Posts Tagged ‘Anschutz Hakim’

Hakim air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• TF90 dot sight
• Eley Wasp pellets
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Evaluation so far

TF90 dot sight
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Hakim trainer we’ve been examining, but with the Tech Force 90 dot sight mounted. Last time, I told you I was going to mount it on this rifle, and today I’ve done it. The sight base is short, which accommodates the Hakim’s very short 11mm dovetail grooves cut into the end cap.

Tech Force 90 dot sightThe Tech Force TF90 dot sight is a perfect match for the short dovetails of the Hakim. This is a large sight with a lot of target visibility.

Because it has no magnification, this dot sight is the perfect companion to the Hakim, since it will be mounted so close to my sighting eye. I discovered another great thing about it. Because it’s clear, I can see the entire front sight and hood through the eyepiece. I found that if I bisect the bullseye with the top arc of the sight’s hood and put the dot in the center of that, I eliminate all tendency to cant the rifle. This also eliminates all parallax. It sounds odd but it works. With the dot centered at the top of the hood, I know the pellet is going to the center of the dot. You can’t ask for more than that!

Eley Wasp pellets
The first pellet I shot was the Eley Wasp that did best in the previous test where the open sights were used. In that test, Wasps gave a group size of 0.349 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters. This time, 10 Wasps went into a group sized 0.351 inches. It appears smaller than the first group, but the measurements are too close to call. After shooting this group, which was a little to the left of center, I adjusted the sight to the right.

Hakim 10 meters Wasp group
Ten Wasp pellets went into 0.351 inches at 10 meters. This is a nicely rounded group. I adjusted the sight after this group.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Next up were JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. These pellets not only landed to the right, they also climbed up quite a bit. I didn’t adjust the elevation, so there must have been some odd sideways strain on the erector tube from the horizontal adjustment.

In the first accuracy test with open sights, 10 RS pellets went into 0.495 inches. This time, they went into 0.375 inches, so they were clearly tighter with the dot sight.

Hakim 10 meters JSB Exact RS group
Ten JSB Jumbo RS pellets made this 0.375-inch group at 10 meters with the dot sight.

RWS Hobby pellets
Then, I tested 10 RWS Hobby wadcutters. In the previous test with open sights, Hobbys grouped 10 in 0.426 inches. With the TF90 dot sight, 10 Hobbys went into 0.389 inches between centers at 10 meters. This group was very round. It’s clearly smaller than the other one, but not by much.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Hobby group
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this nice round 0.389-inch group at 10 meters.

RWS Superpoint pellets
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Superpoint. In the previous test with open sights, 10 Superpoints made a 0.524-inch group. With the dot sight, 10 pellets went into 0.429 inches at the same 10 meters.

Hakim 10 meters RWS Superpoint group
Ten RWS Superpoints made this 0.429-inch group.

Evaluation so far
The Hakim seems easier to use with the TF90 dot sight. It doesn’t necessarily make the rifle more accurate, but it seems to be easier to shoot it accurately when the dot sight is used — especially after learning that trick of aligning the dot with the top of the front sight hood! These groups are almost as small as the 5-shot groups I used to shoot at 10 meters with Hakims back in the 1990s.

Before you hock the family jewels to buy one of these rifles, though, let me remind you that I was shooting at 10 meters today. Things always look a lot better when the target’s that close. Maybe, I’ll try some groups at 25 yards in a later report — just to give some perspective.

Having said that, though, notice that all these groups are small. The Hakim is a very accurate and forgiving spring-piston air rifle.

I’m now ready to open up the Hakim and look inside to see what can be done about the buzzing. I’ll do that in simple steps, like I did with the Crosman 2240.

The TF90 sight will come off the rifle, and I’ll start a separate evaluation of the sight next week. I plan to mount it on one or more of my other pellet rifles that could use a nice optical sight. Don’t wait for that report, though. There are only limited numbers of these in stock — and when they are gone, no more will be available. At $20 I don’t see how you can do any better than this one!

Hakim air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• You can never go home
• RWS Superpoint pellets
• Firing cycle
• JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• Eley Wasp pellets
• Evaluation so far
• Tech Force 90 dot sight

You can never go home
Today, I’ll shoot the Hakim trainer for accuracy. This is like returning home for me. Of course, you can never go home, again, because things have changed — and this Hakim is different from all the others I’ve owned and worked on. But just like your old neighborhood, there are always some things that never change. Things that remind you of the good things from the past. This Hakim has those, too.

You saw in the velocity testing that this isn’t a powerful air rifle. And it doesn’t have to be. That’s not its charm. Its charm comes from the rifle’s rugged build and heavy weight of wood and steel. And, in the case of this particular Hakim, the wood is a striking piece of walnut that shows lots of contrasting grain.

Hakim trainers are also quite accurate at short range. Let’s see if this one is, as well.

In the past, I’ve shot only 5-shot groups, but these days I shoot 10-shot groups. So, I expect to see the groups increase in size by about 40 percent. That’s what happens when you shoot those 5 additional shots, and only if you maintain correct shooting discipline.

RWS Superpoint pellets
As I explained in Part 2, I’ve found RWS Superpoint pellets to be the best in this rifle because their thin skirts flare out in the loading tap when hit with the piston’s air blast. At least, that’s always been my theory.

I had no idea where this rifle was sighted, so this was like shooting a new gun right out of the box. The only thing going for it is the excellent condition and the care with which the wood stock parts were fashioned. That tells me the former owner cared about his rifle — so I expected it to be pretty close to the mark from the start. And it was!

The first pellet struck the bullseye a little to the right of center and at about the right elevation at 10 meters. Because I know Hakims are accurate, I stopped looking and just fired the remaining 9 shots. That gave me 10 rounds in a group measuring 0.524 inches between centers. True to expectations, that’s about 30-40 percent larger than my 5-shot groups used to be. This Hakim is exactly like the rest of them!

Hakim Superpoint group
Yep, RWS Superpoints are as accurate as I remember in Hakims. These 10 shots measure 0.524 inches between centers, where 5 shots would probably be 0.35 inches.

Firing cycle
This rifle really buzzes when it fires. It distracts from an otherwise nice experience. I want to find out what’s causing the buzz and do something about it.

JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets
Blog reader Kevin suggested I try JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets and Air Arms Falcons because their skirts are also thin. I don’t have any .22-caliber Falcons on hand, but I did try the JSBs next. Because the rifle was hitting slightly to the right, I adjusted the rear sight notch to the left just a bit.

Same drill this time. One shot to check where it went. This time it was just above the center of the bull, so I stopped looking through the spotting scope and fired the remaining 9 rounds. They gave me a nice 0.495-inch group that also had a bit of verticality to it.

Hakim JSB RS group 1-0 meters
Ten JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets went into 0.495 inches at 10 meters.

Because the shot group is now relatively centered in the black, I decided not to adjust the sights further. So the next 2 groups were made with this same sight setting. One last note. The RS pellets were so small that they fell to the bottom of the tap. No other pellet did that.

RWS Hobby pellets
The next pellet I tried was the lightweight RWS Hobby wadcutter. These have a thicker skirt than the first two pellets, but their light weight makes them a good match for this low-powered rifle.

Ten Hobbys made a very round 0.426-inch group. Because they’re wadcutters, they make a group appear larger.

Hakim RWS Hobby 10 meters
Ten RWS Hobbys made this round group, which measures 0.426 inches between centers.

Eley Wasp pellets
The last pellet I tried was the 14.5-grain 5.56mm Eley Wasp. It’s a larger pellet, yet it still enters the loading tap deep enough to be used in this rifle. The Wasp has a thick skirt, so I’m relying on the overall size of the pellet rather than any flaring of the skirt to seal the air. Wasps put 10 into 0.349 inches at 10 meters, which was the best group of the session!

Hakim Eley Wasps group 10 meters
Ten Eley Wasps gave the best group of the session, going into 0.349 inches between centers. This is a wonderful group of 10 shots. If it were just 5, it would be around a quarter-inch.

Eley Wasps are supposedly obsolete, but I laid in a large supply for my Webley Senior pistol many years ago and have enough to use in this Hakim, as well. [Editor's note: Eley Wasps are still being made and sold, but I've been told by at least one UK blog reader that the pellets available today are not of the same quality as those made 20 years ago when I bought mine. If this is incorrect, I apologize. I also see Eley Wasps available on eBay, but those appear to be vintage tins.]

Evaluation so far
This Hakim performs just like all the others, plus it looks much better. I discovered that it’s dirty inside when I adjusted the trigger, so I’ll be taking the rifle apart to clean it and also get rid of some of the vibration upon firing. Before I do that, though, I want to try one thing.

You asked me if this rifle can be scoped. I used to mount a Beeman SS2 scope on my Hakims, and it worked wonderfully. Well, that scope is still available, though no longer made by the same people — but it’s very pricey. I’ve decided to try something different.

TF 90 dot sight
Right now, Pyramyd Air is blowing out an older Tech Force 90 dot sight that I used to use on a lot of airguns years ago. They have a large number of them, and they’re priced to sell at just $19.99. I watched the development of this dot sight by Compasseco in the late 1990s, and I know that it’s extremely good. It was made in a plant that makes sights for the military. And, now, it’s available at a price that can’t be beat. So, I’ll mount one on the Hakim and try the rifle again at 10 meters — and perhaps at 25 yards, as well.

Hakim air rifle: Part 2

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

Happy birthday, America! The United States is celebrating it’s 238th anniversary of independence from England.

Part 1

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz.

This report covers:

• Trigger adjustment
• Cocking effort
• Best pellet
• Velocity
• Performance?
• Oil
• The Arabic writing

Today, we’ll test the velocity of the Hakim underlever air rifle. You’ll remember that this rifle was made by German maker Anschütz, using a sporting air rifle they were making as their starting point. They’d copied the 1948 BSA Airsporter. I happened to obtain a more modern BSA Airsporter last week at a gun show, and a review of that will be coming up some time in the future. But, today, we’re looking at the Hakim.

Trigger adjustment
Before I get to the velocity, though, I noticed that the 2-stage trigger in my rifle was breaking at more than 10 lbs. That’s too heavy, and the Hakim trigger is adjustable for pull weight, but the action has to be removed from the stock to make the adjustment. So, the first thing I did was take the action out of the stock.

The Hakim doesn’t come out of its stock as handily as most spring rifles. A lot more than just the normal 3 stock screws have to be removed. If I decide to clean and tune this rifle, I’ll show the disassembly in a future report. For now, let me tell you that it takes about three times as long to get a Hakim action out of its stock.

Hakim trigger adjustment
This is the Hakim air rifle trigger. The gun is cocked in this photo. The one adjustment controls the amount of sear contact area (parts in contact inside the circle). The screw is turned in to reduce the contact area, and the nut locks it in place.

I adjusted the sear to about half the contact area that was there previously, then I cleaned the contact surfaces and lubed both surfaces with moly grease. After all of this, and after breaking in the adjustment and the new lube, the trigger now breaks at just under 5 lbs. While I can get it down even lower, this is a trigger that uses sear contact area, and I would rather err on the side of safety more than I would like a light pull.

Cocking effort
It’s harder to measure the cocking effort of an underlever air rifle than to measure the effort of a breakbarrel, but it’s still possible. My bathroom scale says this rifle cocks with 18 lbs. of effort, which is pretty easy. The cocking linkage is designed to maximize the force you apply. Of course, the size and weight of the rifle prevents it from being used by young people, but this light cocking does make it enjoyable to shoot.

Best pellet
There’s one pellet I like in a Hakim above all others, and that’s the RWS Superpoint because they have the thinnest skirts I can find in .22 caliber — and in a taploader, you want a thin skirt. The tap has to be large enough for all pellets to fall into its chamber; yet, when the gun fires, you want the pellet skirt to flare out and seal the air behind it. The Superpoint does this better than any pellet I’ve ever found. I won’t stop looking, but until I find something better, the RWS Superpoint is the one pellet of choice for all my Hakims.

Velocity
I had no idea how this particular rifle was going to perform, so this test was a diagnostic one for me. The first pellet I tried was the 5.6mm Eley Wasp that’s now obsolete. I bought several tins of them years ago before they stopped making them, so I can use them in my Webley Senior, whose bore is quite large. They weigh 14.5 grains and resemble a Benjamin High Compression pellet from the 1960s.

Eley Wasps averaged 454 f.p.s. and ranged from 450 up to 466 f.p.s. So, a 16 f.p.s. spread in total. At the average velocity, Wasps generate 6.64 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next up were the RWS Superpoints. They also weigh 14.5 grains — the same as the Wasps — but their average velocity was 498 f.p.s., which is an increase of 47 f.p.s. over the Wasps. That’s due to the thin skirt being more effective in a taploader, I believe. The velocity ranged from 489 to 509 f.p.s., which is a 20 f.p.s. spread. At the average velocity, Superpoints developed 7.99 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The last pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby, which also performs well in Hakims. This 11.9-grain .22-caliber pellet averaged 554 f.p.s. in this rifle, with a range from 543 to 566 f.p.s. So the spread was 23 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 8.11 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Performance?
These velocities place this particular Hakim at the upper side of average for this model. I’ve see enough of them to know what they should do, and this one is okay — but not spectacular. I’m satisfied with it where it is.

When I disassembled the rifle to adjust the trigger, I noticed that it’s quite dirty inside. It could benefit from a thorough cleaning of all parts, inside and out. Therefore, I believe I’ll at least disassemble and clean the rifle for you, and, yes, I’ll take pictures.

I also noticed that the mainspring is very buzzy. That means there are either sloppy tolerances inside, or the mainspring may be canted. It’s probably sloppy tolerances, though, because the buzz is long and sustained. A canted spring will buzz sharply, but the buzz will also stop quick.

The buzz is disturbing, so I’ll look at ways of reducing it. If that slows down the rifle, I may need to tune it just a little to get it back to where it is now.

Oil
I oiled the rifle, to see what effect that might have. These taploaders do need more oil than conventional breakbarrels because the loading tap uses a film of oil to seal itself. To oil the rifle, I filled the tap with Crosman Pellgunoil and then cocked the rifle. The suction of air through the tap immediately sucked the oil into the compression chamber. After oiling, the velocity dropped by 100 f.p.s. for a couple shots, then climbed up to more than 50 f.p.s. above where it had been for around a dozen more shots. Then, it settled back to where it had been in the test. That tells me the tap was already oiled when I started the test. I was able to use Pellgunoil even though the Hakim does have a synthetic piston seal because the compression is so low.

The Arabic writing
I know that most of you have never see a Hakim up close, so I’m going to show you all the Arabic markings on the gun. There are no English characters anywhere. I don’t read Arabic, so I apologize if any of these characters are upside-down.

The rifle’s end cap has writing on both sides and on the top. Notice, also, that the cap has dovetail grooves. These can be used for short scopes, dot sights or peep sights.

Hakim characters left
The left side of the end cap.

Hakim characters top
The top of the end cap. If you mount anything to these dovetails, take the arch in the center into account.

Hakim characters right
The right side of the end cap.

Hakim characters by tap
Left side of the gun, just forward of the tap lever.

The rear sight is also graduated in Arabic numerals, which are unreadable — despite what they told us in school. That doesn’t really matter because you can guesstimate where to put the elevation slider from the results on the target, but it does illustrate that there isn’t a word of English anywhere on the airgun.

Evaluation so far
When I bought this rifle, I did so based on the stock. It’s well-made, beautiful and uncharacteristic of a standard Hakim stock, and free from cracks.

I tested the action at the time of purchase, which, with a Hakim, is possible without firing the rifle. I won’t bother to explain right now the how and why of that because I doubt many people will ever need to do it, but I did know from my test that this rifle was probably going to be average as far as performance goes. And it is.

Next, I think I’ll move on to accuracy testing at 10 meters with the installed sights. After that, I’ll decide where to go for the next report.

Hakim air rifle: Part 1

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

Hakim
Hakim is a large, heavy military trainer made in the 1950s by Anschütz. This one is uncharacteristically beautiful.

This report covers:

• Hatsan 250XT TAC BOSS failed!
• History of the Hakim trainer
• Description of the rifle
• My own experience

Hatsan 250XT TAC BOSS failed
The Hatsan 250XT TAC-BOSS BB pistol failed to fire when I began the velocity test. The BBs refuse to leave the gun, and the trigger jams after one shot. I played with it for some time before pulling the plug. I’m sending this one back to Pyramyd Air, and I’ll ask for a replacement. I do plan on finishing this test when the new pistol arrives.

Hakim history
This failure catches me short today, so I’ll start reporting on the Hakim air rifle trainer made by Anschütz. The Hakim air rifle trainer is one of two trainers used by the Egyptian army to train soldiers to fire their 8mm Hakim battle rifle — a variation of the Swedish Ljungman semiautomatic rifle from World War II. The Egyptian Hakim was made after the war on the same machinery that made the Ljungman, and with the startup help of Swedish advisors. What’s known today as the “poor man’s Garand” and the “Egyptian Garand” lasted only for a few years before being replaced by more appropriate battle rifles. While it’s a fine design, the tolerances are so tight that it was ill-suited to field operations in a desert climate.

To train their soldiers with less expensive ammunition, the Egyptians had two different trainers. One was a semiautomatic .22 rimfire made for them by Beretta. It held 10 shots and looked similar to the 8mm Hakim rifle. The other was the air rifle we’ll start looking at today.

The Egyptians decided to let Anschütz turn their underlever sporting air rifle into a trainer for the Hakim. The result is a single-shot underlever spring rifle in .22 caliber. They contracted for them in 1954, and the model was 1955, I believe. I say “believe” because all the markings on the rifles are Arabic, and I cannot read them.

In the 1990s, the Egyptian government decided to divest themselves of their Hakim air rifle trainers, and many of them came to the United States. Navy Arms sold them for $65 each if you bought 4 at one time. I did and got two rifles that worked (after a fashion) right away and two that were rebuilt into working rifles. All these rifles were filled with sand (no kidding!) and several of them had numerous pellets and small nails embedded in their synthetic piston seals. [Note from Edith: I've written about this period of our lives before. It was as if the Exxon Valdez had somehow visited the Sahara desert and then docked in our house. Plus, the grease had an odor that permeated every room and slapped you in the face the minute you walked in the front door. Compared to that stench, the odor of Hoppes No. 9 smells like Chanel No. 5!]

Description of the rifle
The rifle is very large, at 44-3/4 inches overall and over 10 pounds in weight. The one I’m testing for you here weighs 10 lbs., 7 oz., but that will vary with the density of the wood — and there’s a LOT of wood on a Hakim! The length of pull is 13-1/4 inches, and the barrel is 19 inches in length.

Speaking of the wood, Edith always says that Hakims look like they’ve been drug behind a truck over a gravel road, then set on fire and put out with an axe — or something like that. [Note from Edith: And I was being kind when I said that. Tailings from a lumberyard look better!] I’ll admit that most of them don’t look very nice. That’s because they’re the worst kind of club guns — they’re army club guns! In other words, they never belonged to anyone, so everyone treated them poorly. We see the same thing in club-owned target rifles all the time.

The metal parts are Parkerized with a gray phosphate finish. Only the rear sight blade and the buttplate are blued steel. The rifle has sling swivels front and rear but no lug for mounting a bayonet. Other air rifle trainers such as the Czech VZ35 do mount bayonets, but I guess this one was getting too heavy as it was.

The front sight blade has a removable hood, and the rear sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. The curious triangular projection that stands up from the rear of the receiver has no known purpose but is supposed to simulate the triangular shape of the sliding bolt cover on a Hakim firearm. That bolt cover on the firearm has a wire loop that’s used to pull the cover back to retract the bolt when cocking the rifle.

Thingy
This thing on the Hakim air rifle has no known purpose beyond cosmetics. On the firearm, the triangular bolt cover has wire loops on either side to assist in cocking the bolt.

Front sight
This front sight blade has been flipped upside-down in its base and painted orange for better visibility. The hood snaps off.

The air rifle is an underlever that’s based on the BSA Airsporter of 1947. And you’re going to notice a more than passing resemblance to the Falke model 90 I showed you. When the underlever comes down to cock the rifle, it automatically rotates the loading tap to receive a pellet. The tap handle sticks up on the left side to alert the shooter to the tap’s status.

Hakim cocked
Pull the underlever down to cock the rifle. The loading tap opens automatically when this is done.

Tap closed
When the loading tap is closed, the lever lies against the left side of the stock.

Tao open
When the tap lever is up, the tap is open to accept a pellet. Load it nose first, then close the tap to align the chamber with the barrel and air transfer port.

One of the strange markings on Hakim trainers is the flaming skull located above the loading tap. I’ve been told that’s an insignia of a national guard or reserve-type unit in the Egyptian army, but I have no way of knowing if that’s correct. It’s found on all Hakim airgun trainers.

Death head
The flaming death head is a military insignia.

All Hakim air rifles are .22 caliber. They’ve been reported as .177 caliber in several places, but none have been found in that caliber to my knowledge. In all, Anschütz made and delivered 2800 air rifles to the buyer.

My own experience
I bought my first Hakim from a newspaper ad in the late 1980s — before I started writing about airguns. It was surprisingly accurate at 10 meters; so when I saw the Navy Arms ad in Shotgun News, I bought 4 more. Over the years, I have bought others to fix up and sell, and I guess I’ve owned about 15 of them by this time. [Note from Edith: I remember when Tom reluctantly sold his first Hakim. I think it was to a man in Arizona. The minute the deal was done, you could see seller's remorse on Tom's face. Some time after that, he was able to buy back the gun. You cannot imagine how happy he was when that Hakim returned to it's rightful home. I'm surprised he didn't ask me to throw a party. He said he'd never get rid of it, but I'm pretty sure he did.]

The rifle I have now is not only the nicest-looking Hakim trainer I’ve ever owned, it’s also one of the two nicest examples I have even seen, and that is out of about 200 rifles. The other nice one was refinished with a lustrous blue, and its military stock had no marks on it. My current rifle still has the military finish on all the metal parts, but the wood has been built from the ground up by a master craftsman. The dimensions seem to replicate the military wood stock exactly. It’s made from beautiful walnut with attractive grain, and whoever did the work got it right.

I bought this rifle at the Findlay show earlier this year. I found the beautiful stock to be irresistible, and I have absolutely no idea how the rifle performs. As of this moment, I’ve never shot it! That’s no great risk, though, because there isn’t much I can’t do to one of these.

The trigger is finely adjustable. What’s adjusted is the sear contact area, so you want to err on the side of safe operation when you adjust it. With a little care, you can get a wonderful 2-stage pull.

I’ve seen most Hakims shoot 14.5-grain RWS Superpoint pellets in the high 400s to the low 500s. After a rebuild, they’ll usually get as high as 550 f.p.s. I owned one that would do 650 f.p.s., but it wasn’t pleasant to shoot.

When I shot them years ago, I was shooting only 5-shot groups; and a good Hakim will put all 5 shots into a quarter-inch at 10 meters. I’ve owned a couple that were not as accurate for one reason or another, but the majority of them are quite accurate.

One nice thing about Hakims is how easy they are to cock. The underlever is quite long, and the cocking linkage is efficient; plus, the rifle’s mainspring is weak. In spite of the rifle’s weight, it can be shot comfortably all day long.

This is a very special airgun. It has the quality most people say they want but not the power that we’ve come to expect. It was purpose-built to be a target shooter to teach the fundamentals of rifle marksmanship. Ten years after this rifle was issued by the Egyptian army, the United States Air Force would buy hundreds of Crosman model 120 bolt-action rifles to do essentially the same thing. What do you think of these programs?

Great expectations!

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: Adrian Cataldo Beltran is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Adrian Cataldo Beltran is the BSOTW.

This is the second time I’ve used this title for a blog. The last time was a blog I did back in July 2007, almost five years ago. In that report, I was mostly addressing the expectations of accuracy that new airgunners have and how they relate to reality. Today, I want to look at something different.

Today I want to look at our secret hopes — those unspoken agendas that push us and direct us toward gun purchases that can sometimes disappoint us. I had one of these happen to me just this week.

When I was a boy back in the 1950s, I loved the Winchester model 61 slide-action .22 repeater — what we kids called a pump gun in those days. I loved it because every time I got to shoot one, which wasn’t that often, the rifle spoke to me. It was just the right size, with a slick action that seemed to bespeak rapid-fire accuracy. Since I never shot at anything smaller than a soup can, I don’t suppose that real accuracy ever came into question, but that gun just SEEMED accurate to me.

As a young adult in the middle 1970s, I had the opportunity to buy a 98 percent model 61 that had been produced in 1953. It still had the original box and cost the exorbitant price of $250, but I knew it was worth every penny. I didn’t actually shoot it that much, but I shot it enough to know that my childhood imagination had amplified the rifle’s true capabilities. It was accurate enough for what it was, but it was no tack-driver. Anyhow, the day finally came when I was forced to sell it before I apparently fulfilled my fascination for the gun — because a couple years ago I had a chance to buy another one in very good shape (call it a 75-percent gun) for just $550. This time I could afford the gun, but I didn’t act quick enough and the opportunity passed.

Last week I passed the pawn shop where I had seen the model 61 for sale, and once more the same childish thoughts flashed through my mind. And here’s the point of what I’m telling you. I now own a Marlin model 39A that is even slicker than the Winchester, and a Remington model 37 target rifle whose accuracy can embarrass almost every other .22 on earth. So why does my heart still yearn for the old pump gun that I know can’t compete with the guns I have? I think it’s that eternal desire to return to my childhood!

I had the exact same experience with a Daisy No. 25 slide-action BB gun, only this time I actually acquired nine of the things — all in beautiful, collectible condition. Owning them for over two decades allowed me to purge the demons from my past; and a couple years ago, I started quietly selling off that collection. The void in my heart had been filled.

At one time, I had the itch for a Colt Woodsman .22 pistol, because as a youngster I shot my uncle’s gun and did very well with it at 25 yards. From the prone position with a two-hand hold, that pistol grouped like a fine .22 rifle! But I’ve owned several Woodsman pistols over the years, and the experience has filled that pothole in my character. I know now that a Ruger Mark II can be just as accurate and just as reliable for one-quarter the price.

The longest itch I ever had was for the M1 Carbine, because I still have it even though I own one! I have owned several, and all have been good shooters — if not terribly accurate. But something about the little semiautomatic action that’s still impossible for gunmakers to build (no semiautomatic rifle has ever been made that was as light and powerful as the M1 Carbine) turns me on! I cannot pass one by. It’s as though I need to own them all, even though I have whittled my own “collection” down to just one good gun.

The strangest itch I ever had was for one specific gun. Years ago, I acquired a Trapdoor Springfield rifle that was in NRA antique good condition. It wasn’t anything to look at; but the bore was great, and it was fun to shoot. But I tired of that hard-kicking rifle after many years and eventually traded it away. Then, seller’s remorse set in. A year later, when I saw it up for sale, I bought it back. And I had it for several more years until I traded it away a second time. Then, a couple months later, I learned that the new owner intended selling it because the barrel was too long for him, so I traded for it, again. I also own a really accurate scoped .45-70 rolling block that I shoot all the time, but apparently I cannot stand to not also own this tired-looking old Trapdoor. Like a prized horse that’s been put out to pasture, I guess this one will remain with me until my estate sells it!

The point of this report
What I’m driving at today is that all shooters carry some baggage. For me, it’s the Winchester 61 and the others I’ve mentioned; but for you, a Browning Auto 5 may light your fire, or perhaps you find Lugers fascinating! I know that Mac has a soft spot for any shotgun in .410 caliber. Somewhere on the path of life, we have an experience or even just a fascination, and it starts the pot inside us brewing with lust.

BB’s Kryptonite
Old B.B. Pelletier still has a couple voids left in his soul besides the Winchester. One would be a beautiful blue H&R model 999 Sportsman .22 revolver. There’s just something mystical about that break-open design that fascinates me! I have the good sense to know that I couldn’t possibly shoot it any better than any other top-quality revolver, but something about it still haunts me. I have never even fired one shot from a 999, so of course the thing is really buried deeply under my saddle! I fantasize about breaking open the action and watching those nine empty cases extract from the cylinder, as if by magic. It’s not a healthy wish, but this one’s on my bucket list.

For some asinine reason, I’m fascinated by the Johnson semiautomatic battle rifle of World War II. They’re all selling for way over $2,000 these days, and good ones go for much more; so this is an itch I don’t ever expect to scratch — but it’s still there. I would probably be underwhelmed by one if I shot it, because I’ve shot the Garand (another itch that has been satisfied many times!), but I guess you want most the things you can’t have.

Oh, and for some dumb reason, I find I cannot look away from an 8mm Hakim battle rifle. I know it’s because I’ve owned so many of the air rifle trainers, but the phrase “the poor man’s Garand” has sunk its hook firmly into my lips. I’ve come very close to pulling the trigger on several fine-looking Hakims in the past but was always put off by their poor bores that resulted from firing corrosive 8mm military ammunition.

Airguns
In airguns, my secret desire is to own another Sheridan Supergrade multi-pump pneumatic. I owned one years ago and learned that it was no more powerful nor more accurate than a simple Blue Streak, but something about the robust styling of the gun still attracts me. Years ago, I was forced to sell the one I had for economic reasons, so the fascination was never completely satisfied. And I sold it just after the prices began to rise. I told myself I would buy another one when I could, and then I encountered the super-inflationary price increases of recent years.

A couple years back, I had the chance to buy a nice Supergrade at the Roanoke airgun show and I even (momentarily) had the money to buy it! But something inside stopped me from forking over the cash. And that was two weeks before I made the landmark trade for my Ballard rifle — so I guess the still small voice I listened to was the voice of reason that time! I had to use the cash to buy several things that were used in that trade, so it was either the Ballard or the Supergrade.

To quote Minnie Pearl, “I’m done playin’ now!” I want to spend the rest of this weekend reading about what turns YOUR crank!

How spring-piston rifles behave

by B.B. Pelletier

Okay, Grasshopper, enough Wax on! Wax off! It’s time to use your skills.

If you’ve been following the discussions over the past month about accuracy, you should now have the tools to be a pretty good judge of the potential accuracy of an air rifle and the relative ease with which that accuracy comes — even before taking the first shot. We’ll confine today’s discussion to just spring-piston guns, since they’re the most difficult to shoot.

How a spring-piston airgun works
This is a review for many of you, but we have enough new readers that perhaps it’s good to go over the points of how the spring-piston gun works. What I’m about to say holds true for guns with gas springs as well as guns with coiled steel mainsprings. They all work the same when it comes to their operation.

When the sear releases the piston, the piston starts moving forward rapidly at 50-60 miles per hour or 73-88 f.p.s. Unless there’s something like an anti-recoil mechanism to prevent it, the gun starts moving in the opposite direction. Since the piston weighs but a fraction of the weight of the whole gun, the gun’s movement is very slight.

Within a few hundredths of an inch of the end of its travel, the piston has compressed the air in front of it as high as it will ever go…given the piston diameter and length of the piston stroke. Due to this compression, the temperature of the air has also increased to a very high point. The piston wants to slam into the end of the compression chamber, but the thin cushion of highly compressed air actually slows it down and can even stop it. The pellet in the breech is sealing the air in front of the piston, and it hasn’t started moving yet.

However, at some point — and that point changes with each pellet used, the pellet can no longer remain stationary. There’s too much force pushing on its tail and it begins to move down the bore. The piston can now go all the way forward and rest against the end of the compression chamber, or it may have done so already and rebounded off the air cushion and now needs to go forward again. Each different type of pellet will determine exactly how this relationship of movement plays out, which is why some pellets feel good when you shoot them and other pellets seem to make the gun buzz and vibrate and even make noises that you may never have heard before.

When the piston reaches the end of its travel, it stops suddenly. When that happens, it imparts a hammer blow to the airgun, sending it in the same direction the piston was traveling. This is the second recoil, and it’s much more noticeable. At this point in time, the pellet is probably between three and six inches down the barrel and the entire gun’s moving.

The movement is in several forms. First, there’s high-speed vibration running through all the parts of the gun. You can’t see this vibration, even on a high-speed camera, but you can feel it. This is the buzz that you feel from some guns, and it can be so sharp that it actually hurts to hold the stock against your cheek.

Next, there’s a lower-speed vibration that’s both larger and much slower. If you had a high-speed camera, you could actually see the various parts of the rifle moving. The pellet is still inside the barrel when this happens.

Finally, there’s the recoil in both directions. Both are visible on a high-speed camera; and the forward movement, assuming we’re talking about a conventional spring-piston setup, is by far the largest. The gun starts moving forward before the pellet leaves the muzzle, but completes the movement after the pellet has gone.

Which spring-piston guns will be accurate?
Simply stated, breakbarrel spring guns are the most difficult to control. They may be just as accurate as underlevers and sidelevers, but they’re almost always more sensitive to the movement of the gun when it fires. That’s not to say that sidelevers and underlevers are not sensitive; but in comparison to breakbarrels, they’re less sensitive.

Let’s stay with breakbarrels for now. The ones with the longest piston stroke have the longest period of time for movement. That includes the high-speed vibration, the low-speed vibration and the recoil in both directions. As a rule, long-stroke spring-piston guns are the most sensitive to hold, and long-stroke breakbarrels are the most sensitive of all.

Then there’s the weight of the piston to consider. A heavy piston causes more rearward recoil when it begins moving and more forward recoil when it comes to a stop. You tend to find heavier pistons in guns with more power.

Put this all together, and you know that a breakbarrel spring-piston rifle that has a long piston stroke and high power will probably be the most sensitive airgun, as far as hold goes. It may be potentially very accurate; yet also be so sensitive that unless the hold technique is perfect, it’ll spray pellets everywhere.

Listen to this!
When I was doing the testing that lead to my R1 book, I tested my .22-caliber Beeman R1 with the factory tune and then with four different custom tunes. One of the tunes — from Venom — increased the power of the 18 foot-pound rifle to 23 foot-pounds, but it also removed nearly all vibration. It was by far the smoothest tune for that rifle. As a result, the rifle became easier to hold and shoot.

I then destroyed all of the mainsprings used in the testing by leaving the rifle cocked for a month with each of them, so the Venomac Mag-80 LazaGlide tune went away. While I had it and used it, I learned that it’s the vibration and not the power of a gun that determines how difficult it is to hold.

That tells us that if the gun is powerful without vibrating, it can be easier to shoot. You might think that a gas spring would give you exactly that, but they don’t always do so. The more powerful gas springs, while smoother than most steel springs of equal power, still vibrate a lot and require compensation with the hold.

What do we know?
If you believe what I’ve said to this point, then you know what it takes for a breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle to be the least sensitive to hold. It must have the following:

  • Low vibration
  • Short stroke
  • Low recoil

Put all of that together and you’ll have a lower-powered, spring-piston rifle. Time for a short story.

Several years ago, I tested a Mendoza breakbarrel called the Bronco, oddly enough, that was very low powered. It had a strange-looking Euro-styled stock with a too-short pull (about 10 inches) and a hideous kidney-shaped cutout in the center of the butt. The stock was firewood, but the action was good. No, it was better than good. It was great!

The gun cocked easily, had a very short piston stroke, a wonderful crisp trigger and an accurate barrel. I proposed to Pyramyd Air that we have this rifle restocked with a western-style stock, like the old Beeman C1 carbine. They agreed, so I found the stockmaker and had the job done.

We then sent the newly-stocked rifle to Mendoza and asked them to create a model that had a similar stock, though with a pull suited to older youth as well as adults and a couple other important changes. Voila! The Air Venturi Bronco that you all know was born. You can call me an airgun designer if you like, but what I really am is someone who knows what it takes to make the right kind of airgun. Mendoza was already making most of it, but they needed prompting to change those few important details that turned their oddball Bronco, which wasn’t selling, into our Bronco, which is now a best-buy. It’s the same gun, with just a few important things changed. Think of it as the Jeep with the V6 engine that everybody loves, as opposed to the same Jeep with the underpowered 4-cylinder powerplant that someone buys because, on paper, it gets two miles per gallon better mileage. In real life, the details matter.

The Bronco is very insensitive to hold for a breakbarrel and as a result, deadly accurate in the hands of almost everybody. Contrast that with the guy who has to have the absolute last foot-second of velocity, so he buys the air rifle that’s guaranteed to make his life miserable — hard to cock, violent when shot and requiring the skill of a concert airgunner to shoot well. He may have some bragging rights; but at the end of the day, the Bronco owner will shoot a lot more and have more fun doing it.

There are many more stories, but I think my point has been made. You now know how to select a spring-piston breakbarrel that will be the least hold sensitive when shot. Now you know why I went bonkers over the Crosman TitanGP (Lower Velocity) that’s a really fine shooter.

On to other springers
Let’s talk about the underlevers and sidelevers. Within these, there are the underlevers that use a sliding compression chamber, like the Beeman HW97K, and those that have a loading tap, such as the Hakim (made by Anschutz). There are sidelevers with loading taps, as well, but they’re not common. Sidelevers usually have sliding compression chambers, like the RWS Diana 48.

For whatever reason, both underlevers and sidelevers are less sensitive to hold than breakbarrels. Of these, the taploaders seem to be the least sensitive of all, though the TX200 Mark III from Air Arms has a sliding compression cylinder and is also very insensitive to hold.

The hold sensitivity for both underlevers and sidelevers does increase as the stroke length and vibration increase. Notice that I didn’t say anything about the power. The TX200 Mark III is very powerful, yet still very smooth and insensitive to hold. I would describe it as having a shorter piston stroke.

The RWS Diana 460 Magnum, in contrast, has a very long piston stroke and does need a lot of hold technique to shoot its best. The RWS Diana model 48 sidelever has a shorter stroke than the 460 Magnum and is also less sensitive to hold.

It seems that the same things that drive the hold sensitivity for breakbarrels also affect underlevers and sidelever guns. It’s just that these types of airguns start out with an advantage over breakbarrels in the sensitivity to hold.

What does that leave?
I have not discussed any of the other types of spring guns, such as the overlevers (they act just like underlevers) or those that cock via a lever that works in a different way, like the Haenel 310 and the VZ 35. All of these airguns are low-powered enough that they have good characteristics to begin with; as a result, they don’t cause any of the hold problems we’ve discussed.

Other issues
To this point, I’ve said nothing about the quality of the barrel, the breech lockup, or the overall fit and finish of the working parts of the powerplant. These items do affect the performance of an airgun and will break your heart if they’re not taken into account. Some air rifle barrels, for instance, look like 40 miles of rough road and will never deliver pinpoint accuracy no matter what’s done to the rest of the gun. Some barrels are crooked from the factory and can never be fully straightened. You can put lipstick on the pig, but that won’t change its manners!

The bottom line
What all of this means is that no one has to go into the airgun selection process blind. If you can determine the three important characteristics I’ve discussed here — vibration, piston stroke and recoil — you can generally know how difficult it will be to shoot each airgun well.

If you want to hunt with your new rifle, then by all means pick one that has plenty of power. But choose it to use it! Now that you’ve been informed, don’t buy a mega-magnum spring rifle, then whine that it’s too difficult to cock or too hard to shoot accurately.

Many of the veteran readers on this blog seem to keep harping on the low-powered springers for a reason. Guys like Kevin and others keep going back to rifles like the Beeman R7 and the HW50S because they know what wonderful shooters they are. Don’t kid yourself that these guys are not experienced with the powerful springers, too. Most of them have tried the big guns and found they didn’t enjoy all that it took to make them do their jobs.

There’s a place for the RWS Diana 350 Magnum and the Walther Talon Magnum, but some thought has to be given before purchasing either of them or any other spring-piston air rifle of equivalent power. Both rifles are built for a specific purpose, which is hunting. They’re hard to cock and take a lot of technique to shoot to their potential. Neither rifle is the best choice for a first airgun for someone who is either new to airguns or new to shooting altogether.

I hope this report helps some of our newer readers narrow their selections of possible air rifles to purchase next. As always, there will be exceptions to what I have said, but they only serve to prove the general rule.

B.B.’s airguns – What I kept and why – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Today, I’ll continue the story of what airguns I hung onto over the years and why I kept them. I’ll also throw in a few firearms just to spice things up.

Crosman M1 Carbine
I kept the second M1 Carbine BB gun I ever got, but I let the first one get away. It was a wood-stocked model that’s considered more collectible, though I think the plastic-stocked gun looks more realistic. I kept this one because it was a gift, and I have the original box it came in plus the original owner’s manual. I also kept it because it’s an M1 Carbine, and I have told you many times how I love that little gun.


A military M1 Carbine above and my Crosman M1 Carbine below. It’s very realistic!

S&W 78G
I kept a boxed 78G that I bought in an auction years ago, then had Dave Gunter reseal and soup up a little. It’s a fine-shooting air pistol, though it cannot compete with a 2240 accuracy-wise. I keep it because I’ve sold several boxed 78Gs and one 79G over the years. Ten years ago, these guns were being sold new-in-the-box at airgun shows for $100. I knew it couldn’t last, and it didn’t; but when there’s a pile of 50 of anything, it tends to lose value in my eyes. I’ll hold on to this one because it would cost too much to replace it.


The S&W 78G is a single-shot copy of S&W’s model 41 target pistol.

Daisy 499B
I keep the world’s most accurate BB gun because every so often I write about it. I need to have one to remind me of how really great the gun is. And I bought a case of Number 515 Precision Ground Shot, so I’d never run out for the rest of my life. I just opened the second box after 10 years. There are 23 more boxes to go, so you might plan on buying them at my estate sale.

Diana model 27
I’ve owned several Diana 27 rifles, both in .22 and .177, but the beautiful one I bought from Richard Schmidt at the first Little Rock Airgun Show I attended 17 years ago is the one I will keep. I’ve had it apart several times for photography and tuning, and I love the way it shoots. I’ve had several .177 model 27s, and I can say that I never warmed up to any of them. For some reason, the .22 caliber gun is the one I love.


I love my little Diana 27, which is a Hy-Score 807.

Airguns I no longer have – the Hakim
I’ve owned at least 15 Hakim spring rifles over the years. For a couple of years, the Anschütz-made Hakims were my weakness, just like M1 Carbine firearms are today. For some reason, I lost interest and slowly let them all get away. They’re great air rifles, and you really should shoot one, but I’m no longer fatally attracted to them.

Now, if you have a BSA Airsporter you’d like to get rid of reasonably, we should talk. The Airsporter is a BSA-made Hakim design in a sporter stock. Same for the Falke model 80 and 90, though both of those rifles are much more collectible and sell for a lot more.


The Hakim used to be on my must-have list…but no more.

The Sheridan Supergrade
I owned one long enough to learn that it is neither more powerful nor more accurate than a standard Sheridan Blue Streak. But it’s quite the air rifle from the style side. I don’t normally care about style, but the Supergrade is one exception. Mine was an early rifle that had the long bolt handle, which I find particularly attractive. I had to sell it to raise money to live on, and then the prices tripled inside two years. I probably won’t get another.

Sharp Ace
I’ve owned three Aces. Two were Japanese-made and one was made in southeast Asia. One of the Japanese guns was regulated to 12 foot-pounds and had a beautiful barred walnut stock. The other Japanese model was full-power and got up to 25 foot-pounds in .22 caliber.

The Ace trigger gets stiffer as more pumps are put into the gun. I could not reconcile that, so I let them all go. They’re terribly accurate, though. Way more than the Sheridan rifles.

Daystate Sportsman Mark II
This is a sidelever multi-pump rifle that looks and feels like a PCP. It’s just as accurate, too. But it weighs over 10 lbs. scoped, and the sidelever makes it unbalanced. I could not reconcile that feel, so I sold it. I still see it for sale every so often at airgun shows.


The Daystate Sportsman Mark II is a multi-pump made to look and perform like a PCP.

Air Arms Schamal .22
This rifle was a heatbreak to sell. It was another natural shooter, like the R8 I just reviewed for you. It had a great number of shots per fill and was reasonably lightweight. The stock was figured walnut that I thought was breathtaking. At 40 yards, it shot one-hole groups. I’ve seen other Schamals that didn’t excite me, but this one was special. I sold it to get the money to live on, but if I got it again I don’t think I’d let it get away a second time.

Baby Bernadelli .25 ACP
Forty years ago, I owned a .25 ACP Baby Bernadelli, which is an Italian copy of the Baby Browning. For some unknown reason, that little pistol was dead-nuts accurate. I could put three bullets through the bottom of a pop can at 30 feet every time. I’m talking a one-inch group! It was a natural shooter that I let get away…and have regretted it ever since.

Ruger flattop .44 Magnum with 10-inch barrel
I’ve owned eight Colt Single-Actions, including three that were first generation guns. I have also owned a genuine Remington 1875 single-action. Yet, I don’t really miss any of them as much as I miss this Ruger. It was collectible when I owned it in the 1970s, and it’s super-collectible today. I liked it because it was accurate and because I could load it to .44 Special power and it didn’t kick much. I doubt I’ll ever spend the money to buy another one like it.

Well, that’s enough sob stories for one day. How about the rest of you open up between now and Monday with your own tales of woe? I have many more to come, so don’t worry. We’re just getting started.

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