Which is simpler — a PCP or a springer?

by B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Kevin inspired this report with a comment he made on Friday’s blog. He wondered whether my exposure to nearly all the airguns in the world, both past and present, has inspired me to own any one gun in particular. But it also comes from my visit to Leapers this past week (which I will be sharing with you very soon), because that thrust me into the world of manufacturing, again. I still remember a lot from my time at AirForce Airguns, but visiting Leapers and speaking with all their product developers brought technical things back into sharp focus, again.

There was also a comment last week from someone who stated outright that a spring gun is far simpler than a precharged pneumatic. When I read that, it didn’t sit quite right with me, so I thought about it for awhile until I had worked it out. And this report is the result.

So, today’s question is this: Which is simpler — a PCP or a springer? The answer may surprise you.

Operation
A spring-piston gun is far less cumbersome for a shooter to operate — I think we can all agree about that. All you do is cock it, load a pellet and you’re ready to go. With a precharged gun, there’s the complexity of the gun, itself, which is pretty much on par with the springer in most cases. Only the repeaters are more complex because of how their magazines or clips are loaded with pellets and then how they’re loaded into the guns.

But a precharged gun brings with it the need to put air into the gun at some point. And this is where things can get very complex. Sometimes, they’re not as bad as shooters realize or imagine. The part about filling the gun can be no more involved than it would be to take the pumping function that all multi-pump pneumatics have…such as the Sheridan Blue Streak…and separate it from the gun. That was what was behind the Benjamin Discovery precharged air rifle, and it’s the reason the Discovery is an order of magnitude less complex than all other PCPs on the market.


The Benjamin Discovery is simpler than other precharged airguns because of its lower fill pressure. One version comes with a hand pump that can easily fill the gun with little effort on the shooter’s part. Think of it as a more powerful and more accurate Sheridan Blue Streak with a separate pump.

Perception
The common perception among airgunners is that a PCP is more complex than a springer because of the need for special fill devices. Actually, the Benjamin Discovery and all other guns that use a Foster quick-disconnect air fill coupling have fixed this problem, but there are still a lot of PCP makers who aren’t yet using this type of fitting. So, their rifles are, in fact, more complex and prone to equipment compatibility problems for the buyer. But all Benjamin PCPs, all Daystate PCPs, the USFT rifles and all Quackenbush PCPs now come with the common Foster fitting. So, if informed users shop for a gun that has solved the filling problem in this way, they won’t have to deal with that issue.

AirForce Airguns recognized this fact also and created a Foster fill device for all the AirForce Airgun sporting air rifles (Talon, Talon SS and Condor), adding that company to the growing list.


AirForce now makes this Foster fill adapter for all their sporting air rifles.


The Foster quick-disconnect adapter has made filling PCP guns easy. The male part is part of the gun.


The female part is attached to the end of the fill hose. It snaps together with the male part in a second and forms an airtight connection.

And the perception problem continues, as new shooters believe that they need to own a chronograph with their PCPs, to somehow manage them. The truth is that you can manage the shots in a PCP just fine by shooting the gun at great distance and stopping whenever the shots start to scatter. That tells you the maximum number of shots you get per fill if you’re shooting at that distance. If you shoot closer, there are more shots per fill before the groups enlarge. But that isn’t how the articles and reports read, and people are blinded by the perceived need for additional expensive technology. I recommend owning a chronograph because it helps you know your gun better, it isn’t absolutely required.

Spring guns, on the other hand, are perceived as being simple and easy to understand. The only complexity that most shooters know about is the need for some skill in holding the gun when it fires. A PCP shoots accurately regardless of how it’s held, but a spring gun can be very sensitive to slight changes in the hold. Other than that, though, the springer is thought to be dirt-simple.

Manufacturing perspective
Manufacturers see the spring gun/PCP world exactly in reverse. It’s the PCP that’s simple and straightforward to make, and the spring gun that requires a lot more machining operations and special tooling to complete. The PCP is a reservoir connected to a barrel, with a valve in between. It’s a simple, straightforward arrangement.

A springer has the barrel that must be held in a baseblock to withstand the shock of the firing cycle as well as deliver the small puff of compressed air generated by the piston to the rear of the pellet. While a PCP valve is about as complex as an entire spring-piston powerplant, nothing in it is under anywhere near the stress from an overly powerful mainspring or the heavy hammer-blows of the piston. Where the trigger in a PCP holds back 6-10 lbs. of striker-spring force, the spring-piston trigger might hold back 150 lbs.

A spring-piston gun needs a lot of very strong components to withstand the hammering of the piston. A PCP can be made of lighter components. There are heavy PCPs on the market, but I invite you to examine the Benjamin Discovery and all the AirForce Airgun sporting rifles to compare the power that lightweight PCPs deliver, as opposed to what super-heavyweight springers can do. And I’m saying nothing about accuracy, where the PCP wins every time.

We’re discussing an airgun manufacturer’s perspective of the two types of powerplants, and there’s one weak spot in the PCP’s design. It has to be built to hold air under high pressure for a long time, and air under pressure is hard to hold. Some companies find this to be a very daunting challenge, because they don’t understand the need for absolute cleanliness in the manufacturing area, or they select materials that are known to have porosity issues, or they use dull tooling (not changing it often enough) or they’re just sloppy in their assembly. I worked for three years at AirForce Airguns and was intimately familiar with every step they took to protect the long-term integrity of their compressed-air reservoirs.

I own three AirForce guns, and all are stored at full pressure all the time. In the past 12 years, I’ve never had a single issue of leaking. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, because it sometimes does. But compared to the PCPs from certain other manufacturers that have some or all of the problems I just mentioned, AirForce Airguns has none of them.

I watched Crosman build their first Benjamin Discoveries, and they had the good sense to do a 100 percent testing of their guns holding air before shipment. They continued doing this until they knew they had a positive handle on the build process. That’s how a good company enters the PCP market! In contrast, there have been more than a few boutique PCP builders who learned as they went and let their customers be the quality control. I won’t name any names, but this practice is what gave PCPs a black eye.

Do spring guns have similar weaknesses? Yes, they do, but because of how they work, they can often still function when the manufacturing is flawed. Guns full of metal shavings make it to market, and their new owners are none the wiser. That would kill a PCP, but a springer will still shoot when the compression chamber is filled with metal shavings and the piston is embedded with nails! Comparing a springer to a PCP is like comparing a longbow to a top-of-the-line crossbow. The longbow is simpler and will work under less favorable circumstances, but the crossbow will outshoot it every time and in every way.

The next time you hear someone say that a springer is simpler than a PCP, ask yourself what they’re really saying. Because you may not want all the shortcomings that accompany the “simpler” design.

Summary
That concludes this report, but I have more to say. I wrote today’s report because I felt that it would be good to explain the full ramifications of an issue that we airgunners often assume to be an open-and-closed case. I sometimes delve deep into the technical aspects of airgun performance in my reports, and I think it can lead readers astray. My comment above about not needing a chronograph for the enjoyment and operation of a PCP was an attempt to bring this out.

I am soon going to start another test that will be both long and technically involved. The results should prove interesting, no matter what they are, but I’ve had to choose only one of several possible ways to conduct the test. We’ll learn some things, but the possibility exists that bias will also be present, because I cannot test everything. I’m using today’s report to get your minds into an analytical mode, but I don’t want to leave any of the new readers behind.

The object of today’s report is that every question should be viewed from several different perspectives, because sometimes the things we think are obvious are not really what is happening.

59 thoughts on “Which is simpler — a PCP or a springer?

  1. AirForce Airguns recognized this fact also and created a Foster fill device for all the AirForce Airgun sporting air rifles (Talon, Talon SS and Condor), adding that company to the growing list.

    I’ll have to remember that next time I buy an air pump… Considering I used an AirForce compatible nipple/NPT (?) male, Foster coupling with NPT (?) male, and a female-female coupling to take the AirForce pump to the Marauder and Silhouette… And I’m awaiting the release of the Crosman cantilevered (or whatever) pump which means having to go back the other direction.

    I own three AirForce guns, and all are stored at full pressure all the time. In the past 12 years, I’ve never had a single issue of leaking. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, because it sometimes does. But compared to the PCPs from certain other manufacturers that have some or all of the problems I just mentioned, AirForce Airguns has none of them.

    Though the AirForce reservoirs do add one more task to the mix… The ~5 year hydrostatic test, which most of the other guns with smaller reservoirs avoid.


    • Wulfraed,

      NPT is an abbr for National Pipe Thread/Taper. A standard tapered thread for pressure or liquid tight connections. The seal gets tighter as it’s screwed together due to the cone shaped profile of the threaded (smaller diameter at the beginning and progressively bigger diameter as you go for make and the opposite for female). Also commonly abbr as MPT and FPT.

      /Dave


      • I knew what NPT stood for… I just wasn’t certain if these air-line couplings were using an NPT standard for the threads.


        • Thought you might. But, I saw the “?” and thought I’d help. Oh well…. Maybe someone else didn’t know and now does….. :-)


  2. BB,
    Another post like this and I may end up on the PCP dark side. :-)

    What pump would you recommend for a Marauder? Based on PA’s sound level estimates, the Marauder is around 10-20 dB less than most springers (80s vs. 90-100s). Would you agree that the noise output on a stock Marauder in actually use is that much better?

    Does PA offer a special discount to new members joining the PCP cult?


    • TC,

      I like the Hill pump best of all. Mine is now about 8 years old and it still operates fine. My Axsor gave out when a new airgunner bled it while directly on the ground and got dirt on the pump shaft. Otherwise it would probably still be working today.

      Yes the Marauder is very quiet. I have (not) heard some of them that you could not hear 30 feet away.

      PA nearly always has a 10 percent coupon available. Ask where it is on the Yellow Forum and you’ll be directed to it.

      B.B.



  3. I also disagree with the notion that springers are simpler than pcp. Actually I think that the msp is the simpler airgun. You do have to work a little, but the power source is right with the gun, and it’s decades old proven technology. They do all that a practical airgun needs to do and they can be shot with accuracy that equals any springer, without tuning ,or fussy holds. The problem with the pcps in my opinion is that cost of a reliable pump or compressor. The Hill pump you mention costs more than the Discovery pcp rifle by itself. All the cheaper pumps seem to have issues with longevity in use. The initial cost of the air source is for me ,the issue with me owning a pcp, not the mechanics filling of it. I would say that if you can put air into your tires ,you should be able to master filling your pcp gun.


    • Robert,

      Yes, from a user standpoint you may be right, but from a construction standpoint the PCP is much simpler than the MSP, because it does not contain the pump mechanism. All other parts are the same.

      B.B.



  4. I think a good analogy would be the potato gun. A reservoir, a valve, a barrel and you’re done. Ever seen a springer potato gun? Quite hard to do and it would near impossible to cock.

    Foster fittings are a blessing, I had a probe machined for my Hatsan AT-44 so it would fit the foster adapter and a plug to leave on my air pump hose so no contaminants enter the hose, I also use it to attach the hose to the pump handle, it keeps the hose out of the way.

    To me the discovery is the PCP equivalent of the 2240, you can spend more than the price of the rifle and have a true custom piece that’s exactly how you want it. Which brings the question of why don’t they make a Discovery pistol? Kinda like the 1701P but with a cheaper barrel?

    J-F


    • I would have to guess that your “potato gun” is nothing like the one I had in the late 60s.

      I believe mine was double-action only (pulling the trigger also cocked the spring). One shoved the muzzle extension into the side of a potato and twisted to break off a plug about the size of a .22 pellet.

      (Boy, they’ve gotten cheap over the decades:
      http://www.amazon.com/American-Science-Surplus-Potato-Gun/dp/B0006GK8H8
      mine was more a variation of a rubber dart pistol crossed with those little toy guns that shot clay balls)


      • I probably used the wrong term here. I was talking about potato canon, made with PVC tubing, that shoots the WHOLE potato. Kinda like this one:
        http://youtu.be/A3jl2Vn-ICs
        An air reservoir, a valve and a barrel. Basic PCP (since it’s charged from an external source).

        J-F



      • Ah but it doesn’t explain WHY Crosman doesn’t make a Discovey pistol!
        They made the Marauder rifle and pistol, the Discovery rifle and pistol sounds good to me, imagine how easy it would be to fill a small pistol reservoir to 2000psi! The ultimate plinking handgun. If it was based on the 2240, people could mod them into a bunch of new things and it would be better (safer) than the hi-pac conversions.

        J-F


  5. BB,
    I can’t argue with the manufacturing differences. In fact, I’ve often wondered why PCP’s weren’t more in line with CO2 rifles, since they are pretty much part for part equals. The pumping (and the non-fun expense of a pump) seems like a drag when I can shoot a rimfire for essentially the same price per round, and there will be very little difference in the experience, for me at least.

    From my user perspective, I like springers because they are harder to shoot. My best centerfire and even rimfire rifles sit in the safe, ready for action but boring to shoot most of the time (unless I need an ego boost), whereas the springers get used often and the flintlock as well. There is really no logic to it from the shooting mag./popular perspective where the gun is everything and accuracy is not acceptable until there is only one hole for a box of ammo at 300 yards, shot from a concrete bench with a 50mm scope.

    PS. My breakbarrel quest continues today. If all goes well, I will receive a thoroughly checked Diana 34P (with TO6 trigger even, shame to waste it on me :)) later this week. I struggled with giving the Ruger BlackHawk another try (and I may yet, at my leisure, as they say), but I have too many projects in line already unless it was perfect, which I despaired of after the first one took me so high, then dumped me so low. I was silly to spend so much time shooting it at 10M and not pickup on the barrel runout, but it was really gratifying to score well with a hunting rifle and I was testing different pellets :)! I wonder if stuff like that ever happens to you behind the scenes :)?


    • BG-Farmer,

      I, too, have wondered why PCPs costs so much more than other types of airguns when they are so simple. Working on the Discovery development gave me some insight into why this is.

      Material costs is one reason. A PCP reservoir has to be rated to a higher working pressure than a CO2 gun. A tube for a 2240 might cost Crosman $3, while the same tube for the Discovery might cost $12. Every dollar put into a p-roduct has to be mutiplied four times to get the retail, so you can see how important it is to control costs.

      The Discovery has a micron filter on the intake valve, while the 2240 has nothing. CO2 flows from a CO2 cartridge directly into the gun, so no filter is required. But when you pump air in from the outside, filtering becomes important.

      They also use better components in the PCP, compared to the CO2 gun. metal barrel bands instead of plastic, etc. Also they may spend more money on the barrel, such as a Lothar Walther instead of one they make themselves. Lothar Walther barrels will cost $60-80, depending on the quality spec and the length and diameter, and that number must be quadrupled. The Discovery has a Crosman barrel, but the Marauder has a barrel from Green Mountain, I believe.

      All these things separate the lower-cost guns from the PCPs that are priced higher.

      Can a PCP be built for less money? I believe it can, but the project has to have cost as an objective from the start.

      B.B.


      • B.B.,

        On the Marauder, only the .25 caliber has a Green Mountain barrel. The .177 and .22 are both Crosman barrels (or whatever other company they outsourced the work to, but not Green Mountain).

        For the .22 in particular, quality of the in-house barrel was a concern. Many of us .22 owners gave up on the Crosman barrels and had LW barrels machined for our guns, and the accuracy improvement (and reduction in pellet fussiness) was dramatic.

        Alan in MI


        • Alan,

          If those barrels are Crosman barrels, then Crosman is doing very well! The .177 Marauder I have is dead-nuts accurate, as are others I have seen.

          B.B.


          • B.B.,

            I agree on the .177 – most on the Marauder air rifle blog have been very happy with them, and people report and show outstanding accuracy with them too.

            The good news on the .22 is that of late, they have been much better. Sadly, they did not start out strong, and did develop issues in 2010 and 2011 that lead to some dissapointment, or ultimately replacement with an LW, which is what I did with mine.

            Alan in MI


      • BB,
        I agree that the devil is in the details, and I can’t argue any of those points (you know I’d try!). The Discovery seems to be the only option that even attempted to go along what I would call the most profitable path of attracting crossover to PCP’s from rimfires. I think it might be fair to say that the companies right now are happy selling PCP’s to “serious airgunners” and their designs reflect that market.

        Anyway, given your points, $130 for a PCP probably can’t happen with the quality to compete with a “cheap” .22 (and there are some mighty nice ones, no matter what you read), but $200 with some attention to finish (maybe modeled after one of the popular sporting model .22′s) and an $80 pump (just guessing) might set the market afire. I happen to think the real breakthrough necessary is in pump price and technology. I think I understand the problem there is not the design principles, but the tolerances and the durability given the pressures. In fact, I think the entire “bicycle pump” design path is pretty much at its maximum, and a good alternative would be a game changer. Funny, this is the aspect of PCP’s that attracts me: Pump design :)!


        • BG_Farmer,
          Along with your $130 PCP/$80 Hand Pump combo I think the features that also make a PCP a hotter seller than the rimfire is the ability to shoot in one’s basement and the ability to go into the woods behind one’s house and shoot without a) Attracting attention, b) Not worrying about an errant shot hitting my neighbors house/car/dog several blocks away. (Plus there is no traceable smoking gun)
          -Chuck


    • BG: You will like the Diana 34 . If the Discovery is the 2240 of the pcp world the 34 is the 10-22 of springers. You can do more with one cheaper and easier than with any of the others , and still have a quality gun. My longest air rifle kill to date was with the 34 , using only the iron sights it came with. I took a crow at a measured 53 yards with one shot using Crosman premier pellets from the box ,not the tins. Suprisingly, it completely penetrated the crow at that range.


      • Robert,
        Thanks — that makes me feel even more optimistic, esp. coming from you. I made the mistake of researching it a little too much after the decision was officially made. The forums can be deadly pits of snakes no matter what one want or thinks one wants; I was left wondering if any air rifle ever worked :)!


  6. This article brought back memories of that time when I was on the fence about entering the world of pcp’s. Made me laugh at myself.

    I was fortunate when I first entered the world of adult airguns since I received great advice. The first question about airguns I ever asked was on this blog. B.B. and other readers were very patient with my unending questions. My first dozen springers were well built, accurate and problem free. The one exception was scoping a Diana 54 but that was primarily caused by my own blunders and ignorance.

    Airguns helped me with a pest problem and allowed me to rediscover my passion for shooting. It wasn’t long before I became overwhelmed with curiousity about pcp’s. I asked questions and read online discussions about pcp’s vs. springers. Usually the conversation became a debate between springer is best guys and pcp is best guys. The dialogue reminded me of two young boys on the playground arguing about what is best, a stick shift or an automatic transmission.

    We’ve all read their arguments on why their choice of powerplant is best…A springer is self contained. A pcp is lighter. A springer makes you a better shooter since it requires technique. A pcp is easily multi-shot or even fully automatic. A springer requires shot placement and this is what airgunning is all about. The right pcp can deliver 100fpe or more. A pcp requires filling equipment and you’re tethered to that stuff. blah. blah blah.

    I’m not a springer guy. I’m not a pcp guy. I’m an airgunner. A mutt.

    My reluctance about exploring pcp’s was about filling (pump or tank? They’re both expensive!), I’ll need a chronograph $$ (no, I didn’t need a chronograph), I’ll need to know how to read a shot string to determine ideal power curve (not true), pcp’s leak frequently (none of my pcp’s have ever leaked. Yes, they leak and those owners that have a leaking gun talk about it on all the airgun forums ad naseum. My perception was wrong for this reason).

    Looking back on this I have to laugh at myself. With a lot of hand holding from B.B., Volvo. Wayne and others I took the leap and bought a Air Arms S410 and a used FX pump. About a year later I bought a carbon fiber tank. What a wonderful world pcp airguns are.

    Once you bite the bullet and get a way to fill a pcp a whole new dimension to airgunning is opened to you.

    I just got one of my LG 55 DST Tyroleans back from Paul Watts so I’m going to go do some shooting with a springer. See ya.

    kevin


  7. Love the light weight of the Discovery. No recoil meaning any scope is suitable. However, can the hand pump be a challenge for an elderly person? That is my number one concern.
    Pete


    • Pete,

      I’m 65. Is that elderly? This is a hard question to answer, since health and fitness factor in. I can pump the Discovery while sitting in a chair and using one hand, only. I can get up to 1,850 psi that way. The last 150 psi takes standing up and two hands, but I think it is easy. I’ve seen teenaged girls do it.

      B.B.


      • BB,
        When my daughter and her best friend were on the track team 15 years ago I saw teen age girls do a lot of things that I couldn’t. Speaking of teen age girls a few days past some one was talking about wearing one glove while shooting . There is a picture on the title page of the American Legion magazine that just came showing a young lady shooting in an air gun match, she is wearing what looks like a specially made glove on her left hand. It looks lightly padded with open finger tips.


    • The Discovery maxes out at 2000PSI, no? As long as they don’t expect to pump from 1000PSI to 2000PSI in a couple of minutes, I don’t see that being a factor.

      2000PSI to 3000PSI, OTOH…

      I find reaching 2000PSI can be done with just arm action (BTW: 180lb/54 years). 2000PSI to 2500PSI starts needing the knees (dropping with arms stiff). 2500PSI to 3000PSI requires locking my thumbs against my belt, and using my “gut” to press the pump down while “lifting” my feet.

      This is why I’m awaiting the new Crosman pump to be released and reviewed. So what if it takes twice as long to pump if I can pump it without needing to basically drop my weight on the handle. (Unemployment runs out in December, and I can’t draw early retirement until next May — so the cost of a 4500PSI carbon fiber tank and fittings is totally out; and I’m not interested in a 3000PSI aluminum/steel tank since it basically needs to be topped up after the first charge transfer to a gun)


      • I have a small 3000 psi alum tank that I keep topped up for outings with the Discovery. I don’t use it much, but I get quite a few fills from it before going below 2000 psi. Fuguring on about 25 shots before refilling the gun, I think I can get around 125-150 shots before I want to top up the tank (not need to since the Discovery runs fine all the way down to 1100 psi or so). However, that tank takes forever an a day to fill to 3000 psi with a hand pump though. And that last 300 psi is work…

        /Dave


  8. Please confirm my understanding. The discovery has a fixed output valve while the marauder has one that is adjustable. Seems like an advantage to dial in the fps based on your individual requirements.


    • TC,

      Adjustability can be an advantage if you use it and if it gives you what you want. But if you set it and forget it, then it’s only an advantage if it lets you go where you want to be.

      But if you want something that doesn’t cost much, a fixed valve is always less expensive. And a Discovery is still a very nice air rifle.

      B.B.


    • TC,
      The Marauder valve is adjustable however it’s not easily adjustable. While the ability to adjust the hammer to various fill pressures is easily done without removing the stock, the adjustment for various velocities (fps) requires stock removal. It might not be what you’re looking for in that regard.
      -Chuck


  9. Can’t argue with the distinction between manufacturing and use and the estimate of complexity from each. But I would venture to say that most people adopt the perspective of the user. :-) And from there, what stands out is the extra dimension of a separate filling apparatus whether it is a manual pump or a dive tank. Still I understand Kevin’s point about the new possibilities with a pcp. The only thing keeping me from a Marauder is that there is just no need for it on my five yard shooting range. I’m pushing things with my B30 as it is. Lucky folks to have convenient ranges to shoot from.

    /Dave, for the slingshot person, I was focusing on the way that her body was squared up where it looked to me like she should have been more bladed.

    Speaking of short ranges, I came across an interesting bit of information in gun magazines. Behold the Marlin 39A lever-action .22 in continuous production (with some modifications) since 1891. That’s as old as the Mosin Nagant. And, more to the point, the preferred gun of Annie Oakley! That clears up a lot. I was wondering how she shot lever action rifles while reading a bicycle as I’ve seen in pictures. Impossible with a 30-30 I would say, even for her. But it makes sense with a .22. There is even a documented feat of her shooting with this rifle. In 27 seconds, she fired 25 rounds into an inch and a half hole in a playing card offhand at 12 yards. I saw a photo of the card. Except for one flier, the group would have been even smaller. These were .22 shorts, and I’m guessing that she somehow managed to cram them all into one loading although the listed capacity with .22 LR is 19. So, there is some value to the much maligned 22 short after all. How about that shooting. My rapid fire groups with the Crosman 1077 at 5 yards are that size. Annie Oakley is my kind of shooter at her distances; I would consider her an honorary airgunner. I almost want to get that rifle just for her.

    I’m continuing my wide-eyed reading of the history of the Bowie knife. The old adage about bringing a knife to a gunfight (coined by Bruce Lee I think) may not be true after all. There are any number of instances of pistols misfiring, missing, or failing to stop an attacker at close range. (Most seem to have used .38 caliber.) But there were no problems like that with the Bowie. One lesson I’m drawing is to have multiple back-ups. People misfire or lose their weapon and then they are up the creek. I would be clanking around that environment loaded with knives and guns. Many of these dueling encounters ended up with mutually assured destruction and the people who participated most seem to have been doctors and judges. Crazy.

    On a brighter note, my knives are inspiring me to take one of those wilderness camps where you learn how to take care of yourself. With a few weeks of instruction, I can imitate Kevin and Robert from Arcade who are at ease in the woods. That would be funny to see the faces of the instructors when I show up with my full size Bowie or maybe my Filipino machete…

    Matt61


    • Exactly on the slingshot girl, Matt. Rolling the hand in so you can use the top tube as a sight helps achieve that side facing posture easier too, imo. This is the one case where I can say that holding my weapon hand horizontal has made me a better shot…

      /Dave



  10. B.B.

    I’ll sign under every single word in this article.
    Just to add some words on manufacturing. In general PCP is all about rubber, and SPA (spring-piston airgun) is all about steel. PCP requires at least 4 hardened pieces – valve shaft, striker and 2 sears. Everything else can be made of softer steel or even brass or aluminum alloys like 7075, 2024T3. SPA requires quality steel and requires several heat-treated parts, each one in different way.

    PCP requires a lot of small-scale job, especially on smoothing edges and grooves where sealing rings lock the compressed air, but in general it can be made with a lathe and a set of files.

    SPA calls for “heavy industry” like welding, milling (or stamping – unavailable for mass airgun builder; in fact I roughly calculated that a laser or plasma CNC-cutter paired with a good bending machine could make any springer 3-4 times less work, primarily – milling), so lathe and a set files must be upgraded with milling machine and muffle owen coupled with a big pile of books on heat treatment.

    Calculating PCP is easier than SPA just because PCP in general has less details operating under lesser loads. SPA requires knowledge and understanding of cinematics, ergonomics and, being made of denser materials, much stricter “weight discipline” and thus better knowledge of resistance of materials. Just imagine – a trigger unit, made of steel. It must resist 100 kg of force trying to tear the piston off the hook. To operate safely and repeatably it must be able to withstand at least 500 kg with ease. Nice job for a 4-mm piece of hardened steel, don’t you think? ;)

    Comparing PCP and PCA I’d say they are like steam engine and electric locomotive – heavy complex mechanics that is robust, self-sufficient, multi-fuel and under certain conditions quite on par in terms of speed and pull force vs. simpler high-volt and higher-potential machine driven by electricity provided by outside source. Hehe, we’ll see what they going to do when the power is down – that’s an ex coal-heaver in me :)

    All right – my pet project finally moved past deadlock, I’m waiting for receiver to pass through anodizing and arrive to me. In the meantime it’s mushroom season here, a silent hunt time, so I spent last weekend mushrooming, and that was time well spent.

    duskwight


    • duskwight,

      I should have known this report would be right down your alley!

      Now I have just one question. How do you sneak up on a mushroom? ;)

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        In fact one must know places and check the wind. Then all you need is just go prone and quietly crawl towards your target until within range for a leap and quick kill. Then it’s all about precision and speed, a good knife wouldn’t harm either.

        duskwight


    • OK, duskwight, the other question is… What caliber and energy rating does your airgun need to have to reliably and humanely kill mushrooms?

      /Dave


  11. Discovery questions-
    I don’t need multishot, or quiet – but I do need accuracy. Is the discovery as accurate as the marauder?

    Ie:
    Is the free floating marauder barrel more accurate? If so, would opening up the hole in the discovery barrel band hole make it just as accurate?

    Does the adjustable marauder valve give more shots on air than the CO2/air compromise valve on the discovery? I’ll be hand pumping, so 2000 or 2500 psi is fine.

    Thanks.


    • Johng10,

      I own both a Marauder and Discovery. The Marauder is definitely more accurate than the Disco. However, there are long lists of things to do to improve the Disco’s accuracy on the Yellow. Whether it can be made as accurate as the Marauder, I can’t tell you but I have used the Disco to harvest a number of squirrels.

      Fred DPRoNJ


  12. I’d have never guessed a springer would be more complicated than a PCP gun! I assumed with PCPs that sophisticated (or at least mechanically complex) metering was required-apparently that’s not the case?
    I entered the hpa world with the very gun you mention and I love it to death. The weight of a springer makes it difficult for me to hold on target for very long, and I just can’t seem to come to grips with the artillery hold-From a newb’s perspective, being handed a 9+ pound gun with another pound of scope on it and an 8+ lb trigger pull, and then being told you can’t actually HOLD it when fired..well, lets just say that requires a certain level of suspension of disbelief.

    The Discovery on the other hand is easy to lug around for an entire day out in the field and quick to get on target without worrying about how it’s held.
    But it sure is LOUD! Holy moly loud! I thought I’d finally found the perfect gun for backyard tree rat control but I don’t dare, the neighbors will have a fit. My comparably-powered springer is nowhere near as loud as the Discovery. (granted it’s a gas spring, but the claims of “70% quieter “are baloney)


    • DD,

      absolutely. The Disco approaches a .22 rimfire in noise. What I did was put a “LDC” on it. You can find them at: http://www.tko22.com

      Works fine for noise suppression. I bought the middle length one and have no problem shooting it in my house range.

      Fred DPRoNJ


    • The long LDC from TKO on my .22 Doscovery makes it so quiet that I can shoot in my basement without any hearing protection! Very effective! Best investment I made for that gun! Your neighbors won’t even know you’re outside doing anything…

      /Dave


    • dangerdongle,
      Sounds like you need the Marauder. I have one in .22. It’s quiet. Sound rating: Marauder 2-low medium, Discovery 4-medium high. Might not fit your weight requirements, though. Weight: Marauder 7 lbs., Discovery 5 lbs. There’s always a trade-off isn’t there?
      -Chuck


      • Chuck I had to laugh at your response…have you been talking to my wife? I’ve been eyeballing the Marauder for some time now, but filling to 3k by hand seems like a bit of a chore and, being a pistol guy at heart I lean towards that version, which apparently is a little noisier.
        I suppose I could go the TKO route with it as Fred and Dave mentioned, (thanks for the tip guys!) kinda the best of both worlds. *sigh* decisions decisions!


        • dangerdongle,
          Give me your wife’s email address and I’ll make sure she puts more pressure on you. :-) If it’s any consolation, the Marauder, from the factory, should only be filled to 2,500psi (saves wear and tare on the belly & belts, eh?). You have to make mechanical adjustments to get it to 3,000.
          -Chuck


          • Based upon my one chronograph test (the Marauder is the only PCP I’ve done a “shoot-down” with), mine (.177) likes 2700PSI, and is good down to 2200PSI. Digging up the old spreadsheet:

            The first 10 shots took 20PSI each, from 3000 to 2800, velocity spread of 26fps on 853fps
            Second 10 took 20PSI average, 2800 to 2600, 21fps spread on 866fps (but when looking at the individual shots, it flattened out halfway through the string)
            Third 10 took 10PSI each, 2600 to 2500, with 11fps spread on 873fps
            Fourth string ran 12.5PSI each, 2500 to 2375, 12fps spread on 878fps
            Fifth string took 17.5PSI each, 2375 to 2200, 12fps spread on 874fps
            Sixth string took 20PSI each, 2200 to 2000, 21fps spread.on 858fps

            H&N 10.7gr Barracuda Match, with as-shipped settings.


  13. BB: you are the law on this subject no way around that,but I still honestly believe PCPs can’t handle the rough and tumbles a springer can. And at the end of the road most people prefer reliability under normal day to day conditions,than super accurate cradle and protect me sophistication. That doesn’t mean I would not love to own the Air Force Condor,it just seems nobody mentions the subject of normal bumps and impacts in the field and how this effect the internal valve systems vis a vis Springers


    • I’d think you’d be more likely to knock a break-barrel lock-up out of alignment before you’d ever affect an AirForce valve system /on the gun/ (dropping a pressurized tank while swapping air tanks is another matter — but is also an advantage of the AirForce: you can carry a precharged spare tank and swap it out in the field, rather than drag along pump, or massive SC(U)BA tank that you have to go back to).

      The AirForce guns are straight through systems, and the valve is part of the screw-on reservoir. The breech closes around the valve, and when fired a spring “throws” a striker weight to “hammer” the rim of the valve, popping it open until a return spring and internal pressure can push the valve back out and closed.

      Much different, I’ll admit, from all these systems with underbarrel reservoirs where the air has to make a 180 degree turn (or, at least, a 90 degree if the tank outlet is actually on the side and not the end).


    • Primo,

      Yes, as I stated, a springer is made to a different and cruder manufacturing standard. A Ferarri won’t take the same abuse a tractor will, but it will beat it in most performance aspects.

      B.B.


  14. BB,
    Off topic. Do you put a combination of tar and molly on the main spring? For example moly on the section that goes into the piston and tar elsewhere? I have a Slavia ZVP pistol with a leather piston seal, should I use only white litheum grease on the internals?


    • Ton,

      Definitely white lithium grease for your ZVP.

      And it’s either moly or tar on a spring, but never both — at least not on the same side (inside/outside).

      B.B.


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