Pellets

Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE
Hatsan’s AT44S-10 Long QE is packed with features for airgun hunters.

This report covers:

• Fast becoming a favorite
• Accuracy test
• Stunning first group!
• Tried RWS Superdomes
• Finish with JSB pellets
• Overall evaluation
• 100-yard test

Fast becoming a favorite
Today, we’re back at the 50-yard outdoor range with the Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE rifle — an air rifle that’s fast becoming a favorite of mine. I think you’ll see why in this report.

Last time, I showed you some excellent 10-shot groups from this rifle at 50 yards. That day was perfectly calm, and by chance the second pellet I tried turned out to be the one to shoot. The 16-grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet delivered some great groups, including one 10-shot screamer that was just 0.624 inches between centers. I resolved to return to the range another day to see if this was just a one-time thing or if the rifle could deliver such stunning accuracy all the time.

Accuracy test
This day was not perfect. There was a little breeze sometimes, but in the beginning it could be waited out. It was only 1-3 m.p.h. when I began shooting. Last time, I learned that the first 10 shots on a fresh fill weren’t as accurate as the second 10, so I filled the rifle to 200 bar and loaded ten 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets, thinking that I would save the sure-thing Air Arms pellets for the second 10.

Stunning first group!
But my first group was stunning! Nine of the 10 pellets went into 0.552 inches and only shot 8 strayed from the main group. It enlarged the group to 0.916 inches, which is still commendable for 10 shots.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 1
Nine JSBs in 0.552 inches! Shot 8 opened the group to 0.916 inches, which is still excellent.

Now that the first 10 were shot, I thought the rifle was going to give me a wonderful second group with the Air Arms pellets — but for some reason, it didn’t. Ten went into 1.434 inches, with 5 of them clustered in 0.212 inches. How do I make sense out of that?

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE Air Arms group 1
Five shots in that tiny (0.212 inches) hole, but the other 5 went everywhere else (1.434 inches)!

The Hatsan is short of breath, and there are only 20 good shots per fill if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. I filled the rifle, again, and once more I shot the first group of 10 with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys. This time, they were a little more open than the first time, but they still managed to all be within 0.676 inches. That’s actually smaller than the first group was, and it’s close to the size of the best group from the previous session (0.624 inches).

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 2
The best group of this session! Ten pellets went into this 0.676-inch group.

The second group I shot was 10 Air Arms pellets, and this time they really opened up. Ten went into 1.334 inches, with 8 of them in 0.824 inches. Apparently, Air Arms pellets were not going to do as well on this day as they had during the previous session!

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE Air Arms group 2
For some reason, the Air Arms pellets didn’t want to group together on this day. Ten in 1.334 inches with 8 in 0.824 inches.

Tried RWS Superdomes
I brought some RWS Superdomes along — just to try one more pellet. But the first shot was 14 inches from the aim point (!!!) and the next shot was 6 inches from that! I ejected the clip and removed all the pellets. That’s just wasting air.

Finish with JSB pellets
I filled the rifle once more and this time decided to just shoot the JSB pellets since they seemed to want to do better. The first group of 10 went into a whopping 1.71 inches, which was surprising. The second group of 10 was 1.351 inches apart, and I was now having to fight a growing breeze. I can’t say how much the wind affected the last 2 groups, but it probably had some impact.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 3
This time the JSBs didn’t stay together too well. Ten went into 1.71 inches. This just shows that sometimes the bear eats you!

Hatsan AT44S 10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 4
The second group on this charge is a little better — at 1.351 inches. It isn’t always sweetness and light!

Overall evaluation
Based on the results of these two days at the range, I have to say the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the most accurate precharged pellet rifles I’ve ever shot. It may not be the most accurate, but it has to be in the top 5!

It’s amazing that an air rifle this powerful is also quiet. It sounds about as loud as my vintage Diana model 27 spring rifle, yet I know it’s producing 35-47 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. And the trigger, while not the absolute finest I’ve ever tested, it still right up there in the top 10.

Hatsan has hit the ball out of the park with this rifle! They’re pricing it to compete with the Benjamin Marauder, and it absolutely kills the more expensive European PCPs in all categories except appearance. But I’m the kind of shooter who wants to hit the target. I don’t care that much what my rifle looks like — as long as it can deliver the mail.

100-yard test
The last time I had a PCP that was this accurate was when I tested the AirForce Airguns Condor SS, and that rifle put 10 pellets into one inch (1.003 inches) at 100 yards. This Hatsan isn’t quite as powerful as the Condor SS, but I’m willing to give it a try at that distance. So, there will be a Part 5 to this series!

BSA Scorpion SE: Part 2

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

Today’s report is Part 2 of the guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s finishing his report of a BSA Scorpion SE, and today’s blog is all about accuracy.

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

Over to you, Tyler.

by Tyler Patner

Part 1

This report covers:

• Accuracy at 20 yards
• Accuracy at 40 yards
• Trigger and safety
• How loud is it?
• Final thoughts

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

In the first report, we used a chronograph to measure the velocity of the .25-caliber BSA Scorpion SE. Just looking at the chrony numbers, I would guess that .22 caliber is really optimal for the Scorpion SE. I’d bet a rifle in that caliber could put out the same energy as the .25 and maintain the same or better shot count. But don’t discount the .25-caliber Scorpion SE. While clearly underpowered, today’s accuracy testing will show just why the this rifle should be on your short list.

Accuracy testing was done at 20 and 40 yards. Normally, I would do 25 and 50 yards, but my current range has a max of 40 yards. The Bushnell Elite 8-32X40 scope was set on 16X, and the shooting began. I should note, I was using only a front bag rest and shooting off a very wobbly plastic table, but even those hindrances could not keep the Scorpion SE from impressing me! A .25-caliber hole is a bit bigger than I’m used to seeing. I shot 3 groups to warm up and then refilled for the 20-yard test.

Accuracy at 20 yards
The first pellet shot at 20 yards was the JSB King. They stacked 5 into a tight 0.43-inch group, starting things out nicely.

BSA Scorpion SE  JSB King 20 yards
Five JSB Kings went into this 0.43-inch group at 20 yards. This is a good start.

Next was the Benjamin Destroyer pellet at 27.8 grains. This is shaped similarly to their Destroyer in .177 and .22 calibers. Four shots went into a 1.30-inch group, with the fifth shot flying high about 2 inches. The overall size came to 2.60 inches for 5 shots, which is beyond poor. The Benjamins were not included in the 40-yard test for that reason.

BSA Scorpion SE  Benjamin Destroyer 20 yards
Five Benjamin Destroyers went into 2.60 inches at 20 yards, with 4 in 1.30 inches. This isn’t the pellet for this rifle.

The Predator Polymags did surprise me a bit. Not only did they just barely squeeze into the magazine, but they actually grouped pretty well. A 0.54-inch group of 5 at 20 yards made a nice-sized hole that would certainly be adequate for small game. The Polymags have proven, time and time again, that they’re the premier hunting-specific pellet and can smack small game with devastating results.

BSA Scorpion SE  Predator Polymags 20 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.54 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The lighter-weight H&N Field Target Trophy grouped decently, with 5 in 0.79 inches. I pulled the fourth shot a bit, as my wobbly table wasn’t quite stable. I did shoot them at 40 yards, as well, but the results were not worthy of showing here.

BSA Scorpion SE  H&N Field Target Trophy 20 yards
Five H&N Field Target Trophys went into 0.79 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The pellet that surprised me the most was the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme. With a cross cut on the head of the pellet, it’s certainly eye-catching, with major accuracy to back it up! A 0.35-inch, 5-shot group (basically one single hole) was more than enough to get my attention. Twenty yards is not a long distance for PCP guns; but when you lace 5 shots in a row through a single hole, it immediately gets your attention!

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 20 yards
This is what I wanted to see — 5 H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes went into 0.30 inches at 20 yards.

Next up were the Beeman Kodiaks. Being made by H&N, I was pretty confident they’d group similarly to the Baracuda Hunter Extremes, and they did. A 0.32-inch group of 5 bettered the mark set by the Hunter Extremes at 20 yards. The two pellets are very similar in terms of shape; and aside from the cut out in the head of the Hunter Extreme, they showed little difference in accuracy at 20 yards.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 20 yards
Beeman Kodiak pellets put 5 into 0.32 inches at 20 yards.

Accuracy at 40 yards
I chose to go with the Kodiaks, Hunter Extremes, Predator Polymags and JSB Kings for 40-yard testing. The results were all very good, which shows the versatility of the BSA barrel. This is something I’ve come to appreciate about the BSA guns I’ve owned. They all seem to be very even-tempered in terms of pellet selection. All too often, I test guns that will shoot only one pellet, and everything else groups horribly. That’s all well and good, but only if the pellet the barrel likes is accessible, consistent from die to die and not too far on either side of the weight spectrum so your trajectory is reasonable. For testing at 40 yards, I shot two groups just to try to remove the potential for human error because we all know the gun is rarely the problem. It’s the jerk behind the trigger!

First up were the Beeman Kodiaks, and they did not disappoint — giving a 0.50-inch group. Bear in mind the pellet is half the size of the group, so you are looking at two holes at the end of the day.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 40 yards
At 40 yards, 5 Beeman Kodiaks went into 0.50 inches.

The Predator Polymags at 26 grains grouped very well at 40 yards, making a 5-shot group that measured 0.65 inches. I would be very confident with a magazine of these in the Scorpion SE if I was going out after squirrels or pest birds. Raccoons and opossums would also be well within the Scorpion SE’s game menu. Accuracy like this will pretty much assure you of a clean head shot or vital organ shot if you do your part. The extra bit of expansion the Predators offer would also come in handy.

BSA Scorpion SE Predator Polymag 40 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.65 inches at 40 yards.

The overall best group of the day (and not just at 40 yards) was made with JSB Kings. After looking like the H&N/Beeman pellets would run away with the accuracy testing, the Kings came back in a big way. I managed to put 5 shots into a single hole measuring 0.27 inches. Basically, that’s the size of the pellet. The next group opened up ever so slightly, but it was clear that the Kings are the way to go.

BSA Scorpion SE JSB King 40 yards
JSB Exact Kings made the best group of the day, with 5 in just 0.27 inches! This is great for 40-yard accuracy.

The Baracuda Hunter Extreme was the last pellet tested at 40 yards, and they grouped well also at 0.42 inches for 5. That was the best I could manage; and if the expansion of the Hunter Extremes is better than the average domed pellet, then I would say they’re the most accurate hollowpoint I’ve ever shot in any gun past 10 yards. Generally, hollowpoints suffer a bit in the accuracy department; but I think that because the Hunter Extremes are not a complete hollowpoint, they fly just a bit better. Either way, these pellets work well, so H&N has a definite winner with them.

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40 yards
Five H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes made the best group of the day for hollowpoints, with 5 in just 0.42 inches!

Trigger and safety
The trigger on the BSA Scorpion SE was unadjusted since it came out of the box crisp and relatively light for a hunting trigger. It measures an average of 2 lbs., 2 oz. over five pulls. I know the trigger can be adjusted much lighter than this; but for the hunting crowd, that won’t be necessary.

The manual hunter-style safety is located on the left side of the action. I’ve seen the triggers adjusted so light that an engaged safety won’t stop the gun from firing when the trigger’s pulled. So, be careful when adjusting this trigger — or any trigger for that matter. Test it before you load the gun and make sure the safety still stops the gun from firing after adjustments are made.

BSA Scorpion SE safety
Manual safety

How loud is it?
On the subject of noise, the Scorpion SE is pretty loud. It’s not backyard friendly, and I would rate it a 7 out of 10 (10 being the loudest). If this were a 45-50 foot-pound gun, then the noise would be up in the 9-10 range; but at 30 foot-pounds, it’s fairly tame for an unshrouded gun. That said, the air stripper on the muzzle also doubles as a thread protector covering the 1/2-inch UNF threading that could accept a more useful air stripper or muzzlebrake if you choose to add one.  [Editor's note: Silencers are subject to federal legislation. If an airgun silencer can be attached to a firearm and quiet the report, it must be licensed.]

BSA Scorpion SE air stripper
The air stripper/muzzlebrake covers 1/2X20 threads.

Final Thoughts
The Scorpion SE represents a step forward for BSA airguns. The new features like the redesigned magazine and gauge show that they’re listening to what their customers want and need. All the while, they’re not changing the things they know are proven to work. Their barrels are still some of the best out there, and their overall quality and precision shines through.

There are a lot of options in the mid-priced PCP realm, and the BSA may be overlooked because of its relatively low power level; but if you’re looking for a precision shooter with adequate power for small game, then I would highly recommend taking a look at the BSA Scorpion SE. My experience with BSA products has been stellar over the course of many years, and I’m confident you’ll come to the same conclusion after just a few shots behind the trigger of their PCP works of art!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

This report covers:

• Rifle was set up
• The hold
• Accuracy
• A hunter’s rifle
• Comparison with the first rifle

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

This is accuracy day with the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 rifle — the one Crosman sent especially for this test. We’ve already seen how this second rifle exceeds the power of the first one, so today we’ll see what impact that has on accuracy. As with the first rifle, I’ll shoot 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets exclusively in this test.

Rifle was set up
When I unboxed the scope, I found the rings already installed in the correct location, meaning I could install them directly on the rifle. That proves this rifle has been tested and set up before I received it. The scope went on quickly, and I found it was very close to being sighted-in; but the inability to focus the target as close as 25 yards was a hinderance to aiming. I estimate my groups were a quarter-inch larger than they needed to be because I couldn’t see well enough to put the crosshairs on an exact spot. The scope arrived set at 4X, which indicates the rifle was tested at 10 meters or yards before it was sent. At 25 yards, I wanted to see the bull more clearly, so I adjusted it to 9X. But as I said, the focus was off because the scope is parallax-adjusted for a longer distance.

The hold
I refined the sight setting and proceeded to test the hold I thought would do best — based on results from the first rifle’s test. I also tried several other holds and hand placements, establishing one thing for certain. The NP2 wants to be held firmly. Do not use the artillery hold. Instead, I found it best to slide my off hand out to almost the end of the stock and grip the forearm firmly. I can feel the forearm screw holds on the tips of my thumb and fingers, so I know my hand is in the same place every time. Any hold that wasn’t firm allowed pellets to rise vertically. I fired probably 30 shots testing just the different holds and pressures.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Artillery hold group
When I used the classic artillery hold, this is what I got at 25 yards — every time! They’re all in line but off vertically. The NP2 wants to be held firmly.

Accuracy
I then shot three 10-shot groups using the factory scope. The best of them measures 1.104 inches between centers, and the worst measures 1.168 inches. I really tried to do well, but the blurriness of the target did cause my aim to be off.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best factory scope group
The best 25-yard group using the factory scope and the best hold measures 1.104 inches between centers. No, I didn’t get the images mixed up. This group is slightly smaller than the one below.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst factory scope group
The worst group with the factory scope isn’t much different than the best. Ten Premiers went into 1.168 inches at 25 yards.

I felt the factory scope was hindering my best efforts, so I swapped it for an older CenterPoint 3-9X40 with an adjustable objective. This scope is one CenterPoint no longer carries. It’s a simple scope without an illuminated reticle; and other than the larger objective lens and the AO, it’s close to the scope that came with the rifle.

I allowed a day to pass between the first shooting session and the second because too much concentration makes me lose my edge. The next day, I shot another four 10-shot groups, plus some more sighters to get the scope shooting where I wanted. On this second day, my groups ranged from 0.895 inches between centers to 1.483 inches. I learned as I went, refining the hold that seems to be critical with the NP2. The worst group, for example, came when I experimented with the firmness of the offhand grip.

By the end of the session, I knew what this rifle wants — a firm hold of the off hand as far out on the forearm as you can comfortably hold and a firm hold of the pistol grip. Pull the butt into your shoulder firmly. This is not a death grip — just a firm hold, and it seems to be what the NP2 wants.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 best new scope group
The best group with the second scope measures 0.895 inches between centers at 25 yards. The second-best group was almost the same size as this.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 worst new scope group
The worst group with the second scope measures 1.483 inches between centers at 25 yards. I was experimenting with the firmness of my grasp during this group.

I’m not through with this rifle, yet. Each one of my second-session groups contains a large cluster of shots that are very close, then some strays that wander off — usually down, but not always. I think I’m close to understanding what this rifle wants, but I’m not there yet. I think it needs a very repeatable offhand grasping pressure. I’ll give it one more session and also shoot some different pellets next time — to see if I have been missing anything by shooting Crosman Premiers exclusively.

A hunter’s rifle
I have seen rifles like the NP2 before. They take some getting used to, but they reward the shooter with incredible accuracy once their secrets are learned. They’re rifles for hunters who use only a single rifle for all their needs. For the price this air rifle costs, I don’t think you can get one that’s any better.

Comparison with the first rifle
The first NP2 also took getting used to; but when I did, it gave me a best 25-yard group of 0.704 inches at 25 yards. So far, this rifle has given a best of 0.895 inches. Both rifles seem to want to do better, but I haven’t discovered quite how, just yet.

Hakim air rifle: Part 2

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

Happy birthday, America! The United States is celebrating it’s 238th anniversary of independence from England.

Part 1

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

This report covers:

• Trigger adjustment
• Cocking effort
• Best pellet
• Velocity
• Performance?
• Oil
• The Arabic writing

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Hakim underlever air rifle. You’ll remember that this rifle was made by German maker Anschütz, using a sporting air rifle they were making as their starting point. They’d copied the 1948 BSA Airsporter. I happened to obtain a more modern BSA Airsporter last week at a gun show, and a review of that will be coming up some time in the future. But, today, we’re looking at the Hakim.

Trigger adjustment
Before I get to the velocity, though, I noticed that the 2-stage trigger in my rifle was breaking at more than 10 lbs. That’s too heavy, and the Hakim trigger is adjustable for pull weight, but the action has to be removed from the stock to make the adjustment. So, the first thing I did was take the action out of the stock.

The Hakim doesn’t come out of its stock as handily as most spring rifles. A lot more than just the normal 3 stock screws have to be removed. If I decide to clean and tune this rifle, I’ll show the disassembly in a future report. For now, let me tell you that it takes about three times as long to get a Hakim action out of its stock.

Hakim trigger adjustment
This is the Hakim air rifle trigger. The gun is cocked in this photo. The one adjustment controls the amount of sear contact area (parts in contact inside the circle). The screw is turned in to reduce the contact area, and the nut locks it in place.

I adjusted the sear to about half the contact area that was there previously, then I cleaned the contact surfaces and lubed both surfaces with moly grease. After all of this, and after breaking in the adjustment and the new lube, the trigger now breaks at just under 5 lbs. While I can get it down even lower, this is a trigger that uses sear contact area, and I would rather err on the side of safety more than I would like a light pull.

Cocking effort
It’s harder to measure the cocking effort of an underlever air rifle than to measure the effort of a breakbarrel, but it’s still possible. My bathroom scale says this rifle cocks with 18 lbs. of effort, which is pretty easy. The cocking linkage is designed to maximize the force you apply. Of course, the size and weight of the rifle prevents it from being used by young people, but this light cocking does make it enjoyable to shoot.

Best pellet
There’s one pellet I like in a Hakim above all others, and that’s the RWS Superpoint because they have the thinnest skirts I can find in .22 caliber — and in a taploader, you want a thin skirt. The tap has to be large enough for all pellets to fall into its chamber; yet, when the gun fires, you want the pellet skirt to flare out and seal the air behind it. The Superpoint does this better than any pellet I’ve ever found. I won’t stop looking, but until I find something better, the RWS Superpoint is the one pellet of choice for all my Hakims.

Velocity
I had no idea how this particular rifle was going to perform, so this test was a diagnostic one for me. The first pellet I tried was the 5.6mm Eley Wasp that’s now obsolete. I bought several tins of them years ago before they stopped making them, so I can use them in my Webley Senior, whose bore is quite large. They weigh 14.5 grains and resemble a Benjamin High Compression pellet from the 1960s.

Eley Wasps averaged 454 f.p.s. and ranged from 450 up to 466 f.p.s. So, a 16 f.p.s. spread in total. At the average velocity, Wasps generate 6.64 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next up were the RWS Superpoints. They also weigh 14.5 grains — the same as the Wasps — but their average velocity was 498 f.p.s., which is an increase of 47 f.p.s. over the Wasps. That’s due to the thin skirt being more effective in a taploader, I believe. The velocity ranged from 489 to 509 f.p.s., which is a 20 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity, Superpoints developed 7.99 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which also performs well in Hakims. This 11.9-grain .22-caliber pellet averaged 554 f.p.s. in this rifle, with a range from 543 to 566 f.p.s. So the spread was 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 8.11 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Performance?
These velocities place this particular Hakim at the upper side of average for this model. I’ve see enough of them to know what they should do, and this one is okay — but not spectacular. I’m satisfied with it where it is.

When I disassembled the rifle to adjust the trigger, I noticed that it’s quite dirty inside. It could benefit from a thorough cleaning of all parts, inside and out. Therefore, I believe I’ll at least disassemble and clean the rifle for you, and, yes, I’ll take pictures.

I also noticed that the mainspring is very buzzy. That means there are either sloppy tolerances inside, or the mainspring may be canted. It’s probably sloppy tolerances, though, because the buzz is long and sustained. A canted spring will buzz sharply, but the buzz will also stop quick.

The buzz is disturbing, so I’ll look at ways of reducing it. If that slows down the rifle, I may need to tune it just a little to get it back to where it is now.

Oil
I oiled the rifle, to see what effect that might have. These taploaders do need more oil than conventional breakbarrels because the loading tap uses a film of oil to seal itself. To oil the rifle, I filled the tap with Crosman Pellgunoil and then cocked the rifle. The suction of air through the tap immediately sucked the oil into the compression chamber. After oiling, the velocity dropped by 100 f.p.s. for a couple shots, then climbed up to more than 50 f.p.s. above where it had been for around a dozen more shots. Then, it settled back to where it had been in the test. That tells me the tap was already oiled when I started the test. I was able to use Pellgunoil even though the Hakim does have a synthetic piston seal because the compression is so low.

The Arabic writing
I know that most of you have never see a Hakim up close, so I’m going to show you all the Arabic markings on the gun. There are no English characters anywhere. I don’t read Arabic, so I apologize if any of these characters are upside-down.

The rifle’s end cap has writing on both sides and on the top. Notice, also, that the cap has dovetail grooves. These can be used for short scopes, dot sights or peep sights.

Hakim characters left
The left side of the end cap.

Hakim characters top
The top of the end cap. If you mount anything to these dovetails, take the arch in the center into account.

Hakim characters right
The right side of the end cap.

Hakim characters by tap
Left side of the gun, just forward of the tap lever.

The rear sight is also graduated in Arabic numerals, which are unreadable — despite what they told us in school. That doesn’t really matter because you can guesstimate where to put the elevation slider from the results on the target, but it does illustrate that there isn’t a word of English anywhere on the airgun.

Evaluation so far
When I bought this rifle, I did so based on the stock. It’s well-made, beautiful and uncharacteristic of a standard Hakim stock, and free from cracks.

I tested the action at the time of purchase, which, with a Hakim, is possible without firing the rifle. I won’t bother to explain right now the how and why of that because I doubt many people will ever need to do it, but I did know from my test that this rifle was probably going to be average as far as performance goes. And it is.

Next, I think I’ll move on to accuracy testing at 10 meters with the installed sights. After that, I’ll decide where to go for the next report.

BSA Scorpion SE: Part 1

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s going to tell us about a BSA PCP pellet rifle. This is a complete report with the description, velocities and test targets, so I am breaking it into two sections.

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

Over to you, Tyler.

by Tyler Patner

This report covers:

• Changes from BSA
• Let’s shoot

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

Before getting to the review, I want to preface this by saying that I’m a BSA fan boy (self-proclaimed, of course). When I found out that BSA was officially making their return to the U.S. market, I was ecstatic. And no gun was more present in my mind than the BSA Scorpion SE. I already had the BSA R-10 in my arsenal and had owned an Ultra as well as a SuperTEN (predecessor to the R10). The one gun I had yet to own of the BSA PCP line was the Scorpion SE. With the new look to the stock and the various glowing reviews from the UK sub-12-foot-pound crowd, I was chomping at the bit for the Scorpion SE.

Traditionally, I’m a .177 and .22 pellet shooter. I’ve never owned a .25; and, quite frankly, I had little desire for one. It’s nothing against the caliber, I just don’t have too much use for it, as most of my hunting and long-distance shooting can be easily accomplished with a .22. But as most folks will tell you, it never hurts bringing more gun than you need. If there was one thing I knew going into this review, it was that the accuracy should be nothing short of stellar. BSA barrels are widely known and highly regarded for their amazing consistency and accuracy. Many worldwide field target and benchrest shooters choose their barrels for that exact reason. So, expectations were very high; but to my surprise, my expectations could not have possibly been set this high.

Changes from BSA
The introduction of the SE (which stands for Special Edition, even though all of the current models are “SE” models) saw a few new features brought to the BSA line that many had yet to experience. The addition of a pressure gauge that reads in bar was a welcome feature I was very happy to see. The R-10 was the first BSA gun to employ it, and BSA has since added it to their entire PCP range.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock pressure gauge
BSA Scorpion SE pressure gauge reads in bar.

The Scorpion SE also uses BSA’s new self-indexing magazines. Prior to these mags, BSA went through two other styles that used an indexing pin within the breech. This is a common method of indexing a magazine but comes with its own set of problems. A common complaint was that the indexing pin would actually break, leaving the gun unusable. BSA has solved this issue by creating a magazine that seamlessly rotates under spring tension once the bolt is retracted from the magazine.

I’ve used these magazines in both old-style BSA rifles and the new-style guns. To this day, I’ve never had a hangup with the new-style mags. Loading the magazines does take a certain technique, but it’s very easy to figure out and do quickly. I simply hold the drum of the magazine with my left hand and load pellets with the right, rotating with my thumb and index finger.

The drums are color-coded blue and red for .177 and .22, respectively. Each holds 10 pellets. The .25 is slightly different, with cutouts to allow for the larger spacing the bigger quarter-inch bore pellets need. It’s black and holds only 8 shots. I’d like to see BSA not leave any portion of the pellet exposed in the magazine.  If I were to drop the magazine in the dirt or mud, it’s possible for debris to find its way into the internals of the mag and potentially jam it.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag indexed
My thumb and index finger hold the magazine drum against spring tension.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag not indexed
Here I show the drum not indexed. It takes only a little finger pressure for this control.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag side view
The mag drum is open on the side to allow the big .25-caliber pellets to fit.

The final change was the stock. The new stocks are being made by Minelli in Italy. For standard beech, the one I had was very impressive. It had great character and a very comfortable shape. The stock also had a very interesting reverse stippling in some areas. I’m not really sure if reverse stippling is the correct term for it, but that’s the best I could come up with! It’s almost as if Minelli removed a layer or two of wood and left things rough on the surface to give you more positive feedback when held. This definitely made an impact, as the areas of the stock where this was present were very tacky and really solid in my hand. The forearm is not too wide, and the relatively light overall weight of around 7 lbs. makes this gun an excellent choice for those walking the woods.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock holding rifle
The rifle holds steady in the offhand position. It’s lighter than it looks!

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock forearm
The wood stock is shaped well, and the odd stippling is very grippy.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock butt
The butt is nicely shaped, and the wood is attractive.

Let’s shoot
I chose to mount a scope that most would think is major overkill for a gun like the Scorpion SE. I went with a Bushnell Elite 8-32X40AO. This is a big scope that adds a lot of weight; but since I was shooting only benched groups, that was fine with me. It was also the only scope available at the time that I was comfortable with. All my good hunting optics were on guns and in use. That said, a gun like the Scorpion SE certainly warrants a nicer scope such as the Bushnell, and the extra magnification really gave me the ability to be as precise as possible when shooting my groups. Before we get to the group shots, though, let’s have a look at some velocity numbers.

I shot eight different pellets for the test but decided to chronograph only three of them. BSA touts their new SE models as having a “self-regulated valve.” There isn’t an actual regulator in the gun, so I wasn’t sure why they would refer to the valve design as self-regulated when that’s normally how PCPs function. With an unregulated gun, you usually get more of a curve when you graph out your velocities, while a regulated gun gives you a very flat string until the gun falls off the reg. While the shot count was relatively low, it was extremely tight — maybe one of the tightest spreads from an unregulated gun I’ve seen. And that wasn’t just from one pellet. Hunters could probably milk 20-25 shots from the relatively small air cylinder on the Scorpion SE.

The first pellet I ran over the chrony was the H&N Field Target Trophy which weighs in at 20.06 grains. [Editor's note: Depending on how you search for this pellet in Pyramyd Air's listings, one product name will state that it weighs 20.06 grains, and another will say it's 19.91 grains. However, on the actual product page, the name and description say it weighs 19.91 grains (which is correct). However, I left the weight at 20.06 grains for this report since all of Tyler's calculations are based on that number.] Filling the gun to 3000 psi delivered 17 good, consistent shots. We had a high velocity of 819 f.p.s., a low of 792 f.p.s. and an average velocity of 807 f.p.s. The extreme spread was 27 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was 8.4 f.p.s. Again, the low shot count is due to the smaller air cylinder, but it’s much more consistent than most unregulated PCP guns I’ve shot. The Field Target Trophy pellets put out about 28.7 foot-pounds at the muzzle. For a .25-cal. PCP, this is very underpowered, and my only real beef with the gun. More power would sacrifice shot count further, and BSA opted to go for a moderate power level with a higher shot count.

Next up were the 25.4 grain JSB King pellets. These are widely considered the best .25-caliber pellets on the market — and for good reason. They preformed extremely well and also proved to be the most accurate pellet tested, but more on that in part 2. We got 15 good shots on a full 3000 psi fill with a high of 738 f.p.s., a low of 723 and an average of 731 f.p.s. The extreme spread was only 15 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was a mere 2.7 f.p.s. When you see a standard deviation that low, you often find accuracy follows closely behind.

That works out to 30 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle for this pellet. It’s more than enough for small game but very underpowered for that caliber. A 25-grain pellet moving in the low 700s in a gun sighted in at 25 yards has just under 3 inches of drop when stretching out to 50 yards. That’s quite a trajectory curve, and it really shows just how under-used the caliber is in the Scorpion SE platform.

The final pellet I chronographed was the Beeman Kodiak at 31 grains. On a full fill, the gun produced 19 very consistent shots. The high was 672 f.p.s. and a low of 655 f.p.s., which averaged out to 664 f.p.s. We really see how going heavier eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. I wouldn’t consider the slight bump in muzzle energy to be worth it, as it only topped out at 30.3 foot-pounds. I’d rather run the slightly flatter-shooting JSB Kings and give up the measly 0.2 foot-pounds. But with only a 17 f.p.s. extreme spread and a standard deviation of 5.9 f.p.s., things looked promising for the accuracy testing.

We’ll stop here and return in part 2 with Tyler’s accuracy testing. There are some good groups coming!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

This report covers:

• Here we go, again
• Out of the box
• Cocking
• Barrel bushings
• Scope base welds
• Pillar bedding!
• Good to go
• Crosman Premiers
• Beeman Kodiaks
• Crosman SSP
• Trigger
• Evaluation thus far
• Reminder from PyramydAir.com

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Here we go, again
Today, I’m starting our look at the second Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2. This rifle was sent from Crosman to Pyramyd Air especially for me to test, so we know that it’s the absolute best that they can do with the NP2 design. I’m not being sarcastic when I say that. I’m telling all the Crosman ankle-biters that I do acknowledge that this rifle has been thoroughly examined by Crosman before sending it to me — just to stop them from saying it. This is the same thing I recently did with the Daisy 880.

The first NP2 I tested came straight from the factory and was completely random. And you saw how well it turned out. You also saw that it needed a little time to break in before the cocking effort dropped to where we thought it should be. You also saw how I had to learn to hold the rifle for best accuracy. That shouldn’t happen with this one because I know how to hold it now.

I do plan on installing the scope that comes packed with the rifle for my test. We had one negative reader comment about me switching the scope on the other rifle, and doing it this way should end that complaint.

Out of the box
Several of you asked me to go over the second rifle thoroughly to see how it differs from the first rifle I tested. This rifle is also a .22-caliber model in a wood stock; so from the outside, it appears very much the same. But one curious thing I noted is that this rifle does have a wood screw holding the front of the triggerguard to the stock. You may remember I showed you the other rifle didn’t have the screw, even though the triggerguard has a hole for it.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 triggerguard
This photo shows both screws in the triggerguard.

I went over the entire rifle, looking for differences, but none came to light. I shined a tactical flashlight down the muzzle and noted that the baffles are not obstructing the muzzle. So, the rifle seems good to go.

Cocking
I cocked it, just to see how that felt, and I was transported back to the SHOT Show! This rifle cocks with between 25-27 lbs. of effort. I found the barrel pivot joint was too loose for the barrel to remain in place after the rifle has been cocked. You normally want it to stay in one place, but I say that advisedly, because this NP2 might teach us a thing of two. Crosman designed this rifle with a pivot bolt instead of just a plain pin, so the pivot joint can be tightened whenever necessary. I took the action out of the stock to do this, and that’s when I noticed a number of things.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 pivot bolt
The NP2 barrel pivot bolt is slotted so it can be tightened. That wasn’t necessary on the rifle I’m testing.

Barrel bushings
First, the barrel does indeed have a screw, but it was already tight on this gun. Then, I shined a flashlight through the action forks and the breech joint and noticed that there are probably bearings (what some would call shims) at the pivot joint. So, the barrel can be tight and yet still flop up and down after it’s cocked. We need to learn from this; because if this rifle is accurate, Crosman has done something new. Their barrel may be looser than other breakbarrels of the past and yet still be accurate.

Scope base welds
The welds on the scope base are much more visible on this second test rifle. I know that Crosman did take action on this issue right away after the first guns were launched.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 scope base welds
The scope base welds are much more visible on this new rifle. They’re the bright lines under each foot on the base.

Pillar bedding!
Second, I found a u-shaped piece of steel on the floor after removing the stock. When I examined the stock, I found out what it is — pillar bedding! We’ve recently discussed this on this blog, and Crosman has apparently gone and done it. The interesting thing is that they didn’t mention it in their advertising! How could they have missed announcing an important feature like this? Shooters are paying hundreds of dollars to have their rifles pillar bedded, and Crosman has gone and done it for free and kept it a secret!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing
This u-shaped bushing or spacer serves as a pillar to separate the triggerguard screw from the action. This is pillar bedding on an airgun!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 steel bushing in stock
When the steel bushing is in the stock, it’s impossible to over-tighten the rear stock screw. This is how pillar bedding works. It keeps the wood from being crushed.

The 2 forward stock screw heads bear directly against the wood of the stock, so they’ll need washers to spread their load; but the NP2 is bedded better than 80 percent of the top-end spring rifles on the market.

Good to go
I assembled the rifle and found the barrel does not wobble side to side, yet it still flops after it’s cocked. This means the barrel pivot joint is adding very little resistance to the cocking effort. Now, it was time to start the velocity test.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet up was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that I believe will be one of the most accurate pellets for this rifle. Ten of them averaged 823 f.p.s. — a whopping 78 f.p.s. gain over the broken-in velocity of the first test rifle. And the cocking effort is still 5-7 lbs. lighter!

Best of all, Premiers varied by only 5 f.p.s. over the 10-shot spread — from 821 to 826 f.p.s. That’s phenomenal! It’s in PCP territory, and I’m talking about a regulated gun. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 21.51 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Beeman Kodiaks
Next, I tried 21.1-grain Beeman Kodiaks. As powerful as this rifle is, it should handle them okay. They averaged 646 f.p.s., which means a muzzle energy of 19.46 foot-pounds. The spread for this heavyweight pellet was 12 f.p.s., ranging from 639 to 651 f.p.s.

You might wonder why I didn’t test the JSB Exact RS dome in this rifle since I did test it in the first rifle. The reason was the poor performance we saw in that first velocity test. I decided to switch to the Kodiaks rather than test a pellet that might not be suited to this powerplant.

Crosman SSP
The last pellet I tested was the 9.5-grain lead-free Crosman SSP pointed pellet. They averaged 1023 f.p.s. from the NP2, with a 55 f.p.s. spread that ranged from 992 f.p.s. to 1047 f.p.s. This is getting up close to the 1100 f.p.s. velocity that’s printed on the outside of the NP2 box. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 22.08 foot-pounds of energy.

Trigger
The trigger on this new test rifle feels very similar to the one I tested on the first rifle. The first stage is long and heavy, measuring 3 lbs., 6 oz. to stage 2. Stage 2 was breaking at over 6 lbs. out of the box, but I adjusted it to 4 lbs., 4 oz., which is exactly the same as the first trigger. This is a very good trigger for a sporting airgun — especially considering the price!

Evaluation thus far
This is more like the rifle I shot back in January. I think anyone would be happy with this one; and if they aren’t, then they should reconsider getting a gas-spring air rifle altogether. I sure hope this rifle is at least as accurate as the first one turned out to be.

Reminder from PyramydAir.com
Pyramyd Air’s marketing department wants to remind our blog readers that today (Mon. 6/30/14) is the last day you can enter their Son of a Gun Giveaway for the June prize, which is the Benjamin NP Limited rifle!

They’ve now started their 4th of July countdown of deals! There’s a special coupon that lets you combine a discount with their free shipping promotion and you’ll get double Bullseye Bucks. Plus, more deals are going to coming via email. If you’re not signed up to receive their email promos, go to Pyramyd Air’s home page and enter your email address in the space to the left of the word SUBSCRIBE.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

• Accuracy day…part 2
• Things that were done
• Sight-in
• Ten meters
• The hold
• 25 yards
• Velocity with Premiers
• Overall evaluation

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Accuracy day…part 2
Today, we return to the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 air rifle. I think I’ve solved all the mysteries and finally got the rifle to shoot the way it should. You be the judge.

Things that were done
Several things were done to make the rifle ready for today’s test. First, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a bronze bore brush. To do that, I removed the barrel shroud and the baffles, so access to the barrel was easy. I cleaned from the breech. Since the NP2 has a gas spring, I could leave it cocked as long as I wanted without hurting the spring.

Next, I replaced the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope that comes with the rifle for an older CenterPoint 3-12X40 scope that has an adjustable objective. Now, I was able to focus the scope on the target at 25 yards. CenterPoint no longer carries this scope that was made by Leapers, but it’s equivalent to this 3-12X40 UTG scope with AO, except that my scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle.

I shimmed the replacement scope with one thin slice of plastic under the scope tube at the rear ring; because when I removed the factory scope, I noticed that it was adjusted toward the top of its range. I just wanted to make sure the reticle wasn’t floating in the replacement scope because the NP2 has a healthy jolt when it fires. No vibration, but there’s definite movement.

I tightened all the stock screws but found they were mostly tight already. That was when I noticed there’s no front triggerguard screw. The rear screw is the one that holds the action to the stock, and the front has no screw at all — yet there’s a hole in the guard for one. Some companies might be tempted to put a wood screw there to fool you, but that would just invite stripping the hole in the wood stock since the front screw is nearly always the one that gets tightened. Crosman made it foolproof.

06-25-14-02-Benjamin-Trail-Nitro-Piston-2-triggerguard
The front triggerguard screw doesn’t exist. The rear screw holds the action in the stock, and the front hole is blank.

Sight-in
I sighted-in at 12 feet and was on paper with the first shot. In all, I fired four shots to get where I wanted to be at 10 meters. I continue to shoot .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellets in this rifle for this whole test. Once I was sighted-in, I backed up to 10 meters and shot a 5-shot group.

Ten meters
I was still experimenting with holds at this point. I had already spent a whole day shooting the rifle with the factory scope and trying different holds (I didn’t tell you about that day or bother to report it), but a comment from a reader got me thinking. Reader Ben told me to hold the rifle more firmly and also to slide my off hand farther out under the forearm. He reminded me of what I knew but had temporarily forgotten — namely that gas spring guns need a different hold. So, I followed Ben’s suggestions, and they resulted in a 0.319-inch 5-shot group at 10 meters!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 10 meter group
Five Premiers at 10 meters went into 0.319 inches.

Okay, that’s just at 10 meters. I know a lot of you do shoot at that distance, and I also know that many people shoot 5-shot groups. This is what the NP2 can do at that distance with 5 Premier pellets.

But you really want to see what it can do at 25 yards. And you want to see 10-shot groups. I adjusted the scope reticle down for 25 yards and started shooting.

The hold
Before I continue, let me describe the hold I’m using today. It’s not an artillery hold. I’m grasping the pistol grip firmly, but not with a death grip. And my off hand is slid out far enough that it’s touching the sling swivel on the forearm. I don’t grasp the forearm tightly, but I do grasp it with my fingers. Having my hand out that far, the rifle doesn’t want to move left or right. So, when the off hand gets settled, the crosshairs stay on target as I relax.

Relaxation is very important with the NP2. Every time I became anxious about where the next shot was going, I threw it wide. But when I relaxed, the shot went to the aim point, as you’ll soon see.

25 yards
The first group of 10 went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group fired in the last test, which tells me that something I did helped out. Cleaning the barrel, tightening the screws, changing the scope or changing the way the rifle is held seems to have made the difference. But I thought the rifle could do even better.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 1
The first group of 10 Premiers from 25 yards went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group from the previous test!

The second group is larger than the first, but the 3 pellets that missed the main group were all from my tension. When I relaxed, all the pellets went into the central group. Ten shots went into 1.333 inches, but the central 7 are in 0.656 inches. I think they represent the true accuracy of the NP2. This is the importance of relaxing when shooting this particular air rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 2
This group was the most revealing. When I shot totally relaxed, the pellets went to the central group. When I tensed up for any reason, they went wide. Ten shots in 1.333 inches and 7 in 0.656 inches. I believe the NP2 can shoot as well as the central group indicates.

But you’re skeptical, and I would be, too. The concentration needed for every shot (making certain I was relaxed) was tiring me, but this rifle deserved the best I could give, so I shot one more 10-shot group at 25 yards. This time, I relaxed for each shot — the way I would tell someone else to do. You know — do as I say! This time, 10 pellets went into 0.704 inches. This, I believe, represents the level of accuracy of which this particular Benjamin Trail NP2 is capable.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 3
This time, I concentrated on the hold and relaxed for every shot. Ten pellets went into 0.704 inches at 25 yards.

Velocity with Premiers
One last thing to do. I told you that the cocking effort had dropped to 32 lbs. after the last accuracy report. With all the shooting I’ve done the rifle now has over 150 shots on the powerplant. I tested it again today, and it still cocks right at 32 lbs. The last velocity test had Premier pellets averaging 793 f.p.s. with a 40 f.p.s. spread. This time 10 Premiers averaged 745 f.p.s. and the spread was only 8 f.p.s.!

I know the gun shoots slower now; but given the wide variation before, I think it’s now settled into what it’s going to do. At 745 f.p.s., the Premier cranks out 17.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Overall evaluation
I think Crosman has made a nice new breakbarrel rifle with the NP2. It doesn’t vibrate, it cocks easier than other gas-spring guns in its power range, the trigger is crisp, the report is quiet and the rifle is accurate. For $250, this is about as nice a spring gun as you can find.

Yes, the power is not at the level Crosman advertises; and yes, the gun does kick — but it still gives you a lot of value for the money spent. The bad press at launch time is going to keep some shooters from giving the NP2 a try. That’s too bad because this is a rifle many of them would like.

I’ve tested this rifle openly and allowed you to see exactly what happened, as it happened. Crosman has sent another NP2 for me to test and I plan on testing that one for you as well. So, it ain’t over yet.

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