by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from duskwight, our blog reader in Moscow. It’s a report of a test to determine if changing the power of a variable scope affects the potential for accuracy
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, duskwight.
How scope power affects accuracy
Hello, my airgunning friends! This is a report of a small test I performed recently to see if changing the power of a rifle scope affects the accuracy potential in any way. I guess the thing I’m testing is if you need to see the target as large as possible for aiming precision, or if you can be just as accurate when it appears smaller, because the crosshairs of your scope will still be in the same place.
B.B. tested this for me last week and reported it in the most recent test of the TX200. He shot two 10-shot groups at 50 yards with the scope set on 4x and 2 more with it set on 16x. In the first set of targets, he admitted that he wasn’t holding the rifle as good as he could and the 16x group was smaller than the one shot on 4x. But in the second set of targets, when he said he tried his best, the 4x group was smaller than the 16x group.
B.B.’s test was shot outdoors with a recoiling spring rifle. I decided to shoot mine indoors with the recoilless spring rifle that some of you watched me construct. My rifle operates similar to a Whiscombe, in that it has dual opposed pistons that come together to produce the compressed air. Because these pistons are timed to meet in the middle of the air transfer port, they cancel each other’s momentum and the rifle doesn’t move. I call my rifle the Shillelagh, and I’ve taken a picture so you can see what it looks like.
My Shillelagh rifle was used for this test.
I’m shooting indoors, so wind isn’t a factor. The air is dry and the temperature is 20 degrees C, or 68 F. I am shooting off a soft rest like B.B. used with the TX200. The distance is 50 meters, and my targets are made of 2 black circles, the inner one 1/2″ in diameter and the outer one 1-1/2″ in diameter. I’m measuring the groups from the outsides of the pellet holes farthest apart, and my groups each contain 10 shots.
I decided to select the power settings 6 and 12 magnifications for this test. I shot 2 groups on each magnification. In one set of targets, I concentrated on the hold very much; and on the other set, I went faster, with less concentration. Let’s take a look at the results.
The first group that was fired on 6x with extreme concentration measured 0.906″ across the outside of the group at the widest point. If we use a nominal .177 inches for the pellet diameter, that group would then measure 0.7295″ between centers.
This 10-shot group came with the scope set at 6xr and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 0.9065″; and using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 0.7295″. Nice to know my Shillelagh can shoot!
The first group shot with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration measured 1.4455″ across and 1.2685″ between centers. That’s quite a bit larger than the 6x group!
This 10-shot group was made with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 1.4455″ across; and, using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 1.2685″. Quite a difference from the 6x group.
More relaxed shooting
Now, it was time to shoot groups from a more relaxed rest. I tried just as hard, but things went faster this time. The first group was shot at 6x and measured 1.003″s across the outside. The C-T-C measurement is 0.826″. Also not too shabby!
Here are 10 shots with the scope set at 6x with a more relaxed shooting style. The outside measurement is 1.003″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 0.826″.
Next, I shot another 10-shot group in the more relaxed style with the scope set on 12x. This group measured 1.7325″ across, which gives us a measurement of 1.5555″ between centers. This is the largest group of the test and more than double the size of the first group shot on 6x.
Ten shots with the scope set at 12x with a more relaxed shooting style measured 1.7325″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 1.5555″. This is the largest group of the test.
It’s clear to me that lower magnification isn’t any hinderance to accuracy, as long as you can see the target clearly. In fact, I think lower magnification is the way to go.
Some of our newer readers probably don’t know the story of how the Shillelagh rifle came to be. Duskwight was a reader just like all of you, and he was also an airgunner before finding this blog. He knew about the famous Whiscombe rifles, but they were hard to come by — even when John Whiscombe was still making them. Adding the extra difficulty of getting one all the way to Russia made him think about building his own rifle. When he first told us his plans, I thought it would never happen; and he shared all his struggles with unreliable machine shops and companies that could not meet his specifications. It seemed as though it wasn’t meant to be.
But he persisted, and finally, he had a working prototype. It took years of effort…and I don’t want to know how much money. But he did it. Then he sat down and whittled out a stock from a raw wood blank.
Duskwight is Russia’s airgun answer to New Zealander Bert Munro, who took a 1920 Indian motorcycle and modified it into a 200 m.p.h. streamliner in the 1960s! People like this are in extremely short supply, and it’s our honor to know this one!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
It’s been a while since I wrote about this gun, I know. Airgunner Larry Hannusch told me how to disassemble it, and I started…only to stop when I encountered a barrier. I’ve resolved that barrier, and today I’ll show you the inside of my gun to the extent that I’ve disassembled it.
Larry told me to remove the screws on top and beneath the action that were obvious, then separate the two parts — action and stock. I removed 4 screws, and the action came loose from the stock a little bit. Then, it stopped cold. That was where I stopped working and set the gun aside. Yesterday, I picked it up and began from that point.
A bugelspanner (actually, correctly spelled buegelspanner or bügelspanner since the u has two dots — called an umlaut — over it) translates to a triggerguard-cocker. The triggerguard is pulled down to retract the piston and set the sear for firing.
Triggerguard is up in the shooting position.
The triggerguard lever is fastened to a pivoting axle bolt located in the back of the stock. The bolt shows in the photos above. Since this lever is connected to a linkage that’s connected to the back of a piston held under tension by powerful mainsprings, it made sense to me that it had to be disconnected from the piston for the stock to separate.
I removed the bolt that screws into a very long bushing inset into the opposite side of the butt. Then that bushing was tapped out the other side of the stock. But the cocking lever wasn’t quite free. At the top of the triggerguard lever, the cocking linkage passes through the lever and is prevented from coming free by a small screw that passes through one end of the linkage. I have arranged the two parts and their screw below for you to examine.
The triggerguard and cocking linkage, arranged as they are in the gun — I think! Until I assemble the gun, again, I won’t be sure of the correct orientation of the cocking link.
That tiny handmade screw goes through the hole in the cocking link and prevents it from slipping through the triggerguard when the gun is cocked. Notice that it has two smooth bearing surfaces — one on either side. As the gun is cocked, the cocking link moves up and down in the cocking slot that’s in back of the triggerguard. It’s a moving fulcrum.
This is the triggerguard lever pivot bushing and screw on which the lever pivots when during cocking. Note the smooth band around the base of the bushing. We may assume that’s where the pivoting happens.
The screw and pivot bushing have been removed from the stock.
The entire underside of the stock is open, allowing room for the cocking linkage to move.
When I removed the cocking link from the back of the piston rod, I found the screw that attached the link to the piston rod was sheared in two, plus the rest of the screw was very mangled from pressure and work. Clearly, this part is too soft and also overworked.
The screw that holds the cocking link to the rear of the piston rod is mangled and galled from too much strain. The threaded portion remains in the back of the piston rod and needs to be removed. This part may need to become a roller bearing.
The first part to come off the gun was actually the top action plate that also holds the rear sight. It is the anchor plate for 2 long screws and one short one that holds the action together. Once they were out, the plate didn’t come off without a lot of wiggling and some prying.
Three screws, and the top plate came off with the rear sight attached.
This is where the top plate came from.
The gun is now partially disassembled. The double-set trigger mechanism is exposed and can be disassembled and cleaned, but the piston is still under compression inside the compression chamber that hasn’t yet been separated from the barrel. To see the piston and mainsprings, The backplate that the piston rod passes through has to be drifed down out of its dovetail
The double set trigger assembly is now exposed for cleaning and possible disassembly. To remove it from the gun, it’s tapped down, freeing its front dovetail.
The double-set trigger assembly must now be removed downward from the cylinder dovetail, freeing the trigger plate and back plate from the cylinder and relieving tension on the mainsprings.
I found the number 80 on many of the larger, unique frame parts. I believe that’s either a serial number or an assembly number to keep all the parts together because this gun shows a lot of handmade parts and hand-fitting.
When I open the barrel, I see some dark particles that I believe are small chunks of leather that have broken off the piston seal, so it may be deteriorating. And I need to look at the condition of the mainsprings, plus probably lubricate them just a little.
The bottom plate on which the double-set trigger sits is dovetailed into the frame (the rear of the compression/spring tube). It has to be pushed straight down to relieve tension on the mainsprings, and I do this with by tapping with a rubber hammer. The plate comes out of the dovetail easily enough; but the double volute mainsprings are under considerable tension even at rest, and the trigger plate and separate backplate fly off the gun along with the volute springs.
The trigger plate has a dovetail at its front that grabs the rear of the cylinder and holds the powerplant together. The cylinder back plate (left in the photo) is held between the 2 parts. The black part that’s flopping down on the back plate is the sear.
The piston can now be withdrawn, and I can see that the leather seal has, indeed, deteriorated. The part that comes in contact with the air transfer port is damaged from repeated impacts. I think I’ve found the reason the gun fired so roughly.
Bugelspanner piston at the top is much fatter than the Beeman R1 gas-spring piston unit below, but the stroke is also shorter. The notch in the bugelspanner piston rod is the cocking notch.
The leather piston seal has deteriorated. It looks okay, but it’s crumbling and flaking off. This is why the gun fires so harshly.
Double volute springs attached to a central guide for the mainsprings of the bugelspanner. They’re in good condition but very dirty and dry.
The double-set trigger has a weak front trigger leaf spring, which accounts for it not setting well and firing too easily. That will also have to be corrected.
The inside of the compression chamber is filthy, but it doesn’t seem to be damaged. A good cleaning is all it needs.
For many of you, looking inside this airgun is probably like looking at the dark side of the moon. So many of the parts appear foreign to your eyes. All that has really changed over the years, though, is how the parts are designed. They work in the conventional way that modern spring-piston parts work, so they must be corrected in the same way that a modern spring-piston powerplant would need to be.
There are numerous major repair jobs that must be undertaken before this airgun will shoot again. There’s certainly lots of cleaning, which is followed by careful lubrication of many of the parts.
Some new parts have to be fabricated, as well. That will not be an easy task, but it’s worth the effort. I know you were hoping to see a test real soon, but that’s not going to happen. I have to feel my way around this gun carefully; because if every job isn’t done right, the gun won’t work when it goes back together. I’ll go about the work methodically and take some pictures as I go, but I probably won’t report on the gun again until all the work is completed.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the start of accuracy testing for the Octane combo air rifle, and I’m going to make some changes. For starters, I’m going to give you the summary now. The Octane is a smooth-shooting, accurate air rifle. It’s everything the manufacturer wants it to be, and a couple of things they probably didn’t think about, on top of that. The rest of this report will justify and explain my summary.
Another thing, the Octane is different from any gas spring I’ve ever tested. Gas springs always fire fast, as in instantaneously. When the sear releases, the shot is over, and you usually know it from the sharp crack of sound and the painful slap to your cheek. The Octane fires slowly in comparison. There’s a lot of forward recoil and almost no vibration, and the discharge is very quiet, as I noted in part 2. I attribute this behavior to the Reaxis gas-spring design that’s reversed from the norm, and to the SilencAir silencer on the muzzle. Both apparently work as advertised.
I decided to just shoot 5 shots per pellet today, and to shoot the rifle with open sights at 10 meters. I wanted to get a good sense of how accurate it is before putting the walls of my house at risk. And what I discovered was that this rifle is fun to shoot! I normally don’t have much fun shooting a 20 foot-pound spring rifle, but the Octane is so civilized that it gave me a lot of confidence. By the time I’d fired the first 2 shots at the target, putting them into the same hole, by the way, I knew this day was going to be fun.
I held the rifle with an artillery hold, but the thumbhole stock makes you grip the gun harder than you normally might. So, I would have to call it a modified artillery hold. But the rifle cooperated, and there was noting to worry about. The muzzle heaviness holds the front sight steady on target once you’re dialed in.
The sights are fiberoptic, which destroy all attempts at precision, but by lighting the target brightly and sitting in a darker room to shoot, I could defeat the fiberoptic tubes and get a very sharp sight picture. When they don’t glow, the Octane’s sights offer a nearly ideal sight picture, and that was what made me decide to not mount the scope, yet. I wanted to have the fun of shooting with open sights since the rifle was cooperating.
The trigger is still quite heavy and very creepy, so I envy those who own their rifles and can modify them. If I could drop the release weight to under 4 lbs. and if there was a way to eliminate all the second-stage creep, this trigger would help accuracy greatly.
The first target was shot with 5 Beeman Kodiak pellets. This was when I first noticed how slow the Octane’s gas piston is. It feels like an airgun equivalent of a 45-70 single-shot. You feel the recoil and the rifle bounces around, but you know the pellet got out of the muzzle before all that started and that accuracy wasn’t affected in the slightest.
As I said, the first 2 pellets cut the same hole, though each made a distinctive mark. Then I stopped watching through the spotting scope and just shot the next 3 pellets. In the end, the group is larger than I would have liked for 10 meters, at 0.581 inches, but this is with open sights. Still, it is just 5 shots instead of 10.
Next, I tried the RWS Hobby pellet. It felt good while loading because it fit the breech tight but not overly so. And, though the point of impact shifted up a bit, the Hobby was quite accurate — putting 5 pellets into 0.368 inches! I thought that was remarkable. I couldn’t wait to test some more pellets!
Next, I tried the RWS Superdome. Here’s where you’re going to see something significant. RWS makes both Hobbys and Superdomes in Germany, and presumably they use the same lead alloy for both. And domed pellets are generally regarded to be the most accurate. Yet look at how the Superdomes did! They grouped horizontally, to exactly 1 inch, while the Hobbys stayed together.
You might try to blame me for getting tired at this point in the test, but there’s group coming that will show that I was still shooting my best. That’s one benefit of these 5 shot groups. They don’t tire me as quickly.
Now, for those of you who think I might have slipped up on the last group, I shot 5 Predator Polymag pellets next. They’re a recognized premium pellet, just like the Superdomes, and I’ve shown some great groups using them in recent tests. But not this time. Instead of the group stringing sideways, the Predator group were stringing vertically. Five went into 0.982 inches, so we won’t be seeing them in any future tests of the Octane.
If you have now decided that I’ve gotten tired and ho-hum, what’s so special about the Octane if this is the best that it can do — hold on! I saved the best for last. Actually, the Octane saved the best for last because the next group is the last one I shot on this day.
The 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet is sometimes the best pellet you can use in an airgun. And it is in the Octane test! Five Premiers went into a group measuring 0.245 inches between centers. It looks like only 3 pellets have passed through, but I did shoot all 5. This is very clearly and hands-down the most accurate pellet I tested in the Octane.
I already gave you the summary in the beginning of this report. Now you see the substantiation of what was said.
Several readers reported higher velocities than I got in the last test, and I was asked to change the breech seal. Well, I might do that, but frankly the rifle is shooting so nice right now that I don’t feel any urgency.
The Octane is unlike any gas-spring breakbarrel rifle I’ve ever tested. I wish the trigger was better, but it’s hard to argue with the accuracy or with the rifle’s firing behavior.
I will skip testing the rifle at 10 meters with the scope that comes in the package and go straight to 25 yards next time.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
The last report on this BSA Super Meteor was on October 15. That’s how long it’s been since we saw this gun in print. But in the background, I’ve been doing lots of things that I’ll share with you today.
The last time we looked at this rifle, I was taking it apart and getting a lesson on how it was built and what was wrong with it. To summarize for you, this BSA Meteor is made from folded metal, in the same way Daisy BB guns are made. And the piston head was attached to the piston by means of an E-type circlip that was incapable of standing up to the stress. I can tell that by the damage that was done when that clip let go — but more because the Brits have invented a much better solution for fixing this gun today, when it does break down — and all of them are going to break!
I sent my order to T.R. Robb in the UK for a replacement piston head, o-rings and spacers. The problem is that when I sent in that order I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the same order button also got a piston head for a BSA Scorpion pistol, which is larger than the Meteor head. Well, guess which one Mr. Lysdexic ordered?
That’s right, I ordered the Scorpion piston head. And a couple days later, when I realized what I’d done and contacted T.R. Robb, they had already shipped the order. But to their credit, they sent a second piston head — this one was for a Scorpion, too. That’s right! They sent me 2 Scorpion piston heads and no Meteor head! But I’ll give them credit for trying to help me, for being very generous and refusing my offer to pay for the second head, and for being very prompt in shipping both heads. I had them in less than 10 days.
So, blog reader David Enoch — I now have a spare BSA Scorpion piston head that I believe you said you needed. The price will be right, too. You’ll pay what I paid, which was nothing.
Lots to see here. The replacement piston head is the shiny one on the left, the darker original is on the right. Obviously, the replacement part is larger and has to be cut down to fit. The blue spacer and 2 o-rings are just some of the soft parts that came in the kit. There were a total of 4 o-rings of different sizes and 2 more spacers of varying thicknesses. They allow you to set the power of your airgun, and they also allow for differences in the tolerances of different guns.
When I saw how large the piston head was, I knew it wouldn’t fit. I asked my friend Otho to cut it down for me on his lathe. He also had to cut the o-ring channel deeper at the same time.
Silly me — I thought that would solve everything. So, Otho took the head and had it back to me in a week. Then, I assembled it to the end of the piston and tried to insert the piston back into the spring tube. But it wouldn’t fit! I’d taken it out several weeks earlier, and now it wouldn’t fit back inside! It was like that pair of blue jeans that used to fit, before they suddenly and quite mysteriously shrank. I hate it when that happens — especially to jeans I’ve worn for years!
I took a more critical look at both the spring tube and the piston. Glory be — they’re both made of folded metal like a Red Ryder! Except that Red Ryder spring tubes are generally round, while both of these pieces had variable shapes, with a tendency toward the oval.
The tail end of the piston. Here you clearly see that it’s folded metal, tack-welded at each end.
At least that’s the theory! Here you see the weld at the piston head end has broken. Wonder why the piston is no longer round?
And, on the other side of the piston, opposite the broken weld, the solid metal has also cracked! Here you can see the nut that now holds the piston head to the piston body. It’s not about to break off like the circlip did!
Looking at just the condition of the piston gives you an idea of the shape this rifle is in. I don’t think the design of the rifle caused all this damage. I think people continued to try to cock and fire it after the piston head separated from the piston, and they hammered it into the mess you see here.
I examined the interior of the spring tube very critically at this point and found a lot of metal galling (shiny areas that indicate the scraping of metal against metal without lubrication). There was also a fair bit of surface rust. I also found that some of the folded metal edges of the spring tube that hold the trigger parts were bent into the interior of the spring tube and were blocking the passage of the piston. I fixed those with a Dremel tool, but the inside of the tube was too deep to reach.
I showed the spring tube and piston to Otho, who agreed with me as to the extent of the damage. He felt he might be able to clean out the tube with a tool that holds strips of abrasive paper and is spun in an electric drill. I don’t own that tool, so I was only too happy to let him have a go at it. He also said he could tack-weld and refinish the piston where it was separating.
So, Otho came to the rescue once more. And he was true to his word, because a week later I got back the tube and piston, ready for assembly. But that wasn’t the end of the rifle’s problems!
Otho welded the broken piston and dressed it round again.
Otho also welded the back side of the piston where it was cracked.
Loose barrel pivot
I had discovered that the barrel wobbled from side to side when I first got the rifle. And a little research online told me this is a common problem with Meteors from the 1970s. Apparently, when the forearm stock screws are tightened, the shape of the stock allows them to pull apart the action forks that hold the barrel breech. It’s a design flaw of the rifle, and the solution is to not over-tighten those screws. But how to fix it — since the barrel pivot is a pin, rather than a bolt? Well, this is something I know how to do.
I chucked the forks in the padded jaws of my bench vice and closed the jaws on the forks. When there was some inward tension on them, I hit the outside vice jaw with a 2-lb. ball-peen hammer, which sent a shock wave into the metal of the action forks and realigned their crystalline structure. Or at least that looks cool when I write it. I haven’t got a clue what really happens! All I know for sure is that when you do this, the metal takes a set in the new position, and now the action forks are about 5 thousandths of an inch smaller then the breechblock of the barrel that has to fit between them.
Finally, all the faults had been corrected, as far as I knew. The piston now slides into the spring tube with only a little friction, not unlike a Weihrauch piston in a Weihrauch gun. It was time to assemble the rifle!
Otho and I both think whoever designed this Super Meteor Mark IV was a genius at eliminating cost and making one thing do many jobs. The way this air rifle is designed should be a study in an engineering course, but the students would first have to know how others had done the same things with other spring-piston powerplants. At every turn, you can see the embodiment of the Spartan design.
And the parts that need to be hard are hard! I mean glass-hard! There’s no wear on any of the trigger parts, or on the piston, where it’s held by the sear. The boys at BSA knew what they were doing.
Since there had been so much metal galling in the spring tube, I first lubricated it with Moly Paste before any parts went back in. The molybdenum disulphide particles will bond with the metal surfaces and will not wash out over time. I applied this paste (which is a thick grease) with a swab made from a long thin dowel rod covered with a paper towel on one end.
This simple swab can be used to clean the inside of spring tubes/compression chambers, as well as to lubricate them.
After the inside of the spring/compression tube was lubricated, I also lubricated the outside of the piston head and piston tail with the same moly paste. I’d like to say a word about the piston head now. The kit of parts I was sent had 3 spacers of differing thicknesses. Any of them will work, but each gives you a piston head of a different length when it ‘s fastened to the piston body.
The way the Meteor is designed, adjusting the length of the piston head controls the power of the rifle. A shorter piston head will give a longer piston stroke and therefore greater power. I don’t want power. I want a smooth rifle that’s easy to cock and is also easy to shoot. So I went with a thicker spacer on the head.
Now, I lubricated both the piston head and the tail with moly. The center of the piston body can be left dry because it’s narrower than the ends and will never touch the inside of the spring tube.
The piston head is lubed with moly paste. No precision is required for this application because this stuff spreads as the gun is cocked and fired. The other end of the piston got the same treatment before it was slid back into the spring tube.
Once the piston was in the tube, I coated the mainspring with Beeman Spring Gel and slid it into place inside the piston. Don’t look for that product anywhere — it’s obsolete. It was a viscous silicone (Beeman only says it’s a synthetic in their catalog; but given where it’s going, I’m pretty sure it’s silicone) grease that dampened vibration without slowing the gun much, if any. So, pretty much any viscous silicone with the consistency of toothpaste should suffice. Or, you could do it the old-school way and just use a lithium-based grease.
The powerplant went together the same way it came apart; but the barrel, which was the next item, was harder to install because the action forks were now smaller, thanks to my repair. Nevertheless, the barrel did go into the action forks of the spring tube (I “buttoned” it in using the baseblock to spread the forks slightly), with the cocking link locked inside the piston and lots of moly grease on all metal surfaces that touch.
When it came time to close the barrel, I got a small surprise. It seems the spring-loaded chisel detent (the chisel-looking thingie that holds the barrel shut when the gun fires) was sticking out so far that the barrel wouldn’t close! Examination revealed that the detent is held in the baseblock by the pivot pin that passes through. How in the heck was I going to do that?
Well, if you think like a redneck cheapskate, which I am trained to do, you insert the pivot pin partway, lever the chisel detent back as far as it will go and then tap the pivot pin home. I could have closed my eyes for this maneuver, it went so smoothly. Obviously, I’d discovered something that the original 28-year-old BSA assembler, Trevor, could do 175 times in an 8-hour shift back in 1978.
From there, the only big task was to get the mainspring back inside the spring tube all the way. It only stuck out the end of the tube less than an inch, but it also had to go another full inch into the tube, where it would be held by a crosspin that’s profiled on one side to capture the base of the spring guide. It’s easier to just show you.
This is the side of the assembly pin that fits inside the base of the mainspring guide and holds it inside the rifle.
This 58-cent tool was made from a 4-inch plastic sprinkler pipe in about 20 minutes. With the action in the mainspring compressor, it pushes the washer at the base of the mainspring, while allowing the crosspin to be inserted through its slot. It isn’t beautiful, but it worked both times I used it and looks like it will hold up for dozens more jobs like this.
And the pin is back in place. The contours on the other side of the pin have meshed with the base of the spring guide.
I showed you these parts and the trigger parts in the earlier reports, namely in Parts 2 and 3. So I’m covering ground that I’ve already explained. When I took the rifle apart back in October, I didn’t have to use a mainspring compressor; but to get the mainspring back in place and insert the crosspin, I did. And it was easy.
And the remainder of the airgun went together exactly as it should. I have a theory. Whenever something goes together easily, it means I’ve left out something. I’m in my wetsuit but have forgotten to put on my briefs! I remember learning how to disassemble and assemble the M1 Garand rifle. I thought I could never learn, but a few weeks later I was stripping it like a pro. That’s the way BSA spring rifles are, I guess. You’d like them to come apart in 30 seconds without hand tools, but they don’t. However, once you’ve been down the path a few times, I’m sure the job seems simple.
This is the part I dreaded. Sure the parts were back together, but who was to say they were where they should be? Only cocking and firing the gun would tell me that. So I did. And it did! Hurrah!
The only task left to do is to clean the barrel. I had close to 2 months to do that while it was off the rifle; but to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the gun back to functioning again. No sense doing a great job on a barrel I’ll never use. But now the gun is working, so the next report can be about the velocity.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Air Arms TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. I can tell you that I learned a lot from this test. But that will all be summarized as we go. Let’s get started!
I shot the new TX directly off the same sandbag that was used at 25 yards. As you remember, I showed (after much coaxing from you readers!) that the TX shoots as well or better when rested directly on sandbags as it does with an artillery hold. The bag was crossways to the rifle, so the contact with the stock was minimized.
The day was perfect for the test. Not a breath of wind the entire time I was on the line!
The rifle is mounted with the AirForce 4-16X50 scope, which was selected so I could conduct another test for reader Duskwight after the regular test was completed. This scope is clear and sharp; and at 50 yards, I was able to bisect the small bullseyes with the reticle.
The rifle was still zeroed for 25 yards, so it had to be adjusted for 50 yards before anything else could happen. The first shot landed 3-1/4 inches low and 1-1/2 inches to the left. It then took another 2 shots before I was reasonable on the target. Then, I fired the first group with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. Ten landed in a group measuring 1.562 inches. It’s a fairly round group, but not as small as I would like from this rifle. So, I switched pellets.
JSB Exact Monsters
Next I tried some JSB Exact Monsters, which weigh 13.4 grains in .177 caliber. They went all over the place. When I went dowrange to retrieve the target, I saw that they were tumbling or yawing. They must be too heavy for the velocity the TX is able to generate.
Crosman Premier heavy
The third pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier heavy. I meant to bring Crosman Premier lites, but I grabbed the wrong box when loading up for the range. Fortunately, the heavy pellet was wonderful! Ten of them gave me a group that measured 0.658 inches between centers — or about as good as a top-flight PCP can do at the same distance! This is phenomenal accuracy for any air rifle at 50 yards!
First lesson learned
The new TX200 Mark III is every bit as accurate as my TX that’s well broken-in. No accuracy has been lost over the years, and the rifle can shoot this well right out of the box!
With lesson one under my belt, I adjusted the scope to lower the point of impact and moved to the next bull. The first shot landed where the last group was, then the pellets moved to the new sight adjustment.
Second lesson learned
Some scopes have stiction. After adjusting them, it’s best to shoot a couple shots to vibrate the reticle to its new location. I knew that, but made the mistake anyway. So, I’ve included the first shot, along with the group, to show you what it looks like. If this group had been as small as the one before, that first shot would really stand out. But I lost my concentration on this one and wasn’t holding the rifle as softly as I might have. This group of 10 measures 1.435 inches between centers, which isn’t that far from the first group of H&N Baracudas!
The second group of Premier heavies opened to 1.435 inches. That’s more than double the size of the first group! Top hole to the left of the pellet was the first shot, which I disregarded, after the scope was adjusted.
Third lesson learned
While a rifle may be capable of shooting 10-shot 50-yard groups smaller than one inch, it may not do it every time! That small group may represent what the rifle is capable of, but not what it will always do.
Duskwight, our blog reader from Moscow, asked me to test the difference between a rifle shot with a low-power scope and the same rifle shot with a high-power scope. In other words, does magnification improve a rifle’s ability to group?
Well, common sense tells us that it does. Right? I mean, surely, if you’re able to parse the target to a finer degree, you must be able to group your shots closer together. Right? That’s what this test will determine.
That’s why I used a 4-16x scope on this rifle. I’d been shooting with 16x to this point, so now I dialed the power back to 4x and shot another group.
Wow! At 4x, the intersection of the crosshairs almost completely covers the small bullseye at 50 yards. As I shoot, I’m almost certain how this test is going to turn out. And it does. Ten shots on 4x with the same Premier heavy pellets landed in 2.208 inches. Looks like I was right about what low magnification would do.
The third group of Premier heavies — shot with the scope set to 4x — was 2.208 inches between centers at 50 yards. That’s quite a difference from the previous group, even though that group was already admittedly large.
But something nagged me about this group. I knew in my heart that I’d not given the rifle my best. I knew this group was going to be bigger than the last one while I was shooting it, so I was even sloppier with my hold.
It probably sounds like I need medication to suppress my dual personalities while at the range, but I assure you I’m not talking to myself — at least not loud enough for others to hear. What I’m doing is a little soul searching while I’m still out at the range and have the time to do something about it.
I adjusted the scope back to 16x and shot another 50-yard group. This time, I did everything the way I should have. The hold was completely relaxed. I fully expected to be rewarded with another of those sub-inch groups, but that didn’t happen. This time, I shot a 10-shot group measuring 1.935 inches between centers. Oh, well! I was probably tiring out from all the concentration.
Fourth lesson learned
Sometimes, you just can’t will the results to happen the way you would like. I put my whole heart into this group, and this is what I got. Maybe that’s what it feels like to be 66, dried-out and ready for the old-folks home!
Fifth lesson learned
I called that first great group of Premiers a screamer. Now you see why that is.
Nevertheless, I owed it to Duskwight to try the rifle on low scope magnification one more time, and this time to do my very best. So I did. This time, 10 pellets went into a group that measures 1.481 inches between centers. That’s right, it’s SMALLER than the group shot on 16 power! I noticed that the bull was just visible behind the crosshairs; and if I really tried, I could hold on the target in exactly the same way every time. Apparently, I did, because this group fired on 4x is smaller than the previous group that was fired on 16x.
Sixth lesson learned
Although it isn’t conclusive, it looks like you can shoot just as accurately on low scope magnification as you can on high magnification if you take the time to do things right.
Seventh lesson learned
Looking at both groups fired on 16x and both groups fired on 4x, it sure looks like the point of impact never changed! Some of you have asked about that in the past. The design of the scope determines whether the impact point will move when the scope’s power is changed, but these days a lot of variable scopes stay right where they were when the power’s adjusted.
Eighth lesson learned
Of the five groups fired with Premier heavy pellets on this day, only one is smaller than one inch. And it’s significantly smaller! When you see those great groups in the future, you must ask yourselves what the rest of the groups look like.
Ninth lesson learned
I may be old and dried-out, but I can still shoot — a little. I get tired as the shot count increases, so that needs to be factored in to my tests from now on.
I’m very pleased with what this new TX200 Mark III has done so far. I think the rumors that the TX quality may have slipped are just that — rumors! Individual guns may have problems; but overall, the TX200 is one fine air rifle. Next, I plan on mounting a red dot sight and testing it for accuracy, again, to see what the differences are.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m testing the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle for accuracy at 25 yards. This is going to be a very different accuracy report, for I have no targets to show you. Well, there is one target, but it wasn’t shot with the test rifle.
In the last report, I mentioned that I wanted to mount a different scope on the test rifle and test it at 25 yards. I thought the Bug Buster 3-9x scope would be a good one, and I also shimmed under the rear ring because the rifle was shooting low in the 10-meter test.
I thought the rifle would group about 3 times larger at 25 yards than it had at 10 meters, but I also hoped some pellets might remain tighter than that. What happened, however, was just the reverse. Instead of 3-inch groups I got 5- to 6-inch “patterns.” I won’t call them groups because not all pellets fired even hit the target trap. And when that happens, I stop shooting that particular pellet immediately.
Crosman Premier lites
First up was the pellet I thought had the best chance to do well — the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. They had done well at 10 meters with just 2 pellets outside the main group. Had they held to my 3X size increase, they would have grouped into about 2.2 inches; but when the third shot landed 6 inches away from shots 1 and 2, and then shot 4 landed 5 inches from that pellet, I stopped shooting.
I checked the scope mount to see that it was still tight. It was, and I’m pretty sure this scope is a good one because it has done well in other tests on other airguns. So, Premier lites are out.
H&N Baracuda Match
Next, I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets. But they were no better. They hit the target lower than the Premiers, and 3 shots landed in about a 5-inch pattern. Then, one pellet missed the target trap altogether. I stopped shooting after that shot, but I wasn’t done with this pellet.
I got the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater and deep-seated a couple Premier lites to see what affect that would have. The point of impact changed, but the accuracy didn’t improve. And when the third shot missed the trap, I stopped shooting Baracudas.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which gave such a nice, round group at 10 meters. Two shots landed together, and I thought we were on the right road; then the next shot hit about 6 inches away from them. The 4th shot missed the trap altogether, and I stopped shooting that pellet.
By now, I was in a quandary. Was it me or the gun or the scope? I went back to 12 feet from the target and confirmed that the scope was still shooting to the same point, then I went back to 25 yards and tried an RWS Superdome. I had confirmed at 12 feet that the Superdome would be on paper at 25 yards and the first shot was. It landed high, but in good enough position to keep shooting. The next shot missed the paper altogether and I don’t know where it went. That was it for Superdomes.
What to do?
By this point I was really shaken. My confidence was ebbing fast and I needed to end this session on a high note. So I grabbed my Beeman R8 Tyrolean and a tin of Air Arms Falcon pellets and shot a final group of 10 at 25 yards. This one turned out good, as I expected it would. That’s where today’s target comes from. It isn’t the best group I’ve shot with the R8, but it’s a darn sight better than I did with the MTR77NP. Ten shots went into 0.41 inches.
I need some time to think about why this rifle might be performing like it is. If one of you made a report like this to me, I would tell you to check the scope because that sure seems like what it is. But I did check the scope and found no problems. The one thing left to do is to crank the elevation down all the way and all the way to the left and shoot a group. If it tightens up, then it was the scope. If not, it’s either the mounts or the rifle.
A little tip
What I did with the R8 today is a handy tip to remember. Sometimes the problem is you — or you wonder if it might be. Shooting a good group with a rifle of known accuracy is the best way to rule that out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. It’s his first report of a beautiful Walther LG55 he recently acquired.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, /Dave.
This Walther LG55 is another used gun that I bought from a reputable seller on the Yellow Classifieds. B.B. asked me to share my impressions with you after I received it. For a lot of people here, this well be a repeat of how to evaluate a used gun. Most people here know, or at least have an idea, of what appeals to them before buying a used gun. Some don’t like to risk money on a used gun, which I completely understand, having been burned once or twice. For those of you that do take risks, here ya go!
This curly walnut stock caught my eye right away!
After my new gun arrives, I generally give it a once-over, looking for any obvious faults and to find out if I need to do any serious work on it. I was happy to get this rifle after delays by the shipping company. The wait, which is normally pretty hard, was extended by more than another week while the shipper decided where it was really supposed to go. When it finally arrived, I was like a kid at Christmas trying to figure out the fastest way to get my new of gun out of the box and out of the paper, tape and bubble wrap that were quite generously used.
After freeing up the rifle and then unwrapping the rear target site, which had been removed and wrapped separately to prevent damage, I quickly mounted the site and brought it into the bright kitchen light to show off my treasured wood to my wife. She said that it looks alive, like a fish swimming! A great improvement over, “I’m not interested in that stuff”! So, I took off down the stairs with a big grin on my face to my little 9.5-yard range to try it out.
The curl goes all the way through the stock.
Giving the gun a quick once-over to make sure all was in place and not loose, I broke it open and cocked it. Man — this thing is easy to cock! A six-year-old could shoot it if he could hold it up. My old bathroom scale says it takes 18 lbs. to cock, and it weighs about 8 lbs. Even at 8 lbs., it should be an all-day shooter for me!
I took a couple of shots at about 5 feet and then 15 feet to see if it would stay on the paper and to check function. “Check function”… uh-huh! That’s the adult way of saying, “I really can’t wait long enough to go over this thing in detail. I gotta shoot it NOW!” Yes, just under the surface, I’m still just a 10-year-old boy!
What you don’t see in the pictures is that the stock is scratched up. The barrel and compression tube are about a quarter to a third speckled with surface rust that’s not pitted. It’s more like the bluing wear from many hands, rather than neglect. Even with these faults, I’m inclined to just treat the whole gun with oil but not refinish it. Most of the scratches in the stock would vanish with a light sanding, but there are a few that would alter the stock’s original lines if removed. Since I’m not really a big fan of wood filler and refinishing over scratches doesn’t look right, I’ll leave it alone. I kind of like this gun the way it looks, anyway. It speaks of a long life of use and enjoyment that would be lost if I dolled it up too much.
One of the worst dents on the bottom edge of the stock. Some of the wood fibers are cut, so I don’t think this will steam out cleanly without leaving a hash mark. There are a couple more on the forearm that are as deep.
First results from my Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph with RWS Hobby pellets weighing 7.0 grains was around 412 f.p.s. Not that encouraging, considering a quick online search finds that LG55 rifles should shoot around 550-575 f.p.s. at sea level. I’m shooting at just over a mile high in elevation, so I don’t expect to ever make that 575 f.p.s. mark, but somewhere around 525 f.p.s. would leave me tickled pink! But, the rifle is shooting very consistent within a few f.p.s. around 412, so I added a few drops of heavy silicone dashpot oil to the chamber and let it sit a few minutes.
I checked the breach seal while adding the oil, and it looks like it’s in good shape, smooth and standing just a little above the surrounding metal. Tissue paper laid over the breach while firing confirms a good seal. If the tissue doesn’t move, there isn’t enough air leaking through to matter. No oil spray on the tissue is another good indication the breech is tight.
The oil in the chamber brought the velocity up to around 468 +/- 2 f.p.s. right away with no excessive smoke due to the low power of this target gun. That number goes up more after the gun has set for awhile, then drops back off while shooting. That’s still encouraging. Along with the smooth, un-twangy solid thwack when the rifle fires and no grinding with a positive click of the sear falling into place when it’s cocked, that tells me the gun probably just needs a new piston seal. The piston seal on this gun is synthetic, so the oil is just a temporary fix/diagnostic tool. It will need to be replaced to regain its velocity potential.
The difference on the target between 500 f.p.s. of the LG55 and 750 f.p.s. from an HW57. A faster pellet cuts cleaner and is much easier to score or measure when your target isn’t exactly square to the shooting lane. A slower pellet has more tear-out.
While shooting through the chronograph, I noticed that I’d run out of adjustment on the sight and my groups were still hitting an inch high and to the left. Oh no! Shipping damage? Bent sight? Major tweaking might be needed! Ok, calm down and take a good look at things. First, I sight along the compression tube and barrel under a light to see if it’s out of line. Looks pretty straight there. Check the sights. Tight and straight. Front sight is straight and the target insert is correctly seated in its notch, so on to the rear. The click adjustments run full travel on the rear peep sight, and it doesn’t appear to be bent. The sight base seems to be clamping the dovetails correctly. Hmmmm. Ok, loosen the knurled knob and take off the sight to examine it closely. All appears good, so I centered the adjustments, and the peep is right in the middle. No problem here. More thinking….
I decided to remount the rear site and noticed that there are markings and grooves on top of the rail. I lined up the front of the sight with one of those marks. Ah-ha! The knurled nut now travels much closer to the base when I tighten it. The nut has a collar that extends into one of those grooves, locking the sight in place! After tightening it up, I decided to take a shot at a new target. Nine ring! Another shot. Another nine, breaking the ten ring! Great, that was the problem!
In my over-anxiousness to shoot, I’d missed seeing the grooves while mounting the sight and it wasn’t seated properly on the rail. This is what threw off my point of impact. No barrel tweaking or major work other than a seal replacement is required! I’ve found a source for the seal and some other parts for this old gun at JG Airguns. I may make a seal mod with some Teflon round stock and a quad-seal o-ring (like I did with my TF99) if I can’t get this one soon enough.
Notice the horizontal lines on top of the compression tube, in between the dovetails. The front of the sight must be aligned with one of these in order for the locking collar (beneath the knurled nut) to slide in and out and secure the sight from sliding.
The trigger has a really long first stage, and there’s even a little slop in the trigger blade before it starts. I need to do some more research online for adjustment procedures to see if that can be reduced. If not, I’ll leave it as is and just get used to it because it has a light first stage (almost a take-up) followed by a nice, clean, very light and predictable break. It makes the Rekord trigger on my HW57 feel heavy. Definitely not a modern lawyer/liability trigger here!
LG55 trigger adjustment screws.
Walther has diagrams of the LG51′s trigger on their website, but I don’t think it’s the same as the LG55′s trigger. The LG55 trigger is shaped different and has more adjustment screws. I’ll need to fiddle around with them to see which one does what, unless someone can point me to the info I need. However, an online search has brought me these drawings that give me a better idea of what’s what.
I’m pretty sure I can figure out which screw does what. The only thing that confuses me here is the far left collar (number 50 in the picture on the right), which has click stops when you adjust it…much like a scope turret. Thanks to the kind souls who posted these pictures on the Yellow Forum a while back!
I was curious about when this rifle was made but couldn’t find any definitive information from Walther online. From what I could find in the forums from others who’ve paid Walther for their serial number lookups (and doing a little SWAG), S/N 086xxx tells me this rifle is 50+ years old. So, it was built back in the days when people took a little more time and pride in their work. A time before time studies and efficiency experts set unrealistic bars for production people to meet. But, I digress. I just like old guns!
I would normally run an accuracy test at this point, but I really need to first fix the compression seal to get the velocity back and stabilized. The accuracy and velocity test will be in Part 2. So far, even though I need to do a little work on it, I’m completely happy with this purchase.