Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Premier Super Match pellets’
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s test is shooting the Crosman MAR177 at 25 yards, both with and without the magazine. We’ll also shoot it with the best wadcutter target pellets and the best domed pellets to see what differences there are.
Rather than shoot the rifle myself, I let Mac shoot it this time. He is the better rifle shot between us, and I just wanted to see what the rifle would be like in his hands. He shot it off a bag rest at 25 yards indoors. Ten pellets were shot from the magazine, then another 10 of the same pellet were shot using the single-shot tray. Mac tested both domed and wadcutter pellets, so we get to compare the relative accuracy of both today. And the results did not turn out as I expected.
I’d noted in an earlier report that the particular 10-shot magazine I’ve been using has two chambers with tight entrances. Mac found the same thing without being prompted by me. I had him use the same magazine as I did so I could compare his results with all other variables remaining the same.
You’ll recall that I mentioned not liking magazine guns because of how they handle the pellets. So, today was also a test between the magazine and loading each pellet as you shoot. I’m not saying that all pellets have feeding problems, but that some magazines may have a problem. But when you load each pellet singly, you have less chance of damaging the pellet.
That said, the MAR177 has a gap at the front of the single-load tray that can catch the nose of certain pellets and make it very difficult to load. The H&N Field Target pellets that were the most accurate in an earlier test had this problem and had to be exchanged for a different domed pellet. The H&Ns have a semi-wadcutter rim around the head that just catches in the gap on the tray and causes the pellets to flip up and possibly get damaged on loading. I substituted 7.3-grain Air Arms Falcon pellets that fed perfectly through the tray.
On to the shooting
Let’s get right to today’s test. First, Mac tested the domed pellets at 25 yards.
Mac tried the H&N Field Target pellets first, and they were very accurate, but a couple of them refused to feed through the magazine. But the Falcon pellets fed flawlessly, so we changed the test to use them as the domed pellet of choice. Once again, I want to say that in another magazine this pellet might have fed better, but this is a quirk you get with mags that you don’t get when loading singly.
Clearly the single-loaded pellets are more accurate than those loaded by the magazine. That may not hold from magazine to magazine; but for this one mag, you’re better off loading the pellets one at a time. Let’s see how the rifle does with wadcutters at 25 yards.
The trend continued with the wadcutter pellets. The R10s grouped even tighter than the Falcons at 25 yards, and those that were loaded singly did much better than those that fed through the magazine.
What have we learned?
First, we’ve learned that some magazines do influence the accuracy of the gun with all ammunition — or at least with the pellet types used in this test. A different magazine might well give different results, but one thing it will never do is outshoot loading the pellets by hand, one at a time. As a 10-meter shooter, I knew this going into the test. But it was nice that we were able to demonstrate it so clearly.
Next, we see that wadcutters were more accurate than the domes in this test. Even though both pellets were very accurate, the wadcutters had the edge. That was the part that surprised me. I’d expected the domes to take over at 25 yards.
The bottom line
The Crosman MAR177 is a valuable addition to an AR and a wonderful target rifle in its own right. It was held back in this test by the use of an AR National Match trigger, which is by no means as good as a target trigger on an air rifle. Even so, we see accuracy that any 10-meter precision rifle would be proud of.
I think Crosman has made a winning rifle in the MAR177. And when they bring out more powerful versions of it in the future, it’ll be all the greater justification for owning an AR! My thanks to Crosman for the loan of this MAR177 for both this test and for the feature article I am writing for Shotgun News!
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the Crosman MAR177 upper shooting domed pellets at 25 yards. I’ll be using the 10-shot magazine, so we’ll get to see that in action, as well. I’ll tell you right now that today was a learning day that spawned another report that’s still to come. Read on to learn what it is.
As you know, the Crosman upper receiver is attached to a lower receiver that I built on a Rock River Arms lower receiver shell. I used Rock River parts, and the trigger is an upgraded two-stage National Match trigger, also from Rock River.
To the uninitiated, the term National Match sounds like the finest possible precision. Well, it isn’t! A National Match trigger in an AR is about like a John Deere tractor — strong and effective, but as far from real precision as it is possible to get and still have a good trigger. My trigger has a light first stage and a crisp release in stage two, but it’s not what any target shooter would call precision. The break point is right at 5 lbs. My Trapdoor Springfield, which was made in 1875, has a trigger just as nice. My 1879 Argentine rolling block’s trigger is lighter and crisper, now that I have replaced the heavy service-grade trigger return spring. So understand that National Match does not mean the same as precision. You owners of Rekord triggers don’t know how good you have it.
The National Match AR trigger is quite a bit better than the single-stage trigger that comes standard on a military or civilian AR, but it isn’t a target trigger by any stretch. I tell you that so you’ll understand what I had to deal with in this test.
The MAR’s magazine is the same one that a .177 Benjamin Marauder uses. It’s wound under spring tension as it’s loaded and advances by spring power as the bolt is worked for each shot. Remember that on the MAR, the bolt is retracted by pulling back on the charging handle — the same as all other ARs.
The 10-shot magazine comes from the Benjamin Marauder and is completely reliable, as well as quick and easy to load. Here the last shot is in the magazine, holding it in place. The clear plastic cover is rotated to drop in the other 9 pellets.
The mag loads easy once you know the right procedure. A couple of the chambers were tight, so I used a mechanical pencil to push in the pellets. Once they cleared the lips of the tight chambers, they dropped into place easily. There were no feeding problems throughout the test, which entailed about 90 pellets, give or take.
I mounted a Leapers 4×32 mini scope on the rifle. It’s not a scope that Pyramyd Air stocks, but it would be similar to this Leapers scope. You may criticize my choice for some lack of aiming precision; but when you see how good the little scope looks on the rifle, I think you’ll understand why I went with it. It allowed me to use medium scope rings and still clear the magazine that stands proud of the receiver top. If I were hunting feral hogs with a 300 AAC Blackout or a .50 Beowulf cartridge, this is the scope I would use. No, it doesn’t magnify as much as a good 3-9x scope, so we may have to take that into consideration when we look at these groups.
I sighted-in at 12 feet, using my 10-minute sight-in procedure. If you haven’t tried this yet, you need to. It took just three rounds to get on target; and although a bit of luck was involved, this sight-in procedure always cuts time from the front-end of my scope tests.
Air Arms Falcon
I used the 7.3-grain Air Arms Falcon pellet to sight in. The scope seemed right on for elevation, but off to the right. I dialed in some left correction and shot again. Almost there, but not quite. One more adjustment put me at 6 o’clock, as far below the aim point as the center of the scope was above the bore axis (approximately). I knew I was safe to back up to 25 yards and start shooting.
The next 7 shots made a group measuring 0.422 inches between the centers of the holes farthest apart. It was an auspicious beginning for the test!
It was also the best group I shot with the Falcons. The other two opened up to over three-quarters on an inch, so although they made a good first impression, Falcons were not the best domed pellet in the rifle I’m testing.
JSB Exact 8.4-grains
I also tried JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes. They put 9 pellets into 0.495 inches, but threw the tenth shot low and right, opening the group to 1.047 inches. I detected no reason for this wild shot, so I’ll have to chalk it up to the pellets — maybe.
Next I tried some BSA Wolverines. This is yet another JSB dome that sometimes out-performs anything else. But in the MAR, they were just satisfactory, putting 10 into 0.642 inches.
JSB Exact RS
Another tantalizing group was made by JSB Exact RS pellets. We’ve learned over many tests that the RS is one of the best pellets for low- to medium-powered springers, and the MAR177 shoots at the same velocity, so I wondered how well it would do. Nine shots went into 0.474 inches, but the tenth shot opened that to 0.874 inches. It was a second instance in which 9 shots were tight and the tenth was a flier. I cannot say where in the string the wild shots occurred, though, because the scope couldn’t see the pellet holes as they were made.
H&N Field Target
Next, I tried H&N Field Target domes. A reader recently asked me why I don’t try these, as he had good success with them. I responded that I had, and had not experienced the same success; but when I checked my pellets, I discovered that I’d been shooting H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. The Field Target pellet tin was unopened. See what confusion a small name change can make?
These 8.5-grain domes gave me the best 10-shot group of the test — a stunning 0.441 inches between centers! This is a pellet I will work into future tests, you can be sure. This also serves to demonstrate that although the scope only magnifies four times, that’s good enough.
I was starting to tire from all the concentration, so this was the place to stop. I would say that the MAR177 made a good showing, but also raised some questions.
What comes next?
The performance of the rifle in this test was so intriguing that I want to reshoot the same test, only using the single-shot tray next time. Then I will know for sure whether or not the magazine has any influence over the group size. I’ve always had reservations about magazines in any rifle, and I really want to see if there’s any discernible difference. If there is, I may have to do a lengthy test of magazines vs single-shot operations in PCPs.
The next test that will also offer an opportunity to pit wadcutter target pellets against the best domes at 25 yards. I’ve always maintained that 25 yards is about the maximum distance at which wadcutter pellets are accurate, and we even shot a segment on the American Airgunner TV show in which we put that to the test. The domes were clearly superior to wadcutters at 35 yards, so this test will be at a closer distance and indoors. It should prove interesting.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today is the first accuracy test day for the Crosman MAR177 upper, so let’s see how this baby shoots. Blog reader Darth Cossack pointed out that I had mounted the front sight backwards in the last report, so I fixed that for today’s photo. It wouldn’t have mattered from a shooting standpoint, but we do want the gun to look right.
On this AR-15, both the front sight and the rear sight adjust for elevation, while the rear sight also adjusts for windage. The front sight requires a sight adjustment tool that I don’t have and didn’t see packed with the upper. You can also use the point of a 5.56mm military round, which I have an abundance of, but doing it that way is very laborious. I’m hoping the rear sight adjustments will take care of everything that’s needed.
And one more time for those who didn’t read it — the MAR177 is purpose-built for the new sport of National Match Air Rifle (NMAR). NMAR can be shot with traditional 10-meter rifles (using the CMP classifications of Precision and Sporter) and the course is three positions — standing, kneeling and prone. You can continue to use your shooting glove, sling and shooting jacket for this sport, as well. Shooting trousers are not permitted.
The benefit of the AR-15 type rifle that the MAR177 is a part of is that it helps shooters transition over to National Match highpower shooting, because the lower that includes the trigger can be the same for both rifles. And from a competitive standpoint, the MAR177 is very affordable. The only other AR-type air rifle that’s suitable for this sport is made by Anschütz and sells for $1,850.
It cost me $450 to build my lower receiver, and half of that was the National Match trigger. If I wanted to build a lower on a budget, I could do it for under $200 by careful shopping. And I just saw a complete lower advertised in a local sale for $250. But the trigger would then be single-stage and heavier, though there are ways to gunsmith the pull weight down to the legal range of 4.5-5.0 lbs. And when I say the legal range, I refer to high-power competition, only. An air rifle has no trigger-pull limit, because Precision-class target rifles, which are the Olympic target air rifles, are permitted to compete in NMAR.
Why did Crosman make the MAR177 upper for a firearm lower?
This question is being asked by many airgunners. Why would Crosman knowingly make their upper to fit a lower that then classifies the whole rifle as a firearm under federal law? The answer lies in the tens of millions of AR rifles now in the hands of shooters and the extreme popularity of the model. Crosman is building for a market that is more than a hundred times larger than the current active airgun market in the U.S. Even if only a few percent of those owners decide to buy a MAR177, they represent more than all the active airgunners in the United States at this time.
But Crosman isn’t blind to the potential for sales of an MAR that’s not classified as a firearm. I have no doubt they’re working hard on a lower that will accept a modified MAR upper that will not be classified as a firearm. But these things take time. I would expect such a project to be on the fast track right now, but how long it might take before we see it is unclear.
The difficulties are enormous!
You probably think the MAR was easy to develop. After all — every AR is the same (they’re all held to certain specs), so don’t they just have to develop a gun for one lower that will automatically work on all the rest? Actually, no. When your upper has to interface with all the lowers on the market and all possible combinations of triggers in those lowers, there are bound to be some problems. Crosman did their due diligence in designing a universal upper, but there are bound to be some combinations of lower receivers and triggers that experience temporary problems. That would be true for any company designing any new AR-15 upper from scratch.
As I mentioned in Part 2, my Rock River lower and National Match trigger worked fine from the first moment I assembled the rifle, so every new owner can expect success, but there are bound to be some hiccups. There are synthetic lower receivers on the market that are being sold on a price basis that are known to have interchangeability issues with firearm uppers, and this is going to carry over to the MAR177 as well.
I’m not going to list those brands here, but if you do a search for AR-15 lower receiver problems, you’ll come up with a good list of what to avoid. The problems are both the lower receivers, themselves, and the separate parts kits to complete them. People are buying these receivers and parts based on price, alone, and they’re running into problems when one brand of lower won’t accept another company’s parts kit and then work with those three other uppers.
Somebody asked me why I chose a Rock River lower receiver and a Rock River parts kit, and I’m telling you why. There are other brands that are just as good, and a few that are even perhaps better, such as the Giessele National Match trigger that one of our readers mentioned, but you have to be aware of the fact that not all AR-15 uppers fit all AR-15 lowers.
What I’m testing
One final comment I want to make. Building a gun like this is full of decisions. You are free to choose whatever appeals to you; but once you choose, your path is determined by the decisions you make. As I said before, there’s no trigger-pull weight restriction in the NMAR class for air rifle shooting, but if I were to want to use the same lower in a match with a firearm, I would be restricted to a weight range for the trigger release and also the style of pistol grip. While I’ll probably never compete in a high-power military-style match, I wanted to shoot a gun that would qualify. It was a choice I made, and one that you do not have to follow. But that choice led me to a certain level of performance in the rifle I am now about to test.
I’m also shooting the military-style post front sight. An aperture front would allow more aiming precision; but if you want to use the MAR as a training tool for your high-power competition rifle, you’ll stick with the sights that come on the upper.
I shot 5 shots per group off a rest at 10 meters with each pellet I tested. Since there’s going to be more testing with this gun, I didn’t try to test all the pellets I have, but I did try eight different ones.
Sighting in was done with the Crosman Premier Super Match target pellets that Crosman packed with my test gun. And they were astonishingly good! The group fired for record measured 0.144 inches between centers. That’s in the range for CMP (Civilian Marksmanship Program) and NRA Sporter class 10-meter rifles that have much lighter triggers and aperture front sights. I was impressed.
Loading is not perfect
I used the single-shot tray for all this testing. This is the same tray that the Benjamin Marauder uses, and there’s a small gap just before the breech of the barrel. If you try to load the pellet tentatively, the head drops into the gap and binds. If you slam the bolt home too fast, the pellet jumps up in front and also jams. It takes a while to get the right closing speed so the pellet feeds smoothly. Not all pellets jam this way, but a couple are particularly bad. You’ll have to try it for yourself if you use the tray. I was able to get the feed right for every pellet I shot, so it’s not a problem — you just have to spend some time to learn the peculiarities of the gun with the ammo you choose.
The second-best pellet in the test was the Gamo Match. While the group they made looks large, it’s so round that it doesn’t take up that much room. In reality, this probably means they’re not really second best, but I may have made a small aiming error with one of the other pellets. However, it’s surprising that such an inexpensive pellet is also this capable.
RWS R10 7.7-grain pellets that are no longer available gave the best results, with a group size of just 0.106 inches between centers. I shot them early in the test and was probably more rested than I was later, so my eyes were working at their best.
The other pellets
Besides these three, I tried five other target pellets. They were all very equal to the Crosman Super Match, and the largest group fired during the test was 0.162 inches with RWS Hobbys.
JSB S100 Match
One test like this is not enough to determine the most accurate pellet. If I were to do the same test again, the results would no doubt change. Lots more testing is needed to find that one best pellet for this competition air rifle. However, one test was sufficient to prove that the MAR177 has everything going for it. It’s accurate, easy to use and conserves air like a free diver. It mates to an AR lower perfectly to become the best possible training system for AR shooters.
I have more plans for this rifle. Next, I plan to mount a scope and test the rifle with accurate domed pellets at 25 yards. I believe the MAR177 has more to show us.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’re going to see how the new Crosman MAR177 upper performs! Because this rifle is a precharged pneumatic, I used my Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph to analyze the power curve. Though not absolutely necessary, a chronograph can eliminate a lot of shooting time and let you know how the rifle shoots on the first session.
The test rifle was showing a charge of just less than 1,800 psi when I started the velocity test. I chronographed Crosman Premier Super Match target pellets that Crosman sent with the upper for testing the rifle.
The first shot went 582 f.p.s., which sounded to me as though it might still be within the power curve. So I fired 16 more shots and the velocity ranged from a low of 559 f.p.s. for the final shot to the 582 f.p.s. that was the first shot. At that point 17 shots had been fired and the pressure gauge was reading 1,600 psi, so I guessed that the gun had fallen off the power curve. The average for these 17 shots was 569 f.p.s.
I filled the reservoir until the gun’s pressure gauge indicated 2,000 psi. I then fired five shots that ranged from a low of 580 f.p.s to a high of 585 f.p.s. It seemed the gun was certainly now on the power curve and that it hadn’t been that far off the curve on the first 17 shots.
But just to be sure, I filled the reservoir to 2,200 psi and fired another five shots. This time, the velocity ranged from a low of 578 f.p.s. to a high of 586 f.p.s. That’s not much different than the reading on the 2,000 psi fill, so the rifle is clearly on the power curve and has been since at least 2,000 psi. But then it wasn’t that far off at 1,600 to 1,800 psi, either.
To see if these assessments were correct, I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi — the top of the white sector on the onboard pressure gauge. If the gauge was calibrated correctly, the rifle should now be at the top of its power curve.
Too much pressure
If you ever needed to see a demonstration of what over-pressurizing a pneumatic gun will do, this is it. The first shot after the fill went out at 549 f.p.s. and the next one went 537. In fact the first 11 shots were all below 550 f.p.s. Shot 12 went out at 551 f.p.s., and the pressure gauge on the gun read 2,900 psi. I accepted that this is the maximum fill pressure for this rifle. More than that shuts the firing valve too fast and costs velocity.
I then fired 33 more shots, for a total of 34 good shots (so far) on the 2,900 psi fill. The lowest velocity was 534 f.p.s. and the highest was 562 f.p.s., for an average of 552 f.p.s. At that velocity with this pellet, the rifle generates 5.39 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Having established the top fill pressure, I proceeded to test the rifle’s velocity with other pellets without refilling the gun. I tested only target pellets, but the test was more for the weight of the pellets than for their shape.
RWS R10 Match 7.7 grains
I tried the RWS R10 Match pellet that weighs 7.7 grains. This one is now off the market, and there is no replacement. It is in-between the RWS R10 Match pistol pellet that weighs 7 grains and the RWS R10 Match Heavy pellet that weighs 8.2 grains.
This one averaged 588 f.p.s. for 10 shots with a 13 f.p.s. spread from 581 to 594 f.p.s. That generates an average of 5.91 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
H&N Finale Match Rifle
H&N Finale Match Rifle pellets weigh 8 grains, even, and averaged 575 f.p.s. in the MAR177. The velocity spread went from 571 to 585 f.p.s. This pellet generates an average of 5.87 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
The final pellet I tried was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. They averaged 609 f.p.s., but the velocity spread was larger than the other two pellets. It ranged from 593 to 625 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 5.77 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Back to Premier Super Match
After these three pellets had been tested, there were a total of 64 good shots on this fill. Remember — I’m counting the start of the fill from where it passed 550 f.p.s. for the first time. That was when the gun registered 2,900 psi on its gauge. I shot another 10 Crosman Premier Super Match pellets, and this time they averaged 567 f.p.s. The spread went from 559 to 571 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 5.64 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
How many shots per fill?
I fired 74 good shots on the first fill, and stopped with 2,200 psi remaining in the reservoir. If I continued to shoot until 1,600 psi, as the testing indicates is possible, that would add another 50 shots, minimum, to the shot count, taking the total to 124 shots on a fill. That’s more than enough, but what I now know is that the gun likes the range of 2,900 down to 1,600 psi on the onboard pressure gauge.
The dynamics of the MAR177
The MAR177 is unregulated, so it relies on just the action of the firing valve to control the velocity of the pellet. In the data I’ve shown here, the lowest velocity for a Premier Super Match pellet that’s still on the power curve is 534 f.p.s. The highest velocity within the curve is 585 f.p.s. I’m getting the high velocity from the string fired on the 2,200 psi fill. So, this rifle has a large velocity spread ranging from 534 to 586 f.p.s. to get those 124 shots that I maintain are in the power curve. That’s 52 f.p.s., and normally we wouldn’t consider a range that large to be good. But this rifle is meant for 10-meter target shooting, and for that reason I doubt we will see any group enlargement due to velocity. However, I’ll conduct a test to see if there’s any vertical stringing, which is what large changes in velocity can cause.
If we were shooting the rifle at 25 yards and farther, then I would recommend using a smaller section of the power curve. It’s apparent that, as the air pressure drops below 2,000 f.p.s., the velocity rises to the highest it’s going to be with a particular pellet.
If the large velocity spread bothers you, you can limit the fill to 2,800 psi, and your slowest shot will be 535 f.p.s. Or limit it to 2,700 psi and the slowest shot will be 549 f.p.s. If you decide to do the latter, your total shot count will be 104 shots, and the total velocity spread will be 37 f.p.s. For my money, the 2,900 psi fill looks best, so that’s what I’m going to use to test this gun.
This discussion would be impossible without the use of a chronograph. You would just load the rifle and shoot until the point of impact started to wander. By using the chronograph, you can look at the performance from shot to shot and also understand that there are always going to be some anomalies in the data.
If a different pellet is used to baseline the rifle, things could change dramatically. Premiers are made from a hardened lead alloy, where the other three pellets are closer to pure soft lead. That will have an effect on the numbers you get.
A major lesson demonstrated
This test demonstrates clearly why you cannot simply act as though the pressure gauge on a PCP is reading correctly, and the valve is responding according to the specifications. I’ve said in the past and I’m saying it again — these small gauges can easily be off by 300 psi yet still be considered accurate. The same is true of the firing valve — it may operate at a slightly different range of air pressures than the spec states. If you want to know for sure, you have to use a chronograph.
What we have seen here is the fact that this gun operates on less peak reservoir pressure and also continues to operate to much lower ending pressure. Without these tests, that information would not be known, because you certainly can’t tell from the sound of the discharge. Instead of obeying the owner’s manual in rigid lockstep, we’ve used a diagnostic to learn how our particular gun performs. Knowing that, we can get the best performance that this individual airgun has to offer.
The muzzle compensator
I mentioned the compensator in an earlier report, but I wanted to show it to you here. You’ll see that the turbulent air gets stripped off and cannot follow the pellet downrange after it leaves the muzzle because of how this compensator is designed.
When the pellet leaves the muzzle, it passes through a separate piece that strips off the turbulent air and directs it to the side. The pellet is free to fly straight without the turbulent gasses acting on its skirt.
by B.B. Pelletier
As you read this, I’m at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas. I’ll be there all week. In fact, today is Media Day, where the media gets to go to an outdoor shooting range in Boulder City and shoot the guns displayed by manufacturers, importers and distributors. Since I won’t be monitoring comments much of this week, I would appreciate it if our regular readers would help answer them. Edith will still monitor all the comments but may not have a chance to answer many more than she already does.
How many of you remember that I said I would come back to the Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle and test it at longer range with a dot sight? Well, if everything went right, Mac and I are out at the range in Las Vegas at the SHOT Show Media Day today, but while we are seeing and shooting all the new guns you guys get one more look at this one.
As I mentioned in the last report, I mounted a dot sight on the rifle, to see how it performs at longer distance. I picked the 25-yard indoor range for this one. For the sight, I selected the BSA Optics red/green/blue dot sight that also has a laser and a tactical flashlight. It certainly looks right at home on this rifle, and the Weaver clamp fits the rifle’s Picatinny base. All I had to do was remove the open sights, front and rear, and put this one on the base.
The problem with optical sights on a multi-pump rifle is they get in the way of holding the gun during pumping. I had to hold the M4 at the buttstock extension tube because the sight sat right where I wanted to put my hand. Because of that, pumping was more difficult, and I wanted to pump the rifle 10 times per shot. So, I decided to shoot 5-shot groups until I found an accurate pellet, then shoot 10 shots with that one.
As I said, all testing was done at 25 yards off a rest. The rifle was pumped 10 times for every shot. Pay no attention to where the groups land, as I adjusted the sights several times to keep the pellets on the target.
I first tried the Crosman Premier Super Match pellet that had worked so well at 10 meters in Part 3. Once it was on target, I shot a group of 5 to see how they did. Unfortunately, at 25 yards, they didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. The group measures approximately 3.01 inches, but that’s not precise because the widest pellet didn’t land entirely on target. Suffice to say it was poor enough to disregard.
I continued on, testing RWS Hobby pellets. They were better, with 5 going into 1.563 inches but not what I was looking for.
Next came 5 JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes. This was the first domed pellet I tried, and the group size shrank to 1.406 inches. The group was also very vertical, however, which leads me to an important point.
By this point in the test, I noticed that this dot sight is not precise. The dot smears in all three colors at all three intensities. I’ve used quality dot sights that held the size of their dots very well, but with this one the dot smeared to the sides. I tried it both with my glasses and without, and the results were always the same. Maybe it’s me and not the sight, but I felt I wasn’t able to aim precisely enough with this sight.
The last pellet I tried was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain dome. This one gave me 4 very tight shots, with No. 5 landing several inches away. Now, I had a quandary. Should I go with the JSBs or the Premier lites?
I decided to go with the Premiers, because of the tighter group of 4. So, I shot 10 more Premier lites at 25 yards.
Well, I had been unhappy with the performance of the dot sight to this point. What if I replaced it with the original factory sights — a peep rear and a post front? Hey! Haven’t I read somewhere on the internet that those kind of sights can do a good job?
The dot sight came off and the factory sights went back on. It took 4 shots to sight in, and then I shot another 10-shot group. This time, the pumping was much easier because my hands could hold the rifle in the right places.
And that’s the same rifle, same pellet with factory peep sights. This group measures 1.546 inches between centers, with 8 of the 10 shots going into 0.923 inches. Clearly, the factory sights were better in this case.
Well, I’ve wrung out the M4-177 pretty thoroughly. It’s accurate and fun to shoot, and for my money you can use the sights that come with it. I know that the look of the gun begs for tactical accessories; but for me, accuracy is always the trump.
by B.B. Pelletier
Here we are at accuracy day with the new Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle that you steady readers also know as the M417. Speaking of that, Pyramyd Air sold out of their initial supply of guns and is now selling the second shipment of guns that are still marked M417. If you want one marked in that special way, the time to act is right now.
BBs and pellets
As you know, this multi-pump pneumatic will shoot both BBs and pellets, though not at the same time. Each type of ammunition requires a different loading procedure, so before you start shooting you have to pick one type. I decided to begin with steel BBs. I’ve been testing the gun with Daisy zinc-plated BBs, but during the velocity test I also tried Crosman Copperhead BBs. In the past, Daisy BBs have been more uniform and accurate, but in this gun the Crosman BBs are doing better — at least as far as velocity goes.
I decided to pump the gun five times for each shot. During the initial shooting, which I did at 25 feet, I found the gun shot very high and to the left. Elevation is adjusted at the front sight which, in this case, needed to go higher to bring down the strike of the BB. I had to adjust the front post an estimated eight full turns to lower the BB by the two-plus inches that were needed. The rear sight adjusts via a slotted screw on the left side of the sight, and to move the BBs by one inch required at least four full turns of the screw. As you’ll see, my final impact point is still off by a little, but it’s close enough.
I shot in the standing supported position, using a door jamb for support. While it’s not as steady as shooting off a rest, it’s much steadier than offhand. And the whole point of the test is to find out how well the rifle performs — not how good a shot I am.
Shooting for record
I shot 10-shot groups as always, and I think you will be glad that I did. The Daisy BBs went into a group that measures 1.594 inches between the two farthest centers. Throw out just one shot, and the other nine are in 1.046 inches. That’s very good shooting for BBs at 25 feet.
Next up were the Crosman Copperhead BBs, and I wondered if they would also beat the Daisys at accuracy. After all, this is a Crosman gun!
Beat them they did, with a ten-shot group measuring 1.585 inches across the two farthest centers. This time, though, there was no single stray that enlarged the group, so in general, it was more evenly spread than the Daisy target.
Ten Crosman Copperhead BBs gave this well-distributed ten-shot group measuring 1.585 inches at 25 feet.
By this point, I was definitely in the groove, so I decided to keep on shooting at 25 feet. That’s arbitrary, I know, but I plan to visit this gun one more time, and perhaps then I’ll push the distance out farther.
The M4 on pellets
It seemed like the rifle enjoyed Crosman ammunition, so for the pellet test I used Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutter target pellets. I was still pumping the gun five times for every shot. I did not adjust the sights for the first group, and the results were so encouraging that I forgot to shoot the second five pellets. So, my five-shot group measures 0.449 inches between the two farthest centers. When I saw it I had to adjust the sights just a little more to try to center the group on the next and final attempt.
The second time, I remembered to reload the clip after the first five shots, so this is a true 10-shot group with pellets from 25 feet in the standing supported position. This 10-shot group measures 0.519 inches between centers, so it’s ever-so-slightly larger than the five-shot group.
I find the peep sights on the M4 to be the easiest sights I’ve used in a long time. In fact they remind me of M1 Carbine sights. Yes, the peep holes are large, but that has nothing to do with their precision. All a larger hole does is pass more light, which decreases your depth of field. That makes it more difficult to focus on the front sight post and keep the bullseye in sharp focus as well. But you can light the range to compensate for most of that, which is what I did. The bottom line is that I like these sights a lot.
The trigger, I don’t care for. It’s single-stage and has a long pull that, while at 3 lbs., 8 ozs. is not heavy, it’s also not light. It’s very consistent, though, I’ll give them that.
I resist the tempation of calling this rifle a tackdriver, but it’s surprisingly accurate. More so than any other 760-based rifle I’ve tested or owned.
We’re not done with this airgun just yet. I plan to mount a dot sight on it and give it one more accuracy test at a longer range. But from what I see thus far, it’s a no-brainer. This is one heck of a fine air rifle!
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin, I want to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. I certainly have a lot to be thankful for, and I hope all of you do, as well. Now, on to the report.
This Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle has proven to be one of the most interesting new air rifles of the season; and as a result, I’m looking at it a little more thoroughly. Today is the day we test velocity, and I have a couple other interesting things to share. One I’ll share right now…I bought the test gun. This is a neat rifle, plus this is a future collectible because Crosman will change the name stamped on the gun (from M417 to M4-177) by January 2012.
It’s a multi-pump
As a multi-pump pneumatic, the M4 allows the shooter to pump a maximum of 10 strokes, with the power varying with every new stroke. You probably don’t want to pump less than three times because the power is so low you risk getting a pellet stuck in the barrel; but from three to ten pumps, it gives you the ability to vary the power of the gun according to the situation.
How can you shoot BBs in a rifled bore?
The first question I’ll address is the fact that you can shoot both BBs and lead pellets in this rifle. It has a rifled steel barrel that will tolerate steel BBs without undue wear. Like you, I wondered what the rifling for such a combination gun must look like, so I took a reverse impression of the bore by pushing a Beeman Kodiak pellet from muzzle to breech. The rifling was engraved on the pellet, giving us a look at the bore in reverse.
Notice how much lead has smeared to the back of the lands and sticks out like a small tail as an extrusion at the rear of each channel. This is what barrel maker Harry Pope said was ruinous to accuracy, because it’s influenced by the expanding gasses at the instant the bullet leaves the muzzle. In other words, it’s the equivalent of a poor crown.
Now we know what the inside of the barrel looks like. Does Crosman harden their barrels to prevent wear from the steel BBs? I don’t know, but I would presume that the rifling button will work-harden the steel to a certain extent, and maybe that’s all it takes.
Shooting BBs in the M4
When you shoot the M4, you can choose between BBs and pellets but it’s a choice you must make. If you leave the BB magazine loaded and also shoot pellets, I would imagine there could be a double-feed problem. The BBs are picked up by the magnetic tip of the bolt, while the pellets are simply shoved out of the clip and into the breech when the bolt is shoved forward.
When I refer to the BB magazine, I do not mean the 350-shot BB reservoir. You can leave that full all the time and shoot lead pellets without a problem. I’m referring to the visible BB magazine that can be seen on the left side of the gun.
The visible BB magazine on the left side of the gun is filled from the internal 350-shot BB reservoir. The small switch at the right of this photo controls this magazine. Here it’s shown in the open position, so the magazine can be filled by holding the muzzle down and shaking the gun with a twisting motion. After the magazine is filled, push the switch to the rear to retain the BBs.
The instruction manual says to watch the tip of the bolt when feeding BBs into the breech. I found that to be impossible, because the 5-shot pellet clip blocks the view, and it must be in place to feed BBs. But you can watch the BBs move through the visible magazine window shown in the photo above and know for certain that a BB has been fed. Once I figured this out, there were no difficulties and feeding was reliable.
Velocity with BBs
I started with Daisy zinc-plated BBs because I’ve noted in past reports they’re the most uniform and usually give the highest velocity and the best accuracy. I decided to test the gun on five pump strokes and again on ten. That should give us an idea of what the gun can do.
On five pump strokes, the BB averaged 460 f.p.s., but the velocity spread was large. From a low of 451 f.p.s to a high of 483 f.p.s., the total spread was 32 f.p.s. Normally, I expect to see a 6-10 foot-second spread when shooting with the same number of pump strokes. However, I did see that the more I shot the gun the faster it went, up to a point. I think the pump cup needed to be warmed up through repeated use, even though I shot in 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) temperature, so it wasn’t too cold for the gun. The pump cup just needed to be flexed a bit to warm it and get it sealing all the way.
On ten pump strokes, the gun gave an average of 579 f.p.s. with the same BB. This time the spread went from 566 to 588 f.p.s., so it was still a 22 foot-second spread. Perhaps the hardness (durometer) of the pump cup material is causing such a large spread. That would probably make it a longer-lasting material, so there’s a tradeoff.
Okay, I guess it’s not fair to test a Crosman gun and not use their BBs, so I also tested some Copperhead BBs. On five pumps, the rifle averaged 465 f.p.s. with a spread from 459 to 472. That’s only 13 f.p.s., which is much tighter than the Daisy BBs.
On ten pumps, the gun averaged 581 f.p.s., so it’s also a little bit faster than with Daisy BBs. The spread went from a low of 574 to a high of 592 f.p.s., so a total of 18 f.p.s. The bottom line is that Crosman Copperhead BBs are more consistent in the M4. I guess I’ll have to try both in the accuracy test.
Pumping not that easy
I said in Part 1 that the M4 is easier to pump because the stroke is short. Well, after today’s test, I have to change that. After you pass five strokes, the effort required to pump increases; and by the end of the session, my left hand was hurting from the pump handle. Also, the gun makes quite a racket with every pump stroke because the handle slaps down hard when the stroke is finished.
Velocity with pellets
I tried only a single pellet in the rifle. I tried it on five pump strokes and on ten. The pellet I used was the Crosman Premier Super Match, which is a wadcutter target pellet that’s appropriate to a rifle in this power range. On five pumps, the pellet averaged 429 f.p.s. and ranged from 424 to 433 f.p.s. The velocity spread is much tighter when the projectile fits the bore better.
On high power the same pellet averaged 529 f.p.s. with a low of 508 and a high of 545 f.p.s. That’s a big spread for a pellet in a multi-pump rifle, so I don’t know what is going on.
What about lead balls?
I figured someone would ask about shooting round lead balls out of this rifle so I tried it. First, there was difficulty finding a ball that worked. Since lead balls aren’t magnetic, they won’t feed properly through the BB feeding mechanism, so they have to be treated like pellets and fed from the clip. That eliminates all round balls smaller than a .177 pellet because they won’t stay in the clip long enough to feed into the barrel. The only round ball that worked somewhat was a Beeman Perfect Round, which is no longer made, but is similar to the H&N round ball. These measured 0.176 inches, which is close enough that they stuck in the pellet clip — sort of. When I tried shooting them, the two that were outside the receiver fell out of the clip on the first shot, so they’re not really large enough to use in this gun.
On five pumps, the one shot I fired went 407 f.p.s.; and on ten pumps, the other two shots went 502 and 519 f.p.s. I do not recommend this ammunition in this airgun.
Impressions thus far
Today, I got past the appearance and had a good look at the functioning of the rifle. The fact that the clip has to be indexed by hand for every shot slows you down more than you might imagine. Like I said in the first report, making a multi-pump a repeater sort of misses the mark. The time that it takes to get ready for the next shot negates any speed the repeating mechanism offers.
My test gun is shooting slower than the advertised top velocity of 625 f.p.s. for this rifle. It’s close, at 581 with Copperhead BBs, but not close enough. Maybe the rifle needs to break in, or perhaps the 625 f.p.s. is what a lone maximum shot could potentially be.