Archive for November 2010

Tech Force 87 underlever – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The Tech Force Contender 87 is a big, powerful underlever.

Before we start, I wanted to remind you that I’ll be in the hospital today and for the next few days due to surgery. I’d appreciate it if the regular blog readers could help by answering the questions in my absence. Edith will also help answer questions.

You guys have been very good to me this year, which is why I didn’t mind putting in the extra time with this gun. Too much.

In all my years of shooting pellet rifles, I’ve never worked harder to get a good result. The Tech Force 87 underlever has the potential to shoot pellet after pellet through the same hole, but only if you know what you’re doing and you never deviate from the right procedure. If you are a casual deer hunter, better stand inside a barn and be satisfied when you hit one of the walls. But if you can be an anal jedi/ninja sort of guy, you can get this rifle to perform.

Three separate days I shot the rifle. I shot it with so many pellets that I’m just going to list them for the record. I can’t even remember what they all did, because I spent so much time with the one pellet I finally got to shoot well (sort of) that I forget the rest.

The first thing I discovered was that the gun shot low. Okay, there’s a simple solution to that. A BKL drooper mount was installed. At first I selected the BKL one-piece mount with .007 drop compensation and a short clamp base, because there isn’t enough room to clamp the 4-inch BKL mount to the rails with the scope stop mounted. Well, it didn’t work. The mount actually walked forward under recoil! So, off came the TF 87 scope stop and what a surprise — it’s not anchored to anything. In other words, it doesn’t work!

But that cleared enough space to mount the longer BKL one-piece mount with .007 drop compensation. That one has 6 clamping screws and held just fine.

The scope I used was Leapers 3-9×40 mil-dot with red/green reticle. The one I used was an older scope than I’ve linked to, but the specs are the same. The BKL mounts lifted this scope high off the spring tube so a 50mm objective would even be possible. I found this scope to be very bright and clear throughout the whole test.

Problems, problems
Then, I turned to shooting and encountered problems. Three pellets would land in the same hole, then two would stray one or two inches away, then another would go through the hole, again. Experience has taught me that this is usually due to technique if the vertical reticle in the scope isn’t adjusted up too high, which, due to the drooper mount, this one was not.

I began experimenting with my shooting technique. By technique, I mean different variations of the artillery hold. Oh, in case you’re wondering, I did try the gun directly on the sandbag, too. Shooting it that way, the pellets didn’t even hit the pellet trap at 25 yards!

By this time, I had two different mounts on the gun and tried about 12 different high-quality pellets. Here’s the list of what I tried:

Air Arms 8.4-grain Diabolo Field domes
Air Arms Falcons Too light! Supersonic!
Beeman Kodiak copper-plated pellets All over the place!
Beeman Kodiaks
Beeman Kodiak HP
Beeman Kodiak Match
Crosman Premier heavies
Crosman Premier lites
H&N Rabbit Magnums Off the target!
JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes
JSB Match Exact RS domes Supersonic!
RWS Superdomes

Success, sort of
And then I found a pellet that the rifle likes, more or less. Actually, the rifle really likes the JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome a lot, but you have to use the right technique if you want to get it to shoot. And the right technique is this:

Hold the rifle dead, dead, dead! What that does is ensure a perfect follow-through. Now the regular artillery hold normally accomplishes this for me, but this time it wasn’t enough. Instead, I slid my off hand out as far on the forearm as I could reach and rested the rifle on my palm. Everything about that hold was dead calm. Then, I had to consciously relax with every shot. I’m going to show you exactly what happens when you don’t consciously relax. The following targets will not impress anyone, so please take the time to read the lengthy captions, because they explain what you’re seeing.

These were shot off a rest at 25 yards on a calm day.

This is the target that showed me what this rifle needed! I know it looks terrible, but look at the five shots in the black. They’re not too bad for 25 yards. At nine o’clock in the white are two shots — numbers three and five. With three, I wasn’t fully relaxed. With five, I tried to hold the rifle exactly the same as for shot three. The pellet went through the same hole! The three shots above the black are all when I didn’t relax completely. I figured out enough from this target to shoot a better one.

In this target, I put 6 shots into a good group in the black. But, 4 times I wasn’t as relaxed as I should’ve been. The two shots in the black at 7 o’clock are slight mistakes, and the shot in the white at 10 o’clock is when I rushed the shot because I’d just landed so many in the good group. The final shot I also rushed and got the hole at 12 o’clock in the white.

What’s the verdict?
This rifle is for the careful shooter who will take the time to learn his one rifle and what it likes. I’ve probably only scratched the surface of what can be done with it. However, it’s not a natural shooter that puts them on top of each other like they were radar-guided. The reason for that is the power.

If you remember from Part 2, the TF 87 lives up to its advertised potential. In .22 caliber, it might be a lot easier to shoot well, but in the .177 test gun, most pellets go too fast. You want to be sure to use only the heavier ammunition and use the good stuff. At this point, I’m recommending the JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes.

Marlin Cowboy BB gun – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The new Marlin Cowboy BB gun is a beauty!

Well, we’ve certainly heard a lot of passionate comments about the new Marlin Cowboy from the Part 1 report! Today, we’ll test velocity, and I’m including the new RWS BBs in this test. You can’t buy these from Pyramyd Air as of this date, but perhaps if they test out well in a couple guns we’ll give them a reason to stock them.

Somebody commented that the Cowboy looks like theDaisy Red Ryder, but I don’t think it does. In fact, there’s very little resemblance between these two BB guns, other than the fact that they both have levers. The Marlin is a little larger, overall, and perhaps not as refined as the Red Ryder.

Cocking the Cowboy will seem strange to anyone familiar with American BB guns. It has a ratchet that incrementally grabs the cocking lever as it’s pulled away from the gun, hence a ratcheting sound accompanies every shot you make ready for. It’s more of a TX200 sound than a BB gun sound, and I’m still not used to it. It does no harm, but it does remind you that this is a different kind of BB gun.

Thankfully, the safety is manual, so it doesn’t come on when the gun’s cocked. However, the ratcheting mechanism is an anti-beartrap device, so there’s no uncocking this gun. If you cock it, you must fire it. Cocking is hard enough that I think smaller kids will be challenged.

The trigger-pull is single-stage and breaks between 6 and 7 lbs. That sounds heavy –and it really is; but when you’re shooting the gun, it doesn’t seem as bad as it sounds. I guess you can get used to anything. I don’t know what effect it’ll have on youngsters, though.

There’s also not a lot of room inside the triggerguard for your trigger finger. Adults with normal-size hands will find it tight, and large hands may find it impossible.

Not a lot of room inside that triggerguard for a finger. Those with larger hands will find it difficult to operate.

Velocity tests
Velocity with Daisy zinc-plated BBs averaged 328 f.p.s. The spread was very tight, from 324 to 332 f.p.s. Pyramyd Air says these BBs weigh 5.1 grains, but I weighed mine and they averaged 5.3 grains The average muzzle energy works out to 1.27 foot-pounds.

Crosman Copperhead BBs really do weigh 5.1 grains, and in the Marlin Cowboy they averaged 331 f.p.s. The spread went from 327 to 335 f.p.s., so once again it was tight. They averaged 1.24 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

And, now for the RWS BBs. They look so uniform; and when I weighed them, they all weighed 5.3 grains. The average velocity was 335 f.p.s., for the fastest of the test. The spread went from 333 to 339 f.p.s., so another tight distribution. The average muzzle energy was 1.32 foot pounds — the highest of the test.

There were several failures to feed during this test. They happened with all the different brands of BBs. It seemed that if I jarred the gun when it was held level, I would get a failure to feed. So, I’m thinking the BB is falling off its magnetic seat.

Thus far, I’m on the fence about this BB gun. The looks are good and the power is right where it should be, but the trigger’s heavy and there have been a few failures to feed. The accuracy test should tip the balance.

RWS Diana 75 10-meter target rifle – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and testing by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

Before we begin I have a word about my health. Next Tuesday I’m going to have my pancreas repaired. This is hopefully the final operation I will have to undergo. It will be a major operation where they open me up rather than going in laprascopically, so I’ll be in the hospital for a week or possibly longer to recover. I have written blogs to cover the time I’ll be away, plus I’ll probably have my laptop at the hospital, but I may not be as easy to reach next week. If everything goes according to plan, I should get the drain out of my side and the stent out of my pancreas by the end of this year. And, while I’m away, I’d like to ask the veteran readers to help out the new guys, as you always do.

We’re back with the big Diana 75 target rifle today, and it’s velocity-testing day. Mac was kind enough to test the rifle with quite a few pellets, so we’ll get a good picture of how powerful it is. Along those lines, I was asked this week by someone in the UK how difficult it would be to boost the 75′s power up to the UK legal limit of 12 foot-pounds. I told him it would be impossible to do because the rifle was engineered to do a certain thing, which is shoot targets. The powerplant doesn’t have the swept volume to go as high as 12 foot-pounds. But from his question, I could tell he wasn’t asking what he really wanted to know.

He actually was so impressed by the 75′s accuracy at 10 meters that he extrapolated it out to 55 yards and wondered what a wonderful field target rifle it might make. Well, a TX200 is just as accurate, and it’s already been engineered for field target.

I see that viewpoint from the field target crowd a lot. They see the stunning 10-meter accuracy of these target rifles and assume they would be perfect for field target, if only the power could somehow be boosted. Back in the 1990s, people were going crazy by turning $2,000 Olympic PCP target rifles into $3,000 field target competition rifles, when all they had to do was look around at some of the fine rifles that already existed. Just because a gun shoots a tight group at 10 meters doesn’t mean that it’s also going to be as good at long range. It probably will be pretty good, but so will a purpose-built rifle costing one-third as much.

A .45-70 revolver doesn’t have the same range and power as a .45-70 rifle, not to mention its wrist-snapping recoil! You can’t just extrapolate a certain feature out to infinity and have it remain stable all the way. Things tend to work best when all the many factors are engineered to complement each other and to work together. Okay, so now we understand that. Back to today’s report.

Mac’s rifle is still in the original styrofoam shipping container it came in back in 1979! Kevin saw it on Mac’s table at the Roanoke airgun show, and he commented how new it looked. What he didn’t see, because it wasn’t displayed, was the complete original set of tools, sight inserts, literature and parts that also came with the gun. This really is a complete set!

As complete a set of original accessories as you’ll ever see. There’s even a sighting adapter to allow you to shoot at 6 meters instead of 10!

And, the sights are a wonder to behold. Back in its day, the Diana 75 went head-to-head with Feinwerkbau, Walther and Anschutz. All four makers had beautiful target sights that helped the shooter extract all the points possible from their target rifles, and Diana did not scrimp in any way. When the rifle was resting on your shoulder, the rear sight cup came right to your eye and closed out all of the world except that little black circle 33 feet away. It worked like radar, guiding your body to keep the black circle centered inside the front sight element, which was usually an aperture of some kind. Though you looked through that huge adjustable rear sight, you had no perception of it being there. All you saw was the front sight element and the bull.

Once you had it up to your eye, you lost all sense of the huge rear sight and fully concentrated only on the front sight and target.

The front sight of the 75 is a traditional globe with a wide variety of inserts. You can see in the picture what was available back in the late ’70s when this rifle was new, but today the clear Lucite aperture has replaced all the old inserts in popularity, because it enables the shooter to see much more than just the bull he’s shooting at. Shooting at the wrong target used to be a huge problem when there were 12 bulls on a target sheet, and the clear front inserts solved it. Of course, these days, the targets are presented electronically, one bull at a time, so the possibilities of doing that are greatly diminished, as long as you don’t shoot at your neighbor’s target.

The globe front sight is typical for 10-meter rifles. Of course, it accepts many different inserts.

Velocity testing with RWS Meisterkugeln
Now, it’s time to test the rifle for velocity with several different pellets, starting with RWS Meisterkugeln. This 8.2-grain pellet is made for target rifles and averages 564 f.p.s., with a spread from 551 to 576 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.79 foot-pounds.

H&N Finale Match Rifle
H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets averaged 532 f.p.s., with a spread from 526 to 540 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy generated is 5.14 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobby
The RWS Hobby pellet is generally the lightest lead pellet available. In this rifle it averages 619 f.p.s., with a 28 foot-second spread from 607 to 635 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.96 foot-pounds.

JSB Diabolo Exact 8.4 grains
A popular round-nosed pellet is the JSB Diabolo Exact 8.4-grain dome. JSB labels this as a match pellet right on the tin, but of course you cannot shoot in a match with anything other than wadcutters, so it really isn’t a match pellet. That’s just the name they gave it, and I prefer to call it a dome to avoid confusion. It averages 566 foot-pounds, with a spread from 554 to 581 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.97 foot-pounds.

RWS Superdomes
RWS Superdome pellets are one of Mac’s standbys. He likes their performance in many guns and always falls back on them in a pinch. In the Diana 75, they average 538 f.p.s., with a spread from 524 to 544 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 5.46 foot-pounds.

Mac noted that all pellets fit the rifle’s breech easily, with Hobbys being the loosest fit. And he reminded me to tell you that this gun has been resealed. If you recall, I mentioned that all RWS Diana recoilless rifles have problems with their original piston seals dry rotting, so Mac has had this one resealed with a more permanent material. Outwardly, the gun looks brand new, and with the new seal it acts as good as it looks. The 75 I owned years ago averaged 630 f.p.s. with RWS Hobbys, so this rifle is in the same ballpark.

Mac made one additional observation. It was 56 deg. F in his garage when he chronographed these shots. By the time he reached the third type of pellet, the velocities started to vary wildly. He thought the rifle was failing; but when he shot at a test soda bottle, the shot seemed as good as ever. What it boiled down to was the battery was dying and the cold weather was speeding it along. The 75 is so fast to cock and load that Mac was staying ahead of the battery’s recovery time. When he slowed down between shots, the battery caught up, and the velocities returned to normal again. With cold weather hitting us now, that’s something to keep in mind.

We’ll look at accuracy next, and I promise you, this rifle has it in spades. You’re going to be envious.

Crosman TitanGP Nitro Piston (Lower Velocity) – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy Thanksgiving!

Part 1
Part 2

The TitanGP with lower velocity is a smooth shooter!

Today is accuracy day! Finally we’ll get to see what this special lower-velocity version of the .22 caliber Crosman TitanGP Nitro Piston can do downrange. First, I’ll address the scope since so many people have commented on it.

The 4×32 CenterPoint Optics scope that comes with the rifle is not adjusted for parallax at close range. When I aimed at the targets 25 yards away, they were slightly out of focus, even at only 4x. That can really drive you nuts, so I have to agree with those who have said you should think about replacing the scope. That being said, however, I don’t think it had a great influence on the outcome of this test. The low magnification probably affected my aim more than the slight focus issue.

The 2-piece scope mount isn’t a name brand, but it’s adequate. The biggest detractor is the caps, which are held on with Phillips screws that tend to strip out when they’re tightened if you’re not careful or if you use the wrong screwdriver bit. But they have a proper scope-stop pin, and you’ll be able to use them for a long time because the rifle doesn’t put much of a strain on them. Being 2-piece, these rings can be positioned to accept almost any scope.

I’m still impressed by how easily the rifle cocks, and shooting it is very quiet! The action of the Nitro Piston is much quieter than that of a conventional coiled steel spring-piston powerplant, and the rifle sounds like a tuned airgun.

Shooting conditions
I shot the rifle from a rest at 25 yards. I used the artillery hold, as this is a breakbarrel and is therefore sensitive to how it’s held. However, once the right pellets are found, the hold becomes far less of an issue

Pellets that did not work
I tried three pellets that didn’t want to group. Crosman Premiers, RWS Hobbys and Gamo TS-22s were only mediocre in the rifle.

Then, I switched to 14.5-grain RWS Superdomes, and everything turned around. Superdomes are very accurate, plus the rifle needs far less care in the hold when shooting off a rest. They’re my pellet of choice for this rifle because of the accuracy and also because of the extreme velocity stability they displayed during the chronograph test.

Once I switched to Superdomes, the rifle started lobbing every shot where I wanted it to go. These 10 pellets grouped in a spread of 0.825″ at 25 yards.

I enjoy shooting when something like this happens, because it makes my job so much easier. No longer is it all up to me. The rifle is now helping get the job done, too.

Oh, make no mistake, the TitanGP Nitro Piston is no tack-driving field target rifle. But, it wants to lob all its pellets into the same general place without much fuss on the shooter’s part. And that’s what we’re after at this price point and feature set.

Kodiak Match and JSB Exact domes were inconclusive
I tried Beeman Kodiak Match pellets and JSB Exact Jumbo Express domes next. While both pellets gave good 5-shot groups, they had some outliers that opened the 10-shot group up too much. The JSBs were especially tantalizing, as 6 of 10 went into a quarter-inch, but the other 4 opened the group up past one inch.

Finally, I tried Air Arms Diabolo Field Plus pellets and got similar results to the RWS Superdomes. Of course, this pellet weighs 1.6 grains more than the Superdome, so it’s going slower, but the accuracy and freedom from hold sensitivity is definitely there.

Like Superdomes, the Air Arms Diabolo Field Plus domes are also accurate without a lot of fuss. Ten shots in 0.959″.

Bottom line
I found the heavy, creepy trigger didn’t hinder grouping nearly as much as people might think. If Crosman had only attached the barrel with a through-bolt, that could be tightened instead of a plain crosspin, I would have added the TitanGP to my picks list. I like this rifle a lot and recommend it to anyone as a medium-powered, smooth-shooting breakbarrel that has enough power for some hunting.

Webley Alecto – Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Webley Alecto

Well, today’s the special fourth report that I promised you. Last time, I said I wanted to try the pistol with hunting pellets on maximum power because of the showing I got with Beeman Kodiaks on three pumps. That’s what today is all about.

Again, I’ll tell you that these are 5-shot groups simply because the Alecto is so darned hard to pump 3 times. Ten-shot groups would have worn me out.

The trigger is the biggest drawback to this pistol. It’s a single-stage pull that doesn’t work for accurate shooting. The stage is heavy, long and creepy with an indistinct release. If the pistol had a better trigger, I think I could have done better with it. It needs a nice crisp two-stage trigger.

Accuracy test
I tested the gun supported from 10 meters. I used a two-hand hold, which is uncharacteristic for me, but necessary with the Alecto because the pumping effort left my shooting arm weak. My forearms rested on the bag, and the pistol was held by only my hands. It touched nothing else.

I changed the lighting during the test, so a couple pellets were shot a second time to ensure they got every chance to excel with the new lighting. The first arrangement of the light was obscuring the left side of the rear sight, so I moved it for a clearer sight picture.

Beeman Kodiak HP
The first pellet tested was the Beeman Kodiak HP, a new hollowpoint pellet. In .177 caliber, this lead pellet weighs 10.34 grains. In the Alecto, they were all over the place, grouping larger than two inches at 10 meters, so I cannot recommend them for this gun.

JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome
The JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome was pretty accurate in the Alecto. Because I changed the downrange lighting, I tested this pellet twice. Once I got a group about .75 inches for 5 and the second time the group was just over an inch. That seems like consistent performance to me.

This is the better target for the JSB Exacts. The group is just smaller than .75 inches.

Crosman Premier heavy
Next, I tried Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. They grouped about as good as the JSBs.

Crosman Premier heavy pellets made this one-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Supermags
Someone suggested that I test the RWS Supermag pellet in the Alecto, because, at 9.3 grains, they have the dual advantage of weight and the wadcutter shape that hunters like for close shots. When I shot them, they produced a teaser group in which 4 shots are in a tight cluster of just over a half-inch, but the fifth shot opens the group to double the size. I would say that you should put Supermags on your short list of pellets to try.

What a tease! Four RWS Supermags went into such a tight group, then one opened it to twice the size.

Air Arms Diabolo Field dome
Talk about teasing, the Air Arms Diabolo Field dome pellets did exactly the same thing. Four shots in just over a half inch then one stray that more than doubled the group. These should be on your list to try, as well.

More teasing. Air Arms Diabolo Field domes made this tantalizing group.

H&N hollowpoint pellet
The best showing with the Webley Alecto came with the new H&N hollowpoint pellet. At just 7.1 grains, this pellet is light and fast. In the Alecto, it’s the best pellet I tried. The 5-shot group is just over six-tenths of an inch in size, and I didn’t do anything different. I shot a second group just to be sure. While it was a little larger, it wasn’t more than three-quarters of an inch. That’s superior performance from this new hollowpoint.

Best group of the session came from the H&N hollowpoint.

Bottom line
It was well worth a second look at the accuracy of the Webley Alecto. We know it’s useful both for target work and hunting. Three pumps is hard work, but this pistol can deliver the results many airgun hunters have been waiting for.

A rare BB gun from Wyoming!

by B.B. Pelletier

Over the years I have written about many strange airguns. Some of them were mine and others were guns I either borrowed to test or just wrote about.

Sometimes, I’ve even written about firearms, which a student of airguns should understand because of the insight firearms shed on our hobby. Microgroove rifling, for instance, came from a 19th century barrelmaker named Harry Pope. Then, the Marlin company copied it; and only after airguns began being rifled in about 1906 was microgroove rifling finally applied to them.

And, there have been a fair number of curious guns that don’t really fit exactly in one category. For example, the Kruger cap-firing BB pistol isn’t really an airgun, but a firearm by the definition that a firearm discharges one or more projectiles by the force of a chemical explosion. But no BATF&E agent would ever give one a second look. Made mostly of black styrene, the Kruger is a toy by anyone’s definition. You can read about it in this report.

Well, today I want to tell you about another odd type of gun that also isn’t an airgun by the strictest definition. But it’s been lumped in with the airguns ever since it was launched in 1923 in Rawlins, Wyoming, by a dentist, Dr. C.L. Bunten. I’m referring to the Bulls Eye Pistol, a catapult gun that operates by the power of rubber bands.

The Bulls Eye Pistol is a repeating ball-shooter that launches .12 caliber lead balls by the force of rubber bands. Yes, I said it’s a repeater! Although, in today’s vernacular, anything that isn’t semiautomatic is a single-shot (not really, but that’s what a lot of non-shooters and kids believe). A repeater is a gun that stores multiple rounds of ammunition that it can fire when loaded by the mechanism. If you have to insert each round into the breech by hand, it isn’t a repeater, regardless of how much ammunition it can carry; but if an onboard mechanism loads each round, you have a repeater.

The Bulls Eye Pistol holds over 50 rounds in a gravity-fed inline magazine. Once again, don’t get too cocky about gravity feed, because the deadly Gatling gun of the 19th century used it to great effect! And the 18th century Girardoni military rifle of the Austrian army fed 22 .47 caliber balls via gravity, alone. So, gravity-feed is a legitimate feed mechanism.

Enough political incorrectness to last a lifetime. Not only is a nuclear family shown enjoying an evening of shooting, they’re shooting in their living room and mom and little sister are downrange from dad and son! And the target is set up on the furniture.

The gun is enormously underpowered, but it has just enough power to get the job done if that means hitting the target. In the literature (yes, I have the owner’s pamphlet that came with the boxed gun), you’re told that you can shoot at windows and not break them, but you can kill a fly at 10 feet.

The Bulls Eye Pistol came in a box with three paper-thin celluloid bird reactive targets. If you ever find a kit I advise you to never shoot at these birds, because the gun can easily poke holes in them at close range. Back in the day when the gun was being made (1925-1940), you could order a package of replacements for next to nothing but they’re irreplaceable today.

The kit came with the pistol, rubber bands (long since dry-rotted), a tube of shot, ammo loader (silver thing in front of the box), target stamp and pad, 3 celluloid bird reactive targets with stands and a box that served as the target trap.

There was also a bundle of rubber bands inside the box and a small paper tube of No. 6 shotgun shot. Of course, one 12-gauge shell provided hundreds of shots, so I imagine little boys were taking jackknives to daddy’s shotgun shells when he wasn’t looking.

The box served as a safe backstop since the heavy pasteboard could not be penetrated by the shot. And three targets stamped on the inside of the cover provided good targets for the new owner until he found a herd of flies to thin.

Many years ago, Dean Fletcher wrote a test article for Airgun Revue, in which he tested a Bulls Eye for me. When his gun was powered by 4 stout rubber bands, he got a top velocity of 195 f.p.s. with No. 6 shot, which is a .12 caliber lead ball — more or less. But try as he did, he never got his Bulls Eye to group any better than 5 shots inside .75 inches at 10 feet. Some groups were as large as 2.50 inches. He found that follow-through was extremely important with this pistol, which is the artillery hold at work.

There were other rubber band guns that followed the Bulls Eye, with the Sharpshooter being the most noteworthy. It was also produced in Rawlins for a short time, and then production moved around the nation like a geography lesson. When I attended college in San Jose back in the 1960s, I found two Sharpshooters in the box in a hardware store. They were new-old-stock and must have been laying around for close to 20 years.

The way the gun worked was simple. The shooter pulled the launcher straight back against rubber band power. At the next-to-last instant, the shot dropped out of the magazine and into the catapult launcher and then the launcher was caught by the sear. Squeezing the trigger released the sear and let the launcher fly forward, powered by the rubber bands. The launcher had a special seat that contained the shot that was under heavy G-forces until the launcher ran out of track and stopped moving. The shot took off on its own but was guided by the launch seat that had held it in the optimum launch position.

This picture shows everything. The metal launcher is in the center, held in the gun by a top and bottom rail, the hole in the bottom of the magazine dropped the next shot into the launcher when it was in position, and the sear…which moved up when the trigger was pulled.

Dr. Bunten found that No. 6 shot was not perfectly round, and it also varied in diameter by several thousandths of an inch. Running it through a precision barrel was not the way to go. But his launcher eliminated the concerns about any irregularities, so accuracy was possible.

Believe it or not, the front sight on this pistol was even adjustable for elevation and the rear adjusts for windage. I suppose if a fellow had enough time to kill he could regulate his gun quite well until it was possible to pick off flies at 10 feet like the literature said. I do know that lubricating the launch track and even adjusting the tension between the upper and lower guide rails that held the launcher captive was what you did to increase velocity and regulate the direction the shot took.

The front sight was removed and 50 round balls were poured into the channel that leads back to the loading hole.

I have a sales receipt from 1942 for a Bulls Eye Pistol for $2.95 plus 20 cents tax. That would be $30-40 today, so this was no cheap toy by any stretch. It wasn’t targeted toward the younger shooter, whose BB guns cost about $1 to $3 at the same time. No, it went after the adult shooter with a few extra coins jingling in his pockets.

Today, a pistol as fine as the one shown here would costs $100-150 at an airgun show. But this is one of those times when anywhere else you might get it for a lot less, because it looks so cheap. I have a small collection of rubber band-powered guns and this one is both the oldest and the star of my collection. It was handmade by Dr. Bunten in the room behind his office in Rawlins, as all Bulls Eye Pistols were.

Crosman TitanGP Nitro Piston (Lower Velocity) – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The TitanGP with lower velocity is a smooth shooter!

Okay, today I’m going to shoot the Crosman TitanGP with Nitro Piston through the chronograph. Boy, did we have a lot of discussion about this rifle in Part 1, and a lot of folks surprised when they realized that I was talking about an entirely different air rifle than the one they were commenting on. I tried to explain in the report that this is a very different rifle, but quite a few shooters were confused by the more powerful rifle that goes by the same name.

Crosman Corporation, are you reading this? People don’t like it when you name two different guns the same, any more than you would like it if they referred to a Crosman Pumpmaster 760 as a Red Ryder. You drove airgun collectors crazy when you named a Chinese spring piston rifle the Benjamin Super Streak, but in light of the whole Benjamin Sheridan brand name mix, I guess that’s water under the bridge. The point is that different airguns need different names so people can refer to them without getting confused.

However, you’re to be praised for developing this rifle! It’s one of the smoothest-shooting recoiling spring-piston air rifles it has ever been my pleasure to test. I believe it’s almost the equal of the Benjamin Legacy I raved about in the last report, only you built this one with more power. How much more is what we’re about to find out.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet to be tested was the .22 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. When you think of Crosman airguns, you probably think of them shooting Premier pellets, certainly the spring-piston guns and pneumatics they make, anyway. I know I do. So, Premiers were the first to be tested. They gave an average velocity of 677 f.p.s. in my test rifle. The spread went from a low of 668 f.p.s. to a high of 684, so 16 f.p.s. overall. That’s not too bad, especially for a brand new rifle. The average muzzle energy works out to 14.56 foot-pounds.

RWS Hobbys
Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. At 11.9 grains, these are about the lightest lead pellet around. They averaged 724 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 703 to a high of 742 f.p.s. That’s a 39 f.p.s. spread, but the one shot that went 703 was anomalous. The next-slowest shot went 715 f.p.s. That works out to an average muzzle energy of 13.85 foot-pounds.

RWS Superdomes
The final pellets I tried were RWS Superdomes. I have no axe to grind when selecting pellets to test, but I always try to test at least one of average or middle weight and one of very light weight. Only if the rifle is a magnum would I also test a real heavyweight, because I probably wouldn’t be inclined to use it in the rifle. This time I let Mac influence me. He’s been having such good luck with Superdomes, lately, that I had to include them in this test.

Those 14.5-grain pellets averaged 689 f.p.s., or 12 f.p.s. faster than the lighter Premiers. They also gave a super-tight 12 foot-second spread of 682 to 694 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 15.29 foot-pounds, which is very respectable! Remember, this gun cocks easier than a Beeman R7, so having this much power is a good thing!

Several people have complained bitterly about the trigger in the TitanGP. I have to admit that it isn’t a great one, but it isn’t that bad, either. It just has too much second-stage pull that the shooter cannot cancel out. This pull has a lot of creep, which puts people off. I don’t know what can be done about this trigger, but it’s quite evident to me that many shooters are going to want something done about it.

Next, I’ll test accuracy for you. I’ll do it soon because I have major surgery coming up the end of November and will be unable to cock spring guns for a while following that.

And, now, for something completely different. Edith found this amazing video on YouTube. Watch it all the way. She no longer has any excuse when she complains that it’s hard to load rounds into her Glock mag.

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