Chinese KL-3B Fast Deer sidelever: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Fast Deer sidelever air rifle right
The Chinese Fast Deer sidelever air rifle is attractive. Does its performance live up to its looks?

It’s been a long time since we looked at the Fast Deer sidelever. The last report was in December of last year! At that time, I was unsatisfied with the results of the 25-yard targets because of how well the rifle seemed to do at 10 meters. I said we might come back to it, but the gun got put on the back burner to simmer while I did other things.

It was those other things that bring you today’s report, and surely the ones that must follow. I’ve spent a lot of time this year exploring the fundamentals of airgun accuracy. Of course, I’ve barely scratched the surface, but some of the things that have popped up have been surprisingly helpful in ways I couldn’t imagine when they happened. One of them was the test of the Diana model 25 smoothbore that we finished way back in March of this year. In Part 4 of that test, I saw that while the smoothbore was very accurate at 10 meters, it was pretty bad at 25 yards. From those results, I deduced that spin is important to stabilizing a pellet over longer distances, while the high drag of the diabolo pellet is sufficient for accuracy at close range.

It wasn’t until I wrote a column about the Fast Deer for Shotgun News this month that I noticed the Fast Deer’s 25-yard targets resembled those of the Diana 25 smoothbore more than a little. The Fast Deer was also accurate at 10 meters but not at 25 yards. So, here was a rifled bore that performed like a smoothbore. Could we learn something from this? Is the Fast Deer capable of better accuracy than we saw in Part 4?

I was so impressed by these results that I wrote a special report titled Advanced airgun diagnostics: Part 1, in which I showed you the comparison between the 2 airguns. Yesterday I tested the Fast Deer again at 25 yards, but this time I did so believing that it was the fault of the pellet that made the groups so large. Turns out I was only partly correct, and therein lies the meat of today’s report.

The test
I had one pellet that fit the Fast Deer’s bore well…both the skirt and the head. It’s a Tech Force domed pellet that Pyramyd Air used to sell but no longer does. That makes it a Chinese pellet, and I’ve seen only one other Chinese pellet that was worth a darn. That one was a hand-sorted wadcutter that I used to compete with in 10-meter pistol.

Fast Deer Chinese pellet
These Tech Force domed pellets are larger than most. They fit the bore of the Fast Deer rifle well.

The subject pellet fits the bore well, but not tight. Many other pellets just fall out of the breech, indicating a too-large bore, which is characteristic of Chinese air rifle barrels. I knew from the last test that the rifle was at least on paper at 25 yards, so I set up at 25 yards indoors and commenced firing. The first 10 pellets all landed to the right of the aim point, but they were all on paper, so I finished the first 10-shot group with the sights set where they were. This group measures 1.428 inches between centers. That’s not great, BUT — it’s actually smaller than the best group I had fired in the entire last report! In that session, the best group was shot with Air Arms Falcon pellets, so I knew I had to try them again for comparison; for now, I stayed with these Chinese domes.

Fast Deer Chinese pellet target 1
Ten pellets made this first 1.428-inch group. It may not look good, but this is the best 25-yard group this rifle has made so far.

After the first group was completed I adjusted the rear sight to the left. You may remember that I had flipped the sight backwards in response to a suggestion blog reader Vince gave me. That gives a sharper rear notch when aiming, and any little thing like that will help. So, all adjustment had to be done backwards; but since this sight has a very visible index mark to watch, the adjustment was no problem.

As I adjusted the sight, I also discovered that the entire unit is loose. It’s mounted on the gun securely enough, but the very construction of the sight itself is a sheetmetal tangle of parts that will always be loose and subject to movement.

Fast Deer rear sight
The rear sight is clearly marked and easy to adjust, but it’s always going to be loose because of how it’s made.

I decided that I had to push the sight to the left before every shot. That would hopefully return it to the same place every time, giving me the best chance to get good results from it despite its looseness. Then, I shot the next group with more Chinese domes. I forgot to move the sight for 2 of the 10 shots. Nevertheless, this group measures 1.328 inches between centers, which is a significant improvement.

Fast Deer Chinese pellet target 2
Ten shots went into 1.328 inches at 25 yards. I never thought I’d be happy with a group like this, but I am! It’s interesting that perhaps 6 of the pellets in this group went into a much smaller cluster near the center of the main group.

After this target, I adjusted the rear sight once more and then shot a third 10-shot group with the Chinese pellets. I only forgot to push the sight once this time, on shot 9. The group measures 1.597 inches between centers, which is the largest group shot this day with this pellet. Perhaps I was tiring?

Fast Deer Chinese pellet target 3
Ten shots went into 1.597 inches at 25 yards. I never thought I would be happy with a group like this, but I am! While it’s tempting to think that the shot on the left was the one that I didn’t push the rear sight for, I cannot say that for certain.

Falcon pellets
It was time to try the Falcon pellets again. In the last test, 10 Falcons made a group that measured 1.497 inches between centers at 25 yards. This time, 10 went into 1.783 inches. Obviously that’s a lot larger; but if you examine the group, you’ll see that 7 of the pellets went into just 0.692 inches. Taking that and the other group-within-a-group that I shot with the Chinese domes, I came to the conclusion that this Fast Deer may really be accurate but is being hindered by its open sights. The next test of this rifle must therefore have a scope mounted.

Fast Deer Falcon pellet target
Ten shots went into 1.783 inches at 25 yards. While that isn’t very good, look what 7 of those shots did! That’s a 0.692-inch group.

Summary
I do not like testing airguns that have been given every chance and still haven’t performed. Every once in awhile, something anomalous like this Fast Deer jumps out at me and needs to be investigated further. If it hadn’t been for my going over the results of this rifle so close to the time I reported similar results from the Diana 25 smoothbore, I might never have given this rifle its second chance today. Now, we’ll all get to see if that was worth it.

I admitted up front that this test demonstrated that the pellet was only part of the reason the Fast Deer has been inaccurate at 25 yards. From today’s test, we might conclude that the poor rear sight that moves is also affecting the outcome. In the next test, I need to make sure that the scope is locked down solid, so the rifle is free to be as good as it can be.

43 thoughts on “Chinese KL-3B Fast Deer sidelever: Part 5

  1. Maybe your on to something about the open sight. The scope just may change the gun.

    Ain’t it funny how little things like that get over looked at times. Seems that when you concentrate on one thing you have a chance of missing something else. And it usually is the simplest things.

    But still I don’t know if I trust the quality issue.
    One of the most important parts of the gun (the sights) and it doesn’t work good. Hopefully the scope is part of the cure.


    • GF1

      There will still be a problem anyway….obsolete pellets. Maybe B.B. needs to find a kind of pellet that will fit this thing that is presently available. Otherwise we run into the “Remington Syndrome”. Some time ago, they made a nice little 5mm rimfire. They made the ammo too, but when they discontinued the rifle guess what else happened ? They dropped the ammo too, and left everyone holding useless rifles. See the need for alternate ammo here ?

      twotalon


      • That Remington 5mm rifle was the problem as it not suitable for the power of the round. It was built on their .22RF platform , and a cheap version at that. BB should take some “Goop” or “Shoe Goo” and put a dab on either side of that sight ato keep it from moving.


        • Robert..

          My brother liked his 5mm, but anyway…

          My 48 had a sloppy sight. I removed the elevation screw and flipped the sight up. I placed a strip of plastic over the lower pant, then pushed the top back down over it. Fits snug, but elevation has to be adjusted in the downward direction. The spring will not push the sight back up by itself if adjusted up.
          I used a piece of the zipper from a Ziplock bag.

          twotalon



          • I have a few of the TS-45 rifles around here and the rear sights are different but the problem is the same as this Fast Deer that BB is testing . The rear sights do have side to side play which I took up by squashing them a bit. Crosman Quest series have similar issues with their rear sight units. If anything they are worse, in fact I replaced the rear sight on one of mine with the one that BB has on his gun now. The one I used is tight and an improvement over the factory part. A Chinese pellet that works for me that is available are the “Peak ” brand pellets. Good for sub-600 fps velocities. Been shooting the pointed .25 cal version in my BSA Supersport , and they shot as good as the H&N FTT, plus I don’t have to hammer them into the breech.


            • Where do you find these pellets ? I am always looking for alternatives that have a reasonable fit. You can never have too many options.

              twotalon



  2. I dunno, but I think Townsend Whelen might have weighed in on this subject.

    The test that indicated the Fast Deer might have promise was the 10 meter test. In that test, the only two pellets that did well were both wadcutters. Wadcutter accuracy falls off at 25 yards.

    Even at only 10 meters, the results from quality domed pellets were mediocre, at best. Chinese domed pellets at 25 yards? You could cut my skepticism with a knife.

    I won’t be holding my breath for good accuracy from this gun, even with a scope. I know BB is a good/great shot with open sights. And the open sights did not hold him back at 10 meters, so I don’t see the sights as being the limiting factor at 25 yards. You must hand it to him for giving this modest gun (that Pyramyd Air doesn’t even sell) so much effort to get it to shoot. Most folks would not have the patience.

    Perhaps I am wrong, it happened once before.

    If I may be so bold, can I suggest a premium pellet in a large size since the bore seems big? Something like the H&N Baracuda Match in the 4.53 head size.



      • Frank

        Actually, I only said that so that I would sound modest. I was fairly certain that I am always right.

        But because you asked, I checked with Mrs. Slinging Lead to confirm. She reported that I am wrong so often, I am getting really good at it! So at least I have that going for me.


    • Could it be that open sight accuracy falls off faster than scope accuracy? I think that might be a distinct possibility. I think it’s fair to say that open sights will not reach out as far as a scope.

      Matt61


  3. I saw an interesting pistol from Xsisco that was a breakbarrel in .22 reviewed on Youtube yesterday.I don’t recall the model number,but it did reasonably well accuracy wise.Especially considering that the shooter was resting it wrong IMHO directly on a bag rest.


  4. The 12 year old optimist is battling the crusty curmedgeon inside me today.

    The 12 year old always holds out hope that an inexpensive airgun like the fast deer will be discovered like a precious gemstone in a vast field of common rocks.

    The fast deer would make most 12 year olds happy since it could make cans dance and break bottles at short distances.

    Unfortunately I’m not 12 years old.

    I want reliable accuracy (not hit or miss bores from china), can’t live with a 12 pound trigger, prefer better finish and want sights that work. In my view the fast deer (and others like it) exist only to underscore why the bronco is such a bargain.

    Rant over.

    crusty curmedgeon




      • Matt61,

        We’re fine but many folks in Colorado aren’t.

        I’ve shot airguns with Scott DeCapio. Scott used to travel the country shooting FT and has a magnificent collection of high end pcp’s and some finely tuned springers. He lives in glen haven and his wife had a store on main street in glen haven.

        They lost their home and their store to the flood. Scott was out of town during the flooding but his wife camped on higher ground for 3 days until she was rescued. Here’s a video of what’s left of their town:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stghpQxrbUQ

        kevin


  5. The sights is one of the things like I mentioned above that could help the gun. And I maybe will take a bet that the pellet will do the trick.

    Some times the flat nose wad-cutter pellets help stabilise the pellet out to a certain distance depending on the gun. But they slow up fast.

    Maybe a medium weight swaged pellet would be the answer with a semi-flat nose instead of a dome. If a person had access to make different size swages easily. You could maybe get the fit of the swaged pellet better for the variation in the manufacturing of the barrels.

    And the gun just may only perform good out to a certain distance and you just have to know that when you shoot it.


  6. Late question on drooping:

    I think I still don’t understand something about the drooping barrel issue. Or rather, I have a hypothetical explanation and I’d like to hear your opinions. Suppose I have a gun which has the scope base perfectly aligned with the barrel and I mount a scope which is centered and also parallel to the barrel. If I then shoot a target at point-blank range, the point of impact will be below the point of aim by exactly the same amount that the scope is above the barrel. At all ranges more distant, the point of impact will drop further. This theory has the benefit of explaining why most barrels droop. It also explains why gun manufacturers can’t build compensation into their scope bases — they don’t know how high you will mount your scope. This theory, in combination with the trend of larger objective lenses (and consequent higher scope mounts) might also explain why the problem has become worse in recent years for firearms. I’m aware that this theory is incomplete because it does not explain the correlation with break barrels tending to have more droop.

    An ambitious person might do some math to see if the experimentally measured droop for some gun corresponds to the height of the scope mount. It also suggests an experiment — measure the apparent barrel droop with a scope mounted at a variety of heights. Or maybe it’s obvious to everybody but me why this theory fails to explain the observed behavior — in that case, please fill me in!

    Thanks for your consideration!


    • Paul..

      We say that a barrel has no droop when the axis of the scope is parallel to the barrel. Scope height has nothing to do with droop. The scope’s adjustments should be able to easily zero the scope unless you are trying to shoot very long impractical distances.

      You have droop when the scope’s axis is NOT parallel to the barrel the barrel. No matter what the mount height, the angle will still be the same. This causes the need for extreme scope adjustment to zero. Often a lot more adjustment than the scope has. Drooper mounts have a built in tilt that attempts to offset the out of parallel condition enough that you can get the scope to zero.

      Break barrels usually have the most droop (downward tilt) , but it can happen with fixed barrel guns too.

      twotalon


  7. BB,

    I had the same loose sight problem on my Izh 46m and it drove me crazy for a while. It would bounce back to poi for a bunch of shots giving me a decent group and then one or two would go out into left field. Finally found the loose screw on the underside of the barrel-air cylinder assembly and one on the sight that were the culprits.

    I’d be willing to bet that you can take that rear sight off and tighten it up with some shims or a pair of vise grips (slow and careful here….). That would at least take the sight out of the list of variables on this gun.

    /Dave


  8. Well, having a loose sight obviously doesn’t help. But if there’s a reason to hope for accuracy at 25 yards, I missed it. Beware of getting caught up with groups within a group. That is the very thing these 10 shot groups are supposed to prevent. And are your groups-within-a-group consecutive shots or the best of the bunch? Consecutive shots I could see a little more–definitely not the cherry-picked group. But consecutive shot groups of a small size are still subject to statistical variation.

    Matt61


    • Matt,

      Since I didn’t watch the target as I shot I can’t tell when the particular shots hit. I’m also not certain that the rear sight is to blame for the larger groups. It just seems like it could be.

      That’s why I want to scope the rifle and check it again.

      B.B.


  9. When I see things like this it only serves to reinforce my belief that chinese guns as well as everything else chinese made isn’t worth owning. They have always had a “good enough is good enough” manufacturing process. They use out of spec parts designed to fail, cheap wood, toxic cheap paints, the rifling in most guns is a sad joke. Things that should be sturdy steel are cheap plastic. Sometimes even the wood isn’t even wood. It’s plastic made to look like wood. I have a B3-2 which is a sterling example of what happens when chinese are making things to their standards. There are sharp edges on the stamped metal, which is very low grade. Sights on the front were crooked to the point of uselessness until I clamped the muzzle in a vice and twisted them straight. Even the unknown wood is cheap. The but stock pad is an ill fit since nobody took time to line things up. And the stock has obviously been painted with a orange brown paint with a paint brush. I don’t know if the brush wielder was just in a hurry or just did not care enough to do a neat job. It’s surprising the thing is fairly accurate. My BAM B3-1 is even worse. It can’t even shoot straight. (I’m trying very hard to sell both guns. Nobody wants them.) I’m guessing since the chinese are known for poor quality is the reason I can’t sell them. But compared to my chinese bike trailer these guns look well made.


  10. I got a gecado model 24 smooth bore from my father that has only a fore sight it was his first rifle butt i have shooting it since 1 was about nine. what i have learned is that you must hold it the same way with same head possession all the time to keep repeating accuracy.I now use this technique with better equip rifles and it works wonders. Long story short everything has to be the same to get the same results every time. bb I think a scope will give good results with traditional pellets in this gun.


    • triniair,

      You are describing one of the most important techniques that a good shooter uses to stay accurate! Good for you that you learned it on your own.

      I will be testing a Diana 23 next week. Your Gecado was also made by Diana. My rifle is smaller than yours, but it will look familiar.

      B.B.


  11. B.B. or Edith

    I just saw that PA now has the synthetic stock Marauders on the site now. Do you know if PA will in the future carry the synthetic stock alone for those of us that might want to change out the stock on our older Marauders? Thanks.

    David H


    • David H.,

      Unfortunately that isn’t possible. The rifle in the synthetic stock has a different trigger that precludes installation of the current Marauder action. I already asked Crosman about that.

      B.B.


      • B.B.

        That’s a shame. I like the profile of the synthetic stock. Oh well, I might end up eventually getting the new one in a different caliber than what I have now.

        David H


  12. bb, it makes me think about my stoeger x5. it had the sight adjusted all the way to the left, and needed more. I was reading a few posts on them in gta, all were adjusted to the left. I was cleaning the barrel and was looking it over . the light bulb in my head poped on as I looked at the front sight . wow it wasn’t set in the middle. I took it off and put it back on dead centered . now when open sighted its just 1 line on the sight off from centered on the rear sight . I posted about that on gta . next day I got about 6 replies “thanks bob mine was off too”i must have made some happy campers with that. not its a very nice gun to shoot


  13. Regarding your Diana 23 test, I have a Diana 22. It has a rifled brass barrel inserted in a stamped steel barrel sleeve. It has a leather washer at the end of the compression chamber instead of at the chamber end of the barrel (BECAUSE OF THE BRASS LINER? ) It shoots groups comparable to my Slavia 618 and my Haenel md 1 (1/2- 1 ” at 10 meters.) I would like some information about my D22 and its history. It has a date of 4-35 on its butt. Ed


    • zimbabwaeed,

      Your model 22 is a serious cut below the model 23. The brass barrel liner is evidence of that. The fact that it is rifled is surprising. Remember the Diana model 25 I tested that has a smoothbore barrel? That was a full-sized barrel, so to rifle a brass liner seems strange. I have seen it done before, but I don’t think it is very common.

      The model 22 was made between 1927 and 1940. It was one step above a model 16, whose stock stops at the triggerguard. The model 22 nomenclature was used after the war, from 1953 to 1985, but although the 2 guns look similar, they don’t share any common parts.

      B.B.


  14. looking forward to the scoped test, just paid for one of these myself, £45 posted in the uk, not a bad price, been after a side lever for some time, i now have my prefered break barrel (xs20 aka HW95 clone) under lever (bam B40 one of the orig TX200 clones), pcp a origonal birmingham made webley raider 2 shot, and im hoping this side lever will set of my collection nicely :)


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