Posts Tagged ‘breakbarrels’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the start of accuracy testing for the Octane combo air rifle, and I’m going to make some changes. For starters, I’m going to give you the summary now. The Octane is a smooth-shooting, accurate air rifle. It’s everything the manufacturer wants it to be, and a couple of things they probably didn’t think about, on top of that. The rest of this report will justify and explain my summary.
Another thing, the Octane is different from any gas spring I’ve ever tested. Gas springs always fire fast, as in instantaneously. When the sear releases, the shot is over, and you usually know it from the sharp crack of sound and the painful slap to your cheek. The Octane fires slowly in comparison. There’s a lot of forward recoil and almost no vibration, and the discharge is very quiet, as I noted in part 2. I attribute this behavior to the Reaxis gas-spring design that’s reversed from the norm, and to the SilencAir silencer on the muzzle. Both apparently work as advertised.
I decided to just shoot 5 shots per pellet today, and to shoot the rifle with open sights at 10 meters. I wanted to get a good sense of how accurate it is before putting the walls of my house at risk. And what I discovered was that this rifle is fun to shoot! I normally don’t have much fun shooting a 20 foot-pound spring rifle, but the Octane is so civilized that it gave me a lot of confidence. By the time I’d fired the first 2 shots at the target, putting them into the same hole, by the way, I knew this day was going to be fun.
I held the rifle with an artillery hold, but the thumbhole stock makes you grip the gun harder than you normally might. So, I would have to call it a modified artillery hold. But the rifle cooperated, and there was noting to worry about. The muzzle heaviness holds the front sight steady on target once you’re dialed in.
The sights are fiberoptic, which destroy all attempts at precision, but by lighting the target brightly and sitting in a darker room to shoot, I could defeat the fiberoptic tubes and get a very sharp sight picture. When they don’t glow, the Octane’s sights offer a nearly ideal sight picture, and that was what made me decide to not mount the scope, yet. I wanted to have the fun of shooting with open sights since the rifle was cooperating.
The trigger is still quite heavy and very creepy, so I envy those who own their rifles and can modify them. If I could drop the release weight to under 4 lbs. and if there was a way to eliminate all the second-stage creep, this trigger would help accuracy greatly.
The first target was shot with 5 Beeman Kodiak pellets. This was when I first noticed how slow the Octane’s gas piston is. It feels like an airgun equivalent of a 45-70 single-shot. You feel the recoil and the rifle bounces around, but you know the pellet got out of the muzzle before all that started and that accuracy wasn’t affected in the slightest.
As I said, the first 2 pellets cut the same hole, though each made a distinctive mark. Then I stopped watching through the spotting scope and just shot the next 3 pellets. In the end, the group is larger than I would have liked for 10 meters, at 0.581 inches, but this is with open sights. Still, it is just 5 shots instead of 10.
Next, I tried the RWS Hobby pellet. It felt good while loading because it fit the breech tight but not overly so. And, though the point of impact shifted up a bit, the Hobby was quite accurate — putting 5 pellets into 0.368 inches! I thought that was remarkable. I couldn’t wait to test some more pellets!
Next, I tried the RWS Superdome. Here’s where you’re going to see something significant. RWS makes both Hobbys and Superdomes in Germany, and presumably they use the same lead alloy for both. And domed pellets are generally regarded to be the most accurate. Yet look at how the Superdomes did! They grouped horizontally, to exactly 1 inch, while the Hobbys stayed together.
You might try to blame me for getting tired at this point in the test, but there’s group coming that will show that I was still shooting my best. That’s one benefit of these 5 shot groups. They don’t tire me as quickly.
Now, for those of you who think I might have slipped up on the last group, I shot 5 Predator Polymag pellets next. They’re a recognized premium pellet, just like the Superdomes, and I’ve shown some great groups using them in recent tests. But not this time. Instead of the group stringing sideways, the Predator group were stringing vertically. Five went into 0.982 inches, so we won’t be seeing them in any future tests of the Octane.
If you have now decided that I’ve gotten tired and ho-hum, what’s so special about the Octane if this is the best that it can do — hold on! I saved the best for last. Actually, the Octane saved the best for last because the next group is the last one I shot on this day.
The 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet is sometimes the best pellet you can use in an airgun. And it is in the Octane test! Five Premiers went into a group measuring 0.245 inches between centers. It looks like only 3 pellets have passed through, but I did shoot all 5. This is very clearly and hands-down the most accurate pellet I tested in the Octane.
I already gave you the summary in the beginning of this report. Now you see the substantiation of what was said.
Several readers reported higher velocities than I got in the last test, and I was asked to change the breech seal. Well, I might do that, but frankly the rifle is shooting so nice right now that I don’t feel any urgency.
The Octane is unlike any gas-spring breakbarrel rifle I’ve ever tested. I wish the trigger was better, but it’s hard to argue with the accuracy or with the rifle’s firing behavior.
I will skip testing the rifle at 10 meters with the scope that comes in the package and go straight to 25 yards next time.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
The last report on this BSA Super Meteor was on October 15. That’s how long it’s been since we saw this gun in print. But in the background, I’ve been doing lots of things that I’ll share with you today.
The last time we looked at this rifle, I was taking it apart and getting a lesson on how it was built and what was wrong with it. To summarize for you, this BSA Meteor is made from folded metal, in the same way Daisy BB guns are made. And the piston head was attached to the piston by means of an E-type circlip that was incapable of standing up to the stress. I can tell that by the damage that was done when that clip let go — but more because the Brits have invented a much better solution for fixing this gun today, when it does break down — and all of them are going to break!
I sent my order to T.R. Robb in the UK for a replacement piston head, o-rings and spacers. The problem is that when I sent in that order I didn’t pay attention to the fact that the same order button also got a piston head for a BSA Scorpion pistol, which is larger than the Meteor head. Well, guess which one Mr. Lysdexic ordered?
That’s right, I ordered the Scorpion piston head. And a couple days later, when I realized what I’d done and contacted T.R. Robb, they had already shipped the order. But to their credit, they sent a second piston head — this one was for a Scorpion, too. That’s right! They sent me 2 Scorpion piston heads and no Meteor head! But I’ll give them credit for trying to help me, for being very generous and refusing my offer to pay for the second head, and for being very prompt in shipping both heads. I had them in less than 10 days.
So, blog reader David Enoch — I now have a spare BSA Scorpion piston head that I believe you said you needed. The price will be right, too. You’ll pay what I paid, which was nothing.
Lots to see here. The replacement piston head is the shiny one on the left, the darker original is on the right. Obviously, the replacement part is larger and has to be cut down to fit. The blue spacer and 2 o-rings are just some of the soft parts that came in the kit. There were a total of 4 o-rings of different sizes and 2 more spacers of varying thicknesses. They allow you to set the power of your airgun, and they also allow for differences in the tolerances of different guns.
When I saw how large the piston head was, I knew it wouldn’t fit. I asked my friend Otho to cut it down for me on his lathe. He also had to cut the o-ring channel deeper at the same time.
Silly me — I thought that would solve everything. So, Otho took the head and had it back to me in a week. Then, I assembled it to the end of the piston and tried to insert the piston back into the spring tube. But it wouldn’t fit! I’d taken it out several weeks earlier, and now it wouldn’t fit back inside! It was like that pair of blue jeans that used to fit, before they suddenly and quite mysteriously shrank. I hate it when that happens — especially to jeans I’ve worn for years!
I took a more critical look at both the spring tube and the piston. Glory be — they’re both made of folded metal like a Red Ryder! Except that Red Ryder spring tubes are generally round, while both of these pieces had variable shapes, with a tendency toward the oval.
The tail end of the piston. Here you clearly see that it’s folded metal, tack-welded at each end.
At least that’s the theory! Here you see the weld at the piston head end has broken. Wonder why the piston is no longer round?
And, on the other side of the piston, opposite the broken weld, the solid metal has also cracked! Here you can see the nut that now holds the piston head to the piston body. It’s not about to break off like the circlip did!
Looking at just the condition of the piston gives you an idea of the shape this rifle is in. I don’t think the design of the rifle caused all this damage. I think people continued to try to cock and fire it after the piston head separated from the piston, and they hammered it into the mess you see here.
I examined the interior of the spring tube very critically at this point and found a lot of metal galling (shiny areas that indicate the scraping of metal against metal without lubrication). There was also a fair bit of surface rust. I also found that some of the folded metal edges of the spring tube that hold the trigger parts were bent into the interior of the spring tube and were blocking the passage of the piston. I fixed those with a Dremel tool, but the inside of the tube was too deep to reach.
I showed the spring tube and piston to Otho, who agreed with me as to the extent of the damage. He felt he might be able to clean out the tube with a tool that holds strips of abrasive paper and is spun in an electric drill. I don’t own that tool, so I was only too happy to let him have a go at it. He also said he could tack-weld and refinish the piston where it was separating.
So, Otho came to the rescue once more. And he was true to his word, because a week later I got back the tube and piston, ready for assembly. But that wasn’t the end of the rifle’s problems!
Otho welded the broken piston and dressed it round again.
Otho also welded the back side of the piston where it was cracked.
Loose barrel pivot
I had discovered that the barrel wobbled from side to side when I first got the rifle. And a little research online told me this is a common problem with Meteors from the 1970s. Apparently, when the forearm stock screws are tightened, the shape of the stock allows them to pull apart the action forks that hold the barrel breech. It’s a design flaw of the rifle, and the solution is to not over-tighten those screws. But how to fix it — since the barrel pivot is a pin, rather than a bolt? Well, this is something I know how to do.
I chucked the forks in the padded jaws of my bench vice and closed the jaws on the forks. When there was some inward tension on them, I hit the outside vice jaw with a 2-lb. ball-peen hammer, which sent a shock wave into the metal of the action forks and realigned their crystalline structure. Or at least that looks cool when I write it. I haven’t got a clue what really happens! All I know for sure is that when you do this, the metal takes a set in the new position, and now the action forks are about 5 thousandths of an inch smaller then the breechblock of the barrel that has to fit between them.
Finally, all the faults had been corrected, as far as I knew. The piston now slides into the spring tube with only a little friction, not unlike a Weihrauch piston in a Weihrauch gun. It was time to assemble the rifle!
Otho and I both think whoever designed this Super Meteor Mark IV was a genius at eliminating cost and making one thing do many jobs. The way this air rifle is designed should be a study in an engineering course, but the students would first have to know how others had done the same things with other spring-piston powerplants. At every turn, you can see the embodiment of the Spartan design.
And the parts that need to be hard are hard! I mean glass-hard! There’s no wear on any of the trigger parts, or on the piston, where it’s held by the sear. The boys at BSA knew what they were doing.
Since there had been so much metal galling in the spring tube, I first lubricated it with Moly Paste before any parts went back in. The molybdenum disulphide particles will bond with the metal surfaces and will not wash out over time. I applied this paste (which is a thick grease) with a swab made from a long thin dowel rod covered with a paper towel on one end.
This simple swab can be used to clean the inside of spring tubes/compression chambers, as well as to lubricate them.
After the inside of the spring/compression tube was lubricated, I also lubricated the outside of the piston head and piston tail with the same moly paste. I’d like to say a word about the piston head now. The kit of parts I was sent had 3 spacers of differing thicknesses. Any of them will work, but each gives you a piston head of a different length when it ‘s fastened to the piston body.
The way the Meteor is designed, adjusting the length of the piston head controls the power of the rifle. A shorter piston head will give a longer piston stroke and therefore greater power. I don’t want power. I want a smooth rifle that’s easy to cock and is also easy to shoot. So I went with a thicker spacer on the head.
Now, I lubricated both the piston head and the tail with moly. The center of the piston body can be left dry because it’s narrower than the ends and will never touch the inside of the spring tube.
The piston head is lubed with moly paste. No precision is required for this application because this stuff spreads as the gun is cocked and fired. The other end of the piston got the same treatment before it was slid back into the spring tube.
Once the piston was in the tube, I coated the mainspring with Beeman Spring Gel and slid it into place inside the piston. Don’t look for that product anywhere — it’s obsolete. It was a viscous silicone (Beeman only says it’s a synthetic in their catalog; but given where it’s going, I’m pretty sure it’s silicone) grease that dampened vibration without slowing the gun much, if any. So, pretty much any viscous silicone with the consistency of toothpaste should suffice. Or, you could do it the old-school way and just use a lithium-based grease.
The powerplant went together the same way it came apart; but the barrel, which was the next item, was harder to install because the action forks were now smaller, thanks to my repair. Nevertheless, the barrel did go into the action forks of the spring tube (I “buttoned” it in using the baseblock to spread the forks slightly), with the cocking link locked inside the piston and lots of moly grease on all metal surfaces that touch.
When it came time to close the barrel, I got a small surprise. It seems the spring-loaded chisel detent (the chisel-looking thingie that holds the barrel shut when the gun fires) was sticking out so far that the barrel wouldn’t close! Examination revealed that the detent is held in the baseblock by the pivot pin that passes through. How in the heck was I going to do that?
Well, if you think like a redneck cheapskate, which I am trained to do, you insert the pivot pin partway, lever the chisel detent back as far as it will go and then tap the pivot pin home. I could have closed my eyes for this maneuver, it went so smoothly. Obviously, I’d discovered something that the original 28-year-old BSA assembler, Trevor, could do 175 times in an 8-hour shift back in 1978.
From there, the only big task was to get the mainspring back inside the spring tube all the way. It only stuck out the end of the tube less than an inch, but it also had to go another full inch into the tube, where it would be held by a crosspin that’s profiled on one side to capture the base of the spring guide. It’s easier to just show you.
This is the side of the assembly pin that fits inside the base of the mainspring guide and holds it inside the rifle.
This 58-cent tool was made from a 4-inch plastic sprinkler pipe in about 20 minutes. With the action in the mainspring compressor, it pushes the washer at the base of the mainspring, while allowing the crosspin to be inserted through its slot. It isn’t beautiful, but it worked both times I used it and looks like it will hold up for dozens more jobs like this.
And the pin is back in place. The contours on the other side of the pin have meshed with the base of the spring guide.
I showed you these parts and the trigger parts in the earlier reports, namely in Parts 2 and 3. So I’m covering ground that I’ve already explained. When I took the rifle apart back in October, I didn’t have to use a mainspring compressor; but to get the mainspring back in place and insert the crosspin, I did. And it was easy.
And the remainder of the airgun went together exactly as it should. I have a theory. Whenever something goes together easily, it means I’ve left out something. I’m in my wetsuit but have forgotten to put on my briefs! I remember learning how to disassemble and assemble the M1 Garand rifle. I thought I could never learn, but a few weeks later I was stripping it like a pro. That’s the way BSA spring rifles are, I guess. You’d like them to come apart in 30 seconds without hand tools, but they don’t. However, once you’ve been down the path a few times, I’m sure the job seems simple.
This is the part I dreaded. Sure the parts were back together, but who was to say they were where they should be? Only cocking and firing the gun would tell me that. So I did. And it did! Hurrah!
The only task left to do is to clean the barrel. I had close to 2 months to do that while it was off the rifle; but to tell the truth, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to get the gun back to functioning again. No sense doing a great job on a barrel I’ll never use. But now the gun is working, so the next report can be about the velocity.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader /Dave. It’s his first report of a beautiful Walther LG55 he recently acquired.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, /Dave.
This Walther LG55 is another used gun that I bought from a reputable seller on the Yellow Classifieds. B.B. asked me to share my impressions with you after I received it. For a lot of people here, this well be a repeat of how to evaluate a used gun. Most people here know, or at least have an idea, of what appeals to them before buying a used gun. Some don’t like to risk money on a used gun, which I completely understand, having been burned once or twice. For those of you that do take risks, here ya go!
This curly walnut stock caught my eye right away!
After my new gun arrives, I generally give it a once-over, looking for any obvious faults and to find out if I need to do any serious work on it. I was happy to get this rifle after delays by the shipping company. The wait, which is normally pretty hard, was extended by more than another week while the shipper decided where it was really supposed to go. When it finally arrived, I was like a kid at Christmas trying to figure out the fastest way to get my new of gun out of the box and out of the paper, tape and bubble wrap that were quite generously used.
After freeing up the rifle and then unwrapping the rear target site, which had been removed and wrapped separately to prevent damage, I quickly mounted the site and brought it into the bright kitchen light to show off my treasured wood to my wife. She said that it looks alive, like a fish swimming! A great improvement over, “I’m not interested in that stuff”! So, I took off down the stairs with a big grin on my face to my little 9.5-yard range to try it out.
The curl goes all the way through the stock.
Giving the gun a quick once-over to make sure all was in place and not loose, I broke it open and cocked it. Man — this thing is easy to cock! A six-year-old could shoot it if he could hold it up. My old bathroom scale says it takes 18 lbs. to cock, and it weighs about 8 lbs. Even at 8 lbs., it should be an all-day shooter for me!
I took a couple of shots at about 5 feet and then 15 feet to see if it would stay on the paper and to check function. “Check function”… uh-huh! That’s the adult way of saying, “I really can’t wait long enough to go over this thing in detail. I gotta shoot it NOW!” Yes, just under the surface, I’m still just a 10-year-old boy!
What you don’t see in the pictures is that the stock is scratched up. The barrel and compression tube are about a quarter to a third speckled with surface rust that’s not pitted. It’s more like the bluing wear from many hands, rather than neglect. Even with these faults, I’m inclined to just treat the whole gun with oil but not refinish it. Most of the scratches in the stock would vanish with a light sanding, but there are a few that would alter the stock’s original lines if removed. Since I’m not really a big fan of wood filler and refinishing over scratches doesn’t look right, I’ll leave it alone. I kind of like this gun the way it looks, anyway. It speaks of a long life of use and enjoyment that would be lost if I dolled it up too much.
One of the worst dents on the bottom edge of the stock. Some of the wood fibers are cut, so I don’t think this will steam out cleanly without leaving a hash mark. There are a couple more on the forearm that are as deep.
First results from my Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital chronograph with RWS Hobby pellets weighing 7.0 grains was around 412 f.p.s. Not that encouraging, considering a quick online search finds that LG55 rifles should shoot around 550-575 f.p.s. at sea level. I’m shooting at just over a mile high in elevation, so I don’t expect to ever make that 575 f.p.s. mark, but somewhere around 525 f.p.s. would leave me tickled pink! But, the rifle is shooting very consistent within a few f.p.s. around 412, so I added a few drops of heavy silicone dashpot oil to the chamber and let it sit a few minutes.
I checked the breach seal while adding the oil, and it looks like it’s in good shape, smooth and standing just a little above the surrounding metal. Tissue paper laid over the breach while firing confirms a good seal. If the tissue doesn’t move, there isn’t enough air leaking through to matter. No oil spray on the tissue is another good indication the breech is tight.
The oil in the chamber brought the velocity up to around 468 +/- 2 f.p.s. right away with no excessive smoke due to the low power of this target gun. That number goes up more after the gun has set for awhile, then drops back off while shooting. That’s still encouraging. Along with the smooth, un-twangy solid thwack when the rifle fires and no grinding with a positive click of the sear falling into place when it’s cocked, that tells me the gun probably just needs a new piston seal. The piston seal on this gun is synthetic, so the oil is just a temporary fix/diagnostic tool. It will need to be replaced to regain its velocity potential.
The difference on the target between 500 f.p.s. of the LG55 and 750 f.p.s. from an HW57. A faster pellet cuts cleaner and is much easier to score or measure when your target isn’t exactly square to the shooting lane. A slower pellet has more tear-out.
While shooting through the chronograph, I noticed that I’d run out of adjustment on the sight and my groups were still hitting an inch high and to the left. Oh no! Shipping damage? Bent sight? Major tweaking might be needed! Ok, calm down and take a good look at things. First, I sight along the compression tube and barrel under a light to see if it’s out of line. Looks pretty straight there. Check the sights. Tight and straight. Front sight is straight and the target insert is correctly seated in its notch, so on to the rear. The click adjustments run full travel on the rear peep sight, and it doesn’t appear to be bent. The sight base seems to be clamping the dovetails correctly. Hmmmm. Ok, loosen the knurled knob and take off the sight to examine it closely. All appears good, so I centered the adjustments, and the peep is right in the middle. No problem here. More thinking….
I decided to remount the rear site and noticed that there are markings and grooves on top of the rail. I lined up the front of the sight with one of those marks. Ah-ha! The knurled nut now travels much closer to the base when I tighten it. The nut has a collar that extends into one of those grooves, locking the sight in place! After tightening it up, I decided to take a shot at a new target. Nine ring! Another shot. Another nine, breaking the ten ring! Great, that was the problem!
In my over-anxiousness to shoot, I’d missed seeing the grooves while mounting the sight and it wasn’t seated properly on the rail. This is what threw off my point of impact. No barrel tweaking or major work other than a seal replacement is required! I’ve found a source for the seal and some other parts for this old gun at JG Airguns. I may make a seal mod with some Teflon round stock and a quad-seal o-ring (like I did with my TF99) if I can’t get this one soon enough.
Notice the horizontal lines on top of the compression tube, in between the dovetails. The front of the sight must be aligned with one of these in order for the locking collar (beneath the knurled nut) to slide in and out and secure the sight from sliding.
The trigger has a really long first stage, and there’s even a little slop in the trigger blade before it starts. I need to do some more research online for adjustment procedures to see if that can be reduced. If not, I’ll leave it as is and just get used to it because it has a light first stage (almost a take-up) followed by a nice, clean, very light and predictable break. It makes the Rekord trigger on my HW57 feel heavy. Definitely not a modern lawyer/liability trigger here!
LG55 trigger adjustment screws.
Walther has diagrams of the LG51′s trigger on their website, but I don’t think it’s the same as the LG55′s trigger. The LG55 trigger is shaped different and has more adjustment screws. I’ll need to fiddle around with them to see which one does what, unless someone can point me to the info I need. However, an online search has brought me these drawings that give me a better idea of what’s what.
I’m pretty sure I can figure out which screw does what. The only thing that confuses me here is the far left collar (number 50 in the picture on the right), which has click stops when you adjust it…much like a scope turret. Thanks to the kind souls who posted these pictures on the Yellow Forum a while back!
I was curious about when this rifle was made but couldn’t find any definitive information from Walther online. From what I could find in the forums from others who’ve paid Walther for their serial number lookups (and doing a little SWAG), S/N 086xxx tells me this rifle is 50+ years old. So, it was built back in the days when people took a little more time and pride in their work. A time before time studies and efficiency experts set unrealistic bars for production people to meet. But, I digress. I just like old guns!
I would normally run an accuracy test at this point, but I really need to first fix the compression seal to get the velocity back and stabilized. The accuracy and velocity test will be in Part 2. So far, even though I need to do a little work on it, I’m completely happy with this purchase.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Not as pretty as I would like. This Diana 23 has led a hard life. I’ll refinish it.
Today, we’ll return to an oldie we haven’t looked at in close to 2 months — the Diana 23. You may remember this is a rifle I bought for very little from an online auction — and when it arrived, I found it was better than expected. The finish is gone, but I plan to refinish it. And Larry Hannusch generously donated a brand-new old-stock Diana 23 barrel for the project, so I’m farther along than might be expected.
Last time, we tested the rifle at 10 meters and found that it showed decent accuracy for such a low-powered air rifle. Today, I’m pushing that out to 25 yards with 2 of the best pellets from the last test, plus a new one I’ve thrown into the mix. The goal is to see if this little vintage springer is accurate enough for general plinking duty out to 75 feet.
Days like this are always relaxing for 2 reasons. The first is that I’m testing something that’s no longer available, so there are no company reputations on the line. I enjoy testing airguns, but it’s disturbing to read all the sniping negative comments we receive when things don’t go exactly perfect. It makes me feel like I have failed the gun somehow, and that’s nerve-wracking.
The second reason a day like today is a pleasure is that the gun, itself, is such a little sweetie. The Diana 23 is lightweight and easy to cock. The trigger is certainly not world-class, but it releases with a reasonable pull; and, if the gun is also accurate with open sights, all the better.
I find when I shoot light low-powered airguns like the 23, the artillery hold isn’t so important. I grasp the rifle tighter than a real artillery hold, though not as tight as I would hold a recoling centerfire. Maybe something more like a rimfire hold. The rifle seems to respond okay to this treatment.
JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. They did well in the 10-meter test that I read before starting this one. I noted that deep-seated pellets did best in that test, so all pellets in this test were seated with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. The RS pellets fit the bore very well and were not tight going into the breech as they were seated. They hit the target high and just a little to the right when I held the tip of the front sight on the 6 o’clock spot of the black bull. I used the standard 10-meter pistol target because it appears large enough for open sights all the way out to 50 yards.
The group I got measures 1.16 inches between the 2 furthest centers. I’m quite satisfied with that group, except for the centering. The way the 23′s sights are made, I’ll have to drift either the front or rear sight in their dovetails to correct where the pellets land; and since I’m going to change the barrel, I decided to wait and see where the new one shoots.
Air Arms Falcon
The second pellet I tried was the Air Arms Falcon that blog reader Kevin Lentz likes so much. They’re made by JSB and weigh the same as the RS pellets, so the temptation is to think they’re RS pellets under a different name. But I don’t think that’s the case. The late Bill Saunders of Air Arms told me that Air Arms owns the dies for all their pellets; and even though JSB makes them, they’re not simply rebranded pellets. If anything, Falcons fit the bore a little looser than RS pellets.
At any rate, Falcons didn’t do as well as RS pellets in the Diana 23. Ten of them made a group that measures 1.568 inches between centers. This group appears not to have 10 shots in it, but several pellets must have gone through the same hole at the top of the group because I counted each shot carefully.
The final pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby wadcutter. They fit the bore very snug and popped in when seated. Though they were at the outside limit of distance for accuracy (wadcutters start to spread apart after 25 yards), they performed very well — delivering the smallest group of this test. Ten pellets went into 1.014 inches at 25 yards. With that kind of accuracy, I would stick with the Hobbys that are less expensive than the other premium pellets anyway. Sure, the accuracy falls off as the distance increases, but how much farther do I expect to shoot this rifle? Not much!
That’s all I’m going to test for now. Next comes the refinish and then whatever I do as I put the rifle back together. It’s a fun little gun. I wish there were more like it!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Just a word
Befoere I get started with today’s report, I want to say something about what happened this weekend. Friday’s airsoft report got a lot of comments. Among them are several questions about the technology of the guns. And some admissions that people didn’t think much of airsoft before they tried it, then they found their opinions changed drastically. That also happened to me, so I can relate to it.
But all you who don’t care for the subject don’t need to worry. This isn’t going to become an airsoft blog. I will continue to report on it at a low level, but I know this is an airgun blog, and that’s not going to change. I want to assure the readers for whom the subject of airsoft is not welcome that we are still going to talk about pellet guns and BBs guns for the most part. I will write a few reports on airsoft now and then, and I trust they won’t upset you too much.
Okay, that’s done. On to the topic of the day!
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex, and it’s velocity day. Before I get to that, there are a couple adjustments I wanted to make to the rifle. Let’s look at those now.
The first adjustment is the trigger. In the first report, I said the trigger is crisp but heavy. The adjustment screw adjusts only the length of the first-stage pull; so I adjusted it to be longer, and stage 2 decreased. Don’t go too far or the rifle will not cock at all because this adjustment does affect the area of sear contact.
I did go too far and had to call Umarex USA, where I learned that the Octane is supposed to come with a warning tag telling you not to turn in the adjustment screw more than one full turn. I went way past that, so all I had to do was turn the screw back out until the head stood even with the trigger blade — and the trigger was back to working again. For even greater contact, turn the screw so it stands proud of the trigger blade.
The second thing I wanted to adjust is the tension on the action forks because the barrel pivot was too loose. To do that, I normally take the barreled action out of the stock. But with this rifle, you need to be aware that the pins in the trigger are not held in and will fall out of the trigger if the action is tipped sideways. I didn’t know this, of course; and when the first pin fell out, it set me up for 45 minutes of work to get the trigger back together again. It seems that the trigger pins are held in place by the stock. Other airguns I’ve worked on have the same arrangement, and one solution is to put tape on one side of the trigger to hold the pins in place…and keep the trigger oriented straight up and down.
Each of the 6 free (not held by circlips or springs) trigger pins seen here is very loose in its hole and will fall out of the trigger if the gun is jostled or tipped to the side. They’re held in place by the stock. What appears to be a pin at the far right is actually a rivet.
Better still — what you can do (VERY CAREFULLY!) is remove both forearm screws and just LOOSEN the rear screw behind the triggerguard. Then the front of the action can be tipped up clear of the stock far enough to tighten the barrel pivot bolt and nut. I would advise against taking the action completely out of the stock. If you do, know how loose the trigger pins are and treat the rifle accordingly. When the pins fall out, the internal trigger parts start moving around. They’re fairly easy to align with their pin holes, except for the safety that takes a little fiddling since it’s a 2-piece assembly with an internal pivot. My advice is to leave the gun in the stock.
One final tip. When you tighten the stock screws, don’t tighten the rear stock screw (the one behind the triggerguard) too much or the trigger won’t function. It was not tight when I first took the action out of the stock; and I found that if I tightened it too much, the trigger would not work. Umarex told me the screw shouldn’t affect the trigger at all, but I’m just reporting on the behavior of my test rifle.
Now, let’s look at the velocity of the Octane. I’ve selected 3 popular lead pellets and one lead-free pellet.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The first pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. This is a popular and very accurate pellet in many airguns, and I think it may be accurate in the Octane. This pellet averaged 762 f.p.s. in the Octane. The low was 748 f.p.s., and the high was 787 f.p.s.; so the spread was 39 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 20.51 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
This pellet loaded easily, perhaps too easily. I think it might be a little undersized for the Octane’s breech. That could affect the accuracy. We’ll see.
The RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and is very tight in the Octane’s breech. It averaged 889 f.p.s. in the rifle with a low of 867 and a high of 902 f.p.s. So the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 20.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I don’t know how Hobbys will do in the Octane, but I suspect they’ll do well because of the tight fit in the bore. Of course, the Hobby is a wadcutter, so accuracy will fall off after about 25 yards.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak dome weighs 21.14 grains, which makes it a very heavy pellet. In the Octane, Kodiaks averaged 682 f.p.s. with a range from 665 to 691 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 26 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity, the Kodiak produces 21.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
My guess is that the Kodiak pellet might also be a good one for the Octane. If so, that’s great because it also produces the most energy of all the lead pellets tested.
Okay, the name of the game with pellet rifles these days is speed, and the RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellet at 9.9 grains is the way to get it. In the Octane, they averaged 1029 f.p.s. with a spread from 1022 to 1075 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 53 f.p.s., so the rifle is probably still burning a lot of fuel. At the average velocity, the HyperMAX pellet produced 23.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The HyperMAX pellet fit the breech very loosely. That’s probably where the extra velocity spread came from, as more dieseling was generated by less pellet resistance. I doubt this pellet will do very well in the Octane because of the loose fit.
The rifle recoils noticeably in both directions, but there’s no vibration, whatsoever. Nearly all rifles with gas springs have a sharp buzz that hits you in the cheek, but the Octane doesn’t. In fact, aside from the recoil, it’s a very smooth-shooting spring rifle.
Remember that I had to adjust the trigger for a very definite stage-2 let-off. That affected the trigger-pull a lot. I was able to adjust it back to a release of 7 lbs., 14 oz. with very little creep. It’s heavy, as I noted before, but I think it’s crisp enough to do good work. We shall soon see!
The Octane IS NOT LOUD!
When I first tested the rifle it was very loud. And the sound persisted for longer than I felt the dieseling of a new airgun would last. But during this test the rifle suddenly became MUCH quieter. Obviously, it had been dieseling and I didn’t know it.
I originally told Edith it was a 3.7 on the sound scale when I tested it, and she adjusted the loudness level on Pyramyd Air’s product page to 4. But now she can hear that the Octane is clearly a 3. I apologize to everyone who was mislead by my earlier report. The Octane is a normal-sounding breakbarrel air rifle.
Observations thus far.
I said in Part 1 that the Octane holds very well in the hands. The weight is biased forward toward the muzzle, and the stock is slender when the off hand rests. Add the smooth shooting to this, and I think the Octane might surprise us in the accuracy test.
I plan on shooting the rifle at 10 meters with its open sights first. That should give us an idea of which pellets it likes. Then, I’ll mount the scope and shoot those best pellets at 10 meters, again. That does 2 things. First, it confirms the pellets are as good as we think; and second, it allows me time to adjust the scope for the second accuracy test at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Here’s another new air rifle from Umarex USA. The Octane combo is a breakbarrel air rifle powered by a gas spring. Umarex calls their gas spring the Reaxis gas piston. That title Reaxis signifies that the gas spring unit is mouned in reverse of what’s normal. Instead of the heavier piston going forward with each shot…what would be the tail end of most gas springs…is where the piston seal is mounted. That lowers the reaction mass, which lowers the recoil felt by the shooter. Whether or not it works as advertised is something I’ll test and report.
I’m testing a .22-caliber rifle, at my request. I dislike wasting the energy of a super magnum gas spring on a .177-caliber gun that can’t develop the full power potential, so this is a chance to test this gun the way I would order it. The manufacturer claims a velocity of 1,250 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets and 1,050 f.p.s. with lead. Of course, you know I’m going to test that, as well.
The rifle I’m testing is serial number 00371165. It’s clearly marked Made in China, but don’t ask me what the base gun is. I find that these rifles change their personality a lot when manufacturers have them built to their specifcations, and tracking down the lineage often becomes misleading.
The Octane is a huge air rifle — 48.5 inches overall with a 14.5-inch pull. And it weighs 8.5 lbs. and 9.5 lbs. with scope and mounts. So, it’s longer than an M1 Garand and nearly as heavy. But that weight is biased toward the muzzle, so the rifle holds very steady — a huge point in its favor. And the black synthetic stock has a forearm with a thin cross-section that makes the rifle sink deep into your hand and hold much easier. Laying your off hand under the forearm just forward of the triggerguard provides a stable resting point.
The stock is designed as a permanent thumbhole with a well-shaped pistol grip. The synthetic material is rough to the touch and is checkered on two small panels on either side of the forearm at the place you want to hold it. The buttpad is a very soft and grippy black rubber pad. It’s fitted perfectly and holds on the shoulder without movement. I normally don’t like thumbhole stocks, but this one saves weight, pushes the weight forward toward the muzzle and seems to compliment the rifle very well.
The open sights are fully adjustable, but they have fiberoptic tubes both front and rear. Aiming is, therefore, not going to be precise unless you light the target to keep the fiberoptics from appearing. I’ll initially shoot the rifle with the open sights at 10 meters to see if this is possible.
But this is a combo that comes with a 3-9X40 scope and mounts. The scope has adjustable parallax down to 10 meters, so it’s ideal for airgun use. I’ll report on it as the test progresses.
There’s one additional point to make about the scope. The rifle comes with a Picatinny scope base attached to 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube. So the shooter has the choice of using either Weaver rings that will fit Picatinny grooves, or removing the base from the gun and using the 11mm dovetails directly. Either way, though, there’s no provision for a positive scope stop, which is risky on a rifle that recoils heavily. I’ll be watching for any movement of the scope mounts and bases during the test.
Here you see the Picatinny base that’s attached to the integral dovetails. Either can be used to mount a scope, but neither has a positive scope stop because the base is just clamped to the dovetails.
The metal on the barreled action is finished to a satin sheen. It’s shinier than a matte finish, but not as shiny as most European air rifle finishes.
Like all gas springs, there’s a loud crack when the rifle discharges. The Octane has a silencer muzzlebrake they call the SilencAIR. It has internal chambers that might attenuate the discharge sound somewhat. But it’s still a loud airgun — make no mistake! Pyramyd Air rated it as a 3 on the sound scale. I thought it was closer to 3.7, so Edith changed the loudness rating to 4 since Pyramyd Air’s scale has no fractions. It’s louder than most breakbarrel magnums that have coiled steel mainsprings.
You know I have tried the rifle a few times already — just to see how it feels. I found the 2-stage trigger a bit heavy but very crisp. It’s adjustable, so I’ll see what I can do to it in Part 2. I do like the fact that the trigger blade feels fairly straight up and down because that gives me the feeling of control I want.
I read the reviews of the rifle, and they rate it very high. Accuracy is mentioned by several reviewers. I can’t wait to see this for myself, as I’ve not had good luck with the accuracy of magnum rifles with gas springs. I would love to find one that was accurate.
One thing that might work in the Octane’s favor is that the barrel pivots are screws rather than pins. That means they can be tightened. The ones on the test rifle need to be tightened before testing, as the barrel will not stay in position. The owner’s manual also says to clean the barrel before shooting. I will do both things, and report back to you on how it works.
If there’s a category of airguns that I’m dubious about, it’s the magnum springer — especially the one with a gas spring. I’ve seldom seen them shoot accurately. But I’m more than willing to believe they can be good. And if any of them has a chance, this appears to be the one. Given its power and low price, if the Octane is also accurate I’ll sing its praises to the skies!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
My rifle is actually a BSA Super Meteor.
Today I’ll tell you the rest of the story. And, what a story it is! I had no plans for this part of the BSA Meteor report to go as long as it did. Circumstances just led me to this point. All I did was faithfully chronicle what happened.
When we left the Meteor yesterday, I’d removed the piston body, but the piston head was still stuck inside the spring tube in the forward part we call the compression chamber. The best access is through the air transfer port — a hole 0.125 inches in diameter. I had a pin punch that fit the hole, and I hoped it would need only a couple taps to come loose, but it was far tighter than I’d thought. The pin punch went in as far as it would go (about 1.5 inches), and the head was still out of reach from the other end. I needed a longer punch.
The air transfer port provided the best way to get to the stuck piston head. With the barrel removed, it was easy to insert a pin punch through the hole and tap the piston head out of the compression chamber.
I flipped the spring tube straight up, with the transfer port on the lower end, and poured Kroil (penetrating oil) on it to loosen the head. This is similar to freeing a stuck piston in an old tractor, except that this is smaller and a lot easier to work on. I left the Kroil in the spring tube overnight; and by the next morning, none had passed the piston head. The piston was stuck tight!
My shooting partner, Otho, made me a 12-inch pin punch from music wire that was exactly 0.125 inches in diameter. I met him out at the rifle range, where he gave me the new punch. All it took was a couple taps with a ball peen hammer and the head came right out. The Kroil on the walls of the spring tube made removal that much easier once the head got to the place where the oil covered the walls.
What came out of the gun was surprising, as it didn’t look like a Meteor piston head was supposed to look. But it did appear to be factory-made. Experience has taught me to, “Make haste slowly,” as Benjamin Franklin once said, so I studied the piston head and thought about the project for a day.
Looking on the internet, I found one other person who had the same problem — the head separating from the piston. And his gun was filthy dirty inside, just like this one. When he described his piston head, it turned out to be exactly like the one in my gun and also is not a head that’s normally seen in a Meteor. Then a happy thing happened.
New blog reader Dag Evert told me my rifle looks like a blend of different Marks to him. He sees some Mark IV and some Mark V characteristics in my gun, and he told me that he has seen 3 different piston heads in these rifles. For some reason, the guy on the internet thought someone had substituted a BSA Scorpion piston head in his rifle.
The piston head of a normal Mark IV Meteor has a large o-ring near the front of the head that is backed by a buffer washer. The head is either keyed to a slot in the end of the piston or there’s the newer (cheaper) kind of piston head that’s held on the piston by an E-type circlip. That kind can separate from the piston just like mine did.
My piston head appeared to have leather around the sides. I had to destroy the leather material to find out if I’m right about the composition, but I also don’t care for the weak way this head attaches to the piston. According to what I’ve read, it’s actually very weak! I would like to replace it with a new piston that uses a more conventional head that won’t separate from the piston while inside the gun.
This is what the Meteor piston head looked like when it came from the rifle. This is an enlarged and enhanced photo, so you can see the separation of the o-ring and buffer washer; but when looked at in normal light at normal size, this head looked like the sides were all leather. The shallow groove in the end of the head is for the E-type circlip that holds it fast to the piston.
This is an E-type circlip that’s used to hold the piston head to the Meteor piston.
John Knibbs in the UK has an entire rebuilt piston with a new head that’s ready to go, but the price is 45 British pounds, which is about $72.00. Add shipping to that, and it comes out to around $80 — which is more than the rifle cost. Of course, I have to either fix the rifle or sell it for parts, and I do want to fix it. So, I’m going to have to spend some money. I don’t want to make parts for this gun if I can get around it…because most of our readers can’t make parts, either.
I kept searching for something that was less expensive. I had a perfectly good piston, so all I needed was a new piston head. Instead of being attached with a circlip, as mine is, I wanted one that had a more positive attachment so it wouldn’t separate again.
At this point, I wasn’t entirely sure that the head in my gun was the same as what was being offered on the internet. It was time to take my piston head apart, and that probably meant destroying the soft parts. But since this head wasn’t going back in the rifle again, I saw it as no loss.
The first step was to remove the rear washer behind the buffer material. It should have been free to come off, and it was.
Whatever material the buffer washer was made of, it was completely gone by this time. The simple act of pulling off the metal washer behind it caused the washer to begin to disintegrate. It wasn’t the leather I thought it was.
The o-ring was so flattened by years of compression inside the chamber that it looked like something else. I cut it off to show that it is really a conventional o-ring.
With the o-ring cut off, you can see that this piston head is the usual one found on a Meteor. But the method of attachment to the piston by a single circlip is far too weak for reliable operation.
What I needed was a piston head with all the parts that attached to the piston with something more positive than just a circlip. And with more searching on the internet I found what I needed. On T.R. Robb’s website, I found an adjustable piston head for BSA Meteors that comes with the buffer washer, 2 o-rings and a nut to fasten the head to the piston.
Best of all, the cost for this piston head shipped to the U.S. is just 17.25 British pounds, which is only $27.51. That’s affordable in my book. I ordered one, and hopefully it’s on it’s way.
The fact that such a piston head exists tells me that others have had this same problem. That, by itself, is reassuring to know.
Before I end today’s report I want to draw your attention to the old piston head once more. Notice that the top of the head is bare metal. That’s the part that rests against the end of the compression chamber. But it doesn’t slam against it — or at least it’s not supposed to. If it did, it would hammer the gun apart in a relatively short time.
No, the compressed air in front of the piston head cushions the head from striking the top of the compression chamber when the gun is working right. Hopefully, all that’s needed to get this rifle working right again is a new piston head with fresh seals and some cleaning and lubrication of the gun’s other parts.