Archive for May 2011

RWS Diana model 54 recoilless rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The RWS Diana 54 recoilless air rifle, also called the Air King, is big, beautiful, powerful and accurate.

Today, we’ll test the RWS Diana model 54 Air King for accuracy. Before I show you the targets, however, let me mention a couple of things.

Some observations
First, I shot this rifle for today’s test rested directly on a sandbag. There was no artillery hold. As I mentioned in the earlier reports, the Air King anti-recoil system acts like an artillery hold and is able to do so perfectly. There’s no reason to rest this gun on the palm of your hand. That’s not because the rifle is recoilless, but rather because of how the rifle handles recoil.

In the 54, the action slides in the stock when the gun fires. It always slides the same distance and always contacts the same points within the stock, so the system acts like a perfect artillery hold. A rifle having a different anti-recoil system like the Giss contra-piston system, for example, doesn’t work the same way and does need to be held in the artillery hold for best accuracy; but those guns that use the sledge system — like this one and a few FWB target rifles — do not.

Next I want to comment on the trigger. The one I’m testing is a T05 and very nice. It has a positive two-stage pull with a crisp second-stage let-off. It does have a plastic trigger blade, but that isn’t important because it isn’t one of the wearing parts within the trigger assembly. Everything that wears is steel and properly hardened.

The one detractor of this trigger is that the blade is too curved. A straighter blade would feel better. I am going to test the new T06 trigger soon, and I’m going to scrutinize it closely because it has a long way to go to be better than the T05.

Finally, I used a prototype UTG scope base with a lot of built-in droop to mount the CenterPoint 3-9x40AO scope on the test rifle, and it STILL shot low. So, a lot of droop is still present in Diana guns, and it still needs to be addressed with a drooper mount. I did find that the UTG base sped up the scope-mounting process, turning a half-hour job into a 10-minute task. The scope I used is an older one and doesn’t have the illuminated reticle of the scope I linked to here.

The UTG scope base does raise the scope quite high, but the high comb on the 54 was able to elevate my face to the exit pupil. I could have easily used a scope with a 56mm objective lens and still had clearance for the scope over the spring tube.

Because I am still recovering from a hernia operation, I shot only a single 10-shot group with each pellet tested. Ten-shot groups really require a lot of cocking, and this sidelever isn’t the easiest gun to cock. The distance was 25 yards, and all groups contain 10 shots.

The first pellet I tested was the venerable 14.3-grain Crosman Premier, which is well-known as one of the best for this .22 caliber rifle. They fit the breech easily but were not loose. And the gun buzzed a lot when firing them.

Nine of the ten pellets made a group measuring 0.518 inches between centers. But pellet six strayed outside this neat little hole to enlarge the group to 0.929 inches between centers. It wasn’t a called flyer, it just went outside the group for no reason I can explain.

After the Premiers, I loaded 10 JSB Exact 15.8-grain domes, which are often even better than Premiers in some airguns.

Ten JSB Exact 15.8-grain domes made this group, which measures 0.613 inches between centers.

Finally, I tried some Predator Polymag pellets that everyone likes to use for hunting. They fit the 54 breech very tight, but went in without a lot of forcing. They expand well on small game and are especially effective in .22 caliber.

Ten JSB Predator Polymag pellets made this 0.975-inch group at 25 yards.

Well, there you have it. I think if I were to shoot additional groups of Premiers, most 10-shot groups would look like that first 9-shot group. Because I didn’t season the bore with each new pellet, I think I would have gotten slightly better groups if I had.

Ten shots into a half-inch at 25 yards is not to be sneezed at, though I really thought I would do better. I was thinking I could get half-inch groups out at 35 yards from this rifle. It might still be possible, but I think I’ve demonstrated that the 54 is an air rifle to be reckoned with.

BSF S70: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The BSF S70 was the deluxe version of the BSF 55-series of spring-piston air rifles. It’s the grandfather of the Beeman R9.

First, I want to wish all my U.S. readers a Happy Memorial Day. Please take a moment to remember the friends and family members who gave their lives for our sake.

Today’s report will have some of you talking and thinking for weeks! Kevin will find that he is in a love-hate relationship with my BSF S70 rifle, and Herb will postulate three alternative universes from the data I’ve collected. Rikib will attempt to occupy one of them!

In other words, folks, today is not your ordinary velocity test day.

You will recall that I went into a lot of detail in Part 1, explaining that this could either be a powerful 800+ f.p.s. breakbarrel from the olden days, when 800 f.p.s. was the magnum threshold, or it could be a weak 7.5-joule German version of the same gun. Since this one has the Freimark that indicates the German power level, I thought it was probably the latter. Read Part 1 to find out what that means.

The first pellet I’ll send through the chronograph is going to tell us which it is. For that, I selected the JSB Exact RS, a 7.3-grain lightweight dome that seemed to me to be perfectly suited to this rifle. Here, now, is the first shot string:


Well, we can stop right there, can’t we? I mean that shot tells all, doesn’t it? However, in the interest of science and our morbid curiosity, I continued:


Well, that was probably a diesel, right? You have to expect them with the leather seals in this rifle:


I shot 14 rounds simply because I was fascinated by what the gun was doing. I just couldn’t stop.

The average velocity was 616 f.p.s., which, as you can see, was only close to one actual recorded velocity. It’s pretty obvious that what we’re seeing is a bimodal distribution.

Thank goodness I’m old
If I were a new airgunner I would not know what to make of this shot string. But years of playing with vintage springers has taught me that the ones with leather piston seals perform differently than those with modern synthetic seals. At this point, I oiled the piston seal with several drops of synthetic-based RWS Chamber Lube, administered through the air transfer port. I did not allow the seal to absorb the oil as I was on a tight schedule, so I expected the two loud detonations that came with the next two shots.

RWS Hobby
The old favorite RWS Hobby is the standard candle for velocity testing in spring airguns:

1……….1094 detonation
2…………858 detonation

The average for this string was 866 f.p.s., and that’s a lot closer to the real average than the average of the first string. If you throw out the high and low shots, you get a 12-shot average of 868 f.p.s., so it’s pretty close. By the way, that gives a muzzle energy of 11.71 foot-pounds. Interesting.

What’s going on? The rifle is now behaving like a U.S.-powered magnum. Let’s try another pellet.

H&N Match Rifle
The H&N Match Rifle pellet is a heavyweight wadcutter. It weighs 8.2 grains. Let’s see what the shot string looks like:


The average for this string was 803 f.p.s., and this was the tightest string fired in the entire test. The total velocity spread is 30 f.p.s., which is what I’m used to seeing from a vintage springer in good condition. It works out to a muzzle energy of 11.74 foot-pounds.

What’s happening? Before I tell you what I think, I ran a short second string of the JSB RS domes. They went like this:


The average for that string was 687 f.p.s., which as you can see isn’t close to any actual velocity recorded. What’s happening?

For starters, this rifle DEFINITELY does not like JSB Exact RS pellets. It could not be any clearer than what you see here. Both before and after oiling the piston seal, we get a bimodal velocity distribution. And, only with a chronograph would you even suspect what was happening, because all the shots felt similar.

With the other two pellets, the rifle is near the 12-foot-pound region where magnum air rifles were in the late 1970s. This is exactly what I would expect a BSF S70 from the old Air Rifle Headquarters to do right out of the box.

Trigger-pull and cocking effort
The trigger is single-stage, and the pull is very long. It’s possible to adjust, as I showed back in Part 1, but as it is set now it breaks at 3 lbs., 14 ozs. As you pull through the long arc, the trigger hesitates at the end of the pull, telling you the rifle is ready to fire. It’s not a bad feeling at all, and I know that BSF triggers wear in with use.

It takes 34 lbs. of effort to cock this rifle. That’s in the same neighborhood as the Beeman R1, a spring-piston breakbarrel we all know to be far more powerful, but the BSF S70 is from a generation before the R1. True, they were both in production at the same time for a while, but the S70 is old-school and the R1 was the future back then.

Without question, my rifle is a full-power S70, which was a 12 foot-pound airgun in its day. I was completely mistaken when I guessed it would be a European-powered rifle. Kevin will both love and hate it because it represents the best of what Europe was making back in its day, and yet the power is the most upgraded version you could buy. I am glad that it’s more powerful, because a 34-lb. cocking effort ought to be rewarded with something!

The thing for you newer airgunners to carry away from this test is that air rifles and air pistols with leather seals behave differently than those with synthetic seals. Lubrication is so important for them.

A second lesson is that sometimes you encounter an anomaly like the performance of the JSB RS pellet. You have to find the ammunition your airgun likes, which is why discount-store pellets are no good unless you’ve also tested the finest premium pellets and actually proven that the ones from Wal-Mart are best in your airgun. Don’t shoot with your wallet. It just wastes money.

How to upload an avatar for this blog
This section is from Edith. We now allow avatars on the Pyramyd Air blog. If you have a favorite image or graphic you’d like to use, follow the directions below. In order to use the avatar, you must have an account on this blog. If you’re listed as anonymous or type in your name every time so you don’t have to register, then an avatar association can’t be made for you.

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Benjamin Rogue ePCP – a new way of making airguns: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Here’s this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 gift card.

He’s training with his KJW Beretta M9 CO2 blowback airsoft pistol — with his weak side to practice ambidextrous shooting.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Rogue is a whole new way of making airguns.

When we last left the Rogue, it was shooting groups on the range. Let’s return there today and learn some more of the rifle’s features.

We’ve discussed how the shooter can program the rifle for three bullet weight ranges (100, 145 and 170 grains) and three power levels (low, medium and high). Let’s look at some other things the shooter can do with the power of the gun. For example, if high power just isn’t enough, you can program the Discharge power setting. It’s above the High power setting and was explained to me by Ed Schultz of Crosman as the number 11 on a rock-band amplifier that tops out at 10.

The Discharge setting tells the valve to remain open twice as long as the High power setting for that bullet. Think of it as the analog setting that takes the Rogue back into the world of big bore airguns with mechanical valves. It wastes some air, but it gives you the absolute last word in power, considering the air pressure that remains in the reservoir. So, of course, I tried it!

It turned out to be not as dramatic as it sounded, though I may not have tried it at the place in the pressure curve where it works the best. I had just fired three shots on high power with the Nosler 145-grain bullet, and I had a very nice group starting to form downrange. With the air pressure dropping off, I thought I would boost the power to the discharge setting and shoot the fourth shot at that level to stay in the same group. Here’s what happened:


After these three shots, there was 2,447 psi remaining in the reservoir, so I boosted the power to the Discharge setting and fired the next shot.


Following that shot, 2,197 psi remained in the reservoir. That one shot on the Discharge setting used 250 psi and gave a slightly higher velocity (767, compared to 756 f.p.s.) than the previous high-power shot that had used 99 psi (2546 – 2447).

Complete user manual valve control
You also have the option of controlling the valve yourself. In that case, all programming is suspended. The valve simply remains open as long as you tell it to. Let me differentiate this from how the gun normally works.

The Rogue usually operates by sensing the air pressure remaining in the reservoir and calculating how long the valve needs to remain open, given the bullet weight you’ve selected and the power level you’re trying to achieve. As the air pressure decreases, the valve dwell time (the amount of time the valve remains open) increases to accommodate your selected performance.

When you override the programming by telling the valve how long to remain open, everything else goes out the window. The valve simply remains open that long. You might do this because you’re testing the gun’s performance with a certain bullet and think you can get a better result than the one automatically selected by the software. The dwell time can be manually controlled in increments of five microseconds. A microsecond is one-millionth of a second. It takes 1,000 microseconds to equal one millisecond. If the display reads 2000 microseconds, it means the valve will remain open for exactly 2 milliseconds.

The heart of the beast
Your next choices for time from 2000 microseconds (either longer or shorter) would be 2005 microseconds or 1995 microseconds. These are incredibly short time intervals that give you a lot of control over the valve. For those with a scientific or engineering bent, you’re now looking into the very reason why the Rogue is such a different air rifle. Other big bore valves, when they close, flutter in time increments greater than the intervals at which you can control in this rifle. That is to say — when they close, they can bounce open and closed rapidly several times before the valve closes completely. The Rogue doesn’t do that. It’s either open or it’s closed, and either you or the software controls how long it remains open to a very exacting degree.

Accuracy improvement
There’s simply too much for me to tell you about the Rogue, even in a series of reports, but I know that everyone is interested in its accuracy. Remember the group I mentioned above, where I was shooting a Nosler 145-grain bullet and wanted to keep the velocity in the same place? That was the one where I set shot four to the Discharge setting to keep the velocity stable. Please look at the group I got with that approach.

Three tight shots at 50 yards with the Nosler 145-grain lead bullet. Shot four was with the rifle in the Discharge setting. Though it traveled just as fast as shot three, it strayed outside the tight group.

I also did very well with a 95-grain hollowpoint lead bullet Crosman sent me to test. On Low and Medium power, this bullet was a real tackdriver at 50 yards.

This 95-grain hollowpoint lead bullet is one of the most accurate bullets tried thus far.

Three tight shots and then a stray on shot four.

I said before that there’s not enough time left in my life to test this rifle thoroughly. But it’s proven interesting for the approximately 150 shots I’ve been able to shoot thus far. As far as conserving air, I started this test with a full 88-cubic-foot carbon fiber air tank, and it’s still able to fill the rifle to 3,000 psi, so this gun is getting far more shots per fill than any other big bore I’ve ever tested.

However, the progress on the Rogue has not ceased. The engineers at Crosman are still refining the algorithms in the software for even better air conservation. While the gun I’m now testing uses about 90 psi per shot, Crosman now has their testbed rifle using only 50 psi per shot. They’re getting 26 shots at a nominal 100 foot-pounds of muzzle energy (actually 84 to 112 foot-pounds) from 2,360 psi down to 1,098 psi. And they didn’t stop with just that.

The 170-grain bullet is delivering seven solid shots ranging from 196 foot-pounds down to 156 foot-pounds. No other big bore airgun in history has done that! Yes, the Asian 9mm rifles will give eight or nine powerful shots, but the spread of power is considerably greater than what the Rogue is now doing.

By the time they finally release the Rogue, it should be as bulletproof and exciting as it possibly can be. There’s one more thing I want you to think about.

The rifle I’m now testing is one of five pre-production prototype guns Crosman built. This gun has now been fired thousands of times. It has flown on numerous airplanes and has harvested game from around the U.S.A. ranging from 200-lb. wild pigs to gray foxes. It’s been in the hands of dozens of different shooters and, through it all, it still works. That’s as good a recommendation as I can give for any new air rifle.

The future
I believe what Crosman should do is alter the software to allow the owner to program two different shooting programs of his own. This is similar to what can be done with a top-end metal detector or digital camera. The owners will test several bullets and valve dwell times and learn how many shots they can expect from their version of Custom 1 and Custom 2. Talk about making handloading popular!

UZI CO2 BB Submachine Gun from Cybergun: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Cybergun brings us this Mini Uzi BB submachine gun.

This gun’s last report had lots of good comments from owners and from those who have been researching it. I think the most powerful feature it has is the fact that it fires from the open bolt. When you shoot, a heavy mass reciprocates in mock recoil. It’s the difference between an M3 grease gun that jumps all over the place when it fires and an HK MP5 that barely recoils at all. This Mini UZI CO2 BB Submachine Gun by Cybergun really jumps around.

I can see why people are impressed by its performance in full-auto. It feels so realistic with that heavy steel bolt working back and forth on every shot.

With the open bolt comes an open receiver, also just like the grease gun. When the gun’s ready to fire, the receiver looks menacingly open and ready for action.

This gun is open for business!

Accuracy is another feature we have yet to test, but everyone who owns the gun praises it for its accuracy. We’ll find out.

Charge the magazine and load
The 12-gram CO2 cartridge fits into the stick magazine, small end first. Don’t forget to put some Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge before you pierce it. That will be blown through the valve, where it gets on every sealing surface and keeps the gun sealed against gas loss. With it, your gun should last for years. Without it, you may have an early failure.

The BBs are loaded one at a time, with the spring-loaded follower held down with the other hand. It isn’t the easiest thing to do, but it works. I found I could load 26 BBs, despite the manual stating that it holds 25.

Gas consumption
Most owners understand that a CO2 gun at this power level will get about 50 shots per cartridge. I tested for this and found that it does get 50 shots, but the last ones are not as fast as the average shots from the first magazine.

They advertise this gun at 344 f.p.s. I tested it with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, which I have found in the past to be the largest and most uniform BB Pyramyd Air carries. In other words, they’re always the fastest. In the test gun, they averaged 350 f.p.s. for 10 shots. The velocity range went from 345 to 357 f.p.s. I was pausing about 10 seconds between each shot for this test, and the temperature was 71 degrees F.

I tested how much velocity is lost by firing very fast. We know that cooling a CO2 gun causes it to shoot slower, and the CO2 is what cools the gun. The faster you shoot each shot, the faster the gun cools down and slows down. To test this, I fired 12 quick shots as fast as I could pull the trigger, then chronographed the next shot. It went 313 f.p.s. That should tell you guys who modify the gun to shoot full-auto what’s going to happen. As you hold down the trigger, you’re going to lose velocity to the tune of about 40 f.p.s. That’s not such a great loss and I think you won’t really notice it.

Gas consumption
Another thing I wanted to test was the overall gas consumption. Other owners said they’re getting about two magazines per CO2 cartridge, which would be 50 shots. That sounds about right, given that the gas also has to operate that heavy bolt. I chronographed shot No. 49 at 283 f.p.s. Shot 50 went 269 f.p.s. Because I was able to get 26 BBs in the magazine, I also got shots 51 and 52. Shot 51 was lost, but shot 52 went 231 f.p.s. The gun is definitely out of gas at that point, though the bolt still comes all the way back. To load more BBs and attempt to get a few extra shots is just asking for a jammed BB in the barrel.

I’d forgotten that the gun has a grip safety but was reminded when I started shooting it. Also, it didn’t register that I had to cock the bolt for the first shot. Since we had a question about how you can see the sights with that fat knob in the way (the cocking knob), I’m showing it here, so you can see the wide slot cut through the center.

Here is how you sight through the cocking knob.

Rating so far
It’s difficult to remember the other BB submachine guns at this point in time, but I think I can safely say this one has the most realistic feeling recoil. That heavy bolt really rocks the gun when it moves. I do like the grip safety, and even the trigger seems pretty crisp and positive for this type of BB gun. Although there are a few plastic parts on the outside of the gun, this is a very heavy airgun that gives a solid sense when you shoot it. If it’s as accurate as the owners say, it’ll be a winner in my book.

Why do shot groups move?

by B.B. Pelletier

I couldn’t fit the entire question into the title, so here it is:

Why do shot groups move from side to side when the scope setting doesn’t change?

This question does not include different pellets impacting at different places on a target at the same range, which is caused by the individual flight pattern of each type of pellet. However, I’ll address that question before moving on with the first one.

Today’s question was suggested by Jay in VA, who really wants to know why different pellets or bullets shoot to different places, with respect to left and right. Jay, that’s caused by how each pellet or bullet is stabilized. Back around the turn of the 20th century, Dr. F. W. Mann conducted an experiment in which he locked a barreled action in a 3,000-lb. vice (his “Shooting Gibralter” rest, a concrete pier sunk 40 inches below ground level and extending about 30 inches above, and fitted with a cast iron lockdown rifle rest) and then fired the “gun” at 100 yards in still air. After each shot, Dr. Mann rotated the barreled action 90 degrees, until he had shot it in a complete rotation. His lockdown mount was constructed to allow this rotation, so the barrel was never unlocked from the rest.

The barrel was locked down and could not move except to rotate along the axis of the bore. Still, it shot to four distinct places, each separate from the other. One was when the barrel was straight up, the next was with the barrel rotated 90 degrees to the right, the next was rotated 180 degrees to the right and the last was rotated 270 degrees to the right. That gave four distinctly different points of impact at 100 yards. Some Pope barrels shot groups smaller than an inch this way, but other barrels with less pedigree produced four-shot groups as large as 16 inches.

So, if the SAME barrel shooting the SAME bullets shoots to four distinctly different places, depending on how the barrel is rotated on its axis, how do you think it will do when different bullets are used? That’s right, different points of impact. It has to do with the projectile’s rotational stability and the bullets finding their own path (trajectory) once they’re free of the confining restraint of the barrel. We might like to think that bullets travel along a precise path, but it isn’t always true. Sometimes, they have to diverge to the path that’s dictated by their own inherent stability. Archers know this more than riflemen, because arrows have their own independent flight rules and the experienced archer learns what each arrow wants to do.

The real question
But that isn’t the question I want to address today. I want to talk about this: When a scope is sighted in at one distance, it will shoot to the left or right of the point of aim at a different distance. There are two main reasons for this.

Unstable flight
The first reason for this is the fact that some pellets spiral in flight. In other words, as they travel downrange they don’t remain on a straight line; rather, they travel in a spiral that goes in the same direction as the spin introduced by the rifling. A righthand-twist barrel can produce a pellet that flies with a right-hand spiral. You don’t have to take my word for this, you can watch it for yourself on You Tube. The man who made and narrates that video calls the spiral a wobble, but we’re talking about the same thing. He found it was caused by a dirty bore, but I’ve seen the same thing through the scope when using certain pellets that were not suited to a particular barrel. Clean or dirty barrels aside, those pellets always spiraled.

The video shows a pellet losing stability and spiraling from that loss, but a pellet can also be inherently unstable and always spiral. When that happens, the pellet will group at different points around the point of aim, depending on the distance the gun is from the target.

You don’t need a high-speed camera to see this. How do you tell if you have this problem? Simple, shoot three groups at three different ranges. Make the sight-in range the first target and the other two farther away. If they look like the ones shown here, your pellets are spiraling.

Gun sighted-in at 25 yards. Pellets are centered.

Same gun with same sight setting but shooting at 20 yards.

Same gun and same sight setting but at 30 yards. This pellet is spiraling.

Scope misalignment
A more fundamental cause of groups moving from left to right is caused by a slight scope misalignment, in relation to the bore. If the bore is pointed at 360 degrees and the optical axis of the scope is pointed at 5 degrees (that would be 5 degrees to the right of where the barrel is pointed), the shooter will adjust the reticle to bring together the point of impact and point of aim. Let’s say he does this at 25 yards, where the pellet hits the point of aim. If the scope is misaligned as I am describing, then at 20 yards it’ll group to the right of the point of aim, and at 30 yards it’ll group to the left of the point of aim. Where it hits depends on how the scope is misaligned, of course.

At 25 yards, the gun hits the point of aim.

At 20 yards, the pellet strikes low and to the right.

At 30 yards, the pellets strike high and to the left.

This type of “scope shift” will always go in the same direction. The farther out you shoot, the more to the left the groups will be; the closer you shoot, the more they’ll move to the right. They’ll always maintain this right-to-left relationship and will never reverse directions. That’s a diagnostic you can use if and when such a problem arises.

While the above two sets of targets look similar, they were created by two very different effects. In the first set, the pellet’s moving in a righthand spiral that’s increasing in size as the pellet moves farther from the muzzle. In the second set of targets, the pellets are shifting from the low right to a high left position and will keep moving in a straight line away from the aim point (to the left) as the distance to the target increases.

A spiraling pellet moves from one side of the target to the other and back again as the range increases.

A pellet shift caused by scope alignment always moves in the same direction — in this example, right to left.

Pellet shift diagnosis
Here’s how you figure out what the problem is.

Are the pellets moving from side to side and back again as the range increases? That’s a spiraling problem, and the dispersion (distance from the aim point) increases with the distance. The solution is to use different pellets or perhaps to clean the bore.

Are the pellets shifting in one direction and only as the range increases? That is a scope alignment problem, and the scope needs to be realigned to correct it.

Don’t be discouraged
This problem confounds shooters all the time, and it’s often the root cause of a misdiagnosed scope shift problem. Don’t be discouraged after reading this report. You can mount a scope accurately enough that you will never encounter this kind of problem.

Knowing that gives you power over these two common problems. If you know they exist, you can watch for them and make corrections when necessary.

Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The new Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol is a tackdriver!

Today is accuracy day for the Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol. It’s been a month since I last tested this air pistol, so you may not remember all the details. This is a remake for 2011 of the Silhouette pistol Crosman brought out in 2010. I tested that pistol for you also and did four reports on it back before all the bad things happened. You can read those reports here.

That gun was a fine one, but Crosman decided to add the new Marauder pistol-style trigger and they made a few other small changes in the process. What they ended up with is an accurate pistol that also has a fine trigger. While this pistol is on the pricey side and is really meant for the sport of air pistol silhouette competition, it also serves well as an accurate air pistol, or as a carbine for general shooting if you attach the optional shoulder stock.

The scope
I selected a Leapers 3-9×40 scope with red/green illuminated reticle. The illumination means nothing in this test, as I didn’t use it. My scope is older than the one I linked to, but the specifications are exactly the same.

The scope is a bit large for the pistol, but it is also the reason this test went as well as it did. This makes a very handy PCP carbine.

The scope was mounted on a BKL 1-piece mount, which isn’t appropriate for this gun because of how it loads (the breech needs clearance for loading the pellet), but I got away with it because of the long steel breech. Since there’s no need for a scope stop on this recoilless pistol, the BKL might be seen as overkill; but the scope was already mounted in it, and I’ve used it successfully on many other air rifles and the time savings was a consideration.

Accurate from the start!
Some days, everything just falls into place. I’ve learned to recognize those days as soon as they come, so this shooting session was a breeze.

The first pellet I tried was the 10.2-grain JSB Exact. Normally, I wouldn’t use such a heavy pellet in a gun of this power, but something told me it would work out well this time. And it did. After sighting-in, 10 shots blew away the aim point at 25 yards.

Pay no attention to the hole at 12 o’clock. It’s the last sighter before this group was shot. Ten JSB Exact 10.2-grain domes went through that hole at 25 yards. It measures 0.43 inches between centers.

I had to adjust the scope after the first group, because I was blowing away my aim point. So, I dropped down several clicks and shot a second group of 10 with the same pellet.

Another 10 JSB Exact 10.2-grain pellets tore this small hole at 25 yards. This one measures 0.318 inches between centers.

Next, I tried the JSB Exact RS dome that weighs 7.3 grains to see what a lightweight pellet would do. Same 25 yards and same conditions overall.

Ten lightweight JSB Exact RS domes made this tight group at 25 yards. Notice how the point of impact has shifted from the target before, though the scope settings remained the same. This group measures 0.484 inches between centers.

Time to try something new
Okay, we now have a certified tackdriver air pistol. I thought it might be nice to try out some of those non-lead pellets to see how they compare. The next target was shot with H&N Baracuda Green pellets. All conditions were exactly the same, and I concentrated on every shot just as hard as with the first two targets.

Ten H&N Baracuda Greens didn’t do so well at 25 yards. All shooting conditions remained exactly the same as the first two targets. This group measures 2.084 inches between centers.

Back to what works
After the non-lead pellets, I decided to finish the test with H&N Baracudas — the real lead Baracudas this time. I figured they would be in the same ballpark with the JSBs.

Ten H&N Baracudas made of lead made this ragged hole at 25 yards. It measures 0.455 inches between centers.

The bottom line
The bottom line with this air pistol is one of accuracy. Crosman has really outdone themselves and given us a tackdriver with this setup. It likes both heavy and light pellets, though not those made without lead, which is common these days.

The trigger is crisp and the shot count is astounding, considering the little air that’s used. This pistol would really work well with a hand pump.

Then there’s the question of muzzle blast. The Silhouette is almost as quiet as a shrouded pistol because of its efficient use of air.

If you like stunning accuracy from an air pistol, consider this Silhouette PCP.

Crosman Outdsoorsman 2250XE: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, we’ll start a look at an unusual airgun from Crosman. It’s getting to be summer around the country, and the summer guns are CO2 guns, so today’s choice of the Crosman Outdsoorsman 2250XE is just in time. This .22 caliber CO2 carbine wouldn’t exist if Crosman hadn’t reinvented itself at the beginning of the 21st century.

Dennis Quackenbush and I sat on both sides of Crosman’s former president and CEO during the Airgun Breakfast at the NRA Annual Meetings in Kansas City, back in May 2001. We were all chatting about the airgun business, and I happened to mention that Dennis made a good living making and selling upgrades and accessories to what was at that time a $39 Crosman CO2 pistol. The executive was surprised, thinking that no one would want to spend money on such a cheap airgun, but Dennis floored him when he said, “You sell them the gun for $39 and then I sell them $125 worth of accessories for it.” From his facial expression, I don’t think he really believed me.

Fast-forward a few years, and Ken D’Arcy took over the top spots at Crosman. It took him a few years to get his new house in order, and then the Crosman Custom Shop was created. To make a very long and encouraging story short, today’s airgun is a direct benefit of that move. Crosman no longer pursues just the high-volume discount-store sales anymore. They also keep their corporate eye on the ball by making and selling guns for hardcore airgunners. Today’s offering is just one example.

Basically, the Outdoorsman 2250XE is a descendant of Crosman’s classic 2240 .22 caliber, single-shot pistol. But look at what they’ve done with it! It’s so prettied-up that it’s sometimes hard to see the family resemblance.

The 2250 XE is also a single-shot, bolt-action .22 rifle that’s powered by a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge. But this gun is different in so many ways. First, because it has an 18-inch barrel instead of just a 10-inch barrel, you get optimum performance from each CO2 cartridge. Airgun hobbyists who modify Crosman pistols know that an increase in barrel length gives the CO2 gas longer to push on the pellet and produces higher velocity. However, there’s a point of diminishing returns, which happens to be somewhere around 16 and 18 inches of barrel. After that, the pellet looses some velocity from friction. So, the barrel length on this carbine is anything but an afterthought!

Grand opening
Edith knows what I think of airgun marketing. I believe that the moment the box opens the customer forms an opinion of the gun inside. Pack a beautiful airgun in a cheap, flimsy cardboard box and you cheapen the customer’s first impression of his or her new airgun. On the other hand, if the packaging is superior, it conveys a sense of pride that attaches to the customer in an instant. Top car salesman all know this, as do successful realtors. Why don’t more airgun manufacturers?

Well, Crosman is one company that knows what first impressions are all about. When I opened the box of the test rifle, Edith told me she thought I ought to show you what we saw. So, here it goes.

The box has eggcrate foam protecting the gun, scope, mounts and ancillary things. It’s a sturdy container that you can use to store the gun, as the foam is closed-cell.

I’ve seen many hundreds of new airguns come from their boxes in my time, but this one was too tempting not to pick up immediately. Once in my hands, it invited a check of the trigger-pull after establishing it was unloaded and not charged.

This carbine feels very small in my hand, though the 14-1/4-inch pull length is adult in every way. Perhaps it’s the light 3.6 lbs. of weight that seems to float in your hand. I remember once owning another CO2 carbine like this that seemed just as nice and compact. The Sharp UD carbine I had years ago was a nice little shooter that’s extremely hard to find these days, and it felt just like this 2250 XE.

While holding the carbine, I couldn’t resist trying the trigger a couple times and was surprised by the best factory trigger I’ve ever felt in a Crosman pistol on this frame. Don’t misunderstand me, now, because I’m not comparing this single-stage trigger to the new Marauder pistol trigger, which is stupendous. This one isn’t as nice as that, but with the installed trigger shoe, I found the release nice and pleasant. More on that in Part 2.

The trigger shoe really helps with the trigger-pull!

Another nicety I noticed was the 6-inch steel breech with 11mm dovetails cut into the top. You get a scope with the carbine, so you’re expected to shoot it that way, but those who refer a peep sight will like the fact that Crosman also supplies a post front sight. I’ll scope the rifle for the accuracy test.

Yes, that’s a steel breech that will accept a scope mount or a peep sight.

Want open sights? Crosman provides this front post that won’t get in the way if you use a scope.

You cannot overlook the outrageous skeleton stock. Carved out of beech, it adds very little weight to the rifle, yet brings your sighting eye up high to intercept the exit pupil of the scope. I can’t wait to try it!

Put it all together, and it’s a beautiful gun!

The rated velocity for this carbine is 550 f.p.s., but I expect it to go a bit faster than that — especially with lighter lead pellets. I’d be surprised if RWS Hobbys didn’t get up close to 600 f.p.s. That 18-inch barrel is not to be ignored.

What do YOU expect?
Let’s be honest. This is a $270 CO2 airgun that started life as a far less expensive model and got modified to this high price point. I want to know what to expect from a gun like this. I’ve already compared it to a rare Sharp carbine that you can’t buy used for less than $600, but that isn’t going to satisfy most people, especially those who aren’t collectors. I want to know what performance you think a gun like this should have.

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