Sam Yang Dragon Claw .50 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


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

This is the second accuracy test with Sam Yang’s Big Bore .50-caliber Dragon Claw single-shot air rifle. As you may recall, or you can check out by reading Part 3 again, the rifle shot all over the place last time. I decided that I was not seating the bullets into the rifling as far as they needed to be, so this time I took special pains to seat all the bullets. I’ll tell you how that went as I report my findings.

Air use
I’m still filling the rifle from the same Air Venturi 88-cubic foot carbon fiber tank that I was using when I started this report. The tank has not been refilled, and there are now about 150 shots on the Dragon Claw (at the very least!), as well as a couple fillings for a Talon SS reservoir. The gun is still being filled to 3,000 psi, so that carbon fiber tank is definitely the way to go.

A customer test
While I was testing the rifle, a Pyramyd Air customer needed some help getting his Dragon Claw filled, so I spent some time working with him. He sent me a picture of a target he shot with his rifle at 30 yards. I’d like to show it to you to use as a basis for comparison with the results I’m reporting today.


A customer sent me this 30-yard group from his Dragon Claw. It corresponds with what I’m seeing with the test rifle.

This customer also reports that the discharge sound wasn’t as loud as he’d thought it would be, and the recoil wasn’t as great as expected. He felt it was just a gentle push. I would agree with that observation. It isn’t until you get into the 500+ foot-pound region that these rifles really start kicking, and even then, they’re more like a .243 than a .30-06.

Slugged the bore
I finally broke down and slugged the bore of the test rifle. To do that, you drive an oversized lead slug through the barrel so that it takes the impression of the inside of the bore.  The swaged 225-grain round-nosed bullet I used as a slug measured 0.497 inches before it passed through the bore. The slug that came out also measured 0.497 inches across the widest point and 0.494 inches across the grooves. I do see striations from the walls of the bore on all the high points around the circumference of the slug, so this bullet completely fills the bore of the rifle and nothing more. The slight displacement caused by the shallow rifling is apparently enough to push the rest of the circumference out to make perfect contact with the bore. A 0.495-inch lead ball would be too small for the rifle I’m testing.

Thread protector gone
When I shot, I removed the thread protector from the muzzle. A reader thought that because it projects a half-inch beyond the muzzle, it might reflect back a pressure wave that disturbs the bullet as it leaves the muzzle — and I agreed. The threaded muzzle is just there for a silencer that is useless to U.S. shooters, anyway, so if this were my rifle I would leave the protector off.

Shooting begins
Now I was ready to shoot the rifle with both the Air Venturi 200-grain round-nosed lead bullets and the 225-grain Air Venturi round-nosed lead bullets. I didn’t know how the air in the tank was doing at this point; since the gun’s fill level is 3,000 psi, I started the test on low power. Five and even six shots can be gotten on low power, and the gun will still have about 2,000 psi remaining in the reservoir.

I was careful to seat every bullet into the rifling at the front of the breech. For this, a medium-sized Allen wrench worked very well. I actually walked the tip of the wrench around the base of the bullet and could feel it squeaking into position. I pushed until there was no more movement possible with every bullet that I shot.

Starting with the 200-grain bullet, the shots were slightly left and high at 50 yards. The photo shows each bullet is striking the paper square, so we know they’re stable at this distance.


Five Air Venturi 200-grain round-nosed lead bullets made this 4.198-inch group at 50 yards.
Next, the 225-grain round-nosed bullet was tried. This was also on low power, so the rifle had to be refilled between strings.


Five Air Venturi 225-grain round-nosed bullets made this 5.14-inch group at 50 yards. Notice that it’s a vertical stringing, indicating some large velocity variations.

Shooting on high power
When you switch to high power, you have to remember that the Dragon Claw gives only three good shots per fill. So, a five-shot group means the rifle has to be refilled after shot three.


The 200-grain round-nosed bullet grouped best on high power. This 3.322-inch group is the best of the entire test.

On high power, the 225-grain bullet also surpassed the results of the low-power test. Five bullets went into a group measuring 3.727 inches across the centers.

What have we learned?
The first lesson was that the bullets need to be properly seated in the rifling. You have to use a tool like I did to ensure that this happens, otherwise you aren’t going to get any accuracy.

Next, we learned that there are six shots at low power and three at high power per fillup. A carbon fiber air tank is the only way to go.

Did the thread protector make any difference? Not that I could tell. It’s still unnecessary for operation, though, and I think I would remove it.

Round balls did not work in this rifle. One reader says they work fine in his Dragon Claw, but he also slugged his barrel and got a much smaller dimension than the test gun.

Both Air Venturi bullets worked equally well, with a very slight nod going to the lighter ones. High power did better than low with both bullets.

And, finally, from the target sent in from the Pyramyd Air customer, we see that his rifle performs very much like the test gun. He may not have seated his bullets as rigorously as I did because his 30-yard group is larger than my 50-yard group, but it looks similar and is in the same general size range.

Is the Dragon Claw the rifle for you? Only you can answer that, and the answer will depend on what you expect from a big bore air rifle. They’re vastly different from smallbore airguns, and you have to come to them with the right frame of mind. Don’t buy one because you think it’s a substitute for a centerfire hunting rifle, because there’s still a wide gulf between this and a typical deer rifle. If you’re interested in owning something that’s a little different, the Dragon Claw certainly qualifies.

25 Responses to “Sam Yang Dragon Claw .50 caliber big bore air rifle: Part 4”

  • Scott in Hawaii Says:

    BB I think it’s obvious you need to test different bullets for better accuracy. Same as the 909 rifle the PA bullets aren’t that accurate.

  • RidgeRunner Says:

    Speaking of the Virginia airgun show, when is it?

    • RidgeRunner,

      The Roanoke Airgun Expo is scheduled for Friday, October 14 and Saturday, October 15.

      If you come, plan on being there on Friday, because some of the dealers leave early Saturday.

      B.B.

  • RidgeRunner Says:

    Speaking of SSPs. Whatever happened to Webley’s 12 FPE SSP they were bringing out? Has anyone heard anything?

  • Mike Says:

    It looks like a patched round ball might work. But, it’s probably not practical to load it. I would also try some different bullet lubes. Perhaps some SPG or Bore Butter. You might also treat the bore and/or bullets with a moly spray. Of course, you can also try lighter or heavier bullets such as the Lee 160, 200, or 250 Flat nose.

    Mike

  • Mike Says:

    Sorry, the Lee bullets won’t work, they are only .45 caliber. I guess it’s too early in the morning. So, perhaps a T/C Maxi Ball at 370 grains. It might be too heavy?

    Mike

    • Mike,

      Far too heavy. This rifle needs bullets in the 180-200-grain range.

      B.B.

      • Mike Says:

        Perhaps the gun really needs a bullet (Pellet?) made just for this type of gun. One that is tested and works well. Perhaps accuracy at this level is sufficient for the use the gun is intended. It would be a good close range whacker for those that can’t use powdered weapons or just want something different. Of course, better would be nice. That’s why we try different things.

        Mike

  • Victor Says:

    Matt61,
    World class competitors do take a lot of time. I had mentioned that months ago. You have a minute and a half per shot, versus 1 minute in NRA competition, and you use the time because it matters. For non-shooters, watching a match would be like watching grass grow, but for competitors, there’s a lot to see, including basic form and fundamentals, composure, and performance under specific conditions. Well, back when I competed, we shot outdoors, even for the US Internationals (tryouts for world teams), so the conditions mattered. But as I said before, some find baseball extremely boring, so to each his own.
    Victor

    • J-F Says:

      It would mean more trouble for the filming crew but if they had more viewing angles instead of only the shooters backs…
      They could show groups of 3 or 4 shooters with a view of each shooters trigger finger and each shooters target, we coupd get a glimpse of how they do it but it would more importantly show us WHEN they’re doing something.
      Right now we don’t know when they fired the shot or where it went, we only see the person picking the rifle up and shouldering it and then putting it back, we know they didn’t move much but the whole suit doesn’t seem to permit much movement, it looks like they’re wearing a ski boot suit.

      J-F

      • Victor Says:

        J-F,
        You, Matt61, and others are absolutely right about target shooting not being a general spectator sport. You really have to appreciate this kind of sport in order to enjoy watching it. At the highest levels, you’re not going to see many glaring mistakes, so all competitors look about as dead calm as a statue. What might make things more interesting is if a laser were attached to each competitors rifle, so that you can actually see their motion before each shot. This would give precisely the same information that you’d see if you were using the same SCATT system that most use for practice. In truth, even then, most would still find it boring. I certainly wouldn’t.
        Victor

        • Wulfraed Says:

          Ah, but how do you avoid said laser being used as a pointing device by the shooter?

          I’m not sure how difficult it would be to fit a collimated infrared laser, design/coat the targets with a good I/R reflector, and then modify the video cameras to shift the I/R to visible light range (though most digital sensors ARE sensitive to I/R, the cameras have an I/R blocking filter)…

  • pete zimmerman Says:

    I don’t understand this Dragon Claw gun, but maybe it’s just inexperience in the field. It doesn’t have the accuracy to take modest sized game (woodchuck, coyote, squirrel) at 50 yards; it certainly doesn’t have the punch to take something it can hit, say a deer in the chest, humanely at probably any distance. And it’s so loud that you won’t get a second shot as it isn’t a repeater.

    It looks to me as if this was built for either (or both) of two reasons: because the makers could, or to take advantage of a loophole in South Korean gun laws to allow Koreans to “hunt” something in a country where fire arms are illegal or highly restricted.

  • Lloyd Says:

    BB,
    I am wondering too if the Dragon Claw isn’t still searching for the right bullet. That short barrel really limits the velocity too. I think I just WANT it to more accurate. I don’t know if that is a possibility though. Does the rifling come all the way yo the breech opening, or has it been slightly relieved?
    Thanks,
    Lloyd

  • Victor Says:

    B.B.,
    Have you captured any of the fired bullets? I’m wondering what tales the rifling on the bullet might tell.
    Victor

  • speakski Says:

    Do you know where I could find information on how to do some trigger work on a Benjamin HB17

    Thanks Speakski

  • ginoe Says:

    please advise.
    filling it up the dragon claw .50 dual tank with a benjamin hpp2k hand pump.
    which reading should i go by, the benjamin or the dragon claw?
    (i went with the benjamin reading) – both pictures taken when i completed about 60 pumps.

    http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b255/ginoe/ben_hpp2k.jpg

    http://i21.photobucket.com/albums/b255/ginoe/sydc50_dualtank.jpg

  • j.s.foster Says:

    I just sent pyramyd a picture of a 50yrd.group shot with my dragon claw.I hope it will help those buying this weapon,choose proper ammo.The general opinion here,of the combat vets,pro.hunters,black powder&handgun hunters,who helped me test this weapon,find it about the same as .45acp.ball.That means most Montana big game could be cleany killed with proper placment.Over 10 yrs.as a big game guide,I saw lots of animals killed.Placment is most important.Try the .500 Lee round ball.If needed I could mail you a dozen or so.I will be testing it this fall on deer,wolf,and elk(if I see one).

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      j.s.foster,

      Thanks for the offer, but this was the last report I’m doing on the Dragon Claw. The 9mm Recluse is now in the works.

      B.B.

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