BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 2

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

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

Part 1

This report covers:

• Your interests
• Gamo: Yes or no?
• Get over it!
• Firing cycle
• Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Webley Flying Scott High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
• Cocking effort
• Trigger-pull
• Evaluation so far

We all learned about the BSA Airsporter in the last report, and I got some important feedback from readers. Apparently, these rifles have been sold at airgun shows right under my nose without my knowledge. The one thing that’s certain is that I’m not the only one who knows how nice this rifle is. Several of you know it and are smart enough to stay under the radar as you pick up these air rifles at airgun shows. I hope to see some of these at the Ft. Worth Airgun Show in September.

Your interests
There were several things the blog readers commented on in the first report. Several of you said you liked the stutzen styling, which is why I mentioned that stutzens are not specific to any one manufacturer. A couple folks noticed how this rifle resembles the Diana 430 Stutzen, and I agree they do look similar. But they aren’t alike at all. The Diana rifle has an entirely different powerplant design and cocking linkage; and even though it resembles this one, it isn’t the same or even that close.

The Diana 430 Stutzen has a sliding compression chamber, like the TX200 Mark III. You load the pellet directly into the breech of the barrel of that rifle. This BSA Airsporter Stutzen has a loading tap that accepts the pellet. When the gun fires, the air blast blows the pellet from the tap into the breech, and that results in some power loss when compared to a rifle that takes the pellet directly into the breech.

Power output was another topic you discussed a lot. Some of you hoped this rifle would make 12 foot-pounds, but a few readers guessed that it’s more of an 8 to 9 foot-pound airgun. Today is velocity day so we will see exactly what this particular rifle will do.

Gamo: Yes or no?
Then there was some discussion on whether or not this rifle was made by BSA in England or by Gamo in Spain after Gamo bought BSA. Here’s the answer: This rifle was made by the BSA company in Birmingham, England, before the company was sold to Gamo.

I related that I had tested a Gamo Stutzen with a rotary breech many years ago and didn’t care for it, and that kicked off a round of discussions. Fred_BR, our Brazilian reader, said he has a .22-caliber Gamo Stutzen with rotary breech that he loves. He found it difficult to understand what my objections were.

Some of you were angry that Gamo owns BSA and continues to build and sell spring rifles under that name, which I guess is similar to the Chinese owning Beeman and making and selling air rifles under that name. I understand that sentiment. When Umarex purchased Hämmerli and started to sell airguns made in China under that name, it really set me off. I’d always been a fan of the hand-built Hämmerli free pistols that cost thousands of dollars, and it just didn’t seem right to use that prestigious name to sell something inexpensive and mass-produced. When Crosman came out with a spring rifle they called the Benjamin Super Steak a few years ago, I went nuts! As far as I was concerned, the name Streak belonged to a Sheridan airgun.

Get over it!
But we just have to let it go. Brand changes are a fact of life and will always be with us. If they weren’t, there would be no such thing as Redline Levis jeans and Cleveland 335 Ford engines. The most we enthusiasts can do is identify those models that have the features we want and pursue them over the rest of the items bearing similar names but different specifications.

Shot cycle
That being said, I was prepared not to like this rifle when I got it. I remembered the harsh firing cycle of the Gamo Stutzen .177 rifle I tested for The Airgun Letter and expected this one to be the same. But it isn’t. Where the Gamo was harsh, this BSA is smooth. The first shot told me this is a completely different air rifle from what I’d expected.

Velocity with RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the lightweight RWS Hobby. Since this rifle is a taploader, you need pellets with wide skirts that are also thin so they can spread out and fill the tap chamber when the air blast hits them. A number of popular pellets I tested were 100 f.p.s. slower than expected because they were either too small for the tap or their skirts would not distort with the shot. But Hobbys are both larger in diameter and also have thin skirts. As far as pellet seating is concerned, it isn’t possible with a taploader. You just drop it in nose-first and you’re done. The pellet takes it from there.

Hobbys averaged 800 f.p.s. on the nose. The low was 795 f.p.s., and the high was 804 f.p.s., so the maximum spread was only 9 f.p.s. That’s an indication that the Hobby is a good pellet for this rifle. At the average velocity, Hobbys generate 9.95 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is certainly on the high side of many of the guesstimates.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I mentioned, I did try pellets from other makers, but they were all too slow –which indicates they aren’t sealing well in the tap. But I knew RWS Superpoints also have a thin skirt from my work with the Hakim, which is also a taploader, so I decided to give them a try. Superpoints weigh 8.2 grains in .177 caliber, so they aren’t the lightweights Hobbys are, but their thin skirts may compensate for that.

Superpoints averaged 766 f.p.s. in the Stutzen, with a low of 759 f.p.s. and a high of 770 f.p.s. The spread is only 11 f.p.s., which indicates this is also a good pellet for this rifle. The pellets that dropped 100 f.p.s. from what was expected also had large velocity spreads between individual shots, which shows how inconsistent they are in this rifle. At the average velocity, Superpoints generated 10.69 foot-pounds of muzzle energy — putting to rest the rumor that this is a weak spring-piston rifle. I believe the rifle I have is up to snuff and performing as well as can be expected.

Webley Flying Scot High Velocity Twin Ring pellets
Here’s a pellet most U.S. shooters don’t know. I know these are no longer being made in the UK; but since the usual pellets weren’t working, I decided to give them a try. The Flying Scot is a domed pure lead pellet that has a very thin skirt. They also stop about halfway down in the BSA loading tap, which makes them the largest of the 3 pellets I tested. The weight varies from 7.3 grains to 7.5 grains, but most of the pellets weighed 7.3 grains.

Webley Flying Scott pellets
Webley Flying Scot pellets are pure lead domes. They’re lightweight with thin skirts.

Webley Flying Scott tin
Flying Scot tin

Flying Scots averaged 775 f.p.s. in the BSA, with a low of 758 f.p.s. and a high of 791 f.p.s., with a spread of 33 f.p.s. — much greater than either of the other two pellets. This is an indication that this pellet is probably not a premium pellet and may not have good accuracy. But I’ll test it. At the average velocity, the Flying Scot produced 9.74 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Cocking effort
This rifle cocks with a maximum of 29 lbs. of effort. Most of the time the scale needle stays around 26 lbs., but it always does spike up to 29 lbs. early in every cocking stroke. It feels more like 40 lbs., though, because of where the cocking linkage pivot point is located.

Trigger-pull
The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger takes up with about 1 lb., 3 oz. for the first stage, then stage 2 releases at 4 lbs., 14 oz. The trigger shape and linkage is so perfectly placed that it feels like half that.

Evaluation so far
This BSA Stutzen rifle has surprised me at every turn. I expected not to like it, yet found it to be smooth-shooting with a light, crisp trigger. I expected lower power than I’m seeing in this test, so obviously this rifle can perform. I know BSA has a reputation for making great barrels, so I can’t wait to see how it does on targets. That’s next.

Hakim air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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

This report covers:

• TF90 dot sight
• Eley Wasp pellets
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Evaluation so far

TF90 dot sight
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Hakim trainer we’ve been examining, but with the Tech Force 90 dot sight mounted. Last time, I told you I was going to mount it on this rifle, and today I’ve done it. The sight base is short, which accommodates the Hakim’s very short 11mm dovetail grooves cut into the end cap.

Tech Force 90 dot sightThe Tech Force TF90 dot sight is a perfect match for the short dovetails of the Hakim. This is a large sight with a lot of target visibility.

Because it has no magnification, this dot sight is the perfect companion to the Hakim, since it will be mounted so close to my sighting eye. I discovered another great thing about it. Because it’s clear, I can see the entire front sight and hood through the eyepiece. I found that if I bisect the bullseye with the top arc of the sight’s hood and put the dot in the center of that, I eliminate all tendency to cant the rifle. This also eliminates all parallax. It sounds odd but it works. With the dot centered at the top of the hood, I know the pellet is going to the center of the dot. You can’t ask for more than that!

Eley Wasp pellets
The first pellet I shot was the Eley Wasp that did best in the previous test where the open sights were used. In that test, Wasps gave a group size of 0.349 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters. This time, 10 Wasps went into a group sized 0.351 inches. It appears smaller than the first group, but the measurements are too close to call. After shooting this group, which was a little to the left of center, I adjusted the sight to the right.

Hakim 10 meters Wasp group
Ten Wasp pellets went into 0.351 inches at 10 meters. This is a nicely rounded group. I adjusted the sight after this group.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Next up were JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. These pellets not only landed to the right, they also climbed up quite a bit. I didn’t adjust the elevation, so there must have been some odd sideways strain on the erector tube from the horizontal adjustment.

In the first accuracy test with open sights, 10 RS pellets went into 0.495 inches. This time, they went into 0.375 inches, so they were clearly tighter with the dot sight.

Hakim 10 meters JSB Exact RS group
Ten JSB Jumbo RS pellets made this 0.375-inch group at 10 meters with the dot sight.

RWS Hobby pellets
Then, I tested 10 RWS Hobby wadcutters. In the previous test with open sights, Hobbys grouped 10 in 0.426 inches. With the TF90 dot sight, 10 Hobbys went into 0.389 inches between centers at 10 meters. This group was very round. It’s clearly smaller than the other one, but not by much.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this nice round 0.389-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Superpoint. In the previous test with open sights, 10 Superpoints made a 0.524-inch group. With the dot sight, 10 pellets went into 0.429 inches at the same 10 meters.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Superpoint group
Ten RWS Superpoints made this 0.429-inch group.

Evaluation so far
The Hakim seems easier to use with the TF90 dot sight. It doesn’t necessarily make the rifle more accurate, but it seems to be easier to shoot it accurately when the dot sight is used — especially after learning that trick of aligning the dot with the top of the front sight hood! These groups are almost as small as the 5-shot groups I used to shoot at 10 meters with Hakims back in the 1990s.

Before you hock the family jewels to buy one of these rifles, though, let me remind you that I was shooting at 10 meters today. Things always look a lot better when the target’s that close. Maybe, I’ll try some groups at 25 yards in a later report — just to give some perspective.

Having said that, though, notice that all these groups are small. The Hakim is a very accurate and forgiving spring-piston air rifle.

I’m now ready to open up the Hakim and look inside to see what can be done about the buzzing. I’ll do that in simple steps, like I did with the Crosman 2240.

The TF90 sight will come off the rifle, and I’ll start a separate evaluation of the sight next week. I plan to mount it on one or more of my other pellet rifles that could use a nice optical sight. Don’t wait for that report, though. There are only limited numbers of these in stock — and when they are gone, no more will be available. At $20 I don’t see how you can do any better than this one!

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 2

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

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 2

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

Crosman 2240 air conversion
My Crosman 2240 has been converted to operate on high-pressure air.

This report covers:

• Where we are
• Before filling the first time
• Shooting the gun
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• What comes next

Let’s look at what the conversion to air did for the Crosman 2240. Boy, was there ever a lot of discussion on that report! I think this may be one of the all-time most popular subjects on this blog.

Where we are
Here’s where I am with this subject. The 2240 is now converted. I plan to test it with 2,000 psi air today, and I do not plan to go higher. This is a test of what’s out there and some of the things that can be done with a 2240, but I’m not in the business of hotrodding this pistol. Many other folks are doing that very well; so, if you are interested in what’s possible, read what they have to say.

Today, I’m going to test the pistol with the conversion but with the stock striker spring still installed. In other words, if you simply screwed the tube into the gun and did nothing else (the front sight still has to come off to clear the tube), this is what you’ll get. I did change the face seal, which is why I disassembled the pistol in the previous report; but that wasn’t strictly necessary, since I am pressurizing to only 2,000 psi. I did it just to show how the entire kit is installed.

Before filling the first time
Before filling the gun, which is now done through the male Foster nipple on the end of the air tube, I put several drops of silicone chamber oil into the fill nipple. It came to me bone-dry, and I wanted all the seals inside the unit to get a coating of this oil. Then, I connected the gun to my carbon fiber air tank and slowly filled it to 2,000 psi. I say slowly, but as small as this air tube/reservoir is, it fills pretty fast. It probably took only 15-20 seconds to fill it all the way. You want to go as slowly as as possible to keep heat from building.

When I bled the air connection in the hose, the inlet valve in the air tube remained open and all the air bled out. So, I refilled it and bled it a second time. This time, it sealed as it should — thanks to the oil, I believe.

Shooting the gun
It was now time to test the gun. I had no idea what it was going to do, but I left my hearing protection off to hear if the first shot was loud. It wasn’t. Perhaps the gun is a little louder than it is when using CO2, but the difference is not that great. Of course, I used eye protection for the chronographing session, because the pellet trap is so close. I use a trap with duct seal to keep the rebounds down and the noise to a minimum.

Crosman Premier pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier dome. I should add that I shoot only the pellets from the cardboard box, which is why I link to them, only. We were informed several months ago that Crosman planned to stop selling Premiers in the cardboard box and I stocked up on them. But I see they’re still available.

Back in 2010, I did a test of the CO2 2240 pistol, so I have the recorded velocities for this exact pistol on CO2. It averaged 448 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. On 2000 psi air, the first shot was 468 f.p.s. It increased to a maximum of 492 f.p.s. by shot 7 and dropped back to 466 f.p.s. by shot 15. At the end of the string, the gun was still holding 1200 psi of air pressure. The average velocity of 15 shots was 486 f.p.s., which means air boosted the average velocity of this pellet by 39 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets. When the pistol was running on CO2, these pellets averaged 482 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 515 f.p.s. and increased to 537 f.p.s. by shot 9. The velocity droped back down to 511 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity for this string of 16 shots was 525 f.p.s. — a 43 f.p.s. increase on air. The remaining pressure was 1200 psi, once again.

RWS Superdome pellets
The final pellet I tested was the 14.5-grain RWS Superdome. When the pistol ran on CO2, Superdomes averaged 455 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 470 f.p.s. and drifted up to 495 f.p.s. by shot 7. They dropped back down to 467 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity was 483 f.p.s., an increase of 28 f.p.s. over CO2.

Notice that the gun performs similarly, regardless of what pellet was tested. The curve starts out slow, builds to the maximum quickly and then drops back to the starting point just as quickly. The three pellets gave a total shot count of 15, 16 and 16, respectively.

What comes next?
I can’t test the pistol for accuracy as it is right now because the front sight has no clearance to be re-installed. And the plastic 2240 receiver does not have a scope base on the receiver. Decision time.

I could get a steel breech for the 2240 from Pyramyd Air. While it will not accept the 2240 rear sight, it does have 11mm dovetails for a scope. That’ll work with the barrel that’s on the gun right now; but if I get a longer barrel, I’ll get a little more velocity from this same setup. So, I ordered a 14.5-inch barrel from an eBay vendor.

There are a number of different ways this can go with these parts, so I will wait to see what seems best once I have them.

Gamo P900 IGT pellet pistol: Part 2

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

Part 1

Gamo P900 IGT air pistol

Gamo P900 IGT pistol

This report covers:

• Velocity
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Gamo Match pellets
• Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
• Trigger
2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update

Velocity
Let’s get right into the report. Today, we’ll look at the velocity of this Gamo P900 IGT air pistol. A number of comments were made about how underpowered this air pistol is, but I disagree. They’re condemning it without testing it — from just reading the numbers. We’ll set that straight today.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. This pure lead pellet is probably just right for the P900 powerplant. Gamo advertises the P900 as getting 400 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets, so we expect the Hobbys to be slower because they’re heavier. And slower they are! When I seated them flush with the breech, Hobbys averaged 332 f.p.s. with a range from 321 to 340 — a spread of 19 f.p.s. They developed 1.71 foot-pounds, on average.

Because this pistol is lower powered, I decided to see what effect deep-seating the pellet would have. I used the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to seat the Hobby pellets deep in the breech. This time, the pellet averaged 365 f.p.s. — a gain of 38 f.p.s. The low velocity was 358 and the high was 373, so the spread was 15 f.p.s. Seated this way, they developed 2.07 foot-pounds, on average. I think it’s clear this pistol likes the pellets to be seated deep, so that’s how I will proceed with the test.

Gamo Match pellets
The next pellet I tested was the 7.56-grain Gamo Match wadcutter. I didn’t even try them seated flush. Seated deep, they averaged 360 f.p.s. with a spread from 358 to 363 f.p.s., so this time just 5 f.p.s. separated the slowest from the fastest pellet. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 2.18 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Gamo Raptor PBA pellets
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA. This lead-free domed pellet weighs just 5.4 grains and is used to extract high velocity from airguns. Remember — Gamo advertises the P900 as getting up to 400 f.p.s. Well, that turns out to be quite conservative! This pistol I’m testing averaged 490 f.p.s. The range was from a low of 457 f.p.s. to a high of 508 f.p.s. So the spread was 51 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet generates 2.88 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Just to see what the differences are, I also shot 4 Raptor pellets loaded flush with the breech. They ranged from a low of 439 f.p.s. to a high of 455 f.p.s.; so even loaded normally, this pistol still exceeds its advertised velocity. I may have an example that’s on the hot side, and maybe you won’t get quite as much velocity as you see here, but I think they should all get at least 400 when shooting PBA pellets.

You naysayers can revise your arguments, now. This pistol exceeds its advertised expectations by a lot. I still like the firing behavior and the trigger, though I’m sure there will be critics.

Trigger
The non-adjustable 2-stage trigger on the test pistol breaks crisply at 3 lbs., 15 oz. to 4 lbs., 1 oz. It’s a fine trigger and just what I need to shoot this pistol accurately.

2014 Ft. Worth airgun show update
This report was short, so I’ll use the space to update you on the 2014 Ft. Worth airgun show that will be held on Saturday, September 6.

The following dealers and manufacturers are expected to have tables:

Pyramyd Air
Umarex USA
AirForce Airguns
Dennis Quackenbush
Flying Dragon Air Rifles (Mike Melick)
Hatsan USA

The following dealers and manufacturers are considering attending or have indicated they may attend:

Airgun Depot
Daisy
Crosman
Scott Pilkington
Neal Johnson

Also attending will be:

American Airgunner TV
Steve Criner — TV’s Dog Soldier
Eric Henderson — big bore airgun hunter and guide
Jim Chapman — writer for Predator Extreme magazine and airgun hunter

I’m making a big push to get the smaller private dealers now. These are the guys who have vintage airguns for sale. The club has a communal table for members to display and sell their airguns. This club is where I recently purchased the BSA Airsporter Stutzen I’ve been reporting on, a BSA Scorpion pistol and a Schimel gas pistol from the 1950s.

I am going to really shake the trees, because I know there are many airgunners who will come to this one-day show. The sheer volume of people though the door will make it worth their while to attend. Who knows what unusual airguns are going to walk through the doors?

If you have some unusual airguns to sell, this show is the place to sell them! We should get a number of advanced collectors who are attracted to this brand new airgun show because of the curious guns they may find. We’re also attracting those who are new to airguning and are looking for the vintage guns they’ve read about but never seen.

Don’t forget our door prize and the three major raffle prizes that have been donated:

Air Venturi Bronco
AirForce Condor SS
Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE
Walther LGV Master Ultra

Other drawings and freebies are also in the works. Lots of guns, lots of freebies, lots of fun!

Mark September 6 on your calendar. You’ll want to be at the Ft. Worth airgun show in Poolville, Texas.

Photographing airguns, again: Part 1

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

This report covers:

• Light
• Got Photoshop?
• The lesson
• Lesson two
• What have we learned?

We have many new readers who aren’t familiar with what I’ve written in the past. Six years ago, I did a 5-part series on photographing airguns. I tried to cover some fundamentals, and several readers said they got something from it; but so much time has elapsed since then that all but the real veterans have forgotten that I wrote it.

I promised some newer readers hat I would write a few more reports on photographing airguns several weeks ago. This is the first of them, and today we’ll talk about light. In fact, we may need more than one report on this subject since light is so crucial to good (and bad) photography. This is a reiteration of what was in that old series, but I’m trying to say it differently, today. I’ll also share some different tricks I use.

I’m going to keep the discussion simple and oriented on results. But you have to do your part if you want to get something from this.

Light
Light is how an image is recorded. In the days of film, light would cause a chemical change on film. Today, the same thing is done electronically, but the results are essentially the same. For some reason, most of what you think you know about how light works turns out to be wrong and backwards, which is why your photographs may turn out bad.

To see an image, the image needs to be lit so it can be recorded. Most folks think that they have to contrast the image and background by making the background as light as possible to get the image to jump out at them. In fact, you want to do just the opposite. Allow me to illustrate with some photos.

The first picture is a classic dark subject against a white background. It’s the loading tap of the BSA Stutzen you saw yesterday. I’m telling you this because you won’t be able to tell what it is.

BSA Stutzen tap poor light
This image of the BSA tap was taken with the rifle against a white background. The white appears gray for reasons you will soon learn. I used flash, which is the enemy of the photographer in these circumstances. This is the way the camera recorded this image.

Why is the white background so gray in the image above? It’s because the camera’s brain was trying to compensate for the dark object that was being photographed in the foreground. And it did!

Believe it or not, the image that you cannot see in the foreground is lighter than it really appears to the camera. Let me lighten the entire image so the background is white, and you’ll see what I mean.

BSA Stutzen tap image lightened
Same image as before, only it’s been lightened to get rid of the camera’s tendency to try to balance the light in the image. Read about this below.

The camera tries to balance the image it sees, so the darks aren’t too dark, and the whites and bright colors aren’t too bright. That’s why the white background appears gray in the first image. I used the flash, so there was tons of light on that white material, and the camera really had to darken the image, to keep it from being too bright. When it does that, it also darkens the main image that’s in the foreground — the image that was dark to begin with — the image we wanted to see. The effect is to turn what you are interested in seeing into a black silhouette!

Let me show you how this image should be lit. Turn off the flash and allow the camera to see the image with less light — yes, less light. To do this, you have to keep the shutter open longer, and that means the camera has to be held steady to keep from blurring the image.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen tap
The angle of this shot is a little different than the other two images, but more important is the color of the background. Notice that it’s black! A black image against a black background, and yet everything is clear. This picture was taken with the camera on a tripod and the exposure lasted for one-third of a second.

In the third image the object is easy to see against the black background. And yet, notice that neither the object nor the background are really black. They’re both shades of gray. This is the camera at work, averaging the image so it isn’t too contrasty. By forcing the shutter to remain open much longer for this shot, I got everything exposed more.

If I were to leave the shutter open for a whole minute, this entire image would be white. You wouldn’t be able to see anything because everything would be overexposed. Film works exactly the same way.

Got Photoshop?
Most of you do not own the full Photoshop program, so you can’t do what I’m about to show you. But for those who do, this powerful program can sometimes save the day when a major mistake has been made. I’ll take that first image and Photoshop it to reduce the contrast and bring out the details.

BSA Stutzen tap image Photoshopped

In this image I used the Photoshop program to reduce the contrast and lighten the background. Although this brings out the detail and more can be seen, it also digitizes the image (which I discuss below).

Look at the wood in the two images above — the good one and the one that was Photoshopped. In the image taken without flash, the wood appears natural. In the Photoshopped image you can see small digital blocks of color — the fingerprint of an image that’s been heavily Photoshopped. Look at this wood closely enough, and it starts to look like a cartoon. You can even see this in the metal. That’s because it was “drawn” digitally by the software, while the wood in the image taken without flash appears normal.

The lesson
The lesson is that you don’t need to use flash to take good pictures of your guns. In fact, if you do use flash, there are a great many things you need to think about that that can be ignored if you simply don’t use it.

But you probably do need a tripod! Just like a chronograph is important to shooters, a good tripod is one of those pieces of equipment that amateur photographers try to do without as long as possible. I said a good tripod — not something you pick up at a yard sale for $3. While a really good tripod can cost over $500, you can certainly make wonderful pictures with something that retails for one-tenth of that. Buy it used and maybe cut the price in half, again. It may not be quite as flexible as the more expensive unit, but you can find ways to work around that.

The other thing you need to do is learn how your camera works. You have to take it off the point-and-shoot mode and use some of those menu selections to do what I’m showing here. My camera isn’t an expensive one, but it probably costs more than most people are willing to pay. But I’ve used a simple Canon point-and-shoot camera in the past and gotten great photographs with it because today’s inexpensive digital cameras and even phone cameras have features that rival what the best film cameras were able to do about 25 years ago.

Lesson two
Amateur photographers lack the resources that professionals have. Cloud boxes that eliminate shadows are one resource I’ve always wanted but never had. I compensate with indirect lighting and taking pictures outdoors in the shadows on bright days or in direct light on overcast days — where the sky acts as an enormous cloud box of indirect lighting.

Another resource I lack is an unlimited supply of seamless non-reflective backdrops. I’m talking about material that can be used to set off the photograph in the foreground. Let me show you how I compensate for that. Let’s look at a picture I showed you yesterday of the muzzle of the BSA Stutzen.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen muzzle
The muzzle of the BSA Stutzen is set off nicely against an even blue backdrop. How did I do it?

To take this picture, I used a tripod, once again. The light in the room was not bright (despite the bright spot seen on the sight ramp), so I set the camera shutter to stay open longer by setting the exposure to the slowest speed setting (setting the ASA/DIN number or film speed to the lowest setting, which is ASA 80 on my camera). Because the camera “thinks” the film takes longer to expose, it keeps the shutter open longer. I don’t do this manually, though I could. Instead, I set my camera to the aperture priority setting and slow down the ASA speed to 80. The camera’s brain does the rest.

Because the shutter will be open longer, I have to use a tripod or the entire image will be blurry. But that’s okay! I am planning on using that tendency to blur to my advantage. The backdrop in this picture is not a blue that has a uniform color, nor is the lighting in the room sophisticated indirect light. Instead, that backdrop is a blur!

Edith holding backdrop
Edith moved the blue backdrop while the shutter was open, so it was blurred in the picture of the BSA muzzle. Because the exposure took so long, the backdrop averaged out and looks uniform. The camera was closer to the muzzle, of course. I backed up to show how it was done, and this picture was taken with flash.

What have we learned?
I hope this report emphasizes the importance of using a tripod with your camera and learning how your camera software controls work.

These last 2 pictures are for those of you who only have cellphone cameras and think you can’t take good detail shots. This image of a Smith & Wesson Frontier model revolver was taken outdoors with my iPhone camera two years ago, and the camera was handheld. The original image is sharp enough for magazine publication. My iPhone has a high-definition setting for photos.

Otho's S&W Frontier
I took this with an iPhone camera two years ago. The camera was handheld outdoors in the shade. The original image is sharp enough for print publication.

Otho's S&W Frontier detail
When you can zoom in on a photo like this, the picture is sharp.

Just as it isn’t the gun but the shooter who’s accurate – it often isn’t the camera, but the person taking the pictures who makes or breaks them. Pressing the button and hoping for the best is no substitute for understanding how your camera works and using light to your advantage.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen: Part 1

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

BSA Airsporter Stutzen
BSA Airsporter Stutzen was the final version of the Airsporter to have a tap.

This report covers:

• What’s a stutzen?
• My first encounter
• Parallel development
• Fast-forward to 2010
• BSA Airsporter
• Underlever spring-piston air rifle
• Open sights
• Overall evaluation

Today, I’ll start a report on an airgun that’s tantalized me for over 20 years. It has done so in multiple ways and has caused me to learn more about this hobby of ours: The BSA Airsporter Stutzen.

What’s a stutzen?
First, let’s discuss the name. A stutzen is a style of rifle, not a specific model made by just one manufacturer. There are stutzen air rifles and stutzen firearm rifles. So, what is it?

The German word stutzen means to crop, dock or prune, so a stutzen rifle is one that looks cropped. Fundamentally, it’s a slang term give to a rifle that’s mounted in a stock that goes all the way to the end of the muzzle. The rifle barrel may be full length, but it appears cropped because the forearm is just as long.

A stutzen is not necessarily a carbine, though it can be. The stutzen name doesn’t refer to the length of the barrel, but rather to where and how the stock ends in relation to the barrel. You see, Mannlicher stocks also go to the end of the muzzle. Does that mean that all rifles with Mannlicher stocks are stutzens? Yes, I suppose it does, but there are subtle differences. Classic Mannlicher stocks have distinctive steel nose caps that enclose the end of the barrel. However, in the past 30 years, people have blurred the distinction between a classic Mannlicher-style stock and a stutzen, and today the terms are used interchangeably.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen muzzle
The BSA Stutzen’s stock ends in a schnabel of dark wood. There’s no metal end cap that a true Mannlicher stock would have.

My first encounter
The first stutzen I tested was for The Airgun Letter. It happened in the 1990s, at a time when I was very much into spring-piston airguns. The rifle I tested was a Gamo Stutzen that was a less-expensive version of the BSA Stutzen that had either just been discontinued or was soon to be. At the time, both the Gamo and BSA rifles had rotary breeches. I’d never seen a BSA Stutzen, so the Gamo Stutzen I tested represented all stutzen air rifles to me. That was a shame because the Gamo rifle was hard to cock, harsh-firing and not very powerful. As I recall, it wasn’t that accurate.The hard cocking and harsh firing cooled me to the rifle. I was shooting and playing with TX200s in those days, and any spring rifle that I tested suffered by comparison.

Parallel development
At the same this was happening, I was also deep into Hakim air rifles. I’d already owned about 10 of them and tuned them for others as well as for myself. The Hakim is also an underlever spring rifle, just like the BSA and Gamo Stutzens, but it’s lower-powered, making it easier to cock; after a tune, it shoots quite smoothly. Why, I wondered, couldn’t these stutzens be more like the Hakims? They were actually a lot more like them than I knew!

Fast-forward to 2010
I was at the 2010 Roanoke Airgun Expo, only because my buddy Mac drove out to Texas from Maryland and drove me back East (and then back home to Texas, again). I still had a drain tube coming out of my pancreas from a failed operation five months before, and I was barely able to walk. Another friend at this airgun show, Marv Freund, insisted I buy a strange German underlever rifle from him that turned out to be the Falke model 90 I’ve written so much about. If you don’t remember our first look at the gun, perhaps you’ll remember that it had the stock that I’d restored and reported on in a second 4-part report.

During both those reports, I remarked how much the Falke 90 action resembled the Hakim action. On closer inspection and after more research, I discovered that both rifles had their heritage in the BSA Airsporter of 1948. The title of this report is the BSA Airsporter Stutzen. Is this starting to make sense?

BSA Airsporter
The BSA Airsporter is the underlever that started all of my fascination with these rifles, yet I’d never actually owned one. I’ve had bundles of Hakims and even the super-rare Falke 90, but somehow the BSA Airsporter eluded me all those years. Well, not entirely. I did actually own an Airsporter that was just a junk rifle I picked up at a local gun show. The stock was broken off at the triggerguard, and you could see the insides of the action. My thought was just to rescue it for airgunners, so I was happy to sell it to collector Larry Hannusch at Roanoke for what I’d paid. A year later, Larry had installed another stock on it, and I almost bought the rifle back from him before realizing it was the same gun. Other than that, I’ve never owned an Airsporter.

Then, several weeks ago, I was at another local gun show — in fact a show that was held at the very place that the 2014 Ft. Worth Airgun Show will be held. The guys out there know that I’m into airguns. When they have something, they sometimes bring it to me. At this show, there was a very familiar rifle laying on one of the tables. It looked like either a BSA or Gamo Stutzen, and it turned out to be a BSA. But this one was different from the one I’d tested back in the ’90s.

Instead of Gamo’s rotary breech, this one was a true taploader, which I knew made it older. It’s in like-new condition, and the seller knew that I was the only airgun guy in the room — or in the state, as far as he knew — so he offered it to me in a trade deal I couldn’t refuse. It was basically anything to get this airgun off his table because he doesn’t do airguns. By the way, if you do come to the Ft. Worth show this September, you’ll meet a bunch of members of this gun club who are very excited to sell all their old airguns. The club is giving them a communal table so they won’t have to pay to display and sell all their old airguns — and remember — they’ve been asking me for the past 2 years to have this show!

BSA Airsporter Stutzen tap
The loading tap is opened manually after cocking. Drop the pellet in nose-first.

Anyhow, I got this Stutzen in trade, even though I didn’t want it because of my experience with the Gamo years before. It’s so beautiful that I knew someone else would want it for sure. When I got it home and looked in the latest Blue Book of Airguns, though, imagine my surprise to discover that this isn’t just a stutzen. Its full title is BSA Airsporter Stutzen. That’s right — this is the Airsporter that I’ve been hunting for over the past 15+ years!

Underlever spring-piston air rifle
The Airsporter Stutzen is an underlever spring-piston rifle whose lever is concealed in the forearm. From the side, there isn’t a clue that the lever’s there. Despite what I said earlier about stutzens not necessarily being carbines, this one is — at just 39.25 inches long. The barrel makes up almost 14 inches of that length. The length of pull is 13.50 inches, which includes a one-inch black rubber buttpad at the back. So, this rifle is compact.

The stock is beech wood, but it’s from an earlier era and is far more attractive than the beech stocks of today. The taploading Airsporter Stutzen was made from 1985 to 1992, making it the final version of the Airsporter to have a tap. After that, the Gamo rotary breech was used on all BSA Stutzens. The wood is stained an even dark brown color, and the pistol grip is checkered. The forearm ends in a darker wood schnabel, which is German for beak or bill, and goes hand-in-hand with the stutzen style. The cheekpiece is nicely formed and stands apart from the butt, unlike the Gamo stocks that would follow. They all appear to have been melted, as their cheekpieces are blended into the butt with little transition. The comb has a classic Monte Carlo profile.

There are quick-detachable sling swivel studs on the stock, front and rear. But I must say that a sling on an underlever rifle can easily get in the way during cocking.

The metal parts are all an even dark black with a medium polish. It’s midway between a hunter matte and the deep shine of a TX200.

This rifle is .177 caliber; and although they were also made in .22 caliber, I suspect there are many more in this caliber, owing to the times and where they were made. The rifle is loaded through the tap, which must be manually opened after cocking. Don’t open it before cocking or the piston will create a partial vacuum when it withdraws. The tap is an extension of the air transfer port and must be aligned with the transfer port and bore (in its closed position) for air to flow though.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen lever down
This is how far down and back the lever comes.

The rifle weighs 8 lbs. on the nose. The 2-stage trigger is crisp right now, but I see one and possibly 2 screws that might allow some adjustment. There’s very little information about these guns on the internet, but I did read that an owner had tried to adjust his trigger with little result. Both screws are headless Allen screws, so they aren’t there to secure anything.

I’ve shot the rifle a few times and can tell you the trigger is crisp, and the firing cycle is smooth and quick. Cocking is a bit on the stiff side, but not as bad as I remember. I think the Gamo Stutzen’s cocking linkage was rougher than this one.

Open sights
There are open sights front and rear and not a fiberoptic tube to be seen! It’ll be fun to shoot. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, plus it sits at the front of an 11mm scope base. BSA scope bases on rifles of this time are the largest ever produced and actually approach 14mm wide, so care must be taken when choosing mounts. I don’t know if I will scope the rifle or not at this time — I just want to test it for you.

BSA Airsporter Stutzen rear sight
The rear sight is mounted on an inclined plane for elevation and a dovetail for sideways adjustment.

The front sight is a post that sits on a ramp. It’s very square and matches the rear sight notch well. A removable sheet metal hood covers the post.

Overall evaluation
I originally did the trade deal for this air rifle because it was a good one. But after examining the rifle more closely and after learning that it’s actually the Airsporter I have been searching for, I’m very glad I got it. I don’t know if I’ll keep it or sell it after testing, but at least I will have had the opportunity to closely examine an Airsporter after all these years. This will be a fun test!

Hakim air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

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

This report covers:

• You can never go home
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Firing cycle
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Eley Wasp pellets
• Evaluation so far
• Tech Force 90 dot sight

You can never go home
Today, I’ll shoot the Hakim trainer for accuracy. This is like returning home for me. Of course, you can never go home, again, because things have changed — and this Hakim is different from all the others I’ve owned and worked on. But just like your old neighborhood, there are always some things that never change. Things that remind you of the good things from the past. This Hakim has those, too.

You saw in the velocity testing that this isn’t a powerful air rifle. And it doesn’t have to be. That’s not its charm. Its charm comes from the rifle’s rugged build and heavy weight of wood and steel. And, in the case of this particular Hakim, the wood is a striking piece of walnut that shows lots of contrasting grain.

Hakim trainers are also quite accurate at short range. Let’s see if this one is, as well.

In the past, I’ve shot only 5-shot groups, but these days I shoot 10-shot groups. So, I expect to see the groups increase in size by about 40 percent. That’s what happens when you shoot those 5 additional shots, and only if you maintain correct shooting discipline.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I explained in Part 2, I’ve found RWS Superpoint pellets to be the best in this rifle because their thin skirts flare out in the loading tap when hit with the piston’s air blast. At least, that’s always been my theory.

I had no idea where this rifle was sighted, so this was like shooting a new gun right out of the box. The only thing going for it is the excellent condition and the care with which the wood stock parts were fashioned. That tells me the former owner cared about his rifle — so I expected it to be pretty close to the mark from the start. And it was!

The first pellet struck the bullseye a little to the right of center and at about the right elevation at 10 meters. Because I know Hakims are accurate, I stopped looking and just fired the remaining 9 shots. That gave me 10 rounds in a group measuring 0.524 inches between centers. True to expectations, that’s about 30-40 percent larger than my 5-shot groups used to be. This Hakim is exactly like the rest of them!

Hakim Superpoint group
Yep, RWS Superpoints are as accurate as I remember in Hakims. These 10 shots measure 0.524 inches between centers, where 5 shots would probably be 0.35 inches.

Firing cycle
This rifle really buzzes when it fires. It distracts from an otherwise nice experience. I want to find out what’s causing the buzz and do something about it.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Blog reader Kevin suggested I try JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets and Air Arms Falcons because their skirts are also thin. I don’t have any .22-caliber Falcons on hand, but I did try the JSBs next. Because the rifle was hitting slightly to the right, I adjusted the rear sight notch to the left just a bit.

Same drill this time. One shot to check where it went. This time it was just above the center of the bull, so I stopped looking through the spotting scope and fired the remaining 9 rounds. They gave me a nice 0.495-inch group that also had a bit of verticality to it.

Hakim JSB RS group 1-0 meters
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into 0.495 inches at 10 meters.

Because the shot group is now relatively centered in the black, I decided not to adjust the sights further. So the next 2 groups were made with this same sight setting. One last note. The RS pellets were so small that they fell to the bottom of the tap. No other pellet did that.

RWS Hobby pellets
The next pellet I tried was the lightweight RWS Hobby wadcutter. These have a thicker skirt than the first two pellets, but their light weight makes them a good match for this low-powered rifle.

Ten Hobbys made a very round 0.426-inch group. Because they’re wadcutters, they make a group appear larger.

Hakim RWS Hobby 10 meters
Ten RWS Hobbys made this round group, which measures 0.426 inches between centers.

Eley Wasp pellets
The last pellet I tried was the 14.5-grain 5.56mm Eley Wasp. It’s a larger pellet, yet it still enters the loading tap deep enough to be used in this rifle. The Wasp has a thick skirt, so I’m relying on the overall size of the pellet rather than any flaring of the skirt to seal the air. Wasps put 10 into 0.349 inches at 10 meters, which was the best group of the session!

Hakim Eley Wasps group 10 meters
Ten Eley Wasps gave the best group of the session, going into 0.349 inches between centers. This is a wonderful group of 10 shots. If it were just 5, it would be around a quarter-inch.

Eley Wasps are supposedly obsolete, but I laid in a large supply for my Webley Senior pistol many years ago and have enough to use in this Hakim, as well. [Editor's note: Eley Wasps are still being made and sold, but I've been told by at least one UK blog reader that the pellets available today are not of the same quality as those made 20 years ago when I bought mine. If this is incorrect, I apologize. I also see Eley Wasps available on eBay, but those appear to be vintage tins.]

Evaluation so far
This Hakim performs just like all the others, plus it looks much better. I discovered that it’s dirty inside when I adjusted the trigger, so I’ll be taking the rifle apart to clean it and also get rid of some of the vibration upon firing. Before I do that, though, I want to try one thing.

You asked me if this rifle can be scoped. I used to mount a Beeman SS2 scope on my Hakims, and it worked wonderfully. Well, that scope is still available, though no longer made by the same people — but it’s very pricey. I’ve decided to try something different.

TF 90 dot sight
Right now, Pyramyd Air is blowing out an older Tech Force 90 dot sight that I used to use on a lot of airguns years ago. They have a large number of them, and they’re priced to sell at just $19.99. I watched the development of this dot sight by Compasseco in the late 1990s, and I know that it’s extremely good. It was made in a plant that makes sights for the military. And, now, it’s available at a price that can’t be beat. So, I’ll mount one on the Hakim and try the rifle again at 10 meters — and perhaps at 25 yards, as well.

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