Posts Tagged ‘Air Arms Diablo Field Heavy pellets’

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 7

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank
AirForce Condor SS with Spin-Loc tank.

I bet some of you thought we were finished with the AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank. Well, we are…in a way. I’m removing the Hi-Flo Spin-Loc tank and replacing it with a standard AirForce tank. Instead of the Hi-Flo valve that gets 20-25 shots per fill, this tank has the standard valve that gives 35-40 good shots per fill. Of course, the power is lower, but it’s still a powerful airgun.

Blog reader Gunfun1 recently asked me to test the Talon SS rifle with all three barrel lengths so he could see the power and velocity increase that the longer barrels bring. I will do that in a future series, but today’s test is different. What we’re testing today is how a Condor powerplant and a .22-caliber 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel performs with the standard tank. The Condor and Condor SS share a common powerplant and air tank — only the barrel lengths differ.

Valvology
Let’s talk about pneumatic valves for a minute to gain a better understanding of what we’re testing. A couple things determine how much power a precharged pneumatic airgun has, and most of them are attributed to the valve. Fundamentally, it comes down to how much compressed air gets through the valve. That’s controlled by two things. The first is the size of the air hole running through the valve. A Hi-Flo valve has a huge hole running though it, so more air gets through each time the valve opens.

AirForce Condor SS Hi-Flo tank and standard tank
The Hi-Flo tank on the left has a larger hole at the end of its valve stem than the standard tank on the right. This is where the extra power comes from.

The second thing that determines how much air gets through a valve is how long it stays open. For a knock-open design like the AirForce valve, the duration the valve remains open is controlled by the length of the valve stem stroke and the strength of the valve return spring (the spring that closes the valve after the shot is fired).

Think of it like this. A hundred thousand people cannot all go through your front door at the same time. The number that can get through depends on how wide the doorway is and how long the door stays open. The moment the door starts to open, people can start coming though; and they’ll continue until the door closes. If a powerful man controls the door, only a few people will get through at a time. If a child controls it, many more will get though each time.

A Hi-Flo valve is like a very large door, while a standard tank is like a regular door. But here is the thing. No matter whether there are a hundred thousand people or two hundred thousand people outside the door (the analog of the air pressure inside the tank), only a certain number will get though each time it opens. And if the number of people outside the door becomes too large, they press against the door and hold it shut. No amount of force can open it then. That’s valve lock.

Barrel length
I’ve said many times that a pneumatic barrel is a lot like the barrel in a black powder gun — the longer the barrel is (within limits): the more time the gas has to push against the pellet, the faster it will exit the muzzle. Bore diameter also figures into this equation. A .177 barrel runs out of steam sooner than a .22 barrel does. The longer barrel is also tied to the caliber. This deserves an explanation.

Imagine 2 funnels. Both have spouts that are 3″ long. One spout is .25″ diameter on the inside, the other spout is 1″ diameter on the inside. Which funnel will empty fastest? The one with the wider spout. That’s because more of the material that passes through the funnel is not in direct (frictional) contact with the walls of the spout. Don’t get confused by what I just said. The larger spout does have more material that’s in contact with the spout; but because the inside diameter of the spout is larger, a much greater amount of material never touches the walls of the spout.

We’ve been testing a .22-caliber Condor SS that has an 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel. As we saw in the earlier tests, this barrel is 6 inches shorter than a regular Condor barrel and produces somewhat less velocity than a standard Condor of the same caliber. We’re now going to install a standard tank that has a smaller valve, so the velocity will drop. That’s one way of looking at it.

The other way to look at this is a standard Talon SS has a 12-inch Lothar Walther barrel. This rifle’s barrel is 6 inches longer. We’re about to see what a longer barrel does with the standard tank. The only difference between today’s rifle and an AirForce Talon (not the SS — the Talon that has an 18-inch barrel) will be the Condor powerplant, which means the weight of the striker. That will add a little velocity because the valve is being opened more forcefully. Going back to the door analogy, it won’t affect things nearly as much as those additional six inches of barrel.

Installing the standard tank
The Condor SS I have is fitted with a Spin-Loc tank. It stays on the rifle all the time and is filled through a male Schraeder nipple. To convert to the standard tank, I’ll remove the Spin-Loc tank with the wrench supplied by AirForce. Then the standard tank will spin on and off for filling, just like it does on my older Talon SS. No tools are required, but of course it does not have a built-in pressure gauge, either. So, I’m back to counting the shots fired; but in today’s test, we’ll see exactly how many good shots there are in this tank at high power.

The test
For the purpose of comparison, I’m going to test the same pellets and the same power settings as were used in the Condor SS test. While those pellets aren’t necessarily correct for this lower-powered rifle, it will give you a basis for comparison between the two tanks, which is all we’re testing here.

Condor SS velocity

AirForce Condor SS velocity data

What we have learned?
There isn’t much adjustability with the Condor SS using the standard tank. I haven’t given you the velocity spreads or the shot count, which are all very close, regardless of the power setting. I actually recorded over 40 shots on power setting 10; so I think I would shoot 40 shots per fill, regardless of where the power was set. The velocity spread varied by pellet, but not so much by power setting. It was about 32 f.p.s. across 40 shots for Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes; 41 f.p.s for 40 Premiers; 25 f.p.s. for 40 JSB Exact Jumbos, except on power setting 4, where it was 17 f.p.s. and 15 f.p.s. for 40 Beeman Kodiaks.

I would set the power on No. 4 for the test rifle because that setting gave more power and velocity than any other setting. You probably want to know why that is. I think the valve opens too forcefully at settings above 4, and it bounces (flutters open and closed rapidly) on the valve seat, costing power. But on setting 4, it doesn’t bounce and thus gets the highest power. Note that setting 2 was always less than setting 4. I believe the valve on setting 2 is not bouncing, but actually opening cleanly, which is why it resembles some of the higher power settings that are bouncing. At least that’s my theory.

The Condor SS is quieter with the standard tank, but it isn’t absolutely quiet. It sounds about like a Talon SS at power setting 10. That’s pleasant, like a loud hand clap. It is quite a bit quieter than with the Hi-Flo tank attached.

Summary
There’s less power when you use the Condor SS with the standard tank, but you just about double the shot count. And the discharge noise is less than that of the gun with the Hi-Flo tank.

What you get when the rifle is set up this way is a Talon that’s a little quieter. The Talon has more adjustability, of course, but today we’ve looked at a way to enjoy more flexibility from your rifle without buying another complete PCP.

If I were to use the standard tank with the Condor SS, I would set it to power level 4 and shoot 40 shots per fill. That would be regardless of which pellet I used.

We’ve already seen the accuracy of this rifle at 25 and 50 yards. Is it necessary for me to do those tests again with the standard tank installed? I think the group sizes will be similar, but of course they’re never quite the same. I’ll let you readers decide.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank
AirForce Condor SS with Spin-Loc tank. The buttpad is shown flipped down.

Yesterday, I shot the AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank at 50 yards. I’m also going to show you that one surprising group I got last week when I tried shooting the rifle in windy weather. That is a pellet I need to try more often!

The day was not perfect for shooting airguns at 50 yards, but it was calm enough to get the best results. I proved that by shooting some groups when the wind wasn’t calm and they didn’t open at all. We’re talking about a 5 m.p.h. head-on breeze that occasionally dropped to 1 m.p.h. at the lowest, so it wasn’t as bad as it sounds. But when the target is 50 yards away, any breeze can affect the pellets.

I’m going to cut right to the chase in this report. I did try Beeman Kodiak pellets, as well as .22-caliber Crosman Premiers, and neither pellet was worth pursuing. Then, I tried the Air Arms Field Heavy pellet, and knew I’d found the right one. I got good 10-shot groups that had superior smaller groups inside them, but there were always a couple fliers. The power was set to 6 on the power window, and the discharge sound was quite loud, especially considering I was at a rifle range (with my ear protectors off, so I could hear what was really happening).

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 6-1
Ten Air Arms Field Heavy pellets went into 1.968 inches on power setting 6, but 8 of them went into 1.046 inches. That’s good, but why were there fliers?

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 6-2
This best group of 10 Air Arms pellets on power setting 6 went into 1.254 inches, but 9 of them are in 0.906 inches. Once again, we have a flier.

By this time, I had fired about 40 shots and was starting to understand how this rifle behaves. It seemed to be using too much air at power setting 6 with this pellet, so I dialed it back to power setting 4, and that’s where the magic started. The groups tightened up dramatically, and the fliers stopped altogether. Power setting 4 is where this rifle wants to be with this Air Arms Field Heavy pellet.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 4-1
This best group of 10 Air Arms pellets went into 0.873 inches. This was on power setting 4, which seems to be the best setting for this pellet.

Not only did I get better groups at power setting 4, but I also got an astounding 40 good shots per fill. The last 10 shots (shots 31 to 40) did open up just a bit, but even then the group was just 1.172 inches between centers, which is still very good for 10 shots at 50 yards.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Air Arms Field Heavy pellet power 4-2
Shots 31-40 on power setting 4 did open up a bit; but these 10 pellets are still in 1.172 inches, and I got 40 shots from one fill.

I’ve a thought about what’s happening. I understand the Talon SS rifle and its 12-inch barrel quite well, and I also understand the Condor and its 24-inch barrel. What I do not yet have is much experience with a Condor valve and tank and an 18-inch barrel. I need more experience with this combination before I’ll be comfortable with the power settings and pellets that work the best. For now, though, the 18-grain Air Arms pellet on power setting 4 is the best in my test rifle.

A wind-bucking pellet
Now, for that pellet that seems to buck the wind better than the rest. It’s a Skenco New Boy Senior 28.6-grain dome. I shot it last week when the wind was higher and it bucked the wind when every other pellet was getting thrown around. My 10-shot group size was a bit large, at 1.704 inches, but 8 of those 10 pellets are in a tight 0.789 inches, and this was in considerable wind! I didn’t have any more of them for today’s test, but I’ll be ordering more for the future, I can assure you.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Skenco New Boy Senior pellet 4
On a windy day, 10 Skenco New Boy Senior pellets made a 1.704-inch group, but 8 of them landed in 0.789 inches. This is worth pursuing.

All things considered, the Condor SS performed flawlessly this day. I like the new trigger a lot, and the new safety is the best. I can’t wait to try out this rifle in some novel ways!

We aren’t done with the Condor SS yet. Next, I’m going to switch the Spin-Loc Hi-Flo tank with a standard tank, and we’ll look at the velocity, shot count, noise signature and accuracy at both 25 and 50 yards. By the time I’m finished, you all should know quite a lot about this new air rifle from AirForce.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank
AirForce Condor SS with Spin-Loc tank. The buttpad is shown flipped down.

Before we start today’s report, many of you requested to see the Condor SS next to a regular Condor and a Talon SS for size comparison. The photo below shows that.

AirForce Condor SS rifle Condor and Talon SS
Condor SS on top, Condor in the middle and Talon SS on the bottom.

Today, we’ll begin the accuracy test of the new .22-caliber AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank. This was shot indoors at 25 yards and was the first time I’ve shot this rifle for accuracy.

I mounted a Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 AO scope in a one-piece BKL mount with 1-inch rings. The scope was clear and bright at 25 yards. I’ve used it in the past, so I know it’s a good one.

One shot from 12 feet confirmed that the rifle would be on target at 25 yards, so I backed up and shot one more. The vertical adjustment had to be adjusted up about 8 clicks, and I was centered on the target. Now, the shooting could begin.

For this test, the rifle was set on power setting 2, as that had delivered good velocity with all the pellets I would be testing. I didn’t want to waste air; and I was shooting indoors, so there were no breezes to contend with.

Beeman Kodiaks
The first pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak that weighs 21.14 grains. The first shot almost destroyed the aim point, but the rest of the shots drifted to the left a little. After 10 shots, I had a 2-hole group that measured a maximum of 0.626 inches between centers. It’s okay, but not what I was hoping for.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank-Kodiak-group-25-yards
Ten Beeman Kodiaks made this group at 25 yards. At 0.626 inches between centers, it’s okay but not what I’d hoped to get from the Condor SS.

JSB Exact Jumbo
After the Kodiaks, I shot 10 JSB Exact Jumbo pellets. They weigh 18.1 grains and are perfectly suited to the power of this rifle. They did give a better, more rounded group; but at 0.613 inches, it wasn’t much smaller than the Kodiak group. I felt the Condor SS should be capable of even better accuracy.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank-JSB-Exact-Jumbo-group-25-yards
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo pellets did better, at 0.613 inches between centers, but I was still hoping for better from this rifle.

Air Arms Field Heavy
The next pellet I tried was one I’d not shot before. The Air Arms Field Heavy looks a lot like the JSB Exact Jumbo; and at 18 grains, it weighs about the same. But this pellet did much better in the test rifle. Ten of them made a group that measures just 0.328 inches between centers. This very round group was what I was looking for from the Condor SS. It tells me the rifle wants to shoot — I just had to find the right pellet.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank-Air-Arms-Field-Heavy-group-25-yards
Bingo! This is the group I was looking for. Ten Air Arms Field Heavy pellets went into a nice round group measuring just 0.328 inches between centers.

Eun Jin
The last pellet I tested was the Eun Jin 28.4-grain dome. AirForce barrel breeches are specially cut to allow Eun Jin pellets to be loaded more easily than in other PCP rifles, though they still do take a push to seat. But no tools are needed and your thumb doesn’t get sore. And they’re the kind of pellet to use when going after medium-sized game such as woodchucks and raccoons. They made a pleasing 0.577-inch group that’s good for a heavy hunting pellet. It’s a round group, too, so this pellet doesn’t seem to be disturbed on its flight in any way.

AirForce Condor SS precharged air rifle with Spin-Loc tank-Eun-JIn-dome-group-25-yards
Ten Eun Jin domes made this well-rounded group, which measures 0.577 inches between centers.

What’s it like to shoot?
Now that the shooting is done, don’t you want to know what the Condor SS is like? I tested the new trigger and safety last year, but that was on a regular Condor. This is the first Condor SS I’ve had a chance to shoot.

The trigger is light and crisp, but I can hear one of the internal springs tensioning as I take up the slack. That became a sound I heard on every shot. It’s neither good nor bad, just different.

The safety goes off like a stick of butter on a hot pan. There’s almost no resistance. It may look similar to a Garand safety blade, but it’s much smoother and lighter.

The rifle recoils with the shot. Even on power setting 2, there’s a rocket-push to the rear with each shot you fire. It’s not as much as a .22 rimfire, but enough that you know something has happened. I think I like the sensation in a hunting rifle.

What’s next?
Next, we take the Condor SS out to 50 yards and try its accuracy there. We now know the best pellet. Let’s see if that remains the case when the distance doubles.

After that, I plan on installing the standard tank and rerunning the entire test — velocity and accuracy at 25 and 50 yards. With the standard tank, we should see Talon power (greater than the Talon SS) and quiet operation, too. We shall see.

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