Archive for August 2010

A common conundrum: To buy or not to buy

by B.B. Pelletier

I was casually reading through the new NRA Guide to Firearms Assembly for Rifles and Pistols last Sunday when something caught my eye. There’s a page on the assembly/disassembly of the Winchester model 74 .22 semiautomatic rimfire rifle, which I find to be a very strange firearm. It doesn’t look like any other Winchester, and it doesn’t resemble any other rifle that I’m familiar with.

I read the brief information about the model 74 because there’s one for sale at one of my favorite gun stores. Unfortunately, that one has had about six inches of barrel whacked off, which ruins it as far as I am concerned. But seeing it there last March and again this past Friday brought it to my attention.

On the same Friday, I saw another model 74 in a different local gun store, only this one was a real clown car! It was chrome-plated — I don’t mean nickel, either. I know the difference between bright nickel on a gun and chrome that looks absurd under most circumstances. And, on this rifle, absurd is a compliment!

The stock on this freak show has an unusual forearm tip of a contrasting wood. The rifle looks like a cross between a summer camp wood shop project gone bad and a ’57 Chevy. I wondered what deranged National Guardsman had done such an evil thing to this poor rimfire in hopes of marching in the big parade.

Then, I saw the entry in the NRA book cited above: A Gallery Special (.22 Short) version of the model 74 was also offered. Gallery rifles were furnished with chromium-plated trimmings on special order and at extra cost. This variation was discontinued in 1952.

That prompted a check in the Blue Book of Gun Values, which revealed a 25 percent premium for the .22 Short version. Okay, simple enough so far.

Now this rifle is one I wouldn’t own on a bet. It’s garish and completely foreign to my personal tastes. I don’t like silver guns, period. But it’s also a somewhat rare version of a fairly common Winchester rimfire, and I know there are a multitude of collectors out there who might be crazy about it. A check on Gun Broker located a .22 Short model that was not a Gallery model, but was like new in the box for $1,375.

So, the conundrum is this: Do I invest in a gun I don’t personally care for because I know it’s a rare one? I don’t even know what price they had on this rifle, but this particular gun store has the local reputation of underpricing rare things. It’s a sort of “sleeper shop,” if you catch my drift. All the local guys watch the used inventory looking for bargains.

Okay, let’s bring this discussion back to airguns. Now I’m at an airgun show, and I pass a table where someone is offering a Montgomery Wards model 180 CO2 rifle for $80. Yes, it holds and shoots just fine. In fact, he even has the box because it was a birthday present back in the 1960s.

Do you know what a Monkey Ward model 180 is? I do. It’s a Crosman rifle that Crosman never made under their own name. Despite what the Blue Book of Airguns says, this model is different than the Crosman 180. It’s a single-shot CO2 that you seldom see, and in the 99 percent condition this one is, it’s easily a $200 airgun, if not $250 with the box. It may not be your cup of tea, but it might delight that Crosman collector over in the corner who hasn’t come by this table yet.

I remember once seeing what appeared to be a Crosman second model (the one before the “beer keg pump handle”) pneumatic in an airgun shop. Yes, it was a Crosman, despite the total lack of writing on the gun. Yes, the breech was steel and machined (Crosman did that only in the very early days). I offered $150 for this non-working pneumatic single-shot and then held onto it until the Baldwinsville show four months laster. Then I resold it for $650 cash. I even told the shop where I bought it that I thought it was worth a lot of money. They weren’t interested because it wasn’t their mainstream business, so making a little cash was fine with them.

In the same airgun shop, I found an FWB 124 sport model. That’s the plain gun without checkering or sling swivels. And the stock finish was worn. Likewise, the barrel finish was worn. But what can you expect for $35. That’s right, I once bought an FWB 124 for $35. After applying a nice tune and a scope, I sold that gun for about $200, as I recall. I had less than $100 in it. It was a very nice shooter and the buyer got a good gun, but my point is that there’s money to be made in airguns if you know what you’re doing.

But what about those plug-ugly guns you would personally never deign to own? Are they worth your time and effort? Yes, they are. As long as you know what you’re doing, you can make money on a gun that you personally would never own.

Several years ago, a person approached me at an airgun show with a Challenger Plainsman multi-pump pneumatic pistol. It didn’t pump and it didn’t hold. The grips had been replaced by homemade scales of birdseye maple. There was no finish on the gun. All in all, it was an airgun that I would never own. But — and this is a big but — I knew it to be a rare air pistol. How rare? I couldn’t say at the time of the opportunity, but I’d recently sold a CO2 Plainsman that isn’t as rare, and it brought me a very good price. This pneumatic had a longer barrel than the one pictured in the Blue Book, and it was in the very desirable .177 caliber.

The Challenger Plainsman multi-pump pneumatic is rare. In .177 caliber with a longer barrel, it’s super-rare! This is a .22 with a standard barrel.

Even the Challenger CO2 pistol is uncommon and commands a good price.

The person offering the pistol didn’t know what it was worth. Nor did I, for that matter. He wanted something I had on my table that was priced around $200, so I took a chance and traded. Within the next year, I made $150 on that gun, and I’m sure I left something for the guy who got it from me.

So, to buy or not to buy? Well, here’s an interesting tidbit. As I was researching this very report, I stumbled across an antique crank air rifle from New York City. Nobody had bid on it, so I set up a sniping run for a few seconds before the auction expired. If I got it, well and good. If I missed it, I would visit the gun store where the strange Winchester model 74 was the next day. I will give you a follow-up on both of these.

This Primary New York crank air rifle emerged from research I did for this report. So, I set up a snipe bid

Here’s a little story that might further motivate you to start looking for collectible guns to keep or resell. Weekend before last, a Pyramyd Air employee emailed us that she’d bought a Crosman model 112 with 10-oz. CO2 tank at a garage sale. It was the third day of the sale, so she was able to get the gun and tank for just $20. What a deal! Her .22 caliber single-shot gun was made between 1950 and 1953 and is worth $100-125. This is the first airgun she’s ever bought.

So, jump in…there’s plenty for all of us!

Beeman R1 – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

The first report on the Beeman R1 received a lot of reader comments. Apparently, I’m not alone in my admiration for Beeman’s big rifle.

Kevin asked me what kind of tune I like for the rifle, and I answered that the Venom Lazaglide tune was the best I’ve ever tested for those wanting power and smoothness. I have my own R1 tuned down to 14-16 foot-pounds because it’s so easy to cock. I like how it feels at this level (read: without vibration), so I may be shooting it like this for a while. Of course, the Lazaglide doesn’t vibrate either, but it’s twice as hard to cock.

Mac’s test rifle was shipped with Pyramyd Air’s 10-for-$10 test. That gave him a chrono ticket for the rifle, and it opened an interesting window into testing and expectations. The chrono ticket Pyramyd Air sent with the rifle was for 10 .22 caliber RWS Superdomes. The velocity on that ticket ranged from 772 f.p.s. to 790 f.p.s. with an average of 779. The Superdome is a 14.5-grain pellet, so the average muzzle energy was 19.54 foot-pounds. Let’s keep that number in mind as Mac’s numbers are revealed.

Crosman Premiers
The 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet is pretty standard fare for the R1. Back in the day, which was the early 1990s, we used to speak of R1 tunes by referring to how fast the .22 Premiers were going. You could expect a new R1 to launch a .22 Premier at around 750 f.p.s.

Lo and behold, Mac’s R1 averaged 746 f.p.s. with the Premier dome! The spread was a super-tight 741 to 750 f.p.s., so only 9 f.p.s. separated the top from the bottom. That’s a well-behaved spring rifle. The average muzzle energy works out to 17.66 foot-pounds.

JSB Exact Jumbo 15.9-grain pellets
This is the pellet I would expect to challenge the Premier for accuracy in an R1. The JSB Exact Jumbo 15.9-grain pellet is the new world standard of the 21st century. It works in most air rifles of this power level.

In Mac’s R1, the pellet averaged 702 f.p.s. The spread went from 698 to 705, so again we see the evidence of a well-behaved springer. The average muzzle energy worked out to 17.38 foot-pounds. At this point, I began to suspect the Pyramyd Air numbers, because they were two foot-pounds above the averages of these two very consistent pellets. More on that in a moment.

JSB Jumbo Express 14.3-grain pellets
The JSB Exact Jumbo Express 14.3-grain pellet fit the R1 bore loosely and had a velocity spread of 16 f.p.s., or about double the others. The average was 731 f.p.s. and the spread went from 723 to 739. The average muzzle energy was 16.98 foot pounds. They may not be as accurate in this rifle due to the loose fit. We’ll have to test for that.

H&N Sport wadcutters
The H&N Sport wadcutter is a lighter pellet, at 13.73 grains. In the R1, it averaged 763 f.p.s., with a spread from 757 to 769 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 17.73 foot pounds.

RWS Superdomes
Okay, four pellets tested and not one topped 17 foot-pounds and change. So, now that 19.54 foot-pound number from Pyramyd Air is starting to sound suspicious. Mac decided to test the RWS Superdome on his chronograph and he got an average velocity of 727 f.p.s. The spread went from 720 to 731 f.p.s. That works out to a muzzle energy of 17.02 foot-pounds, or 2.5 foot-pounds less than Pyramyd Air got. What’s the reason for the big difference?

Chronographs don’t always agree
Well, two chronographs were used. That’s the big difference. I don’t know how the lighting is at the site of both chronos, but lighting will affect the numbers significantly. I remember having to scrap a bunch of R1 test figures when I was writing my book because they were 150 f.p.s. too high due to a lighting error. That’s the lesson here. The numbers don’t always tell the whole story.

You can also chrono a gun and get different velocities than somebody else, just because of how you shoot through the skyscreens. By not shooting straight through the skyscreens so the pellet path is perpendicular to the sensors, the numbers can be off. Pyramyd Air provided a chrono ticket, so it’s obvious they were sending the best information they had. But two chronographs will not always agree. That’s the lesson for today.

There’s one more big surprise coming in this test. Something Mac didn’t believe until he tried it and saw for himself. Stay tuned for Part 3.

B.B.’s airguns – What I kept and why – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll continue the story of what airguns I hung onto over the years and why I kept them. I’ll also throw in a few firearms just to spice things up.

Crosman M1 Carbine
I kept the second M1 Carbine BB gun I ever got, but I let the first one get away. It was a wood-stocked model that’s considered more collectible, though I think the plastic-stocked gun looks more realistic. I kept this one because it was a gift, and I have the original box it came in plus the original owner’s manual. I also kept it because it’s an M1 Carbine, and I have told you many times how I love that little gun.

A military M1 Carbine above and my Crosman M1 Carbine below. It’s very realistic!

S&W 78G
I kept a boxed 78G that I bought in an auction years ago, then had Dave Gunter reseal and soup up a little. It’s a fine-shooting air pistol, though it cannot compete with a 2240 accuracy-wise. I keep it because I’ve sold several boxed 78Gs and one 79G over the years. Ten years ago, these guns were being sold new-in-the-box at airgun shows for $100. I knew it couldn’t last, and it didn’t; but when there’s a pile of 50 of anything, it tends to lose value in my eyes. I’ll hold on to this one because it would cost too much to replace it.

The S&W 78G is a single-shot copy of S&W’s model 41 target pistol.

Daisy 499B
I keep the world’s most accurate BB gun because every so often I write about it. I need to have one to remind me of how really great the gun is. And I bought a case of Number 515 Precision Ground Shot, so I’d never run out for the rest of my life. I just opened the second box after 10 years. There are 23 more boxes to go, so you might plan on buying them at my estate sale.

Diana model 27
I’ve owned several Diana 27 rifles, both in .22 and .177, but the beautiful one I bought from Richard Schmidt at the first Little Rock Airgun Show I attended 17 years ago is the one I will keep. I’ve had it apart several times for photography and tuning, and I love the way it shoots. I’ve had several .177 model 27s, and I can say that I never warmed up to any of them. For some reason, the .22 caliber gun is the one I love.

I love my little Diana 27, which is a Hy-Score 807.

Airguns I no longer have – the Hakim
I’ve owned at least 15 Hakim spring rifles over the years. For a couple of years, the Anschütz-made Hakims were my weakness, just like M1 Carbine firearms are today. For some reason, I lost interest and slowly let them all get away. They’re great air rifles, and you really should shoot one, but I’m no longer fatally attracted to them.

Now, if you have a BSA Airsporter you’d like to get rid of reasonably, we should talk. The Airsporter is a BSA-made Hakim design in a sporter stock. Same for the Falke model 80 and 90, though both of those rifles are much more collectible and sell for a lot more.

The Hakim used to be on my must-have list…but no more.

The Sheridan Supergrade
I owned one long enough to learn that it is neither more powerful nor more accurate than a standard Sheridan Blue Streak. But it’s quite the air rifle from the style side. I don’t normally care about style, but the Supergrade is one exception. Mine was an early rifle that had the long bolt handle, which I find particularly attractive. I had to sell it to raise money to live on, and then the prices tripled inside two years. I probably won’t get another.

Sharp Ace
I’ve owned three Aces. Two were Japanese-made and one was made in southeast Asia. One of the Japanese guns was regulated to 12 foot-pounds and had a beautiful barred walnut stock. The other Japanese model was full-power and got up to 25 foot-pounds in .22 caliber.

The Ace trigger gets stiffer as more pumps are put into the gun. I could not reconcile that, so I let them all go. They’re terribly accurate, though. Way more than the Sheridan rifles.

Daystate Sportsman Mark II
This is a sidelever multi-pump rifle that looks and feels like a PCP. It’s just as accurate, too. But it weighs over 10 lbs. scoped, and the sidelever makes it unbalanced. I could not reconcile that feel, so I sold it. I still see it for sale every so often at airgun shows.

The Daystate Sportsman Mark II is a multi-pump made to look and perform like a PCP.

Air Arms Schamal .22
This rifle was a heatbreak to sell. It was another natural shooter, like the R8 I just reviewed for you. It had a great number of shots per fill and was reasonably lightweight. The stock was figured walnut that I thought was breathtaking. At 40 yards, it shot one-hole groups. I’ve seen other Schamals that didn’t excite me, but this one was special. I sold it to get the money to live on, but if I got it again I don’t think I’d let it get away a second time.

Baby Bernadelli .25 ACP
Forty years ago, I owned a .25 ACP Baby Bernadelli, which is an Italian copy of the Baby Browning. For some unknown reason, that little pistol was dead-nuts accurate. I could put three bullets through the bottom of a pop can at 30 feet every time. I’m talking a one-inch group! It was a natural shooter that I let get away…and have regretted it ever since.

Ruger flattop .44 Magnum with 10-inch barrel
I’ve owned eight Colt Single-Actions, including three that were first generation guns. I have also owned a genuine Remington 1875 single-action. Yet, I don’t really miss any of them as much as I miss this Ruger. It was collectible when I owned it in the 1970s, and it’s super-collectible today. I liked it because it was accurate and because I could load it to .44 Special power and it didn’t kick much. I doubt I’ll ever spend the money to buy another one like it.

Well, that’s enough sob stories for one day. How about the rest of you open up between now and Monday with your own tales of woe? I have many more to come, so don’t worry. We’re just getting started.

Engineered plastics, synthetic stocks and modern materials in airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Brian Saada has written a guest blog for today. He wrote one the end of May (More on manufacturing tolerances), and it caused a lot of you to comment. I feel certain today’s blog will do the same thing.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in simple html, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Brian Saada, aka Brian in Idaho

“The best airguns are made from metals and woods.”

The above statment may well have been true years ago; but, during the past 20 years, we’ve seen increased use of plastics and synthetic materials in the airguns we shoot, and some that we have yet to buy or shoot.

The word plastics is a hugely broad and generic term that is often misused and even more often misunderstood. Even 30 and 40 years ago, plastic was being used in airgun pistol grips, some sights and other non-critical components (non-critical to the bean counters, anyway). Still, we often equate plastic to cheap, but that’s not always a fair equation. Words such as lightweight, durable, impervious to oils and acids are more in line with the use of well-made plastic parts. Many of you may remember the Remington Nylon 6 rifles — a noble but less than satisfying attempt to make a plastic stock on a firearm (Nylon ages and deteriorates in some applications and does not do well in severe cold).

Today, the term synthetic materials is much more appropriate to these so-called plastics, as many of these are highly evolved materials or fairly recent developments. Since the gun makers don’t do a very good job of describing these materials in their advertisements or literature, I thought that I would do my best to describe what some of these materials are and what their purpose is.

As the name implies, thermoplastics = thermo (heat) and plastic (moldable or malleable material condition). The difference between these plastics and the cheaper and more brittle styrene-type plastics that are injection-molded or cast is in the types of resins used and the material properties. Thermoplastics typically have greater surface hardness, greater density and can often be remolded or bent/shaped under heat. These materials also drill and machine reasonably well and are not prone to cracking like their cheaper counterparts. A well-made synthetic pistol grip would be made from thermoplastic or, as seen below, so would a Crosman 1077 rifle stock.

Crosman’s 1077 incorporates modern synthetic materials.

Engineered Plastics
This, too, is a fairly generic label or term that can be applied to a lot of materials however, it implies that the selection of resins and additives were engineered or thought through based on the application of the material to a specific part of the airgun. The breech of a Crosman 2240 pistol is one example.

Breech of the Crosman 2240 isn’t made of metal.

Somewhere back in the day, some engineer needed to reduce costs, simplify manufacturing and also pop out hundreds of these breech parts per day. That engineer also had some level of durability and surface hardness to achieve in this plastic part. Keep in mind, this is a wear area or wear surface part that will see thousands of bolt actuations over the life of the product, so the actual plastic maker had to select a recipe of resins and possibly some filler additives (solids) that would make a reasonably functional part. It’s likely that this resin already existed in a DuPont or an ICI catalog and no R&D or great development was needed. The engineer looked at a table of properties in the catalog and picked the material that met the need for cost and usefulness.

Another group of materials that fit into this category is the reinforced plastics or molding compounds. As the name implies, the plastic is reinforced with a variety of other materials. Chopped or shredded fiberglass is very common, so are carbon fibers and even nano-particles for very small parts that require long life cycle or use. Titanium particles and other metals can also be used as reinforcement or for machinability on a mating surface of a part. The higher-end airguns, such as the FX brand, likely use these types of materials in their gun stocks as they are very, very strong and their density can be “heard” by the solid thud made when tapping on the stock. More frequently, we would see these types of material under the hood of our cars in air cleaner boxes, ductwork and even intake manifolds on fuel-injected engines (my Mitsubishi V-6 has one of these).

If you’re turned off by plastic use in an airgun, think of the level of durability needed to meet low CTE (expansion by heat) and resistance to all the nasty stuff going on under the hood of a car or truck, including oil, gas and road crud. An airgun is a hospital operating room environment by comparison!

I, too, was once of the “give me metal and wood” school of thought on this issue of plastic parts. But, I can shoot my Gamo Whisper .22 with the camo synthetic stock all day long. Not so my HW97K. About 3 hours of lugging around that 9-lb. monster, and I’m done for the day! Hooray for plastics!

Beeman R8: A classic from the past – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

My new R8 made me sit up and take notice!

Today, I’ll look at the accuracy of my new Beeman R8. I waited until now to do this test because I wanted to be off the IV and be capable of doing my best with this rifle. Along that line, I have some good news to share about my condition.

Last Thursday, I went for a walk outdoors. It was about a half mile or less around my housing subdivision, but it was all I could do at the time. When I finished, I was tired for about an hour, but then something wonderful happened. I awoke out of the fog I’ve been in since this thing began in March. My head cleared and I was able to think clearly for the first time.

The next day I stretched the walk and the day after that I went about one mile. I’m doing that every morning now and it gets my blood flowing for the day. I have jump-started my metabolism with the result that I’m able to eat all I want (though not to excess) and I’m losing weight, because I’m building muscle to metabolize the fat. I feel wonderful, which is why I felt I was ready to give this rifle a fair test.

This R8 was represented to me as a very accurate air rifle. Well, I hear that a lot in my job, and it doesn’t always work out. Often, what someone else thinks is accurate is different from what I expect. Then, there are other times when my technique can drag out a decent amount of accuracy from just about anything (except for the B3-1). But it’s a real strain.

Then there are those very rare occasions when I get a rifle in my hands that does everything the owner has told me it could do. Those rifles are the natural shooters of this world, and they’re as scarce as hen’s teeth. I think this R8 is one of them.

I shot this rifle at 25 yards, which is the longest range I can get at my house. I’m not yet able to drive to other ranges, so I have to work with what I have at home, but 25 yards is a good test for a spring rifle.

It always takes me some time to get familiar with every new rifle, so the first 20 shots or so are not for record. Fortunately, last weekend, we were all advising reader rikib of the need for repeatable head placement to cancel parallax, so the lesson was still fresh in my mind. The Tyrolean stock on the R8 seems perfect for benchrest, because I can feel the spot weld precisely. It took a while to get into the groove. Once I did, I simply could do no wrong with this rifle. I actually had to adjust the scope off the aim point to leave a spot to put the crosshairs, because this gun wants to throw every pellet into the same hole! I knew where every pellet was going, and they all went where I expected them to go.

The first pellet
I had been told that this rifle really likes JSB Exact RS domes, and they should be seated deep in the breech. That’s what I started with. The scope needed some adjustment to shoot where I wanted, and that allowed me to get comfortable with the rifle. I found my lips kissing the front edge carving of the high cheekpiece, which gave me the perfect repeatable feel shot after shot.

The first group I fired for the record was unnerving! I stopped at just five shots, because I just didn’t want to screw up that group. I wanted to have something good to show you even if I couldn’t hold 10 shots for a group.

Five JSB Exact RS pellets shot into this group at 25 yards.

But I needn’t have bothered, because it was easy to group 10 shots. This R8 groups like a fine PCP, and that’s no exaggeration. If you do your part, you’ll get a screaming group at 25 yards.

Ten more JSB Exact RS pellets went into this group at 25 yards. This rifle just puts them in there!

Crosman Premier lites
The next pellet to be tried was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome.

Ten Premier lites were just as tight as the JSB RS pellets at 25 yards.

H&N Field Target
The final pellet I tried was the H&N Field Target pellet. At 8.5 grains, these are from half to a full grain heavier than the other pellets I tried. They printed a slightly larger group at 25 yards, though it was all one hole, too.

H&N Field Target pellets went into a slightly larger group at 25 yards.

The scope
The Burris 4.5-14x32AO scope is quite a piece of glass. Because of a bad experience I had with a Burris compact scope years ago, I’ve been off this brand, but the Timberline scope on this R8 has turned me around. This glass has the timeless quality of the old Beeman SS2 scope that still commands a place in airgunners’ hearts and gun racks. It’s clear, sharp and focuses as close as 21 feet on high power.

This Beeman R8 is a natural shooter. Hold it correctly, and you won’t miss your target. This particular rifle is beyond the norm because of the excellent Tyrolean stock. Normally, a Tyrolean stock restricts the rifle to just offhand use, but this stock allows for a good hold off the bench, too. That means it would probably work well in a number of hunting holds.

Besides being a knockout for looks, the stock complements the accuracy potential of the basic rifle. Lastly, kudos to whoever tuned it, because it shoots like a dream. A springer that’s as accurate as a PCP doesn’t happen every day.

Beeman R1 – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

The R1 Elite Series combo comes with a Bushnell 4-12x40AO scope mounted.

Well, we had to get to the Beeman R1 before long. After all, it’s a Weihrauch rifle and probably the one model that American airgunners are the most familiar with. Back in its heyday, which was the very early 1980s, it was, for a brief time, the most powerful spring-piston air rifle around. It was also the first airgun to be designed by a CAD system.

The engineer who did the computer work for Dr. Beeman meets me every year at the Little Rock Airgun Expo, and he sometimes tells me tidbits of what that development was like. At the time, they didn’t have a large body of test data to design from, so they modeled all sorts of possible performance enhancements until they found the correct blend.

The R1 sprang from the HW35, which was, and still is, a large spring-piston air rifle that doesn’t seem to live up to its size. Tuners back in the 1970s found there was very little they could do to boost the power of the HW35 powerplant much over what the factory puts out. The rifle was a 750 f.p.s. rifle in top trim in .177 caliber at a time when the FWB 124, Diana 45 and BSF 55 rifles were all topping 800 f.p.s.

The solution turned out not to be a more powerful mainspring. In fact, when the R1 was Lazerized by the Beeman company about a year after the gun was first offered, the cocking effort dropped several pounds as the power increased. The solution turned out to be swept volume of the piston. The diameter of the piston could not get much larger than it already was, because the HW35 compression tube was already quite wide. The piston stroke was where most of the increase had to come from. Beeman called the new rifle the R1, short for the first Beeman-specified model air rifle. HW called the gun the HW80, which records the stroke of the piston in millimeters.

The R1 was developed by Beeman in cooperation with Weihrauch, but when the time came for the first rifles to be built, the R1 stocks required a larger piece of wood than the HW80 models, so the HW80 rifles actually hit the market several months before the R1 while they waited for custom-ordered stocks. The HW80 had to be set to the power limits of whichever country it would be sold in. For Germany, that would be 7.5 joules, which is about 6 foot-pounds. That’s such a low power level that you can see there wasn’t much incentive to build a new 9-lb. monster breakbarrel rifle. In the United Kingdom, the power limit was higher, at 12 foot-pounds. Even then, the HW80 was huge for the power it put out.

Only in the United States, where airgun power is unrestricted, did it make sense to build an air rifle this large and heavy. Therefore, the HW80 took an instant back seat to the much more powerful R1 when it finally came out. When it did come out, it was awesome! The reigning power champ of the day was the FWB 124, just barely topping 12 foot-pounds, or in terms more airgunners can understand, a muzzle velocity of about 820 f.p.s. with medium-weight .177 caliber pellets. Suddenly, the new Beeman gun was cranking out 940 f.p.s. Before another year had passed, the 1,000 f.p.s. threshold had been passed for the first time by a spring rifle.

Did I mention that the R1 is large? Compared to it, a Winchester model 70 in .30-06 seems like a scout rifle, weighing several pounds less and extending several inches shorter. When you heft an R1 to your shoulder, you know you’re holding something. Even though I’ve been in airgunning seriously for many years and have held hundreds of different air rifles, every time I shoulder an R1 I’m impressed all over again. Factor that into your desire to own one. It’s not an all-day plinker by anyone’s definition.

The gun Mac is testing is actually the Beeman R1 Elite Series combo that consists of the rifle with a Bushnell 4-12x40AO scope that comes mounted from Pyramyd Air. The one on Mac’s test rifle sits in Sportsmatch rings, and he notes that the scope sits close to the spring tube, as you would expect.

Mac’s test rifle is .22 caliber. We decided to do that because of the power potential of the gun. He reports that the wood has the same checkering as the HW97. The staining could be nicer on his test gun he says, but the red rubber buttpad is fitted very well. There are no open sights on this model, as the scope will be the sighting system.

The metal is deeply blued and highly polished. The muzzlebrake is just over four inches long and provides the ideal handle for cocking the rifle. As a safety precaution, remember to never let go of the barrel when it’s open.

The barrel is nearly 20 inches long, as less than a half-inch of muzzlebrake sticks past the true muzzle. This barrel is a full-diameter steel barrel, rifled in the traditional style. So, you’re getting quality that harkens from three decades ago and isn’t seen that often today. I mention that to help explain the price, which is $600 for the basic rifle with no sights.

What about the price?
This needs to be said. The R1 is not a cheap air rifle. For the price, you get a German-made rifle with the world-famous Rekord trigger, a solid wood stock, a full-diameter steel barrel, one of the largest powerplants on the market today, a world-class telescope mounting platform and a metal finish that puts most other spring rifles to shame. You do get what you pay for, but with all the Chinese competition coming in around $150 less, many shooters are not going to see the value here.

The R1 was expensive when it first hit the streets back in 1980, and it’s always been on the high end of the spring-gun range. If you don’t value the features it offers, it’s not the air rifle for you. If you find the physical size too imposing, it may also not be a good choice. Choose an R1 because you know what it is, and it’s what you want in an air rifle.

This will be an interesting report, because Mac has made a discovery that many of you have also made by following this blog. It worked for him just as I know it’ll work for you. I won’t tell you what he discovered until we get to it, but it makes this report quite interesting.

The Crosman Mark I and Mark II – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Crosman’s Mark I Target is a beautiful single-shot air pistol. It resembles the Ruger Mark I.

Well, today I’ll test the velocity of my Crosman Mark I pistol. And you’ll recall that I’d planned to adjust the gun’s power for you as well. Well, I discovered that the pistol was already set as high as the adjustment will go, so that’s where I’ll start this report.

This buggered-up screw sticks out the front of the receiver, just beneath the barrel. Turn it out to slow the pellets and in to speed them up.

The gun has two power levels that are determined during cocking. The first click of the twin cocking knob selects low power and the second click is for high. On low power, the trigger is single-stage, and on high power it’s two-stage. It didn’t have as much creep on low power as I remembered, but there’s definitely a little bit.

On high power, I’ve adjusted the trigger to release at a much heavier weight than I remembered, but I do remember that I had backed it off to release at less than a pound and it had become unsafe. So, I cranked in a bunch of trigger adjustments, and now it breaks at around 5 lbs.

Adjusting the trigger is a matter of turning in or out on the Allen trigger-adjustment screw located in front of the trigger blade. You can make the second stage break very light, but just remember to test it with an unloaded gun, because you don’t want a gun that fires on its own.

The trigger adjustment screw is on all Mark I and II models.

Power adjustment
As it turned out, my pistol was set to the highest power level it could attain, so the first velocity figures are the best it can do. Since it’s a Crosman gun, I reckoned it would be best to test it with Crosman Premier pellets first.

Crosman Premiers
The .22 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet averages 431 f.p.s. from my Mark I on high power. The spread went from a low of 428 to a high of 434 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.9 foot-pounds at that velocity.

On low power, the same pellet averaged 310 f.p.s. with a spread that was somewhat larger. It went from a low of 305 to a high of 316 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 3.05 foot-pounds.

Then, I adjusted the power as low as it would go. The power-adjusting screw turned counter-clockwise until it seemed to stop, which I guess is a design feature. At that setting on high power, the pistol averaged 325 f.p.s. with a spread from 320 to 331 f.p.s. That’s a muzzle energy of 3.35 foot-pounds.

On low power, the velocity averaged 132 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 127 to a high of 141 f.p.s. The muzzle energy averaged 0.55 foot-pounds.

I don’t know what benefit the power adjuster gives, since high and low power can be selected during cocking. I can understand why Crosman eliminated this feature in the later years of the pistol’s production. Maybe, with a modified gun there’s an advantage, but with a stock pistol I don’t see the need for power adjustment.

Is it repeatable?
Once the low-power adjustment test was finished, I adjusted the screw all the way back to high power and shot it once more through the chronograph. It registered 437 f.p.s., so close enough to where it was before.

Velocity with Hobbys
RWS Hobby pellets weigh 11.9 grains in .22 caliber, so you know they’re going to go faster than Premiers. On high power, they averaged 472 f.p.s.. The spread went from 464 to 479 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 5.89 foot-pounds.

On low power, they averaged 355 f.p.s., with a spread from 352 to 362 f.p.s.. The average muzzle energy was 3.33 foot-pounds. Do you notice how close the power is to the results I got with the Premier pellets?

Velocity with Gamo Hunters
The Gamo Hunter pellet weighs 15.3 grains in .22 caliber. On high power, they averaged 413 f.p.s., with a spread from 408 to 416 f.p.s. That works out to an average muzzle energy of 5.8 foot-pounds, or just a little behind the other two pellets.

On low power, the average velocity was 306 f.p.s. The spread went from 304 to 310 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 3.18 foot-pounds.

So, my Mark I is pretty consistent in the velocity department, as we expect a good CO2 gun to be. All shots were indoors with an average temperature of 70 deg. F.

The hold is near-perfect, improved over the stock Ruger Mark I grip by the super-ergonomic grips Crosman designed. And, the gun seems to get plenty of shots per CO2 cartridge. Let’s see what it can do downrange next!

Swiss Arms P92 replica pistol
Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

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Sheridan 2260MB CO2 rifle

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