Posts Tagged ‘JSB Match Diabolo Exact King pellets’

A few bricks short…

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

This report addresses:

• The .22 rimfire ammunition supply problem in the U.S.
• One possible solution for an ammo supply
• A great substitution for .22 rimfire

22 bricks
Bricks of .22 rimfire ammo usually have 500 rounds, except the value packs that contain a little extra loose ammo.

The rest of the world may not be aware, but there’s an extreme shortage of .22 rimfire ammo in the United States at the present time. In my 66 years, the last two are the only time I could not walk into a gun store or even a discount store and buy a brick of .22 ammunition.

What’s a brick?
A brick is a carton of 500 rounds. It holds 10 boxes of 50 rounds and is called a brick for the general size, shape and weight of the box. There are also loosely packaged value packs that contain a few more than 500 rounds.

In 2012, a brick of inexpensive .22 ammo cost around $9 to $10, depending on the sale. The nominal price was about $20, but everybody knew that was too much to pay, so we all waited for the sales. Only when our backs were up against it did we bite the bullet (pun intended) and pay full price.

Today, the street price of a brick is $50, but that’s only when you can find one for sale. Many of the stores are now rationing sales with limits on the number of smaller boxes you can buy at one time. Buying whole bricks is pretty much a thing of the past.

I’ve purchased single bricks from Midway for $29 in the past year, but they limit your purchase to just one; and when they add the mandatory $27 HAZMAT fee and shipping, the price increases greatly. If they would sell entire cases of .22 (5,000 rounds), the fees and shipping would disappear in the volume. But that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Plenty of .22
There’s no shortage of .22 rimfire ammo in the U.S. The ammo plants are working 3 shifts each day to supply all they can. And the government is no longer buying everything they make. What we have is a run on ammo that cannot be satisfied in the near term. The so-called shortage is being caused by hoarding. This is the reason I reload. I can load .45 ACP rounds for much less than the current cost of .22 long rifle. But .22 is a lot of fun to shoot!

Strategies for getting bricks
You can watch the obituaries and attend the estate sales, but that’s where everybody goes. I would make friends with the supply sergeants! That’s what I did in the Army. Supply sergeants are in control of everything, so go right to the source!

In the civilian world, the supply sergeants are the clerks who work in the gun stores and sporting goods departments of the larger stores. Cozy up to them, and they may let you jump to the front of the line when ammo comes in. I’m not talking about stealing here — I’m talking about being first in line — even before the line forms! When you want something that’s hard to get, this is how it’s done.

But wait — there’s hope!
Actually, this report isn’t about .22 ammo at all. It’s about what can substitute for it. When I was at the Flag City Toys That Shoot airgun show last Saturday, a lot of people were talking about it.

If you just shoot to plink, an air rifle is just as good as a rimfire out at 75 yards. You can go out even farther, but I’m trying to stay conservative. Yes, a lot of air rifles are single-shots, but there are also a lot that are repeaters. And the cost, while higher than the cheap rimfire rifles, isn’t that bad. Especially, since the guns you get for that price will shoot rings around most rimfires out to 50 yards.

A couple years ago, I remember listening to some airgunners bemoan the fact that Crosman Premiers in the cardboard box cost more than $20. You get 625 pellets in that box if they’re .22s and 1,250 if they’re .177s. That was when budget bricks were still selling for $9-10. But those days are over and will never return. When this shortage is finally over, I predict the price of a budget brick will be somewhere around $29-$36, and the sales may lower that to $25 on occasion. That’s just a prediction, of course.

Can a pellet rifle equal a .22 long rifle?
The answer is both yes and no. The new Escape survival rifle from AirForce Airguns produces almost 98 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle when the heaviest .25-caliber Eun Jin pellet is used. That compares favorably to a standard speed or subsonic .22 long rifle cartridge. It’s not quite as powerful, but it’s very close. So, yes, a pellet rifle can equal a .22 rimfire.

But, when you drive that pellet that fast, you don’t get all the accuracy that rifle has to offer. You saw that when I tested the Escape. At max power, that large pellet gave me a 2.48-inch 5-shot group at 50 yards. But when I throttled the gun back and shot JSB Exact King pellets, 5 of them went into 0.715 inches at the same 50 yards.

The fill pressure for that smaller group was just under 2,000 psi, and the power was set at 6 — so the rifle was probably producing around 40 foot-pounds. Before you sneer with derision, because that’s less than half what the gun can do at its best, remember that 40 foot-pounds is still more than a lot of PCP rifles can get when they’re shooting full-out. And that’s my point. Understand what it is that you’re talking about. Yes, a pellet rifle can meet the power of a .22 long rifle, but no, it can’t do it with the same accuracy. Maybe someday in the future, but not today.

Do you really need all that power, or have you fallen into the trap of defining your minimum shooting experience based on what’s out there? Are you a guy who just has to hunt deer with a .30-06 because that’s what “everyone” does, or are you someone who thinks a .28-30-120 might just be the best deer cartridge ever for shots under 100 yards? Don’t ask me what a .28-30-120 is — look it up on the internet and gain some wisdom.

Do airguns replace rimfires?
No! And they never will. There will always be a place for a rimfire or two (or more) in my gun closet. But I’m not going to go out and shoot up all my ammo and then whine about it when I own a battery of fine pellet rifles.

I shoot from 100 to 1,000 shots each and every week of my life, with few exceptions. Most of those shots are with airguns. I do enjoy firearms and I frequently shoot them, and rimfires are among the most fun of all; but I don’t allow the current ammunition shortage to hinder my shooting one bit. I’m an airgunner!

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

I’m still in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, filming segments for this year’s American Airgunner TV show, so today’s report will be short. After I reported the 50-yard accuracy test for the EscapeUL, blog reader Gunfun1 asked me if I had remembered to coat the pellets with Slip 2000 oil that Ton Jones likes. I had to admit that I’d forgotten, so I promised him I would. Last Friday, I went to the range and shot the EscapeUL with just the 2 best pellets — the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet that develops the maximum power in the rifle, and the Predator Polymag pellet that was the most accurate on lower power.

Predator Polymag
The first pellet I shot was the Predator Polymag. I did that because the rifle was still set on the same power setting I used in the last test. If you recall, I shot 2 groups of Polymags that time. One was 5 pellets in 0.622 inches at 50 yards. I thought that was phenomenal! The second group of 5 opened up to 1.298 inches, but I shot it in a continuous wind. I just waited for quieter moments, but the wind was always blowing for that group.

Oiling the pellets
I put several drops of the Slip 2000 lube on the foam that JSB packs in the tops of their tins. Predator Polymags are made by JSB, so they always have this foam. Then, I put some pellets on the foam and rolled them around until they were moist to the touch.

The first target I shot looked like it was going to beat my earlier best group; but after 3 shots, the rifle threw the next shot to another location, opening the group much larger. Okay, I thought, maybe I didn’t get the fill pressure just right. I continued shooting until there were 6 shots on this target. The entire group measures 1.545 inches between centers. That isn’t bad; but in light of what I did before with unoiled pellets, I wasn’t happy with it.

EscapeUL with Predator Polymag pellets
Six oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 1.545-inch group. The first 3 shots were at the upper left.

This group suggested to me that the EscapeUL doesn’t like oiled pellets. It seemed like once the bore was oily, accuracy went south. Of course, I couldn’t let it ride without testing it once more. This time, the pellets were oiled in the same way, but the bore was already oily. I mention that because the next group of 5 wasn’t nearly as good as the first. Five Predator Polymags went into 2.634 inches! And that was what I expected would happen. When I saw the pellets in the previous group opening up, it was something I have seen before. Oiled pellets often do this, in my experience.

EscapeUL-predator-group-2
Five more oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 2.634-inch group. From what I’ve seen, this is pretty common with oiled pellets, though sometimes they’ll shoot better than they do when dry.

The wind was starting to pick up, so I switched from Polymags to Eun Jins. This time, I ran the power up as high as it would go and filled the reservoir to 3,000 psi. The last time, I shot 5 dry Eun Jin pellets into a group that measured 1.866 inches at 50 yards. That set the bar for the oiled pellets.

And the challenge was met! I got an almost-identical 1.862-inch, 5-shot group with the oiled Eun Jins. The measurement error is larger than the difference between these 2 groups!

EscapeUL-Eun-Jin-group
Five oiled heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.862 inches at 50 yards. That’s so close to what they did when dry that it’s too close to call.

Sometimes, you win…and other times not
I know this isn’t a huge test with lots of controls and numerous targets. But I didn’t think oiling the pellets was actually going to help. From what I see here, it didn’t. It’s just one extra step for little or no return. I certainly would not oil the Predators, again!

The one advantage I see with oiling is that it makes the pellets load easier. At least it does for the Predators. The Eun Jins load very hard no matter what you do. I had to use the flat side of the screwdriver blade on my pocket knife to get them into the breech — even after oiling!

I doubt I’ll oil pellets for this rifle again.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL Part 1

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the new .25-caliber AirForce EscapeUL. This is the ultra-lightweight version of the Escape rifle and has most of the Escape’s power but is more than a pound lighter. The Escape is already lightweight, but at just 4.25 lbs., the EscapeUL is a real featherweight.

The day I chose to test this rifle was very cold, with a threatening breeze that soon picked up to a 20 m.p.h. wind. I did all of my shooting between puffs and gusts.

EscapeUL Tom at bench
It was a cold day that grew windier the longer I shot. But the EscapeUL did itself proud!

Full power
Because this rifle is so potentially powerful, I decided to test it all-out with the first 2 pellets. The power adjuster was run up as high as it would go and the tank was filled to 3,000 psi. The first pellet I tested was the heavyweight 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet. As you’ll recall from my tests of the Escape, I’m shooting 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups because the velocity decreases with every shot. At 50 yards, I can keep 5 shots in a good group, but trying to do that for 10 in a row opens things up. There are still 10 good shots on a fill, but you have to change your aim point to use all of them.

The first group measured 1.866 inches between centers. That’s with a pellet that produces from 70 to 80 percent of the power of a .22 long rifle bullet, so it’s plenty potent. The Eun Jin pellets are not the most accurate in these rifles; but for power on target, they’re pretty hard to beat.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin pointer target
Five heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.866 inches at 50 yards on max power.

Next, I refilled the rifle and tried the same thing with the 35.8-grain Eun Jin dome. This time the group opened to 2.506 inches between centers. In light of the heavier pointed pellet’s accuracy, I don’t think I would use this pellet in this rifle.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin domed target
Five Eun Jin domes made this 2.506-inch group at 50 yards. This is not the pellet for this rifle — at least not on full power.

Experience comes in handy
I’ve said many times that a shooter can adjust these AirForce rifles so much that you’ll never be able to test everything; but, fortunately, there’s a better way if you have some experience to go on. And I did have some experience because I’d already tested the Escape rifle. While it does have 6 inches less barrel and a thinner barrel to boot, the rest of the EscapeUL is pretty much the same as the Escape. I felt that if I went in the direction that gave some success with the Escape, it might work with this rifle, as well.

JSB Exact King
I knew that the Lothar Walther barrels in AirForce rifles like JSB pellets, and in .25 caliber the JSB Exact King pellet is a real performer. When I tested the TalonP pistol, the King was one of the best pellets, and you know the Escape rifles are all based on the TalonP platform.

I also knew that I should reduce both the starting air pressure in the tank and the power setting to do well with the King. But I wanted to see if it could handle the full 3,000 psi; so, the tank was filled to the max, but the power setting was dialed back to setting 8. I started shooting and was so successful that I kept right on after the fifth shot. Eight shots went into 1.61 inches at 50 yards. I would have shot another 2 shots but this time the air pressure had dropped to 2,000 psi on the built-in gauge, and I thought the next shot might go somewhere else.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 1
Eight JSB King pellets went into this 1.61-inch group at 50 yards. They were going so well I couldn’t stop shooting!

Next, I tried the Kings with the same power setting (8) and a starting air pressure of 2,600 psi. I shot just 5 pellets that went into 1.209 inches at 50 yards. That was definitely the best the rifle had done to this point, but I’d seen even better accuracy from the Escape, so I decided to shoot these pellets again.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 2
When the fill pressure was stopped at 2,600 psi and the power setting was on 8, five JSB Kings went into 1.209 inches.

A second group of Kings with the same fill pressure and power settings produced a 1.526-inch group. That was still good, but I felt the rifle could do even better. It was time to switch pellets.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 3
Five more JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 2,600 psi fill made this 1.526-inch group.

Predator Polymags
Ton Jones has done more testing than I with these rifles, and he likes the Predator Polymag pellet the best. Even when he knows the Eun Jin pointed pellet produces more energy, he trusts the Predator Polymag to go where he shoots. That was the next pellet for me. I filled the tank to just 2,500 psi and set the power at 6.

I expected a good group, but I wasn’t prepared for how good! Five Polymags went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards. Despite the cold (20 degrees F) and the winds that were gusting to 20 m.p.h., this hollowpoint pellet was drilling them in!

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Predator Polymag pellets are definitely the ones for this rifle. Five went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards.

Predator calls their Polymag a pointed pellet, but I call it a hollowpoint. The point is just a plastic tip that’s glued in place. The pellet acts like a hollowpoint on game, so I call it one regardless of the plastic tip. Just a little quirk of mine, I guess.

That first group was stunning. By now, the wind was blowing all the time, and my day with air rifles had ended. I did shoot a final group of Polymags in the wind, waiting out the gusts and shooting when the wind was down to about 5-10 m.p.h. The same setting and fill pressure was used. This time, 5 pellets landed in 1.298 inches at 50 yards, and I can truthfully say it was the wind’s fault. However, this group is still the third best of the day, which says a lot for the Predators in a reasonable wind. I think Ton is right — this is the best pellet for the Escape rifles, but you have to lower the power and fill pressure.

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Although this group is larger, it was shot in the wind. Five Predator Polymags went into 1.298 inches at 50 yards.

More to do
As with the Escape rifle, I’m not done with the test just yet. I need to get the velocity figures for the best pellets, power settings and fill pressures so we have some idea what this rifle can reasonably do in the field. Before I do that, I want to try the EscapeSS first.

Summary so far
Most shooters will look at the Escape’s raw power and choose it over the EscapeUL on that basis, alone. But I look at the light weight, compact size and the stunning accuracy of the EscapeUL and think it would be my pick, so far. From the standpoint of muzzle report and recoil, there’s very little difference in these 2 rifles. Both are loud and both kick like a rimfire rifle — perhaps even more. But there’s still one more rifle to test.

AirForce Escape: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

AirForce Escape rifle
The AirForce Airguns Escape precharged pneumatic air rifle is a powerful new survival rifle in both .22 and .25 calibers.

Last time we looked at the accuracy of the AirForce Escape at 50 yards. I shot the rifle on low pressure and a low power setting on that day to see what it could do. You may remember that at 50 yards, I got a best 5-shot group with JSB Exact King pellets that measured 0.594 inches between centers. That’s great for a .25-caliber PCP, but I know it left some of you wondering what the rifle can do at its maximum power. Today, we’ll look at that.

The heaviest .25-caliber pellet I have is the Eun Jin pointed pellet, which weighs 43.2 grains. So, it’s a little heavier than the standard bullet of a .22 Long Rifle cartridge. We know from testing that this pellet leaves the muzzle at up to 1010 f.p.s., generating 97.88 foot-pounds of energy.

I also had some Eun Jin domed pellets to test. At 35.8 grains, they’re lighter than the pointed pellet but might be accurate enough to make a difference. As long as I’m testing, I thought why not test them, too?

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed and domed pellets
These are the 2 pellets used in today’s accuracy test. The pointed pellet weighs 43.2 grains, and the dome weighs 35.8 grains.

The wind had just started to pick up at the range. I had finished testing the Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock and shifted to the Escape because I felt the power of the gun and weight of the pellet wouldn’t be affected by this wind nearly as much as a smaller pellet moving at lower speed.

Max power
The first thing I tried was the heavy Eun Jin pellet on max power and with a max power setting on the gun. The first 2 pellets went through the same holes at 50 yards, and I thought I was on to something. Then, shots 3 and 4 moved 2 inches to the right but also landed in a single hole. Shot 5 then landed an inch to the left of the first 2 shots, giving me a 5-shot group that measures 2.478 inches across the widest centers. While that is adequate accuracy for larger animals at 50 yards, it wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed pellet group 1
Five Eun Jin pointed pellets on maximum power with a 3,000 psi fill at 50 yards. The group measures 2.478 inches between centers, but look how they landed. The first two are left of the pellet, the next 2 are to the right of the dime (in the same hole) and pellet 5 is all the way over to the left.

I remembered that there are 10 good shots on a fill of the Escape’s small 213cc reservoir, so I shot the next 5 pellets at a different target. The scope wasn’t adjusted. The reservoir pressure at the start of this string was about 2,600 psi. This time ,all 5 went into 1.622 inches. That’s a significant improvement. According to the velocity test data, these shots ranged between about 71 and 82 foot-pounds.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin pointed pellet group 2
By starting with less reservoir pressure, the group tightened significantly. These 5 shots went into 1.622 inches between centers at 50 yards.

I was satisfied with the results of this heaviest pellet, but I’ve never gotten the best accuracy with pointed pellets. I felt I might be at the limit of this pellet’s performance. Time was passing and the wind was building, so I moved on.

The lighter domed pellet remained to be tested. On max power with a 3,000 psi fill, I got several open 5-shot groups that all hovered around 2 inches. While that’s okay, it isn’t what I wanted. Then, I shot a couple groups with the power set to max and the starting air pressure set at 2,600 psi. The only reason I did it that way was because of the results of the heavier pointed pellet I’d just tested. And that’s where the magic happened!

The first 5-shot group on this setting (power set on max, starting fill pressure at 2,600 psi and shooting the 35.8-grain domed Eun Jin) measures 1.177 inches. Four of those shots are in 0.555 inches! That’s fantastic! I don’t have the velocity data for this pellet on that setting, but I’ll venture a guess it’s producing around 60-70 foot-pounds.

AirForce Escape rifle Eun Jin domed pellet group 1
Now, we’re cooking! Five Eun Jin domes went into 1.177 inches at 50 yards, with 4 of them making a 0.555-inch group! This is fantastic, but can I do it again?

Like you, I wondered if this single group was just a fluke, so I filled the reservoir to 2,600 psi, again, and shot a second group. This time, I put 5 into 1.089 inches. Three of those pellets are in 0.214 inches. If you overlay those 3 pellets on top of the other group, they all go to the same place!

Air Force Escape rifle Eun Jin domed pellet group 2
Here’s the miracle I was talking about. Same starting air pressure, and 5 pellets went into 1.089 inches. Three of them are in 0.214 inches and in the same place as the 4 pellets from the last group. This is significant!

What I’m saying is that somewhere around this power setting and fill pressure, there’s a super sweet spot the Escape loves with this domed pellet. By spending more time refining the fill pressure and by adjusting the sights for this combination, the Escape will become a tackdriver. It doesn’t get a lot of shots like this, but remember — this is a survival rifle. You want one shot — one kill. I think this gives that to you!

I could continue to refine my pressure settings with this pellet, but I don’t think I have to. I’ve now shown you 2 different ways the AirForce Escape can make very small groups at 50 yards. If you’re looking for a powerful air rifle to do some serious hunting, you should consider this one. I think Ton Jones and John McCaslin both have reason to be proud of their creation.

What’s next?
I was prepared to exchange barrels at this point and try the .22-caliber Escape, but I think I’ll let that slide for now. If I’m any judge, most buyers are going to get the .25-caliber Escape. Once they see these results, I expect they’ll do similar tests. Therefore, I plan to switch over to the EscapeUL next. That’s the ultralight rifle that has an 18-inch barrel. I’ll give you a combined introduction and velocity/power report, followed by a range test like this.

AirForce Escape: Part 2

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

Part 1

Tarzan! This weekend, a number of readers conducted a discussion of the fictional character Tarzan and the author who created him, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I thought you should all know an interesting connection of Tarzan to airguns. His grandson, J.R. Burroughs, was a big-time airgun importer in the 1990s. In fact, he imported many of the Korean brands that are still coming in today.

When I started writing about airguns in 1994, I got to know J.R. through my writing, and I eventually met him at one of the SHOT Shows. We continued to communicate about airguns and many other things well into the 21st century. I haven’t heard from him since I got sick back in 2010, so he may no longer be involved with airguns like he once was, but he was certainly a mover and shaker in the U.S. airgun scene during the time he was active.

A couple points of interest with J.R. He was the man who modified the Shinsung Career 707 adjustment wheel from 3 settings to 17 settings — giving us much greater control over the velocity of our rifles. The factory eventually made the same modification. It was possible to keep a Career shooting at the same velocity for a long time simply by adjusting the power wheel as you shot. I remember testing it over a chronograph and getting 90 shots that were all within 30 f.p.s.

J.R. also created the first adjustable trigger for the Career, and I believe he also created one of the first pellet feed mechanisms that was user-adjustable. Before that, you could only shoot a few types of pellets in the gun; but with his modification, many more types of pellets would work through the magazine.

His brother, Danton manages, the licensing of the Burroughs family literary property. Part of that is a collection of original Tarzan novels that were never sold. There was a fire in the storeroom many years ago and some of these books have smoke damage, but they’re all like-new hardcover books from the 1930s. I was gifted with one — Tarzan and the Forbidden City — from this collection, and J.R inscribed it, saying that his father had done the cover art.

Of course, many of you know that the southern California community of Tarzana was created from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzana Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. But how many know that Tarzana was also the name of small hamlet located on the ranch before Burroughs purchased it? And his Tarzan character appeared in print for the first time two years after he bought the ranch.

So, Tarzan does have ties to modern airgunning. I thought you would like to know that. One final thing. Burroughs didn’t just write adventure novels. He is also quite famous for his science fiction that bears a remarkable resemblance to his other works, but are set on Mars. Edith and I both enjoy the movie John Carter, in which Burroughs appears as a minor character who turns out to be the author who documents the “real-life” exploits of his uncle, John Carter. I think we enjoy it most because of our fond memories of J.R.

Now, let’s take our first serious look at the new AirForce Escape survival rifle. Before I start, I need to make a couple corrections to Part 1. I said the Escape SS (officially named the EscapeSS) has an 18-inch barrel and several readers figured out that wasn’t the case. It actually comes with a 12-inch barrel in either .22 or .25 caliber.

I also said the Escape valve is a modified TalonP pistol valve, which isn’t true. The TalonP valve is used exactly as it is in the pistol, so pistol owners who add a 24-inch barrel and end cap to their pistols can essentially have the Escape. The pistol’s frame is shorter than the Escape frame, but it is just right for the Escape Ultra Light (officially named the EscapeUL) that we’ll look at in a later report.

AirForce Escape rifle
The AirForce Airguns Escape precharged pneumatic air rifle is a powerful new survival rifle in both .22 and .25 calibers.

AirForce Talon P pistol
The TalonP pistol is the base gun used to create the new Escape-series rifles.

The Escape rifle looks like the other AirForce sporting rifles and has many of the same features. The new trigger is there, along with the new safety that can be taken off safe by the trigger finger, alone. The 2-stage trigger on my rifle breaks at a relatively clean 28 oz. While it’s not adjustable, I think most serious shooters will find it more than adequate.

The rifle weighs 5.3 lbs. unscoped and measures from 34.5 to 39 inches long, depending on where the extendible buttstock is set. That means the length of pull can also be varied from 9.75 to 14.25 inches.

Like all other AirForce rifles, the Esacpe has long 11mm rails on top and below the receiver. Since this is a survival gun, a bipod and sling swivels might be almost as important as a scope.

I tested this rifle differently than normal. Instead of getting the chronograph figures right away, I decided to shoot it at the range, so 2 days were spent on the range with the rifle in its .25-caliber incarnation. Once I have a good baseline of performance downrange, I’ll come back and chrono the best pellets, pressures and power settings. Because these rifles are so infinitely adjustable, it makes sense to figure out what works before you worry about the numbers.

But I’ll give you some velocity figures because Ton Jones tested the heck out of the rifle late last year, and AirForce provided me with the data. With .25-caliber JSB Exact King pellets and the rifle set to max power, Ton’s first shot was 1145 f.p.s. The first 10 shots on a 3,000 psi fill looked like this:

1–1145
2–1125
3–1106
4–1090
5–1078
6–1061
7–1044
8–1028
9–1017
10–1003

On power setting 8, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1100
2–1112
3–1133
4–1106
5–1107
6–1088
7–1075
8–1060
9–1041
10–1022

On power setting 4, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1041
2–1036
3–1077
4–1095
5–1080
6–1077
7–1100
8–1077
9–1091
10–1080

At max power and the highest velocity, this JSB pellet generated 73.96 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

With the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet, the rifle did this on the first 10 shots at max power after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1010
2–980
3–974
4–955
5–940
6–924
7–907
8–894
9–876
10–860

On 8 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–996
2–984
3–964
4–944
5–932
6–906
7–888
8–872
9–856
10–840

On 4 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–986
2–975
3–959
4–950
5–937
6–922
7–902
8–889
9–870
10–849

At the max power setting and highest velocity, this pellet generated 97.88 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I have the data on the Escape’s .22-caliber performance, but that will make today’s report too large, so let me continue with just the .25-caliber rifle, which is how AirForce set it up for me. I took it to the rifle range on 2 different days. Both were cold but the first one was also very windy, so I’m going to show you the results of day 2 testing, only. The day was 16 degrees F (-9 C) but dead calm. I shot several types of pellets this day and based on those velocity figures you have just seen, I decided to shoot 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups.

Ton Jones maintains that a survival situation calls for a single well-placed shot, rather than a number of shots fired rapidly. I agree with him, so I’m not testing the Escape as I normally would. I fired 5 shots and then topped off the air tank. When you’re making single shots, that makes sense.

On max power the best groups I shot were with JSB Exact King pellets and Predator Polymag pellets. At 50 yards, 5 JSB Kings went into a group that measured 1.846 inches between centers. That’s a large group, but remember that you’re shooting at large targets, and 50 yards may be farther than you choose to shoot.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King max 50 yards
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.846 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Predator Polymags put five into 1.819 inches at the same 50 yards on max. power. Notice that both pellets spread their shots horizontally.

AirForce Escape rifle Predator Polymag max 50 yards
Five Predator Polymag pellets went into 1.819 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Experience takes over
I’m not going to bore you with each and every experiment I did on this day, but I want you to know that I also tried Benjamin domed pellets and Beeman Kodiak pellets. Both gave similar results, with the Kodiaks doing slightly better than the Benjamins.

But I knew that this rifle was more accurate than this. From my experience with other powerful precharged rifles, plus the testing I did with the TalonP pistol, I reckoned the fill pressure had to be lowered and the power adjusted. It soon became obvious this was correct and the JSB Exact King pellet was the one to go with. After several more groups, I settled on a fill of just under 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. The groups became amazing with this combination, plus they were remarkably uniform from group to group.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 1
First good group of JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 1950 psi fill gave me this 0.751-inch, 5-shot group at 50 yards.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 2
After adjusting the scope, I put 5 JSB Kings into 0.694 inches at 50 yards. This was the best group of the day.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 3
Another 5 JSB Kings went into 0.841 inches at 50 yards. This was the worst group of 6 that were fired with this combination of pellet, pressure and power setting.

Now that I know where at least one sweet spot is located, that will be what I’ll test through a chronograph. I’ll guess that this pellet is producing something in the 30 foot-pound range with the settings I used. Hitting the target with that kind of energy is much more meaningful than missing with three times more.

I also haven’t tested the heavy Eun Jin pellet for accuracy. And Ton told me that he lubricated his pellets with Slip 2000, which I’ve obtained, so I’ll be able to replicate what he did.

Summary
How do I summarize anything when I’ve only just started to test the rifle? There’s enough variability here that I could spend the rest of my life just testing the Escape in .25 caliber! What I can tell you is that the rifle performs as advertised, and, yes, you do have to work with it to get these kinds of results. AirForce has always made air rifles for the thinking man, and the new Escape continues that tradition proudly.

Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 4

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

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 3
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 4
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 5
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 3

Benjamin Marauder
Benjamin Marauder

Wow! More than one month has passed since the last part of this report. I’ve been to the Roanoke airgun show and also out to the rifle range at least 3 times trying to get the data for today’s report, but what a quest it has been! It all boiled down to false confidence in my ability to get the job done. I’m used to certain rifles cooperating with me every step of the way, and this time I got called by the fates who expose pride for what it is.

I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but I will point out the most recent example of my stupidity because it’s a lesson for us all. When I went to the range last week, I thought I was ready to complete my 50-yard test of the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder. I’d swapped the scope mounts from a previous test because they were too high. The new mounts were lower, and I didn’t have to hold my head as high on the comb. I knew this would help with the accuracy. But then I went to the Roanoke airgun show, and forgot that I’d made this change.

What’s most important about the change, though, are that the new mounts were vintage B-Square adjustable mounts. And the rear ring was jacked up higher than the front. I always liked that setup because it gets the drooper problem taken care of on the first shot — even if there isn’t one! But not if you forget that you did it!

And that’s why this report didn’t happen last week. I had the Marauder at the range with the TX200 Mark III, on which I reported last weekWhen I shot the Marauder, there wasn’t a pellet hole on the paper. And I’m not just talking about the target paper, either. I mean the 2-foot x 4-foot backer paper that I use whenever I have a rifle that’s not known to be sighted-in.

Naturally, I was disappointed. This was a Marauder after all, and I expected it to go right to the point of aim. After shooting just two 8-round magazines, I took the rifle off the line and put it away. I needed to look into the situation deeper and figure out what was wrong.

What was wrong, was that I had forgotten about the new scope mounts. When I looked at the scope back in my office, I immediately saw that the rear was higher than the front. Then I vaguely remembered something about changing the mounts before going to the Roanoke airgun show, so I reread the last report and discovered what had happened. The gun had not been sighted-in with the new mounts. It was obvious that the scope was set up for a rifle with severe barrel droop, and this rifle doesn’t have that.

I even went back to the rifle range last Friday and looked at the backer board where my target and backer paper had been stapled. Sure enough, above where the top of the paper had been there was a hole in the backer board. It had the appearance of a nice rifle group. And some of the holes in the group appeared to be .25 caliber.

Benjamin Marauder group in wood
This group in the backer board is just above where my target paper was stapled. I believe it’s the impact point of the 25-caliber Marauder from last week’s test!

Suspecting what happened, I started shooting at an aim point much lower than my anticipated target. Sure enough, my pellet was hitting the paper about 16 inches high and 6 inches to the left. That’s a problem I can deal with! All I had to do was adjust the scope down and to the right, and I was on target. It took me less than 10 minutes to get my groups landing where I wanted at 50 yards. Now, it was time to test the rifle.

The first group was shot with H&N Baracuda pellets. In the past, these were the most accurate .25-caliber pellets on the market, but they have since been replaced by several others, including one huge surprise that emerged in this test! The group measured 1.021 inches between centers. It’s a good group for any rifle at 50 yards, but I did think the Marauder might be capable of better.

Benjamin Marauder H&N Baracuda group
Eight H&N Baracuda pellets went into a 1.021-inch group at 50 yards.

I should mention that I was firing two magazines of eight shots each in this test. So the groups that you see have 8 pellets and not 10 in them. I recharged the rifle with air after every 16 shots because the reservoir pressure had dropped to around 2,100 psi by that point. That was as low as I felt it could go and still be accurate.

JSB Exact King
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact King, a .25-caliber pellet that’s shown a lot of promise in recent testing. The first group I shot measured 1.447 inches between centers. That’s not very good for a PCP rifle at 50 yards. Interestingly, however, 7 of those 8 shots went onto 0.719 inches, and that is good. I hoped that the one flyer was an anomaly, and that a retest of the same pellet would do better.

10-21-13-03-JSB-Exact-King-group1
Eight JSB Exact Kings went into 1.447 inches. That’s not very good, but 7 of the pellets went into 0.719 inches, which is promising.

The second group of JSP Exact Kings when into 1.094 inches. That’s a lot better, but it still wasn’t what I’d hoped for, so I left the Kings to try other pellets.

JSB Exact King group 2
Eight JSB Exact Kings went into 1.094 inches. It’s better than the first group, but still not thrilling. At this point, the .25 Marauder looks like a 1-inch rifle at 50 yards.

Benjamin domes
Another stunning pellet in .25 caliber is the Benjamin dome. It has no model name, but you could think of it as a Premier pellet because it looks similar to the other pellets in the Premier line. The first group of 8 pellets measured 1.226 inches between centers, which was again larger than I was looking for.

Benjamin Marauder Benjamin dome group 1
Eight Benjamin domes went into 1.226 inches at 50 yards. It’s larger than I would like.

The second group of Benjamin domes measures 1.06 inches. While that’s better, I still thought the rifle could do more.

Benjamin Marauder Benjamin dome group 2
The second group of Benjamin domes was better, with 8 in 1.06 inches. It’s good, but somehow not good enough.

Predator Polymag
The last pellet I tried was the .25 caliber Predator Polymag. It showed well in the 25-yard test and earned its place in this test. There really aren’t a lot of options when it comes to accurate .25-caliber pellets, and I think we’ve included all of them in this test. Yes, there are other brands out there, but do they perform? In my experience, they don’t.

The Predator is a hollowpoint pellet that has a red plastic tip in the center of the nose. Normally, hollowpoints fall off in accuracy at around 25 yards, but this pellet doesn’t. That tip seems to do its job.

Predator Polymag
The Predator Polymag pellet is a hollowpoint with a plastic tip in the center, and it really works at long range!

The first group of Predators measures 1.121 inches between centers. Once again, that’s okay for 50 yards, but it’s nothing to scream about. But the second group measures 0.808 inches between centers. That’s what I was looking for! While the Marauder can’t be expected to shoot that well every time, this group proves that it has the potential. And it does it with a pellet that is acknowledged to be a great hunting pellet!

Benjamin Marauder Predator Polymag group 1
The first 8 Predator Polymags went into 1.121 inches at 50 yards. That’s not bad, but not what I was hoping for.

Benjamin Marauder Predator Polymag group 2
Now, that’s a group! The second group of 8 Predators measures 0.808 inches. This is the accuracy I was looking for from the Marauder.

Observations
No .25-caliber airgun has ever been as accurate as the best .22 or .177 guns. What we see from this test is a range of results that represents what the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder can do at 50 yards. I think these groups show what this gun can do very well. Sure, if you shoot more there will be some smaller groups. But there will also be many more groups that are larger than those shown here. I think we can safely say the Marauder in .25 caliber is capable of putting 8 shots into one inch at 50 yards when you do your part.

The .25-caliber rifle uses a lot of air! I was getting just 16 good shots in this test on a 3,000 psi fill. Compare that to the 32 good shots I got in the test of the .177-caliber rifle filled to the same pressure.

From a handling standpoint, there isn’t a nickel’s worth of difference between the .177- and .25-caliber rifles. The trigger can be adjusted to operate virtually the same, and the stocks feel the same. The one small difference is the .25-caliber gun does move back slightly with each shot. I didn’t feel that with the .177, but I definitely felt it in this test.

If you want a .25-caliber hunting air rifle, I think the Marauder is a good candidate for your short list. It’s powerful, accurate, quiet and reliable. How much more can you ask?

Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 3

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

Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber: Part 1
Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2

Benjamin Marauder
Benjamin Marauder

I told you this report was going to be a different kind of test, and today I’ll prove it. I shot the .25-caliber Benjamin Marauder off a rest at 25 yards, but the purpose was not to learn if the rifle is accurate — I already knew it is. And 25 yards is hardly long enough to show the accuracy potential of this powerful PCP.

No, I told you that I would be searching for the most accurate pellets in this rifle. You see, unlike .177- and .22-caliber guns, the big .25 doesn’t have that many accurate pellets. Going into this test, I only knew of 3 — the H&N Baracuda (also branded as the Beeman Kodiak), the Benjamin dome and the JSB Exact King. Other .25-caliber pellets I’ve tested were not accurate enough to be considered. Today’s test is to establish that the 3 good pellets are still good in this test rifle and to see if there’s another good pellet or 2 out there.

The rifle is now scoped with the UTG 6-24X56 AO scope with illuminated reticle, which I’m also testing for you. I won’t get into that evaluation in this report, but I will use this test to report on that scope. This scope has high rings that come packaged with it.

Testing pellets rapidly
Time is a commodity in short supply around here. It takes a long time to test something, then pictures have to be taken and it takes even more time to write it up. Normally, I shoot 10-shot groups for accuracy, but I told you I was going to do things differently today, and this is where it starts. Instead of shooting 10-shot groups (or 8-shot groups because the .25 Marauder circular magazine only holds 8 pellets), I decided to shoot 4-shot groups. The results of those groups would tell me which pellets were worth testing more closely. But testing more closely won’t be at 25 yards. It will be out at 50 yards.

H&N Baracuda
Since I’d just mounted the scope, I had to sight-in the rifle, and for that I loaded a full magazine with 8 H&N Baracudas. Sight-in took just 2 shots, so the first group for the record was 6 shots instead of 4. As predicted, it was a tight 0.376 inches at 25 yards. Of course, some of that is due to the lesser number of shots, so bear that in mind. Also, bear in mind that a group of .25-caliber pellets will look much larger than the same size group of .177-caliber pellets.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Baracudas
Six H&N Baracudas went into 0.376 inches at 25 yards. This pellet is on the list for 50 yards.

JSB Exact King and Benjamin dome
Next, I shot 4 each of the JSB Exact Kings and Benjamin domes. Both performed exactly as expected. The 4 Benjamin domes went into 0.196 inches. Of course, I would expect this group size to double with 10 pellets, but it’s still the kind of accuracy I was looking for.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Benjamin dome
Four Benjamin domes went into 0.196 inches at 25 yards. They made the list, as well.

I shot the first 3 JSB Exact Kings into a very tight 0.11-inch group, but the fourth shot was a called pull to the left. It opened the group to 0.383 inches; but since I know that I pulled the shot, it doesn’t phase me. This pellet also made the cut for more testing.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target JSB Exact Kings
Three JSB Exact Kings went into 0.11 inches at 25 yards. That’s the larger hole on the right. A pulled fourth shot that was called opened the group to 0.383 inches, but that doesn’t bother me. This one is a keeper, as well.

Predator Polymags
The only other pellet that showed promise in this test was the Predator Polymag. Four of them went into 0.274 inches at 25 yards. That’s good enough to earn a chance to shoot at 50 yards in my book.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Predator Polymag
Four Predator Polymag pellets went into 0.274 inches at 25 yards. That was enough to make the cut.

The other pellets
As I said before, the .25-caliber pellet is not as uniformly accurate as the .177 and .22. Until this test, only the first 3 pellets I shot had shown any promise. Now, we have a fourth. To show you what some other pellets look like in comparison, here are 3 more that didn’t make the cut.

RWS Superdome
The results of 4 RWS Superdome pellets tell the story of the .25 caliber very well. Four went into a group that measured 1.378 inches between centers. You can clearly see there’s no need to shoot 10 pellets, when just 4 make a showing like this.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target RWS Superdome
Four RWS Superdomes made this 1.378-inch group at 25 yards. It was the largest group of the test.

Diana Magnum
Next, I tried the pellet that was the best .25-caliber pellet for many years in the 1990s. Until the H&N Baracuda came out in .25 caliber, the 20-grain Diana Magnum was the pellet people chose for accuracy. Certain individual guns may have done better with other pellets, but the Diana Magnum was considered the best all-around .25-caliber pellet of its day.

Not surprisingly, Diana Magnums turned in the smallest group of the three pellets that were not selected to go on to longer-range testing. Four went into 0.588 inches at 25 yards.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Diana Magnum
Four Diana Magnums made this 0.588-inch group at 25 yards. Fifteen years ago, this was the best pellet we had in .25 caliber.

Beeman Ram Jet
Another pellet that has left the stage is the .25-caliber Beeman Ram Jet. It was supposed to be a domed pellet that also performed like a wadcutter, but accuracy was never this pellet’s strong suit. Four of them made a 0.769-inch group at 25 yards.

25-caliber Benjamin Marauder 25 yard target Beeman Ram Jet
Four Beeman Ram Jets made a 0.769-inch group at 25 yards. This pellet was also never in the running.

Summary
I hope from these results that it’s clear why I went with 4-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups. I never planned on testing the .25-caliber Marauder at 25 yards, except to prepare for the 50-yard test, which will be next. I think you can see the clear differences between the pellets that were selected and those that missed the cut. More than any other caliber, the big .25 is an all-or-nothing caliber. And there aren’t that many pellets to choose from.

Trigger
One more thing I want to report today is how the trigger now performs. I adjusted it before this test and got it exactly where I want it. I won’t say that it’s better than the trigger on my .177 Marauder, but it’s just as good. The Marauder trigger is something Crosman can be proud of, for it surpasses most PCP adjustable triggers I’ve tested. This one now has a positive stop at stage 2, followed by a very light, crisp break. It allowed me to hold very precisely and know when I pulled my shots, which only happened once during this session. This trigger will certainly do!

Next, I plan to shoot the rifle at 50 yards with these 4 pellets. That should give us a good idea of the long-range capability of the rifle. If the results suggest it’s capable, I may attempt a 100-yard test, as well. I need for the shooting conditions to be perfect to do it; but if they are, we may see the real potential of the big Marauder.

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