by B.B. Pelletier
Before I start today’s report I have to share a concern. The other evening while we were watching TV, Edith suddenly suggested that I write an airgun blog for beginners. I thought about it, and I decided she is probably right.
Of course, this very blog is supposed to be for beginners, but I fear that I’ve wandered away from that objective. There’s too much jargon in the articles and not enough explanation. As far as the comments are concerned, I have no problems with what’s said because readers ought to be able to say almost anything. But the articles ought to be more informative and not require an airgun background to understand.
If you’re new to airgunning and have been struggling with this blog, please speak up now. I would like to hear your views on how we can make this blog better and easier to understand.
Okay, on to today’s report, which, if subtitled, would read, BB gets frustrated. I’ve tried to like this Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT. I really have, and I did like many things about it. I liked the light weight, the ease of cocking and the lack of vibration when fired. I didn’t care for the scope Gamo sends with the rifle, but today was supposed to take care of that. But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, adding a better scope only demonstrated that this rifle isn’t going to shoot like it should, and I believe I now know why.
You’ll recall that I criticized the Gamo scope pretty severely, so for today’s session I mounted a Leapers 6-24×50 AO scope in the BKL 1-piece droop compensating mount I’m using to compensate for the rifle’s extreme droop. Blog reader Kevin has said that he wouldn’t buy another Leapers scope because of the way he was treated by the company in what should have been a warranty situation, and I have to agree with him on that; but their scopes are still a very good value for the money. This scope is one I’ve used several times before, and it’s never let me down.
I figured the first thing to do was to verify my zero after changing out the scope, and of course there was a lot of adjustment to be made with the new one. I have no idea what gun or mounts this scope was associated with last, so it will naturally be off unless I get lucky. But this wasn’t the day for luck.
After zeroing, the first pellet I tried was the 14.3-grain JSB Exact Express that looked so tantalizing in the last accuracy test. And this is where the frustration began. In the last test using the poor scope, I managed a 10-shot group that measured 1.267 inches between centers. I expected far better than that, now that I could clearly see the target. But after only seven pellets went into a group measuring 1.479 inches, I knew it was not to be.
I then changed to the heavier 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet. But another seven of those pellets went into a group measuring 1.427 inches, and I stopped wasting my time.
I was really frustrated, because nothing I tried was working. I would get two pellets in the same hole when I tried a new hold, and then the third would land two inches away. This was starting to get embarrassing! And I did try many other pellets, including some that are obsolete, like Beeman Silver Jets. Nothing worked. RWS Hobbys were so far off-target that they put a hole in the aluminum light fixture I use to illuminate the target. And Beeman Kodiaks, which I think are much too heavy for an air rifle in this power class, were doing the same thing as all the rest — grouping two tight and then throwing the next two several inches away. Then I shot another disappointing group of H&N Trophy Hunters.
Finally in desperation I shot a last group of Beeman Silver Bear hollowpoints that ended with the fourth shot. Why shoot any more when four shots already has you over one inch? Look at the group, and you’ll see what I mean.
Now this is the point in many reports where I pull back the curtain and reveal the sunshine of a successful test. But not today. There is no joy in Mudville today. Oh, that’s not true.
I felt so bad about all the lousy shooting, and believe me, there’s more than I’m reporting, that I grabbed my tuned .177-caliber Beeman R8 and shot a final group of ten Beeman Devastators at the same 25 yards. This was to wash the bad taste of this test out of my mouth.
And it worked. Apparently I can still shoot — even on a day when I can’t get the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT to shoot worth a darn. It just felt good to be able to say that.
So, what’s wrong?
I think I know why the Silent Stalker Whisper isn’t grouping, and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it. Early on in this second accuracy test, I started grabbing and shaking things to see if anything was loose. When I came to the barrel, it shook from side to side. It wobbles on its pivot, and there isn’t anything I can do about it.
I see from examining the action outside the stock that a lot of thought went into this gun, but they missed a very critical point — the barrel lockup. If that’s loose and can’t be tightened, and apparently it can’t, then the rifle will never live up to its potential. It’s still a nice lightweight breakbarrel with smooth shooting characteristics, but it lacks the all-important accuracy potential shooters want.