Posts Tagged ‘firearms’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
This will be a different Friday blog — I promise you.
First of all — all talk of machining the See All Open Sight sight is off the table. I spoke with the See All creators and learned that the reticle is actually on film — shrunk to the size where the point of the triangle is 0.0002 inches across. That’s two ten-thousandths of an inch, or 0.00508 millimeters! This in in the realm of optics — not mechanical things. So, don’t try to modify the sight.
Second, they told me some folks may need to wear their glasses when using this sight. I haven’t been doing that, so I wore them for this test.
What I thought might happen today
After the last test in Part 4, I thought the sight might work better if it was held farther from my eyes — like it would be when mounted on a pistol. The magnifying optic enlarges the reticle even more the farther away it is, so this sounded like a possible solution to the reticle being indistinct on target. Also, it’s easier to tilt the sight when it’s mounted on a handgun. I’d hoped that would make it easier to align the peak on the end of the triangle. This is what I was thinking when I told some readers I had a better idea of how to test it.
What went wrong with this test?
When I first attempted to test the sight on Tuesday, I mounted it on a Beeman P1 pistol using an 11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter that you cannot buy. I used this base because it has some droop, and I thought I needed that droop to get the shots on paper at 10 meters. What I got, however, was pellets striking the target too low after all the upward adjustment in the sight had been made. The results were so bad that I quit testing the sight and moved to something else. I mentioned that in the introduction to Wednesday’s blog.
While I was resting from this first attempt, it occurred to me that maybe this sight works in the reverse of how I was thinking. It has seemed that way every time I attempted to test it. So, for today’s initial test, I turned the base around so it’s sloping up toward the muzzle. The sight was pointed slightly up in relation to the top of the pistol.
For safety, I began shooting at 12 feet. If the gun was off at that distance, it would still be hitting the pellet trap.
I’d already fired a group of 10 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets at 10 meters with the P1′s open sights. They landed in 0.598 inches, so that was how well I was shooting the gun on this day. I know from experience that the Crosman Premier lite is one of the best pellets in this pistol.
Ten Premier lites went into 0.598 inches at 10 meters with the pistol’s open sights. The P1 can shoot.
It seems I can still shoot my P1. Now, how well can I shoot it with the See All Open Sight mounted? Well, I was right about the droop in the first place. Reversing the mount so it sloped up landed the pellet 12 inches below the aim point at 12 feet! I did need a drooper base after all, and one with the most aggressive slope possible. Fortunately, I had just what I needed, so that base was mounted on the gun and the sight was attached to it.
See the steep slop of the base adapter? It still wasn’t enough to raise the pellet to the point of aim.
With this new steeper-sloped base, the point of impact did rise; but even with the See All sight adjusted as high as it would go, the pellet still struck about 3 inches below the aim point when shooting from 12 feet. And, yes, I did read the adjustment directions as I was adjusting the sight.
I couldn’t get the pellet to strike the point of aim, so on to Plan B. Plan B is where I move the aim point very high and let the pellets impact below. At least that would tell me about the sight’s potential. I used a black dot as an aim point and backed up to 10 meters. When the first shot landed 5 inches below the point of aim, however, the test was over. That is so low that it risks not hitting the entire pellet trap, and that’s a risk I’m not willing to take. Two more inches and the shot goes off the paper.
A 5-inch drop below the aim point was enough to make me stop the test. This is the end of the P1 test.
This test (on the P1) is over
I have tried for two agonizing days to get the See All Open Sight to work on my Beeman P1, and everything has failed to work. I now have more pellet holes in my house (Edith knows about them), and that’s as much damage as I’m willing to do.
I’m not saying the See All Open Sight doesn’t work. There are too many reports that it does work — including one from our blog reader GunFun1. But I’ve done everything in my power to get it to work for me, and you’ve seen the results. My shooting buddy Otho has done the same. He did get better results than I did, but even he wasn’t satisfied with what he got.
I’m going to set the sight aside and just think about it for awhile. If I were testing this item for Pyramyd Air, my recommendation would be “don’t buy” right now. That’s not saying I won’t find a gun it works on; but, for now, I’m pretty burnt out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The suggestion for this report came from blog readers ricka and Terd Ferguson, who both expressed concerns over the safety of precharged airguns. That’s safety…as in wondering if one can blow up!
It’s been a long time since I felt those same concerns, but I did at one time. Before I got my first PCP in 1995, I was quite concerned about keeping a scuba tank filled to 3,000 psi in my house. I’d seen the movie Jaws and was suitably impressed when the shark was blown up by a scuba tank at the end. So, these two readers are probably expressing the same concerns that hundreds of you share. I’d like to address those concerns in what I hope will be a straightforward series of reports that are easy to understand.
Do firearms blow up?
Veteran readers of this blog know the answer to that. Firearms do blow up, and I’ve shared at least one such personal story with you — my Nelson Lewis combination gun. I overloaded it and blew the percussion cap nipple out of the barrel! You can read that report here. In retrospect, it was my fault, so we can call that experience a stupident.
I’ve been involved in two other firearm blowups. One was caused by a rim failure in a .17 HM2 rimfire cartridge, and I’ve since come to find that this cartridge is known for that weakness. When it happened to me, shards of hot brass blew out the ejection port of the 10/22 clone I was testing for Shotgun News. One piece of brass cut my right arm and drew some blood; but aside from that and a lot of extra noise and smoke, no other damage was done. That event was out of my control, so it was an accident.
The other blowup was caused by a squibb round (one without gunpowder that drives the bullet into the barrel but not out again) in a Colt SAA revolver. I was firing very fast; and when the squibb happened, I was unable to stop before I thumbed off the next round. The revolver’s barrel was split lengthways when the second bullet hit the first one halfway down the barrel. That wasn’t an accident — it was a stupident.
Shooting a round into a bullet that was already lodged in the barrel burst this 7-1/2 inch Colt SAA barrel. The bullet was struck where the ejector housing screw was.
Do precharged airguns ever blow up?
Yes, they do. The causes are as random as they are with firearms, and the results range from sudden surprises all the way to death. The blog readers are entitled to a frank discussion of the kinds of accidents that can happen with precharged guns, and that’s what I’m about to give you.
When I bought my first precharged rifle—a Daystate Huntsman—and a brand new 80 cubic-foot aluminum scuba tank, I was properly awed. No, make that frightened. It was not unlike setting off my first charge of TNT in the Army! I respected the power potential of both that dive tank and the airgun I was filling.
Like any new thing, though, this awe and respect lasted only as long as it took me to become comfortable with the technology. If you do something enough times, the edge of respect starts to wear off—I don’t care what it is. It isn’t good when this occurs, but it’s human nature. Familiarity breeds contempt.
And then it happened. My gun blew up! Okay, it wasn’t actually the rifle; it was the hose that connected the rifle to the scuba tank. And to be honest, it didn’t really blow up. The soft wall of the rubber hose ruptured, violently releasing compressed air. The tear in the hose wall was about one inch long, and the warning signs were there before it happened. The hose had developed a noticeable bulge at the point the blowout occurred. That should have told me that the reinforced fabric liner under the outside rubber was failing, but like I said—familiarity breeds contempt. And I didn’t want to stop shooting my airgun. I took a risk and the explosion happened.
I was standing in my basement when the hose blew. The noise sounded like a concussion grenade, although I’m quite sure it was nowhere near as loud or forceful. The blast loosened a storm of dust from the floor joists above my head; and my wife, whose office was right above me, jumped out of her seat.
The net result was no injury to me, beyond a bruised ego, and no physical damage to anything other than the now-ruined hose. I was momentarily stunned, and it took about 15 seconds before I regained my bearings, because Edith had already gotten to the basement before I turned off the tank’s air flow.
I shared my experience with other airgunners who were more acquainted with precharged airguns and was told I had been lucky the hose hadn’t broken off completely, whipping me violently before I could turn off the scuba tank’s valve. That was when I discovered that nearly everyone who uses precharged airguns has either had an incident like this happen to them or knows someone who’d had one.
Can this be avoided?
Can this kind of incident be avoided? Absolutely! There are several things you can do to keep this from happening. First, if you use microbore air hoses, the likelihood of blowouts is reduced — not eliminated, just reduced. Microbore hoses carry the same internal air pressure as regular hoses, but the surface against which the air presses is so much smaller that it reduces the amount of stress on the hose material. However, most microbore hoses are stiff and will eventually soften at the point at which they are bent. That’s usually up near the tank, where they come out of the tank’s air valve. You still have to watch for that, because when they soften, they also weaken at the same spot. The hose I have linked to in this report has springs on both ends to prevent this bending to a large extent — but you still have to look for it.
Another safety measure is to use a hose that has a braided steel sheath on the outside. This sheath keeps the rubber that’s underneath from expanding and blowing out. The hose that blew out on me was an early rubber Daystate hose that had just a 3,000 psi rating. It was rated for nearly the same pressure it worked at (2,500 psi), which isn’t good. The hoses with braided steel sheaths are rated much higher.
The stainless steel wire braiding on this air hose will prevent it from blowing out.
The most important safety measure is you! Examine your fill equipment every time you use it; and if you spot something like I did, you stop right away.
Another type of stupident
If you fail to fully connect the two halves of the Foster quick-disconnect coupling during a fill, the air pressure will disconnect it for you! It will be accompanied by a small explosion and often by the violent whipping of the air hose. Here’s another place where a microbore hose protects you because it doesn’t whip as much, plus it’s smaller, so it doesn’t hurt as much when you get hit. But the best thing is to never get hit at all. When you make the connection, listen for the click of the knurled ring on the larger female fitting as it snaps into position. That indicates that all the ball bearings inside the coupling are now safely inside the groove of the male fitting.
This female Foster fitting (left) has a spring-loaded collar that pulls back to allow the ball bearings to move outward. They go around the flat spot on the male fitting on the right, then the spring pushes them into the groove. They will hold the two fittings together under pressure, but only when the ball bearings are in the groove. It’s important to hear the two parts click together.
That is as far as I will go in this report. I know how important this information is for many of you, so I promise to come back to this quickly for part 2.
For now, however, I want to leave you with this thought. I’m being honest with you about the potential dangers that are present whenever precharged airguns are used. You have to keep an open mind about this because the things I’m presenting are not that common. They do happen and most of them can be prevented by the means and methods that we’ll discuss.
Operating a precharged airgun is no more dangerous than having a gas-fired hot water heater in your house or operating a lawn mower. There are things to be aware of; and if you follow the rules, no harm should come your way.
In 2009, I gave Pyramyd Air two articles about the basics of precharged pneumatics:
While I put a lot into both articles, there will be new things in this series of blog reports.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Got a lot to cover today, so let’s get to it.
First up is the Daisy Manufacturing Company, now called Daisy Outdoor Products. Daisy is best-known for the BB guns they make, but did you know they also made firearms? That’s correct. In fact, Daisy made 3 different lines of .22 rimfire rifles — though one of them is only a rimfire by common categorization. That would be the Daisy V/L. V/L stands for Van Langenhoven, the last name of the man who invented the caseless cartridge technology Daisy used to make this gun. I’ve covered this before when I wrote about the new Daisy book published in 2012.
Although it’s commonly classified with .22 rimfire rifles, the caseless round does not even have a rim. There’s no priming compound in this cartridge. This caseless cartridge was made from a material that combusts when heated rapidly by the compressed air of a spring-piston air rifle. So, the Daisy V/L is, in fact, an underlever spring-piston air rifle that just happens to shoot caseless .22 rounds. Daisy made their V/L rifle in the late 1960s (1968 & ’69).
Daisy also made a line of bolt-action rifles called the Legacy line in the 1980s and ’90s. These rifles have weird diecast and steel receivers mounted in both plastic and wood stocks. But they’re not the guns I want to discuss today.
I have handled both the Legacy and V/L rifles, but I don’t know much about them. What I do know something about is a Daisy rimfire that is even less well-known than either of these.
Daisy model 8
In 1988 and ’89, Daisy produced an economical .22 rimfire single-shot rifle for Wal-Mart. They were supposed to have built 30,000 rifles, but the contract was either terminated or somehow not completed; and the actual number of rifles made is something less. The Blue Book of Gun Values says they made 30,000 of them, but Joe Murfin of Daisy told me about the problem with Wal-Mart and said they didn’t make that many. Something on the left side of the barrel has been machined off. This is on every model 8 I’ve seen.
All the Daisy model 8 rifles I’ve seen (about 10) have had this area of the barrel machined off. Something was stamped there.
This rifle is small. If you know what a Crickett rifle is, this one is just slightly larger. If you don’t know what a Crickett is, the Daisy rifle has an overall length of just 32-1/4 inches and a weight of 3 lbs., 1 oz. In other words, it’s tiny!
It has a painted action and barrel in a hollow plastic stock. The overall impression is — this gun is cheap.
Daisy rear sight looks a lot like an airgun sight. It adjusts for windage and elevation.
Do you think that airgun companies are loaded with engineers wearing white lab coats? The Daisy model 8 looks more like something that was designed in high school shop class when the teacher was out on his smoke break. The designer is someone you all know — the kid without the eyebrows. The one who couldn’t hear out of his left ear. Later on in life, he was known as Stumpy; and before he turned 25, he disappeared completely.
What I’m saying is that this is a bolt-action rifle that’s designed with screen-door-latch technology. It began as an exercise to see how cheaply we could make it, and that was followed by two rounds of cost-cutting before corporate council pulled the plug for liability reasons.
Model 8 bolt handle looks like common hardware! The receiver is a diecast part with a steel tube pressed in for strength.
Daisy model 8 (below) is just a little larger than a Crickett.
And I have one! Are they rare? I don’t know. Are they scarce? Most assuredly! Have some of them been lost over time? Almost a given! Are they worth anything? Not very much. This is not an heirloom gun — it’s a hair-brained gun!
I bought one just because of what it is. I also bought the Crickett to serve a basis for comparison. Both are small, but one (the Crickett) is designed by gunmakers, while the other (the Daisy model 8) looks like it was designed by McGuyver while he was in the throws of an acid flashback.
Yes, I have shot this rifle. No, it doesn’t shoot very well. In fact, it misfires about 25 percent of the time, which I attribute to a weak firing pin spring. Accuracy is on the order of 3-4 inches at 25 yards — so far. Maybe I haven’t found the right ammo, yet — ha, ha.
I said I bought the Crickett for comparison. I’m just throwing it in here because many more shooters are familiar with it than with the Daisy. Much of its design is similar to the Daisy model 8; but at every turn, you can see where its design exceeds the Daisy. I guess I would say the Crickett is just a small firearm, while the Daisy is more of a small example of what not to do.
In sharp contrast to the Daisy, the Crickett bolt looks like a firearm bolt and the receiver is all steel. They even put a peep sight at the rear! Didn’t cost that much, but this is what designers can do.
I’ve also shot the Crickett, and it’s 100 percent reliable. While it’s no tackdriver, it will put its shots into 1.5 inches at 25 yards — and sometimes the groups are even smaller. In my estimation, the Crickett is a small, inexpensive firearm, while the Daisy model 8 is a cheap rimfire wannabe. Having said all that — who have I insulted? I sure hope your favorite .22 is not a Daisy model 8!
The point of this look is to see what an airgun manufacturer will turn out when they make a firearm. But maybe this Daisy model isn’t a fair representation because Daisy built this for their customer. Let’s look at another rimfire rifle that was made by a different airgun manufacturer, and this time they made it for themselves.
The Falke single-shot
Yes — that Falke. The same people who made the super-rare and interesting Falke model 80 and 90 underlevers and also the Falke models 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 breakbarrel spring rifles. We looked at a Falke model 70.
Compared to the Daisy model 8 (top), the Falke single-shot is a full-sized rifle.
This rifle is a confusing firearm. On the one hand, the walnut stock is shaped nicely and hand checkered, the metal polish and bluing is even and deep, and the action is cheap and stiff to operate. What should be the simplest of all actions — a single-shot — is machined very well, yet it functions like it’s been rusting in the corner for decades.
Falke was one of those “anything for a buck” companies that arose in Germany after the war. I’m sure they would have disagreed with that assessment, but the fact is they had no plan of succession; and when the founder got sick in the late ’50s, the company folded.
Where have we seen this logo before?
They made at least 2 firearms. This bolt-action rifle is one, and I’ve also seen a stylized Remington double derringer in .22 rimfire.
I bought this rifle because it’s a Falke and because it looked so nice on the internet. When I received it, I found it to be even nicer than the photos portrayed. But the action is stiff and clunky! I never would have bought it if I’d tried it first. However, I believe I can correct most of this with some careful gunsmithing.
The rifle is full-sized at 40-3/4 inches overall, with a 23-inch barrel. The pull length is 13-1/2 inches. The barrel is nicely rifled, and the gun appears to be in 90 percent condition. The wood has been sanded, which is the only detractor from the overall appearance.
The front sight is a common post with a bead, but the rear sight has the same quirky elevation adjustment that we saw on the Falke model 70 air rifle! With luck, this rifle will shoot.
We saw a rear sight just like this on the Falke model 70 air rifle.
This is a bolt-action single-shot. It has a separate cocking piece that will cock the rifle by itself (without the bolt being operated), but right now the sear is under too much tension and the cocking piece cannot be pulled back all the way. The bolt cocks the action on closing.
Again — so what?
I’ve shown you 2 firearms that were made by 2 different airgun makers. My plan is to shoot both of them and come back to you with the results in the next report. I’ll do that as the rifles stand right now, but the Daisy really does need a stronger firing pin spring, and the Falke needs its action smoothed a lot.
Why am I doing this? Perhaps, to show the contrast of firearms and airguns made by the same maker. I think we have that in both these cases.
I know several of you readers probably own Daisy Legacy rimfire rifles, and I would like to hear what you think of them. If any of you own a Daisy model 8, you have both my apologies and my sympathy. And if anyone ownes a Falke firearm, I sure would like to hear about it!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The See All Open Sight is revolutionary!
Today, we’ll test the See All Open Sight on a firearm! Last week, my shooting buddy Otho brought his Thompson Center Contender rifle to the range. It’s chambered in .17 HM2, a chambering and conversion he did himself.
With a scope mounted, this rifle will shoot about a one-inch group at 50 yards. He mounted the See All on it and proceeded to shoot groups.
At first, he wasn’t able to adjust the sight. That was tracked down to the sight being loose. That mounting system they use is really marginal — not just for spring-piston guns but for firearms, as well.
The base clamp of the sight relies on 2 screws that run down to push the jaws of the sight up against the Weaver or Picatinny dovetails. Those screws are seen on the upper left of the base.
But that problem was solved, and the test proceeded. Sight-in went quickly once the sight was stable. Otho discovered, as I did, that it takes only a very little movement of the adjustment screws to move the strike of the round. Despite there being marks on the sight, they aren’t helpful when adjusting. You have to just look at the position of the Allen wrench leg and go by that.
Once the See All sight was tight on the rifle, Otho was able to adjust it pretty quickly.
He shot 2 10-shot groups at 50 yards. While I didn’t measure them, the first one may be the best. It appears to be about a 2.50-inch group, with 9 shots in 1.25 to 1.40 inches.
I never saw this horizontal adjustment graphic until I took this picture. This is enlarged and enhanced.
The vertical adjustment marks are still nearly invisible, despite enlargement and sharpening.
Otho’s first group was the best. Ten shots went into about 2.5-inches, with 9 of them going into about half that size. An American quarter is just under one inch in diameter.
Otho complained that he wasn’t able to put the point of the triangle on the bottom of the target. The black line and green material above the tip of the triangle made it necessary for him to guess where the tip was located. He would like to see the material removed down to the tip of the triangle for greater precision while aiming.
The material above the point of the triangle, plus the horizontal black line, make it difficult to position the tip of the reticle precisely.
His second group is about the same size as the first, but more scattered. Look at how tight it is from side to side. It’s clear there is an aiming problem in the vertical direction but not in the horizontal.
This second group shot by Otho is about the same size as the first, but this one’s strung out more vertically. Yes, there are 10 shots here.
By the time he was done with the second 10 shots, he was finished. Guessing where the tip of the reticle was has taxed him. So, he turned over the rifle to me.
This is the first time I’d shot this rifle, so I was unfamiliar with it. But it has a fairly crisp trigger, and I didn’t have any problems shooting it.
As you can see, I had even more difficulty than Otho with the vertical component. Seven of my shots landed in 1.427 inches at 50 yards, but the 10-shot group measures 4.433 inches between centers. I had a very hard time seeing where the tip of the triangle’s located relative to the target.
My group is very vertical, measuring 4.433 inches between centers. But as you can see, I got 7 of them into 1.427 inches, which isn’t bad.
Otho brought up the point that the See All sight might not be ideal for shooting targets, but then he figured that the black bullseye was still giving the most exact aiming point possible. If the sight has trouble with vertical placement on a bullseye target, it will be much harder to control against a gray animal.
Please note that Otho is wearing glasses when he shoots. He has to wear them even when shooting with a scope, so the See All did magnify the reticle for him, as we’d hoped. He and I both believe this sight has something very unique to offer.
He wants to try the sight again on animal silhouettes. I have some nice Shoot-N-C animal targets he can try it on. That should give us the information we want.
Otho is also thinking of shaving off the top of the green plastic, to put the tip of the triangle at the top of the reticle. He wants to remove the horizontal black line, which I agree is distracting.
He also finds the green on either side of the triangle difficult to work with. He wishes it wasn’t there. I don’t have a problem with it myself.
Neither Otho nor I know if modifying the sight is the right move or not. The black line tells the shooter where the tip of the triangle is. But it’s so difficult to get the tip on the target where you want it. I think the See All folks must have tried several iterations of this already, and I am not convinced removing the top of the green is a good idea. When you look through the sight without a target to focus, the tip of the triangle is easy to find. It’s only when you aim against a specific spot that it becomes more difficult.
I’ll be shooting the See All next on my Beeman P1 pistol.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Kevin asked me this question recently, and I embraced it because I usually don’t even have time to think about which airgun I would prefer to shoot. There’s always another blog, a feature article and 5 other deadlines pressing on my time…so thinking like this is not a luxury. It’s a fantasy! Then, Kevin asked this question and “forced” me to stop and think about it for today’s report. Ahh! Happy Friday!
The first gun that pops into my head when I ask this question is the Diana model 27 rifle. It’s just such a simple, uncomplicated airgun that I guess it serves as my happy place. But as I think about it, other guns pop up. The Air Venturi Bronco, the Falke model 70, the Diana model 25 are 3 more that come to mind immediately. They all share the model 27′s chief attribute — ease of operation. In short, they’re all fun airguns.
Diana’s model 27 breakbarrel is so light, smooth and easy to operate that it epitomizes everything that’s good about airgunning in my eyes.
Falke model 70 is another vintage breakbarrel that’s light and smooth like the Diana 27.
To take the fantasy a little farther, have these guns always been the ones that do that, or have there been others? Yes! There have been others!
My straight-grip Webley Senior pistol is exactly like the Diana 27 in this respect. It’s small and easy to operate. I still own this pistol, although there’s seldom any time to actually shoot it. But it’s right there in the drawer where I can put my hands on it whenever I want. I guess that’s good enough. I guess it will have to be.
I’ve owned this straight-grip Webley Senior since the early 1970s. It’s easy to cock, has a nice trigger and is fun to shoot. Not terribly accurate, but it’s one of those rare guns I let slip by because everything else works so well.
When I think a little longer and harder, my Beeman R8 pops into view. It comes in later because it has a scope, and scopes do complicate things. So do target sights, but my Walther LGV Olympia 10-meter target rifle now comes to light. And with it comes the new .22-caliber LGV. The target rifle took longer to pop up because it’s a heavy gun. The .22 took longer because of its power. When I want to play, power is the farthest thing from my mind.
Kevin didn’t ask me what my favorite firearms were; but since this is Friday, I’ll take a little license and include them, as well. Right now, my new PO8 Luger is a favorite because it’s accurate, recoils very little and it eats my handloads like they were candy! And when I think of that gun, I cannot overlook my Ruger Single-Six in .32 H&R Magnum. It has great power and almost no recoil. For cutting out the center of a bullseye, that little Ruger wheelgun is a dream.
The Ruger Single Six is chambered for the .32 H&R Magnum. It’s light, yet very powerful and will out-penetrate a .357 Magnum on a steel target. The 1917 Luger is such a smooth shooter that it’s like eating peanuts — I can’t stop! Both guns are very accurate.
Then, I think of my O3A3 Springfield. It’s one of the few military rifles that gives me an honest sub 2-inch group at 100 yards. If it didn’t recoil so much, I’m sure it would have popped up even sooner.
This O3A3 Springfield will smack you with recoil when you’re shooting full-house loads. The short stock gives it a running start at your shoulder. But the accuracy is stunning!
My M1 Carbine is also a favorite — not for its accuracy, which is just average — but for the fact that it drops the empty cases on top of the shooting bench! Most autoloaders throw their cases a country mile, but this little sweetie piles them up for me. With more training, I’m sure I can get it to put them back in the box!
My M1 Carbine is well-behaved. Next, I’m going to teach it to put the fired cases back into the box!
Guns I wish I still had
Now comes the Great Lament — the ones that got away! I had a Bernardelli Baby in .25 ACP that would put 3 shots into the bottom of a soda can offhand at 30 feet. Most .25s are lucky to hit dinner plates at that distance, but this little pistol was a good one. I let it get away. I recently bought another Bernardelli Baby in the hopes of doing the same thing. Alas, this one is a dinner-plate special.
Ruger .44 Magnum Blackhawk with 10-inch barrel
They’re very collectible now; but when I had my 3-screw Ruger Blackhawk, they were just good guns. I was too stupid to know that the one I had was an exceptional shooter. I figured I could always get another one.
Custom .458 Winchester Magnum
I have written about this rifle many times. I shot it with a 550-grain cast lead bullet, and it would put 10 shots into less than 2 inches (outside measurement) at 100 yards. It was like owning a target-grade 45/70. Stupid me — I thought I would always be able to find another one just as good. Haven’t yet!
What kind of shooting do I like to do?
I’m pretty easy to please. I like whatever kind of shooting I happen to be doing at the time — usually. The things I hate are magnum spring rifles that buzz like bottles of hornets, slap me in the face and have no accuracy. I also disdain black rifles that can’t group in less than 3 inches at 100 yards. In fact, I dislike almost anything that isn’t accurate.
I enjoy shooting a .45 Colt Single Action Army with accurate loads and feeling the plow-grip roll in my hand during recoil. I like shooting a nice 1911 and feeling the slight burp of recoil when I hold my thumb over the manual safety. I shot a Walther P38 recently that had a nice trigger and is very accurate. My experiences with P38s aren’t that good, but this one was memorable. I could burn up a lot of 9mm ammo in that one.
When I came home from the hospital several years ago, I received this Single Action Army as a gift from the readers of this blog. It is a favorite of mine because it mimics the feel of a Gen 1 Colt perfectly!
Same for the PO8 I got for Christmas. The ergonomics are legendary and the trigger is extremely good for a Luger (their trigger linkages usually make for poor triggers). My handloads are moderate enough that I can shoot this pistol for the rest of my life and not put any wear on it!
I enjoy holding a 10 with a target air pistol and seeing the pellet hit the pinwheel. I love seeing 10 shots from an accurate rifle sail through the same hole at 100 yards, knowing the hole they made is smaller than half an inch. I love shooting 5 shots from a 10-meter rifle and seeing a group smaller than a tenth of an inch.
Holding a 10 with a pistol is very enjoyable!
I love shooting my Daisy Avanti Champion 499 offhand and making quarter-inch groups. My shooting buddy Otho bought one for himself this past December and has been doing the same thing ever since.
I enjoy shooting a Garand and hearing the shot go off but not feeling the recoil. I know it’s there, but the push is so slow that it doesn’t seem to count. The same holds true for my .357 Magnum Desert Eagle. It’s got enough power to drop a steer, but the soft recoil feels like a 1911 shooting +P ammo.
Best of all
But the thing I like above all is when I solve some problem of inaccuracy and turn a bad gun into a real shooter. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but from time to time I do hit one out of the park. I’m hoping to do that with my Ballard someday. And maybe my Meteor, as well.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a little different, but I hope it will be informative as well as eye-opening. I plan to address several topics, but the principal theme is that not everyone understands the technology of shooting. Not even the majority!
What brought this out was a casual remark made to Edith and me at the SHOT Show a few weeks ago. We were in a gun manufacturer’s booth being shown their products and the salesman remarked that the rifle we were looking at was a single shot. I asked him how that could be since he had just shown us the rifle’s magazine.
He replied, “Well, it fires only one shot every time the bolt is worked and the trigger is pulled.” Oh, my gosh! I informed him that a rifle that has a bolt to feed ammunition from a magazine is most definitely NOT a single shot. It is what is known as a repeater.
Edith then launched in on the definition of a true single shot, using an 1874 Sharps falling block breechloader as her example — a Quigley-type rifle. I think the salesman felt the Sharps was not able to be categorized! In other words, a design so archaic as to almost defy description in modern terms.
In the salesman’s eyes, if the gun fired once when the trigger was pulled and the shooter had to do something before pulling the trigger again, it was a single shot. That begs the question of what constitutes a repeater? In the salesman’s own words, “Repeaters are guns that continue to fire each time the trigger is pulled.” To my way of thinking that could either be a double-action revolver or pistol, or a semiautomatic anything. But I guess the salesman hadn’t thought about it that much. He did tell us that the rifle in question was called a single shot in the owner’s manual that his company had just produced!
When I told Edith I was writing this blog, she told me this is a common theme in customer reviews submitted to Pyramyd Air’s website. In fact, just recently a customer submitted feedback to Pyramyd Air that he found an error on a product page, where a gun was listed as a repeater when it was really a single-shot. Apparently, some people think semiauto = repeater and don’t realize a gun can be a repeater without being semiauto.
I recently read where a gun writer described a certain revolver as having a single-action trigger because, again using his words, “…the gun fires every time the trigger is pulled. It only takes a single action to fire the gun.” Ooops! Good guess, but wrong!
A single-action gun is one where the trigger performs only a single action — releasing the sear. A double-action gun is one in which the trigger not only releases the sear, but also cocks the hammer and advances the gun’s mechanism to a fresh cartridge — two actions. Cocking and releasing the hammer (1) and loading another cartridge (2). Double-action. Get it?
Yes, they cry, but what about an M1911A1 pistol? The trigger fires the gun each time it’s pulled, and you don’t need to do anything else. Yet, it’s called a single-action. Why?
To answer that question, pick up a loaded M1911A1 that has a cartridge in its chamber. With the hammer down (i.e., not cocked) you can squeeze the trigger all day and the gun will never fire. The hammer has to be cocked first.
When an M1911A1 fires, the slide is driven back by the recoil of the exploding cartridge. As it passes over the hammer, it rocks it back to the cocked position, where the sear catches and holds it. So, it’s the action of the slide and not the action of the trigger that cocks the gun.
I have a Micro Desert Eagle pistol whose hammer doesn’t remain back in the cocked position when it fires. The slide does push it back, just like the M1911A1 slide, but my pistol is designed so the sear doesn’t catch the hammer. It follows the slide when it goes forward again. You have to cock the hammer by pulling the trigger each time you want to fire the pistol. It makes the trigger harder to pull, which makes the pistol safer to carry in your pocket. My pistol is called — get this — a double-action-only (DAO) pistol.
This Micro Desert Eagle is double-action-only for safety while carrying.
Single-action mechanisms have much lighter and crisper triggers than double-action mechanisms. I use the term “mechanism” (or action) because some air rifles are also double-action-only — like the Crosman 1077. Each pull of the trigger both cocks (and releases) the hammer and advances the clip to the next pellet. That explains why those guns have such long, heavy trigger pulls, where single-action guns like the M1911A1 have very light and extremely crisp pulls.
Incidentaly, the description on the Pyramyd Air website says the 1077 has a semiautomatic action. They do that because Crosman says it, and they want to conform to what the manufacturer is saying about their guns. But the truth is that it takes the action of pulling the trigger to cock the hammer and advance the rotary clip, and that makes it a double-action mechanism, by definition.
I’m sure there are people who think I’m a lecturing old dotard for insisting on the accurate use of definitions and terms this way. Well, those people never read 1984, or if they did, they missed the point of the novel. If you take away the precision of language, you dumb down the population until people no longer have the words to express complex thoughts. Every young person who calls me “dude” or “man” or even “brother-man” is doing this without knowing it.
There’s a line in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which Captain Kirk asks Spock if they can’t just mimic the sounds the alien probe is sending to earth that are ionizing the atmosphere so it sounds like the whales that have gone extinct. Spock replies, “We can imitate the sounds, but we would be responding in jibberish.” That’s exactly what some gun dealers, writers and even manufacturers sound like to me when they bend definitions and even invent new ones to describe things they know nothing about!
Calling loaded cartridges “bullets,” then discovering there is now no name for what comes out of the “bullets,” they label them “bullet tips” “bullet heads” and “bullet noses.” Calling pellet rifles “BB guns” and calling BB guns “rifles” simply extends the abuse.
When I write, I’m explaining things to people who aren’t familiar with the terminology or the technology. If I get sloppy, how many people will be confused? Lord knows, I’m sloppy enough without meaning to be. I at least have to try to be precise.
A second danger with language is to substitute emotion-charged terms for the correct terms. The nightly news is a stunning example of this. If police break into a home and find 5 rifles and 100 rounds of ammo in a closet, how they describe that find on the news depends on who’s doing the talking. On the NBS Nightly News, it’s an arsenal. On CNN, it’s a weapons cache. And on Fox News, it’s a gun collection.
The terms and definitions do matter. They matter a lot, as it turns out.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I was getting ready to go to the range yesterday to shoot several airguns for this blog. When I go to the range, I usually try to take a couple of firearms along, just to justify the time and inconvenience of loading the truck and driving all the way out there. The range doesn’t cost anything, but the time spent getting there, setting up and getting back home again seems like an expense.
Anyway, I decided to take my Desert Eagle .357 Magnum pistol along this time, to find a good long-range cartridge for it. Up to this point, I’ve just function-fired the gun for a couple hundred shots or so at shorter distances because I read on the internet that this gun is unreliable with lighter bullets. Well, I’ve shot only 125-grain bullets that are considered light for a .357 Magnum, and to date the gun has never malfunctioned once. So, that much of what I read turned out not to be true!
Monday morning, I’m was online looking for some good accurate loads, and this is what I found:
“I don’t own a Desert Eagle .357, but I have read that they are unreliable boat-anchors. They are way too heavy and they recoil too hard! I don’t need that. They also cost three times as much as my Taurus wheelgun. Why would I spend that kind of money, just to have a gun that jams?”
So, you DON’T own a Desert Eagle? Then why are you commenting on its performance? I’m all for open discussions; but when you don’t have any experience, why not just say what you’ve heard and ask whether or not it’s true?
I DO own a .357 Magnum Desert Eagle and here are the facts. They DON’T kick very hard. They feel about like a 1911 pistol shooting Plus P ammo when they shoot full-house .357 loads. And they DON’T malfunction! At least mine has never failed to feed — ever! They ARE heavy, but I don’t find it debilitating to carry a 5-lb. pistol from my truck to the firing line — a distance of about 20 feet.
Then, I found another website with guy who lists all the factory ammo brands that don’t work well in his Desert Eagle. Excuse me, but who said anything about shooting factory ammo? I reload! Why would I care if one brand that does function costs more than another brand that has feeding failures? I’m going to make up loads for my gun that ALL WORK. Who buys an expensive handgun like a Desert Eagle and then shops in discount stores for the cheapest ammo? That’s like going to a 5-star restaurant and looking for their dollar menu. If you want to save money so bad, cut a slot in your head and become a bank.
Finally I find the worst one of all. I swear I am not making this up:
“When I shoot targets, I shoot Winchester White Box (a type of commercial ammo) in my DE. It’s the cheapest stuff I can find locally. I used to shoot some Lapua imported stuff that was really accurate, but it cost a lot more than the U.S. stuff. I can’t tell you how accurate any of this is, but most of the really hot stuff cycles the action fine.”
Is the last writer shooting his gun just to hear the sound? Is it News Year’s Eve and this is his noisemaker? What is he doing? He says he shoots targets, but he can’t tell me how accurate any of the ammo is. Is he closing his eyes when he shoots? Does he just shoot at the targets and then never looks to see if he hits them?
Applying this to airguns
I know what this guy is really trying to say, but he can’t find the words. He’s saying that he uses his Desert Eagle as a bragging-rights gun, and he doesn’t care how accurate it is. He doesn’t shoot it to hit things — he wants to be seen shooting it and to be able to tell his buddies that he shoots a Desert Eagle.
I’ve seen enough guys like this at the range to know what I’m talking about. A couple weeks ago, a man at my range was warning everybody on the line that he was about to shoot a .300 Winchester Magnum, and everyone should be careful of the blast! When he shot his rifle, it was anticlimactic because the guy next to me had been shooting a 7mm Remington Magnum for the previous hour that made just as much noise. But Mister Win Mag wanted to be noticed, and he needed to draw attention to the fact that his rifle was a tactical nuclear weapon!
And this is how it applies to airguns. These same folks buy those 1,600 f.p.s. breakbarrel cannons and shoot ultralight lead-free pellets in them. If they do shoot at anything specific, they aren’t paper targets — they’re probably metal plates. Then, they can determine how much mild steel their pellet gun is able to penetrate, and at what distance.
Everything they do is a weird science experiment. They’re the ones who wind up on You Tube with blood pouring out of their ears while their friends laugh maniacally in the background.
That’s not airgunning! That’s being back in the fourth grade and trying to light…well, you know what I mean. And if you don’t, you’re probably still doing it. And you aren’t reading this blog, either, because people like that don’t read much of anything longer than the label on a beer can or a juicy tweet on Twitter.
I shoot airguns to augment my shooting experience. And the point of that experience is to maintain and perhaps improve my shooting skills. Small groups are important to me, but so is standing on my feet and shooting the center of a target offhand — as I have done in front of witnesses several times.
I’m in this game to place my shots where I call them, or to know that I haven’t whenever something goes wrong. I’m in this partly to keep my shooting skills sharp and partly to find guns and pellets that can shoot better than I can.
And that’s what’s behind all my reviews. Sure, I like a nice trigger; but without accuracy, a good trigger is like a rusted-out car that has a deep, resonating tone coming from the tailpipe. HEY — I once owned a VW bug with a stinger exhaust that was just like that! It sounded like an expensive sports car and ran like a model A Ford delivery truck.
So, manufacturers, I am warning you here and now — send me your guns and you can expect me to shoot them for accuracy first, and all other things second. I will use every trick I know to make your guns shoot well…and with luck, they will. But if they don’t after I’ve exhausted all attempts to the best of my ability, you can expect me to tell everyone about how it really performed.
So, send me your mega-magnums. Just make sure they’re also accurate. Send me your gilt-edged light sabers, but expect me to turn them on and attempt to use them. I can put up with a lot of things when I shoot, but missing the target because my gun is throwing curveballs isn’t one of them.
The lesson of the wise barber
The wise barber said you can cut a man’s hair every month, but you can only scalp him once. Marketing departments and airgun manufacturers need to internalize this wisdom because putting a bone-jarring air rifle into a customer’s hands may be the ticket to losing him forever. On the other hand, give him a gun so good he’ll want more, and you have created a loyal customer. His business won’t just be worth the $300 he spends today, but tens of thousands of dollars that he’ll spend with you over the next 40 years as he enjoys his hobby.