My new Benjamin NP Limited Edition

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader RifledDNA, a.k.a Stephen Larson. He wants to give us his impressions of a new Benjamin NP Limited Edition he recently received.

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

Over to you, RifledDNA!

Benjamin NP Limited Edition
Benjamin NP Limited Edition.

Good-day everybody. Today, we’re going to take a look at the Benjamin NP Limited Edition. These are my impressions of this airgun as I’ve unboxed it. Others may have different results, as no two airguns are the same.

To start, let’s look at what the NP Limited Edition is. This is a .22-caliber breakbarrel air rifle powered by Crosman’s Nitro Piston, hence the NP designation. The Nitro Piston is a nitrogen gas-filled piston that has many advantages over the traditional coiled steel spring powerplant. First, a gas piston is less affected by temperature. The nitrogen gas continues to compress and expand consistently even when the temperature drops. A steel spring is coated with lubricants that stiffen and do not want to move as fast in cold temperatures.

Another advantage of the Nitro Piston is less wear and tear. The gas piston has straight forward and back motion, so there’s no torque on parts. A coiled steel mainspring doesn’t just expand when it decompresses — it also twists because it’s coiled. That twisting is transmitted to the parts like the piston and spring guide, causing them to bear against other parts as they move.

Finally, the gas in the piston always has the same amount of mass. That means the gas will have the same expansion characteristics, providing long-lasting consistency.

The consistency of a gas piston is shown by the 10-for-$10 test I ordered with the gun. With 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets, the velocities were as follows:

Shot   f.p.s.
1       816
2      820
3      817
4      799
5      808
6      799
7      802
8      804
9      797
10    798

After the first three shots, which was burning off the oil, this gun has very tight velocities right out of the box. If we exclude the first three, we get a high of 808, a low of 797, a spread of 11 f.p.s. and a standard deviation of only 5.16. I think that’s pretty impressive!

Another thing that impresses me is the cocking effort. It is SMOOTH! I don’t have a bathroom scale, but I would estimate it’s somewhere close to 28 lbs. My wife can cock it without much of a struggle! That’s not something commonly found in a magnum .22 springer.

The downside
Now that we’ve talked about the pros of this air rifle, lets look at the things that weren’t so impressive. When I bought it, the gun cost $179.99. That’s extremely affordable for a gun of this quality; but this great gun has to rest somewhere, and that’s in the stock. The stock used for this air rifle is the same synthetic stock that carries the Crosman Fury and Phantom. It’s an extremely lightweight stock that has a modified Monte Carlo cheekpiece and a long, curved pistol grip. This isn’t the right stock for the NP Limited Edition.

The Benjamin NP Limited Edition is really just the Benjamin NPS in a cheaper stock. The problem is that the NPS stock has a very pronounced pistol grip, and the metal parts of the gun are configured for it.

With the Fury’s stock, the trigger is noticeably too far forward. The curved pistol grip is also fat; and with the trigger further forward, you are literally reaching for the trigger, which is also boxy and fat. You cannot get a solid purchase on the trigger. All you get is the side of the square trigger blade. So, I decided to do some trigger modification.

Do trigger work at your own risk! That being said, the first thing I did to modify anything on this gun was to shape and thin the trigger blade on a grinding wheel. With that done, and my elbow up above my ear, I can finally get a solid wrap on it.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition on Ruger Blackhawk Elite
Here is the NP Limited Edition laying on top of my Ruger Blackhawk Elite. Notice the trigger placement when the grips are lined up.

In a nutshell, the NP Limited Edition is a great , but the price you pay — or rather the money you save — is felt in the stock. I contacted Crosman about options for different stock. The gun is worth finding a new stock that compliments it better.

I don’t have the space to do an accuracy test, but the gun is accurate, powerful, quiet and smooth. Overall, I’m satisfied. Based on the reviews of this gun, I knew the money I was saving was in the stock. I’ll look into a custom wood stock. It’s really worth it.

Leapers UTG Accushot 2-7×44 Scout scope: Part 2

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

Part 1

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

I’m on the road today to Ohio to Pyramyd Air and the Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show this coming Saturday. If you plan to be there, please stop by my table and introduce yourself.

And while I’m gone on this huge road trip (there’s more driving ahead before I return home), I would ask the veteran readers to help answer the questions posed by the newer readers. I will only have about 3 hours each evening to exercise, answer emails and write the next blog — and I usually get 150-200 emails a day.

Today, I’m testing the UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope for accuracy. It’s mounted on the Crosman MK-177 multi-pump pneumatic that I tested for you awhile back. So, I have the data on that rifle using open sights.

I selected the 3 best pellets from that first test for today’s test. The distance was 10 meters because the groups I got before were not that small. Had they been small enough, I might have tested the rifle at 25 yards.

RWS Hobbys
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. In the previous test at 10 meters with open sights, 10 Hobbys gave me a group that measured 0.858 inches. With the scope mounted, I got a group that measured 0.928 inches at the same 10 meters. So, no improvement.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope Hobby group
Ten Hobbys fared no better with a scope than with open sights at 10 meters. In fact, at 0.928 inches between centers, this group is larger than the one shot with open sights. But, the scope was much easier to use.

I found the scope’s thin reticle quite easy to pick up and hold on target. The optics seem clear and bright, although my test conditions were perfect. I would like to test this scope in the field under variable lighting.

H&N Finale Match Pistol
Next, I tested 10 H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. In the last test, they gave me a 1.299-inch 10-shot group, but 9 of those went into just 0.399 inches. I suspected at the time that the one pellet was somehow off, so I decided to try this pellet again.

This time, using the scope, 10 pellets went into 0.548 inches. That’s better than the last group and not much larger than the 9 pellets that grouped so well on the other test. Up to this point in the test, the scope hasn’t improved my results — but it has been much easier to use! My shooting went much faster because I wasn’t guessing where the top of the front sight was.

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope H&N Finale Match pistol group
Yes, these 10 H&N Finale Match pistol pellets are in a smaller group than before, at just 0.548 inches. But I feel the one stray shot in the open-sight test may have been a damaged pellet.

After this group, I adjusted the scope to center the group in the bullseye. It’s easy enough to do, and the locking ring means there’s no fear of anyone messing up the settings.

Air Arms Falcons
The final pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon dome — a lightweight dome that has proven very accurate in a number of different airguns. This time, the results were better. Ten Falcons went into 0.839 inches in the first test with open sights and just 0.425 inches in this test. Nine of the 10 pellets went into just 0.154 inches — rivaling a 10-meter rifle!

UTG 2-7X44 Scout SWAT scope Air Arms Falcon group
Believe it or not, there are 9 Falcon pellets in the larger hole! The one pellet strayed up a little (shot 7), opened this group to 0.425 inches.

Impressions of the scope thus far
I’m thoroughly impressed with this scout scope. It’s clear, sharp and easy to use. I want to test it on something else — maybe a firearm. This is a scope I can recommend if you’re looking for a good scope.

The benefit isn’t better groups, but a clearer picture of the target. On a rifle with real precision, that can mean something!

I do plan on another test with this rifle ay 25 yards. The Falcon pellets have earned their way into that test, and perhaps some similar premium pellets, as well.

Why choke a barrel?

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

This blog was requested by blog reader Joe, who wanted to know if choked airgun barrels are more accurate, and why. A number of other readers seconded his request. So, we know there’s interest in the subject.

What is a choke?
A choked barrel is one in which there’s a reduction in the diameter of the bore near the muzzle. Someone likened it to the FX Smooth Twist barrel that’s rifled only at the end of the barrel, but it isn’t the same. The Smooth Twist barrel has a constriction — the rising of the rifled lands. But in a choked barrel, the entire bore gets smaller. I don’t know if the Smooth Twist barrel is also choked; but if it is, that’s a separate thing.

Most shooters know that shotguns are choked, and they understand why. A choke keeps the shot from spreading as quickly as it would without a choke. Shotguns have several specific kinds of chokes that make the pattern they project contain a certain shot density at a given distance from the muzzle. Hitting something at 25 yards with an improved cylinder choke is virtually the same as hitting it at 40 yards with a full choke. But that’s not what a choke does for a rifle barrel.

A choked rifle barrel squeezes the bullet or pellet slightly just before it leaves the muzzle. This is only an analogy, but it’s like pulling hard on a dog’s leash — it gets his attention and focuses him. In the case of the bullet and pellet, it stops any minute fluttering that may be happening inside the bore.

In my experience, it does work. Here’s what I know. First, the great barrel maker, Harry Pope, always choked his barrels. He first drilled the holes in the barrel blank undersized, then reamed the bore to get a choke of half a thousandth of an inch (0.0005-inches or 0.0127mm). His choke was an even taper down the full length of the barrel; and for the life of me, I can’t comprehend how he did it. Most barrel makers have a transition point where the bore tapers more or less abruptly from one size to the smaller size. This transition is very smooth, and the choke is seldom more than a thousandth of an inch, so it doesn’t disturb the bullet or pellet that much.

Pope’s barrels are legendary. One of them put ten lead bullets into 0.20 inches at 200 yards! And a great many of them will put 10 shots into a half inch at 200 yards, although Pope never guaranteed that level of accuracy.

But what about today’s barrels? Are they choked and does it help? Yes and yes are the answers. But not all barrels are choked — and even those that are choked may not be so intentionally.

Here’s a true story. When AirForce Airguns was switching over to Lothar Walther barrels in the early days, they tried barrels with and without chokes. Lothar Walther was capable of making barrels without chokes; but in their conversations with AirForce, they asked why they wanted unchoked barrels. After testing, AirForce decided it was well worth the additional cost to have all their barrels choked.

In the three years that I worked at AirForce, I tested every rifle that was returned to the company for inaccuracy. That must have been 20-30 rifles, in all. Every time one came in with such a complaint, the first thing I did was clean the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound, and the next thing I did was shoot a group with the clean barrel. In all that time, I only had to shoot a single group with each barrel to produce a 5-shot group that ranged between 0.25 inches and 0.375 inches at 23 yards (which was the longest straight distance I had inside the old factory). Then, the rifle was packed with the target that I signed and dated and returned to the customer. Case closed.

Only once in three years did I find a barrel that I couldn’t get to shoot. It was an 18-inch .22-caliber Talon barrel that I’d cleaned several times. It just would not group better than 0.75 inches at 23 yards. It stumped me until I pushed a pellet through the bore with a cleaning rod, starting at the breech. There was no choke! Somehow, this barrel had slipped through the Lothar Walther manufacturing process without getting a choke, and it would not shoot.

Unintentional chokes
So far, I’ve been talking about chokes that are intentionally put into the barrels, but there are the unintentional kind, as well. Certain spring rifles such as the HW 80 and older versions of the Beeman R1 used to come with sights. The barrels of those rifles had dovetail grooves for the front sight swaged into the front of the barrel. When the swage upset the outside of the barrel to make these grooves, the metal inside the bore was distorted just a little at the same time. If you push a pellet through these barrels, you’ll feel it pause when it gets to where the dovetails begin. This isn’t a real choke, but it does feel like one when you test for it this way. Shooters have referred to these as choked barrels for decades.

swaged dovetaiul grooves
You’re looking at the end of the dovetail grooves (those small v-shaped nicks on both sides of the top of the barrel) that were swaged into this R1 barrel to attach the front sight. When this is done, the force of the swaging process upsets metal inside the bore, making it feel like a choke — but it really isn’t.

Spring guns probably don’t need to be choked. When they fire the intense blast of air they generate, it irons the pellet’s skirt out into the bore. As long as the barrel remains uniform throughout its length (and not all barrels do), the pellet is fit to the bore by this action. But a pneumatic or a gas gun releases its compressed air or gas more gradually and doesn’t distort the pellet. So, a choked barrel is the way to make all pellets uniform before they leave the muzzle of these airguns.

How are barrels choked?
Years ago, chokes were put into barrels with reamers just before they were rifled. In other words, the choke was cut directly into the metal of the bore. But with the advent of button- and broach-rifling, it’s easier to rifle the barrel first and then squeeze it down afterwards.

I read with interest where one of our readers was advising someone that a barrel had to be annealed before choking it by the squeezing method, and then hardened afterward. Actually, air rifle and rimfire barrels are made from dead soft steel, or steel that is nearly dead soft. They are not hardened in any way and can be distorted very easily. You could choke a barrel by tapping the outside with a ball peen hammer — though it won’t be uniform, and I certainly don’t recommend trying it.

Chokes can be rolled into barrels with hardened steel rollers set in fixtures that apply force gradually. Someone asked if a tubing cutter would work for this, and I have the answer. No, it won’t work. It will crimp the barrel, but it’s too sloppy and difficult to control a hand tool like a tubing cutter. I know this because I had Dennis Quackenbush convert a tubing cutter for me several years ago, and I attempted to choke barrels this way. But a precision jig that applies equal force to precision rollers that are similar to the function of  a tubing cutter is certainly one good way to choke a rifle barrel.

Another way is to run the barrel straight into a tapered die and swage in the choke — similar to resizing a cartridge during reloading, only a lot more force is required. To do it that way requires that the outside of the barrel be held to very close tolerances, so it’s less desirable than the tapered roller method.

A third way to choke a barrel is to squeeze it together from the outside, using a die made in two pieces. The pieces come together, compressing the barrel between them. Like the other method that uses a die, this method also requires a barrel of a given outside diameter.

If you hammer-forge the barrel (cold-forming the barrel around a hardened mandrel that has the rifling pattern in reverse), the choking can be done when the mandrel is made. Simply make the mandrel with a taper, and the barrel that’s ironed around it will also be tapered.

Companies select the method of choking that suits their barrel manufacturing methods. In other words, if they make hammer-forged barrels, that’s the most convenient time to put in the choke. But if they sell only one choked barrel for every thousand barrels they make, rolling in the choke probably makes more sense.

Quick and dirty
Here are some facts from this report.

1. Choked barrels do seem to shoot more accurately — all other things being equal (meaning the barrels are of equally high quality).

2. Not all rifled barrels are choked.

3. Spring gun barrels may have chokes that are unintentional.

4. There are several different ways of choking a barrel.

5. Companies select the most cost-effective way to choke the barrels they make.

Summary
While you may feel compelled right now to run out and find a way to choke every rifled barrel you own, remember this — it may not be necessary. Some barrels that are not choked do just fine the way they are.

However, having written this report, I find that I am now thinking about choking the barrel on my BSA Meteor to see if that helps with the mediocre accuracy.

Does the pellet matter? Part 1

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

A couple weeks ago we had several comments that said there are people who believe all pellets are the same, and it doesn’t matter what you shoot in your airgun. Then others chimed in and said the same is true for .22 rimfire ammo. Well, I started a test of .22 rimfire ammo last week and hope to finish it soon, but today I thought I’d start exploring the pellet side of the question.

Today was supposed to be a first look at the accuracy of the BSA Supersport SE; but for the first time that I can remember, I couldn’t get the open sights on target at 25 yards! I didn’t want to fool with the rifle for a long time, so I set it aside and picked up my super-accurate Beeman R8 Tyrolean. That’s a rifle I know I can count on.

My original plan was to buy .177 pellets from wally world and pit them against the best premium pellets I have; but since this was a last-minute test, I just selected some pellets from my supplies. I made this a Part 1 because I still intend doing what was planned.

Today, we’ll look at 4 pellets. Two are what I consider premium, though one of them is pointed and I usually don’t shoot pointed pellets for accuracy. That should be interesting.

The other 2 pellets are ones I actually bought at a discount store some time ago. They’re representative of what’s out there right now. One’s a wadcutter; but since I’m shooting indoors at 25 yards, I felt it might still do its best. The other is a pointed pellet that Crosman made for Remington several years ago. These 2 pellets are the ones I believe will not do well.

I shot the rifle at 25 yards rested directly on a sandbag, which I’ve determined works well for this gun. In the entire test, there were no called fliers.

Air Arms Falcon
The first pellet I tested was the Falcon from Air Arms. It’s made by JSB on dies owned by Air Arms, so there’s no equivalent JSB pellet. There are several that look similar, but testing shows they perform differently. Ten Falcons went into a group that measures 0.667 inches between centers. You can see a single pellet hole to the right of the main group. That was the third shot. Nine of the 10 pellets went into 0.399 inches.

Falcon group
This group of 10 Air Arms Falcon pellets measures 0.667 inches between centers, but 9 of them are in 0.399 inches at 25 yards.

RWS Superpoints
I normally don’t recommend pointed pellets for accuracy; but 25 yards isn’t that far, and RWS pellets are certainly in the premium category. I didn’t expect RWS Superpoints to do as well as the Falcons…and they didn’t. But they were close! Ten made a group measuring 0.732 inches. Once again, one pellet was outside the main group, and 9 pellets went into 0.43 inches

RWS Superpoint group
These 10 RWS Superpoint pellets surprised me by going into 0.732 inches. And 9 went into 0.43 inches.

Now, it was time to test the 2 pellets in which I didn’t have any faith. I still tried as hard as possible to shoot the best group. Frankly, I’m surprised they did as well as they did!

Daisy Precision Max wadcutter
The next pellet was a older pellet I had that is similar to the Daisy Precision Max wadcutter – a flat-nosed target pellet. I didn’t expect it to do much, but 10 of them went into a group measuring 0.804 inches. And, to be fair, 9 of them are in 0.591 inches. While that’s not great for this particular rifle, it’s a lot better than I expected.

Daisy Precision Max group
Ten Daisy Precision Max wadcutters made a larger group at 25 yards, but it wasn’t as big as I expected. This group measures 0.804 inches, with 9 pellets in 0.591 inches.

Remington pointed pellets
The last pellet I tried was one Remington sold for many years, but one that Crosman made. So, it has a sort of premium heritage, though the discount store pellets that Crosman sells (which is where I got this tin) are not normally as good as the ones they make for their cardboard boxes — by which I mean Premiers, of course. I didn’t know what to expect from these pellets. Ten went into 0.821 inches, which is better than I expected, and 8 of them went into a group that measures 0.402 inches. That’s hard to argue with.

Remington pointed group
Ten Remington pointed pellets made this 0.821-inch group. Eight went into 0.402 inches.

The results?
This test worked as expected, but it wasn’t as conclusive as I’d hoped it would be. Clearly, I need to look harder into these discount store pellets.

The Beeman R8 rifle is really an accurate platform that makes all these pellets look good. I think it’s a great testbed, but I won’t rule out trying the same test with a different rifle at a later date.

I could run the test at 50 yards, and the groups would all open up a lot — but that isn’t what I’m testing. Most airgunners don’t often shoot at 50 yards. I think 25 yards is more representative of what they do most of the time. I think I’ll just stick to the original plan of buying some representative pellets at a discount store and pitting them against the best premium pellets I have.

Daisy 880: Part 3

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

Daisy 880: Part 1
Daisy 880: Part 2

Daisy 880
The Daisy 880 multi-pump is a classic.

I was going to shoot my old Daisy 880 at 10 meters with both pellets and BBs, and then again at 25 yards with just pellets, but I figured — what the heck? I have the brand new Daisy 880 on hand, and I’ve already stated that the accuracy might fall off at 25 yards with my old 880 because of the velocity variance — so why not switch over to the new rifle now?

So, I opened the box and took out the rifle. According to the box, this rifle is made in China, but I can’t tell any difference between it and my older rifle, except the lettering on the metal and plastic parts has a slightly different font. Even the front sight is the identical red fiberoptic sight that’s on my old 880.

Start the test
This time, I thought I would test the rifle exactly as it came from the box, so I didn’t oil it. But I did open the manual and read how Daisy recommends oiling it, when it needs it. Because some of our blog readers have insisted that Daisy only recommends oiling with 30-weight non-detergent oil, I photographed the section in the owner’s manual that comes with the new gun. It’s shown below.

Daisy 880 manual
This is straight out of the manual that came with the new gun. Clearly, Daisy recommends a range of motor oil viscosities.

So, I started shooting without doing anything to the gun. I tested exactly the same way I tested my old 880 before — starting with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier domes.

Pumps Velocity
2           396
3           481
4           538
5           530,   473,   438 —   oil!  –  450,   457,   449

The plan was to shoot the rifle with Premier lites up to 10 pumps. But on pump five, something strange happened. The rifle did not shoot faster — in fact it slowed down. Thinking I’d made a mistake while counting the pump strokes, I did it again, and that shot was even slower than the last. I did it one more time, and once more the gun shot even slower. In fact, it shot slower than it had on just three pumps!

At this point, I assumed the rifle was suffering from a lack of oil on the pump head; and since 20-weight Crosman Pellgunoil is exactly in the middle of Daisy’s recommended range of oil viscosities, I used it to oil the pump head. Then, I shot three more shots with five pump strokes each. As you can see, they did increase in velocity; but by the third shot, they were coming back down again.

I decided to start the test all over. The gun was not oiled, again.

Pumps Velocity
2          267
3          351
4          431
5          466
6          474
7          512
8          502,   474,   502
9          529
10        545

This time, the rifle’s velocity tapered off at 8 pump strokes. I shot two more shots on 8 pumps and then completed the test so you could see the results. The new rifle was clearly not performing up to snuff.

Next, I decided to try a string of shots on five pump strokes to see what would happen. I got this.

Pumps Velocity
5          428
5          432
5          425

Oiled gun with 30-weight non-detergent oil and retested with 5 pumps:

5          450
5          462
5          475
5          490
5          487

Okay — 30-weight non-detergent oil
When the velocity in the string above was lower than it had been before, I wondered if all the hype about 30-weight oil might have some merit. I stopped in the middle of the test and oiled the gun with 30-weight non-detergent oil. You can see what happened after that.

I decided to rerun the whole test, now that the rifle seemed to be performing better. This is the rifle oiled with 30-weight oil.

Pumps Velocity
2          354
3          427
4          491
5          496
6          488
7          485
8          490
9          512
10        513

Observation
The BRAND NEW Daisy 880 I’m testing is clearly not performing as well as several of our readers have reported. And, just as clearly, it has very little to do with the viscosity of the oil used to lube the pump head. The only slight advantage 30-weight oil seems to have over 20-weight oil (Pellgunoil) in this new test rifle is that it does hold up for a couple additional shots. I think it’s obvious that this brand new test gun doesn’t live up to the advertised level of performance.

I am returning this rifle to Pyramyd Air. I will think about what I want to do next. I could rebuild my old gun, but I would be doing it with Chinese-made parts that might not work as well as the parts that are in the rifle now. Or I could just continue testing with my old rifle, since it is the best 880 I have.

One thing I AM NOT going to do is to keep chasing after 880s until I get a good one. This evaluation is supposed to resemble what a customer would experience, and I think it may have done just that.

One last comment
I couldn’t have done any of this testing without a chronograph. I would have been flying blind if I had no way of timing each of the shots that were taken. And I probably would have enjoyed my new rifle exactly as it was. My point is this: If you can’t chronograph the shots, be happy with what you have but stay out of velocity discussions. I think most Daisy 880 owners probably don’t chronograph their guns, and they’re happier for it.

B.B. visits a new field target club

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

Before I begin, I want to remind you that there are two airgun shows this month. On April 12, there’s Flag City Toys That Shoot in Findlay, Ohio. I’ll have a table there, so please stop by and say hello if you can. For more information about this show, go to their website at flagcitytoysthatshoot.com.

On Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26, the Arkansas airgun show will be held in Malvern, which is near Little Rock. Email show organizer Seth Rowland for more info or to reserve a table. I’ll also be there and hopefully have a table, too. So, stop by and say hello. Remember, these airgun shows happen just once each year, so they’re worth driving the extra miles to see.

Last Saturday, I visited a brand new field target club that started here in Texas. The experience was interesting because I haven’t been to a match in years. Many things had changed!

The club was started by Craig Martin in the gated community where he lives. The Pecan Plantation Archery Club allowed him to use their range facilities on this day, and Craig set up 8 lanes.

I was surprised by the turnout. There were 30 shooters on this first day. I remember having less than 15 when we started the DIFTA club in Maryland almost 20 years ago. One of the shooters told me he drove down from Oklahoma just to attend the match, and I know others who drove several hundred miles from remote locations in Texas.

Blog reader David Enoch was there, competing with a .20-caliber USFT. The match was restricted to 20 foot-pounds or less, so some of the powerful PCPs had to be dialed back.

The day began informally, with the opportunity to check the zero of your gun. But when the match began at 10, I was surprised by several shooters who hadn’t yet sighted in their rifles.

checking zero
Shooters could check their zeros at this range before the match began.

Craig set the match up with a minimum of rules. He wanted all shooters to feel relaxed, so he awarded one point for hitting the animal faceplate and two points if you hit the kill zone and knocked it down.

He also squadded those shooters who identified themselves as beginners with a shooter who had some experience with airguns. Not everyone had shot field target before; but once you see a target fall, you get the idea pretty fast.

As I surveyed the crowd, I estimated the average age of the shooters at something north of 45 years. This is in line with what I’ve seen in other airgun sports. Younger people don’t usually want to shoot airguns when there are firearms around; but after a person has satisfied their curiosity, the ease of shooting an airgun becomes more evident.

sighting in
One of only a couple youngsters who attend the match sights in his breakbarrel. No, I didn’t tell him about the artillery hold.

One thing that surprised me was the different types of airguns being used by the shooters. Of course, that was due to this being a first-time event for many shooters; but I saw inexpensive spring rifles, air pistols and even one multi-pump pneumatic I’ll tell you about in a bit!

04-02-14-03-P-Rod
This shooter uses a Benjamin Marauder pistol with the shoulder stock.

Another thing I saw really floored me. Most of the shooters were resting their guns on shooting sticks, and they were sitting in chairs! I’m so ingrained in the old-school AAFTA (American Airgun Field Target Association) rules that the rifle may not be in contact with the ground that I was unprepared for this, but it appeared all the shooters were comfortable with it. I read the current rules and see that bipods (sticks) and seats are now a part of the hunter class. This is certainly an easier way to shoot, and I think it’ll appeal to many more shooters than before, when you had to shoot from an unsupported offhand position.

Before the match began, Craig gave all shooters his match director’s briefing. It covers the layout of the course, the rules of the match, assembling the shooters into squads and safety.

Since there were 8 lanes, he formed 8 squads from the 30 shooters. Some squads had 4 members while others had 3. Craig wanted all squads to have at least one experienced shooter to help the beginners. Of the 30 shooters, perhaps 12 had placed themselves in the beginner class.

Match director's briefing
Before the match starts, the director explains the rules to all participants.

Each lane had 3 targets — one close, one at the middle distance and one that was far. The shooters shot twice at each target, so that makes a match total of 48 shots. Hits on the faceplate scored 1 point and targets that fell scored 2 points.

Craig told me afterwards that there were things he forgot to mention in his briefing. I told him that’s par for the course. It takes a couple matches before you know what’s important and what’s not.

One thing he had that was a great idea was a barbecue for the registered shooters. It was part of their $10 match fee. The remainder of the money will go toward the purchase of new targets. That’s pretty much par for the course, as well. It’s how a club gets formed.

The site had excellent facilities, which is essential. At the DIFTA club we had facilities (restrooms), but they were located several hundred yards from where the shooters were. That was a major complaint I heard at every match.

shooter 1
This shooter is on the course engaging targets. The use of bipods (sticks) was widespread at this match.

shooter 2
This shooter chose to shoot from the prone position. That can make some of the kill zones hard to see depending on the terrain.

shooter 3
A few shooters used the traditional AAFTA seated position.

Ron Robinson drove all the way up from Dripping Springs, Texas, to support this new club. And he was the guy who shot the multi-pump pneumatic. It was a Sheridan Blue Streak with a rocker safety and a vintage scope. I told him the only other time I had ever seen a Blue Streak in a field target match was back at DIFTA, when airgunner Singson Tiu brought one out. I remember him grabbing the scope as he pumped the rifle and, after a loud chorus of “NO” from the gallery, he decided never again to shoot that rifle in a match.

Ron grabbed the stock at the pistol grip to pump it. He told me that after estimating the distance to the target he consulted a cheat sheet for the proper number of pumps. “That looks like a five-pump shot to me,” he said with a sly grin. And then he dropped the target — shooting offhand…unsupported! Okay, remind me to never get into a match against him!

Robinson 1
Laugh if you want, but Ron Robinson dropped this target.

But he also had sticks that he used for the longer shots. Through my binoculars, I watched him shoot a split on one target. When I told him about it, he adjusted his aim and dropped the target with the next shot.

Robinson 2
Robinson settled into the sticks for the far shots.

The day was beautiful and the event was a success. The main reason I decided to report on this match is because several of you have asked me how to find a club in your area. It may be field target you seek, or perhaps something else, like 10-meter target shooting. Whatever the case, now you’ve seen how it’s done. When you can’t find a club to shoot with, start one!

It takes land, permission, targets–but most of all, it takes people. Many of the shooters attending this match were not airgunners and many more had never seen a field target match. They simply came because they were interested. Craig Martin reached out to whomever he could to get this match (and club, we hope) started, and he found there was interest. Once the word got out, the people came. I seem to remember a similar line from a movie about something like that.

Airgun trainer for spy weapon

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

You’ve all heard of airguns that are used as military trainers. We know about the aerial gunnery trainers from WWII and more recently the Daisy Quick Kill BB guns used in Vietnam, but airguns have been out of the military eye for several decades. Or at least that’s what everyone thought.

Last week, I learned that Crosman has developed an airgun trainer for the recently declassified implant gun that was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the late ’90s. The military declassified the “arm rifle” after it was shown on the evening news last year. Some of you may have seen it on the special Fox News report just last week, when the Pentagon officially declassified it.

What they’ve done is replace a major portion of the radius bone in a man’s forearm with a breech and rifled barrel. The barrel extends through the index finger of the subject’s hand, though it]s not visible or even noticeable to anyone. When the subject is thus “armed” (a term that has a renewed meaning), he simply points his index finger and commands the gun to fire a caseless cartridge. The body’s own electrical impulses are sufficient to fire the cartridge. A .30-caliber bullet exits out the tip of the finger, going to wherever the shooter pointed.

All commands to fire the rifle are linked to the subject’s brain, so all he needs to do is think and the gun fires. The caseless cartridges feed semiautomatically through a tandem tube embedded in the subject’s forearm, and 3 rounds are available before a reload is required. The subject has a port in his forearm through which fresh magazines are inserted, though partial reloads are not yet possible. All 3 rounds must be fired before he can reload.

There are no sights, yet; because of human binocular vision, a shooter can be trained quickly to acquire and destroy a target. Within the first week of training the subjects are hitting 6-inch targets at 50 yards on the first shot. And that was before the advent of the new trainer. The training program should now speed up considerably, plus the possibility for more refresher training means higher proficiency levels will be maintained.

A rumor has spread that the subjects all have reticles etched into the lens of their eyeballs. There are no details about this or even confirmation that it’s true.

I’ve used the masculine pronoun in this report intentionally, for all subjects thus armed (a number that’s classified) are men. When signing up for the program, they must sign a release of liability, for their arm bone can never be replaced. Once implanted, the gun must remain until the subject dies. According to the Fox story, the subjects receive hazardous duty pay of up to 30 percent and, best of all, they’re excused from paying federal income taxes for the remainder of their lives. Of course, given the kinds of jobs the subjects are asked to do, lifetimes may be abbreviated.

The gun was designed for covert operations such as assassinations, security operations and those times when it’s impossible to carry a firearm into the area of interest. The “barrel” that replaces the arm bone is made from a composite of synthetic and ceramic that is constructed at the molecular level on a very specialized 3-D printer. Each shooter receives an implant that’s custom-fitted to his body. The index finger of the shooter is covered by a realistic soft flesh-like cap that blends with the natural skin. As a result, the gun is undetectable by any electronic means and without direct examination by a jeweler’s loupe. The fingertip can be shot off or simply removed, if there’s time.

The arm is actually strengthened by the installation of this weapon. It is not known if there is any pain associated with its use.

Naturally, the flexibility of the index finger is lost, so the subject must be trained to mask this fact by clever posturing. In the beginning it is said there were difficulties, such as losing the ability to scratch certain spots on the body, and the extreme necessity for the mind to be trained not to shoot inadvertently — like when shaking hands. There were some accidents before the importance of this was realized — which is where the Crosman training adapter comes in. Now, for the first time in over 15 years, it’s possible for those with the gun implant to train without firing live ammunition.

Crosman hasn’t released any technical details but I’ve been able to learn that the trainer operates pneumatically, and the number of rounds carried is greatly increased. My guess would be that a pneumatic tube is inserted where the cartridge magazine would go, and that the pellet magazine and firing mechanism are somehow included in this insert. Therefore, I’ve deduced that the caliber of the implant trainer remains at .30. My guess is the air supply stays outside the arm, which is no problem for a trainer.

This isn’t Crosman’s first rodeo in the black world (slang for the super-secret world of espionage). During WWII, they supplied the OSS with thousands of model 101 pneumatic rifles and one million .22-caliber round lead balls. The cover story for that sale was that they were given to the chiefs of remote Asian tribes to win their loyalty, though rumors of covert assassinations have always surrounded them.

Just when you thought airguns were for fun, something serious like this comes along! And the California school ruling that a person can’t make a gun with the fingers of their hands now makes complete sense.

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