by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
The last report on this BSA Super Meteor was on October 15. That’s how long it’s been since we saw this gun in print. But in the background, I’ve been doing lots of things that I’ll share with you today.
The last time we looked at this rifle, I was taking it apart and getting a lesson on how it was built and what was wrong with it. To summarize for you, this BSA Meteor is made from folded metal, in the same way Daisy BB guns are made. And the piston head was attached to the piston by means of an E-type circlip that was incapable of standing up to the stress. I can tell that by the damage that was done when that clip let go — but more because the Brits have invented a much better solution for fixing this gun today, when it does break down — and all of them are going to break!
I sent my order to T.R. Robb in the UK for a replacement piston head, o-rings and spacers. The problem is that when I sent in that order I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the same order button also got a piston head for a BSA Scorpion pistol, which is larger than the Meteor head. Well, guess which one Mr. Lysdexic ordered?
That’s right, I ordered the Scorpion piston head. And a couple days later, when I realized what I’d done and contacted T.R. Robb, they had already shipped the order. But to their credit, they sent a second piston head — this one was for a Scorpion, too. That’s right! They sent me 2 Scorpion piston heads and no Meteor head! But I’ll give them credit for trying to help me, for being very generous and refusing my offer to pay for the second head, and for being very prompt in shipping both heads. I had them in less than 10 days.
So, blog reader David Enoch — I now have a spare BSA Scorpion piston head that I believe you said you needed. The price will be right, too. You’ll pay what I paid, which was nothing.
Lots to see here. The replacement piston head is the shiny one on the left, the darker original is on the right. Obviously, the replacement part is larger and has to be cut down to fit. The blue spacer and 2 o-rings are just some of the soft parts that came in the kit. There were a total of 4 o-rings of different sizes and 2 more spacers of varying thicknesses. They allow you to set the power of your airgun, and they also allow for differences in the tolerances of different guns.
When I saw how large the piston head was, I knew it wouldn’t fit. I asked my friend Otho to cut it down for me on his lathe. He also had to cut the o-ring channel deeper at the same time.
Silly me — I thought that would solve everything. So, Otho took the head and had it back to me in a week. Then, I assembled it to the end of the piston and tried to insert the piston back into the spring tube. But it wouldn’t fit! I’d taken it out several weeks earlier, and now it wouldn’t fit back inside! It was like that pair of blue jeans that used to fit, before they suddenly and quite mysteriously shrank. I hate it when that happens — especially to jeans I’ve worn for years!
I took a more critical look at both the spring tube and the piston. Glory be — they’re both made of folded metal like a Red Ryder! Except that Red Ryder spring tubes are generally round, while both of these pieces had variable shapes, with a tendency toward the oval.
The tail end of the piston. Here you clearly see that it’s folded metal, tack-welded at each end.
At least that’s the theory! Here you see the weld at the piston head end has broken. Wonder why the piston is no longer round?
And, on the other side of the piston, opposite the broken weld, the solid metal has also cracked! Here you can see the nut that now holds the piston head to the piston body. It’s not about to break off like the circlip did!
Looking at just the condition of the piston gives you an idea of the shape this rifle is in. I don’t think the design of the rifle caused all this damage. I think people continued to try to cock and fire it after the piston head separated from the piston, and they hammered it into the mess you see here.
I examined the interior of the spring tube very critically at this point and found a lot of metal galling (shiny areas that indicate the scraping of metal against metal without lubrication). There was also a fair bit of surface rust. I also found that some of the folded metal edges of the spring tube that hold the trigger parts were bent into the interior of the spring tube and were blocking the passage of the piston. I fixed those with a Dremel tool, but the inside of the tube was too deep to reach.
I showed the spring tube and piston to Otho, who agreed with me as to the extent of the damage. He felt he might be able to clean out the tube with a tool that holds strips of abrasive paper and is spun in an electric drill. I don’t own that tool, so I was only too happy to let him have a go at it. He also said he could tack-weld and refinish the piston where it was separating.
So, Otho came to the rescue once more. And he was true to his word, because a week later I got back the tube and piston, ready for assembly. But that wasn’t the end of the rifle’s problems!
Otho welded the broken piston and dressed it round again.
Otho also welded the back side of the piston where it was cracked.
Loose barrel pivot
I had discovered that the barrel wobbled from side to side when I first got the rifle. And a little research online told me this is a common problem with Meteors from the 1970s. Apparently, when the forearm stock screws are tightened, the shape of the stock allows them to pull apart the action forks that hold the barrel breech. It’s a design flaw of the rifle, and the solution is to not over-tighten those screws. But how to fix it — since the barrel pivot is a pin, rather than a bolt? Well, this is something I know how to do.
I chucked the forks in the padded jaws of my bench vice and closed the jaws on the forks. When there was some inward tension on them, I hit the outside vice jaw with a 2-lb. ball-peen hammer, which sent a shock wave into the metal of the action forks and realigned their crystalline structure. Or at least that looks cool when I write it. I haven’t got a clue what really happens! All I know for sure is that when you do this, the metal takes a set in the new position, and now the action forks are about 5 thousandths of an inch smaller then the breechblock of the barrel that has to fit between them.
Finally, all the faults had been corrected, as far as I knew. The piston now slides into the spring tube with only a little friction, not unlike a Weihrauch piston in a Weihrauch gun. It was time to assemble the rifle!
Otho and I both think whoever designed this Super Meteor Mark IV was a genius at eliminating cost and making one thing do many jobs. The way this air rifle is designed should be a study in an engineering course, but the students would first have to know how others had done the same things with other spring-piston powerplants. At every turn, you can see the embodiment of the Spartan design.
And the parts that need to be hard are hard! I mean glass-hard! There’s no wear on any of the trigger parts, or on the piston, where it’s held by the sear. The boys at BSA knew what they were doing.
Since there had been so much metal galling in the spring tube, I first lubricated it with Moly Paste before any parts went back in. The molybdenum disulphide particles will bond with the metal surfaces and will not wash out over time. I applied this paste (which is a thick grease) with a swab made from a long thin dowel rod covered with a paper towel on one end.
This simple swab can be used to clean the inside of spring tubes/compression chambers, as well as to lubricate them.
After the inside of the spring/compression tube was lubricated, I also lubricated the outside of the piston head and piston tail with the same moly paste. I’d like to say a word about the piston head now. The kit of parts I was sent had 3 spacers of differing thicknesses. Any of them will work, but each gives you a piston head of a different length when it ‘s fastened to the piston body.
The way the Meteor is designed, adjusting the length of the piston head controls the power of the rifle. A shorter piston head will give a longer piston stroke and therefore greater power. I don’t want power. I want a smooth rifle that’s easy to cock and is also easy to shoot. So I went with a thicker spacer on the head.
Now, I lubricated both the piston head and the tail with moly. The center of the piston body can be left dry because it’s narrower than the ends and will never touch the inside of the spring tube.
The piston head is lubed with moly paste. No precision is required for this application because this stuff spreads as the gun is cocked and fired. The other end of the piston got the same treatment before it was slid back into the spring tube.
Once the piston was in the tube, I coated the mainspring with Beeman Spring Gel and slid it into place inside the piston. Don’t look for that product anywhere — it’s obsolete. It was a viscous silicone (Beeman only says it’s a synthetic in their catalog; but given where it’s going, I’m pretty sure it’s silicone) grease that dampened vibration without slowing the gun much, if any. So, pretty much any viscous silicone with the consistency of toothpaste should suffice. Or, you could do it the old-school way and just use a lithium-based grease.
The powerplant went together the same way it came apart; but the barrel, which was the next item, was harder to install because the action forks were now smaller, thanks to my repair. Nevertheless, the barrel did go into the action forks of the spring tube (I “buttoned” it in using the baseblock to spread the forks slightly), with the cocking link locked inside the piston and lots of moly grease on all metal surfaces that touch.
When it came time to close the barrel, I got a small surprise. It seems the spring-loaded chisel detent (the chisel-looking thingie that holds the barrel shut when the gun fires) was sticking out so far that the barrel wouldn’t close! Examination revealed that the detent is held in the baseblock by the pivot pin that passes through. How in the heck was I going to do that?
Well, if you think like a redneck cheapskate, which I am trained to do, you insert the pivot pin partway, lever the chisel detent back as far as it will go and then tap the pivot pin home. I could have closed my eyes for this maneuver, it went so smoothly. Obviously, I’d discovered something that the original 28-year-old BSA assembler, Trevor, could do 175 times in an 8-hour shift back in 1978.
From there, the only big task was to get the mainspring back inside the spring tube all the way. It only stuck out the end of the tube less than an inch, but it also had to go another full inch into the tube, where it would be held by a crosspin that’s profiled on one side to capture the base of the spring guide. It’s easier to just show you.
This is the side of the assembly pin that fits inside the base of the mainspring guide and holds it inside the rifle.
This 58-cent tool was made from a 4-inch plastic sprinkler pipe in about 20 minutes. With the action in the mainspring compressor, it pushes the washer at the base of the mainspring, while allowing the crosspin to be inserted through its slot. It isn’t beautiful, but it worked both times I used it and looks like it will hold up for dozens more jobs like this.
And the pin is back in place. The contours on the other side of the pin have meshed with the base of the spring guide.
I showed you these parts and the trigger parts in the earlier reports, namely in Parts 2 and 3. So I’m covering ground that I’ve already explained. When I took the rifle apart back in October, I didn’t have to use a mainspring compressor; but to get the mainspring back in place and insert the crosspin, I did. And it was easy.
And the remainder of the airgun went together exactly as it should. I have a theory. Whenever something goes together easily, it means I’ve left out something. I’m in my wetsuit but have forgotten to put on my briefs! I remember learning how to disassemble and assemble the M1 Garand rifle. I thought I could never learn, but a few weeks later I was stripping it like a pro. That’s the way BSA spring rifles are, I guess. You’d like them to come apart in 30 seconds without hand tools, but they don’t. However, once you’ve been down the path a few times, I’m sure the job seems simple.
This is the part I dreaded. Sure the parts were back together, but who was to say they were where they should be? Only cocking and firing the gun would tell me that. So I did. And it did! Hurrah!
The only task left to do is to clean the barrel. I had close to 2 months to do that while it was off the rifle; but to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the gun back to functioning again. No sense doing a great job on a barrel I’ll never use. But now the gun is working, so the next report can be about the velocity.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber Part 1
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock Part 1
New Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock has all the features of the classic Marauder in a lighter, trimmer package.
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock. We have a new log reader who goes by the handle AirrifleRatHunter, and he just bought a synthetic Marauder and it’s his first PCP, so I want to help him with his rifle.
ARH said his rifle wasn’t as accurate as he thought it should be. We found that he was using substandard pellets and corrected that, but I also mentioned to him that the baffles inside the shroud could be involved. He asked me what baffles are, so I’m now showing them to everyone. The test Marauder has 7 Delrin washers (the baffles) that are shaped to strip away the compressed air behind the pellet once it leaves the rifle’s muzzle, which is buried deep within the shroud. I’ve laid out these parts for you to see how they work. If the pellet were to touch one of these baffles as it passes through, it would destroy accuracy.
Looking at a single baffle shows that the compressed air that’s behind the pellet gets stripped to the sides by the shape of the baffle (on the left) as the pellet passes through its center. This happens 7 times in succession before the pellet leaves the gun. The end cap that pushes the baffles against the coiled spring at the back has an o-ring to keep the air from escaping around its threads.
One other accuracy tip is to ensure that the shroud is not touching the forward barrel band on any side. Mine was touching on one side when I got the rifle, so I loosened the 2 set screws on the bottom of the band and repositioned it.
Today is setup day, where I will adjust the rifle to suit myself. The first thing I did was select a scope and mounts. Marauders have a low receiver, which means you need to select a higher scope mount if the objective bell of your scope is a large one. I chose a Leapers UTG 4-16X50 scope with illuminated reticle, but mine is an older model than the one I linked to. Nevertheless, it’s a big scope with a large objective bell that needs height to clear the barrel shroud.
You have to either use a 2-piece mount or a cantilever 1-piece mount that will clear the magazine sticking up above the receiver, so keep that in mind when looking at mounts. I chose BKL one-inch mounts with double straps that are high enough for the gun and scope combination. The double straps mean that you don’t need to worry about the torque sequence when you tighten the screws in the scope caps because each strap is independent.
Adjust the cheekpiece
Usually, I have to just adapt to whatever gun I’m testing because most of them don’t have any ergonomic features. But the new Marauder synthetic stock does have an adjustable cheekpiece. I was able to raise it up so my eye in in line with the scope’s exit pupil when I shoulder the rifle normally. What a convenience that is!
The new trigger
The Marauder’s trigger has been moved back in the receiver by about one-half inch, which brings the blade closer to the pistol grip. The result is a nicer feeling when you hold the rifle because your hand doesn’t have to stretch to reach the trigger. I never noticed it until I shouldered the new rifle the first time, but it certainly feels much better now.
Moving the trigger back meant that several internal trigger parts had to be redesigned. In essence, this trigger is the same one that’s always been on the Marauder, but there are small differences inside. So, the next thing I did was adjust the trigger.
To properly adjust the trigger, you remove the action from the stock. It’s only necessary to remove one stock screw for this, and the action comes right out.
As the rifle came from the box it had a heavy first stage pull of 2 lbs., 6 oz. This can be reduced by adjusting a screw counterclockwise to take tension off the trigger return spring. When I backed the screw out entirely so no spring tension remained, the first-stage pull dropped to just under 11 oz., so there’s another spring inside the trigger group that also helps return the trigger blade.
The large round screw at the left adjusts the trigger-pull weight. Behind the trigger blade the two small screws adjust the first- and second-stage pull length. And the screw behind those 2 allows for slight repositioning of the trigger blade.
I put the adjustment screw back in the hole and tightened it just enough to keep it from falling out. That raised the first-stage pull to just over 14 oz., which is fine for a sporting rifle; but I must note that it’s heavier than the triggers in the other 2 Marauders I’ve tested. They both break at 11 oz., and this one has a first-stage pull greater than that.
Next, I adjusted the first-stage pull a little shorter, and the second-stage pull to start sooner. Those were 2 separate adjustments; but each affects the other, so the manual tells you to do them together. The owner’s manual also warns you that these screws adjust the amount of sear contact, so go slow and be careful to not get the trigger to the point that it won’t hold the sear or will only hold it dangerously close to firing. After making these adjustments, I assembled the action in the stock once more and cocked the rifle. Then, I bumped it hard from several directions, and the sear did not slip off and fire.
Before the adjustment, the rifle fired at 3 lbs., 4 oz. That’s pretty good for an air rifle trigger, given the lawyerly influences in companies these days; but a Marauder is not an average air rifle. After adjustment, it fired at 1 lb., 7 oz. but still had a bit of creep in stage 2, so I adjusted the stage-2 screw one last time. This time, I didn’t take the action out of the stock. The small Allen wrench used on these 2 screws (a .050-inch wrench is used for both stage-1 and stage-2 screws) is small enough to reach through the triggerguard and fit into the socket of the screw.
The final adjustment took another half-ounce off the pull and eliminated most of the creep. I wouldn’t call this trigger glass-crisp…but the way it’s adjusted now, it’s quite good!
Now the rifle is set up for me. Next, I’ll shoot it for velocity and decide whether to leave the fill limit at the factory-set 2,500 psi or increase it for more shots. And I may adjust the velocity, depending on what I find.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Air Arms TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. I can tell you that I learned a lot from this test. But that will all be summarized as we go. Let’s get started!
I shot the new TX directly off the same sandbag that was used at 25 yards. As you remember, I showed (after much coaxing from you readers!) that the TX shoots as well or better when rested directly on sandbags as it does with an artillery hold. The bag was crossways to the rifle, so the contact with the stock was minimized.
The day was perfect for the test. Not a breath of wind the entire time I was on the line!
The rifle is mounted with the AirForce 4-16X50 scope, which was selected so I could conduct another test for reader Duskwight after the regular test was completed. This scope is clear and sharp; and at 50 yards, I was able to bisect the small bullseyes with the reticle.
The rifle was still zeroed for 25 yards, so it had to be adjusted for 50 yards before anything else could happen. The first shot landed 3-1/4 inches low and 1-1/2 inches to the left. It then took another 2 shots before I was reasonable on the target. Then, I fired the first group with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Ten landed in a group measuring 1.562 inches. It’s a fairly round group, but not as small as I would like from this rifle. So, I switched pellets.
JSB Exact Monsters
Next I tried some JSB Exact Monsters, which weigh 13.4 grains in .177 caliber. They went all over the place. When I went dowrange to retrieve the target, I saw that they were tumbling or yawing. They must be too heavy for the velocity the TX is able to generate.
Crosman Premier heavy
The third pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier heavy. I meant to bring Crosman Premier lites, but I grabbed the wrong box when loading up for the range. Fortunately, the heavy pellet was wonderful! Ten of them gave me a group that measured 0.658 inches between centers — or about as good as a top-flight PCP can do at the same distance! This is phenomenal accuracy for any air rifle at 50 yards!
First lesson learned
The new TX200 Mark III is every bit as accurate as my TX that’s well broken-in. No accuracy has been lost over the years, and the rifle can shoot this well right out of the box!
With lesson one under my belt, I adjusted the scope to lower the point of impact and moved to the next bull. The first shot landed where the last group was, then the pellets moved to the new sight adjustment.
Second lesson learned
Some scopes have stiction. After adjusting them, it’s best to shoot a couple shots to vibrate the reticle to its new location. I knew that, but made the mistake anyway. So, I’ve included the first shot, along with the group, to show you what it looks like. If this group had been as small as the one before, that first shot would really stand out. But I lost my concentration on this one and wasn’t holding the rifle as softly as I might have. This group of 10 measures 1.435 inches between centers, which isn’t that far from the first group of H&N Baracudas!
The second group of Premier heavies opened to 1.435 inches. That’s more than double the size of the first group! Top hole to the left of the pellet was the first shot, which I disregarded, after the scope was adjusted.
Third lesson learned
While a rifle may be capable of shooting 10-shot 50-yard groups smaller than one inch, it may not do it every time! That small group may represent what the rifle is capable of, but not what it will always do.
Duskwight, our blog reader from Moscow, asked me to test the difference between a rifle shot with a low-power scope and the same rifle shot with a high-power scope. In other words, does magnification improve a rifle’s ability to group?
Well, common sense tells us that it does. Right? I mean, surely, if you’re able to parse the target to a finer degree, you must be able to group your shots closer together. Right? That’s what this test will determine.
That’s why I used a 4-16x scope on this rifle. I’d been shooting with 16x to this point, so now I dialed the power back to 4x and shot another group.
Wow! At 4x, the intersection of the crosshairs almost completely covers the small bullseye at 50 yards. As I shoot, I’m almost certain how this test is going to turn out. And it does. Ten shots on 4x with the same Premier heavy pellets landed in 2.208 inches. Looks like I was right about what low magnification would do.
The third group of Premier heavies — shot with the scope set to 4x — was 2.208 inches between centers at 50 yards. That’s quite a difference from the previous group, even though that group was already admittedly large.
But something nagged me about this group. I knew in my heart that I’d not given the rifle my best. I knew this group was going to be bigger than the last one while I was shooting it, so I was even sloppier with my hold.
It probably sounds like I need medication to suppress my dual personalities while at the range, but I assure you I’m not talking to myself — at least not loud enough for others to hear. What I’m doing is a little soul searching while I’m still out at the range and have the time to do something about it.
I adjusted the scope back to 16x and shot another 50-yard group. This time, I did everything the way I should have. The hold was completely relaxed. I fully expected to be rewarded with another of those sub-inch groups, but that didn’t happen. This time, I shot a 10-shot group measuring 1.935 inches between centers. Oh, well! I was probably tiring out from all the concentration.
Fourth lesson learned
Sometimes, you just can’t will the results to happen the way you would like. I put my whole heart into this group, and this is what I got. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be 66, dried-out and ready for the old-folks home!
Fifth lesson learned
I called that first great group of Premiers a screamer. Now you see why that is.
Nevertheless, I owed it to Duskwight to try the rifle on low scope magnification one more time, and this time to do my very best. So I did. This time, 10 pellets went into a group that measures 1.481 inches between centers. That’s right, it’s SMALLER than the group shot on 16 power! I noticed that the bull was just visible behind the crosshairs; and if I really tried, I could hold on the target in exactly the same way every time. Apparently, I did, because this group fired on 4x is smaller than the previous group that was fired on 16x.
Sixth lesson learned
Although it isn’t conclusive, it looks like you can shoot just as accurately on low scope magnification as you can on high magnification if you take the time to do things right.
Seventh lesson learned
Looking at both groups fired on 16x and both groups fired on 4x, it sure looks like the point of impact never changed! Some of you have asked about that in the past. The design of the scope determines whether the impact point will move when the scope’s power is changed, but these days a lot of variable scopes stay right where they were when the power’s adjusted.
Eighth lesson learned
Of the five groups fired with Premier heavy pellets on this day, only one is smaller than one inch. And it’s significantly smaller! When you see those great groups in the future, you must ask yourselves what the rest of the groups look like.
Ninth lesson learned
I may be old and dried-out, but I can still shoot — a little. I get tired as the shot count increases, so that needs to be factored in to my tests from now on.
I’m very pleased with what this new TX200 Mark III has done so far. I think the rumors that the TX quality may have slipped are just that — rumors! Individual guns may have problems; but overall, the TX200 is one fine air rifle. Next, I plan on mounting a red dot sight and testing it for accuracy, again, to see what the differences are.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber Part 1
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 2
Sometimes, I get a rifle that I’ve waited a long time to test, and today begins a report on one of them. The Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock has been on my mind since I first saw it at the SHOT Show back in January. In the intervening 11 months, I had forgotten a few things that struck me about this rifle when I first saw it. The first was how light and trim it feels. Compared to a wood-stocked Marauder this rifle is a pound lighter, at just over 7 lbs. But with the lightness comes a much slimmer stock profile, so it fits the hands better, too. It’s the kind of air rifle that makes me smile just to pick it up! The rifle I am testing is serial number 013121147.
You’ve noticed there are a lot of links at the beginning of this report. I’ve linked to all the other reports made on the Benjamin Marauder in this recent series. I did those other reports on the .177- and .25-caliber Marauders specifically so I could look at this new rifle in .22 caliber. Not only are we going to look at what’s new with the Marauder, we’re also going to have a complete set of reviews for all calibers in one place.
Those who’ve been following the Marauder reports are no doubt familiar with the general characteristics and features of the Marauder. Most of these have not changed. The rifle is a 10-shot bolt-action repeater (8 shots in .25 caliber). There used to be an optional single-shot tray for all 3 calibers, so you could remove the magazine and load each pellet separately, but Crosman has dropped that option for the .22 and .25 calibers. They retain it for the .177 caliber because that’s the only one suitable for field target and field target shooters like to load each shot separately.
The rifle is adjustable for both power and for the maximum fill pressure (from 2,000 psi to 3,000 psi) and a hang tag that comes attached to the trigger guard tells you the factory has set the fill pressure of your rifle to 2,500 psi. The owner’s manual tells you how to adjust both the fill pressure level and the rifle’s power, plus I did a very detailed report on both things a while back. Part 4 of the .177 report deals with adjusting the rifle’s power and Part 7 of the .177 report deals with adjusting the maximum fill pressure of the rifle. The new rifle I’m looking at operates in exactly the same way, and nothing has changed as far as those adjustments are concerned.
Another noteworthy feature the Marauder has is the adjustable trigger. It’s a dream trigger that can be adjusted very finely to almost whatever a shooter wants. The new Marauder also offers an adjustable trigger, but it’s slightly changed from the older one. I’ve examined the isometric illustration of the new trigger in the manual and can see very little difference in the internal parts, so I doubt the feel and function has changed that much; but I do plan on doing a trigger adjustment on the test rifle, so we’ll all know. Until that report, then, let’s assume the trigger is just as good as it’s always been, which — on the Marauder — is very good, indeed!
The trigger blade has moved backward in the stock, so your fingers reach it more readily. I think that gives the stock a more welcoming feel when you shoulder the rifle, though it doesn’t pop out at you. That movement was the reason some of the internal trigger parts had to be modified.
The safety is manual — just like the safety on the old Marauder. Pull it back to put it on — push forward to take it off. It’s light and smooth and can be operated by the trigger finger, alone.
One thing that’s obviously changed is the stock. The rifle I’m testing has a black synthetic stock with an adjustable cheekpiece. The sculpting of this stock is perfect for the shooter, in my opinion. The pistol grip fits my hand very well without being too fat; and the forearm just in front of the triggerguard is very thin, making a perfect place for the off hand to rest. The forearm then swells out a little further forward; so, if you hold your rifle like a deer hunter, there’s more meat to grab on to. But even that part is sculpted to fit the fingers and thumb of your hand, making a rifle stock that grips you as much as you grip it.
I intend adjusting that cheekpiece to suit whatever scope I mount on the rifle. How enjoyable to have a rifle that doesn’t need any adaptation or compromise when held — one that just fits me the moment I pick it up. I think Part 2 of this report will be devoted to setting up the rifle — the stock, the scope and the trigger adjustment.
The bolt is now ambidextrous! Lefties can now have the bolt handle on their side of the action. Making this switch requires some disassembly of the action, and Crosman recommends sending the rifle to an approved service station like Pyramyd Air for the switch. So, if this is something you want, think about it when you order the rifle and get the work done before the gun is shipped.
Crosman touts some changes to the rifle’s valve that offer a 12 percent increase in available power and a 30 percent increase in the shot count. I guess I’m going to have to make those adjustments to find out how effective they are. I doubt that we’ll see both a power increase and a shot count increase at the same time, though. That’s just the way compressed air works.
Crosman also says there’s a factory installed de-pinger that quiets the striker fall. You don’t notice that noise on most guns, but the Marauder is so quiet that secondary noises start to be heard. My ears are pretty well worn, but I’ll see if I can detect anything for you.
The test rifle is .22 caliber. Of all the Marauders I’ve shot, I’ve never tested a .22, so this will be a big thrill for me. I always thought that .22 was an ideal caliber for this rifle, given the power potential. I intend on testing it at 25 and 50 yards, just like I did the other 2 calibers. The choked barrel is 20 inches long and encased in a baffled shroud that quiets the gun’s report to almost noting. I did note that the .25-caliber Marauder was just slightly louder than the .177, so I’ll report on this one when the shooting starts.
That’s it for our first look. Next time, I’ll adjust the rifle to fit me, adjust the trigger and mount a scope. After that, I’ll check the velocity and then we’ll get to the accuracy testing, which I’m really looking forward to. Stay tuned!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Just a word
Befoere I get started with today’s report, I want to say something about what happened this weekend. Friday’s airsoft report got a lot of comments. Among them are several questions about the technology of the guns. And some admissions that people didn’t think much of airsoft before they tried it, then they found their opinions changed drastically. That also happened to me, so I can relate to it.
But all you who don’t care for the subject don’t need to worry. This isn’t going to become an airsoft blog. I will continue to report on it at a low level, but I know this is an airgun blog, and that’s not going to change. I want to assure the readers for whom the subject of airsoft is not welcome that we are still going to talk about pellet guns and BBs guns for the most part. I will write a few reports on airsoft now and then, and I trust they won’t upset you too much.
Okay, that’s done. On to the topic of the day!
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex, and it’s velocity day. Before I get to that, there are a couple adjustments I wanted to make to the rifle. Let’s look at those now.
The first adjustment is the trigger. In the first report, I said the trigger is crisp but heavy. The adjustment screw adjusts only the length of the first-stage pull; so I adjusted it to be longer, and stage 2 decreased. Don’t go too far or the rifle will not cock at all because this adjustment does affect the area of sear contact.
I did go too far and had to call Umarex USA, where I learned that the Octane is supposed to come with a warning tag telling you not to turn in the adjustment screw more than one full turn. I went way past that, so all I had to do was turn the screw back out until the head stood even with the trigger blade — and the trigger was back to working again. For even greater contact, turn the screw so it stands proud of the trigger blade.
The second thing I wanted to adjust is the tension on the action forks because the barrel pivot was too loose. To do that, I normally take the barreled action out of the stock. But with this rifle, you need to be aware that the pins in the trigger are not held in and will fall out of the trigger if the action is tipped sideways. I didn’t know this, of course; and when the first pin fell out, it set me up for 45 minutes of work to get the trigger back together again. It seems that the trigger pins are held in place by the stock. Other airguns I’ve worked on have the same arrangement, and one solution is to put tape on one side of the trigger to hold the pins in place…and keep the trigger oriented straight up and down.
Each of the 6 free (not held by circlips or springs) trigger pins seen here is very loose in its hole and will fall out of the trigger if the gun is jostled or tipped to the side. They’re held in place by the stock. What appears to be a pin at the far right is actually a rivet.
Better still — what you can do (VERY CAREFULLY!) is remove both forearm screws and just LOOSEN the rear screw behind the triggerguard. Then the front of the action can be tipped up clear of the stock far enough to tighten the barrel pivot bolt and nut. I would advise against taking the action completely out of the stock. If you do, know how loose the trigger pins are and treat the rifle accordingly. When the pins fall out, the internal trigger parts start moving around. They’re fairly easy to align with their pin holes, except for the safety that takes a little fiddling since it’s a 2-piece assembly with an internal pivot. My advice is to leave the gun in the stock.
One final tip. When you tighten the stock screws, don’t tighten the rear stock screw (the one behind the triggerguard) too much or the trigger won’t function. It was not tight when I first took the action out of the stock; and I found that if I tightened it too much, the trigger would not work. Umarex told me the screw shouldn’t affect the trigger at all, but I’m just reporting on the behavior of my test rifle.
Now, let’s look at the velocity of the Octane. I’ve selected 3 popular lead pellets and one lead-free pellet.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The first pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. This is a popular and very accurate pellet in many airguns, and I think it may be accurate in the Octane. This pellet averaged 762 f.p.s. in the Octane. The low was 748 f.p.s., and the high was 787 f.p.s.; so the spread was 39 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 20.51 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
This pellet loaded easily, perhaps too easily. I think it might be a little undersized for the Octane’s breech. That could affect the accuracy. We’ll see.
The RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and is very tight in the Octane’s breech. It averaged 889 f.p.s. in the rifle with a low of 867 and a high of 902 f.p.s. So the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 20.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I don’t know how Hobbys will do in the Octane, but I suspect they’ll do well because of the tight fit in the bore. Of course, the Hobby is a wadcutter, so accuracy will fall off after about 25 yards.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak dome weighs 21.14 grains, which makes it a very heavy pellet. In the Octane, Kodiaks averaged 682 f.p.s. with a range from 665 to 691 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 26 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity, the Kodiak produces 21.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
My guess is that the Kodiak pellet might also be a good one for the Octane. If so, that’s great because it also produces the most energy of all the lead pellets tested.
Okay, the name of the game with pellet rifles these days is speed, and the RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellet at 9.9 grains is the way to get it. In the Octane, they averaged 1029 f.p.s. with a spread from 1022 to 1075 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 53 f.p.s., so the rifle is probably still burning a lot of fuel. At the average velocity, the HyperMAX pellet produced 23.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The HyperMAX pellet fit the breech very loosely. That’s probably where the extra velocity spread came from, as more dieseling was generated by less pellet resistance. I doubt this pellet will do very well in the Octane because of the loose fit.
The rifle recoils noticeably in both directions, but there’s no vibration, whatsoever. Nearly all rifles with gas springs have a sharp buzz that hits you in the cheek, but the Octane doesn’t. In fact, aside from the recoil, it’s a very smooth-shooting spring rifle.
Remember that I had to adjust the trigger for a very definite stage-2 let-off. That affected the trigger-pull a lot. I was able to adjust it back to a release of 7 lbs., 14 oz. with very little creep. It’s heavy, as I noted before, but I think it’s crisp enough to do good work. We shall soon see!
The Octane IS NOT LOUD!
When I first tested the rifle it was very loud. And the sound persisted for longer than I felt the dieseling of a new airgun would last. But during this test the rifle suddenly became MUCH quieter. Obviously, it had been dieseling and I didn’t know it.
I originally told Edith it was a 3.7 on the sound scale when I tested it, and she adjusted the loudness level on Pyramyd Air’s product page to 4. But now she can hear that the Octane is clearly a 3. I apologize to everyone who was mislead by my earlier report. The Octane is a normal-sounding breakbarrel air rifle.
Observations thus far.
I said in Part 1 that the Octane holds very well in the hands. The weight is biased forward toward the muzzle, and the stock is slender when the off hand rests. Add the smooth shooting to this, and I think the Octane might surprise us in the accuracy test.
I plan on shooting the rifle at 10 meters with its open sights first. That should give us an idea of which pellets it likes. Then, I’ll mount the scope and shoot those best pellets at 10 meters, again. That does 2 things. First, it confirms the pellets are as good as we think; and second, it allows me time to adjust the scope for the second accuracy test at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m writing this extensive report to fully explore the fabulous Air Arms TX200 Mark III, which is without a doubt one of the finest spring-piston air rifles in the world! The good news is that it’s still available today. The better news is that it’s everything it’s cracked up to be! Writers have a few trite phrases to convey quality in the airgun world. “As good as a TX 200″ is one of them, and it’s very high praise.
There are 9 links above that will take you all the way back to the beginning, when I started by testing my own well-broken-in TX 200. But now I’ve shifted over to a brand-new rifle that Pyramyd Air sent to me to test. Some readers wondered if my rifle, which is so well-used that it might be performing above the bar, so to speak, because of the use it’s had. They wanted to see a rifle that’s being made today, and also one without all the wear on the parts. That’s what we’re testing now — a brand-new TX whose only shots are the ones you have witnessed on this blog.
The TX has no sights and must be either scoped or have some other kind of optical sight mounted. One of the tests we’re going to do with this rifle is to mount a red dot on it and see what that does for it. Blog reader Mannish from Mumbai asked for that test a long time back.
We’re also going to test the effects of shooting the gun at 4X and again at 16X with the same scope. Reader Duskwight asked for that — to see if the increased magnification would affect the group size. I also want to see if changing the magnification changes the point of impact, so that test will be a twofer.
I’m leading up to the scope I chose for this test. I might have selected the same Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder that was on my TX when I tested it, but that didn’t give me all the magnification I wanted for Duskwight’s test. So, I selected a vintage AirForce 4-16X50 scope, instead. Mine is older than the model being sold today, but the specifications are essentially the same. For a mount, I selected a nondescript 1-piece mount. I chose it because it has a vertical scope stop pin for the TX scope stop holes, plus it has the height needed for the scope’s objective bell to clear the spring tube. I have no idea who made it.
I started sighting-in at 12 feet, putting 3 pellets into the target and adjusting until they were in line with the center of the bull, more or less. They were high, so I cranked down about 4 complete turns on the elevation knob, knowing that back at 25 yards the gun would be shooting higher than at 12 feet.
When I shot the first pellet at 25 yards, it was still about 1.5 inches high, so a couple more turns down on the elevation knob brought it to the center of the bull. As always, I tried to intentionally keep the pellets from striking the center of the bull, as that erases my aim point very quickly. The sight-in was now complete with about 7 shots being expended.
All of today’s shooting is at 25 yards, which is really close for a TX. I rested the rifle directly on my sandbag, with the bag turned sideways, so the rested area touched about 5 inches of the forearm. I used an ultra-light hold, and the groups showed the results. I selected a couple pellets that had done well in the test of my personal TX and one that had never been tested for accuracy before.
H&N Baracuda Match
The first pellet was the one I used to sight-in the rifle — the H&N Baracuda Match. It was landing to the left of the aim point and in the center of the bull for elevation. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.417 inches between the centers of the 2 pellets farthest apart. That’s well within the range fired by my personal TX at 25 yards.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried a pellet I haven’t tried for accuracy in the TX — at least not that I can remember. The JSB Exact RS dome is a very lightweight pellet for a rifle this powerful. The first shot landed about 1.5 inches above the spot where the Baracudas were hitting, but it was still on paper, so I continued to shoot. Each shot that followed seemed to drop a bit lower on the paper, and as I was shooting I discovered something important. The rifle shoots this pellet very well, but it is extremely hold-sensitive. Moving the rifle a quarter-inch on the sandbag makes a tremendous difference. So, I was able to adjust the hold carefully and get the pellets to land closer together.
I think the RS pellet can be made to shoot, but it isn’t worth the effort when there are other pellets that shoot even better without all the fuss. The 10-shot group I got measures 1.501 inches between centers, which is terrible; but 6 of those pellets were the ones I took special pains to hold exactly the same, and they measure just 0.496 inches between centers. That’s the potential of this pellet when you handle the gun like it’s a soap bubble!
Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier heavy. The group was a phenomenal 0.333 inches between centers! That’s slightly better than the best group I shot with my own TX at 25 yards, but the difference is only 3 one-thousandths of an inch and could easily be hidden by an error in measurement. So, the 2 rifles are equivalent.
I could have shot other pellets and shown you more targets, but by now you’re getting the picture. The new TX is the same as it has always been — one of the finest and most accurate air rifles on the market.
Next, I’ll test this rifle at 50 yards. I’ll do essentially the same test that I did with my own TX at that distance, but then I’ll add the 4-16X test. That will tell us if there’s an advantage to more magnification, and it will also show if the point of impact changes as the magnification changes.
After that test, I plan on mounting a red dot sight on this rifle and testing it at 25 and 50 yards. I think that will end the test of this rifle, unless something else comes up.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
We’re back to the BSA Scorpion 1200 SE. When we last tested it, we looked at the velocity and discovered this is a 30 foot-pound air rifle. So, its primary purpose is hunting. I thought that meant I should test some heavy .22-caliber pellets, but I also included a middleweight.
This test was done at 50 yards. I never shot the Scorpion indoors at 25 yards because it’s so loud. I went straight from mounting a scope to shooting at 50 yards. As it turned out, that cost me several more shots than normal to get on paper.
I scoped the rifle with the UTG 6-24X56 AP scope with illuminated reticle.
I knew the scope would be right for the Scorpion because BSA PCPs are very accurate. I wanted a lot of power in the scope to compliment the long-range capability. This scope gave me what I was looking for.
The first pellet I tried was the 21-grain Beeman Kodiak. The first group wasn’t good because the wind kicked up just as I fired a couple of the shots. Sure enough, the 10 holes had a horizontal spread. They measure 1.006 inches between centers, which isn’t bad, but I felt this pellet deserved a second chance.
The second group of 10 Kodiaks measures 0.926 inches between centers. Although that isn’t that much smaller than the first group, this group is rounder; and I feel it’s representative of what Kodiaks will do in this rifle.
Eun Jin dome
I said during the velocity testing that the 28.4-grain Eun Jin dome would probably be good if you were seeking the maximum knockdown power at long range. They developed an additional foot-pound of muzzle energy. They’ve never been the most accurate pellets, but in some PCP rifles they do deliver credible accuracy.
Not in the Scorpion 1200 SE, though. The Eun Jin gave a large groups with a pronounced vertical spread. It measures 1.488 inches between centers and was the largest group of the test. I don’t recommend this pellet in the Scorpion 1200 SE.
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy, 18.1 grains
Next, I tried the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy domed pellet. This one is between the medium-weight JSB Jumbo and the heavier Beeman Kodiak, so it gives better velocity with some good power retention. If it shoots at least as well as the Kodiak, it would be worth choosing.
But it doesn’t just shoot better — it shoots WAY better than the Kodiak in the Scorpion 1200 SE. Ten pellets made a group that measures 0.792 inches between centers. The group is very round, as you can see, so we know this pellet is a keeper!
JSB Exact Jumbo 15.9 grains
The last pellet I tried was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. Sometimes this pellet is the best in a PCP rifle, so it had to be tried. This time, however, was not one of those times. Ten pellets made a 1.332-inch group that was not as tight as the Kodiaks or the 18.1-grain Exact Jumbo Heavys. And no wind caused the horizontal spread of these pellets.
The BSA Scorpion 1200 SE certainly has the power and accuracy needed to be a good hunting rifle. I like the way the stock balances in my hands when shooting, as it’s heavy at the muzzle. I don’t care for the fact that it needs 232 bar of fill pressure because that drains even a carbon fiber tank quicker than a 200 bar fill. It does, however, get a reasonable number of powerful shots per fill (25).
The 10-shot magazine is flawlessly reliable. There was never a misfeed in the entire test. And the magazine is below the top of the receiver, so it never interferes with the scope. The trigger is light enough, but I don’t care for the stage 2 creep that I found impossible to adjust out.
I would recommend this rifle to all who like its looks and features.