Posts Tagged ‘JSB Match Diabolo Exact pellets’

How does the power of a scope affect accuracy?

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

Today’s report is a guest blog from duskwight, our blog reader in Moscow. It’s a report of a test to determine if changing the power of a variable scope affects the potential for accuracy

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

Over to you, duskwight.

How scope power affects accuracy
by duskwight

Hello, my airgunning friends! This is a report of a small test I performed recently to see if changing the power of a rifle scope affects the accuracy potential in any way. I guess the thing I’m testing is if you need to see the target as large as possible for aiming precision, or if you can be just as accurate when it appears smaller, because the crosshairs of your scope will still be in the same place.

B.B. tested this for me last week and reported it in the most recent test of the TX200. He shot two 10-shot groups at 50 yards with the scope set on 4x and 2 more with it set on 16x. In the first set of targets, he admitted that he wasn’t holding the rifle as good as he could and the 16x group was smaller than the one shot on 4x. But in the second set of targets, when he said he tried his best, the 4x group was smaller than the 16x group.

B.B.’s test was shot outdoors with a recoiling spring rifle. I decided to shoot mine indoors with a modified Gamo CF-X spring rifle I built.  I call my rifle the Shillelagh, and I’ve taken a picture so you can see what it looks like.

My Shillelagh (Gamo CF-X) was used for this test.

The scope is a Leapers 4-16X56 variable. As you can see, I mounted it with a one-piece mount. I’m shooting JSB Exact pellets with 4.52mm heads. The average velocity is 265 m.p.s. or 869 f.p.s.

I’m shooting indoors, so wind isn’t a factor. The air is dry and the temperature is 20 degrees C, or 68 F. I am shooting off a soft rest like B.B. used with the TX200. The distance is 50 meters, and my targets are made of 2 black circles, the inner one 1/2″ in diameter and the outer one 1-1/2″ in diameter. I’m measuring the groups from the outsides of the pellet holes farthest apart, and my groups each contain 10 shots.

I decided to select the power settings 6 and 12 magnifications for this test. I shot 2 groups on each magnification. In one set of targets, I concentrated on the hold very much; and on the other set, I went faster, with less concentration. Let’s take a look at the results.

Extreme concentration
The first group that was fired on 6x with extreme concentration measured 0.906″ across the outside of the group at the widest point. If we use a nominal .177 inches for the pellet diameter, that group would then measure 0.7295″ between centers.

Shillelagh group 6x hard
This 10-shot group came with the scope set at 6xr and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 0.9065″; and using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 0.7295″. Nice to know my Shillelagh can shoot!

The first group shot with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration measured 1.4455″ across and 1.2685″ between centers. That’s quite a bit larger than the 6x group!

Shillelagh group 12x hard
This 10-shot group was made with the scope set at 12x and using extreme concentration. The outside measurement in 1.4455″ across; and, using 0.177″ as the pellet diameter, the center-to-center measurement is 1.2685″. Quite a difference from the 6x group.

More relaxed shooting
Now, it was time to shoot groups from a more relaxed rest. I tried just as hard, but things went faster this time. The first group was shot at 6x and measured 1.003″s across the outside. The C-T-C measurement is 0.826″. Also not too shabby!

Shillelagh group 6x relaxed
Here are 10 shots with the scope set at 6x with a more relaxed shooting style. The outside measurement is 1.003″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 0.826″.

Next, I shot another 10-shot group in the more relaxed style with the scope set on 12x. This group measured 1.7325″ across, which gives us a measurement of 1.5555″ between centers. This is the largest group of the test and more than double the size of the first group shot on 6x.

Shillelagh group 12x relaxed
Ten shots with the scope set at 12x with a more relaxed shooting style measured 1.7325″ across, and the C-T-C measurement is 1.5555″. This is the largest group of the test.

It’s clear to me that lower magnification isn’t any hinderance to accuracy, as long as you can see the target clearly. In fact, I think lower magnification is the way to go.

Editor’s note
I made a huge mistake when I edited this text for duskwight. I assumed that his Shillelagh is his recoiless rifle project, when in fact, it’s a highly modified Gamo CF-X. The rifle seen in this test is that Gamo CF-X. I apologize for the confusion this has caused. — B.B.

Some of our newer readers probably don’t know the story of how duskwight built a recoiless spring rifle from scratch. Like you he was a reader of this blog and he was also an airgunner before finding this blog. He knew about the famous Whiscombe rifles, but they were hard to come by — even when John Whiscombe was still making them. Adding the extra difficulty of getting one all the way to Russia made him think about building his own rifle. When he first told us his plans, I thought it would never happen; and he shared all his struggles with unreliable machine shops and companies that could not meet his specifications. It seemed as though it wasn’t meant to be.

But he persisted, and finally, he had a working prototype. It took years of effort…and I don’t want to know how much money. But he did it. Then he sat down and whittled out a stock from a raw wood blank.

This Gamo CF-X, which he calls the Shillelagh, is just one example of his expertise building custom airguns. I think the accuracy he got with it is quite stunning!

Duskwight is Russia’s airgun answer to New Zealander Bert Munro, who took a 1920 Indian motorcycle and modified it into a 200 m.p.h. streamliner in the 1960s! People like this are in extremely short supply, and it’s our honor to know this one!

TX200 Mark III: Part 6

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Air Arms TX200 MkIII air rifleBB’s TX200 Mark III.

This is my second trip to the rifle range to shoot the TX200 Mark III at 50 yards. Last time, I shot only heavy pellets; today, I’ll shoot the hopefully more-accurate lightweight pellets, plus one JSB medium-weight pellet that several blog readers have had success with.

I also shot the rifle laying across the sandbag, instead of in the long groove down the center. Several readers said that was the best way to rest the rifle directly on the bag.

TX 200 Mark III rested lengthways
When I tested the rifle last time with heavy pellets, this is how it laid on the sandbag.

TX 200 Mark III rested sideways
For most of today’s test, the rifle laid sideways on the bag.

The day was perfect for shooting pellet guns at long range. There wasn’t a breath of air during the entire session.

Crosman Premiers
The first pellet I tested was the Crosman Premier lite — a 7.9-grain dome that some say is the most accurate pellet of all in the TX200. The group landed about 2-1/2 inches above the aim point because the rifle was still sighted for heavy pellets. But it was centered perfectly, and 10 pellets made a group measuring 1.077 inches between centers. That’s not a bad group, but I’ve seen TX200s do better at 50 yards.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite sideways group
The first group was 10 Crosman Premier lites. It measures 1.077 inches between centers.

That was a good start. The group was only slightly larger than the smallest group fired in the session before, which was 1.042 inches.

Following the first group, I adjusted the scope down several clicks. I wanted to keep the shots on or near the bull at which I was aiming.

JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome
Next up was the JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome, a pellet that several readers said was the most accurate one in their TX200s. Alas, that wasn’t the case in my rifle. When the first 5 pellets landed in a very vertical 2.40 inches, I stopped shooting. There’s no way the last 5 shots can improve things. Clearly, this isn’t the pellet for my rifle!

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact group
Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes landed in 2.4-inches between centers. This is not the pellet for this rifle.

JSB Exact RS
The next pellet I tried was one I had high hopes for — the 7.3-grain JSB Exact RS dome. It does so well in so many spring rifles; but, once again, the TX200 Mark III is not one of them. Ten pellets made a group that measured 1.957 inches. It’s a vertical group, as well.

TX 200 Mark III JSB Exact RS group
Ten JSB Exact RS domes made this 1.957-inch group. Another non-starter for my TX200.

Air Arms Falcon
About this time I was suspecting that the rifle does not like lightweight JSB domes. The next pellet up was the Air Arms Falcon, another lightweight domed pellet that’s also made by JSB. While Falcons are great in many air rifles, the first 5 landed in an open group measuring 1.658 inches, and I stopped right there. It looked like this pellet wasn’t for my TX, either.

TX 200 Mark III Falcon group
Five Air Arms Falcons spread out to 1.658 inches, so I stopped. No sense finishing the group.

What was happening?
Three out of 4 pellets I brought to the test were not good. Had I made a mistake with the Premier lites, as well? Was that good first group just a random event? I decided to shoot another one to see. This time, though, I laid the rifle the long way in the bag to see if there was any discernible difference.

Ten pellets went into a group measuring 1.241 inches this time. That is much closer to the first group than any of the other 3 pellets tried on this day, though it’s still larger. Maybe, laying the rifle lengthways made the difference? I don’t think so.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite lengthways group1
Ten Premier lites went into 1.241 inches when the rifle was laid lengthways on the bag.

I decided to shoot another group with the rifle laid lengthways, again, just for comparison. This time I hit the jackpot and all 10 pellets went into 0.658-inches.

TX 200 Mark III Premier lite lengthways group2
Now, that’s a group! Ten Premier lites in 0.658 inches. The rifle was laid lengthways, once again. This is what I was expecting to see from my TX.

Lessons learned
The TX 200 Mark III is capable of phenomenal accuracy at 50 yards, even when rested on a sandbag. From the limited testing I did I can’t say laying it crossways or lengthways is better. It works well both ways.

My rifle seems to shoot best with 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite pellets. It does not seem to like any light pellets made by JSB.

This is not the end of our testing. Pyramyd Air has sent me a new TX200 Mark III that I promised you I would test right out of the box. Some of you have been concerned that my rifle is too well broken-in, and you think it may not reflect what you will get if you buy one. So, we shall see!

As a final note, I’d like to point out that I got several groups that were okay with the Premier lites and one group that’s exceptional. That’s the way it goes with any airgun — I don’t care which one you’re talking about. All the talk about half-inch groups at 50 yards has to be taken with this firmly in mind. You’re going to shoot larger groups most of the time.

That being said, Premier lites seem to be the most accurate and also the most forgiving pellet we’ve tested in my TX200. They may not always shoot into a super-tight group, but they’ll always shoot where you want them to. That’s what’s important.

Theoben Crusader breakbarrel air rifle

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

Today, blog reader Paul Hudson shares his Theoben Crusader rifle with us. The Crusader is not as well-known in the U.S. as some other Theoben models, so this will be an interesting report.

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

Theoben Crusader air rifle left
With its walnut stock, the Theoben Crusader is a large, handsome airgun.

The Theoben Crusader is a high-power breakbarrel airgun, identical in size and performance to the Beeman R1. Its stablemate, the Theoben Eliminator, seems to get far more press since it’s one of the most powerful breakbarrel airguns available. That power comes with a high price — a cocking effort of 50+ lbs. — that most shooters are not willing to endure for very long. The Crusader, on the other hand, is far easier to cock and is a more practical airgun. Based on the used guns I’ve seen for sale, either the Crusader sales are much lower or people tend to keep them. Few are seen on the usual airgun sales sites or at airgun shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle right

The Crusader is a high-quality spring-piston rifle.

Measuring a full four feet in length and weighing 8 lbs., 3 oz. unscoped, the Crusader is a large airgun. Mine is .177 caliber; but .20, .22, and .25 calibers are also available. The Lothar Walther barrel is 16 inches long, and a muzzlebrake is standard equipment (.22-caliber Crusaders have an Anschütz barrel). There are no baffles in the muzzlebrake. No open sights are supplied by the factory, making an optical sight a necessity. My rifle has a right-hand walnut stock, but an ambidextrous stock can be had from the factory as a no-cost option. The pressed checkering does give enough grip to be functional. A very good non-slip recoil pad keeps the rifle in place. No plastic parts are used on the rifle.

The metal work on the Crusader is first-rate, with a high polish that’s typical of many British airguns, and the wood-to-metal fit is excellent. Allen-head screws are used throughout the gun except for one screw that secures the triggerguard.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Schrader
Behind that screw, a Schrader valve allows the owner to change the air pressure in the gas spring. Note the thumb rest in the stock.

A gas spring
Like all Theoben springers, the Crusader uses a gas spring, not a metal spring. Cocking is butter-smooth and requires 38 lbs. of effort. The piston includes a sliding weight that reduces piston bounce and felt recoil. A Schrader valve at the rear of the receiver allows the pressure in the gas spring assembly to be adjusted to vary the power of the gun. Upon firing there’s no spring twang or vibration, just a quick snap. The sound level is moderate. And, due to the size of the gun and careful tuning, the felt recoil is mild for the power level.

Theoben Crusader air rifle breech
The lower bolt is pinched between the breech block and the locking wedge to prevent vertical barrel movement. Note the taper at the rear of the barrel to make pellets easier to seat.

The barrel pivot setup on the Crusader is a little unusual. Most breakbarrels use a breechblock that’s close to the width of the forks of the receiver. Wide, thin shims may also be present between the breechblock and the receiver forks. The pivot bolt is then tensioned to the point that the lateral barrel movement is constrained. The breechblock on the Crusader has much more side clearance. Belleville washers are used to control the lateral movement. Belleville washers are cone-shaped from the side and are actually considered to be springs. A second bolt behind the pivot bolt mates with a hook on the back of the breechblock. The locking wedge pulls the breechblock tightly against this bolt to control the vertical movement of the barrel. Like many classic Webley rifles, the Crusader takes a bit of a slap to open the barrel for cocking.

Theoben Crusader air rifle cocking linkage
The unusually wide breechblock/fork clearance is visible from below the action. (The photo is overexposed, leading to the yellow stock color. This was necessary to bring out the detail within the cocking slot.)

The trigger
The Evolution trigger of the Crusader and other models has been criticized by some; and given the price of the gun, that may be justified. No creep is felt in the first stage, but the second stage is not as crisp as a Rekord trigger. As the gun came from the factory, the second stage breaks cleanly at 1 lb., 13 oz. The safety blade resides in front of the trigger and automatically sets when the gun is cocked. It can also be manually reset. Overall, I would rate the Crusader trigger as very good, just not quite as good as a Rekord or TX200 unit but not a reason to avoid the gun.

Theoben Crusader air rifle trigger
The trigger blade is almost straight; the automatic safety resides in the front of the triggerguard and is pressed forward to fire.

Velocities with the Crusader are similar to what’s found in a Beeman R1, and some lighter pellets in a .177-caliber rifle will go supersonic and ruin the accuracy. I tried a couple H&N Field Target Trophy Green pellets, but they traveled almost 1200 feet per second and missed the bullet trap at 25 yards. Extreme spreads with most pellets were under 20 feet per second, and a few varied by less than 10…very good for a springer.

Theoben Crusader air rifle spreadsheetThese are the velocities the Crusader can deliver with the selected pellets.

25-yard accuracy
Many pellets gave 5-shot groups around an inch in size at 25 yards. Several gave very good accuracy, including a few that surprised me. To get the best accuracy shooting from the bench, I had to hold the airgun loosely with my right hand and keep my left hand open. If I let my fingers touch the forearm, I had to make sure I didn’t squeeze the gun at all or the groups would open up. In other words, use the classic artillery hold. You cannot grip this airgun tightly and get good accuracy; it’ll take practice and proper technique to get the best results.

All groups were 5 shots at 25 yards, and the sights were not adjusted for the different pellets. It was interesting to see the difference in the points of impact. Predator Polymags and 8.4-grain JSB Exacts shot especially high in relation to the other pellets. Unfortunately, neither 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lites nor 10.5-grain Premiers heavies did much better than one-inch groups at 25 yards. While that’s not too bad, a number of pellets did far better.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Baracuda Hunter group
Five H&N Baracuda Hunters made this 0.50-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Predator group
Five Predator Polymag pellets made this 0.40-inch group. Good enough for hunting.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Gamo TS-10 group
Gamo TS-10 surprised me with a 0.45-inch group; but their size seemed a bit inconsistent, and there were some flyers with this pellet.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Skenco Big Boy group
Skenco Big Boys gave this nice 0.43-inch group. The group is almost twice as wide as tall.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Monster group
The 13.4-grain JSB Monster also produced a 0.43-inch group.

Theoben Crusader air rifle JSB Exact group
The Crusader really liked the 8.4-grain JSB Exacts, as this round 0.24-inch group shows.

Theoben Crusader air rifle Beeman Kodiak group
Best accuracy came from the Beeman Kodiak pellet. This group above is just 0.23 inches.

Adding it all up
Why buy a Crusader? After all, it costs just over $1000, and that price will keep many away. Compared to a Beeman R1, the size and power are identical. The R1 has a better trigger, but the Crusader has a better firing behavior due to the gas spring. The Crusader also has a far nicer stock, better metal finish and includes a factory muzzlebrake. Between my Crusader and my R1, the Crusader shoots more pellets accurately and will shoot slightly smaller groups, probably due to the fine Lothar Walther barrel. Unfortunately, the Crusader is more hold sensitive than my R1.

Both rifles should last a lifetime with proper care. It’s possible to upgrade an R1 with a new stock, a gas spring, muzzlebrake, etc., but you’ll end up spending more than the cost of the Crusader and still do not have the nice metal work. If you can afford it, the Crusader offers very good accuracy in a nicely finished package.

Theoben Production ceases
In October, 2012, Theoben Ltd. in England announced that they were entering liquidation (bankruptcy). It remains to be seen whether another company will take over production rights for Theoben springers.

Mac tests a steel IZH 61 with metal clips: Part 2

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

Photos and report by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

This is the final report about Mac’s vintage steel-breech IZH 61. We are only doing two reports — partly because the rifle performs just like the one that’s being sold today, but mostly because Mac sold this rifle at the Roanoke airgun show this past weekend. He also bought one just like it that was like new in the box because he got a super price at the same show. That one will be given to some fortunate youngster, as part of Mac’s “Arm the Children” program!

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy Mac got from his rifle. Then you can compare it to what I was able to do with the IZH 60 I recently tested for you.

As I reported in Part 1, this vintage rifle has a truly adjustable two-stage trigger, instead of just being able to reposition the trigger blade like on the current gun. Mac had it set to release at 27 oz., and he says it was crisp.

Someone wanted me to post a photo of the entire vintage rifle, but there isn’t that much difference between it and the current one. I didn’t think it was worth showing. Yes, if you’re a fanatic collector, there are some small differences; but I spent the weekend with the vintage gun before it sold, and it’s pretty much the same as what they sell now except for having a steel breech and metal clips.

Metal clips
On the subject of the metal clips, Mac says he has had some plastic clips that got worn to the point that they would no longer stay in the gun as they should. They’re supposed to advance one pellet each time the sidelever is pulled out to cock the rifle, but he said some of his would shoot out the side of the rifle because they’re under spring tension.

I showed the sights on this rifle in Part 1, but Mac tried both the peep sight that comes with the rifle and also a Tasco Pro Point dot sight with a 4 MOA dot. At the 10 meter distance he shot, the dot covered about 0.35 inches He e got equal accuracy with both types of sights, but all the groups seen in this report were shot with the Tasco.

He rested the forearm of the rifle on the palm of his hand and shot off a bag rest at 10 meters. We wanted to keep the results equivalent with those I recently got with the new rifle. And he also shot at 10-meter rifle targets, which is why he elected to use the dot sight. The hole in the factory peep sight is so large that there’s a loss of precision when using the smaller 10-meter rifle bulls. They get lost in the hole (meaning you can’t tell when they’re exactly centered). He could have used pistol targets that have a much larger bull, but he wanted his test to look just like mine.

Mac shot 5-shots groups instead of 10-shot groups. Things got confused in our talks, so we didn’t shoot the same number of shots per target. Still, I think you will see some interesting things as we go.

JSB 8.4-grain Exacts
The first pellet tested was the JSB Exact that weighs 8.4 grains. Five shots at 10 meters produced a group measuring 0.95 inches between centers. That’s pretty big for just 10 meters!

JSB Exact Target for IZH 61
Five JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes at 10 meters made this 0.95-inch group. One pellet looks like it went through the paper sideways!

There are some indications of tumbling with the JSB, so it’s possible the rifle wasn’t stabilizing it. That would account for the large group.

RWS Hobbys
Next he tried RWS Hobby pellets. These are often among the most accurate in a low-powered rifle, but not this time. Five Hobbys made a 0.90-inch group.

RWS Hobby target for IZH 61
The only nice thing I can say about the Hobbys is they did cut larger holes. They’re obviously not the right pellet for this rifle.

H&N Finale Match
Next up were H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. Five of them made a group that measured 0.80-inches, but notice that one is apart from the other four. If there was something wrong with that pellet, it could explain why it’s apart. This might be the right pellet for the rifle, and it’s a good example of why one 10-shot group tells you more about accuracy potential than three 5-shot groups.

HN Finale Match Target pistol target for IZH 61
Five H&N Finale Match Target Pistol pellets made a group measuring 0.80 inches.

Eley Wasps
The next pellet Mac tried was one you can’t buy anymore. The Eley Wasp has left the stage, at least in the version Mac was shooting. It was an oversized pellet that sometimes cured accuracy problems for rifles with larger bores. In this rifle, 5 shots made a group that measures 0.70 inches. You’ll also notice that there don’t seem to be any signs of tumbling like there were with the JSBs.

Eley Wasp target for IZH 61
Five Eley Wasp domes made a group measuring 0.70-inches. This group also has a single stray pellet, which means it might also have more potential than seen here.

RWS R10 Pistol pellet
The last pellet Mac shot was the RWS R10 Pistol pellet. These grouped best, with 5 of them making a 0.50-inch group. While that looks good in comparison with the other groups, it doesn’t begin to equal the groups I got with the new IZH 61 shooting 10 shot groups! That means is we have to revise our thinking about the old steel-breech/metal clip guns, don’t you think?

RWS R10 Pistol target for IZH 61
Five RWS R10 Pistol pellets made a half-inch group at 10 meters. It’s good only in comparison with the other groups, but doesn’t begin to equal the groups from the new rifle.

Our conclusions
Mac and I discussed these results at length, and we believe that the steel breech IZH 60/61 has perhaps become more accurate through the long lens of memory. Just as a walk to school was always 10 miles uphill in both directions when we were young, so it’s possible that these rifles were as variable back then as the new ones are now. From the results, we have to say that it looks like the current version of the gun is at least as accurate as the old one, if not more so.

We think that there were probably some very accurate rifles with steel breeches, and then the rest — which our test rifle seems to be — were only good plinkers. I know this test was hardly exhaustive, nor was it entirely without bias. Even so, I think we must admit that the new rifle beat the old one in this case.

What do you think?

Cometa Fusion .177-caliber breakbarrel air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle
The Cometa Fusion is a powerful breakbarrel with nice styling.

Before we start, just a reminder that I’m traveling to Roanoke, Virginia, today and tomorrow. So, I’m asking the veteran readers to help me answer the questions from newer readers. Thanks!

Well, folks, we have a winner! The Cometa Fusion air rifle has everything you want in a midrange spring-piston air rifle. When I show you what it can do and tell you some things I’ve discovered, I think you’ll see what I mean.

The trigger
First things first. Last time I reported that the trigger adjusts for pull weight but not for the length of the first stage. Well, I was wrong. It also adjusts for the length of the first stage, which affects the length of stage two, in turn. Blog reader Mel pointed me to the adjustment, which I will now tell you about and also show you.

Deep down inside the trigger mechanism, behind the trigger blade, there’s another small screw that controls the length of the first stage pull, and correspondingly, the second stage pull as well. If the first stage is lengthened, stage two becomes shorter. I like a good long first stage so I turned the screw out (counterclockwise) several turns, then tested the trigger. I hit it right on the money on the first try. Now, all the creep I complained about in stage one and stage two is crisp and predictable! The trigger is a wonderful sporting trigger, and it helped me shoot rather than having to be overcome by technique. So, buy this rifle for its trigger!

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle trigger adjustment screw
The first-stage travel adjustment screw is located deep inside the trigger mechanism, behind the trigger blade. The large silver thing at the right of the triggerguard is the pull-weight adjustment screw that’s much more accessible and easier to see. This photo required a lot of setup, and the light had to just graze the screw so it wouldn’t flare out as a hotspot.

I have to say that having creep in stage one seems very strange, because stage one is just the trigger return spring. Obviously, this trigger works a little differently than I’m imagining. But the return spring still works, and the trigger blade returns to the start point if you squeeze to stage two, then relax again. And that’s what a good trigger should do.

I mounted the Hawke 4.5-14×42 Tactical Sidewinder scope that’s the best scope I have for this kind of test. As for the shooting, I thought I would try something different this time. Instead of testing a handful of different pellets, I thought I would find one that worked well and play with it.

RWS Superdomes were not a good pellet in the Fusion. Neither were JSB Exact 8.4-grain domes. But when I tried the JSB Exact 10.3-grain domes, I had a winner. And I stayed with that pellet for the rest of the test.

The first group I shot looked to be so good that I took a photo after just five shots. I show that now for comparison with the 10-shot group.

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle JSB group 1 5 shots
The first 5 shots with JSB 10.3-grain exacts looks like this. It’s the size of Roosevelt’s head on the dime and measures 0.204 inches between centers. It was photographed and measured right on the target trap so I could continue to shoot.

But the 5 shots that followed opened the group considerably.

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle JSB group 2
And THIS is why we shoot 10 shots and not 5. Shots 6 and 7 are in the small group, but 8, 9 and 10 are strung out above the main group. It now measures 0.974 inches between the centers of the two shots farthest apart.

Something was opening the group after 7 shots. I didn’t know what it was, but I went through the checklist. Screws, eye placement, etc. I even put some tape on the stock to regulate where I placed my eye. And I shot another group.

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle JSB group 3
Okay, we’re getting better! Seven shots went into 0.217-inches. But there were 3 more shots that opened the group to 0.823 inches. What was wrong?

Something was still wrong and I needed to know what. Just on a whim, I adjusted the Hawke scope up a couple clicks to center the next group and that’s when I discovered that the scope reticle was adjusted up as high as it would go. Perhaps the erector tube was floating? It certainly acted that way.

Next, I cranked in about 40 clicks of down adjustment, and the point of impact remained where it had been. Then, another 40 clicks down, and I did get a little downward movement. So I used the hash marks (like mil-dots) in the reticle as an aiming reference, to move the group up a little.

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle JSB group 4
And there’s the group I was looking for! A dime-sized 10-shot group measured 0.448 inches between the centers.

Overall impressions
Someone said the Fusion reminded him of an FWB 124. Well, it certainly shoots like one — only the Fusion has the better trigger. It does cock harder than a 124, but it’s commensurately more powerful, as well.

The shooting sensation is a lot of forward recoil, just like a 124. The rifle wants to be held with the off-hand back in front of the triggerguard, in a very muzzle-heavy balance. The shot cycle is fairly calm and quick, without much vibration.

All things considered, I think we have a winner here. I’ll also test the .22-caliber Fusion.

Cometa Fusion .177-caliber breakbarrel air rifle: Part 2

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

Part 1

Cometa Fusion breakbarrel air rifle
The Cometa Fusion is a powerful breakbarrel with nice styling.

Let’s look at the velocity and power of the .177-caliber Cometa Fusion air rifle. They advertise this gun at 1,250 f.p.s. with alloy pellets and 1,083 with lead, so I’ll test both types.

The first thing I’ll examine is the trigger. It has a two-stage pull with fixed lengths for both stages. The only adjustment you can make is to the trigger return spring, which changes the pull weight. And this one really does work. A single screw located behind the trigger blade and accessed through a hole in the triggerguard is how the adjustments are made. Screw in, and the pull weight increases until you reach a definite stop. Screw out, and it decreases until the screw comes out of its hole. I tried it all the way in and as far out as I felt the screw would still be retained safely. At the heaviest, the pull weight measured 2 lbs., 2 oz.; and at lightest, the trigger released at 1lb., 1 oz. Stage two has creep that remains throughout the adjustment range; and, as mentioned, the length of stage one never changes.

Cocking effort
The rifle cocks easily for its power. It varies between 30 and 32 lbs. Once a rhythm was found, it cocked at 31 lbs. pretty regularly. The noise I reported in Part 1 turns out to be the piston seal. It’s on the cusp of needing oil; but with a rifle of this power, I don’t think I will oil it. Instead, I’ll let the gun break in and the noise should stop after a thousand rounds or so.

I tested the rifle with three lead pellets and one lead-free pellet. The first pellet was the RWS Superdome, an 8.3-grain pure lead dome that many shooters like. Superdomes averaged 976 f.p.s. in this Fusion. The spread went from 969 to 981 f.p.s., so a 12 f.p.s. difference. You know, back in the bad old days of 1970, a result like that would signal a tuned airgun. These days, the better powerplants all seem to hold their velocities tight when the pellets match the bore well.

At the average velocity, this pellet produces 17.56 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. That’s pretty snappy, and it’s still in the comfortable range for a breakbarrel springer. When these guns get over 20 foot-pounds, they become very twitchy to shoot — requiring all sorts of special techniques. Let’s hope the Fusion is well-behaved in that respect!

The next pellet I tried was the old standard RWS Hobby. At 7 grains, the Hobby is one of the lightest lead pellets, and I use it a lot to test velocity claims. Today, the claim is 1,083 f.p.s., so lets see what happened.

Hobbys averaged 1,044 f.p.s. in this Fusion. The spread went from 1,034 to 1,054 f.p.s., so a 20 f.p.s. difference. The last shot was the 1,054 f.p.s. shot, and I think this rifle will continue to increase in velocity as it breaks in, so the claim of 1,083 f.p.s, does seem reasonable. But it’s good that they didn’t say 1,084 f.p.s., because no one would believe that! At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 16.95 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

The final lead pellet I tested was the JSB Exact 8.4-grain dome. They fit the breech very loosely, and the average velocity was 920 f.p.s. The spread went from 909 to 968 f.p.s., though the bulk of the 10 shots were in the 930s. I think I won’t use this pellet in the accuracy test because of how loose they are in the breech and also the huge 59 f.p.s. velocity spread. Since the other pellets were so regular, I believe this one has to be ruled out. They produced an average of 15.79 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Non-lead pellet
The last pellet I tested was an RWS HyperMAX 5.2-grain lead-free pellet. These fit the bore even looser than the JSBs, though a couple were larger and fit better. They averaged 1,220 f.p.s. with a spread from 1,208 to 1,226 f.p.s. The small deviation was surprising because of the loose fit. I doubt they would be accurate, but what they did do was confirm that the Fusion seems to be right on the money as far as the velocity claims go. As I said earlier, the rifle is likely to speed up as it wears in, so the fact that no pellet went the claimed 1,250 f.p.s. doesn’t bother me. They produced an average of 17.19 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

Overall impressions
One reader likened the Fusion to an FWB 124 just from the shape of the stock, and I have to say I think that comparison is accurate. Like a 124, this rifle cocks smoothly and with less effort than its velocity dictates, though the Fusion is far faster than the 124.

The trigger is creepy but repeatable. I believe I can learn it and will do well with it.

The overall size of this rifle is very good for what it delivers. It’s like a Beeman R9, in that it has the power in a convenient package. I can’t wait to see how it shoots!

Bending airgun barrels: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Today, I’ll apply what I learned about bending an airgun barrel to a real problem. As I said in several earlier posts, I have a BSF S70 breakbarrel that came to me with a peep sight installed but no open sights. BSF rifles aren’t common in the U.S., so finding a correct rear sight would take some time; but more importantly, I like the peep sight that’s on the gun. It was one that Air Rifle Headquarters sold as an optional sight, but the owner of this rifle removed the original sights and didn’t replace them when he sold the gun. So, all I have is the peep.

When I tried to sight in the rifle, I discovered that it was shooting 2-3/4-inches high at 10 meters, which would put it even higher at 25 yards. Either the front sight had to be raised (because the peep was adjusted as low as it will go), or the barrel had to be bent. Since the front sight is dovetailed into the barrel, I decided to bend the barrel. That was two years ago. Since then I’ve been researching ways to bend barrels and thinking about the equipment needed to do the job.

This report has already documented the simple fixture I constructed, and you can read how it worked in the earlier parts. Now, I’m going to bend the barrel of this pristine collectible air rifle so I can shoot it and hit what I’m aiming at.

The barrel-bending fixture is quite simple to set up. It uses a c-clamp to apply steady pressure on the barrel and a ratchet wrench turns the clamp slowly, so the bend is under complete control.

barrel bending fixture with new clamp BSF S70

This was the final bend. This barrel is softer than the first one, but it springs back when the tension is released.

The S70 didn’t fit the fixture the same as the first rifle did. I had to make some adjustments, but there’s enough flexibility built in to allow that. As I started the bend, I noticed right away that this barrel was bending much easier than the other one had.

Remember what I said about metallurgy of the various airgun barrels? I said that you should treat each new barrel as though you were bending a barrel for the first time. That was good advice for this job, because the S70 required a lot less pressure to bend. So I went slow.

BSF S70 target

This is how the BSF S70 was shooting before I bent the barrel. The point of impact is about 2-3/4-inches above the point of aim at 10 meters.

The beauty of this fixture is that you can take the rifle out and shoot it after each bend. So that’s what I did. Let me show you the first target, which explains how the work went. I shot the same JSB Exact 8.4-grain pellets as were used when the gun was first fired.

barrel bending fixture with new clamp BSF S70 first target
This target documents all the work that was done. It is explained in the text below. The group below the bull is the final 5 shots, 3 of which are in one hole under the number 5. The one at the lower left was fired before I was ready but didn’t bother me.

I knew the rifle was shooting high, and I had the former target that told me how high. So, I first bent the barrel a little then shot the rifle to see what had happened. The first shot after the first bend was still high, but the point of impact had dropped over a quarter-inch. That told me the S70 barrel was bending very easy.

I bent the barrel a second time and put another pellet in the same hole as the first. Then, I bent it once again (three bends so far), and the third shot was the same height but to the right of the first two. Obviously, I had to be more aggressive.

The fourth bend was more aggressive, and the shot that followed dropped into the black bullseye for the first time. Next, I bent the barrel more aggressively, again, and the shot dropped to almost the middle of the red center.

Bend six was even a little more aggressive, and the shot dropped a little more and went to the right. Bend seven was about the same as six, and that shot went into the same hole as shot six had.

Now I knew the barrel needed a lot more pressure to go as far as I wanted. So, bend eight was the most aggressive of all. It’s the one pictured in the photo above. The shot that followed was below the aim point for the first time, which was what I was after. Four more shots were in the same area, though one of them went off before I was ready and struck the target low and to the left. From this result, I knew I was done bending the barrel.

It was time to sight in the rifle with the adjustments on the Williams peep sight that was on the gun. This was the first time since that rifle first got the peep sight back in the 1970s that it’s been able to shoot to the point of aim at 10 meters!

barrel bending fixture with new clamp BSF S70 second target
This is the sight-in target. You can see that a lot of upward adjustment was required to get the rifle shooting to the center of the bull at 10 meters.

The sight-in took a long time because the peep sight adjusts in very fine increments. But I managed to walk the pellets up the target until the final one was at the correct height. Now it was time to verify that the gun still shot well. I have the original target for comparison.

barrel bending fixture with new clamp BSF S70 third target
This target confirmed that the rifle still shot well. The group made before bending the barrel measures 0.532 inches between centers. This 10-shot group measures 0.506 inches between centers.

As you can see, the rifle shoots as well as before. All that’s been done is adjust the point of impact so the sights can be used at close range.

The Williams sight has a number of screws that are used to lock the sight in position, once it has been sighted in. They all have to be loose to adjust the sight; and when you tighten them at the end, they can make the POI move just a little. You have to check your work after you think the sight is locked down.

So, the fixture I made works for real-world applications, too. It doesn’t take up much space, and I’ll keep it around for any jobs that might arise in the future.

Bending an airgun barrel isn’t something to do lightly; but if you have to do it, it’s nice to know the job can be done with a minimum of tools and time. Today’s project took a total of 45 minutes, which includes bending, shooting and sighting-in the gun at the end of the job.

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