AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


AirForce Talon SS is a whole shooting system.

Wow! Before I started this report on the AirForce Talon SS, I really had no idea of just how expansive it was going to be. Today, I’m going to start a report on the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank that transforms the Talon SS from a powerful outdoor hunting rifle to a plinker that gets lots of low-power shots. It brings the outdoors inside!

Now that you’ve seen the difference in performance between the factory 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and an optional 24-inch .22-caliber barrel with the standard tank, I’ll have to test both of those barrels with the Micro-Meter tank, so that’s a minimum of two tests for velocity and another test for accuracy. I hope you’ll let me get by with just a single accuracy test (from just one of the two barrel lengths); because after the Micro-Meter tank, I still have to test the rifle using the CO2 adapter with both barrels. Then there’s the new Spin-Loc tank still to be tested. And, yes, the Spin-Loc tank does come as a Micro-Meter tank and as a Hi-Flo tank, as well as the standard Spin-Loc tank. Talk about job security!

History
New airgunners who read about the Talon SS probably wonder why a Micro-Meter air tank is needed. Doesn’t the SS have adjustable power? Yes, it certainly does. But the stability between shots always falls off (the velocities vary more) when the power is adjusted on the low side. You can see that for yourself by carefully reading Part 2 of this report. And some airgunners shoot a lot more in their houses than they do outdoors. They want the power adjustability that comes with the rifle, but most of the time they’ll be shooting at the exact place on the power curve where the standard tank varies the most. These people are mostly shooting in a basement, attic or garage at 25 feet or 10 meters (33 feet), and the velocity variation doesn’t affect them that much. So, once more the question is: Why the Micro-Meter tank? The answer is that it budgets the air much better than the standard tank, and you get more shots. But that wasn’t why it was created.

I was there when the original idea for the Micro-Meter tank was hatched, though I left AirForce before it became a regular product. Here’s an overview of how it came to be.

The NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, in 2005 is what brought about the Micro-Meter tank. The NRA has an airgun range at their Annual Meetings and Exhibits where thousands of people can see, watch and even shoot various airguns. The guns have to be controlled because they’re in a public building! They can’t be shooting 1,000-f.p.s. airguns indoors. The pellet traps they bring for the range are satisfactory for lead pellets (lead ONLY, please, because synthetics can damage the traps and ricochet) at muzzle velocities of 600 f.p.s. and under. That turns out to be approximately the velocity of a 10-meter target airgun (both rifle and pistol) but manufacturers want to have their other sporting-type guns on the line, as well. And AirForce was left out altogether, because of the power potential of their guns.

How sad is that? A Texas-based company is excluded from providing airguns for the public to shoot at a show that’s being run in Texas!

Yes, the Talon SS can be adjusted down to below 600 f.p.s., but the problem is that it can also be adjusted the other way. The NRA had to guarantee their insurance carrier that all guns on the airgun range were not capable of shooting faster than 600 f.p.s. The best and really only way to do that is to not put out guns that have the potential of shooting faster. And the Talon SS most certainly does have that potential.

There were only a couple weeks before the show, and we really wanted to put a couple Talon SS rifles on the line. What to do?

We’d been making special valves for guns going to other countries that must have very low velocity, but even then the velocity of those guns was greater than 600 f.p.s. with lightweight wadcutter pellets. But another overseas customer needed a valve that was restricted in a different way for a different reason. So, what we did was make up a special valve that had both forms of restriction — a “double-restricted valve,” so to speak. And it worked! There was no way guns that had air tanks with that valve could shoot faster than 600 f.p.s.

It’s not easy!
For all who think designing a precharged pneumatic valve is straightforward, let me assure you it isn’t. I remember talking to AirForce while they were designing the Edge target rifle and saw the difficulty they had balancing the internal volume of the new target valve with the valve opening size and the return spring strength. You might get a gun to shoot 28 shots at 580 f.p.s. with only 5 f.p.s. variation, but then the velocity drifts up to 675 f.p.s. over the next 40 shots — and after that you’re out of air! Keeping a balance between velocity and shot count is the pneumatic hat-trick — ask anyone who has ever tried to do it.

So we built a few double-restricted valves for the annual NRA meetings, and that was it. They worked fine and gave hundreds of shots on a fill, which made them perfect for a public event like the show. Those guns have been in service ever since and have now been shot by quite a few people and are still going strong. But there was no immediate move to make the valve available to the public.

Several years later, however, AirForce decided to bring out the Micro-Meter tank as an option so everyone wanting an indoor target capability for their Talon or Talon SS could have it. I’ve never tested the Micro-Meter tank for you, except on the Condor back in 2008. So, this test has been waiting a long time.

The Condor was tested on both a high-power setting and a low-power setting. Initially on low power, the rifle had velocities from 829 f.p.s. to 848 f.p.s. over the first 21 shots when shooting the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. That’s much faster than what we hoped for from this tank, but a Condor has a heavier striker that holds the valve open longer than it was designed to. It also has a 24-inch barrel, which we know is usually more efficient in a pneumatic airgun. A Condor may not give the same performance as a Talon SS when using the same Micro-Meter tank. It also may not give the performance you want for an indoor airgun.

When I switched over to high power for shots 22 through 34, the Condor produced velocities ranging from 733 f.p.s. to 835 f.p.s. This string was fired without refilling the gun, so 21 shots had already been fired before this string started; but notice that the velocity actually dropped, even though the power was set on high. Then, I switched back to low power for shots 35 through 55, not filling the gun before shooting this next string, and the velocity ranged between 795 and 812 f.p.s. There was a lot more to that test, but you get the general gist of it. Pellets went faster on the low power setting! Just the reverse of what the power adjustment wheel normally gives!

I will test the SS with both the factory 12-inch barrel as well as the optional 24-inch barrel, and I think the 24-inch barrel will give me the faster shots. But I want to know whether the Micro-Meter tank is still viable when using a 24-inch barrel on an SS powerplant. And, of course, I’ll give you the total number of shots I get with both barrel lengths.

As for accuracy, I think I’ll test that with the 12-inch barrel, only, since that’s probably the most likely combination an owner will have. I doubt that at short range we’d see anything but stellar accuracy from the 24-inch barrel at 10 meters. Do you?

Too much to test!
Please reread the opening statement of this report. There’s still one more barrel length in .22 caliber and three lengths in each of the three other calibers that the SS can be converted to. And then there’s the regular Talon to test and the Condor to finish testing — in all three barrel lengths and all four calibers! Life isn’t long enough to test them all. But I do want to thank reader new2this for reminding me how much I like the AirForce Airguns. Until he commented, I didn’t realize how much there was.

39 thoughts on “AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 5

  1. Hello B.B. and fellow Airgun Enthusiasts. This is turning out to be quite an interesting examination of the AirForce Talon SS. I do not believe there is any system made by any company to compete with all the various permutations this rifle offers. I do not presently own a pcp, however this examination has given me a lot to digest. I would like to ask a question about the whys and wherefores of filling a pcp. I have observed that the most common fill is 200 bar , or 2900 psi. Some other rifles are in the 3300 psi, on up to 4500 psi. Then we have the Benjamin Discovery, which has a 2000 psi fill. The USFT rifles are in the 1200-1500 psi. The old Girandoni rifle of the Lewis and Clark expedition was filled to 800 psi with a specially built pump. It got 21 accurate, hard hitting shots. Why can some rifles operate in the 1500-2000 psi range and others need 3000-3500 and up. Why do companies vary the fill pressure so much for practically the same shot count and foot lbs. I realize some guns are regulated, however this does not explain the drastic differences in fill pressure.
    Maybe you could explain this in detail in a blog down the road. I think I must be missing something obvious, however no one I have asked has been able to explain it to any satisfaction.


    • Titus.

      I can take a stab at explaining why different airguns have different fill levels, but it is akin to asking what is the meaning of life.

      Girardoni, for example, was limited by the materials and technology of his time. A single-stage pump cannot get up over 800 psi, due to the weight of the person doing the pumping, and in his day people were smaller than they are today. Dennis Quackenbush and I demonstrated that in an Airgun Revue magazine several years ago. Besides, it was all a folded-iron pressure vessel of 1780 could do to hold 800 psi. Putting in more air would have been very risky.

      The USFT stops at a max fill of 1,500-1,650 psi because Tim McMurray specifically designed it that way. I wanted the Discovery to stop at 1,800 psi and Crosman decided to make it stop at 2,000 psi, so that is why it does. Both the USFT and the Discovery are easy to fill from a hand pump, as a result of their low max fill pressures.

      And the story goes on and on. Each time a decision is made for what seems to the designer to be a good reason — easy to fill from a pump, more shots, etc.

      You might as well ask why there are so many model railroad gauges in existence. Why don’t “they” standardize on just one (or two — or perhaps three, and so it goes).

      B.B.


      • I know someone who is 80 lbs. He can fill my challenger without any problems. Even though he has to jump on the pump a bit.


  2. Titus,
    I would attempt to give you a detailed explanation to this, but I will allow someone else who I am positive is much more knowledgeable than I put forth a dissertation on this subject. For me to do such would only expose my ignorance. I too join the chorus of the ignorant masses clambering for enlightenment!


  3. B.B.

    Since you will be doing the 12″ .22 barrel, I will throw in what I had with the 12″ .177 barrel to the best of my memory. It has been a while….

    I filled to 180 or 190 bar, and shot 8.4 Exacts. PW set to the bottom.
    I shot until the velocity clearly had dropped 100 fps.
    First shot 700 fps. Steady but slow velocity drop as the shooting continued. No bouncing up or down in velocity as shooting continued.
    At around shots 100-120, there was a small velocity bounce starting. It progressively got worse running out to 130 shots. In this case, “worse” is only relative. My Talon should should shoot shot to shot as smoothly !!!

    Anyway, it took 130 shots to make sure that the velocity had dropped 100 fps from the starting velocity. 700 fps shooting down to 600 fps.
    Graphing it out, you could draw a straight line from the first shot to the last shot. You could clock the first shot , then blow off 128 shots on anything, then clock one last shot for 130 total …
    Then plot these two shots and draw a straight line between them. At any point along the line, you could tell the shot number and velocity.

    I did not test for accuracy through the string. Was only watching to see how the micro was working for velocity.

    twotalon



      • B.B.

        I fill my standard tanks to 180 because that’s where they shoot the best. The Condor tank to 190 for the same reason. I decided to just fill the micro to the same level.
        Besides, it’s easier pumping too.

        twotalon


        • TT

          Thanks for explaining that.

          I will fill to 3,000 because that is the factory recommendation. Since I will chronograph every shot, we will see whether that is a good fill point or not.

          B.B.


          • B.B.

            It probably won’t make much difference since the micro opens so easy. As soon as the valve starts to dump, there is less pressure trying to hold it down.

            twotalon


  4. I’ve always been intrigued by the Air Force line of guns, particularly the Talon and Condor. But since I only shoot paper in .177 caliber, they were pretty much left off my wish list. Tether that to the “low” shot count and it moves to the “not even interested” list.

    I considered the Edge at one point in time, and still have that gun on the bottom of my list. It’s accuracy, while very good (according to one of B.B.’s older blogs here), is not what I’d like to see in a gun touted to be shot for competition. The micro-meter tank and further reports on the Talon may very well put the Air Force line back on my list. Accuracy is very important to me. While I don’t compete, I do like to see a hole on a target at the point I aimed the gun at.

    I’m going to follow these tests very carefully.


  5. …”balancing the internal volume of the new target valve with the valve opening size”…
    A “volume” of gas is released depending on how long a valve is open, how dense the gas is, and on the size of the opening…but…how can a “valve” have an “internal volume”?


    • When we talk about the valve, we are talking about the whole valve assembly.
      The micro valve is constructed so that it does not have free access to the tank. It fills through a pinhole. The internal volume of air in the valve is about all that can be released when fired.
      The valve dumps into the breech, then refills through the pinhole.

      twotalon


    • John,

      The inside of a valve has both parts and a space. If the entrance hole from the reservoir into the valve is extremely small, high pressure air will not flow into the valve space fast enough to be exhausted from the gun with the shot.

      In other words, it will take a second or more for the air pressure inside the valve to equalize with the air pressure inside the reservoir. If that is the case, the designer can treat the inner volume of the valve as a firing chamber of limited capacity, and can then design the striker force, the valve orifice and the valve return spring strength to work with just the air that’s inside the valve.

      This gives you a closed system, for all intents and purposes, and allows you to parse air in small amounts.

      B.B.



  6. B.B.

    The thing I love about Talon family is its conception – up to the task. Pure function made into small number of metal parts and “Taxi is a car that moves you, yellow is not obligatory” look. Some time ago I asked if there are any pressure regulator models (I learned that such aftermarket solutions are produced and available) but now after watching its cycle on Youtube I wonder if anybody tried to make it into a sort of repeater. A paper and pencil evening for me :)
    Still waiting for low engine and trigger parts – thermists overdid and made two parts as hard (and prone to break under load) as glass. Lots of reading, computing and drawing on springs for mechanism. I hope to keep as low as 100 grams on most sensitive setting with a short pull distance – parts will allow me that, but springs are a bit different computations, still very interesting.

    My congratulations on VE Day to all!

    It turned to be a 4-day holiday (including weekend) so me and Dad went hunting. 4 days in the outdoors is a refreshing experience, especially after a 3-year pause on my side (Dad goes hunting at least twice a year – or else skies fall on Earth and rivers start to flow back, so that was his extra hunt this spring). A perfect place to forget all your troubles I must say – to use a cellphone one must walk to the “phone station”, a hill 1 click away from our camp with pines at the top and call from there. Climbing pines may improve the signal :)
    I have also seen a legendary “royal shot”, a shot woodcock falling right before Dad’s boots. I always considered it to be a sort of hunter’s tall tales as there must be some 10-15 meters range I thought, but now I believe it – no more than one step to bend down and take the kill. I’ve nothing to boast for myself – I didn’t take any chances so I spent just 4 shells for simple track-and-fire “sure shots” – woodcocks and a duck.
    We met bear – I guess @100 m, grown up male, rather scraggy after winter sleep, it was digging sedge roots on the other side of the forest lake. No harm done, no bad intentions – both sides estimated their capabilities and pushed their respective backpedals getting back to their jobs. Later in the evening discussing that event we both noticed that we changed to slugs without exchanging a single word :)

    duskwight


    • Ah, Duskwright, it’s good to hear stories like this. While my father was never a hunter, i do miss him so stay close to your’s. Your last line reminded me that I have a box of slugs for my 12 ga. in my bedroom (along with my shotgun). I bought them two years ago when we had bear sightings in town and last year there was a small bear treed around the corner from where I live. I thought that the #7 birdshot I had on hand might not do much more than make the bear angry if it decided to come into my house for some strange reason. I DO NOT live out in the country but in a suburb of a larger city in New Jersey.

      Fred DPRoNJ


      • Fred,

        There’s a old trick, good if you have side-by-side or over-and-under out of slugs and with trouble incoming. Cut shells – about 1/2 length just around the base of the shot container, cut the outer shell, make it like 1 coil of spring – not a complete curcle. Then load and shoot. This load even with #8 produces horrible wounds and shock, enough to stop even a bear.

        duskwight



          • Dave,you can see this in action on Youtube if you search cut shells.Apparently during the Depression
            (not this one,the 1930s!) it was common practice.


  7. In a bit of a segue…

    For the zombie worried — might want to check the magazine racks for “Zombie Nation” premier issue…

    AR-15 fitted for belt feed, and a trick stock that apparently allows the action to slide during recoil — so that when the recoil buffer pushed the action back forward, it pushes the trigger against one’s non-moving finger to fire the next round (supposedly they ship a copy of a letter from the BATF stating the stock is legal).

    A low-powered Leupold scope with Hornady’s “ZombieMax” logo on the ocular bell (and the flip up lens cap includes a schematic of where to aim).

    Along with previously announced ZombieMax ammo, green-colored knives, and zombie targets.


  8. I thought you all might be suprised by this! I just spent the afternoon shooting my Talon w/ the micrometer tank & 25cal 24″ barrel.I was shooting 30gr Barakudas at 750-765 fps! I have a homemade Stainless steel hammer,so I set my power wheel at zero preload.FWIW,they were shooting pretty well
    although I need to clean the barrel.Kings were 760-780 fps,and they weigh 25.6gr.The barrel needs cleaned because my other tanks can shoot them well over 1200,so I’m sure theres leading.


    • Frank,

      That stainless steel striker is the only kicker I see. It may turn the Talon (or is it a Talon SS?) into a Condor of sorts. But we shall see, because my SS has a factory striker.

      B.B.


      • Yes,I see what you mean…..it is heavy..around 80grams.Still,if the valve opens pretty easy it may be the .25 bore & 24″ barrel doing the hard part.Especially with the valve being fed on the vessel end by such a tiny aperature.It would definitely be interesting to find out!


    • although I need to clean the barrel.Kings were 760-780 fps,and they weigh 25.6gr.The barrel needs cleaned because my other tanks can shoot them well over 1200,so I’m sure theres leading.

      Don’t be so sure…

      Condor Micro-Meter Tank dial 8-0 .22
      Beeman H&N Match 13.0 727.4 15.22
      RWS Meisterkugeln 14.0 708.2 15.59
      RWS SuperPoint 14.5 686.8 15.19
      RWS Super-H-Point 14.5 702.2 15.87
      Beeman Ramjet 16.0 680.0 16.43
      Beeman Silver Ace 16.2 672.6 16.27
      H&N Crow Magnum 18.2 635.6 16.33
      H&N Barracuda Match 21.1 618.7 17.93
      Eun Jin Domed 28.5 554.6 19.46
      Eun Jin Pointed 32.4 511.0 18.78

      Note that pellets ranging from 13gr to 21.1gr only varied by ~100fps in a .22 Condor (OH– these are not averages, but single shots each; I was afraid to try averaging as I was shooting from front-door to closet — 15 feet — and the noise was rather high for an apartment complex; averaging a few of each might reveal if the typical spread is wider or narrower). You only dropped 6gr between pellet types in a much larger diameter [likely less pellet-barrel friction change than between my EJ pellet pair].


      • Addendum:

        Condor High Power Tank dial 8-0 .22
        RWS Super-H-Point 14.5 1143.3 42.08
        JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy 18.2 1058.0 45.23
        AirArms Field Plus 18.2 1068.0 46.09
        H&N Crow Magnum 18.2 1076.0 46.78
        H&N Baracuda Match 21.1 1010.0 47.79
        Gamo TS-22 22.0 977.1 46.63
        Eun Jin Round Nose 28.5 949.7 57.07
        Eun Jin Pointed 32.4 939.5 63.50 2 samples

        Micro-Meter tank resulted in roughly a 400fps drop in pellet speed at same setting. I need to, someday, chronograph the micro-meter tank over the power-wheel range, using a single pellet type — a la:

        Condor High Power Tank dial 6-0 .22
        H&N Baracuda Match 21.1 996.4 46.51
        Eun Jin Pointed 32.4 890.9 57.10

        Condor High Power Tank dial 5-0 .22
        H&N Baracuda Match 21.1 954.8 42.71

        Condor High Power Tank dial 4-0 .22
        H&N Baracuda Match 21.1 936.9 41.12

        The columns are: maker, model, weight, velocity, energy


        • Wulfraed,I really apreciate your input,as well as all the effort you went to.However,I am either unsure of your point,or you misunderstood mine.
          I spoke of needing to clean the barrel because accuracy was there…..and then not…with the same pellet & velocity.
          I really just posted the velocity of the two pellets I used to illustrate what is possible with the Micrometer tank.I was really impressed that the valve was shooting 30gr pellets at 750-760.
          Equally impressed to get 760-780 with the Kings @ 25.6gr.
          It should be noted that a 1pc. hammer weight was utilized,with a zero preload on power wheel.
          Hammer weighs about 10grams more than a Condor’s.


          • I may have missed something in your post then… It read, to me, as if you were complaining that the micro-meter tank was pushing some pellet some 200fps slower than your regular tanks… And that is what I’d expect, regardless of barrel condition.

            Now, if your regular tanks were suddenly 200fps slower — THEN I’d agree that something is wrong somewhere…


            • No dissapointment here…..just an intermittent POI shift,that is either a leaded barrel (as of now,cleaned it) and a possible very slight clipping from a barrel addition.I will know tomorrow for sure.
              I also put the stock hammer weight back in (65gr) to eliminae that variable.The Bushnell elite scope performs flawlessly,so that is a big plus.


              • Your original post didn’t mention accuracy changes (though a POI change is to be expected if the velocity changed — and as the harmonics result indicates, a velocity change may not just be vertical POI)

                Gad… I’ll never live long enough to tune in the Condor… After all, besides determining the flat part of the power curve I have: pellet weight/type vs power wheel for most consistent harmonic muzzle position (the desired position is at the extreme of muzzle movement — as that is the position at which the muzzle is moving slowest as it reverses direction; the “boresight” position only occurs when the muzzle is moving around the fastest — so even a small FPS change in the pellet can have the most change in accuracy)

                I don’t even want to think about the Marauder (striker pre-load, striker distance, and that mystical flow-rate screw on the side, in addition to the pellet weight/type). We really need to get adjustable muzzle weights onto non-competition pellet guns — as that would let us adjust the harmonic behavior of the barrel without touching strikers/flow-rates


                • I couldn’t be much happier with the flatness of velocity given the fact the micrometer tank has no regulator.I was getting poi changes in a string of shots with single digit deviations in velocity….hence,the conclusion of dirty barrel or clipping.


  9. I am quite interested to see the differences that surface when comparing the 12 and 24″ barrels at low power settings. It seems a little unnatural to test a Talon at low power, but I can see where someone might use a Talon like that. And the idea of throttling a Talon or Condor down to 600fps, wow!


  10. You have stated that in the early days of the blog that you were afraid of running out of topics to write about. It seems to me you have a years worth of material on this rifle alone if you were so inclined. Lucky for us.


  11. Excellent article,,has renewed my interest in my Talon SS. I was considering selling it from non use but with the option of indoor and micrometer tank,,,whole new possibilities open up. Very glad you are doing this article.

    BB you are by far the best. I’ve learned so much from you over the few years I’ve been plinking. Your style of writing makes it all fun to learn.

    I have one off topic question. Can you give reference to a good blog about .22 Rimfire that is as good as this one? I haven’t found any. I’ve seen lots of forums.

    Many, many thanks for your valuable service.


    • neric,

      I don’t know of a good blog about .22 rimfires, but many of the guys on this blog own them and talk about them from time to time. If I see anything I’ll let you know.

      Welcome to the blog.

      B.B.



    • Joe B,

      Thanks. I have no children…other than Tom and the cats :-) Tom insists on buying me a M-Day card so the cats can sign with their paw prints. Yeah, we’re strange :-)

      Edith


  12. Neric: try Googling “.22 rimfire blog”, although you’ll have to weed out a lot of entries for specific gun reviews.

    Have you seen Sam Fadala’s Book of the .22?

    Someone else wrote one too, I think.



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