Posts Tagged ‘10-meter’

2012 Arkansas airgun show

by B.B.Pelletier

Every airgun show is unique. I’ve said that many times before, but it’s always true — and this one was no different. What I look for when I try to describe an airgun show is how it stood out from all the others. That’s what I’ll do today.

An airgun show is small, in comparison to0 a regular gun show, but there are more airguns on a single table then you’ll see at most big gun shows. And the guns range from inexpensive Daisys and Crosmans to then most exotic airguns imaginable. So go to gun shows for and crowded aisles, but to airgun shows to find airguns.

I didn’t get away from my table for the first half of the first day. When I finally did, the show immediately began to reveal itself. It was jam-packed with big bore air rifles! I mean jammed! Dennis Quackenbush and Eric Henderson are always the mainstays of the show; but this time I met Robert Vogel, whose business is Mr. Hollowpoint. Robert casts each bullet by hand from lead as pure as he can make it. His bullets mushroom on game perfectly and rip huge holes in living flesh, making the most humane kills possible. I bought a bag of 68-grain .308-caliber hollowpoints for the Quackenbush .308 test I’m conducting, and he threw in a second bag of .22 pellets for free. These will have a special debut in a smallbore test in the near future.

Robert Vogel (standing) is Mr. Hollowpoint. He has thousands of different bullets for big bore shooters to try.

But Mr. Hollowpoint wasn’t the only bullet maker at the show. Seth Rowland, the show’s host and promoter, also supplies the big bore airgunning community with cast bullets in numerous sizes and shapes. And their customers can hardly appreciate the untold hours they spend at the lead pot, casting and sizing these silver slugs one by one.

Need bullets? Seth Rowland has them in different sizes, shapes and weights.

10-meter guns
Another theme that’s common to all airgun shows is 10-meter target guns. This year’s Arkansas show had plenty of them, both from dealers like Scott Pilkington of Pilkington Competition Equipment in Tennessee, as well as numerous private individuals. I mentioned several weeks ago that Mac was bringing some recently overhauled FWB rifles to this show, and on day one an interested buyer sought him out. This man was serious about buying a target rifle, and he had done his research on the internet. But this was the first time he’d seen, felt and shot these rifles.

Mac took him out to the shooting range to try out an FWB 150 and a 300; and from his testing, he decided the 300 was the gun he wanted. Because it lacks the barrel jacket, it’s lighter than a standard 300S. He was buying the rifle for his wife to shoot in competition. They made a deal, and he went home with the exact target rifle he wanted — an overhauled ex-club rifle at a price that was several hundred dollars below what he would have paid for a gamble on the internet. For this man, driving all the way to Arkansas made good sense.

I’m sure that same scenario was played out numerous times at this show, because that’s what happens at an airgun show that also has a shooting range. You get to try out the guns before you buy — something that’s impossible at a regular gun show.

The odd and wonderful
You never know what you’re going to see at one of these shows, but there are a few people who always seem to have interesting things. Larry Hannusch, the top airgun writer for the past 30 years, is one person who can always surprise you. This year, our tables were together, giving me the opportunity to look at his guns more closely than normal. He had a Crosman 113 bulk-fill CO2 rifle, which isn’t unusual, except the owner of this one had inlet a pellet box into the right side of the stock — much like the patchbox found on certain muzzleloading rifles.

Some owner made this patchbox in the stock of his Crosman 113 bulk-fill rifle.

He built the “patchbox” with a built-in spring. There were pellets inside.

When was the last time you saw one of these? A French ball-flask pistol from the 1700s.

The big find
Often there will be a big find of some certain airgun that shows up at a particular show. I remember one year someone was selling piles of brand-new-in-the-box S&W 78G and 79G pistols. There were at least 50, but as my memory serves there might have been as many as 100 brand-new guns that were at least 20 years old at the time. Another year, it was Scott Pilkington who brought almost 300 club target guns for sale. You could buy an FWB 300 for $150-$200! Of course, it would have been a beater and would have needed to be resealed, but it certainly was the budget way into a 10-meter gun.

Then there was the year that someone had over 20 Johnson Target Guns, the submachinegun-looking plastic catapult BB gun from the late 1940s. They were all new in the box, and the cloth backstop that was in the box to stop the BBs inside the box lid that also served as a backstop had turned to dust. But they were complete. To collectors, they were a wonderful find. I actually saw two of these at this year’s Arkansas show; so even after more than 10 years, they’re still slowly dissolving into the collector population.

Two brand-new Johnson Target Guns in the box with all the literature and accessories.

When I walked into the second large room in this show and turned the corner, I ran into Randy Mitchell’s booth, where he was selling a pile of recently discovered TS45 sidelever air rifles for $20 each! I blogged this rifle several years ago, and Vince also wrote a guest blog about the same rifle. Until now, there were no new guns you could buy. You had to find one by chance and would always be one somebody had owned and possibly modified. Now, Randy Mitchell, who runs his Adventures in Airguns store, has a huge pile of these rifles to sell. They aren’t very safe and are the very guns that chopped off thumbs when their anti-beartraps failed; but if you cock them safely and load while restraining the sidelever, they’re fun to shoot and are often accurate.

Randy Mitchell found these old/new TS45 sidelevers and brought them to the show. It’s stuff like this that keeps me going to every airgun show I can make!

Of course, there are too many modern guns to name here, but know that at any show you’ll find almost every modern classic airgun for sale. If you’re looking for good TX200s or old R7s, they’re usually available — and they were at this show, too. But what you also see are airguns that are so rare and hard to find that some of them won’t even be seen in airgun books. This yearm Ingvar Alm had both a Winsel CO2 pistol in the box and a Giffard CO2 pistol from the 1870s on his table. Giffard invented the application of CO2 for gun use, and Winsel made only 50 guns in the early 1950s. Neither gun is represented well in any airgun book I know.

The Winsel pistol was a bulk-filled CO2 pistol that required the owner to mail his tank back to the company to be filled. Yeah, that’s going to work! They made 50 and quit. Today, they’re a prized collectible.

Giffard pioneered the use of CO2 in guns in the 1870s. His pistols are many times rarer than his rifles. The empty pop bottle is for contrast — like Cindy Crawford’s mole.

Big bores
There were more big bores at this show than I see at other shows. Perhaps, that’s because the focus of big bore airgunning seems to center around Texas, where the LASSO match is held. Dennis Quackenbush delivered his guns to eager buyers, but the only rifle he had to show was his own .308, which he doesn’t want to sell. Eric Henderson and Big Bore Bob Dean were both there with some guns to sell, as well as Robert Vogel. But the one maker with a lot of guns on display was Jack Haley, whose table was a rainbow of laminated stocks.

Jack Haley’s table was a colorful display of big bore rifles.

Then there was the big bore that has been a joke in the airgun community for many years. The gun itself is fine. It was made back in the 1980s by Ben Patron, whose name is clearly on the side of the receiver. Somewhere along the line, some person got ahold of it and displayed it at the Springfield, Missouri, gun show as a “U.S. military .50-caliber sniper air rifle.” The label for that display was still inside the guitar box that held the gun, and Dennis Quackenbush remembers seeing it at the Springfield show. After that, it somehow ended up in an Arkansas pawn shop where Big Bore Bob found it and bought it.

Some previous owner had concocted a colorful background story for the Patron big bore of the 1980s.

The drawing
Many shows have a drawing, but airgun shows are so lightly attended that you actually have a chance of winning! This year, they gave away several very nice prizes at the close of the show, including a scoped TalonP pistol from AirForce! Then came the drawing for the frame-extended silencer for the Talon SS. I knew before the little girl picked my ticket that I would win it. How ironic is that? I’m testing a Talon SS with a bloop tube right now, so of course I’m going to win another one! But the supreme irony came when Randy Mitchell, a big bore hunter, won the .50-caliber Dragon Claw donated by Pyramyd Air.

Randy Mitchell (right) won the Dragon Claw. Show host, Seth Rowland, standing, ran the drawing. The young lady added a lot of sparkle and enthusiasm to the show. I see an airgunner in the making!

On the trip home, Mac and I relived the show many times. That’s another benefit. I can remember snippets from most past shows, and this one will now be filed away in the library.

Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, guest blogger Pete Zimmerman gives us his third and final report on the C-20 pistol…performance!

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

Bloggers must be proficient in simple html, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Part 1
Part 2

by Pete Zimmerman

FWB C-20

A C-20 costs well over $1,000 when I got mine, and its descendant, the P44, is close to twice the price today. For that money, you ought to get a gun that out-shoots your own skills but also one that makes it easy to shoot the best you can. Using a top match pistol, the shooter can’t complain that misses are the gun’s fault. The first few targets shot with such a gun provide a crash course in no-excuse humility.

The pistol promises that the pellet will go through the X-ring in the middle of the 10-ring if you deliver the perfect shot. Time after time. Of course, some guns prefer one brand, product line, weight or pellet head diameter better than others. And, some pellets are inconsistent in weight and balance coming out of the tin, so getting to Nirvana, where misses are only the fault of the shooter, may take a little effort.

To point out one thing, the 9 and 10 rings on an NRA or ISSF air pistol target are really quite forgiving. Any decent match pistol using any match pellet should result in a group smaller than the 10 ring from a bench or in the hands of a good marksman. Scott Pilkington, the moderator of the Target Talk forum says that it isn’t worth your time to test. I found out that it is.

For this article, I set up a portable Workmate tool kit and vise combination on top of my shooting table. I opened the vise jaws a bit and anchored the gun by putting the gas tank in the vise grooves. I protected the tank with a bit of old foam rubber. The pistol can still rotates around the long axis of the CO2 tank but can’t move up and down. Small rotations of the gun change the cant angle and the impact point, so I put a small spirit level across the action to check position. I made no attempt to aim the rig to line up the sights on the bull. The point was to shoot groups that hit a piece of target paper…somewhere. I moved the target, not the rig, when I changed the type of pellet.

For test rounds, I had a grab bag of miscellaneous pellets sitting around from three manufacturers: RWS, H&N, and Crosman.

Start with the top performer, and another one not so good:

A 5-round group using RWS R-10 pellets, and another with H&N Match 4.49mm pellets sold under the Pilkington house brand.

The heavy RWS R-10 Rifle pellets (0.53 grams) delivered not only a one-hole 5-shot group, but a near zero-jitter group extraordinarily close to the target sample delivered with the pistol. The hole was small enough that a pellet won’t fall through the hole. It’s almost exactly as good as the proof target that came with the gun. The 4.49mm-diameter H&N Match pellets were significantly worse, resulting in a fairly open one-hole group that looks like a two-hole-with-flier because I bumped the Workmate after the first shot and took 5 more shots at the new aim point. Forget the “flier”; the group is still far too large for this pistol.

Meisterkugeln rifle pellets tested against 4.50mm H&N Match Pellets. Victory to the RWS brand.

The R-10’s less expensive stable mate, the Meisterkugeln Rifle pellet, also delivered a single-hole group, almost as perfect as the R-10s. On the other hand, the Haendler and Nattermann Match pistol pellet with a 4.50mm diameter head resulted in a ragged single-hole group, indicating that the C-20 might just not like H&N ammunition in its barrel. Not shown is a test of R-10 pistol pellets, which were almost as good as the heavier R-10s. In the C-20, heavier is better.

I gave the H&N 4.49s a second try, and then got the day’s surprise when I shot some cheapie Crossman Copperheads.

I decided to give the 4.49mm H&Ns another try. After all, they shoot extremely well from my IZH-46M. No joy. A very ragged single-hole group, with a diameter fully 3x that of a pellet diameter. Then, I noticed in the bottom of my pellet drawer a plastic box with a hundred or so Crosman Copperhead pellets, picked up a year or two ago over a weekend when I was otherwise out of ammunition.

The five shots landed in a single-hole group no larger than 1.5x the diameter of a pellet. I’m impressed and surprised.

I don’t contend that another batch of those cheapie pellets would shoot the same as the few that I tested for this post. But what the heck, it’s a better 5-shot group than either size of H&N pellets delivered.

This round of testing is enough to convince me that with current production pellets, the C-20 likes the RWS brand a lot more than the competition, and that it prefers a heavy pellet to a lighter one. I’ll probably save some money by using Meisterkugeln for practice and R-10s for when I finally enter some matches.

One thing’s clear: my C-20 will out shoot me and might still be suitable for international-level competition as long as the temperature remains constant on the range. All those world-beating CO2 pistols? They didn’t turn into trash when the first PCP guns hit the market. Quite probably only the top few hundred shooters in the world will ever need a better weapon, even in competition.

I have concluded that my worst problem is that the C-20s grip doesn’t fit my hand well and allows the gun to shift right as it’s fired. A lot of putty didn’t cure it. I’ll be in Germany soon and will have Thomas Rink of Rink Formgriffe make me an absolutely custom grip from a casting of my hand. If I have the bread, I might let that be the butter on a new Steyr LP-10 Compact, which weighs almost 250gm less than the C-20. A savings of almost half a pound! That will be an advantage for my medically damaged right arm and shoulder muscles.

Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, guest blogger Pete Zimmerman continues his report on the C-20 pistol, as he shows us the technical side of his target gun.

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

Bloggers must be proficient in simple html, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Part 1

by Pete Zimmerman

FWB C-20

Overall impression
The C-20 is a good sized gun. By catalog specs, it’s 16.5 inches (419.1mm) long, and weighs in at 2.5 lbs. (1150 grams). The grip looks much like a Morini competition grip, but old FWB parts lists say that it is not (at least not technically) from the Morini factory.

The palm shelf is held by two small Allen-head screws and is readily adjustable. Unfortunately, it’s not easily fixed precisely in place unless you have three hands — one to grip the pistol, one to hold the palm shelf in place against the gripping hand and a third to wield the wrench to tighten the Allen screws. (Thomas Rink’s custom grips have a patented palm shelf that can be adjusted with only one hand!)

Apparently, the C-20 was the first FWB pistol in which the angle of the grip is also adjustable. The two Allen screws that hold the grip together can be loosened to permit the grip angle to be changed through about a 10-deg. arc. This is a major improvement; without it my scores would suffer!

The inside of the C-20’s grip. Allen bolts through the two slots let the grip rotate approximately 10 deg. forward and backward to help the shooter get to a good rake angle. It’s crude, but it works.

The loading system is extremely easy. The shooter pulls up the charging cover until it reaches full stop. The breech is now open, the bolt retracted, the gas system charged and the trigger cocked. Between breech and bolt is a small channel — pellet-sized. The shooter simply puts a pellet in the channel and closes the cover. The bolt moves forward, and a small o-ring seals it in the breech. The gun is ready to fire. Remember…competition arms have no safety, so the weapon is live! There’s one other problem. You cannot see the pellet once it enters the breech, so it’s too easy to lose focus, load a second pellet, and then shoot both. This is not a good idea. I know from experience.

We’re looking at a pellet in the loading tray with the bolt behind it; the charging gate is open. The black o-ring on the bolt is the only seal that’s failed in the 16 or 17 years I’ve owned the gun. They’re not cheap but are readily available in the US. I got mine from Pilkington Competition.

Dry-firing is extremely easy to set up. After opening the breech and charging the system, simply push on the tab extending out from the left side of the action. The trigger can be pulled completely as if you were shooting a live round, but all that happens is a click when the sear disengages. To return to live fire, open the breech, cock the gun, push the tab in the other direction and close the breech. You can shift from live to dry firing while there’s a pellet in the bore!

The rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation with click stops marked in the conventional European way. To move a shot that lands right of the target, turn the windage knob toward R (right or rechts). The rule of thumb is to turn the knob “into” the error. “Up” and “down” are marked as “H” and “T” for hoch and tief in German. The width of the notch on the rear sight is adjusted by putting a small Allen wrench through a whole in a shaft and then turning it until the desired size is reached. I haven’t been able to check how much backlash there is in the crucial micrometer screws, but I think it’s about one click.

A good look at the very adjustable rear sight. The only adjustment not readily available is the depth of the notch.

The pistol is packaged with several front sight inserts of varying widths. For the first time on the C-20, FWB also milled in grooves on the barrel so the sight radius can be adjusted. Shortening the sight radius theoretically ought to reduce the precision of your aim, but it also tends to reduce small “adjustments” (lets call them correctly, the shakes!) in your hold, so for the moment I’ve moved the front sight to the shortest possible radius. The standard ISSF AP target is so big that the small reduction in aiming precision is negligible compared to the large improvement in apparent steadiness! I then chose a sight insert which appears from my shooting eye to be about the same width as the diameter of the bull. I then adjusted the notch width to have an apparent size twice that of the front sight. When I focus and concentrate, this consistently gets me 10-shot string scores between 82 and 90, mostly around 85. Your mileage, like mine, may differ.

The front sight has been moved backwards from its “standard” position near the front of the barrel. I might move it even farther back.

Ah, the beautiful FWB trigger. It breaks with a snap as sharp as breaking the thin stem on a fine crystal wine glass. There is no sense of motion as the shooter applies pressure to the blade, until the gun fires. And, if it’s properly adjusted, the blade instantly hits the trigger stop, so that there’s no motion afterwards, either.

The trigger on the C-20 is very highly evolved from the ones on the C-2 and C-10. There are more adjustments, including first-stage length and weight, ratio between first and second stages, firing point and trigger stop. You can also loosen the large screw on the trigger shaft to rotate the trigger blade to any angle, left or right around the shaft, and can move the entire shaft to the right or left, forward and backward. Well, actually, if there’s anything on the entire pistol I really don’t like it’s the adjustment that allows the trigger blade to rotate on its shaft. It seems to me that I can never get it locked down so the blade angle doesn’t shift over 50 or 100 shots. It’s a constant battle between me, the trigger and the little multi-tool with screwdriver that comes with the gun.

I haven’t fired a C-2 or C-10, but the instruction manuals for both pistols are available online at the FWB site. The diagrams of the older generation triggers show simpler mechanisms with fewer adjustments. This may be a good thing, as making too many adjustments is a fast way for a shooter new to the weapon or the sport to get into really big trouble.

The manuals for any FWB gun ever made along with exploded parts diagrams and complete parts lists are readily available on the FWB site, which has both English and German versions. Choose on the home page.

Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Pete Zimmerman has been both a reader and contributor to this blog and many of you know that his interest lies with 10-meter shooting. Today, he’s going to begin telling us about his special target pistol.

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

Bloggers must be proficient in simple html, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Pete Zimmerman

FWB C-20

First, some history

The first air pistol that I owned I inherited from my father-in-law, who gave me his ancient Diana 5-series pistol. By the time I got the old breakbarrel gun, its barrel had been chewed to pieces by 20 years of summer afternoons when my wife’s family shot darts at a target. But it was fun to shoot with pellets until it finally died. Then, I bought a Diana 6-series semi-match pistol when I visited Hamburg. That was a great gun to learn on because it had a recoil-compensating system, so the slap-smash recoil pattern of the old five-series pistol was gone. Even so, it was too heavy, and took too much effort in the cocking.

That problem of the double recoil from airguns had to be solved if really high accuracy in a match was ever to be achieved. Two post-World War II German companies found ways to make an air pistol almost recoilless. The Dianawerk used two opposed pistons, one going forward, and the other backward, in what was called the Giss system — after its inventor. If both pistons could be timed identically, then the major part of the spring recoil would be equalized out. Feinwerkbau took a different approach. It decided to mount the entire action on rails so the recoil energy would be coupled into a heavy, freely sliding sledge that recoiled smoothly so the gun didn’t bounce. For FWB, this was an adaptation of a match rifle action of the highly successful 300 series. From its introduction in 1965 until the late 1980s, the FWB-65 ruled international competition; in 1992, shooters using FWB guns took all the airgun medals at the Olympics. Only well into the 1990s was the FWB-65 definitively surpassed — by guns from the same company.

Despite mechanical compensation, my old Diana match pistol still had a noticeable kick, and even the FWB-65 was not perfectly still. So, how to make a better match pistol? The obvious idea was to get rid of the piston and the spring; the first advance was high-quality, single-stroke pneumatic power, but those guns still had the disadvantage of having to be cocked shot-by-shot. Easy enough for a short time, but over the length of a match it can be fatiguing and distracting.

Could cocking be eliminated entirely? It wasn’t a new idea. Carbon dioxide had been used to shoot pellets for decades; usually, the gas came packaged in the standard 12-gram capsules, much like those used to make seltzer water. But there’s a problem: it takes 85 shots to complete a men’s match: 15 sighters and 60 shots for score. If you’re successful, a further 10 for the finals. To be certain that gas pressure doesn’t drop at the end, just when the competitive pressure is at its peak, a shooter would like to have at least 10 more shots in reserve for a total of 95 shots to complete a match in comfort. The problem was that those little 12 gram capsules were just too small. The solution was bulk-fill CO2 in a tank under the barrel of the pistol — a system patented by Austrians Emil Senfter and Viktor Idl. Their partnership foundered, and Senfter took the basic design first to Walther and later to Steyr-Mannlicher, resulting in the world-beating Walther CP-1 and Steyr LP-1. Idl approached FWB, which then produced the C-2. Much of this information comes directly from some e-mails I had with Frauke Umdasch of Steyr, where Herr Senfter remains on the payroll.

The FWB Model 2 and the Walther and Steyr pistols look almost like triplets as a result.

Enough history! On to the pistol…in tomorrow’s blog.

Note the barely visible rocker just under the charging cover. That’s used to set the gun for dry firing or live fire.

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