Friday, June 30, 2006

Desert Eagle: First impressions, part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, we'll finish the Desert Eagle story.

The sights are a ramp-type square post in front and a wide square notch in the rear. The rear sight adjusts laterally for windage by means of a single jam screw. Loosen it and slide the sight in the direction you want to move the pellet. The manual says the front sight is set up for shooting at 10 meters, and that's exactly what I saw. A 6 o'clock hold on a standard 10-meter pistol target at 25 feet netted me a score of 45, for five nines clustered around the center.

All five shots from 25 feet landed in the nine ring. I used Gamo Match pellets.

Trigger action
This pistol is both double- and single-action. If you pull the trigger with the hammer down, it cocks and releases the hammer, which is double-action. When the slide blows back, it cocks the hammer, allowing a single-action pull. Double-action breaks at 7 lbs., 10 oz., and single-action breaks at 3 lbs., 9 oz.

The safety is ambidextrous and allows the full functioning of the trigger and hammer when applied. I wondered at the wisdom of that before realizing that it's the perfect dry-fire feature. You can shoot the gun in safety, knowing that gas cannot be released with the safety on. Of course the 8-shot clip should be removed from the gun for complete safety. The trigger feels the same whether the safety is on or off.

Be careful how you grip the pistol!
During chronographing, I sometimes found myself gripping the moving slide as the pistol fired. This lowered the velocity anywhere from 50 to 100 f.p.s. If you decide to shoot with two hands, make sure neither one rubs against the slide, which you can see in yesterday's report, Desert Eagle, First impressions, part 2. You can't feel the slide move beneath your fingers, so don't go by the feel. Look to see that you clearly are not touching the slide!

In summary...
  • The quoted velocity is 315 f.p.s. The gun I tested shot between 450 and 500 f.p.s. with the type of pellets a shooter would pick for this airgun - wadcutters.

  • There's a lot of plastic in this gun, but it's engineering plastic - similar to the frames of the Ruger 22/45 Mark III. Also, the pistol is heavy.

  • The Desert Eagle is at least as accurate as the S&W 586 and 686 revolvers.

  • The test gun got three clips-worth of shots per CO2 cartridge. That's a total of 24 shots.

  • There are mounting rails for optics, lasers and tactical lights, so the pistol doesn't have to remain plain vanilla for long.

  • Mounting rails on top and beneath let you dress the Desert Eagle like a tactical powerhouse.

    I think my reports have addressed all your questions. If not, ask away!

    Thursday, June 29, 2006

    Desert Eagle: First impressions, part 2

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Today, I'll load the gun, shoot through an Alpha Chrony and have a go at some targets. But first, a few of the features I haven't mentioned yet.

    Rails, rails!
    The Desert Eagle comes with a Picatinny rail permanently on top of the slide and another rail you can install underneath (shown installed on the Pyramyd Air website). Most owners will want to dress their gun, so the under rail is a great place for a laser or a tactical light. A red dot goes on top (a scope is possible, too).

    It's a true semiautomatic!
    Besides the blowback feature that gives a recoil impulse, the Desert Eagle is a true semiautomatic pellet pistol. The removable pellet clip is a revolving cylinder like all other Umarex pellet pistols, but all the work is done by the blowback slide. The hammer is cocked, AND the cylinder is advanced for the next shot. Therefore, the trigger-pull is lighter than if you were also advancing the clip.

    The slide is shown as far back as it goes. Notice that the top of the barrel does not move, so an optical sight would be stable. The spanner that opens the CO2 chamber is shown to the left the grip.

    The trigger
    I can't say that I like the trigger. It has a very long first stage, and then the second stage is rather vague with lots of soft creep. I would like to see this feature improved, if possible. When you combine the trigger with a VERY large grip frame, I have to struggle to shoot one-handed. And that is my real complaint. I have never cared to shoot a handgun with two hands. Those who do will have an easier time of it with this pistol, although you do have to keep your hands off the slide, which isn't easy.

    To load, press down on the disassembly latch and the front of the slide springs forward, revealing a large hole for the clip. Just drop it in with the pellets pointed forward and the gun takes care of the rest. This is by far the easiest Umarex pistol to load!

    Press down on the disassembly latch, and the front of the slide springs forward for clip access. This is the easiest-loading Umarex pistol.

    The Smith & Wesson 586 revolver now has some competition! The Desert Eagle is wonderfully accurate. I shot a great first target with it, before the flies and mosquitos discovered me. At 25 feet, I could keep all my shots on a pop bottle cap, which makes the gun a super plinker. I suppose with a red dot sight, that would improve somewhat.

    Gamo Match pellets were the best of the three I tried (the others were H&N Finale Match and RWS Hobby). They actually shot rings around H&N Finale Match, which doesn't happen too often. Stock up on them if you get this gun.

    Velocity and gas use
    Well, it's a hot airgun, and it uses gas like a Hummer! The temperature where I shot was 80 degrees F and there was strong sunlight. With RWS Hobbys, I got a couple shots over 500 f.p.s. and the average was in the 490s. Gamo Match pellets were in the 460-470 range, and H&N Match were in the high 450s.

    I could only get three clips of shots per CO2 cartridge. That's 24 shots, and the final five were dropping in velocity. A shot or two later, the gun went full-auto for a couple of shots and exhausted its gas. I tried the gun with eight different CO2 cartridges and the results were the same, so I'm pretty sure this is representative. The Crosman 451 was similar in that respect, so it looks like the blowback function comes at a cost.

    I'll finish tomorrow.

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006

    Desert Eagle: First impressions, part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    A package arrived from Germany yesterday. It contained goodies that I will use to keep you amused for the next several weeks. Like a CARE package at summer camp, I went straight to the chocolate chip cookies - the new Magnum Research Desert Eagle.

    SO - how's it hangin'?
    There has been a lot of jabber about this pistol from airgunners in the UK, where it has been available for some time. The main comment heard is that the gun is too "plastic-y." Well - what's the deal? It IS mostly plastic on the outside, but can you say Glock? This is engineering plastic, not the blowmolded styrene of Taiwanese toys. I imagine our British cousins are not familiar with the modern synthetics used in handguns, but you can't buy a simple Ruger 22/45 Mark III pistol and not touch plastic.

    The Desert Eagle is heavy! Weighing 2 lbs., 8.7 oz. (40.7 oz./1,153.83 grams) with a fresh 12-gram cartridge installed, this AIR pistol is within half a pound of an M1911A1 Colt .45 ACP FIREARM! And, it's LARGE! The grip is identical to the one on the Desert Eagle Mark XIX. To quote my wife, "That is a BIG gun!"

    You better read the manual
    When most CO2 pistols arrive, I have them through their first field test before I look to see if they sent a manual. With this pistol, however, I had to read the book from the start. Even then I didn't get it right the first time. Like loading the first CO2 cartridge. It was obvious where it went - the hole at the bottom of the grip, and a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip goes without saying (but I said it anyway). But, when I screwed the cap tight and pulled the trigger, nothing happened. Oh, the trigger pulled and the hammer cycled like it's supposed to, but the gun didn't fire. So, I began experimenting with the tension on the CO2 cap. From very tight to so loose it began exhausting gas inside the grip - but no shooting.

    The CO2 cartridge drops in the hole covered by the brass cap. The cap is flush with the bottom of the grip, leaving NOTHING hanging down. That was requested by many, who said it would be okay if a tool was needed to tighten the cap. The Desert Eagle comes with a separate spanner for this job.

    I was so frustrated because I had followed the manual perfectly, or did I? Like a soldier caught in a minefield, I began retracing my steps exactly until I arrived at the point of putting on the safety. All manuals tell you to put on the safety when installing a new CO2 cartridge, but guess what. THIS manual doesn't tell you to take it OFF before firing! Well, duh!

    Of course, I know the gun won't shoot with the safety on, but that didn't stop me from having a frustrating 15-minute episode before figuring the thing out. Even with the safety on, the trigger and hammer continue to function normally. I think I won't be the only person this happens to.

    Safety off
    BAM! Just what you'd expect, and the blowback action is definitely there. It's not the bounce of the PPK/S, but more like the quick snap of a heavy .22 target pistol. The world has not had a blowback pellet pistol since Crosman stopped making the 451 way back in 1970!

    Velocity, accuracy, number of shots - these are just a few of the things I haven't told you yet. Stick around!

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006

    Teach a person to shoot: Part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    I promised several readers I'd address the subject of teaching people to shoot. We talked about teaching kids, but why limit it?

    Determine the level of the budding shooter's maturity
    Maturity is more important than age when it comes to shooting. Since the shooter will ultimately have total control of a device that can kill, he or she must be worthy of that level of trust. Don't make the mistake that because we are talking airguns that it makes a difference. It doesn't. A person who can load and fire a pellet pistol can also load and fire a powerful firearm.

    Observe the potential shooter's actions
    Whether the person is five or fifty makes no difference. If they cannot concentrate on what they are doing, or if they are prone to horseplay, don't teach them to shoot. I have seen plenty of adults horse around with airguns, claiming that they are just BB guns, after all. Some of the guns they horsed around with were as powerful as .22 rimfires and, in a few cases, they were big bore air rifles capable of killing larger game. Do not waste time trying to teach these people anything.

    Weed them out!
    When I coached youth shooting teams, during the first through third meetings a small number of kids were eliminated from further participation. We always insisted that a parent or guardian be present during these early sessions. (I would NOT recommend an older sibling, because you don't know whether THAT person is trustworthy, either.) If little Bobby couldn't stop talking, running around or touching the guns when he wasn't supposed to, we sent him home. The parents had already read and signed a contract that gave the coaches the power to do that, and we never had a single instance of a parent objecting to our decision. We didn't do it very often, and we suffered a lot of misbehavior from Bobby before making the call, so the parent was prepared for what we had to do.

    If you're training a single person or your own children, you need to be just as attentive to their misbehavior. Don't try to train a child to shoot in the false belief that it will somehow mature him/her. While learning a discipline, such as shooting, can increase maturity, there are some people who should not be permitted to participate - and finding them is the first prime duty of the instructor.

    You must be able to trust the shooter
    Before very long, a coach has to be able to trust the student with a loaded gun. Yes, it's easier to control them when it's one-on-one, but at some point every new shooter will be in complete control of the gun. You must be able to trust them entirely when that time comes.

    First, train them on safety
    While all this observation is taking place, you are training the new shooter(s) on safety. Start with gun safety and don't advance until they know everything as well as you. The National Rifle Association (NRA) has developed numerous safety training programs that can help a shooting instructor. They even offer instructor training courses, which I highly recommend to anyone who is about to do a lot of firearms training. Their Airgun Shooting Sports Safety Guide, the first 10 pages of which are available on the internet, is an important resource for instructors.

    In the next installment, I'll discuss how to make the shooter as aware of safety as the instructor. I'll also share tips on how to test a student without sounding like it's a test.

    Monday, June 26, 2006

    Spring gun tuning: Part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Before we begin, let me announce that the last of the British-made Webley airguns are now in! Pyramyd Air bought the entire remaining stock of guns, so look through the Webley pages now. When these are gone, there won't be any more!

    I'm going to show you the fundamental steps to tune a spring gun. Although I won't show every kind of gun, I will talk about how underlevers and sidelevers differ from breakbarrels. If you're clever enough to do this kind of work, you'll be able to figure out the particulars for yourself. I'm just going to show you the important points to get you started.

    We'll begin by looking at the tools and supplies needed to work on spring guns. I assume you have a standard set of tools and all the screwdrivers and Allen wrenches you need for any job. If you don't have them all now, get them as you need them. Never try to make one tool do the job of another - that's how accidents happen and mistakes are made.

    Pin punches
    You need a good set of these, because there are hundreds of uses for them when working on spring guns. We will use them from the beginning, so get a small set of punches right away. Airgunsmiths need small punches, because most of the pins encountered are small. I bought my set at Sears, and it has four punches - 1/16", 3/32", 1/8", 5/32", plus a 5/32" alignment tool.

    Plastic and rubber-headed hammer
    This is also a general tool that's used all the time. Get one that's small and handy to use. This kind of hammer is essential. You can buy one at Sears or Home Depot; if you like shopping on internet, try Boston Industrial. They have one for $2.10.

    A hammer with rubber and plastic heads is an essential tool for the airgunsmith.

    A vice
    Vices are not as useful as you might think. Spring gun tuners have very little need for vices, save one. A fine, inexpensive mainspring compressor can be made with the right kind of vice. I will give you the plans for how to build a compressor, and I'll also tell you where to buy one if you don't want to build it.

    Dowel rods and rubber bands
    Get at least one half-inch hardwood dowel. You'll use it to lubricate the mainspring cylinder. If you have a screwdriver with an 18" long blade, it can take the place of the dowel. Also, get a supply of thin rubber bands, to use with the dowel. I will explain what to do when we get there. A dowel 36" long is more than enough. All you need for most jobs is about 18".

    Lubricants are a major part of a spring-piston tuner's bag of tricks. Ten years ago, the market had the products you needed and they were easy to find. For example, Beeman sold M-2-M moly paste that was wonderful stuff. Well, they don't sell it anymore, so you now have to buy your lubricants elsewhere. I want you to at least get black tar and moly paste. I'm sending you to Air Rifle Headquarters for these things. They are also an excellent source for replacement mainsprings, piston seals, spring guides and other important parts you will need to tune a gun. They have already created drop-in tuning kits for many popular spring rifles like the Benjamin Legacy and the FWB 124/127. So, this is a place you aspiring tuners need to bookmark.

    Next time we'll look at mainspring compressors, and I'll show you how to make one for less than $20.

    Friday, June 23, 2006

    Air canes! Part 2

    by B.B. Pelletier

    There's a lot of interest in tuning a spring-piston air rifle, so I'll start a series on that next week. I'll intersperse other topics so everybody has something to read. I'll also show you how to make a few special tools that are necessary to do this work. I hope this will help everyone visualize what's inside those spring guns!

    Today, I'll finish the air cane discussion. There wasn't a lot of interest in this topic, but I'd wager if you ever saw a cane firing, you'd become interested!

    "It's a pity they aren't made anymore!"
    One reader said that. But air canes HAVE been made in modern times. In the late 1980s and early '90s, Beeman sold a cane made by British maker Harper. It was .25 caliber, which probably detracted from its success. Canes of old were big bore and impressive! Gary Barnes made a .272 caliber 12-shot full-auto cane around the year 2000. It's on page 96 of the Blue Book of Airguns and is valued at $6,000. When it fires, the entire magazine dumps in less than a second, and you can't hear the individual shots.

    They probably were used for self-defense!
    This is another myth. To make a cane ready to shoot takes a lot of time. And, you'd never carry one cocked and loaded! So, self-defense is a role they are not suited for. I believe, along with most advanced collectors, that the very fact they exist at all is their main attraction. They are science experiments you can use to amaze your friends - just like the air rifle carried by Meriwether Lewis on his famous exploration in 1803/1806.

    Some unusual models!
    In part one, we saw a straight cane, but a more unusual model is the bent cane. Just as the name suggests, these canes have an artistic bend in their reservoirs. They are scarcer than straight canes and command more money. Some bent canes also come cased with additional fowling buttstocks that look like rifle butts. These sets are valued much higher than the bent canes by themselves.

    Bent cane on top, ball flask cane below.

    Above the bent canes in value come the shillelagh models. They are straight canes with spots of weld on the outside to look like Irish blackthorn branches. They are exquisitely made and can bring as much as $3,000 to $4,000 for a good one. Unfortunately, only a real cane collector knows their true worth. I've seen gun dealers asking as much as $9,000 for them because they think they are unique. That's like saying a Checker Marathon is unique. It is if you've never seen one, I suppose.

    The top o' the line!
    The finest air canes are cased and engraved in deep bas relief. They are mounted with gold fittings and have every accessory they came with, including the original instructions. Many of these guns are fire-blued as only tradesmen in the 19th century knew how to do it. They start at $20,000 and go upward.

    Ball reservoir is removed to reveal the breech of the barrel (though this cane is a muzzleloader) and the firing valve inside the brass reservoir.

    The Mona Lisa of air canes
    There aren't many known examples of ball-flask air canes, and a beautiful one was on display at the Little Rock airgun expo this year. It was made close to the end of the ball-flask era, which was around 1800. We know that from the design of the lock and flask. It is a shillelagh design with a difference. Instead of welded spots on a steel cane, this one has been expertly fitted into a genuine blackthorn casing that runs the full length of the cane. Carving blackthorn is equivalent to filing titanium.

    A blackthorn branch was hollowed out to serve as the outer covering of the rare ball-flask air cane.

    I hope my brief report has stimulated some interest in this fascinating niche within the airgunning world.

    Thursday, June 22, 2006

    Important news!

    by B.B. Pelletier

    I'm using today's blog to update you on a couple of important things that have come up.

    Remington Genesis adjustable cheekpiece
    The Remington Genesis comes to you with an adjustable cheekpiece. Crosman made the decision to mention it after the box art was finalized, so they are putting stickers on the box. The stickers say the following:


    Your airgun is equipped with an adjustable cheek piece to accommodate standard sights (lower position) or a scope (higher position).

    To adjust the cheek piece from one position to the other, drive the pins out of the cheek piece starting from the right side. With the pins removed move the cheek piece to the desired position, lining up the holes in the cheek piece with the holes in the stock. Drive the pins back into the cheek piece.

    There is nothing on the Crosman website about this yet. They will be rewriting the manual to include the procedure in the future, but all of you know it now!

    This sticker on the genesis box alerts buyers to the adjustable cheekpiece. Thanks to Crosman for providing this image.

    My thanks to Crosman for clearing up this mystery for me.

    Remington Genesis accuracy
    As you know, I am breaking-in the Genesis for an additional test before I tell you the final accuracy. However, a friend of one of our readers made an important observation. After the rifle is cocked, the barrel can be pushed downward slightly at the muzzle. That affects accuracy. The cause of this can be any of a number of things, but I think the solution will be simple.

    When I shoot the rifle for record after the break-in, I'll intentionally push the barrel up and shoot groups, then I'll do the same after pushing it down. One of those two methods should give us more consistent groups. I'm thinking that pushing down is the answer, but we'll see.

    You HAVE to laugh... keep from crying! The airsoft community has just announced a fin-stabilized "BB" that is more accurate! MORE ACCURATE! For what? To hit players at a greater distance, of course! What's so funny about that?

    What's funny is that airsoft was conceived as a way to allow collectors in countries having no gun rights to own gun-like things they can hold in their hands. The SOFT part was to appease the affected society - to keep such "guns" safe! And, now, after 26 years, the airsoft community wants a more accurate projectile to shoot people with!

    It's called the RAP4 Airfin, and it's expected to launch this September.

    Oh, look! Another person has discovered the immutable laws of aerodynamics! The RAP4 Airfin is poised to take the world of airsoft players back to school!

    But that's not what's so funny. To make the new projectile work, it has to be loaded into a "shell casing" (if airsoft designers knew anything about firearms they would have called it a cartridge) to function in the gun!

    Here's what's going to happen. All the boys and girls who are not content hosing their friends with 1,000 plastic BBs a minute from their $800 highly modified M4s are going to buy one of the new RAP4 guns, only to discover that a cartridge is involved and the ability to spray and pray goes away! They will have to load magazines manually, rather than pouring plastic balls into a hopper. They will also have to load the "shell casings" manually after every use. They'll even have to pick them up off the ground after they are ejected. Oh, my gosh - will THAT suck the fun out!

    Tomorrow I'll get to part 2 of the air canes.

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006

    Air canes! Part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Air canes were produced and used throughout the British Isles from the beginning of the 19th century until around 1920. The guns spanned the price spectrum from affordable to nearly priceless cased guns with all the tools and equipment. Air canes were made in such profusion that hundreds or perhaps thousands have made their way to the U.S., into the hands of advanced collectors.

    Handmade or factory?
    Air canes fall into a transitional category of production. They were not made on automated machinery, and a lot of hand-filing was involved in the making of each one. Different makers did have more or less standard designs they followed. The parts were made by a collection of cottage industries. While a man might make a leaf spring, he wouldn't touch a reservoir - nor know much about how it was made. A few larger makers brought all the little parts-makers together into a confederation that produced canes of a certain type. The little guys made what the big guys asked for to keep their "employers" happy.

    The bottom and top half of the cane are on the left, the barreled action is in the center, with the rifled insert barrel and the ramrod/cane tip on the right. Below the barreled action is the firing valve, removed from the reservoir that forms the top part of the cane.

    A standard air cane
    There is no standard air cane, but there is a type that's commonly encountered in this country. It's a straight cane with a smoothbore brass or bronze barrel of .42 or.43 caliber and a rifled brass insert barrel of .28 to .32 caliber. It's loaded at the muzzle, and the separate air reservoir unscrews from the action for filling. In its day it was filled with a hand pump, but today's collectors often fill their guns with CO2. Canes like this get around 20 powerful shots on a single charge of gas or air, though they get a few more lower-powered shots on CO2.

    A ball is rammed all the way into either the smoothbore barrel or the smaller rifled insert. The cane is cocked by inserting what looks like a male clock key into a square female socket in the body of the cane and turning it clockwise. When the gun cocks, a steel button pops out of the side of the cane. This is a trigger.

    In the photo, you can just barely see the action in the center, but it's impossible to make out the parts. Essentially, the cane's lock is similar to a percussion lock, except that the cane has a cam that holds the air valve open a relatively long time. That's how they get velocities in the 550 f.p.s. range with 140-grain lead balls.

    Most canes have very small front and rear sights for aiming. The two I owned were accurate enough to hit a coke can at 20 yards - that's right, 60 feet! You hold the top of the cane next to your sighting eye and squint through the tiny open sights, then press the button trigger. The piece recoils about like a .32 Colt revolver with standard lead bullet loads, so use your hand to keep the cane from punching you in the cheek!

    Tomorrow, I'll finish this report with some surprising air cane facts!

    Tuesday, June 20, 2006

    RWS 850 AirMagnum: Part 3

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Yesterday, I tried the 850 with and without an optional muzzlebrake that is offered for the rifle. In England, they sell a silencer, but the American one is full of holes and does not quiet the report. After the test with the Talon SS, I wondered whether there might be an accuracy advantage to a muzzle brake.

    First things first - the trigger
    Several of you mentioned that I had forgotten to report on things like the trigger-pull, fit and finish and other things, so let's do that now. The trigger breaks crisply at 36 oz. It's a good two-stage trigger with enough first-stage travel to let you know when you've come to stage two.

    Fit and finish
    The rifle looks like quality all over. The blueing is deep but not highly polished. But it's very even - the sign of a good job.

    The bolt probe that seats the pellet in the barrel is very thin - a sign that the engineers at Umarex know what they are doing. Amateur airgunsmiths have been thinning bolt probes for decades for better gas flow. As far as I know, this is the first appearance of the feature on a factory-built gun.

    The stock
    The plastic stock is very evenly matte and smooth, with no mold lines visible. The black rubber buttpad fits well in an area that air rifle manufacturers often overlook. The one criticism I will level, however, is directed at the butt. It has a hollow, cheap feel and sound. Daisy went through the same thing in the 1950s, and they learned to inject sound-deadening foam into the hollow cavities of their guns. It added a subtle feeling of substance that their customers appreciated.

    Installing the muzzlebrake
    The muzzlebrake is huge - 5.5" long and over 1.25" in diameter. Only the size of the butt balances the look of the huge appendage. Being mostly hollow, it weighs next to nothing and does not change the balance of the rifle. Of course, the front sight had to be removed to install the brake, so I took off the rear as well. Two Allen screws in the bottom of the brake secure it to the barrel.

    The optional muzzlebrake is large but exerts no influence on the pellet.

    How does it work?
    Once mounted, the brake is cosmetic, only. It does nothing to the muzzle blast, nor does the grouping change. I tested the rifle at 40 yards on a calm day, and it made no difference whether the brake was on or off, except that the point of impact changed slightly.

    Gas consumption
    For those who wonder about how long an AirSource tank lasts, I'm still on the first one after 250 shots. Velocity hasn't changed, and the rifle seems very consistent shot to shot. Of course, I am shooting on days in the high 80s and low 90s.

    That's my report. Now it's time for all of you owners to let the rest of us know what you think of the gun.

    Monday, June 19, 2006

    Remington Genesis: Part 2

    by B.B. Pelletier

    We're going to have a part 3 to this report because the Remington Genesis did not perform well at all in the shooting test, and I think I know why.

    Some unfinished business
    A reader calling himself "mr lama" said I forgot to mention that the Genesis has an adjustable cheekpiece. Well, I re-read the owner's manual and visited the Crosman website, and I can't find evidence of it anywhere. Please tell me how the Genesis cheekpiece adjusts, mr lama.

    The trigger
    The trigger was pretty horrible in the beginning, but it provided the clue that helped me understand how the rifle needs to be treated - I hope! For the first 25-30 shots, it was a single-stage trigger with about an 8-10 lb. pull! Now, single-stage triggers have gone the way of the dodo bird. I don't expect to see them in 2006, so I was relieved when the first stage began to soften and reveal a second stage. The pull also became lighter - about 7-9 lbs., and that's what tipped me off about the Genesis. It acts like a new Gamo spring rifle from 1995, meaning that you have to break it in A LOT before it starts acting properly. It IS a two-stage, but it takes some wear-in before you'll see stage two.

    Accuracy? There wasn't any! In light of the heavy trigger and some other clues, I see that this is just another part of the puzzle. I believe the Genesis needs a REALLY long break-in! The BEST I could do for five shots with all my technique being right was a 2" group at 15 yards! That was with 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers. Shades of a Chinese B3-1 underlever! Except, even THEY are better than that today! Then, I began to hear cracks from heavy dieseling and decided it was time to chrono this bad boy.

    What about a velocity spread from 760 to 996 f.p.s. with Crosman 10.5-grain Premiers? The high is so out of profile for a gun like this it's not funny! The low is about right. With heavy JSB Exacts I got a range from 785 to 811 which is a lot better but still not right. The gun was so noisy that I feared my neighbors would complain, so I stopped shooting. With the amount of break-in this rifle probably needs, it will be a while before I shoot it again for accuracy. The dieseling got worse the more I shot, so I'm going to have to take this rifle out to the country and run several hundred rounds through it to get it working properly.

    Except for the noise from dieseling, the Genesis shoots very well - especially for a lightweight spring rifle capable of 1,000 f.p.s. I have a feeling it will turn out to be a lot like a Gamo Shadow 1000 after 500 to 1,000 shots of break-in. The rifle cocks easily, but there is a HUGE drag when the cocking shoe is dragged back over the compressed mainspring as the barrel is closed. You can feel the shoe bump over every spring coil on the way back. I can see this is a real good candidate rifle for a custom tune.

    General impressions
    The grippy stock I liked so much in the first report, plus the horribly heavy trigger makes it difficult to use a light hold, and this rifle is exactly the kind that needs such a hold. Rested in a bench bag, it shot 4" groups at the same 15-yard range. I like the scope and the shape of the stock. If this were a PCP, the stock shape would be ideal, but for a springer that has to be floated to shoot well, it's too grippy.

    This Remington Genesis is not ready for a shooting report. I will give it a thorough break-in and test again. This will take a couple of weeks, so please be patient. Because of the dieseling, I will shoot only very heavy pellets to keep the gun as much under control as possible. When it stops dieseling I will try lighter pellets, though, with the power potential, I think heavier pellets will work best. We'll see!

    Friday, June 16, 2006

    Remington Genesis: Part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    I promised several readers I'd look at the Remington Genesis. It's an adult-sized spring-piston air rifle that promises 1,000 f.p.s. in .177 caliber. It's housed in an unusual thumbhole synthetic stock that has panels of extremely grippy rubber on the forearm, pistol grip and cheekrest. The buttpad is also a thick, black rubber pad, so this rifle will stay put in your hands! A quick look reveals several areas that remind me of a Gamo; but Crosman, who makes the rifle for Remington, says it's made in the U.S.A. The model I have has the scope and mounts, so I'll test the rifle using them.

    Some interesting specs!
    The Genesis has an interesting set of specifications. Overall weight is 6 lbs. and the cocking effort is 28 lbs., which means the Genesis is both lightweight AND easy to cock! Given the rated power level, that means it has what it takes to be a handy hunting rifle. When I first hoisted it to my shoulder, I noticed something else. It balances like a majorette's baton! Neither muzzle- nor butt-heavy, the Genesis handles rapidly because the center of gravity is always between your hands.

    The Genesis comes with fiberoptic front and rear sights. I do not like fiberoptics, but I know they are all the rage today and evey new rifle is going to have them. The sights on the Genesis, however, are different than most. You can still see a square post above the green dot in front, and the two red dots in the rear sight do not seem to light up in anything less than full sunlight. So, in effect, you get a great post and notch sight that happens to have a green dot at the front. I can live with that.

    Scope and mounts
    I have to give very high marks for the design of the integral scope-stop hole and for the selection of the scope mount. It would appear that whoever put this package together knows something about spring-piston airguns, and that's not common. Usually, the maker just throws in a set of the cheapest rings the Chinese make and a scope to go with them, but the Genesis breaks with that tradition. The mount is a rugged-looking one-piece design with the correct scope-stop pin to match the hole in the receiver! Hallelujah! This point is overlooked so often, then guys like me have to answer endless questions about the possible workarounds. Thanks, Crosman!

    Congratulations to Crosman for putting in a real scope-stop hole.

    The scope was another surprise. It's a 3-9x40mm variable that parallax-adjusts down to 10 yards! More proof there's an airgunner behind this rifle. I installed it with the Allen wrench that came with the rifle and got still an additional surprise when I looked through the scope the first time. The reticle is a duplex - the best of all reticles for most purposes - with mil-dots in the center! To quote the 18th century British sailor, "I am impressed!"

    The stop pin on the underside of the scope mount interfaces perfectly with the rifle's stop-pin hole.

    Cocking the rifle the first time revealed a lot of spring click noise coming from the spring cylinder. I believe this will subside in time. If not, the rifle may need a professional lubrication - one that would involve a powerplant disassembly. It comes from a too-dry mainspring; but if there's any grease in there, it'll get distributed by the time 100 shots are put through it and everything will be fine.

    Next, I'll look at how it shoots.

    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    Benjamin EB17 & EB22 - heirloom pellet pistols

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Made as well today as its ancestor 65 years ago, Benjamin's EB17 and EB22 are heirloom airguns.

    The Benjamin EB17 and EB22 are two American pellet pistols that are as close to the guns from the 1930s and 40s as you'll find. They're powered by CO2, which is as reliable as light bulbs due to great strides made in gas technology over the last 65 years,.

    Benjamin missed the boat!
    The EB-series pistols were first offered in 1992, but they were related to Benjamin's earliest CO2 pistols - the models 250, 252 and 257 (you decode the calibers from the model numbers) that were sold from 1952 until 1956.

    Those early gas guns used the conventional 8-gram soda siphon cartridge that was so easy to find at the time. When Crosman brought out the 12-gram powerlet in 1954, it battled for market supremacy for just a few years before pushing the smaller 8-gram cartridge from dealers' shelves. Shooters wanted the extra shots those additional four grams provided.

    Stubborn resistance
    But Benjamin did not manufacture its own CO2 cartridge, nor did they convert to Crosman's standard 12-gram size, so their gas guns suffered in sales. Even though they were made at least as well as Crosman gas guns, Benjamin gas pistols took a back seat to better marketing. It wasn't until Benjamin bought the Sheridan company in the late 1970s that they began thinking about the popular 12-gram size. Sheridan also didn't make gas cartridges; but, when they brought out their first gas guns in the late 1970s, the choice to use 12-gram powerlets was obvious and unavoidable. I would love to know the conversations that must have taken place on this subject at Benjamin in the late 1950s and the '60s! You can almost smell the stubborn resistance to a standard created by their fiercest competitor!

    Choice of caliber - both are good!
    The EB-series guns look a lot like their ancestors, and they're made from the same brass and walnut materials. The finish is a more durable paint that will last longer than the fragile "black nickel" over silver nickel of the past. Both calibers offer power and accuracy, so your choice is between two solid models. Pick the caliber you want to shoot, because that's the only real difference between the two guns.

    CO2 - the guns of summer!
    By now you should know that CO2 performance is highly affected by temperature. The guns do not perform well below 50 degrees F, nor do they do well when fired many times in rapid succession. That's why there are no full-auto CO2 guns without burst limits. They freeze up! But, in warm weather, these guns really come into their own. As powerful as they are, these two can handle medium-weight pellets (up to 9 grains in .177 and up to 15 grains in .22). Don't forget to buy some Crosman Pellgunoil to keep them running right for a long time.

    You can't call all pellet guns heirlooms, but these two pistols certainly qualify. Everyone who holds them immediately recognizes that fact. If you're in the market for a powerful, accurate pellet pistol at the right price, you've got to consider one of these!

    Wednesday, June 14, 2006

    Accuracy and the shrouded barrel

    by B.B. Pelletier

    This experiment came at the request of Pyramyd Air. They noticed that people on the chat forums were saying that a shrouded barrel made a gun more accurate, and they asked me what I thought. I thought (and still think) that a barrel shroud has little or nothing to do with accuracy, but I said I would try an experiment to see what happened.

    Talon SS
    Since the Talon SS has the prototypical shrouded barrel and is the rifle that gave all the other makers the idea for shrouding in the first place, I decided to use it for the test. All I had to do was remove the muzzle cap to shoot the gun without the effects of the shroud - or so I thought. I used 50 yards as the range because the SS is so accurate that anything closer might not show a difference.

    First - with the end cap installed
    My SS is .22 and shoots JSB Exacts best. The first group of five measured 0.599" between the centers of the two widest shots. The next group was a carbon copy of the first - another 0.599" - but I had adjusted it to the center of the bull. Those two groups proved the rifle was shooting well, so I removed the muzzle cap.

    A nickel will cover the 50-yard group of 5 JSB Exacts made by the Talon SS with the muzzle cap on.

    With the end cap missing
    The next group began like the previous two, with pellet holes touching. Then shot four went wide to the left. Shot five went to the right of the initial group, opening it up to 1.117". I was surprised but figured it was a fluke, so I settled down and shot another group. This one was even more open, at 1.182". I was very discouraged after this group because there were only three holes in the target. Four of the pellets went into the same two holes, but those holes were far apart!

    Take the cap off, however, and the story is different! Shots are blown all over the place.

    End cap reinstalled
    I put the end cap back and shot a group measuring 0.820". It was larger than the first two but back on the good side of the inch mark.

    The chamber of the Talon SS may focus the muzzle blast back into the pellet's path.

    If you remove the end cap from a Talon SS, your groups will get bigger. I don't think this proves that shrouded barrels are more accurate, because the plain Talon barrel that has no shroud is just as accurate as the shrouded SS. What I think this experiment demonstrates is that the muzzle blast can affect accuracy if it isn't permitted to escape. With the cap off, the deeply recessed muzzle spews air against the wall of the receiver, where it rebounds against the pellet for the first four inches of flight. With the cap in place, the same air is prevented from following the pellet through the hole in the cap. What happens in the chamber before the pellet emerges through the hole in the cap apparently does not have any lasting effect.

    Tuesday, June 13, 2006

    RWS 850 AirMagnum: Part 2

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Yesterday, I took the 850 AirMagnum to the range and tested it at 50 yards. The temperature was 90 degrees - warm enough that a CO2 rifle should be performing well. There was no wind to disturb the pellet's flight, so I was able to test the rifle in the best of all possible conditions. The Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope was up to the task, and I was sighted-in in under 15 minutes.

    JSB Exacts were first
    I expected the JSB Exacts to out-perform all others, and I wasn't disappointed. I shot the heavy version, which weighs between 10.0 and 10.2 grains. It averaged 656 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 9.65 foot-pounds (based on a weight of 10.1 grains). At 50 yards, it delivered 5-shot groups that ranged from 0.89" to a high of 1.325". The average was just under one inch. Because this pellet shot so well, I shot many more groups with it.

    Beeman Kodiaks were next
    The 10.6-grain Beeman Kodiak (10.4 to 10.7 grains) averaged 641 f.p.s. but had the largest velocity spread of all the pellets I tested (26 f.p.s.). The energy was the highest, at 9.67 foot-pounds. I thought it might challenge the JSB, but a best group of 1.328" and an average of 1.399" knocked it out of the running.

    Premier lights were fast but not accurate
    The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier (7.7 to 7.9 grains) was fastest, with an average of 708 f.p.s. and a muzzle energy of 8.8 foot-pounds. Downrange it was a disappointment, though, with a 5-shot group size that averaged 1.895" Clearly, this is not a pellet for the 850 AirMagnum.

    Premier heavies were better
    Premier heavies weigh 10.5 grains (10.2 to 10.7 grains) and are sometimes the most accurate pellet of all in a gas or pneumatic rifle. They averaged 624 f.p.s. for a muzzle energy of 9.08 foot-pounds. The average group was 1.409", placing them behind the Beeman Kodiak.

    At 30 yards
    I moved the target to 30 yards and the group size with JSBs shrank to 0.73". This is a more realistic distance for the power and the accuracy the 850 AirMagnum offers.

    This is a conventional bolt-action rifle. The sliding button below the bolt holds the magazine pin in place. Open the bolt and slide the pin to the rear to remove the 8-shot magazine.

    The bolt is back, and the automatic safety button has popped out of the rear of the receiver.

    Loading and feeding
    The 8-shot magazine loads easily with every pellet. A large O-ring around the circumference of the magazine intrudes into each pellet chamber to hold the pellets securely in place. To remove the magazine, cock the bolt and leave it back, then slide the magazine retaining pin back as well. The magazine slips easily out of the receiver on the left side. When reinstalling it, I sometimes found the bolt a bit difficult to push forward. When reloading for the next shot, the bolt likes to be worked briskly. I had just one jam the whole time at the range, and that was the result of being tentative with the bolt.

    This is a different kind of rifle for Umarex to make. It's useful as a sporter and in .22 caliber as a hunting rifle, too. It offers PCP features, such as repeating action, for less than half the price.

    Monday, June 12, 2006

    RWS 850 AirMagnum: Part 1

    by B.B. Pelletier

    The RWS 850 AirMagnum is a bolt-action repeater from Umarex.

    We've really waited for this rifle! There's too much to cover in one post, so I'll have to break up the report.

    Though the rifle is made by Umarex, both the packaging and the name on the rifle say RWS 850 AirMagnum. The rifle is a conventional bolt-action 8-shot CO2 repeater. It uses a removable 8-shot circular magazine to handle the pellets, and it's a different kind of magazine than the standard Umarex 8-shot magazine we've used. This one is mostly synthetic with a metal ratchet gear attached in front.

    The rifle has the traditional RWS logo. The automatic safety button extends from the back of the breech.

    The rifle is powered by an 88-gram AirSource CO2 tank that resides inside the forearm. There is no provision for using 12-gram powerlets. The hollow stock is dark gray synthetic with pebble-pattern rough spots for both hands to grip, and the buttpad is a thick black rubber pad. The cheekpiece is on both sides of the stock, and the shape of the pistol grip is completely symmetrical - but the bolt-action cannot be switched to the left side of the receiver. So, the rifle is semi-ambidextrous.

    The forearm slides off to insert the 88-gram AirSource tank.

    The sights are post and notch with fiberoptic inserts. Both the post and notch are very square, so it's easy to get a precision sight picture. The sights are adjustable for elevation only, but a long scope rail atop the receiver means this rifle is meant to be scoped.

    The hooded front sight has a red fiberoptic insert.

    The rear sight is a square notch with two green fiberoptic elements.

    An adult air rifle
    The 23.5" solid steel barrel reminds us that Umarex is serious about this rifle. Though the power is limited to around 12 foot-pounds in .22 caliber, this gun is meant for adult use in every respect, so that's how I'll test it. The rifle I have is .177 caliber, and I'll use serious pellets for long-range accuracy testing - JSB Exacts, Crosman Premiers (I'll try both 7.9-grain and 10.5-grain) and maybe one or two other top performers.

    What does the 850 compare to?
    Being made of synthetic and powered by CO2, there might be a tendency to compare the 850 AirMagnum to Crosman's 1077 repeater, but that would be wrong. This rifle weighs 6.75 lbs. with a fresh AirSource cartridge installed. The 6-18x Bushnell Trophy scope I chose for the test added another 1.25 lbs., bringing the total to 8 lbs. While a powerful scope might seem a little much for most CO2 rifles, I used it because this one is priced in the intermediate range - not the economy class. It costs a little more than a Gamo CF-X, so that's what buyers will compare it to. We know before testing that the Gamo beats it in power, but perhaps the 850 AirMagnum exceeds the CF-X in accuracy.

    Tomorrow, we'll see it perform.

    Friday, June 09, 2006

    WOW! The Shoot-N-C target

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Here's a way to put some spice into your shooting. It's useful for many types of shooting, but perhaps best for action pellet and BB pistol. Those Walther, Crosman, Daisy and Gamo pistols will show off their stuff when you shoot them at a Shoot-N-C target!

    What are Shoot-N-C targets?
    They are regular black bullseyes and other shapes with an adhesive back, so they stick to anything. When a projectile pierces the target, a bright greenish-yellow ring appears at the spot where the pellet or BB passed through. You can see that spot from over 100 feet away, giving you instant feedback.

    The EASY way!
    I'm into easy, so my favorite method of using a Shoot-N-C is to slap it on a cardboard box and set it on the ground. It takes only a few seconds, and you can keep pasting new targets over old ones for thousands of shots! It's the perfect way to set up an impromptu target range. Just make sure your pellet or BB will be safely stopped after it passes through the box and you're done! You guys who shoot from elevated decks in the backyard will find this method as convenient as it gets, because the downward angle of your shooting makes the ground your backstop. Just make sure there aren't any rocks or hard objects in the area to cause ricochets.

    Use them indoors, too!
    Whenever I feel frisky, I load my Walther PPK/S with 15 BBs and let fly at a Shoot-N-C right in my office. For safety, I use Crosman's model 850 BB trap to back the target, which is pasted to a flat piece of cardboard. From 8 feet, it's next to impossible to miss the target, but I still back the Crosman trap with a heavy moving pad to keep stray BBs from hitting the wall behind. The PPK/S is fairly low velocity, so all of this setup works fine and preserves the domestic tranquility, too. I'd talk to the other decision makers in my family before declaring the range open the first time. That was how I learned to put the BB trap inside a cardboard box lid to catch any BBs that roll back. A powerful strip magnet that used to be a kitchen knifeholder helps me clean the carpet after a shooting session.

    Perfect for airsoft!
    In addition to pellet and BB guns, these targets are perfect for airsoft. If you have a powerful gas gun - like a semiautomatic M1911A12 from KWC or an M199 from HFC, which is BOTH semiauto AND full-auto, you can paste the target to the side of the cardboard box, because these guns will shoot through one side with no problem. In fact, it's best to have a good backstop behind the box because powerful guns like these will eventually penetrate both sides of the target box!

    If you haven't already tried Shoot-N-C targets, you owe it to yourself to give them a try. It's a great way to add a new dimension of excitement to your shooting!

    Thursday, June 08, 2006

    What pressure is best for a PCP?

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Last week, a reader named Dave asked, "What is the lowest pressure that will produce acceptable results in a PCP? How many fills will a scuba tank be able to give, given that low operating pressure?

    Dave, you happened to hit on one of my favorite subjects in airgunning - efficiency!

    How low can you go?
    I have been saying this for a long time - barrel length is an important part of precharged efficiency - maybe the most important part! On the Mythbusters TV show, they shot a 4-lb. chicken carcass from an air cannon at 130 m.p.h. on just 25 psi! When they bumped the pressure up over 100 psi, four times as much, the velocity increased by less than 5 m.p.h. So, 25 psi was all it took to accelerate a 4-lb. projectile to 190.7 f.p.s. when shot from an 8' cannon barrel.

    Airguns from history got high velocity from very low pressures. Typically, they were pressurized to 500 psi, yet had the power to launch a .50 caliber lead ball with enough force to kill deer-sized game beyond 100 yards. The recorded velocities of the vintage big bores are in the 500 to 600 f.p.s. range. It wasn't just long barrels that produced such remarkable results - they also had air valves that remained open far longer than modern PCP valves do.

    In Airgun Revue No. 5, Tom Gaylord wrote about a Gary Barnes' big bore rifle that shot a .457 caliber lead ball at 800 f.p.s. on just 750 psi! That rifle had 10 good shots at that pressure! The barrel was over 32" long, which is long but necessary for low pressure to accelerate a projectile to high velocity. Now, Dave, how many HUNDREDS of fills would that rifle get from an 80 cu.-ft. 3,000 psi scuba tank? A heck of a lot more than a rifle that needed 3,000 psi, that's for sure.

    Something more practical
    Many airgunners know about the field target rifle Mac-1 is selling. It was designed by Larry Durham to operate on less than 2,000 psi and gets over 50 full-power shots (in .177 ,that's a JSB Exact going around 900 f.p.s.) with very tight velocity variation. At the recent airgun show in Little Rock, Durham sold a .22 sporter version of this same rifle. It develops about 20 foot-pounds per shot and gets 55 shots. It fills to 1,650 psi and shoots down to a low of 1,250, so all 55 shots are fired on just 400 pounds of air!

    This Mac-1 Hunter is a 20 foot-pound .22 rifle that gets 55 consistent shots on just 400 psi of air.

    A PCP rifle like that is so easy to fill that you could do it with a hand pump, using just one hand! Or that scuba tank that needs a refill because it only has 2,200 psi remaining suddenly becomes a storehouse of air! Unfortunately, the Mac-1 Hunter, as it is known, is very close to handmade and carries a price tag to reflect the time it takes to produce.

    AirForce built a special valve to operate on just 1,500 psi. It was made to use indoors where power isn't needed but accuracy is. They got over 100 good shots with .177 pellets going about 475 f.p.s. Best of all, there was very little variation from the first shot to the last. It was an offshoot of the new MicroMeter valve.

    So, high pressure isn't the only way to run a PCP. A gun can be made to shoot well on pressure so low it becomes very cost-effective.

    Wednesday, June 07, 2006

    Shooting with a pistol scope

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Here is an observation expressed by a reader named Michael. "If you have to place your cheek in the same place every time [to shoot a scoped rifle accurately], what happens with [a scoped] pistol? My guess is that one would have to practice a LOT to make sure the gun was exactly the same distance, height etc. EVERY time. I wonder if it is possible to get BETTER accuracy with a scope on a pistol."

    That's a good observation!
    Michael has thought it through and he's right - shooting a scoped pistol is a lot harder than shooting one with open sights for exactly the reason he states. But the pistol scope is designed to help you. Unless you hold the pistol correctly, it is difficult to see the reticle or even the image in the scope. The better the scope, the harder it will be to see through it unless it's in the right position. This can be very frustrating to shooters unaccustomed to using a scoped pistol.

    I'm no expert
    I dislike scopes on handguns, but I have used them. I learned the necessity of holding the pistol two-handed at arm's length to acquire both the image and the reticle. Because I hate holding a handgun with two hands, this bothers me. After all - it's a HAND gun, not a HANDS gun. At least, that's my thinking.

    They are more accurate
    On the other hand, a scoped handgun can be more accurate than one without a scope for the same reason a scoped rifle can be more accurate. It has to do with the precision of aiming. With a scope, it's just far easier to hold exactly where you want because you see the aim point magnified in the eyepiece. There is an entire group of firearms hunters who use handguns exclusively and the majority of these are scoped. There are scoped handguns shooting centerfire rifle cartridges that can group nearly as well as a rifle!

    Remington XP100 is a popular hunting handgun. This one is caliber .222 Remington.

    Stainless Ruger Super Blackhawk in .44 magnum is a good deer gun.

    Handgun scopes are more expensive
    Pyramyd Air doesn't carry a lot of pistol scopes because they don't sell that many. Pistol scopes have an extra long eye relief of about 20 inches, which makes them very different from rifle scopes. The low demand tends to keep the price a little higher than rifle scopes, which sell in far greater numbers. The only pistol scope I've found at Pyramyd is the BSA pistol scope in either black or silver finish.

    Handgun scopes are lower power
    A handgun scope has to be lower power because the eyepiece is so far from the eye. The field of view is very limited, and high power limits it even more, so 1x and 2x scopes are common. A 4x scope is a real monster in the handgun world, though Burris does make a variable that goes up to 12x.

    Handgun scopes are gaining in popularity, even in the airgun world, so maybe we'll hear more about them in the future.

    Tuesday, June 06, 2006

    BB tells all!

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Today I'd like to answer several questions submitted last week by new reader Cesar.

    What is the best air rifle, right out of the box, that you have every owned?
    Spring rifle - TX200 MkIII (SEE, CF-X guy?). Actually a Whiscombe is slightly better, but since John Whiscombe has stopped making them, there will be no more boxes to take them from.

    Spring pistol - Diana M10

    PCP rifle - Talon SS from AirForce

    PCP pistol - I didn't own it, but I did shoot an FWB P34 that I loved

    CO2 rifle - Crosman 160

    CO2 pistol - Crosman 600

    BB gun - Daisy No. 25 pump, 1930 model

    What's the best group you have ever made?
I once shot a 5-shot group at 40 yards that was so tight, a .22 pellet would not fall through. It was shot with a 12 foot-pound British Skan R32 PCP rifle.

    What is your favorite air rifle moment?
    I like the moment in the movie A Christmas Story, when Ralphie gets his "Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing which tells time." Even though no such BB gun ever existed, it was nice to see a young boy get the object of his dreams.

    Now, Cesar, I'd like to answer a couple questions you didn't ask (but I wish you had).

    What's the stupidest airgun ever made?
    The Whamo Kruger cap-firing BB pistol takes this honor. If there is a weaker BB gun on the planet, it wouldn't be able to shoot BBs all the way out the barrel. A new Kruger will fail soon enough and fall into that category.

    The Kruger used toy caps to propel a BB almost as fast as a three-year-old-child could throw it! The guns usually failed after about 50 shots.

    What's the best airgun for the least amount of money?
    Does anyone think there could POSSIBLY be an answer to that question?

    How far will an airgun shoot?
    How long is a piece of string?
    No. Hao Long is a village in Vietnam.

    It is often said that a powerful airgun shooting a diabolo pellet will shoot out to 500 yards and no farther. In American Rifleman, I once read that a rifled slug from a 12-gauge shotgun had a maximum range of 800 yards, so the 500-yard range sounds correct; but as far as I know, it has never been tested.

    Monday, June 05, 2006

    Get a new airgun from AirForce with just a tank change!

    by B.B. Pelletier

    AirForce has a new air tank called the MicroMeter tank. It's really the same 490cc tank they use for the other guns, but with a brand new air valve installed. If you already own an AirForce gun, buying this new tank will be almost like getting a second gun! That's because the MicroMeter tank uses less air for each shot. The shots are less powerful but also more consistent, and that's what this new tank is all about - consistency and power!

    All three AirForce rifles were created for high power. Although they all have power adjustment wheels, when the power is turned down very low, their shot-to-shot velocity is less consistent. The MicroMeter tank tightens the velocity variance, but it does so at a very low power. So, you get an extremely consistent low-power rifle that's perfect for target shooting and indoor pest elimination.

    Tight velocity strings at lower power
    I've tested the MM tank on all three AirForce rifles. The tank was developed for shooters who want lots of shots with tightly controlled velocity - such as target shooters. Plus, plenty of moms and dads who bought AirForce guns for themselves also wanted to teach their kids how to shoot. Well, little Sally and Sam don't need the 25 foot-pounds of a Talon SS, to say nothing of the even greater power of the Talon or Condor. With the MM tank installed, your SS becomes a 10 foot-pound gun on the highest power setting. In fact, with the SS, the power wheel doesn't really do much (exception - if it's set below about No. 6, the shots do vary more in speed). It shoots .22 Premiers at 560 f.p.s. And, talk about quiet! It's SUPER-QUIET, with enough power to take out most pests at 25 yards! If you want more, install your standard SS tank, and you're back in the game.

    Best on the Talon!
    The 18" barrel of the Talon, coupled with the standard powerplant, gives you real adjustability. From a high of 13.8 foot-pounds down to a low of 6.7 foot-pounds, the Talon's range is very useful. Most of the adjustability kicks in below power setting 6. And, the Talon is a quiet gun at the lower ranges. Maybe not as quiet as an SS, but it's very neighbor-friendly, if you know what I mean. You can quickly get back to over 30 foot-pounds in seconds with a tank change.

    And the Condor shines!
    You MUST get one of these tanks if you own a Condor! The more powerful Condor powerplant and 24" barrel give a power spread of 14 to 15 foot-pounds, which isn't much, but this is the tank to tame the savage beast! How many Condor owners bought their guns expecting great power and quiet operation only to discover it doesn't work that way? The power you get, but a Condor is as loud as a .22 long rifle. With the MM tank, though, your Big Bird becomes a parakeet. With the Condor tank, you can't go below about 19 foot-pounds, but the MM tank clips off another 4 to 5 foot-pounds! It becomes a different gun.

    The best of all
    Talon and Talon SS owners who have the 24" optional barrel installed will get a HUGE adjustment spread! From 15 on the top end down to 4 or 5 on the bottom, they will have the greatest air rifle on the market - especially when you consider that just installing the standard tank will boost them to a maximum of 45 foot-pounds! There is nothing close to this performance spread anywhere else.

    It's not every day that a manufacturer gives you an entirely new airgun for a fraction of the cost!

    Friday, June 02, 2006

    How to fill a precharged gun from a scuba tank

    by B.B. Pelletier

    You would think a subject like this is too simple to bother with, but it's not. Although I have done several postings on scuba tanks in the past, this is the first time I've discussed filling.

    Only finger-tight!
    A guy once asked to borrow a crescent wrench at an airgun show. He wanted it to tighten the nut that attached his fill hose to his gun (this was before quick-disconnects were popular). That's like using an impact wrench to wind a watch! Because these filling connectors all have O-rings or other types of seals, they need to be only finger-tight.

    Fill slowly
    I should have guessed what was coming next. Once the adapter was torqued down, he cranked open the valve on the scuba tank and filled his gun in three seconds. I actually jumped back when he did it, which surprised him. Filling that fast is like filling a shot glass with a fire hose! I asked him if his gun reservoir felt warm, and he told me it always did after a fill. I bet! A fast fill generates so much heat from compression that it can melt the seals in your gun. His steel reservoir was too hot to hold. I wonder how long that gun will last with that kind of treatment?

    Always allow at least a full minute for a fill. That's a fill that goes from 2,000 to 3,000 psi. If you're filling from zero, take longer. Learn how to open the scuba tank valve so the air flows out very slowly.

    You can't put in more than you have
    As you use a scuba tank, the air pressure inside starts dropping. How fast it drops depends on how many guns you fill and the size of their reservoirs. If your scuba tank has 2,600 psi in it, it will only fill a gun that high. The fact that the gun's reservoir is smaller than the scuba tank has no bearing on the matter. When the pressure in the gun equals the pressure in the scuba tank, the air stops flowing.

    Keep all connections clean
    Dirt is the enemy of a precharged gun because it defeats the air seals so quickly. A small particle of sand can get on a hard synthetic seal and embed itself in the material, causing an opening at the point the seal is supposed to be tight. It only takes a microscopic hole for pressurized air to leak out. All your connectors and the ports to which they attach should be kept clean. If the gun has a cover for the fill port, use it. This is especially important after lubricating a seal, because fresh grease attracts and holds dirt like a magnet.

    Lubricate O-rings and seals
    If you have a dry O-ring and you have to twist whatever it connects to, the O-ring can tear. The static ring on a K-valve is very forgiving because there is no lateral movement, but the O-rings on a fill probe are subject to a lot of pulling as the probe slides in and out of place. Keep them lubricated with pure silicone grease and they will last as long as possible.

    Any questions?

    The O-ring in a scuba tank K valve is not subject to twisting forces.

    This Career fill probe has two O-rings that scrape the side of the fill port each time the probe is inserted and removed. This will tear the rings unless they are lubricated. Once you grease them, keep the probe in a plastic bag when it's not in use.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Interesting ballistics

    by B.B. Pelletier

    Last week, we had a question about pellet drop, and a reader answered it correctly. The question, however, prompts me to post a few ballistic facts that may be of some interest to you.

    Pellet drop
    Galileo demonstrated the constant acceleration of gravity by dropping two different sized balls from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Both hit the ground at the same time. When you shoot a pellet from a barrel whose bore is parallel to the ground and drop a pellet from the same height, both pellets should hit the ground at the same instant. The pellet that was shot, hits far away from you. How far depends on how fast it was traveling and how much it slowed down from the drag on its skirt.

    What a drag!
    Drag slows the pellet, and both weight and aerodynamic shape fight drag. Vertical drop is a constant. Therefore, light pellets hit the ground closer to the muzzle (at a given velocity) than heavier ones, assuming the same drag. I'm not saying that heavier pellets fall at a different rate than light ones, but that they take longer to slow down. Between two pellets of the same weight and aerodynamic efficiency, the slower one hits the ground closer to the muzzle.

    HOWEVER - and this is the ENTIRE POINT I'm making - the "givens" listed above are NEVER the same, so trying to have a meaningful discussion about which pellet shoots farther or falls closer to the gun is pointless and futile! Instead, get out into the field to do the actual testing. That is the only way to find out what will really happen!

    Mythbusters busted!
    The popular TV show Mythbusters aired a segment on a "magic bullet" of ice that was supposed to kill someone when fired from a firearm, then melt without a trace. In that segment, they said that bullets don't stop accelerating at the end of the barrel, and they ran a high-speed film clip showing gas blowing past a bullet as it exited the muzzle of a gun. Their premise sounds good, but it's not correct. For all intents and purposes, and with the finest test equipment available, bullets stop accelerating when they leave the muzzle. I have done thousands of chronograph tests that show a gun has higher velocity at 12 inches from the muzzle than at 24 inches. I have tested both airguns and firearms this way and they work the same.

    There MAY be a short region an inch or two from the muzzle where some slight amount of additional acceleration occurs, but the amount is both too small and the effect too brief to measure by any means I have access to. The high-speed gas blowing past the exiting bullet is rapidly losing its energy, which it has been doing since the bullet was about halfway down the barrel. It may act to destabilize the bullet slightly, but it doesn't push it any faster. Having gotten that off my chest, I still enjoy the Mythbusters and find most of what they do very creative and accurate.

    Precession will blow your mind!
    Precession can be described as the tendency of the spin axis of a rotating body (a pellet in flight) to twist at right angles to any external force. Stated simply...when a spinning pellet encounters a force from the right side, it will climb if it's spinning to the right or dive if it's spinning to the left! The force will also move the entire pellet in the direction it is applied!

    So, if your right-spinning pellet encounters wind from the right, it will move UP and to the LEFT. The UP movement will be smaller than the LEFT movement, especially since the pellet is also being pulled DOWN by gravity! Please explain all the other permutations of this phenomenon to yourself at this time.

    Confused? You're not alone. This phenomenon is quite confusing, yet it affects all ballistic projectiles.

    A lot of different and sometimes opposing forces act on a pellet in flight.