by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity/power the new Air Venturi Bronco produces. Remember that I was after a classic plinking air rifle that can be shot all day without fatigue. My inspiration was the Diana 27, though the Beeman R7 really kicked off the project. The R7 got me started thinking, and the Diana 27 really focused my thoughts on a small, lightweight, easy-to-cock pellet rifle that’s accurate, calm and doesn’t hurt your wallet.
The Beeman C1 carbine was also thrown into the mix, because the Bronco’s name reminded me of a western theme. And the C1 is the best-known spring rifle with a Western-style stock. The C1 was too powerful for this project, so don’t be fooled by the similarity with the Bronco. I was definitely looking for plinking power in a quality rifle that would be comfortable to hold and shoot.
The cocking effort for the Bronco is just 19 lbs., which puts it into the youth category. The short 12.75-inch pull means it’s scaled for older kids, teenagers and even adults. But there’s something else. Not only does the Bronco cock with just 19 lbs., but the barrel also moves through only about a 90-deg. arc for the complete cocking cycle. The first time you do it you’ll be done before you really get started. That translates to even less stress on the shooter, because they aren’t trying to bend the bow of Hercules through a 140-deg. arc.
Once cocked, the breech accepts pellets freely. The three types I used in this test all loaded easily, yet did not fall into the barrel. There’s adequate constriction there.
Seven-grain RWS Hobby pellets were first. They’re pure lead and perfect for the power of this rifle. They averaged 558 f.p.s., with a spread from 538 to 566. All but two shots were above 550 f.p.s. That works out to an average power of 4.84 foot-pounds. While too low for most critters, it’s 50-75 f.p.s. faster than the Daisy 953 and it’s delivered by an all-wood and metal gun with classic lines. This is exactly what I was after.
Gamo Match pellets come in two weights. I shot the 7.5-grain pellets at an average of 537 f.p.s., with a range from 534 to 541. So, the range was much tighter than for the Hobbys. The average muzzle energy was 4.80 foot-pounds. Again, this is a perfect velocity.
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers averaged 528 f.p.s. in the Bronco. The range went from 526 to 533, so another very tight spread. The average muzzle energy was 4.89 foot-pounds. Again, a super performance for a plinker.
The two-bladed trigger on the Bronco operates both stages of the trigger-pull. The blade that’s in front contacts the trigger finger first and represents the first stage of the pull. When it comes level with the second blade, stage two kicks in. The trigger on my test rifle breaks at 1 lb., 14 oz. That’s correct–just 30 oz.! It’s very crisp, with no hint of the release before it breaks. Try to find another plinking air rifle with a trigger that good! I think I’ll have to add this rifle to my testbed arsenal instead of returning it to Pyramyd Air when I’m done with my report.
The Bronco’s a smooth shooter. Not smooth in the same sense as a magnum rifle that’s been slathered with black tar, but more like smooth in the sense that it has all the power needed for the job with nothing wasted. It’s quick and very calm, which you’d expect from a gun of this power. You expect it, but you don’t always get it when corners have been cut. No corners were cut with the Bronco. You’re getting everything you pay for in a compact, easy-to-handle package.
Don’t buy a Bronco thinking that it can be magnum-ized. It has a short-stroke piston that will keep it in the mid-500 f.p.s. ballpark no matter what mainspring you put in. Don’t look for a .22 version, because at this power level, a .22 really wouldn’t be worth it. This is one time when the .177 caliber will rule. Instead, savor the 19-lb. cocking effort shot after shot and the trigger that breaks cleanly at less than 2 lbs. Savor the straight Western stock that fits like a glove and will accept a scope without frustration.
So far, I’m impressed with the Bronco’s performance. It does what a good plinker is supposed to do, and it has the build quality to last for generations. This is the rifle to grab when you just want to shoot without doing anything else. You can clip dandelion heads, eliminate wasps and pick off acorns from the highest branches
The accuracy test is next, and I’m eager to get to it.