Posts Tagged ‘CO2 guns’

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 2

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

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 2

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

Crosman 2240 air conversion
My Crosman 2240 has been converted to operate on high-pressure air.

This report covers:

• Where we are
• Before filling the first time
• Shooting the gun
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• What comes next

Let’s look at what the conversion to air did for the Crosman 2240. Boy, was there ever a lot of discussion on that report! I think this may be one of the all-time most popular subjects on this blog.

Where we are
Here’s where I am with this subject. The 2240 is now converted. I plan to test it with 2,000 psi air today, and I do not plan to go higher. This is a test of what’s out there and some of the things that can be done with a 2240, but I’m not in the business of hotrodding this pistol. Many other folks are doing that very well; so, if you are interested in what’s possible, read what they have to say.

Today, I’m going to test the pistol with the conversion but with the stock striker spring still installed. In other words, if you simply screwed the tube into the gun and did nothing else (the front sight still has to come off to clear the tube), this is what you’ll get. I did change the face seal, which is why I disassembled the pistol in the previous report; but that wasn’t strictly necessary, since I am pressurizing to only 2,000 psi. I did it just to show how the entire kit is installed.

Before filling the first time
Before filling the gun, which is now done through the male Foster nipple on the end of the air tube, I put several drops of silicone chamber oil into the fill nipple. It came to me bone-dry, and I wanted all the seals inside the unit to get a coating of this oil. Then, I connected the gun to my carbon fiber air tank and slowly filled it to 2,000 psi. I say slowly, but as small as this air tube/reservoir is, it fills pretty fast. It probably took only 15-20 seconds to fill it all the way. You want to go as slowly as as possible to keep heat from building.

When I bled the air connection in the hose, the inlet valve in the air tube remained open and all the air bled out. So, I refilled it and bled it a second time. This time, it sealed as it should — thanks to the oil, I believe.

Shooting the gun
It was now time to test the gun. I had no idea what it was going to do, but I left my hearing protection off to hear if the first shot was loud. It wasn’t. Perhaps the gun is a little louder than it is when using CO2, but the difference is not that great. Of course, I used eye protection for the chronographing session, because the pellet trap is so close. I use a trap with duct seal to keep the rebounds down and the noise to a minimum.

Crosman Premier pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier dome. I should add that I shoot only the pellets from the cardboard box, which is why I link to them, only. We were informed several months ago that Crosman planned to stop selling Premiers in the cardboard box and I stocked up on them. But I see they’re still available.

Back in 2010, I did a test of the CO2 2240 pistol, so I have the recorded velocities for this exact pistol on CO2. It averaged 448 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. On 2000 psi air, the first shot was 468 f.p.s. It increased to a maximum of 492 f.p.s. by shot 7 and dropped back to 466 f.p.s. by shot 15. At the end of the string, the gun was still holding 1200 psi of air pressure. The average velocity of 15 shots was 486 f.p.s., which means air boosted the average velocity of this pellet by 39 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets. When the pistol was running on CO2, these pellets averaged 482 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 515 f.p.s. and increased to 537 f.p.s. by shot 9. The velocity droped back down to 511 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity for this string of 16 shots was 525 f.p.s. — a 43 f.p.s. increase on air. The remaining pressure was 1200 psi, once again.

RWS Superdome pellets
The final pellet I tested was the 14.5-grain RWS Superdome. When the pistol ran on CO2, Superdomes averaged 455 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 470 f.p.s. and drifted up to 495 f.p.s. by shot 7. They dropped back down to 467 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity was 483 f.p.s., an increase of 28 f.p.s. over CO2.

Notice that the gun performs similarly, regardless of what pellet was tested. The curve starts out slow, builds to the maximum quickly and then drops back to the starting point just as quickly. The three pellets gave a total shot count of 15, 16 and 16, respectively.

What comes next?
I can’t test the pistol for accuracy as it is right now because the front sight has no clearance to be re-installed. And the plastic 2240 receiver does not have a scope base on the receiver. Decision time.

I could get a steel breech for the 2240 from Pyramyd Air. While it will not accept the 2240 rear sight, it does have 11mm dovetails for a scope. That’ll work with the barrel that’s on the gun right now; but if I get a longer barrel, I’ll get a little more velocity from this same setup. So, I ordered a 14.5-inch barrel from an eBay vendor.

There are a number of different ways this can go with these parts, so I will wait to see what seems best once I have them.

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1

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

R.A.I. Adjustable AR Adapter for Crosman 2240 pistols: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable AR Adapter for Crosman 2240 pistols: Part 2

This report covers:

• What this is
• Thanks to Rick Eutsler
• Step-by-step instructions
• How hard is it?

Today, I’m starting a fresh and different look at the Crosman 2240 air pistol. You may have noticed that I linked to the R.A.I. adjustable shoulder stock adapter at the beginning of the report. That’s because my plan is to convert the 2240 to operate on high-pressure air and test it again as a small PCP carbine. And, I might add, not only is it small, it’s also affordable if done in stages.

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

What this is
What we are looking at today is a device that is so simple, yet apparently effective that many will slap their foreheads and wonder why they didn’t think of it themselves. It’s a drop-in device that changes the operation of a 2240 pistol from CO2 to air. It appears very simple, but there’s some disassembly and parts-swapping involved, so that’s what I’m going to show you today.

What’s happening is that you’re dropping a high-pressure air cartridge into the space where a CO2 cartridge would normally go. And if that was all there was to it, we would be done. Just remove the CO2 cap, remove the empty cartridge, slide the unit in and screw it tight against the face seal. But there’s the rub. The face seal in a 2240 is not designed for high-pressure air. So, we have to substitute a different face seal, and that’s where the disassembly comes in.

Thanks to Rick Eutsler
This conversion was suggested to me by Rick Eutsler, who appears with me on American Airgunner. He thinks a lot of it and wondered if I’d tried it, yet. No, I hadn’t. So he sent me a device. The device is made and sold by PowerMax-HiPAC.com. This one I am testing sells for $65, according to their website, but there are many other configurations and accessories available. I’ll focus on just this one for now, and we’ll see where it takes us.

Before starting the conversion, I removed the CO2 cartridge. Then, I removed the UTG 6-Position Mil-Spec Stock Assembly and the R.A.I. adapter that connects it to the pistol. The gun was now in its factory configuration, and the conversion could begin.

 Crosman 2240 air pistol stock removed
The R.A.I. adapter and UTG adjustable stock were removed from the 2240.

Crosman 2240 air pistol air tank
The air tank (bottom) goes into the 2240, replacing the CO2 cartridge and end cap. The tank is threaded just like the end cap. The face seal inside the gun must also be changed, so disassembly is necessary.

What follows is a step-by-step disassembly and replacement of the face seal. The work is easy, but some of the parts are small — and you have to exercise caution to keep from losing them. Note that I did my work on a dark wool blanket. The wool keeps parts from moving, and the dark color allows me to use flash photography without the dark parts appearing black. If a white background were used, that’s what would happen.

Step 1. Remove front sight
The front sight is knocked off with a wood block and rubber hammer. The sight isn’t attached by fasteners, so it comes off with a light tap.

Crosman 2240 air pistol front sight off
A wood block was placed against the rear base of the front sight and tapped with a rubber hammer to remove the sight.

Step 2. Remove barrel band
The barrel band is held by Allen screws, top and bottom. Loosen both, and the band slides off the gun.

Crosman 2240 air pistol barrel band off
Loosen the screws of the barrel band and slide it off.

Step 3. Remove rear sight
The rear sight is held by a single screw that’s one of two holding the end cap to the action. Take it off, and the end cap is almost ready to come off the gun.

Crosman 2240 air pistol rear sight off
Remove the rear sight by removing one screw.

Step 4. Remove grips (optional)
The grips come off next. This step isn’t necessary; but if you want to see all the working parts inside the grip, you can do it.

Crosman 2240 air pistol remove grips
Each grip panel is held on by a single screw. There isn’t a lot to see.

Step 5. Remove end cap
Remove the rear grip frame screw, and the end cap will come off the gun. There’s a powerful spring pushing against the cap, so contain it as you remove this screw or the end cap will go flying.

Crosman 2240 air pistol remove end cap
When the rear grip frame screw is removed, the end cap and mainspring are free. Contain the end cap or it’ll go flying.

Step 6. Remove grip frame
Now the front grip frame screw is removed, and you can separate the frame from the action tube. Be very careful in this step not to lose the tiny spring and ball detent for the safety — it rests in the left side of the grip frame.

Crosman 2240 air pistol remove grip frame
Remove the front grip frame screw and lower the frame from the action tube. Be careful not to lose the safety spring and ball detent that are in the grip frame.

Crosman 2240 air pistol safety spring and detent
The safety spring and detent ball are very small. They are not under tension when the grip frame comes off; but if you turn the frame upside-down, they’ll fall out.

Step 7. Remove receiver from tube
At this point, just a single screw holds the receiver and barrel to the action tube. That screw is located in the pellet trough and is very small (I believe it’s an .050, but it may be larger). Unscrew this screw, and the receiver and barrel can be separated from the tube.

Crosman 2240 air pistol remove action screw
Remove this screw, and the action and barrel lift off the tube.

At this point, you can remove the barrel from the action. It isn’t required; but if you do, you’ll see where the transfer port fits in the bottom of the barrel.

Crosman 2240 air pistol barrel
If you slide the barrel from the receiver, you can see the machined spot where the transfer port fits.

Step 7. Remove gas transfer port
After the barrel is off the tube, the steel transfer port will be exposed. It usually stays with the tube, but nothing holds it except the seal in the valve. This small part is how the compressed gas (or air, when we convert the pistol) moves from the valve into the barrel to push the pellet. So, it’s very important.

Crosman 2240 air pistol transfer port
The steel transfer port usually stays with the tube when the barrel’s removed. If not, don’t lose it.

The transfer port has two lengths to it — a long side and a short side. The short side fits into the seal in the valve that’s still in the tube, while the long side goes into the underside of the barrel.

Crosman 2240 air pistol transfer port detail
The short side of the transfer port goes into the tube and into the seal in the valve. The long side goes in the bottom of the barrel.

Crosman 2240 air pistol transfer port seal
The transfer port seal is shown here. You see the brass valve body under it.

Step 8. Remove striker
Next, remove the striker — or what many call the hammer. It’s held in place by a small pin that must be lifted out, then the striker will come out the rear of the tube. This pin connects the bolt to the striker and is how the gun is cocked.

Crosman 2240 air pistol striker pin
To remove the striker, first remove the striker pin. There’s an enlarged hole at the rear of the cocking slot through which the pin is lifted out.

Crosman 2240 air pistol striker out
Once the striker pin is out, the striker slides out the rear of the tube.

Step 9. Remove valve screw and valve body
Remove the screw holding the valve body in the tube. When it’s out, the valve will slide out the rear of the tube. I pressed it lightly with the barrel to start it, but some valves may take a little coaxing depending on how long they’ve been in the gun — but it isn’t difficult to remove this part.

Crosman 2240 air pistol valve screw
Remove the one valve screw.

Crosman 2240 air pistol valve body
The valve body slides out the rear of the tube.

Step 10. Exchange the face seals
Now we come to the place where the face seals are exchanged. The light-colored seal is for CO2 cartridges and is too soft for the air pressure we’ll be using. It must be pried out of the end of the valve, and the black seal that’s supplied with the air conversion kit should be installed in its place. Getting the new seal in is much like buttoning a shirt collar with small buttons. The new black seal will also work with CO2; so if you want to convert back, you can skip this teardown and just remove the air tank.

Crosman 2240 air pistol valve face seal
Here’s how the face seal looks before you pry it from the valve body.

Crosman 2240 air pistol valve 2 face seals
Here’s the factory face seal (lighter one on left) and the new seal to be installed. Notice that continual use has made a groove in the factory face seal.

How hard is it?
It took me a total of 20 minutes to disassemble the pistol, and that includes taking the pictures seen here. It isn’t hard, but there are places where caution should be exercised.

Assembly is the reverse of disassembly, and there are no special tips. Just make certain that the bolt will engage the striker pin when you assemble the action, and make sure all the seals are properly seated.

That’s it for now. Next time, I’ll put air into the pistol and chronograph the results.

Legends Makarov Ultra: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol
Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra is very realistic!

This report covers:

• Loading
• Winchester Target Cube
• Rested position
• Accuracy
• Overall evaluation

Today is accuracy day for the Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol and the big question is: How does it hold up against its non-recoiling brother that we all know is very accurate? I think you’re going to be pleased with the results.

Load up
I installed a fresh CO2 cartridge, which — thanks to yesterday’s report on CO2 – reminded me to put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the cartridge before piercing. As before, the piercing was nearly instantaneous with no loss of gas. I looked at the face seal with a jeweler’s loupe and saw that it’s a thick (relatively) clear synthetic that looks like it will do its job for a long time to come.

Next, I loaded some BBs into the front of the magazine. Here’s a tip for this. Lock down the mag follower at the bottom of its slot and elevate the bottom of the mag. This way, the BBs will easily fall into the enlarged hole in the front of the magazine. If one overshoots the mark, it remains in a trough and can be rolled back to the hole very easily.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol loading magazine
Elevate the bottom of the Makarov magazine, and the BBs will roll right in.

Winchester Target Cube
Once again, the Winchester Airgun Target Cube was pressed into service for a target holder and backstop. I taped the targets to the cube that now has thick cardboard on both sides. No more styrofoam comes out because of the cardboard; and the targets tear better, even when the BBs are shot at lower velocities.

The Target Cube keeps the BBs from bouncing back. That keeps the shooting area cleaner; and since I shoot BBs in my bedroom, that’s a good thing. If you shoot a lot of BBs in the house, I recommend the Target Cube.

Rested position
I then sat on a chair at 5 meters from the target and put a large pillow on my lap. When doubled over, the pillow allowed me to rest my arms so I could achieve a very steady 2-hand hold. It’s the gun we want to test — not the shooter.

The sights on the Makarov are very fine, but also sharp. I had no problem getting the same sight picture, shot after shot.

First group
The first target I shot was a 50-foot smallbore bull. Those are just slightly larger than 10-meter air rifle bulls. I had no idea where the pistol was shooting, nor how accurate it might be; but at 16 feet, I felt this target was large enough to keep all the shots on paper. I used a 6 o’clock hold, like I always do with handgun sights like these.

The shots landed about 3/4-inch below the point of aim. While the first 3 shots seemed to scatter, the next 7 stayed inside them, resulting in a fine-looking 10-shot group. In measures 0.916 inches between centers and looks even better. The bulk of the shots landed inside a half inch!

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol target 1
Ten BBs in 0.916 inches, with 7 of them well under a half inch! The 3 shots on the right were the first 3 shots. This gun can shoot!

Second group
The second target looks even better.  I called that shot that went to the left because of the very hard trigger pull we’ve already discussed. Actually, the trigger isn’t that hard for a double-action pull (which it isn’t), but for target shooting it’s way more than you want. This time, 10 shots went into 1.189 inches, with 9 of them in 0.727 inches.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol target 2
Ten BBs in 1.189 inches, with 9 in 0.727 inches. That shot on the left is a called pull.

I was really impressed with the way this pistol wants to lay them in the same hole at 5 meters. That trigger pull, though, takes discipline to overcome. The tendency is to try to overpower it, which will result in shots thrown wide to the left in my case.

Third group
I decided to try a larger aim point for the third group, so I substituted a 10-meter pistol target instead. The bull is twice the size of the others, and I wondered what it might do. Oddly, it pulled my shots closer together, though I did get a very vertical shot string. This time, 10 shots went into 1.334 inches, with 9 in 0.683 inches. Look at this group, and you’ll see the pedigree of the non-recoiling Makarov showing through.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol target 3
Ten BBs in 1.189 inches, with 9 in 0.727 inches.

Results
Yes, I think this Makarov is just as accurate as its non-recoiling brother. What separates them is the stiffer trigger on this one. It makes you really hold tight, and any distraction will cause you to throw a shot.

Overall evaluation
I like the Makarov Ultra BB pistol. In fact, I think I’m going to buy this one for my growing collection. This is what inexpensive BB pistols should be.

Can CO2 guns be left charged?

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

Today is the Memorial Day holiday in the U.S. It’s the day we honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation. Edith and I would like to join the rest of the country in remembering all these heroes from the Revolutionary War down to today.

This report covers:

• Technology advances as time passes.
• Not all guns changed over time.
• What about 88-gram cartridges?
• How does a charged gun suffer?
• How long can a CO2 gun be left charged?
• Can you leave a CO2 gun charged?

I’m writing this report for my good friends at Pyramyd Air. They get questions all the time about this topic, and they wanted me to discuss the whole story. It’s long, so sit back and enjoy it.

Gas gun technology advances as time passes
In this case, the technology refers to both the design and the materials. In the 1940s, Crosman made CO2 guns that were either charged from a separate bulk gas tank or else the bulk tank was attached directly to the airgun. The gas flow in these guns was very direct — from the tank through the valve and out the barrel.

Crosman 116 pistol and bulk tank
The Crosman 116 bulk-fill gas pistol was based on 1940s technology. Gas flow was simple and direct.

The seals in these guns were an early form of synthetic material that hardened and failed over time. But in recent years, all the vintage seals for these guns have been reproduced in modern synthetics that have a much longer shelf life and even longer operational lives. When a vintage CO2 gun is fixed today, you can expect it to last a very long time. A gun that might have leaked after 20 years of service in the 1950/60s can be resealed today and not leak again for the next 40 years because of the advances in materials.

In the 1960s and after, the design technology changed. The gas flow in these guns was not always as direct as it had been in the earlier guns. Airgun manufacturers were now making lookalike guns, and they were being constrained to put the CO2 cartridge in certain places such as the grip, where the gas might have to flow for some distance to get to the breech. Small metal pipes were used in some gas guns to transport the gas from where the cartridge was pierced to where the gas was needed. These pipes could not stand up to the pressure of a constant charge, and it was best to leave them discharged until you wanted to shoot the gun. This marked the start of gas guns that could not be left charged.

Another change was the invention of the magazine that also contained the gun’s firing valve. All the seals were in that tiny unit on top of what looked like a conventional pistol magazine. In these guns, the small flat end of the CO2 cartridge was pressed tight against what’s known as a face seal by some kind of tensioning mechanism in the bottom of the grip. When the cartridge was pressed flat, the end seal stopped gas from flowing out around the end of the cartridge; and it only flowed straight into the small firing chamber. The valve held this chamber closed until the action of the hammer opened it with force, allowing some of the CO2 gas to escape.

Makarov Ultra magazine
The entire valve of the Makarov Ultra is contained inside the magazine’s silver top.

Face seals usually work quite well, but there are some things about them that you have to know. One is their thinness. If they’re twisted while the CO2 cartridge is pressed against them, they can tear. If that happens, they’ll leak. This is a good reason to always use a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each new cartridge before it’s pierced.

Another thing you have to know is the length of the CO2 cartridge. If the cartridge is too short, the flat spot may not press tight enough against the face seal even when the tensioner is adjusted as far as it will go. That lets the gas leak out because the face seal cannot do its job. The solution for this is to try a different brand of CO2 cartridge.

Not all guns changed
As the technology changed, all gas guns did not change to use the latest designs and materials. The cheaper guns did go the way of face seals, gas tubes and lookalike designs; but there were more expensive gas guns costing hundreds of dollars that continued to rely on the older designs from the early years. These employed the very latest in materials in these designs. I’m referring to the gas guns used for formal target shooting. These airguns will hold gas for years without a problem because they are designed to.

What about 88-gram CO2 cartridges?
This question always comes up. While a gun that uses a 12-gram cartridge may shoot 50 or 60 times per cartridge, guns that use the much larger 88-gram cartridges can shoot hundreds of shots before running out of gas.

Walther 88-gram CO2 cartridge
The 88-gram CO2 cartridge is much larger than the conventional 12-gram cartridge. It contains much more CO2 gas, and, as a result, some thought has to be given to when it is used.

Should you remove an 88-gram cartridge after your shooting is done? In recent times, Crosman made a special adapter for their 1077 repeater (among other guns) to accept an 88-gram cartridge. That adapter has a valve that allows you to turn off the gas. The cartridge can remain on the gun, but there’s no gas flowing to the valve. I’ve had my 1077 with this adapter charged this way for several years.

Crosman 1077 CO2 rifle
Crosman’s 1077 repeating pellet rifle was made for a single 12-gram CO2 cartridge. Crosman used to sell an adapter that allowed the use of 88-gram cartridges.

Crosman 1077 gas system detail
The Crosman AirSource adapter shown here allowed the use of 88-gram cartridges. The knurled knob at the bottom of the vertical tube allows the gas to be turned on and off. This gun still has gas after being stored for 3 years!

Not all airguns that use 88-gram cartridges have a valve to turn the gas off. Shooters who use the 88-gram cartridges costing several dollars apiece must consider the shooting they are about to do to determine the probable number of shots that will be fired because some guns may suffer if left pressurized. If you plan on removing a 300-shot cartridge, better to do it after 275 shots have been fired, rather than only 25 shots. That would be like opening a $200 bottle of champaign so a friend could have a sip.

How does a charged airgun suffer?
A couple years ago, I asked Ed Schultz, Crosman’s top engineer, what damage is done when a CO2 gun is left charged. He told me that some of the modern seal materials can take a set if left pressurized too long. This was the first time I’d ever heard that; but since Ed is in charge of making the guns, I have to accept that it’s true.

There’s a second reason why the gun manufacturers don’t want their guns left charged, but they will never mention it: Liability. You see, a CO2 gun can shoot anything that’s in its barrel. It doesn’t have to be BBs or pellets. So children and irresponsible people can load things into a gun and shoot them even if they don’t have a supply of the correct ammunition. For this reason, a charged CO2 gun is a loaded gun.

How long can CO2 guns be left charged?
This is where the question gets personal. There are owners who obey the letter of the instructions and see it necessary to remove the cartridge within 5 minutes of shooting. If they planned on shooting again tomorrow, they would still remove the cartridge today.

Then, there are the more broad-minded owners who believe that they should remove the cartridges only when they think they’ve finished shooting the gun for a longer time. These are the people who will leave a cartridge installed for a week of shooting. I tend to agree with this group. But, sometimes, they forget what they’re doing and the cartridge never comes out.

The manuals are vague on this point, and I wouldn’t expect a firm answer from an airgun company, either. They have to defend themselves in court for whatever irresponsible actions are taken by those who use their products, so they can’t afford to give them any basis for a lawsuit.

I’ve left my modern CO2 guns charged for years, and eventually they all seem to leak down. Some will hold for more than a year, but eventually they all do seem to leak down.

My vintage CO2 guns, on the other hand, are always charged and never leak. They are like PCP guns, in that respect.

Can you leave a CO2 gun charged?
All of this brings us back to the original question — can CO2 guns be left charged? The answer is sometimes “yes” and other times “no.” It depends on the design of the gun in question.

These days, I tell people to follow the instructions in the manual but not to be anal about it. They can leave a gun charged overnight and even for several days; but before it’s put away, if the instructions tell you to remove the cartridge, that’s what you should do.

Legends Makarov Ultra: Part 2

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

Part 1

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol
Legends Makarov Ultra is very realistic!

This report covers:

• Single-action trigger.
• Charging.
• Loading.
• Velocity.
• Blowback.
• Slide remains back when magazine is empty.
• Shot count.

Let’s look at the velocity of the Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol. Because the gun has blowback, I’ll also report how that works.

Umarex is currently making a huge marketing push on their lookalike airguns and the undisputed leader in airguns that look like firearms. The Makarov Ultra is one of their latest and greatest new products.

Trigger
A firearm Makarov has a trigger that’s both single-action and double-action. Single-action means the hammer must be cocked for the gun to fire, and the blowback action of the slide accomplishes this. But for the first shot, you must manually cock the hammer, because, unlike the firearm Mak, the trigger on this pistol will not cock the hammer on its own. The Makarov Ultra trigger is not double-action.

The trigger-pull, however, is quite odd. A single-action trigger is traditionally light and crisp. The Makarov Ultra trigger, however, pulls through a long arc, and the pull force increases as the trigger nears the end of its arc. It feels like a double-action trigger, even though by strict definition it’s single-action because the hammer must be cocked separately.

The trigger is not objectionable, nor is it too heavy. It just doesn’t feel like a conventional single-action trigger.

Charging the pistol
The pistol is charged by a conventional 12-gram CO2 cartridge. The cartridge fits into the magazine that drops from the Makarov’s pistol grip. Because the Makarov has a magazine release located behind the rear of the magazine floorplate, it’s not convenient to release from the pistol and requires the use of 2 hands to do the job.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol magazine
Like many BB pistols, the Makarov Ultra’s magazine houses the BBs, CO2 cartridge and the gun’s valve.

Once the magazine is out of the pistol, the CO2 cartridge installs easily and is tightened in place by the tension screw on the bottom of the mag. The piercing went so fast there wasn’t even a telltale hiss of gas that escaped the cartridge. Naturally, I put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of the cartridge before installing it.

Loading
The stick BB magazine loads very easily. I put the base of the mag up on a small ledge to elevate it and pulled the follower down to its locking point. A funnel-shaped hole on the magazine is where the BBs are fed in. If the magazine is sloped forward just slightly, up to 16 BBs drop in and roll forward with ease. This is perhaps the fastest-loading stick magazine I’ve yet encountered.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol loaded magazine
With the bottom (floorplate) of the magazine elevated slightly, the BBs drop easily through the widened hole and roll out of the way.

Velocity
Umarex rates the Ultra pistol at 350 f.p.s., and I found the rating to be slightly conservative. I started shooting BBs with the first shot out of the pistol, and the first few shots with a 12-gram cartridge are almost always above the expected average. Let me show you 10 shots from the first string of 16 BBs that were fired. Several BBs failed to trigger the chronograph’s skyscreens, but all 10 shots came from the first string of 16 BBs fired from the gun.

Shot Velocity
1       370
2       372
3       364
4       360
5       344
6       350
7       349
8       344
9       346
10     342

I allowed at least 10 seconds between each shot, except for between shots 4 and 5. There were several BBs that failed to trip the skyscreens between those 2 shots and I didn’t allow as much recovery time. The average for these 10 shots is 354 f.p.s., with a variation of 28 f.p.s.

The next 10 shots are much more telling. This time I allowed at least 15 seconds between each shot, and when they failed to trigger the skyscreens, I still allowed the time.

Shot Velocity
1       383
2       352
3       374
4       364
5       361
6       358
7       360
8       355
9       356
10     353

This time, the average velocity was 362 f.p.s. and the spread was 31 f.p.s. That means the average went up with the second 16 shots. Notice how fast that first shot is? The gun had laid dormant for at least 10 minutes after the first string. All of this is on the same CO2 cartridge.

Blowback
The Makarov Ultra is a lightweight BB pistol, so the blowback is pretty snappy. It feels very much like shooting a firearm.

Slide remains back
After the last BB has been fired, the slide remains back, making it obvious the gun is out of ammunition. This is the same thing the Makarov firearm does.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol slide back
The slide stays back when the magazine is out of BBs.

Shot count
Besides velocity and how well the blowback works, another important performance parameter is the number of shots you can expect to get from a CO2 cartridge. For the first 2 magazines, I was conserving gas unrealistically, just to get an idea about the velocity potential. So, I shot the entire third magazine the way a shooter might — pulling the trigger as fast as I could. That took the total count up to 48 shots. On the fourth magazine, I slowed down to one shot every 10 seconds and got an average velocity of 320 f.p.s. The numbers declined steadily as these shots were fired. So the gun was running out of gas. But that’s still a shot count of 64 on one cartridge.

Blowback was still strong through magazine 4. On the fifth magazine, though, the gun started to sound weaker almost immediately. And on shot 9, the slide failed to cock the hammer for the first time. Therefore I think it is safe to say the Makarov Ultra will give you 4 good magazines on one CO2 cartridge.

Accuracy testing will come next. I hope the Makarov Ultra is an accurate BB pistol because its manual cousin — the gun that doesn’t have blowback — is legendary!

Legends Makarov Ultra: Part 1

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

This report covers:

• Recent trend of lookalike airguns
• Introduction of the Umarex Legends line
• Makarovs
• 4 Makarovs
• Makarov Ultra description

Umarex has made lookalike airguns for over a decade, now, and the guns they’ve made have had a big influence on my firearm ownership trends. It seems that I acquire the airgun first, then long to own the firearm as a companion. I know that sounds backwards, but that’s how it’s happening to me!

First was the Walther PPK/S BB pistol — a cool sidearm that spawned a desire for a firearm PPK/S. I satisfied that with a .22 LR Walther several years ago. Next was the pellet-firing Colt M1911A1. That one came after I had owned a number of 1911s; but when I got it, I didn’t own any 1911 firearms at the time. But within 10 years, Edith and I are broke out with them — having more of that type than any other firearm!

The Umarex pellet-firing Magnum Research Desert Eagle was impressively accurate but so large that I thought myself immune from its charms. But just a couple years ago, I added a .357 Desert Eagle to the gun closet.

The one firearm I never thought I would own was the Winchester 94. I’ve never warmed to that design; but when Edith saw the pellet-shooting Walther Lever Action, she warmed to it right away and soon there was a 30-30 in the closet next to it.

Here come the Legends
Umarex has decided to step up the pace on lookalike guns by introducing their Legends line. The Legends are also lookalikes, but they’re copies of firearms that are legendary. Not that the 1911 and the Winchester 1894 aren’t legendary — for they certainly are, but now Umarex will concentrate on those firearms that have achieved a spot in everyone’s eyes — either by their design or by their role in life or both.

They chose the Luger to kick things off. You all witnessed the test of the Legends Parabellum P.08 pistol that turned into a desire to renew my acquaintance with Herr Luger’s legendary 9mm sidearm. That happened just this past Christmas. As it was happening, Umarex launched their Legends C96 Mauser pistol! To that I said, “Absolutely not!” We’ll see how long that resolve lasts.

Just a week ago, I completed the test of the Legends Colt Python BB revolver. I owned a Python in .357 Magnum years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but it was one handgun I worried about spoiling by over-handling. I don’t need that. Give me a good old Ruger Security Six any day, and I’ll turn a blind eye toward the scratches.

Makarovs
Today, I’m starting the review of a lookalike handgun that has had a huge influence on me in a number of different ways. I’m now looking at the Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol
Legends Makarov Ultra is very realistic!

Umarex began the Legends line of guns as special copies of iconic firearms, and it was fitting that the Makarov was the first to be produced. That one was not offered with blowback, but I found it to be amazingly accurate when I tested it. Then I “taught” Crystal Ackley to shoot with a BB Makarov on American Airgunner, and the gun really took off. In truth, if you saw that episode, I didn’t teach her anything. All I did was tell her what to do, she did it and it worked! Always! Crystal was a natural shooter who out-shot everyone on the show.

Umarex Makarov BB gun
Original Umarex Makarov (now inducted into the Legends line) does not have blowback.

At the same time, I acquired a Makarov firearm that I’ve mentioned from time to time in this blog. It’s the only semiautomatic pistol I’ve ever seen that has never jammed or misfired one time in close to a thousand shots. The design is rugged, yet the gun is accurate, and it has a light double-action trigger-pull and mild recoil. Too bad the puny 9x18mm cartridge it’s chambered for is so entirely unsuited to military use, because the gun is a rock-solid reliable piece. A 1911 should be so reliable!

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol Makarov firearm
This Bulgarian Makarov firearm fits right in with the airgun lookalikes.

To complete the Makarov story, I must mention the firearm Maks that were converted by Izhmash to fire BBs. They were imported into the U.S. for a short time, until our Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives determined they can be converted back to firearm status and stopped all importation.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol Ishmash Makarov BB gun
This pistol started out as a Russian 9mm Makarov, then Ishmash converted it to shoot BBs. The Russian grips look different than the Bulgarian grips, but Makarovs had many different styles over the years.

That makes a total of 4 Makarovs in my possession at this time. Three are BB-guns and the other is the firearm. This is a mini collection within my airgun/firearm collection. Now the question is if the new Legends Makarov Ultra is a worthy addition to the party.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol Four Makarovs
Four Makarovs — two as straight BB guns, one as a firearm and the other as a firearm converted into a BB gun.

The Makarov Ultra
The Makarov Ultra appears very similar to the original Umarex Makarov, but how different can it be and still be a close copy of the firearm? Of course, the big difference with the Ultra is the addition of blowback. When the first Mak came out, the usual suspects howled, “I would buy one in a second, if it just had blowback!” Now, it does.

The pistol is sized to the firearm, and I doubt even an expert could notice any difference unless he examined the gun. With a CO2 cartridge installed it weighs a shade under 24 oz., where the unloaded firearm weighs 26 oz. Only the slight presence of the folded cartridge piercing screw handle under the magazine floorplate gives any indication of what’s inside.

The metal finish is a matte black that’s more subdued than the blued steel on my Bulgarian Mak, but very similar to the Russian version. The grips are closer to the Bulgarian grips, though there are so many Makarovs in the world that just about any grip can be found on them.

The Makarov firearm is both single- and double-action. So, it can be safely carried loaded with a round in the chamber — just pull the trigger when you want to start firing. The Makarov Ultra is single-action only. The trigger looks like it will fire the gun; but pulling it with the hammer down accomplishes nothing. Once the hammer is cocked, though, every shot makes the slide blow back and cock the hammer again. After the last BB has been fired from the 16-round magazine, the slide remains open — to tell you it’s time to reload. Extra magazines may be purchased so you never need to stop shooting.

Umarex Legends Makarov Ultra BB pistol Mak and magazine
Both BBs and the CO2 cartridge fit into the Makarov Ultra’s magazine. As with all Makarovs, the mag release is located at the bottom rear of the pistol grip.

Umarex Legends Makarov Lanyard loop
Two of the 4 pistols have a lanyard loop — the Makarov firearm (right) and the non-blowback Umarex Makarov.

The sights are fixed — front and rear. This is identical to the firearm. There are Makarov firearms with adjustable sights and double-stack magazines, but I believe these are civilian models, only. Contrary to what the wikipedia writeup says, the Makarov firearm is a very accurate pistol.

It disassembles
Yes, the Makarov Ultra does disassemble, just like the firearm. Pull the triggerguard down in front and slide the slide back and up off the frame. Disassembly takes about 2 seconds. There’s no reason to disassemble the pistol, but I know that some owners just have to do it! Just know that disassembly is not authorized by the factory; and if you damage your gun or lose parts, the warranty doesn’t cover you.

Summary
I give the Ultra model high marks for realism. It lacks the lanyard loop on the bottom left of the grip frame and the safety doesn’t decock the hammer like the firearm safety does; but other than that, it’s a remarkable package. For those who like realistic BB pistols, the Makarov Ultra is one to have.

Airsoft primer: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• The spring-piston powerplant
• How an AEG works
• Upgrading an AEG
• The problems with upgrading
• How to upgrade safely

When we last looked at airsoft upgrades, we talked about how the tuner has to look at the gun as a system. Improving one part of the gun without regard to the others usually won’t make much of a difference. In some cases, it may even make the gun prone to fail much faster. I told you about barrels and gearboxes last time. Today, we’ll look at the powerplant, itself.

Powerplant
The powerplants of spring-powered airsoft guns are identical to the powerplants of spring-powered pellet guns. They have a piston, a mainspring and a compression chamber. The piston has a seal that’s most often just an o-ring. That’s no different than the BSA Meteor Mark IV I’ve been reviewing for you.

The big difference is that airsoft powerplant parts are most often made of tough plastic instead of metal. And the coiled steel mainsprings found in airsoft guns are wimpy compared to the springs found in pellet guns.

Airsoft piston and mainspring
Here’s an AEG airsoft piston with its mainspring. Note that this piston is made of nylon. Also note the piston’s final gear tooth is made of steel.

Compare springs
Compare a stock AEG mainspring (bottom) to an upgraded spring (middle) to a middleweight pellet rifle mainspring (top). Airsoft powerplants are weak, compared to pellet gun powerplants.

But they work! And they can be upgraded. You can install a heavier mainspring and a piston that fits the compression chamber tighter. These will boost your muzzle velocity. With some upgrades, it’s possible to boost the output so high that you have to use a heavier airsoft BB (plastic ball) to keep the gun shooting accurately.

We overlook what too much power does to our pellet guns, but it’s hard to ignore it when all your airsoft BBs are curving hard to the left, no matter how much you adjust the Hop Up! They go so slow and are so visible that you pay attention to them — like tracers in the nighttime sky — especially when you’re shooting a stream of shots on full-auto. So, you switch to the heavier BBs and find they’re even more accurate in that tight barrel you just installed.

My point is this — you upgraded your guns to get more velocity, but when you got it you lost accuracy. You had to switch to heavier ammunition to do what? Lower the velocity, again! Is that crazy or what?

Upgrading an AEG
While any type of airsoft powerplant can be upgraded, the most common type by far that people upgrade is the automatic electronic gun, or AEG. An AEG is a spring-piston gun that has a small high-torque motor to cock the piston. Because it’s electronic, a switch can be turned to make the motor operate just one time with every pull of the trigger — giving you semiautomatic fire — or to keep cocking and releasing the piston as long as the trigger is held down, which gives full-auto fire.

Unlike a firearm, the gun is not powered by the ammunition. It runs on electricity that powers a motor. As long as there’s juice in the battery, the action will cycle without regard to the presence of ammunition.

How an AEG works
The AEG has a large gear wheel that meshes with the piston. As the gear wheel turns, it draws the piston back until it reaches the spot on the wheel where there are no gear teeth. The wheel keeps turning; but when the teeth no longer hold the piston, the mainspring pushes it forward, firing the gun. The wheel continues to turn to the point that the gear teeth re-engage the teeth on the piston’s gear rack once again. The cycle repeats itself.

cocking gear 1
The AEG cocking gear is about to engage the first tooth on the piston gear rack. (Next photo shows this in detail)

cocking gear 2
The first tooth on the cocking gear is about to mesh with the first tooth on the nylon piston.

cocking gear 3
Here the gear wheel has rotated through all its teeth. The last gear tooth on the cocking gear has engaged the final steel tooth on the nylon piston. The cocking gear continues to rotate, and the piston will clear the gear teeth and be pushed forward.

cocking gear 4
Now the piston has fired and the gear wheel has rotated to the starting engagement position again. This keeps on going as long as the trigger is held down when the gun is in the full-auto mode.

For semiautomatic fire, the gear wheel turns only to the point of releasing the piston one time. It will rotate round to re-engage the piston gear teeth but not rotate farther until the trigger is pulled again.

If you install a stronger mainspring and better piston and compression chamber in your M4 AEG, that wimpy 8.4-volt battery that came with the gun will probably not run it too well. The gun that used to fire 700 shots per minute now struggles to put 400 out in the same timeframe, and everything sounds over-stressed — which it is. You need a stronger motor to power that new setup and a stronger battery to run it. And, while you’re at it, better get a battery with a higher mAH (milliampere-hour) rating. That way your gun won’t run out of juice after just the first magazine.

But you don’t just get a bigger battery. Sometimes, there’s no room inside the gun to house a bigger battery, and other times the bigger battery will take too long to charge when it runs down. Perhaps, it’s also time to change battery technologies from NiCad to lithium-ion (Li-ion or LIB).

Upgrading the batteries and motor
I did a two-part article on airsoft batteries for Pyramyd Air back in 2008 and 2009. Here are the links: Battery basics –Part 1 and Battery basics — Part 2. Those articles were well-researched, and the information still holds true today. Maybe there have been some technical improvements, but batteries are still batteries.

I think you need to understand why you want a better battery. Sure, it’s for more power and so you can operate longer and recharge faster, but the battery does nothing by itself. It powers the motor that drives the powerplant. If you’re not upgrading that as well, you gain very little by just swapping batteries. Maybe you just get the gun to operate as well as you thought it would when you bought it.

It turns back on itself
So, you upgrade the motor, battery, compression chamber, piston and mainspring. Let’s say you even changed the gears from nylon to metal. Bully for you! However, as you shoot your new, more powerful gun, you notice the cyclic rate starts slowing down, again, after the first few thousand shots. This is exasperating because you’ve now doubled the cost of the gun by adding all these upgrades — not to mention hours of your time spent installing them and getting them to run right.

You tear down the gun, again, and discover that the holes in the metal gearbox that serve as anchors for the pins that the new steel gears run on are all enlarged. They’re no longer round but are becoming oval. The pins have loosened! That’s because either the gearbox itself (the housing that holds the gears) is too soft to take the strain of the upgrades you’ve installed, or you didn’t shim each new gear properly — and they’re slipping sideways as they operate. This puts undue strain on their axels (the pins). You have to figure out what it is and then either buy a replacement gearbox, or buy an upgraded gearbox (if one exists) or, most expensive of all, drill out all the pin holes in the existing gearbox and install steel bushings for the pins to rest in.

Is it really that bad?
Is upgrading an AEG airsoft gun really fraught with all these pitfalls? Not usually. If you proceed with caution and learn as you go, none of these things ever needs to happen, or maybe one will happen and you’ll be able to deal with it. The guy who suffers them all at the same time is the guy who just throws money at his gun without bothering to understand how it works in the first place.

How to proceed?
How should you proceed if you really want to upgrade your gun? Well, first I think you need to have a reasonable expectation of what can be done to the gun and why you want to do that. I remember watching an upgrade to a bolt-action sniper rifle a number of years ago. The owner wanted the absolute best of everything, so he went for the tightest barrel, the best piston and compression chamber and the strongest mainspring. Then, when he cocked his newly upgraded rifle for the first time, it suddenly dawned on him that the bolt that used to take 20 lbs. of effort to cock now took almost 40 lbs.! That gun was the baddest beast around, only nobody could cock it! Try cocking a bolt-action rifle that takes 39 lbs. of force some time if you don’t believe me.

Had this guy bothered to first research his project, he would have found this out before investing all that time and money. What he wanted was a bragging-rights sniper rifle with no thought of how to actually use the gun. How do you brag about a gun that nobody can cock? A good sniper rifle is accurate and not that difficult to cock. You don’t do it all with a heavier mainspring!

Allow me to make a comparison in the automotive world. You can buy a nice used Acura Integra and drive it daily, or you can lose your mind and mod the engine up to 1,000 horsepower. At that point (actually, long before you get to that point), the Integra is no longer suited for making runs to the mall. It’s sole purpose is to travel 1/4 mile in the least amount of time.

You can build an airsoft gun that launches 0.28-gram BBs at 550 f.p.s., if you want to. Just don’t expect to use it for anything beyond wowing your buddies at the chronograph. You left the real world of airsoft some time back.

A safer way to proceed would be to use kits that manufacturers put together for specific purposes. Read what users of these kits say about them before taking the plunge. Maybe, if the upgraded barrel you selected wasn’t so tight, you might get by with a lower-powered mainspring that was still an upgrade over your factory gun.

And maybe stop and take a moment to ask yourself why you feel the need to upgrade your gun at all. All airsoft guns do not need to be upgraded — just as all pellet guns do not need to be tuned right out of the box.

Another safe thing you can do is to upgrade a battery by one increment of voltage. It’s usually safe to go from an 8.4-volt battery to a 9.6-volt battery — especially if the gun you’re upgrading comes with metal gears. And you can upgrade the amount of battery storage capacity (mAH) without suffering anything except a possible space issue. A battery with a higher mAH rating is usually larger. On some guns like the M4s with the extendable stocks the batteries have to fit inside the forearm, so make sure there’s ample room before you buy the larger battery.

Summary
I could go on and on with this and that tweak, but I think you get the idea. Know what you hope to achieve before you break the bank trying for that last f.p.s.

NEW: Dan Wesson pellet revolvers!
Dan Wesson pellet revolvers

You wanted Dan Wesson revolvers that could shoot pellets, so we ordered them. Six-shot pellet shooters that so closely copy the firearm, you'll be stunned by the realism. An excellent way to hone trigger control and maintain accuracy with your firearm -- without range fees, expensive ammo or leaving your house. Pre-order yours now. Get it. Shoot it. Love it!

Ka-BOOM!
Airburst MegaBoom reactive targets

Airburst MegaBoom bases transform ordinary plastic soda & water bottles into booming targets that deliver up to 150 decibels when punctured. Get the base and charge your own plastic bottles or get the MegaBoom bottles filled with BoomDust that mists like smoke when the bottle is punctured. Low-pressure air pump and blast guard accessories also available. A real blast!

Archives