Posts Tagged ‘gas ram’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Just a word
Befoere I get started with today’s report, I want to say something about what happened this weekend. Friday’s airsoft report got a lot of comments. Among them are several questions about the technology of the guns. And some admissions that people didn’t think much of airsoft before they tried it, then they found their opinions changed drastically. That also happened to me, so I can relate to it.
But all you who don’t care for the subject don’t need to worry. This isn’t going to become an airsoft blog. I will continue to report on it at a low level, but I know this is an airgun blog, and that’s not going to change. I want to assure the readers for whom the subject of airsoft is not welcome that we are still going to talk about pellet guns and BBs guns for the most part. I will write a few reports on airsoft now and then, and I trust they won’t upset you too much.
Okay, that’s done. On to the topic of the day!
Today is our second look at the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex, and it’s velocity day. Before I get to that, there are a couple adjustments I wanted to make to the rifle. Let’s look at those now.
The first adjustment is the trigger. In the first report, I said the trigger is crisp but heavy. The adjustment screw adjusts only the length of the first-stage pull; so I adjusted it to be longer, and stage 2 decreased. Don’t go too far or the rifle will not cock at all because this adjustment does affect the area of sear contact.
I did go too far and had to call Umarex USA, where I learned that the Octane is supposed to come with a warning tag telling you not to turn in the adjustment screw more than one full turn. I went way past that, so all I had to do was turn the screw back out until the head stood even with the trigger blade — and the trigger was back to working again. For even greater contact, turn the screw so it stands proud of the trigger blade.
The second thing I wanted to adjust is the tension on the action forks because the barrel pivot was too loose. To do that, I normally take the barreled action out of the stock. But with this rifle, you need to be aware that the pins in the trigger are not held in and will fall out of the trigger if the action is tipped sideways. I didn’t know this, of course; and when the first pin fell out, it set me up for 45 minutes of work to get the trigger back together again. It seems that the trigger pins are held in place by the stock. Other airguns I’ve worked on have the same arrangement, and one solution is to put tape on one side of the trigger to hold the pins in place…and keep the trigger oriented straight up and down.
Each of the 6 free (not held by circlips or springs) trigger pins seen here is very loose in its hole and will fall out of the trigger if the gun is jostled or tipped to the side. They’re held in place by the stock. What appears to be a pin at the far right is actually a rivet.
Better still — what you can do (VERY CAREFULLY!) is remove both forearm screws and just LOOSEN the rear screw behind the triggerguard. Then the front of the action can be tipped up clear of the stock far enough to tighten the barrel pivot bolt and nut. I would advise against taking the action completely out of the stock. If you do, know how loose the trigger pins are and treat the rifle accordingly. When the pins fall out, the internal trigger parts start moving around. They’re fairly easy to align with their pin holes, except for the safety that takes a little fiddling since it’s a 2-piece assembly with an internal pivot. My advice is to leave the gun in the stock.
One final tip. When you tighten the stock screws, don’t tighten the rear stock screw (the one behind the triggerguard) too much or the trigger won’t function. It was not tight when I first took the action out of the stock; and I found that if I tightened it too much, the trigger would not work. Umarex told me the screw shouldn’t affect the trigger at all, but I’m just reporting on the behavior of my test rifle.
Now, let’s look at the velocity of the Octane. I’ve selected 3 popular lead pellets and one lead-free pellet.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The first pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo. This is a popular and very accurate pellet in many airguns, and I think it may be accurate in the Octane. This pellet averaged 762 f.p.s. in the Octane. The low was 748 f.p.s., and the high was 787 f.p.s.; so the spread was 39 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 20.51 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
This pellet loaded easily, perhaps too easily. I think it might be a little undersized for the Octane’s breech. That could affect the accuracy. We’ll see.
The RWS Hobby pellet weighs 11.9 grains in .22 caliber and is very tight in the Octane’s breech. It averaged 889 f.p.s. in the rifle with a low of 867 and a high of 902 f.p.s. So the spread was 35 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produces 20.89 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I don’t know how Hobbys will do in the Octane, but I suspect they’ll do well because of the tight fit in the bore. Of course, the Hobby is a wadcutter, so accuracy will fall off after about 25 yards.
The .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak dome weighs 21.14 grains, which makes it a very heavy pellet. In the Octane, Kodiaks averaged 682 f.p.s. with a range from 665 to 691 f.p.s. That’s a total spread of 26 f.p.s. At the maximum velocity, the Kodiak produces 21.84 foot-pounds at the muzzle.
My guess is that the Kodiak pellet might also be a good one for the Octane. If so, that’s great because it also produces the most energy of all the lead pellets tested.
Okay, the name of the game with pellet rifles these days is speed, and the RWS HyperMAX lead-free pellet at 9.9 grains is the way to get it. In the Octane, they averaged 1029 f.p.s. with a spread from 1022 to 1075 f.p.s. That’s a spread of 53 f.p.s., so the rifle is probably still burning a lot of fuel. At the average velocity, the HyperMAX pellet produced 23.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The HyperMAX pellet fit the breech very loosely. That’s probably where the extra velocity spread came from, as more dieseling was generated by less pellet resistance. I doubt this pellet will do very well in the Octane because of the loose fit.
The rifle recoils noticeably in both directions, but there’s no vibration, whatsoever. Nearly all rifles with gas springs have a sharp buzz that hits you in the cheek, but the Octane doesn’t. In fact, aside from the recoil, it’s a very smooth-shooting spring rifle.
Remember that I had to adjust the trigger for a very definite stage-2 let-off. That affected the trigger-pull a lot. I was able to adjust it back to a release of 7 lbs., 14 oz. with very little creep. It’s heavy, as I noted before, but I think it’s crisp enough to do good work. We shall soon see!
The Octane IS NOT LOUD!
When I first tested the rifle it was very loud. And the sound persisted for longer than I felt the dieseling of a new airgun would last. But during this test the rifle suddenly became MUCH quieter. Obviously, it had been dieseling and I didn’t know it.
I originally told Edith it was a 3.7 on the sound scale when I tested it, and she adjusted the loudness level on Pyramyd Air’s product page to 4. But now she can hear that the Octane is clearly a 3. I apologize to everyone who was mislead by my earlier report. The Octane is a normal-sounding breakbarrel air rifle.
Observations thus far.
I said in Part 1 that the Octane holds very well in the hands. The weight is biased forward toward the muzzle, and the stock is slender when the off hand rests. Add the smooth shooting to this, and I think the Octane might surprise us in the accuracy test.
I plan on shooting the rifle at 10 meters with its open sights first. That should give us an idea of which pellets it likes. Then, I’ll mount the scope and shoot those best pellets at 10 meters, again. That does 2 things. First, it confirms the pellets are as good as we think; and second, it allows me time to adjust the scope for the second accuracy test at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Here’s another new air rifle from Umarex USA. The Octane combo is a breakbarrel air rifle powered by a gas spring. Umarex calls their gas spring the Reaxis gas piston. That title Reaxis signifies that the gas spring unit is mouned in reverse of what’s normal. Instead of the heavier piston going forward with each shot…what would be the tail end of most gas springs…is where the piston seal is mounted. That lowers the reaction mass, which lowers the recoil felt by the shooter. Whether or not it works as advertised is something I’ll test and report.
I’m testing a .22-caliber rifle, at my request. I dislike wasting the energy of a super magnum gas spring on a .177-caliber gun that can’t develop the full power potential, so this is a chance to test this gun the way I would order it. The manufacturer claims a velocity of 1,250 f.p.s. with lead-free pellets and 1,050 f.p.s. with lead. Of course, you know I’m going to test that, as well.
The rifle I’m testing is serial number 00371165. It’s clearly marked Made in China, but don’t ask me what the base gun is. I find that these rifles change their personality a lot when manufacturers have them built to their specifcations, and tracking down the lineage often becomes misleading.
The Octane is a huge air rifle — 48.5 inches overall with a 14.5-inch pull. And it weighs 8.5 lbs. and 9.5 lbs. with scope and mounts. So, it’s longer than an M1 Garand and nearly as heavy. But that weight is biased toward the muzzle, so the rifle holds very steady — a huge point in its favor. And the black synthetic stock has a forearm with a thin cross-section that makes the rifle sink deep into your hand and hold much easier. Laying your off hand under the forearm just forward of the triggerguard provides a stable resting point.
The stock is designed as a permanent thumbhole with a well-shaped pistol grip. The synthetic material is rough to the touch and is checkered on two small panels on either side of the forearm at the place you want to hold it. The buttpad is a very soft and grippy black rubber pad. It’s fitted perfectly and holds on the shoulder without movement. I normally don’t like thumbhole stocks, but this one saves weight, pushes the weight forward toward the muzzle and seems to compliment the rifle very well.
The open sights are fully adjustable, but they have fiberoptic tubes both front and rear. Aiming is, therefore, not going to be precise unless you light the target to keep the fiberoptics from appearing. I’ll initially shoot the rifle with the open sights at 10 meters to see if this is possible.
But this is a combo that comes with a 3-9X40 scope and mounts. The scope has adjustable parallax down to 10 meters, so it’s ideal for airgun use. I’ll report on it as the test progresses.
There’s one additional point to make about the scope. The rifle comes with a Picatinny scope base attached to 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube. So the shooter has the choice of using either Weaver rings that will fit Picatinny grooves, or removing the base from the gun and using the 11mm dovetails directly. Either way, though, there’s no provision for a positive scope stop, which is risky on a rifle that recoils heavily. I’ll be watching for any movement of the scope mounts and bases during the test.
Here you see the Picatinny base that’s attached to the integral dovetails. Either can be used to mount a scope, but neither has a positive scope stop because the base is just clamped to the dovetails.
The metal on the barreled action is finished to a satin sheen. It’s shinier than a matte finish, but not as shiny as most European air rifle finishes.
Like all gas springs, there’s a loud crack when the rifle discharges. The Octane has a silencer muzzlebrake they call the SilencAIR. It has internal chambers that might attenuate the discharge sound somewhat. But it’s still a loud airgun — make no mistake! Pyramyd Air rated it as a 3 on the sound scale. I thought it was closer to 3.7, so Edith changed the loudness rating to 4 since Pyramyd Air’s scale has no fractions. It’s louder than most breakbarrel magnums that have coiled steel mainsprings.
You know I have tried the rifle a few times already — just to see how it feels. I found the 2-stage trigger a bit heavy but very crisp. It’s adjustable, so I’ll see what I can do to it in Part 2. I do like the fact that the trigger blade feels fairly straight up and down because that gives me the feeling of control I want.
I read the reviews of the rifle, and they rate it very high. Accuracy is mentioned by several reviewers. I can’t wait to see this for myself, as I’ve not had good luck with the accuracy of magnum rifles with gas springs. I would love to find one that was accurate.
One thing that might work in the Octane’s favor is that the barrel pivots are screws rather than pins. That means they can be tightened. The ones on the test rifle need to be tightened before testing, as the barrel will not stay in position. The owner’s manual also says to clean the barrel before shooting. I will do both things, and report back to you on how it works.
If there’s a category of airguns that I’m dubious about, it’s the magnum springer — especially the one with a gas spring. I’ve seldom seen them shoot accurately. But I’m more than willing to believe they can be good. And if any of them has a chance, this appears to be the one. Given its power and low price, if the Octane is also accurate I’ll sing its praises to the skies!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
We’re certainly getting a good look at the Benjamin Trail NP pistol! While the title says this is Part 6, it’s actually the 7th report because Part 4 was so large it had to be broken into two parts.
Let’s look at the performance of the pistol after break-in. This test pistol has been shot so much that it’s now broken in, so today we’ll look at the velocity. Crosman says in the owner’s manual that the pistol needs several hundred shots before it’s fully broken-in, and this gun certainly has that many shots through it.
They also say the gun will become quieter after a break-in, and the test pistol is certainly quiet now. Apparently, some guns have detonated and surprised their owners, so Crosman is being conservative in its explanation. The test Trail NP pistol has never been very noisy.
I’ll report the velocity of each pellet before and after the break-in period, so you can compare them.
The first pellet I tested was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. It’s normally the fastest lead pellet in almost any airgun.
Crosman SSP hollowpoint
The Crosman SSP hollowpoint is a 4-grain, lead-free pellet that’s shaped like a wadcutter but with a deep hollow point. Being so light, it’s a real speed demon.
Crosman Powershot Penetrators
Crosman Powershot Penetrators are synthetic-jacketed pellets that have a metal core. They weigh 5.4 grains and loosely fit the bore of the Trail NP pistol.
Crosman SSP pointed
Crosman’s SSP pointed pellet is another 4-grain, lead-free pellet. You’d expect it to have about the same performance as the SSP hollowpoints, but this pellet isn’t sized as well as the hollowpoint. Consequently, they fit the bore variably, which affects the velocity.
JSB Exact RS dome
The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome. It weighs 7.3 grains and fits the bore loosely.
So there you have it. All 5 of the pellets shot slower after the break-in, and all but one had more consistent velocity spreads. Clearly the Benjamin Trail NP pistol does break in as the company states in the owner’s manual.
This report has been a look into the performance of a spring-piston air pistol as it breaks in. We’ve seen the way to maximize the accuracy of the airgun, and we’ve learned how to overcome the too-tall front sight post. I hope this experience has been of benefit to the new shooters and perhaps provides a template of how a spring gun breaks in.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Before we begin today’s report, a word about my late friend, Earl (Mac) McDonald. His family has set up a memorial page in his name to collect finds for research into the causes of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which is one of the names prion disease goes by. Most of you knew Mac only through his writing and testing here on the blog; but a few of you were friends with him through this hobby, and I thought you would like to know about this.
Today, we’ll continue testing the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. Although today’s title says Part 5, it’s actually the 6th report because I had to break Part 4 into sub-parts a and b.
We’ll look at the accuracy of those 3 lead-free pellets that Crosman provided with the test pistol. As before, I’m shooting at 10 meters, and the gun has a red dot sight mounted. I’ll describe all the other shooting conditions as we go. It has been so long since I last tested this air pistol that I had to read both parts of the fourth report to find out how to shoot the pistol for the best results.
I decided to shoot everything with the cocking aid attached. My testing demonstrated that it didn’t hurt the accuracy, and in a few cases it seemed to help it. At any rate, it makes the pistol easier to cock, so I left it on for this whole test.
Crosman Powershot Penetrators
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Powershot Penetrator. It’s a synthetic-bodied pellet with a heavy non-lead metal core. They fit loosely in the breech, so I seated them flush but did not try to seat them deep. Since some of my best shooting was with the gun rested directly against the sandbag last time, I decided to start out that way. Imagine my surprise to see a near-pinwheel shot with the first pellet! [A pinwheel is a shot in the exact center of the target, and it refers to taking out the extremely small 10-ring of a smallbore target so that just the white scoring ring remains behind.] The shot was so good that I stopped and took a picture of it to show you — in case history was about to be made. This happens about one time every ten thousand shots or so for me, and it’s usually by pure chance. It is, however, the sort of thing that gives rise to lies and legends and is probably the basis for the Cargo Cults.
Much as I would have loved to bask in the radiance of that first shot, shot No. 2 dispelled the miracle. Pellet 2 landed 4 inches south of the first one, humbling me once more.
Here’s a lesson in testing airguns. When something goes wrong like this, and all your experience says that it should have been wrong to begin with (resting a spring gun directly on a sandbag), take the hint and change your ways. So I did. I moved my hands forward of the bag and held the gun with no part of it touching anything except me. Then, I shot 10 more shots into a very decent group that measures 1.587 inches between centers. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not a bad group for this pistol. Not the best by any means; but for lead-free pellets, it’s not bad.
Crosman SSP hollowpoints
Next, I tried the SSP hollowpoint pellets seated flush and with my arms resting on the bag but the pistol not touching it. This was how I held the gun for the remainder of this report. This time, 10 pellets made a slightly smaller group — measuring 1.513 inches. Amazing! Who would have thought that lead-free pellets could be so accurate?
This pellet fit the breech tighter, so I figured I could try to seat them deeply. Next, I shot 5 of the same SSP hollowpoints seated deep with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Pellet Seater. When the first 2 pellets landed very close to each other, I thought I might be on to something; but after 5 shots, I knew differently. I had a vertical string that measures 2.013 inches between centers. It’s very tight side-to-side, so I was holding the pistol okay…but the velocity of the pellet was way off, shot-to-shot.
Allow me to explain what I mean by the velocity was off. I’m not referring to the velocity from the muzzle to the target. At 10 meters, you can vary the velocity by 50 f.p.s. and not affect the group that much. But the time the pellet remains inside the barrel while the gun is moving affects things greatly. That is what I mean by the velocity affecting things. I really mean the pellet dwell time inside the barrel because that determines where the muzzle will be when the pellet exits. Obviously, when this pellet is seated deep, that time varies enough to affect where the pellet strikes the target — even at 10 meters.
The bottom line — deep-seating is out for this pellet. And another testing tip — I don’t need to fire a second 5 shots to figure that out. I can stop here and move on with the test.
Crosman SSP pointed pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Crosman SSP pointed pellet. This is another lead-free pellet. Instead of a hollow point, it has a pointed tip. The weight is the same 4 grains as the SSP hollowpoint. I seated them flush with the breech and started to shoot, but they were hitting so low that some were below the target paper. So, I stopped and adjusted the red dot sight up several clicks, then started the group all over. Ten pellets landed in a 5.004-inch group that told me the test was over. Sure, I could have tried seating these pellets deep or holding the pistol directly on the sandbag, but this huge group told me it wasn’t worth the effort. What was the best I could do — shade the hollowpoints by a fraction of an inch? No, I know when to hold ‘em, and I also know when to fold ‘em. Now, it was time to end the test.
Impressions so far
I remain impressed by the Benjamin Trail NP pistol. For the money, it offers performance well beyond what most airguns of equivalent price can give you. It’s an air pistol you must be dedicated to, however, because it takes some getting used to. But for smashing power with decent accuracy, I can’t think of another spring pistol in this price range that does as well.
There is still one final test to do. I want to rerun the velocity test. That will establish if the hundreds of shots we’ve given this pistol to this point have finally broken in the gun.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.