Archive for October 2010
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, Mac and I will arrive in Roanoke this evening. Tomorrow, we plan to go to the civic center and help set up for the show.
Today, we’re looking at the new Webley Alecto multi-pump pneumatic air pistol, and it promises to be one of the most powerful non-PCP air pistols to ever come along. As I mentioned in Part 1, this gun is for grown men who eat their Wheaties. The first pump is relatively easy, pump two is not too difficult but pump three is a real bear! I like this gun because of all the flexibility it gives the shooter, but I don’t want to hear how it’s too hard to pump. So, I’m giving you fair warning.
Since it’s possible to shoot the gun on one, two or three pumps, that’s how I conducted the test. I picked three pellets, a lightweight one, a medium-weight one and a heavyweight. I shot them repeatedly at one, two and three pumps to get the averages. You need to know that multi-pump pneumatics are among the most well-regulated of all airguns. And single-strokes are at the absolute top. Single strokes will often be more consistent than regulated PCPs, which is hard to imagine but true, nevertheless.
So lets take a look at the Alecto as it performs. First, we’ll look at a single pump.
Alecto on one pump
The first pellets I tried were RWS Hobbys. And I discovered that on one pump, the Alecto is extremely stable –just like a single-stroke pneumatic. The Hobbys averaged 422 f.p.s. and ranged from 421 to 423 f.p.s. That’s an average energy of 2.77 foot-pounds.
Air Arms domes were next with a weight of 8.4 grains. They represent the middle of the .177 caliber weight range. On a single pump, they averaged 390 f.p.s. with a spread from 389 to 391 f.p.s. Once again, a tight spread! That works out to an average energy of 2.84 foot-pounds.
Beeman Kodiaks were last. Though they aren’t the absolutely heaviest pellets around, they do represent the heavyweight range quite well. They averaged 353 f.p.s., with a total spread from 352 to 354 f.p.s. Like I said, the Alecto is like a single-stroke on one pump. The average muzzle energy is 2.82 foot-pounds.
I also discovered that as you shoot the Alecto, it wakes up and shoots harder. That was demonstrated on two pumps.
Alecto on two pumps
RWS Hobbys averaged 556 f.p.s., but the spread went from 546 to 562. The average energy was 4.81 foot-pounds. The second pump is fairly easy to make as long as the gun’s butt is anchored on your leg.
Air Arms domes averaged 523 f.p.s. The spread was much tighter, from 519 to 525 f.p.s., and the average muzzle energy was 5.1 foot-pounds. The sleeping tiger is awakening!
Beeman Kodiaks averaged 483 f.p.s. with a spread from, 482 to 484 f.p.s. That’s as tight as the same pellet on one pump. The average muzzle energy was 5.29 foot-pounds. We’re getting into Beeman P1 territory on two pumps.
Now, it’s time to test the gun on three pump strokes. I had to anchor the butt in my lap and push down on the topstrap with more than just my arm strength to close it.
Alecto on three pumps
RWS Hobbys averaged 630 f.p.s., with a spread from 618 to 634 f.p.s. The average energy was 6.17 foot-pounds. We have surpassed the P1 and are bearing down on the Browning 800 Magnum.
Air Arms domes averaged 596 f.p.s.. The spread went from 584 to 598 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.63 foot-pounds. The gun is really screaming now.
With Beeman Kodiaks, the average was 556 f.p.s. The spread went from 542 to 559 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 7 foot-pounds, even!
Through this all, the two-stage trigger was light but mushy. The first stage is deceptively heavy, but stage two has a definite stop before breaking. This one breaks at 2 lbs. exactly and nearly all of that is in stage one. So, don’t go horsing the trigger until you learn it.
The more I shoot the Alecto, the better I like it. Here’s an air pistol that goes from 2.77 foot-pounds to 7 foot-pounds, which is a broad spectrum of power to offer. And, I get the feeling that it’s going to be very accurate, too. We’ll see!
by B.B. Pelletier
This report is intended to show an easy method of reloading metallic cartridges. The cartridges loaded in this lesson have already been fired with accuracy at 25 yards, so the question of whether or not they’re “good enough” has been answered. They certainly are. I normally use more advanced reloading equipment, however I do not necessarily make more accurate rounds with it. Often, it’s just faster with no other advantage. The beauty of what I’m showing here is that you can reload while watching television, though any distractions that are apt to confuse you are not good. Make sure you’re watching something mindless and that there’s no requirement for conversation.
Reloading is not an art, nor is it a science. It’s a straightforward process not unlike cooking, which, when done right, produces good and repeatable results. It’s safe to the extent that the person doing it is safe. I’ve reloaded for the past 45 years and never have I had an accident during the process. However, I’ve made every mistake in the book; and if you start reloading to the extent that I have, you probably will as well.
Step 1. Making the fired case ready to reload.
In the first step, you need to remove the spent primer from the cartridge. You also need to resize the cartridge that expanded when it was fired. There are several versions of resizing, but I’ll show the most universal one, which is to resize the cartridge along its full length so it’ll function in any firearm of the same caliber.
I normally tumble the deprimed cases until they sparkle like new, but that step is unnecessary. I eliminated it in this lesson.
To decap and full-length resize, we use a full-length resizing die with a decapping pin. I’m installing this die in a Lee Breech Lock Hand Press, which is a modern version of a reloading tool used by sportsmen in the 1880s. It accepts standard reloading dies and doesn’t need to be fastened to a bench. You can hold it in your hands, which means you can load cartridges anywhere. It will decap and full-length resize pistol cartridges with ease. I use a sizer die with a carbide insert so the cases do not need to be lubricated for reloading.
This is a set of reloading dies for the .45 Colt cartridge. The sizer with priming removal pin is on the right, the cartridge mouth bell-forming die is in the center and the bullet seater and crimper is at the left. The small circular piece is a shellholder.
The dies and shellholder attach to this Lee hand press. It’s very inexpensive.
This is a .45 Colt cartridge case that’s been fired. You can see the indent in the primer at the bottom.
The empty case is inserted in the shellholder and the press handles are squeezed together, resizing the case and decapping at the same time.
The primer was removed when the cartridge was resized. But that crud in the primer pocket has to go.
The primer pocket was scraped clean by a small flat-bladed screwdriver. It took 5-10 seconds. This case is ready to accept a new primer.
The reloading components
You need three things to reload cartridges: gunpowder, primers and bullets. I buy primers by the thousand, and Russian primers are now on the market at $19/thousand. That’s less than two cents per cartridge. I buy powder by the pound, and a pound of Unique that I’ll use today costs about $20 regularly, but Cabela’s is selling it for $15 a pound. I’ll use 7.5 grains of powder per cartridge, which will give me 933 reloaded cartridges. At $20 a pound that’s just over 2 cents per cartridge. The bullets I cast myself from lead that’s free. But there’s a cost for the lubricant, so let’s say a bullet costs me a penny. That means I am reloading these cartridges for $5.00 per hundred. The over the counter price is at least $40.00 for the same quantity.
This is the Unique gunpowder I’m using. Two of those yellow dippers filled level with the top equals 7.5 grains of powder, and it won’t vary by so much as a tenth of a grain. This load is so safe that I do not weigh every charge. But I did verify that I’m using the correct dipper every time I reload by checking it on an electronic powder scale.
Here are five new primers to go into the cases. At the lower right is the spent primer I just removed.
These are 200-grain lead bullets that I cast, sized and lubricated myself. They’re soft lead, so they don’t lead the bore of guns, as long as the velocity is held below about 950 f.p.s., which my load does. In this enlargement, I even see a flawed bullet that got through my inspection. There’s a void in the nose of the bullet at the top right.
Step 2. Prime the case
In this step, a new primer is inserted into the cleaned pocket of each cartridge case. I use a Lee Auto Prime tool that gives me incredible feel over the process. After the case is primed, I run my index finger over the base, feeling for the primer standing proud. If I can’t feel it, the case passes.
The Lee Auto Prime tool makes priming cartridges fast and accurate.
The primer has been inserted and lies below the level of the case base.
Step 3. Bell the case mouth
In this step, the primed case is run into the belling die. A flare is put in the mouth of the cartridge so that when the soft lead bullet is pushed home the brass case doesn’t shave lead from the side of the bullet.
The case on the right has had its mouth flared slightly to accept the lead bullet without shaving lead from the sides. Case on the left hasn’t yet been belled.
Step 4. Put powder in the case
In this step, you put a measured charge of gunpowder into each primed case. I’m shooting a 200-grain lead bullet, so I chose to use 7.5 grains of Unique powder. That makes a very light load that will be safe in all modern guns of this caliber. The bullet will travel just over 900 f.p.s. at the muzzle and will group very well at 25 yards.
I’m using a powder scoop when loading this load. I normally use an adjustable powder measure that’s set to deliver the correct charge, but neither method is more accurate than the other.
Step 5. Load a bullet
In step 5, a bullet is placed in the loaded cartridge case, then the case is run into the bullet seating die that also crimps the case mouth around the bullet.
The bullet seating die pushes the bullet into the case to the exact point that the crimp can squeeze the case mouth into the crimp groove on the bullet.
This finished round took about one minute to make.
This has been a quick look at reloading cartridge ammunition. There are many other topics I did not touch on, like case trimming and so on, but this has shown you the basics. For under $100 startup cost, you can be reloading your favorite cartridges just this easily.
by B.B. Pelletier
Tomorrow, Mac and I are departing for the Roanoke airgun show being held this Friday and Saturday. I’m asking the veteran members of this blog to help the new readers with their questions, as I won’t have much time per day on the internet.
Well, all the testing is done and the new Daisy No. 25 pump-action BB gun came out smelling like a rose. Today, we’ll look at accuracy, and I think you’ll be pleased.
When I tested the velocity, I was surprised that the heavier Daisy zinc-plated BBs weighed more than the Crosman Copperheads, yet they were also faster. I said they probably fit the bore better. If that was true, they should also shoot more accurately.
I test BB guns at 15 feet, except for the Avanti Champion 499, which gets tested at 16.4 feet (five meters). It gets tested at that distance because it’s shot at that distance in the International BB Gun Championships. Fifteen feet may seem very close to airgunners who are used to stretching out to 50 yards and more, but these smoothbored guns are not capable of accuracy like the pellet rifles and pistols are. All shooting was done offhand.
That doesn’t prevent you from plinking at tin cans at 20 yards with a BB gun. But I can’t run a meaningful test like that for you in this blog because there would be nothing to see. So, I shoot at paper here and trust that you will know what to do with the gun when you get it.
I was curious about the sights on this gun. Normally, peep sights are much more precise than an open sporting notch, so that,s what I used for the test. I do agree that this peep aperture is a bit too small for even target use.
I was surprised that the gun shot exactly to the point of aim. Back in the day, vintage No. 25 guns were an iffy thing. I can’t tell you how many front sights on BB guns I’ve seen bent to one side or the other to get the shots to align properly.
Daisy zinc-plated BBs
I went with Daisy zinc-plated BBs first. Ten shots offhand from 15 feet gave me a pleasingly round group that hit exactly at the point of aim. I used a 6 o’clock hold, and I’m darned if the BBs didn’t all strike at 6 o’clock! In fact, four of them went into a single hole at almost the exact aim point.
Next up were Crosman Copperhead BBs. Surprisingly, they shot to almost the same point of aim, but the group was considerably larger than it had been with the Daisys. This is just the result I had anticipated from the velocity test.
Daisy hit this one out of the park! The new No. 25 has many of the best features of guns of the past, and it’s done up with the quality you would expect a gun like this to have. Yes, there are some compromises, such as the safety built into the trigger, but they’re not as bothersome as they seem at first. The new No. 25 shoots and performs as it should.
by B.B. Pelletier
The Webley Alecto is a HUGE air pistol. If you think a Desert Eagle is large, then this one is just as large. It’s not as heavy as the Desert Eagle firearm, but at 2 lbs., 6 oz., it’s no lightweight. However, the weight seems less because of the size of the gun. The all-synthetic frame and topstrap spread out to cover more acreage than the weight implies.
And this is a multi-pump pneumatic. It works via an overlever pump, so I think you can forget about putting a dot sight or scope on it. You need the top of the topstrap to pump with. I have not yet recovered my strength, but I can say that this pistol is for adults, only, and those who can manage a heavy workload. It is a bear to pump the three strokes needed for maximum power. I will estimate that it takes at least 35 lbs. of effort, which is a lot for a close-coupled gun.
One pump is possible
You can treat this pistol as a single-stroke if you like. Simply pull up on the latches on both sides of the rear of the topstrap, and the topstrap lifts up easily. One pump is relatively easy and feels even easier than pumping the Beeman P3 or Beeman P17 single-strokes. Pump two is only slightly harder than the first pump, but pump three requires a lot of strength. The Alecto becomes the pistol equivalent of the old Webley Patriot rifle on the third pump stroke.
Maybe it’s not so big after all
Oh, the pistol is large, make no mistake about that. But the grip is sculpted for average to large hands, so it doesn’t necessarily hold like a big gun. And the adjustable palm shelf allows each shooter to adjust the grip to his own hand. That’s a target gun feature that I like a lot on an accurate gun.
But is the Alecto accurate?
Well, the manufacturer certainly thinks so, which is why they supply each pistol with a test target that also has a short chronograph ticket attached. So no whining about poor accuracy or weak power when the proof is delivered with the gun. If the test pistol really shoots as well as the test target demonstrates, it’s almost a 10-meter pistol.
The chrono ticket shows an average velocity for this .177 pistol of 197 meters/second, which works out to just over 646 f.p.s. Unfortunately, no information is given about the pellet used to test the gun, so we’ll have to wait for my velocity test to get the real data. Plus, I’ll test the gun with one, two and three pump strokes for all pellets.
In a move back to the 19th century, Webley gives the Alecto a front sight that can be flipped for a different sight picture. The lower sight blade is supposedly zeroed for 25 meters if the gun is zeroed at 10 meters with the higher blade. To swap blades, just push the sight blade forward and it rotates down, bringing the other blade up. Such innovation hasn’t been seen since the Beach sights of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I like things like this, because they give the shooter a choice of sights, and I’m all about choices.
The rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. Speaking about adjustability, the trigger blade can be adjusted left and right, forward and back, for the length of pull and for trigger return spring strength.
When the gun is pumped the first time, the safety bar flips back, which prevents the trigger from firing the gun. Push it forward out of the way and the trigger is free to fire the gun.
The gun comes inside a cushioned hard case. It’s packed with the Torx adjustment tool for the trigger, a bore brush, the manual, test target and a small bottle of silicone oil for use in maintenance that is documented in the manual. It’s a pleasingly complete kit.
I’m impressed. Yes, this is an expensive pellet pistol, but if you look at all it offers it really isn’t out of line. It’s more powerful than the Beeman P1 and potentially just as accurate, yet for less money. Whether it’s worth the money is an individual choice, but if you’re an air pistol shooter who likes power and accuracy, I’d put this one on your short list.
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, there’s a lot of interest in the new Daisy No. 25 BB gun. And there should be! This new gun is made in the fashion of a 1936 variant with engraved receiver sides, and that gun is considered to be the most beautiful of all the No. 25s. So, today we shall see if beauty does as beauty looks!
I know of no easy way to measure the cocking effort of a pump-action gun, but a guesstimate would be 30 lbs. in the beginning. However, I noticed the linkage becoming smoother with every shot. No doubt, it’ll lighten up somewhat as the shot count rises.
I offer this observation. The black paint was not scratched by the traditional wear pattern as the gun was cocked. This paint is tougher than bluing on steel for sure. Also, the firing cycle is extremely quiet and smooth. I sure hope this gun can shoot accurately, because I’m enjoying the way it feels. Those of you who were raised on plastic stocks will find this new No. 25 a step up in quality. And even collectors like me will have to admit the firing cycle is smoother than all but a tuned gun. Yes, there are tuned BB gun actions. I own one.
The trigger that I said I disliked is actually nicer than any older Daisy No. 25 trigger. Its reasonably smooth and the let-off is in the same place on every shot. I wish this gun had been available when I was a kid!
However, the question before us today is not the build quality but the power. Daisy advertises 350 f.p.s. Do they make it?
Crosman Copperhead BBs
With Crosman Copperhead BBs, which we know are lighter and therefore faster than Daisy zinc-plated BBs, the gun averages 302 f.p.s. The spread, however, is a tight 14 f.p.s., from 296 to 310 f.p.s. I oiled the piston seal like I counseled you; and after the oil coated the seal, the velocity seemed to increase but the overall effect was very small.
Feeding from the magazine was positive. Those forced-feed mags never miss a beat unless they’ve been abused, and this one fed BBs like mercury flowing down a drain.
Daisy zinc-plated BBs
Well, shut my mouth! Daisy zinc-plated BBs averaged 319 f.p.s., considerably faster than the Copperheads. The spread went from 303 to 332, so all over the map, but the power definitely goes to the Daisy BBs. I think they might fit the bore better. They’re close enough to the advertised 350 f.p.s that I think we can accept it as the maximum a really hot No. 25 might do. For liability reasons, all airgun manufacturers have to advertise the maximum velocity their guns are capable of.
A couple readers had some difficulty picturing how this action works, so I thought I’d show you what it looks like when the pump handle is pulled all the way back.
The No. 25 has always had an anti-beartrap mechanism. Once the gun is cocked, it must be shot. Don’t do as one airgunner did at my table in Roanoke a few years back. He pumped the action, then discovered he couldn’t uncock it, so he stuck the muzzle on the toe of his shoe and pulled the trigger. I think he was thinking the shoe would block the air, thereby relieving a dry-fire situation, but he needn’t have worried. Because the gun was loaded. So he shot himself in the foot!
I shouldn’t have left a loaded BB gun on my table, but I’d been demonstrating it to someone else and it was still loaded. Plus, I was not at the table when this happened. Mr. Brilliant did all this on his own. And the point is, never fire a gun you haven’t checked first. And don’t leave loaded guns around where anyone can get to them.