by B.B. Pelletier
Testing and photos by Earl “Mac” Mcdonald
Well, Mac finished his test of the .22 caliber Beeman R1, and he learned a lot in the accuracy portion. As promised, I’ll tell you what he learned that he could not believe until he demonstrated it for himself.
First things first, though. The first thing Mac learned was that he had trouble seeing through the Bushnell 4-12×40 scope to the point that he became disturbed about it, so he removed it and mounted the Leapers Accushot 4-16x56AO scope he used in the test of the HW50S rifle. Once that scope was on board, he was satisfied and got to work testing accuracy.
Only there wasn’t much to speak of! He was surprised that the best the rifle would do at 30 yards was groups of more than one inch. He called and asked my advice. He wondered if the R1 is a hold-sensitive rifle, and I told him it’s very hold-sensitive since it’s a breakbarrel. Most breakbarrels are. They require the utmost skill with the artillery hold to shoot their best.
I told him my special technique of laying the rifle on the backs of my fingers, with my off hand touching the triggerguard. This makes the rifle muzzle heavy, and the R1 is already a very heavy rifle, so this influence is magnified. Mac shot this way and noted that the rifle dug into his fingers quickly due to the weight.
But that wasn’t the end of it. I also told him to clean the barrel with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a brass or wire brush. You veteran readers know the drill by now, but for the new readers among us, it works like this.
Cleaning the barrel
Using a solid cleaning rod and a brass or bronze wire brush, you load the brush with J-B Bore Paste and then clean from the breech to the muzzle with 20 strokes in each direction. Push the brush up from the breech until it exits the bore, then pull it straight back again until it completely exits the breech. Do this 20 times in both directions, then remove all residue from the bore until it’s clean.
Mac balked at this procedure, because it didn’t make sense to him. It took us a week to get the necessary cleaning supplies to him, during which we discussed this procedure several times. How could this possibly help, he wondered, when the bore was already clean? He had run cleaning patches through it until they came out clean. I told him that the bore may look shiny and clean, but that it really was loaded with sharp burrs on the lands that needed to be removed. He would discover this when he cleaned the barrel himself.
The day finally came when he was able to clean the bore as described here, and he was shocked at what he found. The brush was extremely difficult to run through the bore for the first three passes in both directions. Then it became noticeably easier and he finished the cleaning with ease. This is normal. I’ve had barrels fight me with as many as 11 passes of the brush before they became smooth, but the transition always happens and the barrel is easy to clean from that point on. You can feel that the major obstructions have been removed.
After cleaning, Mac tested the rifle a second time and was shocked at the first groups that measured smaller than one-half inch! That’s 10-shot groups of .22 caliber Crosman Premiers going into less than one-half inch at 30 yards! Try to do that sometime with any spring rifle you own if you think it’s easy.
The half-inch groups did not last, though. He was shooting them intermittently while he was chronographing the gun for the velocity test, and before long they began to enlarge. They soon exceeded an inch in size. Mac called me asking what to do and I advised him to clean the barrel again. The Crosman Premier pellet is made from lead hardened with antimony; because of that, it deposits lead on a rough barrel very fast.
So, he cleaned the bore for the second time, and this time the accuracy seemed to return to stay. There were no more half-inch 10-shot groups, but they did cluster around three-quarters of an inch. Below is what Mac wants to show you — before cleaning and after. He’s discarded the half-inch groups as unrepresentative of the real accuracy potential and will show groups before cleaning and after two cleanings.
Effects of cleaning with J-B Paste shown for the first time!
Mac was surprised at the outcome of the cleaning. This was the first time he had seen what J-B Paste can do to a new airgun barrel. I’ve been preaching this remedy for many years — ever since Ben Taylor of Theoben told me about it and I tried it for the first time. But this blog report is the first time I believe that the results of cleaning a new barrel have been shown so dramatically. And that’s the surprise I promised you. Some of you already know this from your own experiments, but far too many airgunners simply do not believe this treatment works. And here are the graphic results that prove that it does.
Mac’s assessment of the R1 is that it’s a nice air rifle, but a touch too twitchy for his tastes. He says that if he owned one, he would detune it for better consistency, which is exactly what I did with my personal R1. If you want crushing power in a spring-piston air rifle, get an RWS 54 that delivers it without the hold sensitivity of a breakbarrel. If you own an R1, it’s best to either learn how to shoot it with the proper artillery hold or else tune it back to softer power and recoil.
Mac also commented on the Rekord trigger in his test rifle. He says it broke cleanly at 54 oz., which is not light by anyone’s calculation. But he felt that the weight of the rifle, plus the glass-rod crispness of the trigger more than offset the pull weight.
His final observation was that once the Leapers 4-16x56AO SWAT scope was mounted on the rifle, everything seemed fine.