Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

Things you need when you buy a PCP

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

This report covers:

• Equipment to fill the gun
• Silicone chamber oil
• Diver’s silicone grease
• Plumber’s tape
• No such thing as Teflon tape
• A chronograph tells the whole story
• Other things?
• Summary

Today, I’m writing this for the sales representatives at Pyramyd Air, who are always asked what else you’ll need when you buy a precharged airgun. Precharged airguns need some things to go with them to operate smoothly. Think of  the batteries you always need for electronics. Are they included in the box or do you have to buy them extra?

Equipment to fill the gun
This is the big one! How does air get into your new gun? Back in the 1980s, customers were surprised to learn they had to buy the fill device (also called a decant device, hose and gauge, and other things) separate from the airgun. They never thought about people possibly owning two such guns that one fill device would service. And they also didn’t appreciate how much these fill devices cost — and how much could be saved by not buying a second one that was identical.

These days, most people know you need a fill device of some kind to connect an air source to an airgun, but there’s more to it than just that. Some companies, such as AirForce, Crosman, Daystate and Dennis Quackenbush, use the now-common Foster quick-disconnect fittings that simplify everything. One common fill hose services all the airguns made by these companies. On the other hand, Air Arms, BSA, Evanix and others still have proprietary connections. The question is: What do you need to fill your new airgun?

Pyramyd Air provides an easy solution to this dilemma — a little decision tree that helps you find exactly what you need for your new airgun. You can try it out right now and see how it works. Select any PCP on their website and look at the product page. I’m going to choose the Air Arms S510 Xtra PCP Carbine.

On that page, find the tabs where you see these words:

Description  Specifications  Customer reviews  Questions & Answers  PCP Hookup

Click on the words PCP Hookup, and you’ll see the tool they’ve provided. Don’t be embarrassed if this is new to you. I didn’t notice it until Edith came into my office and walked me through it — and I write this blog!

PCP hookup
When you click on PCP Hookup, this is what you’ll see.

Now, click on the air source you will be using to fill your PCP, and the complete connection requirements will come up. Try several of these fill source options (by clicking the reset button), so you can fully appreciate what they’ve done for you. As the fill source changes, so do the connection requirements. If no additional adapters or hoses are shown after you click on your preferred fill device, that means none are needed. And it states that at the top of the left side.

PCP Hookup

When I clicked on the Hill MK3 pump as my preferred fill device, it said on the top left column that I didn’t need any additional hoses or adapters to make this fit the Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC PCP air rifle. If I wanted to find other fill devices, I would click the “reset” button to go back to the full list on the PCP Hookup tab.

Like Einstein’s relativity equation, everything sounds simple after seeing this software tool. But airgunners have lived 34 years without it and can tell you — it isn’t obvious!

[Editor's note: Whether you're looking for hand pumps or carbon fiber tanks, always check out more than one fill option. Some devices are more expensive, but they may already include the hoses and adapters you need and may end up being more economical than buying a fill device that requires you to buy additional hoses and adapters.]

Silicone chamber oil
If you’ve read even a couple weeks worth of these reports, you’ve seen me recommend silicone chamber oil for sealing airguns. This stuff is so necessary that veteran airgunners should all know they need it. When I worked at AirForce Airguns, I was responsible for testing every valve they made. When a valve leaked (and a small percentage of them did leak on the first test) it was my job to fix it. There are just two things that can fix most high pressure air valves — getting rid of dirt and silicone chamber oil.

I would use a heavy rubber mallet to smack the valves, causing them to pop open loudly under pressure. That also blew out any dirt that was in the sealing surfaces and also made a perfect impression of the metal valve face in the hard synthetic valve seat. It was like breaking in leather shoes. Once broken-in that way, that valve would work reliably for — well, I don’t really know. I have some valves that are now 14 years old, and they still hold indefinitely.

But silicone oil was needed for the o-ring that seals the valve inside the air tank. We actually used a light industrial silicone grease that works very well when you can apply it directly to the parts; but when the gun is together, it’s hard to get grease to go where you want. Light silicone oil will go everywhere, and I cannot remember how many hundreds of airguns I’ve fixed with it — the most recent being the Crosman 2240 that has the HiPAC air conversion installed.

I’ll even go farther and advise you to get a bottle of silicone chamber oil with a needle applicator. That applicator is very handy for putting the oil exactly where you want it. You’ll also find it wonderful for oiling piston seals on a spring gun through the air transfer port.

Diver’s silicone grease
I just said that silicone grease and oil could be used interchangeably, but what I didn’t say is that you pick the one that best suits the job. That’s why I also have silicone grease on hand at all times. If there’s an o-ring that can be seen, like on the bottom of 200- and 300-bar air fittings, use the grease instead of the oil. For the o-ring that seals the HiPAC air tank to the Crosman 2240 pistol, use the grease. Not only does the silicone grease seal air just like silicone oil, it also remains on the parts for a long time. I have 3 jars of it, and one is always in my range bag.

Plumber’s tape
Here’s a product that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry! But no worries, because just about every hardware store stocks it. Plumber’s tape is for sealing joints that thread together.

plumbers tape
Plumber’s tape is not sticky. It seals the smallest holes in threaded joints.

If this is new to you, it’s tape that doesn’t stick to anything. It has no glue! It is elastic and rather thin, but when you wrap threads with it the correct way, it expands into the smallest crevices and seals the threads against air loss. And, having written that, I guess I will now do a report on how to properly wrap threads for a repair.

Plumber’s tape lubricates the threads, so joints go together tighter (farther), plus it deforms easily, blocking those same threads. It also keeps threads from seizing, so they come apart easier.

No such thing as Teflon tape
Many people call this Teflon tape. But it isn’t. Teflon is a registered trademark of Dupont; so, unless they make the tape (they don’t at the present time), it isn’t Teflon. It’s more correctly called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape – but plumber’s tape is probably the best name for it.

It’s not expensive, and I use it a lot; so, I keep several rolls around the house. I also keep a roll in my range bag, where it’s saved a PCP field test more than once.

A chronograph tells the whole story
You knew I was going to recommend one of these, didn’t you? If not, you’re a new reader of this blog. This is one of the most important diagnostic tools an airgunner can own. A chronograph tells you how fast the pellets are traveling when they leave the muzzle of your airgun.

For many years, I used the Oehler 35P printing chronograph. I was raised in a time when Oehler chronographs were the most accurate instruments money could buy, and writers had to have one to be taken seriously. Then, I started writing this blog, and my chronographing needs increased tenfold! When I did a test of the Shooting Chrony chronograph, I was impressed with how convenient it is. I now keep one set up in my office permanently, which is where all my indoor velocity data is gathered. The price is right, and the unit is small, rugged and easy to transport. And it has an anchor point to mount it to a camera tripod.

If you want a choice, I’ve read good reports about the Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital Chronograph. The Bianchi Cup uses it, and that’s a big-time firearm competition! It doesn’t cost much more than the Shooting Chrony, so you have two good instruments to choose from.

Other things?
Is there more? Of course, but these are the essentials. The chronograph you can live without for a little while, but the other things you really should get right away.

Summary
Buying your first PCP airgun always seems to be a leap of faith. You’re going where you’ve never been, to places others have warned you to avoid. You’ve done the research, but you still wonder if the good stories aren’t all just part of a grand scheme to hoodwink you.

I’ve told you about all the things I think you absolutely need when you get a PCP. Pyramyd Air has coined a new word for them — PCP necessories. Obviously you don’t need 2 chronographs or 2 different silicone oils, but you’ll eventually need one of each if you’re going to enjoy your new precharged airgun to its fullest.

Tales from the range

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

I was at the rifle range yesterday and there were some things that I had to tell you. There’s no order to this — it’s just what I want to say.

First thing, I get to the range and there’s a young man with 3 very fine rifles. One has been custom made for him, and the other 2 are factory models that each have some add-ons such as aftermarket triggers. He mentioned that he had just gotten rid of a .257 Weatherby Magnum from which he was unable to get good groups.

Each of his rifles had a Leupold Vari X III scope, which is not a cheap sight. There are couple thousand dollars worth of fine firearms and sights laying on his bench. But every 10 minutes or so, he asks if the range can go cold so he can walk down to the 100-yard target holder and look at his targets. That’s right, sports fans, he hasn’t got a spotting scope!

I set up my spotting scope; and when he saw it, he immediately launched into a spiel, “I really need to get one of those!” He told me he was using targets with red bulls because he couldn’t see his .25-caliber holes on black bulls through his rifle scopes at 100 yards. I invited him to look through my spotting scope, and he was amazed that he could clearly see all his holes on the target. How much easier his shooting life would be if he only had a spotting scope!

Spotting scope
My spotting scope allows me to see every shot I make at 100 and 200 yards without leaving the bench. It’s not a thing to appreciate in its own right, but it enriches the time spent on the range.

He asked me to recommend a good spotting scope, but I couldn’t. All I could say is that nearly all telescopes are made in the Orient these days, and you really need to look through them to find a good one. The fancy names mean very little, as I found out with a Celestron spotting scope that had horrible optics. I actually traded a rifle for my current scope because it’s so clear. More rifles I can get. Good spotting scopes are hard to come by.

What bothered me the most about this encounter was that I could see myself 30 years ago in this young man. I did the same thing then that he’s doing now. I spent all my money on guns and had nothing left over for the mundane equipment that matters so much when you want to shoot comfortably.

Tale 2
Same day, same range. Another young man arrives and just wants to blow the dead bees out of his barrel before he drives to work. He has a fine rifle, too. Know what he uses for hearing protection? The filter tips from 2 cigarettes!

Tale 3
Then, I’m down at the 100-yard berm, looking at my targets. The holes made by the bullets are sharp and distinct. They can tell me a lot — especially when untoward things happen — like bullets tumbling. I glance over at my neighbor’s target. It’s a piece of paper torn from a notepad, with a bull inked-in by a black Sharpie. The holes are more like tears than bullet holes.

So, Mr. thousand-dollar rifle with his five-hundred dollar scope is shooting dollar-apiece rounds at a piece of wastepaper he has colored to look like a real target. There’s real economy for you!

target paper target
This real target from National Target shows the pattern of tumbling bullets quite well. Note paper can’t do this!

Tale 4
Remember what I said a couple days ago about a right-handed shooter who pulls the trigger on a handgun instead of squeezing it? He’ll always shoot low and to the left. I was on the pistol range and a fellow was trying out a new (to him) .40 Smith & Wesson that he just traded for. It had a fat double-stack magazine that he loaded to the max, then he walked halfway to the target on the 15-yard range. So, he is now just 7.5 yards from the target. Hey, 90 percent of all defense situations happen at less than 9 feet — right?

Bang! Bang! Bang! Guess what? Nice tight group on the target, but below the bull and to the left. He says he guesses he’ll just have to adjust his sights on this pistol, too. Funny — all his pistols shoot to the same place.

And I have a bloody tongue from biting it so hard.

Tale 5
Another guy on the line is shooting a Blaser single-shot rifle. They cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500, by themselves. And, guess what he’s resting it on? A 6-inch by 6-inch wood block with a pillow cushion on top. What — he can’t find an ironing board like everybody else?

I shot for many years using a plastic MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest. I found it stable and accurate. Maybe not as fancy as other rests, but for the cost of 2 boxes of rifle ammo, it was pretty good.

M-T-M rifle rest
The MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest served me well for many years.

Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest
Today, I use the Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest.

I upgraded top a Caldwell Lead Sled a while back. It’s even more stable and rigid, plus is allows adding weight to absorb recoil.

What’s my beef?
I don’t really have a complaint, as much as a plea to those guys who are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Shooting equipment is not sexy, but it can make a huge difference in your level of enjoyment while you’re behind the trigger. This is the stuff you buy begrudgingly today, then celebrate your good decision for the rest of your life. And its more than just the few things mentioned here. It’s also good gun cases, nice holsters, indestructible bullet traps, handy range bags and boxes — in fact anything that helps you enjoy your time afield in any way.

This isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of, but having it does allow you to dream. And here’s how you will recognize it. When you look at your equipment, pick out the things that have been with you the longest. The things that are worn shiny by handling. The things you would miss sorely if they weren’t there. You probably grumbled when you bought them, but today you couldn’t imagine going shooting without them. They aren’t the experience by themselves, but they make the experience possible.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

You've seen tons of movies with guys spraying bullets from their Uzi submachine guns and probably thought it would be a blast. Except for the cost of ammo! You can have all that fun with this Uzi BB submachine gun at just pennies a round. Throw shots downrange for hours on end with all the fun, none of the firearm hassles and a fraction of the cost.

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