Posts Tagged ‘JSB Match Diabolo Exact King pellets’

BSA Scorpion SE: Part 2

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

Today’s report is Part 2 of the guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s finishing his report of a BSA Scorpion SE, and today’s blog is all about accuracy.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, Tyler.

by Tyler Patner

Part 1

This report covers:

• Accuracy at 20 yards
• Accuracy at 40 yards
• Trigger and safety
• How loud is it?
• Final thoughts

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

In the first report, we used a chronograph to measure the velocity of the .25-caliber BSA Scorpion SE. Just looking at the chrony numbers, I would guess that .22 caliber is really optimal for the Scorpion SE. I’d bet a rifle in that caliber could put out the same energy as the .25 and maintain the same or better shot count. But don’t discount the .25-caliber Scorpion SE. While clearly underpowered, today’s accuracy testing will show just why the this rifle should be on your short list.

Accuracy testing was done at 20 and 40 yards. Normally, I would do 25 and 50 yards, but my current range has a max of 40 yards. The Bushnell Elite 8-32X40 scope was set on 16X, and the shooting began. I should note, I was using only a front bag rest and shooting off a very wobbly plastic table, but even those hindrances could not keep the Scorpion SE from impressing me! A .25-caliber hole is a bit bigger than I’m used to seeing. I shot 3 groups to warm up and then refilled for the 20-yard test.

Accuracy at 20 yards
The first pellet shot at 20 yards was the JSB King. They stacked 5 into a tight 0.43-inch group, starting things out nicely.

BSA Scorpion SE  JSB King 20 yards
Five JSB Kings went into this 0.43-inch group at 20 yards. This is a good start.

Next was the Benjamin Destroyer pellet at 27.8 grains. This is shaped similarly to their Destroyer in .177 and .22 calibers. Four shots went into a 1.30-inch group, with the fifth shot flying high about 2 inches. The overall size came to 2.60 inches for 5 shots, which is beyond poor. The Benjamins were not included in the 40-yard test for that reason.

BSA Scorpion SE  Benjamin Destroyer 20 yards
Five Benjamin Destroyers went into 2.60 inches at 20 yards, with 4 in 1.30 inches. This isn’t the pellet for this rifle.

The Predator Polymags did surprise me a bit. Not only did they just barely squeeze into the magazine, but they actually grouped pretty well. A 0.54-inch group of 5 at 20 yards made a nice-sized hole that would certainly be adequate for small game. The Polymags have proven, time and time again, that they’re the premier hunting-specific pellet and can smack small game with devastating results.

BSA Scorpion SE  Predator Polymags 20 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.54 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The lighter-weight H&N Field Target Trophy grouped decently, with 5 in 0.79 inches. I pulled the fourth shot a bit, as my wobbly table wasn’t quite stable. I did shoot them at 40 yards, as well, but the results were not worthy of showing here.

BSA Scorpion SE  H&N Field Target Trophy 20 yards
Five H&N Field Target Trophys went into 0.79 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

The pellet that surprised me the most was the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme. With a cross cut on the head of the pellet, it’s certainly eye-catching, with major accuracy to back it up! A 0.35-inch, 5-shot group (basically one single hole) was more than enough to get my attention. Twenty yards is not a long distance for PCP guns; but when you lace 5 shots in a row through a single hole, it immediately gets your attention!

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 20 yards
This is what I wanted to see — 5 H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes went into 0.30 inches at 20 yards.

Next up were the Beeman Kodiaks. Being made by H&N, I was pretty confident they’d group similarly to the Baracuda Hunter Extremes, and they did. A 0.32-inch group of 5 bettered the mark set by the Hunter Extremes at 20 yards. The two pellets are very similar in terms of shape; and aside from the cut out in the head of the Hunter Extreme, they showed little difference in accuracy at 20 yards.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 20 yards
Beeman Kodiak pellets put 5 into 0.32 inches at 20 yards.

Accuracy at 40 yards
I chose to go with the Kodiaks, Hunter Extremes, Predator Polymags and JSB Kings for 40-yard testing. The results were all very good, which shows the versatility of the BSA barrel. This is something I’ve come to appreciate about the BSA guns I’ve owned. They all seem to be very even-tempered in terms of pellet selection. All too often, I test guns that will shoot only one pellet, and everything else groups horribly. That’s all well and good, but only if the pellet the barrel likes is accessible, consistent from die to die and not too far on either side of the weight spectrum so your trajectory is reasonable. For testing at 40 yards, I shot two groups just to try to remove the potential for human error because we all know the gun is rarely the problem. It’s the jerk behind the trigger!

First up were the Beeman Kodiaks, and they did not disappoint — giving a 0.50-inch group. Bear in mind the pellet is half the size of the group, so you are looking at two holes at the end of the day.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 40 yards
At 40 yards, 5 Beeman Kodiaks went into 0.50 inches.

The Predator Polymags at 26 grains grouped very well at 40 yards, making a 5-shot group that measured 0.65 inches. I would be very confident with a magazine of these in the Scorpion SE if I was going out after squirrels or pest birds. Raccoons and opossums would also be well within the Scorpion SE’s game menu. Accuracy like this will pretty much assure you of a clean head shot or vital organ shot if you do your part. The extra bit of expansion the Predators offer would also come in handy.

BSA Scorpion SE Predator Polymag 40 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.65 inches at 40 yards.

The overall best group of the day (and not just at 40 yards) was made with JSB Kings. After looking like the H&N/Beeman pellets would run away with the accuracy testing, the Kings came back in a big way. I managed to put 5 shots into a single hole measuring 0.27 inches. Basically, that’s the size of the pellet. The next group opened up ever so slightly, but it was clear that the Kings are the way to go.

BSA Scorpion SE JSB King 40 yards
JSB Exact Kings made the best group of the day, with 5 in just 0.27 inches! This is great for 40-yard accuracy.

The Baracuda Hunter Extreme was the last pellet tested at 40 yards, and they grouped well also at 0.42 inches for 5. That was the best I could manage; and if the expansion of the Hunter Extremes is better than the average domed pellet, then I would say they’re the most accurate hollowpoint I’ve ever shot in any gun past 10 yards. Generally, hollowpoints suffer a bit in the accuracy department; but I think that because the Hunter Extremes are not a complete hollowpoint, they fly just a bit better. Either way, these pellets work well, so H&N has a definite winner with them.

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40 yards
Five H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes made the best group of the day for hollowpoints, with 5 in just 0.42 inches!

Trigger and safety
The trigger on the BSA Scorpion SE was unadjusted since it came out of the box crisp and relatively light for a hunting trigger. It measures an average of 2 lbs., 2 oz. over five pulls. I know the trigger can be adjusted much lighter than this; but for the hunting crowd, that won’t be necessary.

The manual hunter-style safety is located on the left side of the action. I’ve seen the triggers adjusted so light that an engaged safety won’t stop the gun from firing when the trigger’s pulled. So, be careful when adjusting this trigger — or any trigger for that matter. Test it before you load the gun and make sure the safety still stops the gun from firing after adjustments are made.

BSA Scorpion SE safety
Manual safety

How loud is it?
On the subject of noise, the Scorpion SE is pretty loud. It’s not backyard friendly, and I would rate it a 7 out of 10 (10 being the loudest). If this were a 45-50 foot-pound gun, then the noise would be up in the 9-10 range; but at 30 foot-pounds, it’s fairly tame for an unshrouded gun. That said, the air stripper on the muzzle also doubles as a thread protector covering the 1/2-inch UNF threading that could accept a more useful air stripper or muzzlebrake if you choose to add one.  [Editor's note: Silencers are subject to federal legislation. If an airgun silencer can be attached to a firearm and quiet the report, it must be licensed.]

BSA Scorpion SE air stripper
The air stripper/muzzlebrake covers 1/2X20 threads.

Final Thoughts
The Scorpion SE represents a step forward for BSA airguns. The new features like the redesigned magazine and gauge show that they’re listening to what their customers want and need. All the while, they’re not changing the things they know are proven to work. Their barrels are still some of the best out there, and their overall quality and precision shines through.

There are a lot of options in the mid-priced PCP realm, and the BSA may be overlooked because of its relatively low power level; but if you’re looking for a precision shooter with adequate power for small game, then I would highly recommend taking a look at the BSA Scorpion SE. My experience with BSA products has been stellar over the course of many years, and I’m confident you’ll come to the same conclusion after just a few shots behind the trigger of their PCP works of art!

BSA Scorpion SE: Part 1

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s going to tell us about a BSA PCP pellet rifle. This is a complete report with the description, velocities and test targets, so I am breaking it into two sections.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, Tyler.

by Tyler Patner

This report covers:

• Changes from BSA
• Let’s shoot

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

Before getting to the review, I want to preface this by saying that I’m a BSA fan boy (self-proclaimed, of course). When I found out that BSA was officially making their return to the U.S. market, I was ecstatic. And no gun was more present in my mind than the BSA Scorpion SE. I already had the BSA R-10 in my arsenal and had owned an Ultra as well as a SuperTEN (predecessor to the R10). The one gun I had yet to own of the BSA PCP line was the Scorpion SE. With the new look to the stock and the various glowing reviews from the UK sub-12-foot-pound crowd, I was chomping at the bit for the Scorpion SE.

Traditionally, I’m a .177 and .22 pellet shooter. I’ve never owned a .25; and, quite frankly, I had little desire for one. It’s nothing against the caliber, I just don’t have too much use for it, as most of my hunting and long-distance shooting can be easily accomplished with a .22. But as most folks will tell you, it never hurts bringing more gun than you need. If there was one thing I knew going into this review, it was that the accuracy should be nothing short of stellar. BSA barrels are widely known and highly regarded for their amazing consistency and accuracy. Many worldwide field target and benchrest shooters choose their barrels for that exact reason. So, expectations were very high; but to my surprise, my expectations could not have possibly been set this high.

Changes from BSA
The introduction of the SE (which stands for Special Edition, even though all of the current models are “SE” models) saw a few new features brought to the BSA line that many had yet to experience. The addition of a pressure gauge that reads in bar was a welcome feature I was very happy to see. The R-10 was the first BSA gun to employ it, and BSA has since added it to their entire PCP range.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock pressure gauge
BSA Scorpion SE pressure gauge reads in bar.

The Scorpion SE also uses BSA’s new self-indexing magazines. Prior to these mags, BSA went through two other styles that used an indexing pin within the breech. This is a common method of indexing a magazine but comes with its own set of problems. A common complaint was that the indexing pin would actually break, leaving the gun unusable. BSA has solved this issue by creating a magazine that seamlessly rotates under spring tension once the bolt is retracted from the magazine.

I’ve used these magazines in both old-style BSA rifles and the new-style guns. To this day, I’ve never had a hangup with the new-style mags. Loading the magazines does take a certain technique, but it’s very easy to figure out and do quickly. I simply hold the drum of the magazine with my left hand and load pellets with the right, rotating with my thumb and index finger.

The drums are color-coded blue and red for .177 and .22, respectively. Each holds 10 pellets. The .25 is slightly different, with cutouts to allow for the larger spacing the bigger quarter-inch bore pellets need. It’s black and holds only 8 shots. I’d like to see BSA not leave any portion of the pellet exposed in the magazine.  If I were to drop the magazine in the dirt or mud, it’s possible for debris to find its way into the internals of the mag and potentially jam it.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag indexed
My thumb and index finger hold the magazine drum against spring tension.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag not indexed
Here I show the drum not indexed. It takes only a little finger pressure for this control.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock mag side view
The mag drum is open on the side to allow the big .25-caliber pellets to fit.

The final change was the stock. The new stocks are being made by Minelli in Italy. For standard beech, the one I had was very impressive. It had great character and a very comfortable shape. The stock also had a very interesting reverse stippling in some areas. I’m not really sure if reverse stippling is the correct term for it, but that’s the best I could come up with! It’s almost as if Minelli removed a layer or two of wood and left things rough on the surface to give you more positive feedback when held. This definitely made an impact, as the areas of the stock where this was present were very tacky and really solid in my hand. The forearm is not too wide, and the relatively light overall weight of around 7 lbs. makes this gun an excellent choice for those walking the woods.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock holding rifle
The rifle holds steady in the offhand position. It’s lighter than it looks!

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock forearm
The wood stock is shaped well, and the odd stippling is very grippy.

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock butt
The butt is nicely shaped, and the wood is attractive.

Let’s shoot
I chose to mount a scope that most would think is major overkill for a gun like the Scorpion SE. I went with a Bushnell Elite 8-32X40AO. This is a big scope that adds a lot of weight; but since I was shooting only benched groups, that was fine with me. It was also the only scope available at the time that I was comfortable with. All my good hunting optics were on guns and in use. That said, a gun like the Scorpion SE certainly warrants a nicer scope such as the Bushnell, and the extra magnification really gave me the ability to be as precise as possible when shooting my groups. Before we get to the group shots, though, let’s have a look at some velocity numbers.

I shot eight different pellets for the test but decided to chronograph only three of them. BSA touts their new SE models as having a “self-regulated valve.” There isn’t an actual regulator in the gun, so I wasn’t sure why they would refer to the valve design as self-regulated when that’s normally how PCPs function. With an unregulated gun, you usually get more of a curve when you graph out your velocities, while a regulated gun gives you a very flat string until the gun falls off the reg. While the shot count was relatively low, it was extremely tight — maybe one of the tightest spreads from an unregulated gun I’ve seen. And that wasn’t just from one pellet. Hunters could probably milk 20-25 shots from the relatively small air cylinder on the Scorpion SE.

The first pellet I ran over the chrony was the H&N Field Target Trophy which weighs in at 20.06 grains. [Editor's note: Depending on how you search for this pellet in Pyramyd Air's listings, one product name will state that it weighs 20.06 grains, and another will say it's 19.91 grains. However, on the actual product page, the name and description say it weighs 19.91 grains (which is correct). However, I left the weight at 20.06 grains for this report since all of Tyler's calculations are based on that number.] Filling the gun to 3000 psi delivered 17 good, consistent shots. We had a high velocity of 819 f.p.s., a low of 792 f.p.s. and an average velocity of 807 f.p.s. The extreme spread was 27 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was 8.4 f.p.s. Again, the low shot count is due to the smaller air cylinder, but it’s much more consistent than most unregulated PCP guns I’ve shot. The Field Target Trophy pellets put out about 28.7 foot-pounds at the muzzle. For a .25-cal. PCP, this is very underpowered, and my only real beef with the gun. More power would sacrifice shot count further, and BSA opted to go for a moderate power level with a higher shot count.

Next up were the 25.4 grain JSB King pellets. These are widely considered the best .25-caliber pellets on the market — and for good reason. They preformed extremely well and also proved to be the most accurate pellet tested, but more on that in part 2. We got 15 good shots on a full 3000 psi fill with a high of 738 f.p.s., a low of 723 and an average of 731 f.p.s. The extreme spread was only 15 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was a mere 2.7 f.p.s. When you see a standard deviation that low, you often find accuracy follows closely behind.

That works out to 30 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle for this pellet. It’s more than enough for small game but very underpowered for that caliber. A 25-grain pellet moving in the low 700s in a gun sighted in at 25 yards has just under 3 inches of drop when stretching out to 50 yards. That’s quite a trajectory curve, and it really shows just how under-used the caliber is in the Scorpion SE platform.

The final pellet I chronographed was the Beeman Kodiak at 31 grains. On a full fill, the gun produced 19 very consistent shots. The high was 672 f.p.s. and a low of 655 f.p.s., which averaged out to 664 f.p.s. We really see how going heavier eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. I wouldn’t consider the slight bump in muzzle energy to be worth it, as it only topped out at 30.3 foot-pounds. I’d rather run the slightly flatter-shooting JSB Kings and give up the measly 0.2 foot-pounds. But with only a 17 f.p.s. extreme spread and a standard deviation of 5.9 f.p.s., things looked promising for the accuracy testing.

We’ll stop here and return in part 2 with Tyler’s accuracy testing. There are some good groups coming!

AirForce EscapeSS: 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
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

This report covers:

• 50-yard accuracy of Predator Polymags on high power.
• JSB Exact Kings accuracy.
• Kings on high-fill pressure.
• Benjamin domes.
• Kings on max power.
• Observations so far.

EscapeSS
AirForce EscapeSS

If you’re seriously interested in one of the AirForce Escape survival rifles, this blog series should be very beneficial. I’ve tested each rifle and attempted to get the best accuracy possible, using the best pellet. Last time, we looked at the rifle at 50 yards with the Predator Polymag pellet. Today, we’ll look at the EscapeSS accuracy at 50 yards using different pellets with the gun set to higher powers and greater fill pressures. Today’s test was an eye-opener for me.

The day at the range was windy, with a 5 m.p.h. breeze blowing all the time and gusting to 20 m.p.h. I waited for the wind to get as calm as possible, but all shots were in the wind. Sometimes, I took shots with the wind blowing up to 10 m.p.h. I think you can get away with that when shooting a .25-caliber pellet gun, though it’s not ideal.

Predator Polymags at higher power
In Part 2 of the EscapeSS, I shot the rifle at power settings 6 and 7 and with the reservoir filled to 2000 psi and 2200 psi. That was done because testing with both the Escape and the EscapeUL rifles demonstrated that the Predator Polymag pellet was the most accurate. Those rifles also seemed to be most accurate with their reservoirs filled to 2000 psi.

I said at the end of the last test that the Predator Polymag pellet still had to be tested at higher power and with a 3000 psi fill, so that was the first test on this day. I filled the gun’s reservoir to 3000 psi and dialed the power to 8. Then, I shot 5 Predator Polymags.

EscapeSS power 8
The power was set to 8, but as you can tell from the dial on the left, this is not a precision setting.

The results were not very promising. Instead of the 3/4-inch to 1-inch groups I got last time, this time 5 Polymags went into 1.526 inches. While that’s acceptable for hunting at 50 yards, I’d hoped to get better accuracy from this rifle.

EscapeSS Predator target power 8
When the power and pressure were raised, the Predator Polymag pellets started to scatter at 50 yards. Five went into 1.526 inches.

JSB Exact King
For the next group, I wanted to try something that was way out of the box. I filled the reservoir to 3500 psi and left the power setting on 8. That’s more pressure than the factory recommends, but I’ve read some reports from other shooters that say the gun does well with this kind of fill. I wanted to see. This was the first time I was trying JSB Exact Kings in this rifle.

The impact point shifted up about 4 inches, and 5 Kings landed in 1.387 inches. The rifle actually shot better with this pellet at this higher pressure; although, with a 12-inch barrel I doubt that there was much more velocity.

EscapeSS JSB King target 1 power 8
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.387 inches at 50 yards on power setting 8 and a fill of 3500 psi.

Having one good target, I decided to try it again with the same setting and fill pressure. This was to see if the first group was a fluke. This time, 5 Kings landed in 1.588 inches, which is close enough to the first group to say this is about what the rifle can and will do with these settings. This time, though, I adjusted the scope to get the pellets on target.

EscapeSS JSB King target 2 power 8
The second try with Kings at a fill of 3500 psi and power 8 gave me this 1.588-inch group.

Now, I decided to follow the manual and fill to just 3000 psi. I left the power setting on 8 — and 5 Kings went into 1.077 inches. Almost a one-inch group!

EscapeSS JSB King target 3 power 8
The fill pressure was lowered to 3000, and the power stayed on 8. Five Kings went into 1.077 inches at 50 yards!

That was so surprising that I filled the rifle to 3000 again and shot a second group, also on power setting 8.  I noted that the shots did drop a bit, so I adjusted the scope again. This time, 5 Kings went into 1.233 inches. So close to the first group that I think this is where the rifle wants to be.

EscapeSS JSB King target 4 power 8
The second try with Kings and a 3000 psi fill on power setting 8 gave me this nice 1.233-inch group. This is a good setting for this pellet.

I also noticed something interesting that illustrates a point I’ve been making for years. The gauge on this particular rifle does not agree with the gauge on my carbon fiber tank. When the tank gauge reads 3000 psi, the rifle’s gauge is off the scale! This illustrates how some small pressure gauges can be off by a lot, which is why you pick one gauge to follow — in this case, the one on my carbon fiber tank — and go by it all the time.

EscapeSS  pressure gauge
When the carbon fiber tank gauge reads 3000 psi, this is what the rifle’s gauge says. This is only on this particular rifle. The other Escape gauges read pretty much the same as the carbon fiber gauge. The point is that small pressure gauges can differ a lot.

Benjamin dome
Now it was time to see what the rifle would do with the Benjamin domed pellet. I kept the power at 8 and the fill at 3000 psi, and 5 pellets went into 1.667 inches. That sort of turned me off after seeing what the Kings could do, so I didn’t shoot a second group. Sometimes, you just know when one pellet is better than another.

EscapeSS Benjamin dome target power 8
Benjamin domes seemed to open up at these power and fill settings. These 5 measure 1.667 inches between centers.

JSB Kings at max power
It was time to try the JSB Exact Kings at maximum power and a 3000 psi fill. I shot 5 of them into a 1.831-inch group. As I was finishing this group, the wind was picking up to the point that I had to shoot in 10 m.p.h. wind and higher. I finished the day with these results:

EscapeSS JSB King target 5 power max
The last target was shot with Kings on a 3000 psi fill and poower set at max. It measures 1.831 inches between centers, but the wind was really picking up when it was shot.

Observations so far
I was surprised that the EscapeSS liked a higher power setting and fill pressure than either the Escape or the EscapeUL. Perhaps, that’s because of the shorter barrel, whose muzzle is so close to the front barrel bushing. I don’t know, but it underlines the need to test these adjustable rifles in many ways and with many pellets.

All 3 Escape rifles are for survival, though they can be used for hunting by anyone. Hunters typically use very few actual shots. The only exception would be when eliminating pests like rats or pigeons. The Escape rifles have small reservoirs that allow easy filling from a hand pump. I’ve found all 3 rifles to be well-suited to their role, but each has different qualities that the shooter may enjoy. With the EscapeSS the big difference is how quiet the rifle is. It’s not as quiet as some PCPs, but it’s also a good deal more powerful than most of them.

I’m still planning to report on the velocities of the 3 Escape rifles at their optimum power settings, so there’s more to come.

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.

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