Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Destroyer pellets’

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Today’s report is the final part of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. He tells us about the various pellets he tested and gives their results.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle
Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle. The gun is shown here with added Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster scope and AR-15 rubber recoil pad.

This report covers:

• Scope notes
• More pellet testing
• I know there’s something going on
• The Winchester trio
• RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• H&N Match Pistol pellets
• The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
• Retesting the best
• Conclusion
• Other military pellet rifles to consider

In Part 2, I found five pellets that would group 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or better with the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle at 10 yards (Crosman Destroyer pellets, Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (sold only in discount stores), Crosman Premier Hollowpoint pellets, H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets). This was about as good as I expected based on my research before purchasing this gun. However, I’d hoped that I could do better, and most of the reader comments on this blog expressed even greater concern with the mediocre accuracy of this gun than with the ammo feed problem. I’m pleased to report some slightly better news.

Scope notes
But first, I made a minor modification to my scope setup. I mentioned the trouble two other shooters had sighting through the Leapers UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope I mounted on this rifle. I had positioned the scope for my own eye relief, and eye placement proved to be a lot more critical for this compact scope than it is with my full-sized Leapers UTG 4-16X40.

However, at least part of the difficulty they experienced may have been due to a fairly low Picatinny rail on this rifle. When the included factory scope rings loosened after 300 shots, I decided to try a different style mount and also decided to go with high-profile rings. I was surprised at how much easier it became to sight through the scope — especially since I would have thought I wasn’t having any real difficulty before. For most shooters, I believe high-profile scope rings will be the way to go on this rifle. With my new scope setup, I was ready for some final accuracy testing.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle High Scope Mount
High-profile scope rings makes it a little bit easier to sight through the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope on the MP4′s low Picatinny rail.

One minor note here. On Picatinny rails there’s usually a little play in the scope mounts within the individual recoil grooves, and I usually slide both my mounts forward until they contact the forward stops and then snug them up right there. This is the direction the laws of inertia demand that the scope and mounts will want to go in relation to a rifle recoiling backwards beneath them (especially pneumatic or CO2 guns with simpler recoil than a springer). If the mounts are already braced against the forward stops, then there’s less chance for them to slip. However, on the Winchester MP4, I believe the semi-auto bolt re-cocking generates some recoil in the opposite direction – this may have actually loosened my initial scope installation. This time, I braced both scope mounts against the rear stops, and they seem to be holding fast, so far. I don’t have the equipment to verify this recoil theory, but it’s something to try if you run into a similar problem.

[Editor's note: While Picatinny rails and Weaver rails both have cross slots to stop the rings from moving, Weaver slots are 3.5mm wide and Picatinny slots are 5mm wide. That's the reason for the extra slop when Weaver rings are installed on Picatinny bases. And, for airguns, the pins should touch the rear of the slots.]

More pellet testing
I continued testing with seven new pellets, shooting 10-shot, 10-yard groups outdoors from a benchrest. I shot three groups with each pellet, and reported the best of three below. With my original accuracy testing, all the pellets I tried grouped about 1 inch, give or take a little. However, this time, the groups were generally tighter — even with pellets I’d previously tested. I believe this barrel may have a break-in period — roughly 500 shots by my estimation — and is now smoothed out a little. For this test, I used digital calipers to provide more exact group measurements — though, even with my sharp eyesight and a science background, you can take that third decimal place with a grain of salt!

I know there’s something going on
There definitely seems to be something going on between the number of pellets in the rotary cylinder and accuracy. I’d already mentioned that the last two shots of my 10-shot groups, involving a magazine swap, often opened up the final grouping. Remember that the ammo mag has 8-round cylinders, so finishing off a 10-round group required switching to a cylinder with only the two final pellets loaded. I could blame the repositioning of the rifle between magazine swaps, except that this is not a problem I’ve had with rifles that require pumping or cocking and get repositioned with every shot. This time, I kept specific track of when my final two shots opened up a group, with the results illustrated below.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Last 2 Shots
You can see how the final two shots (circled) opened up each of these 10-shot groups. Left-to-right are Crosman Premier Super Match pellets, RWS Hobby pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets.

This batch of testing also confirmed something else I thought I’d noticed before — groups often started off very small, then opened up as I emptied the magazine. Obviously, shooting more pellets will continue to open up a grouping. What I’m saying is that shot 10 was much more likely to miss the bullseye than shot 1, rather than having a similar probability of hitting or missing it. With this semiauto, I could lock myself into a rested shooting position and do nothing but breathe and squeeze the trigger for 8 shots. Barely moving, my aim and hold were rock solid. However, I almost felt like a spectator at times as I watched pellet strikes begin to roam wider and wider around my point of aim. I believe this is the same phenomenon I observed with my final two shots of each group. My best guess is that adjacent pellets in the magazine cylinder help reduce some CO2 blow-by, or that a full magazine cylinder does not shift or flex during firing as much as an empty one.


Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle target

On the left, the first three shots with Beeman coated hollowpoint pellets go into 0.261 inches, center-to-center. Keeping my fingers crossed at this point! But the fourth shot (circled) opens this group up a bit more to 0.323 inches. Six increasingly scattered shots later, the final group on the right is now even broader at 0.682 inches (that fourth shot is circled on this target as a reference point). This pattern was observed repeatedly. This was not the best example I saw. It was just the one I interrupted to photograph.

The Winchester trio
Since this is a Winchester air rifle, I felt duty-bound to put the Winchester pellets through their paces. While they were the poorest performers of all the new pellets, their best groups were all still 1 inch or less: Winchester hollowpoint pellets (0.826 inches, center-to-center), Winchester pointed pellets (0.859 inches), and Winchester round nose pellets (1.000 inches exactly). As mentioned, the Winchester hollowpoints extended past the front of the rotary cylinder when fully seated and had to be pushed back in slightly before shooting. However, they caused no jams or other firing problems.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Winchester Hollow Point
The Winchester hollowpoints extend past the front edge of the rotary cylinder when fully seated.

RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
The RWS Diabolo Basic pellets yielded the next largest group of the bunch, with its best-of-three at 0.791 inches. This pellet also produced the largest group that I observed during this second round of testing — 1.324 inches.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Diabolo Basic
Ten RWS Diabolo Basic pellets grouped inside 0.791 inches –close to the best that was seen in the first round of accuracy tests.

RWS Hobby pellets
The RWS Hobby’s smallest group measured 0.644 inches. This was the best group I’d seen from this gun so far. It’s approaching the as-of-yet elusive half-inch mark, but not quite there.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Hobby
Ten RWS Hobby pellets in 0.644 inches — easily my best group up to this point.

H&N Match Pistol pellets
I’d tested the more expensive H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets last time, but then I read about H&N Match Pistol pellets actually outperforming the Finales in another gun I own. That’s why I ended up with a tin of these to try. At 0.716 inches, they grouped slightly better than the Finales (even with retesting, as you’ll see in a minute) in this gun, too.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle H&N Match Pistol
The H&N Match Pistol pellet, at 0.716 inches for 10, outperformed both previous and repeated testing of the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets.

The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
Okay, I’ll concede right up front that half-inch groups at 10 meters aren’t all that magical in today’s airgunning world. However, with a review quoting Daisy Customer Service as stating that MP4 owners should expect 1-1/2 inch groups at 10 meters, and with no measured groups under 1 inch reported by anybody, I was pleased to finally break the half-inch barrier with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets.

I did not have high hopes for what is literally the cheapest pellet I tested. However, a single Pyramyd Air review mentioned it performed well (thank you, DaveTee!); and, for under five dollars a tin, it went into the shopping cart. I shot this pellet last, and it surprised me. My three test groups yielded 0.682 inches, 0.386 inches and 0.442 inches. At the eleventh hour, I’d finally found a pellet that could shoot under half an inch. While one thing that became clear during accuracy testing is that my rifle does not perform the same with specific pellets as other’s MP4s, the Beeman hollowpoint coated is definitely one to try for anyone who owns an MP4, especially at this price point.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Beeman HP Coated
Thar she blows — these two groups shot with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets clock in at under half an inch, at 0.386 and 0.442 inches, left to right. (Yes, the pellets are black.) Summer sun heating the barrel on one side caused the point-of-impact shift that can be seen here.

Retesting the best
To wrap up Part 4, I wanted to retest the best-performing pellets from before, which had all grouped 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or less. I was pretty sure one or two could do better, and it seemed that my rifle was starting to produce tighter groups than it had straight out of the box. These were my results: Air Arms Falcon pellets (0.622 inches, beating out the RWS Hobby pellet for second place), Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (0.630 inches, taking third place and booting the RWS Hobby pellet to fourth), Crosman Destroyer pellet (0.742 inches, just a hair better than before), and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets (0.963 inches, actually a little wider than first time’s 0.875 inches and still getting beat out by the H&N Match Pistol pellet). A small surprise were the Crosman Premier Super Match pellets (0.707 inches) and Crosman Competition Wadcutter pellets (0.720 inches), which I used for initial sighting-in of my new scope mount setup. Both bettered their original 1-inch groups by more than a quarter inch. Again, I believe this barrel is now broken in after 500 shots or so, contributing to these tighter groups and providing better overall accuracy than we saw in the first tests.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Air Arms Falcon 2
The best of the retests was the Air Arms Falcon pellet, second-best to the Beeman hollowpoint coated pellet, but grouping almost twice as broad at 0.622 inches.

Conclusion
Below is a summary of best groups one inch or better from all accuracy testing:

Winchester MP4 group sizes

While discovering the Beeman hollowpoint coated doubles my effective shooting range to around 20 yards for a 1-inch target, it’s a shame that this gun seems to be a “one-shot wonder” that shoots best with only one specific pellet. From the list above, there’s no single pellet type that this gun seems to prefer as direction for additional testing, so I hope that blog readers will be kind enough to comment if they find other pellets that group under half an inch in the Winchester MP4.

Other military pellet rifles to consider
For the conclusion to my evaluation of the Winchester MP4, I’d like to mention some of the other military replica pellet rifles prospective buyers might consider if they decide that the MP4 is not for them. (BB-only rifles and machine guns are not included here.)

I’ve already mentioned the MP4′s historically older sibling, the Winchester M14. A replica of its namesake, this rifle is also a dual-CO2 canister BB and pellet semi-auto. It uses the same ammo mag and offers the same velocity as the MP4. However, it has no scope rail and many don’t like the fact that the stock is composite instead of wood.

The unquestioned dominator of the military pellet rifle arena remains the Crosman M4-177. This M4 replica is a reliable single-shot BB and pellet pneumatic and bears the coveted Gaylord “Tom’s Picks” seal in the Pyramyd Air catalog. It’s available in a variety of tan or black color and accessory combinations. The new Crosman USMC MOS 0311 Rifleman (an exclusive Crosman variation of the M4-177) appears to be another variant of this very popular replica. This is the gun I had in mind when I mentioned that more accurate rifles than the Winchester MP4 are available for half the price.

The Crosman MK-177 is a replica of the Magpul Masada (now being produced as the FN SCAR). This composite-stock pneumatic offers higher velocity and similar accuracy to the M4-177 (also beating the Winchester MP4 in the latter department, and for half the price). This rifle is a BB and pellet single-shot. B.B. Pelletier recently used the MK-177 to test the Leapers Accushot Scout Scope. While many disparage the bolt placement on the left side of the receiver, I own — and love — one of these rifles and never minded it (this is a replica — check on which side the bolt is actually located on the Magpul Masada). The MK-177 is available in tan or black and has two kit variations.

The Crosman Crosman MTR77NP is an M16 replica that is a single-shot Nitro Piston gas springer. This pellet rifle offers the highest velocity of any of these military replicas but requires heavy cocking effort due to the short barrel. It’s available in only black but comes in open-sight or scoped versions.

If you actually own an AR/M4 firearm, the Crosman MAR177 AR-15 Upper PCP conversion kit replaces the firearm upper with a .177-caliber competition precharged pneumatic unit. Designed specifically for 10-meter competition, velocity is a very nominal 600 fps. This is the most expensive option for a military pellet rifle (and a significant detour from the standalone guns listed here), but it seems like an ideal way to expand where and when you can shoot your military long gun.

The Beretta CX-4 Storm is an 88-gram CO2-powered replica of the tactical firearm of the same name. This semiauto’s claim to fame is the 30-pellet belt magazine, capable of ripping through a tin of pellets in no time. Open-sight and red-dot versions are available, though a scope can be mounted on the Picatinny rail.

The Gamo MP9 copies the B&T MP-9 9mm SMG and is unique among the CO2-powered BB submachine guns in handling pellets as well. Interestingly, this gun is listed as using the same ammunition magazine as the Winchester MP4 and M14, making it a 16-shot semi-auto (with the magazine flip). I included this odd-gun-out because it has a (collapsible) stock and scopeable Picatinny/Weaver rail.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Flambeau Tactical Case
The Winchester MP4 is a fun military replica that, despite some issues and limitations, will keep you looking like a well-armed commando whenever you feel the need to reconnoiter the backyard.

The options for new military replica pellet rifles are very limited at the moment. I hope that this blog has sufficiently informed readers about the Winchester MP4 to make an educated choice if buying one – or to achieve the best performance from their rifle if they already own one. I also hope that manufacturers will look to success stories like the Crosman M4-177 as well as the burgeoning airsoft market and bring some novel products to this mostly unexplored marketplace.

Editor’s final comment: HiveSeeker has done a super job in testing, researching and documenting his work on the Winchester MP4. I think his report will stand as the best article written about the airgun for a long time.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 3

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

Today’s report is a continuation of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. Today, he tells us about the rifle’s performance.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle

Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle.

This is the third installment in my evaluation of the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle. The short version of Parts 1 and Part 2 is that this gun might be of interest to someone looking for a realistic AR15-style semiauto pellet rifle — as long as they can accept 1-inch, 10-yard groups and an intermittent ammo feed problem. I was determined to find out what was causing the ammo feed issue in order to minimize or eliminate it and was also certain the gun could shoot tighter groups with more testing. In Part 3 and also in Part 4, I make progress on both fronts.

This report covers:

• Catch-up
• The ammo feed problem
• Testing the ammunition magazine
• It’s the CO2 clip!
• Eliminating minor misfires

Catch-up
Before we continue, I want to add a couple comments that should have been included previously. First, in addition to the authentic realism of this replica gun, at 5.8 lbs., it hefts like a firearm. Most of the other military-style pellet rifles out there are lighter, and a number of reviewers mention that the realistic weight of the Winchester MP4 adds to its appeal. I agree.

Second (and B.B. was kind enough not to chide me for this), I failed to mention that despite the manual’s statement that no additional lubrication is needed for this gun once it leaves the factory, go ahead and put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each CO2 cylinder when you install it. That will help keep all those seals healthy and happy for years to come.

The ammo feed problem
I hadn’t experienced the MP4′s ammo feed problems to nearly the extent of some other shooters, but I was determined to figure out the possible causes and eliminate or minimize them. I suspected that the problem might be related to either the ammunition magazine (which has an 8-shot rotary cylinder on each end where the pellets or BBs are loaded), or the CO2 clip (which holds the two CO2 cartridges). I already had a number of spare magazines and ordered six additional CO2 clips directly from Daisy Customer Service for testing.

winchester MP4 CO2 rifle mag and CO2 clip
Two ammunition magazines on the left. They have 8-shot rotary cylinders on each end that hold the pellets or BBs. On the right are two CO2 clips that hold the CO2 cartridges. The ammo mag slides into it. Keep all these terms straight for the discussion below! That little plastic CO2 piercing key fits neatly into the slot at the bottom of the CO2 clip cover.

Testing the ammunition magazine
While I initially suspected the ammunition magazines were the source of inaccuracy, one curious fact is that these are the same ones used by the Winchester M14 and they apparently work flawlessly in that gun. It got 14 out of 15 five-star reviews at Pyramyd Air. We’ll come back to the ammunition magazine in a moment, but suffice to say that I ended up testing 9 different ammo mags in each of 7 different CO2 clips and found no difference in their performance. None of the ammo mags were malfunctioning.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle testing
Ammunition magazines and some CO2 clips ready for testing in the Winchester MP4. A few pellets, too — that’s coming in Part 4.

It’s the CO2 clip!
The CO2 clips proved to be another story. When they arrived from Daisy, they were all in excellent condition, but it was clear that two of them had been used. When I inquired, I was told that not enough new CO2 clips were available, so two units were pulled from returned MP4s. This is not encouraging, but they were much cheaper than expected, so I had no complaints. I marked all 7 of my CO2 clips and got ready to test the new arrivals. Clip 1 is the already-tested original that came with my rifle.

The first shot using clip 2 (the first of the 2 used clips) was a major flyer, zinging well off my point of aim. Not an auspicious start. Second shot, no pellet — just air (which I’ve been calling a misfire and one of the few ammo feed issues I’ve actually experienced up to this point). The third shot was my very first jam with this gun. The ammunition magazine would not eject from the CO2 clip, and I had to eject the CO2 clip itself to get the ammo mag loose.

I was especially careful to reseat the CO2 clip solidly for my next try. Fourth shot was another flyer but not quite as bad as the first. Fifth shot was another jam. This one was worse than the first, with the trigger jammed solid and the ammo mag again not ejecting. This time when I ejected the CO2 clip, the ammo mag actually stayed lodged inside the receiver!

It was suddenly clear what had happened — a pellet was jammed halfway between the ammo mag’s rotary cylinder and the barrel, locking the ammo mag in place. Fortunately, I had a plastic rod for clearing jams. Sure enough, I could feel the pellet slide back a little and then the ammo mag simply fell out of the gun.

When I examined the magazine, both the noses and skirts of several of the pellets showed visible deformation. This was the first time I’d really experienced the frustration of other MP4 buyers who had ended up returning their guns. I’d had enough — I was done testing clip 2! (Note that Daisy Customer Service replaced this clip with a brand new one at no charge.)

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle jammed ammo mag
The ammo mag was jammed in the gun, separate from the CO2 clip!

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle damaged pellets
This is what a bad CO2 clip does. This jam was so bad that the ammunition magazine remained lodged inside the receiver even after the CO2 clip was ejected. Note the damage to the two pellet skirts, especially the one on the right.

With no small amount of trepidation, I shot a full magazine using original clip 1, just to make sure my gun had not been damaged. Thankfully, everything was back to normal.

I was ready to test CO2 clip 3 — the other used one. Except for being a little tight in the receiver (something I’d also noted with my original clip), it performed flawlessly with all 9 ammunition magazines. I did have to push harder for the ammo mags to click into place, but that was all — and this actually smoothed out by the time I was finished testing. My experience was identical with the remaining brand-new CO2 clips 4 through 7. They varied in how tightly they fit into the receiver and how tightly ammunition magazines fit inside them, but they smoothed out with just a little use. And after hundreds of pellets, I had only a few misfires, which I subsequently decided were my own fault.

Here’s my important finding: The worst ammo feed problems are probably being caused by bad CO2 clips. Either the CO2 clip itself is not seating correctly within the receiver, or ammunition magazines are not seating correctly inside the CO2 clip. Either will cause the pellet not to line up with the barrel, resulting in a jam or misfire. This also explains why the identical ammunition magazine performs flawlessly in the Winchester M14 (where it locks directly into the receiver) but suddenly starts having problems in the MP4.

The obvious conclusion is that a replacement CO2 clip just might fix a misfiring MP4. If you order one directly from Daisy, try to make sure you’re getting a brand-new one, as these performed flawlessly – though I only had trouble with one of the two used clips. Note: To add to the nomenclature confusion, if you order this part from Daisy Customer Service, both they and the exploded parts diagram refer to the CO2 clip as the “Puncture Unit” (Part 79).

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle parts diagram
The Winchester MP4 exploded parts diagram. If you are ordering a replacement CO2 clip, it’s referred to as the “Puncture Unit” (Part 79).

We’ll take a minor detour as long as we have the MP4 parts diagram up. A number of reviews and blog comments describe the MP4 as a dressed-up Winchester M14. I initially thought otherwise, but the schematics prove me wrong. The barrel assembly and many other internal components appear identical. The CO2 clips share many parts as well. However, in the M14, the ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip and locks directly into the receiver. In the MP4, the ammo mag latches to the CO2 clip, which then latches into the receiver. As we’ve seen, having a middleman (the CO2 clip) between the ammo mag and the receiver is a potential problem. Besides the CO2 clip, the biggest differences between the M14 and the MP4 lie in the trigger mechanisms, receivers, and stocks and forearms.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle M14 parts diagram
T
he Winchester M14 does, indeed, share many parts with the MP4.

 

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle M14 CO2 clip
These are Winchester M14 CO2 Clips. The ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip (circled) but does not click into it. Instead, the ammo mag locks directly into the receiver — no middleman here! An ammo mag is shown inserted into the hole in the clip on right. This CO2 clip can be misaligned with the M14’s receiver without affecting ammo mag alignment at all.

Back to the MP4. One Pyramyd Air review suggests that the ammo mag misalignment may be caused by CO2 pressure pushing the CO2 clip slightly out of position. This is certainly plausible and might also explain why this problem can worsen over time (as other reviews report) if increasing wear is occurring. If wear is occurring on the CO2 clip, a replacement CO2 clip could fix the problem. If wear is occurring inside the receiver — or should something actually be wrong with the receiver to begin with — then it’s time to contact the manufacturer or start picking out a new rifle.

I ended up content with the fact that one of my new CO2 clips was not working (again, Daisy Customer Service sent a free replacement). Otherwise, I would still be scratching my head about what could be causing the more severe ammo problems I’ve been reading about. The fortunate bottom line is that this provides a likely fix for people with MP4s that are misfiring or jamming. Order a replacement CO2 clip from Daisy or Winchester Customer Service and see if that doesn’t remedy the problem.

Eliminating minor misfires
Although I never experienced a major ammo problem or jam, except while testing CO2 clip 2, I was still having minor misfires (firing a blank or a skipped pellet left in the ammunition magazine when done shooting). This was occurring about once every one or two magazines (or once every 16 to 32 shots if you’re counting — roughly 5% of the time). I wanted to eliminate this if I could. When I contacted Daisy Customer Service to order the extra CO2 clips, I inquired about this. While the Daisy rep did not acknowledge a known ammo feed issue with the MP4, I not only received some suggestions over the phone, but a follow-up email with additional information, as well.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle skipped pellet
Except for testing CO2 clip 2, all of my own ammo feed problems were limited to infrequent misfires (blank shots) and an occasional skipped pellet that remained in a supposedly empty ammunition magazine.

Daisy cautions that you should use good-fitting (tight) pellets and make sure they’re seated all the way. This will prevent pellets from backing out of the magazine (more specifically the rotary cylinder), causing a jam. I’ve been using a Pellet Pen with Pellet Seater for loading, and the advice makes sense. However, none of the pellets I tested were loose, and most actually fit quite tightly. Ironically, the only pellet that caused a problem was Winchester’s own hollowpoint, which stuck out the front of the cylinder (even when fully seated) just enough to interfere with the cylinder’s rotation. I simply pushed the pellet noses back in slightly and didn’t experience any misfires during subsequent accuracy testing.

Despite how tightly most pellets fit, however, if I pulled an ammo mag that still had pellets in it I sometimes noticed that pellets I had seated all the way into the cylinder were loose and pushed back a little. On one occasion, I actually had a loosened pellet fall backwards right out of the magazine. I could not determine what might actually be pushing pellets backwards in their cylinder cavities, but my first guess is that CO2 bypass somewhere must be exerting pressure on the front of the pellets. The gun’s mild recoil (or possibly the bolt recocking action) might be another possibility. Whatever the cause, once this happens previously stopper-tight pellets will slide easily in the cylinder. As far as I could determine, though, pellet fit was not a problem in my gun. And it was not the problem for Pyramyd Air reviewers who tried a range of pellets with all kinds of persistent problems, either – that was probably the CO2 clip.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle loading pellets
I went to great lengths to load each pellet the same.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle rotary cylinder
Use a pellet seater to seat pellets fully into the rotary cylinder. A very tiny ridge (arrow) stops the pellet skirt within each individual cylinder chamber.

Daisy’s other – and I think more relevant – suggestion was to shoot slower, allowing 3-5 seconds between shots to let the CO2 cartridges recover. My first thought was that this takes away a lot of the fun of a semi-auto. This specific feature was one of the reasons I’d purchased the MP4 to begin with. Of course, the first thing my wife did as soon as she got her hands on my new gun was see how fast she could make me work the reset cord on our knockdown target. Sure enough, she had a skipped pellet in the magazine following her quick-fire volley. That’s not quite fun.

My second thought, in the form of a tiny bell ringing in the back of my mind, was that during my chronograph tests when I was waiting a full minute between shots, I didn’t have a single misfire for almost 150 rounds. I thought this was an anomaly, but it wasn’t!

With this advice in hand, I continued my testing, making a point to take time to breathe several times between shots. Lo and behold, I went through nearly 600 pellets with only 4 misfires, and I believe I actually caused these. Two of the misfires were from shooting fast during some other testing, and the other two are discussed below. Slowing down my shooting has essentially eliminated all my misfires—though I’m not having quite as much fun with the semi-auto MP4 as I was before.

Now, as to those final two misfires. After ejecting a supposedly empty ammunition magazine and discovering a skipped pellet still present, I remembered that on one shot I’d partially depressed the trigger, run out of “breath” before I was ready to shoot and released the trigger for another try. When I later removed the CO2 clip, I inverted the gun and squinted down into the receiver. As I squeezed the trigger, sure enough, I saw the catch that indexes the rotary cylinder move. So, squeezing the trigger indexes the ammo mag cylinder, and I’d inadvertently rotated a pellet out of queue, causing a skipped pellet. This revelation occurred early in my latest round of testing, and I continued shooting with steady, deliberate trigger pulls after that (and tried to make sure I didn’t run out of “breath” again). This also means that you should fully release the trigger between shots, though this was not a problem for me as far as I could tell. More deliberate trigger work, along with slower pacing between shots, has resulted in no more misfires so far.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle cylinder indexing
This rectangular catch (shown by the large arrow) just under the breech indexes the rotary cylinder on the ammunition magazine when the trigger is pulled. The inset photo and small arrow show the ratchet teeth on the rotary cylinder that the catch engages. A false start on a trigger pull can rotate the cylinder without actually firing, causing a pellet to be skipped in the firing sequence.

In summary, misaligned CO2 clips appear to be causing the most severe ammo feed problems in the Winchester MP4, and a replacement CO2 clip should get a malfunctioning MP4 working correctly. Tight-fitting pellets, slower shooting and more deliberate trigger pulls can eliminate minor misfires; but these require additional time and concentration and take some of the fun out of shooting this semi-auto. While I really like the Winchester MP4 and continue to enjoy shooting it, I’m having to jump through hoops to make it work properly, which is something prospective owners need to consider.

In Part 4, I’ll complete my accuracy testing (and finally break the half-inch barrier) and wrap up my evaluation.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1

Today’s report is a continuation of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. Today, he tells us about accuracy

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle

Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle.

This report covers:

• Shots per fill
• Heavy trigger
• Best results
• The normal grouping
• Bug Buster
• Summary
• The Dallas Field Target Club inaugural shoot
• How the blog changed my life

Shots per fill
While testing pellet accuracy, I shot at 6 bullseye targets (60 shots), swapping CO2 cartridges after each set, and did not notice any decline in performance at 10 yards. I also did a lot of enjoyable spinner silhouette shooting and started noting an increase in misses only as I approached the 80-shot mark (you go through pellets fast with this semiauto!). In conclusion, shooters can expect at least 60 accurate shots before swapping CO2 cylinders, depending on temperature.

It doesn’t matter how good the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle looks with that bipod or red dot scope on it while you’re reconnoitering the backyard. How well does it shoot? A gun is only fun if you can hit what you’re aiming it at, and the Winchester MP4 does reasonably well in the accuracy department.

Heavy trigger
My rifle does not appear to be suffering from the reported loose barrel problem (which can ostensibly be remedied by removing the 6 screws holding the Picatinny forearm and hand-tightening the barrel). However, the trigger-pull on this rifle is a conspicuously heavy 7.6 lbs. according to my hand scale. My wife and brother-in-law, who is former military (both ends of the spectrum, and both experienced shooters), singled this out as a major complaint. This is no youth rifle. I agree that accuracy would be better without having to exert so much pressure to get a pellet off. However, after some limited travel, the trigger — heavy as it is — breaks clean and crisp.

I shot outdoors at 10 yards from a benchrest using the aforementioned Bug Buster scope and a Leapers Golden Image 30mm red dot sight. All pellets tested grouped right around 1″ — give or take a little. Results were slightly better using the BugBuster. This rifle is not a tackdriver but is certainly a solid performer as long as you keep the range at 10 yards.

Best results
The following pellets gave the smallest 10-shot groups. At least one out of three measures 7/8″:
Crosman Destroyer
Crosman Destroyer EX (the slightly different version sold only in discount stores)
Crosman Premier Hollowpoint
H&N Finale Match Pistol
Air Arms Falcon

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Destroyer EX
Ten Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (a slightly different version of the Destroyer pellet sold at discount stores) went into 7/8″ at 10 yards.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Finale Pistol
Ten H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets made this 7/8″ group at 10 yards.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Falcon
These Air Arms Falcons also grouped in 7/8″ at 10 yards.

These three pellets gave at least one 10-shot group out of three as small as one inch between centers:
Crosman Competition Wadcutter
Crosman Premier Super Match
Gamo Tomahawk

The worst pellet tested was the JSB Match Diabolo Light Weight. They gave a best group that measured 1-1/8″ between centers.

The normal grouping
Most groups were erratic and inconsistent, with more pellet scattering than clustering. Nevertheless, the largest groups I got were still a reasonable 1-1/2″ (for the Crosman Destroyer EX and Gamo Tomahawk). Since each group was 10 shots, I filled one drum of the magazine completely (8 pellets) and then put only 2 pellets in the drum on the other side of the mag.

One interesting and frustrating observation was that my final 2 shots, after flipping the magazine around, almost always opened up the group, in some cases by a full half-inch or so. At least part of the time, though, this gun is capable of significantly tighter groups than I’m reporting here.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle pellet scattering
On the left is the only really tight group I got — 7/8″ for the Crosman Destroyer EX. Nearly every other group looked a lot more like the Crosman Premier Hollowpoint group on the right, with hardly 2 pellets in the same hole anywhere.

Bug Buster
I mentioned that I shot this gun with a Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster scope. When I first started sighting in at 10 yards, my initial POI was a very low 5″ under the bullseye. I had to do a lot of clicking to get the POI near the bullseye; and by the time I was finished, I noticed a fair amount of blurring in the bottom quarter of the scope’s field of view. I suspect I’m approaching the limit of adjustment on this sight. The amount of blurring worsens at higher magnifications. I own another Leapers UTG 4-16×40 scope that I just love, but field of view and eye relief on the compact Bug Buster are not nearly as forgiving or comfortable. Both my wife and brother-in-law (again, each an experienced shooter) complained about how difficult it is to sight through this scope. Although the Bug Buster has performed reliably and adds to the military look of this gun, I’m going to try a 40mm or larger compact scope on it at a later date.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Bug Buster
The Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster was much better to look at than to look through. The scope showcased the drawbacks of a small-objective compact.

A couple minor notes before wrapping up: Although Pyramyd Air rates this rifle a 4 out of 5 for loudness, I didn’t find it to be especially noisy outdoors. On my screened porch, the report was definitely loud, but that depends on how the sound is bouncing off the walls. Shooting noise from inside a bedroom was only average, which is how I would rate this gun for sound.

Also, the manual states that you should store this gun uncocked. Every time you fire, the bolt is re-engaged by CO2 pressure for the next shot. After you’ve finished shooting and have removed the CO2 clip, remember to point the rifle in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger one last time before casing it.

Summary
In conclusion, the Winchester MP4 is an authentic- looking and handling military replica with some known issues but enough accuracy to make it quite enjoyable for casual shooting. For plinking around the yard while looking like a commando, this rifle fills the bill — and does so nicely.

The Dallas Field Target Club inaugural shoot
Bob Dye submitted the following report and photos of the first Dallas Field Target Club shoot.

Twenty-six shooters appeared on a beautiful June 14 day for the event, some traveling from as far as Oklahoma and Louisiana.

Dallas FT Club meeting
The first Dallas Field Target Club match was well-attended.

Everyone had fun with friendly competition in all the usual AAFTA competition classes. Among them were 6-7 new shooters. Some chose to participate in one of the regular AAFTA classes, while four others participated in a Fun Rifle category, where basically anything goes concerning shooting style and equipment choices.

Great scoring latitude was offered, scoring one point for simply hitting the animal faceplate and two for a knockdown. This appeared to be a great way to let the novice shooters have fun scoring points plinking lead against steel, along with the extra satisfaction when the target falls over. It also served as a fun change of pace among the experienced shooters.

Dallas FT Club shooter
Shooters enjoyed the relaxed pace of the day.

While the facilities have lanes long enough to create a challenging Troyer difficulty of 36 or more, this first, 50-shot match was built on 9 lanes to a 23 Troyer, again to put some smiles on faces the first time out. [Editor's note: Brad Troyer devised a way to rate the difficulty of a field target course based on the size of the kill zones; the distances at which they're placed; and the difficulty of the shot based on placement, light and shooting position.]

Accordingly, two of the seasoned veterans rose to the challenge to ace the course. David Alsup shot a perfect 100/100 in Open PCP. And, while I told him I thought he was a shoo-in to do this, David asked to keep his score card, indicating it was a special day for him, too. Great shooting, David!

Likewise, perennial Hunter Class leader Ron Robinson also shot 100/100 with his brand new TM1000 rifle. I haven’t seen such a big grin on Ron’s face is some time. Or at least since last weekend in Pulaski. Ask him how he likes his new rig and be prepared for 5 minutes of superlatives. Excellent match with a new rifle, Ron!

Altogether, 17 of the 26 competed in one of the two Hunter Classes, including two in Hunter Piston. Four people posted scores in Open PCP — rather unusual in these parts.

The mostly sunny weather cooperated for a mid-June day, with a high of only 85 degrees F during the match, which made the humidity bearable. The turnout was superlative for this first ever club match.

Thanks to members Kevin Enzian, Jeff Latimer and Jerry Cupples for helping me set up the course the afternoon before. I couldn’t have done it by myself.

Next match is in August. Stay tuned. Visit the Dallas Field Target Club website.

How the blog changed my life
I initially published this section on the May 30, 2014, blog. I’m going to repeat it at least once a week during June and July so it doesn’t get lost or forgotten.

From the comments many of you make, I believe the blog may have positively impacted your lives. I invite you to send me an email telling me about that impact.

Were you a firearms shooter who accidentally discovered airguns through this blog? If so, tell me how this blog has helped your understanding of airguns.

Were you already an airgunner, but you thought what you saw in the big box stores was all there was? If so, how has this blog helped you understand more about airguns?

I’ve gotten quite a few responses already, but I want to make sure you know that I’m not looking for “attaboys,” pats on the back or personal recognition. I’m looking for real feedback on what you’ve learned so I can target my blogs to what you feel is important, what you’d like to know and what you’re still unsure of. This blog is written for its readers, and I want to share your stories with others who may be where you were before you found this blog.

Pyramyd Air has created a special temporary email address for this. I’ll be the only person to get these emails, and we’re not going to generate any lists from the addresses.

My plan is to publish one or more blog reports with the more interesting comments. If you want, I will use your real name or blog handle; but you can be anonymous, too. I won’t use your name or handle unless you give me written permission to do so.

This email address will be live for only a few weeks. We have tens of thousands of readers worldwide. Even if you’ve never commented on the blog, you can email me your message if you like. If you’re reading this blog after July 2014, email submissions will no longer be forwarded to me, and you may get an auto-reply email stating that or your email might bounce back to you.

The Crosman 622

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from reader Paul Hudson. It It’s his evaluation of the Crosman 622 repeater.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, Paul.

The Crosman 622
by Paul Hudson

Crosman 622 The Crosman 622 is a rarity — a slide-action CO2 repeater.

The Crosman 622 is a repeating slide-action CO2 pellet rifle. It was produced from 1972 to 1978 in .22 caliber only. It uses the familiar 12-gram Powerlets and has a rotary clip that holds six pellets.

There have been only a few other slide-action repeaters available in the recent past — the Gamo Extreme CO2 and the Shark roundball repeater made in Argentina are two examples. The Gamo uses an 88-gram cartridge, and the Shark is a bulk-fill gun.

This particular 622 belongs to my brother-in-law’s friend. It had not been fired for many years and was in need of a resealing. The old factory lube had turned to hard wax, and several hours of cleaning was required to get everything in working order.

Due to its design, the 622 did not develop a reputation for durability. The valve body is made of two parts held together with a single screw and is prone to breakage. A second bolt or pin can be added to the bottom of the valve body to greatly strengthen the assembly. Another problem was the tendency for the gun to jam with certain pellets; this can happen if the muzzle is elevated when the slide is cycled. Some pellets (depending on their shape) can back out of the clip enough to prevent it from rotating. Keeping the gun pointed down will help prevent this. Possibly due to this problem, Crosman added a lever to the receiver of later 622s to aid removing stuck clips.

Crosman 622 interior
There are many parts in the 622′s receiver. The large, rectangular casting on the right is the valve body, and it’s prone to breakage. The probe is near the top of the receiver and is in the rearmost operating position. In the middle is the rotating rod that advances the clip. The large cylinder on the bottom houses the striker.

The 622 is large enough not to feel like a toy. It’s 40.5 inches long with a 13.5-inch length-of-pull, so it’s adult-sized. The blued barrel is 23 inches long, and the gun weighs 6 lbs. without a scope. A square post front sight and a square notch rear sight come from the factory, and they’re entirely suitable for the ranges at which the gun would be used. The painted receiver is made of two die-cast pieces and is grooved for mounting a scope. While the paint isn’t the greatest finish, no complaints can be made about the blueing on the barrel and gas tube. It’s very well done for a low-priced gun. Both the stock and forearm are made of varnished hardwood that has a very straight grain. The receiver is only about an inch thick, and the gun does not feel bulky; combined with the light weight, it’s a perfect plinker and can be carried for hours.

Crosman 622 rear sight
The rear sight is a simple square notch and is adjustable for elevation and windage.

 

10-16-13-04-Crosman-622-front-sight
The front sight is a square post. The ramp is textured to prevent glare.

A manual safety is mounted behind the trigger; it’s very similar to the unit on many other Crosman models. The single-stage trigger was a pleasant surprise. It isn’t adjustable…but it’s fairly smooth, mostly creep-free and breaks at a consistent 2 lbs., 2 oz. For an inexpensive airgun, it’s quite good. Holding down the trigger while cycling the action lets the striker travel forward with the slide; it will not fire the gun.

Crosman 622 trigger
The trigger features Crosman’s typical cross-bolt safety and is surprisingly good.

The rotary clip
The 622′s 6-shot rotary clip is easy to load and fits entirely within the receiver; it will not interfere with a scope or catch on anything during handling. Unfortunately, the clip accepts pellets with a max length of 0.275 inches. This prevents longer domed pellets and pointed pellets from being used. All wadcutters fit, and most cycle fine.

Crosman 622 magazine rear
Rear view of the clip. Pellets load easily from this side.

Crosman 622 magazine top
The thin clip will not accept pellets over 0.275 inches long. The Baracuda Hunter is about the longest pellet that fits.

To charge the 622, the end cap of the lower tube is removed. A CO2 cylinder is dropped in nose-first (don’t forget a drop of Pellgunoil on the tip), and the end cap is replaced. As the cap is tightened, a slight hiss will be heard as the cartridge is pierced. Further tightening should not be needed. Since the CO2 cylinder seats against a flexible seal, it should be removed after shooting. A single cylinder was good for 36 shots, or 6 full clips. A two-cylinder lower tube, similar to that of the Crosman 160, was available for a time; but this was an aftermarket part not supplied by Crosman.

Crosman 622 CO2 tube
A single CO2 cartridge is used in the long gas tube.

Performance
The 622 was rated by Crosman at 450 fps; this gun exceeded that rating with all tested pellets. The temperature was around 90 degrees during shooting.

Crosman 622 performance table
MV=muzzle velocity (fps), ME=muzzle energy (ft-lbs), ES=extreme spread (fps)

Getting the best accuracy from the 622 is a bit of a challenge. The forearm uses a single operating rod and can slightly rotate around the lower tube. This allows the gun to move upon firing if it’s held by the forearm. For best accuracy, support the 622 just ahead of the receiver by holding the gas tube. This is really a minor point; the 622 is not a long-range target gun — it’s a plinker, and one of the most entertaining ones at that.

10-meter groups with open sights
All pellets tested were more than accurate enough at 10 meters for plinking and informal shooting. Groups are 6 shots since that’s the magazine capacity. Here are a few of the best performers:

Crosman 622 RWS Superdome target
The RWS Superdomes gave a nice, round 0.31-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman 622 JSB Exact Jumbo target
The 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbos made this 0.27-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman 622 Beeman Field Target Special target
At 10 meters, the Beeman Field Target Specials produced the best group at 0.24 inches.

25-yard groups with a scope
The factory open sights just aren’t precise enough to produce the best accuracy at 25 yards. I mounted a simple 4x Leapers scope for these groups. Most pellets gave groups in the inch to inch-and-a-half range. There were a few standouts, however:

Crosman 622 H&N Baracuda Hunter 25 yard target
Six H&N Baracuda Hunters made this 0.84-inch group at 25 yards.

Crosman 622 Crosman Premier 25 yard target
The 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbos also performed well at 25 yards with this 0.79-inch group.

Crosman 622 JSB 15.9-grain Exact Jumbo 25 yard target
The most accurate pellet at 25 yards was the Crosman Premier. Six pellets made this 0.57-inch group. There are three pellets in the lower left hole, two on the right, and one high and left.

Summary
While the 622 isn’t the best engineered or most accurate airgun Crosman ever made, it’s still an interesting piece. There have been only a few slide-action airguns produced; and for plinking, the rapid-firing provided by a slide-action really ups the fun factor.

Many 622s are still in circulation, and they regularly show up at airgun shows and on auction sites. Lack of attention from collectors has kept the price reasonable. One caveat is to make sure the gun includes the clip — they fetch about 25 dollars apiece. It’s possible to load the rifle singly, but it’s tedious.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4a
Part 4b

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Benjamin’s new Trail NP breakbarrel pellet pistol with cocking aid removed.

Before we begin today’s report, a word about my late friend, Earl (Mac) McDonald. His family has set up a memorial page in his name to collect finds for research into the causes of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is one of the names prion disease goes by. Most of you knew Mac only through his writing and testing here on the blog; but a few of you were friends with him through this hobby, and I thought you would like to know about this.

Today, we’ll continue testing the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. Although today’s title says Part 5, it’s actually the 6th report because I had to break Part 4 into sub-parts a and b.

We’ll look at the accuracy of those 3 lead-free pellets that Crosman provided with the test pistol. As before, I’m shooting at 10 meters, and the gun has a red dot sight mounted. I’ll describe all the other shooting conditions as we go. It has been so long since I last tested this air pistol that I had to read both parts of the fourth report to find out how to shoot the pistol for the best results.

I decided to shoot everything with the cocking aid attached. My testing demonstrated that it didn’t hurt the accuracy, and in a few cases it seemed to help it. At any rate, it makes the pistol easier to cock, so I left it on for this whole test.

Crosman Powershot Penetrators
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Powershot Penetrator. It’s a synthetic-bodied pellet with a heavy non-lead metal core. They fit loosely in the breech, so I seated them flush but did not try to seat them deep. Since some of my best shooting was with the gun rested directly against the sandbag last time, I decided to start out that way. Imagine my surprise to see a near-pinwheel shot with the first pellet! [A pinwheel is a shot in the exact center of the target, and it refers to taking out the extremely small 10-ring of a smallbore target so that just the white scoring ring remains behind.] The shot was so good that I stopped and took a picture of it to show you — in case history was about to be made. This happens about one time every ten thousand shots or so for me, and it’s usually by pure chance. It is, however, the sort of thing that gives rise to lies and legends and is probably the basis for the Cargo Cults.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Just in case I was about to make history, I photographed the first shot of the Benjamin Trail NP pistol with Crosman Powershot Penetrators.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Shot No. 2 (at the bottom of the picture) made it clear that the first shot was a happy accident. Resting the pistol directly on the sandbag was not the thing to do!

Much as I would have loved to bask in the radiance of that first shot, shot No. 2 dispelled the miracle. Pellet 2 landed 4 inches south of the first one, humbling me once more.

Here’s a lesson in testing airguns. When something goes wrong like this, and all your experience says that it should have been wrong to begin with (resting a spring gun directly on a sandbag), take the hint and change your ways. So I did. I moved my hands forward of the bag and held the gun with no part of it touching anything except me. Then, I shot 10 more shots into a very decent group that measures 1.587 inches between centers. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a bad group for this pistol. Not the best by any means; but for lead-free pellets, it’s not bad.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Resting the arms on the sandbag and holding the pistol free was the way to go. Ten flush-seated Powershot Penetrators made this 1.587-inch group at 10 meters.

Crosman SSP hollowpoints
Next, I tried the SSP hollowpoint pellets seated flush and with my arms resting on the bag but the pistol not touching it. This was how I held the gun for the remainder of this report. This time, 10 pellets made a slightly smaller group — measuring 1.513 inches. Amazing! Who would have thought that lead-free pellets could be so accurate?

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Ten SSP hollowpoints seated flush made this 1.513-inch group at 10 meters. This is a decent group for lead-free pellets.

This pellet fit the breech tighter, so I figured I could try to seat them deeply. Next, I shot 5 of the same SSP hollowpoints seated deep with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. When the first 2 pellets landed very close to each other, I thought I might be on to something; but after 5 shots, I knew differently. I had a vertical string that measures 2.013 inches between centers. It’s very tight side-to-side, so I was holding the pistol okay…but the velocity of the pellet was way off, shot-to-shot.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
It took only 5 shots to learn that nothing was gained by seating the SSP hollowpoints deep. Group measures 2.013 inches.

Allow me to explain what I mean by the velocity was off. I’m not referring to the velocity from the muzzle to the target. At 10 meters, you can vary the velocity by 50 f.p.s. and not affect the group that much. But the time the pellet remains inside the barrel while the gun is moving affects things greatly. That is what I mean by the velocity affecting things. I really mean the pellet dwell time inside the barrel because that determines where the muzzle will be when the pellet exits. Obviously, when this pellet is seated deep, that time varies enough to affect where the pellet strikes the target — even at 10 meters.

The bottom line — deep-seating is out for this pellet. And another testing tip — I don’t need to fire a second 5 shots to figure that out. I can stop here and move on with the test.

Crosman SSP pointed pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Crosman SSP pointed pellet. This is another lead-free pellet. Instead of a hollow point, it has a pointed tip. The weight is the same 4 grains as the SSP hollowpoint. I seated them flush with the breech and started to shoot, but they were hitting so low that some were below the target paper. So, I stopped and adjusted the red dot sight up several clicks, then started the group all over. Ten pellets landed in a 5.004-inch group that told me the test was over. Sure, I could have tried seating these pellets deep or holding the pistol directly on the sandbag, but this huge group told me it wasn’t worth the effort. What was the best I could do — shade the hollowpoints by a fraction of an inch? No, I know when to hold ‘em, and I also know when to fold ‘em. Now, it was time to end the test.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
When your target looks like this, you’ll know what to do.

Impressions so far
I remain impressed by the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. For the money, it offers performance well beyond what most airguns of equivalent price can give you. It’s an air pistol you must be dedicated to, however, because it takes some getting used to. But for smashing power with decent accuracy, I can’t think of another spring pistol in this price range that does as well.

There is still one final test to do. I want to rerun the velocity test. That will establish if the hundreds of shots we’ve given this pistol to this point have finally broken in the gun.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol: Part 4b

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4a

Benjamin Trail NP pistol
Benjamin’s new Trail NP breakbarrel pellet pistol, with cocking aid removed.

Before I begin today’s report, I have sad news. Our friend Earl “Mac” McDonald passed away on Sunday, May 5, at 4:30 a.m. He was surrounded by his family.

Mac was diagnosed with a prion disease in April of this year. I don’t want to discuss it here, but if you want to know more, here is a link. This disease affects one person in a million. It is not only very rare, but the cause wasn’t even discovered until the 1980s. Scientists are still unsure of all the details.

I was aware of the probable diagnosis when I went to visit Mac last month but was asked not to disclose the details. Fortunately, when I arrived, he was able to recognize me. I sat with him and talked about old times whenever he was awake. My wife, Edith, and our friend Otho Skyped with Mac. Via the computer, Edith showed Mac the SHOT Show report in Shotgun News, which was the last thing he photographed for me.

Like everyone who knew him, I’m saddened by his passing — but that is more than offset by the pleasure of knowing him as long as I did. The fact that he was able to attend this year’s SHOT Show was especially rewarding.

As this blog moves forward, I will occasionally refer to Mac and some of the things he did. The best memorial I can give him is to never forget the time he was here.

Today’s report
I left you with a cliffhanger last Friday — more than I imagined, as it turned out, because I thought I was writing Thursday’s report and would publish the second part on Friday, rather than today. I know you all want to know what happened when I seated the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets deep in the bore with the cocking aid attached and rested the pistol directly on the sandbag.

If you were expecting a Cinderella story, it didn’t quite happen. The group got measurably better — in fact, it was the second-best group of the test to this point. Ten shots made a group measuring 1.105 inches between centers. Compared to the previous group, which was larger than 2 inches, it seemed clear that this was the best way to shoot this pellet — deep-seated, gun rested on the bag and the cocking adapter attached.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol H&N Finale Match Pistol group gun rested-deep seated cocking aid on
Ten shots with H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets seated deep with the cocking aid attached and the gun rested directly on the bag made this 1.105-inch group. So, deep-seating these pellets reduced the group size by half.

Did you possibly think that it put all 10 into the same dime-sized hole that the 5 good ones went into on the previous test? I hoped that would happen, too, but it didn’t.

Not H.P.White Labs
Before you start looking back at all the testing done on this pistol to-date to recommend different things for me to test, let me say I am not H.P. White Laboratory, and the goal of this test is not to see how accurate the Benjamin Trail NP pistol can possibly be. My purpose is to evaluate the pistol as it comes from the box, so those thinking of making a purchase will have something to go on. I think I’ve done that already, and the gun is definitely worth the money. But the test is far from finished.

Air Venturi Pellet Seater
Blog reader Nomobux asked me how deep I seated the pellets with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. Well, that varies, based on how thin the pellet skirts are. But I measured the seater with the pin protruding by 0.163 inches, which seated the pellets about 0.125 inches deep.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol H&N Finale Match Pistol Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater
I set the pellet seater to this depth months ago and have been using it this way ever since.

Crosman Destroyers
A blog reader asked me to test Crosman Destroyers — a new hollowpoint that has a large open cavity in the nose. Since I was playing, I decided to shoot 5 shots and see if it was worth finishing the group. With the pellets seated deep, the cocking aid attached and the gun rested directly on the bag, 5 shots made a group measuring 2.546 inches, so I stopped there. Since that was already very large and 5 more shots would not make it any smaller I decided to save my time and effort.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol Crosman Destroyer group gun rested deep seated cocking aid on
Five shots with Crosman Destroyer pellets seated deep with the cocking aid attached and the gun rested directly on the bag made this 2.546-inch group. I stopped after 5 shots because the group was already too large.

But I also figured some of you wouldn’t let me rest if I didn’t test at least one more variable with this pellet, so I shot it seated flush, as well. Surprise! It turned out better. Ten shots went into 2.086 inches. That’s not a world-beater group, I know, but it is better than the 5 shots with deep-seated pellets. It points out that deep seating has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol Crosman Destroyer group gun rested flush seated cocking aid on
Ten shots with Crosman Destroyer pellets seated flush with the cocking aid attached and the gun rested directly on the bag made this 2.086-inch group. Though it’s not a great group, it is better than the 5-shot group with deep-seated pellets.

Michael, Michael, Michael!
Blog reader Michael saw that I hadn’t yet tested the best-shooting RWS Hobby pellets from the rested position with the cocking aid attached, but he was standing on my shoulder as I played with the pistol. I knew you would want me to go back and test it this way, so I did. This time, the magic didn’t work, however, and the 10-shot group size was 1.536 inches, so no improvement.

Benjamin Trail NP pistol RWS Hobby group gun rested deep seated cocking aid on
Ten RWS Hobbys seated deep with the gun rested on the bag and the cocking aid attached measured 1.536 inches at 10 meters. It’s not bad, but no cigar. The gun shot better when not rested on the bag.

Isn’t it interesting how changing one variable will change the entire performance of the gun? I think so.

The bottom line is that the Benjamin Trail NP is still a whole lot of value for the price tag. And I’m not finished, yet. There’s still another accuracy test to go with those lead-free pellets; and then I want to recheck the velocity of the gun, now that several hundred shots have been fired. There’s more to come, so sit back and enjoy.

Benjamin Titan GP air rifle with Nitro Piston: Part 2

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

Part 1

Benjamin Titan with Nitro Piston has people talking.

Lots of interest in this air rifle — even from those who normally wouldn’t look twice at a gun of this kind. I guess it’s the low price that has folks talking.

Today is velocity day and a chance to become better acquainted with the test rifle. If you just found this blog, read Part 1 linked above. A short introduction is that Nitro Piston is the Crosman-trademarked name for a gas spring. Performance of a gas spring is a bit different than for a conventional coiled steel mainspring, though in the end both are spring-piston airguns. A gas spring uses compressed gas instead of a coiled steel spring to push the piston that compresses the air for each shot. Gas doesn’t suffer from being compressed for long periods, so you can leave a gun like this cocked for months and the power should not be affected. That isn’t recommended for reasons of safety, but it does allow hunters to carry their rifle cocked and loaded all day. Gas is also less sensitive to temperature changes, so gas springs retain their power better in extreme cold, where the lubricants in steel spring guns thicken and slow down the piston.

This particular rifle has lower power than most gas spring guns, and as a result, is easier to cock. The test rifle requires 33 lbs. of force to cock, where a conventional gas spring gun is often closer to 50 lbs. Still, 33 lbs. is not light. It takes an adult hand to cock this rifle.

Crosman built this rifle for the Illinois airgun market that used to mandate a muzzle velocity of less than 700 f.p.s. That law was changed, so the guns that remain are being sold directly by Crosman. I bought one because I’m a fan of lower-powered gas spring airguns.

Velocity test
The first pellet tested was the one that was included in the package with the rifle — a 250-count tin of Crosman Destroyers. The Destroyer is a hollowpoint pellet with a pointed tip inserted in the center of the hollow point. They’re made of hardened lead and weigh 7.9 grains, nominally. This is a pellet I don’t believe I’ve ever tested, so I’ll be doing so within this test. I see the customer reviews of the pellet are all over the place, so they aren’t that helpful. I’ll test them for accuracy in this rifle; and if the accuracy seems to warrant it, perhaps also test it in my R8, which we all know to be a very accurate breakbarrel.

Crosman Destroyer pellets
Crosman Destroyer pellets are hollowpoints that also have a pointed tip.

Destroyers averaged 699 f.p.s. in the test rifle. They ranged from a low of 672 to a high of 722 f.p.s., so the spread was 50 f.p.s. That’s too high, but I think the rifle may need to break in a little to get rid of some excess oil in the compression chamber. Once it’s broken in, I think the average will be down around 685 because that was the direction the pellet seemed to be heading as I shot it. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 8.57 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

This pellet loaded tight in the breech. I’ll have more to say about that in a bit.

RWS Hobby
The RWS Hobby pellet is one of the lightest pure-lead pellets on the market. It’s always the one I use to test the top velocity of an airgun because it’s often very accurate as well as fast. That makes it a real-world pellet and not just a bragging-rights trick pellet that will only be used for velocity numbers. The Hobby is a wadcutter, so it’s also good for pest elimination at ranges below 25 yards.

Hobbys averaged 708 f.p.s. in this rifle. The range went from 696 to 722 f.p.s., so a spread of 26 f.p.s. With the Hobby, there was no trend toward lower velocities in the string of 10 shots, so I think the average is representative of what this gun will always do. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 7.79 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Hobbys loaded even tighter than Destroyers. The back of the skirt stuck out no matter how hard I pushed it into the breech. However, closing the barrel did push the pellets flush without damaging the skirt.

Crosman Premier
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier averaged 665 f.p.s in the test rifle. The range went from 655 to 680 f.p.s., so a 25-foot-per-second spread. These pellets fit the breech very well and seated flush with the end of the barrel using finger pressure alone. At the average velocity, Premier lites produced 7.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

A pellet-seating experiment
I’ve mentioned that two of the three pellets tried were hard to seat because they were tight in the breech. I thought it would be instructive, therefore, to conduct a little experiment to see how deep-seating them affected things. I guessed it would lower the average velocity, but it might also make the velocity spread a little tighter.

I chose RWS Hobby pellets for this test because they were the tightest in the breech. Using the adjustable pellet seating tool that comes with the Pellet Pen and PellSet, I seated each Hobby pellet about 1/16 inch into the breech. The average when seated this way was 686 f.p.s., compared to the 708 f.p.s. when seated by finger pressure alone. The range went from 678 to 691 f.p.s. — a spread of 13 f.p.s., compared to the 26 f.p.s. spread for the finger-seated pellets. I think this result is interesting enough to warrant a special test during the big accuracy test that comes next.

Trigger-pull
Although the trigger still has a long pull and buckets of creep, it releases at a pretty nice 4 lbs. on the money. If I can shoot with discipline, it may not influence the accuracy as much as I originally feared.

Observations thus far
Well, the rifle is harder to cock than I originally thought. I thought it was just me getting weaker, but apparently I’m still able to cock a springer — this one just takes more than I think it should for the power it delivers. Ed Schultz of Crosman told me when I tested the Benjamin Legacy with Nitro Piston in .22 caliber that they were never able to get a .177 to shoot and behave as well as the .22. That must have something to do with the smaller bore diameter, but what it might be I have no idea. If true, it suggests that a .25-caliber low-velocity breakbarrel with Nitro Piston might be the nicest airgun of all, though I doubt we’ll ever see one.

The firing behavior of this rifle is very nice. It fires with just a small forward jolt and no vibration to speak of, though I did need to tighten all the stock screws once during the test.

The velocity is bang-on the advertised speed. It didn’t take any trick pellets to achieve it, either. The velocity is in a very nice place for accuracy, and the smooth behavior of the rifle can’t do anything but help it achieve its absolute best. So, I’m expecting good things on accuracy day.

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