by B.B. Pelletier
This is a continuation of our in-depth look at the AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle. Today, I’m going to begin examining the optional air tank with the Micro-Meter valve. The rifle I’m testing today has the optional .22-caliber 24-inch barrel installed. I would not normally put this long barrel together with the Micro-Meter tank — because this is a pneumatic rifle, and a long barrel will give higher velocity than a shorter one. When I use the Micro-Meter valve, I don’t want high velocity. But since a detailed test like this has never been published (to my knowledge), I’m doing it here and now. After this test, I’ll install the 12-inch barrel that comes standard on the SS and rerun the test with that, since that’s what most owners will probably be doing.
Blog reader twotalon posted some results he got with his gun on the last report, but he was shooting a .177 rifle with a 12-inch barrel and he filled to only 190 bar. I filled to 206 bar, which is 3,000 psi.
Which power setting do I use?
There was some data that suggested the power settings on the gun would be reversed with the Micro-Meter tank on a full fill, and, indeed, that’s what I experienced. The first 10 shots were with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at the lowest power setting and they averaged 718 f.p.s. Two additional shots were fired in this string but failed to record, however, I kept track of them to keep a running tally of the velocity over the entire shot count. In this first 10-shot string, the slowest shot went 713 f.p.s., the fastest went 723 f.p.s.
Next, I adjusted the gun to its highest power setting. The first shot went 722 f.p.s., but after that nothing was above 709 f.p.s. These 10 shots on the highest power setting averaged 707 f.p.s. and ranged from 699 to 722 f.p.s. Highest power gives lowest velocity when the Micro-Meter tank is full.
Then, I shot RWS Hobby pellets on high power and got an average of 740 f.p.s. But this string was very telling. Because it started out at a higher velocity, then began dropping about halfway through the string, I’d reached the place in the fill where the power settings on the gun reversed and started acting normal again. This string had a low of 713 and a high of 747 f.p.s.
Indeed, when I switched over to the lowest power setting for the next string of 10 Hobbys, the average velocity dropped to 738 f.p.s. This string was very close to the one before on the high setting. In this string, the low was 729, the high was 745 f.p.s.
At this point in the test, I’d fired a total of 44 shots on the same fill, four of them failing to trip the chronograph. I knew before testing that the next string of 10 Premiers at the lowest power setting would be much lower than the average of 718 f.p.s. that was seen on the first string. And it was. This time, the average was 689 f.p.s. on the lowest setting with Premiers, and the shots ranged from a low of 684 to 693 f.p.s. There were now 54 shots on this fill.
How the Micro-Meter tank will be used
This is when it finally dawned on me that the Micro-Meter air tank never gets used like a standard air tank. With a standard tank, a shooter will be shooting at great distances and often trying to shoot very small groups. Once the point of aim starts to drift after 30 shots or so, he’ll consider topping off the tank. But he’ll shoot a Micro-Meter tank at very short ranges, often at targets where precision doesn’t matter that much. He probably won’t be interested in group sizes; or if he is, he’ll adjust his sights when the aim point wanders a quarter-inch. Instead of 30-40 good shots, a shooter will probably get well over a hundred shots from a Micro-Meter tank — mostly because of how he shoots. I’ve seen it play out that way for years at the NRA public airgun range, but the difference in shooting expectations never dawned on me until now.
Getting back to the test, I was now 54 shots into the fill, but the rifle was still launching Crosman Premier pellets in the high 600s. Or, to put it another way, it was still shooting about 200 f.p.s. faster than my Diana model 27 on its best day! How’s that for perspective?
I bumped the power back up to the highest setting, just to see what the rifle would do. The next 10 Premiers averaged 688 f.p.s., or one foot-per-second slower than the previous string’s average. The low was 684 f.p.s., the high was 692 f.p.s. It seemed that the highest power setting was now launching the pellets just as fast as the lowest setting and with approximately the same spread.
I left the power on high and fired another 20 shots without recording anything. Then, I fired another 10 for the record, with one additional shot that failed to be recorded. The average velocity at 95 shots was 664 f.p.s., with a spread from 657 to 675 f.p.s. The rifle was clinging to its velocity during every string but losing steam slowly at the same time. Each string of 10 had consistent velocities, but the average was continuing to drop.
I adjusted the power setting to low and fired 20 more shots without recording anything. Then, a string of 10 gave an average of 646 f.p.s., with a low of 638 and a high of 657. One more unrecorded shot brought the total to 125 shots since filling the tank.
I checked the tank pressure without refilling it and determined that the remaining pressure after 125 shots was 1,900 psi. Normally, I stop shooting a standard tank when it’s dropped to 2,200 psi, but this tank still had lots of shots left to give.
In the interest of seeing what would happen, I fired another 50 shots without recording them. That brought the shot count to 175 shots. The next string of 10 shots was fired on the lowest power setting. They averaged 624 f.p.s. — so, after 185 total shots on this fill, the gun was still shooting .22-caliber Crosman Premiers in the 600s! I find that amazing. The spread for this string, however, was large…going from a low of 616 f.p.s. to a high of 668 f.p.s. And the slow shot came before the fast one. So, it was all over the place.
If a person was plinking with a Micro-Meter tank, he would still be shooting at 185 shots. That’s phenomenal performance for an air tank.
It didn’t seem normal to shoot the Micro-Meter tank with a long barrel, but I’m glad now that I did. As far as the shot count goes, I would expect the short barrel to give about the same number of shots, but at a lower velocity. We’ll see that, of course, when we test it next.
It will drive some people nuts!
This test is not for those who sit at their chronographs and sweat their shot string deviations. Those who feel threatened whenever their velocity spread goes over 20 f.p.s. will find what I have done today to be a train wreck! The Micro-Meter tank wasn’t invented for shooting groups at 50 yards.
But for grandpa who has the grandkids over on the 4th of July, how nice is it to know that, with a Micro-Meter tank, your Talon SS will give you hundreds of good shots for the basement or backyard range without refilling? They shoot AirForce guns on the NRA airgun range for hours between fills, and this is the same sort of performance they’re seeing. Yes, the impact point may wander a bit at 33 feet, but it’s not too much to keep up with for this kind of freedom with a precharged air rifle. If you want more shots than this, consider the CO2 adapter.
by B.B. Pelletier
This report is in response to a comment Pyramyd Air got from a customer who doubts that fixed-barrel airguns can ever droop. His position is that they can only have droop if the barrel is heated in some way (as on a firearm that fires very fast) or if the gun is assembled in a shoddy fashion.
He said he believed barrel droop is only commonly found on breakbarrel airguns, which is why he said he would never own one. He thought that droop was mostly caused by the metallurgy of the barrel.
Today, I’d like to address the subject of barrel droop in detail. It can be caused by many things, but poor metallurgy isn’t one of them. Barrels do not bend from cocking, despite what some people may think. It is true that a barrel can be bent by human force, but the force required to do so is much greater than the heaviest cocking effort on the most powerful magnum airgun. So, poor metallurgy is not a contributor to barrel droop.
What is barrel droop?
I will explain what barrel droop is in detail later in this report. For now, I’ll just say that barrel droop is a condition in which an air rifle shoots so low that the scope cannot be adjusted to hit the target.
You must understand that most scopes cannot be adjusted all the way to their highest elevation settings and still operate correctly. This will differ from scope to scope, but generally most scopes do not work well when adjusted above three-fourths of their maximum elevation. It’s imperative that they get on target before reaching that height, and a drooping barrel can prevent that.
Throughout the first five decades of spring-piston air rifles, no one ever heard of barrel droop. It was a non-issue. That was because nobody bothered scoping their air rifles.
The sights on most breakbarrel guns are attached to the barrel, both at the front and rear, so they’re in line with the bore — as long as the bore is drilled straight through the barrel, which it seldom is. The amount of misalignment is usually measured in the thousandths of an inch — an amount the sights can easily account for.
With both the front and rear sight attached to the barrel, there’s less chance for misalignment.
In the 1960s, retailers began attaching scopes to airguns to sell more of them. Firearms had been using scopes for some time, and the general belief among shooters was that scopes extracted the maximum accuracy from any gun.
But scopes had a problem, as well. They were attached to the spring tube of the gun, which isn’t integral with the barrel on a breakbarrel airgun. For the first time, the alignment of the spring tube and barrel came into question.
It soon became known that most breakbarrel guns have a barrel that slants downward from the axis of the spring tube. In the 1960s and ’70s, breakbarrels were hand-selected for scope use when they exhibited less slant than other guns of the same model. You can read about this selection program in both the Air Rifle Headquarters and Beeman catalogs of the period.
What those catalogs didn’t address was the fact that fixed-barrel airguns can and do sometimes have the same barrel slanting problems. They didn’t address it because, at the time, scoping airguns was brand new and not that much was known about it. The people scoping the guns often installed simple fixes, such as shimming the rear ring, and didn’t even think about why they were doing it.
Why the barrel droops
The comment that prompted this blog went on to say that barrel droop was caused by poor metallurgy. Evidently, the writer thought that “droop” referred to a barrel that was curved (or bent) downward — which is not the case. The term “droop” doesn’t refer to a barrel that is somehow curved. It means a barrel that points in a direction away from the sight line, so the axis of the bore and the sight line are diverging. To correct for this droop, the scope has to be repositioned to align with the axis of the bore.
We all understand that a pellet starts falling the moment it leaves the muzzle. The farther from the muzzle it goes, the faster it falls; so the line of flight is actually an arc, rather than a straight line. To align the sight line of the scope with the axis of the bore, we have to align the scope to look downward through the line of flight. To be effective — that is to get any distance over which the pellet is on target — the sight line is made to pass through the arc of the pellet twice — once when the pellet is close to the gun and again when it’s farther away.
The scope is angled down through the pellet’s trajectory. This illustration is greatly enhanced for clarity. This alignment is done the same for firearms and airguns, alike.
But the question is, “Why does the barrel point downward?” With a breakbarrel, it’s usually because of how the breech locks up at a slight angle that causes the downward slant. Some guns, most notably target breakbarrels, overcome this with barrel locks that cam the breech tightly against the spring tube in a straight line. Most guns rely on the spring-loaded detent to both align and hold the barrel during firing. If there’s a weakness, it’s at this point. When a breakbarrel with an unlocked breech fires, the barrel tends to flex in the direction the barrel is hinged. If the barrel broke upward to cock, the problem would be reversed and we would have a barrel “climb” problem.
A breech lock like the one on this HW 55 ensures that the barrel always aligns with the sights — provided the rifle is designed that way.
Do you now understand that the barrels are perfectly straight, and it’s just the angle of the bore’s axis relative to the line of sight that creates the drooping problem? Good, because that’ll make the following easier to understand.
What about underlevers and sidelevers with fixed barrels?
How can a fixed-barrel rifle have droop? Easy — the barrel isn’t attached to the gun with the bore parallel to the line of sight. Presto! Automatic sighting problem. Or the scope base that’s attached to the spring tube may not be aligned with the axis of the bore. Or the bore may be drilled off-center; and although the outside of the barrel is parallel to the sight line, the bore’s axis isn’t. Any of these three things can happen.
Bore not drilled straight
This is very common. It’s extremely difficult to drill a deep (long) hole straight through a steel bar. The drill bit can wander off-axis as it bites its way through the steel, or it can be off-axis all the way through the bore if it isn’t correctly set into the holding fixture before the drilling begins. I’ve had barrels with bores as much as a quarter-inch off-axis with the outside. Granted that’s extreme and uncommon, but it demonstrates the possibility.
The only way a barrel-maker can ensure concentricity of the bore to the outside of the barrel is to machine the outside of the barrel after the gun is rifled.
Barrel isn’t aligned with the spring tube
This problem is also common. When the barrel is pressed into the spring tube (usually into a block that’s held in the front of the spring tube), the bore isn’t aligned with the spring tube. You might think that modern manufacturing processes make perfect things time after time, but the truth is that there’s always some variation.
Scope base on top of the spring tube is not aligned with the bore
Of all the problems with scope alignment, this one is the most common. Off-axis bores are usually held to just a few fractions of an inch for which the scope adjustments can easily compensate. The same is true for barrels that are bushed off-axis. But scope bases are both short as well as attached in such a way (by spot-welds and rivets) that precision is difficult to maintain. Because scope bases are short, any small deviation in their positioning is exaggerated when extended out to infinity by a scope’s sight line. This is the one place where firearms and certain brands of airguns have an advantage over other brands, because they machine their scope bases into the receiver (of a firearm) or scope tube, rather than riveting or spot-welding the base to the scope tube. If the tooling is set correctly, the machining process ensures alignment of the scope base.
Talking about the spot-welded and riveted scope bases brings us to a discussion of one well-known company that makes highly regarded spring-piston air rifles. This company stands head and shoulders above the others when it comes to having barrel droop — both with their breakbarrels and their fixed-barrel air rifles. That company is Diana. Historically, enough Diana air rifles have had barrel droop so severe that special corrective scope mounts have been made and successfully marketed for their models. Even RWS, who exports Diana airguns, has marketed such a corrective scope mount.
But even Diana can change. Their most recent breakbarrel is their 350 magnum model in all of its various forms, and this rifle is very noticeably immune to the drooping problem. Something has changed at Diana. I would think that, over time, we’ll see this change spread to all of their models.
Firearms also have droop
Drooping isn’t just an airgun problem. Firearms have droop, too. But because of how firearms were scoped in the early days, nobody noticed the problem.
When firearms were scoped back in the 1940s and ’50s, many of them did not have optional scope mounts available. It was very common back then for a gunsmith to drill-and-tap holes into the firearm to accept scope base screws. Naturally, when a gunsmith did the job, he would align the holes in the scope mounts so the axis of the barrel was in line with the sight line seen through the scope. If there was any barrel droop, it was corrected as the mounts were installed.
Do barrels only droop (slant down)?
Before someone asks the obvious question, I’ll address it. Yes, there are airguns with barrels that slant up, plus point to the left and to the right too much for the scope to compensate. They’re not encountered as often as droopers, but they’re not unheard of. The reasons for most of these problems are the same as for droopers except for one standout reason.
If a breakbarrel rifle has been fired with the barrel open, so the barrel was allowed to snap closed from the force of the mainspring, that rifle will have a bent barrel. The barrel will be bent upward at the point it emerges from the baseblock, which is the piece that holds the barrel in the action. It’s where the pivot bolt attaches. It’s the blocky-looking piece the barrel is coming out of in both photos of guns in this report.
For this type of problem, the solution is to bend the barrel straight again. Any qualified airgunsmith should be able to straighten a barrel that has this problem, and a number of owners have learned to straighten their own bent barrels..
Most airgun barrels don’t droop
To put this report into the proper perspective, I should mention that a drooping barrel isn’t that common. I have several air rifles whose barrels are okay for shooting with scopes as they came from the factory. And, of the hundreds of rifles I test, only a small percent have a drooping problem. So, it isn’t a given that your rifle will droop.
But you may get a drooper, and you can rest assured that there are plenty of solutions to rectify the situation should you encounter it. The things to remember are:
Not all breakbarrels droop. Only a small percentage do these days.
Rifles with fixed barrels can also have droop, for the reasons mentioned in this report. It is not as common to find a fixed barrel with droop, but any air rifle that has a separate scope base that’s either spot-welded or riveted in place is a likely candidate for droop.
Firearms have droop, just like airguns. But the amount of droop is small enough that it’s corrected by the scope or by the mounts that are supplied by the firearms manufacturers.
by B.B. Pelletier
Wow! Before I started this report on the AirForce Talon SS, I really had no idea of just how expansive it was going to be. Today, I’m going to start a report on the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank that transforms the Talon SS from a powerful outdoor hunting rifle to a plinker that gets lots of low-power shots. It brings the outdoors inside!
Now that you’ve seen the difference in performance between the factory 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and an optional 24-inch .22-caliber barrel with the standard tank, I’ll have to test both of those barrels with the Micro-Meter tank, so that’s a minimum of two tests for velocity and another test for accuracy. I hope you’ll let me get by with just a single accuracy test (from just one of the two barrel lengths); because after the Micro-Meter tank, I still have to test the rifle using the CO2 adapter with both barrels. Then there’s the new Spin-Loc tank still to be tested. And, yes, the Spin-Loc tank does come as a Micro-Meter tank and as a Hi-Flo tank, as well as the standard Spin-Loc tank. Talk about job security!
New airgunners who read about the Talon SS probably wonder why a Micro-Meter air tank is needed. Doesn’t the SS have adjustable power? Yes, it certainly does. But the stability between shots always falls off (the velocities vary more) when the power is adjusted on the low side. You can see that for yourself by carefully reading Part 2 of this report. And some airgunners shoot a lot more in their houses than they do outdoors. They want the power adjustability that comes with the rifle, but most of the time they’ll be shooting at the exact place on the power curve where the standard tank varies the most. These people are mostly shooting in a basement, attic or garage at 25 feet or 10 meters (33 feet), and the velocity variation doesn’t affect them that much. So, once more the question is: Why the Micro-Meter tank? The answer is that it budgets the air much better than the standard tank, and you get more shots. But that wasn’t why it was created.
I was there when the original idea for the Micro-Meter tank was hatched, though I left AirForce before it became a regular product. Here’s an overview of how it came to be.
The NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, in 2005 is what brought about the Micro-Meter tank. The NRA has an airgun range at their Annual Meetings and Exhibits where thousands of people can see, watch and even shoot various airguns. The guns have to be controlled because they’re in a public building! They can’t be shooting 1,000-f.p.s. airguns indoors. The pellet traps they bring for the range are satisfactory for lead pellets (lead ONLY, please, because synthetics can damage the traps and ricochet) at muzzle velocities of 600 f.p.s. and under. That turns out to be approximately the velocity of a 10-meter target airgun (both rifle and pistol) but manufacturers want to have their other sporting-type guns on the line, as well. And AirForce was left out altogether, because of the power potential of their guns.
How sad is that? A Texas-based company is excluded from providing airguns for the public to shoot at a show that’s being run in Texas!
Yes, the Talon SS can be adjusted down to below 600 f.p.s., but the problem is that it can also be adjusted the other way. The NRA had to guarantee their insurance carrier that all guns on the airgun range were not capable of shooting faster than 600 f.p.s. The best and really only way to do that is to not put out guns that have the potential of shooting faster. And the Talon SS most certainly does have that potential.
There were only a couple weeks before the show, and we really wanted to put a couple Talon SS rifles on the line. What to do?
We’d been making special valves for guns going to other countries that must have very low velocity, but even then the velocity of those guns was greater than 600 f.p.s. with lightweight wadcutter pellets. But another overseas customer needed a valve that was restricted in a different way for a different reason. So, what we did was make up a special valve that had both forms of restriction — a “double-restricted valve,” so to speak. And it worked! There was no way guns that had air tanks with that valve could shoot faster than 600 f.p.s.
It’s not easy!
For all who think designing a precharged pneumatic valve is straightforward, let me assure you it isn’t. I remember talking to AirForce while they were designing the Edge target rifle and saw the difficulty they had balancing the internal volume of the new target valve with the valve opening size and the return spring strength. You might get a gun to shoot 28 shots at 580 f.p.s. with only 5 f.p.s. variation, but then the velocity drifts up to 675 f.p.s. over the next 40 shots — and after that you’re out of air! Keeping a balance between velocity and shot count is the pneumatic hat-trick — ask anyone who has ever tried to do it.
So we built a few double-restricted valves for the annual NRA meetings, and that was it. They worked fine and gave hundreds of shots on a fill, which made them perfect for a public event like the show. Those guns have been in service ever since and have now been shot by quite a few people and are still going strong. But there was no immediate move to make the valve available to the public.
Several years later, however, AirForce decided to bring out the Micro-Meter tank as an option so everyone wanting an indoor target capability for their Talon or Talon SS could have it. I’ve never tested the Micro-Meter tank for you, except on the Condor back in 2008. So, this test has been waiting a long time.
The Condor was tested on both a high-power setting and a low-power setting. Initially on low power, the rifle had velocities from 829 f.p.s. to 848 f.p.s. over the first 21 shots when shooting the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. That’s much faster than what we hoped for from this tank, but a Condor has a heavier striker that holds the valve open longer than it was designed to. It also has a 24-inch barrel, which we know is usually more efficient in a pneumatic airgun. A Condor may not give the same performance as a Talon SS when using the same Micro-Meter tank. It also may not give the performance you want for an indoor airgun.
When I switched over to high power for shots 22 through 34, the Condor produced velocities ranging from 733 f.p.s. to 835 f.p.s. This string was fired without refilling the gun, so 21 shots had already been fired before this string started; but notice that the velocity actually dropped, even though the power was set on high. Then, I switched back to low power for shots 35 through 55, not filling the gun before shooting this next string, and the velocity ranged between 795 and 812 f.p.s. There was a lot more to that test, but you get the general gist of it. Pellets went faster on the low power setting! Just the reverse of what the power adjustment wheel normally gives!
I will test the SS with both the factory 12-inch barrel as well as the optional 24-inch barrel, and I think the 24-inch barrel will give me the faster shots. But I want to know whether the Micro-Meter tank is still viable when using a 24-inch barrel on an SS powerplant. And, of course, I’ll give you the total number of shots I get with both barrel lengths.
As for accuracy, I think I’ll test that with the 12-inch barrel, only, since that’s probably the most likely combination an owner will have. I doubt that at short range we’d see anything but stellar accuracy from the 24-inch barrel at 10 meters. Do you?
Too much to test!
Please reread the opening statement of this report. There’s still one more barrel length in .22 caliber and three lengths in each of the three other calibers that the SS can be converted to. And then there’s the regular Talon to test and the Condor to finish testing — in all three barrel lengths and all four calibers! Life isn’t long enough to test them all. But I do want to thank reader new2this for reminding me how much I like the AirForce Airguns. Until he commented, I didn’t realize how much there was.
by B.B. Pelletier
I’m on my way to Malvern, Arkansas, for the airgun show on Friday and Saturday. If you’re going to the show, please stop by and introduce yourself. I’ll have limited time to spend answering the blog comments, so I would appreciate it if the blog regulars would help answer questions from newcomers and new shooters. Now, on to today’s blog.
Today, we’re going to change the stock 12-inch barrel of our AirForce Talon SS for an optional 24-inch .22-caliber barrel. The caliber will remain the same but the barrel length will double. That will demonstrate the benefits of installing a longer barrel on a PCP.
Changing the barrel
AirForce barrels are held in the gun by two bushings around the barrel. These center the barrel inside the tubular aluminum frame. The SS frame is equal in size to the Condor frame. All that differs is the Condo scope base, which is longer. A 24-inch barrel fits the SS frame quite well.
Step 1: Make the gun safe
The first step is to ensure the gun is not cocked or loaded. The safety will be off for this procedure. Dial the power adjuster to zero to take tension off the barrel.
Step 2: Remove the end cap
The end cap is held in place by one 2mm Allen screw. Remove it, and the end cap comes out. It’s held tight by an o-ring to prevent vibration, so just pull a little harder than you think you should, and it’ll slip out.
Step 3: Remove the forearm
One 2.5mm Allen screw holds the forearm in place. Remove it, and the forearm comes off the gun.
Step 4: Remove the barrel
The barrel is held in place by either two or four 2mm barrel bushing Allen screws. The first guns, like mine, had just two screws, located in the channel under the forearm. Later guns had two more very short screws on the left side of the gun. They were just 1/8-inch long and beared directly against the side of each bushing. Today’s guns have two longer Allen screws in the same place, and they fit into holes in each bushing.
The barrel now comes straight out of the frame. If it is tight, just bump the muzzle end of the frame on thick carpet a couple times and the barrel will slide out. You only have to do this with the 12-inch barrel, as all other barrels come out to the end of the frame or past it.
The barrel is out, and you can install the new barrel. Since I’m installing a 24-inch barrel that will stick out of the frame by 6 inches, I can just slide it into position and fasten the screws. If I were installing the 12-inch barrel, I would need some kind of pusher because the 12-inch barrel sits down about 4.5 inches inside the frame.
The assembly is the reverse of the disassembly, but here are some tips.
1. Coat the thin section of the barrel with diver’s silicone grease or o-ring lubricant, because the bolt that slides on this section has two o-rings to seal it.
2. If you’re installing a 12-inch barrel, the alignment of the screw holes in the bushings is critical, because you won’t be able to turn the barrel when it’s inside the frame. So, check that before the barrel goes in.
3. Watch through one of the screw holes for the bushing hole to appear. Align it and install one screw. After that, all the other screws should be perfectly aligned.
4. When you install the forearm, don’t tighten the screw too much. It holds only by a couple threads; and if you tighten too much, you may cause firing problems.
The first time I swapped barrels, it probably took me 30 minutes, because I went very slow and was super-careful. The second time, it took seven minutes (I timed it) — and after that it took less than five minutes.
How does it work?
We have data from the 12-inch barrel, so now let’s shoot the gun on the same power setting with the 24-inch barrel.
With the 12-inch barrel, 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers came out at 854 f.p.s. They gave an average energy of 23.16 foot-pounds.
With the 24-inch barrel on the same setting, the same pellet averages 1027 f.p.s. f.p.s., for 33.5 foot-pounds of energy.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes
JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes averaged 823 f.p.s., producing 23.92 foot-pounds of energy.
With the 24-inch barrel, they average 991 f.p.s and make 34.68 foot-pounds.
Because the 24-inch barrel is so much more efficient, I can load the heaviest pellets and still shoot them with the SS powerplant. The 28.4-grain Eun Jin pellets that I would not shoot in the 12-inch barrel average 814 f.p.s. on the highest power setting and produce 41.79 foot pounds of energy. That’s not quite the 45 foot-pounds I’ve been reporting, but the Eun Jin I shot isn’t the heaviest .22 pellet, either.
The 24-inch barrel does improve the power with no other change to the gun. Next, we’ll see how it shoots.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll take our first look at the accuracy of the AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle. Since I just returned from the NRA Annual Meetings and heard from a lot of owners what they think about this airgun, let me tell you what they all said. Many of them said they’ve never seen a more accurate airgun. Some do own other precharged air rifles, but admit that the Talon SS is equal in accuracy to the best of them.
A few years ago, I used to hear some criticism about the Talon SS trigger since it isn’t adjustable, but I guess people are shooting it more these days, because everyone I talked to at the NRA Show loves their trigger. They all confirmed that the trigger and safety both get lighter, smoother and easier to use as the rifle breaks in. One man was awed that his rifle had held air without leaking for seven months. Then, I told him about the prototype rifle I once found in the factory when I worked there. It was tucked under a work table and was covered with dust. It was still holding a charge after more than five years! So, they do hold their air indefinitely.
Many perspective buyers came up to me knowing a lot about the gun already, yet this was the first time they’d actually seen one. And a great many of them went to the airgun range and shot the Talon SS that was available to the public. After that, some of them came down to the Pyramyd Air booth and insisted on writing an order on the spot. If there had been working guns to sell, I estimate we could have sold quite a few during the show. And .22 caliber was the overwhelming choice of all buyers.
I used an obsolete Leapers Accushot 4-12×44 Mini SWAT mil-dot scope (without illuminated reticle) on the rifle. I mounted it in two-piece Leapers 30mm medium-height rings. Most shooters feel they need higher rings than I use because they don’t hold their rifles the same way I do. I get by with much lower rings because of this hold, so you may need more height than I do. Consider that when you buy one of these rifles.
I normally recommend an AirForce 4-16×50 scope for this rifle. It helps with the longer distances. But both of my AirForce scopes are on other airguns that are also being tested, so I had to use something different this time.
As I mentioned in the last report I had to install the factory 12-inch Lother Walther barrel that comes standard for this test, because I keep an optional 24-inch barrel in my SS at all other times. The benefit of almost doubling the power with the same amount of air is too good to pass up. I didn’t show the barrel changing process, but I will show it when I switch over to the 24-inch barrel in the next report.
So, the new barrel is in the gun and how many shots did it take to sight in? How about two? That’s correct. After two shots, all pellets were landing where I intended. This was not in the center of the bullseye, as I didn’t want to destroy the aim point.
As I mentioned in Part 2, there’s just one pellet for this rifle — the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome. It’s true that the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier was once the most accurate pellet for the rifle; but as I mentioned, this particular JSB has replaced it in my rifle.
There were already 35 shots on the tank from the velocity test and two from the sight-in, but I dialed the power setting to 6 and proceeded to shoot a 10-shot group at 25 yards that measured 0.296 inches between centers. Getting 47 accurate shots on a single fill is pretty darned good.
Then, I filled the tank and shot the next group on power setting 10. Same pellet, just going faster. And naturally because I said in the last report that power setting 10 was the most accurate, this time it chose not to be. A single pellet turned a 0.33-inch group into one that measures 0.394 inches between centers. Again, the group is fairly round, telling me that the gun has no hangups and is performing up to snuff.
I mentioned earlier that I used to shoot 3/8-inch test groups at 23 yards when I set up a new rifle for an AirForce customer or when I tested a customer’s rifle after repairs, but that was always a 5-shot group. Three-eighth’s of an inch is 0.375 inches, so I’m actually getting 10 shots into about the same size group as I used to get 5. I guess what that says is that you have to move back farther to really test an air rifle this accurate.
If this was the final report on the SS, I would go into some other things…but there’s more to come. So, that’ll be it for today.
I’ve already been asked by one reader to test the CO2 adapter on the gun. As long as I’m doing that, I think I’ll ask AirForce if I can borrow a Micro Meter tank and test that for you, as well. Next up will be the gun with the 24-inch optional barrel, which is the way I keep my SS set up. It effectively doubles the gun’s power and makes a rifle that I believe to be the most flexible in the PCP world.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we begin our look at the accuracy of the legendary TX200 Mark III. Since the rifle has no sights, I mounted a Hawke 4.5-14×42 Sidewinder Tactical scope in two-piece UTG Accushot 30mm medium rings. These rings are tall for a medium-height ring, but the TX200 cheekpiece is so high that many higher rings will be just right and fit the shooter perfectly. I know they come very close to a perfect fit for me, and the 42mm objective bell still clears the spring tube by a lot.
I’m showing a photo of the rifle with the scope mounted because you’ll see that the end of the scope hangs over the back of the loading port. In a TX200, that isn’t a problem unless you have summer sausages for fingers, because the loading port is very large — but on other underlevers and some sidelevers it may be. The Hawke is not a long scope, so this clearance is something a new TX owner needs to consider.
What pellets to shoot?
This question is the one every shooter asks whenever they get a new gun — air or firearm. I have a lot of history with this rifle, but in the time since I last shot it many good pellets have come to the forefront. The JSB Exact RS is just one example. I know that Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domed pellets are averaging 958 f.p.s. in my rifle, and that means the lighter 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS will probably top 1,000 f.p.s. Six months ago, that might have turned me off; but after the exciting 11-part “Pellet velocity versus accuracy test” proved that harmonics and not velocity is what causes inaccuracy, I see no reason not to try a faster pellet.
I sighted in with Beeman Kodiaks, just because I used to shoot them in my other TX for field target, and they always worked well. But in reviewing my past reports, I see that this will be the first time I’ve shot 10-shot groups for a report. What a difference that makes!
Naturally, group one was with the Kodiaks. I had hoped to shoot around my aim point, but as you’ll see, that didn’t happen. The group may be a trifle larger than it should be, because for the last four shots I was guessing where to put the crosshairs.
Notice how round the group is? Actually only the first shot went low and right — the rest made that small hole you see. And that was exactly where the aim point was, so after six pellets there was nothing to guide on. Nine of the ten pellets went into a group measuring 0.302 inches!
Next, I tried 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavies. Often, I get the best results with this pellet in an accurate .177 rifle. Ten shots in the TX made a group that measures 0.523 inches. Let’s see what that looks like.
Next, I tried the light JSB Exact RS pellet. The point of impact shifted up about an inch, and the group opened to 0.687 inches. It’s still fairly round, but more open than the first two by a lot. The RS probably isn’t the pellet for this TX.
Then, I tried 10 Crosman Premier lites, just to see what they would do. They made a pleasing group that measures 0.559 inches between centers.
By this time, I was remembering everything I liked about a TX200. For one thing, it’s not at all sensitive to the hold. In fact, this is one of the very few spring-piston air rifles that can be shot while rested directly on a sandbag. To demonstrate that, I shot 10 more Premier lites with the rifle rested on the bag. I had run out of targets on this sheet, so I used a single pellet hole for my aim point. Ten shots went into a group measuring 0.414 inches between centers — the smallest group of the entire session!
Ten 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellets made this 0.414-inch group at 25 yards when the rifle was rested directly on a sandbag. The hole at the 7 o’clock position and outside the group was the aim point and is not a part of this group.
The bottom line
I hope this test demonstrates the accuracy potential of the TX200. Also, I hope you appreciate how important it is that the rifle isn’t sensitive to hold. It will make a better shooter of almost anyone! Of course, I used the very best scope I have for this test; but besides that, nothing special was done. I didn’t even use a scope level.
Have you noticed how similar in size all the groups seem to be? The rifle seems to like a lot of different pellets. That’s another plus, and a good reason why this rifle is worth the price.
I love this rifle because it doesn’t fight me. I can relax almost as though I was shooting an accurate PCP. And I’ve adjusted the trigger to such a fine point that it doesn’t disturb the finest aim when it’s pulled. No wonder I compare other spring rifles to this one!
We now have a baseline for the TX200; so when the Benjamin MAV 77 becomes available, we can compare it.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today is the day we see the accuracy of the Hatsan 125TH air rifle I’m testing. I have a surprise for you, and it isn’t what you expect. Just to review, the rifle comes with a scope that’s best not used. It’s very poor optically. And their mounts are very lightweight, so I didn’t use them today, either. Instead, I mounted my favorite scope, a Hawke 4.5-14x42AO Tactical Sidewinder that I have raved about in other reports. It’s the sharpest scope I have (don’t own it yet, but I expect to), so no one can say the Hatsan rifle didn’t get the best optics.
Hatsan has a scope base that gives you the choice of Weaver or 11mm rings, and the Hawke scope was already mounted in a set of BKL 30mm medium rings with double topstraps. With these butted against the Hatsan’s scope-stop plate, there was no way the scope or rings were going to move under recoil — even the heavy thrust of the 125TH.
After the scope was mounted, I cleaned the bore. And that was when I got the surprise. Even a brand-new brass cleaning brush slipped through the bore with little resistance! I thought for a moment the rifle was a .22 and of course I was using a .177 brush. But no — the rifle I’m testing is a .177. It just has a very large bore. How large? The rifle I’m now testing has the largest bore of any .177 air rifle I’ve ever examined!
I looked through the bore to make sure it’s rifled, and it is. But there are no pellets in my inventory that begin to be large enough to fit this bore — which is why I got the results that I did.
Note from Edith: I asked B.B. if this is so big that it might be .20 caliber. He took a .20-caliber pellet and tried to insert it, but it was too big. So, this is just an oversized .177.
Still a drooper
If you recall, this rifle is a drooper. I knew that, but there are ways to test droopers that don’t compromise the scope. Pick a small aim point located as many inches above the intended impact point as necessary and let that be your aim point for every group. After adjusting things as much as possible, the groups were still landing three inches below the aim point at 25 yards. But if the groups you shoot are tight, you can always replace the rings with a set of droopers afterwards.
The first pellets I tried were Beeman Kodiaks — more to keep them from breaking the sound barrier in my home than for any other reason. I knew from earlier testing that middleweight pellets will go supersonic too easily in this rifle, and every shot will crack like a rimfire!
After I got the sight adjusted, I proceeded to shoot the best group of the day. In fact it was the only complete 10-shot group I fired in this test, because all other pellets scattered so much in the first three shots that it wasn’t worth my time to complete the group.
At 25 yards, 10 Kodiaks made this group that measures 1.336 inches between centers. The pellet at the low right isn’t part of the group. This is similar in size to the best groups made with open sights.
The group is terrible, but it tells me something important that I haven’t noticed until now. Notice that many of the holes are elongated rather than round? These pellets are wobbling as they fly downrange! Some look almost as though they were tumbling when they hit the target. There’s no way they can possibly be accurate when they fly like that, and that’s why I didn’t complete any other groups. Not only were the pellets scattered, many of them also tumbled or wobbled like these. Nothing I shot could ever be accurate in this airgun. When I looked back at the earlier targets from previous tests, I noticed some elongated holes there, too.
The other pellets
At first, I tried to keep the velocity below the sound barrier, so I tried JSB Exact Jumbo 10.2-grain domes and 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavies. Both wobbled in flight and scattered worst than the Kodiaks. I don’t have the new JSB Exact Heavy 10.34-grain domes, but there’s little reason to think they would have performed differently.
I did try a couple middleweight pellets — just to say I did. Some old Beeman Trophy pellets I had on hand cracked like a .22 long rifle, and they did make a couple round holes, but they also scattered widely and one of them did rip an elongated hole.
On to other, lighter pellets. The H&N Field Target was on the border of supersonic. Some were, others weren’t. But I got more elongated holes with this pellet, as well.
Then I tried RWS Superdomes. I thought their thin skirts might blow out and hug the bore better than the other pellets. But, once again, I got all supersonics and elongated holes. Three shots opened to two inches, and I just stopped shooting.
That is as far as I am going to take the Hatsan 125TH. I’ve shot it with open sights, with the scope and mounts that come with it, and with the best scope available. I’ve checked the screws and cleaned the bore. I’ve tried a range of the best pellets. Nothing seems to help. This rifle I’m testing is simply not going to be more accurate than these tests have already demonstrated.
The bottom line
The Hatsan 125TH is a $200 magnum spring rifle. It has their best trigger, their shock absorber system and their Weaver/11mm scope base. Yet, it also has a barrel that’s so overbore that it doesn’t stabilize any pellet I tried. The trigger is too heavy and doesn’t adjust very far. The rifle cocks hard but gets easier as it breaks in. In the end, though, the test rifle wasn’t accurate. I could forgive everything else if I’d been able to shoot a good group with this air rifle.