Posts Tagged ‘CO2 pistol’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is accuracy day for the Tanfolglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun, but it’s just the first of many tests. An airsoft gun with adjustable Hop-up, or BAXS in this case, has to be adjusted to shoot its best. I’ve never adjusted a gun with BAXS, but I’ve adjusted plenty of them with Hop-up and that is how it always happens. The gun never shoots its best right out of the box. I’m assuming the BAXS is the same.
All I did today was find out which BBs are worth continuing with and which aren’t. As it turned out, I got good results with several 0.20-gram BBs, which is what the manufacturer recommends for this gun. I also did well with one 0.25-gram BB.
I’ll warn you right now, the targets you’re about to see are not very impressive. They look terrible, in fact. If you’re used to good groups from pellet guns, these are going to seem hopeless. But they do show small differences between the good BBs and those that aren’t worth pursuing, and that was all I wanted to do today.
I shot off a bag rest with the butt of the gun (the bottom of the magazine well) rested against the bag. I also tried holding it ahead of the bag and just resting my arms on the bag, but it moved around too much. Maybe next time I’ll play with some different holds.
I shot only 5-shot groups today because I was testing a large number of different BBs. In all, I tested over 10 different brands, but only the most promising will be shown here.
Before I get to that, however, there was another problem not related to the gun. The Swiss Arms red dot sight that was bundled with the pistol quit working suddenly during the first session. It wasn’t the battery because that’s still good. So, I dismounted it and installed a Walther Competition II Top Point red dot sight that I got from Pyramyd Air for testing; but some funny-bunny at the factory had left the sight turned to high power, and the battery was dead. I replaced it with a fresh battery but the sight failed to respond. So — two red dot sights out of the running even before we start. That was what ticked me off yesterday and caused the rewriting of my blog.
Fortunately, I have an older Tasco Pro Point red dot sight that has functioned perfectly on many airguns over the past 15 years. That one went on for this test, and everything was good again.
Sight-in was a bit frantic because I unknowingly chose the least accurate 0.20 BB for the job. The gun doesn’t like the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs that weigh 0.20-grams. It took me about 10 shots to get sort of on target, but it wasn’t until I switched ammo that I found out what was happening. More on that in a moment, now for the quick rundown.
This pistol hates 0.12-gram BBs. They couldn’t even stay on the trap at 10 meters, and I was using the UTG Accushot Pellet and BB trap. Forget staying on target! This things were hitting the backer board that was behind the trap. Fortunately, I expected something like that, so I didn’t waste much time. BBs this light are usually good only in lower-powered spring-piston guns.
The pistol also performs only average with the 0.28-gram BBs. Though I only tried one brand, the TSD Tactical 0.28-gram BBs, I can tell from experience that this BB is too heavy for the pistol.
That leaves 0.25-gram and 0.20-gram BBs. The gun shot the best group with Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.25-gram BBs, but it was 2.864 inches for 5 shots. See what I mean about not getting too excited?
The second-best group of 5 shots was a 0.20-gram Marui Black BB that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry. Five of those went into 2.875 inches at 10 meters, which is really too close to call. The round BBs tear holes that are indistinct and measurement may be off by a lot. Fortunately, the pictures don’t lie.
But it was another 0.20-gram BB, the TSD Stealth that’s apparently no longer made that tipped the scales on this day. The first group I shot was spread out wide, but it was just one BB that did it. The other four were in 1.809 inches. I was so encouraged that I shot a second group; and, again, 4 BBs went into 2.229 inches and the fifth shot opened the group several more inches. I think this might be the most accurate BB after the BAXS gets adjusted, or at least 0.20-gram BBs of some other brand might turn out to be the best. If not, the 0.25-gram Air Venturi BBs might get better with the adjustment.
Don’t get discouraged!
My time with airsoft has taught me to first look for the best BB, and then spend more time adjusting the Hop-up to maximize its potential. That’s what lies ahead of us for this pistol. I won’t guarantee the gun will be much more accurate than this; but if past experience holds true, it will be!
Believe me, I do understand that this is not a target pistol. But to win as a competition gun, it has to place its shots close together. IPSC for airsoft doesn’t shoot as far as 10 meters, so this test is extreme, but it’s also quite good at showing what the gun is capable of.
The gun’s recoil is sharp when you’re aiming carefully. And the trigger that I loved before is still preforming well. All in all, I’m a little disappointed that I can’t show you better groups than these; but if the BAXS works as it should, I should be able to reduce these by a lot.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s look at the velocity of the Tanfolglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun. When I started the test, I discovered something unusual. The CO2 cartridge I’d loaded last week to test the gun initially had leaked down completely. That usually doesn’t happen until several months have passed, so it got me wondering. I’ll watch the gun and see if it happens again. I left the test today with a 75 percent filled cartridge; so if I test it again in a week and it’s out, I’ll know. And to answer your question, yes, I did use Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each fresh cartridge when I installed it.
Testing the velocity of an airsoft gun is a little different than testing a pellet gun. It’s more like testing a BB gun because the airsoft BBs come in specific weights. The velocities tend to conform to the weights rather than to the individual brands of BBs used. I’ll test the pistol today with the 4 most popular weights — 0.12 grams, 0.20 grams, 0.25 grams and 0.28 grams. And let’s get something straight right now. When we’re talking about airsoft BBs, we’re speaking in terms of GRAMS — not grains. There are about 454 grams in a pound, but 7,000 GRAINS per pound. So a gram is MUCH heavier than a grain. A gram is a decimal unit of the metric system. It’s one-thousandth of a kilogram. A grain is an apothecary (medical) weight from the old English system of weights — a system that is also used by jewelers. It was historically the weight of one barley seed, but has been standardized to one seven-thousandth of a pound.
Regardless of the weight of each BB, they’re all the same size. Their weight is controlled by the material used to make them.
UHC Precision Ground BBs, 0.12 grams
First up are 0.12-gram (1.85 grains) UHC BBs. They averaged 417 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from a low of 406 to a high of 425 f.p.s. That’s slightly slower than the maximum advertised veloicity of 453 f.p.s for this pistol. At the average velocity they produce 0.71-foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Given the design goals of airsoft, that’s fine, because much more than that will start to injure anyone hit by them.
Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.20 grams
Next up were Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.20-gram (3.09 grains) BBs. These are value-priced BBs that come in bottles of 2,700 rounds, 5,000 rounds and, for the serious shooter, supersized bags of 125,000!
These averaged 333 f.p.s. with a spread from 315 to 346 f.p.s. This is the recommended BB weight for this pistol, which means it will probably be the easiest one to tune the BAXS (the trajectory adjustment in the pistol) with. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. I have other brands of 0.20-gram BBs, including competition BBs; so if this weight turns out to work well in the gun, I plan to give it the biggest test. As a final note, the velocity was right where the specs say it should be (320-350 f.p.s.).
Air Venturi Pro CQBBs, 0.25 grams
This 0.25-gram (3.86 grains) BB is a little heavier than the recommended weight, but sometimes that doesn’t hurt the accuracy at all. With the right BBs, it can enhance it — and this is where having several different brands of premium airsoft BBs is an advantage. I tested velocity with the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs 0.25-gram BB that’s the equivalent of the 0.20-gram BB mentioned above, but heavier. It comes packaged the same way, and I have the 2,700 BB bottle for the test.
These BBs averaged 296 f.p.s. in the Tanfoglio pistol. The range went from 282 to 304 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB produced 0.75 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
TSD Tactical, 0.28 gram BBs
The last BB I tried was the TSD Tactical 0.28-gram (4.32 grains) BBs. These are clearly too heavy for this gun, but they did produce velocity very close to the 0.25-gram BBs. The average was 289 f.p.s., with a spread from 274 to 302 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this BB developed 0.80 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Loading the magazine
I don’t have a speedloader, so I loaded each BB one-by-one into the double-stack magazine. They have to be pressed through the top of the magazine, which then holds them against falling out while the gun is operating. That’s the sign of a quality airsoft gun. If you remove the loaded mag for any reason, a BB doesn’t fall out of the mag as it often does on lower-priced gas guns and most spring guns and auto-electric guns (AEGs).
I also note the BBs instantly arranged themselves within the mag…and without any fuss. With lesser guns, the BB stack will have gaps on one side that lead to misfeeds.
Stopping the BBs
Nothing rebounds worse than a plastic airsoft BB. Nothing! Those of you who know airsoft probably wonder how I managed to stop the BBs in the velocity tes. When I tell you that I stopped 100 percent of more than 60 BBs fired, you need to know how I did it! I used a UTG Accushot Pellet and BB trap, and in front of that I placed a heavy cardboard sheet at a slight angle of perhaps 15 degrees to the face of the trap. The trap and cardboard both stood in a shallow cardboard tray that caught all BBs that came back out of the trap. It worked so well that I will use it when I conduct the accuracy test.
I proclaimed how much I love the Tanfoglio trigger in Part 1. Now let me tell you the specs. It’s single-stage, with the blade moving through an arc that can be felt, and it breaks cleanly at 2 lbs., 9 oz., which is even lighter than the trigger on my Wilson Combat CQB 1911 firearm. This is a pistol trigger to die for! The only criticism is that it doesn’t break like a glass rod; but since the gun is for action shooting and not bullseye targets, that doesn’t matter.
I got exactly 40 shots before the gun began slowing down. After that, there were another 10 good shots before the blowback function came into question. I guess a lot of the CO2 is used for blowback. Since this is a competition gun, that makes no difference. Winners will buy it and use it, no matter what it takes to make it work. This is not a budget plinker. It’s a full-blown competition airgun!
I hope this pistol will be a real tackdriver because that would make it perfect. I know that it’s not a target gun, but it does have to place its shots in the same place to score high in the competitions it would enter. If it does — well, I don’t know that I will let it go back!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Well, here’s something different! I’m testing an airsoft gun — actually the Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft kit — which the distributor calls a softair gun. Many of you don’t remember this, but years ago I used to test airsoft guns for this blog from time to time. Then Pyramyd Air got a dedicated blogger for airsoft and I stopped reviewing them. Well, that blog is no longer active, so I told Edith I wanted to start testing them again, now and then. I don’t skirmish and I don’t shoot guns at people. So, my interest in airsoft guns is in their realism and how well they shoot. That’s how I’ll be looking at this one. Since realism was the original impetus behind the creation of airsoft guns, I don’t think my views are out of line.
This test is actually the first part of a twofer because there’s also a Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback BB pistol that I have. I’ll test that one after I finish this test, but I won’t link the 2 reports to keep the confusion down. The gun I’m looking at is serial number 12021442.
Today’s test isn’t just a gun — it’s an entire shooting kit that comes with a Swiss Arms red dot holographic sight. The pistol comes with a Picatinny sight base attached to the gun but no dot sight in the package, so this dot sight completes the ensemble. And it’s an all-metal gun that weighs 3 lbs., 4.4 oz. without sights, ammo or CO2! That makes it 2.5 oz. heavier than my Wilson Combat .45 ACP when it’s fully loaded! Nothing but metal touches your hand. Although the gun resembles a 1911 somewhat, it’s also clearly different. The grip frame reminds me of a Llama Max II 45L/F hi-cap pistol because it ‘s wider, more rounded and softer than a slabsided 1911.
This firearm is purpose-built as an IPSC (International Practical Shooting Confederation) competition gun. It’s endorsed by 5-time IPSC world champion Eric Grauffel and is a copy of the gun he uses. Its purpose is to place as many shots as possible into the highest-scoring kill zone of silhouette targets in the shortest possible time. The slide has a cocking knob located on the right rear, so you don’t rack the slide to start the gun — you pull back on the cocking knob. Even though the trigger appears to be double-action, this pistol is single-action only. And the trigger-pull is to die for! I’ll get to that in a moment.
A knob on the right rear of the pistol retracts the slide to cock the hammer. Blowback continues to cock the hammer after the first shot until the magazine is out of ammo, then the slide remains open.
With this gun, we have a dilemma. It has blowback action that drives the slide to the rear with each shot, cocking the hammer for the next shot. With most airsoft guns with blowback, you get the feel of recoil that a firearm would have. It isn’t exactly the same, but it’s a good simulation, which is the primary reason these guns have it. However, with this pistol, we want to recover from each shot as fast as possible, so any movement caused by blowback runs counter to the purpose of the gun. We have it and it works, but we don’t really want it — except to cock the hammer. Fortunately, the makers understood that, and the blowback of this pistol does not make the gun bounce in your hand. Throw in the safety, which is wide enough so you can rest your thumb on it, and you’ve got an action pistol that’s still very controllable.
I don’t know how they did it, but the makers of this pistol gave it one of the finest 2-stage trigger-pulls it has ever been my good fortune to try. It’s not a glass-crisp release; stage 2 does have movement. You can feel the blade as it moves, but there isn’t even a hint of creep. I’ll test the trigger for you in Part 2 and give you the numbers. But I’m telling you now — this one is very good!
The gun has an ambidextrous thumb safety that can be used as a thumb rest for your shooting hand. The reason to do this is to reduce the amount of muzzle flip with each shot, allowing you to get on the next target faster. Since IPSC is a timed competition, everything that saves time is a benefit.
The forward part of the grip frame and backstrap are both finely checkered for a better grip. I would want even more checkering, but the gun still grabs your hand well. The backstrap is a full beavertail that goes way back over your shooting hand. The hammer is both bobbed and skeletonized for speed. This pistol showcases the type of race gun features competitors would spend thousands of dollars to get.
The magazine holds both the single CO2 cartridge and 17 6mm airsoft BBs arranged in a vertical double-stack column. The specs say this is an 18-shot magazine, so I will be checking that during this test. The extended magazine release on the left side of the frame cleanly releases the drop-free magazine, and the next loaded mag installs easily in the funnel-shaped butt…because, once again, time is the issue.
Of course, the gun’s caliber is 6mm. The lithographed box indicates the pistol does best with 0.20-gram BBs that are supposed to leave the muzzle at 350 f.p.s. Velocity is also given for 0.12-gram BBs that are supposed to go out at 450 f.p.s. Naturally, I’ll test both claims.
This pistol has a proprietary version of Hop-Up called the BAXS shooting system. It puts a controlled backspin on the plastic ball, giving straighter flight over a longer distance. It’s adjustable and requires partial disassembly of the gun to access the adjustment. The slide has to come off. It’s held on by a disassembly pin, similar to the one found on a Beretta 92FS. I’ll test the efficacy of this for you when I write the accuracy test.
There are no open sights on this gun, as it’s a competition model. But it does come with a Picatinny rail for optical sights. The rail is attached to the left side of the gun’s frame by 4 Allen screws, and there are 4 more threaded holes on the right side of the frame, although the base isn’t symmetrical and cannot be switched over to the other side. The slide is free to cycle beneath the rail and is the reason there’s a cocking knob on the gun.
These days, dot sights reign supreme in IPSC competition, so that’s what’s provided in the kit. The Swiss Arms dot sight is a holographic-type red dot that has 11 levels of brightness and the off position. Naturally, the dot is adjustable for both windage and elevation. I see that the dot is very fat, which helps with rapid target acquisition more than precision; again, time is the crucial factor. So the choice of this particular sight was well thought out.
Yes, there’s a blaze orange muzzle to comply with U.S. import regulations. And, no, it’s not okay to take it off or cover it up. If you get in trouble with this gun and have altered the muzzle, you bear the full brunt of liability for the problems it causes.
There’s also a compensator on the muzzle of the gun. It would work if the gun had the volume of gas that’s generated by a .45 ACP cartridge. But with CO2, it’s just there for looks.
I know handguns, and this KWC (Taiwan) airsoft pistol blows me away. It isn’t just good — it’s great, and you can tell it was purposely made that way. There’s no luck involved here — this pistol is intentionally meant to be wonderful.
I know it isn’t a precision target pistol; but it’s made for a type of target shooting, so it has to be accurate. Right? I’ll try to test it in the way it was intended to be shot.
I didn’t select this pistol on my own. I asked Pyramyd Air’s airsoft expert, Sergey, to send me the best gun he has. And this was his choice. I haven’t fired one BB through it, yet I’m already inclined to agree with him!
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, you’ll get a twofer — thanks to blog reader Les, who asked about adjusting dot sights and lasers. I said I would test the Umarex MORPH 3X with a dot sight, so I thought I’d combine that test with instructions on how to adjust the sight to hit the point of impact.
I hadn’t considered testing a laser on the Morph, but I can certainly describe how to do it. I’ll get to that at the end of the report.
The dot sight
What is a dot sight? Well, once you understand what it is, you’ll understand that adjusting one is the same as adjusting a scope. Because that is what a dot sight is — a scope without the magnification (usually) or the crosshairs!
On scopes, the crosshairs or reticle are lines that you see through to see the target. By adjusting where the lines are, you can adjust where your shot strikes the target. I think most folks understand that.
All a dot sight does is substitute a glowing dot of light for the center of the crosshairs. In other words, the intersection of the crosshairs is replaced by a glowing dot of light. Put that over what you want to hit; and if the sight is adjusted properly, it works the same as a scope. No one other than the shooter can see the dot.
The glowing dot is different than the crosshairs because it isn’t a solid object. It’s a reflection on the surface of a lens that appears in your line of sight. You can see it because the reflection is physically there, but it isn’t anything that can be touched, anymore than you can touch an image in a mirror. But you can adjust where the dot is seen by adjusting the lens that reflects it.
If you have a dot sight, try looking through it and moving your head around from side to side and up and down. You’ll note that the dot moves against the target quite a bit. That’s because you’re moving your eye, and that changes where the reflection of the dot appears to be. You can do the same thing with the reticle of a scope, but not to the same extent. Where a scope reticle will appear to move just a little against a target, a dot appears to move more. That’s the difference between looking at something that is physically there and something that’s just reflected off a curved piece of glass.
That should warn you that dot sights have a lot of parallax problems and require consistent eye placement for every shot. The same is true with open sights, but open sights give cues when the alignment isn’t right. The front sight moves relative to the rear sight. But a dot sight is just a single point of reference, so you can’t see the misalignment as easily. Therefore, the placement of your head is extremely important if you expect to hit the target every time.
What I’m saying about dot sights applies to the older tube-type sights, like the one I’m using in this test. I suspect, like all technologies, dot sights have become more precise in recent years. But my experience is with the older style.
Don’t get the idea that dot sights are impossible, though, because they’re not. Though they are somewhat dicey to use. It’s not as bad as ice skating on stilts.
Dot sight adjustment
Now that you understand what a dot sight is, you should know that it adjusts in the same way as a conventional scope. One knob controls the up and down movement, and the other controls the left and right. Sighting-in a dot sight is no different than sighting-in a scope. You select a point of aim, which you hope will also be the point of impact and hold on it as you shoot. If the pellets strike the target low and to the left, the sight has to be adjusted up and to the right.
Like a scope, it helps to begin sight-in of a dot sight at a close target. I like starting at 10 feet away, and I adjust the sight until the pellet is striking the target on the centerline and as far below the point of aim as the center of the sight is above the center of the bore. Then, I know I can back up to 10 meters, and I’ll be on paper. I may need to refine my sight adjustment a little when I shoot at 10 meters, but this is the fastest way I know to sight in an airgun — especially one that cannot be boresighted.
But what if you’re at a public range and can’t shoot at 10 feet? That’s when I put up a 2-foot by 4-foot light-colored paper backer and staple my target in the center of that. Even at 50 yards, there’s a good chance my shots will land somewhere on that big piece of paper if I shoot at the center of the target. When even that fails, I enlist the help of a spotter to watch the berm. I shoot at a dirt clod we can both identify and he watches through the binoculars that I always carry to see where my bullet strikes relative to the dirt clod.
Tasco Pro Point
I mounted a Tasco Pro Point dot sight to the rail on top of the Morph and was ready to commence sight-in. The Pro Point is a dated design, but it was good quality 15 years ago and still works well today. The amount of parallax is small for a dot sight, but I still watch my head placement every time.
It was very easy to install the Pro Point on the Morph. The Weaver bases on the Pro Point clamp right to the Morph’s rail, and clamping pressure plus the keyed cross-slots hold the sight in place.
Tasco Pro Pont dot sight fits the Morph quite well.
I think it was Victor who asked me how I stop the BBs from bouncing back, so today I thought I’d show you. I photographed my target setup, so you can see the light and the Winchester Airgun Target Cube with the Shoot-N-C target pasted on its front.
Absolutely no BBs bounce back using this setup. The target cube is starting to slough off small pieces of styrofoam, now that over a thousand shots have hit it, but nothing gets through it and nothing bounces back.
On to the shooting
At first, I shot the Morph in carbine form offhand at 15 feet (I’m using Umarex Precision steel BBs). I dialed the red dot intensity up to No. 8; because when the Shoot-N-C target turns green, it’s so bright that it masks the dot. Even at the 8 setting, I could barely see the dot against the target, once it changed from black to green (or yellow — I can’t tell…I’m colorblind.). Of course, when you shoot offhand, the dot seems to move all over the target — even at 15 feet.
Seeing the accuracy of the carbine made me want to shoot the gun rested. I brought in a kitchen chair, turned it around and used the back as a rest for my next group.
Seeing this result made me want to see just how good the gun could shoot. So I adjusted the dot to the right and shot another 10 rounds.
Let’s back up
Seeing how good the Morph could do at 15 feet prompted me to back up to 25 feet and try again. This was also a rested group of 10 shots. I adjusted the sight a little more to the right for this one.
I was running out of the smaller bulls, but with a dot sight that poses no problem. Since the BB goes where the dot is, the size of the target has no influence over where you hit, as it would with a peep sight or a post and notch using a 6 o’clock hold.
At 25 feet the group opened up a bit, but it’s still respectable. There’s a single BB above the bull in the cardboard. This is a larger bull; but with a dot sight, that doesn’t pose a problem. The sight is still not far enough to the right, and notice that the impact point has climbed just a little. The orange dot in the center of the bull was the aim point.
I don’t have a laser that will fit on the Picatinny rail of the Morph, so I can’t mount one, but let’s talk about how a laser differs from a dot sight and a scope. A laser actually shines a light on the target. What you see is reflected from the target — not from a lens inside an optical device. The laser dot can be seen by everyone — not just by the shooter — the way a dot sight can. And because the laser dot actually hits the target, there can never be any parallax. What you see is actually there, on the target.
With a laser, there’s nothing to look through. Think of a laser as a very powerful flashlight. It isn’t actually a sight. It’s more of a designator.
A laser is adjusted just like a scope or dot sight, except you’re adjusting where the light actually falls. So, the procedure is to use a separate sight to sight-in the gun, then adjust the laser so it’s on the target when the other sight is.
Adjusting a laser is usually different than adjusting a scope or a dot sight. There aren’t click adjustments, as a rule, but there are screws that push the laser tube in the direction you want it to go. This may be backwards of how a scope’s adjustments move, so read the laser’s manual before you start adjusting.
Distance is limited
Lasers can’t be seen very far on bright days, so they’re limited in distance. You can look at them through a scope which increases the distance at which the dot can be seen, but even then the laser is a limited-range sighting aid. A 50-yard shot is very far for a laser. Most shooters set them up for very close shots, like 20-30 feet. They use their other sights for longer distances.
Les — I hope this helps you with the sight-in procedure for dot sights and lasers. Let me know if you have more questions.
The Morph 3X rifle and pistol is a unique airgun that’s accurate and powerful at the same time. The double-action trigger-pull may take getting used to, but it poses no problem as far as accuracy goes.
I find the Morph accurate, conservative of gas and trouble-free to operate. If you want an accurate BB gun that also has power, check this one out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I didn’t realize how many readers were watching the Umarex MORPH 3X pistol and rifle until I read some of the comments. Apparently, many of you must use smoothbore BB guns for various reasons, and a long-barreled gun is something you like. Since this one can change from a pistol to a long gun, it’s of particular interest.
As you will remember, the Morph not only has two barrel lengths — it also has two power levels. Each of those conditions had to be tested. I shot at 15 feet, which is one of two established distances for BB guns — the other being 5 meters or just over 16 feet.
The gun has fiberoptic sights, but they do not illuminate well in room lighting. In essence, they were a sharp set of post and notch open sights. That’s better for accuracy, because fiberoptics are less precise since they cover a lot of the target.
The gun was loaded with 30 Umarex precision steel BBs and fired in its pistol form first. I started with low power and put 3 shots off the bull before I got the sight picture correct. I had to hold on the center of the bull with the Morph. Then, they went to the center of the bull but made a vertical dispersion. I believe the verticality is mostly my fault, as I’m not yet used to the double-action trigger-pull.
Next, I adjusted the pistol to high power and shot a second target. This time, the shots all went lower, as they often do when they go faster. They also went to the right for reasons I cannot explain. The group is even tighter, so I’m thinking this is where the pistol wants to shoot for me.
Pistol with long barrel extension
Someone asked if the barrel extension could be added to the pistol without connecting the longer forearm, and it can. They then asked me to show a picture of what that looks like. Here it is.
It was time to test the carbine. This is the forearm and barrel extension plus the detachable butt. I decided to test the gun this way and not just with the barrel extension by itself since the butt would give me greater stability. It also placed the rear sight too close to my eye for good aim, but I’ll address that at the end of the report.
On low power, the carbine shot slightly low and to the right of the aim point. I must report that shooting with the double-action trigger, while not as precise as shooting single-action, is not that difficult when the carbine butt is attached.
Then, I adjusted the gun to high power and shot another group.
Several owners have said they like their Morphs because they’re accurate, and I think this test supports that. The gun seems to be equally accurate as just a pistol or with the barrel extension installed. But high power does seem to improve things in either mode. Four targets aren’t enough data to prove anything; but since these are 10-shot groups, they do give a pretty good indication of how the gun is shooting.
The sighting situation was a compromise, as I mentioned earlier, so I do plan on another test of the gun. That one will be with a red dot sight attached. Then, I think we’ll see everything this unique BB gun has to offer. So far, though, the Morph 3X is a winner in my book.