Posts Tagged ‘breakbarrel’

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

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

Let’s look at the power and velocity of the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel air rifle. You learned in Part 1 that the numbers printed on the box and gun were in disagreement with the Gamo USA website and Pyramyd Air’s site, but it turns out that 1,300 fps is the correct velocity according to an email Edith received from Gamo’s vice president of sales. Well, Edith spotted yet a third velocity claim — this time on the end flap of the box. A sticker listed the velocity as 1,000 f.p.s., with no further explanation. We’ll clear all of this up and find out just how fast this rifle really does shoot.

Cocking effort
I remarked in Part 1 that the cocking effort of the rifle seemed low for a gas spring, which is what IGT (Inert Gas Technology) means. My guess was the rifle cocked at between 30 and 35 lbs. of effort, which is a good 10 pounds less than other gas springs that generate similar power. My bathroom scale confirmed that the test rifle cocks with just 33 lbs. of force, making it easier than most gas springs. The piston stroke is quite long, which is how they manage to generate all that power from such an easy-cocking powerplant. I applaud Gamo for using the physics of the gas spring in this creative way.

Adjustable trigger
I also remarked that the new Gamo Smooth Action Trigger or SAT, as they call it, is a large leap forward from any Gamo trigger I have ever tested. It’s adjustable via a hard-to-access Phillips screw located behind the trigger blade; and when I attempted to adjust it, I discovered that it was set by the factory to the best position.

Screwing the adjustment screw clockwise reduces the stage-two pull length and counterclockwise does the reverse. The screw was in as far as it would go, but I did unscrew it a full turn and verified that it does increase the second-stage pull length.

The trigger released at 4 lbs., 4 oz. with good consistency. The first stage is very light (just one ounce) and stops positively at stage two. This is the kind of sporting trigger that will please many shooters, and I’m so glad to be testing it.

The last comment on the trigger is that Gamo has made the safety entirely manual. The blade is in an usual (for Gamo) place, but it doesn’t go on when the rifle is cocked. I see that as a positive step toward customer satisfaction. Gamo has somebody who knows how to design airgun triggers.

And now to the principal business of the day. I tested the Rocket IGT with four pellets — two made of lead and two that are lead-free. The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact 10.34-grain dome — a heavy pellet for a .177. With a gas spring, there’s no coiled steel mainspring to worry about, so the question of whether this heavy pellet is suited to a spring-piston powerplant is moot.

The JSB Exact pellet got an average velocity of 822 f.p.s., which was below the estimate of 900 f.p.s. I made in Part 1. The velocity spread went from a low of 816 to a high of 828, so a 12 foot-second spread over 10 shots. That’s very consistent. At the average velocity and using weight of 10.34 grains, this pellet generates 15.52 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next up was the H&N Baracuda Green — the new lead-free pellet that’s surprising us with its accuracy. And that’s why I tested it here — because I intend to try it out in the accuracy test, as well. They averaged 1100 f.p.s. on the nose, and the range went from a low of 1092 to a high of 1105 f.p.s. So the spread was a tight 13 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this 6.48-grain pellet averaged 17.41 foot-pounds. That’s good power for this rifle; and if these are accurate at 25 yards, they’ll be a good hunting pellet for rabbits, squirrels and similar game.

Following the Greens, I tried Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellet, a 4.7-grain lead-free dome that they pack with the rifle. This is the pellet they say will go 1,300 f.p.s. (although Gamo’s website still says 1,250 fps). In the test rifle, this pellet averaged 1,229 f.p.s., but the string was large. It ranged from a low of 1,214 f.p.s. to a high of 1,242 f.p.s. The spread was 28 f.p.s. While that’s not terrible, it’s noticeably greater than all other pellets that were tested. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 15.77 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The rifle comes pretty close to the 1,250 f.p.s. claim still listed on Gamo’s site (as we write this) — but not the 1,300 fps they claim on the box and rifle.

The last pellet tested was the venerable RWS Hobby. This 7-grain lead pellet is often the fastest of its type. In the Rocket, they averaged 1,004 f.p.s. with a spread from 996 to 1,013 f.p.s. The spread was 17 f.p.s., and this pellet generated 15.67 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Once again, the Gamo rifle met its advertised velocity with lead pellets.

Observations thus far
Gamo met the advertised velocity for lead pellets but was below the advertised velocity for their Platinum PBA pellets. Their Inert Gas Technology gas spring is easy to cock and doesn’t vibrate much when fired. And their new Smooth Action Trigger is performing just as nice on this rifle as the mockup in the Gamo booth did at the 2012 Shot Show.

I think you can sense my approval of this air rifle so far. It’s completely modern and nothing like the guns I usually favor, but it cocks easily, it generates the power it’s supposed to, is lightweight and has a fine sporting trigger. If it turns out to be accurate as well, I think Gamo has a fine new rifle in their lineup.

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Browning’s new Buck Mark air pistol has a lot going for it.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of this new Browning Buck Mark URX pellet pistol. I didn’t know what to expect, but I sure hoped this little gun was accurate! In many other ways, it’s so nice — it cocks easily, holds like a dream, has adjustable sights and is very quiet. So, if it’s also accurate as well, this will be a good one!

I always worry
It’s always a little scary when I shoot a new airgun for accuracy, because I’m wondering whether it will hit the target, the trap, the backstop or the wall. In the case of a few guns, the worst has happened; and since I shoot indoors for most of the closer tests, I always worry.

Typically, I try a rested shot from half the distance to the target, just to make sure the gun isn’t scattering its shots too wide. This time, I shot 20 feet from the Winchester Target Cube, and the shot went low and to the left. I thought there might have been some interference from the makeshift rest that was used, so I backed up to 10 meters (33 feet) and fired another shot. Nope! It was even lower and left-er! The sights did need to be adjusted.

I cranked in a lot of right adjustment into the rear sight and let fly with a third shot. Still low and left, but closer to the mark this time. More right and some up into the rear sight and the next shot went pleasingly into the black bull. That was followed by nine more RWS Hobby pellets and the first group was finished. It measures 1.582 inches between centers.

Ten shots in 1.582 inches. Notice the three sighters below the bull — one at the left edge of the paper.

I’d commented before on the weight of the trigger. Well, it isn’t such a problem in the two-handed rested shooting position. It actually helps to stabilize this very light air pistol, and I do like feeling the second-stage pull through some stiff travel before the sear releases. I got to the point of knowing when the gun was about to discharge, so the trigger is very predictable.

JSB Exact RS
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS. They fit the bore looser than the Hobbys but were not what I would describe as too loose. I expected good things from them; but as you can see, they didn’t print as well as the Hobbys. Ten made a 2.043-inch group.

Ten JSB Exact RS pellets made this somewhat disappointing 2.043-inch group at 10 meters.

Firing behavior
The Buck Mark bounces in your hand as it shoots. That’s typical of a spring pistol, but it can be disconcerting to those shooters who feel the need to control the gun. If you’ll just relax and use the same hold every time, the pistol will do its best for you. I promised a blog about how to shoot a recoiling Webley pistol, and I’ll do it soon for you.

I also tried RWS HyperMAX non-lead pellets for the velocity test, and I thought I would continue them today. In the past, these pellets haven’t done very well, but all the guns I’ve tried them in were so powerful that they drove them very fast. Worse than that, they probably all had the wrong vibration range. The Buck Mark is certainly not a magnum air pistol, so let’s see what they can do.

Wonder of wonders, the HyperMAX delivered a 10-shot group that measured 1.802 inches between centers. They were better than the JSBs and not quite as good as the Hobbys. They also made a different sound on target and certainly got there a lot faster.

RWS HyperMAX pellets turned in a decent group of 1.802 inches between centers.

H&N Baracuda Green
Since I was already shooting lead-free pellets, I couldn’t fail to try our new friend, the H&N Baracuda Green dome. They fit the breech extremely tight, so I made sure to seat them as deep as possible with my finger. That pushed the lip of the skirt past the entrance to the barrel, which was all they needed. Ten Greens delivered a group that measures 1.392 inches between centers. That’s the tightest group of the test, so I’m glad I included this pellet.

Ten H&N Baracuda Green pellets went into this group that measures 1.392 inches between centers. It’s the tightest group of the test.

What’s the verdict?
From what I see here, the Buck Mark is reasonably accurate. True, it’s not in the same class as the Beeman P17, but this is a spring-piston pistol that’s easier to cock than the single-stroke P17. I like the hold, the sights, the power level (for indoor target) and the low noise. I think the pistol is worth the money if you want it for informal target practice. The trigger is a bit heavy, but you can get used to it.

No airgun made like the Buck Mark should be considered to be an heirloom gun. The construction just doesn’t support hundreds of thousands of shots. But I’ve never fired any air pistol that many times, including the 10-meter pistol I competed with for several years. So, the Buck Mark makes good sense to me.

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

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

Back when I reviewed the 2012 SHOT Show, I showed you several new innovations that Gamo was bringing to the market this year. This rifle, the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel, contains the first of those I will test. I’m testing rifle serial No. 04-1C-138639-11, for those who wish to keep track.

One of the new technologies is in the title of this air rifle. The IGT stands for Inert Gas Technology, which is Gamo’s term for a gas spring. The gas spring replaces the conventional coiled steel wire mainspring with several improvements. It’s lighter in weight, doesn’t vibrate as much when fired, is resistant to cold, and can remain cocked for long periods without suffering any degradation. Compressed gas doesn’t fatigue like steel spring stock.

The second technology in this new rifle is the Smooth Action Trigger, or SAT, as Gamo calls it. It’s a two-stage trigger that’s so much better than Gamo triggers of the past that it deserves its own blog. The aluminum blade is well-shaped and vertical; so when it’s pulled, it comes straight back and doesn’t rotate upwards into the stock. The two stages are very clearly separated and stage two is quite crisp. I will say a lot more about it in Part 2 when I test rifle’s velocity.

The two technologies that the Rocket IGT does not have are the Bull Whisper barrel — a polymer-jacketed barrel with internal baffles — and the Shock Wave Absorber (SWA) recoil pad that helps dampen recoil. Since the Rocket IGT is not a super magnum rifle, I guess it doesn’t need either of these. But Gamo advertises this rifle at 1,300 f.p.s. while shooting .177 non-lead PBA pellets, so it’s no slouch. That velocity is printed on the outside of the box as well as on the spring tube of the gun. On the Pyramyd Air website, the velocity is listed as 1,250 with PBA ammo…and that’s also what Gamo advertises on their website. Either way, that’s a lot of power. I would think we could see some of the heavier accurate lead pellets go out the muzzle in the 900 f.p.s. range, which would be ideal. [Note from Edith -- I'm checking with Gamo on this discrepancy, but I suspect it's 1300 fps.]

This is a lightweight, slim air rifle. It weighs just 6.1 lbs. due to the use of synthetics in the barreled action and a synthetic stock. It harkens to the days of the Shadow 1000 and, more recently, the Whisper. Unlike the Whisper, this rifle has no baffles at the muzzle. Even so, the discharge sound isn’t that loud. It’s a solid three on the PA sound scale, but it’s not objectionable.

Shooting impressions
I haven’t been able to keep my paws off the gun since taking it from the box, and I can tell you that the initial shooting impression is a good one. First of all, even though it has a gas spring, I’m estimating that the cocking effort doesn’t exceed 35 lbs., and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it closer to 30. A gas spring exerts full pressure from the moment it’s first compressed, so you notice the cocking effort a lot more than with a coiled steel spring — but this Gamo is very nice in this respect.

The piston stroke is extra-long, which is where the power comes from. When you break the barrel to cock the gun, it folds down to within just four inches of the triggerguard. That means the cocking link is going far to the rear, pushing the piston into lockup with the sear; and that, in turn, means a long piston stroke.

The trigger is two-stage and very crisp. Old-timers will not recognize it as a Gamo trigger. It’s also adjustable, and I plan to evaluate it in Part 2.

The gun fires without a lot of recoil or vibration. It seems to have a lot of power, but we’ll find out for sure in Part 2. One thing I definitely love is the non-automatic safety. It’s there for you to apply — or not — as you choose, but you’re not forced to take it off before every shot. Bravo for Gamo!

More impressions of the rifle
The stock is slim and fits me quite well. It’s entirely ambidextrous, with a raised cheekpiece on both sides of the Monte-Carlo profiled butt. The pistol grip has a slight swell on both sides. Nothing about the rifle favors a right-handed shooter over a southpaw, which is a big plus in its favor.

The synthetic material the stock is made from is cool and slightly rough to the touch. The butt sounds solid, which I know will be appreciated by most shooters. The pistol grip and forearm are both slightly roughened where the hands want to grip.

The barrel is a thin steel tube surrounded by a fluted synthetic jacket. That’s become a Gamo trademark in recent years. Though I don’t care for the aesthetic, it does keep the weight off.

Surprise at the muzzle!
I casually glanced at the muzzle to examine the crown and was surprised to see no rifling inside the barrel at that point! Using a magnifying hood and a tactical flashlight I can see that the rifling ends considerably before the end of the barrel, like almost an inch deep. So, there really isn’t a crown to this barrel, just what could be called a counterbore at the muzzle. Unlike a true counterbore, the rifling just ends without a step in the barrel. The pellet is free to fly on its own at this point. What it will or won’t do for accuracy remains to be seen, but I’m intrigued!

Looking down into the muzzle, we see the rifling has ended well before the end of the barrel.

There are no open sights, nor are there provisions for them. This rifle is meant to be scoped and comes with a Gamo 4×32 scope in rings that are ready to mount. The base clamps to 11mm dovetail grooves cut into the spring tube, and a single vertical scope stop hole is provided. The rings mount with a Torx wrench that’s provided, and both the base screws and cap screws use the same wrench, which is a big plus. The caps have two screws apiece. I had the scope on, leveled and adjusted for my eye relief in less than 10 minutes.

Overall impression
Gamo has been advancing their air rifle technology greatly over the past decade. This year they’ve hit the afterburners! This new rifle looks right, feels right and has a great trigger. Let’s hope it’s also accurate. If so, the Rocket IGT could be a home run for Gamo.

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Browning’s new Buck Mark air pistol has a lot going for it.

There’s lots of interest in the Browning Buck Mark URX. Some have already purchased it because they didn’t want to wait for the report, so that tells you what people are thinking about the gun.

There was some confusion about the advertised velocity in Part 1. I mentioned the velocity (320 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 360 f.p.s. with alloy pellets) that was printed on the package, but there’s a different number in the owner’s manual and still a third number on Umarex USA’s website. So, which is it? We’ll find out today.

The velocity is published for both lead pellets and lead-free alloy pellets, so that’s how I tested it — with three different lead pellets and with a lightweight alloy pellet.

I also mentioned that the bore is very dirty for some reason. So, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Bore Paste on a brass bore brush.

Lead pellets
The first pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby — that all-time standard lightweight lead pellet. This 7-grain lead pellet averaged 334 f.p.s. The slowest pellet went 319, and the other nine in the string ranged from 329 to 340 f.p.s.

After the first string I tried a second one with the same pellet seated deep into the breech, using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and PellSet. Seated this way, they averaged just 320 f.p.s., so it wasn’t an improvement. Hobbys fit the breech a little tight; so when I seated them by hand, they popped into the barrel. But deep-seating just pushed them forward and didn’t improve on the terminal velocity, so the tight fit is important. The range with the deep-seated pellets was 316 to 322 f.p.s., so the velocity spread was tighter.

After the Hobbys came H&N Match Pistol pellets. They weigh over half a grain more than the Hobbys, so you’d think the velocity would be lower, and it was. But not that much!

The first shots were noticeably slower, then they increased and the range went from 314 to 322 f.p.s. The average was 319 f.p.s., so it wasn’t that much slower. These pellets fit the breech a little looser than the Hobbys, but were still a good fit.

I tried these with deep-seating, and once more the average velocity dropped to 312 f.p.s. The range this time went from 308 to 318 f.p.s. On the basis of velocity, alone, I wouldn’t deep-seat them.

The final lead pellet was also a surprise. The pellet was the JSB Exact RS that weighs 7.33 grains. You would expect them to be a little slower than the 7-grain Hobbys, but they were actually faster! They averaged 343 f.p.s., with a range from 339 to 346 f.p.s., so they were tight in the spread and also fast. I expect them to be accurate, as well. I didn’t deep-seat this pellet because it fit the breech a little loose.

Very clearly, then, the Buck Mark I’m testing shoots lightweight lead pellets even faster than advertised. That’s always welcome when the gun in question is a lower-powered example.

Lead-free pellet
This gun is distributed by Umarex, so it was a natural decision to select the RWS HyperMAX lead-free alloy pellet. Most of you know that Umarex USA is also RWS USA, so you can see the tie-in.

This time, it took three shots before the pellets came into their range, and it was such a big jump that I want you to see it. Shot one went 347 f.p.s., followed by shot two at 348 f.p.s. When shot three went 359 f.p.s. I thought the pellet had gotten into its range, but I was wrong.

Shot four went 370 f.p.s and they went slower than that only once in the next 9 shots. The average was 374 f.p.s., and the range was from 368 to 378 f.p.s. That’s a little faster than the 360 f.p.s advertised.

These pellets varied from just loose to falling into the breech a noticeable distance. I didn’t try to seat them deep since half of them were going in deeper than that, already.

The reviews of this gun mention the hard trigger. What I see on the test gun is a single-stage trigger that’s heavier than it could be. The test gun fires at 6 lbs., 14 oz. A 5-lb. pull would be better. With a single-stage trigger, you always notice the pull weight more than with a two-stage — as long as the second stage breaks cleanly.

Cocking effort
The Buck Mark cocks with just under 14 lbs. of effort. That makes this one of the lightest-cocking spring-piston air pistols I’ve ever tested. As previously noted, the barrel detent is not tight, though it keeps the barrel closed during firing. This will be an all-day shooter. The only small concern is that the front sight is right where you want to grab the barrel during cocking, so you have to choke up about an inch.

Possibility of modifications
The question of modifying this air pistol has already been raised by one reader. The gun is constructed (plastic shell housing, potmetal parts) will make any modifications very difficult and definitely not worth the effort. You’ll be better off buying this pistol to shoot as it comes and forget about modifying it in any way.

Opinion so far
So far, I remain impressed with this pistol. Of course, the lion’s share of the report comes during accuracy testing, but I already like the power, the ease of cocking, the ergonomic grip, the crisp adjustable sights and the low noise signature. If the Buck Mark is accurate, it’ll be a wonderful addition to a short list of great low-cost air pistols.

Browning’s Buck Mark URX pellet pistol: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Browning’s new Buck Mark URX air pistol has a lot going for it.

The Browning’s Buck Mark URX is another cool pellet pistol I saw at the 2012 SHOT Show and wanted to test for you as soon as it became available. This pistol is a single-shot breakbarrel (the packaging says it has a “one stroke cocking mechanism”) that has the same general profile of the Browning Buck Mark .22 rimfire pistol, but it is not an exact copy. The single thing that attracted me to this pistol is the velocity — an advertised 320 f.p.s. with lead pellets and 360 f.p.s. with lead-free alloy pellets. That tells me the gun cocks easily and should have a very smooth firing cycle, and that, in turn, promises good accuracy! I can only hope!

This is an inexpensive air pistol. It comes in a blister pack that’s designed to hang in a standard store wire rack. The appearance may put off some shooters who feel that they can’t get quality in an airgun this inexpensive, but we have the Beeman P17 single-stroke as an example of one that does deliver. So, I’ve learned to reserve judgement until all the testing is completed. The recent lesson of the Winchester M14 rifle reminded me to hold my opinion until all the cards are dealt!

I’ll tell you how engaging this pistol is. When I first picked it up, it wasn’t 5 minutes before I’d cocked it and fired the first shot. The barrel breaks open easily, and no cocking aid is required. The piston stroke is longer than you might think, and the barrel keeps on coming down and back for a long time. That tells me the piston stroke is where the power comes from, so the mainspring can be relatively light.

The Buck Mark URX breaks open farther than you expect. This tells us the piston stroke is long.

The cocking link is in two pieces, which allows the cocking slot to be very short. In the case of this pistol, it’s non-existent, as the link feeds straight back through a slot in the frame. That gives the frame more rigidity, which in turn reduces any vibration. This gun is low-powered, so there won’t be a lot of vibration to begin with. And with this design, it should be very smooth.

The safety comes on every time the pistol is cocked, and the lever is placed perfectly for right-handed shooters to release it with their thumb. In every other way, this pistol is entirely ambidextrous; and I went so far as to cock and shoot it in my left hand! The safety comes off easily with the trigger finger of a southpaw, so I don’t want to hear any complaints to the contrary.

The safety pops up automatically when the pistol is cocked. Right-handed shooters will also find it handy for resting the thumb.

Naturally, the exterior of the gun is all plastic except for a metal trigger, a metal safety switch and a couple screw heads. You have to accept that in an airgun at this price level; but as the Beeman P17 taught us, it doesn’t mean the gun can’t also be a great target pistol.

The sights are traditional (aka not fiberoptic — thank you, very much!) and the rear sight adjusts for both windage and elevation. Neither adjustment has a detent, but the windage adjustment does have a small scale for reference. You can watch the sight elevate simply by looking at it from the side as you adjust it.

The rear sight has a small scale for reference when adjusting the windage.

The top of the gun has a Weaver base molded in. It looks like a Picatinny, but the cross-slots are 3.5mm instead of 5mm, so it’s definitely Weaver, only. That means you can mount optical sights, of course; and if I see the accuracy to warrant it, I may try that.

The pistol grip is raked back at a good angle for pointability, and there are finger grooves at the front. I find that a good hold is gripping the gun naturally and hooking my thumb over the safety switch — not unlike the hold I would use for a 1911 pistol.

The pistol weighs a pound and a half, which is on the light side for best accuracy, but I’ll know more about that when I shoot it. For now, all I can say is that it’s a very light air pistol.

What appears to be the barrel from the outside of the gun is actually a plastic shell enclosing a thin steel tube. I have no problem with that, because many air pistol barrels are similar; but this one ends six-tenths of an inch before the end of the jacket. There’s no “technology” (baffles or compensator) forward of the true muzzle, so this step was obviously taken just for looks.

For some reason, the barrel of the test pistol is very dirty. I look at a lot of airgun barrels, and it’s rare to see a dirty one like this. I will definitely clean it with a brass bore brush and some JB Bore Paste before doing any further testing.

Everywhere I look on this pistol, I see the thought that went into the design. For instance, the spring-loaded detent that locks the barrel shut is located above the breech rather than below. It’s a cone-shaped detent that seems to combine the smoothness of a ball bearing with the more positive lock of a chisel detent. The important point is that it doesn’t take a slap to open the breech for cocking the gun! It’s the detent we all like.

Here you see the unique locking detent and the leade (taper) in the breech that allows easier pellet insertion.

And the innovation doesn’t end there. The breech is relieved with a leade (taper) for easier loading! This, on an air pistol that sells for under $50 — but you won’t see it on some air rifles costing $350 and more. It’s a small thing until you try to load the gun 200 times in one session. Then, it spells the difference between a numb thumb and one that feels normal.

Another hint of someone who cares is the fact that, the moment the breech is opened, there’s spring tension on the barrel. There’s no fraction of an inch slop between opening the barrel and where the cocking arm is under tension. It’s a small thing; but in many spring-piston rifles, it can cost a lot of money for a good tuner to get the same thing.

Yes, I already know what the trigger pull feels like and how the shot cycle feels, but you have to wait for them. All I can tell you at this point is that I am smiling!

El Gamo 68/68-XP – A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 4

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

Today, I’ll take the El Gamo 68 to the next level of accuracy testing. I mounted a scope and went back to 25 yards to see what this gun can do.

Blog reader Mike sent me a trigger shoe he wasn’t using, and I installed it on the rifle’s thin blade. It made all the difference in the world. I don’t think I could have endured the 80+ shots that went into today’s test without it! Thanks, Mike!

The trigger shoe made the heavy pull pleasant.

I mentioned mounting a scope on the rifle before I checked it out. The 11mm scope dovetails are cut into the top of the spring tube and are very short by today’s standards. I was able to mount only a Leapers Bug Buster scope using 2-piece BKL mounts. The Bug Buster is a very compact scope, whose size compliments the 68 — and the eye relief worked out fine, so this was a happy coincidence.

A Leapers Bug Buster scope fit the small 68 very well.

The test
I used this test not only to see how accurate the 68 is at 25 yards, but also to see if there’s a difference between seating pellets flush and seating them deep with an Air Venturi Pellet Pen’s PellSet. Each pellet shot one 10-shot group seated each way. Let’s see how it went.

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
I first shot a 10-shot group of H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets seated flush with the breech. The group measured 0.963 inches between centers.

Then, I shot another 10-shot group with the same pellets seated deep. It measured 1.232 inches between centers. Clearly, the flush-seated pellets were best.

Flush pellets on the left, deep-seated on the right. The flush pellets are more accurate.

Air Arms Falcon
Next, I tried the Air Arms Falcon dome. Ten pellets seated flush gave a group measuring 1.163 inches between centers. Ten seated deep printed into 1.28 inches. This is too close to call.

Flush pellets on the left, deep-seated on the right. Too close to call.

RWS Hobby
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby pellet. And here we had a reversal of the first test with the H&N target pellets –because the deep-seated pellets out-grouped the flush-seated ones. Flush-seated pellets grouped in 1.311 inches at 25 yards. Deep-seated pellets grouped in 0.888 inches, which was the best group of the test, though the initial sight-in group of Hobbys did group even better. But all the controls of the test weren’t in place when I shot that first group, so I can’t count it.

Flush pellets on the left, deep-seated on the right. This time, the deep-seated pellets performed best.

Bottom line
The results didn’t turn out as good as I expected. The 68 is accurate, but it’s not a 10-meter rifle in disguise. Having the trigger shoe makes the heavy trigger-pull comfortable, but a lighter pull would be much better.

As for the seating exercise, it seems to work with some pellets but not with others. And, of course, I haven’t yet experimented with different seating depths.

The next step with the 68 will be to disassemble the rifle and see what I can do to slick it up a bit.

El Gamo 68/68-XP – A futuristic airgun from the past: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

El Gamo 68 is a futuristic breakbarrel from the past.

As I said in Part 2, Mac and I simply couldn’t resist shooting the El Gamo 68 that I got from reader David Enoch at the Arkansas airgun show this year. And from the numerous reader responses, I see that we’re not alone in our admiration of this futuristic-looking breakbarrel from the past. Many owners have .22-caliber guns, which really surprises me, because I thought most European manufacturers, and especially El Gamo, produced mainly .177 airguns in the 1960s and ’70s, when this was new.

Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to locate a trigger shoe for the rifle. I probably got rid of one when I sold or traded a Webley Tempest years ago, though now I wish I still had it. If anyone sees an old Beeman trigger shoe for sale anywhere, please let me know, because this rifle really needs one.

The “test”
It really didn’t begin as a test of this rifle. Mac was helping me test some new models you’ll be reading about later this month and asked if he could shoot the 68 when he finished with them. The test range was 10 meters indoors, and he produced a nice 5-shot group that can almost be covered by a dime in the center of the bullseye. It was so enticing that I decided to have a turn — which of course means a contest. Mac is a better rifle shot than I am, and we both know it. So when my 5-shot group came up noticeably smaller than his, he thought we should never speak of it again. And, Mac, after today…I probably won’t! I’ll add here that the next day he beat me by one point in a silhouette match at a friend’s place. That sounds close until you learn that my rifle was scoped and he was using peep sights!

Mac put 5 Hobbys into this 0.576-inch group at 10 meters.

I put 5 Hobbys into this 0.381-inch group at the same 10 meters. Yes, I know it looks like only three pellets hit. Mac already pointed that out.

But I digress. The fact is that we were shooting the 68 with the classic RWS Hobby pellet, and I have no idea how accurate the rifle really is. I just know that it shoots Hobbys well.

25 yards
Well, Mac finally had to return home, leaving me with the 68 and much more to “test.” Much, much more, I hope!

Yesterday, I shot the rifle at 25 yards indoors and, once again, with Hobby pellets. Yes, I shot off a rest and used the artillery hold; but with this model, it’s a little more difficult to let the rifle float in your hands. The trigger has a stiff 8-lb. release, and the pistol grip forces the shooter to grip hard to squeeze that hard trigger blade. Other than that, the artillery hold was the usual one, but I mention the difference so you’ll know what went on.

The first shot went high and well-centered with the bull, so I settled in and fired 9 more just like it. The resulting group isn’t a thing of beauty, but it is what it is.

Ten Hobbys made this 1.617-inch group at 25 yards.

But wait!
Last week I “discovered” that seating pellets with the new Air Venturi PellSet seemed to improve the accuracy of the Air Venturi Bronco I was testing. I took a lot of heat for mentioning that, because the test did not have the controls you usually see in this blog, but what the heck! I have a tough old hide, so go ahead and flog me!

I thought, why not try the PellSet with the 68 and really get the crowd in an uproar? I listened to several of you who advised me to start by seating the pellets as shallow as possible, so I adjusted the PellSet to do just that. Then, I shot a second 10-shot group at 25 yards and, lo and behold, it was smaller. I’ll probably never hear the end of this!

Ten Hobbys just barely seated into the breech made this 1.436-inch group at 25 yards. Eight of those shots made the much smaller 0.665-inch group!

Now, to me, it looks like the intentionally seated pellets really do want to group better in this particular rifle. But what do I know? This was not a real test of seating pellets because there weren’t enough groups fired, plus there’s a lot more I want to test than just the single depth.

In fact, this wasn’t much of an accuracy test for the 68. Think of it as more of a “getting to know the rifle” session, because I plan to mount a scope and return with a genuine accuracy test in the next report.

But it sure was nice just to play with this little rifle once more! As a matter of fact, I think I’m going to find reasons to do more of this.

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