Browning 800 Mag – Part 6
by B.B. Pelletier
Photos and testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald
Well! A surprising finish to the comprehensive test of the .22-caliber Browning 800 Mag pistol. Surprising because of the strong finish the pistol made in Mac’s capable hands. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s reel it back to the start of the accuracy test.
If I were a skilled storyteller, I wouldn’t put RWS Superdomes first in the report, but it was the first pellet Mac tried in the gun. I wouldn’t put it first because it turned out to be the most accurate pellet by an enormous margin. Sometimes, things happen that way, but you don’t know it for sure until you complete the test.
At 10 meters, 10 shots ripped through a group measuring just 1.38″ across the widest two shots. That’s with TEN shots at ten meters! With accuracy on that order, a fellow could draw down on a crow at 20 yards and expect to connect where he aimed. We already know the gun has the power to do the job. A six o’clock hold netted a point of impact at 12 o’clock on the 10m pistol bull. Sight correction would, therefore, be in order.
With the best pellet, the Browning 800 Mag is a valid hunting air pistol for small game at close range — provided you’re shooting RWS Superdomes or another pellet of equal accuracy.
All this buildup is necessary because of how the gun performed with the other two pellets. So, let’s move on to Hobbys.
At just 11.9 grains, the .22 caliber RWS Hobby pellet was the fastest of the three tested. But it wasn’t that much faster than the Superdome (536 to 502), and it developed less muzzle energy (7.59 to 8.12). So, unless it shines in accuracy, it’s not a pellet to consider.
And shine it did not. Ten pellets went into a group measuring 2.08″ at 10 meters. We know from the Superdome results that Mac can shoot, so the Hobby has to be rated as mediocre, at best.
That left but one pellet to test. The Crosman Premier.
In the velocity test, the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet showed wild velocity swings. Mac determined that was due to the pellet being too small for the gun’s bore. One pellet even fell out as he was closing the barrel after loading. That was significant, because the 800 Mag barrel has a very strong detent that requires a swift and deliberate closure. What a setup for possible dry-fires.
But the group measured 3.08″ — an inch larger than Hobbys. Now, 8 of the 10 shots did cluster in a much tighter group, but with the wild velocity swings and possibility for dry-fires, I think the Premier may not be best for the big Browning — at least in .22 caliber.
The bottom line of the big Browning is that this is a powerful and accurate spring-piston air pistol. It clearly surpasses the Beeman P1 for power, and delivers the shots to the POA if you do your part.