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.