Posts Tagged ‘blowback’

Gamo P-25 air pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Gamo P-25 air pistol
Gamo P-25 is a 16-shot blowback pellet pistol.

Today is accuracy day with the Gamo P-25 air pistol. I inserted a fresh CO2 cartridge into the gun, loaded both of its 8-shot rotary clips and then slid the magazine into the grip.

I shot the pistol at 10 meters, which seems appropriate for a gun of this type. I shot it rested with a two-hand hold and my arms resting on the sandbag but the pistol free to move.

The pistol has open sights that are not adjustable. They have white dots, both front and rear, but that was cancelled by lighting the target brightly and shooting from a dimly lit place. I used a 6 o’clock hold, and the sights were very sharp and easy to align.

Because each rotary clip holds 8 pellets, I shot 8-shot groups instead of the usual 10. I don’t think it makes a big difference; and when you see the targets, I think you’ll agree.

The P-25 has blowback, so every shot except the first is single-action. I therefore cocked the hammer for that first shot, so all shots were single-action. It’s the most accurate way to shoot any handgun.

RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellets I shot were RWS Hobbys. Because they’re wadcutters, they left good holes in the target paper that were visible from the firing line. The pistol shot Hobbys to the left, as you can see, but the elevation was pretty good. The pistol’s sights are not adjustable, so to move the shots means you have to either aim off or use some Kentucky windage.

The group isn’t very impressive — 8 shots in 2.169 inches at 10 meters. Perhaps one of the other pellets will do better.

Gamo P-25 air pistol target with RWS Hobby pellets
Eight RWS Hobby pellets went into 2.169 inches at 10 meters.

Gamo Match pellets
The next 8 pellets I shot were Gamo Match wadcutters. These pellets will sometimes be very accurate in a particular gun, but the P-25 I’m testing isn’t one of them. Eight shots went into 2.894 inches, though 7 of them are in 1.846 inches. Still, neither group size is especially good. They did go to approximately the same point of impact as the RWS Hobbys, however.

Gamo P-25 air pistol target with Gamo Match pellets
Eight Gamo Match pellets went into 2.894 inches at 10 meters.

Crosman Premier lites
Next, it was time to try some 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites. These domed pellets are sometimes the very best in certain airguns. And this was one of those times. Eight of them went into 1.624 inches, though they also went way over to the left.

Gamo P-25 air pistol target with Crosman Premier lite pellets
Eight Crosman Premier lites went into 1.624 inches at 10 meters. This was the best group of this test.

Gamo Raptor PBA
The last pellet I tried was the lead-free Gamo Raptor PBA. We know from the velocity test that these pellets go the fastest in the P-25, but now we’ll see how accurate they are.

And the answer is — not very. Eight PBA pellets made a shotgun-like pattern that measures 4.036 inches between centers. Interestingly, they did tend to group in the center of the target — the only pellet of the 4 tested to do so.

Gamo P-25 air pistol target with Gamo Raptor pellets
Eight Gamo Raptor PBAs went all over the place, making this 4.036-inch group. I had to reduce the size of the photo to get all the holes into it.

Shooting behavior
This was one time I found myself hoping for greater accuracy from the test gun because it was so much fun to shoot. The blowback action is quick, crisp and comes as close to the recoil of a .22 rimfire pistol as I think I’ve experienced in an air pistol. Although the trigger is long and full of stops and starts, it’s also light and can become predictable after you learn its quirks.

Bottom line
The lack of adjustable sights means you have to find a pellet that shoots to center and is also accurate. Good luck with that. If Premier lites had shot to the center, they would have made this test end on a higher note. Because it shoots lead pellets from a rifled barrel, I’d hoped for better accuracy than this. Had I seen it, I would have rated this Gamo P-25 a best buy.

Gamo P-25 air pistol: Part 2

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

Part 1

Gamo P-25 air pistol
Gamo P-25 is a 16-shot blowback pellet pistol.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Gamo P-25 air pistol, and something interesting that happened. Normally, I report on the velocity of 3 or 4 pellets and leave it at that, but a strange thing happened with the first CO2 cartridge in the test pistol.

I didn’t screw the piercing screw deep enough into the CO2 cartridge, resulting in the gas flow being hindered. I’ve experienced this a few times in the past, but this time it was very pronounced. After each shot, there was a period of time that ranged from 5 to 10 seconds, during which the gas flowed audibly from the cartridge into the gun’s valve. It sounded like a leak in the gun, but I noticed it only lasted a few seconds before stopping, so it wasn’t venting to the outside. It was the gas flowing from the cartridge into the gun’s valve, where it would be used for the next shot.

Gamo P25 air pistol piercing problem
The piercing screw wasn’t turned in far enough to properly pierce this cartridge. You can’t even see the opening through a 10X loupe, but it’s there. This was operator error.

Shooting the pistol in the rapid-fire mode proved impossible with this first cartridge. The first shot went out at the normal velocity, and shot 2…fired immediately after the first shot…clocked 88 f.p.s. through the chronograph.

It was my fault
So, I screwed the piercing screw much deeper into the next cartridge. Problem solved! Don’t be tentative when piercing a cartridge in this pistol. Do it like you mean it. After I pierced the second cartridge correctly, the pistol performed exactly as expected. Rapid-fire worked as you would expect, and the gun kept up with my trigger finger.

Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. Weighing 7 grains, the all-lead Hobby pellet tells me so much about an airgun’s powerplant. For starters, it tells me what needs to be done to get the 425 f.p.s. velocity that’s claimed for the gun.

Hobbys averaged 353 f.p.s. in the P-25. They ranged from a low of 333 to a high of 379 f.p.s., and some of that large variance may be due to the gas flow problem I mentioned. At the average velocity, Hobbys were generating 1.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

The Hobbys told me what I wanted to know. This pistol wasn’t going to get its rated velocity with a lead pellet. So, I needed to try it with a lead-free pellet; and since this is a Gamo gun, the Gamo Raptor PBA sounded like a good selection.

PBA
The Raptor PBA pellet is made from metal that’s harder than lead. It weighs 5.4 grains and will generally boost the velocity of an airgun above what a lead pellet will, though the hardness of the metal actually slows it down sometimes. But in the P-25, the Raptor PBAs worked just fine. They averaged 412 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 395 to a high of 432 f.p.s. So, the ads are right on the money. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 2.04 foot-pounds of energy.

Gamo Match
Next up were the lead Gamo Match wadcutters. They weigh 7.56 grains and are sometimes quite accurate in some guns. In the P-25, they averaged 348 f.p.s. with a spread from 329 to 357 f.p.s. The average energy was 2.03 foot-pounds. This will be a pellet to try in the accuracy test.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain lites
The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. They fit in the circular clips of the magazine rather easily, which caused some concern they might fall out; but the way the magazine is designed, only 2 pellets at a time are exposed in its clip. So the worry was for nothing.

Gamo P25 air pistol clip closeup
The way the magazine is designed, the pellets are not exposed until they’re ready to be shot. This one needs to be pressed into the clip.

Premiers averaged 344 f.p.s. in the P-25, with a spread from 330 to 360 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 2.08 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Trigger-pull
The double-action trigger-pull broke at exactly 8-1/2 lbs., which is light for a DA pull. On single-action, it broke under 4 lbs., with a huge creep at 2-1/2 lbs. That creep is consistent and lets you know when the gun is ready to fire.

Shot count
While I got just 50 shots on the first cartridge, I got more with the second one. Besides the velocity testing, I did another test with an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol operates in the rapid-fire mode. So, the correct piercing is very important. I fired an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol handled. Everything worked smoothly until shot 48, when the blowback failed for the first time. After that, the blowback would work if I waited long enough between shots, but not if I shot rapidly. However, if you allow time for the gun to warm up, it keeps right on shooting.

There are certainly 75 or more powerful shots in the gun if you allow the gun to rest between shots. The blowback will work reliably past shot 50, as long as time is taken between shots. Shoot fast, however, and the gun cools too much and wastes gas.

Impressions so far
So far, I like the P-25. I like its simplicity and the light single-action trigger. If it’s also accurate, this might be a best buy.

Gamo P-25 air pistol: Part 1

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

Gamo P-25 air pistol
Gamo P-25 is a 16-shot blowback pellet pistol.

Okay, now for something a little different. The Gamo P-25 air pistol is a 16-shot pellet pistol with blowback and a rifled barrel. This pistol operates on CO2, and the 12-gram cartridge is hidden inside the grip.

Normally, a gun like this is a BB gun, but this time there’s a rifled barrel — and the chance to shoot many different lead pellets, plus a trigger that’s both single-action and double action. Because of the blowback action, you’re going to shoot this gun single-action most of the time.

The P-25 is a 21st century handgun is every respect. It’s nearly all synthetic, entirely black and the grip is fat, as though enclosing a double-stacked magazine. The fixed sights feature three white dots — like night sights, but without tritium inserts. Align the three dots and put the center dot over your target…and I assume you’ll have minute-of-soda-can accuracy at 25 feet. We’ll find out more about that when we test the pistol for accuracy.

I like the fact that this pistol comes with blowback. That gives a realistic feel to each shot, which makes this a good trainer for maintaining firearms proficiency. When we get to the accuracy test, I’ll let Edith shoot the pistol and give her assessment, too. The gun I’m testing is serial number 12F31301.

The P-25 is a large pistol. Maybe it looks like a pocket pistol in the photograph above, but in person it’s larger than an M1911A1 in all ways, save length.

Trigger
The trigger is very strange. Usually a single-stage trigger is crisper and lighter than a 2-stage trigger, but this one isn’t. While the pull weight isn’t that heavy, there’s a country mile of takeup even in the single-stage mode — i.e., when the hammer is already cocked. Once the takeup is done, though, the trigger breaks cleanly enough. It isn’t exactly crisp, but it is light and very predictable. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble with it.

The double-action pull is relatively light, though you’ll only feel it on the first shot after installing the magazine. Once the gun fires, the slide blows back, cocking the hammer for every successive shot.

The trigger blade is very wide. I find that gives a nice feel to the pull when I’m trying to control the let-off or point at which the trigger breaks.

Safety
The safety is another matter. It’s one of those Euro-lawyer safeties that have a center switch that’s pulled back before the lever can be moved. There’s no way to operate this kind of safety with one hand. It blocks the trigger when its on.

Gamo-P-25-air-pistol-safety
The toothed bar must be pulled back (to the left) before the safety lever can be moved.

Magazine
The magazine is a stick type with two circular pellet clips — one on either end. It’s a drop-free design, and the release button is on the left front of the grip frame, where a right-handed shooter expects it to be. The mag has to be ejected and turned around for the second 8 shots.

CO2
This gun runs on CO2. The manufacturer says it gets up to 425 f.p.s. with pellets, and we will test that for you in Part 2. The cartridge is hidden in the grip, and this time the enclosure is different. The bottom rear of the grip is pulled away from the rest of the grip, and two-thirds of the CO2 compartment is exposed. When the cartridge is installed, a conventional piercing screw tensions and pierces the cartridge. Don’t forget to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge as it’s installed. That will keep your gun sealed for many years.

Recoil
The P-25 is moderately heavy, at 29 oz., so the blowback action causes a fair amount of bounce. It feels not much different than a medium-weight .22 rimfire pistol shooting standard-speed long rifle rounds.

Barrel
The barrel is rifled steel. That gives me some hope that this pistol will also be accurate. If the blowback feature doesn’t use too much gas, the P-25 could turn out to be a very nice plinking air pistol.

All things considered, at this point the Gamo P-25 air pistol looks like a good one. I hope it delivers on that promise.

Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol left
Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol.

I put this report of the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol ahead of some others because one of our readers did a bad thing and got himself into trouble with his gun. I want to address that today before I get to the accuracy test.

I mentioned in Part 2 that while it’s possible to remove the slide from this pistol, it isn’t recommended. Well, blog reader Gregory did so anyway, and now he can’t get his pistol back together. I tried to help him by taking my slide off, and I lost the spring that powers the slide altogether.

Umarex USA couldn’t help
Since Gregory lives outside the U.S., I called Umarex USA for him so they could advise me how the spring goes back in the gun. Gregory has his spring, so all he needs to know is how to get it back in the gun. But Andrew at Umarex USA told me they do not support this gun, aside from exchanging it. So, they have no parts on hand, nor do they have any technical data relating to it. And, if you take the slide off, that’s not authorized, and they will not fix it under warranty.

Pyramyd Air steps in
Next, I called Pyramyd Air because this will become their problem sooner or later. I spoke with Gene Salvino, the service manager, who is also a firearms gunsmith and familiar with the disassembly of the firearm P38. I walked him through the problem and, sure enough, the spring popped out when he removed the slide. But he didn’t give up. Several guns later, he was able to reinstall the spring and get the gun working again.

Gene says he’ll try to get Umarex USA to stock the spring because, like me, he sees it as something people are going to need. He went through four guns before he was able to get a good spring back in and get the gun working again, so this is definitely a design problem.

Assembling the gun
Now we know beyond a doubt that you should not attempt to take the slide off the frame of this gun. But for Gregory’s sake, I want to show where the spring goes. I’m doing this without having seen the spring — just the place where it goes. But Gene confirmed that I was right about that.

Walther P38 BB pistol slide off
The slide has been taken off this gun. That long slot in the right side of the frame is where the slide return spring goes. It’s held in the gun by the fit of the slide to the frame. You can see two cutouts at the top of the long slot in this photo. When the spring is installed, it must be compressed enough to allow the slide projection to enter the frame through the rear slot (the one on the left).

Walther P38 BB pistol slide coming off
The slide is slipped over the front of the frame and pulled to the rear. A projection on the inside of the slide passes through a slot cut in the frame for this purpose. The long spring has to be compressed behind (to the left of) the place where the projection enters the frame.

The slide has a projection on the right side that slips through a cutout in the frame when assembling the gun. Getting the slide back on is simple once you understand how it fits. First, the front of the slide is put over the front of the frame, where it aligns very easily. Then, pull the slide all the way to the rear of the frame as far as it will go. At that point, the projection on the inside of the slide is aligned with the cutout in the frame, so it’s ready to be installed. You just push down on the top of the slide to get the hammer out of the way, while pushing the slide forward and it goes back into position very smoothly. After that, the barrel inserts into the front of the slide and the barrel latch is swung closed, locking the gun together.

The trick
The trick in all of this is to insert the spring into the slot on the right side of the frame, and to compress it so it’s behind the slide projection once it slips into the frame. You’ll need a thin tool for this; and, according to Gene, it’s a skill that takes some time to master. I don’t have a spring to show you, but I’m presently working on finding or making a replacement.

What the spring does
The spring really isn’t that powerful. Think of a long ballpoint pen spring that is also very thin. It holds the slide in the forward position.

You can use the gun without the spring, which is what I’m going to do today. You just have to keep the muzzle pointed slightly down when shooting and you have to make certain that the slide is all the way forward before you pull the trigger. The slide moves extremely easily on the frame when the spring isn’t installed, and you can operate the pistol without it if you just pay attention to the slide’s position.

I function-fired the pistol many times, and the pistol operates as it should without the spring. Even the blowback works perfectly, as long as there’s a slight downward angle to the gun. Sometimes, the slide will not go all the way forward, so you have to push it the last quarter-inch; but you can do that with the thumb of your shooting hand. It isn’t a perfect solution by any means, but it beats cursing the darkness and being without your gun!

Loading revisited
I mentioned in Part 2 that you load the magazine one BB at a time. I said it wasn’t a problem as long as you kept the magazine oriented up so the BB could fall down inside after it entered the mag. Well, during this test I encountered one additional thing. You should hold your finger on the opposite side of the mag when loading; if you don’t, some BBs will pass straight through the top of the mag and fall out the other side.

Walther P38 BB pistol loading magazine
Keep your finger over the hole on the opposite side of the magazine if you don’t want to lose BBs while loading.

Shooting for accuracy
The P38 is a blowback BB pistol — not traditionally the most accurate of air pistols. Where those pistols without blowback can have closer tolerances and a tighter barrel, these blowbacks have to leave a little room for the reliable operation of the slide and for the BBs that get blown into the barrel. So, they’re more for the shooting experience and less for precision.

Knowing that, I stepped off 12 feet from the Winchester Airgun Target Cube that I now use as a backstop and trap for all BB-gun tests. Of course, I had the cube positioned lower than my hand so the gun could be positioned downward. For targets, I decided to use Shoot-N-C bullseyes that were just applied to the front of the Target Cube. That made changing targets fast and easy.

I want to comment on the trigger-pull now. You never appreciate it until shooting for accuracy, and I was able to evaluate this one very well in today’s test. As I said earlier, the P38 has a trigger-pull that feels like a light double-action pull. That became very evident when I was shooting for accuracy. But the trigger also stacks at the end of the pull, just like a vintage Colt. The pull weight increases exponentially right before the gun fires, and that lets you control this trigger with precision. It takes some getting used to, but I’ve shot enough vintage Colts that I recognized it right away.

Winchester Airgun Target Cube
The Shoot-N-C target bulls were just applied to the front of the Winchester Airgun Target Cube. Very quick to change targets! This is a two-inch bull.

The first target revealed two things. First, the sights were hard to see against the target. I was using a center hold, and the black sights of the gun disappeared against the black bull. Second, the gun shoots a little low. I confirmed that with the second target and was able to raise the rounds by holding more of the front sight up above the rear sight.

Walther P38 BB pistol first target
The first target showed the pistol was shooting low, though it was hard to see the sights. I guess this 10-shot group measures just over one inch.

Walther P38 BB pistol second target
The second target was lit better, which allowed me to see the sights. This looks like another one-inch group.

Overall evaluation
The Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol is a realistic action pistol that delivers on performance. It should not be disassembled, as I have explained here; but if you just want a realistic action shooter, I think this is a gun to consider.

Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol: Part 2

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

Part 1

Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol left
Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol.

Falke stock restoration update
Before we begin looking at the Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol, I have an announcement. I feel like a kid who knows he is about to get his first BB gun! Doug Phillips, the man who is restoring the stock of my Falke 90 rifle (which I’m in the middle of testing), has been updating me weekly on the status of the project. He had to completely rebuild the section of the stock where the trigger is located, which on this gun is a very thin and complex wooden shelf that has holes for the front and rear triggerguard bolts, plus an enlarged hole for the trigger. Because this shelf was more than half missing, he had to completely redo it, including redrilling all the holes. It took him three attempts to get things in the right place, but he now tells me that they’re finally right.

But the real news is something that he didn’t tell me, but he showed me in a very small photo. The initials in the checkering on the left forearm panel are now gone. I was unable to tell they’d ever been there, though I’ll need to see the gun close up to know that for sure. And the grain in the walnut now stands out instead of being hidden by a cheap-looking layer of shellac.

All of the dents and scratches are gone as well. I’ll be writing a blog about this work when I get the gun back, but I wanted to share the progress with you now. I’m so grateful to blog reader Kevin for recommending Doug in the first place. I took plenty of before pictures, and Doug has taken pictures all through the restoration process, so you’ll get to see the project from start to finish. But, now, let’s get to today’s report.

Walther P38 CO2 BB pistol
One question that blog reader John asked after the first report: Can the gun be disassembled in the same way as the P38 firearm? The answer is a qualified “yes.” I should have showed that in Part 1, but since I didn’t, we’ll look at it now. There’s another lever on the left side of the gun that I didn’t mention last time. It’s at the forward edge of the frame, above and in front of the triggerguard. It’s the disassembly lever or what the owner’s manual calls the barrel catch lever. To disassemble the gun, rotate the rear of the catch down and forward until it stops. The barrel can then be pulled straight off the frame. As I recall, that’s exactly how the firearm came apart, as well.

Walther P38 BB pistol barrel off
To remove the barrel, swing the barrel catch lever down and forward until it stops. Then the barrel assembly slides straight out of the frame like this.

It’s possible to also take the slide off the gun, but it doesn’t serve any useful purpose, so I recommend against it. The barrel comes off to clear a jammed BB, but removing the slide doesn’t give you access to anything that you need on the gun.

Firing behavior
This gun has blowback! Although the slide is a smaller mass than on other pistols, it still comes back with a jolt — creating the simulation of recoil. The impulse is quick and sharp, unlike some other blowback guns that have bulkier slides.

The trigger is two-stage (non-adjustable). Stage one has more resistance than usual, making it almost feel like a single-stage trigger, but you’ll feel the start of the second stage if you persist. Stage one takes almost exactly 3 lbs. of pull and stage two breaks at between 7 lbs., 5 oz. and 8 lbs., 5 oz. I know that sounds heavy; but since this trigger feels more like a double-action pull than a single-action pull, it doesn’t seem that bad. Very few double-action guns have an 8-lb. trigger pull.

Loading
The stick magazine is set up to receive just one BB at a time. Once the BB enters the mag, the mag must be oriented nearly straight up and down or the BB will stay at the top of the mag and block other BBs from being loaded. That makes this a more troublesome magazine to load than the average stick mag.

However, the BBs do go into the mag opening easily enough. As I mentioned in Part 1, the place the BBs enter the magazine is funnel-shaped, plus there’s a small groove that leads to it. If you hold the mag nearly vertical, each BB that enters will fall to the bottom, making room for the next. The way this magazine is designed, I don’t think it will be possible to fit it to a speedloader.

Velocity
I tested the velocity with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, which have proven themselves to be the best general-purpose BB on the market. The velocity of the test gun averaged 385 f.p.s. with a fresh CO2 cartridge. At the average velocity, this pistol generates 1.68 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The range was from 374 to 404 f.p.s., so the total variation was 30 f.p.s. I did notice the gun cools down a lot as it’s shot, so waiting longer between shots gives you higher velocity.

There are between 50 and 60 shots in one CO2 cartridge. All 60 won’t be powerful, but they should all shoot out of the gun. So plan on shooting three full magazines before changing cartridges.

Thus far, the Walther P38 seems to be everything they advertised. Let’s hope it’s also reasonably accurate; and if it is, this will be one very authentic and nice BB pistol!

SIG Sauer P226 X5 BB pistol: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


The SIG Sauer P226 X-5 Open combo BB pistol comes as an adjustable-sight version for just a few dollars more than the same gun with fixed sights.

This is an extended report to cover the use of 4.4mm lead balls in the SIG Sauer P225 X5 Open combo pistol. I don’t know if you caught it, but while writing Part 3 we discovered that this pistol is also called the Open model here in the U.S., as it is elsewhere in the world. That has been corrected on the website and we will now refer to this model as the Open combo. It’s also called the X-FIVE and not X-5 or X5. However, that would involve correcting a whole bunch of links, and we’ve opted to not make those changes at this time.

I mentioned in the comments on Part 3 that I’d forgotten to test the pistol with 4.4mm lead balls, as I’d promised, so today’s report will cover that. However, while researching the material for today, I discovered some other related things that you may be interested in.

Why 4.4mm and why lead?
The reader who asked for this report shoots in his garage and wants to reduce the BB bounceback problem. Lead balls will certainly do that, but not all BB pistols are able to shoot lead. Some guns rely on the magnetic properties of the steel BB to hold it in place during the firing sequence, but this pistol isn’t one of them. It looked like it would handle lead shot just fine.

Another time we use a lead ball instead of a steel BB is when the barrel is rifled. The Russians did that with their Makarov BB pistol; and after I saw the rifling, I tested it with lead. EAA, the importer of the gun at the time (Pyramyd Air now imports all IZH-Baikal airguns directly from the manufacturer), was very adamant about not using lead balls when I reported it back in the late ’90s. They went to great lengths to disparage what I said about using lead balls in IZH BB guns with rifled barrels, claiming that the manufacturer expressly instructed them to advise using steel BBs exclusively. When I went to IWA (the European SHOT Show) in 2006 and spoke directly to the IZH engineers, they acknowledged that their rifled bores did work best with lead, even though they also worked well with steel.

Size matters, too
Another thing that enters into this discussion is the diameter of the ball. A steel BB these days measures around 0.171″ to 0.173″ in diameter. The Daisy zinc-plated BBs I used to test this pistol for accuracy in Part 3 measure 0.172″. They’re very uniform, which contrasts sharply with BBs of the past.

Lead balls that are 4.4mm should measure 0.173″ in diameter, so they would be one-thousandth larger than the Daisy BBs I just mentioned. And this, my friends, is why it helps to understand a little of the firearms world; because in a firearm that uses lead bullets, you usually want the ball or bullet to be at least the diameter of the grooves or one-thousandth of an inch larger. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I’m not going there today.

Putting it simply, a 4.4mm (0.173″) lead ball should fit the bore of a given gun better than a BB that measures 0.172 inches. If the bore of the gun is very tight, the larger ball can cause problems since CO2 guns do not have the same level of propulsive force as firearms. There are limits to what they’ll shoot.

I know that most BB guns are smoothbores. This one certainly is. And I also know that the bores of these guns are slightly oversized to cut down on jams. You could live a lifetime and never see a BB get stuck in the bore of a BB gun if you live in the U.S. and use Daisy, RWS or Crosman BBs; but there are other places in the world where the tolerances of BBs are not held as tight, and you get them both oversized and undersized. Manufacturers allow for this by making their smoothbore barrels just a trifle larger on the inside.

In a nutshell, those are the considerations I took into account when deciding to test this pistol with 4.4mm lead balls.

Not all balls are the same
Sometimes I get surprised in the strangest ways. I already had a lifetime supply of 4.4mm lead balls that I purchased back when the Haenel 310 trainers were coming into this country in the mid-1990s. I wanted to make sure at that time that I wouldn’t be cut off, so I went a little overboard and bought a case of ammunition. Let’s call that 50,000 balls.

A few years ago, while walking the aisles of an airgun show, I saw some tubes of generic 4.4mm lead balls for sale. I picked up a couple tubes for various reasons, including today’s test. Little did I know until this very day, though, that those balls are not 4.4mm, but rather 4.25mm and rather slipshod at that!

Who cares? Well, 4.25mm to 4.3mm (if that is what they really are) measures 0.167″-0.169″ in diameter. Not only are these lead balls undersized, based on what I was told when I bought them, they’re also quite variable, which is the kiss of death if you want to hit anything.


The 4.4mm lead balls I bought at an airgun show (top) are actually a lot smaller than advertised. They’re really 4.25-4.3mm. Bottom picture is a copper-plated 4.4mm ball from the Czech Republic —  and it’s right on the money.

The test
The test was 10 shots from 25 feet with a strong-side barricade hold. I’m grabbing the door jamb and using my left arm to support and steady my shooting hand. It’s the most accurate hold I can use for this test.

The eyes have it
One more variable was my eyes. Just the day before I tested this pistol I was at the rifle range with Mac and another friend trying out some different guns. Mac had just cleaned my clock by shooting a half-inch five-shot group of .17 HM2 from a single shot target rifle at 50 yards. I shot the same rounds from the same rifle into just over an inch.

My other friend suggested I put on my bifocals so I could see the front sight of the O3-A3 Springfield battle rifle I was about to shoot. I did and proceeded to shoot five .30-06 rounds into a group measuring 0.49 inches. I used the regular combat sights that came with the rifle and shot factory 150-grain Federal ammunition. This is the best open-sight group I have shot at 50 yards in many years, and it cemented in my mind the need to wear my glasses whenever I shoot with open sights.


The smaller group of five rounds (excluding the separate shot above the group) was fired from an 03A3 Springfield rifle at 50 yards with issue sights while wearing my glasses. The lone hole was the first shot, taken with the rifle’s front sight protector still on the sight. It hid the target so I had to guess where it was. The six holes in the bull were shot with peep sights on a .17 HM2, but I wasn’t wearing glasses.

For today’s pistol test, I shot the first 10 shots wearing my glasses. The results were not any better than what you saw in Part 3 with steel BBs.



Shooting the P226 X5 with glasses made the front sight fuzzy. The 25-foot group wasn’t a good one.

After seeing the group shot with glasses, I knew something was wrong. The front sight simply was not clear at arm’s length. I took off the specs and just used plain safety glasses for the next group. The results speak for themselves.


Without glasses, the front sight sharpened considerably, tightening the group. However, regular steel BBs made even better groups in this pistol.

Summation
This SIG Sauer BB pistol continues to delight me. This time, I learned a very important thing — don’t trust that something is what it is represented to be. If it’s ammunition, measure it.

This pistol offers the most realistic training of any air or BB pistol I’ve tested. While there’s always some training value for firearms with any airgun, with this one there’s quite a lot. This is an airgun I would recommend to my friends.

SIG Sauer P226 X5 BB pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Announcement: If you’ve been waiting for the Mendoza diopter sight to come back in stock, your wait is over!

Part 1
Part 2


The SIG Sauer P226 X-5 combo BB pistol comes as an adjustable-sight version for just a few dollars more than the same gun with fixed sights.

Today is accuracy day for the SIG Sauer P225 X5 combo BB pistol, and it’s a big day, indeed, for this is a gun that was recommended by several readers — starting with Rob from Canada.

I was told three things about this air pistol. First, that it’s extremely accurate. Second, that it’s very loud; and third, that it has the greatest amount of blowback-simulated recoil of any BB pistol around.

I was further directed to specifically test the pistol that Pyramyd Air refers to as the P226 X5 combo, but which we know in Canada is called the Open pistol. That differentiates it from the standard version of the P225 X5 pistol, because that one lacks the compensator, the optical sight base and, most importantly, the adjustable sights.

Noise is about average
On the discharge sound question, my judgement is that this pistol sounds about the same as every other CO2 pistol in its power class. It might sound loud to someone who has nothing to compare it to, but I actually found it to be a reasonably quiet air pistol for a gas-powered gun.

Recoil is not the hardest
In the recoil test, the SIG Sauer P226 X5 doesn’t blow back as hard as the GSG 92 BB pistol. It does recoil, and the effect is realistic, but it does not have the most blowback I’ve seen in a gun of this class.

Accuracy is great
However, in a wonderful twist from the norm, the test pistol turned out to, indeed, be an extremely accurate BB pistol. It’s well ahead of the GSG 92, the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 pistol and the SIG Sauer SP 2022, which were all fine handguns.

It does not shoot better than the Umarex Makarov, however. I had to test that after seeing how well this pistol shot, and it did about as well. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the results.

First at 15 feet
The first test was offhand at 15 feet, just to see where the gun was shooting. I only shot five and then checked the target to see what kind of sight adjustments were needed. The first group was relatively in line with the center of the bull and hitting just below the point of aim. I used a 6 o’clock hold, so that put the shots below the bull. Nine clicks of elevation raised the point of impact about a half-inch.


The first five shots went low, then nine clicks up on the rear sight produced the second group of five. All shots offhand at 15 feet.

After the first two groups of five, I shot 10 offhand at 15 feet. The sights were raised another 6-7 clicks, or so. This group was also impressive and centered up a little higher on the  target.

Ten shots at 15 feet were impressive. The rear sight was adjusted up for this target, as well.

This was impressive, because I was shooting offhand with a pistol for the first time in 18 months. The trigger is as nice on this BB pistol as the one on my Taurus PT1911 .45. Now, I was reasonably certain that Rob was right about the accuracy. I backed up to 25 feet and shot some more.

At 25 feet
Twenty-five feet was where Rob said he shot his pistol, and I was curious if it could shoot that far with reasonable accuracy. The first two 10-shot groups were pretty bad, and I was about to give up on the gun, but then I got out the Umarex Makarov to check myself.

At 25 feet I shot from a strong-side barricade position, and the Makarov front sight is so thin that I was seeing it as multiple images in my glasses. When I took them off, the image sharpened and the group tightened, so I went back and tried the SIG again without the glasses. This time it shot about as well as the Makarov, which is pretty good for a BB pistol.


Back at 25 feet, ten shots from a strong-side barricade position with the P226 went into a decent group.

The two shots low and to the right were made while wearing glasses. The rest were with the glasses off. Ten shots at 25 feet from an Umarex Makarov, also shot from a strong-side barricade.

But the SIG has a couple things going for it that the Mak doesn’t. First, because it has blowback, you always shoot single-action, and the trigger pull is far better. Of course, you can shoot the SIG double-action on the first shot, but why would you want to? The single-action trigger is so much nicer. You can manually cock the Mak hammer, which I did, but the SIG in single0-action still has the better trigger. Second, the SIG has adjustable sights. You can move the shot group anywhere you want within reason.

The bottom line
I’m going out on a limb and saying that this SIG Sauer P226 X5 combo pistol is such a fine shooter that you can even get maximum training effect for firearms from it. Of all the handguns I own, only a couple have better triggers than this one. Everything you need to do to shoot well, you can practice with this BB pistol. I’m going to add it to my Tom’s Picks page, because I think it’s a world-beater.

I got about 30 reliable shots per CO2 cartridge during this test. You would get a few more if you were just plinking, but there aren’t 40 shots available when the target is important.

Edith noticed how enthusiastic I seemed to be when testing this air pistol. It’s always a pleasure to test something that works as advertised and maybe even better than you thought it would. My thanks to Rob and others who asked for this test.

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