by B.B. Pelletier
Two new airgun videos have been posted. Both are about cleaning airgun barrels, how to do it correctly and which products are safe for airguns. Part 1 reviews when you should consider cleaning, and part 2 shows you the mechanics of cleaning.
Now, on to today’s blog.
Today, we’ll test the power and velocity of the Beeman RX-2 Elite Series combo air rifle. Remember, this rifle contains a gas spring instead of a coiled steel spring, so the cocking effort is entirely different. A gas spring doesn’t increase in effort as you advance through the cocking stroke. It starts out at the maximum force and maintains that same force until the gun is cocked. But the leverage of a breakbarrel rifle is poor in the beginning of the cocking stroke, so the gas spring feels like a lot more effort.
I measured the force needed to cock this rifle, and it came up an even 44 lbs. That was actually lighter than I guessed, but heavy enough that everyone will notice it. Of course, this isn’t a plinking rifle, so the effort it takes to cock it isn’t a problem. Hunters can cock their rifles and leave them cocked for hours while they hunt, because the gas spring doesn’t degrade from being compressed. Just don’t buy this rifle for its power without being aware that the cocking effort is quite high.
Alas, this rifle is a .25 caliber, and that caliber has long suffered from a lack of accurate pellets. Shooters buy the .25 because it offers the heaviest pellets on the market, but they fail to realize that none of these pellets are particularly good. And when I say “good” I mean in comparison to what a quality .22-caliber pellet can do at great range. Almost anything will shoot well at 10-15 yards, but when the range stretches out to 25 yards and farther, most .25-caliber pellets can’t keep up with what a good .22 can do.
The H&N Baracuda (Beeman Kodiak Extra Heavy) was about the best pellet available up to the present time and they were only okay — not spectacular. However, this situation has recently changed. I asked for the rifle in .25 caliber because, during the test of the TalonP PCP pistol, I found two new pellets that are quite accurate.
The JSB Exact King pellet is a medium-weight .25 that delivers phenomenal accuracy at long distance when everything is done right. It weighs 25.4 grains, nominally, which puts it in the lightweight to middleweight range among .25-caliber pellets. That means it gives you the best velocity you’ll get from a superior pellet in .25 caliber. You can waste your time shooting sinker larvae, or you can pony up and buy the very best. As long as you’ve gone to the trouble to buy a .25-caliber air rifle, doesn’t it make sense to buy the pellets that make it shoot the best?
The other good .25-caliber pellet we have is the Benjamin dome. This one came out over a year ago, probably to support the .25-caliber Marauder, but the rest of the market also benefitted. I think it should be called a Premier, because when you stand it next to the other three calibers of Premiers, it looks very similar. But it has no special name, other than diabolo, which references the shape. This one weighs 27.8 grains, so it’s a little heavier than the JSB and definitely in the middleweight range. It offers reasonable velocity with good power — especially when used in precharged guns! It also happens to be quite accurate, which is a plus for the quarter-inch bore, so I definitely included it in today’s test.
I included the H&N Baracuda just because it was once the favorite. Who knows what it might do in this rifle?
First up were the JSB Exact Kings. They averaged 556 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 545 to a high of 560. That’s a span of 15 f.p.s., but it looks larger than it is. All but a single shot out of ten were at or above 551. At that speed, the rifle generates 17.44 foot-pounds at the muzzle. You may remember that the test certificate sent with the rifle had placed it at 17.4 foot-pounds with a lighter pellet, so this is pretty stable performance.
Next up were the Benjamin domes. They averaged 507 f.p.s. and ranged from 499 to 514, so again a 15 foot-second spread. At that velocity, they averaged 15.87 foot-pounds.
Finally, I tested the H&N Baracudas. At 31.02 grains, they’re definitely among the heavyweight .25-caliber pellets, though the bar has been raised to over 43 grains by Eun Jin. These pellets averaged 494 f.p.s. in the RX-2. The range went from a low of 487 f.p.s. to a high of 499, so the spread is 12 f.p.s. At the average velocity they delivered 16.81 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The trigger breaks at 2 lbs., 1 oz., which is more than light enough. My only complaint is that the second stage is so creepy. I went on the internet and attempted to find instructions on how to adjust this Elite-series trigger. Imagine a dark night with a train whistle in the distance and a lone dog barking! There are a lot of folks asking the same thing, but I’m darned if I can find any instructions on how this trigger works. Just a lot of plaintive inquires that date back to 2005.
So, I grabbed a screwdriver and found out how to do it on my own. The adjustment screw is the one in front of the trigger blade. When you turn it counterclockwise, the trigger-pull becomes lighter, and the first-stage travel length increases at the same time. I was never able to remove all of the second-stage creep, but I got about 75 percent of it out with 1.5 revolutions of the screw. The pull then registers 1 lb., 11 oz., which is too light on a sporting rifle, but it is safe and reliable.
The picture worth a thousand words. Turn this screw counter-clockwise to reduce the pull weight and lengthen the first-stage travel — clockwise to do the reverse. The length of the first stage is tied to the pull weight (apparently), so that’s all I was able to do.
What about the power?
Are you as surprised as I am that the velocity, and power are as low as this? The specs say it should get 725 f.p.s., but I don’t know with what. If Pyramyd Air tested it with the H&N Field Target Trophy pellet that weighs 20.06 grains and only got an average of about 626 f.p.s., what sort of trick pellet would get another 100 f.p.s.? I think what we’re seeing is the rifle’s true potential in .25 caliber.
This is not that surprising; because when a spring-piston rifle is upgraded to .25 caliber, the maximum power it generates often falls off. The RWS Diana 48, which generates 22 foot-pounds in .22, will make about 19-20 foot-pounds in .25 on its best day. That’s probably why they don’t make them in that caliber anymore. And other guns perform about the same. The only spring-piston air rifles that seem to perform up to spec are those that start out in .25 caliber, and they usually have a much longer piston stroke. Now you can see why I was so impressed with the power of the TalonP air pistol.
Don’t be discouraged with the RX-2 just yet. We still have to test the accuracy. If this rifle can lob them one on top of the other, we won’t care what energy it develops. As many have noted, a heavy .25-caliber pellet will buck the wind and deliver its payload to the target better than any other smallbore pellet around. So, let’s give the rifle the chance to perform.