by B.B. Pelletier
Well, I’ve finally healed enough to cock the FWB 124 breakbarrel, so today I’ll test the rifle at 25 yards with the best modern pellets against the Beeman Silver Jets. If you recall, that premise is what started this entire report so very long ago.
Today is going to show some wonderful things, and we’re going to prosper from this experience far beyond the 124 and into the world of modern pellet rifles and scopes. So, sit back and let it come to you!
As you recall, the last time I tested this rifle was with six modern pellets and Beeman Silver Jets left over from the 1990s. All the pellets did well, but I selected three to compete at 25 yards. So, let’s test the gun.
Sight-in revealed a gun that both buzzed when shot and also one that shot very low. The buzzing will have to be corrected because I want a super-smooth rifle. The low grouping doesn’t phase me one bit, except that I can use it to illustrate a concept that I get asked about several times a month. That concept is either scope shift or an inaccurate spring gun.
I also seasoned the bore with three shots before recording any groups. That may or may not be enough, but that’s what I did. The theory on this is that each new pellet needs several shots before it begins to perform its best. I don’t know whether I believe it or not, but it’s all the rage right now, so I did it.
The first pellets I tested were Beeman Kodiaks. Veteran airgunners will remember the Kodiak as a 10.6-grain pellet, but blog reader CJr discovered in May that they’re not really that heavy. Edith has updated the description on the website to reflect the 10.2 grains they actually weigh. Apparently, this is going to be the weight of that pellet.
I was disappointed with the performance of Kodiaks at 25 yards out of the 124, because they gave me a group that was strung out vertically. I dialed the scope 10 clicks down and continued to shoot a different pellet. However, the vertical stringing was a clue about something that was happening…and happening real bad. The reason I dialed the elevation down 10 clicks was to tighten the spring of the erector tube inside the scope to keep it from floating. Vertical stringing is a sign that a scope has been adjusted too high. You’ll remember how the erector tube is supported by a spring from the scope report I did last week.
This vertical string of 10 Kodiaks tells me the erector tube is floating.
Air Arms Falcon
The next pellet I tried was the one that had performed the best at 10 meters — the Air Arms Falcons. I grouped pretty good at 25 yards, but not as good as the R8 did last month. I’ll never forget that rifle’s performance, and I don’t see why this 124 shouldn’t be just as accurate. So, I cranked in 10 more clicks of down into the scope.
The first groups of Air Arms falcon pellets is still open. More verticality says we haven’t solved the problem yet.
The next group was superb, but it had one teaser flyer that opened it to a half-inch. And that flyer was also vertical, so I cranked in another 10 clicks of down.
Things are getting much better with the second bunch of Falcon pellets after another 10 clicks down, but that flyer is still vertical above the main group.
As you can see, the pellets are still landing in a vertical string. Once more, I cranked in 10 down clicks. At this point, we are 40 clicks down from where we started.
Air Arms 8.4 domes
The next pellet I tried were the Air Arms domes that weigh 8.4 grains. Although there’s a trace of verticality to the group they made, the group is starting to look much rounder, which is what I’m after.
The bunch of 10 Air Arms domes is a pretty round group. It’s the second-best group of this test.
I actually shot several groups with the 8.4 domes, and they all turned out round like I wanted. Plus, they gave me the second-best group I got during this test.
With this success under my belt, I tried another 10 Kodiaks and got a rounder group than before, but also one that was too large for any further testing. Clearly, Kodiaks are not the pellet for this rifle.
Beeman Silver Jets
It was now time to try the Silver Jets, so I seasoned the bore and shot two groups of almost identical size. They were smaller than the Kodiaks but were not as small as the Air Arms domes or the Falcons. So, I reckoned there was but one more thing to try.
These ten Beeman Silver Jets went pretty tight but not as tight as several other pellets.
Crosman Premier lites
I had mentioned during the 10-meter test that I didn’t select Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domes to test because I simply didn’t. Several of you commented that the Premier lites were the most accurate in your 124 rifles, so I thought I’d include them in this test as a last-minute write in. I’m glad I did, because they turned in the best group of the day.
Ten Premier lites made the best target of this test. Whoda thunk it? I should have tested them at 10 meters.
This test was not complete because I did not return and retest all pellets after discovering that the scope had been a problem in the beginning. I didn’t because I was bursting with something else to tell you — namely how a scope that’s improperly adjusted can ruin your day. I hope you have seen that in the groups I’ve shown here today. But we’re not done!
Fix it, please
I get requests all the time from readers who have similar problems after they’ve mounted a scope. They have huge vertical groups and don’t understand why. I explained why last week in the scope report, so go back and reread that report to better understand.
The problem isn’t the scope, but rather how it’s being adjusted. And that was proven as I applied more and more clicks of down adjustment until the tension on the erector tube stopped the tube from floating. Only now, I gotta fix it. And that’s why I’m so happy that I used two-piece scope mounts. You can always turn one-piece mounts around to try to fix a problem like this, and that will probably work, but with two-piece mounts you can also turn each piece separately from the other, which gives you two more adjustments you can make.
I’m going to remount this scope to see if I can get it to stop shooting three inches low at 25 yards without resorting to the vertical adjustment that we now know will not work. Then, I’ll shoot some more at 25 yards to show the difference. And even that’s not the end of it.
While talking with Gene Salvino, the technical manager at Pyramyd Air, I discovered that Pyramyd Air has had the FWB 124 piston seal reproduced. He said that when they took over the high-end Beeman guns for support, they had to start fixing everything that came in, and of course the 124 will be one of those. Gene sent me one of the seals. So, by golly, you know that I’m going to install it in the rifle for a test. And, I’ll have a test for you to see how it performs.
Then, one of our readers told me about a place that machines the compression chamber to have parallel walls instead of the tapered walls it has in the earlier guns like mine. That will open up the power potential of the gun. Right now, I am debating whether or not to have this work done to this early San Anselmo gun. I certainly don’t need the power, nor do I even care to have it, but it might be nice to see a before and after of a job like this. We’re going to have fun with this 124 for some time to come.