Posts Tagged ‘Crosman Premier Super Match pellets’
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is the final part of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. He tells us about the various pellets he tested and gives their results.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, HiveSeeker.
This report covers:
• Scope notes
• More pellet testing
• I know there’s something going on
• The Winchester trio
• RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• H&N Match Pistol pellets
• The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
• Retesting the best
• Other military pellet rifles to consider
In Part 2, I found five pellets that would group 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or better with the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle at 10 yards (Crosman Destroyer pellets, Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (sold only in discount stores), Crosman Premier Hollowpoint pellets, H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets). This was about as good as I expected based on my research before purchasing this gun. However, I’d hoped that I could do better, and most of the reader comments on this blog expressed even greater concern with the mediocre accuracy of this gun than with the ammo feed problem. I’m pleased to report some slightly better news.
But first, I made a minor modification to my scope setup. I mentioned the trouble two other shooters had sighting through the Leapers UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope I mounted on this rifle. I had positioned the scope for my own eye relief, and eye placement proved to be a lot more critical for this compact scope than it is with my full-sized Leapers UTG 4-16X40.
However, at least part of the difficulty they experienced may have been due to a fairly low Picatinny rail on this rifle. When the included factory scope rings loosened after 300 shots, I decided to try a different style mount and also decided to go with high-profile rings. I was surprised at how much easier it became to sight through the scope — especially since I would have thought I wasn’t having any real difficulty before. For most shooters, I believe high-profile scope rings will be the way to go on this rifle. With my new scope setup, I was ready for some final accuracy testing.
One minor note here. On Picatinny rails there’s usually a little play in the scope mounts within the individual recoil grooves, and I usually slide both my mounts forward until they contact the forward stops and then snug them up right there. This is the direction the laws of inertia demand that the scope and mounts will want to go in relation to a rifle recoiling backwards beneath them (especially pneumatic or CO2 guns with simpler recoil than a springer). If the mounts are already braced against the forward stops, then there’s less chance for them to slip. However, on the Winchester MP4, I believe the semi-auto bolt re-cocking generates some recoil in the opposite direction – this may have actually loosened my initial scope installation. This time, I braced both scope mounts against the rear stops, and they seem to be holding fast, so far. I don’t have the equipment to verify this recoil theory, but it’s something to try if you run into a similar problem.
[Editor's note: While Picatinny rails and Weaver rails both have cross slots to stop the rings from moving, Weaver slots are 3.5mm wide and Picatinny slots are 5mm wide. That's the reason for the extra slop when Weaver rings are installed on Picatinny bases. And, for airguns, the pins should touch the rear of the slots.]
More pellet testing
I continued testing with seven new pellets, shooting 10-shot, 10-yard groups outdoors from a benchrest. I shot three groups with each pellet, and reported the best of three below. With my original accuracy testing, all the pellets I tried grouped about 1 inch, give or take a little. However, this time, the groups were generally tighter — even with pellets I’d previously tested. I believe this barrel may have a break-in period — roughly 500 shots by my estimation — and is now smoothed out a little. For this test, I used digital calipers to provide more exact group measurements — though, even with my sharp eyesight and a science background, you can take that third decimal place with a grain of salt!
I know there’s something going on
There definitely seems to be something going on between the number of pellets in the rotary cylinder and accuracy. I’d already mentioned that the last two shots of my 10-shot groups, involving a magazine swap, often opened up the final grouping. Remember that the ammo mag has 8-round cylinders, so finishing off a 10-round group required switching to a cylinder with only the two final pellets loaded. I could blame the repositioning of the rifle between magazine swaps, except that this is not a problem I’ve had with rifles that require pumping or cocking and get repositioned with every shot. This time, I kept specific track of when my final two shots opened up a group, with the results illustrated below.
This batch of testing also confirmed something else I thought I’d noticed before — groups often started off very small, then opened up as I emptied the magazine. Obviously, shooting more pellets will continue to open up a grouping. What I’m saying is that shot 10 was much more likely to miss the bullseye than shot 1, rather than having a similar probability of hitting or missing it. With this semiauto, I could lock myself into a rested shooting position and do nothing but breathe and squeeze the trigger for 8 shots. Barely moving, my aim and hold were rock solid. However, I almost felt like a spectator at times as I watched pellet strikes begin to roam wider and wider around my point of aim. I believe this is the same phenomenon I observed with my final two shots of each group. My best guess is that adjacent pellets in the magazine cylinder help reduce some CO2 blow-by, or that a full magazine cylinder does not shift or flex during firing as much as an empty one.
On the left, the first three shots with Beeman coated hollowpoint pellets go into 0.261 inches, center-to-center. Keeping my fingers crossed at this point! But the fourth shot (circled) opens this group up a bit more to 0.323 inches. Six increasingly scattered shots later, the final group on the right is now even broader at 0.682 inches (that fourth shot is circled on this target as a reference point). This pattern was observed repeatedly. This was not the best example I saw. It was just the one I interrupted to photograph.
The Winchester trio
Since this is a Winchester air rifle, I felt duty-bound to put the Winchester pellets through their paces. While they were the poorest performers of all the new pellets, their best groups were all still 1 inch or less: Winchester hollowpoint pellets (0.826 inches, center-to-center), Winchester pointed pellets (0.859 inches), and Winchester round nose pellets (1.000 inches exactly). As mentioned, the Winchester hollowpoints extended past the front of the rotary cylinder when fully seated and had to be pushed back in slightly before shooting. However, they caused no jams or other firing problems.
RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
The RWS Diabolo Basic pellets yielded the next largest group of the bunch, with its best-of-three at 0.791 inches. This pellet also produced the largest group that I observed during this second round of testing — 1.324 inches.
RWS Hobby pellets
The RWS Hobby’s smallest group measured 0.644 inches. This was the best group I’d seen from this gun so far. It’s approaching the as-of-yet elusive half-inch mark, but not quite there.
H&N Match Pistol pellets
I’d tested the more expensive H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets last time, but then I read about H&N Match Pistol pellets actually outperforming the Finales in another gun I own. That’s why I ended up with a tin of these to try. At 0.716 inches, they grouped slightly better than the Finales (even with retesting, as you’ll see in a minute) in this gun, too.
The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
Okay, I’ll concede right up front that half-inch groups at 10 meters aren’t all that magical in today’s airgunning world. However, with a review quoting Daisy Customer Service as stating that MP4 owners should expect 1-1/2 inch groups at 10 meters, and with no measured groups under 1 inch reported by anybody, I was pleased to finally break the half-inch barrier with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets.
I did not have high hopes for what is literally the cheapest pellet I tested. However, a single Pyramyd Air review mentioned it performed well (thank you, DaveTee!); and, for under five dollars a tin, it went into the shopping cart. I shot this pellet last, and it surprised me. My three test groups yielded 0.682 inches, 0.386 inches and 0.442 inches. At the eleventh hour, I’d finally found a pellet that could shoot under half an inch. While one thing that became clear during accuracy testing is that my rifle does not perform the same with specific pellets as other’s MP4s, the Beeman hollowpoint coated is definitely one to try for anyone who owns an MP4, especially at this price point.
Thar she blows — these two groups shot with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets clock in at under half an inch, at 0.386 and 0.442 inches, left to right. (Yes, the pellets are black.) Summer sun heating the barrel on one side caused the point-of-impact shift that can be seen here.
Retesting the best
To wrap up Part 4, I wanted to retest the best-performing pellets from before, which had all grouped 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or less. I was pretty sure one or two could do better, and it seemed that my rifle was starting to produce tighter groups than it had straight out of the box. These were my results: Air Arms Falcon pellets (0.622 inches, beating out the RWS Hobby pellet for second place), Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (0.630 inches, taking third place and booting the RWS Hobby pellet to fourth), Crosman Destroyer pellet (0.742 inches, just a hair better than before), and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets (0.963 inches, actually a little wider than first time’s 0.875 inches and still getting beat out by the H&N Match Pistol pellet). A small surprise were the Crosman Premier Super Match pellets (0.707 inches) and Crosman Competition Wadcutter pellets (0.720 inches), which I used for initial sighting-in of my new scope mount setup. Both bettered their original 1-inch groups by more than a quarter inch. Again, I believe this barrel is now broken in after 500 shots or so, contributing to these tighter groups and providing better overall accuracy than we saw in the first tests.
Below is a summary of best groups one inch or better from all accuracy testing:
While discovering the Beeman hollowpoint coated doubles my effective shooting range to around 20 yards for a 1-inch target, it’s a shame that this gun seems to be a “one-shot wonder” that shoots best with only one specific pellet. From the list above, there’s no single pellet type that this gun seems to prefer as direction for additional testing, so I hope that blog readers will be kind enough to comment if they find other pellets that group under half an inch in the Winchester MP4.
Other military pellet rifles to consider
For the conclusion to my evaluation of the Winchester MP4, I’d like to mention some of the other military replica pellet rifles prospective buyers might consider if they decide that the MP4 is not for them. (BB-only rifles and machine guns are not included here.)
I’ve already mentioned the MP4′s historically older sibling, the Winchester M14. A replica of its namesake, this rifle is also a dual-CO2 canister BB and pellet semi-auto. It uses the same ammo mag and offers the same velocity as the MP4. However, it has no scope rail and many don’t like the fact that the stock is composite instead of wood.
The unquestioned dominator of the military pellet rifle arena remains the Crosman M4-177. This M4 replica is a reliable single-shot BB and pellet pneumatic and bears the coveted Gaylord “Tom’s Picks” seal in the Pyramyd Air catalog. It’s available in a variety of tan or black color and accessory combinations. The new Crosman USMC MOS 0311 Rifleman (an exclusive Crosman variation of the M4-177) appears to be another variant of this very popular replica. This is the gun I had in mind when I mentioned that more accurate rifles than the Winchester MP4 are available for half the price.
The Crosman MK-177 is a replica of the Magpul Masada (now being produced as the FN SCAR). This composite-stock pneumatic offers higher velocity and similar accuracy to the M4-177 (also beating the Winchester MP4 in the latter department, and for half the price). This rifle is a BB and pellet single-shot. B.B. Pelletier recently used the MK-177 to test the Leapers Accushot Scout Scope. While many disparage the bolt placement on the left side of the receiver, I own — and love — one of these rifles and never minded it (this is a replica — check on which side the bolt is actually located on the Magpul Masada). The MK-177 is available in tan or black and has two kit variations.
The Crosman Crosman MTR77NP is an M16 replica that is a single-shot Nitro Piston gas springer. This pellet rifle offers the highest velocity of any of these military replicas but requires heavy cocking effort due to the short barrel. It’s available in only black but comes in open-sight or scoped versions.
If you actually own an AR/M4 firearm, the Crosman MAR177 AR-15 Upper PCP conversion kit replaces the firearm upper with a .177-caliber competition precharged pneumatic unit. Designed specifically for 10-meter competition, velocity is a very nominal 600 fps. This is the most expensive option for a military pellet rifle (and a significant detour from the standalone guns listed here), but it seems like an ideal way to expand where and when you can shoot your military long gun.
The Beretta CX-4 Storm is an 88-gram CO2-powered replica of the tactical firearm of the same name. This semiauto’s claim to fame is the 30-pellet belt magazine, capable of ripping through a tin of pellets in no time. Open-sight and red-dot versions are available, though a scope can be mounted on the Picatinny rail.
The Gamo MP9 copies the B&T MP-9 9mm SMG and is unique among the CO2-powered BB submachine guns in handling pellets as well. Interestingly, this gun is listed as using the same ammunition magazine as the Winchester MP4 and M14, making it a 16-shot semi-auto (with the magazine flip). I included this odd-gun-out because it has a (collapsible) stock and scopeable Picatinny/Weaver rail.
The options for new military replica pellet rifles are very limited at the moment. I hope that this blog has sufficiently informed readers about the Winchester MP4 to make an educated choice if buying one – or to achieve the best performance from their rifle if they already own one. I also hope that manufacturers will look to success stories like the Crosman M4-177 as well as the burgeoning airsoft market and bring some novel products to this mostly unexplored marketplace.
Editor’s final comment: HiveSeeker has done a super job in testing, researching and documenting his work on the Winchester MP4. I think his report will stand as the best article written about the airgun for a long time.
Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 3
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a continuation of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. Today, he tells us about the rifle’s performance.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, HiveSeeker.
Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle.
This is the third installment in my evaluation of the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle. The short version of Parts 1 and Part 2 is that this gun might be of interest to someone looking for a realistic AR15-style semiauto pellet rifle — as long as they can accept 1-inch, 10-yard groups and an intermittent ammo feed problem. I was determined to find out what was causing the ammo feed issue in order to minimize or eliminate it and was also certain the gun could shoot tighter groups with more testing. In Part 3 and also in Part 4, I make progress on both fronts.
This report covers:
• The ammo feed problem
• Testing the ammunition magazine
• It’s the CO2 clip!
• Eliminating minor misfires
Before we continue, I want to add a couple comments that should have been included previously. First, in addition to the authentic realism of this replica gun, at 5.8 lbs., it hefts like a firearm. Most of the other military-style pellet rifles out there are lighter, and a number of reviewers mention that the realistic weight of the Winchester MP4 adds to its appeal. I agree.
Second (and B.B. was kind enough not to chide me for this), I failed to mention that despite the manual’s statement that no additional lubrication is needed for this gun once it leaves the factory, go ahead and put a drop of Crosman Pellgunoil on the tip of each CO2 cylinder when you install it. That will help keep all those seals healthy and happy for years to come.
The ammo feed problem
I hadn’t experienced the MP4′s ammo feed problems to nearly the extent of some other shooters, but I was determined to figure out the possible causes and eliminate or minimize them. I suspected that the problem might be related to either the ammunition magazine (which has an 8-shot rotary cylinder on each end where the pellets or BBs are loaded), or the CO2 clip (which holds the two CO2 cartridges). I already had a number of spare magazines and ordered six additional CO2 clips directly from Daisy Customer Service for testing.
Two ammunition magazines on the left. They have 8-shot rotary cylinders on each end that hold the pellets or BBs. On the right are two CO2 clips that hold the CO2 cartridges. The ammo mag slides into it. Keep all these terms straight for the discussion below! That little plastic CO2 piercing key fits neatly into the slot at the bottom of the CO2 clip cover.
Testing the ammunition magazine
While I initially suspected the ammunition magazines were the source of inaccuracy, one curious fact is that these are the same ones used by the Winchester M14 and they apparently work flawlessly in that gun. It got 14 out of 15 five-star reviews at Pyramyd Air. We’ll come back to the ammunition magazine in a moment, but suffice to say that I ended up testing 9 different ammo mags in each of 7 different CO2 clips and found no difference in their performance. None of the ammo mags were malfunctioning.
It’s the CO2 clip!
The CO2 clips proved to be another story. When they arrived from Daisy, they were all in excellent condition, but it was clear that two of them had been used. When I inquired, I was told that not enough new CO2 clips were available, so two units were pulled from returned MP4s. This is not encouraging, but they were much cheaper than expected, so I had no complaints. I marked all 7 of my CO2 clips and got ready to test the new arrivals. Clip 1 is the already-tested original that came with my rifle.
The first shot using clip 2 (the first of the 2 used clips) was a major flyer, zinging well off my point of aim. Not an auspicious start. Second shot, no pellet — just air (which I’ve been calling a misfire and one of the few ammo feed issues I’ve actually experienced up to this point). The third shot was my very first jam with this gun. The ammunition magazine would not eject from the CO2 clip, and I had to eject the CO2 clip itself to get the ammo mag loose.
I was especially careful to reseat the CO2 clip solidly for my next try. Fourth shot was another flyer but not quite as bad as the first. Fifth shot was another jam. This one was worse than the first, with the trigger jammed solid and the ammo mag again not ejecting. This time when I ejected the CO2 clip, the ammo mag actually stayed lodged inside the receiver!
It was suddenly clear what had happened — a pellet was jammed halfway between the ammo mag’s rotary cylinder and the barrel, locking the ammo mag in place. Fortunately, I had a plastic rod for clearing jams. Sure enough, I could feel the pellet slide back a little and then the ammo mag simply fell out of the gun.
When I examined the magazine, both the noses and skirts of several of the pellets showed visible deformation. This was the first time I’d really experienced the frustration of other MP4 buyers who had ended up returning their guns. I’d had enough — I was done testing clip 2! (Note that Daisy Customer Service replaced this clip with a brand new one at no charge.)
This is what a bad CO2 clip does. This jam was so bad that the ammunition magazine remained lodged inside the receiver even after the CO2 clip was ejected. Note the damage to the two pellet skirts, especially the one on the right.
With no small amount of trepidation, I shot a full magazine using original clip 1, just to make sure my gun had not been damaged. Thankfully, everything was back to normal.
I was ready to test CO2 clip 3 — the other used one. Except for being a little tight in the receiver (something I’d also noted with my original clip), it performed flawlessly with all 9 ammunition magazines. I did have to push harder for the ammo mags to click into place, but that was all — and this actually smoothed out by the time I was finished testing. My experience was identical with the remaining brand-new CO2 clips 4 through 7. They varied in how tightly they fit into the receiver and how tightly ammunition magazines fit inside them, but they smoothed out with just a little use. And after hundreds of pellets, I had only a few misfires, which I subsequently decided were my own fault.
Here’s my important finding: The worst ammo feed problems are probably being caused by bad CO2 clips. Either the CO2 clip itself is not seating correctly within the receiver, or ammunition magazines are not seating correctly inside the CO2 clip. Either will cause the pellet not to line up with the barrel, resulting in a jam or misfire. This also explains why the identical ammunition magazine performs flawlessly in the Winchester M14 (where it locks directly into the receiver) but suddenly starts having problems in the MP4.
The obvious conclusion is that a replacement CO2 clip just might fix a misfiring MP4. If you order one directly from Daisy, try to make sure you’re getting a brand-new one, as these performed flawlessly – though I only had trouble with one of the two used clips. Note: To add to the nomenclature confusion, if you order this part from Daisy Customer Service, both they and the exploded parts diagram refer to the CO2 clip as the “Puncture Unit” (Part 79).
We’ll take a minor detour as long as we have the MP4 parts diagram up. A number of reviews and blog comments describe the MP4 as a dressed-up Winchester M14. I initially thought otherwise, but the schematics prove me wrong. The barrel assembly and many other internal components appear identical. The CO2 clips share many parts as well. However, in the M14, the ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip and locks directly into the receiver. In the MP4, the ammo mag latches to the CO2 clip, which then latches into the receiver. As we’ve seen, having a middleman (the CO2 clip) between the ammo mag and the receiver is a potential problem. Besides the CO2 clip, the biggest differences between the M14 and the MP4 lie in the trigger mechanisms, receivers, and stocks and forearms.
The Winchester M14 does, indeed, share many parts with the MP4.
These are Winchester M14 CO2 Clips. The ammunition magazine slides freely through a hole in the CO2 clip (circled) but does not click into it. Instead, the ammo mag locks directly into the receiver — no middleman here! An ammo mag is shown inserted into the hole in the clip on right. This CO2 clip can be misaligned with the M14’s receiver without affecting ammo mag alignment at all.
Back to the MP4. One Pyramyd Air review suggests that the ammo mag misalignment may be caused by CO2 pressure pushing the CO2 clip slightly out of position. This is certainly plausible and might also explain why this problem can worsen over time (as other reviews report) if increasing wear is occurring. If wear is occurring on the CO2 clip, a replacement CO2 clip could fix the problem. If wear is occurring inside the receiver — or should something actually be wrong with the receiver to begin with — then it’s time to contact the manufacturer or start picking out a new rifle.
I ended up content with the fact that one of my new CO2 clips was not working (again, Daisy Customer Service sent a free replacement). Otherwise, I would still be scratching my head about what could be causing the more severe ammo problems I’ve been reading about. The fortunate bottom line is that this provides a likely fix for people with MP4s that are misfiring or jamming. Order a replacement CO2 clip from Daisy or Winchester Customer Service and see if that doesn’t remedy the problem.
Eliminating minor misfires
Although I never experienced a major ammo problem or jam, except while testing CO2 clip 2, I was still having minor misfires (firing a blank or a skipped pellet left in the ammunition magazine when done shooting). This was occurring about once every one or two magazines (or once every 16 to 32 shots if you’re counting — roughly 5% of the time). I wanted to eliminate this if I could. When I contacted Daisy Customer Service to order the extra CO2 clips, I inquired about this. While the Daisy rep did not acknowledge a known ammo feed issue with the MP4, I not only received some suggestions over the phone, but a follow-up email with additional information, as well.
Except for testing CO2 clip 2, all of my own ammo feed problems were limited to infrequent misfires (blank shots) and an occasional skipped pellet that remained in a supposedly empty ammunition magazine.
Daisy cautions that you should use good-fitting (tight) pellets and make sure they’re seated all the way. This will prevent pellets from backing out of the magazine (more specifically the rotary cylinder), causing a jam. I’ve been using a Pellet Pen with Pellet Seater for loading, and the advice makes sense. However, none of the pellets I tested were loose, and most actually fit quite tightly. Ironically, the only pellet that caused a problem was Winchester’s own hollowpoint, which stuck out the front of the cylinder (even when fully seated) just enough to interfere with the cylinder’s rotation. I simply pushed the pellet noses back in slightly and didn’t experience any misfires during subsequent accuracy testing.
Despite how tightly most pellets fit, however, if I pulled an ammo mag that still had pellets in it I sometimes noticed that pellets I had seated all the way into the cylinder were loose and pushed back a little. On one occasion, I actually had a loosened pellet fall backwards right out of the magazine. I could not determine what might actually be pushing pellets backwards in their cylinder cavities, but my first guess is that CO2 bypass somewhere must be exerting pressure on the front of the pellets. The gun’s mild recoil (or possibly the bolt recocking action) might be another possibility. Whatever the cause, once this happens previously stopper-tight pellets will slide easily in the cylinder. As far as I could determine, though, pellet fit was not a problem in my gun. And it was not the problem for Pyramyd Air reviewers who tried a range of pellets with all kinds of persistent problems, either – that was probably the CO2 clip.
Daisy’s other – and I think more relevant – suggestion was to shoot slower, allowing 3-5 seconds between shots to let the CO2 cartridges recover. My first thought was that this takes away a lot of the fun of a semi-auto. This specific feature was one of the reasons I’d purchased the MP4 to begin with. Of course, the first thing my wife did as soon as she got her hands on my new gun was see how fast she could make me work the reset cord on our knockdown target. Sure enough, she had a skipped pellet in the magazine following her quick-fire volley. That’s not quite fun.
My second thought, in the form of a tiny bell ringing in the back of my mind, was that during my chronograph tests when I was waiting a full minute between shots, I didn’t have a single misfire for almost 150 rounds. I thought this was an anomaly, but it wasn’t!
With this advice in hand, I continued my testing, making a point to take time to breathe several times between shots. Lo and behold, I went through nearly 600 pellets with only 4 misfires, and I believe I actually caused these. Two of the misfires were from shooting fast during some other testing, and the other two are discussed below. Slowing down my shooting has essentially eliminated all my misfires—though I’m not having quite as much fun with the semi-auto MP4 as I was before.
Now, as to those final two misfires. After ejecting a supposedly empty ammunition magazine and discovering a skipped pellet still present, I remembered that on one shot I’d partially depressed the trigger, run out of “breath” before I was ready to shoot and released the trigger for another try. When I later removed the CO2 clip, I inverted the gun and squinted down into the receiver. As I squeezed the trigger, sure enough, I saw the catch that indexes the rotary cylinder move. So, squeezing the trigger indexes the ammo mag cylinder, and I’d inadvertently rotated a pellet out of queue, causing a skipped pellet. This revelation occurred early in my latest round of testing, and I continued shooting with steady, deliberate trigger pulls after that (and tried to make sure I didn’t run out of “breath” again). This also means that you should fully release the trigger between shots, though this was not a problem for me as far as I could tell. More deliberate trigger work, along with slower pacing between shots, has resulted in no more misfires so far.
This rectangular catch (shown by the large arrow) just under the breech indexes the rotary cylinder on the ammunition magazine when the trigger is pulled. The inset photo and small arrow show the ratchet teeth on the rotary cylinder that the catch engages. A false start on a trigger pull can rotate the cylinder without actually firing, causing a pellet to be skipped in the firing sequence.
In summary, misaligned CO2 clips appear to be causing the most severe ammo feed problems in the Winchester MP4, and a replacement CO2 clip should get a malfunctioning MP4 working correctly. Tight-fitting pellets, slower shooting and more deliberate trigger pulls can eliminate minor misfires; but these require additional time and concentration and take some of the fun out of shooting this semi-auto. While I really like the Winchester MP4 and continue to enjoy shooting it, I’m having to jump through hoops to make it work properly, which is something prospective owners need to consider.
In Part 4, I’ll complete my accuracy testing (and finally break the half-inch barrier) and wrap up my evaluation.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a continuation of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. Today, he tells us about accuracy
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, HiveSeeker.
Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle.
This report covers:
• Shots per fill
• Heavy trigger
• Best results
• The normal grouping
• Bug Buster
• The Dallas Field Target Club inaugural shoot
• How the blog changed my life
Shots per fill
While testing pellet accuracy, I shot at 6 bullseye targets (60 shots), swapping CO2 cartridges after each set, and did not notice any decline in performance at 10 yards. I also did a lot of enjoyable spinner silhouette shooting and started noting an increase in misses only as I approached the 80-shot mark (you go through pellets fast with this semiauto!). In conclusion, shooters can expect at least 60 accurate shots before swapping CO2 cylinders, depending on temperature.
It doesn’t matter how good the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle looks with that bipod or red dot scope on it while you’re reconnoitering the backyard. How well does it shoot? A gun is only fun if you can hit what you’re aiming it at, and the Winchester MP4 does reasonably well in the accuracy department.
My rifle does not appear to be suffering from the reported loose barrel problem (which can ostensibly be remedied by removing the 6 screws holding the Picatinny forearm and hand-tightening the barrel). However, the trigger-pull on this rifle is a conspicuously heavy 7.6 lbs. according to my hand scale. My wife and brother-in-law, who is former military (both ends of the spectrum, and both experienced shooters), singled this out as a major complaint. This is no youth rifle. I agree that accuracy would be better without having to exert so much pressure to get a pellet off. However, after some limited travel, the trigger — heavy as it is — breaks clean and crisp.
I shot outdoors at 10 yards from a benchrest using the aforementioned Bug Buster scope and a Leapers Golden Image 30mm red dot sight. All pellets tested grouped right around 1″ — give or take a little. Results were slightly better using the BugBuster. This rifle is not a tackdriver but is certainly a solid performer as long as you keep the range at 10 yards.
The following pellets gave the smallest 10-shot groups. At least one out of three measures 7/8″:
Crosman Destroyer EX (the slightly different version sold only in discount stores)
Crosman Premier Hollowpoint
H&N Finale Match Pistol
Air Arms Falcon
The worst pellet tested was the JSB Match Diabolo Light Weight. They gave a best group that measured 1-1/8″ between centers.
The normal grouping
Most groups were erratic and inconsistent, with more pellet scattering than clustering. Nevertheless, the largest groups I got were still a reasonable 1-1/2″ (for the Crosman Destroyer EX and Gamo Tomahawk). Since each group was 10 shots, I filled one drum of the magazine completely (8 pellets) and then put only 2 pellets in the drum on the other side of the mag.
One interesting and frustrating observation was that my final 2 shots, after flipping the magazine around, almost always opened up the group, in some cases by a full half-inch or so. At least part of the time, though, this gun is capable of significantly tighter groups than I’m reporting here.
On the left is the only really tight group I got — 7/8″ for the Crosman Destroyer EX. Nearly every other group looked a lot more like the Crosman Premier Hollowpoint group on the right, with hardly 2 pellets in the same hole anywhere.
I mentioned that I shot this gun with a Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster scope. When I first started sighting in at 10 yards, my initial POI was a very low 5″ under the bullseye. I had to do a lot of clicking to get the POI near the bullseye; and by the time I was finished, I noticed a fair amount of blurring in the bottom quarter of the scope’s field of view. I suspect I’m approaching the limit of adjustment on this sight. The amount of blurring worsens at higher magnifications. I own another Leapers UTG 4-16×40 scope that I just love, but field of view and eye relief on the compact Bug Buster are not nearly as forgiving or comfortable. Both my wife and brother-in-law (again, each an experienced shooter) complained about how difficult it is to sight through this scope. Although the Bug Buster has performed reliably and adds to the military look of this gun, I’m going to try a 40mm or larger compact scope on it at a later date.
A couple minor notes before wrapping up: Although Pyramyd Air rates this rifle a 4 out of 5 for loudness, I didn’t find it to be especially noisy outdoors. On my screened porch, the report was definitely loud, but that depends on how the sound is bouncing off the walls. Shooting noise from inside a bedroom was only average, which is how I would rate this gun for sound.
Also, the manual states that you should store this gun uncocked. Every time you fire, the bolt is re-engaged by CO2 pressure for the next shot. After you’ve finished shooting and have removed the CO2 clip, remember to point the rifle in a safe direction and squeeze the trigger one last time before casing it.
In conclusion, the Winchester MP4 is an authentic- looking and handling military replica with some known issues but enough accuracy to make it quite enjoyable for casual shooting. For plinking around the yard while looking like a commando, this rifle fills the bill — and does so nicely.
The Dallas Field Target Club inaugural shoot
Bob Dye submitted the following report and photos of the first Dallas Field Target Club shoot.
Twenty-six shooters appeared on a beautiful June 14 day for the event, some traveling from as far as Oklahoma and Louisiana.
The first Dallas Field Target Club match was well-attended.
Everyone had fun with friendly competition in all the usual AAFTA competition classes. Among them were 6-7 new shooters. Some chose to participate in one of the regular AAFTA classes, while four others participated in a Fun Rifle category, where basically anything goes concerning shooting style and equipment choices.
Great scoring latitude was offered, scoring one point for simply hitting the animal faceplate and two for a knockdown. This appeared to be a great way to let the novice shooters have fun scoring points plinking lead against steel, along with the extra satisfaction when the target falls over. It also served as a fun change of pace among the experienced shooters.
Shooters enjoyed the relaxed pace of the day.
While the facilities have lanes long enough to create a challenging Troyer difficulty of 36 or more, this first, 50-shot match was built on 9 lanes to a 23 Troyer, again to put some smiles on faces the first time out. [Editor's note: Brad Troyer devised a way to rate the difficulty of a field target course based on the size of the kill zones; the distances at which they're placed; and the difficulty of the shot based on placement, light and shooting position.]
Accordingly, two of the seasoned veterans rose to the challenge to ace the course. David Alsup shot a perfect 100/100 in Open PCP. And, while I told him I thought he was a shoo-in to do this, David asked to keep his score card, indicating it was a special day for him, too. Great shooting, David!
Likewise, perennial Hunter Class leader Ron Robinson also shot 100/100 with his brand new TM1000 rifle. I haven’t seen such a big grin on Ron’s face is some time. Or at least since last weekend in Pulaski. Ask him how he likes his new rig and be prepared for 5 minutes of superlatives. Excellent match with a new rifle, Ron!
Altogether, 17 of the 26 competed in one of the two Hunter Classes, including two in Hunter Piston. Four people posted scores in Open PCP — rather unusual in these parts.
The mostly sunny weather cooperated for a mid-June day, with a high of only 85 degrees F during the match, which made the humidity bearable. The turnout was superlative for this first ever club match.
Thanks to members Kevin Enzian, Jeff Latimer and Jerry Cupples for helping me set up the course the afternoon before. I couldn’t have done it by myself.
Next match is in August. Stay tuned. Visit the Dallas Field Target Club website.
How the blog changed my life
I initially published this section on the May 30, 2014, blog. I’m going to repeat it at least once a week during June and July so it doesn’t get lost or forgotten.
From the comments many of you make, I believe the blog may have positively impacted your lives. I invite you to send me an email telling me about that impact.
Were you a firearms shooter who accidentally discovered airguns through this blog? If so, tell me how this blog has helped your understanding of airguns.
Were you already an airgunner, but you thought what you saw in the big box stores was all there was? If so, how has this blog helped you understand more about airguns?
I’ve gotten quite a few responses already, but I want to make sure you know that I’m not looking for “attaboys,” pats on the back or personal recognition. I’m looking for real feedback on what you’ve learned so I can target my blogs to what you feel is important, what you’d like to know and what you’re still unsure of. This blog is written for its readers, and I want to share your stories with others who may be where you were before you found this blog.
Pyramyd Air has created a special temporary email address for this. I’ll be the only person to get these emails, and we’re not going to generate any lists from the addresses.
My plan is to publish one or more blog reports with the more interesting comments. If you want, I will use your real name or blog handle; but you can be anonymous, too. I won’t use your name or handle unless you give me written permission to do so.
This email address will be live for only a few weeks. We have tens of thousands of readers worldwide. Even if you’ve never commented on the blog, you can email me your message if you like. If you’re reading this blog after July 2014, email submissions will no longer be forwarded to me, and you may get an auto-reply email stating that or your email might bounce back to you.
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.