Reviews

Tech Force TF90 dot sight

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

Tech Force 90 dot sight
Tech Force TF90 dot sight

This report covers:

• Tech Force TF90 dot sight
• Description
• How does a dot sight work?
• Parallax?
• Easier to use than open sights
• Not the latest and greatest

Tech Force TF90 dot sight
I was right there when this Tech Force TF90 dot sight was being designed. I watched it evolve over several years of development, as each new model was revealed at successive SHOT Shows. I even tested a forerunner of this sight in the 1990s for The Airgun Letter by mounting it on a Beeman P1 pistol.

The Tech Force TF90 was developed by Compasseco, who used a Chinese optics factory that also made sights for their military. According to Duane Sorenson of Compasseco, the optics and manufacturing details of this sight were superior to similar Chinese-made dot sights because of who built it. In the 1990s Compasseco did a lot of business in China and had enough influence to get products designed to their specifications, and Duane was especially proud of this sight.

Description
You can see from the picture that the outer shell of this sight is square, yet the optics are round. The objective lens is 28mm in diameter, which is in the middle size range for today’s dot sights. Still, when you look through the sight, everything is clear and sharp, because the optics are very clean and there is no magnification.

The base is adaptable to both 11mm dovetails as well as Weaver dovetails. Everything you need comes with the scope, including elasticized square lens covers. It can fit on a wide variety of airguns and firearms.

The base is integral with the sight tube. There’s nothing to do except clamp the sight to your airguns or firearms, and, yes, this sight should work well on firearms of at least the rimfire class. You’ll need a recoil stop if you mount this on a gun that recoils and use the 11mm mount base, because it has no stop built in. The Weaver base takes care of that, of course.

Tech Force 90 dot sight Weaver base
Here, the Weaver base has been installed. Note that the rear screw hangs below the base and engages the Weaver or Picatinny slot to serve as a recoil stop.

Tech Force 90 dot sight 11mm base
The base hardware can be swapped to make the base fit 11mm scope dovetails, too.

This is a very small sight. It’s only 4-1/2 inches long, and the clamping base is just 2-3/8 inches long. That makes it ideal for those vintage air rifles that weren’t really made for scopes but have 11mm dovetails for peep sights. I mounted it on my Hakim rifle and there was room to spare. Now, guns that are difficult to scope – such as the vintage Walthers, FWBs and Dianas — can have this optical sight installed.

The adjustments are the same elevation and windage knobs you’ve used with scopes. I don’t have any information about how far each click of the adjustments will move the 3 MOA dot, but I’ve been adjusting it as though it has quarter-minute clicks, and so far (at 10 meters) it seems to have adjusted correctly.

What appears in the first picture to be the adjustment knobs are really caps. Remove them, and the knobs are adjusted with a screwdriver or coin. The clicks are very precise in both directions. The scales on the knobs, however, have no corresponding reference marks on the body of the tube. So, adjusting the sight is a matter of counting the clicks for each adjustment.

Tech Force 90 dot sight adjustment knob
The dot’s adjustment knobs are operated by a screwdriver or a coin. The clicks are precise, but there’s no reference scale on the sight’s body to register where you’ve adjusted.

The lenses appear to have a ruby coating. The tint is red, and I remember Duane telling me something like that. Ruby coatings are not really made from the mineral ruby. They’re just called that because of the color. The red may help with certain light transmission. Steiner made them famous years ago, but they aren’t commonly seen today. They can leave the other colors looking washed out, but they don’t look like that to me. I am red-green colorblind, so I’m not the best judge.

The dot is a 3 MOA dot, which means it covers approximately 3 inches of area at 100 yards. But there are 7 different rheostat settings, so the dot can be made very bright. I find this sight to be many times brighter and more visible than the cheaper sights that sell in the same price range. This is more in line with my vintage Tasco Pro Point sight, as far as visibility is concerned.

As the light is intensified, the dot expands in size. There’s no good way of measuring this, so don’t ask how much. You use only as much brightness as you need to see the dot against the target, and I believe that cancels the expansion tendency. In other words, if the dot is just bright enough to see, it will always me about 3 MOA.

Tech Force 90 dot sight dot
This image shows the dot larger than it appears. This is a camera reaction to the shutter remaining open long enough to see the dot. The image you’ll see is crystal clear.

How does a dot sight work?
A dot sight works like a telescopic sight. When the adjustments are changed, the internal mechanism (an LED aimed at a lens with a reflective surface on one side) moves the dot without apparent movement to the user. The dot remains centered in the window as long as your head is on the stock at the same place every time.

Parallax?
People will tell you that dot sights don’t have parallax, but that’s incorrect. They have the same tendency for parallax as scopes. Because they don’t magnify the target, the movement (of the dot against the target as the aiming eye moves) is hard to see — but it’s there. And the sight will do its best at one range over all others.

Easier to use than open sights
But here’s the deal. The amount of parallax error from a dot sight is less than the aiming error that results from an incorrect sight picture with traditional open sights. Said a different way, it’s easier to be accurate with a dot sight than with traditional open sights. And, as eyesight degrades, this benefit becomes more pronounced. So, people with poor eyesight will often find that dot sights help them shoot better than they’ve been able to shoot with open sights.

Not the latest and greatest
A lot of time has passed since this TF90 was new, and the technology has certainly advanced far in this field. Today, we have dot sights with different colored dots, as well as different reticles to select — all in one sight. The TF90 was advanced for its day, but in today’s market the same features are offered by a number of manufacturers. However, there’s one huge difference. Nobody is selling a sight of this quality at this price! You get a bundle of quality for the price of a bargain-basement sight. That is what you have to consider when looking at this one.

There are a limited number of these available; and when they are gone, there will be no more. If a dot sight is something you’ve thought about buying, you may want to consider getting one or more of these. I have 2 Tasco Pro Points that I’ve owned for more than 15 years. At one time they were considered very good sights. Today, they have been surpassed by technology — but that doesn’t make them worse. They’re still very good dot sights, and so is the TF90.

I’ll be reporting on this sight in future reports of other airguns — with the Hakim air rifle at 25 yards being the next one I do (click to read the Hakim 10-meter test with this sight). While there won’t be a Part 2 to this report, you’ll get to see how well this sight performs. I don’t think I’m sending this one back to Pyramyd Air, because I can always use one more good optical sight!

Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7X44 Scout scope: Part 4

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

This blog post was mistakenly published a day early, and we got some comments to it before we discovered that. So, for those of you who try to be the first to make a comment, it looks like you’ve missed your turn!

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope
Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7X44 Scout scope is a remarkable sight!

This report covers:

• Scout scope on centerfire rifle
• My Mosin Nagant
• A powerful round
• What today’s test is all about
• What about the scope?
• The mount
• Overall evaluation

Scout scope on centerfire rifle
This is a special report I promised several readers who are interested in this UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope. When I tested it on an airgun, I used the Crosman MK-177 Tactical multi-pump pneumatic because it allowed me to mount the scope out away from the eye. That was a good test, but it was also a forced one because I could have mounted any scope on that airgun. Scout scopes are made for those troublesome arms that don’t allow the mounting of scopes in the conventional way. I asked Leapers to send me a mount for my Mosin Nagant 91/30 rifle — a centerfire rifle that needs a scout scope because of its straight bolt handle. While the bolt handle can be bent down to clear the scope, the scout scope is a non-gunsmithing solution that allows you to preserve the rifle in its original condition. Not that any Mosin Nagant in existence today is still in its original condition!

My Mosin Nagant
My 91/30 is built on an early action with a hex-shaped receiver. It didn’t start out as a 91/30 but was converted by an arsenal at some point in its existence. The markings on the metal parts tell a story of numerous overhauls and refurbishments over the past century. Some early marks have been removed by grinding and polishing, while others are new and fresh. The action was very possibly made in the 19th century, yet the barrel is like new, as are many of the metal parts and the wood. The Soviet Union made good use of these rifles and refurbished them as necessary after each conflict, not unlike many countries. As a design, the Mosin Nagant has been in continuous service longer than any other military firearm.

A powerful round
This rifle is chambered for the Russian 7.62X54 rimmed cartridge made for what the Russians refer to as the “Three-line rifle” — with a Russian “line” being equivalent to one-tenth inch. It refers to the bore diameter of the bullet. It was adopted as standard in 1891 and is still in limited service today.

The cartridge is roughly the ballistic equivalent of our .30-06 Winchester cartridge. It’s shorter — though much larger at the base. It is a rimmed cartridge, which means the action has to be made to handle the cartridge case without feeding problems. Rimmed cartridges give repeating actions feeding problems, which is why the majority of cartridges made for repeaters are rimless. But the Mosin Nagant action handles this cartridge reliably.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope 762-54R-and-30-06
Mosin Nagant 7.62X54R on left, .30-06 cartridge on right. Both deliver similar ballistics in military loadings.

This Mosin cartridge exists in numerous different loads. The current sniper round has a 152-grain bullet leaving the bore at 2700 f.p.s. The standard for accuracy at 300 meters is all rounds inside an 80mm (3.1-inch) circle. Of course, the standard military battle ammunition is less accurate — keeping 50 percent of its shots inside a 90mm (3.5-inch) circle at the same 300 meters.

What today’s test is all about
With such power must also come recoil, and that is what today’s test was for. I wanted to see that this scout scope could stand up to the punishment of a heavier recoil. I fired 20 factory rounds and 20 reloads through the rifle, which is not a very big test. But if there are any major weaknesses, they should show up. And they didn’t. After zeroing at 50 yards with the factory loads, I shot a 3-inch 10-shot group at 100 yards, and then rang the 6-inch gong at 200 yards with the remaining few rounds.

My reloads didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. The bores on these rifles can vary in diameter from 0.309 inches to 0.313 inches, so you really need to slug the bore to know what diameter bullet your rifle likes. I haven’t done that yet and was hoping to squeak by with some 170-grain lead bullets sized 0.312 inches, but it was not to be. I did manage to ring the 200-yard gong once out of 5 shots, but that’s not what I’d hoped for.

What about the scope?
You can see in the photo where the scope is mounted relative to my eye. My head looks very erect on the stock, which it has to be to see the scope, but the image fills the eyepiece. The target is sharp and clear, even at the top magnification of 7X. The reticle is thick enough to pick out quickly, even against the deep woods; and, of course, it’s illuminated, which is a blessing on a scout scope.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope mounted
The UTG Mosin scout scope mount clears the action for loading and ejection. The straight Mosin bolt handle can be rotated up without interference.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope Tom shooting on rest
As you can see, my head has to be high on the stock to see the scope. This is due to the Mosin’s stock, which drops away, but the scout scope is also mounted very high.

The adjustments worked as they are supposed to, and I got on target very quickly at 50 yards. I used the old standard of removing the bolt and sighting through the barrel to align the scope. The first shot was about 4 inches from the aim point, which is excellent for this kind of rough sight-in.

The mount
I haven’t told you about the Mosin Nagant mount that Leapers makes. It replaces the rear sight blade and leaf, using the rear base to secure a Picatinny rail with 2 side rails. Rubber pads slip over the mount’s side rails to keep them from cutting your hands when you handle the rifle.

Removing the rear sight leaf and attaching this mount was very easy. It took about 20 minutes total to finish the job, which included removing the sight parts first. The instructions are clear and concise, even though they address two different sight base kits for rifles and carbines. Once on the rifle and snugged down, the mount is rock-solid. It remained solid throughout this test.

The base is a tri-rail system with Picatinny rails on both sides, along with the main scope rail on top. These can be used for anything like lasers and tactical flashlights, though on a Mosin Nagant bolt-action rifle such accessories seem out of place. Perhaps hog hunters would like a light, though.

Overall evaluation
I’ve now used this scope on two different rifles — both with success. The first was an air rifle, and the second was this powerful centerfire. This is the first scout scope I’ve ever tested or used, so I don’t have experience with the type – but I do know this one works as advertised.

I wondered if the image would be clear and easy to see, since the eyepiece is 10-11 inches from the eye. No worries there. The image is very large and bright, though your sighting eye can see things other than the target, if you want. Once you focus on the target and reticle, though, nothing else seems to matter.

If you need a scout scope, I can certainly recommend this one from the standpoint of functionality. The size and weight, though, are a different matter. This is a large scope that sits high above the barrel, so you need to give that some thought when making your decision. Most scout scopes are either fixed power or low-powered variables. I believe this one has the highest magnification on the market. If that’s important to you, this may be the best scope out there.

Ruger Air Hawk: Part 3

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

This report covers:

• Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
• RWS Hobby pellets
• JSB Exact Heavy pellets
• RWS HyperMAX pellets
• New Arlington field target club
• Beautiful course!

Ruger Airhawk Combo

Ruger Air Hawk combo

Parts 1 and 2

Ruger Air Hawk velocity retest
I hadn’t planned to do this test, but the velocity numbers in the previous blog post were so far off expectations that I felt compelled to try it, again. I was curious about the poor velocity performance of the Ruger Air Hawk combo. Someone suggested the breech seal might be too low and others agreed, so I shimmed the seal. It appears to be ever so slight higher now, but the velocity is definitely higher.

Ruger Air Hawi Combo breech seal before shim
Before the shim the breech seal was low and flat.

Ruger Air Hawi Combo breech seal after shim

The shim raised the breech seal slightly.

RWS Hobby pellets
In the first test, RWS Hobby pellets settled into a range of 750 to 810 f.p.s. I didn’t give averages because the gun seemed to be detonating too much.

This time, the range went from 1014 to 1088 f.p.s. Two shots registered 649 and 761 f.p.s., respectively. My gut feeling is that the velocity has increased, but the rifle’s still detonating too much to know anything for sure.

JSB Exact Heavy pellets
The second pellet was the JSB Exact Heavy that weighs 10.34 grains. In the last test, these ranged between 534 and 757 f.p.s. In this test they ranged between 572 and 893 f.p.s., with all but two shots above 623 f.p.s. There’s a definite velocity increase this time; but, again, I can’t be precise.

RWS HyperMAX pellets
The last pellet tested was the 5.2-grain RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellets. Previously, these ranged between 817 and 970 f.p.s. In this test, they ranged from 906 to 1203, with only one not going above 1180 f.p.s.

I think it’s clear that the breech seal was too low during the first test. Raising it with a shim did boost velocity, though the gun is still burning too much oil to tell for sure how much velocity has been gained. When it stabilizes, we’ll have a better idea – but it does seem the gun is on the numbers now.

My next test will be for accuracy at 10 meters, using the open sights.

And, now, for something completely different!

New Arlington field target club
We have a new field target club in North Central Texas. The Arlington Sportsman’s Club has started a field target club, which held their second trial match last Saturday on 10 of the club’s 35 3D archery lanes. These lanes are carved into a wooded section of the club’s property and are ideal for field target matches.

This is the second FT match I’ve attended in the past few years, and I have to comment that the sport is now more popular than ever! When I competed in the 1990s, field target was run by a rigid set of rules that put older and less mobile shooters at a disadvantage. And there were some clubs that enforced offhand-only shooting to the extent that the sport just wasn’t attractive to many shooters.

Today, I see relaxed rules that allow seating and bipods for the rifles, changing everything! The shooter doesn’t have to get into a seated position on the ground and hold the rifle so nothing touches the ground. Now, it’s fun! And I can tell that the shooters are 10-20 years older than they were when I competed in the 1990s. That still puts them at my age — only, now, they’re having fun.

Beautiful course!
The Arlington match director, Chris Simmons, showed me around the course, which was the finest FT course I’ve ever visited. Of course, having those lanes premade by the 3D archers made all the difference.

match directors briefing
The match director’s briefing started early, so the match started right on time.

Chris allowed one point for every target that fell, which is the common way of scoring a match. The Pecan Plantation club I visited some months back allowed 2 points for a target fall and one point for just hitting the target. Either way works fine, but seeing the target fall is what the sport’s all about.

Chris left all the kill-zone reducers off for this match, so every kill zone was 1.5 inches. In the future, that will change. I know these targets seemed easier to kill, but when they have half-inch kill zones and are 25 yards distant, that will change.

target
The kill-zone reducers were left off all targets for this match.

tower
The match used archery facilities like this tower, which was designated for offhand shots, only. We never had features like this when I was a match director!

You might think that because this is a startup club all the shooters were duffers, but that was not the case. I saw many shooters who obviously knew exactly what they were doing. One man was shooting a Whiscombe JW 70, which is rare at any FT match. And another shot an Air Arms Pro-Sport he received only the night before the match. He got zeroed before the match started and did very well shooting from the offhand position.

Whiscombe
Here is a Whiscombe JW 70! How many of these have you seen?

The shooters from the Dallas FT club weren’t able to make this match because they were working on a new venue for their club on the same day. But they’ll attend matches in the future. And I think I may blow the dead bees out of my Air Arms TX200 and shoot a few matches, myself. It’s been over 15 years since I competed; but the way things are run today, this looks like fun!

Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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

This report covers:

• Inconsistent shots?
• Most accurate pellet?
• 100 yards means scope adjustments
• JSB Exact Jumbo heavy pellets
• Crosman Premier pellets
• H&N Baracuda Green pellets
• Gamo Hunter pellets
• Call it a day
• Conclusions
• Pyramyd Air sale

Today is a test of the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE at 100 yards. I don’t do this very often for many reasons; but when I find a PCP that’s exceptionally accurate at 50 yards, I feel it’s worth testing at the greater distance. It takes a perfect day for this test because any wind will push the pellet around. We don’t get many windless days here in Texas, but this past Wednesday was one of them. It was so calm that dandelion fuzz would fall straight down.

You also know from reading this blog that groups do not always open in linear fashion as the distance increases. A rifle that shoots a half-inch group at 50 yards will not automatically shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards — even though the day is perfect.

Inconsistent shots?
While testing this rifle, I’d seen that the first 10 shots could be less accurate than the second 10. They sometimes contained fliers that didn’t seem to exist in the second group. Yesterday, blog reader Jerry in Texas asked me why one shot out of 10 from his Benjamin Marauder was dropping in velocity by over 250 f.p.s. I told him I thought some PCP guns do that in certain places in the power curve. I saw evidence of that on the 50-yard range and again at 100 yards, as I’ll show you.

Most accurate pellet?
I also hedged my bets by taking several pellets to the range that hadn’t been tested in this rifle before. I was getting such great performance at 50 yards from one pellet in particular — the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy — that I sort of stopped testing other pellets. That’s not very scientific of me, though it’s very much in keeping with being a gun crank. So, I took some other pellets along and gave them a try at 100 yards — even though they’d not been tried by me before in this rifle.

100 yards means scope adjustments
I knew the pellet would drop a lot going from 50 yards to where the rifle was sighted to 100 yards. I guesstimated the drop would be at least 12 inches, which would be 48 clicks on the quarter-minute elevation knob to bring things back up. But when I adjusted the scope, I stopped at 40 clicks because you never know if the clicks are exactly quarter-minute or if that’s just an approximation. As it turned out, both my guesstimate and the adjustments were close to correct, and I had to adjust the scope another 16 clicks up to get close to the point of aim.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets
The first pellet up was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jubo Heavy that had given me a group of 10 in 0.522 inches at 50 yards. If any pellet was going to excel in this rifle at 100 yards, I felt this one had the best chance. Alas — the best-laid plans….

The best I was able to do with this pellet was 10 in about 3 inches. I shot the same pellet in both the first 10 shots and the second 10 shots per fill with pretty much similar results, except there was a flier in the first group. I’m not going to show you those groups because they don’t help the report and also because the first group fell below the target paper and hit the 2×4 backer paper I always use when I’m not sure where the pellets are going.

At this point, I decided to punt — as in testing something I hadn’t tried before. One reader had recommended trying the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellets, and I thought it was a good choice. It happens to be one of my favorite .22-caliber pellets, and I normally would have tested it at 50 yards; but when the heavier JSB did so well, I decided to just shoot it to the exclusion of all others.

I refilled the rifle with air and loaded 10 JSB Exact Jumbos into the circular clip. The first group was very telling. Nine out of 10 pellets landed in a 1.668-inch group, but the first shot hit about 4 inches above the top of this main group. Remember what I said about inconsistencies in the first 10 shots after a fill?

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 1 100 yards
Nine of the 10 JSB Exact pellets landed in this 1.688-inch group at 100 yards. The first shot was 4 inches higher. This is a very good group for any pellet rifle at 100 yards.

After that group, I refilled the clip and shot a second group with the same pellet. This time, all 10 went into 2.385 inches. I know that doesn’t sound very good, but I ask you to reserve your comments until you have shot some 10-shot groups of pellets at 100 yards. It isn’t easy! And guns that group in a half-inch at 50 yards do not necessarily group in one inch at 100 yards.

Look at the shapes of these holes. Many are oval in shape, which indicates they didn’t go through the paper straight-on.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 2 100 yards
Here are 10 of the same JSB pellets in a 2.358-inch group. These oval holes show some evidence of a tilt on axis.

Crosman Premier pellets
One of the most accurate .22-caliber pellets is the domed Crosman Premier that comes in the brown cardboard box. Sometimes, they’re the most accurate, and other times they’re among the top 3. But in PCPs they don’t do as well — especially when the PCP is more powerful such as this Hatsan. And this was no exception to that rule, as Premiers couldn’t stay inside 6 inches at 100 yards. I didn’t even complete a group with them after seeing the first few shots land so far apart.

I’d planned on trying Eun Jin pellets, as well; but when I started loading them, I discovered that the tin I picked up were .25-caliber pellets.

H&N Baracuda Green pellets
The next pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Green. While lead-free pellets are not that accurate as a general rule, Baracuda Greens are an exception. In the Hatsan, they managed to put 10 shots into 5.25 inches, with 9 of those shots in 2.988 inches. That’s pretty good for lead-free pellets; and, yes, this was the first group of 10 after a fill.

Gamo Hunter pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Gamo Hunter. While I have very little experience with this pellet, I do recall it working well in one spring rifle years ago. But it was not suited to the Hatsan AT44. I didn’t see where the first Hunter struck the target; but I saw the second pellet’s flight through the scope, and it was a wild spiral curve to the right that landed a foot off the target! Clearly this rifle is not suited to shoot Gamo Hunters.

Call it a day
After this last attempt, I decided to call it a day. The shooting had worn me out by this time. I think it’s clear that of the pellets I’ve tested so far, the JSB Exact 15.89-grain Jumbo is the best. Out to 50 yards it may do no better than the heavier 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Heavy, but something about this lighter pellet carries it to 100 yards in better form.

Conclusions
I believe the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the finest PCP rifles on the market at any price. It has power, accuracy, a great trigger and very quiet operation –all for a wonderful price. If you’re in the market for a good PCP, I would put this one on your short list.

Pyramyd Air sale
Pyramyd Air is having a “Christmas in July” sale. If you’re planning to make a purchase, click here to visit their sale pages.

Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol
Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

This report covers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Gamo Raptor group

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

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

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol Falcon group

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

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

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

Ruger Air Hawk combo: Parts 1 and 2

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

Ruger Airhawk Combo

Ruger Air Hawk combo

This report covers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shot       Vel.
1…………1093
2………..1499
3………….789
4………….797
5………….766
6………….803
7………….810
8………….755
9………….769
10…………806
11…………750
12…………771

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

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

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

Shot       Vel.
1………….659
2…………757
3…………665
4…………534
5…………553
6…………536
7…………550
8…………593
9…………555
10………..546
11………..631
12………..581
13………..559

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

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

Shot       Vel.
1………….882
2…………970
3…………892
4…………904
5…………854
6…………835
7…………816
8…………877
9…………814
10………..799

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

Shot      Vel.
1…………630
2………..644
3………..677
4………..722
5………..720
6………..699
7………..706
8………..1080
9………..790
10……….1089

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

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

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

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

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

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

BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 2

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

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

Part 1

This report covers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webley Flying Scott tin
Flying Scot tin

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

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

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

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

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