Posts Tagged ‘breakbarrel’

Falke model 70: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Falke model 70
Falke model 70 is a quality breakbarrel spring-piston rifle from the 1950s.

Today is accuracy day for our Falke model 70 breakbarrel. I tested this one at the same time I tested the BSA Meteor Mark IV; and after that horrible test, I was praying that this rifle wouldn’t let me down. When I bought the rifle at last year’s Roanoke airgun show, the seller told me it shot pretty well. I was hoping to see that — especially after what happened with the Meteor! It did okay in the velocity test, so there was no reason to suspect it wouldn’t also be accurate.

The Falke did not disappoint, though it’s important to bear in mind that this is a vintage spring rifle made by a company that went out of business a half century ago and not some tackdriver made by a target gun manufacturer. When you shoot one of these air rifles, think in terms of a vintage Diana model 27 rather than a Walther model 55.

The Falke has open sights, so I like to start testing guns like them at 10 meters. They’re usually right on target; but if they’re off, 10 meters is close enough that they won’t be off that much. Open sights seldom have the same kind of problems as optical sights.

Eley Wasps
The Falke is a vintage airgun, so I felt it deserved a vintage pellet — at least for starters. The first pellet I tried was the Eley Wasp. Of course, I also tried Wasps with the Meteor and look where that got me! But the Falke was far more forgiving. In .177 caliber, the Wasp pellet is medium-sized — nothing like the oversized 5.56mm (.22 caliber) Wasps pellets we use in guns that have large bores. Wasps fit the Falke 70 breech well, but they weren’t tight. They didn’t fall out, but they also didn’t need to be pushed into the rifling. They went in easily.

When I saw the group, I was amazed! Eight of the ten Wasps were in a tight group that measures 0.276 inches between centers. The 2 pellets that aren’t in the main group open it to a much larger 0.862 inches, but I’m thinking those 2 shots might have been due to small sighting variations.

Falke 70 Wasp target
Eight of ten Eley Wasps went into a tight 0.276 inches, but the final 2 opened it to 0.862 inches.

Trigger
The rifle has a comfortable feel when shooting. I’d called it a single-stage trigger, but it’s actually 2-stage. Stage 2 is very subtle and takes some time to get used to it to feel it every time, but it breaks cleanly enough for good work. The post-and-bead front sight is somewhat difficult to use precisely; but at 10 meters against a black bull (with a 6 o’clock hold), it’s good enough.

I like the way the breech locks when it closes. The spring-loaded lock breech jumps into position. After it does, you cannot feel any movement in the breech.

RWS Hobbys
After the Wasps, I adjusted the rear sight higher to get into the bull. Then, I started a group with RWS Hobby pellets; but after just 3 shots had gone into 1.371 inches, I gave up. No sense finishing a group like that! Hobbys are often a very accurate pellet in vintage airguns of the same power as this Falke model 70; so it was worth a try, but when things go that wrong that fast it’s time to move on.

Crosman Premier lites
Next, I tried the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellet. This is another pellet that often does well in lower-powered spring guns like the Falke 70. But not this time! Ten went into a group that measures 1.164 inches between centers. You might wonder why I was so quick to abandon Hobbys yet stuck with Premier lites to the end. Well, this group just kept growing larger with each shot. It wasn’t until close to the end that I saw how large it was going to be.

Falke 70 Premier lite target
Ten Crosman Premier lites went into 1.164 inches at 10 meters. This is not the pellet for this rifle.

Air Arms Falcons
Next, I tried some Air Arms Falcon pellets. The Falcon is a 7.33-grain domed pellet made for Air Arms by JSB on dies that Air Arms owns, so it’s unlike anything else JSB makes. It’s too simple to say the Falcon is just a JSB Exact RS under another label; for although both pellets weigh exactly the same and are both domed pellets, they don’t perform the same. Often Falcons will shoot well when Exact RS pellets won’t.

In the Falke 70, they did pretty good! Of course, I didn’t miss the irony of shooting a falcon pellet in a falcon rifle!

For starters, they went to the exact center of the bull. I know this thrills some folks who need to see the pellets impact there; but like I always say, I’m looking for the smallest groups — then, I’ll adjust the sights later. But when luck happens and I get this result, I can’t deny that it thrills me a little. Ten pellets went into 0.762 inches, which is okay but not great. But within the main group there are 7 pellets that made a much smaller group measuring 0.387 inches. Like the Wasps, I cannot help wondering if I could do better.

Falke 70 Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcon pellets went into 0.762 inches at 10 meters, but 7 of them went into just 0.387 inches. This pellet is worth pursuing.

H&N Baracuda Match
The last pellet I tried was the H&N Baracuda Match. While this seems like an overly heavy pellet for such a low-powered spring rifle, I’ve found they often do quite well in some guns. They were certainly worth a try. Although the rear sight was adjusted up for most of the other pellets, the Baracudas hit low on the target. But they did put 8 of 10 into 0.44 inches, which is very good. And, again, there are 2 pellets that didn’t want to go into the main group. They opened the group to 0.742 inches, making this pellet the most accurate of those tested.

Falke 70 Baracuda Match target
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 0.742 inches at 10 meters, with 8 of them going into just 0.44 inches. This is the best pellet of the test.

Should I test at 25 yards?
The Falke model 70 will never have a scope. I sense the accuracy potential of the rifle exceeds the precision of the sights. Two and perhaps even 3 of these groups should have been one small hole, but for sighting errors. I am tempted to back up to 25 yards and have a go. We shall see.

Falke model 70: Part 2

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

Part 1

Falke model 70
Falke model 70 is a quality breakbarrel spring-piston rifle from the 1950s.

Today, I’ll test the velocity of the .177-caliber Falke model 70 breakbarrel. In its day, which was the early 1950s, this rifle was rated at 450 f.p.s. But pellets have improved a lot since that time, and I also believe this powerplant has been rebuilt. So, the numbers may not be the same as a factory gun.

Crosman Premier
The first pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. For the first test, I seated the pellet flush; but given the probable power range of this rifle, I felt that some deep-seating would also be worth trying. Premier lites averaged 634 f.p.s. in the initial test (seated flush). The range went from a low of 621 f.p.s. to a high of 646 f.p.s. So, the spread was 25 f.p.s. That’s not bad, but I’ve certainly seen better. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 7.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Next, I tried the same pellet seated deep with the Air Venturi Pellet Seater. This time, the average velocity climbed up to 651 f.p.s., with a spread from 640 to 660 f.p.s. So, greater velocity and less variation with this pellet seated deep. At the average velocity, this deep-seated pellet generated 7.44 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

RWS Hobby
The next pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. This one I seated deep from the start. The average velocity was 704 f.p.s., and the range went from a low of 684 f.p.s. to a high of 721 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 37 f.p.s. in just 10 shots, which is getting a little large! At the average velocity, this pellet generated 7.71 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Because the velocity spread was so large, I figured I would also test this pellet seated flush. But after shooting just 4 shots, I had a velocity variation of 49 f.p.s., so I stopped. Obviously, the Hobby doesn’t like to be seated flush in the Falke 70.

H&N Baracuda Match
The last pellet I tried was the heavy H&N Baracuda Match. Weighing 10.65 grains, this pellet might seem too heavy for a spring rifle in this power class, but I’ve seen pellets like this shoot very well in some of these guns. In case that happened here during the accuracy test, I wanted to have the velocity on record. These pellets were seated flush.

Baracuda Match pellets averaged 508 f.p.s. in the Falke, and the spread went from a low of 503 to a high of 515. That’s just 12 f.p.s. — the tightest spread of the test. Because they’re so tight when seated flush, I decided to not bother testing them seated deep. I’m pretty sure I will shoot them seated flush.

At the average velocity, this pellet generated 6.10 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. So, the Falke 70 followed the classic spring gun pattern of heavy pellets being less efficient and light pellets being the most efficient.

Trigger-pull
The single-stage trigger is adjustable, but the adjustment is of the sear-contact area type. So, I’m leaving it alone. It’s light enough as it is right now, breaking at just 1 lb., 15 oz. The letoff is vague, but the pull is free from creep, so the rifle doesn’t move around a lot when you shoot.

Cocking effort
I mentioned in part 1 that the rifle seems to cock easily until the last part of the stroke, when the effort rises significantly. Well, the scale confirmed it. The first part of the stroke is 20 lbs., then the effort spikes up to 37 lbs. to complete the stroke. It’s way more than one might expect from a rifle in this class. That leads me to suspect that an aftermarket mainspring has been installed in an effort to increase the power. I may have to correct that some time, as it’s just too much effort for a plinker like this.

Rear sight
Blog reader RidgeRunner asked me if the rear sight blade had a small spring under it, so I took it apart and told him I would provide a picture of the assembly in this report. Not only did I find the spring he was talking about, I also saw that the elevation wheel is marked off with numbers, so you can keep track of adjustments!

Falke model 70 rear sight apart
The rear sight blade slides into the base, and the elevating wheel fits into the cutout. The spring fits inside the hollow elevating wheel.

Falke model 70 rear sight numbers
I didn’t notice these reference numbers before taking apart the rear sight. They allow you to record and track your elevation adjustments. Airgunners love neat little features like this!

Seeing those numbers on the elevation wheel made me smile. They’re so unobtrusive and easy to overlook. They’re an airgunner’s version of a secret garden. It’s like knowing how the Coke machines get filled at Santa’s workshop!

Overall impression
Overall, I like this rifle very much. It holds well, locks up tight at the breech, thanks to the breech lock, and the firing behavior is smooth. I even like the trigger. I have a feeling this one will be a keeper!

Falke model 70: Part 1

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

Falke model 70
Falke model 70 is a quality breakbarrel spring-piston rifle from the 1950s.

This report is a traditional Friday blog for all you who enjoy the vintage airguns I sometimes get to test. I enjoy them, too, but I try not to put too many into the blog because most readers cannot buy these guns. I don’t want to create a lot of dissatisfaction.

I’ve reported on the Falke 90 underlever that reader Vince was kind enough to repair and tune in his 3-part report, It’s not my Falke. Then, I tested the gun for you in a separate 4-part report titled, Falke 90 test. Well, today I’m starting another report on a Falke model 70 breakbarrel rifle.

Falke model 70 logo
The distinctive falcon logo is stamped on the spring tube end cap.

All Falke airguns are uncommon in the U.S., but the models 80 and 90 are beyond rare. From the model 70 on down in declining numbers (60, 50, 40, 30, 20 and 10), however, we encounter a number of more common breakbarrel spring rifles that, while not common, are also not rare. They were never officially imported into the U.S., as far as I have determined, but have entered in a number of ways through private transactions. They’re very similar in quality and performance to their Diana cousins of the same early 1950s timeframe. The separation between the model 70 we’re looking at today and the model 80, while only 10 numbers apart, is the difference between a chicken egg and an egg by Fabergé.

The model 70 might also be thought of as Falke’s answer to the Diana 27. In other words, a plain airgun, but also one with high-quality features like a locking breech and an adjustable trigger. The 70 is slightly larger than the 27. It’s 42-7/8 inches long overall, and that length is helped primarily by the 19-inch barrel. The weight is 6 lbs., 10 oz. The pull is 13-3/4 inches, making it suitable for adults and older children.

When I looked in W.H.B. Smith’s book, Smith’s Standard Encyclopedia of Gas, Air and Spring Guns of the World, I saw slightly different specs for the model 70 listed there. There, the rifle was just 37 inches long, and the photo shows a pistol grip that’s rounded at the bottom. It was also checkered; but because mine’s been refinished, I can’t tell if it may have been originally checkered. I doubt that it was, though, because it’s still robust after refinishing.

The rifle’s barreled action is blued steel, set into a slim beech stock that has European finger grooves on either side of the forearm. The breech seal is leather, giving every indication that the piston seal is leather, as well. The metal on my rifle is turning to a plum-colored patina over the years, and the stock has been recently refinished. It was a good job, but I have no idea how much wood was removed in the process.

The rear sight is adjustable for elevation by turning a centrally mounted wheel, but there is no adjustment for windage. However, both the front and rear sights sit in dovetails that run perpendicular to the bore, so some windage adjustment is possible by drifting them sideways in their slots. The rear sight blade sits loose in the rear sight base, which may affect accuracy when I shoot the gun.

Falke model 70 rear sight
The rear sight adjusts for elevation, only. The sight blade is loose in its mount.

The front sight is a post with a bead at the top — the type the Germans call a Perlkorn. The intent is to put the bead in the center of the rear sight notch and also on whatever you wish to hit. It’s not a precision sight, but it can become more precise if you hold it at the 6 o’clock position on a target. But the movement of the blade that contains the notch will affect things, I’m sure.

The trigger adjusts, too, but I remember getting some sort of warning from airgun collector Don Raitzer at the Roanoke airgun show when I acquired the rifle, so I may not adjust it. Right now, it’s a single stage that has a very long but light pull and no positive indication before it lets off. I’m thinking the adjustment might affect the sear engagement area, and I don’t want to diminish that in any way.

Falke model 70 trigger
The single-stage trigger adjusts, but I think the sear contact area is affected, so I’m going to pass.

The breech is locked by a spring-loaded lever located on the right side of the breech. To unlock it, press in (push it back toward the butt) on the knurled knob while breaking down the barrel. It takes 2 hands to open the breech. When the barrel’s closed, the lock snaps shut and the breech is solid!

The breech is also notable for having both a pivot bolt and a locking screw that fits into scalloped notches cut into the rim of the bolt head. It’s a hallmark of quality that existed in the 1950s. Oddly, though, the pivot screw only has 2 cutouts for the locking screw to fit; so in its original form, it has to be turned a minimum of 180 degrees every time. Someone has used a small portable grinder to add a small notch where it was necessary, and now the pivot bolt head has a third notch in what seems to be the right place.

Falke model 70 breech
The breech is locked and must be unlocked to break the barrel. Note the locking notches in the pivot bolt head. And you can see the articulated 2-piece cocking link in this picture, also.

The cocking link is 2-piece and articulated to allow the rifle to be cocked without a long cocking slot in the forearm. That reduces vibration in the stock, adding to the rifle’s overall feeling of quality when fired.

This is a quality air rifle from the 1950s, and the quality shows through. Compared to modern air rifles, the features on this one far exceed what you normally see. The power is much lower than most of today’s rifles, but that just ensures that the rifle fires smoother.

Of course, there’s no provision for a scope, because when this rifle was made, people weren’t scoping their air rifles. I wouldn’t want to scope it, either. This is just a pure fun rifle that’s light and smooth and fun for the whole day. Why ruin it with a scope?

Smith lists the velocity at 450 f.p.s, but of course that was with the crude heavy pellets of the 1950s. I’m sure a modern pellet will step that up, though; by how much, I can’t say. Someone has at least lube-tuned the rifle recently, so it should be performing its best right now. I note when cocking that the cocking stroke is very short — just past 90 degrees, and the mainspring tension builds very fast in the last half of the stroke. In that respect, this rifle differs entirely from a Diana 27 that cocks with an even stroke and no spring buildup (greater effort required toward the end of the cocking stroke).

I’ve been waiting to test this rifle since the Roanoke show. Until today, I had not fired it once! You and I will get get to explore this fine air rifle together!

Surprise, surprise!
While reading the other reports on the Falke 90 I cite above, I discovered that I’d promised to test the 90 with a dot sight to see if accuracy would improve. That was way back in January and, of course, I haven’t done it — yet! Look for that test in the near future!

El Gamo 68/68-XP — A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle
El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

I last reported on this rifle on August 8 of last year. And that was Part 5! I had just tuned the rifle with a new mainspring and proper lubricants and was wondering what the changes would be. I was ready to report on it several months ago when I discovered that it wouldn’t cock. After fiddling with the trigger adjustments awhile with no success, I set it aside and moved on — thinking that the gun would need to be disassembled.

I disassembled it last week and discovered there was nothing wrong! The sear was working properly, or at least it seemed to be when I played with it as the gun was disassembled. I relubricated everything and put it all back together and was going to write Monday’s report on it. But the trigger still didn’t work! ARRGH!

This time, I remembered that when I got the gun the trigger was also a bit iffy, so I fiddled with the adjustments WAY outside the normal realm and, presto! I got it working again. Oh, it took a couple hours and there were some accidental discharges when the barrel was closed (direct sear!), but I solved all that by giving the sear way more contact than it needs.

Now the trigger releases at about 12 lbs., but at least it’s safe. Today, I’ll share with you how the tuned gun does at 25 yards — heavy trigger and all.

One other thing I did to the rifle was lubricate the leather piston seal with 10 drops of 3-in-One oil, leaving the rifle standing on its butt for two days afterward. The oil was allowed to slowly soak into the leather, which it did, but to protect the carpet and walls (Edith–Are you listening?) I put a long drop cloth in front of the rifle when I shot it.

Today’s test is a deviation from my normal pattern. I’ve tuned this gun and not yet reported the new velocities, and yet here I am shooting for accuracy. I decided to do it that way; and if I got good results, I would test the velocity next. I’m not changing the usual way of doing things — this is just an exception.

RWS Hobby
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. I chose it for its light weight and because it’s often accurate in lower-powered spring rifles and pistols. Sitting 25 yards from the target, I have to admit that I was wondering if the rifle had enough power to hit that target — let alone shoot a decent group.

Five of the first 10 pellets were detonations from the oiled piston seal. And the smell of burning oil was in the air. The Hobbys landed in a vertical group that was pleasingly tight from side to side. I was prepared to blame the verticality on the dieseling, but the truth is, that wasn’t the problem. The gun just doesn’t want to shoot Hobbys at 25 yards. That’s not too surprising since 25 yards is about the maximum distance for any wadcutter pellets, in my experience.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Hobby target
Ten Hobbys made this 2.151-inch group at 25 yards.

Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tested was the Air Arms Falcon, a 7.3-grain dome that’s often accurate in spring rifles. I used the spotting scope only on the first shot, which was a detonation, to make sure it was on the paper. There were 4 detonations in the 10 shots. I didn’t look at the target again until I walked down to change it. Boy, was I surprised by what I saw! To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “Now, THAT’S a group!” For open sights at 25 yards and 65-year-old-eyes, it ain’t too bad!

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle Air Arms Falcon target
Ten Air Arms Falcons went into 0.898 inches between their two widest centers. This is an acceptable group for this rifle at 25 yards.

Remember, I’m shooting 10 shots — not 5. So this kind of group really proves the rifle can shoot. It also proves this old man can still hit things when the rifle does its part! So much for the problems of the droopers and gas springs! I needed this validation after some of the disappointing tests I’ve done recently.

The heavy trigger apparently is not causing much of a problem for me. I think that’s because the rifle is rested. If I were shooting offhand, I’d want a lighter trigger-pull.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I tried JSB Exact RS pellets. This is another 7.3-grain dome from JSB (JSB also makes Air Arms Pellets) and is very often accurate in many different airguns. And this is one of them. The group is slightly larger than the Falcon group, but the two are so similar that I would call it a tie.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle JSB Exact RS target
Ten JSB Exact RS domes went into 1.028 inches. Though not quite as small as the Falcon group, I would rate both pellets about equal in this rifle.

RWS Superdome
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome, which often does well in lower-powered spring rifles. This time, however, it didn’t. Ten pellets produced a 1.765-inch group. It didn’t disappoint me, though, because the Falcon and JSB RS groups looked that much better. It showed that the earlier Hobby group wasn’t just a fluke of bad luck — the gun simply likes what it likes.

El Gamo 68 XP breakbarrel air rifle RWS Superdome target
Ten RWS Superdomes made this 1.765-inch group.

Evaluation
This test was calming for me. It was slower than many of the tests I’ve run in the past month, and the results were more based on me as a shooter rather than on the equipment. I find that I like that a lot!

The El Gamo 68 XP is operating well right now, except for the heavy trigger that I’ll probably keep just as it is for a while. The tuned powerplant is now smoother with less of a jolt. I noticed in this test that each pellet has a firing characteristic of its own. The two JSB pellets were definitely the smoothest of the four tested, and the Hobbys were the roughest.

This is such an odd airgun, with the fat heavy butt and no forearm to hold. Yet, it shoots like a thoroughbred. With the new tune, it cocks smoothly and just feels good to shoot — I don’t have any better way of describing it. I wish you could all try one, but since you can’t, I will, again, recommend the Air Venturi Bronco, which is the closest thing still being made today.

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3


The new Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel rifle is lightweight, powerful and comes with a sparkling new trigger!

Kevin is responsible for this special Part 4 report on the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel. He pointed out that I didn’t give the rifle enough of a chance to excel in the accuracy test, and several of you agreed. Even Edith chimed in when she read Kevin’s comment. In light of the leniency I have shown the recently tested Hatsan springers, this is certainly true. I won’t change my normal way of reviewing airguns, but in this instance I can see that it makes good sense to try other pellets in this rifle.

It takes a long time to shoot a 10-shot group, so I resolved to shoot just 5 shots per pellet and see where that left me. If the five were reasonably close, I would complete the group with the other 5 shots.

First up was Kevin’s favorite, and a pellet I’ve found to be accurate in a variety of air rifles — the JSB Exact RS dome, which weighs 7.33 grains. I was prepared to be surprised by the accuracy, but RS domes delivered 5 shots into 1.29 inches at 25 yards. So I stopped shooting them. I remembered that the lighter pellets did worse in this rifle in the last test, so next I tried the heavyweight Beeman Kodiak pellet.


Five JSB Exact RS pellets went into 1.29 inches at 25 yards. No reason to keep shooting them.

The first Kodiak pellet went way to the right of the aim point, then the next one about an inch to the left of that. After that, the pellets went to the same place until shot 6, when the pellet went back to the right. Some time in the final 4 shots, 2 pellets went to the right and low. How do I interpret this?


Kodiaks gave me this group. Six of the 10 shots are nicely grouped, but 4 others open the group considerably. This 10-shot group measures 1.257 inches between centers. The smaller group of 6 measures 0.635 inches.

This group made me wonder if I was being consistent enough with the Rocket IGT. Did I “season” the bore with enough pellets before shooting the group? I actually didn’t season it at all, but the fact that the last Kodiaks are as wide of the large group as the first one makes me think seasoning isn’t important here.

Was I holding the gun as carefully as I should be? That was a real concern. I hadn’t put a scope level on the gun, but was I completely relaxing and then shifting the crosshairs back to the target like I should?

Bottom line, I wanted to see another group of Kodiaks. That would perhaps tell me what I needed to know.


Ten more Kodiaks went into this group that measures 1.906 inches between centers. Eight of those pellets went into 0.784 inches — a group size that I think represents the true accuracy potential of the Rocket IGT.

The second group is very revealing. I tried just as hard to shoot well as I had with all the groups before, and there were no called fliers, but you can see from this group that some pellets didn’t want to play along. That tells me I’m probably not doing something consistently, and it’s affecting the results.

I tried one final group of 10 Crosman Premier heavies, just to see what another heavy pellet might do. This time, the 10-shot group was better than both groups of Kodiaks; but at 0.984 inches, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped. The openness of this group makes me think that this is perhaps not the pellet for the Rocket IGT. But I’m not sure of that, either.


Ten Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets made this 0.984-inch group at 25 yards. It’s okay but seems more open than the Kodiak groups.

What now?
I’m going to give the Rocket IGT a fifth test, and this time I’m going to do everything I can to make it shoot well. I’m going to mount a more powerful scope, sort the pellets by weight, mount and use a scope level, and spend the time I need to shoot the finest groups possible.

You may not realize it, but it takes a LOT of time to shoot the absolute best you can. It takes me about 5 minutes per shot when I’m really working the artillery hold. I want to do this for this rifle because, in this test, I see the potential trying to peek through. Normally, the shooting I already did would be enough to make a decision.

If you think what I’m about to do is overkill, consider this. I shoot hundreds of different air rifles every year and never have the chance to get familiar with any of them. An owner who has just one rifle can, over time, become so familiar with that rifle that he can shoot like I am about to, but do it in far less time. But if I do take the time to settle in for each shot and if I do remove all of the accuracy-destroying variables, we will finally see what this rifle can really do.

Don’t think that I’m going to do this for every airgun test from now on. I’m doing it this time because Kevin and the other readers were right. The Rocket IGT needed more of a chance to shine; and when it got that, it showed the glimmer of a rifle that wants to shoot.

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


The new Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel rifle is lightweight, powerful and comes with a sparkling new trigger!

I shot the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel air rifle to see how potentially accurate it is. This is the day many readers have been waiting for. I was even nipped in the hocks by one reader to get it done faster.

The scope
The scope on the test rifle is the 4×32 fixed-power scope that comes in the package. The optics are clear, but at 4x, the image seems small. The crosshairs are also rather coarse. So, you really have to pay attention when aiming. I would say this scope is okay to start with if you don’t want to spend more money. And since the Rocket IGT has no other sights, you’ll need an optical sight of some kind.

Starting the test
I decided to use the same four pellets that were used in the velocity test. The distance was 25 yards and all shooting was done indoors, so weather wasn’t a problem. The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact 10.3-grain dome that delivered velocity in the low 800s. The group started very well. Around shot five, it had opened to twice its size. By the end of the session, it was double that. The 10-shot group measured 1.074 inches between the centers of the two widest shots.


Six shots are in the single hole in the center, but the other four opened this group of JSB Exacts to 1.074 inches. The group is taller than it is wide.

The trigger
It’s always best to evaluate the trigger when shooting for accuracy because you notice every little nuance while trying to hold the reticle still on the target. I now discovered that stage two of the new Gamo trigger has a long perceptible movement. I won’t call it a creepy trigger, but you certainly do feel it move as the sear gradually disengages.

So, my evaluation of the trigger changes from great to just good. It’s certainly the best trigger Gamo has ever fielded; but at the same time, it’s no Rekord.

Back to the test
I felt that JSB pellets were teasing me, and they really wanted to shoot better, so I would come back to them, but next came RWS Hobby pellets. Three shots went into three inches and they were through. Hobbys are not the right pellet for the Rocket IGT.

Next up was our new friend, the H&N Baracuda Green. I expected them to shock me with their accuracy after all the recent success we have seen. But the first group wasn’t that good. It measures 1.141 inches between centers, and you will see that it is more vertical than horizontal.


Five shots are in the single hole at the top of the group, but the other five H&N Baracuda Greens opened this group to 1.141 inches. Notice how vertical the group seems.

Since I’d now shot two vertical groups, I decided to try a differtent hold. Instead of placing my off hand at the rear of the forearm where I could feel the triggerguard, I moved it forward under the cocking slot. Then, I shot another group of H&N Baracuda Greens. This group measures the same 1.141 inches as the first group, but it’s even more vertical than the first.


This group with a different handhold was even more vertical than the first, even though it measures the same 1.141 inches between centers! I would return to the original spot for resting the gun.

Loose screws
At this point, I stopped shooting and checked all the stock screws. All were loose, and the two in the forearm had to be tightened quite a lot. When I returned to the bench, the point of impact had changed — and H&N Baracudas no longer grouped very well. Four shots went into 1.50 inches, and I just stopped shooting.

It isn’t supposed to work like that. Tightening the stock screws is supposed to give you the best groups the rifle is capable of; but with the Rocket IGT, that did not happen — at least not with Baracuda Greens. However, something told me to try the JSB pellet again, so that’s what I did.

The next group of JSB Exacts was shot with my off hand against the triggerguard and the stock screws tight. This time, there was a lot less walking of the pellets, and I ended up with a fairly good group of 10. It measures 1.025 inches between centers and is much rounder than any of the earlier groups. This is the best group shot during this test and is probably a good representation of what this rifle is capable of.


This group of JSB Exacts is rounder than any of the others. Though it is not much smaller than the first group of JSBs, I like the shape of the group a little more.

Gamo PBA pellets
I couldn’t do this test without giving Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellet that came with the gun a try. So I shot two of them. They cracked like a .22 long rifle in the house and landed seven inches apart. That ended the test!

Final word
What do I think about the Gamo Rocket IGT? Well, it has many good things going for it. Light weight. Easy cocking and a good trigger are the main ones. The power is also reasonable.

On the minus side, the accuracy I saw was mediocre at best. But I only tried four pellets in the rifle. Who’s to say there isn’t a good pellet that would make this rifle shine? It only needs one.

El Gamo 68/68-XP – A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 5

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

I’m sure many of you imagine that I’m immersed in airguns all the time, which is true. That my office is filled with all sorts of models (it is) and that my workshop bench is strewn with parts of projects in process. There’s just one problem with that view. I don’t have a workshop. When I really need a lot of room, such as for today’s report, I usually move to the kitchen, where I do my work on that time-honored bench — the kitchen table!

The other thing most readers don’t appreciate is how whipsawed I am with time. I can’t afford to spend a week or even two days on a project anymore. Back in the days of The Airgun Letter, I had one month to crank out the stories that are now written in about four days! If I spend more than three hours on a project before starting to write about it, I’m working on a 12-hour day because the writing and photography take so much more time than the actual testing. And so it was with some trepidation that I approached today’s report, which is a disassembly, evaluation, cleaning and lubrication of my Gamo 68 breakbarrel air rifle.

I wanted to do this because the 68 shoots very suddenly. It doesn’t vibrate like many spring guns, but the thump when it fires is very heavy — way out of proportion with the power of the gun. The trigger is very heavy, and I wanted to see what might be involved in bringing it down. It’s crisp enough, just too heavy for the release.

Because of the potential time element and the fact that I have no room for another disassembled airgun, I studied the rifle carefully for two months — the way a diamond cutter examines an important stone. And with all that study, I still did not recognize the way the gun is assembled. But one look at a schematic sent by David Enoch showed me what to do.

Only three screws have to be removed to take the action out of the stock. That’s no different than any other breakbarrel, but the location of the third screw is certainly different! It’s at the back of the spring tube.


This photo shows the action out of the stock. One extra screw was removed. The one below the triggerguard does not hold the action in the stock. It’s one of two screws that hold the trigger unit to the stock, and it doesn’t have to be removed to get the action out of the stock.

With the action out of the stock, you have access to disassemble the mechanism and do what I ended up doing to the rifle. The trigger is really a complex bullpup unit that’s entirely separate from the barreled action. By “bullpup,” I mean that the trigger blade does not directly contact the sear. It’s located many inches forward of the true sear and is connected by a long lever inside the trigger unit. If I want to improve the trigger-pull beyond what simple adjustment can do, I need to remove this unit from the stock to get access to the pins and levers.

I decided to leave that task for another day, as working on the powerplant was all I had time to do in this session.


You’re looking down into the aluminum stock that holds the spring tube. The trigger unit runs from almost all the way on top, where the trigger blade is located, to all the way on the bottom, where the true sear releases the piston. It’s a complex bullpup unit that must be removed as a unit for work. You can see the steel channel that holds all the trigger parts.

Because of the way the Gamo action is designed, I could set the trigger aside and go to work on the powerplant. The end cap is held in the spring tube by a single large pin that must be drifted out. The action was installed in a mainspring compressor for this next step.


Here you see the barreled action in the mainspring compressor with the large pin drifted out. The pin is on the table, next to the hammer handle. The spring tube is ready to come apart.

Moment of truth
Taking a spring-piston powerplant apart for the first time is always a surprise. You never know how much compression the mainspring is under, even when relaxed, and how far it will come out of the gun before it’s fully relaxed and the gun can be removed from the mainspring compressor. It was a real surprise this time, for the spring came out several inches before fully relaxing. If I had just drifted the pin and tried to hope I could hold the end cap with my body, I could have broken bones!


Like a python that swallowed a telephone pole, the mainspring just kept coming out of the spring tube until it was this far! As you can see, I didn’t have much more room on my adjustment screw.

Once tension is off the mainspring, the rifle can be removed from the compressor. The end cap, spring guide and mainspring can now be removed. The piston, though, is still held in the rifle by the cocking link. You must disconnect the link from the piston before it will slide out of the gun.

The 68 has an articulated cocking link, and I noticed a spot at the front of the cocking slot that was enlarged for the removal of the cocking link. That told me that I did not need to remove the barrel from the action to disconnect the link from the piston. Just line up the link end with the enlarged hole, and the end pops right out.


The cocking link is two pieces.


The end of the link can be removed from the spring tube through the enlarged hole at the end of the cocking slot. The two-piece cocking linkage helps you do this.

The mainspring and piston both told me this gun had probably never been apart before. The grease looked like factory grease, and there were many years of accumulated dirt and grime on all the parts.

The piston has a leather seal that looks brand new. It was a bit on the dry side. After I assembled the rifle, I lubricated it heavily. I’ll continue to do that many times over the next few months, until I’m satisfied that the leather is oily and supple once more.


Leather piston seal looks good.

The piston itself is a very strange duck. It has to be, because the trigger is autonomous from the powerplant. There’s a window on the side of the piston at the rear where the sear catches it when the gun is cocked.


Here you see the entire piston, which is a machined steel part. The rectangular window at the end of the piston skirt is where the sear catches and holds it when the gun is cocked. Only the piston seal and the machined section at the rear touch the inside of the spring tube, so that’s where the moly lubrication goes.

The inside of the spring tube was as dirty as the piston and mainspring. I put paper towels over the end of a long-bladed screwdriver, dipped the paper in alcohol, and cleaned the inside of the spring tube and compression chamber. This would also be the time to remove any burrs from the cocking slot, but there weren’t any on this one.

After the entire powerplant was cleaned, I examined that long mainspring. After all those years, I thought it had to be canted — and it was, though not as much as I’d imagined. Rolling it on a flat surface revealed a wobble at one end, which translated to a jolt during firing. Hopefully, I had a suitable replacement.

I found several possibilities, but the best one proved to be a replacement spring for a TX200, of all things. It’s a special spring Jim Maccari made some years ago and it has collapsed coils in the center and at one end. As you can see in the picture, it’s a lot shorter than the spring that was in the 68. The wire is thicker, but there are so many fewer coils that I knew it would fit. The fit inside the piston was about the same as the factory spring, and the fit on the spring guide was tighter. So, this is a good replacement.


Factory spring above, replacement below. The new spring will certainly be under less compression when the gun is not cocked!

I coated the new spring with a thin layer of black tar and inserted it back into the piston. The front and rear of the piston were then coated with a heavy layer of moly grease and installed back into the spring tube. The cocking link was inserted back into the enlarged hole, where it contacted the piston for cocking.

The spring guide was coated with moly and slid inside the mainspring as far as it would go. The end cap was placed over the end of the spring guide, and the barreled action was installed in the mainspring compressor, once again. This time, the amount the spring stuck out was drastically reduced.


The spring guide is steel. It was coated with moly and slid back inside the mainspring.


The new mainspring has just begun to compress. It’s a lot shorter than the old one!

The gun went together without a hitch! And that was when I noticed for the first time that the entire job from start to finish had taken me only one hour — including photos! That’s as fast as I could tune a TX200 (assuming I would, which would never happen), and it doesn’t require a mainspring compressor. This wasn’t the time-killer I thought it was going to be.

How does it shoot?
The rifle cocked with 22 lbs. of force before this tune. Now it takes 28 lbs. to cock it, and the final sear lockup takes a final crunch that wasn’t there before.

The gun fires with 70 percent less jolting than before, but its just as quick as it was before the tune. The feel of firing is atypical of a lower-powered breakbarrel, just as it used to be. I can now feel a little vibration in the powerplant that I think was previously masked by the heavy firing jolt.

I still don’t know the gun. It will take a session of velocity testing and shooting for accuracy before I can finish this report. Since I’ve already tested the gun extensively before, I’ll combine both of those things in the next report.

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