Posts Tagged ‘hand pump’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
It’s taken me awhile to get back to this pistol because I injured my hand, so I couldn’t fill the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol from the hand pump for a couple of weeks, but last Friday I was at it again — probably for the last time. You may remember that I discovered that the AT P1 likes a fill pressure of 3,200 psi — which is sort of ironic in light of several recent reports I’ve done. This time, I used the Hill pump to fill the gun to that pressure to see if there are 10 good shots on a fill. That was the problem before — the circular clip holds 10 pellets, but the gun didn’t seem to want to shoot more than 7 of them on a single fill of air.
I decided that instead of wasting time with a lot of different pellets, I would concentrate on the one good pellet that I knew gave the best accuracy. That’s the Beeman Kodiak. First, I filled the gun to 3,200 psi, then loaded the clip and inserted it into the gun. Someone asked me how I held the gun to shoot it, given that it’s scoped with a Leapers UTG 3-9X40 AO rifle scope. The eyepiece has to be held within 2-3 inches of the eye in order to see the image. There’s a way to hold the gun that uses the scope as one of the handles, and that’s what I did. I photographed it for you, so you can see it as I describe the hold.
I hold the back of the scope at the eyepiece and let my hand separate the rear of the scope from my sighting eye by the required distance. My hand is pressed against my safety glasses to maintain the separation. The weight of the pistol rests directly on the bag, so all my other hand does is keep the pistol steady. With this hold, I can squeeze the trigger without moving the gun.
This hold is one I learned while shooting the LD Mark I pistol from Tim McMurray. That’s a Crosman Mark I Target pistol that Tim converts to add a longer bafrrel, a CO2 tank hanging down from the grip and a rifle scope mounted on top — just like this one. With the LD, I rested the external tank on my chest and held the scope like you see here. That gave me near-rifle accuracy.
The result is a steady hold — especially when you consider I’m shooting only 25 yards. I don’t recommend holding a recoiling firearm pistol this way, but you can get away with it on a PCP.
All targets were shot at 25 yards. The first target looked very good until the final shot. I could see that the pistol was grouping low and to the left, but all I was interested in was the size of the group. It could always be moved later with a simple scope adjustment. The group that formed looked very encouraging until the last shot, as I said. I could clearly see that one go high and into the center of the bull, ironically enough. But when I walked downrange to examine the target more closely, it wasn’t as good as it had seemed. A line of four shots appears to the right of the main group, and they’re strung vertically up to the center of the bull. The last one is the highest one. I never saw the other 3 shots in the string, so they could have been any of the preceding 9 shots. All I could see through the scope was the large group that formed at 7 o’clock on the edge of the bull.
I guess this first target took the wind from my sails. It was no better than any of the previous targets shot with this pistol. My idea that a higher fill pressure would keep 10 shots in a tighter group was bogus. But I still had time on the range, so I thought something else was in order. I adjusted the scope higher and to the right just a little, to correct for where the Beeman Kodiaks had grouped. Then, I loaded the gun with 10 JSB Exact Monster pellets. The Monster pellet weighs 25.4 grains, making it even heavier than the .22-caliber Beeman Kodiak. And it’s a JSB. I wondered if this might be the pellet that turns things around for the AT-P1 pistol.
Alas, it wasn’t. It turned things around, all right, but not for the better. The pellets were all over the place! In the end, 10 of them printed a group measuring 1.933 inches at 25 yards. It’s more of a full-choke shotgun pattern than a group shot from a rifled barrel!
Now, I was really downhearted. I switched back to the Kodiaks and give them one final try. The gun was, again, filled to 3,200 psi, and 10 more pellets went downrange. This time, the results were not as good as the first time. Ten pellets made a group that measured 1.211 inches between centers. It was higher on the target and also centered better, which proves my earlier statement that the group can always be moved by adjusting the scope, but things were not getting better.
Outcome and final evaluation
I put a lot of time and energy into testing the Hatsan AT-P1 pistol. The reward was not worth the effort, in my opinion. While I agree that Hatsan does know how to make a fine precharged air rifle, the AT-P1 pistol is not as refined as the rifles they make. It’s too large and too coarse for what it delivers. I wanted it to succeed because there aren’t that many nice PCP pistols to choose from, but the test results do not live up to the hope.
I think that if you’re interested in an airgun like thi,s you should look at the AT-P2 pistol, which comes with a shoulder stock. That way, you won’t have to learn how to hold the gun like I did here. As long as you know how few shots you’re going to get on a fill of air (7) — and you manage that, you’ll be fine.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This test is being done because in Part 3, the accuracy test, I felt the scope I was using wasn’t giving the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol the best chance for success. It was a vintage Weaver K856, which means a fixed 8x magnification with a 56mm objective lens. Though it doesn’t say anywhere on the scope, I’m pretty sure the scope’s parallax is fixed at 100 yards. At the 25 yards I was shooting, the target was slightly blurry.
The best group I got in that test was five Crosman Premiers into 0.678 inches at 25 yards. That was shooting off a sandbag rest with a rifle scope.
I said at the end of that report that I would return with a different scope mounted and try again, and today is a report on how that went. The scope I selected this time was the UTG 3-9X40 AO True Hunter that hasn’t hit the market yet. It’s a full-sized rifle scope with a suggested retail price of $104.97, so I would expect to see it sell for something less than that. I’m not going to report on this scope in detail today, but you do need to know that it’s a fine scope for this test. The parallax adjustment worked perfectly, and I was able to get the target bulls into sharp focus. The way I had to hold the pistol to use the scope was a detractor, but it’s no reflection on the quality of the scope, itself. I plan to do a full report on just the scope, but I’ll mount it on one of my rifles of known accuracy.
As I reported, the Hatsan pistol has a proprietary quick-disconnect fill probe that isn’t compatible with other airguns outside the Hatsan line, so I attached it to the hose on my Hill pump. I need my carbon fiber tank for filling all my other PCPs that are universally compatible with the Foster-type quick-disconnect fittings, so the Hill was dedicated to this pistol. It took 26 pump strokes to fill the pistol after 10 shots were fired. That’s 2.6 pump strokes per shot. I said in the last report that the gun seems to give the best results with 7 shots per fill; but since the clip holds 10 pellets, I shot it 10 times per fill. All of today’s groups are 10-shot groups at 25 yards. I feel that’s only reasonable because nobody wants to stop shooting and fill their gun in the middle of a clip.
Shooting was off a sandbag rest, which is fine for a PCP. This pistol does recoil a little when it fires, but that’s well after the pellet has left the muzzle of the gun. The recoil is more of a rocket-like push than a typical firearm recoil, and it’s far from the violent jump of most spring guns.
I overfilled the pistol the first time. I couldn’t clearly see the gauge on the pump and wound up putting 3,500 psi into the gun, rather than 3,000. So, just this one time, I shot 20 rounds on a fill instead of just 10. Had my groups been great, I would have gone back to the chronograph and looked at the velocity again with a 3,500 psi fill.
The Hill pump is great because it allows for such a fill. Other hand pumps peak at 3,000, but the Hill keeps right on going to 3,500. I bought it from Compasseco (which is now owned by Pyramyd Air) years ago when I was testing several BSA and BSA-made derivative PCPs because they’re all pressurized to 3,350 psi.
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys
The first group fired was 10 JSB Exact 18.1-grain Jumbo Heavy domes. The scope was not sighted in, and the group landed about 4 inches below the aim point and 2 inches to the right. It measures 0.844 inches between centers. While that’s not much better than good, it beats all but 1 of the groups I made with the gun the last time at the range. Since this was 10 shots and not 5 or 7, I have to say that I did measurably better with the new scope.
Since the built-in pressure gauge said there was still about 180 bar left in the pistol after the first group, I loaded the clip with another 10 JSB Jumbo Heavys and shot again. Before shooting, I adjusted the scope through rough guesswork and managed to hit the lower right quarter of the bull at which I was aiming. I really like how well the new UTG scope adjusts, and I like how the knobs can be locked after every adjustment.
This is significant. It means there are more than the 7 shots per fill that I reported in Part 3. But I had to overfill the gun to get the other shots. More on that thought at the end of the report.
Please note that the largest of these 2 groups was 1.053 inches for 10 shots. In the previous test, the 10-shot group fired with the lighter JSB Exact 15.9-grain Jumbos was 2.093 inches. This one is a good four-tenths of an inch smaller. I think that is good evidence that the scope is the big difference this time; and if there’s a secondary difference, it’s that I am learning to shoot this pistol. However, I didn’t shoot this 18.1-grain JSB before, so my comparison isn’t perfect.
The trigger-pull was extremely long and mushy as the pistol came from the box, and it does not help the groups one bit. It’s hard to hold steady when pulling through a long, heavy trigger-pull. Also, I have to hold the end of the scope with my left hand to keep the spacing for my eye so I can see through it. If I were to try to freehand it, I would never be able to see through the scope because the image would keep blacking out with small movements of my eye and hand. So, the hold is both difficult and uncomfortable. A pistol scope would be better, though I doubt the groups would get any smaller with one.
The trigger is adjustable, however, and this is one of those rare instances in which the adjustments really work! I adjusted the long pull in my office after the range and got the trigger breaking fairly crisp and quite a bit lighter. This might have helped the groups by some amount.
I’ve tried adjusting this Quattro trigger in some Hatsan spring rifles before and didn’t see as much improvement; but, of course, in a PCP the trigger isn’t holding such a heavy spring.
Next, I filled the pistol to 3,000 psi and loaded 10 Beeman Kodiaks. This time I thought I had it right until the two final shots. Shots 9 and 10 went high and right from the main group. Eight shots went into 0.701 inches, but the last 2 shots opened the group to 1.118 inches.
This group sort of reminded me that 10 shots were too much for the AT P1 pistol on a 3,000 psi fill, even at 25 yards. Eight seemed to be the maximum with the new UTG scope. But there was one more pellet to try.
I took Skenco New Boy Seniors along, but they’re too long for the Hatsan’s clip. They protrude and don’t allow the clip to turn when the gun is cocked. The only other pellet I had to try was the Crosman Premier.
Once more, I got 8 shots in a smaller group that measured 0.791 inches, then shots 9 and 10 went wide and opened it to 1.266 inches. One went to the left and the other went right, as though I was throwing curve balls. I couldn’t see the pellets in flight; but when I saw the hole each one made, it came as a surprise.
Ten Crosman Premiers went into 1.266 inches at 25 yards from a rest. The first 8 shots went into 0.701 inches, and shots 9 and 10 went wide right and wide left. Once again, 8 shots were relatively close with 2 fliers.
Based on all this data, I’m going to say there are only 8 good shots per fill in this pistol with a 3,000 psi fill. Given the results of both days on the range, I believe I can safely make that statement. But since I was able to fill the pistol to greater pressure and get additional good shots, I think it might respond well to a fill pressure of 3,200 psi and be able to shoot all 10 shots.
The Beeman Kodiaks and Crosman Premiers seem to be the best 2 pellets in this pistol. Next time, I might try a third pellet that hasn’t been tried…like the JSB Exact RS.
Not done yet
I’m not yet finished with the Hatsan AT P1 pistol. In the next test, which I think will be the final one, I’ll try filling to 3,200 psi to see if I can get 10 good shots on one fill. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to the 3,000 psi fill and only shoot 8 shots per group. Now that I have a good scope, 2 good pellets, a knowledge of the power curve and fill pressure limits, plus a newly adjusted trigger, I think I can make the gun perform at its best.
Why am I willing to do all this testing? Because there aren’t that many good PCP air pistols available, and I think this might be a good one once I learn all its secrets. I owe you readers that much because so many of you are considering this one.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the performance of the Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol for accuracy at 25 yards. It took a long time between this test and the last one because this gun is too loud to discharge inside the house. I had to do it for the velocity test and my ears are still ringing. I waited for a day at the range to test the gun for accuracy.
I mounted a vintage Weaver K-856 scope on the gun for this test. It’s a fixed 8x scope with a 56mm objective lens. I thought it would be clear enough at 25 yards (parallax set for 100 yards), but it turned out to be fuzzy. I will change scopes for the next test.
Before I left the house, I filled the gun to 3,000 psi with the Hill pump. You may remember that this pistol has a proprietary Hatsan fill probe, and I wanted to install it on something I could leave it on for a while. My carbon fiber tank is too busy with other guns, so I dedicated the Hill for this job. Because the AT P1 has such a small reservoir, I felt it would be okay to fill the pistol this way. This is the problem with proprietary fill couplings — they have to be installed on something, making it impossible to use that fill device for your other pneumatic guns that have universal Foster fittings.
After filling the gun, I looked at the Hatsan tank gauge. It read about 50 bar, even though I had just put in 206 bar. I knew it was full, so I left it alone. The next morning, the gauge needle was up to 100 bar, but it never did read correctly. That caused a problem at the range when I shot the gun down too far. It was then that I learned that the gauge needle bears no relation to how much air is in the tank.
I started out shooting a group of 5 Crosman Premiers. The first shot landed a quarter-inch below the next 4. The total group size was 0.678 inches, but 4 of those shots went into 0.322 inches. As it turned out, that was the best group of the day.
The trigger-pull was both too long and too heavy for the best in precision. I can normally work around almost anything, but this time the trigger-pull was a real hinderance to good shooting.
I shot the next 5 Premiers at a fresh target after adjusting the scope down. This time, 5 shots went into 0.993 inches, which is considerably larger than the first group. It alerted me to the fact that there may not be 10 good shots on a charge of air.
The pressure gauge on the gun now reads about 180 bar, so I thought there were another 10 good shots in the gun. It wasn’t until later that I discovered the gauge doesn’t read the pressure correctly.
The next 10 shots were JSB Exact 15.9-grain Jumbos. They landed in a group measuring 2.093 inches between centers. That certainly isn’t a good group — especially for just 25 yards. This group has too many shots and was shot with too little air pressure in the tank, but even then the shots are so scattered that I doubt it’s the right pellet for this pistol. But because I don’t know that for sure, I’ll try this pellet again in the next test.
I filled the tank again and changed to Beeman Kodiaks. This time, 10 pellets went into a group measuring 1.464 inches. The last shot went far to the left of the main group. Because it landed in the white, I was able to see it hit the paper. That was the tip-off that 10 shots were too many — even at only 25 yards.
I’d wanted to shoot 10-shot groups, but the AT P1 doesn’t seem to have enough air for 10 good shots on a single charge. According to the chronograph testing I did on Part 2, it has air for about 7 shots, so I limited the next groups to that.
The learning curve this day was too steep for me to be satisfied with these results. I’d lost my edge toward the end of the session, and it wasn’t worth pushing on. I’ll return for a second try at 25 yards with different pellets. And I’ll give those JSB Jumbos a second chance. If I can’t do a lot better than this, I won’t bother trying to shoot the pistol at 50 yards.
The trigger-pull on the AT P1 pistol is too long and heavy for the best accuracy. Also, the scope needs to be changed to give the pistol its best chance to do well. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find another good pellet next time and these problems will disappear. As powerful as this air pistol is, it’ll make a good hunting airgun if it can hit what it shoots at.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I was all set to report the velocity of the .22-caliber Hatsan AT P1 PCP air pistol, when I discovered that there’s more I need to know about this airgun. I’d like to thank those who’ve been waiting patiently for this second report. I stalled for a long time because Hatsan uses a proprietary quick-fill probe. That means I have to undo one of my more universal fill connectors to attach their probe. Thankfully, the threads on their probe are standard 1/8″ BSPP that connect to most air hoses coming from tanks and hand pumps these days (I can still remember when that wasn’t true!), but I was working on both the Condor SS and the twist-rate report and needed a fill device for both of those. In the end, I pressed my Hill pump into service, and it proved to be a great way to fill the AT P1 pistol.
The first problem I encountered was with the 10-shot rotary clip — but I want to stress that it wasn’t the pistol’s fault. It was mine. I tried loading 28.4-grain Eun Jin domes that looked like they fit the clip well, but proved to be too long and jammed the gun.
Because they were the first pellet I tried, I thought the gun might be broken until it dawned on me that the pellets were the problem. Once I changed to Crosman Premiers, the gun functioned perfectly and there were no more cocking or feeding problems.
Rotary clips are sensitive to the length of pellets. If they stick out on either side of the clip, that can cause the gun to jam, as this Hatsan did. So, when selecting pellets for a rotary clip, keep this in mind. I chose the Eun Jin pellet for the weight. I thought it would allow this powerful pistol to develop its maximum power, but I went too far.
Removable air reservoir
In Part 1, I completely neglected to mention this pistol has a removable air reservoir. I saw the degassing tool in the tool kit and knew that it could only be used on the other (hidden) end of the reservoir, but for some reason I didn’t think to mention it.
Of course, the reason for a removable tank is so you can carry extra charged tanks in the field. Each one will give you more shots. I don’t think this is such a great feature after you learn how many shots you can get on a fill, but the choice is yours. At least Hatsan gives you the option.
Shots per fill
This will be the remainder of the report because I discovered during velocity testing that the AT P1 pistol has a very specific power curve. It’s not an inverted bathtub curve — where the velocity rises to the optimum level and remains there for a number of shots before falling back down again. Instead, the velocity rises, peaks and drops instantly. The curve looks like a peaked mountain with no flat spot at the top.
The manual says to fill to 3,000 psi and that there are 35 useful shots per fill. Several readers expressed doubts that the 50cc reservoir held enough air to give 35 powerful shots, and I agreed with them. If this was a target pistol, then 35 shots would be very possible; but at the power Hatsan claims, which is a .22-caliber pellet traveling 780 f.p.s. at the muzzle, it seems impossible to get 35 good shots on so little air. And, indeed, it isn’t.
My first fill was higher than 3,000 psi, and the velocity was depressed for many shots. When it did rise, it did so in a straight up and straight down fashion. There was no group of shots going at similar velocities. This told me I needed to control the fill very carefully.
I also noticed that the pistol fell off the power curve with about 1,800 psi remaining in the reservoir. But I didn’t stop shooting there. I stopped with about 1,500 psi remaining in the reservoir. From this test, I was able to determine that the pistol used about 62.5 psi per shot. I did that with a chronograph and with an accurate pressure gauge on the hand pump. The pressure gauge that’s built into the test pistol’s reservoir reads several hundred psi too low to be of much use.
I know how much air is in the reservoir when I start shooting because that’s what the pump’s gauge reads when I stop filling. I know how much air is in the reservoir when I stop shooting because that’s the spot on the gauge where the reservoir inlet valve is overcome by pressure during the next fill — you can see this when the gauge needle clicks at the opening of the inlet valve.
It took 1.5 pump strokes per shot, so refilling the reservoir went very quick. That’s why I believe the Hill pump is the best way to go, and the possibility of spare reservoirs isn’t worth the effort.
The shot count test
The next test I conducted began with a fill to exactly 3,000 psi on the hand pump’s pressure gauge. I used Crosman Premier pellets, exclusively for this test. I’ll give you the velocity readings and then interpret them afterward.
I’m not going to give you an average for this string because I don’t know which shots you want to consider as the good shots. Clearly, the pistol was slower at 3,000 psi on the hand pump gauge. And, remember, this is with the more accurate hand-pump gauge. The pistol’s built-in gauge was still showing about 2,700 psi at this point. Either way, there’s too much air pressure in the gun because the valve isn’t opening as long as it should, as evidenced by lower velocities.
Let’s say I like 761 f.p.s. for the first shot. If you agree, then the first 5 shots in this string were wasted. At 62.5 psi per shot, the gun was overfilled by 312.5 psi when it was filled to 3,000 psi. Since these gauges don’t read that accurately, let’s round that back to 300 psi overfill and say I need to stop filling the reservoir when the pressure gauge reads 2,700 psi.
If you select a different velocity as the start point of the shot string, then the beginning fill pressure will need to be adjusted accordingly. This is why I am not giving you an average velocity today. I can give average velocities, but before I do you need to know what is behind my numbers, because this pistol operates within narrow limits.
If I take the second reading of 761 f.p.s. as the ending shot in the string, there are a total of 7 good shots in the string. I think that’s probably too restrictive, and I need to expand my velocity variation allowance. If I allow a velocity variation of 74 f.p.s. between the fastest and slowest shots in the string, I can get 16 good shots on a fill and can start the fill at exactly 3,000 psi.
Do you see how I’m doing that? I’m using the chronograph numbers and accepting all shots until the pistol no longer drives Crosman Premiers out the muzzle at a velocity of greater than 700 f.p.s. My choices are arbitrary; but until I make them, I can say nothing about the shot count of this pistol
Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. Whatever I select as the acceptable velocity variation, I can say with certainty that this air pistol can never get 35 useful shots on a single fill. Where I draw the line is my choice, of course. If I want to shoot groups at 50 yards, the variation has to be tighter than if I want to hunt with the pistol out to 30 yards. Do you see how the anticipated use of the gun drives the useful number of shots you’re going to get?
When you change the clip, the gun must be cocked to pull the loading probe back out of the clip. Then, the clip’s axle must also be withdrawn to the front of the gun and held out of the way. That’s a separate brass bolt on the right side of the gun. The clips come out and go back in easily enough when these things are done.
Here you see the bolt probe that pushes the pellet into the barrel (brass pin in the clip recess) and the brass clip axle (the head is a brass knob) that’s been withdrawn to the front of the gun to remove the clip.
This gun is LOUD! I had to wear electronic ear protectors when testing it in my office. And although my office door was closed, my wife, Edith, remarked on the loud discharge when I was finished.
In the next report, I’ll test the pistol with several good pellets and give you some of the velocity data you’re used to seeing. But when I do, you’ll know what’s behind my numbers.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
The SHOT Show is not a gun show — though that is what many attendees call it, and the mainstream media that doesn’t attend also calls it that. Instead, it’s a happening — to use a 1960′s term. Or it’s a Middle Eastern open market. The big booths house the recognized names like Colt, Winchester and Crosman. Their booths are two stories tall with signs hanging from the ceiling that you could see a mile away if there weren’t other signs hanging in front of them.
But the real drama of the show isn’t at those booths. People already know what to expect in those places. It’s the little out-of-the-way booths hugging the walls that have the surprises. I always set aside some time just to cruise the aisles, looking for some rocks to turn over.
I’ll be walking along a narrow aisle and someone will step out to stop me. Then, in a conspiratorial tone, he leans over and says something like, “Don’t you just hate it when your ice cubes melt and dilute your drink? Cold Bars have solved that problem forever. These are sanitized stainless steel bars that retain the cold almost as well as water, plus they’re reusable forever. Put three of these in your scotch and soda, and it’ll be as fresh and strong after 20 minutes as when it was poured. When you finish the drink, just pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes…and they’re good to go again. While you wait, you use the second set of three bars in your next drink! Nothing could be easier.”
This guy is serious! You look at his spartan booth and realize that he has poured everything into this venture because at some point watery drinks pushed him over his tipping point. When he bounced the idea off his wife and friends, they all agreed it was the next big thing. They had no idea he would mortgage the house and put his life savings into it!
So, here he is, in a narrow aisle of a large trade show, hawking his brains out to people who, for some reason, just don’t seem to get it. Who doesn’t want cold, undiluted drinks?
Think I’m exaggerating? Attend a trade show and walk the aisles some time.
Why do I plod through these pathways of personal misery? Because next to the stainless steel ice cube booth there ‘s the G+G Airsoft booth that has the best action target I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a lighted rubber hemisphere that’s computer-controlled to react to being hit by an airsoft BB. You can turn the light on or off, depending on how you have programmed it.
They call it the MET Unit, which stands for multifunctional electronic target. It can exist as one single target or they can be strung together in up to 25 targets for a prolonged target array.
The MET Unit is from 1 to 25 programmable lights that turn off or on when hit by an airsoft BB.
The wires between targets can be up to 50 meters in length, which allows them to be set up in a tactical course and either light up at some random time until hit or stay on for a programmed time and go off after the time is up or when hit. Two competitors can shoot at the same target and change the color of the lights when they hit it, establishing a duelling target.
The individual target will sell for $66 or 5 for $250. It looks like a great way to have fast-action fun with airsoft guns. They can take hits from AEGs shooting 0.20-gram BBs at up to 450 f.p.s. Naturally, they’re not robust enough for even the lowest-powered steel BB or pellet guns.
Umarex is now branding airguns under their own name. This year, there are three new long guns: the Octane is a breakbarrel with a Reaxis gas spring and SilencAir, which is a baffled silencer; the Surge is an entry-lever springer breakbarrel; and the Fusion is a CO2 pellet rifle, and it also has the SilencAir noise dampener. We’ve seen the Fusion before, branded as the Ruger LGR, but Umarex tells me the Fusion is a Gen 2 upgrade and quite different. I never got the chance to test the LGR, so I’m looking forward to testing the new Fusion as soon as possible.
The Fusion is a new CO2 single-shot rifle from Umarex that sports a 5-chamber noise dampener.
I spent an hour at the Leapers booth this year. The most important thing I wanted to see was the new scope with an internal bubble level. It’s a 4-16x in a 30mm tube, and it looks exactly like what the doctor ordered for those long-range targets we love to shoot. They’re working hard to get it to market this year, but it won’t go out until they’re certain of the quality. Putting a bubble level inside scopes on a production line is apparently quite a challenge…but one I’m sure Leapers will do correctly.
The entire line of scopes have been upgraded with finer adjustments — many of them 1/8-minute adjustments — and greater repeatability. They have a broad range of adjustment in both directions, and their production models are even exceeding the maximum limits they established! All leaf springs have been replaced with coil springs to increase adjustment precision and repeatability.
But the WOW factor comes on the stuff you can see. How about a 3-9x scout scope (10-inch eye relief) with a wide field of view? That is the big trick for scout scopes, and I saw a beauty mounted on an M1A — though it would be just as correct on a Mosin Nagant.
Leapers new scout scope has a full field of vision — something scout scopes are not known for.
Another surprise from the folks in Michigan is the smallest tactical laser I have yet seen. I asked Mac to photograph it next to a quarter for scale.
Leapers new laser is the smallest I have yet seen. That’s a quarter next to it.
Back to the Crosman booth to show you what the new Benjamin pump looks like when the handle is raised. I didn’t expect the huge reception this pump got when I showed it the first time this year. Please note that it has not one but two pump tubes. This is a 3-stage pump — the same as the current pumps, but this one compresses a bit more air with each stroke. I’ll have more to say about it when I test it.
Maybe this view will help you understand how the new Benjamin pump magnifies the force you put into each pump stroke.
I’ll close with a last look at the Hatsan booth. They have the AT-P carbine and AT-P1 pistol…and both are precharged pneumatics. They’ll come in .177, .22 and .25 calibers that each have hunting levels of power. These are repeaters with circular clips and adjustable Quattro triggers. The sights are fiberoptic, and there are provisions for scopes. The air cylinders remove, and spares will be available as options.
For those who are looking for hunting air pistols, I think these two should be considered. I’ll work hard to review them for you as soon as possible.
The Hatsan AT-P2 Tact (left) and the AT-P1 are exciting new PCP airguns.
Leaving the show
As Edith and I left the show we passed by one final booth. The guy is selling Instant Water for survivalists. Just drop one of his pills in a bucket of water and — Presto! — instant water. Why I can’t think of things like that?
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Edith and Tom (left) and Mac and his wife, Elissa, prepare to support Yoda as he carves his way through the jammed SHOT Show aisles.
Today, we have Part 2 of the SHOT Show report; but before we get into it, I want to remind you all that I’m showing you only a select smattering of the guns I saw at this show. This is, hands down, the largest SHOT Show ever for airguns. This year, nearly all companies are innovating in a big way, and the results are proudly displayed in their booths. It’ll take some time for the full story to come out.
Also, the SHOT Show is a wholesale show — not a retail show. The products seen there are not necessarily ready for market, yet. Some products get put on the back burner for any number of good reasons, but after they were seen at SHOT, people expect them to be available. In fact, many people don’t understand why they’re not on sale the day the show closes. Well, it doesn’t work that way.
As a writer, my job it to give you the best sense of when a product might become available in the coming year. That can change many times after SHOT closes, so please bear that in mind.
I had my official tour of the Crosman products, and a couple of them were holdovers from last year. One was the butterfly hand pump that Crosman engineers have now developed quite thoroughly.
The Benjamin butterfly hand pump is now far along in development. This is a pre-production sample. Look for it this summer.
I also saw several new guns Crosman plans to bring to market. While they look very developed, I spoke to the engineer who was working with the specifications, and these are not just rebranded items.
A new 1911 BB pistol will be available for testing and purchase later this year.
I’m going to put Gamo here because their booth was difficult to navigate and understand, as far as I’m concerned. Yes, there are new models, but many of them look to be just reskinned from existing guns and given catchy brands that reflect the TV hunting shows they sponsor. The technology displays (silencer, trigger, gas spring, vibration damper) that were new in 2012 were still displayed as new for 2013, though no changes seem to have been made.
The Little Cat is a new youth model that I’ll test as soon as possible. It’s very lightweight and does have some plastic in key areas like the breech (it’s a breakbarrel); but if it’s done right, it could work. I want to see how well-suited it is for younger shooters.
The new Gamo Little Cat is a youth-sized spring rifle. Can’t wait to test it!
The other airgun that piqued my interest at Gamo was their new MP-9 — a semiautomatic BB gun that resembles the Ingram submachinegun. It’s powered by CO2 and looks very cool. It was displayed in such a way that I could not actually hold it — and there were no Gamo representatives available in the booth both times we visited it. So, we’ll just have to wait and see what comes in the box.
The Gamo MP9 (the sign is confusing — this isn’t a PT-85 Blowback Tactical) looks like a cool new BB gun.
American Airgunner has gained a new host. Rossi Morreale, from television’s Belly of the Beast and Junkyard Wars, will take the lead with the airgun show starting its fourth season. I’ll be appearing in a few episodes this year, the first of which was filmed at the 2013 SHOT Show. So, I’ve now come full circle.
Tom meets Rossi to discuss SHOT on American Airgunner.
There’s a lot more to cover, including some great new scopes from Leapers and a dynamite action target for airsoft guns. Next week.
by B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
This is the second of my reports on the 2012 SHOT Show. There will certainly be at least one more after this, and perhaps even more, as there’s simply too much new information to pack into a single report.
The state of the airgun industry in 2012
Before I get to some specifics, I want to make a general observation. This year’s SHOT Show was different for me in a major way, because I saw for the first time that firearms shooters are beginning to understand airguns as never before. In the past, I always had to start my explanations with the cooling of the earth’s crust and then progress through the age of the dinosaurs because each firearms person I talked to thought of airguns as either toys or BB guns. This year, a lot of them were clued-in on what’s happening. They weren’t surprised by the accuracy we get, and they knew about big bores. A lot of them had some airgun experience and more than a few asked me the same kind of questions that I get from long-time readers of this blog.
That tells me the day of the airgun has finally dawned in the U.S. Instead of 25,000 to 50,000 active shooters (at best!), we will now see an influx from over 5 million active firearm shooters who are ready to augment their shooting experience with airguns. I’m already getting calls and emails from state departments of wildlife resources, asking about the issues of incorporating airguns into their hunting seasons.
It has been a long haul to get to this point, but we’re now seeing the start of the harvest of all the work that’s been done over the past 40 years — starting with Robert Beeman in the early 1970s. The job is now to manage this growth and provide useful information to the tens of thousands of new airgunners who are flooding in the doors.
Let me reflect on how the industry seems to be reacting to this trend. Some companies have been on board for many years and are poised to ride the new tidal wave of business as far as they can. Other companies are aware that airguns are very hot, but they’re foundering, trying to understand them. Let me say right now that it’s not as easy as you think!
The readers of this blog are among the most clued-in airgunners in the world. But they’re unique, and they do not represent the true market. The demographic of a new airgunner is a man (usually) in his late 20s to late 40s who is most likely a fan of AR-type rifles and Glock-type pistols. He wants repeaters, semiautos and he thinks that a five-shot group is the gold standard of any gun. Velocity impresses him, and he isn’t comfortable with the term kinetic energy.
Things like good triggers and good sights are not an issue with this customer until he experiences bad ones. His ARs have decent triggers off the rack, and he can choose from many drop-in triggers that are much better. When he encounters a spring-piston gun with a horrible trigger that cannot be easily modified, he’s surprised.
He does not use the artillery hold, and he equates all airguns to be alike in terms of performance. When he learns about precharged guns, he’s put off by the additional equipment he must buy. Spring-piston guns seem the best to him for their simple operation, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that they’re also the most difficult airguns to shoot well.
That’s the customer who’s coming to airguns today, so that’s the person airgun manufacturers have to deal with. If you have wondered why many of the new airguns are what they are — this new-customer profile is the reason.
Okay, I’ve talked about those companies that get it and those that are struggling to understand. There’s one more type of company out there. I like to call them the “gloom and doom company” or the “zero sum company.” They’re firmly entrenched in the 1970s and cannot take advantage of this new windfall of business. They either fired their engineers years ago or they let them all retire, and now they couldn’t build a new airgun to save their lives. As far as they’re concerned, there are only 25,000 airgunners in the United States and it’s the NRA’s responsibility to identify and train them so these companies can sell them some guns.
They think of marketing in 1950′s terms, when a simple paint job and some sheet metal was enough to create a new product. Their “secret” business plan is to buy guns made by other manufacturers and have their name put on. If you’re a collector, better buy up the guns these guys sell because in 10 years their name will be a memory.
That’s enough of the big picture. Let’s see some more products.
More from Crosman
Many of you saw the list of new Crosman products Kevin posted last week, so the few that I show here are by no means all there is, but they’re the highlights. Crosman had about half the new airgun products at the entire SHOT Show.
New tan M4-177 and carry handle
The M4-177 multi-pump that I recently tested for you is going to be very popular this year. Crosman is also offering it as an M4-177 Tactical air rifle with a new carry handle that replaces the rear sight for improved sighting options. I think this gun will be in their lineup for many years to come.
I mentioned to Crosman’s Ed Schultz that this rifle looks like the A.I.R.-17 of the 1990s, but done better. He said he always wanted to update that design, and that is exactly what this is. So, what he said next came as no great surprise.
I shared my thoughts on a 2260 made as a multi-pump in .25 caliber, and Ed told me that was how the rifle was originally created (not in .25, however). The CO2 version was an afterthought that got put into production, while the multi-pump version languished in the Crosman morgue. I told him that I thought the time was ripe to bring it back as an upscale hunting rifle, and he seemed to agree. We can only hope.
Carbon fiber tank
As Crosman extends their capability into PCP guns, they know shooters are always looking for better options for their air supply. Besides the new butterfly hand pump I showed you last time, they’ll also be adding a long summer-sausage black carbon fiber tank with increased capacity over their current tanks. This is a 300-bar tank that has 342 cubic-inch capacity. It comes in a black nylon carrying case with sling for field transport.
More air for you! New Benjamin carbon fiber tank will help you take your PCPs further afield.
Benjamin Nitro Piston breakbarrel pistol
The Benjamin NP breakbarrel pistol certainly has people talking on the internet. This is the first commercial gas spring application in a pistol, I believe. The most distinctive feature is a cocking aid that can either be detached or left in place while shooting. That reminds us that this pistol is going to be hard to cock, but I’ll test one for you so we’ll all know just how hard.
New Benjamin Trail NP pistol is a breakbarrel with a gas spring. The cocking aid can be detached or left in place while shooting.
Crosman 1720T PCP pistol
Everybody was ready to jump down Crosman’s throat for creating the 1720T PCP pistol. They wondered with the .22-caliber Marauder pistol and the .177-caliber Silhouette PCP pistol already selling, why was this one needed? As Ed Schultz explained it to me — this one is for field target. It’s a .177 (naturally) that produces just under 12 foot-pounds through a shrouded Lother Walther barrel. It can be used for hunting, but field target was its primary purpose. They worried about the shot count with the Silhouette; but with this one, power was the criterion. Look for about 800 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain Premier. And the trigger is the same as the Marauder, so excellent operation there.
Crosman MAR 177 PCP conversion
The Crosman MAR-177 PCP conversion is another new product that has a lot of people talking. This AR-15 upper converts your .223 semiauto into a .177 PCP repeating target rifle. Because it’s on an AR platform, almost everybody expects it to be semiautomatic — including those who should know better. This rifle is a bolt action that cocks and loads via a short pull on the charging handle.
This conversion is an Olympic-grade target rifle for a new official sport that Scott Pilkington and others have been promoting for several years. It will take the U.S. battle rifle back into the ranks of target shooting. However, the look of the gun has many shooters totally confused. I was even asked at the show if I thought Crosman should have come out with an “everyman’s” version of the gun first. That would be like asking whether Feinwerkbau missed the boat by not first making their 700 target rifle in a $300 version for casual plinkers.
Crosman TT BB pistol
It’s all-metal and a good copy of the Tokarev pistol. The weight is good and the gun feels just right. This will be one to test as soon as possible.
Crosman’s TT Tokarev BB pistol is realistic and looks like fun.
Benjamin MAV 77 Underlever
The Benjamin MAV 77 underlever rifle is going to force Crosman to recognize spring-piston air rifles instead of just calling them all breakbarrels. This is the TX-200 copy from BAM that was once sold by Pyramyd Air. When the quality dropped off, it was discontinued. Hopefully, Crosman will watch the quality on this one.
They didn’t have a firm retail price yet, but hopefully it’ll be significantly under the TX. Otherwise, why buy it? I may test one for you, but I already know that BAM can make a great rifle when they want to. I think it all comes down to price.
Benjamin MAV-77 is an underlever spring-piston rifle that looks and, hopefully, performs like an Air Arms TX-200.
The Crosman TR-77 is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston rifle in an unconventional stock. It’s different enough that I want to test one for you. It appears to be a lower-powered rifle that probably sells at a bargain price because it’s branded under the Crosman banner rather than Benjamin. Mac photographed one in a sand-colored stock for you.
Crosman TR-77 breakbarrel in a sand-colored stock also comes in black.
There was a lot more at Crosman that I could have mentioned, but now let’s go over to the Leapers booth.
I’ve watched Leapers grow from a relatively small company back in 1998 to a major player — blasting past older, entrenched companies as they grew. This year, they were playing a video about the company on a continuous loop in their booth. I was impressed to see their plant in Livonia, Michigan, where they build airsoft guns, tactical mounts, accessories and scopes right here in the U.S. The plant is filled with many CNC machining centers and testing facilities to keep close watch over their products during development.
Leapers owner David Ding told me he wants to get control over the production process so he can assure the quality of all of his products. In keeping with that goal, I was shown the new scope line for 2012 that now offers locking target knobs on all of the upscale models. Many of them feature etched glass reticles that are amazingly crisp and sharp.
Mac was impressed by the reticle on the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope. He urged me to look through it; and when I did, I saw that the reticle is now fine and sharp — not the heavy black lines of the past.
David Ding shows me the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope (not out yet), with target knobs and a finer reticle.
But scopes were just the beginning at Leapers. Next, I was shown the whole line of tactical flashlights and lasers, including some mini lasers I will test on my M1911A1 for you. These are all made in the U.S. now and have more rugged internals, adjustments and optics than similar products from the Orient.
UTG 555 Long Range Light
One item I hope Pyramyd Air will consider stocking is a fantastic 500-lumen tactical light for law enforcement. It can be mounted on a rifle, handheld or even mounted on a bike! It comes with rechargeable lithium batteries and a smart charger…and believe me when I tell you it turns night into day!
The UTG Long Range light can go on your rifle, held in the hand or even mounted to your bike! The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack will keep it shining at 500 lumens for 1.5 hours.
Fast Action Gun bag
Not all Leapers products are for airguns. They also make tactical and law enforcvement gear that rivals spec-built equipment but sells at a fraction the cost. As a result, many of their customers are ordering straight from the front lines of combat and from law enforcement agencies all over the country to get the products that their own supply lines cannot or will not furnish.
One of their latest developments is a Fast Action Gun bag that lets the wearer walk in public with a substantial firearm hidden from view. A quick pull of a strap, and the bag opens to reveal the weapon inside.
Leapers owner Tina Ding models their new Fast Action Gun bag. Here, it’s concealed; but she’s just pulled it over her shoulder from her back, where it looks like a tennis bag.
And in less than a second, the bag is open, giving instant access to the tactical shotgun or submachine gun inside.
Leapers has an entirely new range of quick-disconnect scope mounts coming this year, but there’s another innovation that I think you’ll find even more impressive. It’s an adapter that snaps into a Picatinny scope mount base, turning it into an 11mm dovetail. So, your conventional air rifle will now also accept Leapers Picatinny scope mounts with this adapter.
11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter is small and doesn’t raise the mount at all! This will be one to test!
Leapers is still the company to watch because the owners want to build a lasting corporation here in the U.S. They’re poised to move to the next level of quality in their optics, which gives me a lot of hope for the future — they’ve always been receptive to the needs of airgunners.
Whew! That’s a lot of products, and there are still many more to show. As I said in the beginning, there will be at least another report.