by B.B. Pelletier
Testing and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
For those who have enjoyed the fine work done by Mac while I was in the hospital, there’s good news. He’ll continue to test some of the guns for us for a while. Right now, he’s testing a group of springers for me, and today we’ll begin with a look at the Beeman R9 Elite Series.
The R9 is an evolutionary spring rifle that descended from the Beeman R10. The R10 was billed as the “Son of the R1” by Dr. Beeman and was a breakbarrel that reproduced the factory power of the R1 while being significantly lighter and therefore handier. The R1 is a huge rifle, and many people welcomed the loss of a couple pounds of weight in a 1,000 f.p.s. breakbarrel.
Of course, I’m talking about the time (1986-1995) when 1,000 f.p.s. was new and novel and not available in every new design that hit the market. The main difference between the R1 and R10, besides the size, was the fact that the R10 came to you pretty hot. Tuning couldn’t draw much more from it, where the R1 was the building block for much more powerful air rifles.
But the R10 was expensive to produce. The tubing diameter was thinner than the R1’s tube, making machining more critical. So, Weihrauch sought to simplify the design to make it easier to produce. Also, many R10s were very buzzy and ragged because the gun was so close to its maximum. In the rifle that followed, some performance was sacrificed for smoothness. Enter the R9.
The R9 has thin-wall tubing and doesn’t use the same threaded end cap of the other R-series rifles. Instead, the end cap slides inside the tube and is held by four special tabbed pins. It makes powerplant disassembly quite different from the R1.
Don’t crush the tube
The thin tube causes shooters to take one precaution that isn’t required on other R-series rifles. If you tighten the scope bases too tight, you’ll temporarily squeeze the tube into an oval. (BKL scope mounts aren’t recommended). This becomes apparent when you cock the rifle and can feel the mainspring bumping past the oval section as each coil slides by. I’ve done this in the past, and Mac experienced it during this test. This isn’t permanent, though. Loosen the clamps, and the tube springs back to round. But there are three vertical holes on top of the spring tube for a positive scope stop, so this should never be a problem.
Mac tested the Beeman R9 Elite Series Combo, which is the rifle that comes mounted with a Bushnell Banner 4-12x40AO wide-angle scope in Sportsmatch rings. He got one that had the 10 for $10 testing. When I do the velocity report, we’ll compare Pyramyd Air’s numbers to Mac’s. He noticed that the Sportsmatch rings on the gun he’s testing are different than the rings pictured on the PA website. Those look like Leapers rings. We’ve asked Pyramyd Air to look into it and update their images if the mounts are different for the guns they currently have in stock.
The rifle with scope weighs around 9 lbs. or about what an R1 weighs without sights. And speaking of sights, the R9 doesn’t come with them any more so the scope is needed. There’s no easy way to mount open sights on this gun. The muzzlebrake would have to be removed, and you’d have to find a way to attach the front sight to the barrel. Not an easy proposition! There are no provisions for a rear sight, so don’t buy the rifle if open sights are important to you.
The overall length of the rifle is 42.75 inches with a barrel of 16.50 inches. That includes the length of the muzzlebrake. The pull is a manly 14.50 inches.
The stock is evenly finished, allowing the beech grain to show. The checkering is now pressed instead of cut. The metal is deeply blued with no flaws.
The shape of the stock makes the rifle fully ambidextrous. There’s no cheekpiece on either side.
Firing behavior is dead calm. Mac says it feels like a tuned action. No twang or buzz, just a solid stop. The Rekord trigger breaks as crisply as ever, which is to say like a glass rod.
Beeman plated both the aluminum trigger blade and the adjustment screw behind it with gold. That contrasts well with the rest of the finish.
Overall, Mac likes the new R9. The main changes from the past are the lack of open sights and the pressed checkering instead of cut. Next, we’ll report velocity.