Posts Tagged ‘Farco air shotgun’
by B.B. Pelletier
Before I begin today’s report, here’s an interesting tidbit of news. The Georgia senate has passed legislation (SB 301) that will allow residents to use legal silencers while hunting game. This curious legislation is the first positive thing on silencers that I’ve seen. Does it mean that we are about the see a change in the public attitude toward silencers in general?
You’re on the couch, watching a typical “shootemupski” flick and the gang-banger bad guys in their wife-beater undershirts and black doo-rags are all shooting their Glocks with limp wrists and the guns rotated 90 degrees to the left, so the shells eject out the top instead of the side. You suppress a quiet snicker, knowing that this is inherently wrong, but you chalk it up to Hollywood.
What else do you know about the mistreatment of guns? That’s any gun — air-powered or firearm.
What about the guy who opens his revolver to check that it’s loaded, then closes the cylinder with a quick flick of the wrist? Back in the 1950s, the gun magazines were all loaded with warnings not to do this because of what it does to the crane. The crane is the arm that swings out of the revolver and holds the axle on which the cylinder turns. How many times have I watched a vintage black-and-white murder mystery in which the bad guy did just that to his revolver? It works in the movies because they can shut the camera off and switch guns after they bend the crane. In real life, it’s so damaging that the fit of the crane is the first thing you check whenever evaluating a used double-action revolver.
This Ruger revolver’s crane is made from steel. It’s the part that allows the cylinder to swing out to the side of the gun for loading and unloading. If it can’t take being flipped shut without bending, imagine what will happen to a softer metal airsoft revolver crane!
Mark your territory!
Here’s one all the Bubbas do to their guns. They mark them with their Social Security account numbers etched into the steel with an electric engraving pen. When asked why they do it, they always answer, “It’s mine for as long as I own it, and after I’m gone I don’t care what happens to it.” The sad thing is, when Bubba dies, he stays dead for a long time! So, that beautiful Winchester Model 1873 rifle he inherited from his grandfather in 1954 now sits in some gun store in Ft. Worth marked at $1,875 instead of $3,500, because his SS# is engraved on the frame!
Think this makes it a bargain? Think again. Anyone who buys a gun marked this way just bought it for the rest of his life, because no one else will touch it. If you want to buy a real nice Winchester 1873 lever-action rifle that has someone’s SS# engraved on it, just contact me and I’ll give you the details. It’s been in the same place for at least the past seven years.
Will someone please take the engraving pen from Bubba? This pristine Remington 03A3 rifle from World War II lost a third of its value because he marked the receiver this way.
I was once stupid enough to go “all the way” for you here in this blog and “inlet” the stock of an Air Venturi Bronco for the slide of a peep sight. I put quotes around the word inlet, because it really isn’t the right term. “Splinter-out” would be more exact, I suppose. My woodwork was approximately the same level of quality that you’d get from a rabid beaver. Pole-climbers leave smoother wood behind them.
Soldering with the starz
I’ll never forget back in the late 1990s when big bore airguns were just starting to be the rage, and the Farco Air Shotgun from the Philippines was the current rage. One “boutique” customizer hopped up his Farco up by switching from CO2 at 853 psi to air at 3,000 psi. But the steel screw that was the safety lug on the gosh-darn bolt kept digging a channel back through the brass receiver when the gun fired. Our “hero” built-up that area with a mound of lead solder. I am not kidding — there was a lump of solder there that was an inch deep!
Think it kept him safe? Well, it’s just about the same as sealing the leaks in your car’s engine block with candle wax. All I remember was that his gun was incredibly loud when it fired and nobody would stand within 20 feet of him when he shot it.
“Sometimes, things break off”
When I was in high school, a friend’s father had a double-barreled shotgun with Damascus-twist barrels. I was reading Guns & Ammo magazine at the time and about every third article had a warning about shooting smokeless ammunition in guns with Damascus-twist barrels. So, when his dad pulled out the shotgun to shoot it one day, I cringed and ducked behind a car. His dad said, “Aw, it’s okay. Sometimes things break off, but I still shoot it.” Sure enough, he shot it once, yelled, “Oww!” and stopped shooting. I heard the metal bounce off the car body, after it sliced through his cheek.
Sometimes the product name, alone, is enough to cause problems. The so-called “drop-free” magazines that some airsoft guns have is one example. The term drop-free was created to describe the type of magazine that is released from a semiautomatic pistol like the Colt M1911A1 when the magazine release catch is pressed. That’s opposed to the type of mag release that’s found on a Makarov or a Ruger Mark II that’s located at the bottom of the mag floorplate and doesn’t allow the mag to clear the gun even after it’s pushed. With that kind of release, you have to actually pull the magazine out of the frame of the gun.
A drop-free magazine will actually drop free of the gun when it’s released, but nobody would actually do that unless they had the base of the magazine protected by a rubber bumper to soften the shock of landing on the ground. IPSC shooters use them on their magazines because they have to reload as fast as possible.
But airsoft shooters who pay $129 for their entire gun do not have the optional rubber bumper on the bottom of each magazine unless they buy them and install them! The fact that the gun they buy has a drop-free magazine design does not mean that they can drop the magazine on the ground. It just means that it follows the drop-free magazine design that the auto pistols have.
Getting the lead out!
How many stories have I heard about airgun repair stations that have removed dozens of pellets from an airgun barrel during a repair job? And AirForce told me they once got a rifle back with jammed pellets and burst firecrackers in the barrel!
Pellets are not croquet balls and airguns are not croquet mallets. You can’t move one out of the barrel by smacking it with another one.
If you think it’s bad for airguns, just try it with firearms sometime! Better yet — don’t! Back when I was a lot younger and less patient, I was fast-firing a .45-caliber Generation II Colt Single Action Army when I had a squibb round. That’s a round without powder where the primer alone drives the bullet up the barrel partway. Without thinking, I thumbed off the next round that did have powder, driving both the first and second bullets out the barrel. It also split the barrel along nearly the entire 7-1/2″ length, with a swelling at the point where the first bullet was stuck.
This is what happens when your trigger finger works faster than your mind. This Colt Gen II SAA barrel is split from the muzzle to the threads. The other bullet did come out, though.
I knew something had gone wrong because the gun recoiled about three times as hard as normal, and my shooting partner caught the ejector housing in his stomach. No real injuries other than pride and wallet, but it was a life lesson whose tuition has just been paid.
I could go on with stories of people who felt the need to refinish a collectible airgun and destroyed its value. Sometimes, it doesn’t hurt — especially if the gun is painted like so many vintage Crosman guns were. But just don’t buff off the blue of a Falke 90 and expect anyone to appreciate your work. Some things are better left as is, unless you are a most careful worker.
This was supposed to be a Friday blog, but my schedule changed at the last minute and bumped it to today. Please feel free to talk about it all weekend anyway.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll test the velocity of the Sam Yang Big Bore .50 caliber Dragon Claw single-shot air rifle. For this test, I used two Air Venturi bullets and a swaged round ball that are available from Pyramyd Air.
The rifle is supplied with a probe-type quick-disconnect fill device, and I can finally report that the Koreans have now conformed with the rest of the world in supplying these adapters with standard threads that attach to common 1/8″ BSP fittings. In the past it was a chore matching these adapters to hoses you might have on hand (if you’re already into PCP airguns).
The No. 1 recommendation I have if you’re buying the Dragon Claw as your first PCP is that you also purchase the Pyramyd Air Quick-Disconnect male fitting and switch out the fill port on your rifle. Then, you can fill from a variety of high-pressure air devices, including the Air Venturi 88 cu ft carbon fiber tank. You’re going to want something that large to keep this monster gun supplied with air.
Let me address the air issue right now. This rifle does use a lot of air. I found that I got four useable shots on high power or eight shots on low power, and each time I did that the gun dropped from 3,000 psi to 1,500 psi for high power and 1,200 psi for low power. This number of shots per fill is fairly good considering the caliber of the rifle, but you’re going to refill it often. Don’t even think of using a hand pump for this rifle!
Shot with open sights
I decided to shoot the velocity test shots with open sights to simplify things at the range, and in so doing I learned that this rifle shoots very low at 50 yards. So low, in fact, that it was impossible to move the point of impact up to the point of aim. That’s good to know, because I’ll want to use a scope mount with some droop correction for the accuracy test.
The rifle actually grouped pretty well with open sights, considering I was shooting three different projectiles at two different power levels for each. Of the approximately 25 shots I fired, about 21 grouped in a hand-sized group. Unfortunately, it was below the target paper, so I’ll leave all accuracy testing to Part 3. But this test did show me a couple things about the gun.
I know why there’s a low-power level
First, you may remember that I was skeptical about using the low-power level. Now I know why it’s useful. With the Air Venturi 200-grain round nose lead bullet, the rifle gave eight good shots on low power — and they all went into that group I mentioned. When I scope the rifle for the accuracy test, this is one power level I’ll definitely try.
On low power, the 200-grain bullet ranged from a low of 562 f.p.s. to a high of 613 f.p.s. The average was 598 f.p.s., which gives us a muzzle energy of 158.85 foot-pounds. That’s for eight shots on low power.
On high power, I got four good shots from all the bullets. The 200-grain bullets ranged from 687 f.p.s down to 610 f.p.s., with an average of 640 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 181.95 foot-pounds. So, I got half the number of shots for a 23 foot-pound gain. It doesn’t seem worth it to me. They did group with the other 200-grain bullets, though.
The 225-grain Air Venturi round nose lead bullets also gave four good shots on high power. They ranged from 652 f.p.s. down to 581 f.p.s., with the average at 614 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 188.4 foot-pounds. That’s not much better than the 200-grain bullets, so I think I’ll stick with the lighter bullets. These bullets also went into the main group with everything else.
On low power, the 225-grain bullets gave eight good shots, ranging from 614 f.p.s down to 521 f.p.s., with the average at 563 f.p.s. That’s an average muzzle energy of 158.4 foot-pounds. They also went into the main group at 50 yards.
It was the Hornady .495-inch round balls that didn’t do so well in this gun. They averaged just 465 f.p.s., so they must fit the bore very loosely. Since the balls weigh only 183 grains, the average energy was just 87.77 foot-pounds. They did not group with the other bullets. They were about six inches lower than the main group, though centered with it.
The Dragon Claw has a heavy trigger. I would estimate that it releases with about 8 lbs. of pull, and there’s considerable creep in the pull. The rifle recoils about like a lightweight .22 Magnum rifle or even a .38 Special fired from a rifle. A friend at the range noticed the recoil when I fired.
The gun cocks by pulling back on the spring-loaded hammer. It’s stiff in a new gun, and it takes a bit of finesse to stop on the low-power setting. The tendency is to haul back as hard as you can, which takes you right to high power.
Observations thus far
The Dragon Claw is a handy big bore that’s got plenty of power and is priced right for the category. It seems to be very good on low power, and I’m looking forward to shooting it with a scope.
Are there .17 caliber firearms?
J-F, one of our Canadian blog readers, asked this question and I thought I’d answer him here. Yes, there are plenty of .17 caliber firearms; though, just like the .22 calibers, they’re not the same size as airguns. In the case of .17 caliber, the firearm bullets are all smaller.
Two very popular .17 caliber firearms these days are the .17 HMR — that’s a .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire necked down to .17 caliber — and the .17 HM2, which is a .22 long rifle necked down. The HMR leads the HM2 in the popularity contest, even though the ammunition is three times more expensive.
I have a .17 HM2 rifle that a friend of mine built for me on a Hungarian single-shot .22 long rifle action. You’ve seen this rifle before, because it’s the same gun I used for testing the Blue Wonder cold bluing process. And, the blue is still beautiful on that barrel, despite my never wiping the gun down and purposely handling the barrel to see if I could get the finish to wear.
The .17 HM2 cartridges are based on the .22 long rifle round.
My .17 HM2 rifle is based on a Hungarian single-shot trainer. I blued the barrel with Blue Wonder cold blue in another report.
I cleaned the barrel just for this report, so naturally I had to shoot several rounds to foul the bore again. A clean barrel almost never shoots to the same point of aim as a slightly dirty one. Once I was satisfied that the rounds had stopped walking, I adjusted the sights and shot a five-shot group at 50 yards. It’s no great group, and several PCPs I’ve tested will beat it hands-down, but it’s in the right place.
Not great but also not terrible for open sights at 50 yards. The .17 HM2 is a nice, inexpensive varmint cartridge.
So, yes, there are .17 caliber firearms, as well as pellet guns. That’s my report for today. Next time, I’ll have a scope on the Dragon Claw, and we’ll see how well she can do.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll begin our look at Sam Yang’s Big Bore .50 caliber Dragon Claw single-shot air rifle (serial number 3526). The rate these new big bores are being made is stunning! I remember when Dennis Quackenbush first offered the Brigand — a .375 caliber roundball shooter that ran on CO2. It was 1996, I believe, and there simply were no other modern big bore air rifles around at the time. Oh, that’s not entirely accurate. There were a few boutique makers producing a handful of guns, many of which were “engineered” so close to the edge of disaster that shooters risked their lives every time they filled them.
History of big bore airguns
Big bore airguns are the oldest type of mechanical airgun, dating back to around the year 1550. There’s an airgun action in the Danish Royal Museum that has the date 1603 engraved on the action, and historians who have examined that piece know there had to be something that pre-dated it because it’s so advanced. Then there are certain written records than make obscure references to someone (Guter?) living in Nuremberg around 1550 who is associated with mechanical airguns.
Big bores remained popular up to World War I, when they promptly died out. They had no doubt been on the wane for many decades before that, and the war simply made people stop doing things that were of little importance. That’s the same time that schuetzen shooting all but died off here in the U.S.
Fast-forward to the early-1990s, and big bores re-emerge in the marketplace. The main big bore airgun in 1990 was the Farco air shotgun, a .51 caliber brass gun (crudely plated with nickel) from the Philippines. It was a smoothbore and it could just barely generate 100 foot-pounds with a heavy load of shot that left the muzzle at under 500 f.p.s. You couldn’t hunt birds with it, because it was too slow. I tried shooting hand-thrown clay pigeons and quit after hearing the shot bounce off them at about 20 yards. But importer Davis Schwesinger filled his gun with higher-pressure air, getting around 1,200 f.p.s. with a .433 roundball in a 20-gauge shot cup, and he managed to kill a very small wild pig down in Florida, which gave birth to the modern big bore airgunning craze.
By 1996, Dennis Quackenbush had already made 10 kit gun versions of the Paul air shotgun and was starting to make his new Brigand. The Brigand was a .375 caliber roundball shooter that originally operated on CO2.
Once Quackenbush was established, other smaller boutique makers like Gary Barnes started producing a few big bores. Gary’s guns eventually were (and still are) very accurate, after he learned how to rifle barrels, but the early smoothbores I tested back in 1998 were barely able to keep their balls on a 4′x4′ cardboard box at 50 yards. But Gary witnessed a father/son team shooting smoothbore big bores they’d made, and their homemade dumbbell-shaped projectiles that were copied from the French Balle Blondeau shotgun slug were reasonably accurate out to 40 yards. Soon thereafter, Barnes began offering his own version of the dumbbell slugs that eventually took his big bores out to 200 yards with game-killing accuracy.
The Asians came to the party in the 1990s with a 9mm and something they called a Big Bore 44, which actually had a bore diameter of 0.457 inches. There haven’t been commercial .457-inch bullets since the 1920s, so go figure what they were thinking. The 9mm was based on the red-hot .25 caliber Fire 201 air shotgun, and it would have been a wonderful entry into big bores except there weren’t many lead bullets around. You see, nobody casts lead bullets for 9mm pistols — they’re all jacketed, which don’t work well in airguns. Some American makers jumped in and started swaging their own 9mm lead bullets, and that finally made these guns shootable. Pyramyd Air now offers swaged 9mm bullets.
The Asians also made several other big bores. One was a 9mm lever-action called the Ultra, which would have been nice except it accepted only very short 9mm bullets through its magazine feeding mechanism. Another was the .50 caliber Career Dragon Slayer that I tested for you years ago. I also made a YouTube video that has gotten a few hits. If you want to see a typical Asian big bore in action you ought to watch it.
Then, of course, there’s Crosman’s own recent entry into big bores, the Benjamin Rogue. It’s a .357 caliber rifle that uses computer control to give the most efficient use from the compressed air onboard.
But in today’s blog, we’re starting a look at Sam Yang’s new Dragon Claw .50 caliber rifle. The specs put it at 230 foot-pounds, which is an increase from what Sam Yang big bores used to be capable of. Naturally, I’ll test that very carefully for you.
Out of the remarkably flimsy cardboard box, the Dragon Claw comes to you with the side-mounted bolt handle detached. That should be the first thing in the owner’s manual, but the Chinglish manual that came with the test gun puts the instructions for this way back toward the back of the manual. Fortunately, Edith rewrote the manual, and you can find it in the Pyramyd Air manual library. Print that manual if you want one to read. However, the current Sam Yang guns come with the new manual.
The Dragon Claw is a .50 caliber, single-shot, precharged pneumatic air rifle. It has a sliding breech for loading the bullets or balls, and in the past I’ve found this to be an ideal type of breech for these big bores, because it doesn’t limit the types of bullets you can load.
The stock and forearm are made from beautiful figured walnut and have several panels of sharp laser-cut checkering on both the pistol grip and the forearm. Most fine air rifle stocks are made in Asia today, and the quality of the workmanship is first class.
The stock is proportioned correctly for an average adult. The forearm is tall, slim and squared at the bottom, and it feels very nice when the rifle is held offhand. A pressure gauge (manometer) is in the bottom of the forearm. It tells you the pressure of the air stored in the reservoir. The gauge is calibrated in something Asian (millinewtons per microhectare?), but it is also color-coded green, yellow and red so you know where to stop filling.
The metal is finished a deep, lustrous black that’s polished as well as an Air Arms rifle. The receiver is made from a non-ferrous metal that’s finished bright and is engraved around the borders.
Overall, the appearance of the Dragon Claw is first class, though the lines run more to a shotgun profile than that of a rifle. While there appear to have been some changes in the finish because the rifle shown on the website is finished with a black receiver, but my test rifle is finished bright, in fact, it’s the way the lighting was set up for the website images so the detail on the receiver wasn’t washed out with a lot of light.
The rifle weighs 7.5 lbs., which makes it a lightweight. There’s going to be some felt recoil. Oh, and the manufacturer has thoughtfully provided a threaded muzzle for those who cannot get arrested by other means. Seriously, if you own a silencer that will screw on to this rifle, it better, by golly, have a $200 tax stamp with it! Don’t even kid about something so basic, because both Joshua Ungier and I have been asked by BATFE to give expert testimony in cases where illegal silencers have been found on big bore airguns. Making one for yourself breaks at least two federal laws.
The sights are first-rate, adjustable open sights that I will simply have to test at the range. Seldom, if ever, do modern big bores have any sights, and these look so inviting that they’ll be tested. I’ll also mount a scope, because I know it will probably increase my accuracy a bit. It will also be interesting to make that comparison.
The rifle has two power levels, which is about as useful as a reading lamp at the beach. Pull the cocking bolt back to the first click and you have low power. One more click, and it’s up on high power.
Low power? Who would ever want, need, or conceive of using low power on a big bore? I guess I’ll have to test it for you just to satisfy some idle curiosity, but believe me, low power on a big bore is like a mower deck on a AA fuel dragster. People don’t buy big bore airguns to shoot them on low power.
As for sophistication, these Asian rifles don’t have a lot. They operate on a very simple slam-fire type of knock-open valve. However, they’re capable of a fair number of shots. If this one comes close to the advertised power level, it’ll be a very capable gun regardless of the level of sophistication.
My muzzleloaders have caused me to lay away many roundballs in different calibers. One of them is the 0.495″ round ball that’s used in a lot of .50 caliber percussion rifles. I plan to try these in the Dragon Claw, as well, just to see if they can be used. Come to think of it, I may have to spend a couple of range sessions with this rifle to test all it has to offer.
What can you do with a big bore airgun?
People ask what can be done with a big bore airgun, like there should be an answer. What can you do with a Tailorcraft tail-dragger airplane or a Ford Model T? You don’t have to DO anything with them, except have them, love them and perhaps use them once in awhile. They don’t have to serve a purpose to exist.
Yes, they can be used to take larger game animals, but I think the attraction is greater than that. Come along and let’s find out together.