AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 7

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank
AirForce Condor SS with Spin-Loc tank.

I bet some of you thought we were finished with the AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank. Well, we are…in a way. I’m removing the Hi-Flo Spin-Loc tank and replacing it with a standard AirForce tank. Instead of the Hi-Flo valve that gets 20-25 shots per fill, this tank has the standard valve that gives 35-40 good shots per fill. Of course, the power is lower, but it’s still a powerful airgun.

Blog reader Gunfun1 recently asked me to test the Talon SS rifle with all three barrel lengths so he could see the power and velocity increase that the longer barrels bring. I will do that in a future series, but today’s test is different. What we’re testing today is how a Condor powerplant and a .22-caliber 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel performs with the standard tank. The Condor and Condor SS share a common powerplant and air tank — only the barrel lengths differ.

Valvology
Let’s talk about pneumatic valves for a minute to gain a better understanding of what we’re testing. A couple things determine how much power a precharged pneumatic airgun has, and most of them are attributed to the valve. Fundamentally, it comes down to how much compressed air gets through the valve. That’s controlled by two things. The first is the size of the air hole running through the valve. A Hi-Flo valve has a huge hole running though it, so more air gets through each time the valve opens.

AirForce Condor SS Hi-Flo tank and standard tank
The Hi-Flo tank on the left has a larger hole at the end of its valve stem than the standard tank on the right. This is where the extra power comes from.

The second thing that determines how much air gets through a valve is how long it stays open. For a knock-open design like the AirForce valve, the duration the valve remains open is controlled by the length of the valve stem stroke and the strength of the valve return spring (the spring that closes the valve after the shot is fired).

Think of it like this. A hundred thousand people cannot all go through your front door at the same time. The number that can get through depends on how wide the doorway is and how long the door stays open. The moment the door starts to open, people can start coming though; and they’ll continue until the door closes. If a powerful man controls the door, only a few people will get through at a time. If a child controls it, many more will get though each time.

A Hi-Flo valve is like a very large door, while a standard tank is like a regular door. But here is the thing. No matter whether there are a hundred thousand people or two hundred thousand people outside the door (the analog of the air pressure inside the tank), only a certain number will get though each time it opens. And if the number of people outside the door becomes too large, they press against the door and hold it shut. No amount of force can open it then. That’s valve lock.

Barrel length
I’ve said many times that a pneumatic barrel is a lot like the barrel in a black powder gun — the longer the barrel is (within limits): the more time the gas has to push against the pellet, the faster it will exit the muzzle. Bore diameter also figures into this equation. A .177 barrel runs out of steam sooner than a .22 barrel does. The longer barrel is also tied to the caliber. This deserves an explanation.

Imagine 2 funnels. Both have spouts that are 3″ long. One spout is .25″ diameter on the inside, the other spout is 1″ diameter on the inside. Which funnel will empty fastest? The one with the wider spout. That’s because more of the material that passes through the funnel is not in direct (frictional) contact with the walls of the spout. Don’t get confused by what I just said. The larger spout does have more material that’s in contact with the spout; but because the inside diameter of the spout is larger, a much greater amount of material never touches the walls of the spout.

We’ve been testing a .22-caliber Condor SS that has an 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel. As we saw in the earlier tests, this barrel is 6 inches shorter than a regular Condor barrel and produces somewhat less velocity than a standard Condor of the same caliber. We’re now going to install a standard tank that has a smaller valve, so the velocity will drop. That’s one way of looking at it.

The other way to look at this is a standard Talon SS has a 12-inch Lothar Walther barrel. This rifle’s barrel is 6 inches longer. We’re about to see what a longer barrel does with the standard tank. The only difference between today’s rifle and an AirForce Talon (not the SS — the Talon that has an 18-inch barrel) will be the Condor powerplant, which means the weight of the striker. That will add a little velocity because the valve is being opened more forcefully. Going back to the door analogy, it won’t affect things nearly as much as those additional six inches of barrel.

Installing the standard tank
The Condor SS I have is fitted with a Spin-Loc tank. It stays on the rifle all the time and is filled through a male Schraeder nipple. To convert to the standard tank, I’ll remove the Spin-Loc tank with the wrench supplied by AirForce. Then the standard tank will spin on and off for filling, just like it does on my older Talon SS. No tools are required, but of course it does not have a built-in pressure gauge, either. So, I’m back to counting the shots fired; but in today’s test, we’ll see exactly how many good shots there are in this tank at high power.

The test
For the purpose of comparison, I’m going to test the same pellets and the same power settings as were used in the Condor SS test. While those pellets aren’t necessarily correct for this lower-powered rifle, it will give you a basis for comparison between the two tanks, which is all we’re testing here.

Condor SS velocity

AirForce Condor SS velocity data

What we have learned?
There isn’t much adjustability with the Condor SS using the standard tank. I haven’t given you the velocity spreads or the shot count, which are all very close, regardless of the power setting. I actually recorded over 40 shots on power setting 10; so I think I would shoot 40 shots per fill, regardless of where the power was set. The velocity spread varied by pellet, but not so much by power setting. It was about 32 f.p.s. across 40 shots for Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes; 41 f.p.s for 40 Premiers; 25 f.p.s. for 40 JSB Exact Jumbos, except on power setting 4, where it was 17 f.p.s. and 15 f.p.s. for 40 Beeman Kodiaks.

I would set the power on No. 4 for the test rifle because that setting gave more power and velocity than any other setting. You probably want to know why that is. I think the valve opens too forcefully at settings above 4, and it bounces (flutters open and closed rapidly) on the valve seat, costing power. But on setting 4, it doesn’t bounce and thus gets the highest power. Note that setting 2 was always less than setting 4. I believe the valve on setting 2 is not bouncing, but actually opening cleanly, which is why it resembles some of the higher power settings that are bouncing. At least that’s my theory.

The Condor SS is quieter with the standard tank, but it isn’t absolutely quiet. It sounds about like a Talon SS at power setting 10. That’s pleasant, like a loud hand clap. It is quite a bit quieter than with the Hi-Flo tank attached.

Summary
There’s less power when you use the Condor SS with the standard tank, but you just about double the shot count. And the discharge noise is less than that of the gun with the Hi-Flo tank.

What you get when the rifle is set up this way is a Talon that’s a little quieter. The Talon has more adjustability, of course, but today we’ve looked at a way to enjoy more flexibility from your rifle without buying another complete PCP.

If I were to use the standard tank with the Condor SS, I would set it to power level 4 and shoot 40 shots per fill. That would be regardless of which pellet I used.

We’ve already seen the accuracy of this rifle at 25 and 50 yards. Is it necessary for me to do those tests again with the standard tank installed? I think the group sizes will be similar, but of course they’re never quite the same. I’ll let you readers decide.

37 Responses to “AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 7”

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    Valvology! BB I would of took that class if they offered it. Maybe they did? But not with that unique name. :)
    And I now you said you have a lot of deadlines to fulfill. So thanks in advance about the Talon SS barrel test. But what you said above answers alot of questions.

    But one of the question I have is about valve lock (The Marauder guns seem to be similar)
    I have only had my Talon SS for a few days. Of course it has the standard tank on it. But I would like to know if this is common.
    It has the .177 barrel. And with the Sound Loc Kit installed.
    I’m shooting the Air Arms field heavy pellets (I know the silencing kit and the pellets have nothing to do with valve lock so I don’t even know why I stated that).

    But just coincidence I’m sure. But my Talon SS really likes power setting 4 also. But here is where I believe valve lock is coming into play on my TSS. If I fill above 2500 psi the power output is down. But from 2500 psi to 1500 psi the gun shoots great. And I’m getting a good 50 shots or better in that fill range.

    Is this how you avoid valve lock on the Airforce guns also?

    By adjusting fill pressure to the power wheel setting? The higher the setting of the power wheel, the more fill pressure up to 3000 psi you can use without getting some valve lock with the first 5-10 shots or so that you fire?

    Well maybe to many questions. But main one is. Does the 2500 psi down to 1500 psi on power setting 4 sound like reasonable results. To me the gun is performing great.

    Hope I didn’t get of track to much. But the slight valve lock kind of stood out to me from messing with the Marauders. And the Marauders are a knock open design also. But the valve is in the main airtube.

    And according to the chart above to the standard tank seems like it is more efficient when controlling the airflow.

    • FrankB Says:

      Your results sound great Gunfun1……don’t concern yourself about the lower fill pressure.It is just a function of having a lighter striker in a Talon than a Condor has.What matters is the shot count/consistency.Looking on the bright side,whether you fill from a tank or a pump 2,500psi is nice.

    • Gunfun1,

      FrankB’s answer is about the one I would have given. Never worry about the fill pressure when you get a good string of good shots. In fact, you are blessed with this, because you’ll get more from a scuba tank or the hand pump will be easier.

      The .177s always were a bit twitchy. It’s the bore size.

      B.B.

    • Ridgerunner Says:

      Before I started my rebuild of my TSS that I got from Mac, my fill pressure was 1800 PSI! We will see if I am still blessed with such a low pressure when I get done.

  • Lee Says:

    BB, I notice that Beeman Kodiak produce the same fps at power level 10 and 2. I wonder if you could test which setting is more efficient (yield more shot count with same fill).

    My pcp with modified power adjuster have similar behavior when its speed actually drop at max power setting and I would like to compare the result.

    Oh and like GunFun I would like very much to see blog entry on Valvology.

    @GunFun,
    I think all MSP/PCP with knock open valve can have valve lock condition. Even my 397 pumper valve locked once.

    • Lee,

      Since the gun got the same number of shots on 2 and 10, it really doesn’t matter. I would use 2, because the valve is working as it should.

      I’m pretty sure that valve bounce on the higher power settings is why this happens. Especially in that instance, because the Condor SS powerplant really is not recommended for the standard tank.

      B.B.

      • Lee Says:

        Thanks BB. Your test certainly shows full Condor SS potential with hi Flo tank. As for efficiency on max power setting, I gained additional 2 shots on average compared to lower setting. Not much but noticeable.

  • griz Says:

    Hi BB,
    Just wondering if you also left in the condor’s hammer weight with the standard tank for this test? i am assuming the new condor ss still has one? removing it would allow for a bit milder velocities on the low end as well as a few more shots per fill.

    • FrankB Says:

      The striker weight was in for this test……based on BB’s terminology “Condor powerplant” as well as the results and where he refers specifically to the weight of the striker being different from the Talon.

    • griz,

      FrankB got it right. That’s how you know the powerplant is untouched.

      B.B.

  • twotalon Says:

    Looks normal, and as expected.

    twotalon

  • G & G Says:

    B.B.
    Well, I am glad to hear that the standard tank is quieter on the Condor S.S. It means I can finally get one.

    However, I have looked through the Air Force Accessories page on P.A.’s site several times now and I do not see a standard tank (without Spin-Loc or High Flow Valve) for a Condor or Condor SS.

    There is a standard tank offered for the Talon but not the Condor. Do they happen to be the same tank and the site simply does not say that or are they different tanks? Or do I have to order one directly from Air Force? Thanks for the clarification.
    G & G

  • no new jersey mike Says:

    Can the new tank be installed by user,or does the factory have
    to do it?

    • NNJMIke,

      As I described in this report, the user removes the old tank with the supplied wrench and then the standard tank screws on and off as it always has.

      You are thinking about converting an existing old-style gun to use the Spin-Loc tank. That has to be done by the factory.

      Once converted, the owner does the rest.

      B.B.

      • Wulfraed Says:

        Oh, is conversion now an option? Other than replacing the main frame component?

        I’d gotten an impression, from an earlier blog entry, that the older frames couldn’t be converted (Haven’t look but I’d suspect there may not be enough metal to ream out space for the Spin-Loc bushing)

    • no new jersey mike Says:

      Thanks for your response on the Condor standard tank,I did think
      that the Spin Lock Tank had to be factory installed,It’ll give
      me an excuse to get a new Condor in a different caliber instead
      of sending it back.

  • griz Says:

    the tanks are easily switched by the user. it only takes minutes, even with spinloc

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    We were talking about the fill pressure above. And yes I’m glad that it worked out that way with my gun.
    I like the gun alot. I haven’t used the chrony on the gun yet. But I can tell its hitting hard.

    And BB I would like to see the Condor SS tested at 25 and 50 yrds. with the standard tank. Maybe you can compare some of the targets side by side with the 2 different tanks in Part 7 or something.

    And with the valve controlling the air better maybe it will help the grouping of the shots some.

  • Matt61 Says:

    It sounds like high power can mess you up at the valve as well as the muzzle.

    Edith, I seem to recall that high-end ceramic knives can be sharp. We settled for less. But the good ceramic knives bring us full circle back to the stone age. Under a microscope, certain cutting edges on stone age tools were sharper and finer than surgeon’s scalpels. I guess the cavemen knew a thing or two as I had always suspected. Throw in a little materials science and their idea is perfected. I don’t know that you can get rid of the brittleness that hampered them as weapons. But for a dedicated purpose like cutting, they have a lot going for them.

    Steven Seagal is such a juicy topic that I neglected to respond to. I can’t stand the guy either when I’m not laughing about him. It seems that he is a pathological liar. He created some mythology that he was born in a low-end neighborhood in New Jersey and had obscure gang connections when he actually came from an affluent middle class neighborhood in Michigan. His Aikido training partners in Japan said that he spent most of his time playing the guitar. He does seem to have acquired legitimate Aikido skills and he’s apparently a very good shot with a pistol. However, his martial arts is an abomination. Aikido is a version of Jiu-Jitsu designed to be non-aggressive. Seagal’s movie characters are often more violent than the criminals. His Aikido is also very ineffective. Any one of the locking techniques that he uses are supposed to be finishing moves that put the opponent away for good. You don’t keep letting them up to throw around and through plate glass windows. In the latter part of his career, he has really gone off the rails. He’s bloated out, which is not the martial way. And he seems to think he is some kind of reincarnation of Buddha or the Dalai Lama, all while continuing to be a couch caster for his leading ladies and borderline rapist. He is one of the more ludicrous people in the entertainment world which is saying something. As a matter of fact, he did get his comeuppance. Some time ago, through complicated circumstances, he fell afoul of the real mafia. It had something to do with movie rights and profits. Anyway, they had a very frank conversation and the mafia, as reported in an article, were very amused afterwards because they said that Seagal looked “petrified.” Anyway, like other people in the public eye, he seems to have shrugged this off and kept going.

    Speaking of which, rhinoceri are again in the news. Eliot Spitzer is again running for office in New York. He says that you need a hide thick as a rhinoceros. He’s right. I read that their hide is two inches thick.

    CowBoyStar Dad, interestingly enough, the Ka Bar has had criticisms. The most interesting one is that the point is not midway in the blade which is supposed to be optimal for the clip point design–that middle position of the point across the blade width is supposed to make for more effective thrusts. You can clearly see that the point is upswept considerably more than that and way off the midline. But there’s not doubt that it works from the many reports by the Marines, and also with my own experiments with a honeydew melon. The KaBar slid in there with frightening ease. The KaBar products are also so well made that it makes up for a lot. I accidentally dropped mine point first on an ammo can so that it bounced back up two feet in the air and there was no damage whatsoever. You’re right about the Sykes-Fairbairn knife as a classic worth owning. It is a version of the timeless stiletto design that is the iconic WWII knife used by the peerless British commandos and is essential to the Commonwealth’s heritage! There are some criticisms about its fragility, and it won’t do too much good on a camping trip. But it is well worth owning.

    Thanks, Slinging Lead, for the info. Got it.

    Matt61

  • baldred Says:

    B.B. would it work to replace a .177 barrel on an RWS 350 Magnum with a .22 barrel?

    Is the air port from the cylinder the same size on both the .177 and .22

    • baldred,

      It should work fine. As far as I know the transfer ports are the same size on each model of Diana spring guns. That’s the way it is for all other springers.

      So it should just be a barrel replacement.

      B.B.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    After looking at the results of the 1:12″ twist barrel on the Part 12 How does twist rate affect velocity and/or accuracy.
    I think that the above test with the standard tank at 25 and 50 yrds. would be a good test. Like you said with the 1:12″ twist barrel. You were surprised with the results. You already went this far with the above data with the power wheel settings,pellets used and fps.

    So why not. If it works and helps accuracy some more. Its a very easy modification for people that already own Talons with the standard tank if they are thinking about getting a Condor SS.
    And another benefit. You get to go shoot again.

    Which probably will be me in the future after now having my Talon SS and seeing the many possibility’s of the Airforce guns. It would be one more fact that would set my mind on getting the Condor SS. Plus you mentioned quieter. If I had a Condor SS, heck I would do the test. But I ain’t got one yet. :(

    But I will have one sooner or later. :)

    • GF1,

      I guess I will do the accuracy test.

      Thanks,

      B.B.

      • Gunfun1 Says:

        And thanks BB it will help me out if you do the test. All this info is perfect timing for me. I plan on getting a Condor SS at some point in time. That is the gun I plan on changing things around on.

        So the info I seen so far has already gave me ideas of what way I’m going to configure the CSS when I get it.

  • Gunfun1 Says:

    I guess its ok to post this.

    I was checking to see if the Condor SS made it into stock yet.
    They show the Blue .25 cal. is in stock. And the Black .177 cal. also.

    Just thought I would post if anybody was interested.

  • Hari Says:

    Dear BB Pelletier, I bought the afc condor (not SS) last month, the safety, spin lock tank is same as condor SS but the barrel is like condor, no sound suppresor there…Model RO401… Is this original afc condor..? I bought in Indonesia…
    Thank you

    Hari

    • Hari,

      There are many counterfeit AirForce rifles being sold in Asia these days. AirForce does not export there, as far as I know.

      It is impossible for me to tell you whether your rifle is genuine or not without examining it in person.

      I’m sorry,

      B.B.

  • Hari Says:

    Thank’s BB, just for info I bought it for $1600…. Just want to know what the model sold in US ? Is there are sold model RO401…?
    Again thank you

    • Wulfraed Says:

      From what I’ve been able to track down, ALL AirForce products have model numbers starting with Uxxxx (or AFUxxxx on Pyramyd’s site; the AirForce catalog doesn’t actually list model numbers for the guns themselves, just accessories).

      $1600? Is that US dollars, Australian dollars, or something else? In US dollars, $1000 could get you a Condor, air pump, and a scope.

      • hari Says:

        hi Wulfraed, yes there are in US$… some cost need as tax .. custom… etc…, for the model number yes perhaps what we have is not made in USA …. that is my destiny that I am not stay in US …
        however if you want to know what the afc condor that I have, I will send the photos … say this is as your reference what the gun look like in out side US …. just send PM to my email address…
        thank you

    • Hari,

      I never heard of a model number like that, and I worked at AirForce for 3 years.

      The Condor sells in the U.S. for $655 at this time.

      Here is a listing:

      http://www.pyramydair.com/s/m/AirForce_Condor_PCP_Air_Rifle/3072

      AirForce told me people are buying large numbers of Lothar Walther barrels from them, and they think they are going to Asia. So that may be what you have.

      B.B.

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