6-8 month life expectancy for their point and shoot products. The days of a big megapixel increase are now over and the ‘new’ model may come in a couple of new colors or have idiotic thing like ‘smile detection’ included (yup…some of the Sony cameras have this).
    It’s gotten impossible to keep up with the (non) changes, let enough try and convince people that if they upgrade the only thing they are improving is the manufacturers bottom line.
    Love our disposable society…well actually it stinks!!
    CowBoyStar Dad

  • CJr Says:

    BG_Farmer,
    I was out West not down South (c;
    -C

  • Anonymous Says:

    BG_Farmer et al,

    Right On about the political/philosophical argument! I just wish the parties would get off their ideologies and power grabbing and get on with the business of solving problems…but, this is not the right kind of opining for this forum! Maybe this is:

    B.B. has done us all a great service by starting and maintaining this blog, and gathering us all together. But, maybe it's time to treat this as the communal thing it is and stop dumping everything on B.B. He shouldn't have to keep answering every newbie's "asked-&-answered" question over and over again. That kind of thing would burn-out anyone–heck, I get tired of just reading the stuff! I propose that from now on we allow B.B. to simply reply "Asked and answered" to all such questions as a way of letting the questioner know that he should take the responsibility of searching for the answer using the Google search function already provided, unless someone else wants to jump in and answer the question themselves or provide the weblink. Let's cut B.B. some slack.

    For new questions not previously addressed by B.B., continued sharing of our relevant experience and knowledge will continue to be great and free up B.B. If someone goes off track, I'm sure B.B. would have a tactful way of correcting any misinformation and show us the way.

    B.B. has done an outstanding thing for all of us, and I think letting him do HIS thing would be GOOD, and relieving him of the tedium of repetition and niggling questions would also be GOOD. Let him lead us where his EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE and INFORMED CURIOSITY dictates–we're all bound to learn something from it!

    Fewer questions about the minutia of one particular gun or pellet vs. another tends to get a little tedious, as well. But anecdotes about the sport are always interesting–the kind of stuff people with a common interest share around the campfire, etc.

    Just my two cents…

    Thank you, B.B., Edith and all you old timers for making this such a valuable resource.

    Signed,
    Long time lurker, first time contributor.

    (P.S. When I get the knowledge to contribute further, and help, I'll look forward to doing so.)

  • Anonymous Says:

    I would like to hear from multiple individuals on this question…

    Could you recommend a brand and model of a scale that you use to weigh pellets? Looking for consistant accuracy, and ease of use, without breaking the bank too much.

    I think it odd that PyramydAir doesn’t carry any, when you look at all their other accessories.

    Thanks in advance.

  • Anonymous Says:

    BG and Vince
    who me? look fer an argument? nnaaahh
    I just like to hear what other people
    come away with after I make up my mind about it.Intelligent discussion
    almost always gets me to open my mind
    and sometimes change it.#1reason I
    keep coming back here:)

    Lurker
    Good point about givin BB some slack
    Lotsa good folks here been doin that already but some things are just too BB specific.Maybe we should just relax for a while and let him lead where he thinks we need to follow.He’s purty good at givin details and specifics that we need.

    JTinAL

  • CJr Says:

    Anonymous asked-&-answered,

    I think we should still answer the newbie's questions and not send them searching. If we send them searching I think they won't and they won't be back. Answering a newbie (who most likely doesn't know the question has been asked 100 times) is very welcoming to them and makes them come back and share after a time.

    However, I agree, I think we as a community should be answering for BB where we can, but it's risky. We run the risk of being wrong and BB having to correct us, as you indicated. I think this might be holding many "experts" back today. On the other hand, giving the wrong or incomplete answer could spark useful debate amongst the community helping everyone.

    The tendency will be to wait for someone else to answer. I think this is our situation, that each of us is holding back waiting for someone more knowledgeable to answer until the wait is so long BB has to jump in before the "asker" feels neglected or ignored.

    The fact remains, it is his blog, and he does have a whole lot of knowledge we don't possess. I suggest we help where we can (but we are doing that anyway aren't we?) but not send a newbie packing when we know the answer even though we know it's a repeat.

    There's that .02 floating in again.

    -C

  • CJr Says:

    Anonymous looking for scales,

    I bought an RCBS Rangemaster 750 scale, I think from Midway USA. I just did a search on it on the PA site and didn’t get a hit so I’m pretty sure I didn’t get it from them unless they dropped it for some reason.

    Regardless, it is an excellent scale currently for $102 on their site. It is super fast, virtually instant readout in measuring the weight of a pellet. I can go through a 500 pellet tin while watching 2 David Letterman shows on DVR.

    What would you like to know about it? I don’t have any experience with any other scales but I am satisfied with this one for weighing pellets.

    -C

  • wayne Says:

    Also, check Harbor Freight for scales that work pretty well for $40 or so.

    Wayne
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Anonymous Says:

    JTinAL & CJr–

    Yes, I agree with both of you on the topic of welcoming newbies–I have seen B.B. very skillfully develop & encourage some and I appreciated him for doing it… "Insomniac" most recently comes to my mind–the kid who tapped B.B.'s mind about buying and then caring for his Benjamin 392(?)and then jumped in to help others. Building the blog is what "B.B." has been all about…and his slogan IS "There are no stupid questions."

    I don't want to make too much of this. I just want B.B. to keep going with the same zest he had when he started, and I hope he's getting the psychic candy he needs to do so.

    Rage on, B.B.

    Lurker

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    This is a somewhat depressing look at retail practices. But the gems are out there, and all the more exciting when they’re found. The CFX remains unique. Never have I seen anything like the rave reviews of that rifle when they came out. But once it was discovered that they were not achieving high velocity or performing at that velocity, or was it just problems with the .22 version…anyway, the interest died pretty fast.

    Jane, can’t you all just be friends? Ha ha, just kidding. I sympathize with your situation. It sounds like the groundhogs are really making swiss cheese out of your backyard.

    Wayne, by all means go for Black Hills. I understand the Army Marksmanship Unit uses it exclusively which is a recommendation all by itself. Maybe they’re the ones buying up all the stock. But be careful about what weight bullet you get. Much if not all depends on your twist rate. The one on my Savage 10FP is 1:9. I used 55 and 60 grain ammo from Black Hills with mediocre results. But then some kind blog reader directed me to a chart showing that a 1:9 twist will stabilize up to 69 gr., and the difference was dramatic. So, figure out the twist rate for the Howa and go from there.

    BG_Farmer, how interesting and a little disappointing to hear about the Savage BV. I exulted in the magazine but didn’t think about it interfering with an offhand hold. I believe it would do that for me, too. Well, keep us apprised.

    Lurker, welcome. You’re right that the key is to protect B.B. However, the blog takes so many twists and turns, it’s hard to think of a procedure. You never know what will come out of a question or fact. I also think that people have been doing a pretty good job of helping out. I think that B.B. will just have to self-regulate and make sure that he doesn’t burn out.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    P.S.

    I just put in a $350.00 order with your sponser, Pyramyd Air, so you’re gettin’ the job done, B.B.

    Lurker

  • Anonymous Says:

    B.B.

    Well, I tried to find out about the difference between the FWB P70 and the 700 and didn’t have much luck. The FWB site has no information, and I trolled the discussion boards without success. It was interesting though. There are whole clubs of people out there equipped with FWBs, so I thought there opinions would have value. The only explicit comparison between the P70 and the 700 says that the 700 is officially the new generation. Otherwise, it mentions fairly trivial differences in the stock ergonomics. There is no mention at all of differences in the action. Most of the discussion was about differences in the various 700 models, and again it sounds like there are really no significant differences at all. A propos of today’s topic, someone said: “Successful marketing is proportional to the ignorance of the consumer.”

    Wayne, did you say that you have the FWB P70 field target rifle? If you don’t you would after seeing the reviews about it.

    Matt61

  • Anonymous Says:

    Matt61 & Wayne,

    I have seen the FWB P70 field target rifle in action, and it IS magnificent. As good a field target rifle as you can get.

    Edith (Mrs. B.B.)

  • wayne Says:

    Edith & Matt61,

    Yep, I said we have a FWB P70 field target rifle.. It's been customized by Anthony Storey.. It's very consistent for 60 shots with the special regulator he had put in it… For sure one of our best FT guns..

    …But the reality is that the .177cal Air Arms s410 is just as accurate and slightly more powerful (flat shooting) on full power!!
    Folks if your wanting an all around air gun to do everything from field target (get a single shot tray).. to hunting squirrels and starlings.. then it's the Air Arms S410.

    But.. nothing wrong with a FWB P70 for field target, They are one of the best on the market!!

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Anonymous Says:

    Wayne,

    I am unfamiliar with the P70 FT modified by Anthony Storey. The one I was referencing was modified by Alan Zasadny.

    Edith (Mrs. B.B.)

  • wayne Says:

    Edith,

    I think it was just one he had built for himself.. Here is what he sent me when we first started talking about me buying it from him:

    It has the Guy Omictin/Rick Lake receiver conversion. A custom Mac-1 24 inch HW barrel with custom Mac-1
    “T” brake and nickel plating on the barrel.
    Dave Matticks reworked the reg and custom made and tested the Titanium airtube and shiny endcap.
    Set up know to shoot about 865fps with 10.6 kodiak on a 3000 fill”.

    Wayne,
    Ashland Air Rifle Range

  • Anonymous Says:

    BB
    A Gamo CFX shoots a nice as a BSA SuperStar? I own a Superstar and out shoot guys with PCPs with it. It is more than ten years old and I have never done anything to it except shoot, have even on ocassions left it cocked for days and it still shoots like a 10 meter rifle! Maybe it is the Superstar in the Gamo seeing that Gamo owns BSA
    Ton

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