Archive for February 2013

Crossman, Daisey and Annschultz airguns

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Last week, my wife, Edith, shared some Pyramyd Air-related stories about how hard it is for some people to find the products they want on their retail site. So, I asked her to write up a guest blog, and that’s what you’ll read today.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

by Edith Gaylord

Pyramyd Air gets some emails every day from people who say they can’t find the gun, ammo or accessories they want to buy. The same frustrations you have doing a search on Google are similar to what some Pyramyd Air customers have.

While there are algorithms to help you find products and answers to questions even if you misspell things, it’s obvious Pyramyd Air isn’t nearly as creative as shooters searching their website!

Crossman and Daisey are very common misspellings, and I’m guessing everyone might typo those words occasionally. Of course, Pyramyd Air can’t point fingers at anyone for misspellings! In fact, we recently got an email from someone who works for an airgun manufacturer and said he can no longer correctly spell the word pyramid due to writing Pyramyd so many times!

Usually, the people who conducted searches with typoed words didn’t recognize that they didn’t find what they wanted because of their misspellings instead of the website being inadequate. Here are some words we’ve had to enter into our cross-reference search to help people find what they want. On the left is the correctly spelled word or name; on the right is what we’ve had to add as an acceptable alternative due to customer typos or just because they’re not familiar with the word or name:

FWB or Feinwerkbau–>F&B, FBW, Fineworkbo, Frauhoken, Finewerkbo
Leapers–>Leepers
Beretta–>Bretta, Berreta, Berretta, Breta
Weihrauch–>Weihrauh, Weirauch
H&K, HK or Heckler & Koch–>Hecker & Cock, Hecker & Koch, Heckler & Cock
Hammerli–>Hammarelli, Hammerreli
Anschutz–>Annschultz, Anschultz
muzzlebrake or muzzle brake–>musselbrake, mussel brake, musselbreak, mussel break, muzzle break, muzzlebreak
machine (as in machine gun)–>macheen, machene, machiene, masheen, mashine, mashinene

This represents only a small number of alternatives we’ve created, but it gives you a good idea of what we’re doing to give you what you want.

Some of the trickiest searches are for scopes. Apparently, many people are unaware of how scope dimensions are properly written. When I worked for a military surplus company before coming to Pyramyd Air in 2006, I learned how optics manufacturers write scope dimensions (across the board — I have not found one exception, so far), and that’s the system I implemented on Pyramyd Air’s website. However, many (and possibly MOST) shooters don’t do it that way and frequently get frustrated because they can’t find the scope they want.

A scope with fixed magnification would be written this way, for example: 4X40. That’s a scope that magnifies what it sees by 4 times and has a 40mm objective lens. A variable scope has its dimensions written this way, for example: 4-12X40. Because it has from 4X magnification up to 12X magnification, people tend to write it as 4X12X40. Since we had a number of complaints about people not finding any scopes they searched for, I went through all of our scopes and came up with a number of different ways people might write the various scopes we sell. However, I’m sure I haven’t come up with all the ways, and more will be discovered as other creative people come up with new ways of writing things.

Think calibers are easy? Sure, just search for .22 caliber and that’s it. Not so. Look at all these substitutes we had to create to find just that one caliber…and we had to duplicate this for every smallbore and big bore caliber we sell: .22, .22 cal, .22-cal, .22 caliber, 0.22, 0.22 cal, 0.22-cal, 0.22 caliber, 22, 22 cal, 22-cal, 22 caliber.

People have learned from Google searches that you want to be as specific as possible to help find exactly what you want. Sometimes, that doesn’t work so good. If you want a breakbarrel air rifle with a muzzlebrake in .22 caliber with a scope, you might think you’d find exactly what you want when you enter this search term: .22 cal breakbarrel air rifle muzzlebrake. You’ll get over 2,000 results! That’s because Pyramyd Air’s search engine is returning results for each of those terms…not results for any items that has all those attributes.

It’s a good idea to do a general search. After those results come up, use the left-hand navigation column to narrow your search and find exactly what you want. That’s how I do searches, and I usually find what I want within a couple clicks.

The next time you can’t find something on Pyramyd Air’s site, feel free to send us an email via our web contact page. I’m one of the people who gets to see all these emails. If the reason you can’t find something is due to a typo or the way you’ve written it…and it doesn’t jive with the way we’ve written it, I’ll forward your email to our marketing specialist, Stormie (yes, that’s her real name), and she’ll check all of the searches on our site to see how many other people conducted the same search but didn’t bring it to our attention. If at least one other person has conducted the same search, chances are real good it’ll be added to our cross-reference list.

If you have any ideas to make it easier to search our site, let us know. Many of our website upgrades were ideas from customers. Pyramyd Air is very open to suggestions and considers its customers as partners in making the website user-friendly.

The benefits of oiling pellets: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

This report will be lengthy because I want to test several aspects of oiling pellets. For starters, I want to test it with spring guns, PCPs and CO2 guns just to get a complete picture of what, if anything, oiling pellets is doing in each of those powerplants. I’m interested in velocity because of the question that spawned this blog, but accuracy might also be interesting to test.

The question
We received this question in the following form. I will paraphrase, but this is the gist of it, “How much faster do pellets go when they are oiled?” That question came in on one of our social networks and was referred to me for an answer. Well, you know me! Give me a topic and I turn it into a week’s worth of blogs. But this question really begged for the full treatment because there’s so much to cover.

History
When I got interested in shooting airguns as an adult in the middle 1970s, the question of oiling pellets wasn’t around (as far as I know). In talking with the late Rodney Boyce, I learned that the oiling question really came to a head when PCPs first started being used in the early 1980s. A PCP shoots very dry air, and their barrels are made from steel; so, at the higher velocities, they tend to get leaded bores. Some shooters were also oiling pellets for their spring guns; but a lot of the time they did it because they washed the pellets, thinking the black compound on them was dirt. In fact, it was anti-oxidant to keep the pellets from turning to white dust. Had they just left the pellets alone, they wouldn’t have oxidized.

In defense of the spring-gun guys who washed their pellets, though, some brands did have a lot of lead swarf (flakes of lead from the manufacturing process) inside some of the pellets, and vigorous washing did remove it. But then the pellets needed to be oiled again, or they would quickly oxidize.

Why we oil pellets
We oil pellets for two reasons. The first is to prevent the oxidation of the lead after washing. The second is to reduce the leading of the bore, though this is principally a PCP problem. Other pneumatics either shoot too slowly or they have brass or bronze barrels that do not allow the lead to attach itself, so they do not lead up.

Do oiled pellets shoot faster?
That was the question that started this report. I’ve tested this in the past and found that with a PCP shooting .177 pellets at 850-900 f.p.s., oiled pellets went slower, not faster. But that was just one test, and I don’t want to say what oiling will do for other guns until I do some more testing.

Flimflam man
I’ll tell you this — oiling pellets became such a hot topic in the late ’90s that people were swapping their favorite secret formulas on the internet. And I know one UK company that sells an oil for pellets that they still claim gives increased velocity. Well, that’s too good to pass up, so I’ll test some of their oil in this test.

Not just oil
Don’t think that oil is the only thing people put on pellets. I remember lengthy discussions of how to apply a thin even coat of wax on pellets. Then, the topic shifted to what kind of wax to use! One guy went so far as to specify a high-tech boat hull compound called Bo-Shield for his pellets. When he talked about it his eyes got that faraway stare, as though he was transcending the real world and entering the spirit world.

What I will test
The first thing I want to do — have to do, in my mind — is test what the application of oil does to the velocity of pellets. Okay, that opens about 10 worm cans, right there:

What constitutes “an application of oil”? (I have seen paragraphs of instructions telling you how to know if the application of oil has been enough or if you need more.)
Am I testing this on lightweight pellets? Heavy pellets?
Do I test a powerful springer as well as a lower-powered springer?
Do I also test this on a precharged pneumatic?
A powerful PCP and a lower-powered PCP?
What about testing on a CO2 gun?

And on and on….

I think the best approach is to ask the question: Why do we oil pellets and who does it? We know that people who wash pellets also oil them, and we know that PCP users oil them; so that includes all the categories above. I don’t see a need to go to the extremes with this test. I’m not HP White Labs, and this isn’t a burning consumer question. If the findings suggest further testing, I could decide at that point?

What about the possible side effects?
Will oiling a pellet cause extra dieseling? Maybe. Is that what’s behind those flimflam salesmen who claim that oiled pellets go faster than dry pellets? I don’t know for certain; but as long as I’m going down the path, this is something I want to look at. Obviously, we’re talking only about powerful spring guns.

Does oiling affect accuracy?
I don’t know, but it seems we ought to find out. This gives me another excuse to unlimber my R8…so, hurrah!

Have I forgotten anything?
You tell me if I’ve overlooked any test that ought to be conducted. This isn’t a guessing game or a creativity contest, so please tell me only things that really matter to you.

Don’t use airguns for self-defense

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

I periodically get inquiries about which airguns are best for self-defense. These generally come from countries other than the U.S., though I’ve had some come in from this country, as well.

The inquiries come from two directions that I would like to address today. The first group thinks that certain airguns look so realistic that they should have the ability to stop or to deter violence just because they’re present. Let me be very specific. I’m talking about the very realistic-looking handguns like the Walther CP99, the M1911A1 pistol and the Beretta 92FS.

Beretta 92FS air pistol

The Beretta 92FS air pistol looks very realistic.

These are very realistic guns, make no mistake. But the premise the people are using is flawed. They think that if they’re able to display a realistic-looking gun, any danger will be averted. They’re counting on the dangerous people having the same common sense they have. After all, if they saw a gun they would feel threatened. They respect guns, and they imagine that others do the same.

Well, they don’t! Most criminals and bad people have either a low sense of respect for things like guns, or they figure that you will not have the nerve to follow through on the threat you seem to be making. In other words, these kinds of people are not threatened by real firearms, either. The realism of your pellet pistol is lost on them.

The other thing about criminals is they aren’t always sane or in their right minds. Either they’re deranged and will ignore what rational people see as a threat, or they may be so high on drugs or alcohol that they can’t reason. Either way, they’ll behave in irrational ways and the idea they can be threatened is either foolish because they don’t care or dangerous because it provokes them.

Defensive gun training
They teach you in a concealed handgun course to never threaten with your gun. If you pull the gun, be ready to use it immediately. In fact, in most places it’s illegal to show a concealed handgun in public. Either shoot or don’t shoot, but never threaten with a gun!

The only defense use a realistic airgun has is to train the shooter to use the firearm it mimics. You can learn how to draw the gun, how to control the trigger and how to breathe when you shoot with a realistic airgun. But that’s it. Take it no farther because a pellet gun is not a self-defense weapon.

What about powerful airguns like big bores?
The other group that considers using airguns for self defense has looked at the power an airgun can deliver. They see the big bore airguns and read about people taking deer and wild hogs with them, so they wonder why they can’t use them for protection.

Here’s the reason — a deer will never stalk you and wait till your guard is down to kill you. Not that deer can’t kill humans — they certainly can. But they normally don’t try to. Shoot a deer and it runs away almost every time.

Now, substitute a grizzly bear for the deer and ask the same question. Would you use a powerful air rifle to hunt a grizzly bear? If you do, you’re foolish because a grizzly bear will try to kill you if you don’t kill him first. Even a wild hog has been known to charge a hunter after being shot, which is why most hog hunters carry a large-caliber sidearm to back themselves up.

And a big bore airgun only has a few shots before the air pressure drops so low that the gun isn’t useful. So, if you don’t have a perfect first shot you’re quickly headed into some very risky territory.

Nothing is ever guaranteed
And even firearms aren’t always enough. Think you have enough gun? Maybe, but don’t bet on it. Every big-caliber gun has failed to kill in some circumstances. There was an intruder who took a 240-grain jacketed bullet from a .44 Magnum revolver in his left eye and he fell down a flight of stairs, then got up and walked out of the house. Police found him dead by his car around the block, but that’s not the point. The point is, even Dirty Harry’s gun wasn’t enough to drop him in his tracks.

No doubt there’s someone somewhere in the world who needed a second .50-caliber BMG round to put him down for keeps.

Play for keeps
If you have to use deadly force, make certain that it’s really deadly. Be prepared to go all the way or don’t go in that direction to start with. You are far better off using a tactical flashlight and some kind of club than to pull a pellet or BB pistol and have your bluff called.

My new AR-15: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Before I begin today’s report, I want you to know that I’ll be out of the office all this week. I’m traveling to Arkansas to film some episodes of the new American Airgunner. I’m asking the veteran readers to watch for new reader’s comments and to help them whenever you can. I know that you do this all the time anyway, but I wanted you to know that I won’t be able to answer questions as easily this week as I normally am. My wife, Edith, also closely monitors the blog. On to today’s report.

I’m writing this report as an airgunner who’s discovering something new — something that he’s wondered about a long time and finally decided to see whether the things he’s read were true or not. I’m writing it about a firearm because airguns are what I normally do. Firearms aren’t my regular beat, so anything I do with them is a stretch. I want to put myself on the same footing as someone who is new to airguns and doesn’t know what to believe.

The AR: What is it?
I could spend the rest of my life writing about the AR-15 and not exhaust the subject. It is without question one of the world’s most recognized and talked-about firearms. Love it or hate it — you cannot deny its success.

I was one who hated it. My experience began with the M16, which is the true full-auto assault rifle that civilians cannot obtain legally without going through many government hoops and paying dearly. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the rifle that lacks the full-auto capability. Full-auto operation is one of the main things that defines an assault rifle. So, an AR-15 is not an assault rifle — nor can it ever be, legally.

But it looks enough like the M16, except for the full-auto part, and it operates enough like an M16 that shooters have accepted it as a legal substitute. Some shooters aren’t even aware of the differences between the AR-15 and the M16 and use the model names, interchangeably.

My experience with the M16 began in the Army, and I documented it quite well in Part 1 of this report, so I won’t repeat myself. The bottom line is that the rifle isn’t as accurate as I want a rifle to be.

Over the years, I watched people with AR-15s, and all I saw was confirmation that it, too, was not a very accurate firearm. At least not by my standards. If I backed an AR owner into a corner, he would tell me about its high rate of fire, the interchangeability of parts and all the development that has gone into the rifle over its half-century life-cycle. Then, I would counter with the rifle’s 3-minute-of-angle accuracy and make a yucky face. And we would agree to disagree.

Yet, all the while I was watching from the sidelines, I saw occasional references to superb accuracy from certain rifles. When I tracked them down and eliminated all those that were based on 3-shot groups and 5-shot groups, I was left with a small but insistent core of reports that the AR really could shoot well. There were stories of half-inch 10-shot groups at 100 yards — stories that I wanted to believe, but simply could not. I’d shot too many M16s and AR-15s to believe that one could really be that accurate with 10 shots. Yet, like a child full of expectant hope, I never lost interest.

Then, I had an opportunity to make a trade of an AK rifle for an AR-15. That was the stimulus I needed to do the real research into the gun. About 20 years had passed since I last looked into the gun, and I discovered that things had changed dramatically. New propellants were discovered that made the rifle sing like never before. New bullets were developed that, combined with new rifling twist rates, made huge strides in the accuracy department.

The deal with the AR-15 fell through, but I had done the research and was now ready to make my move. So, when the right AR upper came along — one that promised the kind of accuracy I was looking for — I grabbed it.

You saw the potential for accuracy in the first report. Today, I’ll expand on that and tell you how I’ve learned to live with this rifle. The gentleman I got it from gave me a load that I tried immediately. I used both his recommended bullet plus another that I had on hand that was almost as heavy. My barrel has a 1:8″ twist rate, so it stabilizes heavier bullets. I don’t shoot the 55-grain bullets that many shooters use. I shoot a 77-grain boattailed spitzer and a 68-grain match hollowpoint that both stabilize in the rifle when a full load of powder is used.

On my second time out with the rifle, I shot three 10-shot groups at 100 yards. That may not sound like a lot of shooting, but I wait for the barrel to cool between shots, so it takes close to a full hour to complete.

I also load these cartridges to a longer overall length than the magazine will tolerate. This is something I learned from one of our readers, and the guy who sold me the upper confirmed it. Where most AR guys want the largest capacity magazine they can get, I’m loading each round singly and pushing the bolt release to close the bolt. I’m like a man who never takes his Ferrari out of first gear! AR owners would turn inside-out if they saw me shoot.

But I get results!

The first three 10-shot groups measure 0.913 inches, 0.827 inches and 0.562 inches. I’d say that was a success! I won’t bore you with the load details because every rifle is unique, but both the 77-grain and the 68-grain bullets were accurate.

Group 1 AR-15
Ten .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.913-inch group.

Group 2 AR-15
Ten .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.827-inch group.

Group 3 AR-15
Ten more .223 bullets at 100 yards went into this 0.562-inch group. This is what I’ve been looking for in an accurate rifle for the past 40 years!

I load the bullets longer than the magazine will tolerate because that way the bullet can be closer to the rifling in the bore when the cartridge fires. That improves accuracy. Looking at the three groups above, I think you would agree.

One problem with a semiautomatic rifle is that it throws the empty cartridge case far from the gun. With an AR-15, this can be adjusted somewhat by increasing or decreasing the amount of gas that flows to the bolt, and my rifle was properly set up to operate with the loads I was using. Still, the cartridges landed ahead of the firing line some 6 to 10 feet, and I had to wait for a cease-fire to go out and collect them for reloading. If the grass was tall, I might miss some.

So, I bought a brass catcher. Again, I did it my way. Most brass catchers attach to the rifle. The one I bought is separate. It’s large and catches anything the rifle cares to toss, as long as it’s in the right place on the shooting bench. Since buying it, I’ve shot the rifle about 70 times and it never missed one cartridge.

Another problem with semiautomatics is the cartridges must be resized their full length after every firing. This works the brass and shortens the life of the case. I’m using maximum loads from the standpoint that I can’t get any more powder into the case, but the pressures I’m loading are more than 10,000 psi below what a standard 5.56mm cartridge generates. I am at 42,000 psi, where 5.56mm rounds easily hit 52,000 psi.

I’m loading .223 Remington cartridges rather than 5.56mm military cartridges. The difference is that my commercial case is thinner and holds more powder, and the leade in the .223 barrel is shorter than the leade in a 5.56mm barrel. Because I work the brass by resizing and because I use maximum loads, I’ll be lucky to get 10 reloads from my cartridges — while I’ve gotten over 50 reloads from other cartridges in rifles that generate less pressure at firing and whose cartridges I don’t have to full-length resize.

I took the rifle out again last week and fired it with some new loads. The day I went, it was raining and I shot in pouring rain. A light mist doesn’t affect accuracy too much, but driving rain can play havok with accuracy at 100 yards. Perhaps that’s why the best group I managed to shoot that day measures a whopping 0.835 inches between centers. And, yes, that was sarcasm. I’m still very pleased with these results.

AR-15 on range in downpour
On the range during a driving rain. You can see my brass catcher. It never misses!

Group 4 AR-15
Best 10-shot group of this rainy day was a 0.835-inch group.

Am I pleased?
How could I not be pleased with these results? This is the level of accuracy I’ve been after for the past 40 years. Yes, something miraculous has happened. I’m shooting the best I’ve ever shot with an AR-15 — a rifle I thought was hopelessly inaccurate. I hope you realize that this does relate to airguns in a big way.

You may have a blind side to certain airguns like I did with the AR-15. You may hate spring guns or PCPs the way I hated black rifles. Maybe it isn’t ultimate accuracy that you want, but rather distance. Maybe you’d like to be able to hunt jackrabbits in the Texas panhandle, where a fleeting shot at 50 yards is the best you’re ever going to get. Or maybe you want accuracy, just like I did. Maybe you read about all these accurate precharged pneumatics, but just can’t believe what you’ve read; because when you see guys actually shoot them in front of you, they never do as well as they seem to claim on the internet.

Maybe you want the airguns that give one-shot kills. Maybe you’re tired of tracking game after you shoot it and wonder how all those airgun hunters are dropping as much game as they claim but you’re lucky to get one or two.

Whatever it is that you want, the way to get it is to do what I’ve done. Sift through all the reports looking for the kernels of truth. They’re there for you to find. And when the day comes that you have that pleasant experience where something goes exactly as you hoped it would, all your efforts will prove worthwhile.

By the way — writing a nice, flattering report about the AR-15 is penance for all my bad thoughts. I wonder now what I’m going to have to say about some airguns I also have thought ill of?

Why don’t “they” make a 2240 PCP pistol?

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

On Wednesday, blog reader John said that he would really like to see a Crosman 2240 PCP pistol. I thought that I would address that as my topic for the weekend.

The Crosman 2240 pistol is an inexpensive CO2 pistol that sells for under $60. It’s a single-shot bolt action and has a deserved reputation for being both accurate and a wonderful value. That’s the gun John wants to see made into a precharged pneumatic (PCP).

I don’t know much about John. In fact, we have several readers named John, so I don’t want to make any assumptions about who wrote the question. But whoever he is, the first thing I have to say is that the 2240 PCP pistol already does exist. It’s called the Crosman Silhouette PCP air pistol, and, as of this date, it sells for $367.50.

{Sound of a needle being painfully scratched across a vinyl record!}

Okay, that was not what John wanted. He wanted a $60 pistol converted into an inexpensive PCP, so he could enjoy the benefits of the 2240 but at the higher power level of a PCP. I get that. That’s the kind of stuff that I think about all the time. So — why don’t “they” do it?

Some history
I was actually present when a similar decision was made to convert a very popular high-value CO2 rifle — the Crosman 2260 — into a PCP: the Benjamin Discovery. In fact I wasn’t just present, I was part of the development team, which gave me a unique insight into what a company goes through to do something like this.

The 2260 was selected to be the starting point for what was to become the Discovery because we wanted to keep the price as low as possible. But some changes had to be made. Where a hobbyist working out of his home might just seal the 2260′s CO2 reservoir better to hold air and call it finished, Crosman couldn’t do the same thing. They’re a manufacturer who has to build in a margin of safety into each of their products so that they present no danger to the user, even when improperly operated.

You might say to yourself that you’re never going to over-pressurize the gun you’re building, so the CO2 reservoir that’s rated to 1,000 psi is good enough, but Crosman can’t do that. They have to figure there will be a certain percentage of people who will either make mistakes with the rifle or purposely over-pressurize it in the mistaken belief that they can get more velocity from it. It happens all the time and all of you know it.

When it came time to select the tubing for the PCP reservoir, they could not go with what they used on the 2260. Not only is it not rated to operate at the pressures of the Discovery (2,000 psi instead of 900 psi), it’s also finished more coarsely. Because the CO2 molecule is very large, o-rings will still seal the reservoir even when the metal is a little rough. But it won’t seal in air, which is vastly thinner. They needed a stronger reservoir tube that also had a better finish; plus when they cut o-ring seats, they had to cut them with smoother surfaces.

The stronger tube had to either be thicker steel or it had to be made from a stronger alloy. In the end, it was both because Crosman figured that some people would forget that the Discovery should only be filled to 2,000 psi…and would fill it to 3,000 psi. In a courtroom, a plaintiff’s attourney could make a strong case that such behavior is normal when most of the world’s PCPs are filled to 3,000 psi.

But if the tubing is thicker, it has a smaller internal volume — we all know that. So, not only did they have to make the tube stronger and from better material, it also had to be longer to hold as much air as possible since they were trying to get a reasonable number of shots out of the gun at a relatively low air pressure (for a PCP).

Instead of a length of reservoir tubing costing them $2, they had to use a length of tube costing $28. That’s an increase of 14 times the material cost! These numbers are not the real ones, but they’re representative of the differential in the cost of parts for the PCP gun over the CO2 gun. And all of this is just material cost — no machining or handling has been costed yet.

The difference between CO2 and high-pressure air
Containing CO2 under pressure is one level of difficulty. Containing air under pressure is a different and much higher level of difficulty. Imagine how difficult it is for cowboys to keep cattle inside a corral. Now, replace the cattle with cockroaches and put them in the same corral. Think it might be harder to keep all of them inside? You bet your paycheck it is!

Crosman was a company that has a long history of making CO2 guns. Heck, they ARE the history of CO2 guns! Now, they have to learn how to contain high-pressure air, which is totally different. They knew it and they thought about it — a LOT. You can build one of anything if you have the skill and the inclination. Making a thousand of them, however, can kill you — or put you out of business. Crosman made more than 4,000 Discoveries the first year they were offered. They had to be ready for that, which means they had to find ways to assemble these high-pressure air containers without any of them leaking.

I used to build PCP airguns at AirForce. Every step of the assembly process was specified, and there were tests at each point in the process. We didn’t make a thousand of anything that then had to be remade or — worse yet — thrown away!

As long as we’re making it…
…we might as well make it right. Ever say that to yourself in the middle of a project? Of course you have — everyone has. So did the Crosman engineering team. As long as we’re making this gun that holds thin air under high pressure, we might as well make it last a long time.

What’s the No. 1 enemy of pressurized air?

Bad seals.

And, what is the No. 1 enemy of seals — assuming everything has been designed correctly?

Dirt.

It was no surprise that the engineering team decided to put an air filter on the intake side of the reservoir of the gun. Air is thin, so the filter had to filter thin things. As in millionths of an inch.

Don’t worry your pretty head — such things as micron filters are available — at a price.

Now, a hobby builder is far less likely to include such a thing in his gun. Indeed, a great many very expensive PCPs do not have an intake air filter. But that’s how Crosman works. You can’t change that, so it has to be factored into everything they do.

Back to the premise
Okay, I’ve gotten far afield in my report. If I were to continue talking about developing production PCPs, I would have to go much farther because there are a great many little things that have to be done to create such a gun. But I’ve said enough. Let’s return to the original question.

What can’t “they” make a 2240 PCP? Well, they can. When Crosman does it, it’s called the Silhouette PCP air pistol. You may think they’ve loaded that model with a lot of costly and unnecessary things; but given who they are and how they operate, most of the features ARE necessary.

Could a more austere 2240 PCP pistol, be produced? Without question. But don’t look for Crosman to do it. Even if they were convinced to try; with all the extra engineering I mentioned and alluded to, it’s likely that the bare bones gun they produce would still cost you at least $200.

And here’s where John comes in. John says if it’s going to cost $200, a pistol “ought” to have an accurate barrel. We all know what that means — Lothar Walther. So, he wants them to spend an additional $41 for a 10-inch barrel that they’ll have to charge an extra $79 to their largest distributors. You’ll be paying an additional $121 to get one — over and above the cost of the pistol. The popular reasoning is that we have to have that Lothar Walther name if we’re going to be asked to pay more than a certain amount for an airgun.

You might look at the Daisy Avanti 717 and 747 pistols and see only a $40 difference from the addition of the Lothar Walther barrel on the more expensive gun. Yes, there are less expensive Lothar Walther barrels, but the design of the 2240 does not support their use. The Daisy guns can use a soda-straw barrel (thin-walled), which is cheaper to manufacture, but the 2240 barrel is not supported in the same way and has to be thicker.

Having said that, can it still be done? Can John’s dream of a low-cost, high-quality PCP air pistol be realized? I believe it can — just not within the manufacturing model of Crosman or another airgun manufacturer of equal capability.

I think the entire manufacturing paradigm has to be changed to achieve what John wants.

Motorola changed their corporate paradigm several decades ago and reduced the time from order to shipping for a pocket pager from 6 months to 15 minutes. It can be done.

Theoben Crusader breakbarrel air rifle

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Today, blog reader Paul Hudson shares his Theoben Crusader rifle with us. The Crusader is not as well-known in the U.S. as some other Theoben models, so this will be an interesting report.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Theoben Crusader air rifle left
With its walnut stock, the Theoben Crusader is a large, handsome airgun.

The Theoben Crusader is a high-power breakbarrel airgun, identical in size and performance to the Beeman R1. Its stablemate, the Theoben Eliminator, seems to get far more press since it’s one of the most powerful breakbarrel airguns available. That power comes with a high price — a cocking effort of 50+ lbs. — that most shooters are not willing to endure for very long. The Crusader, on the other hand, is far easier to cock and is a more practical airgun. Based on the used guns I’ve seen for sale, either the Crusader sales are much lower or people tend to keep them. Few are seen on the usual airgun sales sites or at airgun shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle right

The Crusader is a high-quality spring-piston rifle.

Measuring a full four feet in length and weighing 8 lbs., 3 oz. unscoped, the Crusader is a large airgun. Mine is .177 caliber; but .20, .22, and .25 calibers are also available. The Lothar Walther barrel is 16 inches long, and a muzzlebrake is standard equipment (.22-caliber Crusaders have an Anschütz barrel). There are no baffles in the muzzlebrake. No open sights are supplied by the factory, making an optical sight a necessity. My rifle has a right-hand walnut stock, but an ambidextrous stock can be had from the factory as a no-cost option. The pressed checkering does give enough grip to be functional. A very good non-slip recoil pad keeps the rifle in place. No plastic parts are used on the rifle.

The metal work on the Crusader is first-rate, with a high polish that’s typical of many British airguns, and the wood-to-metal fit is excellent. Allen-head screws are used throughout the gun except for one screw that secures the triggerguard.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Schrader
Behind that screw, a Schrader valve allows the owner to change the air pressure in the gas spring. Note the thumb rest in the stock.

A gas spring
Like all Theoben springers, the Crusader uses a gas spring, not a metal spring. Cocking is butter-smooth and requires 38 lbs. of effort. The piston includes a sliding weight that reduces piston bounce and felt recoil. A Schrader valve at the rear of the receiver allows the pressure in the gas spring assembly to be adjusted to vary the power of the gun. Upon firing there’s no spring twang or vibration, just a quick snap. The sound level is moderate. And, due to the size of the gun and careful tuning, the felt recoil is mild for the power level.

Theoben Crusader air rifle breech
The lower bolt is pinched between the breech block and the locking wedge to prevent vertical barrel movement. Note the taper at the rear of the barrel to make pellets easier to seat.

The barrel pivot setup on the Crusader is a little unusual. Most breakbarrels use a breechblock that’s close to the width of the forks of the receiver. Wide, thin shims may also be present between the breechblock and the receiver forks. The pivot bolt is then tensioned to the point that the lateral barrel movement is constrained. The breechblock on the Crusader has much more side clearance. Belleville washers are used to control the lateral movement. Belleville washers are cone-shaped from the side and are actually considered to be springs. A second bolt behind the pivot bolt mates with a hook on the back of the breechblock. The locking wedge pulls the breechblock tightly against this bolt to control the vertical movement of the barrel. Like many classic Webley rifles, the Crusader takes a bit of a slap to open the barrel for cocking.

Theoben Crusader air rifle cocking linkage
The unusually wide breechblock/fork clearance is visible from below the action. (The photo is overexposed, leading to the yellow stock color. This was necessary to bring out the detail within the cocking slot.)

The trigger
The Evolution trigger of the Crusader and other models has been criticized by some; and given the price of the gun, that may be justified. No creep is felt in the first stage, but the second stage is not as crisp as a Rekord trigger. As the gun came from the factory, the second stage breaks cleanly at 1 lb., 13 oz. The safety blade resides in front of the trigger and automatically sets when the gun is cocked. It can also be manually reset. Overall, I would rate the Crusader trigger as very good, just not quite as good as a Rekord or TX200 unit but not a reason to avoid the gun.

Theoben Crusader air rifle trigger
The trigger blade is almost straight; the automatic safety resides in the front of the triggerguard and is pressed forward to fire.

Performance
Velocities with the Crusader are similar to what’s found in a Beeman R1, and some lighter pellets in a .177-caliber rifle will go supersonic and ruin the accuracy. I tried a couple H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets, but they traveled almost 1200 feet per second and missed the bullet trap at 25 yards. Extreme spreads with most pellets were under 20 feet per second, and a few varied by less than 10…very good for a springer.

Theoben Crusader air rifle spreadsheetThese are the velocities the Crusader can deliver with the selected pellets.

25-yard accuracy
Many pellets gave 5-shot groups around an inch in size at 25 yards. Several gave very good accuracy, including a few that surprised me. To get the best accuracy shooting from the bench, I had to hold the airgun loosely with my right hand and keep my left hand open. If I let my fingers touch the forearm, I had to make sure I didn’t squeeze the gun at all or the groups would open up. In other words, use the classic artillery hold. You cannot grip this airgun tightly and get good accuracy; it’ll take practice and proper technique to get the best results.

All groups were 5 shots at 25 yards, and the sights were not adjusted for the different pellets. It was interesting to see the difference in the points of impact. Predator Polymags and 8.4-grain JSB Exacts shot especially high in relation to the other pellets. Unfortunately, neither 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites nor 10.5-grain Premiers heavies did much better than one-inch groups at 25 yards. While that’s not too bad, a number of pellets did far better.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Baracuda Hunter group
Five H&N Baracuda Hunters made this 0.50-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Predator group
Five Predator Polymag pellets made this 0.40-inch group. Good enough for hunting.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Gamo TS-10 group
Gamo TS-10 surprised me with a 0.45-inch group; but their size seemed a bit inconsistent, and there were some flyers with this pellet.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Skenco Big Boy group
Skenco Big Boys gave this nice 0.43-inch group. The group is almost twice as wide as tall.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Monster group
The 13.4-grain JSB Monster also produced a 0.43-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Exact group
The Crusader really liked the 8.4-grain JSB Exacts, as this round 0.24-inch group shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Beeman Kodiak group
Best accuracy came from the Beeman Kodiak pellet. This group above is just 0.23 inches.

Adding it all up
Why buy a Crusader? After all, it costs just over $1000, and that price will keep many away. Compared to a Beeman R1, the size and power are identical. The R1 has a better trigger, but the Crusader has a better firing behavior due to the gas spring. The Crusader also has a far nicer stock, better metal finish and includes a factory muzzlebrake. Between my Crusader and my R1, the Crusader shoots more pellets accurately and will shoot slightly smaller groups, probably due to the fine Lothar Walther barrel. Unfortunately, the Crusader is more hold sensitive than my R1.

Both rifles should last a lifetime with proper care. It’s possible to upgrade an R1 with a new stock, a gas spring, muzzlebrake, etc., but you’ll end up spending more than the cost of the Crusader and still do not have the nice metal work. If you can afford it, the Crusader offers very good accuracy in a nicely finished package.

Theoben Production ceases
In October, 2012, Theoben Ltd. in England announced that they were entering liquidation (bankruptcy). It remains to be seen whether another company will take over production rights for Theoben springers.

Air Venturi Tech Force M12 combo: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Air Ventury Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle
The new Tech Force M12 breakbarrel is a new midrange springer from Air Venturi.

Today’s report is an important one, but it may be confusing until you hear the whole story. The last time I reported on this Tech Force M12 combo was back on November 19 of last year. A lot has happened with this rifle since then, and I’ve kept daily readers informed of what’s been going on, but it would have been easy to overlook and even easier to forget. So I’ll summarize.

The M12 I’m testing is a drooper, and I first had to solve that problem. Once I did, I noticed it threw fliers. I cleaned the barrel — but it got no better. I tightened all the screws — again, no change. I cleaned the barrel with JB Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound — and still there was no improvement. Then, I shot the gun just to break it in — again, no change.

All of this work took a lot of time, as I was testing and reporting on other guns. I also set the rifle aside for weeks at a time out of sheer frustration. In late January of this year, I decided to have another go at discovering what the problem was. I had to locate a drooper scope because, by this time, I’d used the scope that was on this rifle for other tests. I reread the early reports and discovered that this rifle had shot very well at 10 meters with JSB Exact RS pellets. So, that was the pellet I tested, but at 25 yards.

Pay attention!
At 25 yards, I got several groups that had a bunch of shots close together and then some fliers. But one group stood apart as extraordinary. Seven of the 10 shots were in an extremely small group, and 3 others were huge fliers. This was what I had been looking for. When you see something like this, it tells you the rifle wants to shoot, but something is interfering intermittently.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 25-yard target
The group at the top left with the one shot that isn’t quite touching is 7 shots from 25 yards. That’s a 0.439-inch group. The other 3 holes are fliers shot at the same time. This is a clear indication of a problem.

I looked down through the muzzlebrake with a powerful flashlight and saw the real barrel muzzle deep inside. It appeared very rough, plus I could see bright bits of lead clinging to the inside rear edge of the muzzlebrake. I showed this to Edith, and she confirmed what I was seeing.

Apparently, the crown of the muzzle of my rifle was uneven and was causing pellets to wobble just a tiny bit when they left the barrel. A few of them were hitting the inside rear edge of the muzzlebrake, causing them to destabilize in a big way. Those were the random fliers I was seeing.

I communicated this to Pyramyd Air. Gene, the tech manager, took apart an M12 to look at the crown. He said it looked rough to him, as well. He crowned it and sent me the barrel to exchange with the barrel in my rifle.

The barrel Gene sent is .22 caliber, while my rifle is .177, but that makes no difference. One barrel works as well as another, as they’re the same size on the outside. I followed Gene’s instructions and switched barrels in 15 minutes. I didn’t have to disassemble the rifle because of how it’s made.

Once I got the original barrel out of the gun, I could see that the muzzle wasn’t as rough as I’d thought. I had seen grease on the end of the muzzle when I looked down inside, and it looked like rough metal to me. The muzzle is finished rather well, but the actual crown, which is a chamfer cut into the bore, is cut on an angle rather than perpendicular with the bore. It allows compressed air to escape the muzzle on one side of the pellet before the other.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 177 muzzle
The muzzle of the .177-caliber barrel that came in the rifle was crowned lopsided. The chamfer appears narrow at the bottom of the muzzle. That’s not an optical illusion — it really does grow narrow there!

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 22 muzzle
It may be hard to see in this photo, but this crown is even all around the bore. This is the .22-caliber barrel sent to me by Pyramyd Air.

Following the assembly of the barrel to the rifle, I remounted the scope and proceeded to start my sight-in. I decided to test the .22 barrel with JSB Exact RS pellets, as well. One shot at 10 feet was all it took…and I was on target. Two more shots at 10 meters and I was sighted-in. Next, I shot a 10-shot group. The rifle behaved very stable and did not appear to throw any wild shots.

The 10-meter group I shot was consistent, if not terribly small. But the lack of fliers, even at 10 meters, gives me hope that the crowning of the barrel has solved the problem.

Tech Force M12 breakbarrel air rifle 10-meter target
Ten shots at 10 meters gave me this group with the recrowned .22-caliber barrel. This gives me hope that the problem has been fixed.

Test is not finished.
By no means is this report finished. I still need to shoot several groups at 25 yards to see what the M12 can really do. I have no idea what the best .22-caliber pellet might be. After rereading the first two parts of this report, I see that I very much liked the way the gun handles. That’s still true. It lacks the two-bladed Mendoza trigger — and that’s a shame, but the trigger it has isn’t that bad. Obviously, I’m able to use it.

I now have both a .22-caliber barrel and a .177-caliber barrel that fit on the same powerplant. If I can hold onto them both, I may be able to get a little more milage from this gun. First, I could do a redneck crowning job on the .177 barrel and report how well that works.

Next, I could test the .22 barrel for velocity and then swap barrels and retest the .177 barrel to get a comparison between calibers from the same gun. I’ve always been able to do that with my Whiscombe, of course, but this is more of a real-world air rifle to which many can relate.

I know there are several shooters who wanted the M12 to be a great buy, and my early tests didn’t bear that out. If they’ve continued to follow this blog, they’ll get the chance to see how the story ends!

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Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

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