Friday, February 26, 2010

I'm glad I don't judge beauty contests

by B.B. Pelletier

I get burned out on airguns from time to time. When it happens, I can remember being excited over this or that gun in the past, but nothing I see, touch or shoot at this time evokes the slightest measure of appreciation. You could hand me an HW55 Tyrolean with a full bas-relief stock worthy of the renaissance--and I would yawn.

When that happens, I have to do something else. For years, something else has been shooting firearms, reloading and casting bullets. Anything to break the connection with pellet guns for a time. Unfortunately, a number of circumstances--the weather, a heavy work schedule and my recent illness--have all conspired to keep me from going to the range since before Christmas. I'm ready to pull my hair out, if I had anything to grab onto.

Then, I happened to mention that I rode a BMW R26 while in college in the 1960s. A thoughtful reader sent me a link to a You Tube video of a prima R 26 that the owner starts and runs while walking the viewer around on a tour. Seeing that video was a mini-holiday for me.

The BMW R26 single-cylinder motorcycle is like an HW55 on wheels.

That got me looking at all the vintage Beemer motorcycle videos on You Tube and there are quite a few of them. That got me searching eBay Motors for what one of these treasures might cost--not that I would ever buy one. Five thousand $US seems to be the going price for a refurbished bike from Indonesia. Another $1,500 transport to the U.S. and who knows what to clear customs would get you a restored bike in beautiful condition--if it all worked out, that is.

That got me searching for a vintage motorcycle sales here in the U.S. and, lo and behold, I found one. A great one! has lists of vintage and antique motorcycles that will astound you. There are many old R12/R26/R27 bikes to choose from. But if you're an Indian fan, and I'm talking about the original Indian motorcycles now, then there are Chiefs, Scouts and even a couple straight fours. I didn't find a Scott Flying Squirrel or a Sunbeam, but who knows what'll be there next week?

What does this have to do with airguns? Nothing--yet. But you know that it's coming.

And here it is. When I absolutely cannot look at one more synthetic thumbhole stock wrapped around a bucking, buzzing thousand-foot-per-second .177 breakbarrel with a beer-can trigger, I go to the American Vintage Airguns Forum. I call it my quiet place. Here the guns are old and so are the contributors. If they're young, they sure don't act it. Everyone respects the vintage stuff made in the days before the velocity races began. It's like an airgun show on the internet.

A bas-relief Tyrolean stock. This is an Aydt schuetzen rifle, but that isn't the point. This beauty is what puts me at rest when I'm bummed out.

The nice thing about this place are the friends you make. They're willing to bend over backwards to help a fellow airgunner. I think they're as nice as the readers of this blog, if you can believe that! If you have a question, they'll try to find the answer for you. And some of our most notable readers are also over there, so you won't feel lonely.

Here's a tastefully engraved Stevens scheutzen rifle. When I see work like this, I can't take my eyes away.

This Martini Swiss schuetzen rifle has traditional Swiss engraving and carving. You don't even have to shoot guns like these to enjoy them.

Anyway, that's how I'm feeling today. I'm gonna get out to the range next week and bust some caps to get my sanity back--or what passes for it.

And THAT, my friends, is why I'm glad I don't judge beauty contests.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol - Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Well, I wanted to post the velocity results of the Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 today, so the first thing I did was measure the cocking effort for you. No more than 32 lbs., according to my bathroom scale. Wow, I thought. Crosman has found a way around the laws of physics. I'll take three, please!

Then, just as I returned to my desk an email arrived from Crosman informing me that the cocking effort I had inquired about was supposed to be around 38 lbs. Oh, oh! A few shots through the Chrony confirmed that this test rifle was not up to that spec.

The bottom line is this one has to go back to Crosman. They will expedite shipment of a replacement, and I must retract everything I said about the cocking effort until I test that rifle. I still am wildly impressed by what I see, and now I'll get to see a second one.

Sometimes it even rains in Camelot. And when it rains, we make mud pies and splash in the puddles until mother calls us to dinner.

So, casting about for alternative fun, my eyes fell on the Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol, which reminded me of their claim that it would give 50 good shots with a 7.9-grain pellet at 450 f.p.s. So, I decided to do the velocity test today. Actually, I'm doing only the first half of the velocity test, because I was reminded by one of our sharp readers that the Silhouette PCP has a power adjustment. Yes, besides all the wonderful things you already know, you can also adjust the velocity--up to 550 f.p.s. with a 7.9 pellet, says Crosman. That needs to be tested, as well. But, today, I'm doing the yeoman's work of testing the gun as it comes from the factory. Fifty shots at 450 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain pellet.

Airing up
The pistol arrived with a caretaker charge of about 1,000 psi, and it needs to go to 3,000 for a full fill. This time I used my carbon fiber tank and filled until the needle was centered on the 3,000 mark. The pistol's internal gauge read 2,900 at that point, so the two disagree by 100 psi. Good thing I'm not anal!

How many shots?
Most of you regular readers know the drill by now. I start shooting and record every velocity that comes. If the Chrony misses one, I put in a line to indicate there was a shot that wasn't recorded. That's important, because that unrecorded shot uses just as much air as one that was. After the string is over, we'll look at it to see what we can learn.

Here we go. 3,000 psi fill, Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet.

8………..444 (Start useful string at 2,800 psi onboard)
72………441(end useful string at 1,600 psi)

*Fastest shot in string

With a shot string laid out like that, we can determine a few things. For starters, we can see that Crosman was conservative in their estimates of the useful number of shots. I put in a start point and a stop point on the string. Using the point I chose, which started when the onboard pressure gauge read 2,800 psi, and running to the stop point, when the onboard gauge read 1,600 psi, there are 65 shots in my string.

Another thing we know is the average velocity in the selected string is 457 f.p.s. and the maximum velocity spread is 28 feet per second. The claim of 450 f.p.s. was right on the money. You could cut this data string many different ways to accomplish other things, such as a greater number of shots, for instance, but it does demonstrate that the Silhouette PCP is everything Crosman has claimed and more.

My final comment about today's test is that I am, once again, impressed with Crosman's grasp of a metered valve in a precharged airgun. They're using a fill pressure spread of 1,200 psi to get 65 shots within 28 f.p.s. of one another. That's exacting performance on just a trifle of air.

More on how the gun shoots
I must comment that the bolt on this pistol is far smoother than any I have seen. It's made from hardened steel, and the bolt shaft is a wider diameter; when you pull back on the handle, there's never any binding or hesitation. The action simply cocks smoothly as a non-airgunner would assume that it should. Many years of experience with similar bolt-action pistols that were not this smooth have distorted my perceptions.

And the promised look at the trigger
This time I removed the sideplate for a look at the trigger. As you can see, it's a simple, one-lever type. Some smoothing of the sear that engages the hammer would probably pay off, but don't use a file! Use a hard stone and don't go too far. I doubt these parts are case-hardened any deeper than about 0.15"--if that. Follow up with moly grease. You're interested in stoning a smoother surface--not a perfect mirror finish, which would probably ruin these parts by cutting through the hardened shell and allowing the part to wear.

Not much to it. The trigger blade pushes the front of the sear up against the spring tension you set. The rear of the sear pivots down and away from the hammer, releasing it.

The trigger has a spring shim on the back side to remove slop in the pull. All the pins could take the tiniest bit of grease.

Next, I'll try the Silhouette PCP with an optional peep sight Crosman sent with the gun.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Disassembling and assembling a TX200

by B.B. Pelletier

I'm doing this report for Slinging Lead so he can see what the inside of his TX200 looks like. The work to disassemble and take photos took a total of 30 minutes, so that will be how long a disassembly should take after the first time.

Step 1- remove the action from the stock
First, we'll remove the action from the stock. If you have a scope mounted, take it off to make this easier. I use a sandbag bench rest to hold the rifle while I'm working on it, but you can rig up something with old rags or towels.

Four screws hold the action in the stock. Remove the two forearm screws first, then flip the rifle on its back and remove the two triggerguard screws. No special order for this. Next, separate the stock from the action.

Remove both forearm stock screws.

The triggerguard is held by two different-sized screws. The back one is the same size as the stock screw, but the front one is larger.

When the last stock screw comes out, the action will separate from the stock.

The action is out of the stock.

Step 2- remove the restraining bolt
In this step, you'll take all the preload tension off the mainspring. The trigger housing will be pushed backward about three-quarters of an inch. This is the step where a mainspring compressor is needed for most spring rifles, but not for the TX200.

This bolt in front of the trigger housing is what holds the action together. It has a flat on either side to accept a wrench.

You don't need a 12-inch Crescent wrench like this to start the bolt. It was simply handy.

Once the bolt has been started, you can hand-turn it the rest of the way. Put a little tension on the back of the trigger housing by pressing straight down on the action. In this photo, the back of the trigger housing is pressed against the table.

When the bolt releases, the trigger housing will move backward about 3/4". It's under 15-20 lbs. of force. To show this movement, I relaxed tension on the action.

The trigger housing slides straight out the back of the gun.

The mainspring and spring guide with washer comes out next.

Step 3- slide out the piston and you're done
The next "step" is really just a continuation of what we've been doing. The piston is not held in the gun by anything at this point, but I'm showing you how to push it out with a small screwdriver.

I'm showing where to push with a screwdriver blade to slide out the piston, but nothing holds it in. It'll come out all by itself.

And there's the piston.

One more thing
You can do a mainspring replacement, a lube tune or a piston seal replacement with just this much disassembly. There's really no need to go any farther. However, the sliding compression chamber will not come out of the gun at this point. One more thing must be done to take it out.

This is where the underlever is attached to the cocking link. That circular pin near the bottom center of the picture needs to come out if you want to remove the sliding compression chamber. The pin has a circlip on either side. Pop off one of them and push the pin out the other way.

When the link is separated from the underlever, it's possible to slide the compression chamber to the point at which the cocking link can be disconnected from the sliding chamber. I have not gone that far here and doubt I've ever taken the chamber out of this rifle because there's just no need to.

Please don't start sending me lists of other airguns you want to disassemble. The TX200 is so simple that I didn't mind showing it here. Other guns can require four times the work to achieve the same goal. The ironic thing is that the TX is one of the few airguns that ever need to be disassembled in the first place.

Yes, I'm going to tell you to assemble the rifle in reverse order because there simply are no tips needed to put it back together. Naturally, you'll have to press down on the action to get the bolt hole in the trigger housing to align, but isn't that obvious? Once you've done this job yourself, you'll agree with me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Benjamin Trail NP XL1100 - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier,

Two things about today's report. It will be our first look at a Benjamin Trail-series rifle, and it sets the stage for the test of the new Benjamin Trail NP in .25 caliber. We want to be ready for that, later this year, and this should get us there.

We first saw the Benjamin Trail series rifles at the 2010 SHOT Show. We heard about them before then; and, of course, we've regarded the older Crosman Nitro Piston rifles for the past year, so this marked a good transition point for switching the Nitro Piston from the Crosman brand to Benjamin. When you look at the Crosman breakbarrels online, you'll note that the Nitro Piston Short Strokes are all gone--at least at Pyramyd Air.

Today, we'll start looking at the Benjamin Trail NP XL1100, which is .22 caliber. My first impression was, "Wow!" That came from the outside of the sealed box. I know that writers never say bad things about the products they review, but again I say, "Wow!"

I'm showing you the box so you can see exactly what I'm talking about.

Here's what made me say that. First, the box says it includes a Centerpoint 3-9x40 scope, so no thought need be given to scoping. It's all inside the box. Next, my eye was caught by the claim of 1,100 f.p.s. from a .22-caliber pellet rifle. Now, that velocity has been achieved before in .22 caliber, but not by a springer, I don't think. And, this time the box also says 30 foot-pounds. There's no mistaking what they're claiming. The springer that Pyramyd Air will sell you for a penny under $300 will offer the same power that the old Beeman Crow Magnum did a decade ago (in .25 caliber) for $1,175--without the scope. Folks, if that isn't progress then I don't know what is.

Still scanning the outside of the box, I saw a round sticker that tells me they tossed in a $20 sling, as well. I shouldn't tell you that because you'll all expect one; but whenever I see a sticker, I know the offer will last for only a limited time. But the deal is that the Trail guns have sling swivels built right into them, and this is a way to get lethargic writers like me to notice them…and maybe even install a sling and take a picture.

Note that I did not say sling swivel studs. Oh, no! That's so--yesterday! I said swivels, which include a front swivel that we haven't seen since the FWB 124D went away in the 1990s, I think. Boy does that swivel relieve me of answering a lot of questions because with a .22-caliber pellet rifle this powerful you just know that the primary users are going to be hunters.

The only hangup I have with this beautiful box (Crosman wins packaging awards in industry, you know) is the wording that explains that the gun is powered by a nitrogen piston instead of a spring. I have become so used to the industry standard terminology of gas spring that I would prefer they call it a nitrogen-filled gas spring. I will be explaining how it works for many years to all the newcomers who are not yet familiar with the gas springs in their minivans and SUVs. But, you know, it wasn't mine to name, and Crosman, as a corporation, seems to know the airgun market as least as well as any dedicated airgunner. Besides, at the age of 62, I'm entitled to be somewhat crotchety. It's part of my old-guy persona.

The last impression the box gives is that the metal finish is deep and polished. Of course, that can be done in Photoshop; but if the owner discovers something else inside, it may not work out so well. Since the intent is to open the box, I hoped they weren't exaggerating.

The box is opened
Okay, so the gun inside doesn't look like the picture on the outside. It looks even better. (Ha, ha. I bet you could have guessed I was going to say that.) But in this case it really does. The metalwork is about as shiny as the picture, but the wood stock is quite a bit more graceful than pictured. It's tastefully checkered on the forearm and pistol grip, and the Benjamin name is carved into the bottom of the forearm. Crosman told me they never want anyone to have to hunt for a Benjamin in a rifle rack and I like that attitude. If you've got it, flaunt it.

Oh, and that exciting new Weaver rail is there, awaiting the time when I mount the scope. What a wonderful idea.

So, I picked it up. Oh, oh. BIG GUN! Oh, my gosh. They are trying to get 30 foot pounds out of a .22-caliber springer. It's sore arms ahead!

No, it's not!

I will not reveal the cocking effort in today's report (because I haven't tested it yet), but my left arm tells me that if you can cock a Beeman R1, you'll be able to cock this gun. Oh, and guess what, kids? The safety is manual! Yes, they're trusting the owner with the main operational safety responsibility. Airports can't even trust the public to flush a toilet, but Crosman trusts us to shoot safely.

In defense of the airports, I think they made the right decision, too. I'm just glad that none of those disgusting people ever fly on any of my flights!

You know that free sling? They could have just thrown in a cheapie $6 Uncle Mikes web sling and called it a $20 value, but they didn't. They included a PADDED carry sling with the Benjamin name embroidered on the outside. When I see fine touches like that, I wonder how I can buy some Crosman stock. This is real "Santa's elves" thinking, in my book.

This is no afterthought. They gave this a lot of attention. It makes you wonder, if they paid this much attention to a small detail like this, how nice is the rifle?

It's too early to talk about the sound signature, except to say that it's REALLY quiet! With my steel bullet trap being just five feet away, I can't hear anything other than the impact of the pellet. I need to get this gun outside. And, no, I'm not stupid enough to shoot this rifle point blank into my freshly-filled silent pellet trap. Maybe after 10K shots are in there I will, but right now I use the serious trap for for airguns this powerful at close range.

The trigger looks like the regular NPSS trigger I played with last year, so I'll be tweaking it and reporting on it then.

Bottom line (for whoever asked me to hurry this report along) is that I like very much what I see thus far. If this rifle is accurate and if it comes even close to 30 foot-pounds (which I will now define as anything above 26 foot-pounds with the right pellets), then they aren't going to be able to keep these in stock. When I saw this at the SHOT Show, I envisioned a 24-26 foot-pound gun. That would have been wonderful. Can it be that they've exceeded my expectations?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Refillable 12-gram CO2 cartridges

by B.B. Pelletier

Sorry about the blog last week. I was ill and out of my head part of the time, so I forgot about the huge three-part report on air transfer ports back in 2008 and did another one just like them only smaller on Friday. We also got some questions that I said I would blog, and I think today's report is for one of them, though I cannot find the original question. So, I might miss the crux of the question, but I hope to show you something many of you have never seen or even heard of.

I also think I told Matt that I would shoot firearms at a shovel, to see how effective it is as a bullet shield. Before I ruin a garden tool, how about somebody setting me straight on the real importance of this? Matt?

Today, the question is about refillable CO2 cartridges. And several readers have already responded with the correct answer. That is what bulk-filling is all about. It does work very well, we know that it works well and nobody disputes that fact. Back in my Airgun Letter days, I calculated the difference in cost between a 12-gram powerlet and a bulk charge that gave the same performance. The price of a fill dropped from around 50 cents per cartridge to less than a nickel for an equivalent fill that gave the same number of shots and power. The bulk pistol I used was a .177 Crosman 111 that got 50 shots per fill at over 600 f.p.s.

So, that part of the question is answered, but I don't think that was all the reader asked. Almost everybody who shoots CO2-powered guns ends up with a mound of metal containers that look like they should have some value, but don't. For the past 60 years, airgunners have made them into targets, wind chimes, and other items that extract a small amount of secondary use. But the cold hard fact is that you can't find enough uses to eliminate them all. Maybe if your castle was under siege you could load them into the cannons to repel the invaders. Lacking some wholesale use like that, you're going to have empty cartridges to throw away.

If you don't like it, try to convert your gun to bulk-fill operation. That's the only way I know to get around the problem, and we all know that doesn't always work. When the space inside the gun for the cartridge is very conformal and restrictive, there will often be no practical way to convert the gun to bulk-filling.

Therein lies my short and humorous tale for today. Back in the late 1990s, when The Airgun Letter was published, a British firm came out with a solution for this problem. Don't convert your CO2 gun to bulk-fill. Convert it to a precharged pneumatic!

Well, let me tell you, this was all the rage when it first came out. What you got for your money was a device that let you fill a cartridge the size and shape of a 12-gram powerlet with 3,000 psi air. The cartridge was then removed from the fill station. It held the air because it had an inlet valve that was shut by the internal air pressure.

The cartridge would then be placed into a CO2 gun, where the piercing pin was supposed to force the internal valve open. That allowed the air to exhaust into the gun.


This is the system being explained today. The fill station is comprised of the two parts on the left, and the three cartridges that get filled resemble CO2 cartridges.

For comparison, here's one of the refillable cartridges and a standard 12-gram expendable CO2 cartridge.

Here are the things that disturbed me about this design. The gun was set up to run on CO2 at about 900 psi. All the seals were optimized for the large CO2 molecule and are nowå being asked to work with far smaller atoms of air at triple the operating pressure! I doubted that the durometer ratings of the seals, plus the tolerances of the o-ring seats and valve faces were right for such a job.

No worry, I was told by the manufacturer. The exit hole in the cartridge was very small, so that 3,000 psi air didn't come out as fast as it normally would have.

Then there is the length of the CO2 piercing pins in each gun that had to be long enough to open the valve inside the cartridge. Are you aware of the gross differences there are in the length of these pins? Many of you own guns whose pins are not long enough to pierce a standard CO2 cartridge, and yet this thing depends on everything being the right length all the time.

Does that sound like exacting science to you? It didn't to me, but my readers pleaded with me until I finally popped to the tune of $150 for a system and two extra cartridges, bringing the total to three. Okay, I was ready to test.

Except for one thing. The freakin' system was only held shut by one or two coarse threads of the brass fill container when it was time to fill each cartridge. The variation was due to a variable length of each refillable cartridge.

Here is the refillable cartridge in the refill station.

This is how far the top screws down. I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to put 3,000 psi into that cartridge with just a couple brass threads holding things together.

Here's what's wrong with all of this. You don't use brass in 3,000 psi equipment when it's expected to contain the full pressure. You don't thread with coarse threads when you want a joint to hold under extreme pressure. And you sure as hell do not trust your life to the strength of just one or two threads for closure!

I may not be a rocket scientist, but I can usually spot a potential bottle rocket!

I never tested this system, but I made a report in The Airgun Letter that was very similar to this one, in which I showed the equipment and discussed my concerns. Apparently, the British firm that made the equipment had never been confronted by a negative review before, because within a few weeks we received what amounted to a "Cease and Desist" letter from the company's lawyer.

I cannot tell you how much that threat pleased me. I published it in The Airgun Letter and responded that we were a U.S. publication and even though the company no doubt had deep pockets and used lawyers as business tools, I had said nothing in my report that couldn't be proved in a court of law. In fact, I think the trial would have been quite a circus.

Today's moral is this--if something sounds too good to be true, if it seems to defy physics, then you're probably better off not trying it yourself. I remember all those "magic" carburetor modifications of the 1950s and '60s that were supposed to boost power and gas milage at the same time! We were paying 31 cents for a gallon of gas and were still too hard-headed to recognize that a huge V8 motor tasked to push a lead sled riding on bias-ply tires was always going to use a lot of gasoline.

Buy your CO2 cartridges in large quantities. And please, don't wonder if this same system could somehow be adapted to operate on CO2.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Changeable air transfer ports

by B.B. Pelletier

This subject was raised by Frank B., I believe, from our conversations regarding deep-seating pellets in spring guns. Someone asked if the transfer port of the Hy Score 801 was particularly short, which he felt explained why seating pellets deeply would show a velocity increase.

I have to tell you that it isn't that simple. The air transfer port conducts the high-pressure air from the compression chamber to the back of the pellet sitting in the breech. While it has a simple job to do, the transfer port is another factor in the overall performance of the gun. In that capacity, the tune of the gun relates directly to the length and shape of the transfer port. Yes, I said the shape, too.

If you have a .22 caliber Beeman R1 humming along at 22 foot-pounds and you alter the size and shape of the transfer port, don't count on the gun delivering the same power afterward. In my experience, and from what limited testing I did with the set of ports I'm about to show you, the power usually drops when the port is altered.

Changing port dimensions and shapes was all the rage back in the mid-1990s. Jim Maccari did a brisk business altering ports for customers. And he came up with some observations of his own while doing it. If you want the rifle to continue to function over a broad range of power, based on changing the state of tune (without altering the transfer port), he found it was best to leave the port as the factory designed it. Let me give you an example to illustrate the wisdom of that.

The Beeman R1 used to come in all four calibers (.177, .20, .22 and .25). But when Weihrauch produced the R1, they made the transfer port the same size for all of them. It would have been a costly management nightmare to make a spring rifle in different port sizes according to the caliber. So, all R1s came (and still come, I believe) with a transfer port that's very close to 0.125" in diameter. The actual size is metric, but that's what it measures on an inch scale.

Now, say you're the owner of a .177 R1 that you want to rebarrel to .22. All that's needed is a new barrel and cocking link. Everything else on the rifle is the same between the two calibers. But if you altered the port for enhanced performance in .22 caliber, you might find it next to impossible to get decent performance out of it in .177. And, when you altered the port for optimum performance in .22, that's just for one or two pellets. You generally lose performance with other pellets when you make changes.

Because the transfer port is such a permanent part of the spring tube, any changes that are made can be permanent. Yes, I know of several ways to bush the spring tube so you can start all over, but is it worth the effort? Jim Maccari apparently didn't think so, because he donated a ruined spring tube to me for an experiment. Dennis Quackenbush made a set of transfer ports that slid into the hole and were held in place with a setscrew.

The transfer ports were inserts held by a setscrew.

Dennis Quackenbush made these transfer ports in graduated sizes. He gave me several blanks for further experimentation.

Another thing to think about is the shape of the transfer port. Many people suggested an air venturi. That would be a smaller hole with a bevel on either side. A properly designed venturi should speed up the flow of compressed air because it's made to pass through a tunnel that changes shape from large to small. But I never recorded any advantage from a venturi-shaped transfer port, perhaps because the machining was too rough.

A venturi shape was tried but gave no conclusive results.

Before you start your drill press, please know that I was never able to get this setup to shoot as well as an unaltered R1, but it was good enough for a few experiments. In a nutshell, here's what I learned:

1. Transfer port sizes from 0.120" to 0.145" give the same results for a .22 caliber R1 tuned for maximum power…in this gun, which was about 19 foot-pounds. When the size drops below 0.120", the velocity slows. When it gets above 0.145", it slows and the gun acts like it's being dry-fired. Lotsa dieseling, etc.

2. Exotic shapes such as venturis don't seem to affect the performance within the optimum size range and the targeted caliber.

There's more to the study of transfer ports, like ports that are centered in the compression chamber, versus ports that are offset to one side. But this should get you thinking.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Before I start today's report, I want to thank all the volunteers who are helping me answer questions on this blog. Most of you are not aware of the large number of people who connect with this blog and land on reports that are several years old. They did a search on an obscure airgun question and we came up as a hit, so they clicked through.

The volunteers get all the messages that I get, so they see when someone has come to a 2005 report to post a question. They usually answer the question and also guide the person to the current blog. As a result, we have built a rather large community of airgunners. While there are 100 to 150 active posters at any given time, I would estimate the number of people reading the blog to be in excess of 20,000 a day. We have a group of four from Moscow who are regulars! We may even be larger than that. I think I'm being very conservative in my estimate.

But this blog is not about numbers. It is about connecting shooters to the information they need to enjoy their sport and hobby. And the volunteers who read all the messages are helping me reach these people every day. Thank you.

As a direct result of creating this body of enthusiasts, the hobby of airgunning seems to be growing at an accelerated rate. At this year's SHOT Show, I could see that interest in airguns was at an all-time high. Even the gun writers who have for years eschewed airguns as beneath them are now scrambling to catch up. Pyramyd Air is besieged with numerous requests to test airguns from writers and publications that are virtually unknown to most of us. If this continues, the sport and hobby of airgunning will soon become a major force in the shooting sports.

I'm glad that I lived long enough to see this day arrive. For too many decades, airguns in the United States have hidden under a cabbage leaf, embarrassed to have the word "guns" in their name. The time for apologizies appears to be coming to an end. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming years.

Okay, editorial over. Let's get on to the new Crosman Silhouette PCP pistol!

Sorry about the perspective, but Blogger allows a photo that's no more than 5 inches wide, and I wanted to show the pistol larger than that.

My first experience with the Silhouette was when field target champion Ray Apelles brought a prototype to the American Airgunner studio in the Catskills on the day when he and his father came to film an episode on field target. Ray let me try the gun and, sitting in the Creedmore position for handguns, I was able to clip weed stems at 23 yards.

For most of the summer, I thought the Silhouette was the only precharged pistol Crosman was bringing out, and for a time it looked to me like they might release it in the fall of 2009. They didn't, but it's coming out now and I have a sample to test for you.

If nothing else, this pistol may help us all with the difficult spelling of the word silhouette! Now, if everyone could just learn how to spell Crosman.

If you look real hard, you can see the family resemblance to the 2240 pistol, which shares a frame with many of Crosman's current single-shot pistols. That frame is descended from the CO2 pistols Crosman made 60 years ago, though there have been a few changes over the years. In fact, there had to be some changes from the current 2240 frame to accept the pneumatic reservoir tube, and this is where Crosman wins every time. They didn't just make one change and be done with it. No, they sweetened the trigger at the same time.

Oh, don't worry! They left enough creep and weight in the mechanism to support about a hundred hobby airgun boutiques offering trigger parts and other modifications to "fix the problem." There's also plenty of grist for all the forums to have endless discussions about it. I'm just wondering what slang term will have to be invented so people don't actually have to write Silhouette in their rants. The Marauder became the M-rod, the Discovery became the Disco and the Katana the Katrina. What will the Silhouette be called? Perhaps, the Shill?

Looking at the gun, and by the way, that is my test gun up top, not a Crosman photo. You can tell the difference because my gun has all the words engraved on the action while the website shows a plain receiver--at least that's how it looked when I wrote this report the night before publication. The first thing you'll notice is the bolt handle is on the left. For decades owners have been installing aftermarket steel breeches with the bolt on the left for right-handed shooters who don't want to let go of the grip while they're loading. This is a point that Ray Apelles argued for. And, because this is a Crosman gun, you can switch that handle over to the right side.

Switching sides requires separating the barreled receiver from the reservoir. They say in the manual that you will need to send your gun to a service center, but we all know that's not going to happen.

Cocking is so smooth that you'll want to keep on doing it just for the sensation. At least, you will if you've owned a lot of other Crosman single-shot pistols that had stubby bolt handles and stiff bolts that bound during cocking. I must note that the pellet trough is made from Delrin (that's engineering plastic) with no sign of a screw head anywhere near the trough. Crosman fans will know what I'm talking about. This is the way the gun needs to be built, because it eliminates all pellet flipping during loading.

And the trigger that the forums are soon going to be in convulsions over has a wider blade than the old-style flat blade, yet it will still accept a trigger shoe. It's a single-stage trigger with a fair amount of creep, but it has an adjustable trigger stop. Give me a jar of moly grease and stand back! I will have it slicked-up in no time. The trigger-pull weight is also adjustable over a narrow range. You access the knurled adjustment wheel under the grip panels.

And this is the thousand-word picture. You can see the new, wider trigger blade, the adjustable trigger stop and the trigger-pull adjustment inside the grip.

The 10-inch barrel is a Lothar Walther, which adds value to the package. Not that Crosman can't rifle a barrel, because they certainly can. But sometimes it helps to have the Lothar Walther name associated with a gun just so everybody knows it's accurate.

The pressure gauge hangs down under the reservoir, sort of exposed. It looks like an afterthought, but that's because the pistol has no forearm to hide it. My sample arrived with a 1,000 psi caretaker charge in the reservoir to keep the valves closed against airborne dirt. That answers the question of whether or not the pistol holds air. I have seen Crosman's "clean room" setup for manufacturing PCPs, and they air up every one on the line so they can be tested. You would expect a boutique maker to do that, but what a surprise that a high-rate manufacturer does, as well.

This is a large pistol. It weighs 2.5 lbs. and is a quarter-inch shy of 15 inches in length. The aluminum receiver looks large and commanding. The pistol is built for the purpose of competing in airgun silhouette matches, but most will undoubtedly be purchased by plinkers. And they will probably want to mount a scope, though Crosman sent me a peep sight to also try. The pistol comes without a rear sight, so you can go either way, but I suspect most shooters will either scope it or install a dot sight.

It's a single-shot, as most competition guns tend to be, and the power is suited for silhouette competition. It operates on 3,000 psi air, so no chance of running on CO2 with this one. Buy a 2300T or 2300S if CO2 is what you want.

When I test it for velocity, I'll also weigh the trigger for you. So far, it's an impressive PCP pistol, though priced higher than I expected.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mounting a globe front sight on an RWS 48/52/54

by B.B. Pelletier

Today's report has my name on it, but my friend Earl McDonald is the one who did all the work, took the pictures and wrote the specifics. I just took what he gave me and put it into the blog report format.

This report is for the owners of RWS Diana sidelever rifles of the T05 variety. That's models 48, 52 and 54. If you want to mount a globe-type target front sight on your rifle, Diana makes a special unit to do this and Umarex USA has a few of them in stock.

While at the 2010 SHOT Show, I spoke with Glenn Seiter about what sorts of parts and neat things he had in the back room at Umarex USA, which is also RWS USA. One of the things he mentioned was this front sight. My buddy Mac has two RWS 54s in .22 caliber and was very interested to turn one into a target rifle with peep sights. This sight would make that possible.

This is a new front sight base that fits on a T05-series RWS Diana 48/52/54. The new base accepts a standard Diana front globe sight with replacement inserts. If you install this sight option, you'll also need to install an aperture rear sight to work with it, and I'll cover that for you as well.

The bottom front sight base and sight are a standard T05 sidelever front sight. The top front sight base is a special T05 sidelever rifle front sight base that replaces the standard base. Although it appears there is a slight ramp or incline on top of the base, the dovetails at the top are perfectly straight. Just the back of these dovetails can be seen when the Diana globe sight is mounted.

Here's the special front sight base with the globe sight removed.

Glenn also sent new sight inserts to Mac so he could test it for you. He told me the insert with a 2.2mm hole proved best for shooting bullseyes at 30 yards outdoors.

Only fits the T05
This front sight base fits only the new series T05 guns. The earlier T01 guns have a different style of base that's not interchangeable with this unit. The T05 rifle has a beveled flat that's machined into the steel barrel and a corresponding bevel inside the T05 front sight base. The T01 rifle sight base clamps onto dovetails cut into the top of the barrel at the muzzle.

The top of the T05 barrel has a bevel machined to accept the front inside of the T05 front sight base.

The top of the T01 barrel has dovetails to accept the front sight base.

If you were to machine or file a bevel on the steel barrel of a T01 rifle to accept the T05 base, it would have to be precise or the front sight would mount with some degree of rotation. That would ruin the rifle. I'm not saying that the conversion of a T01 rifle can't be made--just that it's a precision fit requiring careful work.

Time for the rear sight
Once Mac had the new sight installed and had determined that it fit only a T05 sidelever (he owns two 54s--one a T01 and the other a T05), it was time to select a rear sight. Initially, he tried a vintage Diana rear aperture sight, but the bottom of the dovetails on that sight are beveled rather than flat. That interferes with the fit on the sight base of the rifle, and the sight cannot be installed.

Vintage Diana aperture rear sight has odd-shaped dovetails on the bottom that prevents installation on a sidelever rear sight base.

Next, he tried a Mendoza rear aperture sight. It fit the rifle fine, but could not be adjusted low enough to work. Mac says the lowest it would go was shooting 8 inches high at 30 yards.

Mendoza rear aperture sight fits well but doesn't adjust low enough.

A Gamo rear aperture sight saved the day. It installed on the rifle and the adjustment range was fine. Mac cleaned the sight base on the rifle, then put one drop of epoxy on top of the rail and installed a Gamo aperture sight. Naturally, he knew exactly where he wanted this sight, because once the epoxy hardens the sight will be very difficult to remove.

The old Gamo rear aperture sight worked well. This sight no longer exists, but the Air Arms rear diopter may also work. Don't buy one until you are sure

If any reader owns a Diana sidelever, I'd sure like to know which currently made rear diopter sight fits the sight base.

How does it work?
After the sight was set permanently, Mac went outdoors and rested the rifle across the tool box in the bed of his Mazda pickup. AlanL, are you listening? He then proceeded to shoot group after group at 30 yards using the Crosman Premiers that have proven to be the best in this rifle. The largest group of five measured 0.31" between the two widest centers. This was on Maryland's Eastern Shore with three feet of snow on the ground, the thermometer well below freezing and the wind blowing.

So, if you want peep sights on your T05 sidelever, this looks like the best way to do it. Of course you can use a rear aperture sight with the existing post front sight that comes on both the T05 and the T01 rifles. But, if you want the globe with replaceable inserts, this is how to do it.

To buy a front sight ($39.95 and comes with one insert) and replacement inserts ($5.95 each), contact Glenn Seiter at Umarex USA. There are a limited number of this special front sight in stock, and once they are gone there won't be any more. Act now if you want one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Bronco from Air Venturi - Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Air Venturi Bronco.

Today I tested the Air Venturi Bronco with a scope. I learned a lot today, but not all of it was good. I tried to force a shooting session outdoors when the wind was swirling from all directions at 20 mph and it was hard getting things to work right. Still, I have been trying to shoot the Bronco with a scope for so long that I went ahead and did it anyway. In the end I see I'm going to have to run this test again.

For starters, I was shooting at 21 yards and all the wadcutters were off their game from the wind. They would catch a blast and sail off like frisbees in whatever direction the wind happened to be blowing. Since it was swirling where I was, that could be any direction. So I didn't test RWS Hobbys both seated flush and deep like I promised.

The scope I selected was a Leapers 4X32 long eye relief with a 100-yard parallax. That meant that either the crosshairs or the target could be in focus, but not both at the same time. Even at 21 yards, the bull was clear enough to see when it wasn't in focus. So I compromised the focus. Next time I will mount a scope that adjusts for parallax and I'll make sure everything is in focus. I didn't link to the scope because PA doesn't appear to stock it and I would not recommend it anyway.

I did remove both the front and rear sights for this, and when the rear sight comes off the baseplate the sight rests on also comes off. That leaves the rifle looking sleeker for the scope.

So, this sounds like I'm building up to tell you that the Bronco doesn't group, but I'm not going to say that at all. Even under these adverse conditions, this little Bronco is a wonderful shooter. But it only wanted to shoot domed pellets on this blustery day, and there's a big tip for you guys.

Last year on American Airgunner we demonstrated the performance of wadcutters versus domed pellets at 10 yards and again at 40 yards. At 10 yards the domes, which were Beeman Kodiaks, shot close to the same as the wadcutters with the Kodiaks being slightly more accurate. I forget which brand of wadcutter we used, but they were also good pellets.

However, when we backed up to 40 yards, the Kodiaks were still shooting five-shot groups of less than one half inch, while the wadcutters opened up to over an inch and a half. One was as large as three inches! As the frosting on the cake a fly landed on the target with the camera running and Paul Capello hit him dead center with a Kodiak. And, for the benefit of both Wayne and Kevin, Paul was shooting an Air Arms S410 for this test.

The point is this--wadcutters are great out to 10 meters and they will work on calm days out to 25 yards, but they are the absolute worst long-range pellets you can use. And, if there is a wind of any kind, forget them.

But Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets performed admirably. They gave good five-shot groups and they gave good 10-shot groups, as well. I suspect they didn't group as well as they might if there were no wind, but I wanted so much to do this test that I bulldozed through all the problems.

First group of five Premier 7.9-grain pellets at 20 yards was reasonable, given the wind.

Ten Premier 7.9-grain pellets at 20 yards grouped well. I adjusted the scope a couple clicks down and to the right for this group.

For the record I also tried JSB Exact domes in the 8.4-grain weight. Through the scope it didn't look like they did very well, but when I examined the target I saw a different story. They looked as though they might out-group the Premiers.

Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets at 20 yards grouped surprisingly well. I lost the group in the scope and couldn't see it until I went up to the target. Had the day been nicer I would have shot more of these. Note the POI shift when a different pellet was used. There was no scope adjustment before shooting this one.

The day was well below freezing and I wasn't motivated to remain out very long--especially with the wind fighting me at every turn. So I will call this an abbreviated test that I will repeat in the not-too-distant future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Breech-seating tests - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Today's test was inspired by the velocity test I did with the Belgian Hy Score 801 rifle I reported on a few weeks ago. You may remember that rifle shot much faster with the pellets seated deep in the breech. Because there was a breech-seating tool built right into the rifle, seating deep came naturally, but it got me wondering whether deep-seating is something we ought to be doing most of the time. Several readers did tests that showed no improvement with higher-powered spring rifles, so I guessed the technique only worked well on lower-powered springers. After you see today's results, though, I think you'll be scratching your heads, just as I am.

To keep this test inside a reasonable time limit, I decided to test two different rifles with two different pellets. I chose the new Air Venturi Bronco and a Slavia 631 I have because these two are close in power but also separated to some extent. I knew the Slavia was the slightly more powerful rifle and wanted to see what difference that would make.

For pellets, I chose Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets and RWS Hobbys. The Premiers are heavier than the Hobbys, plus they're made of harder lead. The Hobbys have wider skirts, so we should be able to see if any of the pellet's design matters to this test.

First the Bronco with Premiers
The Bronco went first with unseated 7.9-grain Premiers. I seated these pellets flush with the breech and pushed them tight so they wouldn't fall out. That's not a problem with the Bronco, but with some guns the pellets do want to fall out unless you press them in hard. This is especially true of some models made in China.

The unseated Premiers averaged 548 f.p.s. with a spread from 542 to 551 f.p.s. The rifle felt smooth shooting these pellets.

Then, I seated the Premiers with a Bic-type ballpoint pen, known in Europe as a Biro. The pellet seats about an eighth of an inch into the bore, and the pen stops when the tapered point contacts the diameter of the bore. You are simple pushing the writing end of the pen into the pellet's skirt, which pushes the pellet straight into the barrel. So, every seating is the same. The average velocity for seated pellets was 527 f.p.s. with a spread from 522 to 529 f.p.s. The firing behavior was smooth once more. Thus, we see that the consistency of velocity remained when the pellets were seated deeply, but the average dropped about 20 f.p.s.

Now, the Slavia 631 with Premiers
The Slavia 631 averaged 600 f.p.s. with unseated Premiers, with a range from 594 to 606 f.p.s. Once, again, the pellets were pushed in hard with the thumb, though the 631 doesn't have a problem dropping pellets from the breech. The firing behavior was full of a lot of vibration and some forward recoil. I probably would not have noticed it in any other test, but after shooting the smooth Bronco it really stood out.

When the pellets were seated deeply, they averaged 534 f.p.s. with a spread from 529 to 545 f.p.s. So, the velocity spread opened up when the pellets were seated deep, and the average dropped 66 f.p.s. As with the unseated pellets, the vibration pattern was full of vibration and forward recoil.

Now, the Bronco with Hobbys
With RWS Hobbys, the Bronco averaged 553 f.p.s. In fact, only one shot of 10 went any other velocity, and that one went 554 f.p.s. From a performance standpoint, the Bronco likes Hobbys a lot.

Deep-seating brings a big surprise
When they were seated deep the Hobbys averaged 515 f.p.s. with a spread from 493 to 547 f.p.s. Not a performance that you would think was any good except for one thing. These deep-seated pellets shot so butter-smooth that it felt like Ivan Hancock had personally tuned the rifle. All firing impulse went away. Curiously, the gun started to produce smoke with every shot. That's what I meant when I said the results of this test were puzzling. If I hadn't been chronographing them, I would have thought that I'd found the most ideal situation for the Bronco, which gave me an idea for the future. Since I have two more accuracy tests coming for the Bronco, I'll include Hobby pellets and will try them both flush-seated and deep-seated to see what they do on paper.

The Slavia 631 with Hobbys
The Slavia 631 averaged 659 f.p.s. with Hobbys seated flush. They ranged from 653 to 667 f.p.s. The firing behavior of the rifle was very harsh.

When the Hobbys were seated deep, the average velocity was 564 f.p.s. with a spread from 545 to 573. So the rifle lost 100 f.p.s. on average and the velocity spread opened up considerably. Once again, though, the rifle became much smoother-shooting. I didn't notice any dieseling with these pellets seated deeply.

I don't know about you, but this little test has really caused me to think about the deep-seating situation. I note, for example, that both rifles shot faster with flush-seated pellets. I thought the Bronco might be faster with deep-seating. That leads me to wonder how representative the little 801 really is. Is it possible that unless a gun has a very small swept volume in the compression chamber that flush-seating is usually the best was to go? Is that even a true statement? I don't know the answers to any of this yet, so it appears there are a lot of things that need to be studied.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Precharged pneumatic (PCP) airgun fears

by B.B. Pelletier

Don't forget today's Facebook event from 10 to 11 a.m., Eastern. I'll be answering airgun questions on Facebook on this Pyramyd Air Facebook page. To see the discussion, you must have a free Facebook account. You do not have to be a recognized Friend of Pyramyd Air to ask me a question.

If you want to set up a Facebook account, register on the link provided above. Once you have an account, sign in and then click on the link above once more to go to the page. Please join me, if you're able!

On to today's report. On Wednesday, two important things happened. One was a reader who commented that his reluctance toward precharged pneumatics was based on fear. I can understand that, because it was my reason for staying away from them, too. I saw the movie Jaws and remembered the shark blowing up when the scuba tank was shot with a Garand. Of course, in 1995, when I started with PCPs, the Mythbusters TV show didn't exist, so nobody had yet demonstrated on television how false and "Hollywood" that explosion really was. It served as a big caution to many like me who also saw it.

The other important thing that happened on Wednesday, happened on the range. While testing a new pellet in an AirForce Condor, the pellet, which was tight in the bore, caused the Condor's valve to stick open and exhaust all the air in the 490 cc Condor tank in less than a second. My shoulder was shoved straight back about three inches, which is about the same distance that a Winchester .458 Magnum cartridge will push me back. There was no pain, though, because the push was a rocket-like event rather than a sharp jolt, but it served to remind me of just how much potential power is in one of those tanks.

Today, I'm going to address the issue of fear. I will tell you what I know for certain and what I have reliable reports for. I will not speculate.

Scuba-tank rockets
If something strikes the valve on a scuba tank hard enough to break it off, will the tank become a lethal rocket? Yes, it will. You don't have to look any farther than the Mythbusters to watch such an event. This link will take you to a Mythbusters fan club website where what was shown on the TV show is discussed in print. So, if you don't want to watch a video, this place will still give you what you need to know.

When I was in Germany in the 1970s, a large oxygen welding tank tipped over in one of our motor pools and the valve struck something hard on the way down. The valve sheared off and the tank took off like a rocket. It did a lot of damage but, fortunately, no one was hit. My experience on Wednesday with a 490cc Condor tank exhausting all its air through the valve is another reminder of what can happen when everything lets go at once.

Scuba-tank explosions
Never saw one, heard of a couple third-hand. But a hydrostatic testing station once told me that in ten years of operation they had one scuba tank fail catastrophically (explode). It failed at the threads in the neck where the valve is attached. They told me the threads are the most common place for tanks to fail. But this one failed while under test, which means it failed when it was filled with water instead of air and was enclosed inside a larger pressure vessel buried in the floor of the facility. There was a loud sound when it failed, but nothing else happened, because water is not compressible. When something fails that is full of pressurized water or hydraulic oil pressure there cannot be a dangerous explosion.

PCP reservoir explosions
Only heard stories. Nothing that I can confirm.

PCP fill-hose explosions
This I had happen to me, personally. It was with my first Daystate Huntsman. The fill hose was a rubber hose that wasn't armored, and it exploded while I was filling the rifle. The hose was operating at the maximum allowable working pressure for which it was rated, which is cutting things thin. The hose suddenly developed a bubble the size of a walnut and exploded with a noise that sounded like a concussion grenade to me. I'm sure it was nowhere near that loud, but I was stunned for several seconds. After that happened I started paying some attention to the hoses I fill from. Now, I use either a hose that has an armored outer shell of woven steel wire, a microbore hose rated for much greater pressure or refill clamps such as the one AirForce makes that don't have any hoses.

PCP rifle explosions
Pyramyd Air has a Korean rifle in their possession that a customer tried to operate on pure oxygen. He called Josh Ungier and asked why there were blue flames coming out of his gun when it fired. After discovering what the guy was doing, Josh advised him that he was risking his life, but the medical technician told him that the oxygen was free to him and just too convenient not to use. Here are some photos of the gun that was finally returned to Pyramyd Air for repairs.

This is what happens when a VERY HOT flame is held against aluminum for a long time! It looks like a cutting torch has been used on this gun from the inside out. This is how the Korean PCP looked after it caught fire and burned from using pure oxygen as a propellant. Yes, the stolen oxygen was cheap until this happened.

Note the discoloration of the anodizing. Forensic scientists use clues like this and the bending of the steel barrel to determine how much heat caused the damage and how long the fire lasted. An oxygen fire is a dangerous thing. This rifle was returned to Pyramyd Air as defective by a person who had been warned not to do this.

Besides this one example, I have heard a few stories of air rifles exploding, but all of them were third-hand. Nothing can be verified.

Some common sense
To complete my PCP dangers report, I thought it would be nice to reflect on some things we know for sure. For starters, many of us operate multi-pump pneumatics without fear. They operate at a pressure of 1,200-1,500 psi, according to an experiment done by W.H.B. Smith back in the 1950s. And we use CO2 guns without fear. They operate at 853 psi at 70 degrees F. But CO2 pressure rises very fast as the temperature rises. On hot days, CO2 guns will climb to over 1,100 psi. If you leave them sitting out in the sun, they'll either lock up from too much pressure or, if you have tanks with burst disks, they can rupture and exhaust all the gas.

We're comfortable to the point of ignorance when it comes to pressures up to 1,500 psi. Therefore, the Benjamin Discovery, which operates at just 2,000 psi, should be a PCP that's close to your tolerance threshold.

Meditate on this for a moment. You're in no greater danger when riding in a safe rowboat that's floating above a 35,000 foot deep ocean trench than you are sitting in the same boat above an 18-foot hole on a bass pond. The concept of floating remains stable regardless of the depth of the water. Pneumatic safety is a lot like that. Yes, the danger is real and present, but the equipment makes it safe.

Pneumatic equipment is designed to withstand way more punishment than it will receive in normal use. It's even engineered to be safe well beyond the operational limits specified on the equipment. But a hot-dog experimenter can set himself up for disaster very quickly, and high-pressure air can be very unforgiving.

I worked for three years in the AirForce Airguns plant. I worked around high-pressure air every day and yet in all that time the only "accident" I saw was caused by a customer who did a very stupid thing. He popped the safety burst disk on his air tank with a sharp pointed instrument. I don't know why he did it, and they never tell you the truth when they tell you their story, but absolutely nothing bad happened. Examination of the disk showed that the metal was bent inward, not outward as a rupture would have done.

I have found that, among thoughtful adults, familiarity with potentially dangerous things doesn't breed contempt as much as it fosters confidence. After you've survived a few months of PCP operations and the scuba tank in your basement/garage hasn't blown the house off its foundations, the occupants of the household start to focus their concerns on other things. If you're a shooter, for example, you may also live with a lot of loaded ammunition in your house. As a reloader, I store many pounds of gunpowder in the house, including several pounds of black powder that is classified as an explosive. Yet gunpowder may not be the most dangerous thing in your home.

One of the last jobs I did in the Army was investigate an apartment explosion that ruined three brick apartments in an 8-plex. The cause was a 5-lb. propane tank that was less than half full. Mud dauber wasps are attracted to the aroma of the garlic-like trace scent that's put into odorless propane gas so leaks can be detected. They like to build nests inside the gas lines. One family thought their barbeque grill tank was empty when the flame went out in late fall, so they stored the barbeque for the winter inside an entrance room at the rear of the house. The fire chief believed that some time during the following spring the mud dauber plug in the gas line loosened, allowing propane to fill the bottom of the room with gas. Then, when the electric compressor motor of the freezer in the room kicked in early one morning, a spark ignited the heavy gas that blew the three apartments wide open.

A pound of black powder won't do that much damage. Maybe 10 pounds will, but I don't know. However, my point is this, we're surrounded by dangerous things at all times. Knowledge, and not fear, is the best way to deal with them. Precharged pneumatic airguns are no more dangerous than parking an automobile full of gasoline in a garage that's attached to your house.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Gamo DynaMax repeater - Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

The new Gamo DynaMax repeater. Gamo product photo.

Before we start, the Friday Facebook event from 10 to 11 a.m., Eastern, is coming up tomorrow. I'll be answering airgun questions on Facebook on this Pyramyd Air Facebook page. To see the discussion, you must have a free Facebook account. You do not have to be a recognized Friend of Pyramyd Air to ask a question.

If you want to set up a Facebook account, register on the link provided above. Once you have an account, sign in and then click on the link above once more to go to the page. Please join me on Friday, if you're able!

Now, let's shoot the Gamo DynaMax PCP! I will say that this session went a lot different than the first time I shot the rifle. Then, I had the Gamo scope that came with the rifle mounted on the DynaMax, and the best 10-shot groups I could get at 50 yards were 1.5 inches across. That was because the scope has a large central dot that obscures a one-inch circle on the target paper, making it impossible to aim precisely.

The magazine was also feeding erratically at that time, so there were lots of jams and stoppages.

During the test I'm now doing for you, the magazine problems seem to have sorted themselves out and the mag now works flawlessly. I mounted a different 4-16x scope on the rifle, this one having thin crosshairs that enabled me to see things as small as 1/8" at 50 yards. So, aiming was no longer a problem.

The day was perfect. Not a single breath of air moved, so shooting outdoors was like shooting inside.

H&N Baracuda
Sight-in took all of five shots, because the rifle was on target through a happy coincidence. The first five shots with H&N Baracudas after that looked very promising.

Five H&N Baracudas made a nice group measuring 0.493" at 50 yards.

That was followed by a 10-shot group of Baracudas that measured 0.946 between the two widest centers. That's very acceptable accuracy at 50 yards. It was also the largest group of 10 Baracudas I shot.

From this point on, I didn't adjust the scope, so the other pellets will appear to move around the target a little, because they all shoot to a different aim point.

Ten H&N Baracudas made a nice group measuring 0.946" at 50 yards.

Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets
Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets gave the tightest group of the day. Ten went into a group measuring 0.541" center-to-center. That's on par with a custom-tuned Ruger 10-22 rifle shooting the best ammo. Please don't confused the 10-shot groups with the 5-shot groups, which will be smaller and also less representative of the rifle's true accuracy.

Ten Crosman Premier heavies made a nice group measuring 0.541" c-t-c at 50 yards.

Air Arms 8.4-grain domes
Air Arms domes were not as good in the DynaMax. Ten of them went into a group measuring 1.192" across the centers at 50 yards. They're probably going way too fast for accuracy.

Ten Air Arms domes went into this 1.192" c-t-c at 50 yards.

A final group of Baracudas
I was filling the DynaMax from a pump, plus I had other guns to test, so these 10-shot groups were taking time. However, I did shoot a final group of 10 Baracudas, just to see where things stood.

Ten H&N Baracudas went into this 0.826" c-t-c at 50 yards. This is a pretty good end to this test.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Some precharged pneumatic basics explained

by B.B. Pelletier

Before we start, I have another plug about the Friday Facebook event from 10 to 11 a.m., Eastern. I'll be answering airgun questions on Facebook on this Pyramyd Air Facebook page. To see the discussion, you must have a free Facebook account. You do not have to be a recognized Friend of Pyramyd Air to ask a question.

If you want to set up a Facebook account, register on the link provided above. Once you have an account, sign in and then click on the link above once more to go to the page. Please join me on Friday, if you're able!

Today, I want to explore some of the basic facts about precharged pneumatic operations, because I sense the time is right. Let me begin with the term precharged pneumatic.

What is a precharged pneumatic airgun?
A precharged pneumatic (PCP) is an airgun that is filled with air and then shot many times before refilling. Compare that to a multi-pump pneumatic that is pumped many times by a built-in pump and then fired just once. To take another shot, the multi-pump has to be pumped up all over again.

Big bores
How many shots each precharged pneumatic gets on a single fill of air depends on just one thing: How much of the stored air is used for each shot? Big bore airguns use incredible amounts of air and, therefore, get very few shots per fill. A Quackenbush .457 Long Action rifle gets two good shots per fill; on mine, the max fill pressure is 3,500 psi. After the second shot, the gun is down to 2,200 pounds per square inch (psi). My rifle gets about 560 foot-pounds of muzzle energy on the first shot and 490 foot-pounds on shot two.

A .50-caliber Career Dragon Slayer can get 5 good shots on a 3,000 psi fill. That rifle generates just under 200 foot-pounds on the first shot and drops off to about 120 foot-pounds by the final shot. And, once again, the pressure in the reservoir will be down to somewhere around 2,000 psi when you're finished. Exactly where it will be depends on how many shots have been fired.

That should answer another question that's often asked: Should you get a scuba tank or a hand pump to fill a big bore? The answer is "neither." To fill a big bore airgun, you really need a carbon fiber tank. I will explain all of this, but right now I need to back up, because this is report is supposed to be basic.

What is a hand pump?
A modern high-pressure hand pump is a mechanical pump that enables a shooter to fill a pressure vessel with air compressed to a very high level by muscle power, alone. Being mechanical, the pump requires effort; and, as the pressure increases, the pumping effort increases with it. From zero up to somewhere above 1,500 psi, the effort is relatively easy and most able adults will have no difficulty pumping. Above about 1,500 psi is where the effort starts to become noticeable. When I say that, I shudder because people come in all shapes and sizes and there is no such thing as a standard person. So, perhaps I should say that above 1,500 psi is where I begin to notice an increase in effort. I once watched an adult woman struggle to pump over 1,600 psi, so please take what I say in that light.

Also, hand pumps fill guns slowly. Think of this. At the tire store the hydraulic lift hoists your car rapidly and with great ease. Now, you try to do the same thing at home with a hydraulic hand pump bought at the hardware store. It goes a little slower, wouldn't you say? That is the difference between filling an airgun from a tank and filling it from a hand pump. If all you need to do is change one flat tire, a hydraulic hand pump is a great little tool. But if you're running a tire store, you want to have five or six bays, each with its own hydraulic lift. If you're going to be a serious PCP shooter, you will need serious air.

It can take 100 to 150 pump strokes of a hand pump to fill a big bore air rifle reservoir. It all depends on the size of the rifle's reservoir.

A big bore gets two to five shots from a fill and drops down to 2,200 psi in the reservoir, then it has to be filled up to between 3,000 and 3,500 psi to shoot again. That happens to be the hardest place for a hand pump to operate; and if it takes 100-150 pumps to refill the gun, what do YOU think about using a hand pump on a big bore? Maybe, only if it's your absolute last alternative? And, yes, I have done it a couple times.

Refilling a smallbore PCP
A smallbore air rifle comes in any of four calibers: .177, .20. .22 or .25. While there are still a great differences among these guns in the amount of air they use per shot, none of them uses anywhere near the amount used by a big bore. So, a smallbore gets many more shots per fill than a big bore. The most powerful guns of the bunch get the fewest number of shots because they use the most air. The AirForce Condor is one of the most powerful factory-made smallbores and has a special valve to extract the maximum number of powerful shots per fill. It also has one of the largest air reservoirs on the market. A Condor can get about 20 shots on a single fill when the power is set to its maximum.

Stepping down in power to an Air Arms S410, you may get up to about 35 or even 45 shots on full power. The actual number depends on the distance at which you're shooting and the velocity variation you can tolerate. Given that many shots, a hand pump may be a viable option for the shooter who is in shape, doesn't mind a little work and takes a while to shoot all those shots.

But in 2008, Benjamin brought out the Discovery rifle. It's a low-cost PCP that operates on just 2,000 psi. It's much easier to fill from a hand pump than most of the guns on the market. The Discovery gets about 25 shots from its fill. Not only is the work easier, but there are also a decent number of shots when you're done. The Discovery is a PCP that's designed to be filled by a hand pump. But if you use a scuba tank to fill one, you'll still be able to fill your Discovery all the way after other PCPs have drained the tank to the point that it needs to be refilled. That's another bonus.

A scuba tank
We talk about scuba tanks as though they are all the same, and they aren't. They come in different sizes and have different fill pressures, all of which affects the amount of air they contain. One very common scuba tank is an aluminum 80-cubic-foot tank. That means that the tank holds 80 cubic feet of air, not that the tank has an internal volume of 80 cubic feet. Since air compresses, what they are talking about is the number of cubic feet of air at sea-level pressure that is being filled into the tank. Since this particular scuba tank is rated to 3,000 psi, it can hold 80 cubic feet of sea-level air, when that air is compressed to 3,000 pounds per square inch (psi).

The pressure of air at sea level is about 14.56 psi. That number divides into 3,000 just about 206 times, so each cubic foot of air is being compressed about 206 times to get 80 of them into this scuba tank. By the way, that's where the pressure unit bar comes from. So, 206 bar equal 3,000 psi.

There are other types of scuba tanks. I have a couple little ones that hold only 6 cubic feet of air at 3,000 psi. They're used just to top off a gun during a match or when hunting. There are 120 cubic-foot, 3,500 psi steel tanks that aren't much larger than an 80 cubic-foot aluminum tank. Because they're steel, they hold higher pressure safely, so the same volume holds half again as much air (120 cubic-feet compared to 80 cubic-feet). I used to own a scuba tank that held air pressurized to only 2,200 psi. It was useless for filling most PCPs, with the exception of the Benjamin Discovery. So, don't think that all scuba tanks are the same.

Carbon fiber tanks
A carbon fiber tank is a breathing tank that is not for underwater. They're used mostly by rescue workers such as firefighters. Like scuba tanks, they also come in sizes, although their fill pressures tend to not vary as much. An 88 cubic-foot, 4,500 psi carbon fiber tank holds only 8 cubic-feet more air than an 80 cubic-foot scuba tank, but it does so with a very important difference. Since the carbon fiber tank is pressurized to a higher level than a scuba tank, it has more high-pressure air available. Consequently, there are a great many more full fills for any given gun in one of these carbon fiber tanks than in a scuba tank. You might be able to fill a PCP to 3,000 psi two times from a 3,000 psi scuba tank, and after that the next fill might end at 2,975 psi. After that you'll stop at 2,925 psi, then 2,850 psi and so on.

But, a carbon fiber tank that's pressurized to 4,500 psi will continue to fill a PCP to 3,000 psi many times. Perhaps, as many as 18-20 times, depending on the gun. So, we say the carbon fiber tank has about nine times more full fills in it than in a typical scuba tank. That's why the carbon fiber tank is so valuable.

Carbon fiber tanks have an aluminum bladder inside the carbon-fiber winding. Since the carbon fiber strengthens the bladder so much, the aluminum can be thinner and yet withstand even greater pressure. Therefore, an 88 cubic-foot carbon fiber tank weighs only about half as much as a scuba tank. That's a lot more full fills for your guns at half the weight. What's not to like? Well, there's the additional cost of the more expensive carbon fiber tank; but if you can get past that, there are very few reasons not to get one.

Why higher air pressure doesn't make your PCP shoot any faster
Think of a PCP gun as a car. Put in the correct fill, let's say 3,000 psi, and the gun shoots fine. As the pressure drops it still shoots fine because that is how it is engineered to operate. Fill a car with gas and it will go far and fast. But, try though you might, you cannot put in five more gallons of gas than the tank is designed to hold. Even if you could, the car would still go the same speed. It's not designed to go any faster.

Put a longer barrel on a PCP and it probably will shoot faster, just as taller tires will make a car go faster. But there are limits. Too long a barrel is ungainly, just as too-tall tires handle poorly.

How many shots can I get?
This question commonly comes from someone who is looking at their first purchase of a PCP with the same enthusiasm as an insurance underwriter looks at smokers' lives. Do you want the baritone to sing a moving song or are you just interested in how much of the alphabet he can burp?

What I mean by that is this. Shooting accurate shots is a goal. Hunting with clean kills is a goal. Shooting a PCP for as long as it will still poop out a pellet is a college prank. There's no useful purpose to that number, but a nickel-sized 75-yard group is appreciated by everybody. Find out what the gun you want will really do by asking those who really do it on a regular basis. Forget the online wizards with their tin-can technology and witches-brew lubricants that promise you Nirvana for $89, plus shipping.

Now, it's time for all of you readers who are prospective first-time buyers of precharged airguns to do your part. I really want to hear your questions about PCP guns, Don't worry about embarrassing yourselves because you don't know everything. Around here, we wait until you're an old hand and comfortable with us before we start embarrassing you.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

How and when PA got started - Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Before we start, I have an announcement. On Friday, I'll be answering airgun questions on Facebook on this Pyramyd Air Facebook page. To see the discussion that runs from 10-11 a.m., Eastern, you must have a free Facebook account. You do not have to be a recognized Friend of Pyramyd Air to ask a question.

If you want to set up a Facebook account, register on the link provided above. Once you have an account, sign in and then click on the link above once more to go to the page. Please join me on Friday, if you're able!

Today, you'll read Part 4 of how Pyramyd Air began. This story is written by the company's owner and founder, Joshua Ungier.

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

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'll edit each submission, but we won't work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

How and when PA got started - Part 4

by Joshua Ungier

This story picks up at the point where I left you at the end of Part 3 in January.

We landed at Sheremetyevo-1 airport just after 1800 hours. Moscow was frozen solid. We hailed a taxi. It was an old Volga, with its windshield cracked all the way across. Bone-chilling cold and howling wind forced snow to fly parallel to the ground. Narrow streets were funneling and amplifying the howling wind to a dangerous velocity. Any debris not pinned under ice and snow was airborne. The sidewalks were empty. Walking was impossible.

GAZ-24 "Volga" prototype in 1967.

Snow and ice piled up in front of the hotel entrance were blocking the door. "Do not worry. I will get you to the door" our driver announced. Before we realized it, he drove up onto the sidewalk to the door of the lobby. We all laughed.

"Why are you laughing? There are no pedestrians, so I drive!" He handled our heavy suitcases with moves of a practiced juggler. We doubled his pay in dollars. He drove off happy. "If you need me, I will come back tomorrow." He said. We were not so sure about that.

We entered the hotel lobby through a meandering glass corridor through which we funneled into a single file. With the glass walls on both sides of us, we were scrutinized at all times by the hotel "security." We felt like we were in a fish tank. At the end of the walkway, a video camera with a red light blinking furiously copied every move we made.

Further down the corridor, a bored and scruffy gorilla, dressed as a guard, demanded, "Dokumenty." We all obliged. He glanced at our passport photos and our faces repeatedly. Clearly aggressive and irritated by something, he shoved them back to us. We stood there waiting for further abuse. It came swiftly.

Glaring at us he demanded: "Kto mezdu wami govorit po Russki?" (Who among you speaks Russian?) As rehearsed, we looked at each other, reached into our pockets and pulled out pocket-sized dictionaries. Although I speak Russian fluently, I decided to pretend I did not. Just for fun.

Pretending not to understand what he said I shrug my shoulders with a look of total ignorance and offered him my dictionary opened to the Russian - English page. Without accepting it, he continued in broken English "You speak Russian?" It could have been an act. Or may be not.

"No one here does" I replied quickly before someone pointed to me.

"Nu. Poshli togda!" Meaning "Mosey on now." he growled. As we turned to walk away he said loudly enough for all in the room to hear: "Amerikanskiye svolochi. Parazity." What an ass I thought. I did not turn around. I am sure that is what he wanted.

"What did he say?" they all asked.

A few steps away from the guard's ear, I translated in a whisper, "American scum. Parasites. He really does not like us, does he?"

The elevator took us up to the ninth floor. A smell of cheap cigarettes wafted through the dark and dingy corridor. At the end of the long corridor behind an old desk sat a homely old woman. As soon as she saw us, she began to scribble something in a thick journal. She was in charge of the floor. A chaperone, you might say. With her pencil, she wrote down who we were, where we went, when and with whom we arrived.

Unmarried women were not allowed alone in a room with a man. To have that privilege you must bring proof of marriage in a form of a certificate or pay a bribe to the guard downstairs and to the "chaperone" on your floor.

We retired to our rooms. After a rusty brown-water shower and a sleeping pill, I flipped on the TV. A horror movie! John Wayne talking to George Kennedy in Russian. The Duke, dubbed! Is there no end to blasphemy? I promptly turned off the tube. Whew! The next morning I arose and prepared for the day.

Our departure for the USA was not scheduled until early the following morning, so we had a whole day in Moscow to ourselves. Around 8 a.m., we all gathered in the hotel lobby and planned the rest of the day. We all agreed to meet at Pizza Hut at 1600 hrs. Yes, I said the Pizza Hut. My friend implied that he had heard we could order beer with our pizza.

Every cab driver in Moscow knows where the Pizza Hut is located a "concierge" assured us. Having all day to ourselves, we all split up and drove off in different directions. I stopped at a McDonald's. Yes. There are several of them in Moscow. The first one opened 20 years ago. Although I am not normally a Big Mac lover, I could not help it! I needed it! Well...a Big Mac in Moscow tastes exactly like it does in USA. For a while I was back home. Oh...home!

I asked the driver to stay with me for the rest of the day. I gave him $100 to do so. He eagerly agreed. "There is another $50 for you at the end of the day," I said. I was not worried now that he would split as soon as I got out of the cab. We were driving by Tretiyakowskaya Galeria--an amazing art gallery. I got lost. The cab with its engine running was always waiting for me. In broken English, he asked me if I would like to see a new international sporting goods store that opened the week before. It was just around the corner. I agreed.

I do not remember the name of the store, but it was big--very big. The walls were emblazoned by statuesque figures of men and women in perfect physical shape and beauty. Some were holding tennis rackets others were shown with bows or rifles. Other posters were of water skiers.

On the opposite wall there were posters of young men and women holding, what appeared to be competition pistols. Above that area, a poster proclaimed "Vozdushnoje oruzje" or "Air Guns." The store was crowded. The cold outside made people linger longer than usual. Some people were waiting for a bus that stops outside the door.

I was standing in the middle of the store looking around when I noticed cameras all over the place. There was a mirror behind each cash register that I am almost positive was a one-way mirror. Each of them was crudely framed with a cheap plastic strap. Light seeping through a crack between the wall and the mirror gave away its function.

I felt a tap on my shoulder. I stepped forward two steps and then turned around. In front of me stood a middle-aged man. His jacket showed its age by the intensity of brown-colored spots made by coffee spilled over the ages. He reeked of cheap tobacco and beer. A technique he probably used to mask his body odor. "What do you want?" I asked, clearly disturbed by him.

A familiar word came out of his mouth, "Dokumenty."

I was just about to snap and tell him what to do with himself when I realized that Americans are a welcome addition to the local jails. So, I produced my passport. He looked at me and than at the photograph a dozen times. "It is me. I did not shave this morning." I said it in English. He looked up for the last time and handed back my passport, at which point I figured we were finished. It took me a while, walking through the crowd, to get over to the airgun counter.

A large counter across the showroom had a dozen air pistols under glass. Most were German and French. Several Russian air pistols were intermixed among them. I recognized none. A line of air rifle barrels was propped up against the wall. Among them was the familiar IZH 60 I had seen earlier in Tashkent.

I took out a pocket-sized camera borrowed from my friend and pointed it at the display. Almost immediately the foul smell materialized at my side. "No photo! No photo. Nielzia!" or "Not permitted!" I put away the camera.

"May I take a look?" I asked in English.

A young woman behind the counter looked at me and said "Izvenitie?" (Excuse me?) The man translated for her my request. I looked at him a bit surprised.

"I talk great English good. Right?"

"Riiight" I said. "You sure does." He smiled, pleased with himself.

The young lady handed me the rifle. This time I examined the rifle more thoroughly than in Tashkent. I was clearly surprised. Light rifle, extendable stock. A modern-looking gun. The walls were covered with Chinese air guns. There were a few French and East German air guns. The Slavia 630 and 631 were also well-represented.

"Do you have any American airguns?" I asked the woman.

She understood the word American. "No. No American ."

"Strange!" I thought out loud. "What about Crosman or Beeman? How about Daisy?"

"No. No American.”

A young man standing next to me looked at me curiously.

"Are you American?" He asked in English.

"Yes I am."

"We need American rifles." He said. "I see them in magazines."

My smelly shadow never left my side. "Don't you have something better to do than to follow me around?" I said quietly.

"Don't be stupid" he replied. "Now everyone knows you are an American. You look like an American and smell like an American. I am protecting you."

"You smell my soap, Irish Spring, and my American mouth wash. You know what soap is. Don't you," I replied. He spat on the floor, cursed me loudly in Russian (I will not translate this part!) and walked away. I spent another fifteen minutes looking around, then left the store. My cab was waiting with its engine running.

"Pizza Hut!" I announced.

"Net problemy," responded the driver.

We all showed up on time. We had pizza with beer! Yes! You can buy beer with pizza in Moscow.

It was a tight squeeze in the cab on the way back to the hotel. And when we arrived they had another surprise for us. While we were out being tourists, our rooms were ransacked. My Cannon, along with rolls of the films from Tashkent, were gone. My favorite black cowboy hat along with my parka and some other items were also missing. Apparently, the safe combination and the room key are available to more people than just me.

The rest of the party did not fare any better. I called for the hotel "security" and told him what had happened. He arrived at my room a few minutes later.

"The floor supervisor (the lady at the end of the corridor) saw nothing, heard nothing, and knows nothing," he said. Just like Sergeant Shultz! I thought.

The policy of keeping passports and airline tickets with us at all times paid off. We could still leave Moscow. I asked the driver to come back the next day with another cab to accommodate all of us, plus our now less-full baggage.

On the way to the airport the next morning, to kill time, I spoke to Jethro about the airguns. He said he had a dozen at home and on the farm. They were to keeps pests away and so on. Apparently, everyone in my group except my partner and me had airguns.

Fourteen hours later, I was home to a hot shower, bagels and cream cheese with lox and tomatoes and sweet onions. Just what the doctor ordered.

The next morning on the way to the office, I got a call from Joshi. He loved the samples from Uzbekistan, so I was done. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a sign: "Atlantic Gun and Tackle." Why not stop in? There was not a single Russian, German, French or Czech airgun in the place. However, there were lots of Crosman, Beeman and Daisy guns.

I finished my marble and lumber obligations and never looked back.

Then I started thinking about airguns in earnest.

A few trips later to Russia, I found a partner to import American airguns to Russia while I imported Russian airguns to USA. The deal did not work out, and I decided to start on my own.

And that's how Pyramyd Air got started. It started in the basement of my house.

But that's another story....In my next and last installment, I will try to go into more detail as time and memory permit.

To my wonderful readers.

I so appreciate your interest and words of support for my writing. I am not a writer by any means. In my own way, I wanted to share some of my memories from years past. Some of the things I remember are hard to describe in words. How does one describe hundreds of 60-ft. high transmission towers standing in a row cowered with a thin coating of ice looking like ghosts against an intensely blue cloudless sky, temperature of -43C, (six degrees warmer than an hour before) wires hung low and parallel to the road and coated with a paper-thin blanket of ice? With the slightest touch of wind, a crackle of broken ice showers down like cut diamonds. That is what went on for miles.

As I remember any interesting vignettes from my trips, I will be glad to continue to share them with you.


Monday, February 08, 2010

Gamo Dynamax repeater - Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

The new Gamo DynaMax repeater. Gamo product photo.

Before I start today's report, I have a couple bits of news to pass along. The first regards pellet packing. I learned what is causing the problem many readers have reported this past week. Pyramyd Air ran out of pellet packing materials for their special packing process about a week ago and have been packing pellets with brown paper as cushioning. Now, most shipments made it through just fine, but some were damaged by rough treatment during shipping. Pyramyd Air has replaced all damaged pellets that were reported to them, as is their policy, but the sudden change in operations caused a lot of discussion on the web.

They are aware of the problem this has caused and have a rush order for more packing materials so they can get back to their special way of packing, but several hundred orders have already been affected. The volume of pellet orders they process in one week's time is larger than some other dealers' quarterly output. I, myself, have an order in for about a dozen tins of pellets, so I'm in line like everybody else.

The shipments packed this way are still in the pipeline and may be for the next week or more. Pyramyd Air ships over a thousand packages on a slow day, and a lot of those packages contain pellets, so the effect is widespread.

If you receive a shipment from Pyramyd Air that contains damaged pellets, report it and they will take care of it for you.

Now, on to the next topic. I see that I did a thorough four-part report on the IZH 61 in 2007. There really is nothing new I can say about that rifle, unless you readers can think of something I left out the last time.

What I have not tested is the single-shot IZH model 60. So, that one is due a test, and I plan of doing it for you.

Now, let's get back to the Gamo DynaMax PCP test. Today, we'll look at velocity and the operation of the DynaMax powerplant.

Filling the gun all the way
You will recall that I mentioned that the DynaMax fill pressure is 232 bar, which is 3,365 psi. Only three hand pumps currently on the market go that high-- the Hill pump, the Air Venturi G4 hand pump (which delivers lower pressure, but only by a hair) and the pump that both Benjamin and AirForce use. The Hill pump and the Air Venturi G4 pump both come with 1/8" BSPP threads on the ends of their hoses, so the DynaMax fill adapter screws right on. For those with either the AirForce pump or the Benjamin pump, an adapter will be required to connect the pump to the DynaMax fill adapter.

I filled the rifle to 232 bar and began the test. The first thing I was interested in was the number of full-power shots I could get from a fill. Remember, the Gamo literature said there were about 30 shots per fill. I used H&N Baracudas (the same pellets the old Beeman company sold as Kodiaks) and got the following results.

Shot #...Velocity

This performance curve is very close to what I expected, except the high point was higher than anticipated. At 953 f.p.s. the Dynamax is generating 21.38 foot-pounds. Taking a more central figure, like 935 f.p.s., the rifle generates 20.58 foot-pounds at the muzzle with 10.6-grain H&N Baracudas. And there are almost exactly 30 shots, as promised. So, shoot three magazines and then refill with air if you're using a 232-bar fill.

Filling the gun to 3,000 psi
Since not everybody can fill to 3,365 psi or 232 bar, I promised to also test the DynaMax at 3,000 psi and test another string. I told you that the velocity would not be less, but the number of shots you could get at full power would decrease. Sort of like putting less than a full tank of gas in your car doesn't affect how fast you can go, only how far. Once again, the H&N Baracuda pellet was used.

Shot #...Velocity

The way I read this, the rifle gets about 16 good shots on a 3,000 psi fill, but there's no harm with going to 20 shots unless you're hunting sparrows at 65 yards.

Did you notice that this time the rifle shot four shots that were faster than the fastest shot fired when I filled to 232 bar? Please don't take this one test and construct a whole new religion from it! Instead, look at what might be causing this result. The rifle may be breaking in. The rifle may be loosening up after sitting dormant in my office for several weeks. If I were to run the test again, the results would probably be different, and we couldn't draw conclusions from that, either.

The velocity drop-off at the end of the power curve seems to be the same in both tests, which is characteristic of what some powerful PCPs do. The rifle tapers off near the end, then suddenly drops velocity by a large amount and does not rebound from that. Every PCP has its own performance curve, and it seems this is what the test DynaMax does.

Let's test some other pellets.

Continuing the test
The first pellet tested was the Gamo Raptor. This non-lead pellet has a deserved reputation for going very fast, and I wanted to see how close the DynaMax came to its advertised velocity of 1200 f.p.s. Pretty close, it turns out. The average was 1183 f.p.s., with a high of 1191 and a low of 1169. At the average velocity, this 5.4-grain pellet generates 16.78 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellet was next. It averaged 945 f.p.s., with a spread from 931 to 950 f.p.s. It generated an average of 20.83 foot-pounds.

Next, I tried Crosman's Destroyer 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 1052 f.p.s., with a spread from 1041 to 1064. That's an average energy of 19.42 foot-pounds.

Finally, I tested Air Arms domes, which are made by JSB and closely resemble Exacts of the same weight. They averaged 1032 f.p.s., with a spread from 1024 to 1037 f.p.s. That's an average energy of 19.87 foot pounds.

Other observations
The DynaMax magazine was sticky in the beginning. As I shot the gun more, it loosened up; by the end of this test, the magazine was functioning fine. And this is the easiest magazine I've ever taken out of a PCP. There's nothing that holds it back. Once the bolt and mag release are out of the way, the mag comes out easily.

All pellets fit the chambers of the magazine loosely. So much so that I had to load the gun when it was level if I wanted the last pellet to stay inside the magazine.

Cocking the rifle as a separate operation after loading will take some getting used to. I forgot to pull back on the cocking button several times during this test.

The two-stage trigger-pull is light and crisp. It breaks with just 22 oz., most of which is in stage two, but some of which is in the first stage. That makes stage two feel even lighter. It's a good trigger.

I'll test accuracy next. Given the power the gun generates, I'll go out to at least 40 yards if not 50.

Friday, February 05, 2010

BKL rings - Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Yes, that really is a link to Part 1 of this report. But I combined it with Part 3 of the report on the Hammerli Razor, so it may confuse you. I bet most of you forgot that I was doing this test, so here's the background.

BKL mounts are of interest to airgunners, especially those who shoot springers, because they claim to hold fast to 11 mm dovetail grooves with clamping pressure, alone. Back in the days when I wrote The Airgun Letter, I had occasion to test that claim and found that it came up short. The rings did move from the recoil of a lowly CZ 631 spring rifle.

The BKL company soldiered on until 2007, when they quietly left the marketplace. They were quite popular with airgunners. In late 2008, AutoNumatic, the parent company of AirForce Airguns, bought the BKL company, including all its rights and work in-process. In early 2009, they brought the first new BKL rings to market and throughout the year quietly built up inventory as the word spread that they were back.

The test
I started my test of the very popular 260 MB model in September 2009. I selected the Hammerli Razor as a testbed simply because I happened to be testing it at the time, though the Razor has a pretty snappy recoil. The gun was shot over 100 times for accuracy then about an additional 400 shots after that. I say about because to tell the truth I lost count somewhere during the test. However, a lot of shots went through the rifle with the BKL one-piece model 260 MB rings mounted. And the scope it was holding was a Bushnell Trophy 6-18x, which is not a light scope. If there was going to be movement, this combination should have produced it.

BKL 260 has six clamping screws, shown here. The three holes accept a clamping screw that can spread the clamp jaws to go on a rifle with a larger-width dovetail.

Here are photos of the four witness tapes at the start of the test and at the finish. One is at each corner of the base of the mount.

Tape at the left rear of base when first installed.

At the end of the test, tape at the left rear of base shows no movement.

Tape at the left front of base when first installed.

At the end of the test, tape at the left front of base shows no movement.

Tape at the right front of base when first installed.

At the end of the test, tape at the right front of base shows no movement.

Tape at the right rear of base when first installed. If the mount moves, it will either curl the tape or move away from it. Either way it will be visible.

At the end of the test, tape at the right rear of base shows no movement.

So, there you go. No detectable movement of this BKL mount holding a heavy scope for about 500 shots on a briskly recoiling spring rifle.

The next test
But you know what? That's not enough. We all know there are spring rifles that have legendary recoil. Guns like the Webley Patriot that was also sold by the old Beeman company as the Kodiak. That rifle has been known to break scopes with its vicious recoil. We won't be satisfied until the mount proves its strength on a brute like that!

I don't own a Webley Patriot or a Beeman Kodiak; but, fortunately, John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce Airguns does, and I'm using it for this test. If the BKL 260 MB can ride out another 500 shots, this time on a Webley Patriot, then there won't be much anyone can say, except that it works as advertised.

Why a scope mount without a scope stop?
It's time to answer the big question. Why would anyone need a scope mount that doesn't have a scope stop built in? Well, for many airguns, there's no need whatsoever. Pneumatics and CO2 guns don't have enough recoil to put a strain on a scope ring set no matter how large the scope in them might be. And even some spring guns such as the new Bronco have such low recoil that any good scope ring set will hold without a positive scope stop.

But as spring guns start to develop power, their recoil becomes both quicker and more pronounced. Remember, it was a Slavia 631 that defeated the first BKL mount I tested. Riding out the recoil of a Webley Patriot would be the ultimate challenge for a mount that holds by clamping pressure, alone.

I'll switch the scope to the Patriot and give you a full report.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Hy Score 801 - Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Hy Score model 801 is a handsome vintage spring rifle.

Let's look at accuracy today. I shot the 801 at 10 meters, resting it on the backs of my fingers and using the artillery hold. Someone asked me last week which breakbarrels require the artillery hold, and I will say that all of them do. In fact, nearly all spring guns require it, with the possible exception of the RWS Diana 54. The jury is still out on that one. Some rifles, such as the TX 200 and the RWS Diana 48 and 52, are less sensitive to different holds, but in my experience they all need it. In fact, John Whiscombe once counseled me that even his rifles need to be held that way!

Of course, all pellets were seated with the pellet seater. After the lesson learned in Part 2, I probably won't forget to do that for the rest of my life. And we now know that spring guns up to the power of a Slavia 630 benefit from deep-seating, thanks to Cowboy Star Dad. So, we're narrowing the field.

One more thing I want you to notice. Watch how the point of impact moves with different pellets. It's a lesson in why you need to sight-in with a specific pellet.

RWS Hobbys
RWS Hobbys scattered over a wide area. They may be cheap and fast, but they're not right for this rifle. I would have thought they would do better because they're a larger pellet, but no dice in the 801.

Five RWS Hobbys gave this open group at 10 meters.

Gamo Match
I tried the 7.5-grain Gamo Match pellets next, and a funny story about them. Apparently they are no longer available. When the 7.71-grain Gamo Match pellets first came out, I was assured by Gamo that the 7.5-grain pellet would continue, but apparently that information was wrong. Or, at least, that's how it looks at this time. I'm not wedded to the lighter pellets, but I have said in the past that they were continuing and I want to correct that now.

Five Gamo Match pellets gave this large group at 10 meters. Two pellets went through the hole at 9 o'clock.

JSB Exact
The JSB Exact domes in the 8.4-grain weight shot a tighter group that was also more centered on the bull.

JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets shot a tighter group.

RWS R10 Heavy pellets
RWS R10 Heavy pellets turned in what is probably the best group of the session. Notice how they completely changed the point of impact, as well.

RWS R10 Heavy pellets were the best of the session.

By this point, I was in the groove and couldn't stop shooting, so I just selected a few more pellets and continued to shoot. These easy-cocking rifles will do that to you. I also want to comment that the single-stage trigger on this 801 is not the best in the world. It takes a lot to get it started, then the effort drops considerably and the release is clean.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
Next up were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. I expected them to shine in the little rifle because of how the R10 Heavies had shot; though they did okay, the group is noticeably larger. Notice, too, the POI shift. They shoot close to where the JSB Exacts do.

Finale Match Pistol pellets moved up and in from the R10 Heavies. They're good but not the best in the 801.

JSB S100 4.52mm pellets
I know what you're thinking, because I was thinking it, too. I wonder what those "magic" JSB S100 pellets with the 4.52mm heads will do. Well, wonder no more because I tested them and they were surprisingly average. Not as open as some but certainly not as tight as the best.

The JSB S100 pellets with the 4.52mm head were only average in the Hy Score 801.

Crosman Premiers
Then, on a lark, I finished the session with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. After seeing that the JSB domes were only better than average, I didn't hold out a lot of hope for the Premiers, and that's when the fairy godmother of shooting whacked me over the head! Premier Lites seem to be nearly as good as R10s!

Don't guess. Shoot the groups to find out which pellets perform. These Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets did admirably. Two pellets in the top hole.

The bottom line
The Belgian Hy Score 801 is exactly what it claims to be--a fun plinking rifle whose light weight and easy manners make it welcome all day long. This is a classic, though before David Enoch turned me onto it I was as unaware these things even existed. It isn't another Diana 27. It holds, shoots, looks and feels entirely different. But, in the sense that the Diana 27 is an air rifle for the ages, the 801 belongs in the same category. This little look has been fun.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Gamo DynaMax repeater - Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

The new Gamo DynaMax repeater. Gamo product photo.

Today, we'll start a review that some of you demanded. You were interested in the new DynaMax from Gamo, and you really wanted to see it put through its paces. Here we go.

The Dynamax is a repeating precharged pneumatic rifle (PCP) that currently comes in .177 caliber, but which is also scheduled for release in .22 in the future. The .177 rifle is advertised as achieving up to 1,200 f.p.s., which I have to assume was with a PBA non-lead pellet, so I'll test for that. With that kind of power, I suspect we'll see velocities in the high 800 f.p.s. or even the low 900 f.p.s. range with heavier pellets such as 10.2-grain JSB Exacts and 10.6-grain H&N Baracudas. That's just about ideal for the .177 caliber because it extracts all the energy the rifle has to offer without going over 1,000 f.p.s. and losing accuracy. I plan to test a wide range of different pellet types.

The rifle has a charcoal gray synthetic stock that's not ambidextrous. It fits me very well, and my sighting eye is elevated to the right part of the scope's eyepiece by the high cheekpiece. The barrel is so clearly free-floated that it could serve as the dictionary illustration for that term. The barrel is just under 19 inches in length, but a compensator adds a bit more.

The weight is 8.75 lbs. if mounting the scope Gamo includes with the gun. Since a scope is required, that is a good weight to use. The stock sports quick-detatchable sling swivel studs, which hunters will enjoy. Overall length of the rifle is 38.25 inches, so it's very compact--almost carbine size except for the weight.

Photo tips
The DynaMax is a black-on-black rifle. That makes it very difficult to photograph. Flash is out because of the hot spots it creates. I want to show you some details on the rifle, so I'll be painting the subject with light as I go. That relieves me of the need for a lengthy setup with a balanced background, which is the professional way to do what I'm doing. I'll describe in each photo how I took it.

I have to comment on the obvious BSA lineage. This repeater has strong familial ties to the BSA Hornet single-shot PCP. The tipoff for me was the cocking button in front of the forearm. That was handed straight down from the Hornet and all its offspring. So, this gun isn't cocked like a typical bolt-action, even though that's exactly what it is. To cock the DynaMax you press the steel button straight back with the fingers of your off hand until the sear catches.

Press this button straight back to cock the rifle. This 4-second photo was taken with the camera sitting on a tripod, the speed set at 80 ISO and the exposure set to 1-2/3 F-stops wider than the camera's onboard meter recommended. On your camera, that may be called a "brightness setting," and it may be found in a software menu. A 1/8-second burst of light from a 60-lumen tactical flashlight that was "wiped" through the subject brought out the details.

The rifle I'm testing arrived without an owner's manual, no doubt because I was sent an early model to evaluate. However, knowing its BSA heritage I suspected the fill pressure would be 232 bar, and it turns out that was correct. That pressure translates to 3,365 psi, a pressure that many U.S. scuba tanks and hand pumps cannot reach. Fortunately I still have a Hill pump, obtained when I tested the last Hornet derivative, a BSA Tech Star. Being British, the Hill had the correct 1/8" BSPP threads at the end of the fill hose for the DynaMax fill probe to connect to. So, I was able to get a full charge for my testing.

If you have a 3,000 psi air supply you will still be able to fill the rifle and get maximum power; you just won't get all the shots it's capable of. You will fill to the middle of the power curve somewhere, which doesn't mean lower velocity. It means fewer shots before it's time to refill. I'll try to sort that out for you in this report. Gamo says you get 30 shots at full power when the fill is also full, so the number gotten with a 3,000 psi fill will be somewhat less than that, I imagine.

Let me see....What about the DynaMax would you be most interested in? Why, the magazine, of course. In .177, it hold 10 shots and it's rotary with a driving spring. The outer housing is steel and the inner cylinder is non-ferrous metal with two circumferential o-rings to hold the pellets in place in their chambers. Of course, with the cylinder residing inside the magazine housing, there's nowhere they can go until they're aligned with the bolt and the bore. As you load the magazine, you compress the spring, which will then unwind as the gun is fired, cocked and loaded again.

I find the magazine very easy to remove from the rifle's receiver. It's not a bit difficult. Just flip the bolt to the rear, pull out a magazine catch in front of the receiver and the mag slides out to the left. Load it with pellets, and it slides back in just as easily.

The bolt release was pressed and the bolt sprang back automatically. The safety, below, is manual. The camera was set the same as the previous photo. The 4-second exposure was taken in low room light, and I wiped the flashlight through the image in about 1/10 second.

The magazine release is located at the forward edge of the receiver on the left side. The camera was set up like the previous photo and I used the tactical flashlight button to give the photo a 1/8-second burst of steady light. It's a bit overexposed on the right, but the subject (the switch in the middle of the frame) is right on.

This is the DynaMax magazine partially pulled out. This 4-second exposure picture is terrible. I left it here so you can see the advantage of using the flashlight in the next photo. The camera was set up the same as the two previous photos.

This is the DynaMax magazine partially pulled out. This 4-second exposure is identical to the previous one, except I hit the mag with a 1/8-second burst of light during the exposure.

The DynaMax has no pressure gauge, so you have to count your shots to know when to refill. That's why my info on the shot count at 3,000 psi will be so important. Hopefully, it'll come close to a number of full magazines, probably two, since we know that the higher pressure fill gets about 30 shots. As you become familiar with the rifle you'll also learn to hear when the shots are no longer on the power curve. They'll sound both louder and longer.

I mentioned that the rifle comes with a scope. They include a very nice 3-9x50 Gamo variable scope with an illuminated reticle and its own mounts. The illumination is just a central dot, and you get red, green and blue colors with three brightness settings each. The dot is etched on glass, so there is no internal flaring of light at even the brightest settings. The duplex crosshairs do not light up, just the central dot.

This will make a terrific hunting scope, even for centerfire rifles on big game. But the dot in the center is so large that it covers too much area for precise grouping at 50 yards. It seems to cover more than an inch at 50 yards, making it perhaps a 2-mil dot. So, it's perfect for hunters but not precise enough for tight groups at 50 yards. I'll substitute another scope for the accuracy test. However, I do want to say that this is a very nice and capable hunting scope, and the glass-etched dot is a refinement that many hunters really need for low-light hunting.

Very shootable
Look at the lines of the stock in the first photo for a moment. Notice how vertical the pistol grip is. There's also a scallop for the thumb in exactly the right place on the right of the pistol grip. Whoever designed this stock was a rifleman. I think the pistol grip, combined with the high cheekpiece, is why the rifle feels so natural to me.

The thumb scallop on the pistol grip feels perfect to me. Four-second photo was taken with the same camera setup and a 1/8-second burst of light.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Gun-buying tips and scam alerts

by B.B. Pelletier

There's a new podcast up on the website.

I wrote this report because of a transaction I made this past weekend. I had traded a rifle to someone and saw it listed on an internet trading site. The description was much nicer than the gun I traded, but the seller's email was the same as the guy I had done business with. I did want the gun back, so I asked if he had gotten it from me and I made a cash offer. It was the same gun, though from the description it was obvious that the seller had learned much more about my rifle in the six months he had it than I had in the eight years I had owned it previously. More, in fact, than could be substantiated or even was true!

Creative writing
First lesson. People don't always tell the truth! No, it's true! People will sometimes fabricate stories to get other people to act in a way contrary to their instincts. Exhibit A: politics! The state rests.

My rifle, which had been a beater-shooter when I owned it had miraculously "...been through a factory rebuild...." Hogwash! The "factory" that built the gun was the Springfield Arsenal. It was a Trapdoor Springfield. They would have covered the gun with a rash of special marks if they ever so much as saw it again. It was just a beater whose stock someone had sanded to remove the inspector's cartouche and then sealed the wood with 147 coats of Tru Oil. End of story. I was the one who installed a period-incorrect Buffington rear sight for the extra aiming precision. So, that was the extent of the "factory rebuild"--a Bubba refinish of the wood and the wrong rear sight.

You know the same thing happens with used airguns. Here are a few common ones decoded for your amusement.

"In excellent condition for its age." MEANING: This gun is a real dog, and I want you to overlook that, in the belief that age, alone, is harmful to wood and metal.

For a CO2 gun - "I don't know if it holds because I don't have a CO2 capsule." MEANING: The gun leaks like a sieve. Or, I'm too lazy to buy a CO2 cartridge at the discount store to test it. Please believe that you have at least a chance that the gun may hold.

"...has been played with." MEANING: This gun was dragged behind a logging truck for two days before someone doused it with gasoline and struck a match.

Has the typical damage to the breech (barrel/bluing/grips/sights/stock... or any other part they want you to believe is common for this model)." MEANING: This one ain't perfect. I want you to accept this dog in the belief that all these guns are dogs in the same way this one is.

Lovingly restored..." MEANING: There's nothing original left on this gun. And it was probably refinished as a summer camp project.

Finish has turned to patina." MEANING: It's a rust bucket.

There's no limit to the creativity that some people will reveal in an attempt to sell or trade their goods.

"Why is the stock cracked at the stock screw holes?" you ask of a dealer at an airgun show. "I think this one came from that bad batch of wood they (whoever made the gun) got back in the '70s ('80s, '90s, etc.)." TRUTH: It cracked when I pulled the trigger with the barrel broken open, just to see how fast it would close. Please don't look at the barrel!

Popular mail-order scams
The guy you contact has several email addresses. Not bad by itself, but he keeps switching them as the transaction progresses. He lives in Florida, but asks for the money order to be sent to Pennsylvania, where he's staying for the winter. Yes, this very thing just happened on a website I frequent and the buyer was wise enough to stop the transaction in time and post a warning on the site. Oh, and the "seller" used photos borrowed from other transactions still listed on the same website.

"You send the money and I'll send the gun at the same time." Watch out for this one. I have done this with several people, but neither party mentioned it during the transaction. We (one of us) just did it, because we trusted the other person. When someone TELLS you they will do this, watch out. Why are they telling you that? Why are they even doing it? Are they trying to make you think they are really a good guy? It falls under the Shakespeare quote, "...the lady doth protest too much." MEANING: If she says that, she probably feels guilty about something related to it.

"Looks just like this one taken from their website." This is a tough call, because there are people who cannot get a digital camera to work for them, or cannot fathom how photos are posted. The best they can do is borrow the addresses of photos already posted. Of course, the danger is that the seller is simply hiding behind this excuse and doesn't want you to see the goods before he has your money.

Worth a thousand words? Not always.
And here's a dirty little trick that I avoid like the plague. The photos of the gun for sale are dark and taken from a distance. Any closeups are so blurry that no detail is visible. "Oh, come on," you say. "Cut the guy some slack. Not everyone can use a camera as well as you."

That's true. I use a camera every day, so over time I've learned how to use it. So, why am I so against blurry pictures?

For starters, I have been scammed by them, and had my eyes opened. And second, because I know at least one big-time airgun dealer who uses this scam all the time. It's his trademark. So, no blurry pictures for me!

By the way, the same dealer will have a gun that's been put together from mismatched parts on his sales table and when asked a pointed question, such as,"Is this thing real?" he'll answer something like, "Well, that's the only one like it that I've ever seen. It could be something special." Yeah, so if he believes that, why isn't he putting it in his collection? Why is he selling it?

The other side of the coin...
But I must admit that there are many airgunners who go out of their way to describe each and every possible flaw their guns have. You might think they're trying to kill the sale; but after you get to know them, you understand that it's just their way. And THAT, my friends, is the biggest tip I can give you today. Know the seller.

I scan the Yellow Forum classified ads almost every day looking for interesting things. That was where that beautiful Hy Score 801 came from. The Yellow Forum classified ads has a database of comments about buyers and sellers that they call the Board of Inquiry, or BOI. You can go there and research any buyer or seller who has sold before. And if you cannot find a person in the BOI database, my radar starts becoming sensitive. Would a person change their name because of a poor reputation? You bet they would. They'd change their name, email address, even where they claimed to live, if it allowed them the latitude to do one more dirty deal.

Paypal--yes or no?
If you're buying on Ebay, the seller better take Paypal. If not, be suspicious. However, on the gun auction sites or airgun classified sites, don't expect to use Paypal. Very few do. There's a huge grassroots movement against Paypal because of eBay's anti-gun policies.

Monday, February 01, 2010

AirForce Edge - Part 7

by B.B. Pelletier

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

A couple announcements first.

Pyramyd Air has a new contest. Valentine's Day is coming up, and they'd like your story about the airgun you love the most. Click here to read the rules and submit your story. Submissions will be accepted through Sunday, February 14, 2010. The winner will receive a $200 Pyramyd Air gift ecard. The second and third place winners will receive $100 and $50 gift ecards, respectively.

Several regular blog readers have said they'd like to receive all the blog comments and help me answer them. If you want to do the same, please email me. Many people find this blog through search engines, but the search results often take them to a past blog...and that's where they post their questions. Only those who are signed up to get all the comments will see them and have a chance to answer them. There's no obligation to answer all the posts. We don't want our volunteers to feel like they're obligated or that this is a homework assignment. No one will check up on you or say you aren't answering enough. How much you do is up to you. You can pull out at any time. Just let us know if it's too much. No pressure.

Okay I did tease you with this report on Friday. I knew what I'm about to tell you was important, but I wanted you to see the results for yourself. I didn't just want to put them into a comment that was unsubstantiated.

This all started at the SHOT Show, when I was in the AirForce booth. A coach from a youth rifle team was praising the AirForce Edge to the skies to John McCaslin, and I happened to be standing there listening to what he said. He told us his top shooter had a new Edge and had been going though various target pellets until he happened upon some Gamo Match 7.5-grain wadcutters. All of a sudden he was getting phenomenal groups, and they didn't seem to vary.

It took me a full ten minutes to listen to the praise this coach was heaping on the Edge, but I'm shortening it to a couple sentences for you. Then and there I resolved to test the Gamo Match pellet in my test rifle. If there's a "magic pellet" out there, I want everyone to know about it. And, yes, I used the same vice as before so the test conditions were the same.

Sad to say, I did not get the same results as the coach. Not even close! The Edge I am testing actually shot RWS Basic pellets better than these Gamo Match pellets. So, why am I telling you this? Certainly not for the Gamo Match results, but because as I was heading out to the test range I happened to find a tin of target pellets that I hadn't tested in the Edge yet, so I took them along. And not just that--they were the head diameter that I always find to be the most accurate in my personal target rifles and pistols.

And that is where today's story begins--with a JSB S100 Match Diabolo pellet in the head size 4.52mm. I'm sorry but not only is Pyramyd Air out of this pellet, I called all the 10-meter supply houses in the United States and nobody carries them! Scott Pilkington who makes Vogel target pellets even told me that he wouldn't make a 4.52mm head size because he doesn't think there's enough demand for it. So, you may have difficulty finding these pellets.

These are the pellets I used.

The head size is on this label on the back of the tin. With other pellets, the head size is embedded in the UPC label.

The rifle was already chucked in the vise, so all that remained was to load and fire the pellets. As before, the target was a piece of target paper--no bullseye. What's this? The group didn't seem to grow as the shots increased. And that was the result I had been looking for all along--a pellet that did exactly what we all expected.

This little screamer was the first group I shot. Doesn't get much better than this.

Group after group hovered around the same size. So I had a thought. What would a different rifle do? I had access to several, so I chucked up two more and continued the test. The results were pretty much the same, as you can see.

A different Edge shot this group with the same pellet. Another screamer!

A third Edge shot this group with the same pellet. More of the same.

After a handful of groups from the three rifles it was obvious the Edge really likes this pellet. What I do not know is whether it is the S100 pellet design or the 4.52mm head diameter that matters the most. My experience suggests that the head size is more important here, because it's the same thing I've seen repeatedly with other target airguns and different brands of pellets.

And that's my surprise for you today. I'm sorry it was so easy, but sometimes that's the way it goes. My experience shooting black powder arms tells me that when lead bullets are at least one-thousandth of an inch larger than bore size (that's across the grooves) from which they're fired, the best accuracy results. Pellets seem to perform the same.

In fairness to Crosman, I feel I must revisit the Challenger PCP, because it never had the same chance that I just gave the Edge. So, you can expect another report on that in the near future.