by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s take a look at the velocity and power of the new Hatsan model 25 Supercharger breakbarrel air pistol. I’m testing the .22-caliber version that I selected because of the advertised power. Hatsan has not disappointed me with their power claims in the past, so I’m expecting great things from this pistol. In fact, you’ll recall that I said I wished they would turn this pistol into a carbine at the same power. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Should you use heavy pellets?
I have read a lot about why I shouldn’t use heavy pellets in a spring gun. There seem to be several schools of thought on the subject. One of them says heavy pellets do not damage a spring gun in any way. That is my position as well, and it’s based on my never having seen evidence of damage done to a gun by using heavy pellets.
Another position is that heavy pellets may damage the mainspring of a gun, but they take a long time to do it. And those who believe this say they don’t mind changing mainsprings periodically.
And the final position seems to be that heavy pellets will damage the spring of a spring-piston airgun without question. These folks believe that spring-piston guns should use lightweight and medium-weight pellets but never heavyweight pellets.
I tell you this because I plan to test this air pistol with Beeman Kodiak pellets that weigh 21.1 grains in .22 caliber. I’m doing it because I’ve found Kodiaks are often very accurate at this power level. I’m not trying to bait the people who think heavy pellets are bad for springers; so if you believe that they are, don’t do what I am doing.
Note from Edith: In the 1990s, Tom and I heard that some RWS air rifles broke their mainsprings into 3 pieces at 2,000 shots or so. The spring would break off about 1″ from each end. We contacted Frank Turner, the president of RWS USA in Closter, New Jersey (not the same RWS USA company that now imports Diana airguns). Frank said the springs broke because shooters used pellets that were too light and didn’t have enough resistance. He advised Tom on how heavy the pellet had to be. Tom conducted a test using only the heavyweight pellets recommended by Frank. Things looked good for a while, but then the cocking effort of the gun became very light…a sign the spring had broken. He disassembled the gun, and the spring had broken into 3 pieces, as predicted. The gun we tested was an RWS 48, and I believe only one caliber of the 48 had this problem. The No. 1 comment we heard from RWS 48 owners was that the gun was broken in between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds because of the lighter cocking effort. The gun was, in fact, broken…not broken in. Since we no longer hear about this from RWS 48 owners, we assume that the problem has been fixed by the current importer.
I have selected three pellets that I believe will have a good chance for accuracy in this pistol. I plan to initially shoot at 10 meters; and if the gun gives me good confidence in its accuracy, I may back up to 25 yards. But I don’t want a gun that sprays its shots all over the place since I’m shooting inside the house. Now, let’s look at the velocity.
The RWS Hobby pellet loaded very hard, telling me that the breech on this pistol is quite small. At 11.9 grains, the Hobby is among the very lightest of the lead pellets available, so I use it to test the velocity claims. In the test pistol, Hobbys averaged 525 f.p.s., or 75 f.p.s. slower than the claim. That’s too much to overlook, so I have to say this claim is ambitious. The range was from 517 to 536 f.p.s., so the spread was 22 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 7.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That’s respectable for an air pistol and places the model 25 Supercharger among the top spring-piston air pistols for power.
JSB Exact Jumbo RS
The next pellet tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS, which in .22 caliber weigh 13.43 grains. They averaged 492 f.p.s. with a spread from 481 to 499 f.p.s. That’s 18 f.p.s. between the bottom and top speeds. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 7.22 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. And these also fit the breech very tight!
Crosman Premier and Beeman Kodiak
I’d planned to test both the Crosman Premier and Beeman Kodiak pellets, but neither of them would fit into the breech! I could have made one or both of them fit with some kind of tool; but since I would never do that in the field, I left them both out of the test. So I didn’t get to test the heavyweight pellets I’d planned on testing.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain pellet
The JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome pellet was substituted for the Beeman Kodiak. It fit the breech the best of the three pellets tested, but it was still tight. This pellet averaged 449 f.p.s across 10 pellets fired, with a spread from 439 to 456 f.p.s. So, 17 f.p.s. between the slowest and fastest shot. The average velocity produced 7.06 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I said in Part 1 that this pistol is hard to cock. Well, in this test I discovered that it has the distinction of being the hardest-cocking air pistol I’ve ever tested! And that’s not a good thing. It takes 58 lbs. of force to cock the gun, and at one point in the stroke the effort bumps up to 60 pounds for an instant. Most adult men will find that very difficult to do, and I have no hope for most women and children. As long as you know that before you buy the gun, then there will no surprises.
The trigger on the test pistol releases at 5 lbs., 1.5 oz. The pull is smooth, though you can feel the trigger blade moving as the effort increases.
This is an adjustable trigger, so I followed the instructions in the owner’s manual. I found the adjustments to be very minimal. The first stage (this is really a two-stage trigger, but was adjusted as a single-stage from the box) is extremely short, despite the adjustment screw being all the way out. And the trigger-pull got no lighter than 4 lbs., 8 oz.
I discovered that there really is no distinct second stage. You just feel the trigger blade moving, and then the gun fires. It’s not that bad when you’re shooting it for score; but when you try to feel a second stage, it feels very mushy and indistinct.
Observations thus far
The model 25 Supercharger is made for a very specific owner who wants all the performance he can get from a spring pistol, regardless of the consequences. I sure hope it’s accurate!