by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today we’ll make blog history. This is the first half of a 2-part report on the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. I was shooting it yesterday and found myself going in so many directions that I collected too much data for a single report. So the second half of today’s report will come on Monday.
I told you in the last report that I decided to “play” with the pistol rather than subject it to a rigidly structured test. Well, that must be catching because I did it again today. Something about this air pistol seems to invite experimentation.
It doesn’t have to shoot low!
I said that it shot too low in the last report. It did, but I was using the sights in a way the manufacturer did not intend by using the tip of the front sight for a 6 o’clock hold. That caused the gun to shoot a little low by itself. But, today, I replaced the rear sight with a red dot sight and found that the gun can shoot to the point of aim with ease. In fact, I had to adjust the sights down, but I will talk about that later.
I mounted a Tasco Pro Point dot sight on the 11mm dovetails that are on the rear of the spring tube. You could use anything that has a decent amount of adjustability.
It’s so much easier using a dot sight because there’s just the dot and target to watch, instead of the sight alignment. Shooting the pistol was much easier.
The first pellet: RWS Hobby
In the last test, RWS Hobby pellets were the most accurate, so those were the first pellets I tested this time. That made it simpler to test the gun because I knew I was starting with a reasonably accurate pellet.
And because this will become important in a while, let me tell you that these first groups were shot without the cocking aid on the gun. It’s a little harder to cock without the aid, but installing and removing it for every shot takes too much time.
The first group surprised me, because it wasn’t as good as it was the last time I tested this pistol. The first shot was a low flier caused by my unfamiliarity with the dot sight; but after that, all the rest of the shots were the best I could do. I think the measurement for 9 shots is more representative in this case, and let’s exclude that one low shot.
Nine shots went into a group that measures 2.04 inches between centers. That’s still larger than the group I got with open sights, which is 10 in 1.155 inches. I wondered if some of the stock screws might have loosened in all the shooting. I checked, and they certainly had. I tightened all stock screws; but instead of running the same test again, I proceeded to the next test. How would the pistol respond to pellets seated deeply with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater?
Not only did the group improve measurably, the point of impact rose by two inches when I seated the pellets deep into the breech with the pellet seater. This pellet seater is really proving to be a valuable piece of equipment when used on certain guns — like this one. And this rise in the point of impact is why I say there’s no problem with the Trail NP shooting low. You simply need to seat the pellets deeply.
This time, 10 RWS Hobbys went into 1.025 inches between centers. That’s remarkably close to what I did last time with open sights, but just a trifle better.
Since deep-seating seemed to produce such good results, I decided to seat all pellets from this point, on. For my next test, blog reader Victor suggested that I try some good competition pellets. He recommended some H&N pellets, so I selected H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. I seated them deep and proceeded with the test. But, oh, my, they didn’t do well at all! At least not when taken as a whole.
Five of those pellets managed to make a very tight little group. They gave me hope that this pellet wasn’t as bad as the numbers said. Perhaps something more was required?
The dot showed that I was shaking a lot more than I was comfortable with, despite using a two-hand rested hold. My forearms were resting on a sandbag, and the pistol was held in my hands, just in front of the bag. It sounds like a solid rest, but the dot said otherwise.
Since I was playing with the gun anyway, I stopped shooting for score and started experimenting with different holds that were firmer. I tried using my off hand as a modified artillery hold, but that was just as shaky. Then, I laid the gun directly on the sandbag and had a go. That proved to be the best way to hold it, as all shaking stopped and the pellets landed together again.
I also thought that if I was going to rest the gun on the bag, I might as well use the cocking aid again, too. I had now fired the gun about 50 times in all and wanted to relieve some of the strain on my hands. So the cocking aid went back on the gun.
And that’s all I’m going to tell you today. Tune in Monday to see if this new position paid off.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Accuracy day has arrived. And this is going to be a report that’s different than the ones I normally write because I decided to do things differently with the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. First of all, there’s some interest in the gun. Readers have said they’re watching the reports because this gun seems to deliver a lot of performance for a very reasonable price.
Next, I’ve read some owner reviews that talk about the gun hitting low. I wanted to test that for you. Owners also say the pistol shoots to two different impact points, depending on whether or not the cocking aid is attached.
Finally, I received a call from Crosman’s head engineer, Ed Schultz, who noticed I was testing the pistol now. Ed confirmed that the pistol does indeed shoot to two different points of impact, depending on whether or not the cocking aid is attached. He was also intrigued by how much I seem to like the air pistol, so we chatted about that for awhile.
How this test will be different
I decided to “play” with this pistol today instead of plowing through a formatted test with X number of pellet types. What that means is that I decided to let the pistol lead me through the test, and to look at those things that were interesting — even if they didn’t conform to my normal test format. I think the test went well, but it lead me in directions I might never have taken otherwise.
It shoots low
The first pellet up was the RWS Hobby. The first shot wasn’t even on the paper, so I elevated the rear sight as high as it would go, then I held up the front post above the rear notch in a style that was popularized by Elmer Keith. That got me on paper, and I put 10 shots through the gun. They landed in a group that measured 1.155 inches between centers. This turned out to be the best group of the test, and I think it shows the accuracy potential of the pistol quite well. You see, I was estimating how much front post to hold up above the rear notch while I shot this group, so my aim point was only an estimate.
When Elmer Keith wanted to shoot handguns farther than their sights would allow, he used this holdover sight picture. Keith inlaid gold lines on his front sights, but I am simply estimating the height from shot to shot.
Even when I held over a lot, the pellets landed below the aim point. So, I used another trick by drawing a secondary aim point above the main bull and using the holdover sight picture on it (at 6 o’clock). My sight picture now looked like the drawing above.
Next, I tried the lead-free Crosman Powershot Penetrators. Using the higher aim point, I put 10 of them into a group that measured 2.527 inches between centers. Obviously, they’re not right for this pistol.
Different impact point?
I told you I was playing with the pistol, so next I tried an experiment to see the difference in point of impact when the cocking aid was left on the gun or removed during firing. And there was a difference! For this test, I used JSB Exact RS domes.
I used the same high aim point, and the pellets landed about 2 inches lower when the cocking aid was left on the barrel during firing. I’ll show both groups on the same target, so you can see what that looks like.
The group fired with the cocking aid installed was slightly tighter than the one with it removed. The one with the cocking aid measures 1.369 inches between centers, while the other group measures 1.636 inches.
I reported that the cocking effort is low for this pistol. Well, that’s fortunate; because when I shot it without the cocking aid, I also cocked it that way. The effort required with the aid installed still measures 25 lbs., and with the aid removed it increases to 35 lbs.
This time, I shot the pistol indoors, and I still must say that it’s very quiet for the power. I think some new owners may have had a few detonations when their guns were new and thought their pistol was going to always be that loud, but I doubt that many will fault it for the sound after it calms down.
The trigger-pull isn’t so much heavy as it is long. It does take some concentration and even discipline to shoot the pistol at its best. But there’s no creep in the second stage.
Crosman Premier heavies and JSB Exact 10.34-grain heavies
I had thought that heavier pellets might do best, so I tried both Crosman Premier heavies and JSB Exact heavies. Since I was just playing with the gun instead of conducting a formatted test, I decided that if either pellet didn’t show any promise by 5 shots, I wouldn’t complete the group. Well, neither one did, so I ended each group at just 5 shots. Both would have been over 2 inches for 10 shots.
Crosman Premier lites
The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite, figuring that if the heavy didn’t group, the lite might. And that was correct. The lites gave me a 1.775-inch group, which doesn’t sound good. But 9 of those pellets are in 1.314 inches, which is a lot better.
What’s the verdict?
The verdict is — it’s too soon to tell. I still have some things to test with this pistol. For starters, the sights that are on the gun are so problematic that I want to try it with a good quality dot sight and see what I can do. If I can adjust the sight so I’m able to aim at what I’m hitting, and if I use the 3 pellets that worked well in this test — RWS Hobbys, JSB Exact RS and Crosman Premier lites — then we might just see a more accurate gun.
I also want to test pellets that are seated deep in the breech to see if there’s any difference. There are the two lead-free pellets that Crosman sent, but I didn’t get around to testing this time. I’d also like to run a velocity test after all of that because, by then, I think the gun should be broken in.
More than ever, I think Crosman should build this gun as a carbine, using exactly what they have here but with an extended barrel shroud and a rifle stock. As easy as it is to cock as a pistol, I can see it losing another 10 lbs. of effort as a carbine. What a wonderful little plinker it would make!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay! The moment of truth has arrived. It’s velocity day for the Benjamin Trail NP pistol that claims to shoot 625 f.p.s.
I am still at my friend Mac’s home on Maryland’s eastern shore, so I brought the chronograph with me. I also brought some pellets I wanted to test, as well as all 3 types of lead-free pellets that Crosman sent with the pistol.
The first pellet I tried is the lightweight lead RWS Hobby. This pellet fits the bore very tight, so I may come back and test it seated after the accuracy test. Seated flush, they averaged 494 f.p.s. The range went from 477 to 509 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 32 f.p.s. Remember that Crosman said this pistol would have a wide velocity range for several hundred shots when it breaks in. At the average velocity, this 7-grain pellet generates 3.79 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I can hear the naysayers warming up now. But hold onto your skirts, because this pistol is about to come alive.
Crosman SSP hollowpoint
The first pellet that Crosman sent me to test with the pistol was their lead-free SSP hollowpoint. This one weighs exactly 4 grains and looks like one of those new high-performance hollowpoints that performs well at lower speeds. In the NP, the average velocity was 632 f.p.s., so that substantiates the Crosman claim. The spread went from 531 to 697 f.p.s., but that first shot was way out-of-profile. The second slowest shot was 597 f.p.s., and the bulk of the shots ran between 630 and 660.
So — what’s the power of these lightweights? How about 3.55 foot-pounds? However, I don’t think this string is really representative of the pistol because of the other SSP pellet I tested later.
Crosman Powershot Penetrators
Next I tried Crosman Powershot Penetrator. They are a synthetic-bodied pellet with a metal nose. Crosman guarantees them to be 20 percent faster than lead pellets. They weigh 5.4 grains, and in the NP pistol they averaged 576 f.p.s. The spread went from 561 to 586 f.p.s., so it’s tightening up quite a bit. I do feel this is more of the break-in process, rather than the specific pellet, though I don’t want to take anything away from these Powershot Penetrators.
Like the SSPs, this pellet also fit the bore loosely. And the average energy was 3.98 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. I really can’t wait to see how accurate these are because they look like they might have a lot going for them.
Crosman SSP pointed pellet
The next pellet tested was the Crosman SSP pointed pellet. Like the SSP hollowpoint, it also weighs 4 grains, yet this one went so much faster on average that I believe the pistol was breaking in right in front of my eyes. The average was 685 f.p.s., with a spread from 667 to, get ready for it — 704 f.p.s. Yes, the pistol broke the 700 f.p.s. level with lightweight pellets. Crosman has to advertise the highest velocity the pistol is capable of achieving, so setting the bar at 625 f.p.s. is conservative.
At the average velocity, this pellet generated 4.17 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Because it weighs the same as the hollowpoint SSP and fits the bore the same, I think the pistol is still breaking in.
JSB Exact RS
The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact RS dome. I included it because of the accuracy potential. Although it’s light like the Hobby, it has a thinner skirt, so it was anyone’s guess how it would do in this pistol (because the gas piston is known for blowing pellet skirts out from the sudden pressure spike).
They averaged 487 f.p.s., but the range was tight — from 480 to 499 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this 7.3-grain pellet developed 3.85 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Next, I weighed the trigger-pull. It is two-stage, and stage one weighs about 3 lbs., while stage two breaks at 7 lbs., 3 oz. on the test gun. I have to observe that the design of the grip makes the trigger-pull seem a lot lower. I had guessed it to be 5 lbs. before putting the gauge on it.
I shot this test outdoors, so the sound was different than usual. But I must say the discharge is very quiet for a gun of this power.
This pistol remains easy to cock. In fact, I shot it about 60 times in this test because there were a number of shots that didn’t register on the chrono. And I wasn’t tired at all at the end of the shooting. This is an all-day gun for sure.
But the cocking assist came off the muzzle a couple times as I was closing the barrel. It held tight when the barrel was cocked, but popped off several times when the barrel was closed. The trick is to not hold it out at the end, but, instead, under the muzzle when you close the barrel.
The pistol cocks with exactly 25 lbs. of force. The effort ramps up to 25; and just when you think it will go even higher, it drops off. This is an all-day air pistol for any adult. I don’t know how they did it, but the Crosman engineers are to be commended.
Impressions so far
I’m still very impressed with this pistol. It cocks easier than I thought possible and shoots smoother than it should for the price. I can’t wait to see what it can do on targets!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
There’s been a lot of talk about this new breakbarrel air pistol from Benjamin — the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. First and no doubt foremost is the price — just $80 at launch time. When you consider the power this pistol is rated to — over 600 f.p.s. with lightweight alloy pellets — you can understand the interest. You get the power of a Beeman P1 or a Diana RWS LP8 for a fraction of the price.
Yeah, but is it accurate? I don’t know yet, but you all know I’m going to test the heck out of this pistol to find that out.
But in the back of many minds is that NP label, which we know stands for Crosman’s Nitro Piston. That’s the brand name they use for the gas springs they put in airguns, and this is the world’s first pistol to get one as far as I know. If anyone knows different, please speak up.
So, a gas spring is often hard to cock. In fact, that’s the single disadvantage to the technology, in my mind. But not all gas springs are hard, and Benjamin has offered certain Nitro Piston rifles in the past that were quite easy to cock. Then what’s the story with the Trail NP pistol?
No worries, mate! Old B.B. has already cocked the gun. I have the news you have been waiting for. This 65-year-old codger says the Benjamin Trail NP pistol is very easy to cock. Let me put that into perspective for you. I think this pistol is in the same difficulty class as the two pistols I compared it to — the P1 and LP8. In other words, this isn’t for a young person, nor for anyone who doesn’t mow their own lawn with a push mower or ride a bicycle; but if you’re in reasonable shape, you’ll find the Benjamin Trail NP remarkably easy to cock.
I am not going to tell you exactly how hard it is to cock until the Part 2 velocity test, but I’ve already put it on the scale and I know the number. The Crosman engineers designed the pistol with the optimum cocking linkage and pivot point. Just when you think the effort is going to soar, it actually falls off sharply — giving you a pleasant surprise. As far as I’m concerned, Crosman should put some sort of trademark on this pistol’s cocking effort like “POW-R BOOSTER” (or something similar). Even if there’s no special or patentable technology involved, they’ve crossed the line and given us not only the world’s first air pistol with a gas spring, but also one that’s easy to cock.
In fact, I would like to see this pistol turned into a small rifle. They don’t need a longer barrel — just a barrel sheath that takes the front sight out farther, and a stock to hold the action. It would be a sort of Air Venturi Bronco with a gas spring. How cool is that?
Think I’m impressed? YOU BETCHA! This is the second time in 2013 that I’ve had the pleasure of testing a remarkable new airgun with impressive technology. The LGVs were first, and now this Benjamin Trail NP is something else that makes B.B. smile! I haven’t done much of that in recent years. I see so many clones that all seem to blend together with too much weight, cocking that’s too hard and a nerve-shattering firing cycle. But this new pistol is smooth.
Ooops! Did I just slip and reveal that I’ve also fired the new Trail NP? Why, yes I did. I’m not going to elaborate today because I need material for the Part 2 velocity report but, believe me, this pistol shoots smooth.
Okay, B.B., quit hyping this pistol and tell us about it.
The gun I’m testing is a .177 breakbarrel that’s fairly straightforward, except for the Nitro Piston. Being a breakbarrel, it’s also a single-shot because the barrel must be broken open every time to both cock the spring and to load the next pellet.
It looks like a large air pistol. The grip is actually a stock that holds the entire barreled action, so the spring tube sits high above the hand. You would think that would make the pistol recoil — and it would if this was a firearm — but since it’s an airgun and one with a gas spring, the recoil is quite light.
The grip/frame is synthetic, which it should be for the price and also to keep the weight off. The grip has large rectangular knobs that provide a good grip. The pistol weighs 3.46 lbs. and balances surprisingly well. It looks very front-heavy, but that cocking aid is just hollow plastic and weighs almost nothing. And speaking of the cocking aid, you leave it on the pistol while shooting. When it’s off, the pistol is about the same size as the Beeman HW 70A we’re currently testing.
The front sight is fiberoptic. Unfortunately, the top is rounded instead of being flat, so it’s going to be harder to obtain a sharp sight picture. With proper lighting of the target, it should be possible.
The rear sight is also fiberoptic, plus fully adjustable for both windage and elevation. each adjustment knob has crisp detents that leave no question about the movement. I’ve seen guns for twice this much that didn’t have sights as nice as these.
The trigger is single-stage and adjustable for the break point. I don’t know how they managed to pack that feature into an $80 pistol that’s also the first of its type. Of course, I’ll report on its performance, but something in the owner’s manual made me stop and take a second look.
The owner’s manual?
I know, it’s very girly to admit I read the manual, but I wanted to find out about the trigger adjustability. However, in this manual I found more. Just after the introduction to the parts of the gun, they have a short paragraph about the break-in period. They tell you that accuracy may be inconsistent during this period, and that the gun may sound louder than it will later on. That blew me away! Not that the gun needs to be broken-in, but that a manufacturer acknowledged it and even addressed it in the manual. In the bad old days, you were either expected to know such things or get out of airgunning altogether. I joke, but it’s not far from the truth. It’s one big reason that I became an airgun writer in the first place.
What this passage indicates is that someone at Crosman spent some time with the pistol and put their findings into the owner’s manual. That sort of thing is very uncommon these days and is one more indication that Crosman is serious about what they’re making.
I guess I gave you all of my first impressions at the start of this report. But I’ll say one more thing. Putting a gas spring into a pistol is a daring move. It’ll bring many initial sales to those whose curiosity has to be satisfied at all costs; but if the pistol doesn’t perform, it’ll quickly get a black eye from word-of-mouth on the internet. All companies must know this, but many of them act as if they don’t care or don’t appreciate the power of this kind of publicity. They must think that the novelty and power of their airguns will trump any bad press it gets on the internet. If they have an established distribution network in the large retail outlets, it can last for a long time; but if they don’t, this kind of bad press will kill them.
Crosman does have one of the largest distribution networks, yet they obviously still appreciate what their customers think. That fact is demonstrated by this new pistol. They could just as easily have made it hard to cock and shoot with a harsh firing cycle as gas springs are so prone to have, but they went beyond that and built a powerful pistol with a very acceptable cocking effort and a smooth firing cycle.
The Benjamin Trail NP pistol has my attention!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Remember that I said I would return and do another accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pistol because I didn’t test the best pellet seated? I felt a little guilty about missing that; but after my wife, Edith, got done with me, I felt really guilty. Good job, Edith!
Today is a revisit to see the effects of deep-seating the best pellet, which you may recall was the Beeman H&N Match. The other two pellets I shot last time aren’t in the running, so they don’t get retested.
However, a reader commented that his HW 70A really likes the JSB Exact RS dome, so that one got tested, too.
Several readers described their pistols as very accurate. One person even said his was a tackdriver. That really drives me nuts because of the results I’m getting. And I’m a good pistol shot — plus, I’m shooting the gun rested! I ought to be there with the best of you, but up to this point I’m not.
Beeman H&N Match
This was the best pellet in the first accuracy test, so this is the one I started with. And I started with the deep-seated pellets. I’m using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and the adjustment hasn’t changed since the last time, so everything is equal.
The first group was pretty poor. I thought I’d forgotten how to shoot because it looked nothing like the group of flush-seated pellets from the last time.
That prompted me to try a group of the same pellets seated flush. You will remember in Part 3 that, when these were seated flush, 10 of them made a 1.085-inch group. This time 10 flush pellets went into 1.067 inches. That’s pretty close to the last time, and very persuasive that flush-seating is what this pellet likes!
JSB Exact RS
Next I tried some JSB Exact RS domes — just to see if I could duplicate what a blog reader reported. Lo and behold, I did! As I was shooting, I could see that the group didn’t seems to be growing, and I had a sense that the pistol was drilling the target. As you can see, it was doing exactly that! Ten pellets in 0.761 inches at 10 meters. I wouldn’t call it a tackdriver, but it’s the next best thing.
Next, I was going to try the same pellet seated deep, but that’s when I saw that the barrel was flopping from side to side at the breech! Oh, no! All that work for nothing!
Fortunately, this pistol has a pivot bolt that can be both tightened and also locked in position with a jam screw. However, I didn’t have time to do that because I was crashing on tests to put in the bank for my trip to see my friend Mac.
When I return from my trip, I’ll tighten the breech and rerun this entire test — plus shoot the RS pellet deep-seated. So, there’s fifth part coming.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today you get a twofer. Or at least it will be more than just one test, as I’m starting to test a second product with today’s accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pellet pistol. The other product I’m testing is the EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols. Because it did play a pivotal part in today’s test, let’s begin with it.
EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols
The EyePal is a soft patch that’s applied to prescription or safety glasses to provide an aperture for the sighting eye. This concept is close to a century old, and many of the veteran readers will remember the Merit adjustable iris that had a suction cup to attach to glasses. The Merit was adjustable, so the aperture you looked through was controlled by the user. The EyePal is not adjustable. In the Master Kit I’m evaluating, there’s one soft patch for handguns and another for rifles. They have different sized holes, and the handgun patch that I used in today’s test has the slightly larger hole. The lids on the boxes and the patches themselves are color-coded so you know what each one is.
I won’t report on the EyePal as a separate item because I need to use it more than a few times to get comfortable with how it works. So, very much as I reported on the Winchester Airgun Target Cube over several tests that spanned many months, I will do the same with the EyePal.
I’ve tried the Merit accessory in the past and found it to be quite difficult to position. Also, as it aged, the rubber suction cup that held it to the glasses hardened and became less pliable — to the point that it eventually stopped working.
The EyePal patch, in sharp contrast, attaches easily and can be removed just as easily, though it does have to be pried up at one corner before it comes off. I find that it’s very intuitive to use the first time and that repositioning it is simple and needs no explanation.
Shooting the HW70A
Now, it’s time for the test. I found myself faced with a number of test variables, so I decided to test all of them with the first pellet, and then use the best result from those tests for the other pellets. The first pellet was the RWS Hobby. The test was a rested pistol held in two hand at 10 meters. I used standard 10-meter air pistol targets.
When I say I shot the pistol rested, I mean that both my arms rested on a sandbag. The pistol was held forward of the bag, so it never touched them to set up a variable recoil reaction. I kept both hands in the same place on the pistol for each shot.
I had to test this pistol under the following circumstances:
* Pellet seated deep and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and prescription glasses worn with no EyePal
* Pellet seated flush and no prescription glasses worn with no EyePal
The 4 targets for the first part of the test are shown below. I used RWS Hobby pellets every time for these 4 targets. After you look at the results, I’ll critique them and tell you what I found.
Hobbys were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 1.863 inches between centers. The large central group within this group made me think this was the best group of Hobbys.
First, I have to tell you the EyePal did make the front sight appear sharp when glasses alone did not. However, without glasses, the front sight appeared just as sharp as with the EyePal. What I did not know until I measured all the groups for this report was that deep-seated pellets measurably outshot all flush-seated pellets. That was a surprise; and if the Hobby pellet was the only one I used, I would re-run this test. But as you’ll soon see, I don’t have to.
The next thing I discovered is that the Hobby pellet wasn’t a good fit for this gun. These groups do not show what the HW 70A can do. However, this does illustrate an important point. By staying with the same pellet and varying other things, it didn’t really matter that the pellet wasn’t the best. I was still able to compare the effects of the other variables by staying with the same pellet.
Next, I must say that the trigger that I liked in Part 2 isn’t as crisp as I would like it to be. It has a very mushy, indistinct pull and release comes as a surprise every time. While that sounds good, it actually isn’t because the trigger can go off before you’re ready.
The bottom line for the first test is that deep-seated pellets and the EyePal on prescription glasses produced the best results. However, I did not pick up on that during the test, and shot all the other groups with the EyePal and flush-seated pellets.
Test 2: 3 other pellets
Next, I shot the pistol with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. The group measured 2.163 inches between centers and was clearly not in the running for this pistol.
Premier lites were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 2.163 inches between centers. It looks like only 9 pellets were fired, but they were counted carefully and there were 10. Not a pellet for this air pistol.
Then, I tried 10 Beeman H&N Match pellets. Bingo! This was the pellet I was looking for. Ten made a 1.085-inch group that’s very round and unifirm.
Because the H&N Match pellets did so well, I also tried RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. For them, I adjusted the sights back to the center of the bull. They didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, grouping in 1.18 inches. While that’s the second-best group of the test, the H&Ns are clearly better this time.
For those who keep score, I shot this pistol 70 times in this test. I was concerned about getting tired, but the best two groups were the last two. So, I think I gave it a fair evaluation. However, I do admit that the best method of loading is deep-seating pellets, and I didn’t use that on the most accurate pellets. I’m going to come back and do a part 4. It’ll be at 10 meters, again, and only Beeman H&N Match pellets from this test will be used along with several new target pellets.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay, there’s some interest in this Beeman HW 70A, but many of you have avoided it like I have. Let’s see what it can do.
First, the cocking effort. HW advertises 21 lbs., however the test pistol registered 27 lbs. on my bathroom scale. While that may not sound like a lot, remember this is a close-coupled pistol, so there’s no long lever like you have on a breakbarrel rifle. So, 27 lbs. does feel like a lot.
The trigger-pull, on the other hand, is very light. The test pistol releases at just 2 lbs., 3 ozs. And that’s after I adjusted it to be heavier. I’d gotten it so low that it surprised me when it went off. That felt too dangerous; but where it is now feels pretty good.
Premier 7.9-grain domes
The first pellet to be tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 371 f.p.s., and the spread went from a low of 364 to a high of 381 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates an average 2.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Next up was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. As light as they are, I expected Hobbys to be the speed demons of the bunch, but they weren’t. Hobbys averaged just 363 f.p.s., with a spread that went from 354 to 372 f.p.s. At their average velocity, Hobbys produced 2.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Beeman H&N Match
The last pellet I tested was the Beeman H&N Match pellet. This wadcutter weighs 8.18 grains and was the heaviest pellet I tested. The average nuzzle velocity was 383 f.p.s. — making this not only the heaviest but also the fastest of the 3 pellets tested. The range went from 371 to 395 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 2.67 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I was puzzled
After testing these 3 pellets, I was puzzled about the velocity claims of 440 f.p.s. by the manufacturer. I thought that Hobbys would at least get close to that number, but as you can see, they were the slowest pellets of all, not to mention being the lightest. That made me wonder why they would be so slow. It seemed that they were also the pellet with the largest skirt, so maybe the gun was having difficulty overcoming the pellet in the breech. That’s when I thought about deep-seating each pellet with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to see how it would change — if at all.
Deep-seated Hobbys now averaged 419 f.p.s. and the spread that had been 18 f.p.s. before was now down to just 9 f.p.s. The muzzle energy went up from 2.05 foot-pounds to 2.73 foot-pounds.
H&N Match also increased, but the difference was much less. After deep seating, they averaged 392 f.p.s. and generated 2.79 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The total spread dropped from 24 f.p.s. to just 7 f.p.s.
Even Premier lites increased from 371 to 380 f.p.s., bumping the muzzle energy to 2.53 foot-pounds. And the total spread dropped from 17 f.p.s. to just 8 f.p.s.
Deep-seating seems to help calm this gun down and also to boost velocities. I guess I’ll have to try it when I test the pistol for accuracy, as well.
Impression thus far
Though the velocity seems to be a little low, the firing behavior is smooth and positive. The pistol feels right when it fires, and I think it’s going to turn in some surprising accuracy. But we shall see.