Posts Tagged ‘Falke model 90 air rifle’
by B.B. Pelletier
The Haenel 311 is the world’s only bolt-action spring-piston 10-meter target rifle.
Today is accuracy day for the Haenel 311, and the day holds a couple surprises and should be a fun read. Because of the crude design of this rifle, I don’t shoot it that often and I forget just how well it shoots.
The 311 is a recoiling spring-piston air rifle and, as such, has to be held with the artillery hold for best results. I needed to be reminded of that.
Also, I tend to shoot smaller groups with the Ballard .38-55 rifle at 100 yards when I wear my glasses. But when shooting a 10-meter rifle I tend to do best without them. Since I haven’t shot at 10-meter targets in a while, that was another point that needed to be remembered.
Finally, the 311 rear sight adjusts for lighting conditions. But it only works if you remember to adjust it.
So the first few groups I shot were horrible because I held the rifle too tight, wore my prescription glasses and didn’t adjust the peep size. Then, I figured out all three things at about the same time and the rifle caught fire — at least with one pellet. And that was the other thing that surprised me in this test. The cheap eastern-European target rifle scorns high-priced target ammo from the best pellet makers. Instead, it loves the cheapest wadcutters on the market. I know that will disappoint many of you, but that’s how it is.
I sighted-in with RWS Hobby pellets. Why a 10-meter rifle ever needs to be sighted-in is beyond me, because what other things would you do with them besides shoot them at 10-meter targets? Well, maybe not you. I guess I’m talking about me. Nevertheless, the rifle was hitting the edge of the bull when I started and required about 30 clicks of left adjustment to get the pellet close to the center. As I’m not really keeping score, I stopped when the first pellet was close enough.
And this is the very next group of Hobbys after I took off my prescription glasses and made the rear sight aperture smaller for greater depth of vision. This is still not a good group, but it does look better than the first one. Hobbys are probably not a good pellet for the 311.
H&N Finale Match Pistol
The next pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. This pellet has always been good in my 10-meter rifles. Maybe it’s not the best in every rifle, but it’s among the top three almost every time. Well, I used perfect technique to shoot the group you are about to see.
H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets did this at 10 meters. It looks like a group fired by an Avanti 853 to me. It would be acceptable for a junior target rifle, but not for a precision-class rifle. The technique was perfect, so this is not a good pellet in my 311.
I said I would try the new Gamo Match wadcutter in the 311, even though I didn’t hold out a lot of hope for it. As I shot the first group, I was holding the rifle in a good soft artillery hold and pulled the fourth shot. It was so obvious that I exclaimed, “Oh no!” aloud and Edith heard me in her office. You can see the results of pulling that shot on the target.
Since the four shots were in such a tight group, I decided to shoot another group, and this time watch both my technique and the sight picture very carefully. Before I show you the group, I want to answer the question that some readers are asking right now. Isn’t this what I’m supposed to do every time I shoot? Yes, it is; and if I were a world-class shooter, I would be able to do it. However, that takes a state of concentration that I’ve never achieved. Shooters who compete will understand.
And there it is. This is the best 10-meter group I’ve ever shot with any target rifle. It’s so close to zero that I won’t even attempt to measure it. Five Gamo Match pellets went through that little hole.
I told you there were some surprises in today’s report. Will I ever be able to repeat that group? Probably not. Is the group representative of what the 311 can do? No, I don’t think that it is. Everything had to be perfect for a group like that to be shot — even from a rest at just 10 meters! But I was curious about the possibility of repeating it, so I shot another group of Gamo Match, just to see.
Here’s the very next group. I held just as steady and sighted just as well. This is probably representative of what the 311 can do with these Gamo Match pellets. This 5-shot group measures 0.163 inches between centers.
So what can I say about the Haenel 311 target rifle? Well, it’s more accurate than its styling would seem to indicate, but it’s a crude rifle from the standpoint of ergonomics and powerplant operation. Yes, it can shoot alongside the FWB 300S, but it takes a huge amount of technique to do so. The 300S is easy to shoot, in comparison.
The Haenel has a heavier trigger than I like in a target rifle. It’s very positive, but I would like it to be a few ounces less and have a positive stop after the release.
All things considered, the Haenel 311 is a swell target rifle for just $59. That was all it cost when they were first available to American buyers. You’ll now pay $250 and up for the same gun, and I think that’s still a bargain.
For shooting while standing, this is a great and inexpensive way to go.
by B.B. Pelletier
The Haenel 311 is the world’s only bolt-action, spring-piston 10-meter target rifle.
Let’s look at the velocity of my Haenel 311 target rifle. Because of the way it cocks, this rifle is low-powered. It isn’t possible to put a long-stroke piston or a stout mainspring in the mechanism when the rifle is cocked by pulling back on a three-inch bolt handle. You don’t pull it straight back, either. The base of the handle pivots like a fulcrum, and the handle rocks back to pull the piston into the cocked position. As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s so difficult to cock that the gun is destined for adults, only.
However, a short piston stroke and a weak mainspring combine to give very low velocity. Since this is a target rifle, velocity doesn’t matter. But this wouldn’t be the gun to choose as an all-day plinker. Get a Diana 27 for that, or any one of the Haenel breakbarrels. Save the 311 for its intended purpose.
If it sounds like I’m making excuses for the gun, that’s not what I want to do. I just want the reader to understand it in the right context.
Since this rifle has a leather piston seal, I dropped several drops of oil into the loading tap, then closed it and stood the rifle on its butt for several days before this test. For those who are new to airgunning, leather seals need lots of oil to do their jobs. Synthetic seals need a lot less oil, and it needs to be silicone chamber oil so it won’t detonate with the high heat it can generate.
In a rifle of the 311′s power, you can use plain old household oil for the seals, because the rifle doesn’t generate that much heat. But using silicone chamber oil won’t hurt anything, so that’s what I used. And there’s one additional reason for oiling the gun before shooting. The loading tap has to have some clearance to be able to move and do its job. When you oil the gun at the tap, some oil gets on the tap itself and helps to seal it when the rifle fires.
A note to the new reader. I test rifles with a range of pellets appropriate to that rifle. There will be a weight spread among the pellets I use, so you can gauge the power of the gun from what I use. But bear in mind that some pellets will work better in certain guns and the lighter pellet won’t always be the fastest. I also won’t test a gun with a pellet that I deem inappropriate for the gun, such as Beeman Kodiak heavyweight domed pellets for this target rifle. For a 10-meter target rifle, I’ll test with wadcutters since they’re the only pellets that are legal to use in a 10-meter match.
Let’s get right to it. The first pellet I tested was the Gamo Match wadcutter. This pellet used to be a viable and inexpensive pellet for target guns, but the design was changed a few years ago. While it’s still inexpensive, it doesn’t perform as well as it used to in many guns. Still, I thought it was worth a try.
This pellet averaged 462 f.p.s., but the spread was quite high — going from 439 to 479 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle puts out 3.66 foot-pounds with this pellet. The wide velocity spread makes me think this one won’t be that accurate, but we’ll see.
Next I tried RWS Hobby pellets. At just seven grains weight, they should be among the fastest lead pellets in this rifle. Hobbys averaged 490 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 478 to 497 f.p.s. That’s tighter than the Gamo Match. At the average velocity, the energy developed at the muzzle was 3.73 foot-pounds. Sometimes, Hobbys are very accurate in certain guns and are worth trying in this one.
The last pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. At 7.56 grains, you’d think they’d be slower than the Hobbys that weigh a half grain less, but these pellets averaged 492 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 480 to 501 f.p.s. They’re clearly faster and more efficient. At the average velocity, they produce 4.06 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Seeing the efficiency of this pellet gave me an idea. What if I used a pellet seater to iron out the skirts of this pellet? What would happen to the velocity then? I say that because a taploader tends to allow some air to blow past the pellets before they’re blown into the bore. Enlarging the skirts is a possible way to minimize this.
I tried enlarging the pellet skirts with the ball end of a pellet seater. However, the results surprised me. Instead of boosting velocity, this knocked it back to an average 474 f.p.s. for the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. However, the extreme spread ran only from 472 to 478 f.p.s., so the overall velocity was a lot tighter from shot to shot.
The bottom line is that the Haenel 311 is a target rifle and nothing more. Because of the design, there’s no way to soup it up for greater performance; and as I noted in Part 1, this is a rifle you want to stay out of.
Next time we’ll look at the accuracy of this Cold Warrior.
by B.B. Pelletier
The Haenel 311 is the world’s only bolt-action spring-piston 10-meter target rifle.
At the Roanoke Airgun Expo several weeks ago, I saw a Haenel 311 target rifle on one of the tables, which it reminded me that I’d promised myself long ago to give you a full report on this curious air rifle. Today, I’ll begin to fulfill that promise.
Back in the days when Edith and I published The Airgun Letter, we were contacted by a pawn shop that was importing target airguns from the former East Germany. We told our readers about them, and thousands of model 310s and 311s and a few 312 sidelevers were sold over the course of a few years. The prices were quite low. As I recall, the 310s went for $49, and the 311s brought $59. I bought several guns to test and as gifts, and the 311 you’ll see here is one of those purchased.
The 311 is unlike any other air rifle in the world. It’s a .177-caliber pellet rifle that uses an articulated bolt action to cock a spring that powers the piston. It appears similar to the Haenel 310 action except the 310 shoots only round lead balls fed from a magazine, while the 311 shoots standard diabolo pellets fed one at a time though a loading tap. The two guns are very different, except for their cocking levers.
Here the cocking bolt/lever has been lifted out of its stored position and is ready to be pulled back to cock the gun.
The rifle is sized for an adult, with an overall length of 43-7/8 inches and a weight of 7 lbs., 14 ozs. These numbers come from my rifle and do not agree with the information in the Blue Book of Airguns.
The stock is blocky and looks like it was fashioned from a two-by-six piece of lumber. The wood is tightly grained and may be beech, though I’m not certain. It’s stained with a thin orange color that does not penetrate the wood to any depth. The finish is a thin shellac that’s very prone to chipping and wear.
The pistol grip is hand-checkered with large diamonds in a very crude pattern. The work looks like it was done by a prisoner wielding a not-too-sharp jackknife. There’s no checkering on the forearm, but both sides have a long European-style finger groove.
The checkering is clearly hand-cut, and a rough job at that. Overruns and missed diamonds abound.
The metal is very well polished and finished with an even hot blue. You must appreciate that Haenel has a reputation as a fine arms maker, and this rifle is so out of line with most of what they made that it looks like a government job for sure. The rifle began production in 1964, which was at the height of the Cold War, so that assessment is probably right on the money. Production ended in the early 1990s.
The 311 is a 10-meter target rifle, but it is so different from any other 10-meter rifle that it’s very difficult to categorize. The cocking effort is very difficult — owing to the short cocking lever — so this is not a three-position rifle in anyone’s book. It’s meant for offhand shooting, alone. Even then, the shooter must take care where he points the muzzle while he struggles with the cocking lever. It takes 33 lbs. of force to cock my 311, and applying it through the 3-inch bolt handle isn’t easy. In the offhand position, I would shoulder the rifle and simply pull the handle back, using my shoulder to hold the rifle in place. It sounds easy, but after a couple shots you start feeling the strain.
The 311′s sights are very interesting. The rear adjustable aperture sight looks very similar to a Walther target sight of the same era. Though it’s designed for inexpensive production, you can see that the designers managed to make it quite precise. It has the swept-back look of the 1930s.
The adjustable rear aperture sight looks like something from a 1930s sci-fi movie. The design is simple but very similar to what Walther was making at the time.
As austere as this sight is, it still contains diopters (peep holes) of different sizes to accommodate different lighting conditions. That’s an advanced feature that you don’t expect to find on such a crudely finished rifle. And it doesn’t end there.
The 311 also has the provision for mounting an intermediate adjustable sporting sight on a base located at the end of the compression tube, just behind the loading tap. Most 311 owners have never seen this sight, but I was able to obtain one with my rifle, so I can show it to you now. This sight must relate to some sporting event the East Germans had for this rifle. The Falke rifle also had provisions for two different types of rear sights, so there must have been a good reason for them. I do know that many zimmerstutzens come with this same provision, and there’s a separate sporting match for the zimmerstutzen. It’s not too difficult to imagine that there was the same kind of match for air rifles that are equipped this way.
This adjustable sporter rear sight is an accessory few 311 owners have ever seen. It mounts behind the loading tap and is undoubtedly used in different matches than the target sight.
The front sight is a globe mounted on a tall stalk. It accepts different sight inserts, which would be necessary if the sporting rear sight were to be used. My rifle came with an aperture in the front sight.
The front sight is a globe with replaceable inserts that sits on a tall stalk.
The 311 loads through a rotating loading tap. That is a strange feature on a target rifle, because the shooter cannot insert the pellet directly into the rifling. The tap is entirely manual and separate from the cocking function, so it can be operated at any time.
The loading tap is manual and not connected to cocking the gun in any way.
One thing about a loading tap is that it requires a different procedure for oiling the piston seal. I put 5-10 drops of silicone chamber oil into the tap, then close it and stand the rifle on its butt for at least an hour. The reason I used 5-10 drops is in case the piston seal is made of leather. I use silicone chamber oil in case it’s synthetic. Talk about covering all the bases!
The trigger is one place where the Haenel pedigree shines through. It’s a multi-lever unit that breaks cleanly if not crisply. It’s every bit as nice as the trigger on the Bronco.
Here’s a warning to all you would-be tuners. Years ago, I wanted to quiet the vibration of my 311 action, so I started what I thought would be a simple disassembly. When I got inside the trigger, however, the job proved to be anything but simple. I assembled the gun with the automatic safety out of whack and have lived with it ever since. The 311 is not the rifle to take apart unless you have a lot of patience and perhaps a spare rifle to look at when it’s time to put it back together.
As for power and accuracy — well, this is only Part 1. I’ll test this rifle completely in the established pattern, so you’ll get answers to both questions.
by B.B. Pelletier
Test and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
Falke 90 underlever is a rare and vintage British air rifle.
I got an email from Vince yesterday morning, asking if I planned on publishing the rest of Mac’s Falke 90 test. Well, I figured old Vince just hadn’t read the blog the day I did the rest of the test. A few minutes of fruitless searching later, I discovered he was right, I hadn’t told you the rest of Mac’s story. What happens in a case like this is I get the report, I read it and then two days later I forget what I’m doing and figure that everyone in the world knows what I know. To make up for that, I’m going to combine Parts 2 and 3 and give you the rest of the report on the Falke 90 today.
As you may recall, the Falke 90 is a rare underlever spring rifle from the 1950s. It copies the even older BSA Airsporter, in that the underlever is concealed in the forearm and the pellets are loaded through a tap that opens automatically when the rifle is cocked. According to the best information we have at hand, it’s believed that fewer than 200 Falke 90 airguns were ever made and fewer than 35 are known to exist today. It’s not an airgun that’s commonly encountered.
Vince repaired this rifle, which wasn’t working when I acquired it at the 2010 Roanoke airgun show. He reported on how that went in a special three-part report. Now that we’ve seen the insides and read Mac’s overall impressions of the gun, it’s time to test both the velocity and accuracy.
Mac found the bore to be oversized, which was common for British airguns back in the 1950s, so he tested the largest pellets he had on hand that also had the thinnest skirts. The first of these were RWS Superdomes.
The 14.5-grain Superdome isn’t a large pellet, but the skirt is thin and it can be expanded with a ball-type pellet seater. That’s what Mac did.
Superdomes averaged 490 f.p.s. with a total velocity spread from 481 to 494 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 7.72 foot-pounds. The total velocity spread was just 13 f.p.s. Mac mentioned that he did try these pellets without expanding the skirts, but the rifle sounded wrong. It sounded as if it was dry-firing.
A loading tap like the one found on this Falke is tapered on the inside. It has to pass all sizes of pellets in the correct caliber range, and the taper usually takes care of that. But most taps tend toward the large side, and we know that the bore of this rifle is already oversized, so only by expanding the skirts can regular pellets be used.
I told Mac that I had found RWS Superpoints to be accurate in the Hakim, which is very similar to the Falke 90, so he tried them next. Superpoints have very thin skirts — even thinner than the skirts found on Superdomes. They weigh the same 14.5 grains as the Superdomes, but their skirts have less reinforcement, so I figured they would be good in this rifle.
They averaged 499 f.p.s. and ranged from 488 to 513 f.p.s., for a total spread of 25 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 8.02 foot-pounds.
The next pellet Mac tested was the 5.56mm Eley Wasp. These are still being made, and I believe you can import them from Canada, but the U.S. Eley importer stubbornly refuses to bring them into this country, and Eley doesn’t seem to mind. I bought 30 tins of them years ago to make the importation worth the effort. If you decide to try to get some, be aware that there’s a 5.5mm Wasp pellet, also, and they won’t be as large as these. Only the 5.56mm Wasp is oversized for all those vintage pellet rifles that have overbore barrels.
Eley Wasps also weigh 14.5 grains, so at their average velocity of 474 f.p.s in this rifle they generate 7.24 foot-pounds of energy. The total velocity spread went from 451 to 500 f.p.s. — a 49 f.p.s. gap. Those numbers are for a group of pellets with expanded skirts. But Mac found that he had to push the expanded pellets into the tap, so he shot a second string with non-expanded pellets.
The second string averaged 503 f.p.s. with a spread from 465 to 542. So, the spread was 77 f.p.s. At the average velocity the energy developed was 8.12 foot-pounds.
Okay, so now we know the power, to which Vince already alerted us in his guest blog. Next, let’s look at accuracy.
For this test, Mac tried both the open sights and a Mendoza sport aperture rear sight that Pyramyd Air no longer stocks. With the open sights that came with the rifle, the best group of 10 Eley Wasps he was able to get measured 0.66 inches between centers at 15 yards.
When he installed the Mendoza rear sight on the rifle, it was loose, so he inserted a paper shim under the sight base to tighten it up.
Here you can see the paper shim Mac placed under the base of the Mendoza peep sight to tighten it on the Falke.
Ten RWS Superdomes made this group at 15 yards that measures 0.92 inches between the centers of the two farthest holes. This is not good accuracy for a rifle like this. You can probably blame the too-small pellets for this.
Mac says he also tried shooting RWS Superpoints at 15 yards, but they were too bad to measure. Several missed the target.
This is a great 10-shot target! It measures 0.35 inches at 15 yards. Ten Eley Wasps, which appear to be THE pellet of choice for the Falke 90. These Wasps had their bases expanded.
From my experiences with Hakims, I can say that this Falke is just about as accurate as they are. In the past, I used to mount short scopes on Hakims, and they shot just about like this Falke is doing with the peep sight.
The Falke 90 is a shooter, as well as a rare vintage collectible. Vince was clever enough to put this one back on the range. Thanks to Mac, we now know what to expect. It’s certainly no barn-burner air rifle. More like a Diana 27 that’s put on too much weight. But the neat hidden underlever and machined parts throughout the action make the Falke 90 an airgun you’ll remember.
Many people have asked me if I intend to refinish the stock, or in my case, to get it done by somebody else. I don’t think I will. Even though it’s been disfigured by someone in the past and even though the wood is cracked in several places (that Vince glued), I think a rare gun like this is always more valuable when it’s left as is rather than being prettied up. Refinishing destroys collectibles in my opinion.
by B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, I wanted to give you some more info about the 2nd Annual Airgun Extravaganza in Arkansas. The show’s promoter has made a deal with a couple motels. Mention the show and you’ll get a discount:
Comfort Inn Malvern, 501-467-3300: Thurs. $55, Fri. $65
Holiday Inn Malvern, 501-467-8800: Thurs. $85, Fri. $90
Make reservations early because they may fill up since the show’s being held on the same weekend as the Arkansas Derby.
I plan to attend this show with Mac, and we have a couple tables. I know it didn’t work out last year, but let’s hope that doesn’t happen again!
Test and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
My Falke 90 underlever air rifle isn’t in the best condition, but with fewer than 200 known to exist, it doesn’t matter that much. Anyone is a good one.
Well, we’ve seen how Vince was able to rebuild my Falke 90 underlever rifle. Now, Mac’s going to test it for us. Vince delivered the rifle to Mac so I wouldn’t have to cock it. That was when I first found out about my hernia. I’m now wearing a support, so I can do more than before, but Mac had all the fun this time. I think he deserves it as a small reward for handling all the work I haven’t been able to do over the past year. I’m really lucky to have a friend like him, and I couldn’t have kept this blog going without his help.
Falke is German for “falcon,” so the logo is a bird, of course.
The logo is all over the gun.
I’ve said several times that the Falke 90 is very much like a Hakim air rifle made by Anschütz for the Egyptian army. This is the first Falke 90 I’ve ever seen, but I’ve owned about 15 Hakims and can tell you there’s a lot of similarity between the two rifles. Someone asked why we can’t see the underlever, so Mac took a photo of the gun with the lever in the down position. You can see what it looks like and how it fits up into the stock and out of the way. As I told you before, many other air rifles did and still do use this same design, with the Air Arms Pro-Sport being the one that’s sold today.
The cocking lever is tucked under the gun, inside the forearm. When it goes down, the loading tap opens automatically.
Loading tap and rear sight.
Very few known to exist
The Falke 90 is a very rare air rifle, with fewer than 200 known to exist. Mine is serial No. 39, which is stamped several places on the gun, the most obvious being the loading tap. There’s a Falke forum called Falke Talk, where every known Falke 80 and 90 is being tracked. These rifles are so hard to find that owners from all over the world band together to share information about them.
My rifle is serial No. 39.
Mac says the Falke 90 feels very natural to him. The placement of the loading tap, the righthand palm swell and the weight distribution all conspire to make this an easy rifle to shoot offhand. The stock is a nice figured walnut with checkering on the grip and forearm.
On this rifle, some previous owner has carved initials into the checkering on the left side of the forearm, reducing the stock to poor condition. The pull measures 13.75 inches and the length overall is 44.25 inches. Mac has no way of weighing the overall rifle, but I expect that it has to be over 8 lbs. at least.
The metal was finished well at one time; but like the wood on my rifle, it’s suffered over the years. The barrel measures 19.25 inches to the center of the loading tap. The trigger-pull as Vince has set it is 56 oz., but Mac says it feels much lighter. The first stage is very light, and the let-off is crisp. The cocking effort is 28 lbs. but seems like less. The stock is completed with one-inch sling swivels.
The trigger is adjustable via a small screw behind the trigger blade. Note the crack in the stock. It’ll also be found on every Hakim. An apparent weak spot in the design of the stock for this type of action.
The front sight features replaceable blades, though I only have the one that’s mounted at this time. However, I believe that it can be flipped upside down for a shorter post on the bottom of what is now showing. The rear sight is a precision open leaf sight with a choice of two notches. There are several places along the scope rail to lock down the rear sight or the optional peep sight that I don’t have.
Front sight is replaceable and (I believe you can flip this one over for a shorter post on the bottom).
The rear sight is a heavy precision unit that resembles the one on the Hakim but is considerably heavier. This one is made of machined parts and conveys the sense of great value. A peep sight was also available, but I don’t have one and there are very few Falke parts available for the 80s and 90s.
The rear sight is heavy and precisely made. Fully adjustable in both directions with choice of two notches.
Well, this certainly is a strange and wonderful vintage air rifle. It dates back to a time when quality was the standard and German quality was the watchword of the world. It’s exactly the kind of air rifle most of us say we want — heavy machined metal and beautiful walnut wood, with attention to each and every detail. It’s unfortunate they’re so scarce, because many more want them than there are rifles to go around. Fortunately, the BSA Airsporter underlever and the Hakim are both very similar rifles that exist in far greater numbers.
Next time, I’ll combine both velocity and accuracy into one report.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is part 3 of Vince’s disassembly and repair of the Falke model 90 I sent him several weeks ago. After this, we’ll start a new series with the range testing of the Falke, as Mac now has the gun.
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Now that this mystery was solved (.177 pellets stuck in this .22 cal. rifle), I had to tend to the more mundane issue of that putrid piston seal. Even though the original seal was leather, I’ve got the idea that — like the Hakim — a modern Diana seal can be made to fit this gun. Measuring the bore confirms this, so I have to figure out how to adapt one to this piston.
First things first, though. I’ve got to remove that old leather seal, which means I have to remove that center screw. It doesn’t want to cooperate, and the beat-up screw head is only getting worse. There’s not much of a slot to engage a screwdriver, and I don’t want to mess up what little there is. I decided to remove the leather first — by destroying it. That way, I can grab the sides of the screwhead with something and loosen it.
Well, the screw still doesn’t want to come out. I suspect that it’s being retained by the pin circled in the following picture. Quite obviously has to be drilled. Once that’s done the screw spins out rather easily:
Even with a screw loose, it wouldn’t come out.
After some “coaxing,” the screw gave it up.
Next, I made a button adapter for the Diana seal. I’ve got some 1-inch nylon bar stock laying around (doesn’t everyone?), so I drilled a hole into one end (it doesn’t have to be perfectly centered or straight).
I drilled a hole in some spare 1-inch nylon bar stock and sliced off a section that’s the same thickness as the seal.
I installed a machine screw and nut through it and chucked it up in a drill.
I sliced an old seal in half to give me an angle guide and used a bench grinder to shape the plastic button while spinning it in the drill. I fine tuned it until it’s just about a perfect fit.
Remember that pin I drilled out of the piston? Turns out that it was also securing the piston rod into the piston — after I removed it, the rod loosened up. Since it looks like we can’t do without it, I replaced it with a roll pin.
I used threadlocker on the center screw, so I’m NOT relying on the roll pin to secure it. I don’t want the pin interfering with its installation or removal. I threaded a 5mm bolt into the head of the piston as far as possible and then pressed in the roll pin until it bottomed on that bolt.
I ground down the head of the pin so it’s flush with the piston and forcibly removed the 5mm bolt (which was binding against that pin). I ran a tap down that hole to cut through any interference. The front of the piston is now ready to go.
I installed the new button and seal onto the piston and found out that the installed height of the new seal is less than the original. This would allow the piston to move forward more than before and interfere with the cocking linkage. So, I made a spacer out of a belt.
With a new button and seal installed, I needed a spacer…so I cut up one out of an old belt.
Almost perfect, but I eventually added a little more using material from a coffee can lid.
I cleaned the compression tube and reinserted the piston and spring. Another look at the rear spring retainer, and I see a problem — no rear spring guide! When I took the gun apart, there was a metal tube inside the spring up near the piston end. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but now it dawns on me (duhhhh) that it’s the actual guide pulled out of the rear retainer. Nothing seemed to be broken — just a press fit that wasn’t quite tight enough. Wood chisel to the rescue! I expanded the diameter of the tube by spreading the seam.
The guide had to be inserted back into the spring retainer, but the fit was too loose. A wood chisel helped tighten things up by spreading the the seam with my handy wood chisel.
I asked B.B. about pinning it (which involves drilling holes into precious and rare parts), but he assured me that this gun won’t be getting a lot of use. So, this repair stays as it is.
The retainer/guide assembly is all gooped up and ready to go!
The rear guide/retainer went back in as did the cocking linkage. Now, I’m back to where I started — the taploader assembly.
First thing I did was fish around for a skinny little spring and a 3mm ball to replace the missing detent.
Of course, when working on something like this, it’s EXTREMELY important to heavily grease all parts BEFORE assembly, ESPECIALLY that little ball bearing which, incidentally, happens to be the only one I have. Why grease it now? Because when it goes sproing during one of several reassembly attempts, that itty bitty ball bearing HARDLY BOUNCES and DOESN’T ROLL! It sticks to things, making it infinitely easier to recover:
A greasy ball bearing does not bounce, not even an ounce, but if it did…I would trounce — it!
Back together and ready to work on the stock.
Everything went back together, and I’m getting psyched. I even put a couple of rounds through it before putting it back into the stock, and it seems to function just fine. So, I grabbed the admittedly beat-up wood. Just as I was putting the guts back into it, I noticed a crack in the stock.
Finished with the action…on to the stock.
Great. Didn’t notice that before. Oh, well, shouldn’t be that hard to fix. Unexpected, but I’m awful glad I caught it. It’s a lot easier to fix a crack, even a bad one, than it is to fix a total break.
I’m hardly a woodworking expert, but I don’t really see a good way of pinning this. Shouldn’t be necessary, a friend of mine assured me. Today’s wood glues are so strong that I shouldn’t need anything else. Not much choice.
Starting on the starboard side, I spread the crack as much as I dared with a small screwdriver and used my finger to force the glue deeply into the crack.
Glue is enough to keep this crack together without risking a complete break.
Actually, I made out pretty well and was able to get glue to ooze out of the other side of the crack
Close it, clamp it, wipe off the excess and let it sit. Hopefully, it’ll be as solid as it’s gonna get. Repeat for the port side, and I’m done.
One more thing. B.B. wanted me to do a quick write-up on the trigger so you can see how it works…which I remembered after getting the gun back together. So, it comes apart again, I pulled the trigger parts out and arranged them on the workbench in their approximate working positions. Since the rest of the gun is still assembled, I’m using an old piston rod just for illustration.
This picture shows the mechanism in the cocked position:
As the piston rod comes rearward, it pushes on the sear, rotating it clockwise so the sear engagement catches the hooked end of the rod. As the front of the sear lifts upward, the trigger rotates clockwise and the trigger interface slides under the sear to keep it in position.
When the trigger is pulled, the trigger interface moves forward, allowing the sear to drop down and release the piston:
While it’s a step up from a direct-sear, it’s not a particularly elegant mechanism, similar in concept to the trigger on the (shudder) Industry B3.
So, that’s about it for working on the Falke. I did shoot it some, and found that the velocity averages almost 500 fps with Gamo Match pellets. Accuracy? I had trouble getting under .50 inches at 10 meters with the open sights. Perhaps Mac will do better.
My overall impressions of the quality of the gun? Generally, it’s not as bad as my overall impressions of the quality of the rear triggerguard scew.
Rear triggerguard screw.
In all honesty, I was a little disappointed. This is only the third type of taploader I’ve worked on, the previous being the aforementioned Hakim while the first was a pre-WWI BSA underlever. That BSA sort of ruined it for me. It was such a beautiful example of 100-year-old metalwork. I’m still half-sick that I ever let Wayne have that gun back! The Hakim was somewhere on the better side of the middle, as is this rifle. But, it’s certainly solid enough, and there’s no reason why this gun shouldn’t still be working well after all of us are pushing up daisies. Or Crosmans, or whatever we prefer to be buried with!
by B.B. Pelletier
This is part 2 of Vince’s disassembly and repair of the Falke model 90 underlever spring-piston rifle I sent him several weeks ago.
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Yesterday, we saw the first of many problems. Now, it’s time to dive into the gun. The first step is to remove that troublesome tap and the stuck pellet.
Here are the tap screw, washer and opening lever.
I can pull out the tap AND the completely undamaged pellet. Curiouser and curiouser — I thought the pellet would be a little chewed up from the failure-to-feed episodes that we seemed to experience. But, no, it looked perfect.
Left to right: Front linkage guide, main retaining screw & rear trigger retaining pin.
The rest of the gun slid apart easily. This is a very Hakim-like cocking linkage and trigger.
After removing the front linkage guide, the main retaining screw, and the rear trigger retaining pin, the cocking action and trigger assembly just slide forward and off. The rear spring retainer just screws out:
The end cap shouldn’t be hard to remove, and I don’t expect the spring to be under much compression.
At this point, I have no idea how much preload I’m looking at. As I get it within a few turns of removal, I can feel a little free-play in the threads. This means that I can push against the spring and get a fair idea of what kind of pressure I’m going to have to deal with. It’s not much. Still, as a precaution I toss an old t-shirt over the end cap before I completely unscrew it.
Ready to remove the spring.
Note: Vince is highly experienced and knows when a spring is beyond his ability to remove it without a compressor. Most springs should not be removed without a mainspring compressor. However, this rifle is under so little pre-compression that there’s no danger at all.
Even if it tries to go sproing, the rag will quickly arrest whatever tries to come shooting out. Which it doesn’t. I was correct. There’s very little preload in the powerplant.
As expected, removing the end cap was a piece of cake.
Next, I attempted to slide out the piston. I say attempt because every time I started to pull out the piston it popped right back in as soon as I let it go. That’s weird — it feels like I’m pulling a vacuum. That can’t be. Heck, the loading tap isn’t even installed, which means the transfer port is open to the atmosphere. Regardless, after a few tries of this sort, I kind of forced the issue and finally extracted the reluctant part.
Man, that’s one ugly piston. Not sure what’s on it — semi-sticky, dirty, icky — it really needs a good clean-up, which it gets from a wire wheel. And, is that seal ever beat. Hey, what’s that? Looks like a big metal flake stuck on the end of the piston!
What’s stuck to the end of the piston?
I peeled off the metal flake and hit it with a small torch. It melted immediately. Just as I thought…lead. Now, things are making sense. Why was the piston so reluctant to come out? Let’s take a look into the now-empty compression tube, shall we?
That little circle at the bottom of the tube is supposed to be a hole. A whole hole, not half a hole. Something’s in there that’s not supposed to be in there. So I went in from the muzzle with a long steel cleaning rod. I banged on it a bunch of times.
The cleaning rod should pop out whatever’s stuck.
Two .177 pellets popped out of the .22 cal. rifle.
Apparently someone tried loading .177 pellets into this thing. An easy enough mistake, I guess. But when he (I’m assuming it was a guy!) closed the loading tap, the pellet would slide backwards into the transfer port and into the compression chamber. Looks like this was attempted more than once, and eventually the piston just mashed the errant pellet(s) into the transfer port, plugging it pretty effectively. Which is why, when I tried firing it, I just got pffffft. The pellet in the tap wasn’t getting jammed. The fact is that no air at all was even reaching it.
We’ll continue Vince’s resurrection of this rifle next week. Stay tuned!