Friday, August 29, 2008

Evanix Renegade double-action rifle
Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Papers, please!
First, we'll go over your homework. Your first assignment was to calculate the approximate average muzzle velocity of the Renegade in both single- and double-action. I didn't give you any parameters other than the velocities recorded in that report. What I did with this problem was use the 42 shots I told you I would accept for the double-action mode. The range was from 916 f.p.s. to 975 f.p.s., and the average was 948.57 f.p.s. So, that was the average velocity that I got for double-action shooting.

Calculating the single-action average was slightly more difficult, because I gave you only 12 acceptable shots to work with (the first and third strings of 6 shots), yet I told you I thought there were about 18 shots available. We'll have to test that today to see if I'm right. To get the average, I added the first string and took the sum of the second string twice. Doing it that way makes a total for three stings of shots, even though one of them is just a guess.

I did it that way because the first double-action string used up some of the air before the second single-action string was fired. I figured the first shots of a real second string would, therefore, be faster than what was recorded, but the last shots would be slower. By using the slower string of shots twice (shots 13-18), I'd hoped they would account for the difference. Let's see if I was right.

And, now, the energy
Using my velocities, the rifle gets 28.58 foot-pounds average in the double-action mode with Crosman Premiers and 33.17 foot-pounds in the single-action mode. Of course, the single-action mode is only my best guess at this point.

And, when we move up to Kodiaks
Moving up to Beeman Kodiak pellets, I'm guessing that the rifle will average 32 foot-pounds in the double-action mode and 37 foot-pounds in the single-action mode. That's just a gut-feeling guess with no formula behind it, but I note that blog reader Malan is guessing that Kodiaks shot single-action will produce just under 35 foot-pounds, so we're in pretty close agreement. Only testing will tell!

Stop and think
Before I do the test, let's look at the Renegade for a moment. It gives you a fast double-action shot possibility in return for a reduction in gross power in both the single-action and double-action modes when compared to the standard AR6 rifle. The AR6, which functions only in single-action, delivers power in the mid-50 foot-pounds region. So, there's a very clear difference between these two rifles. And, the standard AR6 will continue to be offered just as it has been.

What do you want?
What you have to decide is if fast repeat shots are more desirable than sheer foot-pounds. Of course, we still have to take the Renegade to the range, so accuracy is still unknown, but we know a standard AR6 will group 5 Eun Jin pellets in an inch or so at 50 yards. Which brings up another question. Why haven't I tested the Renegade with Eun Jins?

Well, I will test Eun Jins in the Renegade, but given the performance of the rifle (i.e., a mid-30 foot-pound rifle), I figured that Beeman Kodiaks would deliver better velocity for making those long-range shots. I'll test Eun Jins for accuracy, as well, so no stone will go unturned. Remember that I warned you this was going to be a HUGE report! Let's get to it.

Test 3: the single-action string of Crosman Premiers
No more guessing, this is a string of shots all fired single-action. I will shoot at least 18 Crosman Premiers from a 3,000 psi fill, and if the velocity is still within 50 f.p.s., I'll keep on shooting.

Shots 1-6

Shots 7-12

Shots 13-18

Shots 19-24

The average velocity for this 24-shot string was 1018 f.p.s., which is a muzzle energy of 32.91 foot-pounds. My estimate of the single-action muzzle energy by interpolating the third string of shots was too high by 0.26 foot-pounds. More importantly, I was off on the total number of shots by five, if we accept my criteria of a maximum spread of 50 f.p.s. Had I stopped shooting at shot 18, I would have underestimated the average power a little.

Test 4: the single-action string with Beeman Kodiaks
This test demonstrates what the rifle can do with 21-grain Beeman Kodiaks. They fit much tighter in the chambers (remember, with this gun you load the pellets skirt-first), therefore they seal much better than the Premiers.

Shots 1-6

Shots 7-12

Shots 13-18

Shots 19-24
DNR - Shot did not register

Shots 25-30

Trouble downrange
I stopped at shot No. 30, not because the string exceeded 50 f.p.s., but because I shot through the silent pellet trap! TWICE! Little bits of crap had been bouncing back at me from the trap with every shot, so when the first pellet went though it sounded the same. The next shot went through a little faster, though, and I knew at once what had happened. Below is what that looks like. I cannot blame the trap, because I used it wrong. You can bet I'll use a heavy steel trap with this rifle from now on!

It's only funny if it happens to someone else! This is what happens when you continue to shoot a 37 foot-pound air rifle at a trap rated for 20 foot-pounds. This trap has no steel backing plate and just a thin luan backer board.

A pleasant surprise!
These 30 shots are surprising because there are so many of them! Clearly, this rifle's valve is better adapted to Beeman Kodiaks than to Crosman Premiers! The average for the 29 shots that did register was 887.14 foot-pounds. That works out to 36.71 foot-pounds, so my estimate was over the mark by 0.29 foot-pounds.

This report is getting too large, so I'll stop here and finish the strings next time. Besides, I have to clean the splinters off my office carpet.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Crosman 1377 - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Time for something different today. I reported on the Crosman 1377 in August 2005. In those days, my reviews were terse and filled with less test results than I provide these days, and the 1377 is such a classic air pistol that I thought it was time for another go at it.

This pistol is a direct descendent of the 105/106 Target pneumatics made in 1947-1953. Nearly two decades passed between the last of those pistols and the first 1300-series pistol, which was the .22 caliber 1300 Medalist in 1970. The first 1377 came about in 1977 and had a steel breech. In 1981, the steel breech changed to plastic and the gun became more or less what it is today. Let's evaluate that for a moment.

The 1377 is Crosman's counter to the Benjamin HB 17/HB 22, which I evaluated for you 18 month ago. The 1377 sells for less than half the price of the Benjamin pistols, and I think we all understand that the difference is partly due to the materials used in the Benjamin. However, is there really double the value in those guns? Or, perhaps the question should really be, "Is the 1377 a terrific value?" That's what this report will try to determine.

The 1377 (bottom) is larger than its ancestor - a Crosman 105 .22 pneumatic.

This is a large air pistol - make no mistake. The 10.25" barrel guarantees a muzzle-heavy balance, though I must comment that it isn't as much as you might think. The great size of the pistol also connotes power, and Crosman's claim of 600 f.p.s. seems to back that up. We'll see what the realistic velocity is with pellets you're likely to use.

When I freed my test gun from its clamshell, it appeared that the pump mechanism was well-oiled from the factory, but that was deceiving. There was oil on all the pivot points; but the pump head was dry, and the gun didn't develop much power when pumped. A liberal application of Crosman Pellgunoil to the pump head fixed that, and I was able to hear the gasp of air being sucked into the pump tube for the first time. That's a sound all pneumatics should make.

The sights are fully adjustable, but you have to examine them closely. There are no click detents to alert you to adjustment changes. Instead, you must pay close attention to the position of the rear sight. The windage adjustment even has an index scale, but it takes some close examination to find it.

The 1377's rear sight element adjusts for elevation, but there are no reference marks. The blade can be reversed for a peep sight!

The front of the rear sight has a small index scale for judging windage adjustments.

Customizing possibilities?
Both the grips and the forearm are made of plastic and are the prime targets for customization. The grips are fully ambidextrous and, in a rare twist of fate, the bolt on the right side of the receiver favors left-handed shooters.

The trigger is a simple mechanism and is another target for change. Those wanting a $1,000 trigger on a $50 airgun find the market full of aftermarket possibilities. You just have to search for them, but they're there. However, the $1,000 trigger isn't going to happen with a 1377. Settle for less creep, a lighter pull and some overtravel adjustment. A wide trigger shoe is also nice.

Steel breech
For those who really want to go crazy, Crosman offers a steel breech for the 1377. This breech has 11mm dovetails for optional sights and/or a scope. By the time you're thinking about the breech, you'll probably also want to put on a longer barrel for more power. Then, the entire kitchen has to be remodeled! By that I mean that there's almost no end to what you can do to a 1377 by way of customization. Your $50 pistol can transform into a mighty hunting rifle with the application of another $600 and a lot of elbow grease.

Scope or not?
These days, a scope is very popular on a gun like this. While a scope can get in the way of pumping on a shorter pistol like the Benjamin, the 1377 does have enough barrel for the Crosman 459 intermount to work, as long as the scope is a true pistol scope with long eye-relief or a dot sight.

Many of you have awaited this report for a long time. Let's be sure and test those things about which you're curious while the pistol's in play.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A reader looks at the TX200 Mark III in .177 and .22

A TX200 Mark III underlever spring-piston air rifle is a treasure to be enjoyed for many generations.

Guest Blogger
Gino is a recent and satisfied owner of not one but two TX200 Mark III spring rifles. I've tested this rifle for you already, but this report comes from a new owner and a reader perspective. I thought it was an important viewpoint. Gino originally posted this as a comment, but it was so complete that I asked him if I could make it into a guest blog.

If you'd like to write a post for this blog, please email me at

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won't work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Special announcement: please don't use the Guest Blogger email for anything else
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A reader looks at the TX200 Mark III in .177 and .22
by Gino

It's been awhile since I posted. I've been so busy practicing in my garage and cannot put the TX200s down. I still owe you a report on my rifles, so here you go.

Let me start with the .22 cal TX200 Mark III. It's just as good as the .177. The only thing I see that's different is that the .22 kills prey on the spot and the .177 needs better shot placement to execute the quick kill. The differences are very minimal, but I wind up picking up the .177 cal. 9 times out of 10 when I want to shoot farther, due to its greater velocity. But, the .22 cal. hits the mark with more accuracy on windy days.

Each caliber has unique traits. The .177 kicks a little harder than the .22, and I noticed that the .177 is a tad louder. Both will put pellets into the same hole as many times as you shoot, as long as you religiously keep the same stance/grip technique. I'm referring to the artillery hold--wink, wink.

The TX200 is so forgiving and simple to reload, and it's never tiring like the breakbarrels. There are no seals that fall out, etc. [Matt61, are you listening?]

The trigger
The trigger on the TX200 Mark III is so adjustable that I've gone through all the adjustments and set it the way I wanted. The trigger can be as light and dangerous as you want, but everyone's preference is different. My .177 is set at 1/4" first-stage travel and 16 oz. of pull on the release. Basically the trigger is set where my entire technique allows me to shoot with the most accuracy.

The .22 trigger is set to the same first-stage travel of 1/4," but has a little more tension than the .177 trigger. It just seems to shoot better/hit targets with a less sensitive trigger pull. Trigger adjustments are endless/infinite on the TX200 Mark III.

It gets better
New owners will be surprised when they shoot over 3,000 pellets and notice the rifle performs way better than when brand new out of the box. Everything gets better the more you shoot. The trigger smooths out, cocking gets even better and the overall feel just makes you smile each time you pull the trigger.

The overall weight is not bothering me, as it makes for a more stable rifle. By comparison, my friend's Gamo CFX is a bit jumpy and springy against my cheekbones.

I scoped both rifles with Leapers SWAT scopes, with the .177 having Leapers Accushot 8-32x56AO with illuminated reticle and the .22 mounting the 4-16x56AO (also illuminated). Both perform great and are dead accurate. The ease of zeroing at any distance is a breeze with no tools needed. Be sure to get a solid mount; it works well.

My conclusion on both calibers is that you need both if you have the extra money. The .177 will the do the job just as good as the .22 when hunting, as long as your shot placement is good. The .22 always kills the prey on the spot. I currently have both calibers and have no regrets. I sold all my PCP rifles as of last month, and I'm keeping these. Field target events were never so much fun before the TX200's arrived. Just looking at these rifles is rewarding enough, to say nothing of shooting them.

Which caliber is my favorite? The .177 is an all-around rifle but I always hunt with the 22 cal. I take them both if I can.

Here is a TX200 anecdote I'll never forget. The day was calm (70 deg. F.) with no wind at all, so I took the rifles to the firing range with my buddies. A few onlookers challenged me saying, "Who takes an airgun to a firing range?"

I said, "Let's see who can group better on a 50-yard target." That's my TX200 MK3 rifles against their rifles. Guess who won? Yep, they couldn't even group inside 2" but blamed their lack of accuracy on the fact that I had Leapers SWAT scopes against their fixed scopes.

Then, they shot my rifles and everyone complained when their turns were over. They finally admitted defeat as they looked on their spotting scopes to see 10 rounds so close that even I was amazed.

Both my friends and these strangers now have a different perspective on the airguns of today. In the end, I mentioned the artillery hold and told them that you can shoot an airgun at home for free anytime in small areas that can't accommodate a rimfire or centerfire gun. I gave them all the Pyramyd Air URL, so they may comment if they see my comments.

My take on that experience is that to each his own and so be it if the toys/rifles/guns happen to be non-powder driven. They all shoot projectiles and give us joy and relaxation as hobbies.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Evanix Renegade double-action rifle
Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Pyramyd Air is having a garage sale Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 20 & 21. If you can't make it, have a look at their used products. However, the garage sale will have much more than just used products, so it's worth attending even if you've got a ways to travel.

On to today's blog.

Part 1

Lots of curiosity about the new Renegade repeater from Evanix. I told several who asked, and I'll now tell everyone else, that the Renegade isn't just a single airgun. This double-action trigger has been incorporated into four different airguns. The line includes the rifle I'm testing, a carbine version, a Takedown Rifle (TDR) that isn't available right now and a pistol. I'll test all of them for you.

When we last left the Renegade, I'd discussed the history of the AR6 from which the Renegade descended. The AR6 will continue to be made because it's a more powerful repeater. We'll see that today when we look at the Renegade's velocity.

I also told you that this rifle gets a lot more powerful shots per fill than any other PCP I know of. However, since I haven't yet revealed how powerful those shots are, it's impossible to speculate just what that means. Let me show you a sample set of test strings so you can see what I'm talking about.

Test No 1: Alternating single- and double-action strings
This test uses only 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers. If you've been following this blog for a few months, you know that the Premier is a middleweight pellet that won't give the greatest power in a precharged pneumatic. However, because they're so widely used and also because they're one of the most accurate pellets generally available, they make a good starting point.

3000 psi fill
6 shots single-action (the hammer is cocked manually before the shot is fired)
Shots 1-6

6 shots double-action (the trigger, alone, fires the gun)
Shots 7-12

6 shots single-action
Shots 13-18

6 shots double-action
Shots 19-24

6 shots single-action
Shots 25-30

6 shots double-action
Shots 31-36

Test No. 1 demonstrated a lot
I ended this test with the shot 36. Here's what I learned. First, that there are about 18 shots per fill when firing single-action, which is the most powerful way to shoot this rifle. The velocity spread will likely be 50 f.p.s. across those 18 shots, but I'll need to test to know that for sure. Second, the rifle's valve is slightly locked at 3,000 psi if you want to shoot double-action. We know that because the first string of double-action shots (shots 7 to 12) is slower than the second string (shots 19 to 24). The velocity is climbing as we continue to shoot the rifle.

Test No. 2: All double-action
That tells me I want to test a straight set of shots on double-action, only to see what the power curve looks like when starting from a 3,000 psi fill. That's next:

6 shots double-action
Shots 1-6

6 shots double-action
Shots 7-12

6 shots double-action
Shots 13-18

6 shots double-action
Shots 19-24

6 shots double-action
Shots 25-30

6 shots double-action
Shots 31-36

6 shots double-action
Shots 37-42

6 shots double-action
Shots 43-48

6 shots double-action
Shots 49-54

6 shots double-action
Shots 55-60

Learn how your rifle uses air
This test was very illuminating. It demonstrates why you should never slavishly attach meaning to a fill number like 3,000 psi. Because your gun may not work best at that pressure. I hope you understand the difference between this test and the first one. In the first test, the first 6 shots were fired single-action, which dropped the pressure in the reservoir to bring the second string of double-action shots up on the power curve. Can you appreciate that the gun uses much more air when fired single-action than it does double-action?

A peaked velocity curve
Also, instead of a relatively flat top to the velocity curve, the Renegade has a peaked curve with gentle slopes on both sides when fired double-action. How much of that curve you choose to use is up to you, and you should base your decision on what you want to do with the rifle. If you want to take woodchucks at 50+ yards, I would fill to 3,000 psi and shoot the rifle single-action. That will net you about 18 shots (3 cylinders).

How much of the power curve you want to use double-action is your choice, but I would start with shot No. 13 and finish with shot No. 54. That gives me 42 shots, which is 7 full 6-shot cylinders. My velocity spread would be from a low of 916 f.p.s. to a high of 975. While 59 f.p.s. is a large spread, please remember we are talking about Crosman Premiers, and I'm probably not going to be shooting them. They were just used for testing. I'll probably go with a heavier pellet like the Beeman Kodiak. The velocity will be slower and should have a tighter spread over 42 shots.

Determining the correct fill pressure
If you agree that shot 13 is the place to begin your string, then you must determine what reservoir pressure it takes to deliver the first shot at that velocity. Goodness knows what those poor unfortunates will do who cannot reconcile starting air pressures other than 3,000 psi, but there isn't much we can do for them. For you, however, the procedure is to fill one more time to 3000, then shoot the gun 12 times through a chronograph. The next shot is shot 13, which is the start of the third cylinder of pellets. If the velocity is where you want it to be, stop shooting and try to fill the gun right there. You'll be able to determine from this the pressure at which the valve starts admitting air into the reservoir, and that number becomes your new maximum fill pressure. If shot No. 13 is NOT the right speed for you, keep shooting until you see the right speed and then determine the pressure in the reservoir. This is a simple procedure, yet it's fundamental to the correct operation of all PCPs!

What if you DONT WANT to shoot only single-action?
Well, that was the reason for the first test. Look at it and determine what sort of performance you would like from your rifle. If your problem is squirrels in the bird feeder 25 yards from the house, double-action all the time sounds like a good idea. If you also have a pesky woodchuck over by the hill 75 yards from your back door, maybe you want to be able to shoot both single and double-action. Remember, nobody is tying your hands from topping off the reservoir at any time. You can shoot just 5 shots and decide to add more air at that time.

Trigger action
It's time to let you know about the Renegade's two-stage trigger. In single-action, the one I'm testing breaks exactly at 2 lbs. It's as crisp as you could hope for, short of an Olympic target rifle. In double-action, I estimate the pull at nine lbs.--far lighter than, say, a Colt Officer's Model .38 Special and about equal to a well broken-in 1077. So, don't worry about whether you can fire it fast, because you can! Evanix says the trigger breaks in, so maybe a brand-new rifle will be somewhat stiffer, but you cannot fault the trigger on the rifle I'm testing.

Okay, digest this information and next time we'll test velocities some more. Here's some homework for you. Calculate the approximate average muzzle energy of the rifle in both the single-action and double-action modes using Crosman Premier pellets. Then calculate the probable power increase when we switch to a Beeman Kodiak pellet. I've made all my calculations based on the information presented in this report. I'll show my expectations and then the test results next time. I'll also tell you how I arrived at the numbers.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tanfoglio Witness 1911 BB pistol - Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Well, the BB pistol guys have waited patiently for this second report, so I thought I'd combine velocity and accuracy into one post. The Tanfoglio 1911 BB pistol turns out to be a genuine surprise! While it doesn't have all the neat switches and levers of more expensive BB pistols, this one has something very few others have - accuracy! In fact, this may be the most accurate BB pistol I've ever tested. Because I said almost the same thing when I tested the SIG Sauer SP 2022 BB pistol back in May, that statement deserves an explanation.

The SIG Sauer SP 2022 was and still is very accurate. I'm not changing my mind about that. But, if you look at the targets, it shot low and to the left. The Tanfoglio shoots dead-center at the same 15 feet. After seeing where it was striking, I couldn't resist shooting full magazines of 20 rounds at each target. Granted my groups are larger than those shot with the SIG, but look where they landed!

The first target I shot turned out so well that I couldn't resist dumping the entire 20-shot magazine! This target was shot with Daisy zinc-plated BBs.

The second target I shot was with Tanfoglio BBs. Although this group of 20 is smaller than the first, it's due more to me being in the groove than to the BBs.

One way I know a particular gun is a good'un is when I can't stop pulling the trigger. It doesn't happen too often, but it sure did with this Tanfoglio. I stood there shooting five shots at a time with rests between. As long as the white dot on the front sight stayed on the black bull, that's where the shots went. That doesn't happen often enough that I can ignore it.

I made fun of the white dot on the front sight at first, but when I used it, the pistol shot to it! Front sight shown slightly elevated for clarity.

After 40 shots, my arms tuckered out and I was unable to hold the sights still enough to repeat the performance a third time. It's nice to know that a gun is always there for you and makes you do your best because it'll show. I never thought I'd say that about a BB pistol, though.

The 20-shot stick magazine is the easiest BB magazine I've ever loaded. Pull the spring-loaded follower down and it locks in place. Then, the BBs seem to pour into the opening. There's even a grooved trough to help you align a bunch of BBs for the loading hole. The follower then unlocks in the same way the SIG Sauer 2022 magazine did, and the spring pushes against the BB stack.

The BB magazine is easy to load. Just pull the follower down to lock, then drop BBs through the funnel-shaped loading hole. There's a trough that runs almost the full length of the mag top that guides the BBs to the hole.

With Daisy zinc-plated BBs, I got two different velocities. When the CO2 cartridge was fresh, they averaged 410 f.p.s. with a spread from 396 to 418. When the cartridge was almost used up, they averaged 430 with a spread from 407 to a high of 444. Tanfoglio BBs averaged 414 f.p.s. when the Co2 cartridge was fresh and remained there until the end.

Shot count
You get more than 60 shots per CO2 cartridge, but not quite 80, so that last magazine needs to be watched. The CO2 piercing screw is inconvenient to operate because they put it where it can't show from the side, and as a result you lose a little gas at each cartridge change. Screw in the piercing screw until you hear a hissing, then take two quick shots. Use Crosman Pellgunoil on every cartridge!

This is a double-action only pistol, so there's no cocking of the hammer - which doesn't move, by the way. This is a modern DAO, and the trigger-pull is very easy and free from excessive creep. Look at my targets, and you'll see how tight you can hold the gun.

I don't often get excited about CO2 BB pistols, but this one is the exception. It's accurate, fun to use and easy to load. In fact, it's so accurate that I believe this BB gun could be used for serious handgun training. If you're into BB pistols and don't need blowback, try the Tanfoglio Witness.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Pro-Guide spring retainer system for RWS Diana rifles
Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Now it's time to assemble and test the RWS Diana 48 with the Air Venturi Pro-Guide spring retainer installed. Because I removed the piston to photograph, I put it back in the gun first, but you normally wouldn't take it out. So, the Pro-Guide system goes into the spring tube white end first. That's the end with the guide inside the spring.

I mentioned in the last report that the Pro-Guide isn't as long as the factory spring, so the trigger assembly also sits lower in the spring tube. Now the rifle is put back into the mainspring compressor again, and tension is put against the end cap shelf. As the tension increases and the end cap moves into the spring tube, it may twist so the pin holes in the cap go out of alignment with those through the trigger block and the mainspring tube. The trigger block will limit the twisting, but the black plastic end cap can get out of alignment just enough to make pin insertion impossible.

When the compressor bottoms out the end cap, the two pin holes are close to up-and-down alignment with the holes in the spring tube, but you may have to back off on the compressor tension just a touch. Then, you may have to work the end cap to one side or the other so the pins can be tapped through. A tapered punch is a good tool for this job, and you may have to start out using a thinner pin punch until the holes are close enough to insert the tapered punch.

The trigger unit is installed in the mainspring tube after the Pro-Guide system. It slips down into the mainspring tube farther than the factory spring because it's shorter.

Tap in the rear pin first. Don't force it, but to get it started may require a few hard taps with a plastic hammer. Once it starts going into the hole, it'll pull the trigger block into perfect alignment with the mainspring tube..and the rest is easy.

When the rear pin is all the way in, pull the trigger once to release it. If you don't, you'll discover later that the rifle won't cock and the safety slide will be stuck. After the trigger's pulled, tap the front pin into place. The rifle may then be removed from the mainspring compressor. The next step is to connect the sidelever. Insert the hinge pin first, making sure the two large washers are on either side of the hinge bushing and inside the flange that's welded to the mainspring tube. The smaller washer goes under the head of the hinge pin.

After the hinge pin is installed, you can connect the cocking link with its pin. Be careful that the link hasn't been unscrewed while you worked on the rifle; because, if it's too long, the sidelever won't stay tight against the side of the rifle after the gun's cocked. If you have that problem (you will sooner or later), just tighten the link by screwing it in as far as it'll go. That usually fixes it. It'll have a little bit of flex as the sidelever is brought close to the spring tube, then it snaps the sidelever closed and tight against the tube when adjusted correctly.

Next, put the action back into the stock and tighten both screws. You're ready to test the Pro-Guide system! This procedure takes someone familiar with RWS Diana rifles about 15 minutes, start to finish. If you're doing it for the  first time, allow about an hour.

The velocity of this rifle shooting .22 caliber Crosman Premiers with the factory mainspring was 797 f.p.s. With the Pro-Guide, it measures 805 f.p.s. That's not a large increase, but I think the rifle will continue to get a little faster as it breaks in with either the factory spring or the Pro-Guide installed. There's still a little velocity fluctuation because of how new the rifle is, and that was observed with both the factory mainspring and the Pro-Guide. Remember, there was no lubrication or anything else done during this installation.

Shooting notes
With the factory spring, I could feel a small amount of buzz after every shot. It wasn't objectionable and died off quickly. With the Pro-Guide, there's no buzz whatsoever. Just the solid "thunk" of the piston coming to rest. I can feel a definite difference. There's no measurable difference in cocking effort between the Pro-Guide and the factory spring, and the recoil also feels the same.

Is the Pro-Guide for you?
The advantages are zero vibration, possibly a small velocity increase, and a drop-in tune that you can do at home, as well as customize in several ways. You could add more lube to the mainspring if you like or you could put a washer ahead of the forward part of the Pro-Guide to bump up the velocity a bit. The Air Venturi Pro-Guide spring retainer system gives you one more alternative to expensive tuneups, and it's one you can install yourself if you're so inclined. Of course, you can also order the Pro-Guide to be installed when you buy the gun.

What's next?
Well, I won't insult your intelligence by claiming the Pro-Guide increases accuracy! Instead, I thought it'd be nice to see what the Pro-Guide can do for a .177 RWS Diana 34 Panther I've had for over a year. This is the same rifle I tested for you, and it's also one of the rifles I used for the Leapers scope base development project. It now has many hundreds of shots through it. You'll get to see what a Pro-Guide can do for a rifle that's already broken in.

This just in!
A customer just submitted a nice review of the Pro-Guide, and I thought you'd like to see what he has to say. It's also posted on the Pro-Guide product page:

"I did the install on my 34 Panther and it was quick and easy. She was clocking in at about 776fps prior to this addition and is now clocking in at around 839fps (10 rounds each, 14.3 grain chps). The gun cocks much smoother now and there's a solid 'thunk' when fired. The recoil feels a little harder than stock, but it's a nice and solid feel. I have another 34 that has a well-known aftermarket tune kit installed. That rifle shoots really well, though there was actually a small drop in velocity after installing the other tune kit, but her accuracy is incredible. I'd take accuracy over velocity any day, but won't complain if I have both. There's lots of speculation and rah-rah going on about this pro-guide kit so I thought I'd be one of the first to give it a try. So far so good; easy installation, good fitting parts and a velocity higher than that advertised for the stock gun. I'll post a follow-up after a couple hundred more rounds with this to see how it holds up compared to my other 34 with the other custom tune/spring kit installed as far as durability, velocity and accuracy goes..."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Evanix Renegade double-action rifle
Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

The new Renegade from Evanix is a double- and single-action 6-shot revolving rifle. Six quick shots as fast as you can pull the trigger!

Big series coming!
Starting a HUGE series for you today - a new and significantly different model line from Evanix with the ability to fire double-action as fast as you can work the trigger and more shots than we're used to. This first standard rifle I will review is called the Renegade. Before we get to the juicy details, though, you need to know the history of the AR6 in America to appreciate how far it's come, because the AR6 is the ancestor of all current Evanix models.

Brief history of the AR6
Back in the very early 1990s, when modern smallbore precharged pneumatics were just over one decade old, Davis Schwesinger of Air Rifle Specialists began importing the AR6 rifle from Korea. At that time, the ARS-6, as it was known, was unlike any PCP we'd ever seen in this country. For starters, you filled it by pressing the whole rifle straight down on a needle fixture attached to a horizontal scuba tank. The needle pushed into a valve on the end of the rifle's reservoir and filled the rifle in three seconds. In doing so, the reservoir became very hot, and American shooters complained that the internal seals and o-rings were being overheated. The Koreans responded by changing the fill port to a simple screw thread that accepted an adapter coupling.

This is the way we filled our Korean airguns in the early '90s! Three seconds to a full fill and a smoking-hot reservoir!

American dealer invented the quick-disconnect probe
That threaded coupling lasted for a couple years, but in 1996 Davis got them to change again to a quick-disconnect fill probe he invented. That probe is still being used to fill all Korean rifles today and spills over to some models from the UK. As novel as it was, that probe wasn't the biggest feature these repeating rifles had.

They were the power kings!
These were also the most powerful smallbore air rifles of their time. They shot heavy .22 caliber pellets at anywhere from 50 to 80 foot-pounds, completely overshadowing all other smallbore air rifles of the time. Not until the AirForce Condor hit the market in 2004 did the Korean guns have any competition.

Accurate, too!
With that power came accuracy. Using heavy Korean pellets, 1" 5-shot groups at 50 yards were possible. This gave hunters the equivalent power and accuracy of a .22 short cartridge with much greater safety, and they soon began taking larger game than airgunners had ever imagined. Coyotes were the No. 1 Western fare and javelinas, the so-called Weber pigs (one fits nicely on a Weber barbecue grill with the cover on), became the target of choice for those in the Southwest.

Designed to be double-action
Back in those early days, there was an airgun magazine called U.S. Airgun, and they examined the ARS-6 frequently. It was on those pages that many of us discovered that this rifle is actually a double-action revolver. Theoretically, it was possible to fire all six shots by pulling the trigger rapidly instead of cocking the hammer for every shot. I say theoretically, because the double-action trigger-pull of that early gun was as much as 25 lbs.! No rifleman alive can squeeze off six fast shots while fighting that kind of resistance. So, the design was there but it wasn't possible to use.

I remember reading in U.S. Airgun how a fellow came up with a trigger tune that reduced the double-action pull as low as 18 lbs. There was rejoicing and dancing in the streets for that tune, but in the real world nothing changed, because even an 18-lb. trigger-pull isn't easy.

Over the years, the AR6 continued to evolve. That trigger tune was built into the rifle, but as mentioned, nothing changed as far as the user was concerned. The company changed hands in the new millennium, and they started modernizing their stocks from classic Asian to a more European look.

The rise of Evanix
They became Evanix and forged a relationship with Pyramyd Air as their exclusive U.S. distributor. New design ideas started going back and forth between the U.S. and Korea. Evanix was eager to deliver what the customer wanted because their annual sales numbers under Pyramyd Air were many times greater than they had been with all the other U.S. airgun dealers operating independently. Which brings us to the Renegade.

While all AR6 rifles have always been and continue to be double-action, they are not and cannot actually be used that way because of the extreme pressure required from the trigger. In fact, under Evanix management, shooters have been warned not to fire their rifles double-action because it'll damage some of the internal trigger parts.

Here comes the Renegade
The new Renegade changes that. It's designed from the ground up to be operated in either the single-action or double-action mode. You can't tell by looking at the new rifle; but, to anyone with AR6 experience, all it takes is one pull of the redesigned trigger to convince them that this is all new.

Instantly selectable power
This new trigger makes it possible for the Renegade to have two different levels of power. If you cock the hammer before shooting, you're on high power. If you fire double-action by just squeezing the trigger, you're on low power. Low power doesn't mean weak, however, and I will, of course, report exactly what these power levels are.

Rifle must be charged for the trigger to work
One interesting fact cropped up in my first test. The rifle must have air pressure in the reservoir for the trigger to function in the double-action mode. I tried it out of the box with no air in the reservoir and the trigger only worked once, then it remained in the pulled position. However, after filling the gun, it works perfectly.

The 6-shot pellet cylinder is removed from the rifle by pushing it to the right with a thumb. On a new rifle, it takes quite a push; after removing it a few times, it gets easier.

Push the cylinder out from the left side with your thumb. It's held in place by a spring-loaded ball bearing on either end.

When you put the loaded cylinder back, those two small cutouts on the frame help compress both ball bearings as you push the cylinder in.

Pellets are loaded base-first from the front of the cylinder, typical of all Korean 6-shot repeaters. They come to rest against a small shoulder located at the rear of each chamber. There's plenty of room to load even heavy Eun Jin pellets, though I think a Beeman Kodiak is more appropriate for the power this rifle offers.

The pellets are loaded skirt first into the front of each chamber.

Enhanced performance from a brand-new valve!
I see a lot of airguns in my business, and it isn't often that I see something that's really new; but, the valve on this Renegade is something I've never seen before. Most PCP rifles will function within an 800 psi pressure band. A 3,000 psi gun will shoot well until the pressure drops to 2,200 psi, then the power drops off rapidly. A very few rifles will stretch that band to 1,000 psi. Well, the Renegade rifle I'm testing works well throughout a full 1,500 psi pressure band! What that means is you get many more useful shots per fill. How many depends on whether you shoot with full power (single-action) or reduced power (double-action). In the next report, we'll see exactly what those numbers are.

Those of you who're looking for a powerful precharged hunting air rifle, follow this report carefully. I think we have something special here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pro Guide spring retainer system for RWS Diana rifles
Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, we'll take the next step in evaluating the Air Venturi Pro Guide spring retainer system by testing a stock .22 caliber RWS Diana 48 right out of the box, then installing the Pro Guide system and testing that. Because many of you are interested in working on your own airguns, I decided to turn the disassembly/assembly into a tutorial.

Right out of the box, the first shot from the rifle shooting 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers was 646 f.p.s. I'm telling you that to reassure all of you chronograph hounds that a new air rifle needs a few shots to settle in. Shot No. 2 went 793 f.p.s.--a heck of a lot closer to the anticipated 800 f.p.s. average this model usually gets with .22 Premiers. I shot a dozen times to let the gun settle down, then a string of 10 after that measured an average of 797 f.p.s. - right in the expected range of 790 to 810 f.p.s., depending on the individual rifle. That works out to 20.17 foot-pounds with this loose-fitting pellet.

Now, it's time to install the Pro Guide system. The rifle's action was removed from the stock by loosening the front triggerguard screw and the one forearm screw. Then, the action was disassembled while the gun was held in a B-Square mainspring compressor. Don't look for one on this website; they don't carry it any longer, but you can make one for under $20. The two-part plans are located here. You absolutely have to use a compressor with this gun.

Once the action is out of the stock, remove the sidelever. These two pins held in by circlips must be removed. Remove the smaller pin first (on the left in this picture) and the larger hinge pin last. The linkage arm that connects the sidelever to the sliding compression chamber doesn't need to be removed.

The hinge pin has one washer under the pin head...

...and two washers inside the flange that holds the sidelever to the action. There's one on either side of the sidelever hinge pin bushing.

Once the action's out of the stock, the sidelever must be removed. It's held on by two pins, each secured with a circlip on the underside. Remover the smaller pin first and the larger hinge pin last. Look for three washers on the hinge pin: one under the head of the pin and one on either side of the pin bushing.

When the sidelever is off, fold the linkage rod down along the barrel of the rifle, so the action will fit into the mainspring compressor.

These two large pins located inside the sidelever flange must be drifted out of the rifle. Place your pin punch on this side. The action must be installed in a mainspring compressor with tension on the black plastic end cap before attempting to drift these pins.

Secure the rifle in a mainspring compressor and put some tension on the black plastic end cap. There's a flat shelf conveniently located on the cap. The next picture shows this flat shelf clearly.

Both pins have been drifted out, and all tension was taken off the end cap. See how far the factory mainspring pushes the trigger group and end cap? The flat of the end cap against which you can apply tension is seen at the top center of this photo. Because I was working on a gun while taking pictures, I cheated by using the flash.

First, drift the rear pin all the way out, then drift out the front pin. I'm not sure the order matters anymore with the T05 trigger unit; but, since it was critical with the T01 trigger, all airgunsmiths learned to do it in that order. These two pins are all that hold the trigger unit, which is sheathed by the end cap, in the rifle.

Here's a comparison of the RWS Diana sear on the bottom and a conventional sear (Hakim) at the top. Since most spring rifles use the conventional piston rod hook-type sear, their triggers have been designed for it. The Diana sear was originally designed for three ball bearings to hold the piston inside the groove. The current Diana triggers don't have ball bearings, but they have a hook system that does the same thing. This has no impact on the Pro Guide system, but it does impact a gas spring, which is why you don't see one on the market yet.

Here's the Diana piston in its entirety. See the swelling at the rear? It helps guide the piston inside the large receiver tube. It never enters the sliding compression chamber, which is why this piston is so long.

I removed the piston so I could show you some things, but you don't need to remove it (it simply slides out). Once the factory mainspring and rear spring guide have been removed, the Pro Guide system can be installed.

The Pro Guide system is much shorter than the factory mainspring. Even so, you still need a mainspring compressor to get the trigger unit to align with the two pin holes.

Next time, I'll describe the assembly of the 48, including a couple pointers that'll save you some time and heartache. I'll also report on the velocity of the gun with the Pro Guide unit installed. Please note, if I forget to mention it in the next report, that absolutely NO tuning was performed on this rifle. If I hadn't wanted to show those pictures of the piston, there would have been no reason to remove it from the gun.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Learning about airguns

by B.B. Pelletier

I get questions all the time that sound like this:

I know a lot about real guns. I shoot a Winchester .270 and a 12-gauge shotgun during hunting season, and I know how to take care of them. But I'm completely new to airguns. Can you recommend a book or books where I can learn about things like tuning a spring gun, shooting a PCP and how to scope a rifle?

While that sounds like a good question, it really isn't well thought out. If, for example, the writer REALLY knew a lot about "real" guns, he would know how to mount a scope on his .270, but he doesn't. He probably bought his rifle from a gun store with the scope already mounted.

Mounting a scope on a .270 is essentially the same as mounting one on a Beeman R1. The rings may be a little different, but the process is the same.

And, he says he wants to learn about tuning a spring gun. Fine - that's a noble pursuit. Some people spend their lives doing just that. However, don't think you can read a manual or a blog and become good on the first try. There is experience to be gained through trial and experimentation, and that's as important as the book knowledge.

But this person wants it all right now. He wants a book to tell him step-by-step how to do what others have learned over the course of years. I have only been writing about airguns since 1994, but in that time I have watched a number of tuners who now are very well-known. Back then, they were the ones asking the same questions, but they stuck to it and learned their craft.

From time to time, I'm asked to write a glossary of terms and definitions to help people learn airgunning faster. I used to think it would help, but now I know it won't. Just because you know what the acronym PCP stands for doesn't means you understand all that it implies. Let me give you a few examples.

Let's say there's an airsoft pistol with a magazine that holds 20 plastic BBs. It's an inexpensive springer pistol that has to be cocked every time before it will fire. That's done by pulling back on the slide. Do you know there are airgunners who call such a pistol a single-shot, because something has to be done by the shooter to make the gun ready to fire each time? Are you one of them?

What about the shooter who buys a Colt M1911A1 pellet pistol and calls it a semiautomatic, because every time he pulls the trigger the gun fires? Is he unaware that a Smith & Wesson 586 does the same thing? And it's a revolver, just like that M1911A1 Colt. It isn't what the gun LOOKS like that determines what it is - it's how it FUNCTIONS. A Crosman 1077 rifle is a revolver, and so is a Sumatra from Eun Jin.

I just got a message from J-F who asks for a maintenance blog. He says he knows about putting a drop of Pellgunoil on a CO2 cartridge, but what about cleaning a barrel? And how many pumps should be put into a multi-pump pneumatic for storage?

I've addressed those topics at least 5 times in this blog, but probably more. So, I took my own advice to J-F and used the search function to find where I wrote about them.

For cleaning the barrel I got this when I typed barrel cleaning into the search function:

Is your airgun barrel REALLY clean?

Should you clean a new airgun barrel?

and from that report, I got this link:

Cleaning airgun barrels - the stuff you need to know!

Incidentally, J-F, your question about the use of cleaning pellets was also addressed in the last link.

There were 41 more links, in addition to these - all addressing barrel cleaning. One of them, J-F, was devoted to the maintenance of a PCP. If I had used different search terms, I'm sure I could have added another 20-40 links to the list - all on the subject of barrel cleaning.

Next, I looked into the subject of how many pumps to put into a multi-pump for storage. I typed pump storage into the search function and came up with:

Safe storage of pneumatic airguns

A couple helpful tips/sealing CO2 guns and eliminating rust

Despite its title, the last report also works for multi-pumps. I'll admit there weren't as many reports for this topic, but I did get several others, and changing the terms to multi-pump storage netted me another couple.

Those are just two examples of how this blog works to answer questions. This is just one resource available on the internet. There are many other great sources to examine to find what you need.

The information is probably already there - you just need to learn how to search for it. This blog is fully indexed by Google, so even if you search outside the blog search tool, a regular Google search will probably still find what you're looking for.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How to convert from CO2 to air

Guest blogger
Converting CO2 guns to high-pressure air is becoming more and more popular, and .22 multi-shot has written a guest blog about converting his RWS 850 AirMagnum, which is a common conversion.

If you'd like to write a post for this blog, please email me at

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won't work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

How to convert from CO2 to air
by .22 multi-shot

Why would anyone want to convert from CO2 to air? Well, I found out after purchasing a .22 caliber RWS 850 AirMagnum. It was everything I thought I would want - nice looking, good quality, reasonably priced and PCP features (many shots from one CO2 AirSource cartridge, 8-shot repeater). What else could you want? I ended up not fully satisfied. I wanted more power, and the power decreased more than I expected in cool weather.

Simplest conversion
I did like my RWS 850 and noted from B.B.'s blog that air has some advantages over CO2. So, I decided to try a CO2 to air conversion. There are couple of simple ways to convert a CO2 gun to air. The easiest is to use a paintball remote setup to connect an HPA tank to your airgun (see glossary below for definition of paintball terms). This is the setup I started with. I bought a paintball remote, HPA tank and AirSource-to-ASA adapter.

The AirSource-to-ASA adapter is the key to converting any airgun that uses an AirSource tank. It's often called an AirSource-to-paintball adapter and screws into the gun in place of an 88-gram AirSource cartridge. The other side of the adapter is a standard paintball ASA. A paintball remote can attach directly to the ASA side of this adapter.

Glossary of paintball terms used
  • ASA: Air Source adapter. This is a connector with a standardized CO2 bottle thread that an HPA or CO2 tank screws into. An ASA has nothing to do with the 88-gram CO2 AirSource.

  • HPA: High-pressure air. High-pressure air or nitrogen that's used for a marker instead of CO2. The tank typically holds pressures of 3000 or 4500 PSI. An HPA tank needs a regulator to reduce the pressure of the air that feeds into a marker. Most tanks are sold with a regulator.

  • Macroline: A type of plastic line used for paintball air connections.

  • Marker: Term used for a paintball "gun."

  • Rail: A rail that an ASA can be attached to.

  • Remote: A hose with fittings that lets the air tank be remote from the gun. The hose may be a coiled or stainless steel.

Cooper-T AirSource-to-ASA adapter.

Paintball remote with AirSource-to-ASA adapter attached. The HPA tank screws into the black ASA on the left. The AirSource-to-ASA adapter screws into the RWS 850. Sorry, I don't have a picture of the whole setup. I couldn't find my paintball remote to take another picture.

Test results
The conversion using the paintball remote was tested using JSB Exact Jumbo pellets. Pellet speed ranged from 591 fps up to 602 fps. The average was 594 fps (12.38 foot-pounds). That makes this conversion equivalent to using CO2 on an 80-90F degree day. The HPA tank I used had a regulator with an output pressure of about 800 PSI. One advantage of this setup is that it'll give you the same power even when it's colder.

Going further
I'm sure some of you will want to go further, like I did. I didn't like the remote setup because it was clumsy, so I worked on putting together a setup that's part of the gun. The pictures below show two other setups I built. The last setup in these pictures will be my permanent setup along with other modifications. Some other things you can do:
  1. Use a regulator that has a higher output pressure.
  2. Use a heavier hammer spring. This will knock the valve open further.
  3. Use a lighter valve spring. This won't push the valve closed as fast.
  4. Enlarge/polish some of the valve openings. This will allow the air to flow better.
Be careful. There can be side effects from these modifications. If you go too far, you might run into valve lock or the valve stem might bottom out when the hammer strikes. The valve of a CO2 gun is designed for CO2, so there will be limitations on what it can do.

Below are some pictures of different setups and the parts used.

HPA setup with Smart Parts Max Flow Inline adjustable tank regulator. This setup connects via macroline to a complex adapter with a bleed valve. The tank is a 3000 PSI, 13 cubic inch tank. I discarded this design. I didn't like the look, and it was too complicated.

Tank mount made out of scope mounts from an inexpensive Daisy scope. The bottoms were cut off, drilled and threaded, then a paintball rail was screwed into them. I later discovered that 1/2" PVC conduit fits nicely over the RWS 850's barrel, and the scope mounts fit over the conduit. The reddish stuff is rubber gasket material.

The HPA setup with screw-in style Nitro Duck X-Stream adjustable tank regulator attached to a System X On/Off ASA. This is connected to the RWS 850 through a homemade quick-disconnect-to-AirSource adapter. For this style of setup, the ASA needs 1/8 NPT output port opposite where the tank screws in. The tank is a 3000 PSI, 1.5 cubic foot scuba tank. This is the style I'll use for my final setup. The stock cap will be modified to hide the regulator and ASA, and the tank will stick out.

Homemade AirSource-to-quick-disconnect adapter. That thing sticking out the side is an 1800 PSI burst disk. Don't copy this design. The hole isn't deep enough for the burst disk to screw in and seal well.

Final setup plan drawings.

Key part for the setup above if you use standard parts. This screws into the AirSource-to-ASA adapter and makes it an AirSource-to-quick-disconnect adapter. Different stores have different names for it. Some of the names I've run into are C/A-to-1/8" NPT, C/A-to-1/8" plug, ASA-to-hose and ASA-to-remote.

Think before acting!
If you want the features of a PCP (pre-charged pneumatic) airgun but are trying to save money by buying a CO2 airgun, just buy the PCP! You'll save money in the long run and will probably be more satisfied. If money's an issue, check out the Benjamin Discovery. It's very reasonably priced, especially bundled with the hand pump.

Here's an idea of the cost of some tools you probably would end up buying if you get very deep into modifying your airgun. You may not need all these tools immediately, but they'll add up bit-by-bit!
  • $100+ taps and dies
  • $100+ drill bits
  • $100+ belt/disc sander
  • $200+ floor drill press (used vs new)
  • $70+ portable metal band saw
  • $??? books
  • $400+ metal lathe and tooling (this can replace most of the taps and dies if you buy a lathe that can cut threads; it also can replace some of the drill bits)
Remember, be safe. Working with high-pressure air can be dangerous. It can kill you!

When I started work on this project, sources for AirSource-to-ASA adapters and small HPA tanks were difficult to find. Fortunately, there are now several sources. You can look at Pyramyd Air's Airgun Info site for more links. The 850 CO2 Air Rifle link on that site is a good place to start. The Hammerli/RWS 850 Resource link on that page will take you to a forum where people discuss modding their RWS 850s. You may have a different gun, but much of that information will be a good starting point. Below are some other modding resources.

General info
Dennis Quackenbush (basic airgun materials)

Small HPA tanks
Wevo Paintball
JDS Air Man

Paintball parts
Palmer's Pursuit Shop
Action Village
SAKWorld Paintball

AirSource-to-ASA adapters & other parts
Bryan and Associates
Mac1 Airgun Distributors
Crooked Barn
Mountain Air Custom Airguns

Friday, August 15, 2008

Webley Raider 10 - Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Homework assignment first!
In part two of this report, I gave you a puzzle to solve. I asked you to calculate the average velocity of a 15.8-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet from the Webley Raider 10 using the data I presented for the other pellets.

First approach
As I saw it, there were two ways to approach this project. One way was simple. Just look at the average velocity of the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier, which was 796 f.p.s., and the average velocity of the 21-grain Baracuda Match, which was 692 f.p.s., and guess where the 15.8-grain JSB Exact would fall. I guessed between 750 and 760 f.p.s. I based that on the JSB being much closer in weight to the Premier and also being pure lead instead of the hard lead alloy of the Premier. I guessed that the JSB would go a little faster than its weight might indicate because pure lead is slipperier than lead alloy.

Second approach
The second method is to look at the energy of the Premier (20.12 foot-pounds) and the energy of the Baracuda (22.34 foot-pounds) and guess where the JSB will fall. Then, take that energy and calculate the velocity using the Pyramyd Air conversion table. I guessed the JSB would be about 21 foot-pounds (halfway between the Premier and the Baracuda), which works out to 773.58 f.p.s.

And the answer is...?
Reader Malan guessed the JSB would average 773 f.p.s., so he was closest of those who responded in the comments section. The actual average of the JSB pellet tested through a chronograph was 772 f.p.s.! See how much you can discover when you learn to apply some simple rules of airgun behavior?

On with the accuracy test
I finally got a day at the range to test the Webley Raider 10 rifle for accuracy. The wind wasn't strong, but it was steady from the right at 5-10 m.p.h., with gusts up to 15 m.p.h. For that reason, I placed the targets at 35 yards instead of farther. Even with that, I saw a 3" drift to the left with RWS Hobby pellets. So, I waited until the wind was as calm as it would get for every shot.

Cocking and clip-loading behavior loosening
In both parts 1 and 2, I told you the rifle cocks stiffly and the pellet clip is difficult to load. Well, on this day both those traits seemed to be coming to an end. I guess the rifle is wearing in after all the shooting I've done.

I mounted a Leapers 3-12x44 30mm Mini SWAT scope in 2-piece Accushot 30mm high rings. You don't need the high rings for the objective bell, but you do need them to clear the 10-shot clip that rides above the top of the receiver. There's also an issue with removing the clip while the scope is mounted. I found it fairly easy to remove and install, even though the scope's objective bell appears to be very close to the clip.

Leapers 3-12x44 Mini SWAT is a compact but powerful scope for a compact hunting rifle. The scope must be mounted high enough to clear the 10-shot clip that rises above the receiver.

Not much clearance is needed to remove and install the circular clip.

JSBs not good
I tried both 15.8-grain Exacts and 14.3-grain Exacts, but neither wanted to group in this rifle. So, our homework assignment availed us no usable pellet.

RWS Hobbys also no good
RWS Hobbys were also a waste of time. Not only were they blowing to the left in the wind, they didn't seem to want to group. Of course, 35 yards is a bit far to shoot such an unaerodynamic pellet. They're much better when held to 25 yards or less. At shorter range, wadcutters make a good hunting choice because of the damage they do to tissue.

Baracudas to the rescue!
Fortunately, I had a tin of Baracudas to try. They're also sold as Beeman Kodiaks, and these were the Match pellets. Not only do they produce great energy in this rifle, they also group pretty well. At 35 yards on this windy day, they tended to group under 0.90", and they showed a potential for grouping even better when the wind isn't there.

An average group of 5 Baracudas at 35 yards. The 4 are in a tight 0.501" cluster, but the flier to the left opens the group to 0.895." This was a called flier due to the wind.

A better group of Baracudas. All shots were in the lowest wind available. Group size is 0.80".

Premiers were the best!
If Kodiaks/Baracudas were good, then Crosman Premiers ruled. Of course, they're nearly 6 grains lighter, but perhaps they fly so fast the wind doesn't have time to work on them. Or perhaps they're more aerodynamically contoured. Perhaps a little of both. After all these years and the challenge of the JSB, it's refreshing to see that Crosman Premiers haven't entirely left the building.

Five Crosman Premiers went into this group that measures 0.620". All shots were fired in the lowest wind.

Best group of Premiers measures 0.597". The four at the right measure 0.346".

The Webley Raider 10 is a compact hunting air rifle. It carries more shots than many similar air rifles, but it has a small reservoir that keeps the number of powerful accurate shots low. Accuracy is fine, though nothing extraordinary among similar guns in this price range. It wears in to become a smooth shooter, so cut it some slack in the beginning.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

HW 55SF - Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This is the final report on the HW 55SF. It's been a while since the last report, so maybe you'll want to re-read the past three parts to refresh your memory. A quick update is that this is the special HW 55 I found at the Little Rock airgun show and wondered why it didn't have the traditional barrel lock that all other HW 55s have. In essence, this is an HW 50 with target sights.

I want to make another point. Before I show you the groups, let me remind you that this is a lowly breakbarrel - the kind of spring gun many new airgunners (and a few who should know better) think is less accurate than a fixed-barrel gun. It must be, they reason, because the barrel moves. How could that be accurate?

Well, if it always comes back to the same place, a breakbarrel can be as accurate as any other kind of rifle. An HW 55 won the 1969 World Championship, don't forget. That was while shooting against a lot of fixed-barrel target rifles from Feinwerkbau and Anschutz.

During this test, I was also evaluating some new pellets for Pyramyd Air. I threw them in with the regular test pellets I'd planned to shoot because I knew this rifle would give me a good basis for comparison, which it did. As you may recall from the third part of this report, I'd calculated that RWS Hobby pellets would not shoot as well as RWS Meisterkugeln pellets based on the consistent velocity they gave. Well, that was all wrong! In fact, the Hobbys were the best pellet of the bunch and Meisters weren't even in the running. H&N Match pellets (light weight) were also less accurate than the Hobbys.

Not a bad group of f5 at 10 meters from a rest. RWS Hobbys were the best of the pellets I tested. This was an average group.

Best group of f5 Hobbys at 10 meters from a rest.

Meisterkugeln pellets were not so hot on target.

The lesson to be learned
I've just demonstrated that velocity variations mean very little at 10 meters, but there's another lesson here. How many of you slavishly use heavy target pellets in target rifles and light target pellets in target pistols? Stop doing that! Thirty years ago, there were no different pellets. We shot whatever was available, and Meisterkugeln were among the best back then. They came only in one weight, and you just shot them without asking. So, in this test, what has been learned? That the lighter, faster pellet is also the more accurate pellet of the three pellets tested in this rifle. So, try them all.

Pellet head sizes
And, what about those pellets I was testing? Well, they didn't turn out so well. It seems they all had undersized heads, which allow the pellets to cock to one side in the bore. Pellet makers purposely undersize their pellets to get more life out of the dies, because every time they work on them, they grow a little bit. But if the pellets aren't accurate, what good are they? Who cares that you get 25 million pellets from a die if you can't sell any of them?

And the HW 55SF? Well, it's a wonderful target rifle. Even though it doesn't have the barrel lock, it still put them right in where they need to be. That's shooting with non-optical sights and from a rest. The rifle is delightful, and I'll be keeping this one for a long time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tanfoglio Witness 1911 BB pistol - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

An announcement before I get to today's topic. On August 11, I told you about the Pro-Guide Spring Retainer System. They're now available from Pyramyd Air. You can have Pyramyd Air install one in your gun, or you can install it yourself. A mainspring compressor is needed for installation. Also, there are no instructions. No phone or email support is provided for installation.

The Tanfoglio 1911 BB pistol is something different in a universe of similar BB guns. When I first saw it, I thought it was an airsoft gun. The model, size and shape of the gun and even the way it works seem very reminiscent of an airsoft pistol. Indeed, Tanfoglio does make the Witness as an airsoft M1911A1, but it's both a springer and a replica of the M1911A1 single-stack Colt, where this CO2-powered BB pistol appears to be a double-stack variation.

What a 1911 fan sees in this tricked-out pistol is a wide frame, double-action trigger, checkering on both front and rear grip straps, lightened hammer, beavertail grip safety with speed bump, ambidextrous manual safety, target sights, squared triggerguard and a light rail in front of the triggerguard.

What is single-stack and double-stack?
Those are terms that describe how the cartridges align inside the magazine. A single-stack magazine has each cartridge on top of the one below. The magazine can be made thinner and so can the grip of the pistol into which it fits. A double-stack gun has the cartridges almost side-by-side in the magazine. It has a higher capacity, but the grip must be wider to accommodate the wider magazine. In small cartridges such as 9x19mm, it isn't as noticeable as it is when the cartridges are fat, like the .45 ACP. Then, the grip has to be wide enough for the fatter cartridge to ride almost side-by-side in the mag. A 1911 can be obtained in either caliber, but .45 ACP is by far the more common one.

So, this BB pistol's grip is thicker than a traditional M1911 grip. It houses the 20-shot stick magazine that drops free from the pistol when the mag-release button is pressed. That button is the only control that actually functions. All other switches, levers and the sights are simply cast in the outer plastic shell, except for a sliding safety switch on the right side of the pistol. That moves forward and back and disconnects the trigger from the rest of the gun when it's on safe. The grip safety is solid too, as is the 1911 manual safety, which is ambidextrous. You can hook your thumb over the traditional 1911 manual safety to shoot with more control - a hold I have really taken to ever since learning it recently.

This is a 1911 - not a 1911A1
This is an important distinction, because nearly all pistols calling themselves 1911s these days are really based on the A1 variation. Only a purist would know the subtle differences, but it does matter to some. Since the Tanfoglio has been tricked out, we lose the clues of the hammer shape and the short grip safety. But the cutouts for the trigger finger are missing from both sides of the frame, and the backstrap is flat instead of arched. While a backstrap can be replaced (on a firearm, that is), nothing short of machining can make those relief cuts in the frame for the trigger finger.

The Tanfoglio frame follows the 1911 style, not the A1. There are no trigger-finger relief cuts on either side of the frame behind the trigger.

Taurus PT1911, in contrast, has a 1911A1 frame. The relief cuts are on both sides of the frame.

What comes in the package?
You get the pistol, an owner's manual and a small plastic package of some really fine-looking BBs. From the looks of them, they're finished as well as ball bearings.

Gassing up
Pull straight back on the grips and the place for the CO2 cartridge is revealed. A drop of Crosman Pellgunoil goes on the tip of the first CO2 cartridge to be pierced, then the winding key at the bottom of the grip shoves the cartridge up until it's pierced. The key is not visible from the side of the gun, a feature that nearly every BB-gun shooter will like.

Double-action only
You cannot cock the hammer (it doesn't move) nor does the slide move (no blowback) so this is a double-action-only pistol. While that isn't in line with many of the recent BB pistols that have come to market, most of them cost more than $45. So, you give up a little function to gain the price break.

Realistic size and weight
At 24 oz., this is a lighter pistol but not unbelievably so. It has good heft and won't feel toy-like to most shooters. As already noted, the grip is even larger than a conventional single-stack M1911, so it definitely feels real in your hand.

Though they aren't adjustable, the Tanfoglio sights are crisp and sharp. The front has a white dot, reminiscent of tactical sights, but the rear has nothing to go with it. The front blade is sharp and square and the rear notch is sized right for it.

This is a different BB gun, that's for sure. With so many Euro-style BB guns around, it's refreshing to see one take the shape of the familiar M1911. It promises a velocity of 380 f.p.s., which should translate to a number of shots greater than the normal 50 or 60. We'll see next time.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Haenel model III-284

by B.B. Pelletier

Haenel model III-284 is an East German breakbarrel rifle seldom seen in the U.S.

I thought I'd look at something old, something fairly uncommon in the U.S. The Haenel model III-284. This is a breakbarrel spring rifle made in East Germany in the 1950s and '60s. The rifle is larger than a Diana 27, yet it seems to have roughly the same power. The cocking characteristics, however, are very different. While the Diana 27 cocks smoothly with even pressure from the mainspring all the way through the stroke, the Haenel 284 builds spring tension as the barrel pushes closer to the end of the stroke. Total cocking effort reaches a maximum of 30 lbs. close to the end of the stroke, then drops back a few pounds just before sear engagement.

Haenel logo is an arrow with the name inside.

This rifle is a little larger than a Diana 27, at 43.5" overall. A long 19.25" barrel accounts for a lot of that length. The pull is a standard 14" on the nose, so the rifle feels right for most adults. The weight of 7 lbs. even made it heavier than the Diana 27 and more in line with the BSF 55N I reviewed a few months ago. The wood stock appears to be beech and is finished without stain. My rifle's finish is chipped and scratched, and age has crinkled the remainder into a rough alligator surface. There's no checkering, but the forearm has a traditional European finger groove on both sides. The buttplate is blued steel, held on by two wood screws.

Pre-war design
Because the gun was made in East Germany, where things didn't change very fast, it has several design aspects characteristic of pre-war airguns. The baseblock pivot bolt is locked by a setscrew that fits into a notch on the periphery. The cocking link is a 2-piece articulated link, so the cocking slot in the forearm is very short. The trigger adjustment, which is for the sear engagement only is external and runs through the triggerguard.

The head of the baseblock pivot bolt is notched to receive the head of a setscrew. This is a costly way to lock the bolt, but pretty common in 1950s guns. The 2-piece articulated cocking link can also be seen here.

The trigger adjustment screw runs through the triggerguard. It acts directly on the trigger-sear engagement. That's an old post-World War I design. The lever above the trigger is the safety, which comes on when the rifle is cocked.

The safety is automatic, but functioning is sloppy and it has to be taken off very definitely or it won't go. It seems to block the trigger, but the gun can still fire regardless - a fact I discovered while adjusting the trigger, when the sear slipped before the barrel was closed. Fortunately, I was restraining the barrel, so nothing bad happened.

The trigger is adjustable for the sear engagement, which is a potentially dangerous design. I set the second stage to break at 4.5 lbs., which is about as light as I will go with one of these triggers. I still have a pellet hole in the ceiling from when my BSF 55N went off too soon.

Because of the design and where the rifle was made, I felt it had to have a leather piston seal, so I oiled it through the transfer port with 10 drops of light machine oil. A squishing sound that's characteristic of a leather seal soaking up oil was heard coming from the transfer port soon afterward. The breech seal is also leather, so plan to oil it, as well.

Firing behavior
This is a very pleasant rifle to shoot. While the trigger is crude, the firing behavior is quick, solid and without a trace of vibration. It feels like it's been tuned, though I'm nearly certain that it hasn't.

However, the rifle likes some pellets and hates others. Apparently, it requires a bore-filling pellet or it won't develop any velocity. While Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets were traveling in the mid-300s, RWS Superdomes were very consistent at an average 656 f.p.s. The lighter Hobbys averaged 733 f.p.s. and were equally consistent. So, the gun has definite likes and dislikes in ammo.

Not only that, but I discovered that it only likes to be held upright. If I tilted the receiver to one side or the other when firing, the velocity went wild. Usually, that means down. I have no idea why it might behave like that.

The front sight blade is a hooded peppercorn design.

The rear sight has a slider for elevation. There's no windage adjustment beyond drifting the front sight in its dovetail.

Accuracy is quite good with open sights, which is all you're going to use on a rifle that hasn't even the vestige of a scope base. But the open sights will nail a quarter at 20 yards, and that's a 1" target. It's probably a real shooter, like a Slavia 631, but I can't prove anything beyond plinking accuracy.

Where do you get one?
You don't, plain and simple. Though there's nothing earth-shattering about the 284, it's extremely uncommon in the U.S. The one I have was a gift from the importer of a multitude of Haenel 310, 311 and 312 target rifles that a South Carolina pawnshop brought in over a decade ago. The Airgun Letter helped them put the word out about those rifles, which were sold by the hundreds in each model, and they gave me this one as a gift. It was in one of the shipments of airguns pulled from an ex-Stasi headquarters when East Germany fell. I didn't think too much of it until a few months ago, when someone on the Vintage Airguns Forum asked about it and none of the advanced collectors seemed to own one. They ran a photo from a German website, so I responded with a short report on my rifle with some photos. That was the first time I'd thought about the rifle since receiving it back in the 1990s. Since I now remembered that I had it, I decided to let you take a look at it too.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pro Guide spring retainer system for RWS Diana rifles
Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Today I have something new for all you shooters who own or are considering buying an RWS Diana spring-piston rifle. It's a new drop-in powerplant for the rifle, and its principal benefit is the elimination of vibration. It's going to be called the Air Venturi Pro Guide spring retainer system, and the name is meant to describe what it does. Pyramyd Air should have them available for sale soon, so I'm going to take the extra time to give you a close look at the system and installation.

I chose a .22 caliber RWS Diana 48 sidelever for this report, though the Pro Guide system will fit the RWS Diana 34, 36, 38, 48, 52 and 54 rifles. I selected a sidelever because there are a couple of extra things that have to be done during disassembly/assembly. I want to show you those steps, so you can decide if this is an item you can install.

The RWS Diana rifles have been made easier to work on through the unitized T05 trigger module. While it isn't as adjustable as the former T01 trigger, the T05 makes up for that by being very crisp and much easier to work with. It's adjustable for the length of the first stage. When that stage ends, the trigger stops and breaks crisply when the second stage is completed. There's no discernible creep in this trigger, and that's held true for all the T05 triggers I've tested to date.

The trigger on the test rifle breaks at 2 lbs., 12 oz. which is pretty hard to beat in a sporting trigger. The trigger blade and safety slide are black plastic, and I know that displeases many shooters, but the fact is that it doesn't matter that much. The way the T05 is designed, the trigger blade is just a lever that pushes on the metal sear. It's under very little strain and plastic works fine. The trigger on the FWB 124 was originally plastic, too, and replacing it with an aluminum blade does nothing to improve the pull.

How the sidelever powerplant works
You have to understand how the sidelever powerplant works to appreciate what this new system can do. A sliding compression chamber is pulled back when the sidelever is rotated all the way to the rear. Inside the compression chamber, the piston is also pushed back until the connecting rod enters the T05 trigger and pushes the sear into engagement. Two generations ago, Diana used three ball bearings to hold the piston rod. They've eliminated the bearings but kept the central latching sear that it requires. You need to know that to appreciate the Pro Guide system

In the factory rifle, a rear spring guide was fitted inside the mainspring and kept it from kinking when the rifle was cocked. The deep, hollow Diana piston also guided the mainspring and kept it from kinking.

In the patented Pro Guide system, a rear retainer made from Delrin fits around the outside of the mainspring as it's cocked. The factory spring guide would allow some gentle kinking as the spring compressed, but the Pro Guide retainer doesn't allow any. Since it's made of Delrin, it doesn't add any drag when the spring uncoils. The rear retailer also concentrates a minimum amount of grease on the mainspring and doesn't allow it to fling off. Just by itself, the rear retainer has helped smooth the firing cycle by damping the mainspring when it relaxes.

The patented Air Venturi Pro Guide has a spring retainer on both ends of the spring. The rear retainer (bottom) prevents the spring from buckling and holds a small amount of grease. It also damps any spring vibration. The front retainer is fitted tightly to the mainspring and damps any vibration instantly. The piston rod slides inside this retainer.

The front guide fits so tight within the mainspring that it's a struggle to pull it off...not that you ever need to. This part slips inside the stock piston, which doesn't even have to be removed from the rifle when the Pro Guide is installed.

The front guide has a hole down the center, so it slides over the piston rod.

With the rear guide off, you can see what's meant by a "small amount of grease." Because the parts of the Pro Guide system are Delrin, you don't need a lot of lube on the mainspring.

But that's only half of the system. At the front of the mainspring, a second Delrin retainer is fitted tight inside the spring. A hole through the center allows it to slide over the piston's connecting rod. Therefore, the mainspring stays tight between the walls of the deep metal piston and this retainer, allowing very little space for the mainspring to go. When the gun fires, this retainer also helps damp the spring's vibrations.

What does it do?
The Pro Guide claims that it reduces powerplant vibration without resorting to button bearings on the piston, overly tight rear spring guides or heavy tar-like grease on the mainspring. I do note that the front guide of the system is equally tight on the spring as a rear spring guide from one of the tuners might be, but because the system comes with the guide installed, it's of no concern. You don't have to put it on. The claim, therefore, is that the install is easy. I'll be testing that for you.

In this series, I'll disassemble an RWS Diana 48 and give complete instructions plus detailed photos, so those who want to try this themselves can do so. It does require a mainspring compressor, so you may want to brush up on how they work. Read about how to build one here and also here. I'll use the B-Square mainspring compressor I showed you in the13-part series on tuning a spring gun.

Friday, August 08, 2008

10-meter pistol shooting - Part 7

by B.B. Pelletier

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

Today, the Olympics began in Beijing. The Chinese selected this date for its luck. Being fascinated with numerology, the Chinese believe the number 8 to be lucky (sounds similar to the word for wealth, and today is 08/08/08 - a supremely lucky day! The 2008 Olympics will open precisely on 08/08/08 at 08:08:08 pm. That's what I call planning ahead! The shooting events start tomorrow, with the Women's Air Rifle going first on Saturday, 8/9. Men's Air Pistol will also be shot on that day. Women's Air Pistol happens on Sunday. and Men's Air Rifle on Monday.

So, today is a fortuitous day to talk about 10-meter air pistols. I promised to review some of the guns for you, and that's what I'll do.

Beginning on a budget
My own experience was probably different than that of many others. I bought a 10-meter pistol while on tour in Germany and I started with a pistol near the top of the heap. This was in the 1970s, so the heap wasn't very high yet, and my Diana model 10 cost just a little over $200. Today, you would have to spend at least $1,400 to start as high as I did. Fortunately, you don't have to.

You can start at the bottom with either a Daisy 747 or a slightly more expensive Gamo Compact. Both will get you into the game, and since practice makes perfect, it's better to start somewhere than to save up for the very best. Of the two guns, the Gamo has a far better grip, a slightly better trigger and slightly better sights. The Daisy is probably just as accurate and has more weight, which many shooters need to steady the gun. For the person who already owns a Daisy 717, yes you can use it, but don't buy it for this purpose if you don't already own one. Spend a little more and get the 747, because only it has the Lothar Walther barrel.

Now, for those who want to know if a Beeman P17 or even a Beeman P2 is okay for practice, the answer is "no." Those guns are fine for informal target practice, but their grips are wrong for 10-meter shooting. If you have one and don't want to spend any more money, nothing prevents you from using it, but there will not be as much transfer of the training benefit if you do. That's all. Of course, anything is better than nothing.

Stepping up a notch
In the next price tier, we find the IZH 46M and a whole bunch of CO2 guns such as the Tau 7, the Chameleon (which I shoot), the Alfa Proj and different variations of those guns that have been marketed under other names over the years. In this group we find better everything - sights, grips and triggers. But not one gun among them is perfect in all aspects.

Some of the generations-old guns are now affordable as used guns. The FWB 65/80 is an example. It has almost no recoil and a decent trigger. You should be able to find one for $500. A Diana model 10 is another. A good one goes for around $450 and is completely recoilless. Either of these is as good as a second-tier pistol.

There's a class of sport pistols like the Drulov DU-10 and the B-96 that are .177 caliber 5-shot semiautomatic repeaters. They're accurate enough to be in the second tier of guns, but their triggers are generally creepier than the single-shots in this group. And, remember that a 10-meter pistol has to have at least a 500-gram (17.67 oz.) trigger-pull to be used in a match.

One pistol that I cannot yet classify may actually belong in the next tier, but if not, it belongs in this one. That's the Air Arms Alfa Competition PCP pistol. I've held the gun, and it feels like it should be in the next tier but I haven't tried the trigger enough, yet. That's what it comes down to.

The third tier
These are pistols with new prices under $900, or all used air pistols. Some of the guns you used to find in this price tier have almost all the features of a top-tier gun. The Benelli Kite used to be available in this category. It has no frills, but the grips, trigger and sights are all first-rate. It was selling for $850 two years ago, but now it's over $1,200 and no bargain at that price. For my money, a used pistol is a better deal.

There are a great number of former top-tier CO2 guns that now sell for $500-700. I would place them in with the third-tier guns. They're Steyrs, FWBs, Walthers and others. They have great triggers, grips and sights - their use of CO2 is all that holds them back, besides the fact that they haven't been updated in the past 15-20 years. After dropping 6 points in a match when my CO2 suddenly decided to give out, I no longer feel comfortable with CO2 in a match - even though my competition gun still uses it. That's why I don't rate these former winners any higher.

The top tier
When you get into this tier - guns over $1,000 - be prepared to spend a LOT more money. The best world-class pistols now top $2,000, or come close enough that there's no change. If you're going to spend this kind of money, be prepared to shop for the latest features. That means two air tanks (CO2 is dead at this level), a super-adjustable grip, fully adjustable sights and a fantastic trigger. Speaking of the trigger, I would avoid the electronic triggers. They feel no better than the best mechanical ones, and they use batteries. Nothing worse than a dead battery or a failed electronic module at a critical time! People may argue that mechanical triggers can fail, too, and perhaps they can (I've never seen one). If they do, a human being can fix them.

While there are a great many makers of pistols in this tier, three stand out - Feinwerkbau, Steyr and Anschutz. Feinwerbau's latest offering is the P44. This pistol excels in every department, and it has anti-recoil technology. While air pistols don't recoil very much, they do move, so anti-recoil technology is a non-trivial feature. Steyr and Anschutz have the same anti-recoil technology, which they claim stays cleaner longer than Feinwerkbau's. I count Dieter Anschutz as a friend, but as a competitive air pistol shooter, I have always favored Feinwerkbaus. There's no good reason for that, and I've certainly shot just as good scores with both Anschutz and Steyr guns, but I feel the FWB just fits me better. However, with my 535 average, I'm not a posterboy for anyone, so get what you want.

One last tip
If you do find yourself lusting after a top-tier pistol, those that are a generation old are now incorporating all the latest features. So the FWB P40 is every bit as nice as the P44. And, the P34 isn't far off the pace, either!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Starting your own field target club
Emplacing targets and target types

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

We're having some wind here in Texas, so the third report on the Webley Raider 10 has to be postponed. I haven't forgotten it.

Let's talk about emplacing field targets and the types of mechanisms they use. You may think you're done when you buy the targets, but the work has only just begun. You must anchor them to something so each good shot trips their trigger and each bad shot does not. Also, repeatedly pulling on the reset string tends to move the target, so you have to find a good way to anchor it, yet it has to be easily and quickly removable because you don't want to leave them out in the weather where they can rust. I'll show you what some people do and what we developed at DIFTA to address this last concern.

Target mechanisms: gravity-type
A field target is supposed to fall when you hit the paddle through the kill zone but remain standing if you hit anywhere else on the target. There are two basic types of target mechanisms that do this. The first is the gravity-based system. In the U.S., Ron Juneau built many of the gravity-type targets we use. In the UK, Nockover built them back in the '80s.

An After-Hours target on the left and a Juneau target on the right. Both are down as far as they will go. Note the wooden planks they're mounted on. Also note the bent rebar in front. I'll talk about that later.

This is a look at the Juneau gravity mechanism (in the foreground). The paddle is pushed backwards by the pellet. That unlocks the sear holding the target up. When the paddle hits the bent bar behind it, it pulls the target backwards, as well.

A gravity system uses the weight of the paddle to drag the field target over center so it falls down. When you emplace a gravity-type target, you have to be very careful to level it so the weight of the paddle will be enough to pull down the target. If the target leans too far forward, the pellet won't have enough energy to push the paddle over center. If you lean it too far back, the sear may not hold the target upright when you try to reset it. If you lean it to one side or the other, there may be too much friction in the mechanism to allow it to move. For this reason, I always test all targets with an air pistol of about 3 foot-pounds energy. If that will work the target at point-blank range, a 12-foot-pound gun will work it out to 55 yards - the maximum distance allowed.

Target mechanisms - spring-assist types
The other common target mechanism is the spring-assist type that uses a spring coupled with a balanced linkage to pull or push down the target. Though more complex than the gravity-type, the spring-assist type is more forgiving of errors in emplacement, and some are made to even be mounted sideways in trees! That doesn't mean they're without fault, though. Spring-assist types also need to be somewhat level and their mechanisms need to be clean, lubricated and free from rust to operate properly. But each year that passes sees more reliable spring-type targets on the market.

The After Hours target is a spring-assist type. Though the spring isn't visible, the impressive mechanism can be seen here and even understood. The adjustment bolt allows adjustment for varying power needed to knock it down. Look at the high-quality hardware on this target. No wonder they're so expensive.

Emplacing targets
Take another look at the picture of the two targets. Notice that they're lag-bolted to wood bases. I did this so I could stake them directly to the ground for a quickie field target demonstration. An 18" rebar stake like the one below the targets is hammered into the ground through each of the four holes in the base so the target will stay put for a while. You can run a match with targets emplaced with rebar stakes, but a club won't want to use them for long. They're hard to level and they're difficult and dirty to pull up when the match is over. Let me tell you a much better way of emplacing targets that we developed at DIFTA.

First, all targets were lag-bolted to 2x10 wooden bases. Because the targets come with mounting holes in different locations, this step standardizes them. We made all the 2x10 bases the same length and cut a 45-degree bevel on the front of each base. Let me show you what that looks like.

Every target was lag-bolted to a 2x10 plank that had a beveled front. All planks were the same size.

Next, we made custom concrete bases for every target. These were about 18"Lx14"Wx4"D. If I remembered those dimensions incorrectly, maybe Joe McDaniel, who's the current match director at DIFTA, can revise them for me. We embedded a piece of looped rebar in the front of the concrete base so we could drag it around. After filling the concrete mold with quickset concrete mix, we stuck in a template of the wooden target base we were using. When the quickset was set up but not yet hard, we carefully removed the template and let the form dry. Now we had a heavy platform that the wooden base slipped into tightly. That base was heavy enough to stay put through a lifetime of resets, yet we could drag it around the lane it was on.  That lets you reconfigure the course as desired. The concrete base is left out in the weather all the time, but the targets are taken into a storage shed.

The wooden target bases slipped into the hole made in the concrete base. Once there, you could reset the target all day and never disturb its position. The bevel on front of the wooden base kept it snug inside the concrete base.

That's one way of having stable, yet movable field targets on a course. There just wasn't enough room in today's post for the target hardware, how I repainted them during a match and maintaining them. That's next.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Answers to airgunners' questions

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, I'm paying off a few debt/promises. First, for Revwarnut, is the story of how I bought and sold an airgun for a profit in five minutes. I did it in front of two witnesses - my wife and my other best friend, Earl McDonald. We were at the big Baltimore gun show that's held every March, which is one of the finest shows in existence. It's the only one where I've actually seen quarter-million-dollar Colt Walkers laying on tables for sale, along with $20,000 matched 19th century air rifles engraved by Nimschke. I saw a BSA underlever from the 1920s on a table. It was in very good condition, and had been a British club gun with an aftermarket peep sight and club markings on the stock. The price tag said $250, and I knew I could sell it for $300 or more at an airgun show. I dickered with the seller and bought it for $200. Then my wife asked how sure I was that I could really sell it for a profit. I guess that tripped a trigger in me, because when a guy in the next aisle showed an interest, I sold the gun to him for $250. That was $50 made in five minutes. I hadn't planned on selling it that soon and not for that little money, either, but something triggered a competitive desire in me and I had to see if it was possible.

The next one is for Shorty, who is looking for a deal on an Enfield No. 4 - the British main battle rifle of WWII. I was with my buddy, Earl McDonald (he and my wife are both good luck charms) when he was offered a small gun collection for a very good price. There were three SKS rifles and two No. 4 Enfields in the deal. He gave $50 apiece for the Enfields, each of which had a paper tag tied to their triggerguards. When we got them back to my house, we read the tags. They said those rifles had just completed Factory Thorough Repair, which means a full rebuild. The barrels were like new! Mac gave one of them to me, just because he had made such a good deal. So I got that one for free, but could have gotten it for only $50 for it had I paid for it. It's one of my favorite military rifles, and I love shooting it because of the low recoil. Shorty, I can't tell you how to fall into deals like that except for this: if you want to get muddy it's best to go where there's mud. In other words, hang around places where guns are. A shooting range is a great place to look for some real deals.

Today's main topic
I get a lot of questions on this blog and I can tell from them that many of you really want to learn about the principles of gun operation, manufacture and ballistics. Last week, someone complimented my "encyclopedic knowledge" of airguns. Today, I want to give you access to the same encyclopedia. I don't know that much, but I read about this subject all the time and I retain a lot of what I read. I guess that comes from interest. Matt61, this one's for you.

It's all in books - the right books. And most of them aren't about airguns. They're mainly about firearms. This is where a large part of my knowledge comes from and where I began learning about guns.

How guns are made
Want to learn how guns are really made? Then learn all about the making of the M1 Carbine - how eight prime contractors and thousands of subcontractors made over 6 million state-of-the-art semiautomatic rifles in four years. Rifles that were so close to the ragged edge of self-destruction that it is a marvel today that any of them survived. They were 20 years ahead of their time in terms of manufacturing technology.

Learn why one company may be able to make something that another cannot. Learn why staying within the specifications doesn't build rifles that work. Study the lessons of Winchester, who designed the carbine and then was barely able to manufacture it, yet Underwood Typewriter excelled in production from day one. All of this and a lot more is in the two-volume set War Baby, by Larry Ruth.

Learn about the gun factory that failed to ever deliver even one carbine (Irwin Pederson) because of mismanagement. The plant "metallurgist" refused to use his thermocouples and judged the heat treatment of steel based on the color of the steel. But his failure to take into account the changing light conditions in the factory during the day put him off the temperature as much as 75 degrees F in both directions. [There's a direct correlation between this incident and the blind obedience some airgunners have to the accuracy of small pressure gauges, instead of using a chronograph to figure things out scientifically.]

Or, the Rockola plant whose management was so bad the workers were sabotaging their own work. The government had to step in and fire the plant manager before they could get them back on track again.

I've been involved in the manufacture of airguns and have had my eyes opened wide. Short of taking a job with Ruger, I doubt you'll get a better look into the business of making precision guns than by reading this book. Volume one costs $70 from Collector Grade Publications. I couldn't do my job without it.

Want to learn ballistics?
Then get Frank W. Mann's classic, The Bullet's Flight, From Powder to Target. Published in 1909, this book is a report of 35 years of study of the subject of exterior ballistics. It's not written by a theorist but by a man who built a 100-yard tent-tunnel so he could study the flight of a bullet without the effects of wind. He had to curve it to follow the bullet's trajectory! A man whose shooting bench weighed over half a ton. A man who convinced Harry Pope, the Stradivarius of barrelmaking, to hand-make barrels that he could destroy in countless experiments that studied caliber, twist rate, bullet deformation, the effect of the barrel crown and what happens if eight pointed screws pierce the last two inches of the barrel and into the bore between the lands so they scrape the sides of the bullet as it passes by.

You'll find this from used book dealers. An original will cost over $400 and isn't worth it unless you're a book collector. But you can find a handsome reprint like my 1997 copy from Palladium Press for under $50 if you search. If you want to know anything about ballistics and why some guns shoot better than others, this is what you need to read.

How far do bullets REALLY travel?
Hatcher's Notebook will tell you the answer to why WWI German bullets were killing Allied soldiers half a mile farther than our guns could shoot. Major (later Major General) Julian S. Hatcher didn't take people's word for anything. He tested all the theories and discovered the truth. Like the truth that the Japanese type 99 rifle was far stronger than the 1903 Springfield, but the M1 Garand was the strongest military rifle ever made.

Hatcher was an NRA adviser after the war and literally wrote the book - the book that you can buy (used) for under $20.

What's new?
Certainly not the fine adjustable trigger on the Crosman 160 - the rifle people still venerate as the QB 78 and 79. No, that trigger, as fine as it is, was first built in the 1400s. The materials used were animal horn and the weapon was a medieval crossbow. You'll learn about that and how far a crossbow bolt will shoot in Sir Ralph Payne-Galwey's 1903 classic book The Crossbow. You'll learn about the lethal range at which a man could be expected to be hit (220 yards) in the 1400s and the repeating crossbow the Chinese invented.

This book is among the largest and least expensive of those on my list. Twenty dollars can usually procure a Barnes & Noble reprint, though an original might go for several hundred. You'll find this one on the used book dealer websites, also. Oh, and for you DIYers, there are complete and detailed plans for building a crossbow.

How to shoot
I was taught gun safety by the NRA, but I really learned to shoot from Elmer Keith. In his book Sixguns, I learned that short-barreled revolvers are just as accurate as those with longer barrels. I proved that by hitting a football-sized dirt clod six times out of six from 80 yards using a snubnosed .38 Special Colt Agent. I knew I could do it because ten years before in California I had hit a rock the size of a car wheel at 300 yards with a cap-and-ball Colt Army. Keith told me how to do it, and he'll tell you if you give him half a chance. The book is out of print but can be bought used for $40 or less if you shop.

But what about airguns?
I love it when someone asks me a question like that after I've just spent a great deal of time telling them exactly what they want to know. I think of Mr. Miaggi, who taught the Karate Kid to defend himself in just a few days by having him wax his cars, sand his deck and paint his fence. "Wax on, wax off!"

For those who just don't get it unless it's spelled out, here you go - the one airgun book I'd recommend above all others W.H.B. Smith's Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World. It's out of print, out of date and full of errors, yet this is the best book I know of on the entire subject of airgunning.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Using airsoft guns to teach shooting

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we move on to today's guest blog, I have 2 announcements. First, Paul Capello has a new Airgun Reporter video posted. It's about the Gamo CFX, which has been a very popular rifle. Also, a new article has been posted. It's about the winning entry in the Physics & Astronomy section of the 2008 California Science & Engineering Fair. This was conducted by two eighth-grade students, and it'll be of interest to all airgunners!

Guest blogger
Joe B. on Maui took some time to teach his friends about his love of airgunning. Passion is what drives most of us to shoot airguns...and it shows when we share it with others.

If you'd like to write a post for this blog, please email me at

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We will edit each submission, but we won't work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Using airsoft guns to teach shooting
by Joe B. on Maui

I recently got around to teaching an airsoft program to my wife's unconditional love class. (Basically, unconditional loving means that you have no enemies, and that, in a society dedicated to saying NO, you strive to say YES as often as you can, both to yourself and to others.) So, love and guns...strange combination, eh? It worked, and the participants (ages 16-68) had a great time.

I taught airsoft while my co-instructor taught archery. When we first asked who would be interested, almost every hand went up for the archery but only a few for the airsoft pistol shooting. Most had been poisoned against guns by the press. By the time the class rolled around, I had the same number of students (14) as the archery class.

An informal backstop
My shooting set-up was the parking area outside our garage. I hung a sheet backed up by an old blanket from a 12' 2x8 set on two folding ladders. From this I hung 5 sticky targets. I set up two shooting lines, the first at 10' and the second at 20, with a folding table set at the 20' line to hold the pistols and for reloading. I had 8 shooters in the first group and 6 in the second. The first group shot for an hour and then switched with the archers. I communicated with the archery teacher by cell phone, as they were some distance away, in a lower meadow. This way we knew how each group was going and when to switch groups.

Barbara engages targets from the 20' line with a Beretta 92F-style springer.

If I'd had it to do over, I'd have supplied the same airsoft make and model to everyone, as it was hard work watching the line for safety, showing each person how a different pistol worked and how to reload it. To my embarrassment, several of my spring guns malfunctioned from lack of lubrication and from sitting around unused for months (even though I tried out each gun right before the class). Due to a design flaw, a new UHC 937 springer revolver broke, refusing to hold full-cock position and had to be retired prematurely. Because I’d spent the past two years buying new airsoft toys, there were still enough guns for everyone.

I began with a basic safety talk, condensing 10 rules of safe gun handling into two: never point the muzzle at anything but a safe target and the only reliable safety was between their ears. Everyone wore eye protection. Because this was airsoft and because the shooting area was fronted by trees, nearby neighbors were totally unaware that a gun handling class was happening within 75' of them. Also, because this was airsoft and because I was busy on so many fronts, I let some safety violations go that I couldn't have if we'd been shooting BB/pellet guns or firearms. A few people on the line swept their muzzles past other shooters when reloading, and not everyone remembered to keep their fingers off the trigger until they were on target. Fortunately, I was helped out in each group by at least one other person with military and/or NRA instructor experience.

The business end of a WE 1911A1 gas blowback pistol. The magazine has been removed. It holds propellant, so the gun is safe in this condition to point at the camera.

My archery co-instructor limited her shooters to three at a time so she could keep a more careful eye on them. I would have similarly cut my shooters down to 1 or 2, had I been instructing with firearms or anything similarly lethal. But I couldn't have taught shooting in my densely packed neighborhood using loud firearms!

Building self-confidence
You should have seen their faces! Pure joy once they started shooting. From the beginning, I'd strived to keep talk to a minimum and to get them shooting as quickly as possible. This worked out great. The women especially got into the shooting. Not only did they surprise me by how accurately they shot, but some also said things like, "Make my day, perp!" and "You talkin' to ME?" Their self-confidence was quickly building.

Dearborn and Ted reload while Malia confronts her sticky target perp with a Crosman CO2 pistol. In the rear, Susan plays the airsoft equivalent of air guitar! She's either standing at the ready or her finger has a very stiff recoil.

The most fun was had with an inexpensive, clear battery-operated machine gun and with an AEG Thompson submachine gun. I placed several soft drink cans on the ground in front of the backdrop, and the shooters were absolutely delighted rolling the cans around (the more powerful Thompson tore holes through the soft cans and made them jump dramatically).

Breakthroughs on several fronts
People who were initially frightened of guns were talking about buying their own airsoft guns, BB/pellet guns and/or even real firearms. They were pro-gun and quite excited about shooting. Except for one accidental let-off, which thankfully went harmlessly into the trees at the side of the range, no one got shot with a plastic BB. Although two shooters were hit by ricochets, the BBs were not traveling fast enough to do anything more than startle them. It was a positive experience for all 14 shooters, except…

…due to the nature of the sensitivity required by an unconditional loving class, three women burst into tears during the discussion group following and summing up the archery/airsoft programs. Each remembered a time when they felt like they had totally failed to please their fathers when being shown how to shoot. The fathers had lacked confidence in themselves and had blown it by attempting to use a gun with too much recoil or had lost their tempers at their daughters' nervousness. It took several hours of holding and reassurance to get them calm and happy again. This is not something you'd normally associate with a shooting session, and so readers are cautioned not to try this at home unless they've had sensitivity training! As it turned out, an idea that I'd been toying with for months worked beautifully when put into action.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Airguns as investments
The Queen B FWB 124

by B.B. Pelletier

The other day I was reflecting on how much some of my airguns and firearms had grown in value in a very short time. The Whiscombe JW75 we bought for $2,300 in 1996 is now worth over $5,000 according to the open offers I see for them. Then, I reflected on the status of the M1 carbine. A carbine I bought for $800 five years ago sold for $1,200 just three years later. It hasn't increased much since then, but still, that's a healthy increase.

Three things drive the prices on collectible guns - be they airguns or firearms: rarity, condition and desirability. Take the M1 carbine as an example. Over 6.5 million were made in four years during World War II. Probably more than 4 million survive today. But some of those that do survive have been re-imported into the U.S., which means they have an importer's mark on the barrel near the muzzle. While they're nice shooters, don't look for those guns to increase in value as fast. Many carbines are an assemblage of parts put together by civilians after the war. They have negligible collector value. Some others are just plain "beaters," so used that they have lost all collector value.

But get a good carbine - one that is "right," and you have an item that has steadily increased in value since the 1950s, when the NRA was selling them for $20. A carbine in very good condition today is worth $800 on up - depending on who made it and the condition.

So it is with airguns. There are some models that won't be worth more than their purchase price for perhaps a decade or more. But a nice Crosman 600 pistol will bring $250-300 in the box if it hasn't been fooled with.

Just 10 years ago, $400 bought a nice Sheridan Supergrade and $700 bought a peach. Today, you'll spend $1,200 for a good one and $2,000 for the peach.

Let me tell you about a gun that you can actually still find for less than it is worth: the FWB 124 breakbarrel. A nice one today still brings only $350-400, though the real price should probably be around $600 or more. Many 124s have now been extensively customized and lost their collector value. Original stocks have been lost, guns have been buffed and reblued, and barrels have been cut down in an attempt to personalize the gun for one owner. While such a gun gives pride to one person, it sheds any collector value for all other buyers. At some point in the not-too-distant future, people will realize what a nice, untouched 124 is worth, and the days of the $400 bargain rifle will become just a pleasant memory.

About eight years ago, I was offered the opportunity to buy a 124 that had been customized by the Beeman factory in the mid-1980s. Normally, such customization would have ruined any collector value, but this was an exception. The work had been done for Mrs. Beeman, herself. The person from whom I purchased the rifle had placed a custom order and the salesperson remarked that it sounded a lot like the gun just made for Mrs. Beeman. So, the person asked if Mrs. Beeman could take a later custom gun and allow this one to be sold. When she called back a week later, she was told that Mrs. Beeman had agreed, so the rifle intended for her was sold instead. And, then, I was offered a chance to buy it.

The rifle I call the Queen B is a gorgeous FWB 124, stocked with highly figured walnut.

Here's a close look at the stock.

Almost as pretty on the other side.

The stock was made by a master stockmaker - perhaps even Hugh de Pentheny O'Kelly, who worked for Beeman for a time in the 1980s. Not only was the fine-line checkering cut flawlessly - the entire shape of the stock felt just right in my hands. I have a Krieghoff .30/06 with the same feel, and I gave $1,500 for that rifle in the 1970s.

I was delighted to acquire this rifle for $600 at a time when an average FWB 124 D was selling for $275. I wrote about it in Airgun Revue magazine, and I confirmed the story of the sale with Mrs. Beeman at the SHOT Show. Indeed, she did step aside and let this one be sold, and I heard her say it.

The rifle had been tuned by Beeman, too. In those days, the state of tuning for a 124 was not as advanced as it is today, and a lot of the result depended on the individual rifle. This one shot 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers right at 800 f.p.s., with just a little buzz on the shot. The trigger, however, was perfect. The second stage released with about 1.5 lbs. of force and absolutely no creep. I've never felt another 124 trigger as good.

Unfortunately, I told the seller she had the first right of refusal if I ever sold, and three years later I had to sell the gun. I didn't make anything on it (my choice), but I had an offer in the wings for $1,200 if she refused. I suppose that rifle is still increasing in value because of that gorgeous stock and also because of the association with Mrs. Beeman.

My point is this - there's money to be made by careful investing in airguns. Some hot-ticket items may be overpriced currently, but a careful investor should be able to make a nice return with a little luck.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Starting your own field target club
Running a match

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

I was sort of pushed into becoming a match director. We (the four founders of DIFTA) didn't know anything about running a match, and I was the only one who had ever competed in one. But the matches I competed in were what we would now call Hunter Class, where everyone stands. I wanted people to compete in the more traditional AAFTA (American Airgun Field Target Association) way, which means shooting from the seated position, sitting on a bum bag. A bum bag is a padded bag not thicker than 6 inches that cushions the shooter from the ground, but it does a LOT more than just that. It can also help level the ground. If you're sitting on a downward slant (your back is headed downhill) as about a third of the firing positions at the DIFTA course are for right-handed shooters, the bum bag can level the ground for you.

This TX200 shooter sits on a blue bum bag atop a carpet square. The whole thing cannot be more than 6" high when he sits on it.

Preparing for a match
I read the AAFTA rulebook and was surprised that the rules were so simple. The sport hadn't had enough time to become complex, yet. So, I guessed that the problems were not in the rules but in the conduct of the match. That turned out to be right. Let me share some of the most important aspects of a match with you. I'll do it in the form of the safety briefing I gave at the start of every match.

Ed Burrows and Phil Dean get the DIFTA targets ready for a match.

Match director's briefing
Good morning! Welcome to our August 1st match. Safety is the most important part of this match, and as of now you're all appointed safety officers. If you see an unsafe act, I expect you to call a cease fire loud enough for everyone nearby to hear. Our firing line is about 200 feet long, so the entire line doesn't usually have to stop shooting (what we call "go cold") for every cease fire, but if you think they should, make sure others down the line relay your call until the entire line is cold.

Calling a cold lane
If a target reset string breaks on your lane, or if a target malfunctions in any way and you need to go downrange (walk into the lane to the target) to fix it, call as many lanes on either side of you cold as necessary before you do this. If someone on a lane next to you does the same thing, you make sure your lane remains cold until they give you the okay. If a shooter has loaded his gun after a crease fire has been called, wait for him to blow off the shot before anyone goes downrange. Do not go downrange with any gun loaded!

We've squadded you in groups of three, and we put a lane number at the top of your score cards. You start shooting on that lane. Each squad gets a scorecard for each shooter and a clipboard and pencil for the three scorecards. Please start recording your scores on the lane on which your squad starts, then score each lane as you advance. There are 15 lanes with two targets on each lane. Each shooter will shoot two shots at each target, for a total of 60 shots in the match. When you finish lane 15, return to lane one as your next lane unless you have completed it.

Squad duties
In your squad, we recommend you do the following on each lane. One person shoots, another scores and the third watches the target through binoculars to check for proper functioning. Then rotate those duties until everyone has shot that lane. When the next lane is clear, move to it and start again.

Most shooters shoot the nearest target first, then the far one, but you may do it either way. Just tell your squad members what you're doing so they can watch the right target.

Blowing off a shot
If you need to blow off a shot, always announce it to your squad members. If, for example you load a pellet backwards, or if you just filled your reservoir and need to blow off the first shot, point the muzzle safely into the ground in front of the firing point and fire.

Calling an alibi
Any time you feel a target should have gone down when it didn't, have the scorer mark that shot as an alibi on your scorecard and report it to the match director at the end of the match. The match director will make the call based on the performance of that target for the other shooters. If you need an immediate judgement, for example if the target falls only half-way, stop shooting and call the match director for a ruling.

Lunch and target maintenance
We will break for lunch at the halfway point. The break will be about 45 minutes. At that time, the course will go cold and the sight-in range will go hot. You can eat your lunch, use the restrooms in the clubhouse or work on the sight-in range. I'll be repainting all the targets to restore some of the contrast. If any of you want to help me, it takes about 10 minutes for two people to touch up all 30 targets. [I will cover why this is done and how we did it in a future post.]

Any other problems you have on the course, such as a gun or scope failing in the match and needing to be substituted, talk to the match director before making the switch.

AAFTA rules allow 2-1/2 minutes per target, which is plenty of time. Nobody watches the clock, but squads are expected to keep their members on track. [This is a REAL problem with some shooters. They will sit there forever and range and re-range to the target, using as much time as they want. You may have to put spurs to these guys when that happens. Don't worry about their scores. They're never the top shooters.]

Are there any questions?

End of briefing

I will provide you with a sample scorecard in a future post. How it's made can affect the ease and speed with which all the scores are tabulated at the end of a match. Believe me - almost everyone will want to know where they stand at the end of the match. We always awarded the trophies or certificates right after the match ended.

A website is essential for a field target club. Try not to make it a page on someone else's website; if you do, you're always at their mercy. So many hobby sites are down more than they're up that I make this caution. Post the annual schedule, starting times, directions to the match and useful contact information on the website. Post and leave the scores of the year's matches so everyone can read them.

Use the website to attract new shooters. Tell them which kind of gun to bring so they don't show up with a 50-foot-pound Korean .22. Describe the match so they know what to expect. Tell them about facilities so they can tell their family members in case they want to attend. We had picnic tables and some room for a gallery to watch the match, but they had to walk in our tick-infested woods. For gosh sakes, tell them to bring bug spray!