Sam Yang Dragon Claw .50 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


The Dragon Claw from Sam Yang is a .50 caliber big bore air rifle.

Today, I’ll test the velocity of the Sam Yang Big Bore .50 caliber Dragon Claw single-shot air rifle. For this test, I used two Air Venturi bullets and a swaged round ball that are available from Pyramyd Air.

The rifle is supplied with a probe-type quick-disconnect fill device, and I can finally report that the Koreans have now conformed with the rest of the world in supplying these adapters with standard threads that attach to common 1/8″ BSP fittings. In the past it was a chore matching these adapters to hoses you might have on hand (if you’re already into PCP airguns).

The No. 1 recommendation I have if you’re buying the Dragon Claw as your first PCP is that you also purchase the Pyramyd Air Quick-Disconnect male fitting and switch out the fill port on your rifle. Then, you can fill from a variety of high-pressure air devices, including the Air Venturi 88 cu ft carbon fiber tank. You’re going to want something that large to keep this monster gun supplied with air.

Let me address the air issue right now. This rifle does use a lot of air. I found that I got four useable shots on high power or eight shots on low power, and each time I did that the gun dropped from 3,000 psi to 1,500 psi for high power and 1,200 psi for low power. This number of shots per fill is fairly good considering the caliber of the rifle, but you’re going to refill it often. Don’t even think of using a hand pump for this rifle!

Shot with open sights
I decided to shoot the velocity test shots with open sights to simplify things at the range, and in so doing I learned that this rifle shoots very low at 50 yards. So low, in fact, that it was impossible to move the point of impact up to the point of aim. That’s good to know, because I’ll want to use a scope mount with some droop correction for the accuracy test.


While I chronographed the Dragon Claw, I also got to see how it shot with open sights.

The rifle actually grouped pretty well with open sights, considering I was shooting three different projectiles at two different power levels for each. Of the approximately 25 shots I fired, about 21 grouped in a hand-sized group. Unfortunately, it was below the target paper, so I’ll leave all accuracy testing to Part 3. But this test did show me a couple things about the gun.

I know why there’s a low-power level
First, you may remember that I was skeptical about using the low-power level. Now I know why it’s useful. With the Air Venturi 200-grain round nose lead bullet, the rifle gave eight good shots on low power — and they all went into that group I mentioned. When I scope the rifle for the accuracy test, this is one power level I’ll definitely try.

On low power, the 200-grain bullet ranged from a low of 562 f.p.s. to a high of 613 f.p.s. The average was 598 f.p.s., which gives us a muzzle energy of 158.85 foot-pounds. That’s for eight shots on low power.

On high power, I got four good shots from all the bullets. The 200-grain bullets ranged from 687 f.p.s down to 610 f.p.s., with an average of 640 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 181.95 foot-pounds. So, I got half the number of shots for a 23 foot-pound gain. It doesn’t seem worth it to me. They did group with the other 200-grain bullets, though.

The 225-grain Air Venturi round nose lead bullets also gave four good shots on high power. They ranged from 652 f.p.s. down to 581 f.p.s., with the average at 614 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 188.4 foot-pounds. That’s not much better than the 200-grain bullets, so I think I’ll stick with the lighter bullets. These bullets also went into the main group with everything else.

On low power, the 225-grain bullets gave eight good shots, ranging from 614 f.p.s down to 521 f.p.s., with the average at 563 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 158.4 foot-pounds. They also went into the main group at 50 yards.

Round balls
It was the Hornady .495-inch round balls that didn’t do so well in this gun. They averaged just 465 f.p.s., so they must fit the bore very loosely. Since the balls weigh only 183 grains, the average energy was just 87.77 foot-pounds. They did not group with the other bullets. They were about six inches lower than the main group, though centered with it.

Shooting behavior
The Dragon Claw has a heavy trigger. I would estimate that it releases with about 8 lbs. of pull, and there’s considerable creep in the pull. The rifle recoils about like a lightweight .22 Magnum rifle or even a .38 Special fired from a rifle. A friend at the range noticed the recoil when I fired.

Cocking
The gun cocks by pulling back on the spring-loaded hammer. It’s stiff in a new gun, and it takes a bit of finesse to stop on the low-power setting. The tendency is to haul back as hard as you can, which takes you right to high power.

Observations thus far
The Dragon Claw is a handy big bore that’s got plenty of power and is priced right for the category. It seems to be very good on low power, and I’m looking forward to shooting it with a scope.

Are there .17 caliber firearms?
J-F, one of our Canadian blog readers, asked this question and I thought I’d answer him here. Yes, there are plenty of .17 caliber firearms; though, just like the .22 calibers, they’re not the same size as airguns. In the case of .17 caliber, the firearm bullets are all smaller.

Two very popular .17 caliber firearms these days are the .17 HMR — that’s a .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire necked down to .17 caliber — and the .17 HM2, which is a .22 long rifle necked down. The HMR leads the HM2 in the popularity contest, even though the ammunition is three times more expensive.

I have a .17 HM2 rifle that a friend of mine built for me on a Hungarian single-shot .22 long rifle action. You’ve seen this rifle before, because it’s the same gun I used for testing the Blue Wonder cold bluing process. And, the blue is still beautiful on that barrel, despite my never wiping the gun down and purposely handling the barrel to see if I could get the finish to wear.


The .17 HM2 cartridges are based on the .22 long rifle round.


My .17 HM2 rifle is based on a Hungarian single-shot trainer. I blued the barrel with Blue Wonder cold blue in another report.

I cleaned the barrel just for this report, so naturally I had to shoot several rounds to foul the bore again. A clean barrel almost never shoots to the same point of aim as a slightly dirty one. Once I was satisfied that the rounds had stopped walking, I adjusted the sights and shot a five-shot group at 50 yards. It’s no great group, and several PCPs I’ve tested will beat it hands-down, but it’s in the right place.


Not great but also not terrible for open sights at 50 yards. The .17 HM2 is a nice, inexpensive varmint cartridge.

So, yes, there are .17 caliber firearms, as well as pellet guns. That’s my report for today. Next time, I’ll have a scope on the Dragon Claw, and we’ll see how well she can do.

35 Responses to “Sam Yang Dragon Claw .50 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 2”

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,
    That .17 HM2 was not a great group, as you acknowledged. Interesting that you would bring this up. I was just wondering the other day if anyone offers either a .17 HMR or a WMR rifle that is more accurate than a .22 target rifle, including a lower end like a Remington. Do you know if these magnum caliber can fire more accurately than .22, in general? The reason for this curiosity is that I’ve been wondering what would be a great caliber to shoot at 200 or 300 yards? What would you recommend? I’m primarily interested in rim-fire because it’s cheaper.
    Victor

    • g. austin Says:

      I own a 17HMR and at 100yards with a 10mph cross wind the groups open up to 1.25″…. At 200-300 yards I wouldn’t use a rim fire. Track down a good center fire round, like a 223 or 22-250, that doesn’t break the bank to shoot.

    • Victor,

      For going out beyond 200 yards I think it has to be the .17 HMR. The HM2 hasn’t got enough velocity for that.

      B.B.

      • Victor Says:

        B.B.,

        I was “window shopping” for both .17HMR and WMR ammo, and found that, on average, the .17 HMR was only faster by around 100 fps. Some reviewers suggested that, all things considered, the WMR was the better way to go as it was cheaper.

        For super long distance (e.g., 1500 yards), I’ve heard that the .338 Lupua is the way to go, even over 50 caliber. I like the Savage 110 BA for something like this (in my dreams). But those rounds are at least $6.00 each. Yikes! I’ll need to figure out what the cost would be per round if I did my own reloads. Most likely, I’ll go with one of the Savage Model 12′s for shooting out to 1000 yards.

        Of course, it still is, and probably always will be, the case that nothing satisfies my passion for shooting like my air-rifles.

        Victor

        • CowBoyStar Dad Says:

          Victor, there’s a fellow at the range I shoot at (he’s the Canadian that till recently held the longest sniping shot in Afghanistan) who also rates the .338 as more accurate out to 1500yds. Beyond that the .50cal gains edge because of it’s weight…it just isn’t affected by the wind as much at these distances.
          But, as he says, if the bad guys out there at 1500yds, and he ducks behind a brick wall, the .50 will probably still take him out.
          And we’re happy if we can get through both sides of a soup can at 50′ ;-)

          • Victor Says:

            CowBoyStar Dad,
            Yes, I’ve heard about him. Longest kill shot every recorded. Took a few shots, but there were all fairly close. Yes, the 338 Lupua is suppose to have the best aerodynamics for long distance, and has the flattest trajectory over long distances. Yup, I’ll be happy to take out a can of soup.
            Victor

  • twotalon Says:

    B.B.

    You only mentioned the low end .17 firearm ammo. What about the .17 Rem , .17/.223 ? The last I knew, they were the only rounds other than the .220 Swift that break 4000 fps.

    twotalon

    • Robert from Arcade Says:

      An anology based on air rifles and fire arms. I have a .220 Swift and it is like a lot of 1000fps .177 airguns in that it is better with heavier bullets and velocity a little below the coveted, over advertised vel/ power. It also handles heavier bullets that either the similar .22-250, or the weaker .223. The .204 (.20 cal) and .20 cal (Calhoon?) are also in the 4000 fps range.
      Victor : On the .17 HMR .I have in a Savage rifle in this caliber and it is much more accurate at 100 yards then any of my .22 mag rifles . It is however IMO,a poor hunting cartridge compared to the .22 mag. Wind , penetration, bullet wt and variety of projectle, no inner changable sub round (the .22 WRF in this case). and cost. It is best where you are shooting varmits you wish to only dispose of at longer distances than the .22 RF ,with less recoil and cost than the centerfire .22′s. My experience with it shows it is not enough on animals over five pounds in live wt. on upper body shots. Woodchucks often make it to their holes, and coyote will run and can be lost. It’s a ground squirrel, prarie dog cartridge, of which we have none of in the east.

      • Victor Says:

        Robert,

        I hadn’t planned on using this for hunting, just informal target shooting out to 200 yards, and maybe some plinking out to 300 yards. I just want something that is less expensive to shoot (a lot) than center fire, but that is more accurate than a .22 at 100 yards out. I like Savage rifles, and in fact, that’s what I was considering, including for center fire. At the last Shot Show, one of the bullet manufacturers highly recommended Savage over comparable, but much more expensive Remington and Winchester models. I checked out Savage at the Shot Show, and really liked what I saw from them. I still like formal target shooting, but I don’t personally know anyone close to me who does. For recreation, I love shooting air-rifles, but would also like to expand to shooting 100 yards and beyond with a larger caliber rim-fire. There just aren’t too many places to shoot beyond 300 yards, and none of the local ranges support target shooting past 200 yards.

        I think that when I do go center fire, I’ll also have to learn how to do my own reloads. I like to shoot a LOT, and not just go to the range to shoot 10 shots because the bullets are so expensive (i.e., center fire).

        Thanks,
        Victor

        • Victor,

          With the low cost for .22 jacketed bullets I can load my centerfires for about what the .17 HM2 costs to buy. About 14 cents a round.

          B.B.

        • Robert from Arcade Says:

          Victor; For target shooting why not a centerfire? As BB says you can buy bulk jacketed.22 bullets very cheaply. I get mine from MidSouth Shooter’s Suppy. For your use , the .222 is a good one. It is slower than the .223 but IMO it is more accurate. It is my favorite of all the .22 centerfires, and wasa favorite of the benchrest shooters back in the day. It can be used with cast bullets also, as it has a longer neck than the .223. It is a minature .30-06 in .22 . My guns in .222 are cheap ones but good ones. One is a very plain 788 Remington with a 8X Redfield, and the other a 340 Savage with a 1950′s 10X AO Weaver in a side mount.

          • Victor Says:

            Robert,
            That 222 sounds pretty good. As always, my primary concern is accuracy. With regards to high power, I just don’t like the idea of shooting something so expensive that it’s really only practical to shoot 10 or 20 rounds. I think that reloading is the only way to go.
            Thanks,
            Victor

    • twotalon,

      The .17 centerfires you mention are indeed fast, but they are also headaches for accuracy. I prefer to shoot a .219 Donaldson Wasp and a .22 Hornet, both of which I reload for. The .22s keep a cleaner barrel longer.

      B.B.

  • Frank B Says:

    I’m kinda impressed with the air usage,especially on low power.My big bores fall into two distinct categories….those that are good on air and consequentially fun to plink with,and those that push the limits of what can be done with air all the way to the ragged edge.My .457 uses 1,000psi per shot!
    However that one gives two shots capable of taking ANY game in North America.That HM2 still looks excellent BB! I think it’s time for me to buy the large containers of Blue Wonder.I sweat alot in the summer when I shoot,and more than once I’ve missed spots on the wipedown…..only to find rust
    a couple days later.Lucky for me I have plenty of Ballistol.

    • Frank,

      That was what I thought, too. The low power seems to be better-suited to the rifle’s valve than high power. I didn’t mention it in the report, but on low power there was an actual inverted bathtub curve of velocity plots, indicating that the gun was right on at 3,000 psi.

      B.B.

      • Frank B Says:

        Particularly impressive when the swept volume of the 1/2″ barrel is considered.My DAQ .308 pistols
        struggle to squeeze out that many shots….right now.However,my Alpha Chrony arrives from Pyramyd today…and I WILL be shuffling springs on all my big stuff.This morning I had a session with my Talon
        in .22, 24″ barrel w/ all three available HPA valves.At 50 yds,20 shots were at .6″ with JSB exact jumbos.From the Talon & the micrometer valves POI moved under one minuite of angle.My best 5 shots was under .4″!

  • J-F Says:

    Thanks for answering my .17 questions but the answer only seems to make more questions pop-up, I’ll to re-read all of this when I’m back from vacation as I only have limited internet access and have to drive to town to get it.

    It’s well worh it !!!

    J-F

  • Aaron Says:

    BB – What do you think about the future of the 17 Mach 2? I don’t see many (any?) companies chambering new rifles in that caliber. Seems like there a lot less folks making ammo too. It never seemed to catch on like the 17 HMR. I love the round, great for 100 yard plinking and varmiting.

    Thanks

    Aaron

    • Aaron,

      A month ago I would have said I thought the HM2 was on its way out, but I now see a lot of new ammo from Hornady and CCI. I think it may make a comeback. Of the two it’s certainly the less expensive.

      B.B.

  • Toby T. Says:

    BB, ” There are no dumb (or is it stupid ?) questions”, well here is one. Is that your backyard you are shooting in? If so, lucky man. I have a yard large enough to shoot fifty yards but with the neighbors it is a fishbowl.(most of them seasonal time sharers) Some of them would not appreciate the shooting.

    • Toby,

      No, I wish that was my backyard. That is my rifle range. There are man-made berms all around the lanes. I’m on the 50-yard lane.

      B.B.

      • Toby T. Says:

        BB, Bummer. Well at least it looks like a nice place to shoot. The range I go to is in the high desert, no grass or trees. It is a nice facility none the less. The shooting tables are shaded by a structure and you can shoot way beyond a practical distance if you want to. Toby

  • This was missent to me:

    Hi B.B,

    Thanks a lot for your kind reply and suggestions. I immediately checked the barrel and it was very rough while the other two defects were not present in my gun.
    Can you please suggest any other method (preferably home made) to clean the barrel because the bore cleaning paste that you suggested is not available in my area of residence.

    Regards,

    Omer

    • Omer,

      No homemade fixes for this. Buy JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound for Pyramyd Air and put it on a brass brush that’s the right size for your barrel. Then scrub 20 strokes in each direction with the brush loaded with JB Paste.

      Nothing else is as safe and works as well as JB Paste.

      B.B.

  • Anonymous Says:

    Hello B.B.
    thank you for your report, much interesting.
    Do you plan to do one on the Recluse?
    that´s a more appealing gun to me

    thank you

  • J.T Says:

    Montana X-treme’s solvents are THE best, JB is no where near as effective, and it is abrasive to the bore. Never run the brush back into the bore, it may scratch the crown which is imperative to accuracy, and even if you don’t scratch it, you will just drag back all the carbon and copper deposites you turned out back into the bore.
    My 17 HMR is much more accurate than my air rifle, it just requires more cleaning time. I get less than 1″ at 100 yards, and 22 swingers at 150 yards are a piece of cake.
    And over here, 22 WMR ammo is more expensive than 17 HMR ammo.
    P.S Nylon brushes are needed for Montana X-treme, it is so powerful it will destroy brass ones.

  • J.T.,

    JB Bore Paste is abrasive, but it is the gold standard of benchrest shooters. It laps the bore as it cleans.

    I will try the Montana solvents you mention, but not on my airguns. Latent fumes can attack and destroy the seals.

    B.B.

  • J.T Says:

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply I use montana X-treme on my airguns, I just use it on the powder burners.
    I found out about Montana X-treme from this article, the testimonial by famed benchrest shooter Bill Shehane http://www.accurateshooter.com/technical-articles/bore-cleaning-methods-and-materials/
    I recomend their Copper Killer or Copper cream product, followed by their bore conditioner.
    As always, follow the manufacturers recomended cleaning procedures. Heres a link to their site http://www.montanaxtreme.com/

    • J.T,

      Well, I’m always interested in a good copper solvent for my rifles. I find if you keep a .17 HM2 barrel clean it will indeed out-shoot a good air rifle at 50 yards. The record so far is five in 0.18″ at that range.

      B.B.

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