Posts Tagged ‘air pistol’

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel pistol is a competition airsoft gun in a box!

Today is the day we adjust the BAXS in the Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun to see how it affects the gun’s ablity to group. Remember, the BAXS is another form of hop-up, which is the generic name for a rubber bumper that puts a backspin on the airsoft BB as it exits the bore. That causes the BB to fly straighter and farther than it would if it were not spinning, or if it were allowed to spin randomly.

So, the first thing to do is to get to the BAXS adjustment wheel, which is located deep inside the gun’s slide. The gun must be partially disassembled, and therein lies a problem. The manual is poorly written and illustrated with confusing small photos that don’t depict what you actually must do.

To remove the slide of this pistol, the slide stop, or what the manual called the slide stopper, must first be removed. There are 2 different things that must be done precisely to get the slide stop out, and the manual doesn’t cover them. First, the slide has to be pushed back only about a quarter inch to release the slide stop. If you see the rear of the barrel dive down as you push the slide back, it’s moved too far. Second, there’s a very small clearance hole for the large end of the slide stop on the left side of the frame. Once again, pushing the slide too far back will cause the stop to pass this clearance hole, and the slide stop cannot be removed from the gun.

Of course, you don’t find out any of this until the slide is off the gun, which is too late. And the instructions are one sentence long. If you don’t know how to remove the slide, the instructions will not help you!

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol slide off
The slide must be removed to adjust the BAXS wheel.

Once the slide is off, the BAXS adjustment wheel is located on the underside of the slide and barrel assembly. It’s a small plastic wheel that’s turned by a small thin blade, such as a tiny screwdriver. A pin in the wheel limits its travel to less than half a turn, so the amount of adjustment is small. But if the gun was designed right and manufactured carefully, it should be enough to make a difference.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol BAXS wheel
The BAXS wheel is turned to adjust the amount of backspin put on the BB. The adjustment is limited to less than half a rotation of the wheel.

I noted where the adjustment wheel was when the gun was disassembled. It was close to one end, so I moved it to the other extreme end. If there was going to be a difference, I wanted it to be immediate and visible. And it was — as I will now show you.

I decided to begin with the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs that weigh 0.25 grams because they were the most accurate in the previous test. When you adjust something as finicky as hop-up, stick to one BB whose performance you know. To do otherwise would just waste your time because you would never know if it was the particular BB or the gun’s adjustment that was right or wrong.

I shot a lot of targets in this test, but I’m not going to show you all of them. For the first couple, I was just getting the BBs back on target at 10 meters. The BAXS adjustment moved the point of impact several inches higher than it was the last time. But as I adjusted the dot sight and brought them back down onto the paper, I noticed something. They all tended to be strung out vertically, but were very tight horizontally. And each target, of 5 that I shot, had 4 BBs tight together and one that was apart from the group — a flier. Only there was no reason for the flier that I could see.

So, there were 4 BBs grouped together and the fifth BB would be more than one inch away from the main group. I adjusted the BAXS a couple times to correct this, but it persisted with this BB.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Air Venturi CQBB target 1
This 5-shot group measures 3.197 inches, but the lone shot at the bottom opens it up by more than one inch. Notice how narrow the group is.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Air Venturi CQBB target 2
Another 5-shot group of 0.20-gram Air Venturi CQBBs is also tall and even narrower. This time, 4 BBs went into 1.08 inches, and the fifth shot opened the group to 2.26 inches.

There were 3 more groups just like these, and then I decided to switch BBs. The next BB I tried was the 0.20-gram Marui Black that Pyramyd Air does not stock. Being lighter, these BBs went faster than the others. The first group was really tight.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Marui black BB target 1
Here are 5 shots in 0.847 inches at 10 meters. The Tanfoglio seems to like the 0.20-gram Marui Black BBs. This is what a good airsoft pistol can do at 10 meters.

Alas, I was unable to repeat that group. The next group was 10 Marui BBs instead of 5, and this one spread out to 2.041 inches.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Marui black BB target 1
Ten Marui Black BBs spread out to a much larger group that measured 2.041 inches between centers.

I tried several more times to shoot good 5-shot groups with the Maruis, but no luck. They all turned out like the 10-shot group shown above.

Let sanity prevail
This gun was never intended to be a 10-meter pistol. It’s supposed to be a rapid-fire action pistol that can compete in action target matches. Those targets are much larger than the ones seen here, and the BBs only have to hit a large center area to score their highest. I think they can do that without a problem.

What I’ve just shown you is how an adjustable hop-up, or BAXS in this instance, affects the grouping ability of an airsoft gun. If you compare these groups to those fired in the previous test, you’ll see how much improvement was achieved.

Bottom line
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft pistol is a high-end, factory-made competition gun. It has a wonderful trigger, great blowback action and is very capable of competing, as long as a quality dot sight is mounted. For coming right out of the box at this level of performance, I doubt you can find anything better.

Just remember, the factory owner’s manual is spotty and somewhat misleading. This pistol takes some getting used to before it can perform at its best, and that comes with time and use.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel pistol is a competition airsoft gun in a box!

Today is accuracy day for the Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun, but it’s just the first of many tests. An airsoft gun with adjustable Hop-up, or BAXS in this case, has to be adjusted to shoot its best. I’ve never adjusted a gun with BAXS, but I’ve adjusted plenty of them with Hop-up and that is how it always happens. The gun never shoots its best right out of the box. I’m assuming the BAXS is the same.

All I did today was find out which BBs are worth continuing with and which aren’t. As it turned out, I got good results with several 0.20-gram BBs, which is what the manufacturer recommends for this gun. I also did well with one 0.25-gram BB.

I’ll warn you right now, the targets you’re about to see are not very impressive. They look terrible, in fact. If you’re used to good groups from pellet guns, these are going to seem hopeless. But they do show small differences between the good BBs and those that aren’t worth pursuing, and that was all I wanted to do today.

I shot off a bag rest with the butt of the gun (the bottom of the magazine well) rested against the bag. I also tried holding it ahead of the bag and just resting my arms on the bag, but it moved around too much. Maybe next time I’ll play with some different holds.

I shot only 5-shot groups today because I was testing a large number of different BBs. In all, I tested over 10 different brands, but only the most promising will be shown here.

Sight failure!
Before I get to that, however, there was another problem not related to the gun. The Swiss Arms red dot sight that was bundled with the pistol quit working suddenly during the first session. It wasn’t the battery because that’s still good. So, I dismounted it and installed a Walther Competition II Top Point red dot sight that I got from Pyramyd Air for testing; but some funny-bunny at the factory had left the sight turned to high power, and the battery was dead. I replaced it with a fresh battery but the sight failed to respond. So — two red dot sights out of the running even before we start. That was what ticked me off yesterday and caused the rewriting of my blog.

Fortunately, I have an older Tasco Pro Point red dot sight that has functioned perfectly on many airguns over the past 15 years. That one went on for this test, and everything was good again.

Quick rundown
Sight-in was a bit frantic because I unknowingly chose the least accurate 0.20 BB for the job. The gun doesn’t like the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs that weigh 0.20-grams. It took me about 10 shots to get sort of on target, but it wasn’t until I switched ammo that I found out what was happening. More on that in a moment, now for the quick rundown.

This pistol hates 0.12-gram BBs. They couldn’t even stay on the trap at 10 meters, and I was using the UTG Accushot Pellet and BB trap. Forget staying on target! This things were hitting the backer board that was behind the trap. Fortunately, I expected something like that, so I didn’t waste much time. BBs this light are usually good only in lower-powered spring-piston guns.

The pistol also performs only average with the 0.28-gram BBs. Though I only tried one brand, the TSD Tactical 0.28-gram BBs, I can tell from experience that this BB is too heavy for the pistol.

That leaves 0.25-gram and 0.20-gram BBs. The gun shot the best group with Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.25-gram BBs, but it was 2.864 inches for 5 shots. See what I mean about not getting too excited?

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Air Venturi 0.25-gram BB target 10 meters
Five shots of 0.25-gram Air Venturi Pro CQBBs went into 2.864 inches at 10 meters.

The second-best group of 5 shots was a 0.20-gram Marui Black BB that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry. Five of those went into 2.875 inches at 10 meters, which is really too close to call. The round BBs tear holes that are indistinct and measurement may be off by a lot. Fortunately, the pictures don’t lie.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol Marui-Black-0.20-gram BB target 10 meters
Five Marui Black 0.20-gram BBs went into 2.875 inches at 10 meters. It was the second-best group of this test, but also too close to call. It may be just as good as the first group.

But it was another 0.20-gram BB, the TSD Stealth that’s apparently no longer made that tipped the scales on this day. The first group I shot was spread out wide, but it was just one BB that did it. The other four were in 1.809 inches. I was so encouraged that I shot a second group; and, again, 4 BBs went into 2.229 inches and the fifth shot opened the group several more inches. I think this might be the most accurate BB after the BAXS gets adjusted, or at least 0.20-gram BBs of some other brand might turn out to be the best. If not, the 0.25-gram Air Venturi BBs might get better with the adjustment.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol TSD-Stealth-0.20-gram BB target 10 meters
Four of five TSD Stealth BBs went into 1.809 inches. This BB shows promise and may do a lot better after BAXS adjustment.

Don’t get discouraged!
My time with airsoft has taught me to first look for the best BB, and then spend more time adjusting the Hop-up to maximize its potential. That’s what lies ahead of us for this pistol. I won’t guarantee the gun will be much more accurate than this; but if past experience holds true, it will be!

Shooting characteristics
Believe me, I do understand that this is not a target pistol. But to win as a competition gun, it has to place its shots close together. IPSC for airsoft doesn’t shoot as far as 10 meters, so this test is extreme, but it’s also quite good at showing what the gun is capable of.

The gun’s recoil is sharp when you’re aiming carefully. And the trigger that I loved before is still preforming well. All in all, I’m a little disappointed that I can’t show you better groups than these; but if the BAXS works as it should, I should be able to reduce these by a lot.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit: Part 2

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

Part 1

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel pistol is a competition airsoft gun in a box!

Let’s look at the velocity of the Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun. When I started the test, I discovered something unusual. The CO2 cartridge I’d loaded last week to test the gun initially had leaked down completely. That usually doesn’t happen until several months have passed, so it got me wondering. I’ll watch the gun and see if it happens again. I left the test today with a 75 percent filled cartridge; so if I test it again in a week and it’s out, I’ll know. And to answer your question, yes, I did use Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each fresh cartridge when I installed it.

Testing the velocity of an airsoft gun is a little different than testing a pellet gun. It’s more like testing a BB gun because the airsoft BBs come in specific weights. The velocities tend to conform to the weights rather than to the individual brands of BBs used. I’ll test the pistol today with the 4 most popular weights — 0.12 grams, 0.20 grams, 0.25 grams and 0.28 grams. And let’s get something straight right now. When we’re talking about airsoft BBs, we’re speaking in terms of GRAMS — not grains. There are about 454 grams in a pound, but 7,000 GRAINS per pound. So a gram is MUCH heavier than a grain. A gram is a decimal unit of the metric system. It’s one-thousandth of a kilogram. A grain is an apothecary (medical) weight from the old English system of weights — a system that is also used by jewelers. It was historically the weight of one barley seed, but has been standardized to one seven-thousandth of a pound.

Regardless of the weight of each BB, they’re all the same size. Their weight is controlled by the material used to make them.

UHC Precision Ground BBs, 0.12 grams
First up are 0.12-gram (1.85 grains) UHC BBs. They averaged 417 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from a low of 406 to a high of 425 f.p.s. That’s slightly slower than the maximum advertised veloicity of 453 f.p.s for this pistol. At the average velocity they produce 0.71-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Given the design goals of airsoft, that’s fine, because much more than that will start to injure anyone hit by them.

Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.20 grams
Next up were Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.20-gram (3.09 grains) BBs. These are value-priced BBs that come in bottles of 2,700 rounds, 5,000 rounds and, for the serious shooter, supersized bags of 125,000!

These averaged 333 f.p.s. with a spread from 315 to 346 f.p.s. This is the recommended BB weight for this pistol, which means it will probably be the easiest one to tune the BAXS (the trajectory adjustment in the pistol) with. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. I have other brands of 0.20-gram BBs, including competition BBs; so if this weight turns out to work well in the gun, I plan to give it the biggest test. As a final note, the velocity was right where the specs say it should be (320-350 f.p.s.).

Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.25 grams
This 0.25-gram (3.86 grains) BB is a little heavier than the recommended weight, but sometimes that doesn’t hurt the accuracy at all. With the right BBs, it can enhance it — and this is where having several different brands of premium airsoft BBs is an advantage. I tested velocity with the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.25-gram BB that’s the equivalent of the 0.20-gram BB mentioned above, but heavier. It comes packaged the same way, and I have the 2,700 BB bottle for the test.

These BBs averaged 296 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from 282 to 304 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.75 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

TSD Tactical, 0.28 gram BBs
The last BB I tried was the TSD Tactical 0.28-gram (4.32 grains) BBs. These are clearly too heavy for this gun, but they did produce velocity very close to the 0.25-gram BBs. The average was 289 f.p.s., with a spread from 274 to 302 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB developed 0.80 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Loading the magazine
I don’t have a speedloader, so I loaded each BB one-by-one into the double-stack magazine. They have to be pressed through the top of the magazine, which then holds them against falling out while the gun is operating. That’s the sign of a quality airsoft gun. If you remove the loaded mag for any reason, a BB doesn’t fall out of the mag as it often does on lower-priced gas guns and most spring guns and auto-electric guns (AEGs).

I also note the BBs instantly arranged themselves within the mag…and without any fuss. With lesser guns, the BB stack will have gaps on one side that lead to misfeeds.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol loaded mag
BBs arrange themselves perfectly inside the magazine every time!

Stopping the BBs
Nothing rebounds worse than a plastic airsoft BB. Nothing! Those of you who know airsoft probably wonder how I managed to stop the BBs in the velocity tes. When I tell you that I stopped 100 percent of more than 60 BBs fired, you need to know how I did it! I used a UTG Accushot Pellet and BB trap, and in front of that I placed a heavy cardboard sheet at a slight angle of perhaps 15 degrees to the face of the trap. The trap and cardboard both stood in a shallow cardboard tray that caught all BBs that came back out of the trap. It worked so well that I will use it when I conduct the accuracy test.

Trigger-pull
I proclaimed how much I love the Tanfoglio trigger in Part 1. Now let me tell you the specs. It’s single-stage, with the blade moving through an arc that can be felt, and it breaks cleanly at 2 lbs., 9 oz., which is even lighter than the trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB 1911 firearm. This is a pistol trigger to die for! The only criticism is that it doesn’t break like a glass rod; but since the gun is for action shooting and not bullseye targets, that doesn’t matter.

Shot count
I got exactly 40 shots before the gun began slowing down. After that, there were another 10 good shots before the blowback function came into question. I guess a lot of the CO2 is used for blowback. Since this is a competition gun, that makes no difference. Winners will buy it and use it, no matter what it takes to make it work. This is not a budget plinker. It’s a full-blown competition airgun!

I hope this pistol will be a real tackdriver because that would make it perfect. I know that it’s not a target gun, but it does have to place its shots in the same place to score high in the competitions it would enter. If it does — well, I don’t know that I will let it go back!

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit: Part 1

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

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel pistol is a real competition airsoft gun in a box!

Well, here’s something different! I’m testing an airsoft gun — actually the Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit — which the distributor calls a softair gun. Many of you don’t remember this, but years ago I used to test airsoft guns for this blog from time to time. Then Pyramyd Air got a dedicated blogger for airsoft and I stopped reviewing them. Well, that blog is no longer active, so I told Edith I wanted to start testing them again, now and then. I don’t skirmish and I don’t shoot guns at people. So, my interest in airsoft guns is in their realism and how well they shoot. That’s how I’ll be looking at this one. Since realism was the original impetus behind the creation of airsoft guns, I don’t think my views are out of line.

This test is actually the first part of a twofer because there’s also a Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback BB pistol that I have. I’ll test that one after I finish this test, but I won’t link the 2 reports to keep the confusion down. The gun I’m looking at is serial number 12021442.

Today’s test isn’t just a gun — it’s an entire shooting kit that comes with a Swiss Arms red dot holographic sight. The pistol comes with a Picatinny sight base attached to the gun but no dot sight in the package, so this dot sight completes the ensemble. And it’s an all-metal gun that weighs 3 lbs., 4.4 oz. without sights, ammo or CO2! That makes it 2.5 oz. heavier than my Wilson Combat .45 ACP when it’s fully loaded! Nothing but metal touches your hand. Although the gun resembles a 1911 somewhat, it’s also clearly different. The grip frame reminds me of a Llama Max II 45L/F hi-cap pistol because it ‘s wider, more rounded and softer than a slabsided 1911.

This firearm is purpose-built as an IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) competition gun. It’s endorsed by 5-time IPSC world champion Eric Grauffel and is a copy of the gun he uses. Its purpose is to place as many shots as possible into the highest-scoring kill zone of silhouette targets in the shortest possible time. The slide has a cocking knob located on the right rear, so you don’t rack the slide to start the gun — you pull back on the cocking knob. Even though the trigger appears to be double-action, this pistol is single-action only. And the trigger-pull is to die for! I’ll get to that in a moment.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
A knob on the right rear of the pistol retracts the slide to cock the hammer. Blowback continues to cock the hammer after the first shot until the magazine is out of ammo, then the slide remains open.

With this gun, we have a dilemma. It has blowback action that drives the slide to the rear with each shot, cocking the hammer for the next shot. With most airsoft guns with blowback, you get the feel of recoil that a firearm would have. It isn’t exactly the same, but it’s a good simulation, which is the primary reason these guns have it. However, with this pistol, we want to recover from each shot as fast as possible, so any movement caused by blowback runs counter to the purpose of the gun. We have it and it works, but we don’t really want it — except to cock the hammer. Fortunately, the makers understood that, and the blowback of this pistol does not make the gun bounce in your hand. Throw in the safety, which is wide enough so you can rest your thumb on it, and you’ve got an action pistol that’s still very controllable.

Trigger
I don’t know how they did it, but the makers of this pistol gave it one of the finest 2-stage trigger-pulls it has ever been my good fortune to try. It’s not a glass-crisp release; stage 2 does have movement. You can feel the blade as it moves, but there isn’t even a hint of creep. I’ll test the trigger for you in Part 2 and give you the numbers. But I’m telling you now — this one is very good!

Safety
The gun has an ambidextrous thumb safety that can be used as a thumb rest for your shooting hand. The reason to do this is to reduce the amount of muzzle flip with each shot, allowing you to get on the next target faster. Since IPSC is a timed competition, everything that saves time is a benefit.

The forward part of the grip frame and backstrap are both finely checkered for a better grip. I would want even more checkering, but the gun still grabs your hand well. The backstrap is a full beavertail that goes way back over your shooting hand. The hammer is both bobbed and skeletonized for speed. This pistol showcases the type of race gun features competitors would spend thousands of dollars to get.

The magazine holds both the single CO2 cartridge and 17 6mm airsoft BBs arranged in a vertical double-stack column. The specs say this is an 18-shot magazine, so I will be checking that during this test. The extended magazine release on the left side of the frame cleanly releases the drop-free magazine, and the next loaded mag installs easily in the funnel-shaped butt…because, once again, time is the issue.

Of course, the gun’s caliber is 6mm. The lithographed box indicates the pistol does best with 0.20-gram BBs that are supposed to leave the muzzle at 350 f.p.s. Velocity is also given for 0.12-gram BBs that are supposed to go out at 450 f.p.s. Naturally, I’ll test both claims.

BAXS
This pistol has a proprietary version of Hop-Up called the BAXS shooting system. It puts a controlled backspin on the plastic ball, giving straighter flight over a longer distance. It’s adjustable and requires partial disassembly of the gun to access the adjustment. The slide has to come off. It’s held on by a disassembly pin, similar to the one found on a Beretta 92FS. I’ll test the efficacy of this for you when I write the accuracy test.

There are no open sights on this gun, as it’s a competition model. But it does come with a Picatinny rail for optical sights. The rail is attached to the left side of the gun’s frame by 4 Allen screws, and there are 4 more threaded holes on the right side of the frame, although the base isn’t symmetrical and cannot be switched over to the other side. The slide is free to cycle beneath the rail and is the reason there’s a cocking knob on the gun.

These days, dot sights reign supreme in IPSC competition, so that’s what’s provided in the kit. The Swiss Arms dot sight is a holographic-type red dot that has 11 levels of brightness and the off position. Naturally, the dot is adjustable for both windage and elevation. I see that the dot is very fat, which helps with rapid target acquisition more than precision; again, time is the crucial factor. So the choice of this particular sight was well thought out.

Yes, there’s a blaze orange muzzle to comply with U.S. import regulations. And, no, it’s not okay to take it off or cover it up. If you get in trouble with this gun and have altered the muzzle, you bear the full brunt of liability for the problems it causes.

There’s also a compensator on the muzzle of the gun. It would work if the gun had the volume of gas that’s generated by a .45 ACP cartridge. But with CO2, it’s just there for looks.

Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel airsoft pistol
This pistol is a serious IPSC competition gun.

Initial impressions
I know handguns, and this KWC (Taiwan) airsoft pistol blows me away. It isn’t just good — it’s great, and you can tell it was purposely made that way. There’s no luck involved here — this pistol is intentionally meant to be wonderful.

I know it isn’t a precision target pistol; but it’s made for a type of target shooting, so it has to be accurate. Right? I’ll try to test it in the way it was intended to be shot.

I didn’t select this pistol on my own. I asked Pyramyd Air’s airsoft expert, Sergey, to send me the best gun he has. And this was his choice. I haven’t fired one BB through it, yet I’m already inclined to agree with him!

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


Browning’s new Buck Mark air pistol has a lot going for it.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of this new Browning Buck Mark URX pellet pistol. I didn’t know what to expect, but I sure hoped this little gun was accurate! In many other ways, it’s so nice — it cocks easily, holds like a dream, has adjustable sights and is very quiet. So, if it’s also accurate as well, this will be a good one!

I always worry
It’s always a little scary when I shoot a new airgun for accuracy, because I’m wondering whether it will hit the target, the trap, the backstop or the wall. In the case of a few guns, the worst has happened; and since I shoot indoors for most of the closer tests, I always worry.

Typically, I try a rested shot from half the distance to the target, just to make sure the gun isn’t scattering its shots too wide. This time, I shot 20 feet from the Winchester Target Cube, and the shot went low and to the left. I thought there might have been some interference from the makeshift rest that was used, so I backed up to 10 meters (33 feet) and fired another shot. Nope! It was even lower and left-er! The sights did need to be adjusted.

I cranked in a lot of right adjustment into the rear sight and let fly with a third shot. Still low and left, but closer to the mark this time. More right and some up into the rear sight and the next shot went pleasingly into the black bull. That was followed by nine more RWS Hobby pellets and the first group was finished. It measures 1.582 inches between centers.


Ten shots in 1.582 inches. Notice the three sighters below the bull — one at the left edge of the paper.

Trigger
I’d commented before on the weight of the trigger. Well, it isn’t such a problem in the two-handed rested shooting position. It actually helps to stabilize this very light air pistol, and I do like feeling the second-stage pull through some stiff travel before the sear releases. I got to the point of knowing when the gun was about to discharge, so the trigger is very predictable.

JSB Exact RS
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS. They fit the bore looser than the Hobbys but were not what I would describe as too loose. I expected good things from them; but as you can see, they didn’t print as well as the Hobbys. Ten made a 2.043-inch group.


Ten JSB Exact RS pellets made this somewhat disappointing 2.043-inch group at 10 meters.

Firing behavior
The Buck Mark bounces in your hand as it shoots. That’s typical of a spring pistol, but it can be disconcerting to those shooters who feel the need to control the gun. If you’ll just relax and use the same hold every time, the pistol will do its best for you. I promised a blog about how to shoot a recoiling Webley pistol, and I’ll do it soon for you.

RWS HyperMAX
I also tried RWS HyperMAX non-lead pellets for the velocity test, and I thought I would continue them today. In the past, these pellets haven’t done very well, but all the guns I’ve tried them in were so powerful that they drove them very fast. Worse than that, they probably all had the wrong vibration range. The Buck Mark is certainly not a magnum air pistol, so let’s see what they can do.

Wonder of wonders, the HyperMAX delivered a 10-shot group that measured 1.802 inches between centers. They were better than the JSBs and not quite as good as the Hobbys. They also made a different sound on target and certainly got there a lot faster.


RWS HyperMAX pellets turned in a decent group of 1.802 inches between centers.

H&N Baracuda Green
Since I was already shooting lead-free pellets, I couldn’t fail to try our new friend, the H&N Baracuda Green dome. They fit the breech extremely tight, so I made sure to seat them as deep as possible with my finger. That pushed the lip of the skirt past the entrance to the barrel, which was all they needed. Ten Greens delivered a group that measures 1.392 inches between centers. That’s the tightest group of the test, so I’m glad I included this pellet.


Ten H&N Baracuda Green pellets went into this group that measures 1.392 inches between centers. It’s the tightest group of the test.

What’s the verdict?
From what I see here, the Buck Mark is reasonably accurate. True, it’s not in the same class as the Beeman P17, but this is a spring-piston pistol that’s easier to cock than the single-stroke P17. I like the hold, the sights, the power level (for indoor target) and the low noise. I think the pistol is worth the money if you want it for informal target practice. The trigger is a bit heavy, but you can get used to it.

No airgun made like the Buck Mark should be considered to be an heirloom gun. The construction just doesn’t support hundreds of thousands of shots. But I’ve never fired any air pistol that many times, including the 10-meter pistol I competed with for several years. So, the Buck Mark makes good sense to me.

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


Browning’s new Buck Mark air pistol has a lot going for it.

There’s lots of interest in the Browning Buck Mark URX. Some have already purchased it because they didn’t want to wait for the report, so that tells you what people are thinking about the gun.

There was some confusion about the advertised velocity in Part 1. I mentioned the velocity (320 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 360 f.p.s. with alloy pellets) that was printed on the package, but there’s a different number in the owner’s manual and still a third number on Umarex USA’s website. So, which is it? We’ll find out today.

The velocity is published for both lead pellets and lead-free alloy pellets, so that’s how I tested it — with three different lead pellets and with a lightweight alloy pellet.

I also mentioned that the bore is very dirty for some reason. So, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Bore Paste on a brass bore brush.

Lead pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby — that all-time standard lightweight lead pellet. This 7-grain lead pellet averaged 334 f.p.s. The slowest pellet went 319, and the other nine in the string ranged from 329 to 340 f.p.s.

After the first string I tried a second one with the same pellet seated deep into the breech, using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet. Seated this way, they averaged just 320 f.p.s., so it wasn’t an improvement. Hobbys fit the breech a little tight; so when I seated them by hand, they popped into the barrel. But deep-seating just pushed them forward and didn’t improve on the terminal velocity, so the tight fit is important. The range with the deep-seated pellets was 316 to 322 f.p.s., so the velocity spread was tighter.

After the Hobbys came H&N Match Pistol pellets. They weigh over half a grain more than the Hobbys, so you’d think the velocity would be lower, and it was. But not that much!

The first shots were noticeably slower, then they increased and the range went from 314 to 322 f.p.s. The average was 319 f.p.s., so it wasn’t that much slower. These pellets fit the breech a little looser than the Hobbys, but were still a good fit.

I tried these with deep-seating, and once more the average velocity dropped to 312 f.p.s. The range this time went from 308 to 318 f.p.s. On the basis of velocity, alone, I wouldn’t deep-seat them.

The final lead pellet was also a surprise. The pellet was the JSB Exact RS that weighs 7.33 grains. You would expect them to be a little slower than the 7-grain Hobbys, but they were actually faster! They averaged 343 f.p.s., with a range from 339 to 346 f.p.s., so they were tight in the spread and also fast. I expect them to be accurate, as well. I didn’t deep-seat this pellet because it fit the breech a little loose.

Very clearly, then, the Buck Mark I’m testing shoots lightweight lead pellets even faster than advertised. That’s always welcome when the gun in question is a lower-powered example.

Lead-free pellet
This gun is distributed by Umarex, so it was a natural decision to select the RWS HyperMAX lead-free alloy pellet. Most of you know that Umarex USA is also RWS USA, so you can see the tie-in.

This time, it took three shots before the pellets came into their range, and it was such a big jump that I want you to see it. Shot one went 347 f.p.s., followed by shot two at 348 f.p.s. When shot three went 359 f.p.s. I thought the pellet had gotten into its range, but I was wrong.

Shot four went 370 f.p.s and they went slower than that only once in the next 9 shots. The average was 374 f.p.s., and the range was from 368 to 378 f.p.s. That’s a little faster than the 360 f.p.s advertised.

These pellets varied from just loose to falling into the breech a noticeable distance. I didn’t try to seat them deep since half of them were going in deeper than that, already.

Trigger-pull
The reviews of this gun mention the hard trigger. What I see on the test gun is a single-stage trigger that’s heavier than it could be. The test gun fires at 6 lbs., 14 oz. A 5-lb. pull would be better. With a single-stage trigger, you always notice the pull weight more than with a two-stage — as long as the second stage breaks cleanly.

Cocking effort
The Buck Mark cocks with just under 14 lbs. of effort. That makes this one of the lightest-cocking spring-piston air pistols I’ve ever tested. As previously noted, the barrel detent is not tight, though it keeps the barrel closed during firing. This will be an all-day shooter. The only small concern is that the front sight is right where you want to grab the barrel during cocking, so you have to choke up about an inch.

Possibility of modifications
The question of modifying this air pistol has already been raised by one reader. The gun is constructed (plastic shell housing, potmetal parts) will make any modifications very difficult and definitely not worth the effort. You’ll be better off buying this pistol to shoot as it comes and forget about modifying it in any way.

Opinion so far
So far, I remain impressed with this pistol. Of course, the lion’s share of the report comes during accuracy testing, but I already like the power, the ease of cocking, the ergonomic grip, the crisp adjustable sights and the low noise signature. If the Buck Mark is accurate, it’ll be a wonderful addition to a short list of great low-cost air pistols.

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


Browning’s new Buck Mark URX air pistol has a lot going for it.

The Browning’s Buck Mark URX is another cool pellet pistol I saw at the 2012 SHOT Show and wanted to test for you as soon as it became available. This pistol is a single-shot breakbarrel (the packaging says it has a “one stroke cocking mechanism”) that has the same general profile of the Browning Buck Mark .22 rimfire pistol, but it is not an exact copy. The single thing that attracted me to this pistol is the velocity — an advertised 320 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 360 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets. That tells me the gun cocks easily and should have a very smooth firing cycle, and that, in turn, promises good accuracy! I can only hope!

This is an inexpensive air pistol. It comes in a blister pack that’s designed to hang in a standard store wire rack. The appearance may put off some shooters who feel that they can’t get quality in an airgun this inexpensive, but we have the Beeman P17 single-stroke as an example of one that does deliver. So, I’ve learned to reserve judgement until all the testing is completed. The recent lesson of the Winchester M14 rifle reminded me to hold my opinion until all the cards are dealt!

I’ll tell you how engaging this pistol is. When I first picked it up, it wasn’t 5 minutes before I’d cocked it and fired the first shot. The barrel breaks open easily, and no cocking aid is required. The piston stroke is longer than you might think, and the barrel keeps on coming down and back for a long time. That tells me the piston stroke is where the power comes from, so the mainspring can be relatively light.


The Buck Mark URX breaks open farther than you expect. This tells us the piston stroke is long.

The cocking link is in two pieces, which allows the cocking slot to be very short. In the case of this pistol, it’s non-existent, as the link feeds straight back through a slot in the frame. That gives the frame more rigidity, which in turn reduces any vibration. This gun is low-powered, so there won’t be a lot of vibration to begin with. And with this design, it should be very smooth.

The safety comes on every time the pistol is cocked, and the lever is placed perfectly for right-handed shooters to release it with their thumb. In every other way, this pistol is entirely ambidextrous; and I went so far as to cock and shoot it in my left hand! The safety comes off easily with the trigger finger of a southpaw, so I don’t want to hear any complaints to the contrary.


The safety pops up automatically when the pistol is cocked. Right-handed shooters will also find it handy for resting the thumb.

Naturally, the exterior of the gun is all plastic except for a metal trigger, a metal safety switch and a couple screw heads. You have to accept that in an airgun at this price level; but as the Beeman P17 taught us, it doesn’t mean the gun can’t also be a great target pistol.

The sights are traditional (aka not fiberoptic — thank you, very much!) and the rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation. Neither adjustment has a detent, but the windage adjustment does have a small scale for reference. You can watch the sight elevate simply by looking at it from the side as you adjust it.


The rear sight has a small scale for reference when adjusting the windage.

The top of the gun has a Weaver base molded in. It looks like a Picatinny, but the cross-slots are 3.5mm instead of 5mm, so it’s definitely Weaver, only. That means you can mount optical sights, of course; and if I see the accuracy to warrant it, I may try that.

The pistol grip is raked back at a good angle for pointability, and there are finger grooves at the front. I find that a good hold is gripping the gun naturally and hooking my thumb over the safety switch — not unlike the hold I would use for a 1911 pistol.

The pistol weighs a pound and a half, which is on the light side for best accuracy, but I’ll know more about that when I shoot it. For now, all I can say is that it’s a very light air pistol.

What appears to be the barrel from the outside of the gun is actually a plastic shell enclosing a thin steel tube. I have no problem with that, because many air pistol barrels are similar; but this one ends six-tenths of an inch before the end of the jacket. There’s no “technology” (baffles or compensator) forward of the true muzzle, so this step was obviously taken just for looks.

For some reason, the barrel of the test pistol is very dirty. I look at a lot of airgun barrels, and it’s rare to see a dirty one like this. I will definitely clean it with a brass bore brush and some JB Bore Paste before doing any further testing.

Everywhere I look on this pistol, I see the thought that went into the design. For instance, the spring-loaded detent that locks the barrel shut is located above the breech rather than below. It’s a cone-shaped detent that seems to combine the smoothness of a ball bearing with the more positive lock of a chisel detent. The important point is that it doesn’t take a slap to open the breech for cocking the gun! It’s the detent we all like.


Here you see the unique locking detent and the leade (taper) in the breech that allows easier pellet insertion.

And the innovation doesn’t end there. The breech is relieved with a leade (taper) for easier loading! This, on an air pistol that sells for under $50 — but you won’t see it on some air rifles costing $350 and more. It’s a small thing until you try to load the gun 200 times in one session. Then, it spells the difference between a numb thumb and one that feels normal.

Another hint of someone who cares is the fact that, the moment the breech is opened, there’s spring tension on the barrel. There’s no fraction of an inch slop between opening the barrel and where the cocking arm is under tension. It’s a small thing; but in many spring-piston rifles, it can cost a lot of money for a good tuner to get the same thing.

Yes, I already know what the trigger pull feels like and how the shot cycle feels, but you have to wait for them. All I can tell you at this point is that I am smiling!

Swiss Arms P92 replica pistol
Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

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