Posts Tagged ‘airguns’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, today filming the 2014 episodes of American Airgunner. Because I am on the road, I’ll ask my veteran readers to help answer the questions we get from the new guys. After a day’s filming, I have to return to the hotel, answer my email then write the next day’s blog. The blogs are going to be pretty short this week because I was so busy last week that I didn’t have a lot of time to bank any of them.
Today’s report is about 2 rimfire rifles that were made by airgun manufacturers — Daisy and Falke. I introduced both rifles in Part 1 and gave you my opinions and observations about their quality. In today’s report, I’ll take these 2 rifles to the range and shoot some targets at 50 yards.
I also introduced a Crickett .22 rimfire in Part 1. That rifle was made by a firearms manufacturer and served as my control during this test.
There were a lot of comments on the first part of this report. A number of readers expressed interest in these small single-shot rifles, and more than a few people said this was the first time they had heard of one or all of them.
Daisy model 8
The first report was mostly descriptive. I talked about the relative quality, or the lack of quality, that I see in each of the subject rifles. I came down on the Daisy model 8 the hardest, and in retrospect, everything I said was deserved. The rifle is made on a zinc diecast receiver — the weakest possible type of construction. Yet, it does work.
What doesn’t work on the Daisy is its reliability. It fails to fire almost half the time. Either the mainspring is weak or the headspace is too great or the firing pin isn’t long enough — something is wrong. But in spite of that, the rifle shoots well.
I said in the first report that the Daisy was inaccurate, but in this test I discovered that it is plenty accurate. I shot it at 50 yards outdoors on a very cold and windy day, and the rifle grouped like a much more expensive firearm.
The day was cold and blustery, but the little Daisy model 8 shot very well.
When I went down to inspect the first target, I couldn’t believe what I saw. I recalled that the Daisy model 8 was inaccurate, but 7 shots in 2.045 inches in the black were proving me wrong. I know this isn’t the best group in the world. I’ve done much better at this distance, but I never thought the little Daisy could even keep all its shots on the paper at 50 yards.
This first 7-shot, 2.045-inch group showed me that the Daisy can shoot.
I put up another target and shot another 10 Aguila standard speed rounds at it. This time the spread between centers was 2.393 inches, which is larger — but not by much. And the shots are still nicely centered. Only one round missed the black bull.
The Daisy put 10 shots into 2.393 inches at 50 yards. While that’s not great, it’s better than I expected!
The Falke single-shot is the most deceptive of the 3 rifles being tested. Overall, it looks fine; and in a 21st century context, it even looks like a premium gun! But by understanding what was happening in Germany right after World War II, we can understand why that’s so. All hand work was cheap at that time because labor was plentiful and inexpensive. The hand-checkered pistol grip and the high polish on the metal parts are to be expected. But the design of the rifle is crude. That shows up best in the flat spring that powers both the sear and trigger.
The Falke trigger/sear spring looks like it was taken from a half-ton pickup truck!
This shot shows how Falke made the large flat spring work as both the sear spring and the trigger return spring. It saves money but isn’t very elegant.
That spring was making the Falke cock very hard because the sear didn’t want to get out of the way when the bolt was withdrawn. I lubricated it heavily with moly grease and reduced the effort by at least two-thirds. The trigger-pull also dropped from about 18 lbs. down to about 8 lbs.
Alas, all my work was for naught, for the Falke rifle was not the equal of the Daisy at 50 yards. Ten bullets went into 2.91 inches at 50 yards. Of course, I may not have used the best cartridge for the Falke, and it may have been the best one for the model 8 — but that’ll take a lot more testing to discover. The point is just this: A rifle that looks much better and is more expensive than the Daisy model 8 may not be any more accurate. That’s all I’m saying.
The Falke rifle grouped larger than the Daisy and also out of the bull. The sights need some adjustment. Ten shots in 2.91 inches between centers.
The Crickett rifle was supposed to be the control in this little comparison. While both the Daisy and Falke rifles were made by airgun manufacturers, Crickett makes only firearms. I already noted that the Crickett has a much better appearance and feel. Despite the cheap synthetic stock with its pink panels, a lot of real thought went into this rifle. It may be small, but it looks right.
But at 50 yards the Crickett put 10 rounds into 2.564 inches. They were at the top of the target paper and one was a quarter-inch off the paper, so there are just 9 holes visible. The rear peep sight has enough adjustment to get the shots back into the bull at this distance, but it will take a different cartridge to shoot better than the little Daisy.
The Crickett sights are way off! Ten shots went into 2.564 inches, but one of those shots landed a quarter-inch above the highest shot in this picture.
On the other hand, the Crickett is 100 percent reliable. And the trigger is light. Those things do live up to its gun-making heritage.
This test was interesting. On one hand, ugly (the Daisy model 8) triumphed over beauty (the Falke); and on the other, enthusiasm (Daisy, again) beat out experience (the Crickett). That’s not how I thought this would turn out! Given the circumstances and from what I saw, I thought it would have been the Falke first, followed closely by the Crickett, with the Daisy bringing up the rear…and very far behind the others.
The Daisy model 8 may be a cheaply made single shot rifle, but that doesn’t mean it can’t shoot. It still needs some work on the firing reliability, but I would say the accuracy is where it needs to be. We still have no idea about which rifle is most accurate. To learn that, a lot more shooting is required. I’m glad to do it, but I’m just saying that we don’t want to dismiss either of the other 2 rifles.
Is there a point to all of this? I think there is. That point would be that you don’t want to judge a gun (or anything) by appearances, alone. Furthermore, inexpensive materials and cheap construction don’t always mean something is no good. Only by testing can we determine if a gun is up to snuff.
One more thing. Some readers have noticed that I sometimes spend a lot of time on an airgun that has seemingly very little to recommend it — like the BSA Meteor. This Daisy might fall into that same category. If I can get it to shoot reliably, what a wonderful little rifle it will turn out to be!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Last week, I made reference to a heavy top hat affecting performance in a spring gun, and blog reader Joe asked this question:
“You wrote ‘…weighted top hat inside the piston, or the piston itself is heavy. Either way, the rifle should shoot medium and heavyweight pellets better than lightweight pellets.’
What is a ‘top hat’? Why would a heavy piston or top hat shoot medium to heavy pellets better?”
Joe, thank you for asking this question. This blog is now in its 10th year, and I forget that the readership has changed over that time. If one person asks a question, it means that many other readers are wondering the same thing and not writing in. Today, I’d like to review the main parts of a spring-piston airgun powerplant and discuss how they affect performance.
The piston is the most recognizable part of the powerplant. When the gun fires, it’s propelled forward by some kind of spring. It may be a coiled steel spring or it could be some kind of gas under pressure — whatever the source of energy is, it pushes the piston. And before anyone asks — yes, there have been guns with springs that pull the piston.
The piston compresses air in front of it as it goes forward. There is some kind of seal on the piston that keeps most of the air contained, so it compresses air very well.
The piston seal (this one is a parachute type, whose sides flare out and seal the chamber better) seals the air in front of the piston.
Removing excess tolerance makes a spring gun shoot smoother. The top tuners put Teflon or nylon bearings (called buttons) around the rear of the piston skirt to hold it steady and away from the spring tube walls. The piston seal does the same thing for the front of the piston. In a well-built airgun, the metal piston should never touch the walls of the spring tube.
These small white nylon bearings on the Benjamin Nitro Piston 2 are part of the reason that rifle is so smooth when it fires!
Let’s talk about something that’s dirt-simple, yet confuses a lot of people — the compression chamber. It’s the end of the spring tube, which has been closed off by a metal cap. A hole through the cap, called the air transfer port, allows the compressed air to move from the compression chamber to the barrel. If there’s a pellet in the barrel, the air cannot get past it and has to shove the pellet out of the way. This doesn’t happen until the air reaches a high pressure, which is at the heart of today’s discussion. Essentially, the pellet stays put until the piston has come to almost a full stop, then the compressed air blows it forward, like the cork from a champagne bottle.
The spring-piston powerplant is so simple that it confuses people.
We all know what the spring does. It pushes the piston, which compresses the air. A spring can be either coiled steel or compressed gas; but for the remainder of this report, I’ll be talking about a coiled steel spring because it’s the thing that relates to the top hat.
Thanks to a generous cocking slot, we can see the mainspring inside this piston’s body.
The spring guide does what the name says — it guides the spring. What it actually does is keep the coiled spring from twisting or bending too much as it’s compressed.
This is the spring guide. It’s hollow to allow the piston rod to pass through when the gun is cocked. The metal one is an older Beeman R1 guide, the white plastic (probably nylon) one is what they use more often these days. A lot of vibration can be eliminated by very closely fitting this guide to the inside of the spring.
When the gun is cocked, the piston comes back and compresses the spring. The spring fits up inside the piston, so it’s contained by the piston skirt as the piston comes back over it. The spring guide is a hollow tube at the rear of the spring that the spring fits over. As the spring is compressed, it tries to bend to the side, but the spring guide prevents it. The piston skirt keeps it from bending at the front.
When a tuner wants to smooth the performance (the shot cycle) of a spring gun, getting rid of excess clearance is a great way to eliminate vibration. The outside of the mainspring is fitted to the inside of the piston skirt very closely. Here’s something you may not have guessed. When the spring is compressed, it also expands just a little (measured in thousandths of an inch), so the internal fit to the piston skirt has to take that into account.
The spring guide is also fitted to the inside of the mainspring. In the best-tuned airguns, the guide cannot be put on the spring unless the spring is twisted against the guide counterclockwise. Airgunsmith Jim Maccari calls that a guide that’s “nailed on.” The mainspring grows in diameter as it’s compressed. When the gun is cocked, the spring loosens a little and slips down the guide.
Top hat (forward spring guide)
Okay — here it is. You had to wade through lot of blather to get to this point, but I hope it’ll be worth it. A top hat is a spring guide that is on the front side (the piston side) of the spring. It fits inside the piston and slides on the central piston rod. Obviously, the mainspring fits over this guide, too, just like it fits the guide in the rear.
Two top hats (forward spring guides). The heavier one at the bottom was made by airgunsmith Jim Maccari for a special Beeman R1 tune that worked for heavier pellets. I wrote about it in the “Beeman R1″ book.
Joe — this is the answer to your question. A top hat adds weight to the piston. A heavy top hat adds a lot of weight.
When the piston compresses the air in the chamber, it can reach very high pressure before the pellet starts moving. When the pellet begins to move, the air pressure drops rapidly. Although the pressure is very high, there’s not a lot of it — pressurized air.
If the pressure in the chamber is too high and the pellet hasn’t started moving, either because of its size, weight or both, the piston can rebound off the compressed air cushion and travel backwards a few hundredths of an inch before the pellet starts to move. Heavier pellets will resist moving longer than lighter pellets — I hope that’s obvious.
By adding a lot more weight to the piston, it can resist rebounding to a greater degree (because of its greater inertia). Heavier pistons usually do better with heavier pellets. And top hats are one way to make pistons heavier. That’s why I said what I did.
That was a quick and dirty look at the spring-piston powerplant and some of its subtleties. Don’t think this makes you an expert — there’s a whole world of things like this that I haven’t addressed.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Daisy 880 multi-pump pneumatic. The test didn’t go as I expected it to, so stick around and learn something new with me.
Oil the pump head
Before I started the test, I oiled the 880′s pump head with several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil. I do that whenever I want to get the maximum performance from a multi-pump pneumatic, because the oil seals the pump head, allowing it to build more pressure.
First test — velocity per pump stroke
This is a test I recommend to all multi-pump owners. You test the velocity of your gun with differing pump strokes — from the lowest number recommended in the manual, which is 2 in this case, to the highest number, which is 10. [Note: In part 1, I stated that the minimum number of pumps was 3. It's actually 2, and the Pyramyd Air website has been corrected to reflect that.] For this test, I also did 11 and 12 pump strokes to see if the gun had even more velocity. The results were revealing. I’ll discuss them in a moment.
The pellet I used was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier dome. Any pellet will do, but it helps if you always pick the same one in case you ever want to compare one gun to another.
* No air remaining in the gun after this shot.
For those who may be new to multi-pumps, notice that as the number of pump strokes increases, the amount of the velocity increase grows smaller. If you were pumping the gun, you would have noticed that after the fourth pump stroke (from 5 strokes on) the pump handle jumped out when I pulled it for the next stroke. Compressed air is remains in front of the pump head and does not enter the gun’s reservoir. As the pressure inside the reservoir builds, it holds the inlet valve closed a little harder each time; so, more compressed air fails to enter the reservoir. This phenomenon is common to all multi-pumps, and many of the more expensive ones have (or used to have) adjustable pump heads that minimize this; but the 880 doesn’t have any adjustment.
Note that there’s no air remaining in the gun after a shot was fired on 10 pumps. That means the gun is able to exhaust all the compressed air. From the velocity chart, we learn there’s no value in pumping the gun more than 10 times.
This is where I learned a couple big lessons about the 880 — or at least about my 880. Normally, a multi-pump is very consistent. The same number of pump strokes will give nearly the same velocity every time, as long as the same pellets are used. I’m used to seeing a velocity variation of about 5-8 f.p.s. over a 10-shot string. But not this time!
The 880 gave an average of 469 f.p.s. for 10 shots with 5 pump strokes. If you look at the string before, however, you’ll see that this velocity is well below what I got with 5 pump strokes (530 f.p.s.) and the very same pellet. Even stranger is the fact that, on this test, the velocity spread went from a low of 441 f.p.s. to a high of 502 f.p.s. That’s a variation of 61 f.p.s. over 10 shots. And not one of those 10 shots went as fast as the same pellet did on 5 pump strokes in the previous test!
The Daisy 880 varies greatly in velocity from test to test. You may think this is because my 880 is an older one. I can’t argue that. If you want to run the same test with a more modern 880 and submit your results, I’d be glad to see them, but please back up any claims you make with chronograph results.
RWS Hobby pellets
Next, I tested the rifle with RWS Hobby pellets fired on 10 pumps. These pellets averaged 600 f.p.s.; but, once again, the spread was very large. The low was 559 f.p.s. while the high was 643 f.p.s. That’s a variation of 86 f.p.s.
How fast will it shoot?
I tried a string of Crosman Super Sonic pellets on 10 pumps. They averaged 690 f.p.s. Again, the spread was very large — from 648 to 722 f.p.s. That’s 74 f.p.s. I only did this to see how fast the gun could shoot. The owner’s manual online says the maximum is 715 f.p.s with pellets, and we saw just a little more. So, that claim is right on.
Finally, I tried the rifle with Daisy Premium Grade BBs. On 5 pumps, they averaged 578 f.p.s. with a low of 565 and a high of 586 f.p.s. On 10 pumps, they averaged 644 f.p.s., with a low of 632 and a high of 657 f.p.s. So the gun is much slower than advertised (750 f.p.s.) with BBs, but the velocity spread is a lot less than it is with pellets.
I was surprised by the large velocity variation I saw with the 880. This is not just the largest variation I’ve ever seen with a multi-pump, it’s many times larger than the next largest variation. Multi-pumps are very consistent, in my experience.
Will this large variation have any affect on accuracy? Probably not at 10 meters, but it almost certainly will at 25 yards. I plan to shoot the rifle at both distances, so we shall see.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is for blog reader Roger, who has this problem, and also for RifledDNA, who says he has it, too. Fred DPRoNJ (Democratik Peoples Republik of New Jersey), also expressed interest in the topic. I suspect that hundreds of our readers, if not thousands, are curious. Why would a scope that shoots to the left of the aim point at 10 meters be dead-on at 20 meters and off to the right at 35 meters?
Here’s part of what Roger told us:
“This time I’ve scoped a S-410 and something strange is happening. For example: I zeroed the scope for 11m, thus the far zero would be around 44m. When shooting that distance although the elevation is fine the POI shift to right around 7cm. If I re-zero the scope in 44m and shot back to 11m, although the elevation is fine the POI shift to left around 4cm.”
Roger doesn’t state the problem in quite the same way that I do, but it’s the same problem. Gun’s POI changes as the distance changes.
The answer is in the alignment of the scope with the gun’s bore. But before I get to that, I want to address an answer that someone else on the blog gave to Roger. Someone guessed that his problem was caused by spiraling pellets. Pellets sometimes fly on a spiral path as they travel downrange. I wrote about it in this report: Do pellets spiral?
That answer was correct, as far as it went, but there’s one way to diagnose the difference between spiraling pellets and an alignment problem. Spiraling pellets move back and forth from one side of the aim point to the other and back again as they go downrange. Pellets shot from a gun with an alignment problem do not. They’ll start out on one side of the point of aim and move to the other side as they go farther from the gun, but they’ll never come back. It’s a one-way trip for pellets shot from a gun that has an alignment problem.
Don’t blame scope shift
Too many airgunners are willing to blame problems like this on their scopes. They call it scope shift. Real scope shift is rare, though not unknown. If you want to learn more about it, read my article about scope shift.
Scope and barrel must be aligned
The scope and barrel must be pointed in the same direction for the scope to work perfectly. Because the scope has some latitude of internal adjustment, it’s possible for the scope to be out of alignment with the barrel and still have them coinciding at one distance. That distance is called the sight-in distance.
But if they’re not aligned, the shots will be off to one side when they’re closer than the sight-in distance and to the other side when they’re farther away. The drawing below illustrates what this looks like, although I’ve exaggerated the offset so you can see it. In reality, both the scope and barrel may appear to be perfectly aligned.
The axis of the scope (at the bottom on the right) and barrel are offset in this drawing, but the scope can be adjusted so they coincide at one distance. Any closer or farther away than the sight-in distance, though, and the pellet will move to one side of the other. This drawing is grossly exaggerated to highlight the problem in a short space.
How to correct it
To correct this problem, the scope must be positioned on the rifle so its axis is parallel to the axis of the bore. This may be easier than it sounds. If you have 2-piece scope mounts, for example, you can turn each of them around backward (one at a time, of course) to see if that corrects the situation. It often does. You can also swap the front ring for the rear ring for further improvement. There are 4 different possible combinations of scope ring positions with 2-piece mounts (scope rings). If you have 1-piece mounts, all you can do is turn them around backward. That’s why I prefer 2-piece mounts over 1-piece mounts in most situations.
If changing rings isn’t enough to correct the problem, you can shim them. Shimming the rings for sideways correction is the same as shimming for elevation correction — you’re just moving the scope in a different direction. A word of caution — when you shim the rings for sideways adjustment, be careful not to extend the shim too low on the ring; because if it gets under the scope, you’ll cause an elevation problem that didn’t exist before.
What about optically centering the scope?
Optical centering will not solve an alignment problem unless the scope really is in alignment with the bore in the first place, and it’s the internal adjustments that are throwing it off. It’s worth a look, but the odds are it will not be the solution. The best approach is to start out by optically centering the scope to eliminate this from being a cause of the problem.
Now the bad news
Sorry, but almost no scope is ever completely aligned correctly. It’s nearly impossible to do so. The target scopes use bases (and rings) that are separated by much greater length than the scopes we commonly use to minimize the effects of misalignment.
If a scope was perfectly aligned, it would be centered at 10 feet and again at 200 yards. I’ve never seen one that was. They always shift a bit as the distance changes. But they can be very close to the centerline and nobody will be the wiser. You just have to re-zero when you change from a 100-yard zero to a 200-yard zero. Or, if you shoot an airgun, when you change from a 20-yard zero to a 45-yard zero.
But the problem that started this report was a 7 centimeter (3 inches) shift to the right at 44 meters when the rifle is zeroed at 11 meters. That’s too much of a shift and can be corrected by the methods described in this report.
The good news
The good news is that a majority of airgunners will notice this phenomenon and may eventually learn how to deal with it. But the majority of firearms owners don’t even know it exists. They’re still in the world of “bad” scopes that they sell to buy name brand scopes that have to be trusted because they cost so much! In the end, you’re better off knowing the truth.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
In the 9 years I’ve been writing this blog, I don’t think this has ever happened before. Last Friday, I wrote about my failure to get the See All Open Sight to work on the Beeman P1 pistol. I tried for 2 straight days to get it sighted in and nothing worked.
That was Friday’s report. Well, I went out to the rifle range on Friday, and my shooting buddy Otho met me there. He had one of his SKS rifles that had a scope mounted on it (on a Weaver base), and it was his plan to test the See All sight. Okay, I thought. Couldn’t hurt.
It didn’t hurt at all! After he shot the scoped rifle at 100 yards for the record, he removed the scope and installed the See All Open Sight. It took several shots to get it on paper at 50 yards, but then he shot a 5-shot group that measures 1.636 inches between centers! You may not be familiar with the accuracy of the SKS, but while it’s an extremely reliable rifle that almost never fails to operate, it’s only fair as far as accuracy is concerned. It’s a good battle rifle — but it’s certainly not a target rifle. Some individual rifles are more accurate than others, and this one happens to be Otho’s best one; but a sub-2-inch group at 50 yards from an SKS is worth talking about. And he did it with the See All Open Sight!
When we saw this 50-yard 5-shot group, we knew the See All sight worked! For an SKS, this is a great group.
When he was finished, we had to walk down to see the target because the cold wind was blowing so hard and our eyes were tearing so much that he couldn’t see but one of the shots through his spotting scope. I was looking through binoculars and could see even less. When I saw the target close up, I asked him to shoot 10 more shots for me at 50 yards.
The reason I asked Otho to test the See All sight in the first place is because he has been battling failing eyes for several years. He can no longer use open sights like he once did, so scoped guns are about all he can shoot. The See All sight makes up for that and allows him to shoot like he used to 30 years ago. That’s what the See All Open Sight is about — a sight that lets shooters mount an open sight on a gun that doesn’t have one, or to use an open sight that can be seen with poor eyesight.
I guess I should also have told you that he did this with Wolf ammo, which isn’t the most accurate by far. Wolf is steel-cased with a mild steel-jacketed bullet. They’re reliable and aren’t corrosive, but there are several brands that will outshoot it.
Otho was able to see the See All sight reticle clearly enough to shoot just as good as when the SKS was scoped!
This SKS has a Weaver base attached to the left side of the receiver. The See All sight is clamped to it.
He then shot a 10-shot group at 50 yards with the SKS and the See All sight. This time he put 10 into 3.215 inches. While that’s a lot closer to what most SKS rifles normally do at 50 yards, I would like to point out that Otho was able to do it without using a scope. That’s significant because he couldn’t see the open sights on the rifle on this day.
This is a good 10-shot group for an SKS at 50 yards. The rifle was shooting Wolf ammo (the dark empty case), which doesn’t group as well as some other brands.
He commented that the See All sight was very fast to acquire. As breezy and cold as the day was, that was significant by itself. I was also shooting an open-sighted rifle that I’ll report on in a few days, and I was unable to see my front sight until I put on my glasses to cut the wind.
Now, Otho shifted to the 100-yard targets, where a few minutes earlier he’d shot a 10-shot group with the scoped rifle. That netted him 9 shots on paper in a group that measures approximately 5-3/8 inches between centers. The 10th shot wandered off the paper.
With the See All sight, he put 9 shots into approximately 5.50 inches. Three of these shots wandered off the paper, but we found the holes clearly on the backer board, just above the target paper. He measured the 9 shots with his pocket knife, which measures 5.50 inches when open. There was a tenth shot on the paper, but it landed about 3.50 inches below the other 9 shots. We know this 10-shot group really measures 9 inches at 100 yards; but since we don’t know where the tenth shot from the scoped rifle landed, there’s no way to make a direct comparison. Nine shots to 9 shots is the best comparison we can make.
With the scoped rifle, 9 of 10 bullets hit the paper at 100 yards. This group measures 5-3/8 inches between centers.
With the See All Open Sight at 100 yards, Otho was able to put 9 shots into 5.50 inches, c-t-c with the SKS. Six of those 9 are on this paper, and the other 3 landed on the backer just above the target. The tenth shot down below does open the group by a lot; but since the tenth shot from the scoped rifle was not found, we can’t make a comparison.
After seeing the 100-yard group, Otho said he thinks the See All Open Sight is perfect for hunting. While it’s not as good for target shooting, it’s fast to acquire a target — especially one that’s running. He’s decided to leave the See All sight on his SKS instead of the scope, and he plans to hunt with it.
I’m so glad this happened because I was beginning to lose confidence. But Otho showed us the sight is good and works as intended.
I have an M1 Carbine that’s chambered in 5.7mm Johnson Spitfire, and it currently has a Weaver base with a scope, as well. I also have a Remington 788 with a Weaver base. I think for my next test of the sight, I’ll load up some ammo and try one of those 2 rifles with a scope and with the See All at 50 yards. They should work the same as Otho’s SKS.
So, don’t despair. There’s at least one more test of this sight coming. For now, however, I have to say the See All Open Sight does what it’s advertised to do.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This will be a different Friday blog — I promise you.
First of all — all talk of machining the See All Open Sight sight is off the table. I spoke with the See All creators and learned that the reticle is actually on film — shrunk to the size where the point of the triangle is 0.0002 inches across. That’s two ten-thousandths of an inch, or 0.00508 millimeters! This in in the realm of optics — not mechanical things. So, don’t try to modify the sight.
Second, they told me some folks may need to wear their glasses when using this sight. I haven’t been doing that, so I wore them for this test.
What I thought might happen today
After the last test in Part 4, I thought the sight might work better if it was held farther from my eyes — like it would be when mounted on a pistol. The magnifying optic enlarges the reticle even more the farther away it is, so this sounded like a possible solution to the reticle being indistinct on target. Also, it’s easier to tilt the sight when it’s mounted on a handgun. I’d hoped that would make it easier to align the peak on the end of the triangle. This is what I was thinking when I told some readers I had a better idea of how to test it.
What went wrong with this test?
When I first attempted to test the sight on Tuesday, I mounted it on a Beeman P1 pistol using an 11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter that you cannot buy. I used this base because it has some droop, and I thought I needed that droop to get the shots on paper at 10 meters. What I got, however, was pellets striking the target too low after all the upward adjustment in the sight had been made. The results were so bad that I quit testing the sight and moved to something else. I mentioned that in the introduction to Wednesday’s blog.
While I was resting from this first attempt, it occurred to me that maybe this sight works in the reverse of how I was thinking. It has seemed that way every time I attempted to test it. So, for today’s initial test, I turned the base around so it’s sloping up toward the muzzle. The sight was pointed slightly up in relation to the top of the pistol.
For safety, I began shooting at 12 feet. If the gun was off at that distance, it would still be hitting the pellet trap.
I’d already fired a group of 10 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets at 10 meters with the P1′s open sights. They landed in 0.598 inches, so that was how well I was shooting the gun on this day. I know from experience that the Crosman Premier lite is one of the best pellets in this pistol.
Ten Premier lites went into 0.598 inches at 10 meters with the pistol’s open sights. The P1 can shoot.
It seems I can still shoot my P1. Now, how well can I shoot it with the See All Open Sight mounted? Well, I was right about the droop in the first place. Reversing the mount so it sloped up landed the pellet 12 inches below the aim point at 12 feet! I did need a drooper base after all, and one with the most aggressive slope possible. Fortunately, I had just what I needed, so that base was mounted on the gun and the sight was attached to it.
See the steep slop of the base adapter? It still wasn’t enough to raise the pellet to the point of aim.
With this new steeper-sloped base, the point of impact did rise; but even with the See All sight adjusted as high as it would go, the pellet still struck about 3 inches below the aim point when shooting from 12 feet. And, yes, I did read the adjustment directions as I was adjusting the sight.
I couldn’t get the pellet to strike the point of aim, so on to Plan B. Plan B is where I move the aim point very high and let the pellets impact below. At least that would tell me about the sight’s potential. I used a black dot as an aim point and backed up to 10 meters. When the first shot landed 5 inches below the point of aim, however, the test was over. That is so low that it risks not hitting the entire pellet trap, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Two more inches and the shot goes off the paper.
A 5-inch drop below the aim point was enough to make me stop the test. This is the end of the P1 test.
This test (on the P1) is over
I have tried for two agonizing days to get the See All Open Sight to work on my Beeman P1, and everything has failed to work. I now have more pellet holes in my house (Edith knows about them), and that’s as much damage as I’m willing to do.
I’m not saying the See All Open Sight doesn’t work. There are too many reports that it does work — including one from our blog reader GunFun1. But I’ve done everything in my power to get it to work for me, and you’ve seen the results. My shooting buddy Otho has done the same. He did get better results than I did, but even he wasn’t satisfied with what he got.
I’m going to set the sight aside and just think about it for awhile. If I were testing this item for Pyramyd Air, my recommendation would be “don’t buy” right now. That’s not saying I won’t find a gun it works on; but, for now, I’m pretty burnt out.
Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll begin looking at a .22-caliber BSA Supersport SE. This is a conventional breakbarrel spring piston air rifle in a beech stock. It’s been some time since I’ve tested a conventional new spring rifle like this.
The serial number of the rifle I’m testing is SSE22-770789-13. The metal finish is unpolished but probably tumble-finished, giving all the parts a matte sheen. The only plastic parts you can see on the outside are both sights, the safety lever and the triggerblade. They blend into the overall matte black finish very well.
The stock is shaped well and has 4 panels of pressed checkering — one on either side of the forearm and one on either side of the pistol grip. The BSA stacked rifles logo (called piled rifles in the UK, and the BSA logo is called the Pylarm logo) is pressed into the base of the pistol grip. The wood is finished smoothly, and the only rough area is the point where the black rubber buttpad meets the wood. That transition isn’t smooth, and there’s glue around the joint.
The barrel comes very far back when the rifle’s cocked, making this a long-stroke piston. The cocking linkage is in 2 pieces that are jointed to keep the cocking slot in the stock as short as possible, which reduces the feeling of vibration. BSA says that the action is internally weighted to deliver top performance. I’m thinking they mean that there’s a weighted top hat inside the piston, or the piston itself is heavy. Either way, the rifle should shoot medium and heavyweight pellets better than lightweight pellets.
The rifle is supposed to weigh 6.6 lbs., according to BSA information. The rifle I’m testing weighs 7 lbs. on the nose. The difference is attributable to the density of the wood in the stock.
BSA advertises the muzzle velocity at 730 f.p.s. That would be with a lightweight pellet, but I’m hoping it’s a light lead pellet. If so, that’s a good velocity for a .22 spring rifle — not too fast, yet plenty of power. We’ll find out in the velocity test.
The trigger is adjustable via an Allen wrench. The adjustment works on the second stage to lighten it or make it heavier. The safety is manual, which I must applaud. Only the shooter should be in control of the gun — never the design!
The sights are fiberoptic, front and rear. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, so I’ll start the accuracy testing using the open sights.
There’s an 11mm dovetail groove machined into the top of the spring tube, but BSA has long been noted for having its grooves set at the widest end of the size spectrum. For newer readers, 11mm is a nominal size for airgun dovetails. They actually range from 9.5mm out to almost 14mm, and BSA has always had the widest set. But it looks like the grooves are now 11mm apart.
I’m very pleased to see a deep, wide vertical scope stop hole in the middle of the dovetails at the rear of the spring tube. This provides a solid anchor point for a vertical scope stop that most of the conventional 11mm scope rings have.
Solid firing cycle
I couldn’t resist shooting the rifle a couple times to check the trigger and the firing cycle. The trigger is definitely 2-stage, with some creep in stage 2. I’ll work on that for next time. The firing cycle is quite smooth. It’s got a hint of spring buzz, but only a hint. The shot feels solid and there is no hurtful vibration at all. This is a very pleasant spring rifle to shoot!
I would add that, when I cocked the rifle, the stroke felt to smooth that I almost thought it had a gas spring. Ten years ago, I would have said this rifle has been tuned. It feels that smooth. The cocking effort is heavier — going up around 40 lbs., as a guess. In recent years, I’ve seen a number of breakbarrel air rifles that cocked as smooth as this one, so what I believe is happening is the manufacturers are paying more attention to the internal tolerances. The result is that the buyer gets a smoother air rifle; and at the price for which this one retails, that’s quite a bargain. Five years ago, you got something much harsher for the same $250.
I have owned and tested BSA Supersport rifles in the past. In fact, in the 1990s they were a huge seller here in the U.S. They are no-frills rifles that offered good performance and accuracy at a good price. Let’s hope BSA has continued that tradition in this latest offering.