Posts Tagged ‘Crosman 160’
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’m testing the Crosman 160 for accuracy. This is a target rifle — originally intended for 25-foot ranges, so 10 meters, which is very close to 33 feet, is the distance I shot for this test. And I shot at 10-meter rifle targets. It’s important to remember this rifle is a .22, not a .177, because the larger pellets will influence the overall group size.
The 160 has a post front sight that isn’t as precise as an aperture, but I learned to shoot on a similar sight, so it still works well for me. I’d disassembled the rear aperture sight during cleaning, so when I sighted-in there was a lot of adjusting to get the pellet on target.
I held my eye as close to the aperture as I could get, because my recent experience with both the Ballard and Remington model 37 has taught me that this is the way to get the best accuracy from an aperture sight. The tiny hole made my pupil dilate and the front sight came into sharp focus, as it always should.
I sighted-in with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome and left the sights there. So, the first group is well-centered and the other pellets are a little bit off.
Remember that wonderful trigger I told you about last time? Well, this is where it came into its own. It is breaking so light that I leave my finger off the blade until the sight picture is correct. Then it’s just touch and “Bang!” It breaks at a pound. I’ve bump-tested the gun several times without a pellet just to see if I could jar it off the sear, and it’s holding fine…but it feels like a precision set trigger. Perhaps, having the overtravel adjustment makes the difference.
I remember these 160s as being more accurate than they have a right to be, given their original price, and this one is, too. The first 10 shots went into a group that measures 0.313 inches. The group is very round and gives every indication that the rifle loves this pellet.
Next, I tried the .22-caliber Premiers. Back in the early 1990s, when this pellet first came out, 160 owners discovered their rifles were much more accurate than they had believed. When the 160 was new, it was thought that the best they would do was a quarter-sized group at 25 feet. Now they were shooting into a dime at 33 feet.
This time, the group wasn’t as good as some others I’ve shot. Ten shots measure 0.449 inches between centers. The point of impact shifted to the left a bit, as well.
I also wanted to try a pellet I’d never used in a 160, so the next pellet was an RWS Superdome. They should do well, being both medium weight and thin-skirted. A thin skirt can be blown out into the rifling by the low pressure of the CO2 gas, which will seal the pellet in the bore quite well.
Before you get excited from looking at these next targets, you need to know that I was interrupted while shooting and as a result I put 5 shots on each target, instead of the 10 on one, as planned. Although this was a mistake, it does illustrate, once again, the difference between the sizes of 5-shot and 10-shot groups.
If you didn’t know there were only 5 shots in this group, you could make up all sorts of claims for the RWS Superdome pellets. The group measures 0.107 inches between centers. This is 10-meter target rifle size — even though it was shot with the larger pellets! But it is only 5 shots.
As I loaded and shot, I reflected on the ease of the bolt’s operation. Opening it requires just the flick of one finger, because you’re not cocking a spring. It’s as quick as pulling back the bolt on a biathlon target rifle. Pushing the bolt forward takes some effort, though, because this is where the hammer spring gets compressed.
The big .22-caliber domed pellets lie in the loading trough and feed without a bobble. Where some guns want to flip pellets around, the 160 feeds them effortlessly every time. I can describe the cocking and loading experience as having an oily smoothness.
Upon examination, I feel the JSB Exact pellet did the best in this test. It put 10 pellets into a group the same size as the final 5 Superdomes made. It would be interesting to shoot another group of Superdomes that were not shot at the end of the gas supply, but I still think the JSBs will turn out better.
I noticed on the final 5 shots that the rifle sounded like it was losing power. Since 5 shots were used for sight-in, this rifle has given me 35 good shots on two cartridges. Blog reader Jim in PGH commented that an Archer Hammer Debouncer Device (abbreviated HDD and designed to give the valve stem a dead blow to exhaust gas without valve flutter) installed on a Chinese version of the 167 (a .177-caliber version of the 160) that he owns has increased his shot count to 80. That would be worth looking into, if you decide to go the 160 route.
Where are we?
As I shoot the 160, I cannot help but think of a fine 10-meter target air rifle. Kevin would be proud to shoot one so fine. I think most of you would be impressed with what this gun can do.
This is the last report I have planned for the 160. As I suspected, the owner of this 160 was not too keen about the two CO2 cartridges needed to power his gun, so he sold it to me. I have no plans for it at this time, other than to show it to several firearms shooters to impress them with what an airgun can do. I’m also toying with shooting it at 50 yards, just to see how it does.
by B.B. Pelletier
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We’ll watch this one blossom.
Today, I’ll report on the cleaning of Jose’s Crosman 160 and the adjustment of the trigger. This rifle was quite rusty when I got it, so today it came out of the stock for a thorough cleaning. The barreled action comes out of the stock by removing one nut on the bottom of the forearm and by removing the safety switch. To remove the switch, it must be turned toward SAFE while you push it out of the triggerguard. It will pop right out when you get it in the right position.
The broken safety has been pushed out, and the nut removed from the stock. That’s a new safety to the left of the broken one. The barreled action is now ready to come out of the stock.
Once the action was out of the stock, I could see that it was far rustier than I originally thought. The rust that could be seen when the rifle was intact was just surface rust, but the stock was hiding deep active rust that had to be removed.
This was under the stock — heavy, active rust that must be dealt with!
I used Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I bought at a recent gun show. A friend of mine says this pad looks like a stainless steel pot scrubber. All I know is that it removes all the rust and doesn’t harm the blue.
I used Balistol in a spray bottle and a special metal scrubber to remove the rust.
I was surprised at how fast the rust was removed. In all, it probably took no longer than 15 minutes to completely clean all the metal parts.
With the gun finally clean, it was time to address the trigger. I mentioned in Part 1 that this trigger is one of the finest ever put on an inexpensive air rifle, and it can be adjusted to a very light, crisp pull. When I got the gun, the single-stage trigger had lots of creep and was breaking at 5 lbs., even. Something had to be done about that.
The Crosman 160 trigger is an adaptation of a 15th century crossbow trigger, where a rotating piece called a nut forms the sear that releases the hammer — in the case of the pellet rifle. The nut is a lever that’s shaped like a circle. It allows a small force (the sear) to overcome a greater force (the hammer spring) through leverage. No filing or stoning of the trigger contact surfaces is necessary, because the trigger doesn’t work like a conventional one.
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s book, “The Crossbow,” (published in 1903) this illustration of a 15th century crossbow nut shows how a great force can be overcome by a smaller one.
But the Crosman 160 trigger is more sophisticated than the crossbow trigger. It allows the adjustment of the sear contact area and also the point at which the trigger stops. This gives the shooter a safe trigger that breaks cleanly, yet feels like an expensive precision target trigger.
The trigger in the subject rifle was about as filthy as I’ve ever seen. This trigger has a sideplate that allows the user to watch the adjustments of the parts and even to cock and fire the trigger with the parts exposed. Normally, this sideplate keeps the parts inside pretty clean, but you can see from the photo what I saw inside this one.
I’ve removed the trigger unit from the action here. It isn’t necessary to do this, and in fact you must be able to cock the rifle when you adjust the trigger, so leave it connected. I did this for cleaning purposes.
Compare this photo to the previous graphic, and you’ll see all the important trigger parts. This is before cleaning. The rusty red part at the upper right is the nut that’s the sear.
I removed the trigger blade from the trigger assembly and cleaned it outside the trigger box, but all other parts were cleaned where they were situated. Ballistol on cotton swabs worked wonders at removing the rust, dust and dirt. And it left all the parts with a lubricated surface.
The two trigger adjustment screws were stuck in place by dried grease, so Ballistol had to dissolve that before I could clean the threads. The final touch was to apply moly grease to the mating surfaces of the trigger blade and the rotating nut that serves as the sear. Then it was time to adjust the trigger.
The first step was to back off the trigger return spring, which is located at the bottom rear of the trigger box. With this spring relaxed, you can feel the engagement of the sear much better.
Next, I adjusted the top screw, which adjusts the trigger/sear contact area. I set it very quickly because I’ve adjusted dozens of these triggers over the years and I know what they need. You may have to adjust the screw then cock the rifle and fire it several times to get the engagement you want. The engagement needed is very narrow, and it looks like the trigger is about to slip off the sear; so I always give the cocked rifle a bump test after adjusting the trigger, just to be safe. If I can’t jar the trigger off the sear, it’s safe.
The final screw to adjust is the trigger stop or overtravel screw. It stops the trigger blade after the sear has released, and the closer this is to the release point without impeding the trigger-pull, the better the trigger feels. Once the engagement area is okay, it’s easy to set this screw to stop the trigger immediately following trigger release.
With that done, I put the cover plate back on the trigger and shifted my attention to the S331 sight. By the way, Robert of Arcade explained in a comment that the S331 sight was actually made by Mossberg and not by Williams, as I originally said in Part 1. I changed the maker to Mossberg in Part 1, and now I’m telling you.
The rear sight on this rifle was loose when I examined it, so I removed it from the rifle and disassembled it for cleaning. Most of the parts are aluminum, but a couple are blued steel and suffered from rust to the point that there were pits left on their surfaces after the rust was removed. The detents are very crisp and easy to feel as you make the adjustments. This is a simple peep sight assembly, but it works very well and adjusts precisely, which is all you can ask of a sight.
Once the sight was clean and back on the rifle, I put the barreled action back into the stock. I had to use the old broken safety switch because the replacement I have is slightly too large to fit the hole. I’ll trim it down in a separate session so the gun has a complete safety switch. For now, I’ll just keep the rifle off safe.
How does it look?
Because the bulk of the deep rust lies below the stock line, the deep pits that appeared from cleaning do not show. What was above the stock line was mostly just surface rust that’s now completely gone. The metal on this rifle now appears to be 80 percent or better. The stock finish is still flaky and needs to be taken down all the way with sandpaper and reapplied, but it doesn’t detract from the rifle’s appearance.
And the trigger?
The trigger now breaks at one pound, even. It’s glass-crisp, and you would swear that it releases at just a couple ounces if you didn’t see the trigger-pull gauge. I think the owner will be amazed at the transformation this rifle has undergone.
Yet to come
I won’t bore you with the other mundane jobs like the safety and the stock finish, but I’ll test this rifle for accuracy. So, there’s one more report yet to come. We already know the velocity is in the right ballpark — 656 f.p.s. for a 14.2-grain Daisy pellet on a 90-degree day. But I want to show you the accuracy these old rifles can give with modern pellets.
by B.B. Pelletier
Jacque Ryder is this week’s BSOTW.
Fresh from the closet, another fine Crosman 160 emerges into daylight. We will watch this one blossom.
I was at the rifle range yesterday, and a friend delivered an air rifle that another friend had asked him to give me. It’s a Crosman 160, and that’s a classic air rifle that I’ve never reported in this blog, so here we go.
The Crosman 160 and 167 (.22 caliber and .177 caliber, respectively) was first produced in 1955 and lasted until 1972. There were several variations of the basic model over the years, but most airgunners rank them by their triggers. There was a very simple trigger in the first variation from 1955 through 1959, then Crosman put out a very special variation with a super-adjustable trigger in the guns made after 1959. The gun I’m testing has this wonderful trigger.
At some time in the 1960s, the Air Force bought a large number of 160s that were fitted with a Crosman S331 peep sight (made by Mossberg) and sling swivels that held a one-inch leather sling. As chance would have it, several hundred of these rifles were discovered unused in a government warehouse in Maryland or Virginia in the 1990s, and Edith and I bought one. It was brand new and still contained the original Crosman CO2 cartridges that had been used to test it at the factory. I knew they were original cartridges because they were sealed with the patent-dodging “bottlecap” tops Crosman had to use for several years. The end flap of the box had the Air Force Federal Stock Number for the gun, and everything inside the box was new and untouched.
Still rusty and dusty from long years of storage, the Crosman S331 peep sight is a great addition to this accurate target rifle.
I reported on that 160 in The Airgun Letter several times, but eventually I got rid of the rifle. And until yesterday, that was all I had to do with a Crosman 160.
A shooting friend of mine told me a couple months ago about an airgun he had, and from his description I guessed that it was a 160. Yesterday, he sent it to me so I could examine it and tell him what he has. Jose — I have your rifle, and it’s a Crosman 160!
Yours is the last variation they made, which in all ways is the best 160 model to have. It isn’t a former military model, because they all have sling swivels and your rifle has no evidence of ever having them. But you do have the adjustable trigger and the S331 peep sight.
Your rifle has a lot of surface rust that I’ll remove with Ballistol and a special scrubbing pad I’ll show you in the report. I’ll also open the sideplate on your adjustable trigger and clean and adjust it for you. If it’s like the other 160 triggers I’ve adjusted in the past, I should be able to get a glass-crisp trigger-pull of a little less than one pound. I think you’ll be surprised!
Back when these air rifles were new, people thought they were only capable of putting 5 shots into a quarter at 25 feet. What we didn’t appreciate back then were the poor pellets we used held us to that level. Once world-class pellets became available in the 1980s, everything changed and these rifles suddenly became capable of putting 10 shots inside a dime at 10 meters. That is — if they had a good barrel.
Crosman made the barrels for the 160s. When they were good, they were very good. But when they were bad, they were horrible! I’ve heard tales of barrels with only half their rifling and even some that had no rifling at all! It isn’t common, but it happened often enough that old Crosman collectors know about it.
Pellgunoil works, again!
I installed two fresh powerlets and a LOT of Crosman Pellegunoil, and the gun held gas. I then fired 5 shots at a 50-yard target, just to see what kind of barrel it had. I got a group of about 5 inches, but it was a windy day and all I was trying to do was see if the barrel was rifled or not. It is. When I shoot it for accuracy, this rifle should do very well.
The safety switch is broken, which means I’ll have to use pliers on it, because it’s key to disassembling the rifle. The good news is that some plastic aftermarket safety switches exist and I may be able to locate one.
The big problem with a 160 is that it uses gas like a Hummer towing a house trailer! Typically, the two CO2 cartridges give about 30-35 good shots before they give out. Since they cost at least 50 cents apiece, a 160 can cost more than a .22 rimfire shooting good ammunition.
The solution is to convert the rifle to bulk-fill operations. That reduces the gas cost per fill to around 5-7 cents per fill. You still get the same number of shots and the same velocity, but the operating cost is much lower. Of course, you have to have all the equipment that’s needed for bulk-fill to do this, and that does cost some money.
Most 160s I’ve tested pushed 14.3-grain pellets out the spout at between 600 and 630 f.p.s. on an 80-deg. F day. It was about 90 when I shot through the chronograph at the range and the 14.2-grain Daisy pointed pellet (very similar to the current Precision Max) went through the Oehler skyscreens at 656 f.p.s. — right on the money! The rifle can be souped up a just a bit, but at the cost of increased gas usage. There’s really no convenient way around that.
By contrast, the Crosman 180 was a single-cartridge rifle that shot a .22-caliber pellet at around 575 f.p.s. and got about 40 good shots per cartridge. It was the favorite of many shooters. But the Air Force obviously didn’t care about how much CO2 they used, and the slightly more powerful 160 also had a better stock, a longer barrel and better sights. It was the obvious choice for a target rifle. I feel the procuring agency must have bought the gun, not so much for its accuracy but more for its much safer operation when compared to a standard .22 rimfire that was the normal target rifle of the time. A pellet rifle range could be set up safely in a gym, where a rimfire range required more safety measures.
The Crosman 160 is a .22-caliber single-shot CO2 rifle. It cocks on closing the bolt. It needs two CO2 cartridges to operate, though it will work with just one at lower velocity and with fewer shots.
The rifle weighs 6 lbs. and is 39-1/2 inches long. The barrel is 21 inches. The pull is 14-1/4 inches.
The rifle is mostly blued steel in a solid wood stock. The metal was not highly polished and I’ve always thought that the wood stock was some very clever kind of laminate, since it shows more grain than I think it should. I will show you the detail and let you be the judge.
The stock sure looks like a laminate to me.
I plan to clean the metal of this rifle and preserve it with Ballistol. I’ll open the sideplate of the trigger and show you the inner workings, then I’ll adjust the trigger to get it working as fine as I can.
Next, I’ll test the rifle for velocity with several pellets. I’ll also get a shot count for you.
Finally, I’ll shoot the rifle for accuracy at 10 meters with several pellets. I’ve examined the barrel, and the bore appears sparkling clean. The rifling is deep and everything looks okay. We should have some fun with this one.
Jose, you have a very nice air rifle, here. I hope you enjoy this report!
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, the best laid plans of mice and men….I was supposed to be at the SHOT Show today, but the night before my flight left I went to the emergency room with what I thought might be appendicitis. It turned out to be a small but painful hernia, which cancelled all travel plans and heavy lifting for a while. So, no SHOT Show this year! Apparently, my extended hospital stays and being fed intravenously for so many months last year resulted in too much muscle loss. The doctors believe it will heal up shortly without any surgery.
That’s sad, because Crosman is unveiling a brand new kind of big bore air rifle. Named the Rogue, we called it the electronic PCP during development, because it uses computer control of the valve to get far greater efficiency than has ever been possible.
The idea of an electronically controlled valve isn’t new. Daystate has been doing it for several years and getting great results. But, no other airgun will get the performance this new gun offers. The computer senses the remaining air pressure in the reservoir and holds the firing valve open long enough to extract highly consistent velocities. Instead of 2 shots or 6 good shots from a big bore, what would you say to the possibility of 10 high-powered shots? Or, change the programming and get 20 lower-powered shots at a level that’s still impressive.
This new system was invented by one of our own blog readers, Lloyd Sikes. He signs in here as Lloyd. He first showed me his design at the Roanoke airgun show several years ago, and I was so blown away with the possibilities that I set up a meeting with Crosman. Of all the airgun companies in the world, Crosman is the only one open to new and radical ideas, as well as having the engineering and production capability to act on it. Lloyd initially demonstrated his invention by video, followed by several live demonstrations at the Crosman plant. They made the decision to take his idea and make it into a producible airgun system, and I use the word system advisedly. Although the initial offering is a rifle in .357 caliber (imagine the hundreds of lead bullets now made in this caliber!), a barrel change allows conversion to .30 caliber and even .410 gauge! For the first time in history, we may have an air shotgun with power identical to a firearm! I’m talking about sending a half-ounce of shot out the muzzle at over 1,100 f.p.s.!
Imagine filling to 3,000 psi and still firing shots at the same velocity when the pressure has dropped below 1,500 psi. This will be the most flexible, most adaptable big bore airgun ever conceived.
Crosman has poured their corporate heart and soul into this project, knowing that they have a technology unlike any that’s gone before. The future may hold .50 caliber buffalo rifles, real usable shotguns, smallbore rifles that have incredible velocity uniformity…and the list goes right on out to the horizon. And, you, my dear readers, are the absolute first set of airgunners outside the development team to learn about it. This is the big bore that many people guessed would be some kind of Marauder on steroids. It’s nothing of the kind. It’s a brand-new technology that has never been seen before.
I’ll be getting a rifle to test for you this year, so the future bodes well for more great new toys.
Today, we’ll look at the velocity of our .177 caliber Tech Force Competition Rifle, as well as the endurance of two 12-gram CO2 cartridges. Don’t be confused because this is Part 3. I did a special report on the trigger in Part 2.
Pyramyd Air rates this target rifle at 550 f.p.s., which is right where a 10-meter target rifle ought to be. But, the test rifle proved to be more powerful than that. Before I get into the velocity numbers, though, I’d like to share some more info on the trigger.
At the end of the trigger report in part 2, I told you that the trigger was almost creep-free. Just a hint of creep remained in stage two because I insisted on more sear contact area for safety. I also lubed the sear and the trigger contact with moly grease. Within just a handful of shots, the moly had erased all hint of creep, and I now have a target trigger worthy of the name. I cannot emphasize too strongly what an incredible value this trigger is in such a low-priced airgun.
The first pellet I tested was the RWS R10 7.7-grain target wadcutter. It seems RWS has dropped this pellet in favor of an even lighter 7.0-grain R10. But, it was the heavier pellet that I tested. They averaged 613 f.p.s. and the range stretched from 608 to 617 f.p.s. for a span of 9 f.p.s. They average 6.43 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Next, I tried the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. They weigh 7.56 grains and they averaged 617 f.p.s. in the test rifle. The range went from 614 to 619 f.p.s., so a tight spread of only 5 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.39 foot-pounds.
I cannot emphasize too strongly what an incredible value this trigger is in such a low-priced airgun.
Gamo Match pellets were next. They weigh 7.71 grains and averaged 613 f.p.s. in the test rifle. The velocity spread went from 610 to 617 f.p.s., so only a 7 f.p.s. spread. Average muzzle energy was 6.43 foot-pounds.
The last pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby. They were the fastest pellets, at an average of 632 f.p.s., and the range went from 629 to 636 f.p.s. The spread was 7 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.21 foot-pounds.
After this testing, a total of 40 shots had been fired with the two CO2 cartridges. I continued shooting Hobbys to see what the total number of shots would be. The velocity fell off immediately. By shot 48, it dipped below 600 f.p.s for the first time. This particular rifle has a total of 40 good shots on a set of two CO2 cartridges. That might be extended a few rounds in the hot summertime, and in cold weather it might be a few less. I shot in my office with the temperature at 70 degrees F.
A plinker could go on for several additional shots, but a target shooter wouldn’t want to. That’s where the degasser comes into play. When CO2 is in the reservoir, the o-rings press against the walls of the reservoir so hard that no amount of effort short of vice grips can turn the end cap off the gun. The degasser lets you dump the remaining pressure and start all over again.
I’m going to get a setup for bulk-filling in a future report. For now, know that the TF79 is even more efficient than the classic Crosman 167 (the .177 caliber version of the 160). Coupled with better overall design and a finer trigger, that’s saying a lot. Accuracy will be the next thing we look at.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the trigger of the .177 caliber Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle, which I promised would get a report all its own. Back before the QB 78/79 rifles came to market and back when I was still reporting on the original Crosman 160s, I discovered that there were different variations of the model that came with different triggers. The first 160 made back in the 1950s had a dirt-simple, direct-release, sear-type trigger that had no special advantages. This was the rifle that had a crossbolt safety through the stock. Back then and probably still today, those rifles commanded less money than the later models that have the trigger I’m going to discuss today.
In fact, this trigger I’m discussing today was the cover subject of the premiere issue of my newsletter, The Airgun Letter, published in March 1994. So, for those folks who wonder if I’ve ever looked at the TF79 before now: I have been looking intently at both it and its direct ancestor for the past 17 years, which is my entire airgun writing career.
The first article in the first issue of The Airgun Letter was about the adjustable trigger in a Crosman 160.
Back in 1994, I was just learning how to take pictures with a 35mm film camera, and it would be more than a year before I started having much success. When it came to capturing the inside of the trigger, I didn’t photograph it, I drew it! It took about four hours to complete the drawing, but I’ve used it many times since.
Before I could take good pictures, I drew things to illustrate them. This is my drawing of the 160 adjustable trigger. The only difference between this trigger and the one we’re reviewing today are two tiny coiled springs that put side tension on the two trigger-adjustment screws. Today, things are simpler and better.
At the time, I was aware that the 160 trigger was based on a crossbow trigger from the Middle Ages. In The Crossbow by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey, a reference book I’ve recommended several times, you can see the cross-section of a crossbow trigger and apply it directly to the 160 trigger design.
From Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey’s historic book, The Crossbow, this sectional drawing of a crossbow trigger shows the similarity to the 160 trigger. Gallwey refers to the sear as the revolving nut.
You can see how the crossbow trigger was able to restrain hundreds of pounds of force, yet break with relative ease. Well, the 160 hammer spring is not nearly as powerful as a crossbow; so, with adjustment, it can be made very fine. And, the adjustments are what differentiate this trigger from the primitive crossbow trigger.
From the factory
The trigger-pull right out of the box measured between 1 lb., 8 oz. and 1 lb., 10 oz. It’s a two-stage unit with stage one being extremely light and stage two rather long and very creepy, if also light. I can fix most of that with lubrication and adjustments.
Removing the TF79 action from the stock requires the removal of one large nut in the bottom of the forearm that requires a large spanner. Then, the safety must be removed. Just rotate the lever down while pushing on the back side of the safety pin, and you’ll feel it give when it’s aligned for disassembly. I used a pin punch to drift it out, not because it fits tightly but because the cam it bears against, which is the actual part that blocks the trigger, is under a lot of spring pressure. You can see that spring in my drawing or in the second photo below.
Out of the stock, the TF79 trigger is a unit contained inside a metal box. Remove the two Phillips screws to take off the plate for adjustments. The hole allows for inspection of the sear contact without removal of the sideplate.
With the sideplate removed, you can see how the trigger works. The sear engagement adjustment (top left) has a locking nut, which is an improvement over the 160 trigger.
I found this trigger to be much better built than the old Crosman 160 trigger. With that one, you had to worry about the parts jumping out of the trigger box when you tested the adjustments, but this current one holds together and allows all the testing you want. As a result, I was able to get a fine trigger release in a matter of a few minutes. It’s no lighter than before, but nearly all the creep is gone. I could have removed all of it, but the amount of sear engagement when I did so seemed too small for safety. So, there’s one very repeatable bit of slippage in stage two and then the let-off is crisp. Now, the trigger stops immediately after release. The feeling is one of precision, and I found it much easier to achieve than with a genuine Crosman 160 trigger.
I also lubed both the sear and the trigger catch with moly. Hopefully, this will bond with the metal surfaces and improve the smoothness of the pull over time.
Assemble the rifle
Putting the trigger plate back on is no chore at all, because the three pins that use the plate as their other bearings remain in alignment with the plate off. In the 160, you had a heck of a time with some guns, because these pins would tilt from the spring tension they were under. Putting the trigger plate back on a 160 was a lot like picking a lock. That’s no longer the case.
The next step is to drop the action back into the stock and tighten the spanner nut. After that, the safety goes back, and there’s a trick to it. From the opposite side of the safety hole (the left side of the gun), push the safety cam up with a thin-bladed screwdriver to allow the safety lever to be inserted in the right side of the hole. Once it’s in, it’ll hold the cam out of the way and easily go in the rest of the way. The rifle is now assembled. Taking the safety out or putting it back in is a 15-second drill once you have the knack.
Guys, this is a hundred-dollar trigger when it’s properly adjusted. It’s not quite a Rekord, but it’s in the Walther LG 55 class for sure.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I want to remind everyone that today is the last day of Pyramyd Air’s special shipping promo! Instead of buying $100 to get free shipping, you have to buy only $50 in merchandise to get free ground shipping. This special promo is good through today (Jan. 7) and is available only for addresses in the lower 48 states. You cannot combine coupons with the free shipping offer.
If you’re new to airgunning, you need to know what transpired to bring a rifle like the .177 caliber Tech Force TF79 Competition Rifle to the market. It began in the 1950s with the inception of the Crosman 160. The 160 was a .22 caliber single-shot CO2 rifle that used two cartridges to shoot 25-35 pellets at around 610 f.p.s. Back in the 1950s, the 160 was a minute-of-Oreo-cookie at 15 yards. As time passed and European pellets began arriving at our shores, the accuracy improved. The Crosman barrel was always well-rifled, but it took us several decades to realize how good it really was.
Crosman also improved the rifle, ultimately resulting in the high-water mark, which was a military single-shot target rifle with a Williams S331 peep sight and a genuine leather sling. I was active as an airgunner in Maryland in the 1990s when several hundred of these Crosman Air Force rifles were discovered in a warehouse and sold as new old stock. For a while, I owned a brand new 1980 Crosman MIL-SPEC target air rifle.
However, in the 1990s, the Crosman Premier pellet was available. So, the rifle that the Air Force thought might shoot a half-inch five-shot group at 25 feet was suddenly capable of shooting just as good at 25 YARDS. The pellet made all the difference in the world; and, for many years, the airgun world was hot for 160s.
Enter Tim McMurray and Henry Harn. Tim we all know as Mac-1, and he’d been working on 160s for decades by this time. Harn was a businessman with connections in China, so he asked Tim to put together the finest version of a 160 he could, and then Harn would have the Chinese duplicate it. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, only Harn and McMurray rode the Chinese roughshod until they got what they were after — more or less. The QB-22 was a knockoff of the Crosman 160 that gave nothing away in quality or accuracy. Tim did have early problems with barrel quality, but he sorted it out.
But, the QB-22 retailed for $200 in the 1990s. Like today, everyone wanted a free lunch, so the guns didn’t move as fast as expected. If you build it, they won’t necessarily come, but a lot of them will stand around with their hands thrust deep into their empty pockets and kicking dirt clods while saying things like, “What they should have done….”
The QB 22 languished. About a year later, something called a QB 78 hit our shores and it retailed for about $78. That got people talking. A real Crosman 160 for $78! Only, it wasn’t a real 160, of course. It was a gamble. Some of them shot great, while others were just mediocre. For the first time, the Chinese were embarrassed by their own lack of quality. They had expected huge sales, but the lackluster performance of the gun left sales in the dumper. Apparently, you can’t just build a mock landing strip and control tower to attract the cargo planes from the U.S. (I’m referring to the cargo cults.)
So, they did something remarkable. They built a new and improved rifle — the QB 79. The gun they should have built all along, only they didn’t. Now, they were at it full bore. Yes, the QB 79 was the gun you really wanted, but they had quality problems with that model, as well. Some were great shooters, while others were only mediocre.
Okay, now I have to hit the fast-forward button, because both these designs have matured and morphed like gangbusters in the past 10 years. For example, there’s a target version of the QB/TF 79 that’s a super deal in an accurate single-shot. Compasseco had a TF78 with a dark stock and a gold trigger that was to die for. Whole cottage industries have sprung up around these models.
Mike Stephen (sorry for the typo!) Archer in upstate New York makes his living selling both repair parts and modified parts for the rifle and by selling high-graded rifles, which are based on accuracy.
That’s enough history. You now know that what we’re about to look at is a close copy and descendant of the famous Crosman 160. You may not yet know what that entails, but therein lies my report.
The rifle I’ll be testing for you is the full-blown TF79 target rifle. It comes with both a precision adjustable aperture rear sight for 10-meter work and a sporting sight that lets you use the rifle as a plinker. You also get two inserts for the target globe front sight. The ring insert comes installed, and there’s also a post insert for the sporting rear sight. Anyone who wants to put the little holes in the center of the target will use the ring insert and aperture rear sight.
With the rifle comes a large metal precision aperture target rear sight. While not the equal of a $500 European target sight, it works. There’s also an adjustable sporting rear sight, if you chose to use it.
The steel receiver is topped with an aluminum dovetail base for the rear peep sight or sport sight. This same base will also accept an 11mm scope mount, and I know that a lot of you are going to be putting scopes on your guns. The lack of recoil means you have nothing to worry about as far as anchoring the scope rings.
Charging the gun
This rifle operates either on two CO2 cartridges or via a bulk-fill adapter. However, the bulk-fill CO2 hose and paintball adapter was left out of the box I received. I think I’ll simply use CO2 cartridges to test the gun, anyway. With the hose, it’s possible to bulk-fill the gun from a standard paintball tank.
You also get two Allen wrenches for making adjustments, and there’s a degasser that Crosman never thought of. The degasser allows competitors to dump their partial fills and start a match with a full tank of CO2, something that cannot be over-estimated. Degassing also acts to chill the reservoir, to enable a denser fill when bulk-filling.
In all, you get about the same amount of support gear as comes with a $2,000 10-meter air pistol. I’m very impressed at this well-thought-out package for just $180. And, let’s get that out of the way right now. Carp all you want, there simply are no other 10-meter target rifles that sell for this price. Even used, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything.
The rest of the accessories are the sporting rear sight, the front sight post insert and the two Allen wrenches for adjustments. The degasser lever fits into the left side of the receiver when you’re ready to exhaust some gas.
This is a heavy rifle, if not a large one. The overall length is a carbine-like 40 inches, but the stock is massive, which you want in a target rifle. The rifle weighs only 6.6 lbs., but the overall shortness makes you think that it’s heavier. The stock is not as ergonomic as the aluminum one found on a $3,000 FWB, but it’s well-shaped for the intended purpose. Think of it as a flashback to the 1960s, when stocks were solid pieces of wood on rifles like the Walther LGV and the FWB 300. The finish is dark reddish-brown, even and smooth. No gouges or fills insult your vision.
The length of pull is 13 inches, even — which feels short to me. Because this is a target rifle, a shorter LOP is proper. But, I think many shooters will find the pull adequate for their sporting needs, as well.
The trigger deserves its own separate report, which it will receive. Back in the 1960s, Crosman took a crossbow trigger design from the 16th century and improved it for use in the 160. It was incredibly adjustable and could be set so crisp and fine that it rivaled a Rekord — not the target Rekord on the HW 55 — just the standard sport model. When Tim McMurray built his super-160 to show to China, of course it had that trigger.
As the gun comes to you, both Brian in Idaho and I noted that the trigger has lots of creep in stage two; but if this one is anything like the others I have adjusted over the years, it can be made light and glass-crisp, with an absolute dead-stop overtravel. For that reason, it gets its own separate report. Brian tells me he adjusted his down from 4 lbs. pull to 1 lb., 2 oz.
Cocks on closing
One big turnoff all shooters experience when trying a 160 for the first time is the cocking action. The bolt opens quite easily, but the hammer spring is caught and compressed (extended?) on closing the bolt. So, a 160 or TF 79 feels just like a Swedish Mauser when you cock it. American shooters have always been partial to bolt-action cocking taking place on opening, though I personally have converted my views over the years. With more experience, I see why cocking on closing is the better way. It’s faster and less bothersome in most bolt guns, save Weatherbys. Don’t be put off when you feel the resistance of the bolt at closing. You’ll get used to it.
Brian found the bolt knob too short for comfort, and I’m inclined to agree. The knob rests right at the edge of the stock, where it’s hard to grasp. An extra half-inch of bolt stem would make all the difference. Archer makes an extended bolt for the QB 78, but apparently not for the 79. One is needed!
While many of you are newer readers and not familiar with my past writing exploits, I’ve been writing about airguns pretty regularly since 1994. I’ve tested both the TF78 and TF79 numerous times. So, this will be a refresher for me, though I note many changes on this new rifle. This is going to be a big, long report because we have a classic and significant model under scrutiny.