Posts Tagged ‘Chinese airguns’
by B.B. Pelletier
Our favorite guest blogger, Vince, is at it again. Today, he shares his experience of testing a Chinese airgun.
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Now, take it away, Vince!
Ahhh… the way we were! The way some of us were, anyway. By “us,” I’m referring to those of us who first got into airguns (or came back to airguns) after being seduced by those irrascible Chinese. I’m going back about, oh, 10 years or so ago, when, waltzing through the internet, we would find all sorts of places selling “The Chinese Can Opener” or the “High-Power Military Training Air Rifle.” What a deal they were — my goodness, why on earth would ANYONE spend $100 or more on one of those high-falutin’ overpriced airguns when these $25 Chinese models were obviously just as good? And we knew they were just as good because that number said so!
You know, that number. The velocity number. Because that was the only thing that mattered! That one number told us the whole story!
Sooner or later, we discovered the inevitable — although for some (like, uh, me), it was certainly later than sooner. Eventually, the B3, B4-2 and Fast Deer airguns went by the wayside to be replaced by Gamos, RWSs, Cometas, Noricas, and then Spanish and German Beemans. Around this time, the Chinese started cranking up the quality, though, so their better products didn’t entirely leave our field of view. But the old carved-out-of-a-2×4-and-lubed-with-pig-fat models — along with all their broken seals, mainsprings and promises — were pretty much forgotten.
But man is a funny animal, and a collector (even a half-baked collector) often sees value in diversity as well as quality. And just as a man who collects Mustangs sort of really needs a 1974 Mustang II 4 cylinder automatic (as horrid a car as it was) in his collection, I began pining for some of those old, crude guns just because they were there.
So it was that I found myself fishing around for some of those old bottom-feeders…those poorly made, all wood-steel-and-leather guns that smelled like bacon grease when fired. Those guns that, frankly, I had virtually no interest in shooting, except to appreciate the better guns that came later. The subject of this report, the Industry Brand QB-51, is one of those fossils I dug up.
Industry Brand B-7 spring-piston rifle.
This .177-caliber breakbarrel air rifle was also called the Industry Brand B-7 and shouldn’t be confused with the BAM B-7. That gun was the old sporter-style sidelever that actually had a reputation for being sort of decent. No, the Industry Brand B-7 was one of those smoke-and-soot, machined with a dull file and worn-out drill bits and carved-with-a-hatchet examples of communism at its most typical. If you were lucky, it worked out of the box. If not, well, it simply didn’t. But luck shines upon me, and this one actually did.
The QB-51 was one of those novelty guns they used to put together by combining a low-buck action with some possibly less-than-useless useless bells and whistles. This one was apparently playing paratrooper with a folding wire stock, a total weight of under 6 lbs. and an overall length of only 35 inches. But it’s not a kid’s gun by any stretch — the pull length of 14 inches and a 28-lb. cocking force certainly attest to that.
Since the folding stock is obviously the most interesting aspect of this gun, let’s take a look at that first. It actually has two interesting features, the less obvious being an adjustable buttpad.
Buttpad is centered.
Buttpad adjusted down.
Is an adjustable buttpad on this cheap gun completely pointless? Actually it isn’t. It can be used to dial up a more comfortable shooting position. The gun does look awkward as all get out if the pad is moved too far off the normal position; but let’s face it, this pup isn’t winning any beauty contests if the judges are permitted to keep their eyes open.
The folding stock is perhaps less useful.
Folding stock extended.
The stock is folded flat against the side of the gun.
This is what it looks like from the side.
Some rifles with a folding stock can be handled as a pistol (sort of); that’s not really going to happen with this gun. All it does is make the rifle a bit shorter and easier to pack up for transport — if you could think of any reason you’d want to. But at least the rough cast folding/locking mechanism is stout enough.
The hinge is stout and tight!
Moving past that, we come to the pistol grip — and another gadget! The grip is hollow and has a sliding door at the bottom.
The grip has a secret compartment!
Presumably, you can put pellets in there. It would hold several hundred, even if getting them out one at a time might be a bit tricky. Again, we have an oddball feature that still isn’t quite useless.
On top of the gun, we can see the simple rear sight. If you were into mid-grade airguns 10-15 years ago, you might recognize it. This is pretty much a knock-off of the old Gamo sight that used to come on a variety of their breakbarrels. Frankly, they did well to copy it. It’s simple, largely devoid of free-play and pretty darned rugged.
The rear sight was kind of nice!
Finding it on this rifle was a pleasant surprise, and I was hoping to find a similar surprise as I moved rearward toward the trigger. I already knew that Industry Brand used a knock-off of the Gamo trigger in their QB-57, QB-88 and QB-25 models. When I saw that telltale safety tang in the triggerguard area, I got my hopes up. It says something about bottom-feeder Industry Brand triggers when you’re seriously looking forward to a Gamo trigger. But even those modest hopes were quickly dashed. This gun has a simple direct-sear and a crude sliding safety, both of which makes a 2004 Gamo Shadow feel like a Swiss watch.
As I move around the gun, it’s becoming obvious that this thing is based on the old Industry Brand 61 and 62 model actions, later known as the B-1 and B-2, respectively. I’ve had those. My B-1 had a horribly inaccurate barrel and probably a 12-lb. trigger. One B-2 had a soft trigger that quickly wore and went into the auto-fire mode, and the other B-2 bent its rear retaining pin because it couldn’t handle the spring pressure. As one might guess, I don’t get all excited by B-1/B-2 variants.
One giveaway is the breech pivot bolt.
The pivot bolt has only four places for the locking screw to engage. That often makes it difficult to adjust properly, for many times you want to stop somewhere in-between.
And the other is the smashed-leather breech seal.
The leather breech seal is as flat as a pancake.
Both are hallmarks of Industry Brand inferiority, and that breech bolt (with its four positive locking stops) frequently makes it impossible to properly tighten up the sideplay without making custom washers to go under the bolt head.
Oh well…let’s keep going. The front sight is basic enough.
Front sight is what you would expect.
Although I won’t be using it. I’ve learned from recent testing that I just can’t be consistent with open sights anymore — so I pretty much have to go to a scope. The problem is that the grooves milled into the receiver are ridiculously short. In trying to mount a scope, look at what I had to resort to.
The Daisy variable scope was cheap enough and worked well. Notice how close the rings have to be to fit the short dovetails!
The skinny scope mounts I used — moved as close together as possible — barely fit. The scope, by the way, is a cheap Daisy Powerline 3-9×32 (no AO), in which I had fudged the objective lens to eliminate parallax at 10 yards. Set up this way, the $35 scope works like a champ — and seems way too good for a rifle like this.
I do have some concerns about running a scope on this gun, however — Diana’s aren’t the only breakbarrels to have droop, and this one seemed to have joined that party. But there’s only one way to find out, so I’m off to test it. And, yes, this time I checked the stock screws first.
I’m shooting the gun with the same series of pellets I used last time — although, frankly, putting Crosman Premiers through this rifle seems rather silly.
I tried all these pellets in this gun.
No matter, same drill — 5 shots to get the barrel used to a pellet, then 5 on each through two separate bulls.
Much to my surprise, dialing in the Daisy scope wasn’t such a big deal, and soon I was landing pellets close enough for government work. Though the Daisy scope worked well enough, the Daisy Precision Max wadcutter pellets didn’t.
These groups came in at 0.66 inches and 0.82 inches; but come to think of it, maybe I’m being too hard on these pellets. Maybe this really is the best this gun can do!
Crosman Competition wadcutters do nothing to dispel that notion. At 0.78 inches and 1.40 inches, they’re making the Daisys look good.
At 1.28 inches and 1.52 inches, Crosman Hunting pellets (pointed) do even worse.
Even my cherished Crosman Premier hollowpoints are sucking canal water at 1.12 inches and 0.9 inches.
Of all the Crosman pellets, only the Premier Lites seems to consistently do under an inch — although 0.82 inches and 0.9 inches is nothing to squawk about.
Oddly enough, those new Gamo Match pellets I don’t like so much just about equalled the Crosman Premier Lites in this gun.
But at 0.95 inches and 0.88 inches, they still couldn’t match the Daisys. I had high hopes for the RWS Diabolo Basic pellets that seem to shoot so well in many low-power guns. I finally started to see some improvement.
At 0.57 inches for both groups, they were quite consistent; and now we’re starting to get into the range of acceptable performance for a cheap rifle.
But then we have the Beemans. Not the German Beemans from H&N. I’m referring to those imposter, Chinese-made Beeman wadcutter coated pellets. My very first group with them was typical for this rifle.
As you can see, the second group was a shocker. We went from 0.78 inches to 0.37 inches in one set. Something’s up. Let’s try this one more time.
My goodness! Stick a feather on my rump and call me a turkey — but this Chinese junk just put 5 pellets into virtually a 1/4-inch group.
Now, before anyone starts complaining — “That’s not fair! No other pellet got a third chance!” — let me explain something. The Beemans were absolutely the first pellets I shot, and during that time I was trying to come to grips with that yucky trigger. That’s why I think the first group was poor. Since the second group did so well, I shot the third group last after I had completed all other testing. So I think this third test was fair and that it really means something.
[Editor's note. This happens sometimes, and it's a reminder of the hold sensitivity issue and why things have to be done just right to see good results. I've seen what Vince is talking about. With some experience under your belt, you'll know when something deserves a second chance like this.]
But before we get too excited, let’s do a velocity check. Since the Chinese Beeman pellets were far and away the best, those were the only ones I tested. 10 shots came out like so: 396, 397, 388, 390, 380, 381, 381, 379, 381, 377.
We immediately notice three things: (1) The velocity stinks, especially for a gun with an almost 30-lb. cocking force. (2) The velocity seems to be on a downward trend. (3) The spread of 19 f.p.s. is significant, considering the fact that this thing is outgunned by a P17 pistol.
Where does that leave us?
Well, to begin with, this gun obviously has a decent barrel. Not sure how that happened, but happen it did. And if the barrel is good, the gun is good, right? Couple that with the fact that, against all odds, this example also seems to have a consistent lockup — and we seem to have a perfect diamond in the rough.
Yes – very rough. I could probably go through this gun and get the velocity up to 500-600 f.p.s. range, and some trigger smoothing and lubing would probably help as well. Even at that — will I ever want to shoot this thing just for fun? Really?
If I’m honest — not really. In fact, I have absolutely no reason IN THE WORLD to go through the trouble of tearing this thing apart and making it right.
Nope. No reason at all.
I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.
[Editor's note. Maybe I should have made this a Part 1. We'll see what Vince does. I don't want him to feel pressured.]
by B.B. Pelletier
Unlike most of us, Vince gets to look under the hood of a lot of strange airguns. Today, we’ll get a peek at two that are related but separated by years.
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Yup. BB was right. Pointy is a TS45. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Let me back up a bit. Some time ago I blogged a older no-name sidelever Chinese airgun I bought in a bunch with some bottom-feeder Industry Brand stuff. Normally, I wouldn’t have given any of those pea-shooters a second thought, but this particular rifle demonstrated one unexpected quality that really caught my attention: It shot GOOD!
Not talking about velocity, mind you. It’s amazing how being relegated to basement shooting will make you less concerned about that. This little gun, with less-than-precise open sights, was routinely shooting 10-meter groups of less than 3/8 inches. That’s not bad, especially for a rifle that, shall we say, doesn’t exactly represent the cutting edge of air rifle design. But, whatever shortcuts were taken in building this gun, the barrel sure wasn’t one of them.
The gist of that blog was (1) What the heck is it? and (2) What does its family tree look like? The second question was answered pretty easily. The gun shared many details with the old BAM/Xisico XS-B3 and XS-B7 rifles that were still available until at least a couple of years ago. But what was it?
One reader identified the logo for me. The gun (whatever it was) was made “EMEI,” a Chinese factory that is apparently a notch above the Shanghai factory that makes Industry Brand stuff. Based on B.B.’s description of a TS45 he bought many years ago, I dismissed that because the trigger is different. But B.B. had another TS45, an even earlier one, and THAT’S the gun that B.B. thought was the same as mine. When he tested it, he sure didn’t get the same sort of results I was getting.
B.B. sent me his TS45, I plunked them down side-by-side and started comparing the two. Pointy is on the bottom:
The lengths of the barrels and actions, the cocking lever, and the location and size of the loading port seem to match. The front sights are of the same type (AK47-style, adjustable with a special tool) but different in detail:
Again, Pointy is on the bottom, and its sight appears to be made a little better.
The wood finish on my gun is also a bit better overall, as is evident at the front of the stock (my gun is on top):
Moving back on the rifle, we come to the rear of the actions, Tom’s gun (bottom one in the first picture, top one in the next one) is again finished a little more sloppily. Behind that the stock is also thinner and shaped differently:
The rear sight details are similar, but not identical:
The biggest differences are in the painted numbers and in the little push-button that unlocks the slider on my gun. That button is a nice feature, as it makes it harder to accidentally move the elevation adjuster. Oh, and one other thing. They don’t use the same font for the numbers! That’s an important detail, you know.
I’m gonna make a bit of a leap here and try swapping stocks. This will tell me with fair certainty if the chassis of the guns are the same. I popped my action into Tom’s stock:
It’s a perfect fit, and the gun operates just fine.
So, now I’m 99% certain that these guns are more or less the same, but I’m going to tear down Tom’s gun and compare the parts, just to make sure.
When I pulled out the actions, I can see that they’re virtually identical, differentiated only by sloppier machining on Tom’s gun. Note in particular the uneven edge circled in the second picture:
A note about the safety mechanism that both guns use.That ratchet is NOT really an anti-beartrap. All it does is prevent the lever from slamming closed if you let it go while cocking it. You’re not likely to have your fingers in the loading port at that time. As soon as you finish the cocking stroke, the ratchet toggles and disengages so you can close the lever.
However, there IS a proper beartrap that prevents the piston from releasing. It works directly on the trigger and blocks it from moving. This first picture shows the beartrap disengaged, as when the lever is in the firing position:
This is what happens when the lever starts coming back. The tang pointed out in the previous picture moves rearward and blocks the trigger, preventing it from moving.
On a lot of guns, this sort of anti-beartrap is iffy at best. Some of the more sophisticated trigger mechanisms can still theoretically fire in case of mechanical failure even if the trigger is blocked. I actually had that happen to me with a Daisy Powerline 1000.
But, that’s far less likely on this gun. The direct-sear trigger has a lot of drawbacks, but its simplicity translates into a very predictable mechanism. If the trigger can’t move, the gun isn’t going to fire without a massive and very unlikely structural failure, such as the piston rod breaking or the pivot pin shearing. Even if it wears to the point where there’s no positive engagement angle between the mating faces, the worst it will do is go off when the lever is closed. But, while that lever remains open, that trigger — and, thus, the sear — ain’t goin’ nowhere!
Back to comparing the guns. That cocking lever does look a little different, and I tried installing Tom’s cocking lever into Pointy:
It fits fine, even though they’re not identical. Oddly enough, the lever on Tom’s gun is milled from a solid piece of steel while mine is stamped (Tom’s on top):
And the guts? Top picture is Pointy’s innards, the bottom is Tom’s innards (I mean his gun’s innards):
As noted before, more views of the stock show that while Pointy’s woodwork would look out of place on a Gamo, it’s still better than Tom’s:
The fit of the action to the stock is also better on Pointy (on the right), but neither is anything to brag about:
Another picky detail (don’t worry, we’re almost done) — those sling swivels:
The one on the left is from Pointy; and while they’re physically interchangeable, the ones on Pointy are better made with a thicker, welded loop and a larger screw holding it in.
Finally, the last thing: company logos:
We’ve finally established with certainty that this gun is, indeed, a very close relative of Tom’s, and there’s little doubt that it is of the TS45 family. Different factories, certainly, and different factories might have almost inconsequential detail differences like those noted here, even when they build a gun to the same specification. But, maybe there are some consequential differences, as well.
Next step, of course, is shooting them. I’ll try them side-by-side using 6 different economy wadcutters. These are lower-powered guns, they’re cheap guns, so I’m using pellets that seem consistent with what would normally be fed to these rifles.
First, some impressions. In my opinion, Tom’s gun is actually nicer to shoot despite the shorter pull length. The firing cycle is smoother, and the slender stock seems nicer to hold. When I reassembled Tom’s rifle, I used a different lube on the inside — something a little thicker than I used on Pointy. Maybe that’s why the firing cycle is calmer. And, the milled, solid steel cocking lever on Tom’s gun…much nicer to hold and pull back. Pointy’s is sharp and still a bit uncomfortable after I covered it with a piece of heat-shrink tubing. But, Tom’s gun has a lever handle that’s rounded, smooth and not objectionable in the least.
Ultimately, we have to get back to where it counts: holes. Pointy’s targets are the top row on each paper. The first target shows the results with (left to right) Beeman Coated Wadcutters, Crosman Copperhead Wadcutters and Daisy Precision Max:
Pointy did fair with the Beemans and a little worse with the Daisys, while Tom’s gun didn’t do well with any of them.
Pointy, oh, Pointy — How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 into almost the same hole. You really were a lucky find! About two-tenths of an inch with the RWS pellets. But look at the third column for Tom’s gun. That ain’t bad, especially considering the oinker groups it tossed with everything else. Tom had also found that this gun performed fairly well with these pellets, while scattering others to the four winds.
Of course, the irony of these results isn’t lost on me. The only pellet that Tom’s gun seems to like is the one that’s been discontinued and is no longer available. Sheesh!
I suspect that Tom’s gun was really made for home market Chinese surplus of some sort, while Pointy was intended specifically for the export market. The English wording stamped into the tube and the fancier stock would seem to suggest that. As a side note, I’ve read a number of complimentary comments on the internet about the EMEI guns. If you happen to come across one, it might be worth a gander. You just might get lucky!
by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Vince has been very busy! Last week he gave us a 2-part guest blog, and this week he’s given us another blog. Like mysteries? Get out our magnifying glass and help Vince uncover the name of this air rifle.
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Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.
I know there’s something to be said for mystery, even when it’s balanced by intimate familiarity. Still, I REALLY want to know what to call you.
‘Twas a dark and stormy night — or not — when she came along in as innocuous a manner as possible. I had spotted a “dump sale” on one of the sites (don’t remember which), where a fellow was getting rid of four bottom-feeder Chinese guns. I believe he had a business, and these guns didn’t move — but I’m not positive about that. In any event, the airguns included a pair of Industry Brand B3 rifles (.177 and .22, a cult gun if there ever was one), an old half-eaten Industry B7/QB51 (folding-stock breakbarrel missing the stock) and this orphan. It’s a nondescript Chinese sidelever that I thought at first might be a KL-3B Fast Deer (another cult gun that was sort of a flash in the pan about 5 years ago). But no, there was no safety on the starboard side above the trigger. Then, I thought it might be an old TS-45, which I always wanted for no particular reason. But the stock shape didn’t seem quite right. No matter, I’ll find out when it gets here, right?
The package finally comes into my possession, and I start going through the box. The B3 rifles were what you’d expect — ugly. Turns out that the .177 version has about the same velocity as the .22, and the accuracy with either was rather tepid. The .177 was sold off for $15, and I kept the .22 just to have one.
But that sidelever….
Well, the price was cheap enough. Are those serial numbers? Who knows!
Even up close, I’m not sure what it is. There are some numbers stamped into the wood near the buttplate. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t a model number of any sort. I looked on the compression tube and found the obligatory Made In China (NO! REALLY?) stamped in the metal along with the just-as-obligatory Chinese characters. Above that is some sort of mountain range motif. Maybe Snow Peak? I don’t see any snow. Don’t see any scope dovetails, either.
The logo isn’t exactly on par with Diana throwing away her bow and picking up an air rifle.
So, I’m thinking, “I shall call you Pointy, and you shall be mine.” But that’s kind of a stupid name for a gun, so I’ll continue examining the rest of the rifle for clues.
I was always under the impression that Snow Peak was an early manifestation of Industry Brand, but the gun does NOT seem to have that special lack-of-attention-to-detail that distinguishes (extinguishes?) the early Industry guns. Even the stock — while the varnish on it is applied unevenly and is a bit orange-peeled — isn’t hosed down with that orangish-brown goo that Industry used in abundance.
Next, I looked at the sights — the AK47-style sights. The rear has a push-button slider with markings at each position for elevation, and no windage adjustment. While the front sight is adjustable for windage (with a punch or an AK47 sight tool) and elevation (again, with the AK47 tool):
Front sight is fully adjustable, rear sight is adjustable for elevation only.
For afficionados of cheap Chinese (guns, not food), this smacks of the old BAM B4-2 underlever that bore a passing resemblance to the inferior Industry B3. That makes me think about the BAM XS-B7 — the sporter version of BAM’s old XS-B3-1 AK47 lookalike sidelever:
The new gun sorta looks like this…in some ways…but not really. (Photo courtesy of the former Pellettrap website)
No, the stock shape is all wrong. The XS-B7 does NOT have the AK-style sights, but it does have a safety in the triggerguard. Pointy doesn’t have one at all. It makes do with an interlock that keeps the shooter from pulling the trigger when the arm is open, but that’s about it.
One last detail. My gun has a fairly substantial set of sling swivels mounted on its underside.
The gun comes with a full set of sling swivels. The rear screw on each swivel is actually one of the bolts that holds the action to the stock. I don’t thing they’re going anywhere. Despite the differences in stock shape, with these swivels I’m again leaning toward calling it a TS-45.
X-ray of the TS-45 trigger shows it’s the same as the B3.
(from Tuning a cheap Chinese airgun – Part 2)
The TS-45 has the same trigger as the B3, which has the trigger blade holding the sear in place until it’s pulled. Even without taking the gun apart, I can tell that Pointy has a simpler direct sear.
At this point, I’m flummoxed. So, I set the whole ID issue aside and just started shooting it.
The gun itself is very much full weight and size at 6 lbs., 14 oz., and 41 inches overall. As you’d expect from a sidelever, it balances well (since the cocking linkage is close to the shooter), and the pull length of 13.5 inches is well within the average range for adults. The sight is clear enough, with plenty of depth to the slot in the rear sight, although the notch is a bit too wide for the front post.
Side note: Why do some manufacturers get so danged stingy with the depth of the rear sight notch? Am I alone in finding that an open-leaf sight with a really shallow notch is a pain to use?
Anyway, holding and shouldering the gun doesn’t feel bad at all, the stock seems well proportioned. Meaty without being fat, it’s probably a good compromise for a variety of hand sizes. The not-so-smooth finish on the stock actually makes it easier to grip. Poor man’s checkering? Uh, yeah…that’s it.
Of course, old Chinese guns aren’t known for mechanical refinement. Pointy’s direct sear trigger (with a 6-lb. release), graunchy cocking cycle and dry, hollow-sounding firing cycle do nothing to dispel this reputation. And, I discovered something else the first time I cocked it — this gun is SHARP! Literally. They didn’t do much to bevel the edges at the end of the cocking lever. Ouch! Not rough or uneven, mind you, and not enough to cut skin, but darned uncomfortable. Glad it doesn’t take more than 20 lbs. to cock it.
I started punching paper at 10 meters so I can start adjusting the front sight windage. And, that’s when the rifle started doing things like this:
Just when you think you know how a gun’s gonna shoot…it does something like this.
Hmmm…. that’s about a .32″ group with Crosman Premier Hollowpoints. With open sights. Guys, laugh if you wanna, but this passes as a very good open-sight group for me at this range. It did the about the same thing with a group of 5 Gamo Match pellets and a little worse with RWS Super-H-Point and RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
So, whatever it is, whoever made it — they certainly paid attention to the barrel. What else did they pay attention to? Well, now I’ll get down and dirty to find out.
The action is dirt simple.
What am I seeing? The mechanism is certainly basic enough, with the direct sear trigger pivoting on the same pin that holds everything together. The stampings are straight, and the spot welds all seem to be spot-on.
Out come the main pin and parts.
Once apart, I found the expected leather seal, and the general mechanism is reminiscent of the horrid Industry B1 and B2 rifles I’ve worked on. But wait! Something’s different! That pin! That 5mm pin that holds everything together and holds the trigger!
The 5mm pin that held it all together.
Notice anything strange about the pin? It’s STRAIGHT! That’s strange, because every old Industry gun I’ve worked on with the same arrangement also had a bent pin (metal too soft). But not this one. What else did I notice? The sear mating surfaces weren’t significantly worn.
The sear mating surface wasn’t worn to a nub.
My experience indicates that would CERTAINLY be unusual on an Industry rifle. In fact, the sear faces on the old Industry B1/B2 guns can wear so much that they start shooting without you.
That rear guide seems to be machined out of a solid piece of steel, rather than fabricated from a sheet metal tube and a washer.
The rear guide isn’t the usual cheap manufacturing process I’m used to seeing.
The piston seems well made, and the piston rod is STRAIGHT and centered in the bore of the piston. All in all, I’m now certain that Industry didn’t make this gun.
Pointy was dry as a bone when I took it apart, so the gun goes back together with the typical moly goo I use. Since it’s a lower-powered gun, I didn’t bother with tar on the spring, but the leather seal did get roughed up and soaked in 30-weight oil. Cocking and shooting behavior is smoother, and the velocity seems to have stabilized in the mid-500s with Crosman 7.9-grain pellets.
But, I’m no closer to identifying the gun. So far, the sights and general build quality still make me think that it’s related to the old BAM XS-B3/B7 rifles, but now I’ve got pictures of the innards! So, I go perusing the internet til I find an exploded view of the XS-B3 variant so I can compare the general construction.
Exploded view of the XS-B3.
After noting some of the details — the rear guide and spring retainer, the trigger, the construction of the beartrap and of course those sights — I believe I now have part of the puzzle. Pointy is probably a product of the BAM factory before it was actually called BAM and provided the basic design for some of their subsequent rifles. I’m also guessing that this gun was produced at a less frenzied pace than their guns today, affording them a bit more time for QC.
So, I know where you’re from, and I know where you went, and I know you shoot well. But, I still don’t know your name. Who are you?
by B.B. Pelletier
This inexpensive Chinese underlever has been around in one form or another for many decades.
Today, I’ll finish the report on the B3-1 underlever rifle. I did this report for C-S, who now goes by the handle Milan, and for a couple other readers who said they wanted to know something about these older Chinese airguns. We ran Mac’s report of the Weihrauch HW97 underlever at the same time, so if you wanted to compare the two rifles it was possible. Actually, there wasn’t much to compare — just a lot to contrast, because these two air rifles couldn’t be farther apart.
I shot the rifle from a rest at 10 meters because I wasn’t confident that the rifle could perform at a longer distance. At least at 10 meters it would stay on the target paper. I used the artillery hold with the rifle rested on the backs of my fingers for maximum stability.
The firing behavior is quite harsh. Until I actually shot at targets and aimed the rifle, I didn’t notice how harsh it is, but today I can report that this rifle really hits you back when it fires. It doesn’t vibrate for a long time the way some spring guns do. Instead, it has a sudden, harsh jolt when the gun goes off. It’s not at all pleasant.
Also, I was bothered by the short pull of the stock. I had said in part 1 that it didn’t bother me that much; but when coupled with the sharp slap on firing, I find the stock too short for good work. I think this is more of a personal taste issue than an ergonomic observation, because the Air Venturi Bronco’s stock pull is even shorter, and I don’t mind it at all.
The RWS Hobby pellet was up first. They shot high and to the left at 10 meters. I could adjust the rear sight to the right, but it was already set as low as it will go, so this rifle is probably regulated for 20 yards or so. Nothing wrong with that, but you do need to know it.
Ten RWS Hobbys went into this mediocre group at 10 meters. It measures about 1.5 inches across.
The firing cycle was quick and harsh. I didn’t appreciate how harsh it was during velocity testing in Part 2, but with the rifle held against my shoulder, it really irritated me. And, the trigger-pull is far too heavy to do good work.
JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes
The next pellet up was the JSB Exact dome. These weigh 8.4 grains, and they seem to fit the breech of the rifle quite well. However, once again, the group was around 1.5 inches for 10 shots at 10 meters.
The group is centered in the bull better, but really no tighter than the Hobbys.
Crosman Premier lites
The last pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. Usually, it’s very accurate in most guns, but the B3-1 didn’t seem to want to shoot anything well. So, another 1.5-inch group of 10…more or less.
Another so-so group with the B3-1. At least the rifle is consistent.
As you know, I tested this rifle to satisfy the curiosity of several readers, but also to satisfy my own curiosity. For years, I’ve been reading that the Chinese airguns aren’t that bad. Well, if this one is any example, they still are!
I’ve also read many glowing reports on the internet about fantastic B3-1 rifles that deliver performance beyond that of the finest airguns Europe had to offer. Don’t you believe it. These rifles are at the extreme low end of performance and only by careful tuning can they be brought up to a level that is partially acceptable.
by B.B. Pelletier
The August podcast was posted on Sunday. Sorry it was late. I apologize for the weak sound of my voice. I actually feel stronger than my voice indicates. I expect things to return to normal some time in the near future. Now, on to today’s blog.
Today, I’ll check the velocity of my B3-1. I’ll also check a couple other things for you. Cocking effort first.
I mentioned in Part 1 that the cocking effort seems high for the power range of this gun. Well, it tested lower than I expected, so I’m just a weakling. To test the cocking effort of an underlever, you place a non-digital bathroom scale on a table and position the cocking lever near the middle of the footpad on the scale. When I did that, the rifle took 31 lbs. of force to cock. I would have sworn it was above 35, but the scale doesn’t lie. I do believe that if the internal parts were deburred and properly lubricated, the effort to cock would drop by a couple of pounds.
Trigger-pull and firing behavior
The B3-1 has a two-stage trigger of the simplest construction. The second stage is very distinct, but the letoff is mushy and unpredictable. My gun fires at about 6 lbs. of effort, and it feels like more. While the cocking cycle is noisy, the firing cycle is relatively quick and vibration-free. Now, let’s take a look at velocity.
JSB Exact 8.4 grains
The first pellet I tested was the JSB Exact dome that weighs 8.4 grains. They averaged 548 f.p.s. in this rifle, but only one was way off the pace, at 528 f.p.s. The remainder were between 547 and 556 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 5.6 foot-pounds.
The lightweight 7-grain RWS Hobby pellet averaged 636 f.p.s. The range was from 628 to 644. The average muzzle energy was 6.29 foot-pounds.
Crosman Premier lite
The final pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 579 f.p.s., with a spread from 571 to 590. The average muzzle energy was 5.88 foot-pounds.
I have to admit that I was surprised by the rifle’s performance. I expected less velocity and less consistency from such a crude design. Maybe those who sing the praises have something at that.
In the next report, I’ll test accuracy, and we’ll see just how accurate an inexpensive Chinese air rifle can be.
by B.B. Pelletier
I’m writing this report for C-S and for all the other readers who ask about the Chinese airguns. I go back to the 1980s with the B3 design, because I bought one of the first ones through an ad in American Rifleman in the mid-1980s.
That rifle was the epitome of crude! It had poorly finished, poorly fitted metal parts sitting in a pallet-wood stock finished with too much orange shellac. The front sight was rotated to one side, and the synthetic breech seal was cracked and flaking off. The metal parts looked as if they had been dragged behind a tractor a few days, then given a blue from the 14th use of the salts. The word I’m searching for is disgusting.
And it shot like it looked. It was very buzzy; and although I did not own a chronograph back then, I’m quite sure it wasn’t producing more than half its rated 800 f.p.s. velocity. I base that on my back-door-to-the-hickory-tree chronograph.
Want to know why I bought it? Curiosity, pure and simple. Here was a Chinese air rifle selling for $49 that claimed to be made of all wood and steel. I wanted to look at the thing. I wanted to experience it. So, I bought one.
Although I wasn’t yet heavy into airguns at the time, I had already owned an FWB 124 and a Diana model 27, so I knew something about what a quality airgun should look and feel like. However, I had also owned two Chinese Type 56 rifles from VietNam, so I was also prepared for the shoddy woodwork and general lack of care. However, the B3 air rifle took shoddy to a whole new level! All the plastic parts were cracked and split when my gun came out of the shipping container. A sort of reversal of the Beeman experience, if you will.
Don’t get caught!
And there was also the liability issue with the original B3. There was no anti-beartrap device on the first imports, so there were several digit amputation accidents before liability suits forced the Chinese to rethink their design. The B3-1 rifle that followed has an anti-beartrap device, though I advise never letting go of the cocking lever while the sliding compression chamber is pulled back.
I actually did a short review of the B3-1 back in January 2007, but that wasn’t a complete report. This one will be. I’m aware that there are newer versions of this design, but a B3-1 is what I happen to have, so that’s what I’m testing.
The B3-1 is an underlever spring-piston air rifle that uses a sliding compression chamber, much like the TX200 and the HW77. The metal parts are finished with black oxide, which is what most “bluing” is these days. Not much work was done to prep the parts before finishing, so the finish is satin with a lot of tool marks. The stock is an upgrade from pallet wood and is some kind of hardwood with an uneven sprayed-on plastic finish. There are several spots where wood filler was used, with no attempt to conceal them. And, at $29 retail, why should they?
The front sight is riveted to the barrel inside a housing that contains a globe over a tall post. The rear sight is adjustable in both directions and looks like it belongs on a much more expensive rifle.
The underlever doesn’t go all the way to the muzzle and is held to the underside of the barrel by a sheetmetal clamp. It has a knurled metal handle that was flawed plastic on the B3.
The wooden stock is finished brown rather than orange and is shaped a lot better than it was 30 years ago. I can see where a lot of effort has gone into making this air rifle more acceptable to a foreign market.
The rifle is 40.25 inches long with a 17.5-inch barrel. The pull measures 13.25 inches, which is a little short, but not as much as the SKS. In fact, I should say this now: the B3-1 reminds me of an SKS in profile. The weight is right at 7 lbs., but the weight of the wood will affect that some.
The trigger is non-adjustable, as you might expect. No one wants you messing with that part!
My rifle is bone-dry. When it’s cocked, it creaks like an old wooden ship full of empty glass bottles and at anchor in a storm. You can hear each coil of the mainspring as it slips into movement, and the cocking effort is definitely higher than the power would require. I’ll give you an exact number for that when I test velocity.
I’ve read reviews on this airgun from all over the internet, and they’re split into two opposing camps. One side hates the gun and has nothing good to say about it, while the other claims it will out-shoot all manner of world-class spring-air rifles. One fellow claims his will shoot groups the size of a penny at 50 yards.
I will pull no punches when I test it for accuracy. We’ll see what my rifle, at least, is capable of. And that brings me to my final comment for today. The barrels they put on these rifles can vary quite widely. They tend to run the rifling buttons too many times, and some guns will have tight bores while most are on the overbore side. If the button starts out a little large, it lasts longer…at least that seems to be the philosophy they follow.