Posts Tagged ‘bolt-action’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll test the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle at 25 yards. And today was also supposed to be the day I tested how long you have to wait to remove the CO2 cap after exhausting the gas. That’s not going to happn, though; because when I took off the CO2 cap to install 2 fresh CO2 cartridges, I noticed the o-ring was damaged pretty bad. So bad, in fact, that it might not work any longer. I switched it for a common black Buna o-ring of the same size and then charged the gun. At the end of this report, I’ll tell you how that works.
JSB Exact RS
When I tested the rifle at 10 meters, the best pellet was the JSB Exact RS dome, so that was the first pellet I tested this time. As I predicted after shimming the rear scope ring, the rifle was hitting too high at 25 yards. I had to drop it about 2-1/2 inches and move it to the right about three-quarters of an inch.
The first 10-shot group I fired measures 0.523 inches between centers. It’s nice and round, also. Remember, I’m using the 4x scope that came with the rifle, so the bullseyes looked pretty small at 25 yards. Also keep in mind that this shooting was done indoors, so wind is not a factor.
The first group looked so good through my spotting scope that I shot a second one with the same RS pellets. This time, 9 of the pellets went into 0.455-inches, but one shot opened the group to 0.688 inches. That wild shot was not a called flier; it just went astray.
This second group of JSB Exact RS pellets measures 0.688 inches between centers.
H&N Baracuda Match
The second-best pellet at 10 meters was the H&N Baracuda Match, so that was the next pellet I tried. Ten landed in a 0.625-inch group that’s open but fairly round at the same time. Looking through the scope, this group didn’t look very promising; but I see upon inspection that it isn’t much worse than the first 2 groups.
Air Arms Falcon
The final pellet of the day was the Air Arms Falcon dome, which is made by JSB. Sometimes, this pellet surprises me with stellar accuracy. This time, 10 pellets made a group that measured 0.56 inches between centers. It’s very close to the first group of JSB Exact RS pellets, which turned out to be the best group of the day.
The new o-ring
The new o-ring worked, but there was some leakage when I pierced the cartridges. The gas exhaust screw wasn’t the culprit this time — it was the o-ring that leaked. I suspect I selected a ring that is too thin for the job. When I removed the cap, I saw that this ring had also absorbed the gas and swollen quite large. I took a picture of it 5 minutes after taking it out of the gun and again after 45 minutes, so you can see the dramatic difference as the o-ring outgasses and shrinks back to normal.
There’s a lot to like about the Fusion air rifle. It certainly is accurate, and it fully delivers on the promise of quiet operation. There aren’t many other air rifles in this price range that can compete. Even the scope that comes with the rifle seems to be up to the task.
While today’s groups are not stunning, they’re all good. It’s interesting to note they’re all under three-quarters of an inch and some approach a half inch.
I do think the o-ring that comes with the rifle needs to be changed to something that doesn’t swell. And it would be nice if the trigger was more adjustable. But those are small points. If you’re looking for a fun plinker that’s both quiet and accurate, put this one on your list!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the first accuracy test of the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle. It comes one part late because we spent time looking at the CO2 cap, the adjustable trigger and the power adjuster in Part 3. The power adjuster is straightforward — twist the screw in and increase the striker spring tension to increase power. The trigger, we learned, is adjustable, but the safety slider prevents a very wide range of adjustability. You can modify it if you choose, but I don’t recommend it; and it will void any warranty on the gun. Blog reader mikeiniowa explained how it’s done, but he said to use caution — and I don’t intend doing it to the test gun.
You should now understand how the CO2 cap works, but there’s one additional thing that I think needs to be stressed. The gas exhaust screw on the cap is to use after the CO2 has been depleted. Screw it in and exhaust the remaining pressure. But that isn’t the end because the cap still cannot be taken off safely, as a reader mentioned yesterday. The o-ring that absorbs gas has to be given a lot of time to exhaust that gas and shrink back down to normal size before you attempt to remove the cap. If you try to remove the cap too soon after exhausting the gas, the o-ring will still be swollen and tightly wedged in place. You could tear it if you use too much force on the cap. So, let an hour or two pass before you try to remove the cap; and leave the exhaust screw screwed in, so the remaining gas that leaves the o-ring can get out of the gun. Anyone who has ever owned a Schimel CO2 pistol knows what I am talking about because they had the same problem.
Mounting the scope
The Fusion comes with a 4X32 scope and rings that must be mounted on the gun. The rings are made to clear the rounded receiver top, so don’t think just any rings will work. I want to show you what one of the rings looks like after installation, so you don’t go nuts thinking it’s not on the gun squarely.
The Fusion receiver is rounded on top, so the bottom of the scope ring must be profiled to clear the hump. The rings that come with the gun are correctly shaped for this. Don’t let the cockeyed jaw piece fool you — this ring is on the rifle straight and tight!
The scope caps have 2 screws each, which is perfect for this gun. There’s no recoil, so 2 screws hold the scope tight enough for good accuracy.
Once the scope was mounted, I sighted-in at 10 meters. All of today’s shooting will be from 10 meters for reasons I will explain as we go. I’m telling you that because the groups will be smaller than if they were shot at 25 yards. I do plan on testing the Fusion at 25 yards, too, but first I have to establish what it can do closer.
One additional thing about the sight-in. All the pellets struck the target low at 10 meters. I accepted that for the whole test, and I had to adjust the scope up very high to even get that. You know how nervous that makes me! So, at the end of this test I’ll shim the rear scope ring and try one more group with the best pellet. The groups you’ll be seeing are either low on the bull or just beneath it.
JSB Exact RS
The first group was shot with the JSB Exact RS pellet. As I shot, I could see all the pellets going into the same place; although with the 4x scope, it wasn’t easy to see exactly how good it was until I went downrange. It turned out that 10 pellets made a 0.286-inch group, measured between centers. And this group is very round, which is a good sign that everything is right with the rifle.
I observed several things while shooting the first group. The first is the trigger, while having a very long second stage pull that you can feel, is very controllable. Next, I did find the rifle just a bit fiddly to load. Once I got the hang of it, however, I was able to load pretty fast. But the pellets tend to flip around in the trough — especially the domes!
And, finally, I noted how very quiet the Fusion is! Our female cat, who usually walks around the house complaining every time I shoot, found it hard to hear what I was doing unless she was in the room with me. Even then, the noise didn’t seem to bother her, though Edith did say she walked into her office to complain once. Other than that, she was quiet. I think any apartment-dweller could shoot this rifle indoors without bothering the neighbors.
H&N Baracuda Match
Next, it was time to test the H&N Baracuda Match pellets. They landed higher on the target than the RS pellets but were still below the point of aim. This group measured 0.345 inches and was just as round as the RS group.
Crosman SSP hollowpoint
Then I tried the lightweight lead-free Crosman SSP hollowpoint. I didn’t expect much from these pellets, but I tried them because I’d used them in the velocity test. They produced a 10-shot group that measures 1.66 inches between centers. Obviously, I’m not going to shoot this pellet at 25 yards and risk hitting the walls of my house or the furniture! This is why I started shooting at 10 meters.
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. Ten went into 0.59 inches at 10 meters. But the first pellet went to the left of the next 9, so I think this might be one of those times when conditioning the bore was required for best results. Not that I believe in that theory, mind you, but this time it really looked like that’s what was happening. The 9 pellets went into 0.36 inches — a much better showing! The Hobby is the third best pellet in the test, but I think the group of 9 is more representative of what it can do.
The JSB Exact RS and the H&N Baracuda Match are the 2 pellets I’ll test at 25 yards. I would include the Hobbys, but 25 yards is right where wadcutters start to spread out, so I’ll just go with the 2 domes. However, there’s still one more thing to try today.
I removed the scope and put one plastic shim on the bottom of the rear ring under the scope tube, then installed the scope again. I went back to 10 meters without any sight-in shots and shot one more group with JSB Exact RS pellets. The group moved up over 1-1/4 inches and over to the left by a half-inch. This is where I will begin shooting at 25 yards, knowing that I’ll probably need to decrease the elevation to get back on target. Isn’t that interesting, that the point of impact moved up so much with a single shim? The shim measured 0.013 inches, by the way.
Ten JSB Exact RS pellets went into 0.244 inches at 10 meters. It’s the best group of the day! This group was fired after a 0.013-inch shim was placed between the scope and the rear ring. The scope was then simply remounted and no sight-in was done. This group is about 1.30 inches higher than the first group. It also appears to be smaller, but the dark paper hides the true size of the pellets.
Impressions so far
The Fusion is a winner! I like everything about it. It has taken some time to understand; but now that we’ve been through the design and know what to expect, you show me another air rifle that costs $170 and shoots like this one. We’re talking groups very similar to what vintage 10-meter target rifles can produce.
No — it’s not a good rifle for hunting; and, no, I don’t think it can be modified to become one. If that’s what you want, get a Discovery. Leave the Fusion as it is — a nice, quiet, accurate rifle.
25-yard testing yet to come.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle
Part 3 of most reports is the day we test accuracy. Sometimes, we test accuracy more than one time; but Part 3 is usually when we test it for the first time. But that isn’t going to happen today. Blog reader mikeiniowa told us that the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle rifle has both adjustable power and an adjustable trigger. I said I would look at that in detail when we got to it. Well, today’s the day.
The CO2 cap assembly
Before I get to either of those things, however, I want to talk about the CO2 cap in detail. I promised I would show you how this works, so I’m going to take it apart and show you the internals. I’ll also try to describe why the cap is as complex as it is.
Let’s examine the parts, starting at the right of the above image. That rounded cap is the cover for the gas exhaust screw. It has left-hand threads, so you must remember that because it’s made of plastic and can easily be stripped. Next to that is the threaded metal cap that holds the CO2 cap assembly to the rifle when there’s pressure in the gun. One of our readers noted that this threaded metal cap is separate from the main CO2 cap assembly. It has to be made that way because of the o-ring. When gas is in the gun, the o-ring swells and will not permit the CO2 cap to be removed. If the threaded cover was attached to the main cap assembly, it would be locked in place until the o-ring finally returned to normal size — you couldn’t even turn it. Back in the 1960s, it sometimes took days and even weeks to get the CO2 cap out of some guns because of the way they were designed! The threaded cap retaining ring, as I call it, was created to allow the cap to be removed when the main cap was frozen in place from internal pressure.
Crosman came up with the idea of making this threaded retaining ring separate from the main cap assembly. That allowed the threaded ring to be taken off the gun, and then the main cap assembly could be removed from the gun by wiggling it from side to side. That one change reduced the time to remove the CO2 cap from days to minutes! The Fusion uses the same design to achieve the same result. But if the o-ring didn’t swell in the presence of the gas, this type of design wouldn’t be necessary.
The pressure-relief screw seen above the first 2 parts on the cap pushes against the brass part seen to the left. That opens a way for the gas to escape. The coiled spring holds the brass valve seat shut at all other times. This is why it is important to back off the pressure-relief screw when piercing the CO2 cartridges.
The long part with the orange o-ring around it is the main cap body that all the other parts assemble to. As seen in the picture, it’s a hollow plastic tube. And the part to the extreme left houses the piercing pin. Though the part is plastic, the piercing pin is a metal insert.
Trigger and power adjustment
Okay, now we understand the CO2 cap, let’s look at the adjustments on the gun. To get to them, the action has to be removed from the stock, and it isn’t as straightforward as it is on some guns. The forearm has one screw at the bottom front. Once it’s out, the trigger unit has come out. That’s where it gets complex. The rear screw fastens a separate piece of plastic at the back of the triggerguard and holds the rifle to the stock. Take it out, and the barreled action is loose in the stock; but 2 more trigger screws have to be removed.
Once the trigger unit was outside the gun, I saw what it is — a unitized trigger that is highly based on the Crosman 160s trigger. It isn’t a copy, but it works the same with most of the same parts. Only the safety slide is different.
Apologies for the blurry image. Like the Crosman 160 trigger, the sear engagement is adjusted by the small screw at the top. There’s no screw in the hole below that, which is the trigger overtravel adjustment. The large Allen screw at the bottom adjusts the trigger return-spring tension, which is the weight of the pull.
I tried adjusting the trigger, but apparently I don’t know the secret, if there is one. I couldn’t take the second-stage creep out of the sear without making it impossible to cock the rifle. I settled for lightening the pull to 3 lbs., 5 oz. But the trigger still had a lot of second-stage creep.
I’m hoping mikeiniowa will tell me that I missed the trigger optimization screw that fixes everything; because each time I adjusted the trigger, I had to assemble the rifle in the stock to test it. I bet there’s more to this trigger than I’ve discovered. And, of course, none of this is in the manual!
The power adjustment is very straightforward. Simply tighten or loosen tension on the striker spring with a screw located at the rear of the receiver.
The Fusion has some interesting designs, but I don’t think they were done by an airgunner. Each area shows a lot of attention to detail, but the complexity of the CO2 cap shows the designers were either unaware of the advances that have been made in CO2 gun technology, or for some reason they thought this was the best way to design it.
The trigger shows potential, but I obviously don’t know how to make it sing. I hope somebody will take me to school.
Given the complexity of working on the Fusion, I can see why the instructions for these adjustments were left out of the manual. If you are smart enough to find them, I guess you’re qualified to adjust them!
Accuracy is next!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle
Today, we test the Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle for velocity and several other things you readers are interested in. You may remember that in the first part I had a problem with the rifle not sealing when I loaded the CO2 cartridges. Blog reader mikeiniowa nailed the problem with the Fusion CO2 cap. The part that contains the piercing pin was partially unscrewed and was, therefore, longer than it should be. It was piercing the cartridges before the o-ring was in position to seal the gun. So, a lot of gas leaked out; and, because the o-ring absorbs CO2 and swells when it does, it also prevented the cap from being screwed down tight.
I’m going to show that cap in detail in a later report. It’s made so complex because of the material the o-ring is made from. If a different material had been used, none of the complex parts would be needed…and the cap could be made for less cost.
So, with the cap assembled correctly, I was able to load 2 fresh CO2 cartridges. This time, everything worked as it should, and the velocity test began.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS. This lightweight dome is a winner in many lower-powered air rifles, and I believe the Fusion will be one of them. The first shots started slow, at 619, 647 and 644 f.p.s. Then, the velocity jumped up to 663 and remained above that number for the remainder of the string. The average, once the velocity was in the curve, was 667 f.p.s. That means the Fusion’s valve needs to be awakened after installing fresh cartridges.
The low velocity, once the pellet had climbed into the stable spread, was 663 f.p.s., and the high was 673 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the RS pellet produced 7.21 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Because the Fusion is a gas gun, we can expect the power to increase and decrease with the pellet weight.
I tested the same pellet several hours later, and the first JSB RS out the spout went 686 f.p.s., so the velocity had increased by 20 f.p.s. after 40 shots had been fired and the gun then rested for 3 hours. But that was also the end of the power curve. By shot 50, the velocity of all the pellets started to drop again.
The second pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby wadcutter. They averaged 669 f.p.s. with a spread from 661 to 681 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 6.96 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Lighter pellet, less energy.
Crosman SSP hollowpoints
The third pellet I tested was the Crosman SSP hollowpoint. Remember, Umarex lists the velocity of the Fusion at 750 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets (which they call alloy) and 700 f.p.s. with lead pellets. I should have tested the rifle with RWS HyperMAX since those are the ones Umarex imports and distributes, but I didn’t have any on hand. Anyway, the Crosman pellets worked fine. They gave an average 766 f.p.s. velocity, with a low of 757 and a high of 783 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this 4-grain pellet produced 5.21 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, so it’s staying on track for the pellet-weight-to-velocity relationship.
After 50 shots had been fired, the average velocity for this pellet fell to 711 f.p.s. So, the velocity is going down, but the velocity is still useable up to 60 shots.
The last pellet I tried was the 10.6-grain H&N Baracuda Match. In a spring gun, the velocity for this pellet would fall off quite a bit from the numbers for these lightweight pellets, but gas guns and pneumatics are different. Heavy pellets don’t lose nearly as much velocity as they do in spring guns. The average for Baracudas was 612 f.p.s. The range went from 600 to 616 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Baracuda produced 8.82 foot-pounds, which is significantly higher than any other pellet.
One of our readers mentioned that the total number of good shots he gets is about 70 shots with each set of CO2 cartridges. I was looking for about that number. I noticed the velocity began dropping at shot 50. But there were still 10 more good shots in the gun. From shots 56 through 60, the velocity for the baseline JSB Exact RS pellets was 622, 614, 603, 602, and 584 f.p.s. While there were still more shots to be fired, I felt that accuracy would probably drop off at this point. So, I’ll rate the Fusion I’m testing as a 60-shot gun.
And, now, we come to the question on everyone’s mind. Is the Fusion quiet? Umarex not only says that it is, they tout the low sound level heavily in their advertising campaigns. While I don’t have any scientific sound measurement equipment to test with, I can make a fairly good subjective observation of the gun’s report. I compared it to my Diana model 23, which most of you readers know to be a very small, low-powered spring-piston youth model air gun. The Fusion and the Diana 23 are approximately the same loudness. That means that the Fusion is a very quiet air rifle.
Blog reader Matt61 wondered if it would be louder than a ballpoint pen falling on a thick carpet, and I must say that it is. But it isn’t much louder. I think this is a gun you could shoot in an apartment that has thin walls separating you from the neighbors. You should be able to shoot in even small backyards without disturbing the neighborhood.
I told you the trigger is 2-stage. Stage 1 is light and relatively short. Stage 2 is also light but long and creepy. The sear releases at around 3 lbs., 12 oz.
Besides the accuracy test, which is expected, I also want to take the gun out of its stock and look for both the power adjuster and the trigger adjustment that reader mikeiniowa mentioned. I’ll use that report to also show you the details of the CO2 cap and explain how it works so you understand what’s going on.
Given the power level of the Fusion, I think I’ll start testing accuracy at 10 meters and then back up to 25 yards. If the rifle comes through the accuracy portion with honors, I’ll give it a hearty recommendation.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
One of the perks of visiting the manufacturer is getting to try new airguns. I visited Umarex USA last February to film my parts for this year’s American Airgunner show, and we were also given a tour of the facility in Fort Smith, Arkansas. We got to shoot many airguns and even a couple firearms, but the one gun that wasn’t quite ready was today’s subject gun, the .177-caliber Umarex Fusion CO2 rifle. Sales Director Justin Biddle (JB) told us the gun was going to be incredibly quiet. I really wanted to hear it perform, but it wasn’t going to happen because the gun just wasn’t ready.
Shouting about silence
Well, now I have a Fusion rifle in hand, and I get to test it all I want! I’m testing rifle number 00360129. Like all Fusions, this rifle comes in .177 caliber.
I told JB back in February that Pyramyd Air was very particular about the sound ratings shown with the descriptions on their website because, sometimes, they’re all a customer has to go by when buying an airgun. As the saying goes, “Once burned, twice shy,” so if there’s any question, no sound rating is accepted unless the Pyramyd Air tech team or I get to listen to the discharge of a production gun. We don’t want the customer who may be making his once-every-five-years purchase to be misled!
But I have to tell you — the box this rifle comes in touts the 5-chamber SilenceAir silencer attached to the barrel, and the rifle’s ultra-quiet operation is mentioned at least once on most of the box sides. They’ve gone so far as to put a video ad on the Pyramyd Air website, touting how quiet the rifle is. So, in all likelihood it is very quiet. Because, if it isn’t, it would open the door to a tidal wave of criticism! I’m prepared to be amazed.
There are other reasons for wanting to test the new Fusion, as well. It isn’t every day I get to see a new CO2 rifle. They don’t come along that often, and each new one seems different than the few we already have — unlike the introduction of yet another 1,400 f.p.s. breakbarrel magnum springer!
The rifle is a bolt-action single-shot, so in my mind that puts it in the Tech Force 78 category. Pyramyd Air no longer carries that model, and there are very few single-shot CO2 rifles to be had.
Even though the black stock is synthetic, the Fusion is not a featherweight. It weighs 5.71 lbs., which is certainly light enough, but it’s also enough weight to let you know there’s something in your hands. I would call this a handy rifle, in that sense. The dimensions are large enough for an adult (14-inch pull), yet the stock is also thin where you naturally grab it; so, think of this as the Diana 27 of CO2 rifles.
The rifle is just over 40 inches in length and balances with a slight bias toward the muzzle. The silencer is one inch in diameter and permanently attached to the rifle. The rifled steel barrel is a whisker over 17 inches long, and ends where the baffled silencer begins. It appears free-floated, but it does contact a barrel band that attaches it to the CO2 tube below.
The entire rifle is matte black. The stock is dull, and the barreled receiver is blued to a matte black sheen.
The bolt requires a fairly stiff pull to cock the action, so you’ll want the rifle against your shoulder or something firm when you shoot. A tray in the receiver accepts the pellet and helps guide it into the breech.
The buttstock has a very straight line — as opposed to a stock that drops at the comb. Therefore, it will accept a scope more readily than most rifles. The stock fits me very well. In fact, my off hand likes how the stock narrows just ahead of the triggerguard.
There are no open sights. The rifle comes with a 4×32 scope and rings; so, you do have sights, but they have to be mounted. I’ll cover that process in Part 3.
The trigger isn’t adjustable. It’s two stages with a long, light first stage and a long second stage that has some creep. The safety is automatic and comes on every time the rifle is cocked. It’s a sliding switch located on the top right side of triggerguard, just forward of the trigger. It can be applied and taken off at any time and appears to block the trigger from moving.
This rifle favors right-handed shooters. The stock is ambidextrous, but the bolt handle operates only on the right side of the receiver.
Charging the rifle
The Fusion needs two 12-gram CO2 cartridges each time it’s charged. They’re loaded end-to-end, similar to other CO2 rifles, but the charging mechanism isn’t as straightforward as you’re used to. There’s also a pressure-relief valve in the charging cap that lets you exhaust remaining pressure in the gun at the end of the useful charge. But that valve complicates the charging process just a bit.
To charge the gun, you first unscrew the cap that covers the pressure-relief valve control knob. Those threads are left-hand, so the cap comes off by screwing it clockwise. Then, the control knob is screwed down as far as it will go and then backed out three full turns. This closes the exhaust valve, making the CO2 reservoir cap ready for filling.
Use some kind of oil on the tip of each CO2 cartridge before dropping it into the rifle, and also spread some oil on the o-ring that seals the rifle’s cap. The instructions say to use RWS Chamber Lube; but since I had none of that, I used Crosman Pellgunoil.
The Fusion CO2 cap is more complex than the usual cap. The cap has been removed. The knob at the right is to exhaust the residual gas when it’s time to change the cartridges. It’s shown in the closed position, so the cap is gas-tight.
With both cartridges inside the tube, I screwed down the cap, and gas started hissing somewhere. I’m used to hearing a brief rush of gas, then the solid sound of the seal doing its job, so this hissing threw me for a loop. I played with the pressure-relief valve knob — unscrewing it farther. The hissing continued, so I screwed in the cap several more turns (against great resistance), and it finally stopped. That was the longest period of gas release I’ve ever heard from a CO2 gun during filling; so after shooting it several times, I exhausted the remaining gas and tried again with 2 fresh CO2 cartridges.
It happened the second time, too. Gas was exhausting for at least 30 seconds as I tried to tightly screw down the cap, but the cap got almost too tight to screw. This time, I knew the pressure-relief valve was closed; and I even opened and closed it during the procedure, just to make sure. I finally put my back into it and got the cap secured, but not before a lot of gas was lost.
I believe the problem is the o-ring on the cap is made of material that’s permeable to CO2 gas and swells rapidly in its presence. It swells enough when the gas is first released to make the cap difficult to screw in far enough to seal the chamber. We had problems like this with the old o-rings on CO2 guns years ago; but when the new non-porous o-ring material came to market, the problem stopped. This is something that needs to be looked at by the manufacturer. I will keep an eye on it as this test proceeds, and I’ll report my findings to you.
The box says to expect 750 f.p.s. with alloy (meaning lead-free) pellets and 700 f.p.s. with lead. I’ll try it with both, and I’ll try several lead pellets because this will be of interest to potential buyers. If it really gets that much velocity, this rifle could be used to eliminate small pests up to the size of small rats at close range.
Since I’ve shot the rifle already, I’ve heard the discharge sound. But I’m going to wait until the velocity test to report it. You can ask, but I won’t tell. Gotta save something for the later reports!
We don’t get a new CO2 rifle that often, so this one seems to hold a lot of promise. Velocity testing and a report on the report are next.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today I’m writing about something that seems to confuse many people. It’s tied to how an airgun works, and I want to discuss it in detail for you. But first, let me tell you what motivated me to write today’s report.
The following is a real question I have heard many times.
I’m looking to buy a gun and it says the gun is a repeater. Please explain to me what a repeater is. Do I have to cock it for every shot? I don’t want it if I have to cock it for every shot. I want to just be able to pull the trigger and the gun fires.
I wrote the report that’s linked above for those new shooters who have trouble understanding the definition of a repeater. Some shooters don’t understand the difference between a semiautomatic action, where the trigger is pulled to fire the gun every time, and a repeater that must be both cocked and also load the pellet before it’s ready to shoot.
Last week, I discovered that this confusion goes even farther. A customer wrote in to Pyramyd Air that one of the FWB target guns was not a bolt-action like they had listed…but it was a sidelever. The gun has a lever on the left side that operates the bolt. When the lever is operated, the bolt slides back and forth in the pellet trough and pushes the pellet into the breech to the same depth every time. It’s likely that other airgunners may understand it the same way, which is why I wanted to address it in the blog.
Yes, that lever on this Feinwerkbau rifle does cock the gun; and yes, it is on the side…but that doesn’t make the gun’s action a sidelever. That lever is called a flipper by shooters who borrowed the term from biathlon shooters, whose cocking levers are flippers that work back and forth.
A sidelever refers to a cocking mechanism for a spring-piston airgun. The lever connects to the piston, pushing it back to cock the mainspring. The FWB 700 is a PCP, not a springer. The fact that it has a lever on the side is coincidental. That lever, which is properly called a flipper by the shooters who use it — is just a linkage to the bolt. Edith told me she often gets comments that are like this one, so I thought I would address this today.
A bolt-action gun has a cylindrical metal rod called a bolt, whose job is either to push the pellet into the breech or sometimes to also act as a conduit for the compressed gas that fires the pellet into the barrel. How the bolt is designed and how it works affects the accuracy of the airgun.
The bolt nose of the Benjamin 130 bolt is hollow — like many CO2 bolts. But this one is shaped to hold one steel BB during loading.
Only airguns today
When I talk about a bolt-action gun in this report I will be referring only to airguns. This is one area where firearms and airguns differ quite a lot.
What do bolts do?
Airgun bolts do a couple of things, and they do them to different levels of perfection. So, it’s important to know exactly what a particular bolt does if you want to know how to make a gun work its best.
The first thing an airgun bolt does is seal the compressed gas inside the barrel. Some bolts have hollow noses to conduct the compressed gas into the barrel, where it gets behind the pellet. But not all of them do. But they all seal the barrel, so the compressed gas works on just the pellet.
The Crosman 180 CO2 carbine has a synthetic seal that the bolt presses against the rear of the barrel to seal the gasses. This bolt is only for loading the gun. A separate cocking knob pulls the hammer back.
The second thing bolts do is push the pellets into the back of the barrel. But here’s a big distinction since the back of the barrel sometimes isn’t actually where the rifling begins. The back of the barrel may be drilled out larger than the rifling and just be a chamber where the pellet sits before firing. If the pellet does not touch rifling in this section, accuracy may suffer.
If the bolt doesn’t push the pellet into the barrel to the point that the rifling engraves it — at least on the head, if not both the head and skirt — then it’s possible that the pellet will be slammed forward on an angle and enter the rifling out-of-line with the axis of the bore when the gun fires. The angle may be slight, but it sets up an imbalance that’s acted upon by the airstream when the pellet leaves the muzzle. The drag is not aligned with the axis of the pellet and can start a small wobble as the pellet goes downrange.
Some bolts have a long thin nose section that we call a probe. The probe pushes the pellet deep into the breech; because it’s thin, it also allows the maximum air to flow around it. While this sounds like such a good idea that we would want all bolts to have a probe, you have to remember that the inside of every pellet skirt is different. The probe sticks deep inside some pellets and doesn’t push them as far into the rifling. But it hits the flat wall inside other pellets and pushes them very deep.
Repeating airguns use the bolt to push the pellet through the clip or magazine and into the breech. This is one more relationship that must be considered.
Matching the shape of the bolt nose to the pellets you use is important for accuracy. And sometimes an airgunsmith will change the shape of the bolt nose to get increased performance from a certain gun. This is very common with the vintage CO2 single-shot air pistols such as the Crosman Mark I and II and the S&W 78G and 79G.
The bolt nose on this vintage Crosman Mark I target pistol is stock — just as it came from the factory. You can call this nose a probe because that’s how it works. But look at the next picture to see the contrast. Like the Crosman 180, this bolt only loads the pellet. A separate set of sliding tabs cock the hammer.
The bolt probe on this S&W 78G pistol looked like the Crosman, above, when it was new. An airgunsmith has thinned and even shaped this probe to allow gas to flow around it more easily. Just this modification by itself added velocity to the gun. This is another bolt that only loads the pellet. Cocking is done separately.
Like the custom tuners, Crosman made their Marauder bolt probe thin and long. It pushes the pellet from the magazine into the breech and also seats the pellet deep in the rifling. Because it’s thin, air flows easier around and past it, giving better efficiency.
Of course, not every bolt has a probe. Many get along very well with just a simple bolt nose that may even be flat because it fits the shape of the back of the pellets it’s designed to shoot. The Crosman-2240 air-pistol is one example of this.
Finally, some airguns are made to fire both steel BBs and lead pellets. People wonder how these guns are able to be rifled and still shoot steel BBs, but the factories have figured out how to do it. And, yes, the steel BB does wear the bore faster than the lead pellet. In fact, the lead pellet probably doesn’t wear a rifled steel bore at all, at least in terms we can comprehend. There are target rifles owned by clubs that have millions of shots on them and, while they look pretty doggy, their bores are like new.
A gun that shoots steel BBs probably has a flat magnet in the tip of its bolt, so there’s no possibility for a probe. On the other hand, if the tip is wide enough, it probably still shoves the pellet into the breech because the bolt will slide only a short way into the pellet’s skirt. Again, the shape of the inside of the pellet skirt will affect how this works.
The bottom line is that the shape of the bolt really matters a lot for airguns. It has several jobs to do, and its shape determines how well it will do each one. The next time you look at an airgun that has a bolt, give some thought to how well the bolt tip matches the pellets you want to use.
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’m testing the Crosman 160 for accuracy. This is a target rifle — originally intended for 25-foot ranges, so 10 meters, which is very close to 33 feet, is the distance I shot for this test. And I shot at 10-meter rifle targets. It’s important to remember this rifle is a .22, not a .177, because the larger pellets will influence the overall group size.
The 160 has a post front sight that isn’t as precise as an aperture, but I learned to shoot on a similar sight, so it still works well for me. I’d disassembled the rear aperture sight during cleaning, so when I sighted-in there was a lot of adjusting to get the pellet on target.
I held my eye as close to the aperture as I could get, because my recent experience with both the Ballard and Remington model 37 has taught me that this is the way to get the best accuracy from an aperture sight. The tiny hole made my pupil dilate and the front sight came into sharp focus, as it always should.
I sighted-in with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome and left the sights there. So, the first group is well-centered and the other pellets are a little bit off.
Remember that wonderful trigger I told you about last time? Well, this is where it came into its own. It is breaking so light that I leave my finger off the blade until the sight picture is correct. Then it’s just touch and “Bang!” It breaks at a pound. I’ve bump-tested the gun several times without a pellet just to see if I could jar it off the sear, and it’s holding fine…but it feels like a precision set trigger. Perhaps, having the overtravel adjustment makes the difference.
I remember these 160s as being more accurate than they have a right to be, given their original price, and this one is, too. The first 10 shots went into a group that measures 0.313 inches. The group is very round and gives every indication that the rifle loves this pellet.
Next, I tried the .22-caliber Premiers. Back in the early 1990s, when this pellet first came out, 160 owners discovered their rifles were much more accurate than they had believed. When the 160 was new, it was thought that the best they would do was a quarter-sized group at 25 feet. Now they were shooting into a dime at 33 feet.
This time, the group wasn’t as good as some others I’ve shot. Ten shots measure 0.449 inches between centers. The point of impact shifted to the left a bit, as well.
I also wanted to try a pellet I’d never used in a 160, so the next pellet was an RWS Superdome. They should do well, being both medium weight and thin-skirted. A thin skirt can be blown out into the rifling by the low pressure of the CO2 gas, which will seal the pellet in the bore quite well.
Before you get excited from looking at these next targets, you need to know that I was interrupted while shooting and as a result I put 5 shots on each target, instead of the 10 on one, as planned. Although this was a mistake, it does illustrate, once again, the difference between the sizes of 5-shot and 10-shot groups.
If you didn’t know there were only 5 shots in this group, you could make up all sorts of claims for the RWS Superdome pellets. The group measures 0.107 inches between centers. This is 10-meter target rifle size — even though it was shot with the larger pellets! But it is only 5 shots.
As I loaded and shot, I reflected on the ease of the bolt’s operation. Opening it requires just the flick of one finger, because you’re not cocking a spring. It’s as quick as pulling back the bolt on a biathlon target rifle. Pushing the bolt forward takes some effort, though, because this is where the hammer spring gets compressed.
The big .22-caliber domed pellets lie in the loading trough and feed without a bobble. Where some guns want to flip pellets around, the 160 feeds them effortlessly every time. I can describe the cocking and loading experience as having an oily smoothness.
Upon examination, I feel the JSB Exact pellet did the best in this test. It put 10 pellets into a group the same size as the final 5 Superdomes made. It would be interesting to shoot another group of Superdomes that were not shot at the end of the gas supply, but I still think the JSBs will turn out better.
I noticed on the final 5 shots that the rifle sounded like it was losing power. Since 5 shots were used for sight-in, this rifle has given me 35 good shots on two cartridges. Blog reader Jim in PGH commented that an Archer Hammer Debouncer Device (abbreviated HDD and designed to give the valve stem a dead blow to exhaust gas without valve flutter) installed on a Chinese version of the 167 (a .177-caliber version of the 160) that he owns has increased his shot count to 80. That would be worth looking into, if you decide to go the 160 route.
Where are we?
As I shoot the 160, I cannot help but think of a fine 10-meter target air rifle. Kevin would be proud to shoot one so fine. I think most of you would be impressed with what this gun can do.
This is the last report I have planned for the 160. As I suspected, the owner of this 160 was not too keen about the two CO2 cartridges needed to power his gun, so he sold it to me. I have no plans for it at this time, other than to show it to several firearms shooters to impress them with what an airgun can do. I’m also toying with shooting it at 50 yards, just to see how it does.