Posts Tagged ‘Hop-Up’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the day we adjust the BAXS in the Tanfoglio Gold Custom CO2 blowback airsoft kit gun to see how it affects the gun’s ablity to group. Remember, the BAXS is another form of hop-up, which is the generic name for a rubber bumper that puts a backspin on the airsoft BB as it exits the bore. That causes the BB to fly straighter and farther than it would if it were not spinning, or if it were allowed to spin randomly.
So, the first thing to do is to get to the BAXS adjustment wheel, which is located deep inside the gun’s slide. The gun must be partially disassembled, and therein lies a problem. The manual is poorly written and illustrated with confusing small photos that don’t depict what you actually must do.
To remove the slide of this pistol, the slide stop, or what the manual called the slide stopper, must first be removed. There are 2 different things that must be done precisely to get the slide stop out, and the manual doesn’t cover them. First, the slide has to be pushed back only about a quarter inch to release the slide stop. If you see the rear of the barrel dive down as you push the slide back, it’s moved too far. Second, there’s a very small clearance hole for the large end of the slide stop on the left side of the frame. Once again, pushing the slide too far back will cause the stop to pass this clearance hole, and the slide stop cannot be removed from the gun.
Of course, you don’t find out any of this until the slide is off the gun, which is too late. And the instructions are one sentence long. If you don’t know how to remove the slide, the instructions will not help you!
Once the slide is off, the BAXS adjustment wheel is located on the underside of the slide and barrel assembly. It’s a small plastic wheel that’s turned by a small thin blade, such as a tiny screwdriver. A pin in the wheel limits its travel to less than half a turn, so the amount of adjustment is small. But if the gun was designed right and manufactured carefully, it should be enough to make a difference.
I noted where the adjustment wheel was when the gun was disassembled. It was close to one end, so I moved it to the other extreme end. If there was going to be a difference, I wanted it to be immediate and visible. And it was — as I will now show you.
I decided to begin with the Air Venturi Pro CQBBs that weigh 0.25 grams because they were the most accurate in the previous test. When you adjust something as finicky as hop-up, stick to one BB whose performance you know. To do otherwise would just waste your time because you would never know if it was the particular BB or the gun’s adjustment that was right or wrong.
I shot a lot of targets in this test, but I’m not going to show you all of them. For the first couple, I was just getting the BBs back on target at 10 meters. The BAXS adjustment moved the point of impact several inches higher than it was the last time. But as I adjusted the dot sight and brought them back down onto the paper, I noticed something. They all tended to be strung out vertically, but were very tight horizontally. And each target, of 5 that I shot, had 4 BBs tight together and one that was apart from the group — a flier. Only there was no reason for the flier that I could see.
So, there were 4 BBs grouped together and the fifth BB would be more than one inch away from the main group. I adjusted the BAXS a couple times to correct this, but it persisted with this BB.
There were 3 more groups just like these, and then I decided to switch BBs. The next BB I tried was the 0.20-gram Marui Black that Pyramyd Air does not stock. Being lighter, these BBs went faster than the others. The first group was really tight.
Alas, I was unable to repeat that group. The next group was 10 Marui BBs instead of 5, and this one spread out to 2.041 inches.
I tried several more times to shoot good 5-shot groups with the Maruis, but no luck. They all turned out like the 10-shot group shown above.
Let sanity prevail
This gun was never intended to be a 10-meter pistol. It’s supposed to be a rapid-fire action pistol that can compete in action target matches. Those targets are much larger than the ones seen here, and the BBs only have to hit a large center area to score their highest. I think they can do that without a problem.
What I’ve just shown you is how an adjustable hop-up, or BAXS in this instance, affects the grouping ability of an airsoft gun. If you compare these groups to those fired in the previous test, you’ll see how much improvement was achieved.
The Tanfoglio Gold Custom Eric Grauffel CO2 blowback airsoft pistol is a high-end, factory-made competition gun. It has a wonderful trigger, great blowback action and is very capable of competing, as long as a quality dot sight is mounted. For coming right out of the box at this level of performance, I doubt you can find anything better.
Just remember, the factory owner’s manual is spotty and somewhat misleading. This pistol takes some getting used to before it can perform at its best, and that comes with time and use.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is an extended report to cover the use of 4.4mm lead balls in the SIG Sauer P225 X5 Open combo pistol. I don’t know if you caught it, but while writing Part 3 we discovered that this pistol is also called the Open model here in the U.S., as it is elsewhere in the world. That has been corrected on the website and we will now refer to this model as the Open combo. It’s also called the X-FIVE and not X-5 or X5. However, that would involve correcting a whole bunch of links, and we’ve opted to not make those changes at this time.
I mentioned in the comments on Part 3 that I’d forgotten to test the pistol with 4.4mm lead balls, as I’d promised, so today’s report will cover that. However, while researching the material for today, I discovered some other related things that you may be interested in.
Why 4.4mm and why lead?
The reader who asked for this report shoots in his garage and wants to reduce the BB bounceback problem. Lead balls will certainly do that, but not all BB pistols are able to shoot lead. Some guns rely on the magnetic properties of the steel BB to hold it in place during the firing sequence, but this pistol isn’t one of them. It looked like it would handle lead shot just fine.
Another time we use a lead ball instead of a steel BB is when the barrel is rifled. The Russians did that with their Makarov BB pistol; and after I saw the rifling, I tested it with lead. EAA, the importer of the gun at the time (Pyramyd Air now imports all IZH-Baikal airguns directly from the manufacturer), was very adamant about not using lead balls when I reported it back in the late ’90s. They went to great lengths to disparage what I said about using lead balls in IZH BB guns with rifled barrels, claiming that the manufacturer expressly instructed them to advise using steel BBs exclusively. When I went to IWA (the European SHOT Show) in 2006 and spoke directly to the IZH engineers, they acknowledged that their rifled bores did work best with lead, even though they also worked well with steel.
Size matters, too
Another thing that enters into this discussion is the diameter of the ball. A steel BB these days measures around 0.171″ to 0.173″ in diameter. The Daisy zinc-plated BBs I used to test this pistol for accuracy in Part 3 measure 0.172″. They’re very uniform, which contrasts sharply with BBs of the past.
Lead balls that are 4.4mm should measure 0.173″ in diameter, so they would be one-thousandth larger than the Daisy BBs I just mentioned. And this, my friends, is why it helps to understand a little of the firearms world; because in a firearm that uses lead bullets, you usually want the ball or bullet to be at least the diameter of the grooves or one-thousandth of an inch larger. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but I’m not going there today.
Putting it simply, a 4.4mm (0.173″) lead ball should fit the bore of a given gun better than a BB that measures 0.172 inches. If the bore of the gun is very tight, the larger ball can cause problems since CO2 guns do not have the same level of propulsive force as firearms. There are limits to what they’ll shoot.
I know that most BB guns are smoothbores. This one certainly is. And I also know that the bores of these guns are slightly oversized to cut down on jams. You could live a lifetime and never see a BB get stuck in the bore of a BB gun if you live in the U.S. and use Daisy, RWS or Crosman BBs; but there are other places in the world where the tolerances of BBs are not held as tight, and you get them both oversized and undersized. Manufacturers allow for this by making their smoothbore barrels just a trifle larger on the inside.
In a nutshell, those are the considerations I took into account when deciding to test this pistol with 4.4mm lead balls.
Not all balls are the same
Sometimes I get surprised in the strangest ways. I already had a lifetime supply of 4.4mm lead balls that I purchased back when the Haenel 310 trainers were coming into this country in the mid-1990s. I wanted to make sure at that time that I wouldn’t be cut off, so I went a little overboard and bought a case of ammunition. Let’s call that 50,000 balls.
A few years ago, while walking the aisles of an airgun show, I saw some tubes of generic 4.4mm lead balls for sale. I picked up a couple tubes for various reasons, including today’s test. Little did I know until this very day, though, that those balls are not 4.4mm, but rather 4.25mm and rather slipshod at that!
Who cares? Well, 4.25mm to 4.3mm (if that is what they really are) measures 0.167″-0.169″ in diameter. Not only are these lead balls undersized, based on what I was told when I bought them, they’re also quite variable, which is the kiss of death if you want to hit anything.
The 4.4mm lead balls I bought at an airgun show (top) are actually a lot smaller than advertised. They’re really 4.25-4.3mm. Bottom picture is a copper-plated 4.4mm ball from the Czech Republic — and it’s right on the money.
The test was 10 shots from 25 feet with a strong-side barricade hold. I’m grabbing the door jamb and using my left arm to support and steady my shooting hand. It’s the most accurate hold I can use for this test.
The eyes have it
One more variable was my eyes. Just the day before I tested this pistol I was at the rifle range with Mac and another friend trying out some different guns. Mac had just cleaned my clock by shooting a half-inch five-shot group of .17 HM2 from a single shot target rifle at 50 yards. I shot the same rounds from the same rifle into just over an inch.
My other friend suggested I put on my bifocals so I could see the front sight of the O3-A3 Springfield battle rifle I was about to shoot. I did and proceeded to shoot five .30-06 rounds into a group measuring 0.49 inches. I used the regular combat sights that came with the rifle and shot factory 150-grain Federal ammunition. This is the best open-sight group I have shot at 50 yards in many years, and it cemented in my mind the need to wear my glasses whenever I shoot with open sights.
The smaller group of five rounds (excluding the separate shot above the group) was fired from an 03A3 Springfield rifle at 50 yards with issue sights while wearing my glasses. The lone hole was the first shot, taken with the rifle’s front sight protector still on the sight. It hid the target so I had to guess where it was. The six holes in the bull were shot with peep sights on a .17 HM2, but I wasn’t wearing glasses.
For today’s pistol test, I shot the first 10 shots wearing my glasses. The results were not any better than what you saw in Part 3 with steel BBs.
After seeing the group shot with glasses, I knew something was wrong. The front sight simply was not clear at arm’s length. I took off the specs and just used plain safety glasses for the next group. The results speak for themselves.
This SIG Sauer BB pistol continues to delight me. This time, I learned a very important thing — don’t trust that something is what it is represented to be. If it’s ammunition, measure it.
This pistol offers the most realistic training of any air or BB pistol I’ve tested. While there’s always some training value for firearms with any airgun, with this one there’s quite a lot. This is an airgun I would recommend to my friends.
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: If you’ve been waiting for the Mendoza diopter sight to come back in stock, your wait is over!
Today is accuracy day for the SIG Sauer P225 X5 combo BB pistol, and it’s a big day, indeed, for this is a gun that was recommended by several readers — starting with Rob from Canada.
I was told three things about this air pistol. First, that it’s extremely accurate. Second, that it’s very loud; and third, that it has the greatest amount of blowback-simulated recoil of any BB pistol around.
I was further directed to specifically test the pistol that Pyramyd Air refers to as the P226 X5 combo, but which we know in Canada is called the Open pistol. That differentiates it from the standard version of the P225 X5 pistol, because that one lacks the compensator, the optical sight base and, most importantly, the adjustable sights.
Noise is about average
On the discharge sound question, my judgement is that this pistol sounds about the same as every other CO2 pistol in its power class. It might sound loud to someone who has nothing to compare it to, but I actually found it to be a reasonably quiet air pistol for a gas-powered gun.
Recoil is not the hardest
In the recoil test, the SIG Sauer P226 X5 doesn’t blow back as hard as the GSG 92 BB pistol. It does recoil, and the effect is realistic, but it does not have the most blowback I’ve seen in a gun of this class.
Accuracy is great
However, in a wonderful twist from the norm, the test pistol turned out to, indeed, be an extremely accurate BB pistol. It’s well ahead of the GSG 92, the Tanfoglio Witness 1911 pistol and the SIG Sauer SP 2022, which were all fine handguns.
It does not shoot better than the Umarex Makarov, however. I had to test that after seeing how well this pistol shot, and it did about as well. I’m getting ahead of myself. Here are the results.
First at 15 feet
The first test was offhand at 15 feet, just to see where the gun was shooting. I only shot five and then checked the target to see what kind of sight adjustments were needed. The first group was relatively in line with the center of the bull and hitting just below the point of aim. I used a 6 o’clock hold, so that put the shots below the bull. Nine clicks of elevation raised the point of impact about a half-inch.
After the first two groups of five, I shot 10 offhand at 15 feet. The sights were raised another 6-7 clicks, or so. This group was also impressive and centered up a little higher on the target.
Ten shots at 15 feet were impressive. The rear sight was adjusted up for this target, as well.
This was impressive, because I was shooting offhand with a pistol for the first time in 18 months. The trigger is as nice on this BB pistol as the one on my Taurus PT1911 .45. Now, I was reasonably certain that Rob was right about the accuracy. I backed up to 25 feet and shot some more.
At 25 feet
Twenty-five feet was where Rob said he shot his pistol, and I was curious if it could shoot that far with reasonable accuracy. The first two 10-shot groups were pretty bad, and I was about to give up on the gun, but then I got out the Umarex Makarov to check myself.
At 25 feet I shot from a strong-side barricade position, and the Makarov front sight is so thin that I was seeing it as multiple images in my glasses. When I took them off, the image sharpened and the group tightened, so I went back and tried the SIG again without the glasses. This time it shot about as well as the Makarov, which is pretty good for a BB pistol.
Back at 25 feet, ten shots from a strong-side barricade position with the P226 went into a decent group.
The two shots low and to the right were made while wearing glasses. The rest were with the glasses off. Ten shots at 25 feet from an Umarex Makarov, also shot from a strong-side barricade.
But the SIG has a couple things going for it that the Mak doesn’t. First, because it has blowback, you always shoot single-action, and the trigger pull is far better. Of course, you can shoot the SIG double-action on the first shot, but why would you want to? The single-action trigger is so much nicer. You can manually cock the Mak hammer, which I did, but the SIG in single0-action still has the better trigger. Second, the SIG has adjustable sights. You can move the shot group anywhere you want within reason.
The bottom line
I’m going out on a limb and saying that this SIG Sauer P226 X5 combo pistol is such a fine shooter that you can even get maximum training effect for firearms from it. Of all the handguns I own, only a couple have better triggers than this one. Everything you need to do to shoot well, you can practice with this BB pistol. I’m going to add it to my Tom’s Picks page, because I think it’s a world-beater.
I got about 30 reliable shots per CO2 cartridge during this test. You would get a few more if you were just plinking, but there aren’t 40 shots available when the target is important.
Edith noticed how enthusiastic I seemed to be when testing this air pistol. It’s always a pleasure to test something that works as advertised and maybe even better than you thought it would. My thanks to Rob and others who asked for this test.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’m testing the velocity of this SIG Sauer P226 X5 combo BB pistol. There are several claims about this pistol that I was encouraged to check in my testing. I’ll hit all of them as I go through the gun for you, and perhaps I’ll bring in a few questions of my own.
The first claim that some owners of the pistol had was it is very loud. I read that from a lot of test reports and owner reviews, so I was curious to see for myself.
In my opinion, this CO2 pistol is no louder than any other CO2 BB pistol of similar power. I just finished testing the GSG 92 a couple weeks ago, and it’s certainly every bit as loud as this one. That left me puzzled as to why so many reports of the gun’s loudness appear on the internet. It’s true that I’m older and have lost some of my hearing sensitivity, so perhaps there’s something in that. I remember many years ago when Jim Maccari said that gas spring guns all had a crack to their report that I was absolutely unable to hear. So, I conducted a small comparison test between the SIG Sauer P226 X5 and an Umarex Makarov.
To my ears, the guns were equally loud. The Makarov has a deeper report, probably because it lacks the blowback feature, so I can hear a difference in the reports, but one gun seems just as loud as the other.
At any rate, the SIG P226 X5 is not a loud air pistol, in my opinion, and I’m going to advise Pyramyd Air to change the noise rating from four down to three. Now, don’t misunderstand what I’m saying. This pistol does make noise when it shoots. I’m just saying that it is no louder than any other CO2 pistol of similar power.
Blog reader Jim asked if the pistol could use lead balls and how they might affect the performance. I normally don’t shoot lead in BB guns unless there’s a compelling reason to do so, such as the gun has a rifled barrel or, in the case of antique guns, a larger bore. Then, I’ll try lead balls instead of steel BBs. Fortunately, I’ve also collected and shot zimmerstutzens over the years, and I have a small stash of lead balls in some of the 30 different sizes they once came in. So, I can pick and choose my sizes to a certain extent.
The smallest balls I have available are 4.3mm in size, which is the No. 7 on the new ball size chart for zimmerstutzens. If you’re interested in learning more about zimmerstutzen rifles, I wrote a large article about them for the 1998 edition of Airgun Revue. You can read that article here. This ball converts to 0.1693 inches in diameter, and it weighs 7.2 grains.
Here are two sizes of lead balls I tried in the SIG Sauer P226 X5 pistol. The 4.3mm balls (left) are for zimmerstutzen rifles. The 4.4mm copper-plated balls are for various vintage BB guns that use lead balls…like the Haenel 310 and others.
The next convenient ball size I have are 4.4mm copper-plated lead balls that I bought in bulk many years ago so I’d have a lifetime supply for my Haenel 310 rifle. They also work well in the Mars-series of smoothbore BB guns, as well as the very fine Czech VZ 35 and VZ 49 bolt-action BB rifles. These are 0.1732 inches in diameter and weigh an average of 7.70 grains. They’re the balls I often use in older (1910-1925) Daisy BB guns that were made to shoot air rifle shot of 0.175 inches.
But this pistol doesn’t have a rifled barrel or an odd-sized bore, so why is Jim interested in shooting lead balls in it? Well, he shoots in his garage and he wants to avoid bounceback, which steel BBs are noted for. After examining the magazine and determining that it will feed the lead balls properly, I conducted a small test to see if they would work. Both sizes worked fine and I will report the results after the steel BB velocities.
I tested the gun with Daisy zinc-plated BBs only because extensive testing has proven them to be the most uniform and the largest BBs on the market today. Both uniformity and diameter are important to accuracy and velocity in smoothbore guns.
Thirteen BBs averaged 345 f.p.s. on a fresh CO2 cartridge. The range of velocity was larger — from a high (first shot) of 376 to a low (10th shot) of 321 f.p.s. This is way above the advertised velocity of just 300 f.p.s., which is something I also experienced with the GSG 92 pistol a couple weeks ago. These pistols are being reported by their manufacturers at lower power than they really have, for some reason. The muzzle energy of the average velocity is 1.35 foot-pounds. [Edith changed the Pyramyd Air page so it now shows 376 f.p.s.]
The 4.3mm lead balls I only shot three times, just to test the feeding. They went 324 f.p.s., 294 and 303 f.p.s. Let’s say they average 308 f.p.s. That gives us an average muzzle energy of 1.52 foot-pounds.
The 4.4mm balls I also shot just three times and they functioned perfectly. They went 295, 288 and 303 f.p.s. The average is 295 f.p.s. and the muzzle energy works out to 1.49 foot-pounds.
This pistol has blowback and the slide is metal, so the impulse ought to be substantial. I can’t say that it is, however. You do feel it, but not as readily as the GSG 92, which seems to jump a lot more. Maybe that impression will change once I shoot the gun for accuracy because that’s when I really noticed the GSG 92′s recoil for the first time.
As far as I am able to determine, the compensator does nothing. It’s just there for looks. That could be misleading, though. If the compensator works as it should, it could explain why I think the recoil is lower than it should be. The comp may be holding the gun’s muzzle down when it fires.
The trigger continues to be delightful. It’s a two-stage unit with a definite stop at stage two. Then the stage-two pull-through is long, and you can feel the blade move, but it’s free from creep. Creep is the sticky start-stop movement some triggers have. It’s not a target trigger, but rather a good fast-action trigger that seems in keeping with the rest of the gun.
Performance to this point
Thus far I would say I’m still impressed by this pistol. While it isn’t as loud as some folks said, I don’t see that as a bad thing. And although the blowback recoil isn’t as prevalent as that of the GSG 92, it does recoil some and does represent the realistic feel of a small-caliber firearm. And that’s all I think blowback has to do, besides cocking the hammer.
It’s accuracy that I am most interested in, after hearing all the reports. That test will be next, and I’m eagerly awaiting it.
by B.B. Pelletier
Blog reader Rob was the instigator of this test of the SIG Sauer P226 X5 BB pistol. He commented in the second report on the GSG 92 that this pistol was superior in all ways and asked me to test it. He elaborated to say that he shot his pistol at 25 feet instead of the recommended (for BB pistols) 15 feet.
Rob is from Canada, where this pistol is also called the Open. That name does not carry over to the guns being sold in the U.S., but Rob assured me that the gun under test today is the one he is talking about.
Well, I’m a sucker for an accurate gun of almost any kind, so I took him at his word and today I’ll begin the test. I’m skeptical about the claimed accuracy but will be delighted to be proved wrong, as the world always has room for more accurate guns.
I read the owner reports on the gun, and one of them said he had heard that the compensator was supposed to be removable (the Pyramyd Air website makes no mention of that, so I suppose he read it elsewhere), but he could not figure out how to remove it. Well, I had it off within one minute of opening the box. It’s held in place by a simple Allen screw in the bottom. Once off, though, it reveals an ugly threaded adapter that I don’t want to show, so I installed the comp again.
Pyramyd Air warns that the owner’s manual says the gun has a BAX Hop-Up adjustment and it doesn’t. This is one more case of an airsoft maker building a real BB gun that shoots steel BBs and not editing their airsoft manual. Hop-Up applies only to airsoft guns that shoot balls the Asians call BBs, but which are really 6mm plastic balls. Real BB guns that shoot real steel BBs (sized 0.171-0.173 inches) do not have Hop-Up. This is confusing to buyers and new shooters who are not aware of the discrepancy, and I wish the Asian manufacturers would get it right, but I suppose that’s never going to happen.
Lots of value
The best thing Rob did for me was to stress that this version of the pistol comes with a rail for optical sights, which I don’t use on handguns, but he also mentioned that only this version also has the adjustable open sights. When I checked both this and what I will refer to as the standard version of the P226 X5 on the Pyramyd Air website, I was surprised to find that he’s right. For just ten dollars more, you get an adjustable rear sight! The rail can be removed easily enough and, in fact, doesn’t even come installed on the gun when you get it, so there are no worries about taking off parts. Just take the gun from the box and shoot it. The rear sight adjusts in both directions, and the adjustments are fine, precise little clicks. A thin-bladed screwdriver is needed for both adjustments, as the screws have very fine and shallow slots.
The trigger is something I simply cannot overlook on a gun that is supposed to be accurate. It is two-stage, with stage one being very light and ending at an almost imperceptible stage two. Stage two is also light, and you can see the trigger moving, though I can just barely feel it move with my trigger finger — and I’m used to the fine triggers on 10-meter target pistols! What I’m saying is that this is one of the finest air-pistol triggers I’ve ever seen — especially on a gun costing under $500.
The gun is mostly metal on the outside, with the result that the weight is quite heavy. Pyramyd Air lists it as 2.66 pounds (2 lbs., 10.56 ozs.), but I weighed mine without the sight rail and found it weighed 2 lbs. 15 ozs. That’s 47 ounces, or eight ounces more than an M1911 firearm weighs! This is a heavy handgun!
All the controls work as they should, and the pistol can easily be disassembled by flipping up the disassembly latch. The safety is ambidextrous, with levers on both sides of the frame conveniently located for your thumb to operate.
There’s blowback, which means the slide comes back to cock the hammer for the next shot and also to impart a feeling of recoil to the pistol. I’ll have more to say about that in later reports.
Both the BB magazine and the CO2 cartridge that powers the gun reside in the drop-free magazine of this pistol, making it a heavy component. The mag holds 18 BBs plus the CO2 cartridge that one reviewer said gives three complete magazines of shots. That would be 54 shots (3 x 18), which is very good, considering the gas also has to operate the slide in blowback. Rob mentioned that his gun shot considerably faster than the rated velocity of 300 f.p.s., so I’ll be testing for that, as well.
Everything considered, I have to say that I’m impressed with what came out of the package. But that was not the question, was it? The question was: Is this pistol really that much more accurate than the other similar BB pistols on today’s market? I’ve provided test targets with every BB pistol I’ve tested to-date; and when I get a claim like Rob is making for this one, I go back and look at all the evidence. When I tested the GSG 92, I did that and found that the Umarex Makarov has been the most accurate BB pistol that I’ve tested to this date. Not the most realistic, perhaps, though it’s pretty good there, as well, but without question the most accurate. That’s the standard this BB pistol will have to better if I’m to declare it to be the most accurate BB pistol I’ve ever tested.
It should be an interesting test!