by B.B. Pelletier
Andrew is hidden among the ferns with his KWA KM4 RIS airsoft rifle.
Today, I’ll finish the accuracy test at 50 yards.
This report is about how .22-caliber CB caps stand up to an air rifle in four areas: cost of ammunition, power, accuracy and sound. To-date, we’ve learned that the air rifle I’m using is just about as powerful as the most powerful CB cap and that it’s as quiet as the quietest CB cap that might be used. One specialty CB cap (the Aguila Colibri) is quieter, but so low powered that it wasn’t used in this test. It’s strictly for .22 handguns.
First, I tested the accuracy of the AirForce Talon SS, which is my control air rifle. It has to endure the same wind and lighting as the CB caps, so the results should not be skewed.
If you’ve been following this report, you know that I’ve been having trouble loading CB caps into the chamber of my Ruger 10/22 — one of three rifles I selected to test the accuracy of CB caps. I chose a 10/22 because I had one (always a good reason) and because I thought it represented what the average guy might use if he wanted to shoot a CB cap. However, that was before I discovered what a royal pain it is to load CB caps into a 10/22! Yes, it can be done and I actually did it many times, but it’s so frustrating that I finally gave up and removed the 10/22 from this test.
Before making that decision, though, I even went to the bother of converting my rifle to the custom configuration with the custom stock and bull barrel from Butler Creek. Then, I rediscovered this nasty fact. So, I bounced that rifle as well before firing the first shot. But that left me with no scoped rifles in .22 rimfire. My Remington 521T has target aperture sights, as does the Winchester Winder musket. I wanted to keep things as even as possible between the firearms and the air rifle that wears a Leapers 3-12x44AO SWAT scope, but it was not to be.
The Winder musket
Another rifle whose accuracy I haven’t yet reported in this test is the Winchester Winder musket. This is a Winchester Low Wall action chambered for .22 Short, and I selected it for two reasons. First, it was made as a target rifle, and as such should be pretty accurate. Second, because it’s chambered for the .22 Short round, it’s perfect for the CCI CB Short cartridge, as well as being better for the ultra-short RWS CB caps and BB caps. Shooting these rounds in a rifle chambered for long rifle ammunition is putting them at a decided disadvantage, because they have to traverse the length of the chamber before encountering the rifling. When doing that, it’s possible the bullets could tip slightly before they engage the rifling.
Though the Winder musket dates from before 1920, it’s still a highly accurate target rifle, as this test showed.
The Winder’s performance was pretty surprising. It out-shot both the Remington 521T target rifle AND the scoped Ruger 10/22. Not by just a little. With CCI CB Shorts, the Winder posted a 2.714-inch 10-shot group! While not in the same class as the air rifle, that’s not bad. It was the tightest group made by any of the CB cap and BB cap ammunition in any rifle at 50 yards.
Not bad for just priming compound at 50 yards! This group of 10 CCI CB Short rounds from the Winder musket measures 2.714 inches across centers.
With RWS CB caps, the Winder put 10 into a group measuring about 3.577 inches. I have to say “about” because one round strayed off the target paper and I wrote a note on the target that it was an inch to the right. The Winder has no lock on the windage adjustment, and I guess I’d rubbed it against the rifle case when pulling it out at the range. That rolled the windage adjustment too far to the right, which put the group in the upper right corner of the target. When I started shooting, the shots were close enough and far enough on the paper that I thought I could get them all on. Since it takes me up to 15 minutes to complete one group, while waiting for the perfect time to shoot, I decided to go with this group as is.
Nine of 10 RWS CB caps made it through this target from the Winder musket. Shot No. 9 just nicked the right edge of the paper. The tenth shot was about an inch to the right of the target paper. Actual group size was about 3.577 inches.
The RWS BB caps performed much differently than the CB caps in the Winder. Only 8 of 10 made it onto the paper, even though this group is well-centered on the target. Again, I have no idea how large the total group is, but the 8 shots I do have are spread out about 7.25 inches.
Adding the Stevens Armory 414 target rifle
I did add a third rifle to the firearm side since the 10/22 was removed. It’s a Stevens Armory 414 target rifle that was popular before World War II. It’s a single-shot lever-action that’s based on the popular Stevens No. 44 action. Mine has an adjustable target tang sight and a very odd front aperture that looks like it should be lethal.
The four rifles used in this test (top to bottom): AirForce Talon SS, Winchester Winder musket, Stevens Armory 414 and Remington 521T.
The front aperture on the Stevens Armory rifle is one of the smallest I’ve ever seen.
Now, it was time to shoot the new rifle at 50 yards with both the Aguila Super Colibri CB caps and the CCI CB Longs. This was done a week ago, and I saved the results for today’s report.
The results are really horrible! The Aguila Super Colibis managed to hit the 10.5″x12″ target paper 3 out of 10 times. For those on the metric system, the target paper measures 268mm by about 350mm! I have no way of knowing for certain what the group size actually is, but let’s conservatively call it a 15-inch group! I’m not going to bother showing you the target paper with three holes.
Next, I tried CCI CB Longs and got somewhat better results, though they’re still nothing spectacular. Ten shots made a group that measures just over 9 inches at 50 yards. At least all the shots were on the paper!
This got me wondering whether this particular rifle is accurate with anything, so I shot a group of 9 Wolf Match Target .22 long rifle cartridges. It would have been 10, but one cartridge failed to fire in three attempts. Rimfires! Naturally, that was the last of that brand of cartridge on hand. The group is small enough (0.978 inches) to indicate that the rifle can shoot, and I still have no idea what the best round for this rifle might be.
Nine Wolf Match Target rounds went into this group, which is under an inch; so, the rifle can shoot with the right ammunition.
Summary for CB caps against air rifles at 50 yards
The Talon SS air rifle with an optional 24-inch, .22-caliber barrel and bloop tube shot groups in the three-quarters to one-and-a-quarter-inch range at 50 yards. This rifle is a proven entity, and this level of performance is not unusual. Since it was shot on the same day as the CB caps, both were shot under the same conditions; so, we can cancel the wind and lighting as factors.
The best performance from the firearms was realized by the CCI CB Shorts shot in the Winder musket, and they made a 10-shot group that was just over 2.70 inches. The Ruger 10/22 that I eliminated because of loading difficulties turned in the second-best group, and the RWS CB caps in the Winder musket were close behind. After that, the group sizes increased very quickly. Most of the rest of the groups were too large to measure because several shots were off the paper and lost.
The bottom line for 50-yard shooting with CB caps is that they cannot keep pace with a good PCP air rifle. There’s something else you have to consider. If you grab a .22 rimfire to shoot just one CB cap, the rifle will not be sighted-in for that round. I spent a lot of time getting my shots on target at 50 yards. When I switched back to standard .22 long rifle ammunition with the Stevens Armory 414, the sights had to be adjusted a lot in both directions.
With an air rifle, you’ll always be on target, provided the rifle is sighted-in. So, just grab the gun, load it and take the shot. At distances as far as 50 yards, this makes all the difference in the world, because Mr. Rat is not going to sit still while you adjust your sights.
I must say that I was surprised by the tightest CB cap groups shot with both the Winder musket and the Remington 521T. I couldn’t have predicted that level of accuracy for them at 50 yards.
Next time, we’ll move in to 25 yards — and I already know the results are going to amaze you.