Author Archive

Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol
Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

This report covers:

• Accuracy testing
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Trigger control
• Shot cycle
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• What’s the verdict?

Let’s look at the accuracy of the Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. Several of you have wondered if this is the air pistol you’ve been waiting for — today, we’ll see.

Accuracy testing
I shot the pistol off a rest at 10 meters. I rested my hands on a sandbag and held the pistol away from the bag with a two-hand hold. I used a 6 o’clock hold sight picture, which is more difficult to do with a bead fiberoptic front sight. But the target was brightly lit, and the firing point was in the dark; so, the fiberoptics did not illuminate, nor did the strange yellow rear sight blade cause any problems.

All pellets were deeply seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater. You may remember that we discovered this pistol likes them seated deeply during the velocity test.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter that did so well in the velocity test. The first pellet landed to the left of the bull at about 7 o’clock, so I stopped looking and just shot the rest. Alas, when I was finished, the 10 shots had scattered over 1.724 inches. It looked more like a shotgun pattern than a group. Obviously, Hobbys are not the right pellet for this pistol.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this 1.724-inch group at 10 meters. Despite being shot from a rest, this is not a good pellet for the pistol.

Trigger control
I find the trigger easy to operate. Stage 2 breaks relatively crisply and doesn’t take that much effort. As I said in Part 2, it’s a fine trigger.

Shot cycle
The P900 has a smooth shot cycle that’s quick and almost without vibration. It also doesn’t make much noise when it discharges. It just sits in your hand and pulses quietly with each shot. I know it has a gas spring, but it doesn’t have any of the usual drawbacks (hard cocking, stiff jolt upon firing, loud crack upon discharge, etc.) that I can see.

Gamo Match pellets
Next up were 10 Gamo Match wadcutters. Since this is a Gamo gun, I figured…why not? These pellets landed more in the center of the bull and also held a tighter group that measures 1.167 inches between centers. This is about what I expected the P900 to do.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Gamo Match group
Ten Gamo Match wadcutters went into this 1.167-inch group at 10 meters. This is more like it.

Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
Because I tried them in the velocity test, I figured I had to also try the Gamo Raptor PBA pellets for accuracy. I didn’t expect much, because I have seen Raptors do well only in one pistol so far — a smoothbore Marksman 1010. For some reason, they were better than any other pellet in that pistol when I tested it. But in the P900, they went into a group measuring 1.946 inches — the largest of this test.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Gamo Raptor group

Ten Gamo Raptor PBA pellets made this 1.946-inch group at 10 meters. This is the largest group of the test.

Air Arms Falcon
I thought I would give one more pellet a chance, so I tried the Air Arms Falcon dome. It’s light, at 7.3 grains, and it’s often among the most accurate pellets for a given gun. This time, they made the second-best 10-shot group, at 1.256 inches between centers. While that’s larger than I’d like to see, the pellets are nicely centered on the bull.

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Falcon group

Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into this 1.256-inch group at 10 meters. It’s the second best group of the test and also nicely centered on the bull.

Of course, there’s no way to know if I’ve found the best pellets for the pistol without testing a lot of other brands. An owner would do that, of course.

What’s the verdict?
The P900 is a pleasant air pistol. It’s lightweight, holds well and has a nice trigger. The odd sights are easy to use, too. Take my results as typical; and if they satisfy you, this is a nice air pistol.

Ruger Air Hawk combo: Parts 1 and 2

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

Ruger Airhawk Combo

Ruger Air Hawk combo

This report covers:

• Why the Ruger Air Hawk?
• Impressions of the rifle
• Before the test
• RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain pellets
• Trigger-pull
• Firing behavior
• What to do now?

I’m testing the Ruger Air Hawk combo today, and I’m also starting something new. I’m combining Parts 1 and 2 into a single report. Part 1 has always been a general description of the item being tested, and Part 2 has been the velocity test. But you can follow the links embedded in the report to the Pyramyd Air product page and read the specs, so I don’t have to dwell on them very long. Just give you my impressions and then check velocity, cocking effort and trigger pull. If this works, I will do it this way from now on if the gun isn’t overly complex and if there’s nothing unique about it. If not, I’ll return to the conventional format. For that reason, I’m calling this both Parts 1 and 2.

Why the Ruger Air Hawk?
Most of you are aware that Ruger doesn’t make airguns. They have them made by others to their specifications. In today’s case, the Air Hawk is made in China. It’s imported and distributed by Umarex USA.

I chose to review the Air Hawk because many readers have asked me repeatedly to do so. At the time of this report, there are 114 customer reviews on the rifle and it’s rating is about 4.5 stars out of 5. That bodes well. I won’t read those reviews before I examine the rifle, just to keep my opinions honest.

The Air Hawk is a straightforward breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. The one I’m testing is in .177 caliber, the only caliber they come in. Mine is serial number 00474874. It has a conventional coiled steel mainspring, a wood stock and blued steel finish. The fiberoptic sights are constructed mostly of plastic, though the rear sight does have some metal parts. And the rear sight is adjustable in both directions.

It has been said that this is a copy of the Diana 34. I do see the resemblance, but there are also differences. The trigger isn’t the same, nor is the cocking linkage.

So here we have a very traditional breakbarrel rifle. What’s the attraction? The price, I suppose. This combo that also includes a 4X32 scope retails for $130. What makes this Ruger Air Hawk such a bargain? One word: Power!

The Air Hawk is a 1,000 f.p.s. rifle — according to its manual, or a 1,200 f.p.s. gun if you believe what’s written on the box. One velocity is probably derived with lightweight lead pellets and the other with lead-free pellets. We shall see in a moment. The point is that velocity sells airguns these days. New shooters need to experience all they can with high-velocity spring guns before they’re willing to explore the rest of what’s available. And, with 4.5 stars from 114 customers, it sounds like the Air Hawk really delivers the goods. Again, we shall see.

Impressions of the rifle
The Air Hawk is heavier than I was expecting. It weighs a tad over 8 lbs. and feels stout in my hands. The stock proportions are generous without being oversized. This is a large air rifle. They rate the cocking effort at 30 lbs., and the test rifle cocks at 30 lbs. on the nose. I did have to try it several times before getting it down to 30 lbs., so there’s initial stiffness that has to be worn away; but that’s part of every break-in.

The finish of the wood and metal parts is smooth and even. The metal parts are matte black and the wood has a shine. The contouring of the wood is well done, although there’s no checkering. The comb is Monte Carlo-shaped, and there’s no raised cheekpiece. Since the automatic safety is located at the rear of the spring tube, this is a 100 percent ambidextrous rifle.

The cocking linkage is two-piece and articulated in the middle. The rear piece slides on a channel cut in the wood stock. Unlike many Chinese spring rifles, this Air Hawk sits centered perfectly in the stock, with no canting of the action! That’s a plus because it means there’s no rubbing of the cocking linkage parts against the wood.

The barrel detent is a ball bearing, similar to a Diana 34. I do have to slap the barrel slightly to break it open, so the ball is under a lot of spring tension. The base block that holds the barrel is held to the action forks by a bolt — meaning that barrel tension can be adjusted. That’s a huge plus in any breakbarrel.

The trigger blade is metal and very straight. I like the angle of the blade, as it suits my hand quite well. The trigger-pull adjusts for the length of the first stage, only. A screw in front of the trigger blade controls this.

My overall impression is that this is a well-designed air rifle. More importantly, someone is in the Chinese plant assuring adherence to quality standards.

Okay, you can get the rest of the specifications from the product listing I’ve linked to above. Now, I’m going to test the velocity and trigger-pull.

Before the test
I shot the rifle before the test and noted that the first 5 or 6 shots were detonations (loud bangs, like gunshots) with oil droplets coming out of the muzzle. So, the rifle is lubricated heavily at the factory. I shot the rifle several more times until the detonations  seemed to end.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet tested was the RWS Hobby. I use the Hobby as my reality check with some airguns, because not only is it a pure lead pellet — it’s also often very accurate. I’m going to show the entire string here, for reasons I will explain.

Shot       Vel.

Pretty obvious what’s happening. The gun was detonating on the first 2 shots, then it sort of settled down for the next 10. I’m not going to give any averages here because I don’t believe the rifle has completely settled down yet.

People always ask me how I break in new airguns. Well, that depends on the gun. I thought I would show you with this one.

JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain pellets
Next up was the JSB Exact Heavy 10.34 grains pellet. If Hobbys are going in the 700s, then this pellet is too heavy for the powerplant; but when a gun is detonating, a heavier pellet will help burn off the excess oil. The rifle was still spewing out a cloud of oil mist with each shot.

Shot       Vel.

As you can see, the gun is still burning off excess oil. That’s where those faster shots come from.

Another way to burn excess oil is to shoot a very light pellet. It makes the gun detonate, which is probably needed here. So, I switched to RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets.

Shot       Vel.

The rifle is still burning oil, but it’s calmed down a lot by this point. I returned to Hobbys to see where things were.

Shot      Vel.

Okay, at this point I know the rifle is still detonating a bit and dieseling on every shot — as it’s supposed to. All spring guns that shoot over 600 f.p.s. diesel with each shot, according to the testing that was done in the 1970s by the Cardew father/son team.

The trigger adjusts for stage-one length of pull, only. This one feels good where it is, so I’m leaving it there. The trigger releases at 3 lbs., 6 oz. Stage 2 is fairly crisp. I think this will be an easy rifle to shoot.

Firing behavior
The Air Hawk I’m testing has a quick shot cycle with some recoil and some vibration. But during the few shots of this test, the rifle became easier to cock and the firing cycle smoothed out. So, I think this is a rifle that will improve with time. Also, I now note that the barrel no longer remains where it’s put after being cocked. So, the pivot joint needs to be tightened. I’ll do that before the next test, which will be an accuracy test using the open sights that come on the rifle.

What to do now?
This is where a lot of newer airgunners are stumped. If they have a chronograph, they may feel their rifle is broken or that they’ll hurt it by shooting it more. But the 98 percent of shooters who don’t own a chronograph will just keep right on shooting their airgun, which is what I plan to do.

Next comes the accuracy test. I’ll test the rifle at both 10 meters and 25 yards using the open sights, then I’ll mount the scope that came with it and test it again.

After I finish the accuracy testing, I’ll return and look at the velocity once more. I’m guessing the rifle will have settled down by then.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 2

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

BSA Airsporter Stutzen
BSA Airsporter Stutzen was the final version of the Airsporter with a tap.

Part 1

This report covers:

• Your interests
• Gamo: Yes or no?
• Get over it!
• Firing cycle
• Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Webley Flying Scott High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• Cocking effort
• Trigger-pull
• Evaluation so far

We all learned about the BSA Airsporter in the last report, and I got some important feedback from readers. Apparently, these rifles have been sold at airgun shows right under my nose without my knowledge. The one thing that’s certain is that I’m not the only one who knows how nice this rifle is. Several of you know it and are smart enough to stay under the radar as you pick up these air rifles at airgun shows. I hope to see some of these at the Ft. Worth Airgun Show in September.

Your interests
There were several things the blog readers commented on in the first report. Several of you said you liked the stutzen styling, which is why I mentioned that stutzens are not specific to any one manufacturer. A couple folks noticed how this rifle resembles the Diana 430 Stutzen, and I agree they do look similar. But they aren’t alike at all. The Diana rifle has an entirely different powerplant design and cocking linkage; and even though it resembles this one, it isn’t the same or even that close.

The Diana 430 Stutzen has a sliding compression chamber, like the TX200 Mark III. You load the pellet directly into the breech of the barrel of that rifle. This BSA Airsporter Stutzen has a loading tap that accepts the pellet. When the gun fires, the air blast blows the pellet from the tap into the breech, and that results in some power loss when compared to a rifle that takes the pellet directly into the breech.

Power output was another topic you discussed a lot. Some of you hoped this rifle would make 12 foot-pounds, but a few readers guessed that it’s more of an 8 to 9 foot-pound airgun. Today is velocity day so we will see exactly what this particular rifle will do.

Gamo: Yes or no?
Then there was some discussion on whether or not this rifle was made by BSA in England or by Gamo in Spain after Gamo bought BSA. Here’s the answer: This rifle was made by the BSA company in Birmingham, England, before the company was sold to Gamo.

I related that I had tested a Gamo Stutzen with a rotary breech many years ago and didn’t care for it, and that kicked off a round of discussions. Fred_BR, our Brazilian reader, said he has a .22-caliber Gamo Stutzen with rotary breech that he loves. He found it difficult to understand what my objections were.

Some of you were angry that Gamo owns BSA and continues to build and sell spring rifles under that name, which I guess is similar to the Chinese owning Beeman and making and selling air rifles under that name. I understand that sentiment. When Umarex purchased Hämmerli and started to sell airguns made in China under that name, it really set me off. I’d always been a fan of the hand-built Hämmerli free pistols that cost thousands of dollars, and it just didn’t seem right to use that prestigious name to sell something inexpensive and mass-produced. When Crosman came out with a spring rifle they called the Benjamin Super Steak a few years ago, I went nuts! As far as I was concerned, the name Streak belonged to a Sheridan airgun.

Get over it!
But we just have to let it go. Brand changes are a fact of life and will always be with us. If they weren’t, there would be no such thing as Redline Levis jeans and Cleveland 335 Ford engines. The most we enthusiasts can do is identify those models that have the features we want and pursue them over the rest of the items bearing similar names but different specifications.

Shot cycle
That being said, I was prepared not to like this rifle when I got it. I remembered the harsh firing cycle of the Gamo Stutzen .177 rifle I tested for The Airgun Letter and expected this one to be the same. But it isn’t. Where the Gamo was harsh, this BSA is smooth. The first shot told me this is a completely different air rifle from what I’d expected.

Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the lightweight RWS Hobby. Since this rifle is a taploader, you need pellets with wide skirts that are also thin so they can spread out and fill the tap chamber when the air blast hits them. A number of popular pellets I tested were 100 f.p.s. slower than expected because they were either too small for the tap or their skirts would not distort with the shot. But Hobbys are both larger in diameter and also have thin skirts. As far as pellet seating is concerned, it isn’t possible with a taploader. You just drop it in nose-first and you’re done. The pellet takes it from there.

Hobbys averaged 800 f.p.s. on the nose. The low was 795 f.p.s., and the high was 804 f.p.s., so the maximum spread was only 9 f.p.s. That’s an indication that the Hobby is a good pellet for this rifle. At the average velocity, Hobbys generate 9.95 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is certainly on the high side of many of the guesstimates.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I mentioned, I did try pellets from other makers, but they were all too slow –which indicates they aren’t sealing well in the tap. But I knew RWS Superpoints also have a thin skirt from my work with the Hakim, which is also a taploader, so I decided to give them a try. Superpoints weigh 8.2 grains in .177 caliber, so they aren’t the lightweights Hobbys are, but their thin skirts may compensate for that.

Superpoints averaged 766 f.p.s. in the Stutzen, with a low of 759 f.p.s. and a high of 770 f.p.s. The spread is only 11 f.p.s., which indicates this is also a good pellet for this rifle. The pellets that dropped 100 f.p.s. from what was expected also had large velocity spreads between individual shots, which shows how inconsistent they are in this rifle. At the average velocity, Superpoints generated 10.69 foot-pounds of muzzle energy — putting to rest the rumor that this is a weak spring-piston rifle. I believe the rifle I have is up to snuff and performing as well as can be expected.

Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
Here’s a pellet most U.S. shooters don’t know. I know these are no longer being made in the UK; but since the usual pellets weren’t working, I decided to give them a try. The Flying Scot is a domed pure lead pellet that has a very thin skirt. They also stop about halfway down in the BSA loading tap, which makes them the largest of the 3 pellets I tested. The weight varies from 7.3 grains to 7.5 grains, but most of the pellets weighed 7.3 grains.

Webley Flying Scott pellets
Webley Flying Scot pellets are pure lead domes. They’re lightweight with thin skirts.

Webley Flying Scott tin
Flying Scot tin

Flying Scots averaged 775 f.p.s. in the BSA, with a low of 758 f.p.s. and a high of 791 f.p.s., with a spread of 33 f.p.s. — much greater than either of the other two pellets. This is an indication that this pellet is probably not a premium pellet and may not have good accuracy. But I’ll test it. At the average velocity, the Flying Scot produced 9.74 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Cocking effort
This rifle cocks with a maximum of 29 lbs. of effort. Most of the time the scale needle stays around 26 lbs., but it always does spike up to 29 lbs. early in every cocking stroke. It feels more like 40 lbs., though, because of where the cocking linkage pivot point is located.

The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger takes up with about 1 lb., 3 oz. for the first stage, then stage 2 releases at 4 lbs., 14 oz. The trigger shape and linkage is so perfectly placed that it feels like half that.

Evaluation so far
This BSA Stutzen rifle has surprised me at every turn. I expected not to like it, yet found it to be smooth-shooting with a light, crisp trigger. I expected lower power than I’m seeing in this test, so obviously this rifle can perform. I know BSA has a reputation for making great barrels, so I can’t wait to see how it does on targets. That’s next.

Hakim air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• TF90 dot sight
• Eley Wasp pellets
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Evaluation so far

TF90 dot sight
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Hakim trainer we’ve been examining, but with the Tech Force 90 dot sight mounted. Last time, I told you I was going to mount it on this rifle, and today I’ve done it. The sight base is short, which accommodates the Hakim’s very short 11mm dovetail grooves cut into the end cap.

Tech Force 90 dot sightThe Tech Force TF90 dot sight is a perfect match for the short dovetails of the Hakim. This is a large sight with a lot of target visibility.

Because it has no magnification, this dot sight is the perfect companion to the Hakim, since it will be mounted so close to my sighting eye. I discovered another great thing about it. Because it’s clear, I can see the entire front sight and hood through the eyepiece. I found that if I bisect the bullseye with the top arc of the sight’s hood and put the dot in the center of that, I eliminate all tendency to cant the rifle. This also eliminates all parallax. It sounds odd but it works. With the dot centered at the top of the hood, I know the pellet is going to the center of the dot. You can’t ask for more than that!

Eley Wasp pellets
The first pellet I shot was the Eley Wasp that did best in the previous test where the open sights were used. In that test, Wasps gave a group size of 0.349 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters. This time, 10 Wasps went into a group sized 0.351 inches. It appears smaller than the first group, but the measurements are too close to call. After shooting this group, which was a little to the left of center, I adjusted the sight to the right.

Hakim 10 meters Wasp group
Ten Wasp pellets went into 0.351 inches at 10 meters. This is a nicely rounded group. I adjusted the sight after this group.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Next up were JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. These pellets not only landed to the right, they also climbed up quite a bit. I didn’t adjust the elevation, so there must have been some odd sideways strain on the erector tube from the horizontal adjustment.

In the first accuracy test with open sights, 10 RS pellets went into 0.495 inches. This time, they went into 0.375 inches, so they were clearly tighter with the dot sight.

Hakim 10 meters JSB Exact RS group
Ten JSB Jumbo RS pellets made this 0.375-inch group at 10 meters with the dot sight.

RWS Hobby pellets
Then, I tested 10 RWS Hobby wadcutters. In the previous test with open sights, Hobbys grouped 10 in 0.426 inches. With the TF90 dot sight, 10 Hobbys went into 0.389 inches between centers at 10 meters. This group was very round. It’s clearly smaller than the other one, but not by much.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this nice round 0.389-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Superpoint. In the previous test with open sights, 10 Superpoints made a 0.524-inch group. With the dot sight, 10 pellets went into 0.429 inches at the same 10 meters.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Superpoint group
Ten RWS Superpoints made this 0.429-inch group.

Evaluation so far
The Hakim seems easier to use with the TF90 dot sight. It doesn’t necessarily make the rifle more accurate, but it seems to be easier to shoot it accurately when the dot sight is used — especially after learning that trick of aligning the dot with the top of the front sight hood! These groups are almost as small as the 5-shot groups I used to shoot at 10 meters with Hakims back in the 1990s.

Before you hock the family jewels to buy one of these rifles, though, let me remind you that I was shooting at 10 meters today. Things always look a lot better when the target’s that close. Maybe, I’ll try some groups at 25 yards in a later report — just to give some perspective.

Having said that, though, notice that all these groups are small. The Hakim is a very accurate and forgiving spring-piston air rifle.

I’m now ready to open up the Hakim and look inside to see what can be done about the buzzing. I’ll do that in simple steps, like I did with the Crosman 2240.

The TF90 sight will come off the rifle, and I’ll start a separate evaluation of the sight next week. I plan to mount it on one or more of my other pellet rifles that could use a nice optical sight. Don’t wait for that report, though. There are only limited numbers of these in stock — and when they are gone, no more will be available. At $20 I don’t see how you can do any better than this one!

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 2

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

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 2

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

Crosman 2240 air conversion
My Crosman 2240 has been converted to operate on high-pressure air.

This report covers:

• Where we are
• Before filling the first time
• Shooting the gun
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• What comes next

Let’s look at what the conversion to air did for the Crosman 2240. Boy, was there ever a lot of discussion on that report! I think this may be one of the all-time most popular subjects on this blog.

Where we are
Here’s where I am with this subject. The 2240 is now converted. I plan to test it with 2,000 psi air today, and I do not plan to go higher. This is a test of what’s out there and some of the things that can be done with a 2240, but I’m not in the business of hotrodding this pistol. Many other folks are doing that very well; so, if you are interested in what’s possible, read what they have to say.

Today, I’m going to test the pistol with the conversion but with the stock striker spring still installed. In other words, if you simply screwed the tube into the gun and did nothing else (the front sight still has to come off to clear the tube), this is what you’ll get. I did change the face seal, which is why I disassembled the pistol in the previous report; but that wasn’t strictly necessary, since I am pressurizing to only 2,000 psi. I did it just to show how the entire kit is installed.

Before filling the first time
Before filling the gun, which is now done through the male Foster nipple on the end of the air tube, I put several drops of silicone chamber oil into the fill nipple. It came to me bone-dry, and I wanted all the seals inside the unit to get a coating of this oil. Then, I connected the gun to my carbon fiber air tank and slowly filled it to 2,000 psi. I say slowly, but as small as this air tube/reservoir is, it fills pretty fast. It probably took only 15-20 seconds to fill it all the way. You want to go as slowly as as possible to keep heat from building.

When I bled the air connection in the hose, the inlet valve in the air tube remained open and all the air bled out. So, I refilled it and bled it a second time. This time, it sealed as it should — thanks to the oil, I believe.

Shooting the gun
It was now time to test the gun. I had no idea what it was going to do, but I left my hearing protection off to hear if the first shot was loud. It wasn’t. Perhaps the gun is a little louder than it is when using CO2, but the difference is not that great. Of course, I used eye protection for the chronographing session, because the pellet trap is so close. I use a trap with duct seal to keep the rebounds down and the noise to a minimum.

Crosman Premier pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier dome. I should add that I shoot only the pellets from the cardboard box, which is why I link to them, only. We were informed several months ago that Crosman planned to stop selling Premiers in the cardboard box and I stocked up on them. But I see they’re still available.

Back in 2010, I did a test of the CO2 2240 pistol, so I have the recorded velocities for this exact pistol on CO2. It averaged 448 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. On 2000 psi air, the first shot was 468 f.p.s. It increased to a maximum of 492 f.p.s. by shot 7 and dropped back to 466 f.p.s. by shot 15. At the end of the string, the gun was still holding 1200 psi of air pressure. The average velocity of 15 shots was 486 f.p.s., which means air boosted the average velocity of this pellet by 39 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets. When the pistol was running on CO2, these pellets averaged 482 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 515 f.p.s. and increased to 537 f.p.s. by shot 9. The velocity droped back down to 511 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity for this string of 16 shots was 525 f.p.s. — a 43 f.p.s. increase on air. The remaining pressure was 1200 psi, once again.

RWS Superdome pellets
The final pellet I tested was the 14.5-grain RWS Superdome. When the pistol ran on CO2, Superdomes averaged 455 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 470 f.p.s. and drifted up to 495 f.p.s. by shot 7. They dropped back down to 467 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity was 483 f.p.s., an increase of 28 f.p.s. over CO2.

Notice that the gun performs similarly, regardless of what pellet was tested. The curve starts out slow, builds to the maximum quickly and then drops back to the starting point just as quickly. The three pellets gave a total shot count of 15, 16 and 16, respectively.

What comes next?
I can’t test the pistol for accuracy as it is right now because the front sight has no clearance to be re-installed. And the plastic 2240 receiver does not have a scope base on the receiver. Decision time.

I could get a steel breech for the 2240 from Pyramyd Air. While it will not accept the 2240 rear sight, it does have 11mm dovetails for a scope. That’ll work with the barrel that’s on the gun right now; but if I get a longer barrel, I’ll get a little more velocity from this same setup. So, I ordered a 14.5-inch barrel from an eBay vendor.

There are a number of different ways this can go with these parts, so I will wait to see what seems best once I have them.

Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 2

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

Part 1

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

Gamo P900 IGT pistol

This report covers:

• Velocity
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• Trigger
2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update

Let’s get right into the report. Today, we’ll look at the velocity of this Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. A number of comments were made about how underpowered this air pistol is, but I disagree. They’re condemning it without testing it — from just reading the numbers. We’ll set that straight today.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. This pure lead pellet is probably just right for the P900 powerplant. Gamo advertises the P900 as getting 400 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets, so we expect the Hobbys to be slower because they’re heavier. And slower they are! When I seated them flush with the breech, Hobbys averaged 332 f.p.s. with a range from 321 to 340 — a spread of 19 f.p.s. They developed 1.71 foot-pounds, on average.

Because this pistol is lower powered, I decided to see what effect deep-seating the pellet would have. I used the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to seat the Hobby pellets deep in the breech. This time, the pellet averaged 365 f.p.s. — a gain of 38 f.p.s. The low velocity was 358 and the high was 373, so the spread was 15 f.p.s. Seated this way, they developed 2.07 foot-pounds, on average. I think it’s clear this pistol likes the pellets to be seated deep, so that’s how I will proceed with the test.

Gamo Match pellets
The next pellet I tested was the 7.56-grain Gamo Match wadcutter. I didn’t even try them seated flush. Seated deep, they averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from 358 to 363 f.p.s., so this time just 5 f.p.s. separated the slowest from the fastest pellet. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 2.18 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA. This lead-free domed pellet weighs just 5.4 grains and is used to extract high velocity from airguns. Remember — Gamo advertises the P900 as getting up to 400 f.p.s. Well, that turns out to be quite conservative! This pistol I’m testing averaged 490 f.p.s. The range was from a low of 457 f.p.s. to a high of 508 f.p.s. So the spread was 51 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.88 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Just to see what the differences are, I also shot 4 Raptor pellets loaded flush with the breech. They ranged from a low of 439 f.p.s. to a high of 455 f.p.s.; so even loaded normally, this pistol still exceeds its advertised velocity. I may have an example that’s on the hot side, and maybe you won’t get quite as much velocity as you see here, but I think they should all get at least 400 when shooting PBA pellets.

You naysayers can revise your arguments, now. This pistol exceeds its advertised expectations by a lot. I still like the firing behavior and the trigger, though I’m sure there will be critics.

The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger on the test pistol breaks crisply at 3 lbs., 15 oz. to 4 lbs., 1 oz. It’s a fine trigger and just what I need to shoot this pistol accurately.

2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update
This report was short, so I’ll use the space to update you on the 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show that will be held on Saturday, September 6.

The following dealers and manufacturers are expected to have tables:

Pyramyd Air
Umarex USA
AirForce Airguns
Dennis Quackenbush
Flying Dragon Air Rifles (Mike Melick)
Hatsan USA

The following dealers and manufacturers are considering attending or have indicated they may attend:

Airgun Depot
Scott Pilkington
Neal Johnson

Also attending will be:

American Airgunner TV
Steve Criner — TV’s Dog Soldier
Eric Henderson — big bore airgun hunter and guide
Jim Chapman — writer for Predator Extreme magazine and airgun hunter

I’m making a big push to get the smaller private dealers now. These are the guys who have vintage airguns for sale. The club has a communal table for members to display and sell their airguns. This club is where I recently purchased the BSA Airsporter Stutzen I’ve been reporting on, a BSA Scorpion pistol and a Schimel gas pistol from the 1950s.

I am going to really shake the trees, because I know there are many airgunners who will come to this one-day show. The sheer volume of people though the door will make it worth their while to attend. Who knows what unusual airguns are going to walk through the doors?

If you have some unusual airguns to sell, this show is the place to sell them! We should get a number of advanced collectors who are attracted to this brand new airgun show because of the curious guns they may find. We’re also attracting those who are new to airguning and are looking for the vintage guns they’ve read about but never seen.

Don’t forget our door prize and the three major raffle prizes that have been donated:

Air Venturi Bronco
AirForce Condor SS
Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE
Walther LGV Master Ultra

Other drawings and freebies are also in the works. Lots of guns, lots of freebies, lots of fun!

Mark September 6 on your calendar. You’ll want to be at the Ft. Worth airgun show in Poolville, Texas.

Photographing airguns, again: Part 1

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

This report covers:

• Light
• Got Photoshop?
• The lesson
• Lesson two
• What have we learned?

We have many new readers who aren’t familiar with what I’ve written in the past. Six years ago, I did a 5-part series on photographing airguns. I tried to cover some fundamentals, and several readers said they got something from it; but so much time has elapsed since then that all but the real veterans have forgotten that I wrote it.

I promised some newer readers hat I would write a few more reports on photographing airguns several weeks ago. This is the first of them, and today we’ll talk about light. In fact, we may need more than one report on this subject since light is so crucial to good (and bad) photography. This is a reiteration of what was in that old series, but I’m trying to say it differently, today. I’ll also share some different tricks I use.

I’m going to keep the discussion simple and oriented on results. But you have to do your part if you want to get something from this.

Light is how an image is recorded. In the days of film, light would cause a chemical change on film. Today, the same thing is done electronically, but the results are essentially the same. For some reason, most of what you think you know about how light works turns out to be wrong and backwards, which is why your photographs may turn out bad.

To see an image, the image needs to be lit so it can be recorded. Most folks think that they have to contrast the image and background by making the background as light as possible to get the image to jump out at them. In fact, you want to do just the opposite. Allow me to illustrate with some photos.

The first picture is a classic dark subject against a white background. It’s the loading tap of the BSA Stutzen you saw yesterday. I’m telling you this because you won’t be able to tell what it is.

BSA Stutzen tap poor light
This image of the BSA tap was taken with the rifle against a white background. The white appears gray for reasons you will soon learn. I used flash, which is the enemy of the photographer in these circumstances. This is the way the camera recorded this image.

Why is the white background so gray in the image above? It’s because the camera’s brain was trying to compensate for the dark object that was being photographed in the foreground. And it did!

Believe it or not, the image that you cannot see in the foreground is lighter than it really appears to the camera. Let me lighten the entire image so the background is white, and you’ll see what I mean.

BSA Stutzen tap image lightened
Same image as before, only it’s been lightened to get rid of the camera’s tendency to try to balance the light in the image. Read about this below.

The camera tries to balance the image it sees, so the darks aren’t too dark, and the whites and bright colors aren’t too bright. That’s why the white background appears gray in the first image. I used the flash, so there was tons of light on that white material, and the camera really had to darken the image, to keep it from being too bright. When it does that, it also darkens the main image that’s in the foreground — the image that was dark to begin with — the image we wanted to see. The effect is to turn what you are interested in seeing into a black silhouette!

Let me show you how this image should be lit. Turn off the flash and allow the camera to see the image with less light — yes, less light. To do this, you have to keep the shutter open longer, and that means the camera has to be held steady to keep from blurring the image.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen tap
The angle of this shot is a little different than the other two images, but more important is the color of the background. Notice that it’s black! A black image against a black background, and yet everything is clear. This picture was taken with the camera on a tripod and the exposure lasted for one-third of a second.

In the third image the object is easy to see against the black background. And yet, notice that neither the object nor the background are really black. They’re both shades of gray. This is the camera at work, averaging the image so it isn’t too contrasty. By forcing the shutter to remain open much longer for this shot, I got everything exposed more.

If I were to leave the shutter open for a whole minute, this entire image would be white. You wouldn’t be able to see anything because everything would be overexposed. Film works exactly the same way.

Got Photoshop?
Most of you do not own the full Photoshop program, so you can’t do what I’m about to show you. But for those who do, this powerful program can sometimes save the day when a major mistake has been made. I’ll take that first image and Photoshop it to reduce the contrast and bring out the details.

BSA Stutzen tap image Photoshopped

In this image I used the Photoshop program to reduce the contrast and lighten the background. Although this brings out the detail and more can be seen, it also digitizes the image (which I discuss below).

Look at the wood in the two images above — the good one and the one that was Photoshopped. In the image taken without flash, the wood appears natural. In the Photoshopped image you can see small digital blocks of color — the fingerprint of an image that’s been heavily Photoshopped. Look at this wood closely enough, and it starts to look like a cartoon. You can even see this in the metal. That’s because it was “drawn” digitally by the software, while the wood in the image taken without flash appears normal.

The lesson
The lesson is that you don’t need to use flash to take good pictures of your guns. In fact, if you do use flash, there are a great many things you need to think about that that can be ignored if you simply don’t use it.

But you probably do need a tripod! Just like a chronograph is important to shooters, a good tripod is one of those pieces of equipment that amateur photographers try to do without as long as possible. I said a good tripod — not something you pick up at a yard sale for $3. While a really good tripod can cost over $500, you can certainly make wonderful pictures with something that retails for one-tenth of that. Buy it used and maybe cut the price in half, again. It may not be quite as flexible as the more expensive unit, but you can find ways to work around that.

The other thing you need to do is learn how your camera works. You have to take it off the point-and-shoot mode and use some of those menu selections to do what I’m showing here. My camera isn’t an expensive one, but it probably costs more than most people are willing to pay. But I’ve used a simple Canon point-and-shoot camera in the past and gotten great photographs with it because today’s inexpensive digital cameras and even phone cameras have features that rival what the best film cameras were able to do about 25 years ago.

Lesson two
Amateur photographers lack the resources that professionals have. Cloud boxes that eliminate shadows are one resource I’ve always wanted but never had. I compensate with indirect lighting and taking pictures outdoors in the shadows on bright days or in direct light on overcast days — where the sky acts as an enormous cloud box of indirect lighting.

Another resource I lack is an unlimited supply of seamless non-reflective backdrops. I’m talking about material that can be used to set off the photograph in the foreground. Let me show you how I compensate for that. Let’s look at a picture I showed you yesterday of the muzzle of the BSA Stutzen.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen muzzle
The muzzle of the BSA Stutzen is set off nicely against an even blue backdrop. How did I do it?

To take this picture, I used a tripod, once again. The light in the room was not bright (despite the bright spot seen on the sight ramp), so I set the camera shutter to stay open longer by setting the exposure to the slowest speed setting (setting the ASA/DIN number or film speed to the lowest setting, which is ASA 80 on my camera). Because the camera “thinks” the film takes longer to expose, it keeps the shutter open longer. I don’t do this manually, though I could. Instead, I set my camera to the aperture priority setting and slow down the ASA speed to 80. The camera’s brain does the rest.

Because the shutter will be open longer, I have to use a tripod or the entire image will be blurry. But that’s okay! I am planning on using that tendency to blur to my advantage. The backdrop in this picture is not a blue that has a uniform color, nor is the lighting in the room sophisticated indirect light. Instead, that backdrop is a blur!

Edith holding backdrop
Edith moved the blue backdrop while the shutter was open, so it was blurred in the picture of the BSA muzzle. Because the exposure took so long, the backdrop averaged out and looks uniform. The camera was closer to the muzzle, of course. I backed up to show how it was done, and this picture was taken with flash.

What have we learned?
I hope this report emphasizes the importance of using a tripod with your camera and learning how your camera software controls work.

These last 2 pictures are for those of you who only have cellphone cameras and think you can’t take good detail shots. This image of a Smith & Wesson Frontier model revolver was taken outdoors with my iPhone camera two years ago, and the camera was handheld. The original image is sharp enough for magazine publication. My iPhone has a high-definition setting for photos.

Otho's S&W Frontier
I took this with an iPhone camera two years ago. The camera was handheld outdoors in the shade. The original image is sharp enough for print publication.

Otho's S&W Frontier detail
When you can zoom in on a photo like this, the picture is sharp.

Just as it isn’t the gun but the shooter who’s accurate – it often isn’t the camera, but the person taking the pictures who makes or breaks them. Pressing the button and hoping for the best is no substitute for understanding how your camera works and using light to your advantage.

NEW: Dan Wesson pellet revolvers!
Dan Wesson pellet revolvers

You wanted Dan Wesson revolvers that could shoot pellets, so we ordered them. Six-shot pellet shooters that so closely copy the firearm, you'll be stunned by the realism. An excellent way to hone trigger control and maintain accuracy with your firearm -- without range fees, expensive ammo or leaving your house. Pre-order yours now. Get it. Shoot it. Love it!

Airburst MegaBoom reactive targets

Airburst MegaBoom bases transform ordinary plastic soda & water bottles into booming targets that deliver up to 150 decibels when punctured. Get the base and charge your own plastic bottles or get the MegaBoom bottles filled with BoomDust that mists like smoke when the bottle is punctured. Low-pressure air pump and blast guard accessories also available. A real blast!