AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank
AirForce Condor SS with Spin-Loc tank. The buttpad is shown flipped down.

Yesterday, I shot the AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank at 50 yards. I’m also going to show you that one surprising group I got last week when I tried shooting the rifle in windy weather. That is a pellet I need to try more often!

The day was not perfect for shooting airguns at 50 yards, but it was calm enough to get the best results. I proved that by shooting some groups when the wind wasn’t calm and they didn’t open at all. We’re talking about a 5 m.p.h. head-on breeze that occasionally dropped to 1 m.p.h. at the lowest, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. But when the target is 50 yards away, any breeze can affect the pellets.

I’m going to cut right to the chase in this report. I did try Beeman Kodiak pellets, as well as .22-caliber Crosman Premiers, and neither pellet was worth pursuing. Then, I tried the Air Arms Field Heavy pellet, and knew I’d found the right one. I got good 10-shot groups that had superior smaller groups inside them, but there were always a couple fliers. The power was set to 6 on the power window, and the discharge sound was quite loud, especially considering I was at a rifle range (with my ear protectors off, so I could hear what was really happening).

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 6-1
Ten Air Arms Field Heavy pellets went into 1.968 inches on power setting 6, but 8 of them went into 1.046 inches. That’s good, but why were there fliers?

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 6-2
This best group of 10 Air Arms pellets on power setting 6 went into 1.254 inches, but 9 of them are in 0.906 inches. Once again, we have a flier.

By this time, I had fired about 40 shots and was starting to understand how this rifle behaves. It seemed to be using too much air at power setting 6 with this pellet, so I dialed it back to power setting 4, and that’s where the magic started. The groups tightened up dramatically, and the fliers stopped altogether. Power setting 4 is where this rifle wants to be with this Air Arms Field Heavy pellet.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 4-1
This best group of 10 Air Arms pellets went into 0.873 inches. This was on power setting 4, which seems to be the best setting for this pellet.

Not only did I get better groups at power setting 4, but I also got an astounding 40 good shots per fill. The last 10 shots (shots 31 to 40) did open up just a bit, but even then the group was just 1.172 inches between centers, which is still very good for 10 shots at 50 yards.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 4-2
Shots 31-40 on power setting 4 did open up a bit; but these 10 pellets are still in 1.172 inches, and I got 40 shots from one fill.

I’ve a thought about what’s happening. I understand the Talon SS rifle and its 12-inch barrel quite well, and I also understand the Condor and its 24-inch barrel. What I do not yet have is much experience with a Condor valve and tank and an 18-inch barrel. I need more experience with this combination before I’ll be comfortable with the power settings and pellets that work the best. For now, though, the 18-grain Air Arms pellet on power setting 4 is the best in my test rifle.

A wind-bucking pellet
Now, for that pellet that seems to buck the wind better than the rest. It’s a Skenco New Boy Senior 28.6-grain dome. I shot it last week when the wind was higher and it bucked the wind when every other pellet was getting thrown around. My 10-shot group size was a bit large, at 1.704 inches, but 8 of those 10 pellets are in a tight 0.789 inches, and this was in considerable wind! I didn’t have any more of them for today’s test, but I’ll be ordering more for the future, I can assure you.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Skenco New Boy Senior pellet 4
On a windy day, 10 Skenco New Boy Senior pellets made a 1.704-inch group, but 8 of them landed in 0.789 inches. This is worth pursuing.

All things considered, the Condor SS performed flawlessly this day. I like the new trigger a lot, and the new safety is the best. I can’t wait to try out this rifle in some novel ways!

We aren’t done with the Condor SS yet. Next, I’m going to switch the Spin-Loc Hi-Flo tank with a standard tank, and we’ll look at the velocity, shot count, noise signature and accuracy at both 25 and 50 yards. By the time I’m finished, you all should know quite a lot about this new air rifle from AirForce.

42 thoughts on “AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 6

  1. Wow! At 28.6 grains, those Skenco are close to 80% the mass of some rim-fire ammo. My guess is that these are primarily recommended for PCP’s and not for springers (even powerful ones). Very nice groups overall for 50 yards!

    Victor



      • B.B.,

        In the current issue, June/July, of OUTDOOR LIFE (bottom of page 34), there’s a short piece on “Which bullet type is best for small game”. Bottom line, subsonic bullets retained much more of their mass (up to 99%) and penetrated the deepest. High velocity, and especially hollow-point, were the worst.

        Victor


        • Victor,

          I guess it depends on what you want to do with the game, because for varmints the lightweight frangible bullets are always the best. They explode the animal.

          B.B.


    • I shoot the Skenco 177 new boy heavy pellets and can get 22ft/lbs from a 12″ talon SS. But the real win is at lower pressures. I can plink light 177 pellets at 1500psi or pop a Skenco new boy 177 15.8gn in and suddenly get 14 ft/lbs without adding any air!

      I will buy some of these 22 pellets for my 24″ condor. I can’t wait :-)


    • Actually, at 28.6 grains, the Skencos ARE the mass of some rimfire ammo [22 short & long use a nominally 29gr bobo, which I'm sure on some brands would weigh in at 28.6gr... ;-) ]

      Of course, the Aguila Colibri & Super Colibri cartridges w/ their 20gr bullets & primer only loadings approximate the Beeman Kodiaks… ;-D


      • As I recall CCI Stingers are 29gr, in an extended length .22LR case.

        But… Some of the Eun Jin .22 pellets even exceed that in weight, and a Condor can launch them at moderate speed. (I’ve clocked 950fps/57ft-lbs for Eun Jin 28.5gr round nose, and 940/63.5 for 32.4gr pointed — and the Condor was only set at 8-0, so may have had enough margin to get those over 1000fps.


  2. BB do you have enough room to put a target lets say out at about 80 yrds or so. I think you will be amazed at what those two heavier pellets will group at that distance also.

    I don’t have a Condor or a Talon. But my Marauders like the heavier pellets also.

    And as far as the adjustable power wheel. I believe that is where the Air Force guns would have the one up on the Marauders. The Marauders really need a chrony to tune and set the gun for a certain velocity and fill. Then all you can really do with the Marauders is play around with pellet design and weight.

    With the Air Force guns (just like you said above) you can use the same pellet and just dial the power up or down for certain conditions.

    I really want one of these guns just for the fact of learning a new type of guns characteristics. I have pretty well decided that its going to be a Talon SS though for me. I think that the Talons quietness is winning over the Condor SS extra power.

    And also I wonder if the single shot that the guns are helps with accuracy. I know the Lothar barrels are the stuff. Thats what my 1720T has from the factory and it is single shot. So I believe that has to help the gun. (not to say the Marauders barrels ain’t good because they are very accurate guns also).

    But here is the big question that I keep thinking about is the inter-changeable barrels.
    When you change them. Is there a difference in the guns sighting?
    Do you have to re-sight every time you change the barrel? And is it by alot or a little? That would bother me if you have to.

    I spend alot of time getting my scopes zeroed. So I have had the above questions in my mind for awhile. Because that is another reason I have been leaning towards the Talon SS.

    If they are repeatable in scope zero after you replace the barrel then I may go with Johns suggestions and get a regular Talon and do some mods. That’s what I usually do anyway.

    Want to do something soon. But the Air Force guns are kind of scarce for some reason these days.
    Hmm….wonder if somebody is buying them up like the firearm ammo now days ???


    • Gunfun1,

      I guess you didn’t see the one-inchb 100-yard group I shot with a Condor last year. It’s in Part 1 of this report.

      B.B.


    • If you change barrels or even remove then reinstall the same barrel, you will have to zero again. P.O.I. can change by inches at 25 yds..
      You will also have to have the right fill and power wheel setting for each barrel and pellet for best performance. Tophat settings can be added to that too.

      twotalon


  3. I tried the .177 Skenco NBS in my Talon SS after I calmed it down a bit and they did pretty good, but the .177 Eun Jin actually did better. I was quite surprised because the Skenco looks like a much higher quality pellet than the Eun Jin.

    Gunfun1, unless you are wanting a more compact package I would recommend getting the Condor SS. By putting an o-ring behind the top hat on the valve stem you can cut the power down and it will be nice and quiet and get bunches and bunches of shots, but still have lots of power readily available. To bring the Talon SS up to the power level of the Condor SS will be a considerable financial investment, especially if you want it to be quiet also. When you buy a new valve/tank, barrel and suppressor you will have just about bought a new air rifle anyway.


  4. BB,

    while I have a tin of Skenco wadcutters (picked up last year at CT air gun show, I wanted to confirm that these are Chinese pellets? All the writing on my tin was in Kensai(?) or Chinese or Japanese characters. If Chinese, I worry about consistency in quality as with most things from China these days, especially with no third party oversight from the importer or distributor. Does it say on your container where these are made?

    Fred DPRoNJ


  5. B.B.

    Ever try a drooper mount on an AF rifle ? I can clearly see that the adjustable mounts on my Talons are set for a noticeable amount of droop . The scopes were optical centered (roll centering) before doing preliminary mount adjustments.

    twotalon


  6. Off topic of the day….

    It occurred to me that one really interesting thing that could be done in the spin/accuracy test is to have left hand twist barrels also.

    You zero rifle with say with the premier with right hand twist barrel. (Something that shoots well…) Shoot several other pellets and see how much up/down & left/right they shoot.

    Swap to left hand twist barrel. Zero again with premier. Shoot other pellets again. Now in which direction and by how much did they move?

    As Einstein said… “It’s all relative!”

    I can’t figure out how you’d get any absolute measurements on movement.

    I think you could use data to calculate some sort of combination of the yaw/precession angle for the pellets.


    • Barrel vibration would probably louse up such a test. About all you might see is an opposite direction of corkscrew if both barrels were corkscrewers, or if the pellets were inherently unstable and prone to corkscrew at distance.

      twotalon


      • TwoTalon,

        I’m sure this wouldn’t be perfect. But Tom has shot many targets where the pellets group tight, but the POI moves on the target from one pellet type to the next. So each group is tight, but the groups are in different positions. The gist is to try to measure the difference between left and right twist barrels for a given pellet. Half of that would give you some idea of how much the pellet has moved “offline.” If there were no aerodynamics then the pellet would just move up and down due to gravity.

        Round balls would probably curve the least, but group size is awful.

        In essence this combines the “drift” due to yaw and precession into one measurement if that makes sense. The problem with a “real” theoretical analysis is that you end up with a dozen parameters that need to be fit and not nearly enough data.


    • Herb ,

      I have a left twist, Para 45 that shoots pretty straight, so I’d say that it is “all relative” as Einstein said.

      /Dave


  7. twotalon and RidgeRunner thanks for the info. I believe that its going to be the Talon SS for me especialy after the info from both of you. I think I will get the Talon SS and just leave it alone and have fun shooting it.
    Seems to me with the power wheel adjustment that will be enuogh tunning for me. And if I remember correctly from what I have read it is a smaller lighter gun so that works for me also.


    • If you get it set up and leave it there, you don’t have to do a bunch of fooling around . You will always know what ammo to use and how it shoots.
      You should also take one or two shots with your chosen pellet after a fill, or if the rifle has been sitting overnight. Experience will tell you how many pellets you have to waste .

      twotalon


  8. The gun performs as I expected Airforce guns to perform. These have such legendary performance they are like the Lamborghini of airguns. This gun is on my most wanted list, but at $700 I’ll have a tough time saving up for it. But it would be worth it.


  9. Heh, heh. Beware the considerable temptation to look at sub-groups of a 10 shot group. The rationale for this size group in the first place is to account for statistical variation. Unless it’s a called flier, it’s not a flier.

    I seem to recall from David Tubb and Nancy Tompkins that headwinds and following winds have no effect on sight adjustment. But that doesn’t make sense since a headwind will slow down a pellet and give it more time to drop, and a tailwind will have a reverse effect. Perhaps they were talking about constant winds rather than variable winds. If you’re shooting in a variable wind, it is very chancy anyway. Oh, another thing the self-proclaimed sniper told me is that you Never correct for windage, only elevation. And he also told me that the world’s longest sniper shot ever at 2000 yards or whatever it was was done with a “12/9″ hold which meant something 12 feet high and 9 feet left or right–as if some standard holdover worked at all distances, including this very extreme one. The man was as crazy as a bedbug.

    Wulfraed, you’re way ahead of me with the Marauder action. I was thinking in terms of smooth, sticky, stiff, load of dust in the receiver, silky….

    Edith, thanks for checking on the Leaper’s flashlight for me. Michael, the weird thing is that not only were the various flashlight functions not working; they didn’t even exist. I checked the model very carefully–the EL338–and there was no trace of any controls for the advertised functions. Well, I’ve had good luck with Leapers before, so I’ll give them a try.

    Anyone know why Gurkha Kukri knives in Nepal are often made of leaf springs? Is this Third World improvisation or is there something about this kind of spring?

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      Leaf springs are very common, high carbon and therefore heart treatable. They’re already about the right thickness so when you heart them and beat them (forge) you don’t burn that valuable carbon content out of the metal and end up with soft steel. I’m a certified welder and a hack blacksmith so I do know a couple of things about steel, but I’m not a metallurgist though…

      /Dave


      • They work well, then (I know next to nothing about steel). And the source is cheap and reasonably plentiful!

        Finely crafted knives made of high quality, marvelously finished steel were available 150 years ago, but most utility knives west of the Mississippi then were made from files and even rasps, sometimes with no forging involved, just grind an edge on one side. H-E double hockey sticks, it’ll cut!

        Michael


    • “Michael, the weird thing is that not only were the various flashlight functions not working; they didn’t even exist.”

      Matt,

      I understood that. My point is that if the flashlight in question lacks the features it is supposed to have, then the flashlight is defective. A feature that is not there is a not-working feature.

      Here’s an analogy: a brand-new car that will not start is an extremely poor performing car. It is remarkably slow; it has terrible acceleration. It has unresponsive handling. I would rate it zero stars for each of those criteria. Maximum speed — zero, acceleration from zero – sixty is infinity, etc. Engine noise is nonexistant; however, so not all is negative.

      So, Leapers should replace your flashlight with the next higher model. That is what manufacturer warrantees are for, to correct defects (including product description defects) that are the fault of the manufacturer. (And from Leapers’ perspective, preventing this issue is what ad copy text proofreaders and technical writers are for.)

      My advice is that you are selective in your language as you describe the flashlights defects. “The SOS, strobe feature, and adjustable beam do not work on my flashlight, never have.” (That is not false; it is true.) “Please send me one on which these features function.”

      Michael



  10. TwoTalon,

    Agreed, I would expect some barrel to barrel differences. Wonder if Tom could get 5 right hand twist barrels to try. Find 5 pellets that have different left/right drifts. See if pattern is the same with all 5 barrels. Should give a clue about how much variation there is between barrels.

    I’d guess not much after you zero with some pellet. I’m sure that after putting on a new barrel that the zero for say the premiers would move.


  11. Herb..

    I think that the helical corkscrew spiral would run in opposite directions depending on r-l twist.

    Now when you look at the position of each group from a fixed distance, you can’t tell if it is vibration or not causing the horizontal difference. If you test at multiple distances to see where the groups are landing, then you will be able to see if the horizontal difference is caused by vibration or corkscrewing. Corkscrewing causes the groups to move to illogical places as you change distance. It is conspicuously different than normal drop and canting. It has it’s own signature.

    You would want to zero with each kind of pellet before each test so that they should drop straight down with distance (if nothing is wrong). That would eliminate a progressive sideways drift caused by starting out off zero, and make it easier to see what’s happening.

    The corkscrew would be easier to see if you shot at distances increasing by maybe 5 yds or so at a time. The groups should print in an arc of ever increasing size, probably in a clockwise direction ( I have a 50-50 of being right about that). If you shoot far enough, the groups will (individual groups) string out into arcs.

    I have had a couple rifles do consistent corkscrews. The groups don’t look bad at the zero distance, but I could not hit anything with them at any other distance.
    Shooting at multiple distances, the groups were landing too high, low, left, and right of where they should have been. Ever see a group drift into the crosswind from one distance, and with the crosswind from another distance ? I have.

    So…you have to determine if it is the dreaded corkscrew with one kind of pellet, or simply vibration. It could even be both. That might be a little tough to find out from target analysis.

    twotalon


    • TwoTalon,

      Agreed that you could analyze this to death. I’m talking about first shooting at a distance of say 20 yards where corkscrewing really shouldn’t be an issue.

      If you change barrels, I would expect the zero point of the scope for the Crosman premiers to change. So if you zero scope with barrel 1, then barrels 2,3,4,and 5 are going to hit somewhere else.

      The point would be to use say Crosman Premiers as the “standard” pellet for each barrel, and at each distance. You then measure where the other pellets go Up/down left/right relative to the premiers. I’d guess that it would be pretty consistent from barrel to barrel.

      So if 5 right hand barrels are consistent, then we could assume that 1 left hand barrel would be representative – so long as it group as well as the right hand barrels. You could always get a stinker for a barrel.

      ——————

      Since pellets are drag stabilized, they corkscrew in the opposite direction of the twist. So right-hand twist (clockwise) corkscrews counter-clockwise. This is different than bullets which corkscrew in same direction as twist.

      ——————–

      I’d agree that trying to figure out distance for corkscrew would be an interesting second part of the test. The axial and traverse moments of inertia could be calculated for each pellet type from the pellet’s cross-section. See for example:

      http://www.photosbykev.com/wordpress/2009/01/20/air-rifle-pellet-database/nggallery/pelletdb/pellet-sections/

      where cross sections have been made.

      I’m not sure how to put the equations together. I think you’d have to assume some sort of combined yaw/precession effect. Since “real” data on the aerodynamics of each pellet would be hard to get, I think you’d have to use experimental BC for each pellet with a theoretical angle dependency. Think of pellet as cylinder. As you change the angle of the pellet you change its frontal cross-section.

      Another factor in all of this is that the magic angle which causes the pellet to corkscrew would be different for each type of pellet.

      So I’m perplexed as how to approximate the physics for this. It is easy to put a transmitter in an artillery shell. To get teensy-tiny transmitters to put in 0.22 inch diabolo pellets is hard!


      • Herb…

        20 yds is awful close to get corkscrewing unless the barrel is bad. Bad pellets would only shotgun.
        It’s seriously doubtful that any corkscrewing would show up at that distance being caused by twist direction alone.

        But you can spend the time and money….I won’t.

        twotalon


        • What do you mean ? Pellet would only shotgun. Haven’t heard that term. Remember I’m getting old so I’m sure I missed this some how.

          I just want to know what that means…?


    • All in all ballistics is a really hard application of math to crack. If it was easy, the rifle guys would have figured it all out eons ago. Even for rifles it is still pretty much an experimental science.

      You theorize about loads/bullets all you want. Then you make some up, shoot them in your gun and see what happens. A good load for you probably won’t work for you buddy who has the same caliber, but different make of rifle. Such is ballistics.


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