Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Optimus air rifle’

Crosman Optimus .177 rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2

Crosman’s Optimus offers a lot of power for a low price.

Today is accuracy day for the Crosman Optimus, and I know that a lot of readers are watching this rifle for all that it offers. We were pleasantly surprised in the velocity test to learn that the Optimus is a stable and smooth-shooting breakbarrel rifle. Now, we find out if it matters.

Choked barrels
The first thing Mac noted was the Optimus barrel has no choke. I’ve seen comments like this on customer reviews as well. Here’s the scoop on choked barrels. When a spring-piston gun fires, the sudden air blast forces the pellet’s skirt out into the rifling. If it didn’t fit the bore well when it was loaded, it usually does after firing.

But PCP guns don’t have a sudden air blast. Their air flow lasts a longer time, and as a result they don’t flare pellets. So, barrelmakers put a small constriction — called a choke — at the muzzle end of the barrel for PCP guns. That way all the pellets are sized uniformly when they exit the muzzle. With springers, that isn’t needed because they’re sizing the pellets when they fire.

Often, when the front sight dovetails get swaged into the barrel, it upsets some metal to the inside of the bore. The result feels like a choke when you push a pellet through the bore. But the Lothar Walther people and Hans Weihrauch, Jr., both told me they intentionally do not choke barrels meant for spring rifles.

Today, however, very few manufacturers put dovetails in the barrels for the front sight. The front sight on the Optimus is glued in place, so it doesn’t have any swaging near the muzzle. Hence, the lack of a choke. Edith checked on this for us and determined that this is correct.

For this test, Mac mounted a 3-9x50AO Leapers scope with illumination in a one-piece BKL cantilevered mount. From the photo, you might think that this mount would have some problems with the Optimus’ recoil, which is not insignificant, but that wasn’t the case. This mount also comes with 0.007 inches of droop compensation to get your breakbarrel back into the aim point.

Does the scope look unbalanced? Mac says it remained stable and solid throughout the test. Because it’s a BKL mount, you don’t have to worry about movement when the gun recoils.

Mac was concerned that with such a large scope and only two screws per scope cap there would be some movement, but he monitored it closely and the scope never moved. To mount the BKL base to the rifle, you should first remove all the oil and grease from the dovetail grooves. Mac also advises putting a drop of oil on the threads of the mounting screws, because when they get tight they start to pop as they turn in their holes. Oiling will lessen that but apparently will not allow them to loosen in operation. At least that’s what he reports. I think BKL advises leaving the screws dry.

The accuracy test
Okay, here we go. First up is the pellet that grouped the worst off a rest at 30 yards — RWS Superdomes. Yes, Mac’s favorite .177 pellet did not do well in the Optimus, grouping 10 shots in 2.4 inches at 30 yards.

Too bad for Mac! His favorite RWS Superdome pellet grouped 10 in 2.4 inches at 30 yards.

Only slightly better was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier. Six of them went into a group measuring 2 incheseven. He became frustrated by the seeming inaccuracy of the rifle at this point and didn’t finish this group. I guess because there aren’t ten shots, I can’t even say this group is better than the other.

There are only six holes in this target because Mac got disgusted and quit. They measure 2 inches between the two farthest centers.

Lesson for newcomers to airguns
At times like this, we all become frustrated and our frustrations are often borne out in what happens next. Sometimes, things change unexpectedly, which is why it is so important to shoot every shot with the perfect artillery hold, so at the end of it all you can say that you did your best.

The next pellet Mac tried was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet — the so-called “lite” Premier. It did much better, by cutting the heavier Premier group in half. Yes, 10 Premier lites delivered a 1-inch group at 30 yards.

Premier lites made this ten-shot, one-inch group at 30 yards. This is much better, but we’re still not shouting.

Then Mac tried the 8.4-grain JSB Exact dome pellet. Since Premier lites did so well, he had high hopes for this pellet, but the best he could do for 10 shots was a 1.16-inch group.

The JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome shot ten into a 1.16-inch group at 30 yards.

Finally, Mac tried the 10.2-grain JSB Exact dome. Now, because the 10.5-grain Premier did so much worse than the 7.9-grain Premier, you might expect this pellet to do poorly as well, but it didn’t. In fact, it gave us the best 10-shot group of the day. Measuring just 0.74 inches at 30 yards, this is the pellet that proves the Optimus can shoot. This is why you have to keep on testing, even when you think you know the answer (I’m talking to myself).

Sometimes you’re surprised! The JSB Exact 10.2-grain dome was the most accurate in the test, grouping 10 shots into 0.74 inches at 30 yards.

The bottom line
The Optimus is a fine starter air rifle, as long as you understand that it takes a lot of skill to shoot well. The trigger is not good. Be prepared for that. So far, the best pellet isn’t coming from a discount store. But if you want to get into the game at this power level and are willing to both learn and use the artillery hold, this is a great value.

Crosman Optimus .177 rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Crosman’s Optimus offers a lot of power for a low price.

Today is the day we find out if the Crosman Optimus delivers all the power it’s advertised to. We learned from the comments on Part 1 that several readers are watching this report because of all the potential value the Optimus has to offer.

Before I get to the velocities, though, there are a couple things for all of us to remember. When Mac took the rifle from the box, it was dripping with oil. Although it made sounds like the piston seal was dry, it also smoked a lot when shot, so he didn’t oil the piston seal.

The cocking effort is remarkably smooth. The piston squeak comes at the end of the cocking stroke.

Mac was very disappointed by the trigger. It has no defined stop, so you just have to keep on pulling it until the gun fires. That seems to be the experience of all who own this airgun, so be aware of it.

Okay, with all of that behind us, let’s take a look at the performance. Mac says the rifle is very stable and smooth when it fires.

The first pellet Mac tested was the RWS Superdome, which in .177 caliber weighs 8.3 grains. They averaged 930 f.p.s., with a spread from 919 to 944 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generate 15.94 foot-pounds, or almost 16 foot-pounds. That’s a lot of power for a rifle in this price range. The Superdomes were the most powerful pellets Mac tested.

The next pellet he tried was the 10.2-grain JSB Exact dome. It averaged 807 f.p.s., with a spread from 795 to 815 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 14.75 foot-pounds. Heavier pellets usually deliver less power in spring-piston guns, so this is no surprise.

Next, Mac tried the 8.4-grain JSB Exact dome that should have been more powerful than the 10.2 pellets. It averaged 877 f.p.s., and the spread went from 867 to 889 f.p.s. That’s a muzzle energy of 14.35 foot-pounds, which seems to defy the rule mentioned above, however Mac says these pellets fit the breech of the rifle very loosely; so there could have been some air blowby. All other pellets tested fit the breech tightly.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets averaged 923 f.p.s., with a spread from 913 to 929 f.p.s. That’s just a 16 foot-second spread and the tightest of the whole test. At the average velocity, the Premier lites produced 14.95 foot-pounds of energy.

Mac also tried the heavy 10.5-grain Crosman Premiers. They averaged 759 f.p.s. and went from a low of 743 to a high of 770 f.p.s. That works out to an average of 13.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The last pellet Mac tested was the RWS HyperMAX. At 5.2 grains, these non-lead pellets are among the fastest pellets in the world. He got one velocity of 1138 f.p.s., but the firing characteristics of the gun were so harsh with this pellet that he didn’t complete the sequence. He was trying to see if the rifle could meet its published velocity of 1200 f.p.s., which it didn’t quite do. However, please remember that the piston seal was dry and also Mac didn’t use Crosman SSP pellets, which¬†are the fastest on the market. At just 4 grains, they fly! Still, I’d say the rifle is within specs.

Next, we’ll test accuracy. At this point, the Optimus is stacking up to be an interesting air rifle. The appearance is okay for the price, and the powerplant seems very stable. I hope it can shoot!

Crosman Optimus .177 rifle: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos and test by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Crosman’s Optimus offers a lot of power for a low price.

Today, we’ll begin a look at the Crosman Optimus breakbarrel air rifle. Mac has tested this one for us and has a number of interesting things to say about the rifle.

Let’s get the exciting things out of the way first. The Crosman Optimus sells for about $90 and is rated to 1,200 f.p.s. Those two facts are going to impress a number of folks, especially those who are new to airgunning. It’s a lot of power for very little money. Veteran airgunners will reserve judgement until they see the results of this test, but impressive velocities and prices are always at the forefront of sales campaigns.

The Optimus is made in China. There is no other way to produce this much gun at the price. The trigger is a copy of an older Gamo design that has become familiar in recent years to users of Chinese-made spring guns. A safety lever in front of the trigger automatically comes on when the rifle is cocked and must be pushed forward before the shot is taken. The mechanism has an anti-beartrap that works as it should.

The Optimus is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston air rifle. That means it will require all the shooting technique you can muster to get good results, and that would be no different no matter where it was made or what it cost.

The rifle is fully ambidextrous. There’s no cheekpiece on the stock, only a Monte Carlo comb to elevate your eye to the sights or scope. The stock is hardwood and is filled with wood putty in places. Also, the stain did not get applied evenly, leaving dark marks where it puddled and dried.

The metal is evenly finished and deeply blackened. The wood-to-metal fit seems very good to Mac’s experienced eye, with the single exception of the rear sight adjustment knob that I’ll mention in a moment.

Hard to cock?
One customer reviews (for the scoped model) states that the rifle takes “two men and a boy” to cock, so I asked Mac to test that, specifically. It isn’t that difficult. Mac measured the cocking force at 36 lbs., which puts it into the same class as the Beeman R1 rifle, although this rifle is 3 lbs. lighter than an R1. That’s probably why the shooter who wrote the report felt it was harder than it is.

An articulated cocking link allows the cocking slot in the stock to be short, which will reduce vibration by a lot. Unfortunately, the designers have lengthened the stock to cover the base block, so it looks like the cocking slot is long, but that’s not really the case.

A two-piece, articulated cocking link means the cocking slot in the stock didn’t have to be long; because the stock extends past the baseblock, it looks much longer.

Mac noted that the rifle was dripping with oil when he unpacked it. He wiped it off, of course, but it made him wonder whether the insides were over-oiled, as well. It turns out they weren’t, because the piston seal began to squeak when the gun was cocked during the test, and that’s a sign it needs lubrication.

The Optimus is a large rifle at 44.25 inches long, yet lightweight at only 6.5 lbs. It gets its power from a very long piston stroke, as can be seen when the rifle is cocked. The length of pull is 14.4 inches, which will feel long to most shooters. The steel barrel is 18.75 inches in length.

When the rifle is cocked, you can see the obvious presence of a long-stroke piston by how far back the barrel goes. This is why the Optimus is not so difficult to cock.

The sights are made of plastic and have fiberoptic inserts, front and rear. Mac says they appear to be smaller than normal, making precision aiming somewhat easier, though he used a scope for accuracy testing. That’s probably good because the windage knob of the rear sight hits the wood stock when the rifle is cocked. The front sight appears to be glued in place on its one-piece base.

Mac reported that the two-stage trigger has an indistinct second stage that simply pulls through without a discernible pause. At 85 oz. (5.3 lbs.), it’s heavy, on top of being mushy. That will challenge Mac when he tries for accuracy.

How much can you expect from such an inexpensive air rifle? That will be the focus of the next two reports. If the Optimus turns out to have the rated power and is reasonably accurate, it will be a No. 1 pick for those on a budget.

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