Testing the effect of hold on an accurate spring-piston air rifle: Part 2

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

Testing the effect of hold on an accurate spring-piston air rifle: Part 1
Calling the shot and follow-through
Settling into a firing position

I thought this was going to be a one-time report. I would show how the hold affects the accuracy of a spring-piston rifle and that would be it. Well, the best-laid plans…

Blog reader Slinging Lead said he thought that lower-powered breakbarrels shoot just as accurately when rested directly on a bag as they do when shot with the artillery hold. I had to admit that the TX200 does shoot well off a bag, although that rifle is an underlever — not a breakbarrel. And it’s certainly not lower-powered. Then, blog reader BG_Farmer entered the conversation and requested this test.

While all this was transpiring, blog reader Kevin Lentz sent me 2 tins of Air Arms Falcon pellets to try in my R8. He said his R8 shot them slightly better than it shot the JSB Exact RS pellets that I normally use in my R8.

Now, we had a multivariate discussion going on! On one hand we wondered which pellets were the most accurate in my R8; and on the other hand, we wondered if the gun was as accurate when rested directly on the bag as it was when held with the artillery hold.

How do you test all that? Do you start by testing one of the 2 pellets, or do you first find the best hold? My approach in situations like this has always been to just start testing and let the methodology work itself out as I progress.

This time, I started by shooting the gun with both pellets. I shot them with the artillery hold the way I always had, then I rested the gun directly on the sandbag and shot both pellets again. The first day’s results were not very good, but they did illuminate something that helped me structure the second day’s shooting. It turns out that, although the R8 is a very accurate springer, it’s still ultra-sensitive to hold. I guess I’d forgotten that, but on the first day’s shooting it slapped me in the face. I found that even the slightest variation in hold would throw the pellet sideways with a vengeance, and that held true for both the Falcon pellets and the JSB Exact RS pellets.

Ten-shot groups are the way to go
Once again, I must sing the praises of 10-shot groups over 5-shot groups. When you shoot 10 shots, you allow the gun to do its thing; and that tells you what the real accuracy is. People say they don’t shoot 10 shots because something can go wrong — that it’s easy to hold the rifle steady for 5 shots, but close to impossible to hold it right 10 times in a row. I say that’s just a lie we tell ourselves because 5-shot groups look so much better. Yes, it’s hard to hold a gun correctly 10 times in a row; and yes, you’ll make mistakes. I make them all the time. But if you get into the habit of shooting 10-shot groups, you’ll also KNOW when you make those mistakes; and in time, you’ll make fewer of them.

The first results — JSB Exact RS pellets
The rest of this report will be mostly the photos of the groups. I’ll start with the JSB Exact RS pellets.

JSB Exact RS pellets handheld poor hold
On the first day, this is what my artillery hold did with 10 JSB RS pellets at 25 yards. Group measures 0.647 inches.

JSB Exact RS pellets handheld good hold
On the second day, my artillery hold was more precise shot-to-shot, and I got groups that were smaller and rounder. Here are 10 JSB RS pellets from the artillery hold at 25 yards. Group measures 0.503 inches.

JSB Exact RS pellets bag rested day 1
Resting directly on the bag on the first day produced a slightly smaller group than the handheld one. Ten JSB RS pellets rested on a bag went into 0.571 inches between centers at 25 yards.

JSB Exact RS pellets bag rested day 2
Resting directly on the bag on day 2 also beat the handheld group on that day.Ten JSB RS pellets rested on a bag went into 0.379 inches between centers at 25 yards. This is the smallest group of this test.

Clearly, these results show that the groups of JSB Exact RS pellets fired off the bag are smaller than the handheld groups on both days. The day 1 groups are larger than the day 2 groups, but the relationships of the group sizes between bag-rested and handheld remained constant on both days.

Air Arms Falcon pellets
Now, let’s see what happened with the Air Arms Falcon pellets. These were also shot on both days and using both resting methods.

Air Arms Falcon pellets handheld poor hold
On the first day, this is what my artillery hold did with 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets at 25 yards. Group measures 0.63 inches. It’s slightly better than the handheld JSB RS group shot on the same day.

Air Arms Falcon pellets handheld good hold
On day ,2 the group shot with my artillery hold and 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets at 25 yards measures 0.466 inches. It’s considerably better than the handheld JSB RS group shot on day 1.

Air Arms Falcon pellets bag rested day 1
On the first day, 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets at 25 yards shot with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag went into 0.627 inches. It’s slightly better than the handheld Falcon group shot on the same day.

Air Arms Falcon pellets bag rested day 2
On the second day, 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets at 25 yards shot with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag went into 0.603 inches. It’s much worse than the handheld Falcon group shot on the same day. I know this group APPEARS larger than the group above, but I measured it several times and it really is slightly smaller.

Conclusions
I conclude that these 2 pellets perform so close to each other that there’s no measurable difference — at least not in my Beeman R8. The group sizes do slightly favor the JSB pellets over the Falcons, but it’s too close to call.

But this test does demonstrate one thing very clearly. This rifle is capable of shooting groups just as tight when rested directly on a sandbag as when held with the artillery hold. That’s big news, I think. I’ll remind you that this test required the utmost in precision holding — whether in the hands or on the bag. There could be absolutely no tension on the rifle, and the gun had to be settled in properly before firing. It, therefore, took nearly as long to get each shot ready on the bag as it did holding the gun.

Don’t try to go too far
This is all well and good, but don’t sit in judgement of these results. It would be far too easy to get sucked into a destructive discussion of how much better you think this rifle can really shoot.

Many years ago, I worked for an engineering firm that developed specialized telecommunications systems. Our client was always pushing past the edge of technological possibility, so we were, too. That’s admirable except it sometimes gets you into problem areas. Let’s look at one example. The client wanted a mass storage device that stored a huge amount of data. They also wanted the data to be retrievable within a very short time. You can do one thing or the other; but when you try to do both simultaneously, there are problems.

Our problems can be seen in the movie Patriot Games, when the main character is attempting to do voice recognition in real time from a cell phone intercept. There’s a glass wall behind him, and the mass storage device behind the wall is very much like the one we were asked to design. As you watch the film, you’ll see robot arms moving fast to retrieve digital storage devices and plug them into readers. The arms move very fast! But they’re slow compared to the speed our robots had to move. Our arms had to move faster than the speed of sound, yet stop at precisely the right spot for the storage devices to be inserted into the readers. That is a physical impossibility just due to the physics of the problem. You cannot decelerate a mass from fast to zero without some consequences.

We had a problem that was unsolvable at the time we were attempting to do it. Today, however, it can be done, and the footprint of the system that does it is a fraction the size of what we were working on. Mass storage technology caught up with our technological requirement and then surpassed it.

You run into the same problem when you attempt to test something like the rifle we’re looking at today. You can get a spring-piston gun to a remarkable level of precision, and then the technology and physical limitations stop all further progress.

Put another way, you can take a $500 spring gun and invest another $500 to get it shooting 10 times better than before. But after you do, maybe no amount of additional money can get that more accurate airgun to shoot another 10 times better!

I could probably continue to test this rifle and get different results. Some would be better than what is seen here, and others would be worse. I believe this test does show the relationship quite well of the gun to the 2 pellets and 2 different holds.

70 Responses to “Testing the effect of hold on an accurate spring-piston air rifle: Part 2”

  • Slinging Lead Says:

    BB

    Not to put too fine a point on it, but I feel I should clarify my comments regarding shooting directly off of a rest.

    First I would like to point out that I specified lower recoil not lower power. Sometimes they go hand in hand, sometimes not. As you pointed out the TX200 is not lower powered, though it certainly has lower recoil. On the other end of the spectrum you have the IZH61, which due to its low weight has a fair amount of recoil despite being lower powered. I cannot shoot the 61 well rested directly on the bag.

    Secondly, and less importantly, I was talking about springers in general, not specifically breakbarrels.

    Thirdly I cannot overstress the importance that the surface texture of the bag has on the shot cycle. When I first tried shooting directly off of the bag the results were mixed. It was only after covering the bag with a beanie or woolen hat that the groups really began to shrink. The very low friction of the polished wood forearm on the knit cap allows the maximum amount of recoil from the gun, which after all is the essence of the artillery hold.

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      SL,

      Well, I guess I left out a lot of stuff you were after. Kevin also told me about using a silk cloth on the bag. Well, I did try that, but the groups opened up.

      I think if any more testing is to be done on this topic it will have to be done by the folks who know what to do.

      B.B.

      • Slinging Lead Says:

        You didn’t leave out anything I was after. I think it was a great report, and I was not surprised at all by your results.

        The main thing I was attempting to get across was that in the comment of mine that you were referencing I didn’t write “lower-powered breakbarrels.” I wrote “springers with lower recoil”. While that may sound like a distinction without a difference to some, you and I both know that the TX200 is neither a breakbarrel nor lower-powered. The R8 on the other hand falls into both categories.

        My second, less important point was that when I first tried shooting directly off the bag, my results were not impressive. The surface was too grippy to allow the gun to recoil in the artillery fashion. After adding the knit hat, my groups improved. Your bag apparently does not give you the problems mine first did. So much the better if you don’t require a cover for your shooting bag.

    • Matt61 Says:

      I never thought of the IZH61 having low recoil, but I guess it could because of its light weight. I’ve shot the gun so much that everything is familiar and I have no perspective. But I do agree with B.B.’s comment long ago that the rifle performs better standing than a bag. Standing is all I do and have no problems with accuracy.

      Matt61

      • Slinging Lead Says:

        Matt61

        My point was that the IZH61 did not have low recoil despite having low power which is because of the low weight. The reason I brought up the 61 was to draw a distinction between low recoil and low power.

        I think you may have misread what I wrote. I stated that I did not shoot the 61 directly off of a bag. The recoil is too high and the forearm surface to too rough to slide smoothly on the bag.

    • J-F Says:

      Sorry to be late to the party.
      I’ve heard of people resting their guns on a small rig made with a small paint roller.
      It lets the gun recoil yet is stable and using a foam roller it will also cushion the gun.

      Here are two models I find interesting:

      http://i378.photobucket.com/albums/oo221/rsterne/Springers/SpringerBenchRestRoller.jpg
      http://i246.photobucket.com/albums/gg118/maximusmm/IMG_0376_zps68196712.jpg

      J-F

  • john Says:

    B.B.

    When switching pellets during a gun’s shooting session, is a routine followed to condition the bore to the new pellet?

    john

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      John,

      It is routine for some folks — not for me. I have seen few results to suggest that barrel conditioning works. More suggest that as you continue to shoot, you settle in with the pellet.

      B.B.

  • RidgeRunner Says:

    The sproinger I am looking for has not been built as of yet, I think. The technology is here, it is just that the manufacturers have not put it together yet. I am wanting to take the new Walther LGV guts and put them into the FWB 300 series or RWS 54. Or even an adjustable gas spring into them. I guess I could take a 54 and tune it down and it would be closer to what I would want. Ideally, I probably would want the TX200 on rails or the FWB 300 on steroids.

    • duskwight Says:

      RR

      Then who can stop you from building this beauty yourself? ;)

      duskwight

      • RidgeRunner Says:

        My wallet prevents me from even owning one of the aforementioned, let alone modifying one of them. Perhaps this will change in the future.

        • Slinging Lead Says:

          RidgeRunner

          I see the prices on these guns going up, not coming down. The TX now costs $100 more than when I bought mine.

          • Slinging Lead Says:

            RR

            Sorry, the first time I read your comment I interpreted it to mean you hoped that the prices would go down. When my reply posted, I reread your comment and saw that wasn’t necessarily what you were talking about.

            Here’s to hoping our wallets won’t keep either of us from the things we want in the future.

    • Sam Says:

      Try the TX200 SR. I don’t think they are made anymore but I see them used every once in awhile.

      • B.B. Pelletier Says:

        Sam,

        I owned a TX200SR and I shot several others in test. It was very overrated. It couldn’t keep up with a regular TX 200, plus it took 10 more pounds to cock than the regular TX.

        B.B.

        • RidgeRunner Says:

          Have you as of yet tried out the Benjamin/Crosman/Wang Po Industries MAV-77 yet? I am hoping that should it ever come to market, it will be halfway decent. I might be able to afford one of these.

        • Sam Says:

          B.B.
          That is very good to know. I own a TX200 and always thought I would get an SR someday but the price always stopped me. Now I can stop worrying about it.

  • duskwight Says:

    Back online.
    Spent a week on a business trip and without a rifle, which is sad.

    On the subject of current blog:
    I think there’s a sort of equation for a springer: piston impulse + working cycle “cleanness” (I mean optimal spring performance, minimized “buzzes” and side impulses) – mass (system total mass+system total integrity, like bedding and correct screw tightening etc.).
    Take for example Izh-60 – low-powered rifle with low impulse, but with very light stock and quite low integrity. In sum it makes not an easy rifle to master and requires quite a degree of holding skill. On the other hand take 30J SPR bedded into a “shillelagh” stock weighing 6+ kilos, and I think it’s much easier to shoot good groups with it.

    duskwight

    • Matt61 Says:

      Wow, where would such an equation come from? I will concede that given some of the features of my B30 like it’s higher power, heavier weight, and inferior scope, I am surprised at how it shoots compared to the IZH 61.

      Matt61

  • twotalon Says:

    B.B.

    Matter of curiosity…

    How many groups do you shoot (on the average) with each kind of pellet , provided that they are not shotgunning ? Or does the number of groups vary depending how well you know the gun ?

    twotalon

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      TT,

      I shoot more than I show. It’s done on a case by case basis.

      B.B.

      • Beazer Says:

        Howdy Mr. BB & the Gang! Open question to all who own/owned a TX that can shoot better than me, which is anyone who knows which end the pellet comes out of. W/your best scope, best pellet & on your best day,what were you able to get out of your TX, please? Lookin’ for a 23 yard, 10 shot group benchmark so when I actually can hit paper, I have a goal. So far I’ve hit the truck, toolbox, velvet Elvis, garage door, took out a light & something that squealed, that I haven’t figured out. Wasn’t the main squeeze, cuz she’s still talkin’ ta me, let ya know when I figure it out!?! But I’m gettin’ better, the targets on the same wall as the garage door! Thanx for your time, ya’ll, GREAT stuff, Mr. BB. Shoot/ride safe
        Beaz

        • B.B. Pelletier Says:

          Beazer,

          At 23 yards shooting JSB Exact 15.9-grain pellets I think a TX should put 10 into 0.35″ or so.

          But maybe I need to fire up the old TX myself. I’ve been talking about it a lot without shooting it very much.

          B.B.

          • Beazer Says:

            Thanx for the reply Mr. BB, I’m honored. My setup is exactly the same as what you’re holding on the PA website. A Hawke Sidewinder 30, UTG high rings, only difference is I added a BKL scope level. Mine is a southpaw .177. The guys @ PA said I couldn’t have a .22, might put somebody’s eye out. I’m shooting your recommended JSB 10.34′s. Best so far is a .320. Am I dressed up & headed in the right direction, please, sir? Thanx for your time.

            • B.B. Pelletier Says:

              Beazer,

              Okay, it’s a .177. Sorry about that. Yes, I’d say your groups are right where they should be.

              I can’t wait to see what I can do with mine.

              Don’t forget to try Beeman Kodiaks, too.

              B.B.

              • Beazer Says:

                Yes sir, had 6 of the pellets from your favs list ya did a little while back, the ones I didn’t have came in the same order w/the TX. Much easier ta work on fundamentals & experiment with hold & pellets if I know that I’m at least in the ballpark of what the TX can do. Did manage a .270 w/Mr. Nasty, once after 2 years of strugglin’. The .320 w/TX was the 3rd attempt at a serious (meaning I was wearin’ my Roy Rogers Lil’ Buckaroo lucky skivies) 23 yard group outa the box. Would respectfully disagree with your description of the TX being a pleasure ta shoot, for me it’s more of a religious experience. OMG!!!

          • Slinging Lead Says:

            BB

            After testing the Walther LGV at 50 yards you discussed the possibility of testing the TX200 at 50 yards as well, for comparison purposes. Perhaps that would be a good excuse to dust off that pretty little filly?

  • Doug Says:

    Hi B.B.,

    I know this is blasphemous but, I was thinking about selling my AA TX200. It’s one year old, in perfect condition and has had about 1000 pellets put through it. It’s beautiful and accurate, of course, but I find it to be a little on the heavy side. I own a .177 Marauder and it has made me a huge fan of PCP air rifles. So, I was thinking that once I sell my TX200, I could buy either a .22 Airforce Condor SS or a .177 Airforce Talon SS. How much do you think I could sell my TX200 for?

    Thank you,

    Doug

  • Fred DPRoNJ Says:

    Well I think the tin of Falcons I got must be from a different batch than Kevin has and sent to you, BB. I have had no luck in trying to get them to group better in any rifle I have as opposed to JSB’s and H & N’s. The latter will group better than the JSB’s, depending on the rifle. However, I’ll keep them in mind as a fourth option behind the H&N’s, JSB’s and Crosman Premiers.

    Fred DPRoNJ

  • kevin Says:

    This has been a very interesting series on several fronts.

    In my opinion, plinking with a springer is relaxing but testing a springer for ultimate accuracy is exhausting. A correct hold must be discovered and precisely repeated. Settling in, follow through, trigger control, etc. take time. One flyer is humbling and frustrating and many times causes me to start a group over since I suspect it was me not the gun. These numerous 10 shot groups shown above to compare precision obviously took a lot of time and concentration.

    In my experience, very few springers will reward you with ultimate accuracy while being shot directly off a rest. This R8 appears to be one of them.

    B.B. said, “It would be far too easy to get sucked into a destructive discussion of how much better you think this rifle can really shoot.” This is an interesting statement that I don’t quite understand since there’s a picture of a 0.379″ 10 shot group that R8 shot at 25 yards. I’m a pretty good shot and it’s a rare day that I have put 10 shots into a group that size at 25 yards.

    In this same vein I have to tell on myself.

    I haven’t had time to shoot springers much this summer. All this talk about the R8 made me get mine out over the holiday and blow the dust out of it. Got the gun out, set up the bench, put out some targets at 25 yards, adjusted the scope and started shooting. My R8 was tuned by Paul Watts and is a dream to shoot.

    I already know from extensive shooting of the R8 that the air arm falcons are the best pellet in my gun. Because I’m such a fantastic airgunner and knew I was shooting the best pellets I was disappointed that my first four shots were over an inch apart.

    Told myself to move to the next dot on the target and focus on fundamentals. Told myself, You’re rusty, just relax, breathe. I shot for 3 more groups and couldn’t keep 10 pellets under an inch. Many groups were 2″ or more. What?

    A light went off. Got out my b-square kit and checked the stock screws and scope mount screws. My front trigger guard screw was loose! What an idiot. I forgot to check the screws before shooting.

    I didn’t shoot a 0.379″ group but shot several under a half inch which is good for me.

    kevin

    • Victor Says:

      Kevin,

      I’ve often said that I don’t plink, and yet I once wrote about how much fun I had plinking my brand new Titan GP, while visiting public lands outside of Salt Lake City.

      Looking back, I think I’ve made a big mistake by introducing people to shooting by trying to get them to shoot their tightest groups, and especially when allowing them to compare theirs with mine. Had I been wiser, I would have just let them have fun shooting reactive targets, or paper targets that allowed them to more easily hit the bull.

      Not all shooters want to shoot tight groups. Some will never enjoy that particular pursuit. It just isn’t fun for them. Maybe they know their limitations. Maybe they just want to have fun.

      Sometimes it’s fun to setup a target at a 100 yards, just to see if you get lucky half the time. Fun, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder (sometimes).

      Victor

  • cowboystar dad Says:

    Got to pass on some of the knowledge I’ve learned here on the weekend.
    Was at the range on Sunday when a fellow showed up with a Gamo Varmint Stalker. He set up some targets at 15m and proceeded to shoot some nice 4″ groups ;-(
    He then started to complain that there was obviously something wrong with the ‘useless’ gun because this was the 3rd time he’d had it out (it was new) and 4″ was about as good as it could do.
    I asked to try it and put 3 shots in the dead center of the target (the gun was scoped and factory sighted).
    I then explained the artillery hold. His only other gun was a 7mm magnum and he was holding the Gamo the same way he held the 7mm…very firmly.
    He tried the artillery hold and immediately cut his groups in half…which made him extremely happy.
    Another shooter walked up and was showing some interest in the ‘b.b.’ gun.
    The owner then proceeded to show the fellow how it wasn’t just a b.b. gun by showing him how loud it was…cocking it and DRY FIRING it.
    So I got to explain another nugget I learned here…how if he continued to do that he in fact would have a ‘useless’ gun.

    • Victor Says:

      Cowboystar Dad,

      Great story! When I first got my Gamo CF-X, I one time forgot to load a pellet. I was shooting from inside through a rear sliding glass door to a target outside 10 meters away. That was so loud that I thought that something had exploded! Had to change my underwear, in fact. :)

      That is a violent sound that should tell anyone that something isn’t right, I would have thought.

      I hope that these posts don’t influence airgun manufacturers to advertise how loud their guns are when dry-firing (in addition to bogus velocity claims). :)

      Victor

  • BG_Farmer Says:

    BB,
    That was a lot of work, and I feel a little guilty for causing it, but I think you got useful results. I really don’t see it as an invalidation of the artillery hold, but rather a proof of its utility, i.e., allowing free recoil. I think there is another test (which I believe some [incl. Fred?] have already done) implicit in where the rifle is rested, either directly or using the artillery hold). The difference between best results with either hold seem statistically insignificant.

    You make a good point on the details. When you get to the last “10%” of anything, details don’t just matter, they are everything. That is one reason I am, at times, a VERY good shot off the bench (relative to people “off the street”, so to speak), but can’t hold a candle to the guys that shoot 200 yard bench rest competitively :)! I am impressed by your consistency on 10 shot groups. Finally, I understand why you think it is not instructive to speculate on how much better the rifle could possibly shoot, but I would posit that even now, you have not maxed out this R8. That is not to impugn your skills, but rather to praise the rifle; it is very nice to know that a rifle will outshoot its human operator, i.e. have one that isn’t outgrown quickly.

  • kevin Says:

    Here’s the rest of my confession about what I did over the holiday to re-discover the accuracy in my R8.

    I had forgotten that my R8 likes the pellets seated deeply to shoot accurately. I’m sure that tightening the trigger guard screw helped the most but I also started seating the pellets deeply and the groups shrunk by an average of two thirds.

    I really need to shrink the number of airguns I own so I can remember their nuances or make better notes in my notebook. Remembering to check the notebook would then be required so not sure that would help someone like me.

    kevin

  • Matt61 Says:

    That’s interesting and unexpected about the accuracy from a bag. But maybe the issue is more psychological than mechanical. A resting bag speaks of solidity and firmness so you are moved to hold the rifle that way. To hold the rifle loosely on the bag is counterintuitive. And when you have mastered it, so what? It’s almost easier to do a more traditional artillery hold. Otherwise, one other thing that can be done for this test is to reduce the number of variables. Even if someone can hold it all in their heads at one time, I suspect that you are going to run into a coupling of variables with some pellets working with particular rifles under particular conditions. It would be easier to focus on a few things.

    Just back from North Carolina and a trip to the shooting range worthy of Slinging Lead. I was there for a wedding, and one of the activities was a trip to a shooting range–on the wedding day no less! This idea came from the bride’s father who is a military veteran. So, I and this other fellow arrive at the range at the appointed time. When nobody else showed, the other guy asked for shooting lessons. The man behind the counter was all excited and signed him up for rifle and pistol. He wanted to start with pistol which I thought was a little weird. The pistol is more difficult. Is this a version of starting hard and getting easy like starting with iron sights instead of a scope? Anyway, the moment of truth came, and the guy said, “Where’s your gear?” It turned out that you were supposed to bring your own guns and ammo. This apparently was not the information that they gave over the phone. As a back-up, one member of the party was supposed to attend with at least 9 guns that he always keeps in his vehicle, but he never showed–not to the wedding either. (This caused some extra grief when I turned to a colonel in full-dress uniform seated next to me at the wedding, thinking he was the gun enthusiast, and began asking him about his arsenal. He looked at me like I was some kind of a nut.) Anyway, the message is that there are people worse at organizing shooting trips than me! I will say though that the place had quite a collection. There were what looked like gold or nickel-plated Colt Pythons of various barrel lengths going for $5000+. Where did they come from? And why not rent a small part of their inventory? There was even a selection of powders although they admitted that they are still not able to get IMR powder from anywhere. Otherwise, I spent the rest of the time sitting on a rocking chair on the porch. This was my first visit to the sunny South, and I enjoyed it. The scenery was very lush, and there was an old chocolate Lab (the most rare kind) easing his bones out in the blazing sun on the gravel driveway. A thunderstorm was gathering in the distance. It felt like something out of William Faulkner. On a brighter note, the wedding featured people gathering from all corners of the country–and even from beyond. And it was nice seeing Americans getting together from different places speaking the same language and sharing the same concerns in a friendly way.

    Also on the subject of shooting ranges, I believe that Slinging Lead has done it. He has found the key with his “Sherpa” concept of transport. I have just received a length of paracord which I will use to tie my equipment to my body when I go out to shoot my Mauser in the near future. I will be my own Sherpa. Wish I had a camera to record this all for you.

    I’ve been wondering about a self-defense technique concerning pistols. I seem to recall that you can grab semiauto pistols by the slide to keep them from operating. I can see that you will prevent a follow-up shot by preventing the slide from moving. But that will do nothing about that first shot. And supposing you don’t completely immobilize the slide there is a chance of frying your hand with the superhot gases coming out of the ejection port. So, it seems to me that grabbing a pistol by its slide has no self-defense value whatsoever.

    Matt61

    • Wulfraed Says:

      I’ve been wondering about a self-defense technique concerning pistols. I seem to recall that you can grab semiauto pistols by the slide to keep them from operating. I can see that you will prevent a follow-up shot by preventing the slide from moving. But that will do nothing about that first shot. And supposing you don’t completely immobilize the slide there is a chance of frying your hand with the superhot gases coming out of the ejection port. So, it seems to me that grabbing a pistol by its slide has no self-defense value whatsoever.

      The technique isn’t quite that simple.

      You want to push the slide a bit to the rear — that activates the “disconnector” (the part that keeps it from going “full auto”) by disconnecting the trigger from the sear. On simple blow-back .22s, this is nothing more than a “camel hump” in the bar going from the trigger to the sear, and a hollow/notch in the slide. When the slide is not fully closed, the “camel hump” is pushed downwards by the slide, and pulling the trigger has no effect.

      On “locked” actions, pushing hard on the end of the barrel will produce the result — the barrel and slide will move back, and the barrel (in many) will drop down at the chamber end; even if the hammer/striker drops, it may miss the primer.

      For guns with exposed hammers, the best grip relies upon wedging a finger between hammer and firing pin.

  • Marcos Says:

    B.B.

    I’m surprised that one (in my opinion) essential factor has not be pointed here (I did not find).

    For me, break-barrel rifles have a super question when scoped: – do they lock always in the very same position?

    Marcos

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Marcos,

      Yes, they do. I have written about this many times over the past 8 years, because so many people don’t believe they do lock up in the same position, but every test I have made shows that they do.

      And here is one way to assure yourself that I’m right. There are a number of breakbarrels that are 10-meter target rifles. People say that if the front and rear sights are both on the barrel, it doesn’t matter whether the barrel always locks up the same, but 10-meter target rifles have the rear sight back on the spring tube, while the front sight it at the front of the barrel. If the barrel didn’t lock up,the same every time, these guns wouldn’t be accurate, but they are.

      B.B..

      • cowboystar dad Says:

        Many here can back up B.B. on this one.
        My scoped Slavia 630 will stack pellets repeatedly at 10m. Ten shots produces a single hole a bit over 1/4″ in diameter. (just did it yesterday)

  • G&G Says:

    Hello To All,

    I have lately been itching to get a new break barrel. So I have one question for everyone but especially BB. In your experience what is hands down the most accurate break barrel on the market from 10 meters to 50 yards.

    Thanks,
    G&G

    • kevin Says:

      G & G,

      You’ve asked the eternal question.

      The variables are numerous including the quality of your barrel, your ability to shoot, your willingness to spend time perfecting the hold, etc.

      There are break barrels like the diana 65 & 66 aka winchester 333 that have the giss system which typically insures a good barrel and minimizes hold sensitivity but since they were designed as a 10 meter gun their remaining velocity at 50 yards allows a fart from a chickadee to blow the pellet off course.

      Several questions that would allow me/us to maybe provide you a short list of break barrel springers that might fit your criteria:

      1-You want accuracy but what are you going to be doing with the gun? Just paper punching for accuracy or ?

      2-What break barrel springers do you own now and what is the most accurate at 50 yards?

      3-What are the size of your 10 shot groups with your most accurate break barrel springer at 50 yards?

      4-Have you ever tuned your break barrels?

      5-Have you ever had someone else tune your break barrels?

      6-Do you plan on shooting this “most accurate” break barrel recommendation with open sights, peep sights or a scope?

      kevin

      • G&G Says:

        Thanks for your response. I’ll answer your questions in order.
        1. I will be using it for both target shooting and field target, no hunting.
        2. The break barrels I currently own are the Beeman R9 and the Weihrauch HW30S (plus a couple of cheap ones I got when I first started). The R9 is the only one I have that can shoot 50 yards. (I do own a TX200).
        3. My 10 shot groups average 1″ at 50 yards. (Note Average)
        4. I have never tuned one of my guns.
        5. Except for trigger adjustments all of my guns are “out of the box”.
        6. Of course I try hard sights from time to time but most of my shooting is with a scope. ( I have several PCP’s).
        Thanks for your interest Kevin. I look forward to your response.
        G&G

        • kevin Says:

          G & G,

          Thanks. We’re making progress.

          Your Field Target requirement jumps out at me. Must assume you want to be competitive.

          I realize that the TX 200 isn’t a break barrel and your initial question was about an accurate break barrel out to 50 yards BUT…………..I have to ask……….why do you say that your R9 is the only one you have that can shoot out to 50 yards? What does your TX 200 do at 50 yards?

          Seems like you already have the ideal springer for FT and shooting accurately out to 50 yards with the TX 200. What am I missing?

          kevin

          • G&G Says:

            Kevin,
            I am simply searching for a break barrel that is as or nearly as accurate as the TX200. Primarily for the ease of loading a break barrel over an under lever or side lever. The R9 is close but not quite there in the accuracy dept. I could re-phrase the question to say I want a break barrel more accurate than the R9 simply because I like break barrels and I want to be able to use one for field target in the springer class and for bench rest competition. Thanks again.

            G&G

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      G&G,

      The new Walther LGV.

      B.B.

      • Feinwerk Says:

        For a .177 pellet suggestion, try the barracuda match pellets with the 4.53mm head size. Read the specs carefully to find the head size listing. Also try lubricating the pellets with Krytech wax. Have fun!

  • Victor Says:

    I’ve shot some of my best groups directly off the bag, but it just depends on the gun (obviously). However, whether resting the gun directly on the bag, or on my palm, I have found that for the best performance, the gun needs to be raised to just the right height, relative to the target. If you’re off (up or down) by more than an inch or two, your accuracy will suffer. At least this has been my experience.

    Also, I shoot my best, consistency-wise, when my right arm (I’m right handed) does not touch the table. Small forearm muscle contractions are enough to introduce errors.

    Victor

  • Victor Says:

    Kevin brings up an interesting question (for me at least). Where does one send their air-guns to get tuned, and approximately how much does it cost?

    Thanks,
    Victor

    • kevin Says:

      Victor,

      In order to give you some suggestions on tuners I have two questions.

      What kind of airguns and why do you want them tuned?

      kevin

      • Victor Says:

        Kevin,

        I’m thinking springer’s, to make them more less harsh, and hopefully more accurate.

        Victor

        • kevin Says:

          Victor,

          Part I-taming harshness

          A tune will almost always make a springer less harsh. If this is your only goal you don’t need to send your gun to a tuner. This is easily done with buttoning, proper fitting guide and proper lubes.

          Part II-accuracy

          Proper tuning will make it easier for a springer to be accurate but won’t make them more accurate. You still have to do your part but the gun will be more forgiving. Don’t spend money on a tune thinking that the gun you get back will be more accurate. It won’t.

          Part III-tuner recommendations

          I need specific maker and model to recommend tuners.

          Want to help you and personally believe in professional tuners but for other reasons than you mentioned.

          kevin

          • Victor Says:

            Kevin,

            I appreciate the offer to help! Both rifles are Rugers.

            I have a Ruger Air Magnum that I bought out of curiosity, since a friend had one. It’s my least accurate airgun. It’s loud and a bit too harsh. I don’t care for the high power, so I’d be willing to trade power for better performance, including smoothness. I suspect that a tune could help with accuracy because mine is clearly not as accurate as one that B.B. tested. In fact, I bought it as a refurb, so who knows what it’s been through.

            The other is a Ruger Air Hawk that a friend bought. I believe that he ruined it by not cocking it correctly, and cleaning it many times with gun solvent. My thoughts were that a tune would include replacing cheap parts, including seals, with better quality parts. I don’t really know for sure what a tune entails, but I have an idea. In this case, I don’t know if there would be a difference between a tune versus a repair since it still works with lots of power, just not very accurately.

            None of this is a priority for me, since I don’t shoot these much, but I might consider investing a little money into them. Hate to see things go to waste.

            Thanks,
            Victor

            • kevin Says:

              Victor,

              We are twin sons from a different mother.

              I also hate to see things go to waste.

              My best recommendation, based on limited knowledge, is to tune the Ruger Air Hawk & Ruger Air Magnum yourself.

              B.B. did a great 12? part series on tuning that translates easily to most springers and aftermarket springs, seals, lubes, etc. can usually be obtained for almost any gun from Pyramyd Air and if not they are very knowledgeable about other sources for parts they don’t carry or don’t have on hand.

              B.B.’s 12? part series on tuning is very empowering so don’t be intimidated by the thought of improving these airguns yourself. The search box over on the right should reveal this series.

              I’ve spent some time helping you and would ask you a favor……….IF you are bold enough to take on this minor task would you be so kind as to report back on this blog about the results?

              kevin

  • Errol Says:

    Hi B.B.

    I missed your 12 part series on tuning. Be so grateful if you could point me to it. Thanks for all the interesting & very informative articles. I’m on a continuous learning curve thanks to ALL.

    Errol

  • Feinwerk Says:

    Hello B.B. et all,
    Sorry to be late on this but I wanted to contribute the thumb button, two finger trigger pinch technique I mentioned in the first installment of this topic:

    “I have found that trigger technique is a critical part of the artillery hold because the shooting hand and fingers put asymmetrical forces on the stock. Which fingers touch the stock, finger pressure, and tiny variations of each, shot-to-shot, cause inconsistencies in the way the gun vibrates before the pellet leaves the barrel. Pulling the trigger by flexing the index finger at the knuckle joint instead of curling the whole finger is guaranteed to pull a shot of target. Consistent thumb position is critical.
    For my springers, I attach one of those small, rubber, self-stick bumper feet to the back of the wrist of the grip, right on the centerline of the stock. I call it an ‘accuracy button’. This provides a consistent place to rest the thumb of the shooting hand. The only other finger that I use is the pad of the index finger on the trigger. Gently ‘pinching’ the trigger between index finger and thumb avoids pressures that pull the stock one way or another during the shot cycle. Both fingers are along the centerline of the gun frame!
    You can practice your ‘trigger pinch’ with an uncocked gun by watching to see if your point of aim wanders as you apply pinching pressure.”

    • Gunfun1 Says:

      Feinwerk
      That is how I try to apply the trigger also if the gun allows.

      And that is a cool idea about the thumb rest. I’m definitely going to try that.

  • Ariel Says:

    Hi B.B. and All,

    I just want to say thank you for the article. I am very new to air guns, I have IZH-61 .177 and today I tried shooting three 10-shot groups as a test, using three different techniques for each group.
    All three groups have been shot from 10 meters, standing, off-hands.

    First group I was holding the rifle tight and also pressing firmly to my shoulder.
    Here are results of the first group:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/yzofdhbe2kzb8zt/GEz9ZX2pPC
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/k564urowx6ps5g1/_pVlZ50L8w

    Second group was shot also pressing the rifle firmly to my shoulder, but letting it rest freely on the hand. Here is the results of the second group:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/26xlluhk5oz59nk/S6AdNTi8Mt
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/oxbd0fe2fw703tx/kuFAFBaqd2

    The third group was shot by letting the rifle rest on the hand, but also pressing just enough to the should er only to secure it from moving, and also making sure that it touches the shoulder at the same spot.
    Here is the results of the third group:
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/tlh7cd7m6jqe9v0/tGqNKQCT7c
    https://www.dropbox.com/sc/brnjog7okmsk35j/sL_L1TPl5c

    As you can see the groups getting better, and the third group being the best of three.

    My point here, that even that I have been shooting this rifle for a month, using information from the article, helps the shooter like me see the effects of the hold very clearly. Thanks a lot and hope to see a lot more testing and useful tips for new shooters.

    Best regards,
    Ariel

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Ariel,

      Thank you for this feedback about your shooting. Isn’t it nice to know there are right and wrong ways to hold your gun?

      Welcome to the blog!

      B.B.

  • donpedrofogo Says:

    Hi BB and Tom,
    I’ve adapted a Boyds custom stock to my Remington vantage, I see your videos regarding the Artillery Hold so I’m asking your opinion about carving grips or smoothing the wooden surface where off hand operate.
    Many Thanks in advance
    Pietro

    • B.B. Pelletier Says:

      Pietro,

      I have often though about that. Finding the exact right spot, then making it conform to a good balance place.

      My fear is that the removal of wood might change the vibration dynamics, but I guess it is worth a risk. Good thinking! And welcome to the blog.

      B.B.

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