Archive for January 2014

.22-caliber Lightweight Disco Double: Part 2

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

Part 1

Disco Double new stock
The Lightweight Disco Double in its new stock looks striking!

I’d planned to report on the velocity of the Lightweight Disco Double today and, as good fortune would have it, the new stock arrived yesterday! So, I installed it and took a photo for you to see. I think it looks fabulous!

This stock was made by Normand Morin who has a website at Discos R Us. The wood grain is a very striking brown tone that’s finished shiny. The inletting is perfect for my rifle, and it dropped in with a tight fit. I like it even better than the walnut stock the rifle was shipped with. If you want to dress up your Disco, take a look at what this man can do for you.

Isn’t it ironic that I reported on the $100 PCP yesterday, and today I’m looking at the Disco Double? That wasn’t planned; but since it worked out, I’m sure you’ll draw some comparisons from the contrast of the 2 rifles.

First shots
I saved these first shots just for you! This is the first time I have fired the rifle since it arrived. I figured Crosman Premier lites could do the honors since the rifle is basically a Benjamin Discovery. At this time, I have not yet installed the TKO muzzlebrake, so the sound is what you would hear from a factory Discovery.

The needle on the rifle’s built-in pressure gauge was reading just below the 2,000 psi mark, which is the edge of the green zone for air. There’s a separate green zone for CO2 on the gauge, but it doesn’t really do much because a CO2 fill never goes above the pressure of the gas at whatever temperature the gun is at when it’s filled. In other words, CO2 pressure isn’t determined by the fill — it’s determined by the ambient temperature.

Here’s the first string I fired:

Start….21-40….41-STOP
690      739          736
709      748          —
707      757          —
718      750          715
726      757         729
720      745         724
732      744         714
728      742         716
735      753          713
729      742         701
723      754        STOP
737      742
743      746
733      741
733      742
742      744
737      745
741      734
747      722
745      738

After examining the shot string, I concluded that the reservoir pressure was slightly too high when I began shooting, so I filled it to a slightly lower pressure (on the rifle’s built-in gauge) and fired 5 more times. That gave me the following velocities:

730
731
739
728
731

At the end of these 5 shots the on-board gauge read 1,900 psi. That looks like the right pressure to me.

Disco Double top of the fill
This is as high as the fill level will go for the first shot to be in the correct velocity range.

Disco Double end of fill
When the rifle falls off the power curve, this is where the needle sits.

More Disco Double features
I told you in Part 1 that this rifle has too many features to cover in just a single report. Two more of them are the stainless steel male Foster quick-disconnect fitting that’s used as a fill nipple. Lloyd has machined it into the end cap of the lower reservoir tube and covers it with a black plastic cap.

There’s also a special barrel band he can provide that has a dovetail on the bottom for the attachment of a bipod. That looks particularly handy, and I’m thinking of doing just that.

Disco Double fill nipple
The fill nipple is stainless steel and on the bottom tube.

Disco Double barrel hanger anchor
Lloyd makes this custom barrel band, which has an anchor point for a bipod on the bottom.

Analysis of the velocity numbers
Now that I have a good first string on record, let’s see what it means. These numbers seem on the low side, though I did tell Lloyd that I wanted maximum shots over anything else.

Lloyd sent me several spreadsheets with his own test velocities that I’ll now compare to mine. Then, we can select a good performance curve for the rifle.

OH, NO!!!

What did I do?
Dear readers, I just consulted the velocity spreadsheet Lloyd sent me and discovered that he was getting velocities in this rifle in the mid-800s, also using Crosman Premiers. But I saw right away what he was doing differently.

HE WAS USING .22-CALIBER PREMIERS, where I’d been shooting the much-harder-to-control .177 Premier lites. Apparently, this Disco Double is special. Not only does it get a lot of shots, it also shoots .177 pellets in the same barrel as .22 pellets!

I swear I’m telling the you the truth, just as it happened! When I made my “discovery,” I dropped a .177 Premier pellet down the muzzle of the gun and noticed it fell all the way down.

Yes, friends, B.B. Pelletier has done it once again. I’ll now give you 5 minutes to draw a crowd for my public humiliation.

I didn’t plan for this report to go this way, but I can’t write stuff this funny when I try. So, have a great weekend at my expense, and on Monday I’ll return with some different velocity numbers. These will be obtained with the .22-caliber Premiers that probably work much better in this gun.

Building the $100 precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

$100 PCP
The PCP built on a Crosman 2100B chassis.

Today, we’ll start looking at the accuracy of the $100 PCP. This is the test that has concerned me most since we began this experiment. I knew that a Crosman barrel could be very accurate because of the success of the Benjamin Discovery. But the $100 PCP is a job we threw together quickly just to test the concept. And when I say “we,” I mean Dennis Quackenbush, of course. It isn’t fully developed. Will it shoot well or fail miserably? Today, we’ll find out.

Loose barrel
Since this is a lash-up job, there’s nothing connecting the barrel to the reservoir. This is a real free-floated barrel, but that’s not a good thing in this case.

I discussed this with Dennis, who advised me to attach the barrel to the reservoir tube with JB Weld. I was concerned that if I didn’t get the barrel fairly straight, problems would crop up when I scope the rifle. The open sights are mounted to the top of the barrel, so they’ll stay aligned at all times; but the scope base is on top of the receiver. The barrel is separate from that, and that could present a problem.

Crosman 2100B barrel pushed left
The barrel isn’t attached to anything and flexes to the left …

Crosman 2100B barrel pushed right
… and to the right. This had to be addressed before testing.

Thankfully, I’m a highly skilled craftsman, as long-time readers of this blog know all too well. My solution was to install a precision shim between the barrel and reservoir to maintain separation, and then to attach the 2 parts with several strips of linear adhesive material.

In other words, I put a piece of cardboard between the barrel and reservoir tube and then wrapped both with Gorilla tape.

Crosman 2100B shim
A precision shim of technical cardboard was slipped between the barrel and reservoir tube.

Crosman 2100B taped
Then the barrel was taped to the reservoir with Gorilla tape.

Naturally, I don’t expect the blog readers to be capable of skilled work like this. I’m just showing it to you so your repair center will have the information when they do a similar job for you!

Test time
Now, it was time to test the rifle. I shot only pellets, of course, and I decided to start at 10 meters with the open sights that came on the rifle. If I was testing a Crosman 2100B, that’s how I’d start.

First fill
Right away, I messed up and over-filled the gun on the very first fill. I’m not used to the needle on the gauge stopping at the 2,000 psi mark, so I went over and filled to about 2,300 psi. Thankfully, Dennis over-built this rifle, but I didn’t want to test that aspect! Nevertheless, the rifle was filled without incident, so I fired the first 10 shots.

Premier lites
Crosman Premier lites were the first pellets I shot because this is a Crosman rifle, after all. I’ve found that pellets and airguns made by the same manufacturer often do well together.

The first pellet landed to the right of the bull and about right for elevation. I left it alone and fired shot No. 2. Since the pellets were in the white, I could see them without a spotting scope (this was only 10 meters); and they were landing close to each other. I settled in and completed the first 5 shots.

I was so concerned that the pellets might walk as the pressure dropped in the reservoir that I photographed the first group after just 5 shots. Then, I photographed it again after all 10 shots were fired.

Crosman 2100B Premier lite first group after 5
The first 5 shots looked promising. I hoped the group wouldn’t open up too much when all 10 shots had been fired.

After photographing the first 5 shots I returned to the bench and shot the other 5. When I went downrange to change the target I was surprised to see that the final 5 shots hadn’t enlarged the group at all! This is not a common occurrence, and it made me think that I should re-shoot the Premiers with a correct 2,000 psi fill, just to be sure. But I decided to wait until the end of the test to do it.

The first 10-shot group of Premiers measures 0.726 inches between centers. As noted, that size was reached in the first 5 shots.

Crosman 2100B Premier lite first complete group
Ten Crosman Premier lites went into 0.726 inches at 10 meters. Not bad for a start!

RWS Hobbys
After the first group, I adjusted the rear sight to the left, to get the pellets striking inside the bull. Then, I fired the second group with RWS Hobby pellets. After confirming the first pellet did hit in the black, I didn’t look at the target again until going downrange to change it. What I saw was both thrilling and astounding. With open sights, the $100 PCP had put 10 Hobbys into a group that measures 0.534 inches between centers. This isn’t just a good group — it’s a great group when you consider that open sporting sights were used. Granted, I’m only shooting 10 meters here and the group will be larger when the distance increases to 25 yards, but will it be that much larger? I’ll be using a scope, after all. And maybe I haven’t even found the best pellet yet.

Crosman 2100B Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into 0.534 inches at 10 meters. This is amazing!

After this group, I adjusted the rear sight up one step. Since the next pellet is a heavy one, that would probably keep it is the same place.

H&N Baracuda Match
Although this rifle is producing only 12 foot-pounds of energy, I thought the H&N Baracuda Match pellets might work well. So, I gave them a shot. Ten went into a 0.855-inch group. That’s not terrible; but in light of the others, it’s not as good, either.

Crosman 2100B HN Baracuda Match group
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made a 0.855-inch group.

Air Arms Falcon pellets
Next up were the Falcon pellets from Air Arms. Ten of them went into 0.683 inches. Since this is a domed pellet, it may group better at long range than the Hobby.

Crosman 2100B Falcon group
Ten Air Arms Falcon domes made a 0.683-inch group.

Premier lites
I then shot a final group of Crosman Premier lites — this time with the rifle filled to just 2,000 psi. Ten pellets went into 0.615 inches, making the second-best group of the day, with Hobbys being the best.

Crosman 2100B Premier lite group 2
Ten Crosman Premier lites went into 0.615 inches at 10 meters.

Overall performance
The rifle’s pressure dropped about 800 psi for the 10 shots in each group. So the valve is far from optimum at this point. And the reservoir could stand to be a lot larger.

The trigger is the 2100B trigger. While it does have a long pull, I didn’t find that it caused me any problems. I think it should stay as it is.

The rifle cracks much louder than a Benjamin 392 on 8 pumps. Crosman could shroud the barrel, but I’m going to recommend they don’t. I want to keep the price of the gun down below $100. Let the people who buy them figure out how to quiet their guns. They’re going to anyway.

The verdict?
I’m going to address these next comments to Ed Schultz at Crosman. The $100 PCP tests out the way we both thought it would. You can see the shortcuts I took to stabilize the barrel for today’s test. I would want more than 10 good shots from a rifle like this. I would want at least 20 good, accurate shots of 7.9-grain Premiers going at 850 f.p.s., give or take.

I’m going to continue to test the rifle at greater distances, so there are more reports to come. But there’s no longer any doubt that this is a viable airgun.

See All Open Sight: Part 1

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

See All Open Sight
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!

I mentioned this sight in my last SHOT Show update last week and started a firestorm of discussion! Apparently, many of our blog readers see the same potential that I do! Let’s start a long, detailed look at the See All Open Sight.

What can it do?
I see several uses for a sight like this. First, there are a number of airguns that come without open sights, and I get asked repeatedly what can be done about it. Let me take one of the more common ones, which also happens to be one that is extremely difficult to deal with — the TX200 Mark III underlever spring-piston rifle. If you’ve read this blog for any time at all, you know that I’m a huge fan of the TX200. I’ve written dozens of reports about it — the most recent batch being a 12-part series that just finished. Or I thought it was finished. Now, there’s a good reason to test that rifle once more with this new sight!

But the uses don’t stop there. If the See All really works as well as we all hope, it solves another problem because it is easier to see than other types of open sights. There’s a magnifying function built into this sight that may make it easier to use for shooters whose eyes are less than perfect. To test for that, I’ll rely on my shooting buddy, Otho, who’s been complaining about his eyes for years. He used to be a wonderful shot with open sights, but now he has to wear glasses to even use a scope! If he can use the See All successfully, then there’s hope for other shooters whose eyes are troubling them.

I bought a See All Open Sight as soon as I returned from the SHOT Show, and it’s been delivered. But the See All folks called me last week and offered to send me a second sight for testing. I reckoned I could get Otho testing one while I’m testing the other, so I can give this sight a thorough wringing out. Besides a lot of installments for this blog, I plan on writing about the sight for Shotgun News and also for the new Blue Book of Airguns that’s coming out late this spring.

Another use for the sight are those target guns whose costly and often hard-to-find sights are missing. Will the See All be a useful replacement for target sights? I don’t know, but we’re about to find out.

Still another use for it will be on certain air pistols that lend themselves to optical sights, but for which no good sights are made. I’m thinking of the Beeman P1 and the P17 pistols for starters, but it could expand to many others.

As things progress, I’m sure we’ll find even more uses for this sight. It all comes down to one thing: Does it really work? Just from looking at it, I’m intrigued. It looks like it ought to work very well. People whose opinions I trust who have seen the sight feel the same as I do. There’s a sense that it’s right and ought to work as advertised. We’ll see!

A brief look at non-electronic optical sights
What follows is not a thorough history. It’s just a few things I happen to know about these sights. Shooters have looked for many years for open sights that enhance the eye’s ability to sight the gun. Elmer Keith inlayed gold and silver lines in the front sight post of some of his revolvers so he could refer to them when shooting long distances. He killed an elk with a .44 Special at over 400 yards, so his sights must have worked! I suspect his eyesight was much better than what passes for perfect sight today, and that had a lot to do with how successful this idea was for him; but it’s still a part of our shooting history.

The King Sight Company developed a front sight that has a small reflector to shine extra light on a gold bead. I once owned a Smith & Wesson Triple Lock in .45 Colt that was customized with such a sight. It had probably been installed in the 1940s or ’50s; but when it was put on the gun, the barrel was also cut back to about 3 inches. I was never able to hit anything with that revolver.

King sight ad
This ad from the 1948 “Shooter’s Bible” shows the King revolver sights that used a reflector to brighten the bead.

But the sight that has intrigued me the most is the Nydar optical sight. It was a non-electronic dot sight that was touted as great for shotguns in the 1940s. It used a mirror to concentrate a dot in the center of a circle on what today looks like a holographic screen. This was an adaptation of anti-aircraft weapon sights from World War II. Did it work? I’m sure some shooters found that it did for them. I’ve never seen one, but I’ve had a fascination for them since reading about them as a teenager.

Nydar sight ad
The Nydar sight is an example of an optical sight that doesn’t use electronics. Also taken from the 1948 “Shooter’s Bible.”

The See All Open Sight
What is the See All Open Sight? It’s a single unit that attaches to the top of a gun and presents a sight picture to the shooter. This sight picture or reticle is placed against the target to align the gun for the shot. You can use the sight with one eye closed or with both eyes open — I don’t yet know which is the better way.

See All Open Sight sight picture
This is what you see when you look through the sight. This wasn’t as easy to photograph as it looks. The first person who suggests I retake the photo with a bullseye target on top of the triangle gets excommunicated from this blog!

The sight is lightweight, weighing 1.8 oz. So, recoil shouldn’t affect it that much. There’s no need for a front sight, as the See All is complete in itself. Just like a dot sight, it stands alone. But now that you see the reticle you can see that it isn’t really a dot sight.

The sight is made from aluminum with some pieces being made of synthetics. It looks like a great deal of thought went into the design and nothing looks cheap.

It mounts to a gun with an open dovetail clamp that’s as wide as both the Weaver and Picatinny dovetail bases. But there’s no crossbar locking rib on the integral base of this sight. Instead, there are two Allen screws that are adjusted to push down onto the gun, forcing the clamping jaws of the sight base up against the dovetail flanges of the gun’s mount base. So, the See All holds to the gun by clamping pressure, alone. I’ll determine if this is a problem with recoiling spring airguns.

See All Open Sight sight base
The sight base will clamp to a Weaver or Picatinny scope dovetail, but it has no crossbar to lock the sight in place. The 2 screws seen here are used to jam the sight base into the jaws of the dovetail.

Because the integral sight base is made for a Weaver dovetail, it’s too large for the 3/8-inch or 11mm dovetails that are common on rimfire guns and airguns. But there are adapters that can change 11mm bases to Weaver bases. I’ll find out how practical these are for our purposes. The people at See All have told me that if there’s enough of a demand, they’ll also make their sight with an integral 11mm base. Perhaps, they could provide an adapter with the sight so it would fit both Weaver and 11mm dovetails/bases, similar to what Tasco does with their ProPoint line.

The sight reticle (See All calls it a crosshair reticle) is engraved on a bright green plastic plate made from something they call edge glow material. I’m red-green colorblind, yet have no trouble seeing this reticle. You look at the reticle though a plastic lens they call the optic. It magnifies the reticle, and what you see is a triangle with a line above it. Put the target on the point of the triangle to sight correctly. The instructions say the sight is parallax free, which is wonderful if true! I certainly plan to test that because positioning the head is such a problem for me since I test so many different guns.

See All Open Sight reticle
This is what you see through the magnifying optic.

There are adjustments for both windage and elevation. The instructions say there are a total of 45 minutes of angle of vertical adjustment and 75 minutes of horizontal adjustment. Because we know that many spring rifles have a barrel-drooping problem (the axis of the bore is angled downward, relative to the sight base on top of the gun), I will take care to mount the sight as close to the bore axis as possible.

The makers claim that the accuracy is unsurpassed by any sighting systems without the use of magnification. That’s a claim I plan on testing with a 10-meter target rifle. It should be easy to shoot some groups at 10 meters with conventional aperture sights and then duplicate the test with the See All. I hope the claim turns out to be true because this is something many shooters have been searching for!

First test
I originally mounted the See All sight to the MK-177 multi-pump I recently tested for you because that rifle has a long Picatinny rail along its top. But then a new Leapers UTG scout scope arrived for testing, and that rifle is ideal for testing that scope, so I switched the See All to my M4-177.

Crosman-M4-177-target
A couple years ago, I tested the M4-177 and got this 10-shot group with Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutters. I shot from 25 feet with 5 pumps per shot. A 10-meter group shouldn’t be much larger. When I test the new sight, I’ll reshoot with the factory sights just to be sure.

I’ll get to this first accuracy test very soon because I know many of you are waiting to see how well this sight works. I’m pitting the See All against the peep sights that are on the M4-177 rifle from the factory. This isn’t the 10-meter test I mentioned earlier — it’s just a start at testing what could turn out to be the most exciting new open sight to come along in our lifetimes.

Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

C96 BB pistol
Umarex Legends C96 BB pistol.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol, and I can sum it up in a single word: Spectacular! Those who like accurate BB pistols will want to put this one on their list.

I shoot all BB guns at 5 meters, which is about 16 feet, 5 inches. While that sounds incredibly close, it is the distance at which the Daisy National BB Gun Championship is shot; and if it’s good enough for the champions, it’s good enough for me. Besides, testing all BB guns at the same distance gives consistent results that can be compared across many tests.

I shot this test with my forearms rested on the back of a wooden chair, and the gun held in 2 hands. That eliminated as much of me as possible, giving the pistol a fair chance to shoot its best.

I used 50-foot smallbore rifle targets whose black bulls are almost 1.5 inches across. At 5 meters, they make perfect aim points for open sights. The C96 has a tapered post front sight and a V-notch in the rear. When the target is illuminated with 500 watts of halogen light, the sight picture becomes sharp and crisp, and sighting can be precise.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
The first target was shot with Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs. The very first shot hit at the extreme bottom of the paper target, and I discovered one of the great features of this pistol. It has a tangent rear sight like the firearm it copies, and it was easy to raise the rear notch up just a bit. By sheer luck I got the elevation almost perfect on the first try, so I left the sights alone after that.

C96 BB pistol rear sight
The rear ramp is easy to elevate, just like on the firearm. You can see the sloped surface the sight adjuster rides up as it moves forward.

The next 9 BBs went into a shockingly small group, so I loaded one more BB into the magazine to make up for the first shot that was low. When I fired it, it was the only Daisy BB to hit outside the black after the sight adjustment. The 10-shot group measures 0.852 inches between centers. I think you’ll agree this is a very nice group of 10 from any BB pistol!

C96 BB pistol Daisy BB group
Ten Daisy Premium-Grade BBs made this 0.852-inch group at 5 meters. Notice the first BB that landed very low.

Crosman Copperhead
Next up were Crosman Copperhead BBs. They hit the target in the same place as the Daisys, and the 10-shot group measures 0.937 inches, which isn’t much different than what the Daisy BBs did.

C96 BB pistol Copperhead BB group
Ten Crosman Copperhead BBs made this 0.937-inch group at 5 meters. As with the Daisys, one BB is outside the black bull.

Umarex Precision Steel BBs
Finally, I tried the Umarex Precision steel BBs. They rival the Daisys in precision and this time that was evident. Ten of them went into 0.863 inches, with nine of them in a much tighter bunch. Like the other 2 BBs, these also threw a single BB into the white.

C96 BB pistol Umarex BB group
Ten Umarex Precision Steel BBs made this 0.863-inch group at 5 meters. It’s only slightly larger than the Daisy group.

Sight adjustment
Like the Mauser firearm it copies, this BB pistol has no provision for windage adjustments. Both the Mauser firearms I owned shot about a foot to the left at 25 yards, so I’m used to this. Some older pistols have sights that can at least be drifted to the side in dovetails, but not the Mauser. With this gun, you soon learn to apply Kentucky windage to lay your shots where you want them.

But let’s face it, this isn’t a realistic test for a BB pistol. BB gun shooters plink at cans. They don’t shoot groups at paper targets — at least not often. This pistol is easily a minute-of-Coke-can handgun out to 20 yards.

Firing behavior
I found 2 things about the trigger pull when conducting this test. The first is that the trigger blade is located too close to the grip. That’s a part of the lack of ergonomics that the Broomhandle family of pistols all share, and there’s nothing to be done for it. This BB pistol is a faithful copy of the firearm, including a less-than-optimum grip.

The second thing I noticed was how hard the 2-stage trigger seemed to pull. Looking back at Part 2, I see that I did not measure the pull, so I got out the electronic gauge and measured it this time. Stage 1 requires between 2 and 3 lbs. to complete, and stage 2 breaks at an average of 7 lbs., 11 ozs. The range went from 7 lbs., 1 oz. to 8 lbs., 3 oz.; and the slower and more deliberate the pull, the greater the force required.

Even with that, though, the pistol is blisteringly accurate. And the blowback is pleasant. It’s nothing like the snapping recoil of a 7.63mm Mauser cartridge. So, there’s a benefit of shooting the BB gun over the firearm.

Overall evaluation
Umarex has a winner, here. Their Legends airguns are all remarkable guns, and the C96 takes its place among them proudly. Not only is it realistic-looking, it gets an astounding number of shots per CO2 cartridge; and, as we now see, those shots all go to the same place.

AirForce Escape: Part 2

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

Part 1

Tarzan! This weekend, a number of readers conducted a discussion of the fictional character Tarzan and the author who created him, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I thought you should all know an interesting connection of Tarzan to airguns. His grandson, J.R. Burroughs, was a big-time airgun importer in the 1990s. In fact, he imported many of the Korean brands that are still coming in today.

When I started writing about airguns in 1994, I got to know J.R. through my writing, and I eventually met him at one of the SHOT Shows. We continued to communicate about airguns and many other things well into the 21st century. I haven’t heard from him since I got sick back in 2010, so he may no longer be involved with airguns like he once was, but he was certainly a mover and shaker in the U.S. airgun scene during the time he was active.

A couple points of interest with J.R. He was the man who modified the Shinsung Career 707 adjustment wheel from 3 settings to 17 settings — giving us much greater control over the velocity of our rifles. The factory eventually made the same modification. It was possible to keep a Career shooting at the same velocity for a long time simply by adjusting the power wheel as you shot. I remember testing it over a chronograph and getting 90 shots that were all within 30 f.p.s.

J.R. also created the first adjustable trigger for the Career, and I believe he also created one of the first pellet feed mechanisms that was user-adjustable. Before that, you could only shoot a few types of pellets in the gun; but with his modification, many more types of pellets would work through the magazine.

His brother, Danton manages, the licensing of the Burroughs family literary property. Part of that is a collection of original Tarzan novels that were never sold. There was a fire in the storeroom many years ago and some of these books have smoke damage, but they’re all like-new hardcover books from the 1930s. I was gifted with one — Tarzan and the Forbidden City — from this collection, and J.R inscribed it, saying that his father had done the cover art.

Of course, many of you know that the southern California community of Tarzana was created from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzana Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. But how many know that Tarzana was also the name of small hamlet located on the ranch before Burroughs purchased it? And his Tarzan character appeared in print for the first time two years after he bought the ranch.

So, Tarzan does have ties to modern airgunning. I thought you would like to know that. One final thing. Burroughs didn’t just write adventure novels. He is also quite famous for his science fiction that bears a remarkable resemblance to his other works, but are set on Mars. Edith and I both enjoy the movie John Carter, in which Burroughs appears as a minor character who turns out to be the author who documents the “real-life” exploits of his uncle, John Carter. I think we enjoy it most because of our fond memories of J.R.

Now, let’s take our first serious look at the new AirForce Escape survival rifle. Before I start, I need to make a couple corrections to Part 1. I said the Escape SS (officially named the EscapeSS) has an 18-inch barrel and several readers figured out that wasn’t the case. It actually comes with a 12-inch barrel in either .22 or .25 caliber.

I also said the Escape valve is a modified TalonP pistol valve, which isn’t true. The TalonP valve is used exactly as it is in the pistol, so pistol owners who add a 24-inch barrel and end cap to their pistols can essentially have the Escape. The pistol’s frame is shorter than the Escape frame, but it is just right for the Escape Ultra Light (officially named the EscapeUL) that we’ll look at in a later report.

AirForce Escape rifle
The AirForce Airguns Escape precharged pneumatic air rifle is a powerful new survival rifle in both .22 and .25 calibers.

AirForce Talon P pistol
The TalonP pistol is the base gun used to create the new Escape-series rifles.

The Escape rifle looks like the other AirForce sporting rifles and has many of the same features. The new trigger is there, along with the new safety that can be taken off safe by the trigger finger, alone. The 2-stage trigger on my rifle breaks at a relatively clean 28 oz. While it’s not adjustable, I think most serious shooters will find it more than adequate.

The rifle weighs 5.3 lbs. unscoped and measures from 34.5 to 39 inches long, depending on where the extendible buttstock is set. That means the length of pull can also be varied from 9.75 to 14.25 inches.

Like all other AirForce rifles, the Esacpe has long 11mm rails on top and below the receiver. Since this is a survival gun, a bipod and sling swivels might be almost as important as a scope.

I tested this rifle differently than normal. Instead of getting the chronograph figures right away, I decided to shoot it at the range, so 2 days were spent on the range with the rifle in its .25-caliber incarnation. Once I have a good baseline of performance downrange, I’ll come back and chrono the best pellets, pressures and power settings. Because these rifles are so infinitely adjustable, it makes sense to figure out what works before you worry about the numbers.

But I’ll give you some velocity figures because Ton Jones tested the heck out of the rifle late last year, and AirForce provided me with the data. With .25-caliber JSB Exact King pellets and the rifle set to max power, Ton’s first shot was 1145 f.p.s. The first 10 shots on a 3,000 psi fill looked like this:

1–1145
2–1125
3–1106
4–1090
5–1078
6–1061
7–1044
8–1028
9–1017
10–1003

On power setting 8, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1100
2–1112
3–1133
4–1106
5–1107
6–1088
7–1075
8–1060
9–1041
10–1022

On power setting 4, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1041
2–1036
3–1077
4–1095
5–1080
6–1077
7–1100
8–1077
9–1091
10–1080

At max power and the highest velocity, this JSB pellet generated 73.96 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

With the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet, the rifle did this on the first 10 shots at max power after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1010
2–980
3–974
4–955
5–940
6–924
7–907
8–894
9–876
10–860

On 8 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–996
2–984
3–964
4–944
5–932
6–906
7–888
8–872
9–856
10–840

On 4 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–986
2–975
3–959
4–950
5–937
6–922
7–902
8–889
9–870
10–849

At the max power setting and highest velocity, this pellet generated 97.88 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I have the data on the Escape’s .22-caliber performance, but that will make today’s report too large, so let me continue with just the .25-caliber rifle, which is how AirForce set it up for me. I took it to the rifle range on 2 different days. Both were cold but the first one was also very windy, so I’m going to show you the results of day 2 testing, only. The day was 16 degrees F (-9 C) but dead calm. I shot several types of pellets this day and based on those velocity figures you have just seen, I decided to shoot 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups.

Ton Jones maintains that a survival situation calls for a single well-placed shot, rather than a number of shots fired rapidly. I agree with him, so I’m not testing the Escape as I normally would. I fired 5 shots and then topped off the air tank. When you’re making single shots, that makes sense.

On max power the best groups I shot were with JSB Exact King pellets and Predator Polymag pellets. At 50 yards, 5 JSB Kings went into a group that measured 1.846 inches between centers. That’s a large group, but remember that you’re shooting at large targets, and 50 yards may be farther than you choose to shoot.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King max 50 yards
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.846 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Predator Polymags put five into 1.819 inches at the same 50 yards on max. power. Notice that both pellets spread their shots horizontally.

AirForce Escape rifle Predator Polymag max 50 yards
Five Predator Polymag pellets went into 1.819 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Experience takes over
I’m not going to bore you with each and every experiment I did on this day, but I want you to know that I also tried Benjamin domed pellets and Beeman Kodiak pellets. Both gave similar results, with the Kodiaks doing slightly better than the Benjamins.

But I knew that this rifle was more accurate than this. From my experience with other powerful precharged rifles, plus the testing I did with the TalonP pistol, I reckoned the fill pressure had to be lowered and the power adjusted. It soon became obvious this was correct and the JSB Exact King pellet was the one to go with. After several more groups, I settled on a fill of just under 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. The groups became amazing with this combination, plus they were remarkably uniform from group to group.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 1
First good group of JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 1950 psi fill gave me this 0.751-inch, 5-shot group at 50 yards.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 2
After adjusting the scope, I put 5 JSB Kings into 0.694 inches at 50 yards. This was the best group of the day.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 3
Another 5 JSB Kings went into 0.841 inches at 50 yards. This was the worst group of 6 that were fired with this combination of pellet, pressure and power setting.

Now that I know where at least one sweet spot is located, that will be what I’ll test through a chronograph. I’ll guess that this pellet is producing something in the 30 foot-pound range with the settings I used. Hitting the target with that kind of energy is much more meaningful than missing with three times more.

I also haven’t tested the heavy Eun Jin pellet for accuracy. And Ton told me that he lubricated his pellets with Slip 2000, which I’ve obtained, so I’ll be able to replicate what he did.

Summary
How do I summarize anything when I’ve only just started to test the rifle? There’s enough variability here that I could spend the rest of my life just testing the Escape in .25 caliber! What I can tell you is that the rifle performs as advertised, and, yes, you do have to work with it to get these kinds of results. AirForce has always made air rifles for the thinking man, and the new Escape continues that tradition proudly.

.22-caliber Lightweight Disco Double: Part 1

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

You tell me that you enjoy the longer reports that pick apart certain guns and analyze them in great depth. You insist that I explain the technical terms and sometimes also the terms that are specific to shooting. We have a wide spectrum of reader experience in the shooting sports on this blog; so when I write about something, I have to keep that foremost in mind. I try not to jargonize or use insider language, although I’m sure that I do from time to time.

Today we begin what will undoubtedly become a huge report. I think you will enjoy it, but I am asking for your help in managing the questions and comments that will undoubtedly result. So, sit back and pour a fresh cup of coffee or tea, for I think this trip is going to be fun for all of us!

The detailed photos in today’s report are provided by Lloyd Sikes. My thanks to him for all his work.

The 2013 Roanoke airgun show was a poignant one for me. It was the first airgun show in more than a decade where my buddy Mac was not with me. He passed away on May 5, 2013, and I stopped going to events for several months afterward. Roanoke was my first outing since his passing.

I’ve already reported on the show and don’t need to go over that ground again, but one thing that happened there does need to be mentioned. While I was at my table, a man walked up with a Benjamin Discovery in his hand and told me he had bought it from me the previous year. I recognized the rifle as one Mac had sold (we were both at the same table), and I mentioned that to him. I could see in his eyes, however, that he was very concerned with the status of this gun right now!

He had shot the gun for about a year but really hadn’t used it that much. He said that it now had a slow leak that needed to be repaired and had brought it to the show to get his money back. I looked at the rifle and saw that it was in fine shape, and he had the hand pump that came with it but not the box. I fully intended to buy it back from him just because that’s what Mac would’ve done. So, we struck a deal, and the Discovery became mine.

Benjamin Discovery
I bought back Mac’s Benjamin Discovery at the Roanoke airgun show.

It may surprise you to learn that I have never owned an actual Benjamin Discovery! When Crosman and I were developing the rifle in 2007, I tested two prototypes that were Discoveries in every way, but they were not production guns. They were Crosman 2260s that were converted to Discovery specifications. I’d helped develop the Discovery 6 years earlier, but I never actually owned one before now. And, I had a plan for this one!

At the same show, Lloyd Sikes, the owner of Airgun Lab, was set up on the other side of the room. For those of you who don’t know him, Lloyd is the man who invented the technology that became the Benjamin Rogue. But Lloyd is now taking Benjamin Discoveries and adding an additional air tube to double their air reservoir capacity. Mostly, he sells kits of parts to people who want to do the work themselves — it’s easy enough for most people. But he’s also building a few very special rifles from the ground up. For over a year, I’d wanted to test something Lloyd was building, and this Benjamin Discovery seemed the ideal subject!

I walked over to Lloyd’s table and had a chat with him. As fate would have it, he was working on something brand new. He had just started experimenting with what he calls a Disco Double with both reservoir tubes made from aluminum rather than steel. The result is a gun that is nearly as light as the original Benjamin Discovery! When I picked up the prototype gun he had on his table, I couldn’t believe it. It was so light! I wanted one just like it.

Lloyd and I had several conversations at the show, and I left my brand new Discovery with him to build a lightweight Disco Double. I learned that what Lloyd makes is not just one simple product. There are so many changes that can be made in the process of modifying the rifle that a lot of decisions have to be made. We made those decisions both at that airgun show and in emails as time passed. But the original idea of a lightweight Disco Double with dual aluminum tubes remained the core plan.

When I returned from the SHOT show last week and my mail was delivered, there was a box from Lloyd! My lightweight Disco Double had arrived!

This report is going to be about the Disco Double that Lloyd built for me. If you want to know more about the basic Benjamin Discovery air rifle, read these reports.

The rifle
The Benjamin Discovery is a basic precharged pneumatic air rifle that was built to sell at a very low price. The original concept was that the gun would come packaged with a high-pressure hand pump; and because the gun had a maximum fill pressure of 2000 psi, the hand pump would be very easy to operate. When I tested the preproduction guns in both .177 and .22 calibers, each was able to produce 10-shot groups smaller than 1 inch at 50 yards. At the Discovery’s low price, this was incredible performance.

Mac had purchased one of the original 4000 rifles that were made during the first year of production. These are unique because they have genuine walnut stocks that had been made for a special 2260 rifle that was never built. After the supply of these walnut stocks was exhausted, the company changed to beech wood, which is in keeping with the low cost of the gun.

The Disco Double lighweight
The rifle Lloyd built for me has two aluminum air reservoir tubes. In conventional Disco Double conversions, the kit contains either one chrome moly steel or one high-strength aluminum tube that gets added to the rifle’s existing steel tube for greater air capacity, but Lloyd made my rifle with dual aluminum tubes — the first of its type! The No. 1 purpose of this design is weight reduction, and secondarily it increases the air capacity for more shots.

The original base rifle in factory trim weighed 5 lbs., 7 oz. The original air capacity was 130cc. The rifle as now modified weighs 5 lbs., 8 oz. and has an air capacity of 199cc. That’s 53 percent more air. The air capacity has not doubled because the aluminum tube wall thickness is greater (than steel) to provide the necessary strength. So, the tradeoff with this conversion is lighter weight (than an all-steel conversion) for a little less total air, though the air capacity is still boosted greatly.

Benjamin Discovery Disco Double tube comparison
The steel tube (bottom) has thinner walls than the aluminum tube, yet the aluminum tube is still lighter.

Benjamin Discovery Disco Double assembly comparison
Here’s a comparison of the original Discovery air tube assembly (above) with the 2 aluminum air tubes of the lightweight Disco Double. The rifle’s barrel is at the top.

Benjamin Discovery Disco Double lightweight assembly
This is the completed lightweight Disco Double, minus the stock. The tubes have been finished in black to match the barrel. The original Discovery trigger is still attached to this rifle, but will be exchanged for a Marauder trigger.

I want to point out that Lloyd is building his guns with a safety reserve of well over 4 to 1. In other words, the guns are rated for well above 4 times the air pressure at which they’re working. Well above!

Trigger
A normal Disco Double will have a Discovery trigger. Perhaps you’ve read about this trigger in your research on the internet. It’s functional, but it’s certainly not a fine trigger. I can use it without any problems; but if I had my choice, I’d like something better. Well, this time, I did have a choice; so I had Lloyd install a Marauder trigger on the rifle he made. He then had to find a triggerguard because the guard on the Discovery would not have worked.

Testing
Lloyd did an enormous amount of testing of my gun since it was the first of its kind to be built. And he has supplied me with the test data, so I have at my fingertips a whole library of velocities, pellets, fill pressures and some other things I will mention in a moment. If only all the guns I reported on had this kind of data at the start! But Lloyd is a very careful engineer, and I’ve come to know that he documents his work quite well.

Interesting background
Where did Lloyd get the idea for the Disco Double? Is the Benjamin Discovery somehow deficient in air capacity? Not really. But Lloyd was building a special .25-caliber conversion of the rifle for a customer, and it ran out of air very fast. The double air tubes were put there to make that big .25 a workable solution. And, after seeing what those tubes added to the rifle, Lloyd naturally expanded his conversions to the basic rifle, and the Disco Double was born!

The main goals of Lloyd’s kit are:

1. Safely add additional air capacity for more shots.

2. Restore the shot count after making power increases.

3. Maintain the light weight of the Discovery.

4. Provide a kit that can be installed by any airgunner who routinely works on his own airguns.

My rifle
Lloyd and I agreed that it would be best to be able to preserve the original rifle, so if I ever wanted to put it back the way it came, I could. So, the factory walnut stock wasn’t touched. To fit the new double tubes, that stock would have to be routed out. Instead, the factory stock was returned to me as it came, and Lloyd is having a new beech stock made for me by his friend Norm. When that stock arrives, I’ll mount it and return the walnut stock to Norm, who has loaned it to me for photos and to get started with my testing.

Lloyd also produced an upgraded striker spring to give the new rifle more power. Of course, it does reduce the total number of shots; but since the air capacity has been expanded, you don’t notice the reduction over the factory rifle. Lloyd has also provided me with the test data for this performance part.

Benjamin Discovery Disco Double lightweight
My completed Disco Double rifle sits in a beautiful borrowed walnut stock. The Marauder trigger and new triggerguard have now been installed.

Cost
A kit of parts to make your Discovery into a Disco Double costs $165 as of the date of this publication. What you see here will cost $250 in a kit of parts. The aluminum tubes are much more expensive, and I also don’t believe the Marauder trigger has been included in that price.

This first report has been a long one, and we’ve only just begun to see this rifle. The next report will also have a lot more of the background development information, along with some velocity testing.

Oh, I guess I should tell you that this is a .22! And you can forget the serial number because this one stays with me.

Falke model 70: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Falke model 70
Falke model 70 is a quality breakbarrel spring-piston rifle from the 1950s.

Today is accuracy day for our Falke model 70 breakbarrel. I tested this one at the same time I tested the BSA Meteor Mark IV; and after that horrible test, I was praying that this rifle wouldn’t let me down. When I bought the rifle at last year’s Roanoke airgun show, the seller told me it shot pretty well. I was hoping to see that — especially after what happened with the Meteor! It did okay in the velocity test, so there was no reason to suspect it wouldn’t also be accurate.

The Falke did not disappoint, though it’s important to bear in mind that this is a vintage spring rifle made by a company that went out of business a half century ago and not some tackdriver made by a target gun manufacturer. When you shoot one of these air rifles, think in terms of a vintage Diana model 27 rather than a Walther model 55.

The Falke has open sights, so I like to start testing guns like them at 10 meters. They’re usually right on target; but if they’re off, 10 meters is close enough that they won’t be off that much. Open sights seldom have the same kind of problems as optical sights.

Eley Wasps
The Falke is a vintage airgun, so I felt it deserved a vintage pellet — at least for starters. The first pellet I tried was the Eley Wasp. Of course, I also tried Wasps with the Meteor and look where that got me! But the Falke was far more forgiving. In .177 caliber, the Wasp pellet is medium-sized — nothing like the oversized 5.56mm (.22 caliber) Wasps pellets we use in guns that have large bores. Wasps fit the Falke 70 breech well, but they weren’t tight. They didn’t fall out, but they also didn’t need to be pushed into the rifling. They went in easily.

When I saw the group, I was amazed! Eight of the ten Wasps were in a tight group that measures 0.276 inches between centers. The 2 pellets that aren’t in the main group open it to a much larger 0.862 inches, but I’m thinking those 2 shots might have been due to small sighting variations.

Falke 70 Wasp target
Eight of ten Eley Wasps went into a tight 0.276 inches, but the final 2 opened it to 0.862 inches.

Trigger
The rifle has a comfortable feel when shooting. I’d called it a single-stage trigger, but it’s actually 2-stage. Stage 2 is very subtle and takes some time to get used to it to feel it every time, but it breaks cleanly enough for good work. The post-and-bead front sight is somewhat difficult to use precisely; but at 10 meters against a black bull (with a 6 o’clock hold), it’s good enough.

I like the way the breech locks when it closes. The spring-loaded lock breech jumps into position. After it does, you cannot feel any movement in the breech.

RWS Hobbys
After the Wasps, I adjusted the rear sight higher to get into the bull. Then, I started a group with RWS Hobby pellets; but after just 3 shots had gone into 1.371 inches, I gave up. No sense finishing a group like that! Hobbys are often a very accurate pellet in vintage airguns of the same power as this Falke model 70; so it was worth a try, but when things go that wrong that fast it’s time to move on.

Crosman Premier lites
Next, I tried the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellet. This is another pellet that often does well in lower-powered spring guns like the Falke 70. But not this time! Ten went into a group that measures 1.164 inches between centers. You might wonder why I was so quick to abandon Hobbys yet stuck with Premier lites to the end. Well, this group just kept growing larger with each shot. It wasn’t until close to the end that I saw how large it was going to be.

Falke 70 Premier lite target
Ten Crosman Premier lites went into 1.164 inches at 10 meters. This is not the pellet for this rifle.

Air Arms Falcons
Next, I tried some Air Arms Falcon pellets. The Falcon is a 7.33-grain domed pellet made for Air Arms by JSB on dies that Air Arms owns, so it’s unlike anything else JSB makes. It’s too simple to say the Falcon is just a JSB Exact RS under another label; for although both pellets weigh exactly the same and are both domed pellets, they don’t perform the same. Often Falcons will shoot well when Exact RS pellets won’t.

In the Falke 70, they did pretty good! Of course, I didn’t miss the irony of shooting a falcon pellet in a falcon rifle!

For starters, they went to the exact center of the bull. I know this thrills some folks who need to see the pellets impact there; but like I always say, I’m looking for the smallest groups — then, I’ll adjust the sights later. But when luck happens and I get this result, I can’t deny that it thrills me a little. Ten pellets went into 0.762 inches, which is okay but not great. But within the main group there are 7 pellets that made a much smaller group measuring 0.387 inches. Like the Wasps, I cannot help wondering if I could do better.

Falke 70 Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 0.762 inches at 10 meters, but 7 of them went into just 0.387 inches. This pellet is worth pursuing.

H&N Baracuda Match
The last pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match. While this seems like an overly heavy pellet for such a low-powered spring rifle, I’ve found they often do quite well in some guns. They were certainly worth a try. Although the rear sight was adjusted up for most of the other pellets, the Baracudas hit low on the target. But they did put 8 of 10 into 0.44 inches, which is very good. And, again, there are 2 pellets that didn’t want to go into the main group. They opened the group to 0.742 inches, making this pellet the most accurate of those tested.

Falke 70 Baracuda Match target
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 0.742 inches at 10 meters, with 8 of them going into just 0.44 inches. This is the best pellet of the test.

Should I test at 25 yards?
The Falke model 70 will never have a scope. I sense the accuracy potential of the rifle exceeds the precision of the sights. Two and perhaps even 3 of these groups should have been one small hole, but for sighting errors. I am tempted to back up to 25 yards and have a go. We shall see.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

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