Posts Tagged ‘Gamo Whisper’

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle
Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle.

Today will be a very interesting report, in my opinion. The Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle I’m testing turns out to be a fascinating airgun in many ways. Let’s get right to the report.

Today we will look at accuracy at 25 yards with the scoped rifle. The first thing I had to do, therefore, was mount the scope. The rifle came with a scope installed in a one-piece scope mount. Its vertical scope stop pin was already correctly adjusted to fit the stop pin hole in the raised mount on top of the rifle’s spring tube. That is rare, in my experience. Normally, the scope will be installed correctly in the mount but has to be taken out of the mount to sufficiently adjust the height of the stop pin.

I’d used this mount for my report on shimming scope rings, so I did remove the scope from the rings after all. Following that report, I left in the one shim that was shown in the report. The mount Gamo included with the test rifle has four screws per cap and seems to be a good one. It’s a one-piece design that does limit the positioning of the scope, but I was able to locate it fine for my use.

The adjustable cheekpiece helped a lot. I had it adjusted up to almost the top position, and my eye lined up with the rear of the scope with no unnatural repositioning of my head.

Surprise No. 2 was the scope. I initially sight-in at 12 feet to get the shots safely on paper, and inexpensive scopes are usually very blurry this close to the target — even if they’re set on low power. This rifle comes with a very nice Gamo 3-9X40 scope that was quite clear on 3x at 12 feet. Back up to 25 yards and boost the power to 9x, and the glass remains very clear. It’s been a long time since I liked a scope that came bundled with a gun as much as this.

The Smooth Action Trigger (SAT)
Next, I must comment on Gamo’s new SAT. It’s a 2-stage unit that has a light first stage and a second stage that you can feel as you continue to pull. The trigger blade moves through stage 2 smoothly and breaks cleanly, but not with the sudden glass-rod crispness we talk about all the time. Instead, the feel is one of movement that is predictable and can be controlled. It isn’t bad — it’s just different from other triggers.

I reported in Part 2 that the trigger breaks at 3 lbs., 12 oz. That may sound high if you read about PCP triggers breaking at less than a pound, but it really isn’t that bad. The thing to do is experience it for yourself before you judge it. I find it to be manageable and not at all troublesome to the best accuracy.

Light weight
The light weight of the rifle, on the other hand, does present something of a problem. This rifle is so light that even when the off hand touches the triggerguard, the rifle still has neutral balance. It floats in your hand. That makes it difficult to hold on the target because the crosshairs want to dance around. The solution is a very light artillery hold that does benefit the rifle’s accuracy, and I’ll address that in a moment.

Shooting
Normally, this is where I launch into the accuracy test and start making comments about the groups. This time, I have more to say, and it isn’t just about the groups — except how they helped my understand the rifle in a diagnostic way.

JSB Exact RS
The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact RS that did so well in the 10-meter accuracy test with open sights. I knew from that test that these pellets like to be seated flush with the breech for best results.

As I shot these pellets, I saw a strange phenomenon unfold. The first 3 shots were out of the bull at 5 o’clock. Then, I relaxed very consciously and allowed the rifle to float on my off hand. The next several shots went into the black. On shot 8, I didn’t relax like I should have, and I threw 1 more shot out of the bull at 5 o’clock with the first 3. How interesting!

It was so interesting, in fact, that I shot a 14-shot group, so that 10 of the shots could be fired with me being very relaxed. When you look at where they landed, you can see that the hold was all-important to where this rifle grouped.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle JSB Exact RS group 25 yards
This group is very large — measuring 2.574 inches between centers. But it was a learning experience for me because it demonstrated very clearly that the hold dictates where the pellets will land.

Now that I knew something about how the rifle performed, I figured I could do a lot better. And the very next group confirmed that.

H&N Barcuda Match
Next up were the H&N Baracuda Match pellets that shot second-best in the 10-meter accuracy test. Now that I knew how to hold the rifle, I expected to see a better group. And that’s exactly what happened.

I adjusted the scope after finishing the first group, moving it a few clicks to the left. The first Baracuda Match landed at 11 o’clock, just outside the bull. Shot No. 2 hit at 8 o’clock outside the bull. I was obviously holding the rifle too tight, so I made a conscious effort to hold it looser and shots 3 through 7 hit inside the black. Then, I tensed up again, sending shot No. 8 into the same hole as shot 2. The final 2 shots were fired with complete relaxation, and I had a respectable group inside the bull to the left of center.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle H&N Baracuda Match group 1 25 yards
This time, there were only 3 shots that missed the main group, and all of them were fired with some tension in the hold. When I relaxed, I was able to put 7 shots into 0.789 inches. I think this represents the true accuracy potential of the rifle. Total group measures 1.995 inches.

Altering the hold
Now that I understood the rifle better, I decided to move my open palm out farther so I could feel the cocking slot. Sometimes, resting the rifle this far forward is better. It certainly makes it more stable.

This time, however, there was no improvement. The group opened up, and I could see no way of controlling where the shots went. The total group measures 1.754 inches between centers, which is tighter than the previous group overall; but there’s no tighter group within this group that tells me the rifle wanted to do any better. Although this is a smaller group, I think the previous group that was shot with the off hand touching the triggerguard shows more promise. So, I went back to the other hold for the next group.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle H&N Baracuda Match group 2 25 yards
Ten shots went into a more scattered group at 25 yards when the rifle was rested out on the forearm.

Two pellets I didn’t try were RWS Superdomes and Gamo Raptor PBA. Both had done so poorly in the 10-meter test that I felt it wasn’t worth the time to try them again at 25 yards. That’s one of the benefits of 10-meter testing — it eliminates some pellets.

But I wanted to try at least one more pellet, so I selected 7.9-grain Crosman Premier domes, simply because they’re often very accurate in spring guns.

I now knew the best hold for the rifle, so all I had to do was hold it as loosely as possible and let the pellets do the rest. Nine of the 10 pellets went into a nice group measuring 0.845 inches between centers. It was the first shot that opened it up to 1.596 inches.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle Premier Lite group 25 yards
Ten Crosman Premier Lites went into 1.596 inches at 25 yards, but 9 of them made a 0.845-inch group. I think the smaller group is representative of the true accuracy of the rifle with this pellet.

Final results
I find it interesting that the early shots were always thrown wide of the main group. By the time I arrived at the third pellet, I managed to keep the wide shots to 1 in 10. That tells me something. It tells me that the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT is a rifle that has to be learned. Once you’ve done so, I believe that your groups will be about the same size as the smaller groups seen here.

I’m going to say something that may surprise some of you. I really like this air rifle a lot. I think it is too light and the trigger takes some getting used to, but in the end this is a great budget air rifle. It really isn’t that fussy, once you learn how to hold it the right way.

For some of you, even a used Beeman R9 is too expensive. I think you may want to look at the Whisper Fusion IGT. This is a gas-spring air rifle that has not gone overboard in the power department. It has a usable trigger, and it’s reasonably quiet and accurate. No, it isn’t as accurate as an R9, nor is the SAT as nice as a Rekord trigger; but for those who want to cap their outlay for an air rifle at $260 with a scope included, I think this is the one.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle
Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle.

This is the first accuracy report for the .177-caliber Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle. I shot this test using the open sights at 10 meters from a rest. I did that because I usually don’t have much luck with powerful gas-spring air rifles. They tend to spray their pellets all over the place. And getting a scope mounted and stable can also be a problem, so I wanted a track record for the rifle before I got to any of that.

Smooth Action Trigger
I usually wait until the accuracy test to report on how well the trigger, which in this instance is the Smooth Action Trigger (SAT), performs. The pull weight, measured in part 2, releases at 3 lbs., 12 oz. It’s a 2-stage trigger with a second stage that needs some explanation. Instead of pausing at stage 2 and then breaking cleanly, the trigger on the test rifle — and I must assume on all SAT — pulls through stage 2. You can feel the trigger move, yet there’s no creep. The pull is — well — smooth! And it’s predictable. It’s a different sort of feel from other triggers but not different in a bad way. I don’t think anyone will need to buy an aftermarket trigger when they have a rifle with the SAT installed. Well done, Gamo!

I also thank Gamo for making the safety manual. It does not come on when the rifle is cocked. That makes the shooting progress that much faster and with less for the shooter to do. It’s a small thing, but one that I noticed and must comment on it.

Feel of the rifle
This is a very light air rifle, yet the stock is shaped so your off hand goes to a spot immediately in front of the triggerguard. The rifle is so light that this still gives it a neutral balance, but it hangs right in the hands and feels good on the shoulder. The more-vertical pistol grip has something to do with the good feel, as well.

I did find the stock stinging my cheek with each shot, however. It served as a reminder to hold the rifle even lighter than I was, which is a good thing. Once I did that, there was no more stinging.

Sighting-in
I sighted-in the rifle with JSB Exact RS pellets and discovered that the front sight was too high for a 6 o’clock hold on the 10-meter pistol bullseye target I was using. So, I did something I’ve never before tried. I’ll illustrate the sight picture I used.

sight picture Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT
The front sight bead was darker than the well-lit bullseye, so I was able to place it at the top of the bull like this.

As you can see, I placed the front bead at the top inside of the bullseye. The bull was so well lit that the bead showed up as black on gray. Maybe this isn’t the best open sight picture, but it seemed to work well enough for this test.

JSB Exact RS
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. We know it’s often a good pellet — especially in lower-powered air rifles, which the Fusion IGT certainly is not. In this gun, the RS develops 14.32 foot-pounds, which puts it into the medium power group. If you’re a hunter, that’s where you want to be, so long as the rifle is also accurate.

The RS pellet put 10 shots into a nice round group that measured 0.591 inches between centers. While that isn’t a spectacular 10-meter group, it’s good when you consider the novel sight picture I was using. I’ll keep the RS in mind when I back up to 25 yards and mount a scope.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT JSB RS group 10 meters
At 10 meters, 10 JSB Exact RS pellets went into this round group that measures 0.591 inches.

RWS Superdome
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Superdome. This pellet generates 15.43 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Ten shots made a group measuring 1.332 inches. But it’s the shape of the group that’s really interesting! Five of the pellets landed in a very vertical group, while the other 5 made a beautiful small round group of their own. This target demonstrates why 10-shot groups are better than 5-shot groups because many shooters would just accept those 5 close shots and be done with it. I don’t think the Superdomes are right for this rifle based on all 10 shots.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT RWS Superdome group 10 meters
At 10 meters, 10 RWS Superdomes made this large 1.332-inch group. Five pellets landed in a tiny 0.362-inch group on the left that’s deceiving. This pellet is out of the running for this rifle.

H&N Baracuda Match
Many shooters think that heavy pellets are bad for spring guns. They’re supposed to damage the coiled steel mainspring. I wonder what they do to a gas spring like this IGT? That’s my way of saying I don’t think pellet weight is that much of a problem in a springer. Baracuda Match pellets average 824 f.p.s., for 16.06 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Impressive power. If they’re also accurate, this will be a good pellet for the rifle.

And, accurate they are! Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 0.625 inches at 10 meters. That’s a pretty impressive group, considering the strange sight picture I’m using. It’s only slightly larger than the JSB Exact RS group, and I think these pellets have earned a spot in the 25-yard test, as well. I have no idea of why they’re spread out horizontally. When I checked the stock screws, all were tight.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT HN Baracuda group 10 meters
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this 0.625-inch group at 10 meters. This one looks promising.

Gamo Raptor PBA
The last pellet I tested was the Gamo Raptor PBA that Gamo uses to get the velocity out of this powerplant. Raptors go an average 1,232 f.p.s. and produce 18.2 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s the best performance I saw from this rifle…alas, they aren’t accurate. Ten made a groups measuring 1.118 inches at 10 meters.

PBA pellets also cracked like .22 long rifle rounds because they broke the sound barrier. The noise, alone, would keep me from shooting them.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT Gamo Raptor PBA group 10 meters
Ten Gamo Raptor PBA pellets made this 1.118-inch group at 10 meters. That’s not very good in light of the two pellets that did well.

Evaluation so far
This rifle has plenty of good in its favor. The hold is good, the cocking is light for the power and the trigger is very nice. I’ll withhold my final opinion until I see how it does at 25 yards; but if this was any indication, this could be a best buy.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle
Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity and power of the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle. This breakbarrel rifle has a gas spring that seems to intrigue many new airgunners, so let’s talk about that first. A gas spring is a unit that uses compressed gas rather than a coiled steel mainspring to power the piston. Besides that, it’s identical to a conventional spring-piston powerplant.

What’s in a name?
There are many names for the gas spring. Some call it a gas strut, others call it a gas ram, but all these names refer to the same thing. We’re talking about a mechanical device that contains compressed air or other gas (Crosman uses nitrogen — hence Nitro Piston) to push the piston. When the gun is cocked, the piston unit is pushed backwards — making the compressed gas reservoir shorter. When the gas chamber inside the piston becomes smaller, it causes the internal pressure to rise. When the gun fires, this compressed gas pushes the piston forward, and the piston seal compresses the air in front of it.

None of the gas inside the gas spring mechanism escapes. It remains inside, where it can be used again and again. Gas springs are found on modern cars — holding open the heavy back decks and front hoods that used to be held by coiled steel springs. The gas springs on a car usually last for more than a decade, and it isn’t uncommon to find them still working in cars that are 20 years old. Throughout all that time, they’ve been kept fully compressed 99.9999 percent of the time, yet they can still do the job for which they were designed. This is why we say that an airgun with a gas spring can be left cocked for a long time without loss of power.

The advantages of a gas spring in a spring-piston airgun are:
* Can remain compressed a long time without power loss
* Are lighter than powerplants with coiled steel springs
* Vibrate less
* Move faster than coiled steel springs
* Are less sensitive to temperature changes

The disadvantages of a gas spring are:
* Impart a sharp crack to the discharge
* Require nearly full effort even when the piston is all the way forward, making for harder cocking
* Have a sharp recoil that can hurt if the gun is held too tight

Velocity
Now, it’s time to look at the velocity and power of the Whisper Fusion IGT. The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS, a 7.33-grain pellet that’s pretty light for this powerplant. RS pellets averaged 938 f.p.s. after I allowed the rifle a few shots to settle down. The low was 919 f.p.s. and the high was 949 f.p.s., so the spread was 30 f.p.s. I think that will tighten with time and more shots on the powerplant.

At the average velocity, this pellet generates 14.32 foot-pounds at the muzzle. I’d expected more power; but once the gun had settled down, it was fairly consistent at that speed. The RS pellets fit the breech somewhat loosely.

RWS Superdomes
Next, I tried the 8.3-grain RWS Superdome pellet. They averaged 915 f.p.s., with a spread from 909 to 921 f.p.s. The gun is already starting to stabilize.

At the average velocity, this pellet generates 15.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Superdomes fit the breech snug but not tight.

H&N Baracuda Match
Then, I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets. At 10.65 grains, these were the heaviest pellets I tried. The Whisper Fusion IGT belted them out the spout at an average 824 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 16.06 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 822 f.p.s. to a high of 828 f.p.s., so the gun was extremely stable with these pellets.

Baracuda Match pellets fit the breech tighter than all other pellets. That tells me the rifle needs something to push against, and deep-seating would not be recommended.

Gamo PBA
The final pellet I tried was the lead-free Gamo Raptor PBA, a 5.4-grain domed pellet. They averaged 1,232 f.p.s. in the rifle, with a range from 1,217 f.p.s. to 1,245 f.p.s. Even with this lightweight pellet, the rifle is still very stable. The total spread is just 28 f.p.s.

At the average velocity, the Raptor PBA pellets produced 18.2 foot-pounds, so the energy is definitely up. But these pellets fit the breech the worst of all those I tested. Some were so loose that they fell out when the barrel was closed, while others fit extremely tight. Because of this, I doubt they’ll give good accuracy.

Cocking effort
The Whisper Fusion IGT cocks differently than any gas spring rifle I have experienced. The initial part of the cocking stroke rises to about 30 lbs. and stays there until the final few inches of the stroke. It increases to 43 lbs. of effort for the last little bit. Most gas springs are consistent throughout their entire cocking stroke, but not the test rifle. It requires two hands for me to cock it more than a handful of times.

Trigger
The trigger-pull seems light and smooth. Of course, we will find out more about that in the accuracy test, but for now it does seem very nice. This is the new Smooth Action Trigger, and it seems to be lightyears better than Gamo sporting triggers of the recent past. I think it’ll be a winner. Stage 1 is short and takes 4 oz., while stage 2 breaks at 3 lbs., 12 oz.

Opinions so far
The rifle has less velocity than the 1,300 f.p.s.  advertised, but in this case that’s a good thing. It has exactly what a hunter wants in terms of power. It seems to want to be stable and should not require a lengthy break-in, which is a good thing. Accuracy testing comes next, and we’ll see what it can do in the package Gamo provided. I’ll shoot it with open sights…first at 10 meters, then scoped at 25 yards.

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle: Part 1

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

Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle.

Today, we’ll begin looking at the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle. This rifle is offered only in .177 caliber, and I’m testing serial number 04-1C-419038-13. It has a gas spring, which Gamo calls their Inert Gas Technology, or IGT. In many ways, it reminds me of the older Whisper rifle, except the cocking is heavier. But this report will look at all the differences and new things Gamo puts on this rifle.

The rifle
There’s a lot of synthetic material on the outside of this rifle. The stock is all synthetic, as is the fluted barrel jacket and the baffled silencer on the front of the barrel (they call it a double-integrated sound moderator). My point is that if you don’t like synthetics, this isn’t the airgun for you. If you don’t mind them, though, I see a lot of potential here.

The stock has an adjustable cheekpiece that will come in handy when you mount the 3-9X40 scope that comes with this package. The rifle has a large scope base attached to the spring tube. It rises high above the tube, so there shouldn’t be any scope bell clearance issues. The scope base has two generous holes to accept a vertical scope stop. The scope comes already mounted in a one-piece mount with a scope stop pin already correctly adjusted down far enough to engage the scope stop holes in the scope base. That makes this the first air rifle I’ve tested whose mounted scope came ready to install. I’ve always had to unmount the scope in the past to run the stop pin down far enough to engage the stop pin hole in the past. It’s a small point, but it tells me the factory gave some thought to how the gun was shipped.

Gamo Whisper Fusion air rifle The cheekpiece adjusts.

The stock is very thick and full. It makes the gun feel larger than it is, but that’s offset by the light weight of 6 lbs. without the scope and 7 lbs., 2 ox. with the scope and mount. The buttstock sounds hollow, which I know puts off a lot of people, but it seems rugged enough to me. The stock material is rough to the touch, but not rubbery.

The fluted barrel jacket is very thick — giving the impression of a bull barrel, but without the weight. The silencer is huge — measuring 1-1/2 inches across, for a substantial gripping point when cocking the gun.

Cocking is easy until the final few inches of the stroke. Gamo has realized that the solution to power is not the strength of the spring but the length of the stroke. This is probably the longest cocking stroke I’ve ever encountered, with the barrel breaking down about 135 degrees. This is one of the easier-cocking gas-spring rifles I’ve tested; and if they meet their power output figure of 1,300 f.p.s. (printed on the outside of the box), then I think Gamo has built a winner — at least as far as power is concerned.

Gamo Whisper Fusion air rifle Cocking stroke is very long.

Sights
To their credit, Gamo installs open sights on the gun. The rear sight is fully adjustable in both directions with crisp, positive clicks. A scale on the windage slide tells you where you are at all times, but there are no numbers on the elevation wheel. They may think that most people look at the elevation of the sight from the side to see where they are; and while there’s some truth to that, the numbers do help you turn the wheel in the correct direction. Of course, the mechanically minded won’t get confused because clockwise turns the rear sight down and counterclockwise turns it up.

Gamo Whisper Fusion air rifle The rear sight is nicely made but has no vertical scale.

I plan on testing the rifle at 10 meters with the open sights. If it does good enough, I’ll back up and also shoot it at 25 yards. Then I’ll mount the scope and shoot it again with the most accurate pellets. So, you’re going to get an extra part or two from this report.

Is it quiet?
Gamo says on the package that this rifle is 89.5 percent quieter.* When you track down what the asterisk means, you find the phrase “Under the Gamo measurement standards.” Whatever that means! I already fired it a few times to get a sense of how it feels and Edith commented from her office, “Why is that airgun so loud?” The pellets I was shooting were probably going supersonic, so I then tested it with some extra-heavy Beeman Kodiak pellets, and it was most definitely quieter. Edith didn’t even notice it that time until I called her attention to it. So, for everyone except the shooter, this rifle is undoubtedly a quiet one…as long as the pellets are very heavy. The shooter, however, hears all the sound through the bones in his face, and the sound doesn’t change much from pellet to pellet.

Trigger
The trigger is Gamo’s new Smooth Action Trigger or SAT. It comes set up as a 2-stage trigger, and everything was adjusted to my satisfaction right out of the box. A short first stage stops abruptly at stage 2, then breaks cleanly for the shot. I’ll have more to say about it in Part 2 of this report.

The safety is manual. I applaud Gamo for taking this bold step, because a shooter really should be the one to decide when to apply the safety. If they don’t know how to handle the gun safely, no automatic safety will change that or make the gun one bit safer. The one criticism I have of the safety is that when you put it on, the lever is pulled toward the trigger. If your finger slips, you could discharge the rifle. That’s where safe gun handling comes in, because the muzzle should always be pointed in a direction where it is safe if it should fire.

Power
Gamo promises 1,300 f.p.s. with lead-free PBA pellets. I’ll certainly test them; but if experience holds, they won’t be the most accurate pellets in the gun. I’ll also test it with the types of pellets I believe shooters will really select if they want to hit their targets. If I’m wrong and PBAs turn out to be accurate, I will publicly apologize to Gamo.

First impression
I always liked the Whisper; and when a gas spring was added, I thought it was even better. The Whisper Fusion IGT was built from the ground up to be a powerful gas-spring gun, yet lightweight at the same time. It’s the combination many shooters say they want, so let’s see what you get.

B.B.’s Christmas gift suggestions for 2012: Part 1

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

Announcement: Mark Barnes is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their airgun facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Pyramyd Air Big Shot of the Week

Mark Barnes is this week’s Big Shot of the Week on Pyramyd Air’s facebook page.

At last, we’ve come to the day when I get to spend your money or suggest gifts for you! Knowing what an enabler I am, you must appreciate what a rush this report is for me.

Pyramyd Air Champion heavy-duty trap

Champion heavy-duty trap

Pellet trap
I will dive right in with my first suggestion — a Champion Heavy Duty Metal trap. If you don’t yet own one of these, you need one. They cost $42 when I bought mine in the early 1990s, and time is a-wastin’ for you to get yours. Yes, they’re pricey for what they are, but this is the last trap you’ll ever need for any smallbore air rifle. It’s rated to stop standard-speed .22 long rifle bullets, so you know that nothing your airguns can toss at it is going to do any damage. Mine has uncounted shots on it, and it’s still in near-perfect condition — except for the paint. I’ve emptied about half a ton of lead from this trap over the years; and, yes, that was all melted down to be reused in cast bullets. The last 100 pounds of it is still waiting to be melted. This trap is big, heavy and hard to love — except when you’ve been using it for several years, and you finally realize what a tremendous piece of equipment it really is! Not for steel BBs!

Leapers UTG Accushot pellet & BB trap

Leapers UTG Accushot pellet & BB trap

BB traps
Crosman no longer sells their famous model 850/852 pellet and BB trap, so the Leapers UTG Pellet & BB trap is the only game in town. That is, if you want to have ballistic curtains that you can replace. I destroyed my Crosman trap after about 100,000 shots with steel BBs and low-velocity lead pellets, and I hope Santa remembers that this year. I hope Leapers never drops this trap from their line, as it’s the most valuable, flexible BB trap I know of.

Winchester airgun target cube

Winchester airgun target cube

I’m not big into BB guns, but this blog affords the opportunity to shoot steel BBs a lot more than I normally would. When the Crosman trap finally gave up the ghost, I asked Pyramyd Air to send me a Winchester Airgun Target Cube for BBs and Pellets. I’ve used this target trap with both BBs and pellets much of this year. Some of the pellets were leaving the muzzle at speeds over 800 f.p.s. There’s a steel plate inside the cube for higher-speed pellets, and the BB side is rated to 350 f.p.s. I would estimate I have around 1,000 total shots on the cube, and it’s still going strong. I use it every time there’s another BB gun to test because I have no other BB trap — at the moment. It stops all the BBs cold, with not one of them falling to the floor, which is a big advantage to an in-home range. I would be careful to hit this cube straight-on, rather than at an angle, just so the BBs have to penetrate as much of the foam as possible.

Chronograph
Here’s another item that we all need, yet find difficult to buy for ourselves. But I want to make a little analogy here. Not buying a chronograph and living in perpetual doubt about the velocity of your airguns is like being the “modern” guy or gal who laughs at those of us who wear wristwatches, because cell phones display more accurate time. All well and good, but why do these people (Edith) keep asking me what time it is?

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph

I could give you lots of reasons why you need a chronograph, such as keeping tabs on a spring gun’s health and calculating the ideal fill pressure and shot count for a PCP, but that has all been done many times in this blog. Let’s just agree that a chronograph is wonderful, too, for every airgunner and leave it at that.

Shooting Chrony Alpha Master chronograph

Shooting Chrony Alpha Master chronograph

My choice for you would be a Shooting Chrony Alpha model, which is what I use all the time. I selected the Alpha model over the cheaper F-1 model because the Alpha has a built-in calculator that does simple statistics for you. The F-1 also does give both the high and low shots plus the average. If that’s all you need, it’s a wonderful value.

If you don’t mind spending a little more money, the Alpha Master with its remote readout that allows you to be up at 15 feet from the skyscreens is great for those who also want to chronograph firearms. Sometimes with powerful centerfires you do need to be several feet back from the start screen.

Blue Book of Airguns

Blue Book of Airguns

Blue Book of Airguns

For those who are finding that this airgun hobby keeps growing and expanding, the Blue Book of Airguns, 10th Edition is a nice reference to have. There’s great information about many of the vintage airguns we talk about in the blog, plus all sorts of other useful stuff such as the crossover names for multi-branded guns like those made by Diana. The 10th edition also has a very special article by Dr. Robert Beeman about the Lewis & Clark airgun. Doctor Beeman has done more research on the Lewis & Clark airgun than anyone and has uncovered a wealth of information for a book he’s writing on the subject. This article is a sneak preview of all he’s learned.

Airguns?
Well, am I ever going to recommend any airguns? Yes, I’ll get to that right now. But these first gifts are the ones I believe people really need but will not buy for themselves.

I have to be very careful about the guns I recommend because sometimes newer airgunners put a lot of faith in what I say. That’s not necessarily warranted; but I’m aware that a few people are doing it, so I watch what I say. I know that for many of you, one airgun may be all you buy. If that’s the case, I want it to be the best representative it can possibly be, and I don’t mean just FOR THE PRICE. A poor choice is a poor choice at any price, and I will not get into a game of rating “value” according to the price of something. If I recommend it, I believe the item has to stand on its own.

Air Venturi Bronco spring-piston air rifle

Air Venturi Bronco

Air Venturi Bronco
I recommend the Air Venturi Bronco. It’s a low-cost breakbarrel spring rifle that has a lot going for it. It’s accurate, easy to cock, sized for older kids as well as adults and has a wonderful trigger. It’s not a powerful air rifle, but I don’t think there is a better all-around air rifle on the market today.

Gamo Whisper spring-piston air rifle

Gamo Whisper air rifle

Gamo Whisper
I’ll bet this choice surprises a lot of people — especially the folks at Gamo, who may think I’m overly critical of their airguns. The fact is that they hit the nail on the head, with the Whisper and I find it to be a very fine airgun! I love the fat muzzlebrake that contains their baffled silencer; and regardless of whether or not it makes the gun any quieter (it does), it is the handiest cocking handle on the market. The only two things that would make the Whisper better are a gas spring and a better trigger. Pyramyd Air lists the Whisper with a Crosman Nitro Piston conversion in a different section of their website, which I find terribly confusing. But it is there, so don’t overlook it. The gas spring removes all vibration from the gun, which the standard Whisper does have. The better trigger we’ll just have to wait on.

Crosman used to have a Nitro Piston lower-velocity rifle that I would have also chosen for a gift, and for a very short time they also listed a Benjamin Legacy in .22 caliber that was one of the very finest spring rifles they ever offered. Sadly, both have been discontinued. If any other maker decides to de-tune a gas spring air rifle, there’s a market for it. Perhaps, the sales at the discount stores wouldn’t justify it, but educated buyers like those who read this blog could sustain steady sales, I believe. The Bronco got off to a slow start; but now that the word has circulated throughout the airgun community, I think the sales have picked up to the sustainment level.

Air Arms TX200 MKIII underlever air rifle

Air Arms TX200 MKIII

Air Arms TX200
You don’t have to ask because here it is. You have a bunch of money and want the absolute best spring gun — it’s the TX200 Mark III. Not the Hunter Carbine or the Pro-Sport — just the Mark III. This air rifle is built the way you think they all ought to be built. The metal is deeply blued, and the wood is flawless. The trigger is like the Rekord, only in its finest incarnation. Yes it costs a lot; but if you want the best, this is it.

Benjamin Discovery PCP air rifle with hand pump

Benjamin Discovery PCP with hand pump

Benjamin Discovery
I know, it sounds like bragging to promote a gun I had a hand in designing, but the fact is that Crosman carried out my wishes for the Benjamin Discovery almost to the letter. I was so proud of it that I wanted my name to go on it! Yes, the Marauder that I will get to next is quieter, more accurate and has a better trigger. But as a way of getting into the mysterious world of PCP airguns for little money, nothing can beat the Disco. If you do your part, it’ll shoot groups of 10 that are smaller than an inch at 50 yards. I linked to the combo that includes the hand pump because, frankly, I think this is the best way to learn about PCP airguns. And the price is right!

Benjamin Marauder precharged pneumatic airgun

Benjamin Marauder PCP

Benjamin Marauder
Crosman got their revenge on me when they introduced the Benjamin Marauder and everyone said it was the gun they should have built in the first place. They wanted to build it first, but I convinced them to start with the Discovery and gain some experience before tackling a more complex airgun like the Marauder. The Benjamin Marauder certainly is without equal. It has a fine adjustable trigger, splendid accuracy, is very quiet to shoot, and the fill pressure and velocity are both adjustable. What more can you ask for? Maybe the stock is on the fat side, but far be it from me to criticize the rifle that has changed the world of PCP airguns. Every PCP manufacturer has benefitted from the Marauder because it opened the world to the “dark side” — precharged airguns. I won’t suggest a caliber because each one has its champions. I’ve shot them all and they’re all best buys.

AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle

AirForce Talon SS

AirForce Talon SS
If you like the black rifle look and can shoot a single-shot, then it doesn’t get any better than the Talon SS from AirForce airguns. As I’ve pointed out in numerous reports, this isn’t just an air rifle — its a whole shooting system. You can change calibers and barrel lengths and run on either air or CO2. And the gun accepts an entire host of accessories. Some folks do not like the black rifle styling. That’s fine. If they want a conventional style there are certainly many air rifles to choose from. But for all those who only care where the pellet goes each time, the SS wins hands-down.

Daisy Avanti 853, AirForce Edge, Crosman Challenger

Daisy Avanti 853 at top, AirForce Edge in the middle and Crosman Challenger at the bottom

AirForce Edge & Crosman Challenger PCP
If you want a nice target rifle without paying a fortune, there used to be just one choice — the Daisy Avanti 853. It still exists, of course, and there are hundreds of thousands of them still in the hands of junior shooters all around the country, but its time has passed. I say that because the rifle’s trigger is poor and can only be modified to be okay, at its best. Two other 10-meter junior rifles have kicked it out of the nest. The Edge from AirForce is the first of these.

The Edge is an entirely new rifle from AirForce and incorporates their new target sights, as well. While the price is on the high side, you’re getting $170 worth of target sights included in that. I have tested the Edge and found it to be one of the two best youth target rifles available today. You’ll get an incredible 100+ shots from the tiny air reservoir, and filling it from a hand pump is relatively east for an adult. A dry-fire mechanism is built into the trigger so you can practice without firing a shot, which all target shooters need to be able to do. The trigger cannot be any better than this is — literally — since it’s limited by the NRA and CMP competition rules. If you like ergonomics, no junior target rifle comes close to the flexibility of the Edge. It even lets you to weight the rifle perfectly according to each shooter’s preference — up to the maximum permitted overall weight.

The Crosman Challenger PCP is the other great youth 10-meter target gun. This rifle doesn’t have sights that are as nice as those on the Edge; but in all other ways, it’s just as good. It’s a tack-driver, and I’ve proven that in a test. You’ll also get more than 100 shots on a fill with the Challenger PCP, and the trigger is very good, though it’s also constrained to the minimum weight requirement of 1.5 lbs.

The Challenger is very adjustable, as well. The pull of the stock has a wide range of adjustability and the buttplate can be canted sideways for comfort. All things considered, I think either this rifle or the Edge would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the target shooter — both young and old.

I told Edith that I could get everything into a single report this year, but that was wrong. I still have a lot more to do, so look for part 2 next week.

Top-notch springer
Air Arms TX200 air rifle

When it comes to spring-piston air rifles, the Air Arms TX200 Mk III is a favorite of many airgunners, including airgun writer Tom Gaylord. His favorite caliber is .177. While the gun will initially impress you with its beauty and superior craftsmanship, you'll be even more impressed with the incredible accuracy! Tom claims this is "the most accurate spring gun below $3,000." Beech or walnut, left-hand or right-hand stock. Isn't it time you got yours?

All the fun, none of the hassles!
Uzi CO2 BB submachine gun

You've seen tons of movies with guys spraying bullets from their Uzi submachine guns and probably thought it would be a blast. Except for the cost of ammo! You can have all that fun with this Uzi BB submachine gun at just pennies a round. Throw shots downrange for hours on end with all the fun, none of the firearm hassles and a fraction of the cost.

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