Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Premier Super Match pellets’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
Today, I’m testing the See All Open Sight on the new TX200 Mark III that I’ve been testing for you. Because that rifle figures into today’s test so much, I felt it was important that you be able to examine the rifle’s accuracy in past tests — most importantly, the red dot sight test I just did in Part 13.
I also want to mention that See All is aware of the difficulty in mounting their sight on a straight-line rifle like the M4. They even mention it in the frequently asked questions on their website. So, what happened the last time I tested this sight was my fault for not checking all the information.
Mounting the sight
The first step was to mount the See All sight to the TX200. Since the rifle has 11mm dovetails and the See All has Weaver-width dovetail jaws, I used a prototype Leapers base that converts 11mm to Weaver/Picatinny. For this test, I used the same scope stop pin that I showed in the last test with the dot sight. The pin popped out of the hole on the first shot, so the base had to be remounted and the pin locked down again. After that, the base remained tight and solid throughout the test.
The base of the See All sight has no locking crosspins like those found on a Weaver or Picatinny sight. It has 2 vertical screws that bear down on the sight base and push the See All up so its jaws grab onto the dovetails of the base. Since the base I used has the crosspin slots for a Picatinny-type sight, I slid the See All until both locking screws were pushing down into the bottom of a slot, instead of on top of a locking ridge. I felt that would give a more secure attachment. But there were still some problems, as we shall see.
I sighted-in with H&N Baracuda Match pellets. They had tested well with the dot sight at 25 yards, and I felt they would be a good pellet for this test. But I had problems getting the pellet to go where I wanted. This is where I discovered that the See All sight behaves like a front sight and not like a rear sight. The sighting reticle must be moved in the direction opposite of where you want the pellet to go. The instructions included with the sight are very clear on this; of course, I wasn’t reading them — yet! There’s a marking on the right side of the sight that is supposed to tell you how to adjust the sight for windage, but I found it difficult to read.
I thought I’d solved the sighting problem and tried to shoot a first group, but the results were horrible. Pellets went everywhere! But within the first 5-inch, 10-shot group there were four holes together. Since I had seen the first hole through the spotting scope I knew the first 4 shots went to the same place, then the rest scattered everywhere. Pretty obvious what was wrong.
The sight was loose on the base! After tightening it down, I shot the first group for record. Ten Baracuda Match pellets went into 1.085 inches at 25 yards. It’s an okay group for open sights and an average spring rifle, but it’s horrible for a TX200.
Then, I checked the screws and found the sight had loosened, again, during the ten shots it took to fire the first group! Now I knew what to do. Check the screws after every shot and tighten if necessary.
Crosman Premier heavys
I switched to Crosman Premier heavy pellets for the second group, fully intending to come back to Baracuda Match pellets at the end of the test. But this shooting was proving tiring, and I didn’t want to jinx the other pellets by shooting them when I was tired. I checked the sight screws for tightness after each shot on this string.
Ten Premier heavys went into 0.978 inches at 25 yards. You can see a smaller group of 7 within the main group. It measures just 0.451 inches between centers. That tells me the See All Open Sight really works, but I was still getting used to it. The shots outside the main group are from my aiming errors, I believe.
I was learning to use the sight as things progressed. The space just above the reticle triangle is difficult to line up with a bullseye target — at least for me. But as things progressed, I discovered that I was aligning it faster and faster. I was learning to judge where the reticle was, even when I couldn’t see the tip. That’s no doubt what lead to those shots that are not inside the main group, and I think as I learn this sight more I will get better with it.
Crosman Premier lites
Next, I tried the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellet. By this time, I’d found it necessary to check the See All screws after only every 5 shots, and they were no longer loosening even then. Ten Premier lites went into a nice group that measures 0.686 inches between centers. It’s a very round group, which indicates I’m learning the sight picture as I go. But the Premier lite was also very accurate in the test using the red dot sight.
Now, it was time to return to the H&N Baracuda Match pellets and see what I could do. I was still checking the See All screws for tightness after every 5th shot, but they weren’t loosening. This time, I managed to put 10 pellets into 1.259 inches; but as you can see, 9 of them went into 0.695 inches. It’s clearly my fault the group is as large as it is. The See All Open Sight can make it much smaller, if used correctly.
Conclusions so far
The See All sight does work as advertised. But you do need to read the instructions and follow them.
Small adjustments of the sight make very large changes in the impact point. Go very, very slow with your adjustments. And read the instructions to see which way to turn them. The markings for adjustment directions on the body of the sight are not very clear.
Plan on taking some time to get used to the sight. It does work, and I think it works well for people with poor eyesight; but it’s unlike anything you’ve ever used. Although it’s analogous to a dot sight, it works nothing like one in application.
I did find that I needed some light on the sight to see the reticle. I had the room lights on where I was shooting, which is something I never do with other open sights or scopes.
I think this sight may be better-suited to PCPs and CO2 guns than springers. But that’s just my impression from this first test. I’ll know more as the tests continue — which they will. I still think this sight is a significant new device.
My friend, Otho, is also testing a See All sight on some firearms for me. His eyesight is so bad that he hasn’t been able to use open sights for several years, so we’ll get a different perspective from him.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This is the first test of the See All Open Sight. I chose the Crosman M4 –177 as the first rifle to be tested because the See All comes only with a Weaver base, and the M4-177 has a Picatinny rail that will accommodate it. The choice was based solely on that and little else, except the M4 had been shown to be fairly accurate at 10 meters.
For the test, I decided to fire a 10-shot group using the factory sights, which are a peep in the rear and a post up front. Since the rifle was stored in the box without its sights, they had to be mounted and sighted-in. I started with Crosman Premier Super Match wadcutter pellets but switched to 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites after seeing the size of the Super Match group.
I was shooting from a sandbag rest at 10 meters. Five pump strokes were used for every shot in this test. The group of 10 Premier lites measured 0.84 inches, so that’s what I’ll use to compare the results from the See All sight.
Mounting the See All Open Sight
The sight went on the flattop receiver easily enough, and the 2 screws that hold it in position work well. But after I mounted the sight, I discovered that it was impossible to get my head low enough on the stock to see the reticle. All I could see was the See All name that’s beneath the triangle. The sight needed to be adjusted up.
I adjusted the sight up as far as it would go and got the reticle up to where I could just barely see it if I held my head artificially low on the stock. To sight the rifle on the target, I had to tilt my head far to the right to get my eye low enough to see the full reticle. I used a 6 o’clock hold on the bull for all my shooting with this sight, which is the only way to be precise with a sight that covers the bull.
With this sight picture, I missed the entire paper at 10 meters. So, I walked up to within 10 feet of the target and aimed again. This time the pellet struck the target backer board about 6 inches below the aim point. Something had to be done, and done quick!
I had positioned the See All sight as far forward on the receiver rail as space permitted, so now I moved it back as far as it would go, like the position of a peep sight. This made sighting easier, though I was still tilting my head way over to the right to see the reticle.
With the sight in this position, I put a Shoot-N-C bull at the top of a blank sheet of target paper and shot 4 shots at it from 10 meters. They landed about 7.5 inches low on the paper, as you can see in the photo.
This wasn’t working! And the reason it wasn’t is the straight line of the M4-style rifle. The flattop receiver doesn’t permit mounting the See All Open Sight high enough to be seen easily. It’s not the sight’s fault — it’s the rifle’s.
I was ready to call it a day when Edith suggested that I mount the sight to the Picatinny rail where the rifle’s front sight is supposed to go. It was simple enough to move the sight, so I tried it and found I could see the reticle much easier. A test shot showed that it was hitting the target way too low, however. Because the sight had been moved from the rear to the front, the adjustments had to be reversed to work.
You move a front sight in the opposite direction you want the strike of the round to go, so now I had to adjust the sight as low as it would go, to bring the point of impact up as high on the target as possible. The See All sight doesn’t have much adjustment up and down — only 45 minutes of angle. When it was down as far as it would go, the pellet was still hitting the target about 2 inches below the aim point, but that was a lot better than it had been before. So, kudos to Edith for this suggestion that kept the test running!
I shot 2 groups with the sight in this position. The first one isn’t very good, as I had half the aim point covered by the target paper, and the tip of the triangle was on the center of the bull rather than at 6 o’clock. But I still got a group that is good horizontally. It’s just spread out too much vertically.
This 10-shot group is tall, at 1.803 inches between centers, but not that wide. The aim point was an estimate of where the center of the top bull was located because the target paper covered half of it.
When I mounted the second target, I fixed the situation. The second group was shot with a 6 o’clock hold on the top bull. The aim point was much more precise in this case, and the group shows it. Although the overall group is the same 1.803 inches as the first group, 9 of the holes are in 1.125 inches. Like the first group, this one is also strung out vertically.
It seems that the See All sight isn’t made for a rifle with a straight stock line like the M4′s. The eye is too high relative to where the line of sight is. This can be seen when the factory sight is mounted next to the See All.
The straight lines of the M4 rifle are all wrong for use with the See All Open sight. With a flattop receiver, it’s impossible to get the sight mounted high enough to see without holding your head at an odd angle. So, this test was inconclusive. All it proves is that the wrong rifle was used. However, this should serve as a warning to those who might think of using the sight on their other M4-type rifles. Unless you put a high adapter under the sight to raise it up, it won’t work.
The vertical adjustment range of the See All sight is not large enough for an air rifle whose barrel is slanted downward, as so many of them are. It’ll be necessary to mount the sight on some kind of compensating base for the next test. I’ve selected a TX200 Mark II as the next test rifle, and we’ve already done a test of this rifle with a red dot sight. I have a drooper base that Leapers made when we developed the UTG drooper bases for RWS Diana rifles, and this one has no recoil shock shoulder; so, it’ll go right on the TX200 without a problem.
I’m encouraged by how easy it was to acquire the sight picture once the See All was mounted in the right position. It was much faster than a peep sight picture; and even though the overall group made with the sight is larger than the group made with the peep sight, I see that many of the pellets went to the same place. That gives me confidence that the See All Open Sight will work well when mounted on the right rifle.
I also see a bright future for this sight on pistols. The farther away from the eye the sight is, the easier it is to see the reticle. Holding it an arm’s length from the eye is no problem. I’ve already confirmed that the Leapers base fits my Beeman P1, so a test of that pistol is in the works, as well.
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.