Posts Tagged ‘CO2 guns’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I decided to write this for those readers who indicated they were interested in airsoft to some degree. I know this is an airgun blog, and that means pellet and BB guns — not airsoft, but there are some crossovers. For example, many airsoft companies are now entering the world of steel BB guns. I promise we’re not going to become half-and-half or even one-quarter airsoft; but since there are questions, I feel the need to address them.
History of airsoft
This will be short and sweet. Airsoft came about in the Orient in the 1970s, when the demand for realistic guns that were not firearms was first satisfied. The early designers made their guns shoot 6mm plastic balls that they have since come to call BBs.
The early guns were made to satisfy the needs of collectors to see, feel and even be able to disassemble the guns in which they were interested. So, the early thrust of airsoft guns was for collectors, only. However, the fact that the manufacturers made these guns fire their plastic BBs soon evolved into an entirely different interest. People began conducting wargames with the guns. Instead of paintball, which is very painful when the .68-caliber balls hit flesh, the 6mm plastic balls had almost no impact. Of course, the guns in those days were firing at very low velocities; because it was realism, rather than the gun’s ability to shoot, that attracted buyers.
Once the wargames began, airsoft split off into two directions. The collectors wanted highly realistic guns, and the wargamers wanted guns that were accurate at long distance and would hold up under simulated combat conditions. Some of the early collectible guns sold for thousands of dollars. Indeed, there are still a few of these collector guns being sold today. One example is a very real airsoft Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) that sells for well over $3000. But the collector market has been far surpassed by the wargamers, who now call themselves skirmishers. Airsoft guns for skirmishes are the biggest sellers in today’s market, which has grown to more than a billion dollars in sales annually.
The BB gun wars
I’ve written several articles about the BB gun wars that were conducted in the United States from the 1890s until the 1960s. The BB gun wars were literally backyard battles fought by teams of kids with BB guns. Every community had them, and each bunch of kids had their own rules. I’ve owned several BB guns with multiple dents in both the wood and metal from the impacts of BBs that are obviously survivors of the BB gun wars.
It’s my contention that the BB gun wars still rage today, but they’re now being fought with airsoft guns. Apparently, there’s a need for people to shoot at each other in mock combat, and airsoft guns seem to fill this need.
Because shooting at people is so emotionally-charged, IPSC shooting has recently become popular. IPSC stands for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. It’s the international extension of practical pistol shooting that began as law enforcement training in the U.S. in the 1960s. IPSC competitors shoot from 30,000 to over 100,000 rounds each year in training and competition, so the game is not for poor people.
Airsoft guns are a wonderful way to get into this competition without spending the kind of money that it costs to shoot firearms. For one-hundredth the cost of firearms, shooters can have the same fun under safer conditions with 6mm airsoft guns.
Airsoft history is rapidly evolving. In just 40 years, it’s gone from pure collecting to wargames and now to practical pistol shooting. Who knows what’ll happen in the next 10 years? What’s obvious, however, is that the technology of the airsoft guns is evolving as fast as the interest is. This is a burgeoning area that’s spending a lot of money to satisfy multiple needs.
Let’s examine the airsoft powerplants so we can see what exists and what’s possible. The first powerplant we’ll look at is the spring-piston.
The spring-piston airsoft powerplant is no different than a spring-piston found in any other type of airgun. A piston is powered by a coiled steel spring and moves forward rapidly to compress a column of air that then drives the airsoft BB. Most airsoft spring-piston guns are repeaters, but they must be cocked for every shot. You sometimes see these repeaters called single-shots because the people writing about them don’t understand the difference between a true single-shot that only holds one round and a repeater that holds many round but must be cocked separately to fire each one.
Spring piston guns are among the least expensive, and yet they can also be very powerful and accurate. Sniper guns are powered by spring pistons for the most part. The lowest-powered spring-piston guns cost very little and are not built to last a long time. They have a lot of plastic parts that eventually do wear out. But if you don’t abuse them, most will give you many thousands of shots that will be surprisingly accurate.
Gas airsoft guns are very similar to gas airguns, except they do employ a wider range of gasses. Besides CO2, which they’ve begun to use in the last 15 years, airsoft guns also use other industrial gasses that go by colorful trade names. Green gas and red gas are 2 of these; and green gas is, by far, the most popular. Green gas is nothing more than propane, though some suppliers do infuse some oil into the gas to help lubricate the airsoft mechanisms.
Green gas runs at a nominal pressure of 115 psi. It’s supplied in dispensing cans that have nipples that couple with the inlet valves of the guns they serve.
Someone asked me if green gas was as powerful as CO2, which is pressurized to 850 psi and higher. Well, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean very much, however, because CO2 has to be stepped way down to safely operate an airsoft gun. The same gun can use both green gas and CO2, it just needs two different magazines — each with its own valve to handle the correct gas.
Generally speaking, gas guns tend to be faster than spring-piston guns, but that isn’t always the case. There are bolt-action spring-piston sniper guns that are very powerful. It’s impossible to make a blanket generalization.
Automatic-electric guns (AEGs)
AEGs are spring-piston guns that are powered by small high-torque electric motors. The motor cocks the piston and trips the sear. The gun usually has a selector switch that allows full-auto (the motor repeatedly cocking and releasing the piston as long as the trigger is held down) and semiauto (firing one time per trigger pull). Besides the spring-piston side of this powerplant, there’s the electric side that deals with batteries, motors and gears.
AEGs are popular because they can shoot full-auto, which gamers and collectors both enjoy. They also are among the fastest-shooting airsoft guns, although bolt-action sniper guns can be modified to be very fast, as well. AEGs allow people to experience things that most people cannot experience with firearms; and, of course, they do it at a fraction of the cost. Even law enforcement agencies are using AEGs as training simulators because they’re much safer than firearms that shoot training ammunition called Simunitions. You can make a mistake with a firearm and kill someone — it happens all the time. But you can’t possibly load a firearm cartridge into an airsoft gun, no matter how realistic it may seem.
The technology is changing rapidly. Today, there are even a few hybrid AEGs that can be used with or without electrical power. Obviously, these will appeal to people who never want to be caught without a functional gun.
What comes next?
Next time, I’ll talk about modifying airsoft guns. Not all guns can be modified, but a surprising number can be; and the manufactures do supply the parts to make the modifications.
I’ll also talk about power, which is fast becoming an important topic. As the guns become more powerful, the “soft” in airsoft is being tested to the limits.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol.
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Crosman 116 .22-caliber bulk-fill CO2 pistol. A couple things will complicate this test. First is the fact that the pistol has adjustable power. I’ll account for that with several power adjustments, but that isn’t all that’s going on.
The bulk-fill process is itself somewhat complex; because if the bulk tank doesn’t have enough liquid CO2 in it, or if the tank and the gun are both warm, the fill will be less dense and will therefore produce fewer total shots. Let’s look at the fill process before we examine the gun.
The bulk-fill process
Filling an airgun from a bulk tank requires that the filling tank has sufficient liquid CO2 inside to transfer the maximum amount possible to the gun. When I say the maximum amount possible, I mean what’s maximum under safe operating conditions. It’s possible to overfill a CO2 tank or gun and create a dangerous condition.
CO2 pressure is controlled by the ambient temperature rather than by compression. If you make the CO2 storage vessel volume smaller somehow, you don’t compress the gas inside. Instead what happens is more of the gas condenses into liquid. It will continue to do so right up to the point that there’s 100 percent liquid inside the tank.
While that sounds good, it isn’t; because when the liquid inside the tank heats up, it tries to expand into gas again. As long as there’s space inside the tank for the liquid to evaporate into gas, you’re safe; but when the safety volume is filled, all the liquid CO2 can do is increase in pressure. It does so at an astounding rate, quickly developing over 10,000 pounds per square inch at temperatures that are still well within human tolerance. That’s why tanks rated for CO2 storage contain safety burst disks to prevent the tank from becoming a dangerous bomb. It’s also why several airgunners have been startled when their tanks’ burst disks actually burst while stored in their cars on hot days. Once the burst disk ruptures, all gas is lost and the burst disk must be replaced before the tank can be used again.
These days, most airgunners get their bulk tanks filled at paintball stores; but in my day, they filled them at home. There were even larger bulk tanks of CO2, holding 20 pounds of liquid. They came from the food and beverage industry, or they were large fire extinguishers. I own 2 of these 20-lb. CO2 tanks that I use to fill my bulk CO2 tanks for guns.
The 12-oz. paintball tank is coupled to the 20-lb. CO2 tank for filling. This big tank has a siphon tube, so only liquid escapes the valve when it’s in the upright position. Couplings are custom made for this.
Once the smaller bulk tank has been filled, it’s time to fill the gun. Remember, the object is to transfer as much liquid CO2 as possible for a dense fill. That doesn’t give more power — it gives more shots. The CO2 controls the pressure, depending on the ambient temperature.
The 12-oz. paintball tank is then coupled to the CO2 gun like this. With the CO2 tank hanging down, the liquid in the tank is just behind the valve, where it will flow readily from the tank into the gun. This paintball tank has a special adapter with a wheel to control the opening of the valve.
Filling the gun takes just a few seconds. It actually makes a sound, and you can tell when it’s full because the noise of the transfer stops abruptly. The outside of the gun may become cold and wet with condensation when the new CO2 inside evaporates to gas. As long as you do this transfer at room temperature, everything will be safe, for the liquid CO2 will evaporate and stop the fill before the gun accepts too much liquid. The gun is now full and ready to test.
Because the pistol has adjustable power, I tested it on high power first. I found that there were 21 good powerful shots with the gun set on the highest power. Then, I adjusted it to medium power and finally to the lowest power. Medium power was very close to high power in all respects, but on the lowest power the total number of shots per fill increased to 32.
This is a Crosman gun, so Crosman Premier pellets sounded like the best place to begin. On high power, they averaged 390 f.p.s. The range went from a low of 384 to a high of 409 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 4.83 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
On medium power, they weren’t much slower — averaging 386 f.p.s. But on low power, they averaged 331 f.p.s. for an average 3.48 foot-pounds of energy.
Next, I tried RWS Hobby pellets. In .22 caliber, these weigh 11.9 grains and average 423 f.p.s. in the test pistol. That’s a muzzle energy of 4.73 foot-pounds. The low was 413 f.p.s., and the high was 435 f.p.s. On medium power, Hobbys went an average 402 f.p.s.; and on the lowest power, they averaged 369 f.p.s. That’s good for a muzzle energy of 3.60 foot-pounds. On low power, the low velocity was 355; and the high was 383 f.p.s.
The last pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This pellet weighs 14.5-grains in .22 caliber and is a favorite among many airgunners for all 3 powerplants. On high power, Superdomes averaged 376 f.p.s. The low was 362, and the high was 391 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Superdomes generated 4.55 foot-pounds. On medium power, they averaged 367 f.p.s.; and on low power, they averaged 345 f.p.s. On low power, the low velocity was 341, and the high was 348 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 3.83 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The trigger-pull on the test pistol measures 4 lbs., 2 oz. That’s a little heavy, but it’s very crisp, so it’s going to be okay for target work. There are no provisions for adjustment on this trigger; so if I want to change the pull, I have to do some gunsmithing.
I noted that when the gun was fully charged, the velocity always started lower and climbed into the good range — just like a precharged gun that’s overfilled. On the lowest power, the gun sometimes failed to discharge. CO2 guns aren’t supposed to do that, so I assume either the valve return-spring has weakened over the past 60 years, or someone has been inside the valve and changed things. Either way, that’s a good reason for an overhaul. The transmission sealer worked and now so does the gun; but it doesn’t work exactly as it should. That’s also probably why the number of shots per fill was lower than expected.
To what can I compare this air pistol? How about to a Crosman 2240, which is also a .22-caliber single shot but runs on 12-gram CO2 cartridges, but in many other ways is like the test pistol? The 2240 has a 7.5-inch barrel, so it’s a little faster than this 116 with a 6-inch barrel (Premiers averaging 448 f.p.s. to the 116′s 390 f.p.s.). Its sights are fully adjustable. The grip, while a bit larger, feels very much the same. So, if a 116 and bulk-filling aren’t in your future, know that there’s a good alternative.
I do think the test pistol is shooting a little slow for a 116. Maybe it would be best to get it overhauled to see what one in top condition can do
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol with power and accuracy that surpasses many of today’s air pistols.
Before we start, a word on the “fix” for CO2 guns that Dennis Quackenbush gave me. Some folks are concerned that this will ruin the guns it’s put into. Well, it will soften the seals, and eventually those seals will dissolve into a jelly-like material that won’t seal the gun. How fast that happens depends on how much of the automatic transmission sealer you use. But here’s my thinking. The gun already doesn’t work. If this restores it to operation for a few years, or even for only a few more months, that’s more than you have now. In the end, you may need to replace all the seals anyway, but that was what you faced when you decided to do this. No permanent harm has been done. And you got some use from a gun that needed seals.
Don’t add the sealant if you don’t want to — that’s always your decision to make. But some of you are glad to know that there’s a quick, cheap way to fix many of these guns right now.
For those who are paying attention, we’ve actually reported on the 116 in the past. One of these is a blog that I did, and the other is a guest blog by blog reader Paul Hudson. Today’s blog is just the beginning of a traditional 3-part report, so we’ll be looking at this gun in greater detail.
History of bulk-fill CO2 guns
Carbon dioxide guns descended from pneumatic guns in the 1870s, when Paul Giffard first started building and selling his 4.5mm, 6mm and 8mm gas guns for the public. They were based on the Giffard multi-pump pneumatics that had been around for 20 years, but these new guns offered something the older pneumatics didn’t. They could be fired many times from one charged tank of gas. When the tank was finally depleted, it had to be returned to a filling station, which was hopefully located in the same country as the gun! That inconvenience overpowered the novelty of the guns that fired without gunpowder, and they did not last very long.
Giffard gas pistols can be restored to work today — 130+ years after they were made!
Crosman started experimenting with building and selling entire commercial shooting galleries for the public in the early 1930s, and they chose gas guns for these galleries. Each rifle, designated the model 117, was tethered to a large tank of CO2 (that was essentially a fire extinguisher) located inside the gallery, and they must have gotten tens of thousands of shots from one tank.
After World War II, Crosman redesigned the model 117 into a rifle that used a self-contained 12-gram CO2 cartridge, and they designated it the model 118. Perhaps a number of unsold model 117 rifles were rebuilt into model 118 rifles and sold to the public because 117 airguns are extremely rare today. Model 118 air rifles, in contrast, do exist in numbers large enough for many collectors to have them.
But these aren’t the guns we’re looking at in this report. We’re looking at guns like the model 111 (.177 caliber) and 112 (.22 caliber) gas pistols that were filled from 10-oz. tanks of CO2. These started selling as early as 1950 and ended production in 1954, according to the Blue Book of Airguns. The 10-oz. tanks that filled them were designated as the model 110, though not very many people know it. These 2 pistols had 8-inch barrels and got as many as 70 shots per fill of gas. Of course, that depended a lot on the density of the fill, or how much liquid CO2 was put into the gun’s reservoir.
Bulk-filling in brief
When you fill a gas gun from a bulk tank, the liquid CO2 inside the tank used for filling is under tremendous pressure from the gaseous CO2. Carbon dioxide has a vapor pressure of 853 psi at 70˚F. When it’s forced as a liquid into a reservoir of any size, it evaporates instantly until the pressure inside the reservoir reaches the same pressure as is inside the tank that’s doing the filling. This liquid will remain a liquid until the gas pressure in the tank drops, such as when filling another tank or a gun. Then, some of the liquid will flash to gas, boosting the pressure back up to whatever is dictated by the ambient temperature. So, CO2 is a gas that regulates its own pressure. Unfortunately, it’s also a world-class refrigerant!
As CO2 liquid flashes to gas and expands, it takes a lot of heat from its surroundings. So much, in fact, that shooters run the risk of instant frostbite when a CO2 cartridge exhausts to the atmosphere. Because of this, CO2 will cool the gun in which it is used. As it cools, its vapor pressure drops. Guns that are fired fast in rapid succession will shed hundreds of feet per second of velocity. Many shooters think this is the CO2 bleeding off and losing pressure, but it’s really just a reaction to the rapid change in temperature. Shoot the same gun slower, and the velocity will remain high and consistent much longer. That’s true for all CO2 guns, whether powered by cartridges or bulk gas. Just for clarification, fast means as fast as you can pull the trigger, and slower means waiting at least 10 seconds between shots.
The 115 and 116 models are very similar to the models 111 and 112; except, instead of 8-inch barrels, both these pistols have 6-inch barrels. The Blue Book says they were introduced in 1951 and lasted until 1954, but what I think actually happened was all 4 pistols went away when the first model 150/157 came out. That was the first gun Crosman made that used a 12-gram CO2 cartridge. Their gas reservoirs, which are brass tubes under the barrel, are scaled to fit the shorter barrel, so of course they hold less gas. I’ve seen a .177 version of this pistol — the model 115 — get as many as 50 powerful shots on a fill, but I think 30 is a more realistic number. We’ll test the 116 over a chronograph and figure out the actual performance data for ourselves.
All 4 pistols and the 2 rifles that were their companions (models 113 and 114 in .177 and .22 caliber, respectively) have adjustable power! That’s right, they had adjustable power all the way way back in the early 1950s. A screw at the rear of the receiver is turned in to put more tension on the striker and thus give longer valve open time and more power. In that respect, these pistols function very much like modern PCPs.
Turn the lower knob in to increase the power — out to slow down the gun and get more shots per change. The upper knob is where you grab the bolt
The sights are also adjustable. The rear sight is a simple notch and the front sight is a tall squared-off post. The rear sight leaf slides from side to side in an oval slot with a lock screw holding it position. A second smaller headless screw provides a range of elevation.
The rear sight slides from side to side and also adjusts up and down.
If the grips appear similar to what you see today, they are! Crosman got it right the first time and really didn’t change it that much over the decades and across the models. These grips come in 2 pieces that wrap around the grip frame, where today they’re flatter panels that leave the frame showing through; but the overall shape and angle are very similar.
The finish is paint, which was completely expected and acceptable in the 1950s. The barreled action is painted with a gloss black paint and the grip frame is painted with a crackeled finish. Hobbyists can reproduce these finishes today, so it’s not surprising to see an old gun that looks like new.
The barreled action is made mostly of brass tubing and parts, and the grip frame is made of pot metal. Small parts such as the trigger, sights, screws and power adjustment knobs are steel.
The grips are plastic, and the .22 models started out with reddish-brown grips, while the .177 models were sold with whitish grips that sometimes have thin lines of other colors running through them. Of course, you can find any color grips on a gun today because the grip frames are all identical and a lot of swapping has been done in the past 60 years. The grips are ambidextrous and only the crossbolt safety keeps the entire gun from being completely friendly to people favoring either hand.
The pistol has a conventional turnbolt that both cocks the striker and opens the breech to load a pellet. I call it conventional, but it will only seem so to someone who has seen a lot of 1930- to 1950s-era airguns. There’s no bolt handle. Instead, you turn a knurled knob counterclockwise; and when it unlocks, pull it straight back until the sear catches the striker. Then, the pellet trough is open to load one pellet. Pushing the bolt back home and twisting it clockwise seats the pellet into the rifling and also aligns the gas transfer port with a hole in the bottom of the hollow bolt.
If these pistols can be said to have a weak spot, it’s the trigger. It’s a thin blade acting on a direct sear that releases the striker. It can be easily gunsmithed to be a light release, as long as you appreciate that it may not always be safe that way. I’ve owned all 4 models of this pistol, and a 111 that was my first one had a very nice, light trigger. The trigger on this 116 is neither light nor especially crisp. It’s better than a lot of modern pistol triggers but is only average for one of these older vintage guns.
I’ll never forget the accuracy of my first 111 pistol. I actually thought it was almost as accurate as a 10-meter target pistol. At 10 meters, I had little difficulty keeping 10 shots on a nickel. But since I haven’t shot this 116 yet, I have no idea where it’ll be. I do know that Crosman called it a target pistol, and it’s hard to argue that it isn’t. I think you’ll be surprised when I test it.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m going to tell you about a low-cost fix I got from airgun maker Dennis Quackenbush for bulk-fill CO2 guns.
Dennis bought a Crosman model 116 bulk-fill pistol that leaked, and rather than changing the seals, he injected automatic transmission sealing oil into the gun and sealed it that way. What this sealer does is rejuvenate the synthetic seals and make them swell to do their job again. Dennis said the procedure worked well in his gun.
Could I do the same? In the past, I have written about “fixing” CO2 guns by injecting several drops of Crosman Pellgunoil into the gun with the charge of CO2. That works for both bulk-fill guns and for those that use cartridges. This would be the next step. I just happened to have a Crosman model 116 bulk-fill pistol on hand that hasn’t worked in the 5 years I have owned it. I think I paid $30 for it at an airgun show, and did so hoping to fix it with Pellgunoil. I tried, but the seals were too far gone, and it didn’t work. So, I set the gun aside, always intending to do something about it.
When Dennis told me his trick, it was like getting an entire carton of round tuits! I went to the local automotive store and picked up a plastic bottle of automatic transmission sealer. I purposely did not ask Dennis to tell me the brand of sealer he used; because if this trick is going to work, it should work with any sealer on the market. So, for $5.50 plus tax, I bought what is probably a lifetime supply of bulk-fill CO2 sealer.
I picked up a bottle of automatic transmission sealer at an auto supply store.
How does it work?
To get the sealing oil into the gun, you put it in with a charge of CO2 gas. On a bulk-fill gun you remove a brass screw at the end of the reservoir that opens the port for filling. Drop the transmission sealer oil into the opening with an eye dropper. Then attach the bulk CO2 tank and open the gas flow. The first few times I did this, nothing happened. The gun continued to leak gas. But some of the sealer was blown into the gun each time I tried to fill it. Then, on the third try, the gun finally held some gas. I could actually hear the inner seals as they swelled and the gas stopped leaking. That fill only put in enough gas for about 6 weak shots; but it set things up for the next fill, which I believe was complete.
Crosman’s 116 bulk-fill pistol is a .22-caliber single-shot pistol with power and accuracy that surpasses many of today’s air pistols.
After the next fill, I had shots at the power I expected from this pistol. Since I’ll test it for you in a 3-part blog that’s coming up, I’m not going to report the power today, nor the shot count, but I expect to get 25-30 powerful shots per fill from this gun. That’s what similar models gave in the past.
The pistol’s fill port is covered by a brass screw on the muzzle end of the gun. Remove the screw and attach the bulk-fill tank to this port, snug it against the rubber seal at the bottom of the port and open the tank to let the gas flow. The fill takes about 2 seconds. This port is where several drops of transmission sealer oil are placed before the tank is connected.
Now that the pistol is holding gas again, I plan to test it for you completely. That’ll be a treat because these old gas guns are both powerful and accurate, as well as having advanced features such as adjustable sights and power.
My thanks to Dennis Quackenbush for passing along this tip. It won’t always work, of course, but it’s just one more maintenance trick for your bag!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is accuracy day with the Gamo P-25 air pistol. I inserted a fresh CO2 cartridge into the gun, loaded both of its 8-shot rotary clips and then slid the magazine into the grip.
I shot the pistol at 10 meters, which seems appropriate for a gun of this type. I shot it rested with a two-hand hold and my arms resting on the sandbag but the pistol free to move.
The pistol has open sights that are not adjustable. They have white dots, both front and rear, but that was cancelled by lighting the target brightly and shooting from a dimly lit place. I used a 6 o’clock hold, and the sights were very sharp and easy to align.
Because each rotary clip holds 8 pellets, I shot 8-shot groups instead of the usual 10. I don’t think it makes a big difference; and when you see the targets, I think you’ll agree.
The P-25 has blowback, so every shot except the first is single-action. I therefore cocked the hammer for that first shot, so all shots were single-action. It’s the most accurate way to shoot any handgun.
RWS Hobby pellets
The first pellets I shot were RWS Hobbys. Because they’re wadcutters, they left good holes in the target paper that were visible from the firing line. The pistol shot Hobbys to the left, as you can see, but the elevation was pretty good. The pistol’s sights are not adjustable, so to move the shots means you have to either aim off or use some Kentucky windage.
The group isn’t very impressive — 8 shots in 2.169 inches at 10 meters. Perhaps one of the other pellets will do better.
Gamo Match pellets
The next 8 pellets I shot were Gamo Match wadcutters. These pellets will sometimes be very accurate in a particular gun, but the P-25 I’m testing isn’t one of them. Eight shots went into 2.894 inches, though 7 of them are in 1.846 inches. Still, neither group size is especially good. They did go to approximately the same point of impact as the RWS Hobbys, however.
Crosman Premier lites
Next, it was time to try some 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites. These domed pellets are sometimes the very best in certain airguns. And this was one of those times. Eight of them went into 1.624 inches, though they also went way over to the left.
Gamo Raptor PBA
The last pellet I tried was the lead-free Gamo Raptor PBA. We know from the velocity test that these pellets go the fastest in the P-25, but now we’ll see how accurate they are.
And the answer is — not very. Eight PBA pellets made a shotgun-like pattern that measures 4.036 inches between centers. Interestingly, they did tend to group in the center of the target — the only pellet of the 4 tested to do so.
This was one time I found myself hoping for greater accuracy from the test gun because it was so much fun to shoot. The blowback action is quick, crisp and comes as close to the recoil of a .22 rimfire pistol as I think I’ve experienced in an air pistol. Although the trigger is long and full of stops and starts, it’s also light and can become predictable after you learn its quirks.
The lack of adjustable sights means you have to find a pellet that shoots to center and is also accurate. Good luck with that. If Premier lites had shot to the center, they would have made this test end on a higher note. Because it shoots lead pellets from a rifled barrel, I’d hoped for better accuracy than this. Had I seen it, I would have rated this Gamo P-25 a best buy.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of the Gamo P-25 air pistol, and something interesting that happened. Normally, I report on the velocity of 3 or 4 pellets and leave it at that, but a strange thing happened with the first CO2 cartridge in the test pistol.
I didn’t screw the piercing screw deep enough into the CO2 cartridge, resulting in the gas flow being hindered. I’ve experienced this a few times in the past, but this time it was very pronounced. After each shot, there was a period of time that ranged from 5 to 10 seconds, during which the gas flowed audibly from the cartridge into the gun’s valve. It sounded like a leak in the gun, but I noticed it only lasted a few seconds before stopping, so it wasn’t venting to the outside. It was the gas flowing from the cartridge into the gun’s valve, where it would be used for the next shot.
Shooting the pistol in the rapid-fire mode proved impossible with this first cartridge. The first shot went out at the normal velocity, and shot 2…fired immediately after the first shot…clocked 88 f.p.s. through the chronograph.
It was my fault
So, I screwed the piercing screw much deeper into the next cartridge. Problem solved! Don’t be tentative when piercing a cartridge in this pistol. Do it like you mean it. After I pierced the second cartridge correctly, the pistol performed exactly as expected. Rapid-fire worked as you would expect, and the gun kept up with my trigger finger.
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. Weighing 7 grains, the all-lead Hobby pellet tells me so much about an airgun’s powerplant. For starters, it tells me what needs to be done to get the 425 f.p.s. velocity that’s claimed for the gun.
Hobbys averaged 353 f.p.s. in the P-25. They ranged from a low of 333 to a high of 379 f.p.s., and some of that large variance may be due to the gas flow problem I mentioned. At the average velocity, Hobbys were generating 1.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The Hobbys told me what I wanted to know. This pistol wasn’t going to get its rated velocity with a lead pellet. So, I needed to try it with a lead-free pellet; and since this is a Gamo gun, the Gamo Raptor PBA sounded like a good selection.
The Raptor PBA pellet is made from metal that’s harder than lead. It weighs 5.4 grains and will generally boost the velocity of an airgun above what a lead pellet will, though the hardness of the metal actually slows it down sometimes. But in the P-25, the Raptor PBAs worked just fine. They averaged 412 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 395 to a high of 432 f.p.s. So, the ads are right on the money. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 2.04 foot-pounds of energy.
Next up were the lead Gamo Match wadcutters. They weigh 7.56 grains and are sometimes quite accurate in some guns. In the P-25, they averaged 348 f.p.s. with a spread from 329 to 357 f.p.s. The average energy was 2.03 foot-pounds. This will be a pellet to try in the accuracy test.
Crosman Premier 7.9-grain lites
The last pellet I tested was the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. They fit in the circular clips of the magazine rather easily, which caused some concern they might fall out; but the way the magazine is designed, only 2 pellets at a time are exposed in its clip. So the worry was for nothing.
Premiers averaged 344 f.p.s. in the P-25, with a spread from 330 to 360 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 2.08 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
The double-action trigger-pull broke at exactly 8-1/2 lbs., which is light for a DA pull. On single-action, it broke under 4 lbs., with a huge creep at 2-1/2 lbs. That creep is consistent and lets you know when the gun is ready to fire.
While I got just 50 shots on the first cartridge, I got more with the second one. Besides the velocity testing, I did another test with an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol operates in the rapid-fire mode. So, the correct piercing is very important. I fired an entire cartridge, just to see how the pistol handled. Everything worked smoothly until shot 48, when the blowback failed for the first time. After that, the blowback would work if I waited long enough between shots, but not if I shot rapidly. However, if you allow time for the gun to warm up, it keeps right on shooting.
There are certainly 75 or more powerful shots in the gun if you allow the gun to rest between shots. The blowback will work reliably past shot 50, as long as time is taken between shots. Shoot fast, however, and the gun cools too much and wastes gas.
Impressions so far
So far, I like the P-25. I like its simplicity and the light single-action trigger. If it’s also accurate, this might be a best buy.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay, now for something a little different. The Gamo P-25 air pistol is a 16-shot pellet pistol with blowback and a rifled barrel. This pistol operates on CO2, and the 12-gram cartridge is hidden inside the grip.
Normally, a gun like this is a BB gun, but this time there’s a rifled barrel — and the chance to shoot many different lead pellets, plus a trigger that’s both single-action and double action. Because of the blowback action, you’re going to shoot this gun single-action most of the time.
The P-25 is a 21st century handgun is every respect. It’s nearly all synthetic, entirely black and the grip is fat, as though enclosing a double-stacked magazine. The fixed sights feature three white dots — like night sights, but without tritium inserts. Align the three dots and put the center dot over your target…and I assume you’ll have minute-of-soda-can accuracy at 25 feet. We’ll find out more about that when we test the pistol for accuracy.
I like the fact that this pistol comes with blowback. That gives a realistic feel to each shot, which makes this a good trainer for maintaining firearms proficiency. When we get to the accuracy test, I’ll let Edith shoot the pistol and give her assessment, too. The gun I’m testing is serial number 12F31301.
The P-25 is a large pistol. Maybe it looks like a pocket pistol in the photograph above, but in person it’s larger than an M1911A1 in all ways, save length.
The trigger is very strange. Usually a single-stage trigger is crisper and lighter than a 2-stage trigger, but this one isn’t. While the pull weight isn’t that heavy, there’s a country mile of takeup even in the single-stage mode — i.e., when the hammer is already cocked. Once the takeup is done, though, the trigger breaks cleanly enough. It isn’t exactly crisp, but it is light and very predictable. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble with it.
The double-action pull is relatively light, though you’ll only feel it on the first shot after installing the magazine. Once the gun fires, the slide blows back, cocking the hammer for every successive shot.
The trigger blade is very wide. I find that gives a nice feel to the pull when I’m trying to control the let-off or point at which the trigger breaks.
The safety is another matter. It’s one of those Euro-lawyer safeties that have a center switch that’s pulled back before the lever can be moved. There’s no way to operate this kind of safety with one hand. It blocks the trigger when its on.
The magazine is a stick type with two circular pellet clips — one on either end. It’s a drop-free design, and the release button is on the left front of the grip frame, where a right-handed shooter expects it to be. The mag has to be ejected and turned around for the second 8 shots.
This gun runs on CO2. The manufacturer says it gets up to 425 f.p.s. with pellets, and we will test that for you in Part 2. The cartridge is hidden in the grip, and this time the enclosure is different. The bottom rear of the grip is pulled away from the rest of the grip, and two-thirds of the CO2 compartment is exposed. When the cartridge is installed, a conventional piercing screw tensions and pierces the cartridge. Don’t forget to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge as it’s installed. That will keep your gun sealed for many years.
The P-25 is moderately heavy, at 29 oz., so the blowback action causes a fair amount of bounce. It feels not much different than a medium-weight .22 rimfire pistol shooting standard-speed long rifle rounds.
The barrel is rifled steel. That gives me some hope that this pistol will also be accurate. If the blowback feature doesn’t use too much gas, the P-25 could turn out to be a very nice plinking air pistol.
All things considered, at this point the Gamo P-25 air pistol looks like a good one. I hope it delivers on that promise.