Spring-piston rifles

Ruger Air Hawk combo: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Ruger Airhawk Combo
Ruger Air Hawk combo is very popular.

Parts 1 and 2
Part 3

This report covers:

• Doing something different
• Tightened the barrel joint
• Sight-in and the first group with Hobby pellets
• Air Arms Falcon pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• H&N Baracuda Match pellets
• JSB Exact Express pellets
• Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
• Alternate hold
• Conclusions

I started this test in July but have laid off for several weeks. Thanks for bearing with me. Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Ruger Airhawk combo at 10 meters.

I’m looking at this combo because a number of readers say they really like the rifle. Of course, it’s been compared to an RWS Diana 34, but I wouldn’t go that far. Yes, there are similarities between the two rifles, but they’re not identical. And each has its own unique firing characteristics – and we’ll all learn a lot about those as I fire the rifle for accuracy using the open sights.

If this rifle proves to be accurate, it’ll be a best buy, given the price of just $130. I know my test rifle is shooting slower than the advertised velocity, but I plan on testing the velocity, again, after the accuracy test, so don’t give up just yet.

Doing something different
I’m changing the way I test air rifles in an attempt to make some progress faster than in the past. I’ll shoot just 5 shots at 10 meters off a rest with each pellet and then look at the group. If the group shows promise, I will come back to the pellet. If not, I’ll move on. That way, I’ll be able to test more pellets in the same time.

I’ll also test at least 2 different variations of the artillery hold — the 2 that have proven the most successful over the years. If one seems better than the other, I’ll continue to use that hold for all the other tests.

Tightened the barrel joint
I noticed last time that the barrel joint wasn’t tight. This barrel has a bolt that can be tightened, so I removed the action from the stock and tightened the barrel pivot bolt. When I was doing that, I noticed that all of them were loose. The inletting of the action in the stock was very tight — fully the equal of anything made in Europe. That gives me hope this rifle will be accurate.

Sight-in and the first group with Hobby pellets
I sighted-in the gun and shot the first group with RWS Hobby pellets. Sight-in amounted to just one shot that told me the rifle was on target from the factory.

I’m showing the sight-in shot along with the first group for two reasons. First, it shows how low the first shot was, yet I knew I’d be okay because I was shooting from just 12 feet. I knew the group would hit the paper higher. Second, it shows how much the shots climbed on target when I shot from 10 meters. This lesson demonstrates that you cannot sight-in a gun for anything under 10 yards and expect it to be on at any other distance. Even 10 meters is too close to sight-in a rifle if you expect to ever hit things at 15 yards and beyond. The sights are too close to the target, and the angular separation from the bore is too great when you’re this close.

I held the rifle on the flat of my off hand with the triggerguard touching the heel of that hand. The group of 5 Hobbys measures 0.678 inches between centers. This is too large for a 10-meter group, so Hobbys are out of consideration.

Ruger Airhawk Combo sight-in and Hobby group
The sight-in shot hit below the bull, telling me the rifle was sighted-in. Five RWS Hobbys made a 0.678-inch group at 10 meters. Not good enough!

After this group, I adjusted the rear sight 7 clicks to the left but didn’t touch the elevation. The sight remained in that setting for the rest of this test.

Air Arms Falcon pellets
Next, I tried Air Arms Falcon pellets. Falcons hit the target well-centered but much lower than the Hobbys. Five pellets went into a group that measures 0.493 inches between centers. While that isn’t as good as I’d like to see at 10 meters, it does show some promise. I’ll probably shoot Falcons from 25 yards, as well.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Falcon group
Five Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 0.493 inches at 10 meters. This is interesting.

RWS Superdome pellets
Next, I tried RWS Superdomes. They gave me a puzzling result. Four of the 5 pellets went into 0.506 inches, but the final shot opened the group to 0.906 inches. That might have been an aiming error; but at 10 meters, I usually don’t make mistakes that large. I might try these again, but not if I find 2 other pellets that are better.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Superdome group
Five RWS Superdome pellets went into 0.906 inches, but 4 of them are in 0.506 inches. Interesting, but not good enough.

H&N Baracuda Match pellets
Next, I shot 5 H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Sometimes these pellets that seem too heavy for a gun will surprise you with their accuracy, although I have to say that happens more with heavy .22-caliber pellets than with .177s. It certainly didn’t happen this time. Five Baracuda Match went into 1.372 inches. Although 3 pellets are close, I don’t think this pellet is right for this rifle.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Baracuda Match group
Five Baracuda Match pellets in 1.372 inches at 10 meters. Not the pellet for this rifle.

JSB Exact Express pellets
Five JSB Exact Express pellets were next. I have to confess that, while I like JSB pellets a lot, I’ve never had any luck with the Express pellet in either caliber. Today was no different. Five went into a 1.466-inch group that proved to be the largest of the test. Definitely out of the running for this rifle!

Ruger Airhawk Combo JSB Express group
JSB Exact Express pellets made the largerst group of the test — 5 in 1.466 inches at 10 meters.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets
I felt I had to try the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet that’s often the best in some rifles. And I got an interesting result. The first pellet hit the target high and near the center of the bull. Then the next 4 dropped over one inch and grouped in 0.411 inches.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Premier lite group
As a 5-shot group, Premier lites were not impressive, but only the first shot is apart from the group. Four went into 0.411 inches at 10 meters. This is a pellet worth testing further.

This group is small enough to interest me, so I shot a second group of 10 pellets. They landed in 0.746 inches, which is okay, but not the best. However, if you look at the group, you can see that 6 of the 10 pellets went into a much tighter group that’s a single hole measuring 0.357 inches between centers. I know that aiming errors can put me off by as much as these 4 outlying pellets at 10 meters, so this group gives me confidence that the Airhawk can really shoot.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Premier lite 10-shot group
Ten Premier lites went into 0.746 inches at 10 meters, but 6 of them went into just 0.357 inches. That looks promising!

Alternate hold
I then tried the same Premier lite pellets with my off hand slid forward so I could feel the beginning of the cocking slot against my palm. Now that I know this is a good pellet, I can try different things like this. Five pellets went into 0.852 inches, which isn’t good — but look where 3 of them went! That hole is a group measuring 0.069 inches! I don’t think that was due to the different hold, but I do think it tells me this rifle can really shoot and that the Premier lite pellet is right for this gun.

Ruger Airhawk Combo Premier lite second group
Using an alternate artillery hold, 5 Premier lites went into 0.852 inches. While that isn’t so good, 3 of those pellets went into 0.069 inches. I think the rifle can shoot, and this pellet is the right one – but the first hold is best.

Conclusions
Edith spotted the fact that I may have skewed the test results by not seasoning the barrel for each pellet. I guess that’s the down side of shooting so many 5-shot groups. It does bring up a good point. I think that when I move back to 25 yards, I’ll season the barrel with 20 shots per pellet before shooting the first 10-shot group.

She also suggested that I do a seasoned barrel vs. unseasoned barrel accuracy test. There are enough of you who believe in the seasoning process, so that makes such a test worth the effort.

Rossi Model Sport 82

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is the start of a guest blog from airgunner and blog reader Fred_BR from Brazil. He’s going to tell us about a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle he recently acquired. It’s a civilian copy of a scarce military trainer.

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

Over to you, Fred.

This report covers:

• FAL in the Brazilian army
• FAC: Fuzil de Ar Comprimido
• My Model Sport 82

Rossi Sport 82 right
Rossi Sport 82

Today, I’ll show you an old rifle that I believe most of you have never seen: the Brazilian-made Rossi Model Sport 82. It is a civilian version of a military training rifle used by the Brazilian army to train recruits before letting them handle the firearm – the FN-FAL 7.62 NATO battle rifle.

FAL in the Brazilian army
In 1964, the Brazilian army adopted the FN FAL 7.62X51mm (.308 Winchester) battle rifle as a replacement for the old bolt-action Mauser rifles then in use. IMBEL, the Brazilian Government arsenal, acquired the rights to produce a local version of the firearm, eventually making 250,000 of them according to some sources. The FAL proved to be a very sound choice, and to this day it’s the preferred rifle of many military and police elite units. For recruits, however, the FAL is not exactly easy to master, especially for inexperienced hands.

The Brazilian army approached Amadeo Rossi S/A and asked for a version of their standard air rifle to mimic the FN FAL. Rossi, a Brazilian manufacturer well known to American shooters for its line of budget-priced revolvers, is also a traditional maker of popular air rifles, mostly inexpensive and very simple in design — but well built.

The response from Rossi was a breakbarrel spring-piston rifle with a redesigned stock that has a pistol grip, a false magazine, and front and rear metallic sights that copy those of the FAL. Lead inserts would bring the weight close to that of the standard FAL rifle. Even the carry handle was included. Caliber was .177, the only airgun caliber then available in Brazil.

Rossi Sport 82 left
The Sport 82 is a civilian version of the military FAC, or compressed air rifle, used by the Brazilian army for training.

[Editor's note: Many countries do not permit former military weapons or even airguns to be sold to civilians. They feel it promotes theft, which it certainly does. Some countries don't even allow civilians to use firearms chambered for military cartridges for the same reason.]

FAC: Fuzil de Ar Comprimido
The resulting gun would be adopted as the “FAC – Fuzil de Ar Comprimido,” Portuguese for “compressed air rifle,” a nickname sufficiently close to “FAL” to satisfy the officers. The rifle would be the initial introduction of recruits to shooting, before being allowed to use the firearm.

Rossi would sell this rifle to civilians with some modifications. Some say they were obliged to do so because of military restrictions, others say they modified the rifle to become more acceptable to young shooters — then the only market for airguns in Brazil. Rossi may have realized that no kid in their early teens would buy such a heavy rifle and made it lighter and without the false magazine and carry handle, but keeping the FAL-style sights. This model would be released to the shooting public in Brazil as the Model Sport 82.

My Model Sport 82
I searched for an example of this rifle after B.B.’s post on the Egyptian Hakim airgun. It didn’t take me long to find one. The gun is a spring-piston, breakbarrel rifle with 13.60 inches of barrel length, 38 inches overall, weighs 5 lb., 4 oz., and has a 15-inch length of pull. The stock is made of black-painted wood, and features a pistol grip and general style that basically copies the grip and stock of a standard fixed-stock FAL, although some models were sold with the natural color of wood. Later models would be equipped with barrel-mounted open sights, but my rifle has the FAL-style peep sights regulated for height and windage via two screws.

Rossi Sport 82 front sight
The front sight is a simple post protected by two ears like the FAL and located closer to the breech than on most airguns

Rossi Sport 82 rear sight
The rear sight is an aperture adjusted for height and windage by two screws. It’s mounted on top of a wood extension to fit the FAL-sized stock.

The spring-piston tube assembly is very short, almost junior-sized. To meet the FAL-lookalike specs required by the army, Rossi added an extension behind the rear portion of the spring tube, apparently also made of wood, just to keep the action from being too short in the long stock made for this model. Keep in mind, fellow readers, that airguns made back then in Brazil were mostly considered youth rifles not intended for adults at all, so they were mostly compact and lightweight models. The gun has no safety of any kind, so it relies on good handling to avoid accidental discharges.

The breakbarrel action is very smooth and easy to cock, as a good youth models needs to be. The short-stroke spring-piston rifle can push pellets in the 450 f.p.s. to 480 f.p.s. range. This is sufficient for most applications of such a training airgun. That’s the good news.

Now for the bad news: The trigger is horrendously heavy. I couldn’t even measure the trigger weight. I can only tell you that this gun sports the heaviest trigger I’ve ever encountered on any rifle — airgun or firearm. The thing is so difficult to pull that, after a few shots, I was feeling pain in my trigger finger. It definitely took the fun out of the equation pretty quickly. As the gun has no safety, I can only think this was Rossi’s way of preventing an accidental discharge by making the trigger so heavy that kids wouldn’t pull it unintentionally. Well, I almost could not pull that thing even on purpose!

I would love to show you lots of pictures of very tight groups made with the Rossi 82, but the best I could do was a mere 1.25 inches at 10 meters with this gun. I blame the trigger for that, and I plan to disassemble the gun to check the exact condition of its trigger and sear. Maybe some careful trigger work will improve it.

Rossi Sport 82 target
Ten 9.30-grain RWS Supermags grouped 1.25 inches at 10 meters, approximately. The rifle cannot really perform any better than this due to its heavy trigger.

Except for the trigger, the Sport 82 is a lightweight, easy-to-cock carbine with a distinguished look that sets it apart from other air rifles. It has a history of service to my country, training civilians and military recruits, and doing its job gallantly. To this day, the Brazilian army still introduces safe gun handling to trainees using the FAC.

Hakim air rifle: Part 5

by Tom Gaylord, the Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

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

This report covers:

• TF90 dot sight
• Accuracy test
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pelelts
• Eley Wasp pellets
• JSB Exact RS pellets
• Evaluation so far
• Talk to me on Facebook this Thursday

This is a report that addresses 2 different items. Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Hakim air rifle trainer at 25 yards, and we’ll also be seeing the results of the Tech Force TF90 dot sight mounted on that rifle. I think you’ll be surprised at what can be done with a dot sight.

TF90 dot sight
As you know, I mounted the Tech Force TF90 on the Hakim for the second accuracy test at 10 meters and found the rifle was easier to shoot with the dot sight than with the open sights that came standard on the rifle. It wasn’t more accurate — just easier to aim with the dot sight.

Today, I backed up to 25 yards to test the rifle again with the dot sight. These will be 10-shot groups, as always. Though the TF90 is an optical sight, 25 yards, or 75 feet, is too far to see most pellet holes — especially those in the black — so I won’t be destroying my aim point as I shoot. It’s more like shooting with a peep sight than an optical sight.

I noted that I was able to put the brightness switch on the lowest setting and still see the dot clearly. It did cover nearly all of the bull at 25 yards, even though it’s a 3-minute dot that should look smaller at that distance. I was shooting at 10-meter pistol targets that have a bull measuring 2.33 inches across, and I estimate I covered 75 percent of it. What I’m saying is that this dot is very bright and was flaring just a bit in this situation.

Accuracy test
I’ve done nothing to this rifle so far, other than adjust the trigger-pull. It still buzzes when it fires, which I’ll address next. But that doesn’t affect accuracy, which is pretty good, as you’ll now see.

I shot the rifle off a sandbag rest with my hand under the forearm, but not in the conventional artillery hold. The Hakim recoils so softly that it’s possible to grasp the stock and still get decent accuracy, so that’s what I did.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first group was shot with RWS Hobby wadcutters. I looked after the first shot and saw the pellet had struck near the center of the bull, so the remaining 9 shots were fired without looking again. When I changed targets I found a neat 1.084-inch group in the center of the bull. This group was fired immediately following the BSA Stutzen test, so it looked pretty good by comparison.

Hakim Hobby group 25 yards
This group of 10 Hobbys is well-centered at 25 yards. It measures 1.084 inches between centers.

I felt pretty confident after the first group. Because this Hakim is new to me, I really didn’t know what to expect at 25 yards. In the past, all my shooting has been at 10 meters with only 5 shots per group. So, it was nice to see the rifle pile them into the same place every time.

RWS Superpoint pellets
Following Hobbys, the next pellet I tested was the RWS Superpoint that has always done the best for me in this rifle. When I say this rifle, I mean this type, for this is the first time I’ve shot this particular Hakim at 25 yards.

Ten Superpoints went into a tight 0.673-inch group. I didn’t see it until I walked down to the trap to change targets; and when I saw this one, I was amazed! This is really good accuracy, and it was done with a dot sight. I don’t see how a scope could have done much netter.

Hakim Superpoint group 25 yards
Ten RWS Superpoints made this stunning 0.673-inch group at 25 yards. This is the best of the session.

Eley Wasp pellets
Next up were the 5.56mm Eley Wasps, which are now obsolete. I laid in a supply for my Webley pistols. At 10 meters, this Hakim seems to like them, too. But at 25 yards, these pellets opened up to make a 10-shot 1.506-inch group that was the largest of this test. This is a good illustration of why we want to test air rifles at distances greater than 10 meters when possible.

Hakim Wasp group 25 yards
Ten Eley Wasps opened up at 25 yards. They looked good at 10 meters, but opened to 1.506 inches at 25 yards, which was the largest group of the session.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
The final pellet I tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS. Its thin skirt and lighter weight makes it a good choice for the Hakim. In this test, 10 of them went into 0.985 inches between centers. And see how well-centered they are! This is another good choice for the Hakim, though the Superpoint is still the pellet to beat.

Hakim JSB Exact RSt group 25 yardss
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.985 inches at 25 yards. This was the second-best group.

Evaluation so far
This Hakim is just as accurate as the others I’ve shot. It’s still quite buzzy, though, so the next step will be to open it up and quiet the powerplant. Hopefully, I won’t sacrifice much velocity when I do this.

I’ll show you the teardown and what the insides look like, plus I’ll share how I tune the rifle. So, there are one or two more reports yet to come.

Talk to me on Facebook this Thursday
I’ll be answering questions on The Pursuit Channel’s Facebook page during their weeklong Facebook Takeover event. From 7:00 to 7:30 PM Eastern, I’ll be connecting with The Pursuit Channel’s American Airgunner fans and other interested shooters. Click here to go to the page. See you then!

BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

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

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Why I wanted to test the Airsporter
• Interesting adjustable sights — front and rear
• Accuracy at 10 meters
• Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Accuracy at 25 yards
• Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• Overall evaluation

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the BSA Airsporter Stutzen, and I’m going to shoot it at both 10 meters and 25 yards. I’ll be using only open sights because this rifle is such a classic that I feel a scope would spoil the look. I could also mount the Tech Force TF90 dot sight, but I have other plans for that one.

Why I wanted to test the Airsporter
If you’ve read this blog carefully, you know why the BSA Airsporter fascinates me so much. It’s the air rifle that spawned a number of very famous and very nice underlever such as the Falke models 80 and 90 and the Hakim that served as a training rifle for the Egyptian army in the 1950s. I have a real thing for Hakims, and you also know that I have done a lot with the Falke 90 that fell into my lap a few years back. In fact, I’ve written two separate reports on the Falke 90. In the first one, Vince fixed the rifle for me and my friend Mac tested it for me.

And the Hakim is an air rifle I cannot seem to ignore. I’ve owned more than 15 of them over the years, and the one I have now and am testing for you is a real beauty! In fact, there will be a Part 5 accuracy test for that rifle coming very soon.

Both these fine rifles had convinced me that I needed to get a BSA Airsporter. When this like-new Stutzen came along at a gun show last month, I snapped it up. I had experience in the 1990s with a Gamo Stutzen that wasn’t a smooth-shooting airgun, so that had me prepared not to like this one; but in Part 2, I discovered that this taploading rifle is nothing like the Gamo that has the rotary breech. This gun is very smooth, has a crisp trigger and shot faster than many people predicted.

But there was one drawback. Unlike the Falke 90 and especially the Hakims I’e shot, this Airsporter’s cocking linkage is pivoted farther back on the action. Even though the cocking effort is only 29 lbs., it feels more like 40. Also, unlike the Hakims, the tap on this Airsporter doesn’t open as the rifle is cocked.

Interesting adjustable sights — front and rear
I decided to begin at 10 meters. That way, I was more certain of being on paper with the open sights. The front sight blade seemed to be very tall — so tall, in fact, that it almost touched the hood that’s over it. That didn’t seem right; and when I began shooting, it proved not to be.

The rear sight does adjust for both windage and elevation, but the elevation adjustments are small. So, I looked at the front sight and thought the post might also adjust up and down. I removed the one slotted screw that holds the front ramp to the barrel and the entire assembly came off the rifle. It was then that my suspicions were confirmed. Indeed — the front sight on the Airsporter Stutzen does go up and down.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen front sight hood off
The front sight with the hood off. I’ve already lowered the blade here.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen front sight underside
This is the underside of the hollow aluminum front sight ramp. The sight blade is seen from underneath.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen front sight ratchet steps
This closeup of the front sight post shows the ratchet steps that lock the post in position when the attaching screw is snugged down.

Front sights have to move in the direction opposite of how you want the pellet to move on the target. Since my rifle was shooting very low at 10 meters, I pushed the front post down to about half its former height. As you will see, that was about right for 10 meters!

Accuracy at 10 meters
I like to begin shooting at 10 meters if I’m not sure where the gun will be shooting, and this time that was a good choice. The rifle struck the targets several inches below the aim point before I adjusted the blade. I was using a 6 o’clock hold on a 50-foot smallbore bullseye as my sight picture.

Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
First up were some Webley Flying Scot domed pellets that are no longer available. I selected them because their skirts are large and thin, which a taploader likes. Ten pellets went into a 0.753-inch group that was centered on target, but isn’t as small as I would have liked. I knew this wasn’t a premium pellet, but because it was a good size for the gun I tested it anyway.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Flying Scot group 10 meters
Ten Webley Flying Scot pellets made this 0.753-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint pellets
Next, I tried the RWS Superpoints that I thought would do the best in this rifle. They’ve always done well for me in other taploaders, although most of them I’ve tried were .22 caliber. I don’t have as much experience with this pellet in .177.

Ten Superpoints made a group that measures 0.963 inches at 10 meters. The group is nice and round and also well-centered in the bull, but one pellet is apart from a 9-shot main group that measures a much smaller 0.62 inches. I think Superpoints show potential, but we’ll wait to see what they do at 25 yards.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Superpoint group 10 meters
Ten RWS Superpoints went into 0.963 inches at 10 meters, but 9 of them are in a much smaller 0.62-inch cluster.

RWS Hobby pellets
The last pellet I tested at 10 meters was the RWS Hobby. Hobbys have a wide, thin skirt that this taploader needs, plus they’re light enough to give the rifle some zip. This time, 10 Hobbys went into a group that measures 0.48 inches between centers. That is more like what I was hoping for!

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Hobby group 10 meters
Hobbys were the winner at 10 meters. Ten went into 0.48 inches.

Accuracy at 25 Yards
After seeing the performance at 10 meters, it was time to back up to 25 yards and try again. The same pellets were used, plus I added one additional pellet that a reader had suggested. I left the sight settings where they were, so you can see how the point of impact changes as the range increases.

At 25 yards, the targets I used at 10 meters were too small to see, so I switched to 10-meter pistol targets. Their bulls are roughly twice the size of the bulls I shot at 10 meters.

Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
The first pellet tested was the Webley Flying Scot that had done poorest at 10 meters. They remained centered on the bull, but the center of the group is perhaps a little higher. It’s hard to tell because they scattered a lot at 25 yards. Ten pellets went into a group that measures 2.602 inches between centers.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Flying Scot group 25 yards
At 25 yards, Webley Flying Scot pellets blew up into this 2.602-inch group. All you can say is that it’s centered on the bull.

RWS Superpoint pellets
Next up were the RWS Superpoints. They were centered at 10 meters but landed very high and slightly right at 25 yards. Ten went into a group that measures 1.603 inches between centers.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Superpoint group 25 yards
This 25-yard group of 10 Superpoints looks promising except for the strays that went high and low. It measures 1.603 inches between centers.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next, I tried the RWS Hobby pellets that did the best at 10 meters. They also landed high and right at 25 yards in a group that measures 1.918 inches between centers.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Hobby group 25 yards
Hobbys opened up at 25 yards, as wadcutters will do. Ten went into 1.918 inches.

RWS Superdome pellets
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. One reader had suggested that it might do well in the Stutzen, so I gave it a chance. Superdomes landed low and to the right on the target. Ten went into a group that measures 1.917 inches center-to-center. That puts them behind the Superpoints and about even with the Hobbys ay 25 yards.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen Superdome group 25 yards

Ten RWS Superdomes went into 1.917 inches at 25 yards, but nine of them hung together.

Overall evaluation
I’m glad I got the chance to test a BSA Airsporter because it answered many questions I’ve had for years. First, the cocking linkage is not as well-placed as the linkage on a Hakim, so the rifle feels harder to cock. Next, the firing behavior is quick and without vibration. The trigger is two-stage and very crisp. Even though it isn’t adjustable, I could get used to it.

I think this rifle would group much tighter if it were scoped. The Superpoint and Superdome groups lead me to think it might put 10 into a half-inch or so at 25 yards.

Finally, I have to say this Airsporter Stutzen is one of the handsomest air rifles I’ve ever seen. It holds and shoulders like a thoroughbred. I can now see why the Airsporter has so many ardent admirers.

Umarex Fuel air rifle: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

 

Umarex Fuel air rifle
That’s right! The Umarex Fuel carries its own bipod legs tucked against the forearm until you deploy them.

This report covers:

• A modern breakbarrel
• Stock with an integral bipod
• Two-stage adjustable trigger
• SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
• ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
• Firing behavior

A couple weeks ago, I started a new reporting format that combines Parts 1 and 2 for airgun reports of standard airguns. I felt that would speed up the reporting process a bit, since many of these guns are so similar. Well, today’s report is on the Umarex Fuel air rifle, which is different enough to warrant a standalone Part 1 description. I think as I describe the rifle, you will agree.

I’m testing rifle number 00514010. It’s in .177 caliber, which is the only caliber offered at this time.

A modern breakbarrel
The Fuel is a modern breakbarrel air rifle in every sense of the term. First, and I think foremost, in everyone’s mind is the set of permanently attached bipod legs that fold flat against the sides of the forearm when not in use. I know there’s a lot of curiosity about these. Heck — I’m curious! Of course, I’ll test the rifle resting on them, but let me answer the biggest question I see right now. Yes, it’s easy to cock the rifle with the legs deployed because they attach to either side of the stock and the barrel passes between them during cocking.

The rifle weighs 8.1 lbs. and is 44.1 inches long. The narrow stock makes it feel lighter than the weight would imply. This is an adult-sized air rifle, but not a huge one.

Stock with an integral bipod
What really drove me to say the Fuel is a modern breakbarrel is the shape of the synthetic stock. Just in front of the triggerguard, there are angled ridges that fit the fingers of your off hand nicely. They invite you to grasp the stock there. I’ll have to see if they help or hinder shooting, vis-a-vis the artillery hold. The stock is narrower here, so the rifle sits low in your hand and has a decidedly muzzle-heavy balance. It feels like a rifleman’s rifle!

The stock has different ridges at the forward end that don’t seem to invite the hand like those at the back. The bipod legs are held tight to the stock by powerful magnets in the tip of each leg that contact the stock screw heads. When they’re against the stock, that section is naturally wider than the rear portion.

The bipod legs are made of the same synthetic material as the rest of the stock. They lock into position when set up or when folded flat against the stock. There’s only one deployed position and no height adjustment. They raise the rifle 6 inches off the ground.

I should also mention that the forearm seems to have 4 screws — 2 on each side — holding it to the barreled action. In truth, the back 2 screws are only screwed into the plastic material of the stock and are just there to provide steel to attract the magnets in the bipod legs. The triggerguard has only one screw, located at the rear of the guard.

The stock has an exaggerated thumbhole design that’s completely ambidextrous. The vertical pistol grip invites the shooter to pull the stock into the shoulder. Only by shooting will I discover if this is desirable, but I can tell you it gives you a lot of control over the rifle.

The pistol grip has minor stippling on its forward edge that doesn’t add anything to the grippiness, but also horizontal grooves that do add something. The stock material is rough and doesn’t slip around in my hands.

The buttpad is a thin, black rubber pad that’s very sticky. It’ll hold the rifle on your shoulder or keep it from slipping when you lean it against something.

Two-stage adjustable trigger
The trigger is two-stage, and stage one adjusts for the length of travel. The pull weight doesn’t adjust, but I find it to be very crisp and free from creep. The specs say it breaks at 3.3 lbs., which I’ll verify in the velocity test.

Umarex Fuel air rifle trigger
The trigger adjusts for the length of the first-stage pull, only. The safety lever moves forward when the rifle’s cocked and must be pulled to the rear to make the gun ready to fire.

I must comment on the shape and location of the steel trigger blade. It’s very vertical, which feels just right to me, and the placement is perfect for my medium-sized hands. This is where that vertical pistol grip comes into play.

The safety is a steel lever forward of the trigger blade. It’s automatic and must be pulled to the rear before you take the shot.

SilencAir muzzlebrake & fiberoptic sights
Both front and rear sights have fiberoptic tubes. The front sight is a post on top of a ramp. It’s atop a SilenceAir baffled muzzlebrake that should help with cocking leverage, except that the fiberoptic tube is in exactly the wrong place for your hand. Good thing the Fuel is easy to cock!

Yes, this gun has a baffled silencer permanently attached to the muzzle. While it does somewhat quiet the report, the shooter will hear all the powerplant noise transmitted through his cheek where it touches the stock. While the rifle’s not silent, but it isn’t that loud, either.

Umarex Fuel air rifle front sight
The front sight sits on top of a muzzlebrake/silencer.

The rear sight is a fully adjustable sporting unit. The fiberoptics can be defeated with proper lighting, and then you see a sharply defined square post up front inside a square notch at the rear — perfect for precision sighting.

Both adjustments have definable clicks for precision. The horizontal adjustments use a scale for reference, while the elevation wheel is numbered.

Umarex Fuel air rifle rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for windage and elevation.

Of course, the Fuel does come with a 3-9X32 scope and mounts that fit on the Picatinny rail that’s attached to the top of the spring tube. That rail is clamped by 4 screws to a set of 11mm dovetail grooves cut directly into the top of the spring tube. So, if you want to use a set of 11mm scope rings for some reason, you can.

ReAxis gas-spring powerplant
The Fuel comes with the ReAxis gas piston, which is the name Umarex gives to their gas spring. They mention this in the advertising, but don’t push it. I find this rifle to be easy to cock and a very smooth shooter. Couple that with a trigger that breaks cleanly and the lower discharge noise, and you get the impression that the Fuel is less powerful than its numbers convey. The velocity test will be very informative.

Umarex says the cocking effort is 30 lbs. I can’t wait to see what this test rifle registers on my scale, but right now I would say they’re pretty close to that number.

Firing behavior
I’ll report more on the firing behavior in later reports; but because this rifle is easy to cock, has a crisp trigger and is quiet, I had to shoot it several times just to get acquainted. I have to say I really like how it feels when it fires. The impulse is quick and has no vibration after the shot. I’ll be able to tell a lot more when we begin accuracy testing.

I intend testing the rifle for accuracy with the open sights before I mount the scope. Open sights allow me to become familiar with the rifle’s behavior, as well as finding the best pellets for accuracy. Umarex sent a tin of Meisterkugeln Rifle pellets with the test rifle, so they’ll be included for sure.

The one thing that is a burning question in my mind right now is how the rifle will perform off the bipod. I’ve never recommended shooting spring guns with bipods because of their harmonics issues, so this will be an interesting test. I’m looking forward to it!

Ruger Air Hawk combo: 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!

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.

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