by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Not as pretty as I would like. This Diana 23 has led a hard life. I’ll refinish it.
Today, we’ll return to an oldie we haven’t looked at in close to 2 months — the Diana 23. You may remember this is a rifle I bought for very little from an online auction — and when it arrived, I found it was better than expected. The finish is gone, but I plan to refinish it. And Larry Hannusch generously donated a brand-new old-stock Diana 23 barrel for the project, so I’m farther along than might be expected.
Last time, we tested the rifle at 10 meters and found that it showed decent accuracy for such a low-powered air rifle. Today, I’m pushing that out to 25 yards with 2 of the best pellets from the last test, plus a new one I’ve thrown into the mix. The goal is to see if this little vintage springer is accurate enough for general plinking duty out to 75 feet.
Days like this are always relaxing for 2 reasons. The first is that I’m testing something that’s no longer available, so there are no company reputations on the line. I enjoy testing airguns, but it’s disturbing to read all the sniping negative comments we receive when things don’t go exactly perfect. It makes me feel like I have failed the gun somehow, and that’s nerve-wracking.
The second reason a day like today is a pleasure is that the gun, itself, is such a little sweetie. The Diana 23 is lightweight and easy to cock. The trigger is certainly not world-class, but it releases with a reasonable pull; and, if the gun is also accurate with open sights, all the better.
I find when I shoot light low-powered airguns like the 23, the artillery hold isn’t so important. I grasp the rifle tighter than a real artillery hold, though not as tight as I would hold a recoling centerfire. Maybe something more like a rimfire hold. The rifle seems to respond okay to this treatment.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. They did well in the 10-meter test that I read before starting this one. I noted that deep-seated pellets did best in that test, so all pellets in this test were seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. The RS pellets fit the bore very well and were not tight going into the breech as they were seated. They hit the target high and just a little to the right when I held the tip of the front sight on the 6 o’clock spot of the black bull. I used the standard 10-meter pistol target because it appears large enough for open sights all the way out to 50 yards.
The group I got measures 1.16 inches between the 2 furthest centers. I’m quite satisfied with that group, except for the centering. The way the 23′s sights are made, I’ll have to drift either the front or rear sight in their dovetails to correct where the pellets land; and since I’m going to change the barrel, I decided to wait and see where the new one shoots.
Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon that blog reader Kevin Lentz likes so much. They’re made by JSB and weigh the same as the RS pellets, so the temptation is to think they’re RS pellets under a different name. But I don’t think that’s the case. The late Bill Saunders of Air Arms told me that Air Arms owns the dies for all their pellets; and even though JSB makes them, they’re not simply rebranded pellets. If anything, Falcons fit the bore a little looser than RS pellets.
At any rate, Falcons didn’t do as well as RS pellets in the Diana 23. Ten of them made a group that measures 1.568 inches between centers. This group appears not to have 10 shots in it, but several pellets must have gone through the same hole at the top of the group because I counted each shot carefully.
The final pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They fit the bore very snug and popped in when seated. Though they were at the outside limit of distance for accuracy (wadcutters start to spread apart after 25 yards), they performed very well — delivering the smallest group of this test. Ten pellets went into 1.014 inches at 25 yards. With that kind of accuracy, I would stick with the Hobbys that are less expensive than the other premium pellets anyway. Sure, the accuracy falls off as the distance increases, but how much farther do I expect to shoot this rifle? Not much!
That’s all I’m going to test for now. Next comes the refinish and then whatever I do as I put the rifle back together. It’s a fun little gun. I wish there were more like it!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber Part 1
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber Part 2
Sometimes, I get a rifle that I’ve waited a long time to test, and today begins a report on one of them. The Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock has been on my mind since I first saw it at the SHOT Show back in January. In the intervening 11 months, I had forgotten a few things that struck me about this rifle when I first saw it. The first was how light and trim it feels. Compared to a wood-stocked Marauder this rifle is a pound lighter, at just over 7 lbs. But with the lightness comes a much slimmer stock profile, so it fits the hands better, too. It’s the kind of air rifle that makes me smile just to pick it up! The rifle I am testing is serial number 013121147.
You’ve noticed there are a lot of links at the beginning of this report. I’ve linked to all the other reports made on the Benjamin Marauder in this recent series. I did those other reports on the .177- and .25-caliber Marauders specifically so I could look at this new rifle in .22 caliber. Not only are we going to look at what’s new with the Marauder, we’re also going to have a complete set of reviews for all calibers in one place.
Those who’ve been following the Marauder reports are no doubt familiar with the general characteristics and features of the Marauder. Most of these have not changed. The rifle is a 10-shot bolt-action repeater (8 shots in .25 caliber). There used to be an optional single-shot tray for all 3 calibers, so you could remove the magazine and load each pellet separately, but Crosman has dropped that option for the .22 and .25 calibers. They retain it for the .177 caliber because that’s the only one suitable for field target and field target shooters like to load each shot separately.
The rifle is adjustable for both power and for the maximum fill pressure (from 2,000 psi to 3,000 psi) and a hang tag that comes attached to the trigger guard tells you the factory has set the fill pressure of your rifle to 2,500 psi. The owner’s manual tells you how to adjust both the fill pressure level and the rifle’s power, plus I did a very detailed report on both things a while back. Part 4 of the .177 report deals with adjusting the rifle’s power and Part 7 of the .177 report deals with adjusting the maximum fill pressure of the rifle. The new rifle I’m looking at operates in exactly the same way, and nothing has changed as far as those adjustments are concerned.
Another noteworthy feature the Marauder has is the adjustable trigger. It’s a dream trigger that can be adjusted very finely to almost whatever a shooter wants. The new Marauder also offers an adjustable trigger, but it’s slightly changed from the older one. I’ve examined the isometric illustration of the new trigger in the manual and can see very little difference in the internal parts, so I doubt the feel and function has changed that much; but I do plan on doing a trigger adjustment on the test rifle, so we’ll all know. Until that report, then, let’s assume the trigger is just as good as it’s always been, which — on the Marauder — is very good, indeed!
The trigger blade has moved backward in the stock, so your fingers reach it more readily. I think that gives the stock a more welcoming feel when you shoulder the rifle, though it doesn’t pop out at you. That movement was the reason some of the internal trigger parts had to be modified.
The safety is manual — just like the safety on the old Marauder. Pull it back to put it on — push forward to take it off. It’s light and smooth and can be operated by the trigger finger, alone.
One thing that’s obviously changed is the stock. The rifle I’m testing has a black synthetic stock with an adjustable cheekpiece. The sculpting of this stock is perfect for the shooter, in my opinion. The pistol grip fits my hand very well without being too fat; and the forearm just in front of the triggerguard is very thin, making a perfect place for the off hand to rest. The forearm then swells out a little further forward; so, if you hold your rifle like a deer hunter, there’s more meat to grab on to. But even that part is sculpted to fit the fingers and thumb of your hand, making a rifle stock that grips you as much as you grip it.
I intend adjusting that cheekpiece to suit whatever scope I mount on the rifle. How enjoyable to have a rifle that doesn’t need any adaptation or compromise when held — one that just fits me the moment I pick it up. I think Part 2 of this report will be devoted to setting up the rifle — the stock, the scope and the trigger adjustment.
The bolt is now ambidextrous! Lefties can now have the bolt handle on their side of the action. Making this switch requires some disassembly of the action, and Crosman recommends sending the rifle to an approved service station like Pyramyd Air for the switch. So, if this is something you want, think about it when you order the rifle and get the work done before the gun is shipped.
Crosman touts some changes to the rifle’s valve that offer a 12 percent increase in available power and a 30 percent increase in the shot count. I guess I’m going to have to make those adjustments to find out how effective they are. I doubt that we’ll see both a power increase and a shot count increase at the same time, though. That’s just the way compressed air works.
Crosman also says there’s a factory installed de-pinger that quiets the striker fall. You don’t notice that noise on most guns, but the Marauder is so quiet that secondary noises start to be heard. My ears are pretty well worn, but I’ll see if I can detect anything for you.
The test rifle is .22 caliber. Of all the Marauders I’ve shot, I’ve never tested a .22, so this will be a big thrill for me. I always thought that .22 was an ideal caliber for this rifle, given the power potential. I intend on testing it at 25 and 50 yards, just like I did the other 2 calibers. The choked barrel is 20 inches long and encased in a baffled shroud that quiets the gun’s report to almost noting. I did note that the .25-caliber Marauder was just slightly louder than the .177, so I’ll report on this one when the shooting starts.
That’s it for our first look. Next time, I’ll adjust the rifle to fit me, adjust the trigger and mount a scope. After that, I’ll check the velocity and then we’ll get to the accuracy testing, which I’m really looking forward to. Stay tuned!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Just a word
Befoere I get started with today’s report, I want to say something about what happened this weekend. Friday’s airsoft report got a lot of comments. Among them are several questions about the technology of the guns. And some admissions that people didn’t think much of airsoft before they tried it, then they found their opinions changed drastically. That also happened to me, so I can relate to it.
But all you who don’t care for the subject don’t need to worry. This isn’t going to become an airsoft blog. I will continue to report on it at a low level, but I know this is an airgun blog, and that’s not going to change. I want to assure the readers for whom the subject of airsoft is not welcome that we are still going to talk about pellet guns and BBs guns for the most part. I will write a few reports on airsoft now and then, and I trust they won’t upset you too much.
Okay, that’s done. On to the topic of the day!
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex, and it’s velocity day. Before I get to that, there are a couple adjustments I wanted to make to the rifle. Let’s look at those now.
The first adjustment is the trigger. In the first report, I said the trigger is crisp but heavy. The adjustment screw adjusts only the length of the first-stage pull; so I adjusted it to be longer, and stage 2 decreased. Don’t go too far or the rifle will not cock at all because this adjustment does affect the area of sear contact.
I did go too far and had to call Umarex USA, where I learned that the Octane is supposed to come with a warning tag telling you not to turn in the adjustment screw more than one full turn. I went way past that, so all I had to do was turn the screw back out until the head stood even with the trigger blade — and the trigger was back to working again. For even greater contact, turn the screw so it stands proud of the trigger blade.
The second thing I wanted to adjust is the tension on the action forks because the barrel pivot was too loose. To do that, I normally take the barreled action out of the stock. But with this rifle, you need to be aware that the pins in the trigger are not held in and will fall out of the trigger if the action is tipped sideways. I didn’t know this, of course; and when the first pin fell out, it set me up for 45 minutes of work to get the trigger back together again. It seems that the trigger pins are held in place by the stock. Other airguns I’ve worked on have the same arrangement, and one solution is to put tape on one side of the trigger to hold the pins in place…and keep the trigger oriented straight up and down.
Each of the 6 free (not held by circlips or springs) trigger pins seen here is very loose in its hole and will fall out of the trigger if the gun is jostled or tipped to the side. They’re held in place by the stock. What appears to be a pin at the far right is actually a rivet.
Better still — what you can do (VERY CAREFULLY!) is remove both forearm screws and just LOOSEN the rear screw behind the triggerguard. Then the front of the action can be tipped up clear of the stock far enough to tighten the barrel pivot bolt and nut. I would advise against taking the action completely out of the stock. If you do, know how loose the trigger pins are and treat the rifle accordingly. When the pins fall out, the internal trigger parts start moving around. They’re fairly easy to align with their pin holes, except for the safety that takes a little fiddling since it’s a 2-piece assembly with an internal pivot. My advice is to leave the gun in the stock.
One final tip. When you tighten the stock screws, don’t tighten the rear stock screw (the one behind the triggerguard) too much or the trigger won’t function. It was not tight when I first took the action out of the stock; and I found that if I tightened it too much, the trigger would not work. Umarex told me the screw shouldn’t affect the trigger at all, but I’m just reporting on the behavior of my test rifle.
Now, let’s look at the velocity of the Octane. I’ve selected 3 popular lead pellets and one lead-free pellet.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The first pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. This is a popular and very accurate pellet in many airguns, and I think it may be accurate in the Octane. This pellet averaged 762 f.p.s. in the Octane. The low was 748 f.p.s., and the high was 787 f.p.s.; so the spread was 39 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 20.51 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
This pellet loaded easily, perhaps too easily. I think it might be a little undersized for the Octane’s breech. That could affect the accuracy. We’ll see.
The RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and is very tight in the Octane’s breech. It averaged 889 f.p.s. in the rifle with a low of 867 and a high of 902 f.p.s. So the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 20.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I don’t know how Hobbys will do in the Octane, but I suspect they’ll do well because of the tight fit in the bore. Of course, the Hobby is a wadcutter, so accuracy will fall off after about 25 yards.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak dome weighs 21.14 grains, which makes it a very heavy pellet. In the Octane, Kodiaks averaged 682 f.p.s. with a range from 665 to 691 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 26 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity, the Kodiak produces 21.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
My guess is that the Kodiak pellet might also be a good one for the Octane. If so, that’s great because it also produces the most energy of all the lead pellets tested.
Okay, the name of the game with pellet rifles these days is speed, and the RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellet at 9.9 grains is the way to get it. In the Octane, they averaged 1029 f.p.s. with a spread from 1022 to 1075 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 53 f.p.s., so the rifle is probably still burning a lot of fuel. At the average velocity, the HyperMAX pellet produced 23.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The HyperMAX pellet fit the breech very loosely. That’s probably where the extra velocity spread came from, as more dieseling was generated by less pellet resistance. I doubt this pellet will do very well in the Octane because of the loose fit.
The rifle recoils noticeably in both directions, but there’s no vibration, whatsoever. Nearly all rifles with gas springs have a sharp buzz that hits you in the cheek, but the Octane doesn’t. In fact, aside from the recoil, it’s a very smooth-shooting spring rifle.
Remember that I had to adjust the trigger for a very definite stage-2 let-off. That affected the trigger-pull a lot. I was able to adjust it back to a release of 7 lbs., 14 oz. with very little creep. It’s heavy, as I noted before, but I think it’s crisp enough to do good work. We shall soon see!
The Octane IS NOT LOUD!
When I first tested the rifle it was very loud. And the sound persisted for longer than I felt the dieseling of a new airgun would last. But during this test the rifle suddenly became MUCH quieter. Obviously, it had been dieseling and I didn’t know it.
I originally told Edith it was a 3.7 on the sound scale when I tested it, and she adjusted the loudness level on Pyramyd Air’s product page to 4. But now she can hear that the Octane is clearly a 3. I apologize to everyone who was mislead by my earlier report. The Octane is a normal-sounding breakbarrel air rifle.
Observations thus far.
I said in Part 1 that the Octane holds very well in the hands. The weight is biased forward toward the muzzle, and the stock is slender when the off hand rests. Add the smooth shooting to this, and I think the Octane might surprise us in the accuracy test.
I plan on shooting the rifle at 10 meters with its open sights first. That should give us an idea of which pellets it likes. Then, I’ll mount the scope and shoot those best pellets at 10 meters, again. That does 2 things. First, it confirms the pellets are as good as we think; and second, it allows me time to adjust the scope for the second accuracy test at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I decided to write this for those readers who indicated they were interested in airsoft to some degree. I know this is an airgun blog, and that means pellet and BB guns — not airsoft, but there are some crossovers. For example, many airsoft companies are now entering the world of steel BB guns. I promise we’re not going to become half-and-half or even one-quarter airsoft; but since there are questions, I feel the need to address them.
History of airsoft
This will be short and sweet. Airsoft came about in the Orient in the 1970s, when the demand for realistic guns that were not firearms was first satisfied. The early designers made their guns shoot 6mm plastic balls that they have since come to call BBs.
The early guns were made to satisfy the needs of collectors to see, feel and even be able to disassemble the guns in which they were interested. So, the early thrust of airsoft guns was for collectors, only. However, the fact that the manufacturers made these guns fire their plastic BBs soon evolved into an entirely different interest. People began conducting wargames with the guns. Instead of paintball, which is very painful when the .68-caliber balls hit flesh, the 6mm plastic balls had almost no impact. Of course, the guns in those days were firing at very low velocities; because it was realism, rather than the gun’s ability to shoot, that attracted buyers.
Once the wargames began, airsoft split off into two directions. The collectors wanted highly realistic guns, and the wargamers wanted guns that were accurate at long distance and would hold up under simulated combat conditions. Some of the early collectible guns sold for thousands of dollars. Indeed, there are still a few of these collector guns being sold today. One example is a very real airsoft Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) that sells for well over $3000. But the collector market has been far surpassed by the wargamers, who now call themselves skirmishers. Airsoft guns for skirmishes are the biggest sellers in today’s market, which has grown to more than a billion dollars in sales annually.
The BB gun wars
I’ve written several articles about the BB gun wars that were conducted in the United States from the 1890s until the 1960s. The BB gun wars were literally backyard battles fought by teams of kids with BB guns. Every community had them, and each bunch of kids had their own rules. I’ve owned several BB guns with multiple dents in both the wood and metal from the impacts of BBs that are obviously survivors of the BB gun wars.
It’s my contention that the BB gun wars still rage today, but they’re now being fought with airsoft guns. Apparently, there’s a need for people to shoot at each other in mock combat, and airsoft guns seem to fill this need.
Because shooting at people is so emotionally-charged, IPSC shooting has recently become popular. IPSC stands for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. It’s the international extension of practical pistol shooting that began as law enforcement training in the U.S. in the 1960s. IPSC competitors shoot from 30,000 to over 100,000 rounds each year in training and competition, so the game is not for poor people.
Airsoft guns are a wonderful way to get into this competition without spending the kind of money that it costs to shoot firearms. For one-hundredth the cost of firearms, shooters can have the same fun under safer conditions with 6mm airsoft guns.
Airsoft history is rapidly evolving. In just 40 years, it’s gone from pure collecting to wargames and now to practical pistol shooting. Who knows what’ll happen in the next 10 years? What’s obvious, however, is that the technology of the airsoft guns is evolving as fast as the interest is. This is a burgeoning area that’s spending a lot of money to satisfy multiple needs.
Let’s examine the airsoft powerplants so we can see what exists and what’s possible. The first powerplant we’ll look at is the spring-piston.
The spring-piston airsoft powerplant is no different than a spring-piston found in any other type of airgun. A piston is powered by a coiled steel spring and moves forward rapidly to compress a column of air that then drives the airsoft BB. Most airsoft spring-piston guns are repeaters, but they must be cocked for every shot. You sometimes see these repeaters called single-shots because the people writing about them don’t understand the difference between a true single-shot that only holds one round and a repeater that holds many round but must be cocked separately to fire each one.
Spring piston guns are among the least expensive, and yet they can also be very powerful and accurate. Sniper guns are powered by spring pistons for the most part. The lowest-powered spring-piston guns cost very little and are not built to last a long time. They have a lot of plastic parts that eventually do wear out. But if you don’t abuse them, most will give you many thousands of shots that will be surprisingly accurate.
Gas airsoft guns are very similar to gas airguns, except they do employ a wider range of gasses. Besides CO2, which they’ve begun to use in the last 15 years, airsoft guns also use other industrial gasses that go by colorful trade names. Green gas and red gas are 2 of these; and green gas is, by far, the most popular. Green gas is nothing more than propane, though some suppliers do infuse some oil into the gas to help lubricate the airsoft mechanisms.
Green gas runs at a nominal pressure of 115 psi. It’s supplied in dispensing cans that have nipples that couple with the inlet valves of the guns they serve.
Someone asked me if green gas was as powerful as CO2, which is pressurized to 850 psi and higher. Well, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean very much, however, because CO2 has to be stepped way down to safely operate an airsoft gun. The same gun can use both green gas and CO2, it just needs two different magazines — each with its own valve to handle the correct gas.
Generally speaking, gas guns tend to be faster than spring-piston guns, but that isn’t always the case. There are bolt-action spring-piston sniper guns that are very powerful. It’s impossible to make a blanket generalization.
Automatic-electric guns (AEGs)
AEGs are spring-piston guns that are powered by small high-torque electric motors. The motor cocks the piston and trips the sear. The gun usually has a selector switch that allows full-auto (the motor repeatedly cocking and releasing the piston as long as the trigger is held down) and semiauto (firing one time per trigger pull). Besides the spring-piston side of this powerplant, there’s the electric side that deals with batteries, motors and gears.
AEGs are popular because they can shoot full-auto, which gamers and collectors both enjoy. They also are among the fastest-shooting airsoft guns, although bolt-action sniper guns can be modified to be very fast, as well. AEGs allow people to experience things that most people cannot experience with firearms; and, of course, they do it at a fraction of the cost. Even law enforcement agencies are using AEGs as training simulators because they’re much safer than firearms that shoot training ammunition called Simunitions. You can make a mistake with a firearm and kill someone — it happens all the time. But you can’t possibly load a firearm cartridge into an airsoft gun, no matter how realistic it may seem.
The technology is changing rapidly. Today, there are even a few hybrid AEGs that can be used with or without electrical power. Obviously, these will appeal to people who never want to be caught without a functional gun.
What comes next?
Next time, I’ll talk about modifying airsoft guns. Not all guns can be modified, but a surprising number can be; and the manufactures do supply the parts to make the modifications.
I’ll also talk about power, which is fast becoming an important topic. As the guns become more powerful, the “soft” in airsoft is being tested to the limits.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m writing this extensive report to fully explore the fabulous Air Arms TX200 Mark III, which is without a doubt one of the finest spring-piston air rifles in the world! The good news is that it’s still available today. The better news is that it’s everything it’s cracked up to be! Writers have a few trite phrases to convey quality in the airgun world. “As good as a TX 200″ is one of them, and it’s very high praise.
There are 9 links above that will take you all the way back to the beginning, when I started by testing my own well-broken-in TX 200. But now I’ve shifted over to a brand-new rifle that Pyramyd Air sent to me to test. Some readers wondered if my rifle, which is so well-used that it might be performing above the bar, so to speak, because of the use it’s had. They wanted to see a rifle that’s being made today, and also one without all the wear on the parts. That’s what we’re testing now — a brand-new TX whose only shots are the ones you have witnessed on this blog.
The TX has no sights and must be either scoped or have some other kind of optical sight mounted. One of the tests we’re going to do with this rifle is to mount a red dot on it and see what that does for it. Blog reader Mannish from Mumbai asked for that test a long time back.
We’re also going to test the effects of shooting the gun at 4X and again at 16X with the same scope. Reader Duskwight asked for that — to see if the increased magnification would affect the group size. I also want to see if changing the magnification changes the point of impact, so that test will be a twofer.
I’m leading up to the scope I chose for this test. I might have selected the same Hawke 4.5-14X42 Tactical Sidewinder that was on my TX when I tested it, but that didn’t give me all the magnification I wanted for Duskwight’s test. So, I selected a vintage AirForce 4-16X50 scope, instead. Mine is older than the model being sold today, but the specifications are essentially the same. For a mount, I selected a nondescript 1-piece mount. I chose it because it has a vertical scope stop pin for the TX scope stop holes, plus it has the height needed for the scope’s objective bell to clear the spring tube. I have no idea who made it.
I started sighting-in at 12 feet, putting 3 pellets into the target and adjusting until they were in line with the center of the bull, more or less. They were high, so I cranked down about 4 complete turns on the elevation knob, knowing that back at 25 yards the gun would be shooting higher than at 12 feet.
When I shot the first pellet at 25 yards, it was still about 1.5 inches high, so a couple more turns down on the elevation knob brought it to the center of the bull. As always, I tried to intentionally keep the pellets from striking the center of the bull, as that erases my aim point very quickly. The sight-in was now complete with about 7 shots being expended.
All of today’s shooting is at 25 yards, which is really close for a TX. I rested the rifle directly on my sandbag, with the bag turned sideways, so the rested area touched about 5 inches of the forearm. I used an ultra-light hold, and the groups showed the results. I selected a couple pellets that had done well in the test of my personal TX and one that had never been tested for accuracy before.
H&N Baracuda Match
The first pellet was the one I used to sight-in the rifle — the H&N Baracuda Match. It was landing to the left of the aim point and in the center of the bull for elevation. Ten shots landed in a group that measures 0.417 inches between the centers of the 2 pellets farthest apart. That’s well within the range fired by my personal TX at 25 yards.
JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried a pellet I haven’t tried for accuracy in the TX — at least not that I can remember. The JSB Exact RS dome is a very lightweight pellet for a rifle this powerful. The first shot landed about 1.5 inches above the spot where the Baracudas were hitting, but it was still on paper, so I continued to shoot. Each shot that followed seemed to drop a bit lower on the paper, and as I was shooting I discovered something important. The rifle shoots this pellet very well, but it is extremely hold-sensitive. Moving the rifle a quarter-inch on the sandbag makes a tremendous difference. So, I was able to adjust the hold carefully and get the pellets to land closer together.
I think the RS pellet can be made to shoot, but it isn’t worth the effort when there are other pellets that shoot even better without all the fuss. The 10-shot group I got measures 1.501 inches between centers, which is terrible; but 6 of those pellets were the ones I took special pains to hold exactly the same, and they measure just 0.496 inches between centers. That’s the potential of this pellet when you handle the gun like it’s a soap bubble!
Crosman Premier heavy
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier heavy. The group was a phenomenal 0.333 inches between centers! That’s slightly better than the best group I shot with my own TX at 25 yards, but the difference is only 3 one-thousandths of an inch and could easily be hidden by an error in measurement. So, the 2 rifles are equivalent.
I could have shot other pellets and shown you more targets, but by now you’re getting the picture. The new TX is the same as it has always been — one of the finest and most accurate air rifles on the market.
Next, I’ll test this rifle at 50 yards. I’ll do essentially the same test that I did with my own TX at that distance, but then I’ll add the 4-16X test. That will tell us if there’s an advantage to more magnification, and it will also show if the point of impact changes as the magnification changes.
After that test, I plan on mounting a red dot sight on this rifle and testing it at 25 and 50 yards. I think that will end the test of this rifle, unless something else comes up.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s look at the velocity of the Tanfolglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun. When I started the test, I discovered something unusual. The CO2 cartridge I’d loaded last week to test the gun initially had leaked down completely. That usually doesn’t happen until several months have passed, so it got me wondering. I’ll watch the gun and see if it happens again. I left the test today with a 75 percent filled cartridge; so if I test it again in a week and it’s out, I’ll know. And to answer your question, yes, I did use Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each fresh cartridge when I installed it.
Testing the velocity of an airsoft gun is a little different than testing a pellet gun. It’s more like testing a BB gun because the airsoft BBs come in specific weights. The velocities tend to conform to the weights rather than to the individual brands of BBs used. I’ll test the pistol today with the 4 most popular weights — 0.12 grams, 0.20 grams, 0.25 grams and 0.28 grams. And let’s get something straight right now. When we’re talking about airsoft BBs, we’re speaking in terms of GRAMS — not grains. There are about 454 grams in a pound, but 7,000 GRAINS per pound. So a gram is MUCH heavier than a grain. A gram is a decimal unit of the metric system. It’s one-thousandth of a kilogram. A grain is an apothecary (medical) weight from the old English system of weights — a system that is also used by jewelers. It was historically the weight of one barley seed, but has been standardized to one seven-thousandth of a pound.
Regardless of the weight of each BB, they’re all the same size. Their weight is controlled by the material used to make them.
UHC Precision Ground BBs, 0.12 grams
First up are 0.12-gram (1.85 grains) UHC BBs. They averaged 417 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from a low of 406 to a high of 425 f.p.s. That’s slightly slower than the maximum advertised veloicity of 453 f.p.s for this pistol. At the average velocity they produce 0.71-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Given the design goals of airsoft, that’s fine, because much more than that will start to injure anyone hit by them.
Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.20 grams
Next up were Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.20-gram (3.09 grains) BBs. These are value-priced BBs that come in bottles of 2,700 rounds, 5,000 rounds and, for the serious shooter, supersized bags of 125,000!
These averaged 333 f.p.s. with a spread from 315 to 346 f.p.s. This is the recommended BB weight for this pistol, which means it will probably be the easiest one to tune the BAXS (the trajectory adjustment in the pistol) with. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. I have other brands of 0.20-gram BBs, including competition BBs; so if this weight turns out to work well in the gun, I plan to give it the biggest test. As a final note, the velocity was right where the specs say it should be (320-350 f.p.s.).
Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.25 grams
This 0.25-gram (3.86 grains) BB is a little heavier than the recommended weight, but sometimes that doesn’t hurt the accuracy at all. With the right BBs, it can enhance it — and this is where having several different brands of premium airsoft BBs is an advantage. I tested velocity with the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.25-gram BB that’s the equivalent of the 0.20-gram BB mentioned above, but heavier. It comes packaged the same way, and I have the 2,700 BB bottle for the test.
These BBs averaged 296 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from 282 to 304 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.75 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
TSD Tactical, 0.28 gram BBs
The last BB I tried was the TSD Tactical 0.28-gram (4.32 grains) BBs. These are clearly too heavy for this gun, but they did produce velocity very close to the 0.25-gram BBs. The average was 289 f.p.s., with a spread from 274 to 302 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB developed 0.80 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Loading the magazine
I don’t have a speedloader, so I loaded each BB one-by-one into the double-stack magazine. They have to be pressed through the top of the magazine, which then holds them against falling out while the gun is operating. That’s the sign of a quality airsoft gun. If you remove the loaded mag for any reason, a BB doesn’t fall out of the mag as it often does on lower-priced gas guns and most spring guns and auto-electric guns (AEGs).
I also note the BBs instantly arranged themselves within the mag…and without any fuss. With lesser guns, the BB stack will have gaps on one side that lead to misfeeds.
Stopping the BBs
Nothing rebounds worse than a plastic airsoft BB. Nothing! Those of you who know airsoft probably wonder how I managed to stop the BBs in the velocity tes. When I tell you that I stopped 100 percent of more than 60 BBs fired, you need to know how I did it! I used a UTG Accushot Pellet and BB trap, and in front of that I placed a heavy cardboard sheet at a slight angle of perhaps 15 degrees to the face of the trap. The trap and cardboard both stood in a shallow cardboard tray that caught all BBs that came back out of the trap. It worked so well that I will use it when I conduct the accuracy test.
I proclaimed how much I love the Tanfoglio trigger in Part 1. Now let me tell you the specs. It’s single-stage, with the blade moving through an arc that can be felt, and it breaks cleanly at 2 lbs., 9 oz., which is even lighter than the trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB 1911 firearm. This is a pistol trigger to die for! The only criticism is that it doesn’t break like a glass rod; but since the gun is for action shooting and not bullseye targets, that doesn’t matter.
I got exactly 40 shots before the gun began slowing down. After that, there were another 10 good shots before the blowback function came into question. I guess a lot of the CO2 is used for blowback. Since this is a competition gun, that makes no difference. Winners will buy it and use it, no matter what it takes to make it work. This is not a budget plinker. It’s a full-blown competition airgun!
I hope this pistol will be a real tackdriver because that would make it perfect. I know that it’s not a target gun, but it does have to place its shots in the same place to score high in the competitions it would enter. If it does — well, I don’t know that I will let it go back!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the first of 2 accuracy tests planned for the Crosman MTR77NP scoped air rifle. As you know, this rifle has no open sights; so, the first thing I did was mount the Centerpoint 4X32 scope that’s included with the gun. That went quick because the scope caps have 2 screws each, but there was no slippage of the scope in the rings during this test.
The scope is very bright as you would expect a 4X scope to be, but at the 10-meter distance I shot in this test, it was fuzzy. The parallax is fixed for a further distance that isn’t indicated on the scope. I can tell from examination that it’s set farther than 25 yards.
I’m testing at 10 meters today and will take the best pellets into the next test, which will be at 25 yards. The first pellet up was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. You will remember from the velocity test that the test rifle shoots considerably slower than its advertised velocity of 1,000 f.p.s. with lead pellets. It went an average of 866 f.p.s. with 7-grain RWS Hobbys.
I discovered that the rifle is shooting low, even with the scope adjusted up high. For the next test, I’ll shim the rear scope ring. That should raise the pellet up far enough.
Crosman Premier lites
At 10 meters, 10 Premier lite pellets made a group that measures 0.721 inches between centers. The group has a main group of 8 pellets within it and 2 flyers, though there were no shots that were pulled. This is a case where a better scope might do better on target because the image was so fuzzy that I might have been off the aim point by 1/8 inch at times.
The MTR77NP fires with a solid thump. There’s no vibration, and the shot cycle is very quick. The recoil through the butt isn’t sharp the way it is on many gas-spring air rifles. And the A2 stock seems to be ideal for handling the recoil of this rifle without stinging your cheek.
Now that I’ve shot the gun for accuracy, I can tell you the trigger-pull is very long in stage 2. The pull length of stage 2 is supposed to be adjustable, but I turned in the screw about 7 full turns and nothing changed. It feels like a placebo screw; or if it does adjust anything, the effect is very small.
H&N Baracuda Match
The next pellet I tested was the heavy H&N Baracuda Match. This pellet showed some promise in the velocity test, and I thought it might do well in this rifle. Ten of them went into a group that measured 0.982 inches between centers. Like the Premier lite, there were flyers outside the main group, though I did not see them when shooting. I’m beginning to think that the next test needs to be conducted with a different scope.
The scope mounts had loosened by this point in the test. The rings remained tight, but the screws that attach the rings to the base on the rifle loosened up. I tightened them and also checked them after every 5 shots from this point on.
Next, I tried 10 RWS Hobby pellets. They went much lower and also to the left. They actually missed the target paper. The group was round and measured 0.826 inches between centers.
Crosman SSP Hollowpoint
I did check the Crosman SSP hollowpoint that was the lead-free pellet I tested in the velocity test, but after 2 pellets missed the target backer altogether, I stopped shooting. Not the pellet for this rifle.
JSB Exact Express
The last pellet I tested was the 7.87-grain JSB Exact Express dome. I haven’t had much luck with this pellet in the past, but I keep trying it just in case. Alas, the MTR77NP doesn’t like it, either. Ten pellets went into a vertical 1.661 inches at 10 meters. Another pellet to not use in this rifle.
Evaluation so far
I like the way the rifle feels when it fires. It has good power and a solid thump when it fires. The trigger-pull is long but not too creepy.
The scope leaves a lot to be desired. I think I’ll replace it with a Bug Buster 3-9X scope for the next test, and I’ll shim the rear scope ring before mounting it on the rifle. That should give the rifle the best chance to do well at 25 yards.
Obviously, the pellets to try are the Crosman Premier lite, the H&N Baracuda and the RWS Hobby. The Hobbys will be at their maximum recommended distance, but they may surprise us.
If you like black rifles and have been considering the MTR77NP, I think it’s worth a look. We’ll know better after the next test.