Myths of the multi-pump

by B.B. Pelletier

When I started The Airgun Letter back in March 1994, I did so out of frustration. I had just subscribed to American Airgunner magazine and they folded, leaving me with half a subscription unfulfilled and an unquenchable thirst for more information about airguns. I could buy all the gun magazines I wanted, because there were over a dozen titles on the newsstands back then, but there was never one about airguns. And, the few articles gun writers wrote about airguns were trash back then…just as it is today.

Edith suggested that I write my own magazine about airguns, and I thought she was crazy. I told her I didn’t know enough about them to fill a whole magazine, so she suggested that I write a monthly newsletter, instead. I still thought she was out of her cabeza, but at her suggestion I sat down one day and wrote the titles of all the articles I knew I could write about. When I had three-and-a-half legal sheets filled with one-line titles (about 150 titles) I figured it might be worth a try.

The rest of the story is that we started publishing the newsletter in March 1994 and added 50 percent more pages a year later because I needed the extra space. Then, we also published six different 100-page magazines called Airgun Revue, for which I wrote historical airgun articles.

The only reason we stopped publishing the newsletter was we were losing money. People were copying the newsletter and sending it to their friends. I had thousands of readers the world over, but most of them were not paying for a subscription. Plus, the internet was growing, and we also found some of our articles online. In those days, it was harder to shut down another website for infringing on your copyright.

Balderdash!
But back to today’s report. One thing I did when I wrote my newsletter was address topics that no other writer would. There were deep dark secrets back in those days, and various interest groups didn’t want the great unwashed (that’s everyone except themselves) to know these things. So, I wrote about them in a column called “Balderdash.” Two of them have to do with today’s blog.

There were several myths about multi-pump pneumatics that were being espoused on the few chat forums we had back then. One was the myth that a multi-pump loses power when left to sit for a long time after pumping, because pumping generates heat (the heat of compression); and when the gun has the chance to cool off, it will slow down significantly.

Another myth was that the cadence at which you pump each stroke has a tremendous effect on the power output of the gun. I’m going to answer those myths right now.

I tested both questions, using my Sheridan Blue Streak and a Japanese-made Sharp Ace I owned and found that pumping the gun fast or slow had virtually no effect on velocity. There were differences, but they were smaller than the total variation of velocity both guns had, so the results were “in the noise,” as electronic engineers like to say. There was no difference in the velocities of the guns whether they were pumped slow or fast that could be supported with statistical confidence.

What about shooting immediately as opposed to waiting for a long time? Would velocity vary then? Many said that it would, because the heated reservoir (and the air inside) would have time to cool and therefore lose energy. W.H.B. Smith claimed in his classic book, Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas , Air and Spring Guns of the World, that there would be a difference from the loss of heat over time, but it would be very small. Back in 1995 when I ran this test, Smith’s book was one of the only books on the subject of air-gunnery in existence. We knew even then that there were errors in the book, such as the low results he got with the HW 54 EL Barakuda ether-injected rifle that was probably due to a blown piston seal. But since it was just about all there was, we read it and thought about it and this idea of power loss through cooling became a fact.

The test I ran with my Sharp Ace indicated a small difference in power that favored the hotter gun over the gun shot later, but the results were, once again, very close. At about 770 f.p.s., the two results were separated by just seven f.p.s. for 10 shots. I concluded that the difference might actually exist, but that it was too small to be of practical interest.

But let’s set those two questions aside now, because yesterday, blog reader Aaron prompted me to write this blog when he responded to my test of accuracy between the Ruger 10-22 and the AirForce Talon SS that wrote about in yesterday’s blog. Aaron said that he could not understand comparing airguns to powder burners. That each was created to do a different thing and that any comparison was therefore senseless (I’m using my own words to paraphrase his thoughts here).

I agree with Aaron that we shouldn’t compare airguns and firearms — except that so many people do. When I was growing up, I heard a lot of older boys and even men saying, “That old Benjamin of mine is as powerful as a .22. I just pump her up 30 times and she cracks like a rifle!”

Overlooking the fact that the gun they were talking about probably was a rifle, I understood what they meant and I’m sure you do, too. What they meant was their multi-pump, when pumped about 30 times, had (they assumed) all the velocity and (they assumed) power of a .22 rimfire cartridge.

At this point, blog reader twotalon chimed in to tell us he knew what the outcome of this test would be. Well, he was right, but there is a VERY important point that we all need to understand. While conducting the first test about the speed of the pump strokes affecting the velocity, the first time I ran the test I actually proved that it did! And I published the results that way!

Several people took exception to my findings, and at about the same time I was testing the Beeman R1 for the articles that would eventually become the R1 book. Well, I discovered that my ancient Shooting Chrony chronograph that I bought used from Paul Watts could be “tricked” into displaying velocities faster or slower, depending on the angle of the pellet path through the skyscreens. I had to throw out a lot of R1 test results after I found out how to “cheat” the machine by angling the barrel for the shot. And that made me wonder about everything else I had tested with the same machine, so Edith and I bit the bullet and I bought a new Oehler 35P chronograph.

The new chronograph showed that there was very little difference between slow and fast pumping, so I had to print a retraction to the earlier article. I also learned the value of good equipment, because I had to rerun a lot of the R1 tests that were already in the can.

I’m not saying anything bad about today’s Shooting Chrony chronographs. I use one most of the time these days. But the one I had been using for those tests was one of the very ancient ones that had cardboard “windows” above each skyscreen, and the ones on my machine had been so shot to pieces that the results were unreliable. You’d get a three-digit number, but how close it came to the truth was anyone’s guess.

Back to the report
At any rate, I’d always wondered if the old guys were kidding themselves by thinking an overpumped pneumatic was more powerful, so I conducted a test. I really didn’t want to pump my Blue Streak more than eight times because ever since it was brand new in 1978 I’d been so careful to limit my pumps to a maximum of eight, just like the manual advised.

I’m sure that I conducted that test and published the results somewhere, but I can’t find it anywhere in the index of the Airgun Letter. So, I had to run another test for you today. Once again, I drafted my 1978-vintage Blue Streak for the job. And we remember that the manual that I lost years ago, but which Pyramyd Air has in their online library of manuals, says that 8 pumps are the maximum. So, let’s roll!

For this test, I used my old Blue Streak, which I oiled especially for today. The pellets are all 14.3-grain .20-caliber Crosman Premiers.

Pumps….Velocity
3………….410
4………….431
5………….453
6………….459
7………….461
8………….467
9………….491
10………..495
11………..475
12………..471

Well, that chart shows what I was talking about, but not as well as I’d like. You can see the power drop off after the tenth pump stroke. But a Blue Streak should be doing that on pump number nine and the velocity should be much higher.

I could tell at pump five that my old Blue Streak wasn’t feeling well. It looks like the old gal finally needs some attention, because the last time I recorded the same pellet at 8 pumps it was going 643 f.p.s. and a few years before that it was close to 675. There’s reason No. 12 to own a chronograph.

Next, I pressed a Benjamin 392 into service. These days there isn’t much difference between the 392 and the Blue Streak, except for the caliber. My 392 is a pump-assist model that I reported on several years ago, but the powerplant is stock.

Same Crosman Premier 14.3-grain pellet was used, but this time in .22 caliber. Again, the gun was oiled before testing began.

Pumps….Velocity
3………….421
4………….488
5………….540
6………….572
7………….602
8………….625
9………….637
10………..654
11………..614
12………..667
13………..622
14………..632
15………..639

That wasn’t the clear and obvious test result I was hoping for. In the past, I’ve seen velocities turn around after pump eight, or in some guns after pump nine and everything thereafter was slower. This time, the gun kept increasing until pump 13, where it went slower for the first time, but after that it seemed to want to remain at about the same velocity no matter how many pumps were put into the gun. This wasn’t from residual air pressure remaining in the reservoir, because I was dry-firing the rifle after each shot from seven pump strokes on. Usually, I’ll be able to hear when the gun hasn’t exhausted all its air because there will be a small crack from the dry-fire afterward, but that didn’t seem to be happening with either my Blue Streak or this 392. The Blue Streak just needs an overhaul but there could also be some dynamic about the pump-assist conversion I’m not familiar with, I guess.

But the main point  I wanted to make today was that the gun doesn’t just keep on getting faster and faster with each additional pump stroke, and that was proven in both tests. So, the myth of 30 pump strokes turning it into a .22 rimfire is just that — a myth.

I’m not blaming Aaron for any of this. He only said he didn’t think we should compare airguns to firearms. He never mentioned any of these old stories, but that was enough to set me off on this strange quest to expose some old-wives’ tales about our airguns.

Now, I have yet another sick air rifle to care for. It seems that the cobbler’s children will have to go barefoot a while longer.

93 thoughts on “Myths of the multi-pump

  1. B.B.

    I can remember way back when I had a smoothbore Benji pumper (.177). Back then they had smoothbores and rifled barrels. Some were multishot with BBs or lead shot.

    Anyway if I went nuts pumping it, I could fire it three times before the air was all gone. Obviously it could not use all the air. I also eventually sheared off both of the little screws holding the plug in the end of the pump tube, as well as the pump lever hinge pin.

    I do thing different now.
    I let the chrono tell me when I might as well stop. When returns diminish enough it is just not worth the effort to continue (ignoring the extra wear and tear ).

    I also found that pumpers can be a lot like a PCP. That is what they really are anyway with the exception of not having any air reserve for more shots. Leaving out the modified ones that can get a few shots with minimal pumping to compensate.
    They can work best at certain pressure levels based on the variability of the parts used.

    You can’t lump all pumpers together and expect them to all live by the same rules either.
    That parts variability will bite you just like it does with a PCP.
    My 397 gets a sharp increase in velocity with stroke #5, but returns diminish so sharply beyond that as to make more pumping about worthless for the effort. Stop at stroke 5 for that one.
    My old early 70′s Blue Streak has gradually diminishing returns all the way up, and it was not as easy to say when to quit. I decided on 6 pumps .

    twotalon


    • twotalon,

      Yes, not all multi-pumps perform the same. While doing this very report I grabbed a Crosman model 101 .22 that I had Dave Gunter repair years ago. I forgot that Dave had rebuilt it to be a hotshot. I was able to put 15 pumps in the gun and get 730 f.p.s. before it dawned on me that this was no longer a typical multi-pump, but more like a Steroid Streak.

      B.B.


      • Never shot a modified pumper so I don’t know the difference. They were just straight out of the box guns.

        twotalon


        • twotalon,

          The eighth pump stroke on a Blue Streak takes about 35 lbs. force. The 15th pump stroke on this modified 101 takes about 70 lbs. of force.

          Modified multi-pumps are not worth the effort needed to get the extra performance, in my opinion.

          B.B.


          • 70 lbs ????? No way I want that to get the extra power. I will go with something easier and work within it’s limits or get something that is made for more zap in the first place.
            I am not into making a gun into something that it is not.
            I know that some will do anything to get every fps they can even though it is not enough to make a rat’s butt. Getting enough more to make it significant is going to cost you somewhere.

            trwotalon


          • 70lbs ouch! That’s some heavy pumping! No thanks.
            How about the FX with built in pump? I know they label it as a PCP but is it a PCP with a built in pump or is it more of a multi-pump with a reservoir?

            I’m not very patient so I’m not a huge multi-pump fan, the fact that I have a hard time pumping them because of my hands probably has a role to play in this but 8 (or worst 15 pumps) to fire ONE shot just sucks the fun out of it for me.

            J-F


            • J-F,

              Interesting question.

              Assume you’re talking about the FX Independence?

              If so, I would say it was both since it has an on board pump and also has the ability to be filled like a pcp (tank or external pump).

              kevin


            • I pinched the meat of my palm at the base of my thumb with my Beeman P3, it cost me $5 to the cuss jar. I would hate to get my fingers in the way of a pump arm that was requiring 70 lbs of force. No thank you.

              MPPs do make decent plinking rifles, but are best in the context of shooting with others. I find that by myself, I shoot at a more rapid pace and the constant pumping is a nuisance. I just want to get my lead downrange. When shooting with others, you have plenty of time to get ready for your turn, so for me pumping the gun is a actually a pleasant ritual. Unless it’s 70 stinking pounds!


            • J-F,

              The FX Independence is a very nice modern version of the Benjamin 700 and 710-series guns that were made in the 1930s and ’40s. Nothing new, but of course FX did the execution well.

              B.B.


  2. Note for Aaron…

    A comparison between airguns and firearms is not always senseless. It depends on what the purpose of the comparison is. There has to be a specific point to it.
    You can prove or disprove a lot of different things on a lot of different points. You have advantages and disadvantages with both. Sometimes the choice is clear, while other times it is not. What is most practical in any particular situation? You don’t hunt moose with a Red Ryder, and you don’t shoot in the basement with a .460 Weatherby. You don’t hunt varmints at 300 yds and beyond with the Weatherby or ANY airgun. In such choices you have already done a mental comparison without firing a shot.

    It’s when myths pop up and are flagrantly spread that a real life comparison needs to be made. The only problem is…..you only set a few people straight but the myth does not die.

    twotalon


  3. BB,
    Good stuff. I can picture you now pumping that Blue Streak up just to have fresh data you can vouch for. Then I was thinking about the total number pumps that took and you did a whole lot of pumping!!! You must be in pretty decent shape now. Very glad to see that!

    You were talking about the statistically insignificant difference between firing the blue streak hot vs cold and I was thinking (lot of thinking early in the morning, LOL) about PCPs and air tanks and air tanks in a hot car and how … darn, that pumped up Blue Streak is just like a PCP with a valve chamber but no tank to refill it. Then I read Twotalon’s response and had to chuckle. TT, on the same wave length, I guess, huh?

    The temperature thing is interesting (ok, it’s boring to some, I know) .
    The pressure change in the tank, whether its a scuba tank or the little pump tank in the Blue Streak is proportional to the temp change. Double the temp, and the pressure doubles. The deal is that your starting point for measuring the change is absolute zero which is -460 F. So lets say you pump it and the temp ends up at 140F (too hot to hold), and then you let it cool to 80F before shooting. So the temp dropped 60F from its starting point of 600 above absolute zero (460 +140). That’s a 10 percent drop in temp and therefore, in psi. But with a PCP working in the range of the Blue Streak that will only cause about a 4 or 5 percent drop in velocity. As you said, in the noise. Didn’t mean to make everyone glaze over, but I enjoy that stuff.
    Thanks,
    Lloyd


    • I have to add that I meant a PCP that has an aggressive knock-open valve, not one that is tuned to hold a consistent velocity over an entire tank fill.
      Lloyd


    • Something about unregulated PCPs…
      Temperature can effect the power curve if you are not careful. Let’s say you have carefully worked out and tuned a nice bell curve at a certain temperature. Tank pressure has an effect on the curve.
      You go out with a carefully filled tank and it gets hot on a warm day. Depending on how forgiving the rifle is about tank pressure, you could have a few duds with the first shots until you dump the excess pressure caused by heat.

      Now refill and take it out on a cold day. Pressure will drop some, and you may end up with full power on the first shot.

      Either way, it will change the curve because the starting pressure will not be where you filled it to.

      twotalon


      • TT,
        Yes, I agree. If the PCP tank is already full and then it gets hot, you will end up with an over-filled condition which could certainly mess up the first few shots. My main point was, that even if the Blue Streak looses 10% of its pressure by cooling down, you probably wouldn’t see nearly that much velocity change.
        Lloyd


        • Sure…
          I made the comment about PCPs because there can be a VERY considerable difference with them with temperature change. I did not mention CO2 because it an EXTREME example that does not relate well to air, even though it almost works like a PCP (reserved gas stored as a liquid instead of a gas that also self regulates at any given temp).

          A pumper gets warm when you pump it, but dumps the extra temperature pretty fast. Pressure will drop a bit. External temperature changes do not have enough effect to make a hoot because you are going to dump the whole works when you shoot instead of trying to work a curve like a PCP.

          twotalon


    • Add elevation change into your equations and you could have a lot of fun with a calculator.

      I had a 397. I usually quit at 4 pumps in town (5,200 feet elevation). It would take 6 pumps at 9,800 feet elevation to equal the velocity.

      kevin


  4. Lloyd made the statement that, all other things being held constant, “Double the temp, and the pressure doubles.”

    This is true if you are measuring temperature in Kelvins (which are degrees Celsius, measured from absolute zero.) You can use the Fahrenheit scale, too, but you need to do some extra math to make the results right — as Lloyd did for you above.

    Lloyd is exactly right, I just wanted to clarify that it isn’t as simple a relationship as going from a cold gun at 45F to a warm one at 90F. That’s not a doubling, in fact, it’s an increase of only 9%.


  5. BB: I remember that series of articles you wrote for Shotgun News on the Ruger 10-22. What I get out of todays blog and yesterday’s is that every variable has to be tested one at a time. It’s only after testing that it can be determined if a modification has value to you in practical use. What I decided based on your reporting was that I didn’t really need a tricked out 10-22, and that as you mentioned above, a hot -rodded pumper really isn’t about velocity. It’s maybe about better componets inside the gun but that is only if you believe they are defective to begin with. Over pumping a MSP , and steroiding is like the folks who shoehorn a 5.7 liter engine in a CJ-5 and then snap off drive shafts. Then they complain the factory makes crap and you need to buy bigger axles. A five galllon bucket only holds five gallons. Regards ,Robert.


  6. I always hot my 1968 vintage Blue Streak with five pumps. It seemed to have enough power and was most accurate at that level. I had it resealed about eight years ago and it’s still going strong. I had read about the Sharp Ace but have never seen one. Did they sell them in the US for very long?

    Mike


    • Mike,

      The Sharp was imported from Japan for many years, then the Japanese moved their equipment to Indonesia and the quality of all Sharp guns took a sharp nosedive. It was like Webley moving to Turkey.

      Pretty much killed off Sharp.

      B.B.


  7. I frequent a homey little breakfast place most days of the week and have for years.Needless to say,I am considered an airgun ambassador by those who frequent the place.That being said,occasionally I run into someone with little more than “what THEY say”… as knowledge about airguns.Just last week,
    someone made that very statement! “When I really pump up mine,it’s the same as a .22!” Only years of credibility kept a fight from starting! I told him definitively in very plain english he was wrong.He really really believed his statement…..enough to fight about it,had a dozen folks not pointed out to him that I just might know what I’m talking about.
    In the 1870′s,when Paul Giffard patented the first “Carbonic acid gas gun”…..his fellow scientists were even under mistaken impressions about airguns.They expected his invention to be silent! It was rumored to be the weapon that would change warfare as was known then.Fast foreward to today,I have seen chats on non-airgun blogs discussing new hunting laws where the consensus was that bigbore airguns were unfair because they are too quiet! P.T.Barnum was right….


    • Frank,

      You know, that “quietness” statement can set me off, too. I remember reading airgun reports by gun writers back in the 1970s and ’80s who said that big bore airguns were almost completely silent when shot. And naturally they are entirely recoilless. I wish some of them would come around when I’m at the range!

      B.B.


      • Let them shoot it with their eye close to the scope! Go home looking like the RCA Victor dog.I dry fired my .457 out my back door on the fourth……the whole neighborhood went silent for a couple minuites! That one is putting out over 600 ftlbs for 2 shots w/ 430gr hp’s…


      • Frank

        You said what?! Them’s fightin words! Put up your dukes!

        Taking liars and simpletons line of reasoning to its illogical conclusion is sometimes the only way to enlighten people such as these.

        “When I pump mine 450 times it has the same power as .50 cal B.A.R!….dagummit.”


  8. B.B.,
    Aren’t these limits that you’ve demonstrated with pumpers just a function of the limits of the seals? In other words, after you’ve pumped past a certain point, a certain amount of air during a pump either escapes, or it doesn’t, where eventually, the seals simply cannot hold more.

    I always followed the rules provided by manufacturers simply because I thought that pumping too many times would ruin the seals. Isn’t that the case?

    Also, as I recall, you did find with one air-pistol that the speed at which you pumped it affected the velocity.
    Victor


    • Victor,

      The limits are defined by the seals and the valve return springs. Titan and Datstate both had a 25 foot-pound pumper that had a valve like a PCP, so of course it performed like one, too. Had a great barrel and was highly accurate. But pumps 4 and 5 both took 77 pounds of force. Pump 3 at 56 pounds was a practical place to stop, giving 14-15 foot-pounds.

      B.B.


  9. For those who don’t do the facebook dance there is a new rifle coming this fall from Crosman, the M417. They say it’s NOT an airsoft.
    I tought it was appropriate on this multi-pump day… but it could be a single pump, they’re not saying yet.

    Pics available here :
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150253151598778&set=a.136489638777.109372.117637493777&type=1&theater&pid=7638034&id=117637493777
    here :
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150253152678778&set=a.136489638777.109372.117637493777&type=1&theater&pid=7638043&id=117637493777
    and here :
    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150253154523778&set=a.136489638777.109372.117637493777&type=1&theater&pid=7638059&id=117637493777

    J-F


  10. Edith,

    You need to implement a utility that automatically converts all of B.B.’s ‘affects’ to ‘effects’ and vice-versa.

    AlanL


    • AlanL,

      Where are they incorrect? If it’s in his comments, it’s not gonna happen. I see so many typos on the blog comments, that I don’t think most people will notice…they’re too busy anguishing over their own goofy typos :-)

      Edith



      • Ha!

        Edith, no, I know full well the comments are hopeless; ’tis in the main blog post:
        “…the cadence at which you pump each stroke has a tremendous affect</b" on the power output…"

        Sorry, I can't help it- the editor in me cringes when I see this…

        -AlanL



        • Let’s try again:

          Ha!

          Edith, no, I know full well the comments are hopeless; ’tis in the main blog post:
          “…the cadence at which you pump each stroke has a tremendous affect” on the power output…”

          Sorry, I can’t help it- the editor in me cringes when I see this…

          -AlanL


          • AlanL,

            Fixed. I proof every blog post…but not as carefully as I should. There’s only so much time. While typos are terrible, I constantly remind myself that we’re not writing about lifesaving equipment :-)

            As it is, I often work til 9 or 9:30 at night…sometimes tapping away on my laptop while watching TV (which explains some of my own typos).

            Thanks,
            Edith


  11. BB,

    I notice that PyramydAir no longer offers the pump-assisted 392. Says it’s discontinued. Do you know why?

    Is there a problem with the reliability of the pump-assist hardware or rework?

    Any recommendations for how to get the rework done today?

    Thanks,
    Bill



  12. B.B.,
    Can you tell me what an M1 Garand might be worth (approximately)? This one has never been shot by the owner (and probably never will be), and has been sitting in a closet collecting dust for over 40 years. I estimate, based on internet searches, that it’s probably worth around $800.
    Victor


    • Victor,

      You are probably right on, but here are some considerations.

      A Garand that was made and used during WW II brings a higher price than one that was made later. Buyers today are very concerned with the condition of the bore and the chamber.

      A WW II bring-back (one that was brought back by a serviceman during the war) will have a premium.

      Here in Texas Garands go for $650 (when guys really need the cash) up to about $1,100 (WW II bringback).

      B.B.


  13. How do you think the Benji multi-pump compares to the Bronco ?

    In particular, I was wondering about the following:
    1. Does the velocity of the Bronco more consistent than the multi-pump ?
    2. Does one have a more accurate barrel than the other ?
    3. Is one more hold sensitive than the other ?
    4. Does one works better for teaching 12-14 year olds marksmanship ?
    5. Does either work better for a 10-15 Meter practice in the basement ?
    6. Does either work better for 25-50 Meter plinking outside ?

    Also, on the Bronco: How much do you feel the transition from the narrow single trigger to the wider double trigger mid-pull ? Does it make it hard to make a smooth continuous pull, or make you want to re-position your finger tip ? (I’ve always liked smooth, light single stage triggers…)

    Thanks.


    • JohnG10,

      The Bronco is far more accurate than the Benjamin pumps. But being a breakbarrel, it is more sensitive to hold. It has a far better trigger.

      There is no transition when the two trigger blades meet. You simply keep squeezing the trigger.

      The RWS Diana Schutze is in the Bronco’s class when it comes to sensitivity, but the Bronco is more accurate and has the better trigger.

      The Bronco would be ideal for teaching a boy of the age you mention. The Schutze would be as well. The Benjamin pump is fine for training but because it’s a multi-pump, each shot will take much longer to shoot.

      The Gamo Big Cat is far more hold sensitive than either the Bronco or the Schutze.

      The Benjamin isn’t hold sensitive at all. But the Bronco has the most accurate barrel of the guns you have mentioned.

      Single stage triggers are for advanced shooters who have developed the sensitivity to feel them. That’s why even the Olympic target rifles do not have them. They are too dangerous. A good two-stage trigger allows the shooter to stop at stage two then squeeze off the shot, knowing exactly when it will break, but all without flinching or sniping.

      B.B.


  14. Please add the RWS Shutze to my question above as well.

    Also, are the 3 rifles quite a bit less hold sensitive than the Gamo Big Cat 1200 ? Or only a little bit easier to shoot ?

    Thanks.


  15. Thanks for the quick reply. The Bronco sounds like a nice gun – I’ll definitely be ordering 1 for my son. Is there anything with as good a barrel and trigger that is likely to fit me better ? (~14.5-15″ pull (trigger to butt), need a grip with a web-to-trigger distance of around 2.5″ (short fingers), prefer a high cheek weld).

    Also, does the Bronco have enough power for field target distances use – in case we decide to attend events every couple of months to plot our progress and add some incentive ?

    In terms of sights: Is the rear sight on the Bronco click-adjustable for windage & elevation ? What peep sight, scope, and mounts do you recommend ?

    Thanks.


  16. John,

    Don’t buy another gun until you try your son’s new rifle. I designed it to fit adults as well as older kids.

    I like a 14.5-inch pull on a rifle and the Bronco suits me fine when I shoot offhand. In the offhand position, a 12-inch pull is about the standard for tall men.

    As for the high cheek position, once again, shoot the Bronco. I made the stock straight, so your cheek is way up there. It has one of the highest cheek positions available, short of a Tyrolean stock.

    Since the grip is straight you can position your hands anywhere you like. That’s the benefit of a western-style stock.

    The Bronco is a bit underpowered for field target, though it could be used. It will topple 55-yards targets with no problem. But it is a breakbarrel and most FT shooters prefer an underlever spring gun because breakbarrels are so hold sensitive. That being said, the Bronco is one 0f the least hold-sensitive breakbarrels around because of its lower power output.

    read this report series about the Bronco to get all the details on the sights:

    http://airgun-academy.pyramydair.com/blog/2010/03/the-bronco-from-air-venturi-part-7/

    There are 7 parts and I don’t think I left anything out.

    B.B.


  17. Excellent report on the Bronco.

    I see the last report was Nov 2010. Has Mendoza or Williams (or someone else) developed a peep sight (or front sight platform) that works well – and doesn’t require altering the stock or sight ?

    Also, is the “Dad” version of the rifle still in the works ? If so, when is it likely to be available ? Is it likely to have a little more power (for easier FT use) ?

    ps: I’m confused by why FT shooters prefer under levers. I thought that hold sensitivity was caused by the spring rebound & vibrations. Why is an under lever less hold sensitive than a break barrel ? Are side levers also less hold sensitive ? How does the hold sensitivity of an breakbarrel gas piston rifle compare to the hold sensitivity of a lever-cocking springer ?


    • John,

      Nobody has manufactured a sight that is low enough for the Bronco (and hundreds of other breakbarrels) yet. There is a front sight extension available from Pyramyd Air that will raise the front sight to work with the Mendoza peep sight, which they no longer carry.

      The dad version of the Bronco hasn’t been made yet because Mendoza, the manufacturer, has had a long production lapse. Apparently they were doing a lot better making firearms than airguns and they focused on that for a while. They are making airguns again and it’s my hope that we can convert the RM 200 into the dad rifle I always envisioned. I know that sounds like it’s just a different stock, but it’s really a whole lot more. And the other things, like leaving out the oil hole, are very important if we want the rifle to work correctly.

      A breakbarrel is extremely hold-semsitive and the more powerful they get, the twichier they are. Underlevers and sidelevers are more stable in that respect. That’s why the TX 200 is the top choice for FT shooters who choose springers.

      B.B.


  18. Thanks BB. I’ll be buying one as soon as they are available.

    Also, what is the least expensive rifle you think an adult could be competitive at FT events with -without having to practice twice as much because the rifle is extremely hold sensitive ?

    John


  19. BB,

    Will the Air Venturi or Daisy diopter sights available from PyramydAir work on the Bronco ? How do they compare to the Mendoza or Williams Peep sights ?

    ps: I read your review of the RM-200. It sounded a lot more hold sensitive than usual. Is that something that you will likely be able to engineer out in the “Dad” version of the Bronco ?

    Thanks.


    • JohnG10,

      Both the peep sights you mention are taller than the Williams peep I ultimately tested. So to work the front sight has to come up a lot.

      I can’t change physics when I design an airgun. The more powerful it becomes the more sensitive it will be to hold. And a breakbarrel is the most sensitive of all — always.

      B.B.


  20. Hi BB,
    I decided that the need to use the artillery hold isn’t a big deal to me – since I shoot my firearms resting on the palm of my front hand, use a light grip, and only gently snug the rifle into my shoulder anyway.

    So, I’m looking for something that’s powerful enough for FT, but relatively easy cocking. A really accurate barrel, good trigger and inexpensive (but metal) target sights are “must haves”.

    Are there any rifles in the $200 range that are closer to my wish list than the Bronco ?
    How about $300 range ?

    What are the least expensive aperture and globe sights that you think are decent ?

    Thanks.


    • JohnG10,

      Well, you have mixed a couple of “impossible” requirements into your ideal rifle. You want to shoot field target, yet you also want 10-meter targets sights. I isn’t going to happen. No rifle capable of shooting field target with any credibility will have 10-meter target sights.

      You want accuracy and an inexpensive gun. That’s another pair of difficult objectives. Maybe not impossible, but really hard to find.

      But what you really want comes out in the third paragraph. You want an accurate rifle with more power than the Bronco.

      The RWS Diana 34 is the rifle for you.

      As for the least expensive of anything, please try to flush that from your mind, because it’s always going to cause you problems. Find out what you want, then try to get it for the least amount of money. Figuring it the other way (lowest cost first) will only leave you dissatisfied most of the time.

      B.B.

      B.B.


  21. Thanks BB. Good advise.

    How does the accuracy of the Diana 34, Beeman R7, and Discovery compare ?
    Is the hold sensitivity of the Diana 34 any different than the Beeman R7 ?

    Also, is there an inexpensive globe front sight and aperture rear sight combination that will fit the Bronco well ?

    Thanks,
    John


    • JohnG10,

      The Diana 34 and Beeman R7 are both spring-piston rifles, and also both breakbarrels. No gun is more difficult to shoot than a breakbarrel. As the power of the rifle increases, the difficulty of shooting it accurately also increases. Therefore, the Diana 34 will be more difficult to shoot than the Beeman R7.

      That said, once you learn how to hold the 34, it will be plenty accurate.

      But neither rifle will hold a candle to the Discovery out at 50 yards. The Discovery, being a precharged rifle, has no disturbing holding requirements. I have shot groups smaller than a half-inch at 50 yards with a Discovery — not once but repeated times. Those were only five-shot groups, but they do show how accurate the rifle can potentially be. Doing as well with a Diana 34 would be a random thing, not something you could count on.

      I believe I covered the peep sight question adequately in the Bronco report. Almost nothing will work with the rifle as is and I had to relieve the stock to get the Beeman sight to work, because it wouldn’t adjust low enough. No front globe exists that would not have to be installed by a qualified gunsmith.

      B.B.


  22. Thanks BB.

    I shot a Diana 34 today. (1st experience with a Springer) The “hold sensitivity” didn’t seem to cause me any issues (I was getting 3/8″ 10 shot groups at 10m from a non-rested prone position with fiberoptic open sights almost every time, with nothing worse than 1/2″). I’m not wild about the amount of recoil though. I don’t feel it, but I need to concentrate on not flinching. I assume I would eventually get used to it, but I want to double check a few things with you before I commit to the 34 permanently.

    I’m hoping to avoid the hassle of carrying an air tank (or a pump) – if I can find a non-PCP rifle with 40-50 yard accuracy that I can live with. How does the accuracy of the Bronco compare to the Discovery at the longer ranges (assuming I hold the Bronco loosely) ? How does the accuracy of the Daisy 853 compare to the Bronco and Discovery ?

    ps: Sorry about the Bronco sights question, which in retrospect probably seemed like I hadn’t read your Bronco review. I was asking about the target-style aperture sights that attach to the scope rail and hang off the rear.

    Will this target-style rear sight work with the raised cap on the Bronco scope rail ?
    http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Air_Venturi_Rear_Sight_Micrometer_Adjustable/3191

    If not, will either one of these click-adjustable buckhorn style sights work with the Bronco ?
    http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/RWS_Rear_Sight_93_94/2649
    http://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Micrometer_Rear_Sight_Fits_Weihrauch_Beeman_HW_Air_Rifles/3541

    Thanks,
    John


    • John….

      I keep seeing something here that has me wondering if you have have overlooked an important consideration. You keep talking about different rifles that are different animals in a lot of ways, but I feel that you must be missing something. Range.
      Due to a considerable variation in velocity levels between these rifles, you may find yourself having problems shooting out to 50 yds with some of them. The slower they are, the more arc there is in the trajectory. It can be fun sometimes shooting a rifle at too far to be practical just for the heck of it, but it is downright difficult.
      Another thing…
      If you only want to shoot paper and plink, then it really don’t much matter how much zap a rifle has. If you intend to shoot live critters, you are going to have to look at power. An 853 will just bounce off a starling at close range with a wadcutter and bruise them up. A disco will wack squirrel and rabbit quite a ways out.
      I hope you have given these things consideration. If not, then this might help point you to what may be your best choice.

      twotalon


    • Also, John…

      I have some springers that give me a good punch. The position you shoot from makes a lot of difference. From some positions it can be hardly noticeable, but can get a little rough from the wrong position. As long as the rifle is not really hurting you, you should be able to shoot it enough that you just ignore the hick as if it never happens and just squeeze the trigger without flinching.

      I do find that noise can be worse than the kick, and that it’s really a fear of the noise that blows your concentration.
      One thing to try if you have a noisy one is to wear earplugs. It can be amazing how little the kick seems to be when you don’t hear so much noise.

      twotalon

      twotalon


    • JohnG10,

      You are trying to do too much with the Bronco! It was never meant as a 50-yard air rifle. The problem is when the pellet is in the windstream that long it blows all over the place. Think of the Bronco as a 25-yards pellet gun.

      The RWS Diana 34 is a good cheap 50-yard spring gun, and you emphasized the cost many times.

      If you really want a spring gun that can do the job, look at a TX 200. It will hold good at 50 yards on a calm day and it is accurate. It’s what you really want. But the price is high. Maybe you should consider buying used?

      As for the sights you linked to, no, the Air Venturi peep sight is too high. I have already said on two occasions that the Beeman peep sight is the only one I could get to shoot low enough to do the job, and I had to modify both the sight as well as the stock of the rifle, to get it to do that. The Air Venturi sight cannot be modified to adjust any lower.

      The other two rear sights you linked to are sporting replacement sights for specific air rifles and have a screw hole pattern that does not correspond to the Bronco. What is wrong with the rear sight that comes with the Bronco? I know it seems simplistic, and it doesn’t have the small clicks of the ones you linked to, but give it a chance! It works fine. But I don’t think the Bronco is the rifle you want anymore.

      John, you are experiencing the same problem that many new airgun buyers go through. You want everything on a gun and you want to get it for very little money. That’s a common thread among newer airgunners.

      Here is something to think about. The gun you buy will probably not be the last one you ever get — especially if you like airguns. I’m trying to steer you toward a gun that will be enjoyable and will keep your interest for a long time. That’s why I recommended the Bronco.

      You mention shooting pests at long ranges, but have you ever done that? Seriously, to shoot a raccoon-sized critter at even 35 yards and have a hope of success takes a powerful .22-caliber air rifle shooting the right ammunition. But to enjoy a day of plinking takes a completely different air rifle.

      Now, there are guns that can do everything. The Benjamin Marauder is one of those. And so is the AirForce Talon SS. Yes, they both take extra stuff and you probably don’t want to get into the sport that deeply right now, which I fully understand. But don’t try to make a gun that costs half as much try to do the same things these two can. It just doesn’t work that way.

      My recommendation is that you get an air rifle soon and start becoming familiar with how it operates. Then we can stop talking blue-sky hypotheticals and start talking about shooting.

      My only warning is to avoid those super-powerful breakbarrels that every company seems to make these days, because they take all the experience in the world and even then many of them are only mediocre when it comes to accuracy.

      B.B.


  23. Hmm – interesting observations. I don’t want to hunt with the air rifle, but I do want to be able to shoot field target effectively (with a scope). Mostly though, I’ll be practicing by shooting paper (3 position) in the 10-30 yard range with target sights. I’d like to avoid the hassle of an air tank or pump if I can…

    I’ll try ear plugs. I don’t feel the kick in my shoulder. It’s just so startling that I have to concentrate to control the flinch if I’m using a really light grip and no pull into my shoulder.


    • JohnG10,
      You are embarking on a hobby/sport that is just plain fun and BB is right when he says if you like shooting air rifles you have not bought your last one (no matter what one you start out with) but you complicated the waters by saying field target and 10m as your first dip into air rifles. I wish it could be done, too, but from what I have learned from this blog, it is not possible to satisfy both with the same gun and be accurate. You will need at least two rifles.

      I get the feeling you really don’t want to shoot 10m competition, you just want to shoot from 10m-30m for plinking. If that is true then the field target rifles listed below will do the job and give you a chance at field target competition matches.

      Go to PyramydAir’s web site for field target rifles I included below and you will see what you need for serious field target. The list is by no means complete but it will give you an idea of what is needed.

      http://www.pyramydair.com/cgi-bin/show.pl?cmd_category=show&category_id=53

      You asked is the Disco better than the Bronco? I’ll say this: the Disco will probably be more accurate than the Bronco beyond 10m because it is more powerful and it is a PCP, but it requires an air source – a pump or scuba. At 10m the Bronco can hold it’s own against the Disco but keep in mind the Bronco is not a 10m competition rifle, either. It is just pretty darn accurate at 10m with the right pellet.


    • I’ll try ear plugs. I don’t feel the kick in my shoulder. It’s just so startling that I have to concentrate to control the flinch if I’m using a really light grip and no pull into my shoulder.

      Most of the recoil in a spring piston gun is not a kick “into” the shoulder, but a leap away from the shoulder. Sure, there’s some rearward push as the piston starts moving (which is what gets the action on an RWS Diana Mod.54 to “slide” a thumb-width to the rear); the main “recoil” is when the mass of the moving piston slams into the front of the cylinder (this is also the impact that kills scopes that aren’t designed for the reverse shock; and even some that are).


  24. Thanks BB. My response above was to TwoTalon’s comments. Your post must have come through while I was typing.

    I think I’m stuck between the Discovery, RWS 34, and Bronco. Maybe the best thing is to get a rifle for 10-35 yard 3 position target practice now, and worry about FT later. Is the Disco any better for 10-35yd 3P shooting than the Bronco ? Is the RWS 34 any worse ?

    ps: My issue with the rear sight on the Bronco was just that it wasn’t click adjustable. On my Crossman 66 and 760, when I re-tighten the sight screws after adjusting the windage, it moves the sight sideways some random amount. The elevation ramp also has pretty big steps. As a result, I have to use both hold-over and kentucky windage…


    • JohnG10,

      For three-position shooting, which I only understand at a 10-meter sport, but I know where you are coming from, I think the Bronco with the Beeman peep sight might be the best. It has a superior trigger over the Diana 34. You will be stretching it to shoot 35 yards, but that will make the game more interesting.

      You can use the front sight as it is and cover the globe with black tape if the light bothers you.

      B.B.



  25. One last question…

    How does the Bronco compare to the Daisy 853 rifle for 12-15 year olds to practice target shooting from 10-25 yard ranges (unrested, and all positions – prone, sitting, kneeling, & standing) ? ie: Is the barrel of the Daisy a lot more accurate ?

    ps: Assume the Daisy has the “DIY trigger mod” to lighten the shown here: http://www.pilkguns.com/daisy853tm.shtml


    • John,

      The Daisy barrel is somewhat more accurate. The 853 is harder to pump than the Bronco is to cock. The best Daisy trigger job will come close to a Bronco trigger.

      Target shooting for airguns is at 10 meters. All the targets are sized for that range. You can shoot farther, of course, but everything formal is at 10 meters. That’s 11 yards.

      The Daisy stock is probably better for three position shooting and the sights are certainly better.

      B.B.


    • JohnG10,
      I have both the Bronco and the 953 and like them both very, very much. They are kinda like MY gold standard for spring pistion and PCP by which everything else is measured. I shoot primarily at 10m so keep that in mind. These rifles are both very accurate at that distance. I have not tried them any farther out. It is not really fair to compare them together because they are not the same powerplant. That being said, I give the (very slight) edge to the 953 because, as a PCP, it is not hold sensitive whereas the Bronco is, slightly so. Because of the difference in cocling leverage, the Bronco is easier for a 12yr old to cock. Both will be difficult for a younger child, but that’s one of the reasons why you’re there.

      I have recently bought a Crosman Challenger but have been traveling so much lately I haven’t been able to enjoy it. Preliminary sessions indicate it will be superior to both of the above, but it is strictly a 10m rifle.

      My scores for all three are posted on http://www.airgunarena.com under chuck3e on the rifle benchrest competitions. You can print off the bench rest targets there, shoot them, and compare them to the other scores posted there. It is an excellent benchmark for how well you think you and your rifle are doing. Pleas feel free to join in also if you don’t mind being humbled by the Anschutz shooters.


  26. Thanks for the quick response. Do you think the 853 is too hard to cock or too long to shoot from a standing position for a 12 year old ?


    • JohnG10,

      No, in the offhand position it can be pumped. Cocking of this gun is very easy. It’s the PUMPING (it’s a single stroke pneumatic) that is difficult.

      When it gets hard is in the prone position.

      B.B.


    • JohnG10,
      I apologize if I am creating confusion because I wasn’t being as precise as I should be. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to write what I really mean. I was referring to the pumping step when I said it may be difficult for a 12 yr old. I should have said, as BB explained, that for a 12 yr old the single stroke PUMP of the 953 is more difficult than the break barrel cocking of the Bronco. I am basing my opinion on how my own grandchildren reacted to the two different rifles. Keep in mind that they will learn how to use either one and will grow into them too fast, anyway.

      The Bronco barrel gives you more leverage and the stock is easier to brace while cocking. Also, for the sake of clarity, with the 953 you have a two step process to shoot it. It must be charged with air by a single pump of the pump lever then the bolt pulled back (cocked) to insert a pellet, and then pushed forward to close the bolt. The bolt is easy to operate for a 12 yr old. While this may sound complicated in writing, it’s not. It’s intuitive.


  27. Thanks Chuck.
    Which rifle do your grandchildren like to shoot more – the Bronco or the 953 ? ie: Which wins out in their eyes: easier cocking, lighter trigger, and slightly hold sensitive – or harder pumping, stiffer trigger, but not hold sensitive, and a little more accurate ?

    Also, does either rifle have a length/weight/balance that works better for 12 year olds when shooting offhand/standing ? ie: Not too barrel-heavy for smaller, weaker shooters ? When they are 14, does it make any difference any more ?

    Anyone,
    Does hold sensitivity mean that the aim point differs depending on whether the shooter is standing, kneeling or prone (since the front hand is in different place) – or is the aim point unaffected as long as the shooter doesn’t grip the rifle tightly with either hand ?


    • JohnG10,
      The Bronco is more popular with my G-kids. The Bronco has a better trigger but they don’t seem to care. Nor do they care so much about the hold sensitivity even though they know about it. They just like to plink at soda cans and a Gamo resettable squirrel target I have. They’re more into the fun of shooting rather than any precise accuracy like I am.

      I think both rifles are balanced well for a young shooter. And by 14 the cocking/pumping won’t be an issue. Both are scopeable.

      If you going to groom your kids for competition the 953/853 are better starters then move up to a Challenger and then an Anschutz. By that time you’ll be spending as much on shooting clothes as you are on the rifle.

      Hold sensitivity means you can’t rest the rifle on something like a shooting bag without your hand being in between and it means it needs to be held lightly not tightly so the rifle is not restrained. I have not shot in the three positions but I don’t see why point of aim should change by changing positions.


  28. Just bought a Benjamin and Sheridan 392 last week. I’ve already put a tin of pellets through it. The large “takedown” screw (just in front of trigger guard) keeps coming lose. Is it okay to loctite this screw (blue 242) or will this damage the rifle by getting loctite someplace it shouldn’t be?

    Thanks.


  29. Hi Tom,
    One huge myth on multi-pumps is how many times can you pump them. The manufacturers presume sea level and add a safety margin. I called to verify with Daisy and Crosman. The maximum number of pumps is limited by pressure in the system, not strokes of the pump. The higher the altitude, the more you must pump to get equal pressure. Roger House overlooked this in his book. Firing at over 8000 feet he stated he lost velocity with a pump gun. You should NEVER lose velocity with a pump gun unless it is broken. You just have to know the density altitude and adjust the number of strokes to get equal pressure. You may have to pump 15 or 20 times, even more, at high altitudes to get the same velocity, but it does not over stress the air gun, it just brings it up to sea level pressure.
    Dennis



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