by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• How loud?
• Experience with .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels.
• First accuracy test of the Escape SS.
• What’s next?
Today, we’ll start looking at the accuracy of the AirForce EscapeSS. Unlike other accuracy tests, this one didn’t start at 10 meters or even at 25 yards. I went right out to the rifle range and shot the rifle at the 50-yard backstop.
When you have an air rifle with the power of these Escape rifles, you have to take it outdoors. Unless you have a very special place to shoot, this is an outdoor air rifle.
But with that said, the EscapeSS is also the quiet version of the rifle. So, I didn’t wear hearing protection at the outdoor range. I knew the gun wouldn’t be loud enough to hurt my ears, and I wanted to be able to tell you how loud it is. I did not fire the rifle on full power for today’s test, but all the shots sounded very restrained. I would say it was louder than a Benjamin 392 on 8 pump strokes, but not as loud as a Benjamin Discovery in .22 caliber. It’s a sound you can hear, but it isn’t as sharp as a .22 long rifle or even a .22 short.
Experience with AirForce .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels
To this point in time, I’ve tested the Escape and the EscapeUL — both in .25 caliber. The .25 caliber doesn’t have many accurate pellets, but testing these rifles and the TalonP pistol has revealed a few. One of them stands out as the absolute best. The Predator Polymag pellet in .25 caliber is hands-down the most accurate pellet I’ve tested in these Escape rifles, and my observation agrees with the Escape’s co-developer — Ton Jones.
I cut right to the chase and used the Predator Polymag pellet exclusively in today’s test. I’ll try other pellets in future tests — but, for today, I shot only this one.
The other experience I have with the Escape rifles is that they’re most accurate with fill levels of 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. That’s how I set up the rifle for the first group.
I removed the Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 scope from the EscapeUL and mounted it on the EscapeSS in a BKL 1-piece mount and, without even sighting in, I started shooting at 50 yards. I’d planned on sighting in, but my first pellet struck the bull I was aiming at, so there was nothing more to be done. Apparently the EscapeUL and EscapeSS are very similar!
I shot 5-shot groups, because I have found the Escape rifles to be most accurate within a 5-shot band. Sometimes, this will stretch to 6 or even 7 shots, but that’s about all if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. And I’m shooting groups so small they prove the rifle for hunting purposes! This is not some generalization or extrapolation of accuracy. I’m reporting what these rifles can do in the field.
The first 5 shots went into 1.197 inches at 50 yards. The group was off to the left of the bull, with just the first shot in the black.
With these same settings, the worst group of 5 went into 1.341 inches, and the best 5 went into 0.975 inches. That’s 3 groups that average 1.171 inches. That is about what the rifle does on this setting.
Next, I boosted the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and left the power setting at 6. I got 2 groups — one that was 0.903 inches and the other that was 1.63 inches. That’s a big difference.
Bumping the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and leaving the power set on 6, I put 5 Predator pellets into 0.903 inches — the second-best of this test. But the very next group using the same settings opened up much larger.
Next, the power was increased to 6, and the fill pressure remained at 2,200 psi. I got one group at 1.638 inches, which turned out to be the worst of the test, and a second at 1.077 inches.
I dropped the fill back to 2,000 psi and left the power at 8. This gave a group measuring 1.185 inches.
After that, I dropped the power to 7 with a fill pressure of 2,000 psi. The first group measured 0.778 inches, and the next one measured 1.444 inches. The 0.778-inch group was the best of the entire test.
How do we make sense from these results? It seems the rifle is capable of shooting 5-shot groups smaller than one inch at 50 yards, but the average is slightly larger than one inch. Only one group in this test was as large as 1.50 inches, which I think says a lot about the stability of the .25-caliber Predator Polymag in this rifle.
I didn’t test the other 2 Escape rifles this way, but the results I got with both of them do seem to fit this pattern. It was only because of those results that it was possible to cut through the maze of pellets, pressures and power settings and get these results so fast.
Of course, I haven’t tried this pellet at full power, yet, nor have I tried the rifle with a 3,000 psi fill. I think that has to be tried — just to say that it was done.
The rifle also needs to be tested with other pellets; although, if the groups it gets are similar to those gotten with the other 2 Escape rifles, we may begin to understand that all .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels perform similarly.
When the other accuracy testing is completed, I’ll test all 3 Escape rifles for their velocities with the most accurate pellets. That would be the information I would want as a hunter.
Evaluation of the EscapeSS
The EscapeSS is closest to the TalonP pistol that sired all three Escape rifles. You would expect the performance to be identical, except that this rifle is both quieter and comes standard with an adjustable buttstock. If you’re looking for quieter performance in a survival air rifle, the EscapeSS might be the one for you.