Posts Tagged ‘Gamo PBA Platinum pellets’

Walther’s new LGV Challenger breakbarrel spring air rifle: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Walther LGV breakbarrel air rifle
Walther’s LGV Challenger is an exciting new sporting breakbarrel springer.

Today, I get to play with this wonderful new .22-caliber breakbarrel Walther LGV Challenger, and the experience was wonderful. Kevin — start thinking about a new gun! And Victor — stick around, because today you’re going to see an example of an airgun whose velocity claims are on the money. What a perfect way to get rid of the bad taste yesterday’s report left.

Oh, and to whoever said these were going to cost $700 — they’re not. This one is listed for $566.10 on the Pyramyd Air website (on the date this blog report was published). I realize that’s still a lot of money, but you can’t buy this level of quality for a whole lot less. The first time I cocked it for today’s velocity test, I was reminded of the bank-vault feel the action has. I cannot say enough good about it, except to tell Kevin that it cocks as nicely as my tuned Beeman R8. He’ll know what I mean.

What does a two-piece cocking link do?
I made an offhand remark in Part 1 that because this rifle has a two-piece cocking link that allows a shorter cocking slot, it vibrates less, and one reader asked me why that was. It isn’t because of the cocking link. It’s because the shorter slot in the stock makes the stock stiffer and less prone to vibrate. It’s a trick that’s been around since the 1960s and used to be touted by all the airgun catalogs.

Cocking effort
The barrel is held shut by a lock whose latch can be seen sticking out the end of the forearm. Cocking requires that latch to be pushed up with the thumb and only then can the barrel be broken open. You don’t have to slap the muzzle like you do on so many air rifles today, but the barrel opens like a bank vault, also.

The LGV has a short-stroke piston, so when the rifle is cocked the barrel doesn’t go very far past 90 degrees. Compared to many magnum rifles we see today, it seems to stop very quickly when you break it down. The catalog says the rifle cocks with 38 lbs. of effort, but my test specimen cocks with 33 lbs. of force. And, it feels like it may drop a pound or two after a good break-in.

Velocity
“And don’t-cha wanna know how it works?” as the comedian Gallagher used to say. I selected three pellets to test today, though I may try others during the accuracy tests later on. Pellet No. 1 is that “standard candle,” the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier. Premiers averaged 587 f.p.s. in my test. The low was 583 and the high was 591 f.p.s., so the total velocity spread was just 8 f.p.s. That tight spread is phenomenal for a new springer and would even be considered good for a tuned gun.

At the average velocity, the test rifle generates 10.94 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with this pellet. And speaking of velocities in this range, remember that 671 f.p.s is a “magic” number; because at that velocity, the energy of the pellet in foot-pounds equals its weight in grains. That makes it easy to know the power of the rifle you’re dealing with.

RWS Hobbys
The second pellet I tested was another standard test pellet — the 11.9-grain RWS Hobby. It’s a pure-lead pellet, so it has high lubricity, and its skirt is both thin and flared wide enough to seal most barrels…and that holds true for all calibers. So, the Hobby is the pellet serious shooters select when they want to know the practical power and velocity limits for a given springer.

Hobbys averaged 664 f.p.s. from the test rifle. The low was 649 and the high was 670, so this spread was a much larger 21 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the Hobby pellet generated 11.65 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

Gamo PBA Platinum
I don’t have a lot of lead-free pellets — especially in .22 caliber, so I had to use what I had. Ideally, I would have tested this rifle with the RWS HyperMax pellet that weighs 9.9 grains. But the Gamo PBA Platinum pellets I did test weigh 9.7 grains. Normally, they would be even faster, but these are very large and fit the bore tightly. I know that HyperMax pellets in .177 caliber are not that large, so I’m assuming they would also be smaller in .22 and would, therefore, be a little faster, as well.

The PBS Platinum pellets averaged 703 f.p.s. (see, Victor?) in the test rifle. The low was 691 and the high was 713 f.p.s., so a total spread of 20 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the PBA pellet generated 10.65 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle

So, this LGV Challenger is a 12 foot-pound gun. Ten years ago, that would be a suicide marketing venture, because the 1,000 f.p.s. mark was considered the gold standard (and 800 in .22). Today, we know better, and I’m here to tell you — this is a seriously classic air rifle. I can see a long and successful life ahead for the new LGV series, as long as it holds up in the accuracy department. And I think it has to, because I can tell the level of care that went into its design. Walther, all will be forgiven for re-using a classic model name if this test rifle shoots well.

Trigger
The trigger is adjustable. I don’t have a manual, but I can see the screws, and they call it a match trigger. As it was shipped, the trigger was two-stage and released at 1 lb., 10 oz. The first stage takes about 7 oz., so you can’t really feel it at all and stage 2 is definite. I felt one jump of creep on the second stage, and that was it.

The first stage is quite long, and that may bother some folks. None of the two adjustments appears to affect this. The screw that’s in the trigger blade affects the length of the second-stage pull, and the Allen or hex screw that’s located behind the trigger blade affects the sear contact area. It’s possible to adjust out all the contact so the gun cannot be cocked.

Walther LGV Challenger breakbarrel air rifle trigger adjustments
The screw in the trigger blade adjusts the length of stage two. The Allen screw behind the trigger blade adjusts the sear contact area.

What I found was that the trigger was adjusted as good as it gets when I received the rifle. So, the numbers above represent the best you can expect.

Firing behavior
The rifle has a small shudder when it fires. It’s enough to tell you there’s a steel mainspring, but it’s not objectionable. I would leave it as is. The application of black tar would quiet the shudder, but you would lose a little velocity. Perhaps, some tolerances could be closed up or the piston might be buttoned to calm the gun, but that’s a topic for a real airgunsmith — not me.

What’s next?
Next, I plan to shoot the rifle with the open sights. I’ll light the target so I can use them without the fiberoptics showing, which will give greater precision. After that, I plan to mount a scope and test it again. If this rifle shoots well, it’ll be an instant classic!

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


The new Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel rifle is lightweight, powerful and comes with a sparkling new trigger!

I shot the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel air rifle to see how potentially accurate it is. This is the day many readers have been waiting for. I was even nipped in the hocks by one reader to get it done faster.

The scope
The scope on the test rifle is the 4×32 fixed-power scope that comes in the package. The optics are clear, but at 4x, the image seems small. The crosshairs are also rather coarse. So, you really have to pay attention when aiming. I would say this scope is okay to start with if you don’t want to spend more money. And since the Rocket IGT has no other sights, you’ll need an optical sight of some kind.

Starting the test
I decided to use the same four pellets that were used in the velocity test. The distance was 25 yards and all shooting was done indoors, so weather wasn’t a problem. The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact 10.3-grain dome that delivered velocity in the low 800s. The group started very well. Around shot five, it had opened to twice its size. By the end of the session, it was double that. The 10-shot group measured 1.074 inches between the centers of the two widest shots.


Six shots are in the single hole in the center, but the other four opened this group of JSB Exacts to 1.074 inches. The group is taller than it is wide.

The trigger
It’s always best to evaluate the trigger when shooting for accuracy because you notice every little nuance while trying to hold the reticle still on the target. I now discovered that stage two of the new Gamo trigger has a long perceptible movement. I won’t call it a creepy trigger, but you certainly do feel it move as the sear gradually disengages.

So, my evaluation of the trigger changes from great to just good. It’s certainly the best trigger Gamo has ever fielded; but at the same time, it’s no Rekord.

Back to the test
I felt that JSB pellets were teasing me, and they really wanted to shoot better, so I would come back to them, but next came RWS Hobby pellets. Three shots went into three inches and they were through. Hobbys are not the right pellet for the Rocket IGT.

Next up was our new friend, the H&N Baracuda Green. I expected them to shock me with their accuracy after all the recent success we have seen. But the first group wasn’t that good. It measures 1.141 inches between centers, and you will see that it is more vertical than horizontal.


Five shots are in the single hole at the top of the group, but the other five H&N Baracuda Greens opened this group to 1.141 inches. Notice how vertical the group seems.

Since I’d now shot two vertical groups, I decided to try a differtent hold. Instead of placing my off hand at the rear of the forearm where I could feel the triggerguard, I moved it forward under the cocking slot. Then, I shot another group of H&N Baracuda Greens. This group measures the same 1.141 inches as the first group, but it’s even more vertical than the first.


This group with a different handhold was even more vertical than the first, even though it measures the same 1.141 inches between centers! I would return to the original spot for resting the gun.

Loose screws
At this point, I stopped shooting and checked all the stock screws. All were loose, and the two in the forearm had to be tightened quite a lot. When I returned to the bench, the point of impact had changed — and H&N Baracudas no longer grouped very well. Four shots went into 1.50 inches, and I just stopped shooting.

It isn’t supposed to work like that. Tightening the stock screws is supposed to give you the best groups the rifle is capable of; but with the Rocket IGT, that did not happen — at least not with Baracuda Greens. However, something told me to try the JSB pellet again, so that’s what I did.

The next group of JSB Exacts was shot with my off hand against the triggerguard and the stock screws tight. This time, there was a lot less walking of the pellets, and I ended up with a fairly good group of 10. It measures 1.025 inches between centers and is much rounder than any of the earlier groups. This is the best group shot during this test and is probably a good representation of what this rifle is capable of.


This group of JSB Exacts is rounder than any of the others. Though it is not much smaller than the first group of JSBs, I like the shape of the group a little more.

Gamo PBA pellets
I couldn’t do this test without giving Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellet that came with the gun a try. So I shot two of them. They cracked like a .22 long rifle in the house and landed seven inches apart. That ended the test!

Final word
What do I think about the Gamo Rocket IGT? Well, it has many good things going for it. Light weight. Easy cocking and a good trigger are the main ones. The power is also reasonable.

On the minus side, the accuracy I saw was mediocre at best. But I only tried four pellets in the rifle. Who’s to say there isn’t a good pellet that would make this rifle shine? It only needs one.

Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel .177 air rifle: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


The new Gamo Rocket IGT breakbarrel rifle is lightweight, powerful and comes with a sparkling new trigger!

Let’s look at the power and velocity of the Gamo Rocket IGT .177 breakbarrel air rifle. You learned in Part 1 that the numbers printed on the box and gun were in disagreement with the Gamo USA website and Pyramyd Air’s site, but it turns out that 1,300 fps is the correct velocity according to an email Edith received from Gamo’s vice president of sales. Well, Edith spotted yet a third velocity claim — this time on the end flap of the box. A sticker listed the velocity as 1,000 f.p.s., with no further explanation. We’ll clear all of this up and find out just how fast this rifle really does shoot.

Cocking effort
I remarked in Part 1 that the cocking effort of the rifle seemed low for a gas spring, which is what IGT (Inert Gas Technology) means. My guess was the rifle cocked at between 30 and 35 lbs. of effort, which is a good 10 pounds less than other gas springs that generate similar power. My bathroom scale confirmed that the test rifle cocks with just 33 lbs. of force, making it easier than most gas springs. The piston stroke is quite long, which is how they manage to generate all that power from such an easy-cocking powerplant. I applaud Gamo for using the physics of the gas spring in this creative way.

Adjustable trigger
I also remarked that the new Gamo Smooth Action Trigger or SAT, as they call it, is a large leap forward from any Gamo trigger I have ever tested. It’s adjustable via a hard-to-access Phillips screw located behind the trigger blade; and when I attempted to adjust it, I discovered that it was set by the factory to the best position.

Screwing the adjustment screw clockwise reduces the stage-two pull length and counterclockwise does the reverse. The screw was in as far as it would go, but I did unscrew it a full turn and verified that it does increase the second-stage pull length.

The trigger released at 4 lbs., 4 oz. with good consistency. The first stage is very light (just one ounce) and stops positively at stage two. This is the kind of sporting trigger that will please many shooters, and I’m so glad to be testing it.

The last comment on the trigger is that Gamo has made the safety entirely manual. The blade is in an usual (for Gamo) place, but it doesn’t go on when the rifle is cocked. I see that as a positive step toward customer satisfaction. Gamo has somebody who knows how to design airgun triggers.

Velocity
And now to the principal business of the day. I tested the Rocket IGT with four pellets — two made of lead and two that are lead-free. The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact 10.34-grain dome — a heavy pellet for a .177. With a gas spring, there’s no coiled steel mainspring to worry about, so the question of whether this heavy pellet is suited to a spring-piston powerplant is moot.

The JSB Exact pellet got an average velocity of 822 f.p.s., which was below the estimate of 900 f.p.s. I made in Part 1. The velocity spread went from a low of 816 to a high of 828, so a 12 foot-second spread over 10 shots. That’s very consistent. At the average velocity and using weight of 10.34 grains, this pellet generates 15.52 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Next up was the H&N Baracuda Green — the new lead-free pellet that’s surprising us with its accuracy. And that’s why I tested it here — because I intend to try it out in the accuracy test, as well. They averaged 1100 f.p.s. on the nose, and the range went from a low of 1092 to a high of 1105 f.p.s. So the spread was a tight 13 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this 6.48-grain pellet averaged 17.41 foot-pounds. That’s good power for this rifle; and if these are accurate at 25 yards, they’ll be a good hunting pellet for rabbits, squirrels and similar game.

Following the Greens, I tried Gamo’s PBA Platinum pellet, a 4.7-grain lead-free dome that they pack with the rifle. This is the pellet they say will go 1,300 f.p.s. (although Gamo’s website still says 1,250 fps). In the test rifle, this pellet averaged 1,229 f.p.s., but the string was large. It ranged from a low of 1,214 f.p.s. to a high of 1,242 f.p.s. The spread was 28 f.p.s. While that’s not terrible, it’s noticeably greater than all other pellets that were tested. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 15.77 foot-pounds at the muzzle.

The rifle comes pretty close to the 1,250 f.p.s. claim still listed on Gamo’s site (as we write this) — but not the 1,300 fps they claim on the box and rifle.

The last pellet tested was the venerable RWS Hobby. This 7-grain lead pellet is often the fastest of its type. In the Rocket, they averaged 1,004 f.p.s. with a spread from 996 to 1,013 f.p.s. The spread was 17 f.p.s., and this pellet generated 15.67 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Once again, the Gamo rifle met its advertised velocity with lead pellets.

Observations thus far
Gamo met the advertised velocity for lead pellets but was below the advertised velocity for their Platinum PBA pellets. Their Inert Gas Technology gas spring is easy to cock and doesn’t vibrate much when fired. And their new Smooth Action Trigger is performing just as nice on this rifle as the mockup in the Gamo booth did at the 2012 Shot Show.

I think you can sense my approval of this air rifle so far. It’s completely modern and nothing like the guns I usually favor, but it cocks easily, it generates the power it’s supposed to, is lightweight and has a fine sporting trigger. If it turns out to be accurate as well, I think Gamo has a fine new rifle in their lineup.

Testing non-lead pellets: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2

We have a lot of interest in non-lead or lead-free pellets. I heard from several readers on Part 2, which ran last week. That was when I used the Hatsan model 95 Combo breakbarrel to test both lead and non-lead .22-caliber pellets for accuracy at both 10 meters and 25 yards. I admit that was a scatterbrain test; but after seeing the results, I’m glad I did it. Here’s why. If lead-free pellets do not perform in real-world airguns, they have no value. They shouldn’t be a science experiment, requiring special guns and conditions. If they’re going to succeed, they must work well in the kinds of guns that are used by many shooters.

That said, I’m dialing back my test parameters today and using a spring gun that I know is very accurate — my .177-caliber Beeman R8. It’s probably best to start with a known good gun and then, if the green pellets do work, expand the test out into the more basic types of airguns.

This particular R8 works best with JSB Exact RS pellets. And I rediscovered that this rifle also shoots best when laid directly on a sandbag and is not held using the artillery hold. The advantage of shooting directly off a bag is that it gives the rifle a more stable platform.

I was going to shoot several green pellets for this test, but I decided to limit the test to just one pellet. If it was successful, I could always branch out from there. The pellet I selected for today’s test is the H&N Baracuda Green, a 6.48-grain domed pellet (which is the same as the Beeman ECO Kodiak pellet). The equivalent pellet in lead weighs anywhere from 10.2-grains to 10.6-grains, depending on which H&N Baracuda you sample.


H&N Baracuda Green on the left and JSB Exact RS on the right. Notice how much shorter the heavier lead pellet is.

First, I shot a group of 10 JSB Exact RS domes at 25 yards. This group measures 0.502 inches between the two farthest centers. While it’s not the best group this rifle has made at 25 yards, it’s a good one, as can be seen in the photo.


The first group of JSB Exact RS domes made this 0.502-inch group. Eight pellets in the larger hole on the right.

Following that group, I shot the first group of Baracuda Greens. I was prepared to season the bore by shooting as many pellets as necessary for the group to settle down; but as you’ll see, there was no need. Ten shots gave a 0.442-inch group. That’s right, the H&N Baracuda Green pellets beat the best lead pellet I know of for this rifle. I would have to say that’s a positive result!


The first group of Baracuda Green pellets was surprisingly small. It measures 0.442 inches between centers.

After shooting this group, I fired a second 10-shot group of the Baracuda Greens to see if the first group was a fluke. Group number two measures 0.543 inches between centers. It’s larger than the first group and also larger than the group of lead pellets I shot before that, but it’s certainly in the same ballpark.


Group two of Baracuda Greens is a little larger, but it’s still a fine group. This pellet is accurate in this rifle. Group measures 0.543 inches between centers.

Final group
To end this test, I fired a final group of the JSB Exact RS pellets. This time, the first shot did go to a different place than the following shots, so I guess some seasoning of the bore was required; but after that, the shots all went to the same place.

The second group of JSB Exact RS pellets measures 0.422 inches and is the smallest group of the test. But it’s only 0.02 inches smaller than the best Baracuda Green group, and that’s well within the margin of measurement error.


The smallest group of the test is this second group of JSB Exact RS pellets. It measures 0.422 inches between centers.

What can I say?
Obviously, H&N Baracuda Green pellets are very accurate in my Beeman R8. They may be equal to JSB Exact RS pellets, which have been the most accurate pellets for this rifle until now.

We have one good test under our belts. Next, I want to test these pellets in an accurate PCP. I happen to have a Benjamin Marauder in .177 caliber, so that’s what I’ll use.

The rest of you can help by testing the Baracuda Green pellets in other airguns and reporting the results. I want to stick with Baracuda Greens for a while before I branch out into other non-lead pellets. I’m glad I did today’s test, and things are looking good for the greens.

You don’t know how good we have it!
If you’re a regular reader, you know that I built an AR-15 lower receiver to test the Crosman MAR177 AR-15 upper PCP conversion. After sending the upper back to Crosman, I was left with a lower and nothing to attach to it. So, I thought I’d buy an upper in .223 caliber to complete my rifle.

In my ignorance, I imagined that buying an upper was a simple process. Well, it’s not! If you think airgunning has a lot of jargon and is confusing, you’ve never shopped in the confusing world of the AR! The websites abound with acronyms, slang and references to things I feel I should know but don’t. Unless you’re extremely careful, you can buy a partial upper and still need to spend a lot more money on parts that aren’t necessarily compatible with what you’ve already purchased.

Ever hear the tale that all AR-15 parts interchange? Well, they don’t, and the chat forums are full of complaints about it! Reading the customer reviews about certain products paints a nightmare tale of confusion, customer abandonment and outright lying by some of the major dealers.

What a snake-pit the AR market has become! I can see I will have to become very educated on the subject of the parts of the gun before I buy — or there’s one other possibility. I could buy a a “completed” upper that has everything needed to fit on my lower and work. There’s just one problem with that. Most (over 80 percent) of the .223-caliber (and yes, I am including those that are chambered for the 5.56mm in this number) complete uppers for sale today have 16-inch barrels, because buyers apparently want the M4 carbine look. But a 16-inch barrel has none of the things I want on my rifle. It’s as if there are only gas spring super-magnums breakbarrels for sale, and I want a TX200 that nobody offers!

Then, there’s the problem of supply. Buyers in this market are at the mercy of the manufacturers, whose websites are the most confusing places of all. It’s a case of, “Place your order and shut up! We will get to you when we are good and ready!” I know they’re experiencing a boom market of unparalleled proportions, but that’s no excuse for the unhelpful fulfillment language they use on their sites.

When I see complaints about the Pyramyd Air website and then compare them to the trauma wards that sell (I guess?) AR-15 parts and assemblies, I thank my lucky stars I’m an airgunner. And, yes, I do plan to soldier on and see this thing through. Unfortunately, when I do get my upper, I may then be in the class of owners whose “half-minute of angle” upper prints a three-inch, five-shot group at 100 yards! Don’t tell me there are good companies I can trust — I’ve seen complaints about all of them.

The bottom line is that if I wasn’t working in airguns, there’s a huge market of AR sales that needs a little honesty, education and Pyramyd Air-type retailing. Given the supply difficulties that exist, I’m not sure that a good dealer could make a go of it in this market, but it’s obvious there would be no competition.

Testing non-lead pellets: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

This is a long-term test of non-lead pellets that began nearly a year ago. There’s a lot of pressure these days to abandon lead for projectiles and move to some other substance that’s not as toxic. The problem is that there isn’t any material as good as lead. Ammunition companies have been working on this project for decades, and they’ve yet to come up with a substance that can take the place of lead.

I don’t want to get into the discussion of the evils of lead in this report, but suffice to say that a lot of what’s being said about it is untrue. However, that’s not my concern here. I just want to discuss the feasibility of using non-lead projectiles in airguns and hold it to that.

So, I did a little test that I want to talk about today. I tested both lead pellets and lead-free pellets in the same gun at the same distances.

For this test, I used the .22-caliber Hatsan 95 combo breakbarrel that we recently found to be reasonably accurate. I shot the rifle at 10 meters and again at 25 yards; and doing that proved quite revealing. The open sights of the rifle were used for this test.

The best of the best
For this test, I wanted to use the best pellets. For the lead-free pellet, I chose the .22-caliber Beeman ECO FTS. For the lead pellet, I actually tested four different pellets, but settled on just one; and strangely enough, it was the same best pellet that was best in the last test I did with the Hatsan 95.

Before you yell, “Bias!” I know I should test other lead-free pellets in this rifle; but there aren’t that many to test. I do have some others, but in .177 caliber. So, I’ll have to test them next.

Start at 10 meters
I began this test at 10 meters and tried two lead pellets that I knew to be good in the Hatsan 95. The first of those was the heavyweight Beeman Kodiak. When I last v\tested the Hatsan with these pellets in Part 3 of the Hatsan test, 10 shots at 10 meters gave a group measuring 1.073 inches, thought 8 of those shots made a much smaller group that measured 0.529 inches between centers. This time, 10 Kodiaks went into a group measuring 0.834 inches. That’s in between the 8- and 10-shot groups made the last time.


Ten Beeman Kodiak pellets made this 0.834-inch group at 10 meters. Shot with a Hatsan 95.

Next, I tried the best pellet from the last test with the Hatsan, which was the JSB Exact Jumbo that weighs 15.9 grains. Ten of those went into a group that measures 0.514 inches between centers. That compares favorably to a 0.648-inch group last time.


Ten 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo domes made this 0.514-inch group at 10 meters. It’s smaller, but in the same range as the last 10-meter group fired by the Hatsan 95, which was 0.648 inches.

The lead-free pellet
Next up was the Beeman ECO Field Target Special pellet, a 9.57-grain domed pellet that has no lead in it. Weighing less than 10 grains, this is extremely light for .22 caliber. So, the question is — Can it be accurate?

At 10 meters, this pellet turned in a 10-shot group that measures 0.704 inches between centers. That’s smaller than the Kodiak group but larger than the JSB group. And it’s a decent 10-meter group for an open-sighted air rifle of the power of the Hatsan 95.


This is a great group of 10 Beeman ECO FTS pellets. But 10 meters doesn’t tell much. We need to shoot farther to know if this pellet is accurate.

The real accuracy question
Here’s the real question. Ten meters tells us very little about the real accuracy of any pellet. Almost anything can be accurate at 10 meters, but not for very much farther. Real accuracy is the ability to hold a group together at twice the distance and more. To see that, we needed to back up. That’s what I did — backed up to 25 yards and shot again.

At this new distance, the lead-free pellet was again shot 10 times. The group it made this time measures 2.237 inches between centers. That’s a huge group — even when using open sights.


This is the group made by the Beeman ECO FTS pellets at 25 yards. Here we see the true nature of this lead-free pellet. It doesn’t stay together by flies apart as the distance increases.

As a control, a group is shot with the JSB Exact Jumbos. We know from the last test of the Hatsan 95 that this pellet grouped ten shots in 1.882 inches. This time, 10 went into a group that measured 1.728 inches between centers. Not only is that very consistent with that last test, it’s also significantly tighter than the group made by the lead-free pellets.


A 10-shot group measuring 1.728 inches was made by the JSB Exact domes at 25 yards.

Where does that leave us?
This test has many more cycles to run, but what it looks like at this point is lead-free pellets are not yet as accurate as lead pellets in the Hatsan 95. The first test done a year ago showed some surprising results, and there are many more tests yet to be conducted.

Here’s my take on the lead-free pellet issue at this juncture. They’re accurate enough for plinking, and in some guns they’re even more accurate than that; but to-date, I’ve not seen a lead-free pellet that could do as well as a good lead pellet. Since they cost about the same as premium lead pellets, my advice for now is to continue to use lead if you can.

I believe the pellet makers are working hard to perfect lead-free pellets, because they seem to be in our future. This is a topic I will watch and continue to test as new pellets become available.

Testing non-lead pellets: Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier

Writing this blog is a humbling experience. Sometimes, when I think I know the answer and it’s obvious, there’s a surprise. Today I wasn’t just surprised — I was bowled over!

I started this test way back in June when I tested the velocity of all the pellets in my Slavia 631. While testing, I felt the powerplant was running a bit off, so I opened the gun and in so doing I lost one or two very important springs. That moved the Slavia from being a testbed to the repair category. I had other plans for that rifle besides testing non-lead pellets, and I’ve since acquired the parts to fix it (I think). Now all I need is the time.

But I did want to get on with this test so I went to my gun closet and guess what I found? Nothing I have with a scope on it is sighted-in. Remember the cobbler’s children walk around barefoot? That’s the same way for me, as I’m always mounting a scope on something new for another test.

But, fortunately, I own a class of accurate air arms that do not need scopes. My 10-meter target rifles do fine with their aperture sights; and for a 25-yard indoor test, they’re all that’s needed.

The most accurate of all the rifles I have tested to date is the FWB 150 I just tested for you, so that was the gun that got the nod. It was sighted-in for 10 meters (11 yards) so it should have been close enough for 25 yards if a large enough target was used. I used the 10-meter pistol target, whose larger bull at 25 yards looks very similar to the 10-meter bull.

NOTE: This is not a continuation of my earlier test of non-lead target pellets. That’s a series I started but have not yet finished.

To verify sight-in, I shot a 10-shot group of RWS Hobby pellets that went into an embarrassingly large group. However, on the tenth shot one of the stock screws fell out, reminding me to do as I say and not as I do.

After tightening all screws I decided to shoot just five shots since this isn’t a test of ultimate accuracy. I reckoned we could see what we needed from five shots, and I could go through more different pellets that way.

After tightening the stock screws, I shot another five-shot group of Hobbys. While this group was much smaller, it pointed out that I needed to tighten up my shooting technique. I think you will understand why I say that when you examine the group.


Two tight groups of Hobbys (one with three pellets and the other with two) at 25 yards. What can I say? I believe this is due to canting, for as you can plainly see, the pellets tried to group very tight, otherwise.

I figured I was canting the rifle to produce those two groups. With all other pellets, I used downrange cues to slant the rifle the same with every shot.

Surprise, surprise!
The first non-lead pellet I tested was the RWS HyperMAX. I hoped all would hit the target paper at 25 yards, but instead they produced a group that was not much larger than that of the Hobbys. This was not what I had expected. I’ve never seen HyperMAX pellets do so well before, and I must attribute their accuracy to the FWB 150 barrel. I also have to revise my thinking about non-lead pellets, because this is very acceptable performance!


What a surprise! Five RWS HyperMAX pellets did very well at 25 yards from the FWB 150.

Following the HyperMAX, I shot five Skenco Type 2 Hyper-Velocity Field pellets that Pyramyd Air no longer carries. Only four of them connected with the target downrange and the group measured about 12 inches, but that’s just a guess from the new mark I have in the drywall behind the target trap. This was the level of performance I had expected from all non-lead pellets, but in fairness to Skenco, these pellets fit the breech of the rifle very loosely and one even fell back out after loading. I wouldn’t expect accuracy from a lead pellet with a fit like that.

I’m not showing a target for this pellet because it only has four holes, and they’re so far apart that it would be meaningless. The 12-inch spread is no exaggeration.

Next, I loaded the golden Gamo Raptor PBA pellets that have never done well in any of my tests. These are the pellets Gamo touts for killing wild pigs on their TV ads. I’ve read the reports of others who have had good success with them, but I never have. Until now.


Five golden Gamo Raptor PBA pellets made this tight group at 25 yards.

That target was a real shocker for me because I’ve never seen Raptor pellets do well, and I’ve tested them a lot over the years. But the results are very hard to refute, and why would I want to? This is a test on non-lead pellets, after all. Raptors can shoot very well in the right airgun.

That result gave me a lot of confidence that the final pellet, also from Gamo, would group well too. This was the Gamo Platinum PBA pellet that resembles the golden PBA pellet but is actually even lighter.


Five Gamo Platinum PBA pellets made the best group of the test.

I have much less experience with the Platinum PBA pellet, though after seeing these results I will try to include them in some future testing of other airguns. They really are an accurate pellet in my FWB 150.

Results
I wouldn’t put too much faith in the individual group sizes in this test, because they’re only five-shot groups. But the relationships of how accurate they can be should stand out clearly. It was just a chance accident that caused me to test with a target rifle, though I’m sure there are some readers who feel justified by these results. Clearly, lead-free pellets can be accurate in the right situations, and I have to revise my opinions of them.

I will continue to test them in other airguns, plus I’ll look for other lead-free pellets to test in the FWB 150. That’s why this is a Part 1 report. I’m sure there’s more to follow.

It’s also nice to have a reliable testbed rifle that I know I can leave alone for just such a purpose. I thought the 150 was just another pretty face, but now I know she can cook, as well! Life just keeps on getting better all the time.

Gamo Whisper CFR: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Tested by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1


Gamo CFR underlever air rifle.

Well, we tested the BSA Polaris and found it to be a likable underlever air rifle. Now, we’re testing the Gamo Whisper CFR combo, which I said is a close cousin to the Polaris. But it’s not the same rifle, as today’s report will demonstrate.

The first point Mac makes is that the CFR cocks with 40 lbs. of effort, compared to the Polaris’ 26 lbs. He also said there’s no distinct feeling of an end to the cocking stroke. He felt it was iffy at first, before he learned to trust that the gun had cocked itself. Mac also found the cocking effort to be difficult, while I found the Polaris to be easy. So, these are different rifles, for sure.

Mac also says he found the rotary breech to be a challenge, while I found it fairly easy to use. It’s not as easy as a breakbarrel, of course, but this is a fixed-barrel rifle.

The velocitites
The first pellet Mac tested was the JSB Exact heavy that weighs 10.2 grains. It averaged 744 f.p.s., with a spread from 715 to 763 f.p.s. — 48 f.p.s. spread. That’s fairly broad. At the average spread, the energy is 12.55 foot-pounds. A spring-piston airgun will usually produce lower energy figures with heavier pellets.

The next pellet tested was the JSB Exact dome that weighs 8.4 grains. The spread was a huge 53 f.p.s. — from 836 f.p.s. to 891. At the average velocity, the energy was 11.9 foot-pounds, or a little less than the heavier Exact gave. That is an excerption to the rule of lighter pellets being more efficient in spring-piston guns.

Next, Mac tried RWS Superdomes. In .177 caliber, they weigh 8.3 grains, and in this rifle they averaged 868 f.p.s. The spread was even larger at 55 f.p.s. and went from 836 to 891 f.p.s. At the average speed, they produced 13.87 foot-pounds, which is more than the heavy JSBs and right on target, where they ought to be.

The next pellet Mac tried was a 4.7-grain Gamo PBA Platinum pellet. The 4.7-grain Platinum pellet averaged 1063 f.p.s., with an enormous 178 f.p.s. spread that went from 931 to 1119 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle was generating 11.8 foot-pounds at the muzzle. Normally, lightweight pellets do much better in springers, but these non-lead trick pellets are very hard and have a lot of friction.

Mac was really wringing this rifle out for you, so he also tested the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier. It averaged 902 f.p.s. with a tight 17 foot-second spread that ran from 894 to 911 f.p.s.

Since he tested the Premier lite pellet, he decided to also test the heavy 10.5-grain Crosman Premier pellet. They averaged 766 f.p.s., with a 21 f.p.s. spread from 756 to 777 f.p.s. At the average velocity they produced 13.67 foot-pounds at the muzzle, which is surprisingly efficient for such a heavy pellet.

The results
So, the Whisper CFR is quite a bit more powerful than the Polaris. That’s going to make it more difficult to shoot, so the accuracy test should prove interesting.

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