Archive for October 2013

What’s for Christmas? Part 2

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

Part 1

This topic was received well last week, so I’m doing the second list today. Several readers have reminded me of other gifts I should mention, and some of them will make today’s list. If I don’t list something you suggested, there’s a reason. These are the things I recommend without question.

Stocking stuffers/small, neat gifts

Gifts in this category don’t cost a lot but will have great meaning to airgunners. Some of them are things that shooters won’t buy for themselves.

Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater
Someone suggested the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and I have to agree. This is a great gift, and it’s one that a lot of shooters won’t buy for themselves.

EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit
The EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit is another gift that people may not think about; but when they have one, they’ll love it. I chose the Master Kit so you can use it with both rifles and pistols (and bows if you’re an archer, too). Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, the EyePal is a great aid for your safety glasses to sharpen your vision and make that front sight clear!

Eyepal peep sight master kit The EyePal makes the front sight appear razor sharp. Use it on prescription glasses and non-prescription safety glasses, alike.

Pellet selection
Here’s a gift I’m putting in this section, although it will cost you some money. Pyramyd Air offers 4 tins of pellets for the price of 3. Your favorite airgunner has pellets he or she really likes, but they don’t buy them all the time because they may cost too much.

Consider this gift similar to one of those fancy boxes of candies or Christmas smoked meats that are given this time of year. Nearly everybody likes them, but we don’t spend money on them for ourselves. So, this is an opportunity to buy something your airgunner wants but will never buy himself. The one problem you have is finding out which pellets to buy. Rather than try and guess what your airgunner wants, I’m going to leave this up to you. You need to do a little investigation, maybe look at the pellets that he has on the shelf, or just talk to him and find out what he really wants but hasn’t bought.

Gifts under $50

Crosman 357
For a pistol shooter the Crosman 357W is a great idea. It’s a revolver, so you get multiple shots per loading; and for the money, it’s an accurate little air pistol.

Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife
If your airgunner is a gadget junkie, you can’t do much better than a Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife. It’s a tool kit for your pocket. And it has a 440C stainless steel blade to cut whatever you need.

Walther multi-tac tactical multi-tool and knife Walther’s Multi-Tac knife is a toolkit in your pocket!

Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight
Can’t have too many flashlights! Not when you need one! The Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight uses two CR123A batteries to cast a 60-lumen light. That means you get both good battery life and a powerful light.

Gifts under $100

Some of these gifts are just over the $50 mark, so look at them carefully. This category holds some of the most surprising values in airguns.

Legends Makarov
The Makarov from Umarex is a wonderful BB pistol that I just can’t stop talking about. I bought one for myself after testing it! It’s extremely accurate for a BB pistol, which means you really can use it for target practice. It runs on CO2, so don’t forget to get some CO2 cartridges if you give this gun as a gift.

Legends Makarov CO2 BB pistolSimply one of the best BB pistols you can buy at the price, the Legends Makarov is accurate, well-made and inexpensive.

Crosman 2240
Another fine CO2 pistol is the single-shot Crosman 2240. It’s a .22-caliber, bolt-action pistol that’s powerful and accurate, plus it serves as the basis for many aftermarket modifications.

Ruger Mark I
The Ruger Mark I air pistol is powered by a spring-piston. It isn’t very powerful, but it’s a great companion for the handgun shooter who only wants to poke holes in targets and plink with a pistol that’s easy to cock and accurate.

Stoeger X5 air rifle
The Stoeger X5 air rifle is a wonderful, youth-sized, spring-piston rifle that has enough quality to make my list. The trigger is a little stiff, but the accuracy is there. It reminds me of the Hämmerli 490 that is, sadly, no longer available.

Gifts a little over $100

I created this category for those items that are a few dollars over $100 but are still within the realm of economy. Sometimes, the things you want are just over the line — no matter where you arbitrarily draw it.

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph.
The Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph is the instrument I use to document 98 percent of the work I do. I use it because it’s small, portable and very reliable. Sure, there are reasons to use my Oehler 35P chrono, sometimes; but most of the time, this is my choice.

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph
Though it’s just $10 over a hundred, the Shooting Chrony Alpha has everything you need!

Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun
I have to recommend the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun because it is the target shooter’s dream. Where other BB guns will put 10 shots into three-quarter of an inch at 16 feet when all is right, this one will put 10 into a quarter-inch at the same distance. This is a shooter’s tool, not a hunting gun or bragging-rights gun. Be sure to stock up on the special Avanti Precision Ground Shot if you get this gun because it definitely adds accuracy! And order some special 5-meter BB targets that are sized right for this gun!

IZH 60 air rifle
I am also going to put the IZH 60 air rifle on my list this year. Though the accuracy slipped when the gun’s design was changed several years ago, this is still a delightful youth rifle that’s easy enough for even smaller kids to cock. It has reasonable accuracy, and the sidelever design means that fingers can’t be pinched in the mechanism like they would on guns having sliding compression chambers. I recommend the single-shot over the repeater for reasons of safety.

Daisy 953 TargetPro
I normally don’t recommend combo guns, but I’ll make an exception for the Daisy 953 TargetPro. It’s a pellet rifle with enough accuracy to get you into the game without spending a bundle.

Gifts under $300

Gifts in this category start to take on the aura of personal taste. My recommendations may not be what your airgunner wants, so you need to find out if they are before you buy anything.

Benjamin 392 pump
This one is very personal. You airgunner will either like it or not. So, check first. The Benjamin 392 pump is the best multi-pump rifle going, these days. Its heritage dates back to the late 19th century, so there’s a lot of history there. I also chose the .22-caliber 392 for its power; but if your airgunner only wants to shoot at targets, then the 397 is the same rifle and shoots cheaper .177 pellets.

Daisy Avanti 853
The Daisy 853 is right at $300, but its a great buy even at that price. It features a Lothar Walther barrel and has been used by millions of kids for competition in the decades it’s been around. The trigger is rough, but there are several websites that tell you how to fix it. To get anything with better accuracy, you’re going to need to spend several hundred dollars more.

Diana RWS LP8
Want an air pistol that shoots like a rifle? The Diana RWS LP8 is the one to get. It just may be the best value in a really good air pistol these days. It has plenty of power and is very accurate. The breakbarrel cocking is on the heavy side, but an adult male shouldn’t have a problem.

RWS Diana LP8 air pistol
For the price, the Diana RWS LP8 air pistol can’t be beat.

Gifts without limit

Now, we can spread our wings a little. This is where many of the better airguns live.

HW 30S
Let’s start with the HW 30S. You know this rifle as the Beeman R7 when it’s in a different stock, but airgunners know the HW 30S has the same powerplant and the same adjustable Rekord trigger as the R7. If your airgunner likes the styling of the HW 30S, it’s less expensive; but if he wants an R7, it’s also a wonderful spring-piston air rifle.

Diana RWS 48
If you want a big bruiser spring-piston air rifle, the Diana RWS 48 is one I would recommend. And, I recommend it in .22 caliber, where you get all the power it can develop. The 48 is a sidelever that’s surprisingly easy to cock, despite the level of power it delivers. It’s also very accurate. One thing, though, the 48 is a big air rifle, so be sure your shooter knows what he’s in store for. Definitely for adults, only.

Diana RWS 48 air rifle
Diana 48 sidelever from RWS is large and in charge!

TalonP air pistol
There’s no other smallbore air pistol that can hold a candle to the TalonP air pistol from AirForce Airguns. It comes in .25 caliber and has 10 shots per fill at over 50 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! Many rifles can’t equal it! When I tested it for accuracy, I got sub-one-inch groups at 50 yards. It’s a hunting air pistol extraordinaire.

AirForce TalonP air pistol
The TalonP pistol from AirForce Airguns leads the pack for power and accuracy.

Walther LGV Challenger
If you want a really fine breakbarrel spring rifle, you can’t do better than the Walther LGV Challenger. I recommend the .22-caliber gun because it was so smooth when I tested it.

Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Umarex Fusion rifle

Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle

Part 3 of most reports is the day we test accuracy. Sometimes, we test accuracy more than one time; but Part 3 is usually when we test it for the first time. But that isn’t going to happen today. Blog reader mikeiniowa told us that the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle rifle has both adjustable power and an adjustable trigger. I said I would look at that in detail when we got to it. Well, today’s the day.

The CO2 cap assembly
Before I get to either of those things, however, I want to talk about the CO2 cap in detail. I promised I would show you how this works, so I’m going to take it apart and show you the internals. I’ll also try to describe why the cap is as complex as it is.

Umarex Fusion rifle CO2 cap assembly
The Fusion CO2 cap disassembled. The parts are described below.

Let’s examine the parts, starting at the right of the above image. That rounded cap is the cover for the gas exhaust screw. It has left-hand threads, so you must remember that because it’s made of plastic and can easily be stripped. Next to that is the threaded metal cap that holds the CO2 cap assembly to the rifle when there’s pressure in the gun. One of our readers noted that this threaded metal cap is separate from the main CO2 cap assembly. It has to be made that way because of the o-ring. When gas is in the gun, the o-ring swells and will not permit the CO2 cap to be removed. If the threaded cover was attached to the main cap assembly, it would be locked in place until the o-ring finally returned to normal size — you couldn’t even turn it. Back in the 1960s, it sometimes took days and even weeks to get the CO2 cap out of some guns because of the way they were designed! The threaded cap retaining ring, as I call it, was created to allow the cap to be removed when the main cap was frozen in place from internal pressure.

Crosman came up with the idea of making this threaded retaining ring separate from the main cap assembly. That allowed the threaded ring to be taken off the gun, and then the main cap assembly could be removed from the gun by wiggling it from side to side. That one change reduced the time to remove the CO2 cap from days to minutes! The Fusion uses the same design to achieve the same result. But if the o-ring didn’t swell in the presence of the gas, this type of design wouldn’t be necessary.

The pressure-relief screw seen above the first 2 parts on the cap pushes against the brass part seen to the left. That opens a way for the gas to escape. The coiled spring holds the brass valve seat shut at all other times. This is why it is important to back off the pressure-relief screw when piercing the CO2 cartridges.

The long part with the orange o-ring around it is the main cap body that all the other parts assemble to. As seen in the picture, it’s a hollow plastic tube. And the part to the extreme left houses the piercing pin. Though the part is plastic, the piercing pin is a metal insert.

Umarex Fusion rifle piercing pin
The piercing pin inside the plastic cap is a metal insert.

Trigger and power adjustment
Okay, now we understand the CO2 cap, let’s look at the adjustments on the gun. To get to them, the action has to be removed from the stock, and it isn’t as straightforward as it is on some guns. The forearm has one screw at the bottom front. Once it’s out, the trigger unit has come out. That’s where it gets complex. The rear screw fastens a separate piece of plastic at the back of the triggerguard and holds the rifle to the stock. Take it out, and the barreled action is loose in the stock; but 2 more trigger screws have to be removed.

Once the trigger unit was outside the gun, I saw what it is — a unitized trigger that is highly based on the Crosman 160s trigger. It isn’t a copy, but it works the same with most of the same parts. Only the safety slide is different.

Umarex Fusion rifle CO2 cap assemblyCrosman 160 CO2 rifle crossbow trigger nut
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.

Crosman 160 CO2 rifle trigger graphicFrom the Beeman R1 Supermagnum Air Rifle book.

Umarex Fusion rifle trigger
I didn’t have to open the Fusion trigger to see that it’s very similar to the Crosman 160 trigger.

Umarex Fusion rifle trigger sear adjustment
Apologies for the blurry image. Like the Crosman 160 trigger, the sear engagement is adjusted by the small screw at the top. There’s no screw in the hole below that, which is the trigger overtravel adjustment. The large Allen screw at the bottom adjusts the trigger return-spring tension, which is the weight of the pull.

Umarex Fusion rifle trigger sear adjustment from top
The threaded sear adjustment screw is shown at the right (arrow).

I tried adjusting the trigger, but apparently I don’t know the secret, if there is one. I couldn’t take the second-stage creep out of the sear without making it impossible to cock the rifle. I settled for lightening the pull to 3 lbs., 5 oz. But the trigger still had a lot of second-stage creep.

I’m hoping mikeiniowa will tell me that I missed the trigger optimization screw that fixes everything; because each time I adjusted the trigger, I had to assemble the rifle in the stock to test it. I bet there’s more to this trigger than I’ve discovered. And, of course, none of this is in the manual!

The power adjustment is very straightforward. Simply tighten or loosen tension on the striker spring with a screw located at the rear of the receiver.

Umarex Fusion rifle power adjustment
The power adjustment screw and locking nut are located at the rear of the receiver.

Observations
The Fusion has some interesting designs, but I don’t think they were done by an airgunner. Each area shows a lot of attention to detail, but the complexity of the CO2 cap shows the designers were either unaware of the advances that have been made in CO2 gun technology, or for some reason they thought this was the best way to design it.

The trigger shows potential, but I obviously don’t know how to make it sing. I hope somebody will take me to school.

Given the complexity of working on the Fusion, I can see why the instructions for these adjustments were left out of the manual. If you are smart enough to find them, I guess you’re qualified to adjust them!

Accuracy is next!

TX200 Mark III: Part 7

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

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

Air Arms TX200 MkIII air rifle
BB’s TX200 Mark III.

Today we’ll begin looking at the current TX200 Mark III. This will be an unprecedented look at a second rifle — the one that’s being shipped right now. I’m doing this because of many questions readers have asked over the years. Is the TX that’s shipping today the same as my TX that was bought over a decade ago? How does a new rifle perform right out of the box? Has the finish quality dropped off over the years?

That’s the problem I face with my reports. If the gun does well, I’m asked if I think another one will be just as good. And, if it has shortcomings, I’m asked if I think another gun might be better. The TX200 Mark III is too important for this kind of confusion to remain; so just this one time, I’m testing the same, identical model — to see if what I’ve been telling you about the rifle holds true.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle
Brand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my TX, but the checkering is different and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

The rifle
The new rifle looks different because it has fish-scale checkering, rather than the more traditional diamond pattern that’s on my rifle. The borders of the checkered panels are foliate scrolls and oak leaves. And, like the rifles of the past, there are four panels — two on the grip and two more on the forearm. The wood is beech, because that’s what I ordered. Of course, walnut is still available as an option, as are left-hand stocks (but only in the optional walnut models).

I see the forearm is more scalloped than the one on my rifle. It swoops up from the flat in front of the triggerguard instead of lining up straight like mine. That gives the rifle a sveldt look, though the bulk is identical to my rifle.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle checkering
The checkering on the new rifle is fish-scale — an option that used to cost a lot of money when it was done by hand. The sliding chamber catch is in the center of this picture.

I’m testing serial No. 127507. It’s a .177-caliber model, just like the rifle we’ve been reviewing all along. Like all TX200 Mark IIIs, this rifle has a shrouded barrel with baffles. That’s been on the model since it was introduced over a decade ago. Although the rifle’s report is quieter as a result of the baffles, it doesn’t sound quieter to the shooter because the sound of the powerplant is conducted through the bones on his face that are in contact with the stock.

The TX200 stock is about as ideal as rifle stocks get, especially for those who shoot field target. It was designed at a time when field target was the biggest game in town, and the shape of this stock is perfect for that sport. There is a relatively flat spot just forward of the triggerguard where the rifle rests on your off hand, and the pistol grip is very vertical, giving you excellent control over the trigger. The trigger is based on the famous Rekord trigger that Weihrauch made famous a half-century ago. The TX trigger, however, is more adjustable than the Rekord unit and allows you to have release weights lower than 1 lb. There are more adjustments that I will cover in detail in a future report.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger
The TX trigger is an improvement on the Rekord by Weihrauch. There are more adjustments.

The wood fit is flawless, as you would expect to find on a rifle in this price range. You expect it, but you don’t always get it. Air Arms has always had flawless wood, and I’m just reporting that the current model has not relaxed the standards one iota!

Let’s talk about the metal. Anyone who buys a TX200 is always surprised when they open the box. The metal finish on the gun is so deep, black and flawless that it takes your breath away. Even if you’ve owned other fine British airguns, every new TX200 is a surprise and a joy when first beheld. Maybe some of our blog readers who have just acquired TXs can comment on that.

This is an underlever rifle. The underlever mechanism is held near the muzzle by a ball bearing detent. It’s smooth, and unobtrusive, but the lever pops out the moment you pinch it with your fingers. I found the test gun made more noise when cocked when it was new than does my personal TX200. Then, I remembered that my TX also made noise when it was new. By “noise” I don’t mean a lot — just a little sound of the piston sliding back as the rifle is cocked. The cocking effort is perhaps 1 or 2 lbs. higher than my rifle, but I think that will change as this rifle breaks in.

I fired a couple shots just to see how the new rifle felt. It feels similar to my TX, but there’s a bit more twang to the firing cycle. I think it’ll also go away after a few thousand shots have been put through the gun. As I recall, I made the same observation about my rifle when I first got it, and it smoothed out relatively fast.

The TX has a sliding compression chamber that has to come back out of the way for the breech to be exposed for loading. It also pushes the piston back so the sear can catch it. For safety, there’s a ratcheting lock that catches and holds the sliding compression chamber even when the rifle is not yet cocked. The lock is located on the right side of the spring tube, just behind the loading port. After you’ve loaded the pellet, you push down on the lock to slide the chamber back to the closed position. The piston remains back until released by the sear. It takes longer to explain than to do; and after you’ve loaded the rifle a few times, it’ll become second nature to you.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle cocked
With the underlever pulled down and back, the rifle is cocked. The sliding compression chamber is back out of the way, and the breech is exposed for loading.

When the rifle is cocked, the safety automatically comes on. It’s a button located at the left rear of the spring tube and must be pushed in for the rifle to fire. It’s easy enough to do when the rifle is up on your shoulder, so wait until you’re on target before releasing it.

There are no open sights, as you can clearly see in the first picture. And there’s no easy way to install them on this rifle. Therefore, you need to think about mounting a scope. The rifle is set up well to accept scope rings, and the lack of any sights means nothing gets in the way to dim your view of the target.

You can see the TX200 mounting system and how to install rings in an article I wrote several years ago about installing scope mounts. That article was based on my rifle, but nothing has changed with the latest model. Of course, I’ll be installing a scope on this test rifle when we get to the accuracy report.

Bottom line thus far
So far, I have to say the latest TX200 Mark III is in no important way different than my rifle. It’s still well-made with the best materials, and it’s finished flawlessly. There’s no cause for concern over Air Arms cheapening the design in any way. In fact, I like the shape of the stock and the look of the checkering on this latest rifle better than on my rifle.

Just from what I’ve seen so far, I believe this latest TX will play out just like my rifle did. The one thing that’s significantly different is that, this time, you all get to watch.

Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Evanix Rainstorm 3D Bullpup
Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup

It’s been some time since I did Part 3 of the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle. Just to remind you of where we left off, I found the gun difficult to shoot with the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster rifle scope because of the medium-height scope rings. I removed that scope and mounted the UTG 3-9X40 True Hunter rifle scope that comes bundled with high 2-piece Weaver rings. They were better, but even they seemed a bit too low because of the bullpup configuation. This is the same scope I used in the test of the Hatsan AT P1 PCP pistol.

Today’s test was done at 50 yards on an outdoor rifle range. The weather was perfect, without a hint of breeze. I didn’t sight-in the scope before going to the range, so I sighted-in at 50 yards. Luckily, the scope wasn’t that far off, and I was on target in 3 shots.

The 25-yard test that was done in Part 3 showed that only 2 pellets were worth trying at 50 yards. I shot just them and nothing else.

I also want to remind you that the rifle likes to be filled to 2,900 psi according to my tank’s gauge. It has more than 10 shots on a fill, but it does go through air pretty quick. So, just for continuity, I refilled after every group.

JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes
I sighted-in with the best pellet from the earlier test, which was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy. Since the third shot landed where I wanted, I continued to shoot and made an 8-shot group for starters. That group measured 0.961 inches between centers. I noted that the bullpup-style stock made the rifle difficult to hold steady on target, so this group was as steady as I was able to hold. I was fighting the trigger, which breaks at 6 lbs., 10 oz. It’s hard to hold on target with a trigger this heavy. Also this rifle is tall and narrow, so it wobbles from side to side when you hold it. I didn’t see a way around that at first, but then I figured it out.

Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup sight-in target
Eight JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes landed in 0.961 inches at 50 yards. The shots are a little low, so I adjusted the reticle up a couple clicks after shooting this group.

Next, I shot a 10-shot group with the same JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets. The rifle’s circular magazine holds 11 pellets, but I loaded it with only 10 to keep things consistent with most of my other 50-yard tests.

The scope had been adjusted higher for this group, so the shots landed higher on the bull. Ten pellets made a 1.501-inch group. I must comment that during this group I saw the crosshairs move around on the bull a lot more than I would like. That heavy trigger caused it. In the group that resulted, I see 2 separate points of impact that are one above the other. That isn’t what I would expect a sideways wobble to produce, but something was wrong with my hold. I had to solve that first.

Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup first JSB Exact Jumbo target
This is the first full 10-shot target that was fired at 50 yards with the Rainstorm bullpup. It measures 1.501 inches. Eight pellets went into 0.941 inches.

Toward the end of the first full group, I found a way to stabilize the rifle pretty well. I was shooting off a sandbag rest that helped with stability, and I found that if I gripped the frame tight (where the forearm would be on a conventional rifle) the wobble stopped. That made me more confident that the group I would be getting was what the rifle could actually do.

Following that group, I shot a second group of 10 JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies that measured 1.406 inches between centers. This one is fairly well centered on the bull and doesn’t have the 2 separate points of impact like the first group. I think the improved hold was responsible, although I can’t see why a sideways wobble would do what I’d seen before. Maybe the wobble was greater than I thought?

Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup second JSB Exact Jumbo target
The second full group was a little smaller than the first — at 1.406 inches between centers. I felt the rifle was held well for this group. This is as good as this pellet can do (in general) in this rifle with me on the trigger.

Beeman Kodiaks
Next, it was time to try 10 Beeman Kodiak, which was the second-best pellet at 25 yards. It didn’t do as well. The first few shots scattered all over the place, landing far to the left of the aim point and also a bit lower. When all 10 shots were finished, I had a 2.32-inch group that looks more like a shotgun pattern than a group from a rifle. However, I must note that 9 of those shots did land in a 1.331-inch group. But the one lower shot that opened the group wasn’t the last one. It was the third shot. Based on that, I would scratch Kodiaks for this rifle and stick with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavies.

Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup Beeman Kodiak target
Beeman Kodiaks went all over the target. Ten made this 2.32-inch group, although 9 of them passed through 1.331 inches.

Overall impressions
I’ve come to the end of my test of this air rifle. It’s been an interesting journey, and I’ve learned some things from it. First, when you scope a bullpup, get the highest scope rings you can. Ring risers might be a good idea. Second, the idea that bullpup actions have poor triggers is apparently true. And finally, when the cross-section of your rifle is as flat as a flounder, it will be harder to hold steady.

The Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle is definitely a different beast! It holds different and shoots different than a conventional PCP. If you’re looking for the bullpup styling, then either this or the Evanix Max bullpup is the airgun you want. It will produce acceptable accuracy out to 50 yards when you do your part. Just remember that the trigger is stiff and creepy, and the rifle needs a firm hold.

What’s for Christmas? Part 1

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

I know the Christmas holiday is a long way off, but this year it comes upon us faster than usual. Thanksgiving will be very late this year (November 28), and since that day traditionally kicks off the Christmas shopping season, many people will be jammed because of too little time left. So, I’m starting my Christmas shopping blog a couple weeks early.

Stocking stuffers/small, neat gifts

Things in this category are gifts that don’t cost a lot but will have great meaning to airgunners. Some of them are things that shooters won’t buy for themselves.

Leapers UTG pellet & BB trapLeapers UTG pellet & BB trap
The Leapers UTG pellet & BB trap is the best trap for BBs, and it also works for lower-velocity pellet guns. I used to tout Crosman’s model 850 pellet/BB trap. Well, they removed it from the market and replaced it with a model 852 trap that they say is only good for pellets. There doesn’t seem to be much difference between the Leapers and Crosman traps, except the Leapers trap is a few dollars more. How’s that for a switch?

But Leapers does recommend their trap for BBs, plus they sell replacement ballistic curtains for just a few dollars for the inevitable time when you shoot through them.

I’ve been using a Leapers trap for the past 4 months, and I do plan on reporting on it; but if you want the absolute best BB/pellet trap you can get, this is it!

Winchester Airgun Target Cube for BBs and pellets
For about half the money the Leapers trap costs, the Winchester Airgun Target Cube for BBs and pellets is a good BB trap that also works for pellets. I’ve reported on this trap in many reports on BB guns and even for some pellet guns. My trap now has several thousand shots in it, and the styrofoam is starting to flake off when hit, but it’s still useable.

The beauty of this trap is that it’s completely quiet. So, you get the same response as though you are shooting at an Air Venturi Quiet Pellet Trap, but at a greatly reduced price. The trap can take hits up to higher velocities because it has a steel plate embedded inside, but I recommend using it for lower-velocity BB guns and pellet guns.

Gamo squirrel field target
As long as we’re looking at things to shoot at, don’t forget the Gamo squirrel field target. This is a fine field target for low-powered airguns that prodiuce less than 12 foot-pounds of energy. It gives you something to shoot at in the yard, and the kill-zone reducers allow you to change the target as your shooting improves.

I don’t recommend this target for a club or for match use, but for informal field target practice it is perfect. It costs half of what a stronger field target costs.

Gifts under $50

This category is for those gifts that cost a little more but still represent a wonderful value to most airgunners.

Beeman P17 air pistolBeeman P17
My first pick is the Beeman P17 pistol. This single-stroke pneumatic air pistol is accurate, has a wonderful trigger and is quiet enough for shooting inside the home. Some find pumping it a little hard, so consider that; and there are reports that some guns have pump problems that allow the compressed air to leak out. I haven’t run into one that had a problem yet, but there’s a simple fix all over the internet, so don’t let that dissuade you.

S&W M&P 45 BB and pellet pistol
The S&W M&P pistol is a great buy for under $50. It’s a BB pistol I’ve reviewed and found to be an exceptional value. It’s accurate for a BB pistol, and it looks and feels like the firearm it copies. And it also shoots pellets! What a great buy for so little money! [Note from B.B.: This pistol was below $50 when this report was written and edited, but the price increased before it was published. I left it here because it's such a nice gun, but it now costs over $50.]

Colt Defender BB pistol
I found the Colt Defender BB pistol to be a wonderful BB pistol when I reviewed it.

Gifts under $100

Let’s look at some gifts for under $100. These are things airgunners probably want but may not remember to ask for — so you need to ask them.

Champion Heavy Duty trap
The Champion Heavy-Duty trap should be an essential part of every airgunner’s equipment. They will only need one of these, and it’ll last for the rest of their lives. My own trap is close to 20 years old and must have half a million shots on it, but it still works like new! It can take rounds from a .22 long rifle and still not dent or blemish, so you know no smallbore air rifle can possibly hurt it.

Crosman 1077
The Crosman 1077 CO2 rifle is Crosman’s homage to the Ruger 1022. And, like that famous rimfire, the 1077 has become a classic in its own right. It’s a fun plinker, and the stiff double-action trigger (this rifle is really a revolver) lightens and smooths with use. It’s also surprisingly accurate — way beyond what the price indicates.

Umarex Morph 3XUmarex Morph 3X CO2 gun
The Umarex Morph 3X CO2 gun isn’t for everyone; but if your shooter likes gadgets, it might be for him. It gets its name from the way it changes from a BB pistol to a BB carbine. It also has adjustable power that compliments the barrel length options. Just seeing what it can be made to do will occupy a lot of time.

Umarex Steel Storm
If your shooter likes full-auto, consider giving him the Umarex Steel Storm. Although it’s a pistol and doesn’t have a shoulder stock, the Steel Storm is quite accurate with BBs in the semiautomatic mode. It’s a very affordable BB automatic, although it’s limited to 6-round bursts in full-auto.

Gifts a little over $100

Instead of giving you a list with price breaks from zero to infinity, I’m doing this in a more rational way. This is the way people shop — or at least they should shop. There are a couple items for a little over $100 that make wonderful gifts, but they don’t belong in an under $300 category. You’ll see what I mean when you look at them.

Dan Wesson BB revolverDan Wesson BB revolver
I really enjoyed testing the Dan Wesson BB revolver. It’s a CO2 revolver that functions just like the firearm it copies. They come in barrel lengths of 2-1/2 inches, 4 inches, 6 inches and the one I like the best — the 8-inch barrel. Loading is very realistic, and the accuracy is quite good. Read about it here.

Air Venturi Bronco
You knew I had to put the Air Venturi Bronco on the list. For $130, it’s the best value you can find in a spring-piston airgun. The stocks are now stained a darker brown color, so those who didn’t like the blonde stock will now get their wish. It’s great for older youth as well as adults. A wonderful all-day plinker!

EBOS CO2 BB gun
If your shooter wants a full-auto BB gun, I think the Electronic Burst of Steel (EBOS) from Umarex has no equal. It’s accurate, powerful, reliable and everything works as it should. Yes, it’s over $100, but it’s worth it! You can read about it here.

Gifts under $300

This category is much harder to pick for because so much personal taste is involved. But this is my blog, so I get to pick ‘em!

Diana RWS 34P
I really like the Diana 34P imported by RWS USA. I don’t care for the 34P Compact because the shorter barrel makes it harder to cock. I like the standard 34P. I also dislike its fiberoptic sights, but most people will scope their rifle, so that doesn’t really matter.

Diana has made vast improvements in the model 34 over the years, and I think it has evolved into the best value for the money. If you want power and accuracy at a bargain price, the Diana 34P is for you. If you want a wood stock, get the regular Diana 34. It’s still under $300.

Benjamin Discovery + hand pumpBenjamin Discovery
The best deal around in a precharged rifle has got to be the Benjamin Discovery. It also requires a way to put pressurized air into the gun, and that can be either a hand pump or a scuba tank, so this gift may also entail additional items for your shooter. It’s a big decision, but the Discovery is really the easiest way to get into precharged airguns. And if you do decide to get a Discovery, know that there is a package deal that includes both the rifle and hand pump at a significant savings. Of course it takes you out of the under $300 category.

Gifts without limit

I’m not going to list the most expensive things here. I’m just going to list the few things that I would recommend that are more than $300.

Beeman P1 pistolBeeman P1 pistol
For your handgunner, I recommend the Beeman P1 pistol. This spring-piston pistol is a wonderful target gun for everything short of full-blown 10-meter competition. It features 2 power levels and a wonderfully adjustable trigger. At the time of publication, this pistol is selling for $460.

Benjamin Marauder
Then we come to the Benjamin Marauder precharged air rifle. It comes in .177, .22 and .25 calibers. It’s very quiet, has a wonderfully adjustable trigger, is quite accurate and has more adjustability than many European air rifles costing over a thousand dollars. As this is published, the Marauder sells for $470, which has to be the best PCP value around.

AirForce Talon SS
The Talon SS from AirForce Airguns is a stunningly accurate PCP that allows the user to change calibers as well as barrel lengths in minutes. It isn’t one rifle — it’s a whole shooting system! It was the first PCP to use a shroud to reduce the muzzle report, and it was one of the first to offer adjustable power. This is the kind of airgun a shooter joins with in a serious way because it can be so many different things. At the time of publication, the Talon SS retailed for $575.

Air Arms TX200 Mark III
The last gift I will put on today’s list is the always-popular Air Arms TX200 Mark III. It would be difficult to think of a finer gift for an airgunner. Even the inveterate PCP owner needs one of these, just to know how high the spring-piston bar can be raised. Beazer — feel free to chime in, being a new TX200 owner and all.

Now that I’ve given you my list, I expect to hear from you on those things I failed to mention. I’ll come back and do a second list in a week or so, and I’ll consider all that you say. There are gifts I intentionally left off this report, but I also want to hear what you guys think.

Remember, the 2013 Christmas season will be brief because of how late Thanksgiving is this year. No matter if you’re a gift-giver or a hopeful gift recipient, the time to act is right now. And if you thought of buying one of the last Sheridan Blue Streaks (because Crosman has stopped making them), the opportunity is quickly disappearing. Pyramyd Air is sold out at present but will get a final shipment of this venerable multi-pump around Dec. 6. If you want one, pre-order it. Cause once they’re in stock, they’ll vaporize pretty quickly.

Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1


Umarex Fusion rifle

Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle

Today, we test the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle for velocity and several other things you readers are interested in. You may remember that in the first part I had a problem with the rifle not sealing when I loaded the CO2 cartridges. Blog reader mikeiniowa nailed the problem with the Fusion CO2 cap. The part that contains the piercing pin was partially unscrewed and was, therefore, longer than it should be. It was piercing the cartridges before the o-ring was in position to seal the gun. So, a lot of gas leaked out; and, because the o-ring absorbs CO2 and swells when it does, it also prevented the cap from being screwed down tight.

Fusion CO2 cap
In the top photo, the Fusion cap is unscrewed almost all the way. On the bottom is the cap properly together.

I’m going to show that cap in detail in a later report. It’s made so complex because of the material the o-ring is made from. If a different material had been used, none of the complex parts would be needed…and the cap could be made for less cost.

So, with the cap assembled correctly, I was able to load 2 fresh CO2 cartridges. This time, everything worked as it should, and the velocity test began.

JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS. This lightweight dome is a winner in many lower-powered air rifles, and I believe the Fusion will be one of them. The first shots started slow, at 619, 647 and 644 f.p.s. Then, the velocity jumped up to 663 and remained above that number for the remainder of the string. The average, once the velocity was in the curve, was 667 f.p.s.  That means the Fusion’s valve needs to be awakened after installing fresh cartridges.

The low velocity, once the pellet had climbed into the stable spread, was 663 f.p.s., and the high was 673 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the RS pellet produced 7.21 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Because the Fusion is a gas gun, we can expect the power to increase and decrease with the pellet weight.

I tested the same pellet several hours later, and the first JSB RS out the spout went 686 f.p.s., so the velocity had increased by 20 f.p.s. after 40 shots had been fired and the gun then rested for 3 hours. But that was also the end of the power curve. By shot 50, the velocity of all the pellets started to drop again.

RWS Hobby
The second pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. They averaged 669 f.p.s. with a spread from 661 to 681 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 6.96 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Lighter pellet, less energy.

Crosman SSP hollowpoints
The third pellet I tested was the Crosman SSP hollowpoint. Remember, Umarex lists the velocity of the Fusion at 750 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets (which they call alloy) and 700 f.p.s. with lead pellets. I should have tested the rifle with RWS HyperMAX since those are the ones Umarex imports and distributes, but I didn’t have any on hand. Anyway, the Crosman pellets worked fine. They gave an average 766 f.p.s. velocity, with a low of 757 and a high of 783 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this 4-grain pellet produced 5.21 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, so it’s staying on track for the pellet-weight-to-velocity relationship.

After 50 shots had been fired, the average velocity for this pellet fell to 711 f.p.s. So, the velocity is going down, but the velocity is still useable up to 60 shots.

H&H Baracuda
The last pellet I tried was the 10.6-grain H&N Baracuda Match. In a spring gun, the velocity for this pellet would fall off quite a bit from the numbers for these lightweight pellets, but gas guns and pneumatics are different. Heavy pellets don’t lose nearly as much velocity as they do in spring guns. The average for Baracudas was 612 f.p.s. The range went from 600 to 616 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Baracuda produced 8.82 foot-pounds, which is significantly higher than any other pellet.

One of our readers mentioned that the total number of good shots he gets is about 70 shots with each set of CO2 cartridges. I was looking for about that number. I noticed the velocity began dropping at shot 50. But there were still 10 more good shots in the gun. From shots 56 through 60, the velocity for the baseline JSB Exact RS pellets was 622, 614, 603, 602, and 584 f.p.s. While there were still more shots to be fired, I felt that accuracy would probably drop off at this point. So, I’ll rate the Fusion I’m testing as a 60-shot gun.

Noise?
And, now, we come to the question on everyone’s mind. Is the Fusion quiet? Umarex not only says that it is, they tout the low sound level heavily in their advertising campaigns. While I don’t have any scientific sound measurement equipment to test with, I can make a fairly good subjective observation of the gun’s report. I compared it to my Diana model 23, which most of you readers know to be a very small, low-powered spring-piston youth model air gun. The Fusion and the Diana 23 are approximately the same loudness. That means that the Fusion is a very quiet air rifle.

Blog reader Matt61 wondered if it would be louder than a ballpoint pen falling on a thick carpet, and I must say that it is. But it isn’t much louder. I think this is a gun you could shoot in an apartment that has thin walls separating you from the neighbors. You should be able to shoot in even small backyards without disturbing the neighborhood.

Trigger
I told you the trigger is 2-stage. Stage 1 is light and relatively short. Stage 2 is also light but long and creepy. The sear releases at around 3 lbs., 12 oz.

What’s left?
Besides the accuracy test, which is expected, I also want to take the gun out of its stock and look for both the power adjuster and the trigger adjustment that reader mikeiniowa mentioned. I’ll use that report to also show you the details of the CO2 cap and explain how it works so you understand what’s going on.

Given the power level of the Fusion, I think I’ll start testing accuracy at 10 meters and then back up to 25 yards. If the rifle comes through the accuracy portion with honors, I’ll give it a hearty recommendation.

Scope dope — I hope! Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This is an ongoing series about scope questions and issues. Blog reader David Enoch asked for it originally, but many other readers have jumped in since it began. Today, I’m going to give you some scope tips I’ve learned over the years.

Tom’s scope tips

1. Get good glass!
You can’t hit what you can’t see! The quality of the glass in the lenses; the coatings on the glass; and the perfection with which the optics were ground, finished and handled during production are all more important than superfluous features like illuminated reticles and mil dots.

I look for clarity in a scope long before I consider anything else. I’ve been known to select a 4x scope over a 4-16x just for this reason.

If you have a chance to test a scope before buying, test it by trying to focus at close range and read fine print. Look out at the edges of the image. Are they as sharp? Point the scope into a dark area and see if it highlights what’s there or just muddies the image.

2. Don’t shop for a scope by the brand name.
Brand names mean nothing these days. Even Leupold, which does make some superior optics such as the Vari-X III models, also makes mediocre scopes…like the Vari-X II line. The same holds true for Leapers, Hawke and most others. I’ve seen Nikon, Burris and even Nightforce scopes that weren’t very clear. The fact that a scope company can make superior scopes has no bearing on what they put into your scope.

Shop for scopes by the model and look only at reports for that exact model. You may get a sense that some makers put a lot of quality in certain scopes, and if you do, use that information. For example, I’ve told you several times that the Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder is a super scope. It stands head and shoulders above many other models and brands in the same price range. I know it’s not cheap, but it’s worth the price.

I have also touted several Leapers scopes in my reports. Leapers has been working to improve their scopes for the past 15 years, and it really shows. The top line of Leapers scopes is the Accushot Premium series, branded as UTG Accushot scopes. The UTG 8-32X56 Accushot rifle scope is an example of a scope that delivers about twice as much value as the price indicates. Yes, it’s also not cheap, but it has all the desirable features.

What should you look for? Look for glass lenses. Look for etched-glass reticles that will automatically have the fine (but visible) crosshairs you need. Look for single coatings of magnesium fluorite or emerald on the lenses. Both will enhance light transmission, where multi-coated optics are always a compromise. Look for 30mm scope tubes whose lenses are larger and also transmit more light. And look for lockable reticle adjustments that don’t need tools to adjust.

3. Don’t adjust any scope above 3/4 elevation or more than 3/4 to the right.
This has become my mantra because I see it crop up every time there’s a problem with “scope shift.” Scope shift seems to be almost non-existent, except when shooters adjust the scope too far up or too far to the right that the erector tube return-spring is relaxed. No scope in the world can hold its zero at that point.

The problem is universal, and the diagnosis is simple. Simply adjust the scope knobs down and to the left a lot, then shoot a group at least 25 yards away (farther is better). Sure, it won’t be in the right place; but if it’s tight and you can shoot repeatedly without any wandering, you know the problem is not with the scope. It’s with the mount. You need to align the scope’s axis with the barrel axis, and the problem will be solved. Either shim the scope or use an adjustable mount…you can stop criticizing the scope and get on with the fix.

4. Pick the power carefully.
Just like you don’t buy scopes by their brands, don’t buy them by their power, either. An excellent 4x scope can often outshoot a mediocre 16x scope. And it’s certainly easier on your eyes.

This is one reason I have so many vintage scopes. They don’t have the power of the modern scopes, but their optics are so clear that it doesn’t matter. This goes back to my first tip: Get good glass!

5. Consider a sidewheel objective adjustment.
It takes only a few minutes shooting field target to make this lesson clear. Instead of reaching out an arm’s length to turn an objective bell that’s probably very stiff to turn, a sidewheel objective adjustment puts the controls at your fingertips. I’d say that it’s the difference between power brakes and manual brakes on a car, but very few who are under 40 know what manual brakes are anymore. You young guys will just have to trust me on this.

6. Think about where the scope will be going.
If you don’t consider where the scope has to be mounted, it may not even fit on the gun you have or are about to buy. The same holds for scope mounts. Will they fit on the gun? Where’s the scope stop located, if you need one?

The biggest mistake shooters make on this account is that they try to mount a short scope on a rifle whose scope stop puts the eyepiece too far from the eye when the rifle is held naturally. This happens a lot with UTG Bug Buster scopes on springers like Gamos and Hatsans. You’re better off mounting a scope with a long eye relief, such as the CenterPoint Power Class 1TL 3-9×42 AO scope, on rifles like this, unless the scope tube is long enough to reach back.

7. Consider target turrets.
This may put some shooters off, but a scope with target turrets is so much easier to work with than one that cannot show you how much elevation and right adjustment has been applied. Target turrets usually cost more because they’re found on better scopes, but they pay you back when you’re setting up a gun or swapping the scope to a different gun.

Scope turrets
Which adjustment gives the most information about the scope’s current state? The coin-operated knob on the right or the target turret on the left?

8. Get adjustable parallax!
Parallax does matter to airgunners because we always shoot so close to the target. Parallax changes dramatically between 25 and 50 yards, but almost not at all between 100 and 150 yards. Firearm scope users seldom need parallax correction (what some call focusing) like airgunners do.

Yes, you can change the distance for which a scope is adjusted when it has fixed parallax; but after you do, it’s still fixed. It’s only good (focused) at that distance.

9. Shop for a good dealer
The dealer is the bottom line. One dealer will stand behind everything he sells and another will not. I will pay a premium to do business with good dealers. Yes, I’m talking about Pyramyd Air, but it doesn’t stop with them. There are many good dealers out there, and I make it my business to find out who they are before doing business with them.

Optics can have problems from the factory. More than other items, they’re products that do need to be returned sometimes. Having a dealer support you when that happens means a lot.

Summary
If you were to talk to me in person about scopes, these are some of the things I would tell you. And I would jump up and down about the third tip. That’s the one that hits me every time I’m called in to solve a scope problem. If the scope has target turrets, I can spot this problem from 10 feet away. I can also do it just by listening to the shooter converse with his buddy on the range…”I need more elevation, but I’ve got the scope dialed up as far as it will go!” That’s a problem just waiting to be discovered.

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