Posts Tagged ‘Beeman Silver Jet pellets’
by B.B. Pelletier
Before I start today’s report I have to share a concern. The other evening while we were watching TV, Edith suddenly suggested that I write an airgun blog for beginners. I thought about it, and I decided she is probably right.
Of course, this very blog is supposed to be for beginners, but I fear that I’ve wandered away from that objective. There’s too much jargon in the articles and not enough explanation. As far as the comments are concerned, I have no problems with what’s said because readers ought to be able to say almost anything. But the articles ought to be more informative and not require an airgun background to understand.
If you’re new to airgunning and have been struggling with this blog, please speak up now. I would like to hear your views on how we can make this blog better and easier to understand.
Okay, on to today’s report, which, if subtitled, would read, BB gets frustrated. I’ve tried to like this Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT. I really have, and I did like many things about it. I liked the light weight, the ease of cocking and the lack of vibration when fired. I didn’t care for the scope Gamo sends with the rifle, but today was supposed to take care of that. But it didn’t work out that way. Instead, adding a better scope only demonstrated that this rifle isn’t going to shoot like it should, and I believe I now know why.
You’ll recall that I criticized the Gamo scope pretty severely, so for today’s session I mounted a Leapers 6-24×50 AO scope in the BKL 1-piece droop compensating mount I’m using to compensate for the rifle’s extreme droop. Blog reader Kevin has said that he wouldn’t buy another Leapers scope because of the way he was treated by the company in what should have been a warranty situation, and I have to agree with him on that; but their scopes are still a very good value for the money. This scope is one I’ve used several times before, and it’s never let me down.
I figured the first thing to do was to verify my zero after changing out the scope, and of course there was a lot of adjustment to be made with the new one. I have no idea what gun or mounts this scope was associated with last, so it will naturally be off unless I get lucky. But this wasn’t the day for luck.
After zeroing, the first pellet I tried was the 14.3-grain JSB Exact Express that looked so tantalizing in the last accuracy test. And this is where the frustration began. In the last test using the poor scope, I managed a 10-shot group that measured 1.267 inches between centers. I expected far better than that, now that I could clearly see the target. But after only seven pellets went into a group measuring 1.479 inches, I knew it was not to be.
I then changed to the heavier 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet. But another seven of those pellets went into a group measuring 1.427 inches, and I stopped wasting my time.
I was really frustrated, because nothing I tried was working. I would get two pellets in the same hole when I tried a new hold, and then the third would land two inches away. This was starting to get embarrassing! And I did try many other pellets, including some that are obsolete, like Beeman Silver Jets. Nothing worked. RWS Hobbys were so far off-target that they put a hole in the aluminum light fixture I use to illuminate the target. And Beeman Kodiaks, which I think are much too heavy for an air rifle in this power class, were doing the same thing as all the rest — grouping two tight and then throwing the next two several inches away. Then I shot another disappointing group of H&N Trophy Hunters.
Finally in desperation I shot a last group of Beeman Silver Bear hollowpoints that ended with the fourth shot. Why shoot any more when four shots already has you over one inch? Look at the group, and you’ll see what I mean.
Now this is the point in many reports where I pull back the curtain and reveal the sunshine of a successful test. But not today. There is no joy in Mudville today. Oh, that’s not true.
I felt so bad about all the lousy shooting, and believe me, there’s more than I’m reporting, that I grabbed my tuned .177-caliber Beeman R8 and shot a final group of ten Beeman Devastators at the same 25 yards. This was to wash the bad taste of this test out of my mouth.
And it worked. Apparently I can still shoot — even on a day when I can’t get the Gamo Silent Stalker Whisper IGT to shoot worth a darn. It just felt good to be able to say that.
So, what’s wrong?
I think I know why the Silent Stalker Whisper isn’t grouping, and there isn’t a darn thing I can do about it. Early on in this second accuracy test, I started grabbing and shaking things to see if anything was loose. When I came to the barrel, it shook from side to side. It wobbles on its pivot, and there isn’t anything I can do about it.
I see from examining the action outside the stock that a lot of thought went into this gun, but they missed a very critical point — the barrel lockup. If that’s loose and can’t be tightened, and apparently it can’t, then the rifle will never live up to its potential. It’s still a nice lightweight breakbarrel with smooth shooting characteristics, but it lacks the all-important accuracy potential shooters want.
by B.B. Pelletier
2011 airgun show calendar
Before I get to the report, here’s a calendar of all the 2011 airgun shows I know of. If you want to go to an airgun show, here they are.
March 5 & 6
Pacific Airgun Expo
Placer County Fairgrounds
Contact Jon Brooks @ 707-498-8714
Flag City Toys That Shoot
Lighthouse Banquet Facility
10055 S.R. 224 West
Findlay, OH 45840
Duane Shaferly @ 419-435-7909
Dave Barchent @ 419-423-0070
Dan Lerma @ 419-422-9121
To register contact:
April 15 & 16
2nd Arkansas Airgun Extravaganza
Fairgrounds, Exit 98A on I-30
1605 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Malvern, AR 72104
Contact Seth Rowland
June 11 & 12
5th CT Airguns Airgun Show
Windsor Elk Lodge
Contact Kevin Hull @ 860-649-7599
July 15 & 16
Airgun Show and Shoot
American Legion Post 113
Contact Larry Behling @ 315-695-7133
Daisy Get Together
Kalamazoo County Fairgrounds Expo Center
Wes Powers @ 517-423-4148
Bill Duimstra @ 616-738-2425
St. Louis Airgun Show
Stratford Inn Garden Room
800 S. Hwy. Dr.
Fenton, MO 63026
Contact Gary Anthony @ 636-861-1103
This is the 14th report I have made on the FWB 124. In all that time, I was mostly tracking a single 124 — the one I obtained that had been packed for eternity in a wooden case like an Egyptian sarcophagus. We went through many tunes with that gun and saw what each one did. Then, I tuned a 124 for Mark Taylor, a shooter I met at Roanoke. That one wasn’t planned, but it did give us a look at a later and different rifle.
Today, I’m reporting on the bluebird buy I happened upon while registering a firearm several weeks ago. The guy at the gun store owned this 124 that had suddenly stopped shooting, a fault that is common with this model because of a bad formula of synthetic used in the piston seal. You’ll also see it in FWB 150 and 300 rifles, Walther LGV air rifles and probably a lot of other airguns made back in the 1970s. The fix is to install a new seal. You’ve already seen me do this several times in this series, but the one thing I haven’t shown you is what the old seal looks like when it’s broken up inside the gun, and that’s something all airgunners should know.
I originally thought I was going to tune this for the guy at the store, but he wound up selling me the rifle, so I’ll do both a velocity test after the tune and an accuracy test using the curious little Bushnell scope that came on it.
How the new gun differs from the old
Before I tear into the action, let me report on how this later 124 differs from the ones I have already shown you. The Deluxe models weren’t made when this one was built. It’s called a Sport, but it has a checkered grip and sling swivels, two features from the older Deluxe class. Gone, however, is the Wundhammer palm swell, and the cheekpiece that’s on the left of the butt of this later rifle is so small and ill-formed as to make the rifle nearly ambidextrous. With the ambi-style safety and the ease of breakbarrel loading, it should have been an ambi from the start.
When I tore into the gun, I initially wondered if it had ever been apart. The serial number is 42,648, which places the gun very late in the production cycle. So, it could have been a virgin rifle, but it wasn’t. The mainspring was coated with moly grease, a sure sign that someone has been inside, because the factory used only clear grease. From the look of the tune — moly on the mainspring, an FWB mainspring instead of an aftermarket spring, a replacement FWB piston seal (a Beeman trademark, even though they knew about the disintegration problem) and the trigger adjusted very nice — I believe this rifle was last tuned by Beeman. All those characteristics are the ones Beeman would do. As good as they were, even Beeman could not prevent that piston seal from decomposing. And, that’s what I want to show you.
This is what a decomposing FWB seal looks like. The brown particles you see used to be hard, tough synthetic. Now, they’re soft, waxy particles that break apart easily.
In this view, you see hundreds of smaller particles in the tube; and at the bottom (the end farthest from you in this picture), the top of the piston seal has broken off and wedged itself against the end of the compression chamber. The small hole at the lower right inside the compression chamber is the air transfer port. All of this mess must be removed before the rifle can be tuned.
There isn’t much left of the piston seal after it disintegrates. Most has been left inside the compression chamber, but this root has to be cut out of the piston top. Like most of them, this one popped out easily.
I won’t say anymore about disassembly and reassembly except for one thing. Installing the bolt that holds the trigger assembly in the gun is a tricky job. The trigger assembly has the spring guide and is what keeps the whole powerplant together. The bolt is hardened steel, but the trigger housing into which it threads is softer aluminum. You can easily cross-thread the bolt if you aren’t careful. If you do, the trick is to remove the trigger housing from the gun and carefully thread the bolt into the hole, keeping the head aligned straight. It’ll reset the threads in most cases and you’re home free. You can then assemble the gun, and the bolt will not cross-thread anymore. This is the biggest reason you need a mainspring compressor to do this job.
This large bolt with the two flats for gripping is what holds the 124′s powerplant together. It threads into the soft aluminum trigger housing and can easily be cross-threaded. This photo shows an older 124 trigger assembly, not the one from the newer gun I’m testing in this report…which has an aluminum trigger blade.
Many tunes — final satisfaction
I tried several combinations of springs and piston seals until I settled on the Maccari Mongoose spring and seal. At first, the seal was way too tight, as it’s supposed to be, so I sized it by hand-sanding until it had just a little resistance in the compression tube. The spring was lightly lubed with moly grease, and the seal also got a coat of moly before going back into the gun.
Crosman Premier 7.9 lites
The first pellet I tried with the new tune was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain “lites.” They’ll be among the most accurate in this rifle; history has proven many times. They averaged 761 f.p.s., with a spread from 752 to 770 f.p.s. The average velocity produced a muzzle energy of 10.13 foot-pounds. All pellets were tight in the breech
Next, I tried RWS Hobbys, a 7-grain pellet that’s the speed-demon of the lead pellet world. They averaged 821 f.p.s., but a curious thing was happening as I shot them. The velocity kept increasing! Shot one went just 767 f.p.s., but the fastest shot among the 10 I fired went 832 f.p.s. With the average working out to 821, you can see that velocity was climbing all the time. I think this tune will wear in to the point that the Premiers will go about 800 f.p.s., and the Hobbys will get up to 860 or so. At the average velocity, the muzzle energy was 10.48 foot-pounds.
Beeman Silver Jets
The last pellet I tested was the vintage Beeman Silver Jets that are no longer available. They were the No. 1 go-to pellet when the 124 was in its heyday. Back in Part 10 of this report, I tested them against the best of today’s pellets, with the result that they weren’t far from the leaders.
The 8-grain Silver Jets averaged 732 f.p.s., with a range from 721 to 747 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they were generating 9.52 foot-pounds.
I mentioned that this rifle has a nice trigger. It’s sort of a single-stage, by which I mean that pressure is there immediately when you begin the pull, and there’s no obvious hesitation. It breaks with only 26 oz. of pressure, and it feels like less than a pound. I have to be very careful, because I’m used to three-to-five-pound triggers on the rifles I shoot the most. This one feels like nothing to me.
Most 124 triggers have more creep in them than this one. When I owned Mrs. Beeman’s personal custom 124, the Queen Bee rifle, I found that the Beeman company could really adjust a 124 trigger very finely. Whenever I feel a good one, I always suspect someone from Beeman has been inside.
Well, that’s it for this test. Next time, I’ll see about sighting-in the rifle with that unusual scope.
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, here is our old friend, the San Anselmo Beeman 124, again. Today, I’ll address the scope problems I was having the last time I tested the rifle for accuracy.
You may recall that I suggested that the front and rear rings be swapped to see if that would alter the amount of down angle the rifle appears to have. One reader was appalled that anything manufactured could be that far off from true, but believe me, it doesn’t take much. I’ve seen this trick work many times in the past. However, I failed to mention that three inches is a bit excessive to try to correct this way. This trick is more for those who optically center their scope and have a half-inch problem at the first point of intersection.
However, I did remove the rings and swap the front for the rear. Because these are two-piece rings I could also turn one ring at a time, giving me six different permutations of the setup, I believe. But three inches of change is so major that if it doesn’t come by swapping positions, you might as well look elsewhere.
Well, I was right. Swapping the rings did make a big difference. Only the difference went the wrong way. Now the pellet was striking the target four inches below the aim point, using the exact same scope with no adjustments. So, this set of rings was history. No amount of shimming would ever be able to make up an angular difference that large.
However, I had an ace up my sleeve. I’d visited the AirForce factory and asked to borrow a BKL drooper scope mount, and they happily complied. So, now I had the BKL 260 with .007 drop compensation to try out. This is a one-piece mount and it comes with simple instructions for which way to mount it. However, I did encounter a problem. This BKL mount is too low to allow the 50mm scope I had been using to clear the 124 spring tube. And you’ll recall that I have to use a BKL mount because of the 124′s non-standard scope stop system. I have mounts that will work with it, but you can’t buy them, so I’m not testing them here.
The solution was to use another scope, and all I was trying to do was ascertain that there was a scope mount and ring set in the world for this rifle — a vintage 124 with a large barrel droop. So, I picked a BSA 3-9×32 scope that didn’t have parallax adjustment. As a result, I had to run it at five power or the target was too blurry to see well.
Even with all that disadvantage against me, I proved the concept. The 124 and this new scope adjusted on target perfectly with no problem of adjusting the elevation knob too high.
So, I shot one group of 10 Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets and then another. Sure enough, the problem has been solved.
I’m removing the scope from the gun, because the only reason I scoped it in the first place was to conduct the Silver Jets accuracy test. That’s over now, so the 124 can go back into its sarcophagus, except for one more tuneup that will employ the newest Pyramyd Air 124 piston seal.
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, I’ve finally healed enough to cock the FWB 124 breakbarrel, so today I’ll test the rifle at 25 yards with the best modern pellets against the Beeman Silver Jets. If you recall, that premise is what started this entire report so very long ago.
Today is going to show some wonderful things, and we’re going to prosper from this experience far beyond the 124 and into the world of modern pellet rifles and scopes. So, sit back and let it come to you!
As you recall, the last time I tested this rifle was with six modern pellets and Beeman Silver Jets left over from the 1990s. All the pellets did well, but I selected three to compete at 25 yards. So, let’s test the gun.
Sight-in revealed a gun that both buzzed when shot and also one that shot very low. The buzzing will have to be corrected because I want a super-smooth rifle. The low grouping doesn’t phase me one bit, except that I can use it to illustrate a concept that I get asked about several times a month. That concept is either scope shift or an inaccurate spring gun.
I also seasoned the bore with three shots before recording any groups. That may or may not be enough, but that’s what I did. The theory on this is that each new pellet needs several shots before it begins to perform its best. I don’t know whether I believe it or not, but it’s all the rage right now, so I did it.
The first pellets I tested were Beeman Kodiaks. Veteran airgunners will remember the Kodiak as a 10.6-grain pellet, but blog reader CJr discovered in May that they’re not really that heavy. Edith has updated the description on the website to reflect the 10.2 grains they actually weigh. Apparently, this is going to be the weight of that pellet.
I was disappointed with the performance of Kodiaks at 25 yards out of the 124, because they gave me a group that was strung out vertically. I dialed the scope 10 clicks down and continued to shoot a different pellet. However, the vertical stringing was a clue about something that was happening…and happening real bad. The reason I dialed the elevation down 10 clicks was to tighten the spring of the erector tube inside the scope to keep it from floating. Vertical stringing is a sign that a scope has been adjusted too high. You’ll remember how the erector tube is supported by a spring from the scope report I did last week.
This vertical string of 10 Kodiaks tells me the erector tube is floating.
Air Arms Falcon
The next pellet I tried was the one that had performed the best at 10 meters — the Air Arms Falcons. I grouped pretty good at 25 yards, but not as good as the R8 did last month. I’ll never forget that rifle’s performance, and I don’t see why this 124 shouldn’t be just as accurate. So, I cranked in 10 more clicks of down into the scope.
The first groups of Air Arms falcon pellets is still open. More verticality says we haven’t solved the problem yet.
The next group was superb, but it had one teaser flyer that opened it to a half-inch. And that flyer was also vertical, so I cranked in another 10 clicks of down.
Things are getting much better with the second bunch of Falcon pellets after another 10 clicks down, but that flyer is still vertical above the main group.
As you can see, the pellets are still landing in a vertical string. Once more, I cranked in 10 down clicks. At this point, we are 40 clicks down from where we started.
Air Arms 8.4 domes
The next pellet I tried were the Air Arms domes that weigh 8.4 grains. Although there’s a trace of verticality to the group they made, the group is starting to look much rounder, which is what I’m after.
The bunch of 10 Air Arms domes is a pretty round group. It’s the second-best group of this test.
I actually shot several groups with the 8.4 domes, and they all turned out round like I wanted. Plus, they gave me the second-best group I got during this test.
With this success under my belt, I tried another 10 Kodiaks and got a rounder group than before, but also one that was too large for any further testing. Clearly, Kodiaks are not the pellet for this rifle.
Beeman Silver Jets
It was now time to try the Silver Jets, so I seasoned the bore and shot two groups of almost identical size. They were smaller than the Kodiaks but were not as small as the Air Arms domes or the Falcons. So, I reckoned there was but one more thing to try.
These ten Beeman Silver Jets went pretty tight but not as tight as several other pellets.
Crosman Premier lites
I had mentioned during the 10-meter test that I didn’t select Crosman Premier 7.9-grain domes to test because I simply didn’t. Several of you commented that the Premier lites were the most accurate in your 124 rifles, so I thought I’d include them in this test as a last-minute write in. I’m glad I did, because they turned in the best group of the day.
Ten Premier lites made the best target of this test. Whoda thunk it? I should have tested them at 10 meters.
This test was not complete because I did not return and retest all pellets after discovering that the scope had been a problem in the beginning. I didn’t because I was bursting with something else to tell you — namely how a scope that’s improperly adjusted can ruin your day. I hope you have seen that in the groups I’ve shown here today. But we’re not done!
Fix it, please
I get requests all the time from readers who have similar problems after they’ve mounted a scope. They have huge vertical groups and don’t understand why. I explained why last week in the scope report, so go back and reread that report to better understand.
The problem isn’t the scope, but rather how it’s being adjusted. And that was proven as I applied more and more clicks of down adjustment until the tension on the erector tube stopped the tube from floating. Only now, I gotta fix it. And that’s why I’m so happy that I used two-piece scope mounts. You can always turn one-piece mounts around to try to fix a problem like this, and that will probably work, but with two-piece mounts you can also turn each piece separately from the other, which gives you two more adjustments you can make.
I’m going to remount this scope to see if I can get it to stop shooting three inches low at 25 yards without resorting to the vertical adjustment that we now know will not work. Then, I’ll shoot some more at 25 yards to show the difference. And even that’s not the end of it.
While talking with Gene Salvino, the technical manager at Pyramyd Air, I discovered that Pyramyd Air has had the FWB 124 piston seal reproduced. He said that when they took over the high-end Beeman guns for support, they had to start fixing everything that came in, and of course the 124 will be one of those. Gene sent me one of the seals. So, by golly, you know that I’m going to install it in the rifle for a test. And, I’ll have a test for you to see how it performs.
Then, one of our readers told me about a place that machines the compression chamber to have parallel walls instead of the tapered walls it has in the earlier guns like mine. That will open up the power potential of the gun. Right now, I am debating whether or not to have this work done to this early San Anselmo gun. I certainly don’t need the power, nor do I even care to have it, but it might be nice to see a before and after of a job like this. We’re going to have fun with this 124 for some time to come.
by B.B. Pelletier
Okay, you were very patient; so, today, I’ll show you the early results of pellet testing with the FWB 124. Remember, this testing is done with open sights at 10 meters, and it was done just to narrow the field of the new pellets that will compete with the vintage Silver Jets at 25 yards from a scoped rifle. You can’t really test a rifle’s accuracy potential at just 10 meters unless it’s a 10-meter target rifle.
Before we begin, though, I must thank Volvo for these pellets. Earlier this year, he generously donated several tins of odd and exotic pellets to my collection. Among these were several boxes of Beeman Silver Jets. So, thanks to him we are able to have this test series.
Many of you said you thought the Silver Jet pellets were well made and you predicted they would do very well against the best modern pellets. As it turns out, all of the modern pellets I selected to test are domes, which seem to be the most accurate pellets around. We’ll be pitting a pointed pellet against a dome, which under most circumstances I would say is unfair, because pointed pellets cannot keep up with domes as the range gets longer. But, in this case, all bets are off. We’re going to see what actually works the best.
The 124 is a little buzzy when fired. I don’t really like it, but I guess I left it that way to get the maximum velocity from the rifle. The trigger is adjusted to break crisply, though it’s certainly not a Rekord by anyone’s definition.
The first group of Silver Jets was fired using the rifle resting on the backs of my fingers. I got a good group, but soon learned that the backs of the fingers was not the optimum way to hold the rifle. Instead, I went to a standard artillery hold, with the forearm resting on the flat of my open palm. The palm was touching the triggerguard, so the rifle was a touch muzzle-heavy, which stabilizes the rifle.
The first target with Silver Jets looks promising, but there are two shots outside the main group of eight. We’ll have to do better than that to beat the modern pellets. This was the target I shot with the rifle on the backs of my fingers.
JSB Exact RS
The next pellet up was the JSB Exact RS that performed so well in the R8 test. I expected similar results from the 124, though the velocity is, no doubt, at least 100 f.p.s. faster. But the group I shot wasn’t a good one. It showed a tendency for vertical stringing, which ruined the hopes for a nice tight group.
JSB Exact 8.4 grain
Next, I tried JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets. Almost a full grain heavier than the RS pellets, they seemed to calm down and group well. Are they worth consideration? Time will tell.
Beeman Kodiaks might be considered by some to be too heavy for a rifle in this power category. I’m not one of those who believes that. I’ve seen remarkable things from Kodiaks in low-powered spring guns, and I thought they were worth taking a chance with the 124. My hopes were vindicated by a very promising group.
Air Arms domes
The next pellets I tried were Air Arms domes in the 4.51mm head size. These pellets are made by JSB, so why bother trying them? Aren’t they identical to the JSB Exacts in 8.4 grains? No, they’re not. Air Arms owns the dies used to make these pellets, and the word on the street is that they’re made to better tolerances than the JSB dies. I don’t know if that’s true or just a rumor. I DO know they perform differently.
Air Arms Falcon pellets
The Air Arms Falcon pellet is one I probably would not have tried, simply because I was unaware of it. But someone pointed it out to me and I got a tin for tests just like this. From the weight, I’d have to say it looks like a close copy of the Exact RS pellet, but once again there might be a significant difference. From the performance results, I’d have to say there is.
Silver Jets, again
And, finally, I re-shot another group of Silver Jets using the flat-of-the-hand technique, and the results were better than the first time. This time, the group was as encouraging as the Kodiak group and indicative of a possible screamer in the future.
Ten Silver Jets are looking mighty good on this target. That was using the standard artillery hold technique.
Summary to this point
Okay, I’ve tested the 124 with Silver Jets and 6 other pellets that all have a reputation for great long-range accuracy. Why didn’t I test Crosman Premiers? I can’t say. I just didn’t.
Of the 6 pellets I tested, 3 stood out for further testing at 25 yards after I scope the rifle. The Beeman Kodiaks look like they want to group. The Air Arms 8.4-grain domed pellets look very promising, and the Air Arms Falcon pellets were the best of this test. But the Beeman Silver Jets don’t seem to be out of the running. What I need is a good scope and 25 yards distance to shoot some more 10-shot groups. Then we’ll have something to talk about.
Important news for 124 owners!
Last Friday, I spoke at length to Geve Salvino, the Tech Service Manager at Pyramyd Air. One of the things he told me is that Pyramyd Air has gone out and had their own proprietary 124 piston seal made, and they’ve repaired 22 124 rifles as of our conversation. I asked Gene to send me one of the new seals, so I can blog it for you, and yes, once more I’m going inside my 124 to install this new seal and give you a report. For those of you who would like to be able to just send in your 124 for repairs, Pyramyd Air is now open for business…and the rates are low. I’ll tell you more about that when I show you the seal.