Archive for February 2013
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’ll cut right to the chase — this Walther LGV Challenger is everything I hoped for. This is a classic air rifle, and we’re privileged to see its inception. We were there!
Today, I tested the rifle’s accuracy from a rest at 10 meters using the open sights. This rifle is equipped with fiberoptic sights, and we all know that they’re not precision aiming devices; but if you light the target brightly and shoot from a relatively dark space, the dots won’t appear. You’ll see a crisp, square post and sharp rear notch that you can use to the extent of your shooting skill.
Start of the test
Each time I break open this rifle, I’m reminded of why it’s so special. The barrel feels like a bank vault — both on opening and again on closing. Cocking is relatively easy and every one of the four pellets I tested loaded easily, yet were tight in the breech. I even like the size and configuration of the stock that seems to be made for me.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tested was the one that I thought might be the most accurate — the 13.4-grain JSB Exact RS dome. Remember, the rifle I’m testing is .22-caliber, so all the pellets will be heavier.
Since I was using open sights, I looked at the target after the first shot to make certain the pellet had struck the paper. It had, and in the bull, too. It was at 6 o’clock, on center with the 10-ring so I didn’t adjust the sights. As I continued to shoot, I could see pellets dropping just below the bull — and the hole didn’t appear to grow much from where I sat.
When I went downrange to change targets, I saw the first group — 10 JSB Exact RS pellets in 0.464 inches between centers. It’s a good group that told me the rifle could shoot, but the verticality told me I needed to do better on estimating the bottom of the bull with the tip of the front post.
The rifle hangs perfectly dead in the hands when shooting. What that means is that I wasn’t fighting it to find a good hold point or to control the balance. It just hung there, giving me confidence. My off hand was back under the forearm touching the triggerguard.
The trigger does have some creep in the second stage, and I would want to adjust as much of that out as I could; but for this test, I left it as it was. It was light and posed no difficulty to good shooting, as you’ll see.
Next up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domed pellet. They went to almost the same place as the JSB pellets on the target, which is a good sign that the rifle isn’t picky about pellets. Of course, I could only see the shots that landed in the white below the bull; but when I went down to change targets, I saw they were all in the same place! I had a remarkable group that measures 0.285 inches between centers. Look how round it is! This is what you see when a rifle really likes a particular pellet.
The third pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. At just 11.9 grains, it goes the fastest of the lead pellets and is often among the most accurate pellets — at least at close range. Ten shots went into 0.408 inches.
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which weighs 14.5 grains. It made a 10-shot group that measures 0.378 inches between centers. The group is taller than it is wide; but this came at the end of the test, so I may have been tiring out. I know that each shot looked perfect to me when it went off, just as all shots in this test did.
Opinion so far
I gave you my opinion at the start of this report. I think the new LGV Challenger is a wonderful new spring-piston airgun. I certainly did not expect to see quality like this from a new air rifle. I thought those days were past, but it’s now clear that fine spring-piston airguns can still be made when the maker wants to.
This rifle reminds me a lot of my Beeman R8. The trigger could stand to be improved, but not much more needs to be done. I think you’re going to like the LGV if they all work as well as the one I’m testing.
Next, I plan to test this rifle at 25 yards with a scope. I expect the great shooting to continue. Then, I have to find more things to test it with, so I can hold onto it until Umarex receives their first shipment of rifles to sell so they can give me a price for this one.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This Diana 25 smoothbore was made in World War II.
One thing that I really like about this blog is the fact that it affords me the opportunity to test certain things thoroughly. In fact, it somewhat forces me to test them thoroughly; because as I test and write, I think about you readers and all the questions you’ll have for me. So, I test to be able to tell you as much as I can about our mutual interests.
This Diana 25 smoothbore airgun that I’m reporting on today is one such subject. I get to work with a vintage airgun that’s very enjoyable, plus I get to test how well diabolo pellets stabilize and how accurate they are when they don’t spin. In turn, that reflects on the test of how the rifling twist rate affects accuracy.
I tested this airgun at 25 yards — a serious distance at which any and all airguns will show their true colors. And I used 10-shot groups, another tool in our growing bag of diagnostic accuracy tricks. Just one group can reveal significant findings, instead of five 5-shot groups or, worse yet, I shoot a bunch of 5-shot groups and show only the best one.
I was on the rifle range last week with a young man who was shooting a .257 Weatherby Magnum and trying to get it to group. He obviously knew what accuracy is because he wanted groups that measured under .75 inches at 100 yards. But he was shooting only 3-shot groups! That isn’t enough shots to make more than a good guess about a rifle’s potential accuracy. When I called him on it, he pointed out that he was pasting his targets to a backer at the same place every time, so all his shots would overlap on the backer as he changed targets. That told me he’s afraid of shooting large groups in case he makes a mistake. I’ve been there and done that, too!
Today’s test frankly frightened me, as I wasn’t sure the gun was accurate enough to hit the pellet trap all the time. I decided to use the JSB Exact RS pellets that performed so well at 10 meters. I seated each pellet deep in the bore with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater because the 10-meter test showed that was the way the gun likes it best. Let’s look at the two targets from that test before I continue.
The flush-seated JSB Exact RS pellets made a 10-meter group that measures 1.158 inches between centers.
The same pellets seated deep made this 0.337-inch group at 10 meters. It looks significantly smaller!
The first shot at 25 yards did hit the target paper, but it was high and outside the bull. I checked it with a spotting scope immediately after shooting it. I also checked after the second shot, just to make sure it was also on the paper. It was, so after that I settled down and put 8 more shots into the target. In the end, they were all high and formed a group that measures 3.879 inches between the centers of the two widest shots. So that’s what the gun seems to be capable of, but I wanted another 10-shot group, just to confirm it.
I lowered the simple rear sight elevator for the second group and fired 10 more JSB Exact RS pellets. The first shot hit the target in the black, so I knew I was okay to complete the 10 shots without looking. At the end, I had 10 shots in a 3.168-inch group. As far as I was concerned, those two targets demonstrated the accuracy potential of this smoothbore pellet gun at 25 yards with deep-seated JSB Exact RS pellets. But something nagged at me.
How much worse would this gun shoot pellets that were only seated flush with the breech — in other words, loaded in the normal way? I had to test it. Once more, I shot 10 shots at 25 yards. This time, I was really scared because it looked from the 10-meter test that these pellets might not all hit the paper. Would this group be over twice as large as the other two — like the 10-meter group was? But the first shot went into the bull and the second one landed very close, so I calmed down and shot the other 8 shots without looking again. In the end, I had a 10-shot group that measures 2.421 inches between centers — the smallest group yet at 25 yards!
What had happened? The gun was shooting more accurately at 25 yards with pellets seated flush, when it had clearly shot deep-seated pellets best at 10 meters? Not knowing what else to do, I shot a second group with the pellets seated flush. This time the group was larger, but at 2.957 inches it’s still the second-best group of the test.
What have we learned?
This test demonstrates that diabolo pellets do stabilize from their high drag, alone. They do not require a spin to stabilize them because they all hit the target nose-first. But they’re not as accurate as they would be if shot from a rifled barrel. The spin introduced by rifling is important for accuracy, if not for stability.
A second lesson is this: Even though I shoot and record 10-shot groups, a single group may not be enough data. The difference in accuracy at 10 meters and 25 yards between deep-seated pellets and flush-seated pellets would seem to indicate that. Or it could just be that deep-seated pellets are more accurate at 10 meters, but flush-seated pellets are more accurate at 25 yards. If that’s the case (and I don’t know that it is), I have no idea of why it would be that way.
I think I need to test this gun once more and shoot 3 10-shot groups with each type of seating at each distance before we’ll know anything for sure.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier…and by our blog readers!
Today we’re gonna do things differently. You’re going to write the blog — not me.
I’m going to put some photos together and number them, but that’s all. You’re going to write the text of the report and the captions for the pictures. You’ll do this in the comments section.
The numbers are written in red beneath the photos to which they belong.
You’ll write either some text that can be used for the body of the report or you will write a caption for a photo. You are not limited to how much you contribute. So, write as much as you want. Try to keep your ideas to one point, so I can cut and paste them into the report. Please don’t make Edith and me edit this a lot. But don’t obsess over misspelled words or a punctuation issues.
Use humor in your contributions. And use the truth — or not — you decide.
I am purposely putting in photos that don’t seem to belong together. You must find the glue to fuse them into a cohesive report. You can do it with a caption for a photo. You can do it with a paragraph of text. Or, select a couple photos and write the text that goes with them as well as all the captions.
If you write a caption, please give the number of the photo it references. If you write some text for the report, you can tell which photo(s) it goes with, but you don’t have to. However, if you feel inspired by a photo, we probably will, too.
You have all weekend to submit whatever comments you care to write. No one person will write the entire report or even a majority of it (we hope!), and everyone has an equal chance to be involved.
Not all the contributions will be used. Edith and I will also have to be creative as we choose the contributions and decide how they fit together. We’ll be looking for the most cogent, yet humorous report that can be written with your submission.
We’ll take the submissions and compile them into a special blog report next week. That will be Part 2 to this Part 1.
Okay, that’s the challenge. You have the weekend to do this. Good luck and let’s go!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Yesterday, I told blog reader Victor that this report was for him, but I think it’s for a lot of folks who are relatively new to this blog. Here’s the premise of the report: Airguns are usually advertised with their expected top velocities. What do those numbers represent? Today, I’ll attempt to explain this as clearly as I can.
The numbers are just lies!
Let’s get this one out of the way first because it seems to be the prevailing belief that advertised velocities are nothing but lies put forth by marketing departments to sell more guns. There’s some truth to this belief, but it isn’t 100 percent by any means. Here’s what’s going on with the lies.
In the 1970s, spring-piston air rifles broke the 800 f.p.s. “barrier” for the first time. Three guns — the BSF S55/60/70, the Diana 45 and the FWB 124 all topped 800 f.p.s. in .177 caliber…and the HW 35 came very close to 800. That started the velocity wars that are still with us today. In 1981/82, the Beeman R1, which was also produced as the HW 80, hit 940 f.p.s. in .177. A year later, it was hitting 1,000 f.p.s. right out of the box, and that became the new standard for magnum airguns.
A couple years after that, Diana offered 1,100 f.p.s. with their sidelever models 48 and 52, and from that point on it was necessary to go even faster to gain recognition in the air rifle class. A thousand feet per second was now considered the lowest velocity a magnum airgun should achieve in .177 caliber.
Then, Gamo upped the ante with their 1200 Hunter Magnum that became the 1250 a year after it was introduced. This was in the late 1990s, and I was writing The Airgun Letter, so I obtained a 1250 from Gamo and tested it for myself. To my utter surprise, that test rifle achieved 1,257 f.p.s. with an RWS Hobby pellet. I thought the game was finally over. Boy, was I mistaken.
Within five years, air rifles started hitting the market with claims of over 1,300 f.p.s. And then they bumped up to 1,350 f.p.s. You could almost hear the various marketing departments discussing what they had to say in order to sell their next new magnum air rifle. But when I tested these guns, they fell short of their advertised marks. I was not quiet about that fact; but when the box on the store shelf says one thing and I say another, guess which one people believe?
The numbers kept right on climbing — up past 1,400 f.p.s., then 1,500 f.p.s. and finally stopping at 1,650 f.p.s. I’ve also tested many of these newer rifles; and while they often do achieve velocities that used to be impossible, like over 1,300 f.p.s., none has ever hit 1,500 f.p.s. without some kind of fuel-air explosion being involved. The fastest velocity I’ve ever recorded from a spring-piston air rifle was just at or under 1,400 f.p.s., and one person reported he had achieved a legitimate velocity of 1,425 f.p.s. I’m talking only about spring-piston air rifles now, because a .177 AirForce Condor has hit 1,486 f.p.s. in one of my tests.
While all these velocity claims were stacking up, the market was also flooded with lead-free pellets. Being lighter than lead pellets, these pellets went faster at the muzzle. The fact that they could not carry that velocity very far downrange was lost on the majority of people. One ambulance-chaser “expert” witness in a wrongful airgun death lawsuit went so far as to compare a magnum air rifle pellet to a .22 rimfire bullet fired from a handgun. He “demonstrated” on television that the airgun was faster than the firearm with no mention of the effects of a lightweight pellet compared to a 40-grain bullet. Well, a neutrino travels at nearly the speed of light and passes through the earth unresisted; but since it has almost no mass, it doesn’t do any damage. Velocity alone means little.
That is the story of the velocity claims for pellet guns that are either outright lies (where the actual number you can achieve without resorting to some trickery is lower than the claimed velocity) or are stretching the truth beyond credibility (where ultra-lightweight pellets are used to obtain the number).
This issue is the one I believe many folks do not consider when they focus on velocity claims that seem unrealistic. While we would never consider shooting a lead-free 5-grain pellet in a magnum air rifle, or in almost any air rifle, for that matter, there’s a reason to do it. Some communities and states have laws specifying the maximum velocity an airgun can legally achieve. If it exceeds that — well, the outcome isn’t clear because these laws are written in many different ways.
In one jurisdiction, the law may set an absolute maximum velocity for the airgun. No projectile weight is usually given in such a law, so if any pellet can exceed the maximum, the gun is not legal there. Working against such laws are the companies that make plastic airgun pellets weighing 3 grains or less. They will scream out of the muzzle and through the chronograph before slowing down as though they are tethered to the gun! Such pellets may bring a smile in certain places, but they can bring down the law in other places that have maximum velocity laws. The only thing that has kept many airguns safe so far is the general lack of knowledge that such pellets exist.
In another community, the law may include both a velocity maximum and a maximum muzzle energy. This law can be written two different ways. One is if the airgun surpasses either maximum it violates the law. The other way the law can be written is that the airgun must surpass both criteria before it violates the law.
Airgun manufacturers do not know all the laws that are in force. There’s no way they can because new laws are written all the time, and existing laws are modified or clarified to change their impact. In a country like the United Kingdom, where the law is relatively straightforward — keep the muzzle energy under 12 foot-pounds to stay legal as an airgun, the manufacturers have a parameter they can build to. But in a country like the United States — where airguns are totally unregulated in some places and highly regulated in others, a manufacturer stands little chance of remaining abreast of the law.
They do their best to comply with the laws they know and hope that companies like Pyramyd Air, who sell their products, will stay on top of things, too. They (the manufacturers) watch the big trends and try to tailor their products to those, and they trust their dealers to know the market they sell to.
Edith serves in this capacity for Pyramyd Air. She monitors state and local laws, and she calls the attorney general of any jurisdiction or state authorities if she finds the laws have changed or are going to change. Sometimes, she gets solid answers that can be trusted, but other times she discovers that the people in charge are not aware of how to interpret their own laws.
One example of this was in a Midwestern state that we won’t name to spare them embarrassment. Edith was unable to get an answer to a question about a law. She spoke to person after person in that state’s division that regulates guns. One time, she ended up speaking to a woman who was the head of the entire division because she’d gotten 5 different interpretations from 5 different officers. During the conversation, the head of the division mentioned that the ATF regulates all .50-caliber guns so the state didn’t have to regulate .50-caliber airguns. Of course, Edith explained that .50-caliber airguns are sold coast to coast in the U.S. and, except for a few states, are totally unregulated. Nothing she said could convince this woman. After all, Edith was just some person calling this police authority, so how could she know better. Sometimes, it’s impossible to counter ignorance.
Company velocity criteria
Some airgun manufacturers categorize their guns by the velocity they produce. Daisy is one that does. They have youth products separate from their Powerline products. They recommend their Powerline products for shooters 16 years and older. I searched the Daisy website looking for the velocity break between a youth gun and a Powerline gun but didn’t find a number. But looking at what the Powerline models deliver, it looks like it’s any gun capable of shooting faster than 600 f.p.s. in a long gun and all handguns. There’s also the Avanti line, which is for target shooting; and, while all the long guns shoot under 600 f.p.s. and are considered youth models, there are 2 pistols in the Avanti line and the Powerline designation is in their model names.
What does this mean to an airgunner?
An airgunner has no way of knowing the meaning of the velocity number that’s given with a particular airgun. It could be for bragging rights, or it could be the fastest velocity the company engineers were able to obtain from the gun under controlled conditions. They could be using the number to sell more guns to uneducated shooters, or they could be using it to segregate their products for sales to different jurisdictions.
Company A tests all their guns with real-world lead pellets that shooters might also use. AirForce Airguns is one such company, and they even tell you what the test pellet is (a Crosman Premier pellet of the appropriate caliber, by the way). Company B is run by the marketing department, and they inflate the velocities of their magnum line of rifles and pistols by 10 percent. I’ve had executives in these companies tell me they did this because — to use their own words — “Everyone else does it, so why shouldn’t we?”
Company C uses the lightest pellets they can find to test their guns, so they don’t run afoul of those places where velocity, alone, is the criteria. And so it goes. This is why it’s impossible to know what the velocity figures mean unless you know the company that publishes them and their policies.
And the answer is…
The answer is — there is no one answer. Airgun velocity is a complex topic that’s driven by forces both within and outside the company making the guns. This is where the budding airgunner has to become a thoughtful researcher when looking for a certain gun. Pyramyd Air tries to post the most correct velocity for each model, but they’re at the mercy of both the airgun manufacturers as well as the makers of pellets.
Experience is the best guide when it comes to this topic. With experience, you’ll know what the limits are, which companies do what with their numbers and so on. But never think for a moment that all published velocities are incorrect.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The new Umarex P-08 BB pistol is a stunning copy of the firearm.
Well, today’s the day we see how this Umarex P-08 BB pistol shoots. As you know, I think this pistol is a big deal because people have been asking for it for years. And, yes, I’m aware that there are Asian BB pistols in the P-08 style that are supposedly all-metal and have blowback with realistic toggle action. But are YOU aware that sometimes those Asian websites lie about what they have? Some of those guns don’t exist, and images are shown to see if there’s enough interest to warrant the development cost.
Think about that before you jump on the bandwagon and criticize a real product. You may be comparing it to something that doesn’t exist.
Back to the gun at hand — the Umarex P-08 is a double-action-only handgun, and I think you’ll understand what that means by now. If you don’t, click on the link to Part 2 above and look at the picture of the revolver. Some of you mentioned that the revolver also advances the cylinder with the trigger in addition to cocking the hammer spring…and you’re right. That does add some resistance to the total effort required. However, I find that it doesn’t add as much as you might think — perhaps 10 percent or so. The majority of the effort to pull the trigger is dedicated to compressing that powerful hammer or striker spring.
I learned in this test that I cannot control the P-08 double-action trigger as well as I thought. Of course, a single-action trigger that just breaks at a few pounds is much easier, but a week ago I shot a 4-inch, 7-shot group at 45 feet with my carry gun, which is a Micro Desert Eagle that’s DAO in .380 ACP. That pistol is lightweight and has a relatively snappy recoil, but the double-action trigger-pull is smooth all the way through. So, I can put the sights on target and hold them there through what is perhaps an 11- or 12-lb. pull.
That is what I was expecting to happen with this BB pistol, but it didn’t. Not quite. Oh, the trigger-pull does stack at the end, and it isn’t as heavy overall as the triggers in my firearms, but the last bit of effort seems to increase or rise a lot more. That rise is what I find difficult to control, and you’ll see the results today. The other problem is that the trigger comes very far back when pulled. It releases very close to the back of the triggerguard, and that’s the spot where the strength leaves your fingers.
This is a BB pistol, so I shot at 15 feet, which is the normal BB gun distance. You may think that’s too close for a target pistol, but wait until you see the results of the test. It turns out that 15 feet is a very good distance to shoot, for reasons I will address in a little bit.
I shot at a target pasted to the face of a Winchester Airgun Target Cube. I’m reporting on this target cube in all of the BB gun tests I do instead of writing a special blog about it. The cube now has well over 1,000 shots on it and some of the styrofoam is crumbling off, but it still stops every BB I shoot at it. I consider it an essential part of my shooting equipment; and even though I know it will eventually wear out, I think I’ll get a lot more use before that happens.
I tape a stiff cardboard section to the side of the cube where I plan to shoot. The cube now has holes on all four sides where styrofoam has been blasted out of the center, and I can’t stick any Shoot-N-C target stickers to the center of the cube’s sides. But the cardboard is smooth and takes the stickers perfectly. All I have to do is remove the cardboard after each session, and I think the cube will last a lot longer.
I like using the Shoot-N-C targets with BB guns because of the instant feedback. I’m not going to worry too much about the group size except in relation to my dime, so I don’t care that you can’t really measure a group on a Shoot-N-C target (because the paint flakes off farther in all directions than just the BB hole). The most important aspect is the immediate feedback I get from seeing where the BB went through the target, or after many shots, the fact that there’s no feedback at all. That tells me the BBs are going through the same holes.
This pistol seems to shoot to the exact point of aim at 15 feet, which makes that distance perfect for target shooting. The sights are not adjustable, but they seem to be perfectly centerd and regulated for height in the test gun. However, it does present a problem, as I discovered on the first target.
I use a 6 o’clock hold when target shooting, which means I align the sights with the bottom edge of the bullseye. Many guns are regulated to shoot their BBs up into the center of a small bullseye, but the P-08 places them exactly where you put the sights. So, the group on the first target is low. One shot is in the center, but that was the result of me pulling the trigger to get it to break. In other words, it’s a wild shot.
All the shots but 1 are at the point of aim. Notice how wide this group is. I’m having difficulty controlling the double-action trigger.
Please understand — this is an accurate BB gun. But I’m having difficulty controlling the trigger. That’s a good thing because it means this pistol can help me learn to better control a double-action trigger.
The one thing that the first target demonstrated was that I needed a smaller target. For the second group, I used a repair paster for the first target. That’s just the center of the bullseye and nothing else. I hoped that the group would be smaller with a smaller aim point; instead, it grew in size.
The second group was larger than the first. Clearly, I’m having difficulty controlling the trigger.
Changed the shooting method
If I wasn’t able to shoot well one-handed, then I figured I’d try it from a rested position. I positioned a chair backwards and rested my arm on the backrest, where I shot the third and fourth groups. I won’t show you group 3, but it was about three inches, and I discovered something while shooting it. If you squeeze the trigger too slow, it gets hung up at the end and will never break. Struggling to break the trigger slowly is why this group was so large.
Next, I tried leaning back, so the pistol was rested against the top of the chair’s back. This did improve things, but the trigger was still causing me some problems. As you can see, this group with a rested gun is larger than when I one-handed the pistol.
This group is long and narrow — the result of a trigger that’s releasing at odd times. Only one shot went wide.
Next I decided what I had to do was use two fingers to pull the trigger. And when I did that, it worked! Now, I could control the trigger as I wanted to; and when I did that, the gun shot to the point of aim every time. Only when I struggled with the trigger release did I throw shots out of the bull.
That’s more like it! Six shots in the black and 4 in the white off to the lower right. Two are in the same hole. This is what the P-08 can do.
In reality, you’re probably going to bounce soda cans around the yard and don’t need the pinpoint accuracy this pistol can deliver. It’ll do that all day long. You’re also going to get a workout for your trigger finger, but that will only improve all your other shooting.
This is the first BB pistol in a P-08 wrapper to make it to our shores. As such, it fills a demand that’s decades old. It’s all you could want in a gun for this price. It delivers the power that’s advertised and can nail the target when you do your part. A welcome addition to the marketplace.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I get to play with this wonderful new .22-caliber breakbarrel Walther LGV Challenger, and the experience was wonderful. Kevin — start thinking about a new gun! And Victor — stick around, because today you’re going to see an example of an airgun whose velocity claims are on the money. What a perfect way to get rid of the bad taste yesterday’s report left.
Oh, and to whoever said these were going to cost $700 — they’re not. This one is listed for $566.10 on the Pyramyd Air website (on the date this blog report was published). I realize that’s still a lot of money, but you can’t buy this level of quality for a whole lot less. The first time I cocked it for today’s velocity test, I was reminded of the bank-vault feel the action has. I cannot say enough good about it, except to tell Kevin that it cocks as nicely as my tuned Beeman R8. He’ll know what I mean.
What does a two-piece cocking link do?
I made an offhand remark in Part 1 that because this rifle has a two-piece cocking link that allows a shorter cocking slot, it vibrates less, and one reader asked me why that was. It isn’t because of the cocking link. It’s because the shorter slot in the stock makes the stock stiffer and less prone to vibrate. It’s a trick that’s been around since the 1960s and used to be touted by all the airgun catalogs.
The barrel is held shut by a lock whose latch can be seen sticking out the end of the forearm. Cocking requires that latch to be pushed up with the thumb and only then can the barrel be broken open. You don’t have to slap the muzzle like you do on so many air rifles today, but the barrel opens like a bank vault, also.
The LGV has a short-stroke piston, so when the rifle is cocked the barrel doesn’t go very far past 90 degrees. Compared to many magnum rifles we see today, it seems to stop very quickly when you break it down. The catalog says the rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, but my test specimen cocks with 33 lbs. of force. And, it feels like it may drop a pound or two after a good break-in.
“And don’t-cha wanna know how it works?” as the comedian Gallagher used to say. I selected three pellets to test today, though I may try others during the accuracy tests later on. Pellet No. 1 is that “standard candle,” the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Premiers averaged 587 f.p.s. in my test. The low was 583 and the high was 591 f.p.s., so the total velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s. That tight spread is phenomenal for a new springer and would even be considered good for a tuned gun.
At the average velocity, the test rifle generates 10.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. And speaking of velocities in this range, remember that 671 f.p.s is a “magic” number; because at that velocity, the energy of the pellet in foot-pounds equals its weight in grains. That makes it easy to know the power of the rifle you’re dealing with.
The second pellet I tested was another standard test pellet — the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby. It’s a pure-lead pellet, so it has high lubricity, and its skirt is both thin and flared wide enough to seal most barrels…and that holds true for all calibers. So, the Hobby is the pellet serious shooters select when they want to know the practical power and velocity limits for a given springer.
Hobbys averaged 664 f.p.s. from the test rifle. The low was 649 and the high was 670, so this spread was a much larger 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Hobby pellet generated 11.65 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
Gamo PBA Platinum
I don’t have a lot of lead-free pellets — especially in .22 caliber, so I had to use what I had. Ideally, I would have tested this rifle with the RWS HyperMax pellet that weighs 9.9 grains. But the Gamo PBA Platinum pellets I did test weigh 9.7 grains. Normally, they would be even faster, but these are very large and fit the bore tightly. I know that HyperMax pellets in .177 caliber are not that large, so I’m assuming they would also be smaller in .22 and would, therefore, be a little faster, as well.
The PBS Platinum pellets averaged 703 f.p.s. (see, Victor?) in the test rifle. The low was 691 and the high was 713 f.p.s., so a total spread of 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the PBA pellet generated 10.65 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle
So, this LGV Challenger is a 12 foot-pound gun. Ten years ago, that would be a suicide marketing venture, because the 1,000 f.p.s. mark was considered the gold standard (and 800 in .22). Today, we know better, and I’m here to tell you — this is a seriously classic air rifle. I can see a long and successful life ahead for the new LGV series, as long as it holds up in the accuracy department. And I think it has to, because I can tell the level of care that went into its design. Walther, all will be forgiven for re-using a classic model name if this test rifle shoots well.
The trigger is adjustable. I don’t have a manual, but I can see the screws, and they call it a match trigger. As it was shipped, the trigger was two-stage and released at 1 lb., 10 oz. The first stage takes about 7 oz., so you can’t really feel it at all and stage 2 is definite. I felt one jump of creep on the second stage, and that was it.
The first stage is quite long, and that may bother some folks. None of the two adjustments appears to affect this. The screw that’s in the trigger blade affects the length of the second-stage pull, and the Allen or hex screw that’s located behind the trigger blade affects the sear contact area. It’s possible to adjust out all the contact so the gun cannot be cocked.
What I found was that the trigger was adjusted as good as it gets when I received the rifle. So, the numbers above represent the best you can expect.
The rifle has a small shudder when it fires. It’s enough to tell you there’s a steel mainspring, but it’s not objectionable. I would leave it as is. The application of black tar would quiet the shudder, but you would lose a little velocity. Perhaps, some tolerances could be closed up or the piston might be buttoned to calm the gun, but that’s a topic for a real airgunsmith — not me.
Next, I plan to shoot the rifle with the open sights. I’ll light the target so I can use them without the fiberoptics showing, which will give greater precision. After that, I plan to mount a scope and test it again. If this rifle shoots well, it’ll be an instant classic!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m going to vent a little and tell you what disturbs me about airgunning.
This began with a letter I received. The writer spent two pages telling me why the Crosman M4-177 is not a good airgun and how unfair it is that it costs so much.
Yep! Apparently it’s unfair because it takes 10 pump strokes to pump the rifle completely, so for 15 shots he has to pump 150 times.
HUH? So what?
Well, according to the writer, that’s unfair, because, when you add sales tax to the price of a new M4-177, it comes to almost $100, which is a lot to pay for something that requires so much work.
Boy, am I glad I minored in psychology, because what this writer said in his letter had very little to do with what he really wanted to say.
He was angry because he had made a bad choice and didn’t like what he bought. And he didn’t want to be responsible for it. I normally associate this kind of behavior with younger people who don’t have that much experience and still think that life is supposed to be “fair.” But the man who wrote this letter is over 60 years old and tells me he has been forced to buy inexpensive airguns because he now lives on a very limited budget.
Okay, there is nothing I can do for this person. He doesn’t read the blog, so even if I try to tell him about a certain airgun’s characteristics, he isn’t going to see it. But he sure as heck knows where to complain when his life takes a bad turn!
Worst of all — I still have to answer this guy’s letter. He has asked me to explain to Crosman what a dismal failure their rifle is, but I don’t know how to do that when they are working two shifts a day just to keep up with the demand.
Too old for computers
Then there’s the guy (again, it’s a man) who tells me that he’s too old to use computers, but boy would he ever like to find such-and-such an airgun that he remembers from his youth. I tell him that these vintage airguns are as common on internet sales sites as the leaves on a tree, but Mr. Won’t-Look-At-Computers can’t be bothered to look up, can he? Oh, no! Better to walk around complaining while staring at the ground, because the light’s better down there!
Here comes the guy who has read several times in this blog where I say that magnum gas spring rifles are too hard to cock. So he goes out of his way to meet me at an airgun show, just to show me what a bodybuilder he is. He ain’t afraid of no gas spring — no sirree!
Three years later I meet him again and he apparently doesn’t remember our previous encounter, because now he tells me he’s into PCPs and lower-powered spring rifles like the Bronco and the vintage Diana 27. He tells me what wonderful things these low-powered spring guns are — they’re light, easy to cock, very accurate, quiet and they don’t require a lot of special handling technique to shoot well. Oh, my! I wish I had told him that to begin with (I’m being sarcastic, so please read it that way).
Please agree with me
I get airgun “questions” that aren’t really questions at all. They are manifestos that I’m supposed to agree with so the writer can tell the world that Tom Gaylord is on his side. He wants to run his .177-caliber Condor on helium with a tethered (never disconnected) tank, so he can dial up the velocity of a 6-grain pellet to 1,800 f.p.s., because that way the pellet would never drop in flight and he would be able to shoot something very far away without worrying how much the pellet drops.
If that was true, it would be wonderful; but even a .17 HM2 that starts a 17-grain bullet out at 2,100 f.p.s. eventually drops. You do have to take range into account. And the lighter the projectile, the lower the ballistic coefficient and the sooner the projectile will begin to drop.
What I’m saying is that Mr. Wizard hasn’t thought the whole thing through. He’s fixated on one parameter — velocity — and, as far as he’s concerned, that’s all that matters. He’s to real science as Diane Feinstein is to assault rifles — anything with a pistol grip is evil and velocity is the only thing that matters!
He knows not what he asks
Finally — and I’m stopping here because I’m getting real angry as I write this blog — I get a question that reads as follows: “I have a chance to go bear hunting with some friends. They’ll be using real guns, but I want to use an airgun. We will be flying to a base camp on Kodiak Island and then riding horses to the hunting area. I want to know whether I should choose a Sam Yang Big Bore 909S in .45 caliber or would a Benjamin Rogue work better? I’m leaning toward the Rogue because it holds 6 bullets and Kodiak bears are known to charge when the’ve been shot. The biggest real gun my friends have is a .338 Winchester Magnum, so both of these airguns are larger. What do you think?”
I think you had better get your affairs in order before you leave. Fortunately, I know your guide will stop you from doing what you propose, but who will stop the guy in Seattle who thinks a Walther CP99 would make a wonderful defense gun because it looks so intimidating and you can buy one without any paperwork? He’s serious, because to him this CO2 pistol looks like the real deal. But when the bad people come and he’s holding a pellet pistol, they aren’t going to laugh. Nor will he, if he lives through it.
Preaching to the choir
I know my blog readers aren’t the people I’m talking about. And those people will never read this blog, so I have no way of communicating with them until they decide to contact me for approval of their plans. But I have to tell someone something, so you got the duty.
By the way — in case you think things like this don’t happen, know that Edith is our editor and allowed this to get through. She knows, because she’s seen it all, too.
I feel better now.