Archive for January 2010
by B.B. Pelletier
Before I start this report, here’s an interesting tidbit. I heard something interesting about the Edge target rifle at the SHOT Show, so yesterday I did a special test. The results were dramatic enough that I will make another report on the Edge on Monday. If you own an Edge or are considering buying one, you won’t want to miss this!
Now, let’s get on with today’s report.
Hy Score model 801 is a handsome vintage spring rifle. Note the walnut stain on the beechwood stock. Beautiful!
Some interesting feedback on the first report of the Hy Score 801. One of our readers from Belgium says he’s never heard of nor seen this rifle in his country, so it may be scarce even there. And several readers commented on how lovely the rifle is. That’s my own assessment, as well. I’m so glad I’m able to bring your attention to this little-known classic springer from the 1940s.
Today, we’ll test the velocity of this rifle, and I’ll do two separate tests, because this unique breakbarrel spring rifle has a pellet seater built-in. Each pellet will be tested by using the pellet seater and, again, seating flush with the back of the breech.
The first pellet I tried was the old standby, Gamo Match. These were the light 7.5-grain pellets. Seated flush with the back of the breech, they averaged 438 f.p.s., with a spread from 384 f.p.s. to 464 f.p.s. That’s a pretty big spread. When I load pellets, I always press them hard into the breech so they don’t fall back out as the barrel is closed. That may have been the reason there was such a large velocity spread–I theorize that some pellets were popping completely into the barrel while the ends of the skirts of others were remaining outside. The average muzzle energy was 3.2 foot-pounds.
Next, I used the pellet seater mounted on the rifle. It stops at the same depth every time you use it, so the pellet is a uniform distance into the breech. With the seater, the average velocity was 469 f.p.s., and the spread went from 464 f.p.s , to 474 f.p.s. That’s both a higher average velocity and a much tighter velocity spread. The average muzzle energy with the pellet seater was 3.66 foot-pounds.
The pellet seater sits atop the breech, waiting to spring into action.
This pellet is seated flush with the breech. The pellet seater shown here flips back up out of the way when the barrel is closed.
Pushing forward on the spring-loaded pellet seater seats each pellet a uniform depth into the barrel.
RWS Hobby pellets were next. Seated flush with the end of the breech, they averaged 384 f.p.s., with a spread from 351 f.p.s. to 411 f.p.s. That works out to an average 2.29 foot-pounds. That’s a large drop from the energy of the heavier flush-seated Gamo Match. And the pellet seater revealed the reason why.
Using the pellet seater, Hobbys averaged 484 f.p.s. with a spread from 482 f.ps. to 490 f.p.s. Once again we see an increase in the average velocity, and this time a huge one of 100 f.p.s. At the same time, the velocity spread drops from 60 f.p.s. to just 8 f.p.s. From this we can learn two important things: (1) Deep-seated pellets are both faster and more uniform than flush-seated pellets in the 801 and (2) that RWS Hobby pellets have very large skirts. That was the reason they didn’t go faster when seated flush with the end of the barrel, even though I pressed them in hard. All of you who shoot rifles with weaker springs will want to pay attention to this.
The next pellets I tried were the JSB Exact domes that weigh 8.4 grains. I would normally expect a pellet this heavy to shoot slower than the Hobbys that are 1.4 grains lighter except for one thing. When I seated these pellets flush with the breech, I could feel each of them pop past the breech and into the barrel. All it took was my thumb pressure. So, the diameter of the skirt on this pellet must be very close to the 801′s breech diameter. That’s just a coincidence, but look what it does to the performance.
The flush-seated Exacts averaged 436 f.p.s. The spread went from 430 f.p.s. to 444 f.p.s., a spread of just 14 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 3.55 foot-pounds, which is more than one full foot-pound greater than the RWS Hobbys that were seated flush. I know these energy levels are low, but this is an energy increase of greater than 25 percent! That’s very significant.
When the Exacts were seated deep with the seating tool, the average was only 437 f.p.s. And the spread went from 432 f.p.s. to 444 f.p.s. Those values are practically identical to the first set, which means that the act of “breaking” each pellet past the breech is the most important step toward higher and more uniform velocities. I think we’ve learned something from this test! I’ll come back to it in a moment.
RWS R10 Heavy pellets
The final pellet I tried was the RWS R10 Match heavy pellet that weighs 8.2 grains. They gave an average 334 f.p.s. with a spread from 320 f.p.s. up to 339 f.p.s. These were all seated flush with the end of the breech. This was also the most uniform result I got from flush-seating, which tells me the skirts on this pellet are uniformly large and do not “break” past the breech to enter the bore with finger pressure, alone. At this speed, they deliver an average 2.03 foot-pounds–the lowest energy of this test.
When the pellet seater was used, the average velocity climbed to 416 f.p.s. and the spread went down just 4 f.p.s.–from 414 f.p.s. to 418 f.p.s. That’s remarkable uniformity, which you expect from a premium target pellet like this. The average muzzle energy was 3.15 foot pounds–another dramatic increase.
This test was just supposed to be a quiet little velocity test of this unique old breakbarrel rifle, but using the built-in pellet seater has opened my eyes to a unique situation. It seems that a low-powered spring rifle may do better when the pellets are seated deeper into the bore. That’s something I need to explore more.
I also need to find out if this same relationship extends to the higher-powered springers. In other words, at what point does pellet seating cease to be an advantage. Or is there no point at which it does, and should we all be seating our pellets deeply?
Now, I’m not the H.P. White Labs nor the Shell Answer Man, so I’m not planning on doing a doctoral dissertation on this, though I won’t discourage any of you from doing one. So, don’t start wondering about group sizes with seated versus unseated pellets, seating depths correlating to velocities and groups sizes and stuff like that. I gotta blog to do here and plenty of products to look at as it is.
Still, I don’t suppose it would hurt to run a few tests as we go.
by B.B. Pelletier
Part 5? What more can I do with the 953?
Well, one of you asked to see the AirForce target sight set mounted on the Daisy 953, and in a moment of weakness I said I’d do it. Forget the fact that I have already tested the rifle with a scope, which is potentially more accurate. They wanted to see what it would do with these sights and I agreed. Today’s the day.
Installation of the sights
Installation was easy. The front sight could be installed on either side of the muzzle, and I chose the right side for no particular reason. Of course, that sight can also be installed at a wide range of heights. Since the 953 doesn’t let you look through the barrel, I guessed what the right height might be and put it there. That guess was based on where the rear sight was, of course.
The rear sight installs on the left side of the receiver, and once again has a wide range of heights at which it can be locked. After that, all vertical adjustments are made with the adjustment knobs.
Change to the test plan
Since this is a fifth report on this gun and the third accuracy test, I decided to forego the 10-shot groups. Actually, there were both 10- and 20-shot groups for the 953 since I last tested it so long ago. Today, I’m doing just five per pellet.
I also now know which pellets work best in the gun, so those are the ones I’m shooting. And I’m adding one domed pellet because someone asked me to test it.
Today’s shooting is from a rested rifle at 10 meters using an MTM rifle rest. And before anyone asks, yes, I did notice that the rifle jumps slightly to the left when it fires. When I say “slightly,” I mean that the front aperture shifts about half a bullseye to the left.
RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets
RWS R10 Match Heavy pellets were fired before the rear sight was adjusted, so the group was low in the bull. As in all previous tests of the 953, the R10s continued to group well, though you must bear in mind that these are only 5-shot groups, so they will look much smaller than the 10- and 20-shot groups I fired last year.
JSB Exact lites
JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets were tried next because another reader suggested them to me. Since I had an easily adjustable rear sight on the gun, I clicked up 12 clicks to bring the group closer to the center of the bull.
H&N Finale Match Pistol
I put another 12 clicks of elevation into the rear sight and proceeded to shoot five H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. These turned in the smallest group of the session, and of course they were even closer to the center of the bull.
There you have it. The 953 accepted the AirForce target sights without a problem, and they turned in great results on target. This test demonstrates that the adjustments on the rear sight do work as advertised.
Although I doubt that too many shooters will mount this sight set on a 953, you can consider this test was also for an 853 and a 753, because their receivers are very close to the 953′s receiver. The rear sight works precisely as you might expect and there seems to be no backlash in the adjustments.
Finally, remember I shot only five shots at each target. That and that, alone, was the difference between this test and the targets in Parts 3 and 4.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll tell you more about the 2010 SHOT Show, plus I’ll tell you about the Pawn Stars pawn shop I visited. I’ll even throw in a bit about the car museum I saw at the Imperial Palace. But the SHOT Show is first.
Before I begin, I want to thank my pal Earl (Mac) McDonald for taking all the pictures you are about to see, as well as those shown in Part 1. Mac makes my SHOT Show go much faster and smoother than if I did it alone.
Air Arms in the Pyramyd Air booth
At the Air Arms section inside Pyramyd Air’s booth I was shown the new MPR rifle. It has undergone some changes to make it acceptable in NRA Sporter-class matches, according to Air Arms’ Bill Saunders.
New Air Arms MPR is set up for NRA Sporter-class competition.
Back to Crosman
I returned to the Crosman booth several times during the show; and on the last visit, I learned that the Super Streak model will be replaced by the Benjamin Trail. While the Trail is the same size and shape of the Super Streak, it has the Nitro Piston plus a barrel shroud that the Super Streak didn’t have, so this is really a brand new model.
I also saw their new Marlin BB gun that has a pronounced western look. They call it the Cowboy, and it looks like a real Western rifle. I’ll test one as soon as possible.
The new Marlin Cowboy looks very Western. It’s a BB gun.
Umarex is now branding guns under their own name, and one of them is the new Steel Storm BB repeater. It shoots 6-round bursts or semiautomatic shots one at a time, runs on CO2 and has blowback action. The power for shooting comes from two 12-gram CO2 cartridges. It looks a lot like a Drozd, but expect it to sell for less.
Umarex Steel Storm is a BB submachine gun. Burst-fire and semi-auto, as well. Remind you of anything?
On day four, I ran into Norvin Hornberger at Gamo, who walked me through all their new products. And they had quite a few. I first told him how delighted I was to see three .25 caliber pellets in the booth and he immediately called over the Gamo USA CEO to hear me. I told them both that the Hunter Extreme in .25 and their three new pellets were going to help revive the quarter-inch bore–something I told you guys in the first report. Norvin told me the company was so entrenched in .177 sales that even making .22 caliber guns was a stretch, and that the .25 seemed like a miracle. I responded that I think they may be surprised by the sales, since there are a number of .25 caliber enthusiasts here in the U.S. Especially, the hunters will love the extra smashing power.
Gamo SOCOM Extreme is another hypervelocity spring rifle that joins the Hunter Extreme this year.
Two of the three new Gamo pellets that will be offered in .25 caliber.
Another big reason to be in the Gamo booth are the new ND3 and ND5 laser illuminators. These are not flashlights. They’re actual lasers that can be focused to have larger beams at distance. They make it possible to see game through a standard telescopic sight without night vision. For hunters, they’ll soon become essential, since you will be able to see game at night a half-mile away without spooking anything.
The light clamped to the scope is a Gamo ND3 laser illuminator. It can be aligned with your scope to allow you to see game beyond the range at which you can shoot.
The show ended on a Friday, so that evening Mac and I saw Terry Fator, the impersonating ventriloquist at the Mirage. I’ve seen a few Vegas shows, but this was the best of all. Fator told the audience to take all the pictures they wanted and to video the portions of the show they liked best.
At the end of the show, he went into his souvenir store and stayed until the last guest had a chance to get his autograph and get their picture taken with him. The profits from all the sales are turned over to the armed forces for the benefit of troops stationed overseas. No Vegas headliner has ever done these things before, which tells you a lot about the man who won America’s Got Talent.
The next morning, we hopped in a cab and went downtown to the Gold and Silver pawn shop–home of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars. Chumlee was the only member of the cast in the store when I was there, and I asked him where all the old guns were. He told me that about 100 people a day of the 700 that come into the store ask the same thing, so the old guns never stay long. Ten minutes later I heard him explaining the same thing to another tourist/customer.
Pawn Stars pawn shop has two employees dedicated to crowd control during the day.
Poor Chumlee has to answer the same questions from hundreds of customers every day. He takes photos with about every fifth customer. Those are Pawn Stars souvenir shirts on the wall behind him.
These are the championship rings they have on display. The 2001 Super Bowl ring in the center is priced at $100,000.
The hot-air balloon Cory bought hasn’t sold yet. The worked a deal to lease it back to the guy they bought it from, so at least they’re making some money from it.
After the visit, we went over to the Imperial Palace to see their car museum. Many of the cars were for sale, and they apparently buy and sell from there all the time. Over 300 restored cars were on display, with the cheapest selling for $14,000 and the most expensive at $1.5 million.
Three-wheel car with a two-cylinder JAP motorcycle engine hung out in front was one of the quirky cars at the Imperial Palace car museum.
by B.B. Pelletier
I’m back in my office following the 2010 SHOT Show. The SHOT Show report will have several more parts, as there was just too much to get into the first report, and it’s hard to write a blog in a hotel room with only a couple hours of time. In Part 2 of the SHOT Show report, I’ll tell you about my visit to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop–home of the History Channel’s Pawn Stars! But, today, I’ll get back on track with the first of two accuracy reports on the new Air Venturi Bronco.
Several readers have said the Bronco seems to offer the features they’ve been looking for. I hope that’s the case, because I tried to put together a rifle that addresses as many of our desires as possible. I know I got the light cocking effort, ease of holding, great trigger and general look I was after; so, let’s see how it does on paper.
Before we do that, though, let’s talk about the blonde stock for a minute. I thought the Bronco would be unique at the SHOT Show, so imagine my surprise to see an Air Arms S410 with two versions of a blonde stock! Bill Saunders told me they were looking for ways of reducing the weight of their new MPR Sporter-class target rifle (more on that in a later report) and they discovered poplar wood.
A popular blonde
Poplar (not popular) is a fast-growing hardwood species. It’s apparently strong enough for gun stocks but still lightweight. It’s a favorite in the furniture trade as a secondary wood. Generally, the grain is straight without a lot of figure, and it takes a stain like a white cotton shirt at a blueberry-eating festival. Weight plus the possible color spectrum were what brought it to the attention of Air Arms. And, as I noted, they showed their very popular S410 in a blonde poplar stock at the show. So, if it’s good enough for them….
Therefore, we know that the Bronco is not the only blonde at the party. But it’s still one of the prettiest, in my opinion. Every veteran airgunner who saw it at the show saw the C1 similarity right away.
Today, I’m going to test it for accuracy with the open sights it comes with. A right-out-of-the-box test, if you will. And I’m not going to clean the barrel, because I don’t expect most customers to do so, either. In fact, I’m going to split this test in two parts. The first will be shot with discount store pellets, like I would expect many buyers to use. Then I’ll use the premium pellets that I would recommend. So, today you’ll be getting a second test within a test as we compare the results of discount pellets to premium pellets.
The shooting was at 10 meters, off a bag rest and artillery hold with the rifle on the backs of my fingers. As light as it is, it is very easy to shoot this way.
In this corner…Daisy Precision Max
Bargain pellets first. First up were Daisy Precision Max wadcutters. That’s a pellet you always find at the big box stores like Wal-Mart. They’re pure lead and made in China.
I didn’t have a lot of hope for the Daisys. They were more accurate when they were made in Spain, but even then they were not among the top bargain pellets.
Crosman Copperhead wadcutters
Next up were Crosman wadcutters. They gave a much better group, with three of the five going into a very small hole. Remember, I am a 62-year-old man who wears bifocals shooting open sights without his glasses on.
The Crosman group was also well-rounded, giving me a lot more confidence in the gun. Remember, these are economy pellets I’m shooting.
Gamo Match wadcutters
Gamo Match wadcutters were next. Though you can find them at Wally World, they’re really a very good pellet in a lot of guns. In fact, I heard they work quite well in the Edge. If I get some time, I will try them.
Well, the group speaks for itself. With my old tired eyes, I shot a dime-sized group. They’re both inexpensive and accurate; two of the best things a pellet can be.
And in this corner…RWS Hobby
Now it was time to move into the premium pellets. While RWS Hobbys are not really a premium pellet, they’re often very accurate in some guns, so I lumped them in this test.
The results are obvious. The Bronco I’m testing doesn’t like them.
Next up were RWS Meisterkugeln heavy (8.2 grains) pellets. They were better than the Hobbys, but still only average. If I had them, I’d shoot them–but Crosman wadcutters did better.
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
The next pellet to be tested were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. They tightened up even more, and were quite acceptable.
What about pellets other than wadcutters?
I tried wadcutters first, because of the cleaner holes they cut in target paper. But domed pellets are probably what most people will shoot in a plinker. I tried both RWS Superdomes and H&N Field Target, but they were only average in this rifle. However, do you remember those Crosman wadcutters that were so good? Well, they gave me the idea to try Crosman Permier 7.9-grain domes.
Drum roll, please…
Crosman Premier lites
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets turned in the best performance of the test. I put a U.S. dime next to the target, so you can see for yourself. Four of the five shots stayed inside Roosevelt’s head on the dime, and the group of five can be completely covered by the coin.
I never adjusted the sights during the test. The movement of the groups is entirely due to their performance in the Bronco’s barrel. That is a report within a report.
Notice, also, that the cheap pellets did remarkably well in this test. No need to spend a bundle to shoot the Bronco.
The firing behavior was remarkably smooth and quick. The second stage of the trigger was crisp in this test, but I was able to feel it move as I squeezed.
Some people have asked about the expected longevity of this rifle. I think it should be nearly forever, given the light, smooth firing cycle.
The straight line of the stock works well for sighting, and I can tell it will also work with a scope mounted at medium height. I’m glad we went with the western lines of the butt.
Most pellets fit the breech very well. Only the Daisy Precision Match were a bit loose. The Crosman pellets fit quite well.
At the slower velocity of this rifle, follow-through is very important. The artillery hold is mandatory, though the rifle is not hold-sensitive at all.
Next, I’ll test the Bronco with a scope. Given the small size of the gun I’ll use a smaller scope–probably one with a long eye relief.
by B.B. Pelletier
The year 2010 started out different than predicted. We do not have a colony on the moon and there’s no manned mission to Jupiter to see what went wrong back in 2001. I guess that also means Jupiter will not turn into a second sun, and Europa will not harbor life 20,000 years from now.
Big change at Beeman
And there have been some interesting differences in the airgun world, as well. For starters, the Beeman company is now owned by the Shanghai Airgun Company, who will continue to import the Chinese Beeman-labeled guns and sell them under the Beeman name. Pyramyd Air has been selected as the distributor for the Beeman R-series airguns, so the R1, R9 and R 7 will still be with us; and the HW guns that are their counterparts will continue as separate models.
The CEO of Shanghai told me that the Shanghai presence will diminish now in the U.S. They will be concentrating on the Chinese versions of Beeman guns in the future. What all this entails is anybody’s guess, since I think Shanghai is still figuring it out.
Where was Daisy?
Daisy failed to attend the SHOT Show this year. That’s the airgun equivalent of General Motors failing to attend the Detroit Auto Show, which, given their current situation, is not entirely out of the question. There was some talk and speculation about what it could mean for Daisy, but nobody seems to know the real story. It wasn’t a good thing.
Crosman had a huge number of new products at the show. The two new PCP pistols were big news, as were the new lines of Nitro Piston guns for Remington and Benjamin. Crosman will no longer carry the Nitro Piston under its own name. The Benjamin Super Streaks are turning into the Benjamin Trail, which will have the Nitro Piston.
The Crosman booth was larger than ever this year.
They also had a 6mm paintball for airsoft games. And I got to shoot it in their booth in a captive plexiglass gallery. It fired perfectly through an automatic electric gun (AEG) M4 on both semi- and full-auto. In the past, paintballs in 6mm have had uniformity and breakage problems in the feeding mechanisms of AEGs, so let’s hope the good showing means the problems have been solved.
Crosman is now putting Weaver scope bases on their spring guns, so finally someone has listened to our pleas. Buy Weaver mounts for any future Crosman or Crosman-made spring guns.
In a move toward total understanding of their product, Crosman is giving us scope bases that really work on their spring guns.
I saw the new Marauder and Silhouette pistols. I’ll go into the details when I get both guns to test for you. But believe me when I say that you’ll be pleased.
Coming around the middle of this year. The new Marauder pistol has an even better trigger than the rifle. It’s just as adjustable and now has a positive, adjustable trigger stop. It’s everything you hoped for. Three thousand psi air pressure gives about 24 good shots (three magazines of .22 caliber pellets).
The single-shot Silhouette PCP pistol is based on the 2240 frame, which had to be updated to accept the reservoir. Trigger is standard but improved. Should be available in a couple months.
But the biggest news was something Crosman didn’t show, but which is under development for release in 2010. It’s a .25 caliber Premier pellet. They took the .20 caliber Premier as the model for the new .25, so it should have a super-good ballistic coefficient. Expect it to weigh in the 27-grain range, which will allow use in powerful springers as well as PCPs.
With that pellet on the market, perhaps the first really accurate .25 caliber pellet since the end of the Diana Magnum a decade ago, Crosman has ample justification for the .25 caliber versions of the Marauder rifle and the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston rifle. Happy days are here for fans of the quarter-inch bore.
Speaking of .25 caliber, Gamo showed a .25 caliber version of their Hunter Extreme rifle. This is another good reason why an accurate pellet is needed for this largest of the smallbore pellet calibers. The Hunter Extreme is the most powerful spring rifle generally available, and the addition of a .25 caliber version makes perfect sense. This will be something to test in the coming months.
Gamo has added .25 caliber to their Hunter Extreme stable of guns!
Gamo also has three new .25 caliber pellets. One is their PBA series and another is also lead-free, I believe, but they also have a lead pellet, as well. More fuel for the quarter-inch-bore fire.
Besides the Hunter Extreme, the new SOCOM Extreme has the same velocity in a shrouded barrel gun. It’s coming out in .177 and .22; but if the .22 is well-received, they’ll also bring it out in a .25.
Big news was the laser designator and illuminator (I was told not to call it a flashlight) they’ve brought out. Imagine being able to focus a green laser like a flashlight over three to five miles! Mount one on your scope and you will be able to take varmints at night through your daytime scope. Critters are not spooked by the green light.
Like Crosman, Umarex is another major manufacturer that had a lot of new products to show. Some of them, like the Colt Defender, we were fortunate to receive early enough that it was tested by the time SHOT opened.
I also saw a remarkable new select-fire H&K carbine that runs on green gas. It’s all-metal and very heavy. Most impressive looking and feeling. Justin Biddle of Umarex USA told me it’s the one gun airsoft shooters were looking for in their booth. I hope to do a report on it later this year.
I predict this green gas HK model will create a big stir in the airsoft world.
RWS will now offer a .25 caliber Superdome pellet. I asked for some samples to test for you. I don’t know when they’ll be available, but it’ll be this year. One more plus for .25 caliber.
The news that will interest most of you has to do with parts for RWS guns. I spoke with Glen Seiter of Umarex USA, who told me that target aperture front sight globes are available for the front ramps on sidelever sporting rifles. That lead me to ask about the Diana rear target sight that will also fit those guns–as well as most of the breakbarrels. Glen said he would check into its availability. I’m going to stay on top of this and see if we can’t get some new sights for the rifles many of you already own.
I also asked Glen if he could offer us a package of ten steel breech shims for the breakbarrels. He says he has them on hand but never thought of offering them for sale before. So, we’ll also look into that possibility.
The Edge was the big news in the AirForce booth this year. Shooters, dealers and coaches were stopping by to tell AirForce about the success that rifle has created in their clubs. And the dealers were clamoring for more guns!
The AirForce booth was full of customers for the entire show.
The BKL line of scope mounts was also receiving some attention. Word is getting out that these fine mounts are available again, and AirForce is gearing up production to handle the demand that’s already there.
Pyramyd Air had an expanded booth this year that included Air Arms, as well. And the American Airgunner crew used the booth as a base of operations as they filmed the SHOT Show. In the Pyramyd booth, an expanded Air Venturi line of guns was displayed, headed by the new Bronco. They were offering show specials on the Bronco to their dealers to get them out into the system.
The Pyramyd booth was one of the airgunning central stations at SHOT 2010. More to come in a future report.
I spoke with Bill Saunders of Air Arms and am delighted to report that the wonderful 10-meter Sporter-class target rifle I told you about a week ago is not dead. They’ve scaled back the features to become acceptable to the NRA and CMP, and we should be seeing yet another wonderful 10-meter target rifle soon.
I was always scanning the horizon at the show for new airgun products.
by B.B. Pelletier
Micro Desert Eagle is an all-metal, pocket-sized .380 ACP.
Today, I’ll show you how my Micro Desert Eagle performs on the range. In Part one of this report, I outlined all the other concealed carry guns I had looked at and even tested before settling on this one. Of course, I hadn’t tested everything on the market, but I had tested a lot of guns that people consider good carry guns.
Most were too large, and that includes an S&W model 37 Airweight snubnose in .38 Special. It also stung like a cracked bat hitting a fastball. I needed something extremely reliable, accurate and with adequate power.
So, I bought a Micro Desert Eagle in .380 ACP. Yes, it’s weak, but so is a 9x19mm Luger round in one of these pocket automatics. My rationale is that a gun I will carry all the time is better than a more powerful one I’ll leave at home. I’m not a cop. I don’t have to carry a gun. I do so by choice, and I choose to carry one that’s comfortable.
Someone asked me about carrying a .25 ACP. There are certainly a large number of them that are even smaller and lighter than this Micro Desert Eagle. I had a Colt that was beautifully small. But the state of Texas has a law that your carry gun has to be larger than .25 ACP. I agree with that law, because a .25 pocket automatic hasn’t even got the same power as a .22 short fired from a rifle. I once owned a .25 Baby Bernadelli auto that was curiously accurate beyond belief. It could hold a one-inch group at 10 meters, as long as the miniscule front sight was visible to the shooter, which it wasn’t in most light. But that gun, as small and accurate as it was, would not be appropriate for concealed carry, even if it was legal.
I took the Micro Desert Eagle to the range to shoot some targets at representative ranges, so those who are interested could evaluate the performance. I also took a Ruger Blackhawk chambered in 9x19mm Luger as a test standard. You can compare my shooting with that gun to the results of the Micro.
I started with what I had in my pocket. The gun I had been carrying every day since the last time I was at the range in early December. No attempt was made to clean the bore of lint or debris. That was the gun as it comes to the fight, loaded with seven Winchester white box .380 ACP rounds–a 95-grain full metal jacket slug of medium velocity. I had hoped to recover most of the brass on this public indoor range, but the Micro threw each case violently to the right, where the lane divider kicked it forward out of my reach.
The first six shots were taken at a silhouette target positioned at seven yards, which is 21 feet. Five were good and one was way off to the left, meaning I pulled the trigger too hard, which moved the gun off target. I reloaded and fired five more to the same point of aim. You can see the results. I’m shooting with silver sights front and rear, which are the absolute worst for accuracy and I still kept 10 of 11 rounds in a five-inch circle. Naturally this was all one-handed with no brace–the way I would shoot in a defensive situation. The center of the target was the aim point, so the gun hits about 3 inches high at 20 feet. I’ll accept that.
Eleven rounds, 10 inside a 5-inch circle. Not bad!
Next, I put up a bullseye target at 21 feet and loaded six defense hollowpoints that advertise reduced recoil. Of course, with a .380 there isn’t much recoil to begin with, so these rounds are positively a delight to shoot. They shot to almost the same point of aim, but this time they stayed in a 2.25-inch group, despite the almost impossible sights. In fact, a word needs to be said about those sights, because they really are difficult to see. I believe the Micro is as natural-pointing a handgun as I could hope for, because I sure wasn’t getting any help from those bright sights. My Baby Bernadelli was a natural shooter, the Micro is a natural pointer–along the lines of a Luger, only better.
Six shots in 2.25 inches at 21 feet. Not bad for a pocket gun.
Next, I shot seven FMJs at the same kind of target at 21 feet. The group opened up just a bit, and shifted slightly to the left.
Seven FMJs were a little larger, but still just over 3 inches at 21 feet.
I had a Ruger Blackhawk convertible along as a control gun. It has a cylinder for .357 Magnum and a second one for 9x19mm Luger rounds. Using the Luger cylinder, I loaded 6 Winchester 115-grain FMJ rounds and proceeded to unload them into a target at 15 yards, or 45 feet. They grouped okay, I suppose, but the light right over my position was reflecting off the ramped front blade and I was losing it on target.
Six shots from a 9×19 Ruger Blackhawk at 15 yards. Okay, but not great
Next, I moved the target out to 20 yards and paid more attention to the front sight. This time the group was more acceptable. And with the little 9mm Luger round, the Blackhawk barely moved in recoil with each shot. It’s a wonderful practice round, because it just doesn’t move the gun that far.
Six more 9mm rounds from the Ruger at 20 yards. This is good performance and shows a marked improvement over the concealed carry gun at three times the distance. All shots were fired with a one-hand unsupported hold.
Just for comparison, I will also show the 50-shot target I fired for my concealed carry lisence. That was shot with a Wilson Combat CQB Light Rail at 3, 7 and 15 yards in slow, timed and rapid fire scenarios. Edith calls it my Blue Man group, and I’m proud of it.
I’m very satisfied with the performance of the Micro Desert Eagle. Not only is it sized right for concealed carry, it’s also accurate. Now that the factory has fixed the feed problem, it’s reliable as well. This is a true DAO gun–unlike so many that only allow one pull of the trigger. If those guns don’t go off with the first trigger-pull, the slide has to be racked before another shot can be fired. I don’t want that in a defense handgun, so I’m recommending this one to everyone I know.
by B.B. Pelletier
Thanks to blog reader David Enoch, who signs in as woguph, for today’s report. Perhaps you’re familiar with how it works. You go along in life, blissfully ignorant of something until someone brings it to your attention. Then, suddenly your life has a huge hole in it until you possess the object with which you were so recently unfamiliar. That’s what David did to me when he introduced me to the Hy Score 801, and I’m passing it along.
Hy Score was an American company that sold airguns from the 1940s through to about 1982. They made a unique design of air pistol, but they also rebadged a number of airguns, both rifles and pistols, under the Hy Score name. And, as sometimes happens, they were careless in naming their models, because there are at least two distinctly different Hy Score model 801 rifles. Although there’s next to no information about them in the Blue Book of Airguns, one of the Hy Score 801 breakbarrels was a Diana 25 (that one they do identify), and the other was made in Belgium. Today’s report is about the Belgian gun.
Diana 27 on the left, 801 on the right. Note the walnut stain on the beechwood stock. Beautiful!
There’s a LOT of confusion about the 801 because of the two different guns using the same number. Many people know about the Diana model 25 but are completely unaware of the Belgian gun.
I learned on the Vintage Airgun Forum that it was made by Peipers in Belgium in the late 1940s. It’s a small breakbarrel with some remarkable design/style features that I’ll show you today. The thing that captivated me most was the appearance. Where a contemporary Diana model 25/27 looks plain-vanilla, the Belgian 801 is a hot fudge sundae.
David showed me his two 801s at Little Rock, thus creating the hole I had to fill. After I show you the gun, I’m sure you’ll understand why. A couple weeks ago on the Yellow Forum classified ads, I saw one for sale. Brad was selling it at a great price and the shipping was included. Whenever I come across something nice like this, I ask myself, “If I stumbled across this gun at an airgun show and had the money, would I buy it?” When the answer is a resounding “yes,” as it was in this case, I move quickly.
The Belgian 801 is a gorgeous little breakbarrel. It sits in a beech stock that’s stained the most beautiful walnut brown that you could ask for. There’s not a hint of redness in the finish. And the metal parts are all highly polished and blued to a deep, rich black color. A comparison embarrasses any modern breakbarrel short of an Air Arms rifle.
Then, there’s the checkering. What can I say about the generous flat-topped diamonds that wrap around the ultra-slim forearm and also decorate the pistol grip? Each panel abounds with overruns, as if on purpose, which they must be, to be that obvious. But the overall look is spectacular. It even feels good to the touch. And then you see the checkered butt and think you’re in heaven. No, it’s only Iowa, but still, who does that kind of work on anything less than a full-blown sporter that we common folk can’t even afford to look at?
The wraparound checkering under the forearm is impressive. Overruns are everywhere.
Left side of the forearm shows both the checkering and the finger grooves.
Pistol grip is beautiful, too.
The butt is over the top! Who does work like this on a production airgun?
The .177 caliber rifle is small. It’s 40.5 inches overall, with an 18.5-inch barrel and a 13.88-inch pull. It weighs 5 lbs. even. When put alongside a Diana 27, it comes out as the smaller gun.
Atop the breech where the barrel breaks is a unique device–a pellet loader. It automatically flips down and aligns with the bore. It hints–no it shouts–at the care and thought that went into building this little rifle.
The rifle breaks open easily. We’ve forgotten, in this era of magnum springers, that it used to be possible to open a breakbarrel without slapping the muzzle. The 801 is a reminder of a gentler time.
Brad said the gun has been lube-tuned recently, and I know from taking a few curious shots that it’s very smooth. The trigger seems to be placed too far forward; but when the gun is cocked, it moves back in the small triggerguard just enough for my average fingers to fit. For ham-handed folks, this would be a problem.
The sights are adjustable after a fashion, but there are no knobs to click. Everything seems to be done by drifting the sights from side to side, and possibly by elevating and lowering a separate rear sight blade, though I’m not fully aware of how it works at this time.
The trigger doesn’t appear to adjust from the outside of the rifle. At this time, I would assume that it is what it is. It has a reasonably light single-stage pull that’s well suited to this type of small plinking rifle.
I will know more after I return from the SHOT Show and have some time to play with this little treasure, but I think this one is here to stay. Like a Diana 27, when you finally do get one, you won’t want to let go.