Posts Tagged ‘Leapers UTG 30mm scope rings’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll start testing the new AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank. I’ve been waiting a long time for this test, because it affords us the opportunity to look at so many new things from AirForce Airguns. Not only will we get to see the new baffled silencer system, we’ll also get another look at the new trigger and safety on which I reported back in January. I linked to that report, above, and labeled it as Part 1 so you can get a better look at the new trigger by reviewing it, though I’ll continue to make comments on the trigger as this report unfolds. We’ll also get a look at the new Spin-Loc tank that allows filling without removing the tank from the gun. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so let’s begin.
The rifle I’m testing is in .22 caliber, which I believe is the best caliber for all AirForce rifles. I won’t give the serial number because this rifle is mine. It’s not going anywhere after this report is completed. Don’t worry — they’ll make more!
What is the Condor SS?
AirForce Airguns is an American manufacturer based in Fort Worth, Texas. They make all the parts of their guns except for the barrels, which they source from Lothar Walther, the air tanks on many of the sporting models and the synthetic parts. Although shrouded barrels are commonplace in 2013, it was AirForce that introduced them to the market back in 2001 with their Talon SS.
In 2004, they started production of the Condor, one of the most powerful smallbore air rifles the world has ever seen, and one that still gets more shots per fill than any of its competition. Generating 65 foot-pounds of energy in .22-caliber, the Condor is a pellet rifle whose muzzle energy equals the standard speed .22 short rimfire cartridge. Only the diabolo design (wasp waist and hollow, flared tail) of the pellets it shoots prevents it from shooting as far as the rimfire. The Condor gave airgunners a rifle with .22 rimfire power and reasonable downrange safety at the same time.
These are all precharged pneumatic (PCP) airguns. Their butt reservoirs are filled to 3,000 psi (nominally — each gun may be a little different) and fired until they fall off the power curve at lower pressure. A Condor will get up to 20 powerful shots on a fill, and a Talon SS will get around 35-40 shots.
Shooters liked the SS for its quiet operation. When it was new, the SS was one of the quietest airguns in town that was also legal to own because it doesn’t have a silencer that can be installed on a firearm. And the Condor that can shoot a pellet through one and a half 2×4 boards delighted folks with power they’d only dreamed about. But the Condor was noisy, and the SS produced only about 25 foot-pounds of muzzle energy in .22 caliber. People wondered why AirForce couldn’t do both things — power without the noise.
The rifle we’re looking at in this report combines much of the power of the Condor along with the quiet of the SS. In fact, this rifle is even quieter than an SS. It’s as quiet as SS owners wish their guns were.
And, in response to customer requests, AirForce now offers the Spin-Loc tank that remains attached to the rifle, once installed. It has to, because it sports an onboard pressure gauge — a manometer — that customers also said they wanted. I’ll grant that this gauge is a handy thing since it lets you know the state of the fill the moment you grab the rifle. That’s very convenient when you pick it up after the gun hasn’t been used awhile. There’s no need to guess at the charge — it’s right there on the gauge. It was always easy to count your shots before; but when you set aside the gun for many days, you might not remember where it was in the fill. Of course, you could always top it off before shooting, which is what shooters did before the gauge; but now they don’t have to. The gauge tells them if there’s still enough air.
The Spin-Loc tank has to be installed with tools that come with the rifle. An Allen wrench loosens the single locking screw that allows the threaded bushing in the frame to turn freely. That bushing will join the tank to the frame. Don’t remove the locking screw — just loosen it so the threaded bushing can turn freely. A toothed wrench or spanner that comes with the gun can then turn the bushing to tighten it onto the tank. The tank itself cannot be turned much because neither the pressure gauge nor the male Foster fill nipple will clear the frame. So, the bushing has to be tightened onto the tank’s threads — drawing it onto the frame.
I have to say that it took me a couple tries before I got the tank threading straight onto the bushing. It’s a problem of controlling both the gun and the tank, so the tank’s threads do not start cross-threading. Both the bushing and the tank’s threads are steel, though, so the risk of damaging the threads is low. Just work carefully; and once the threads start to join, everything goes together easily.
Once the tank was on the gun, I adjusted the pull length by adjusting where the buttpad clamps to the rear of the tank. I noticed that the buttpad can also be flipped upside down, allowing it to extend lower for more contact with the shoulder, so I did that, too. In the end, I have the rifle set up for a 14-1/2-inch pull, which is ideal for me, and the buttpad is canted inward at the toe, which is how all my AirForce rifles are set up. There are several inches of adjustment with this pad, so fitting an adult shouldn’t be a problem. The picture at the top of this report shows the buttpad reversed like this.
New trigger and safety
I covered the new trigger and safety thoroughly in Part 1, but it’s new so I’ll mention it here. The trigger is 2-stage and not adjustable. I’ll give you the pull weight and critical data in the velocity test, which comes next, but we do know that it’s very crisp and stops after the sear is released.
The biggest difference in this trigger is that it cannot be uncocked. The gun, once cocked, must be fired. Since the Spin-Loc tank cannot be easily removed, the question becomes: Can you release the trigger without opening the valve? As it turns out, you can. Simply move the bolt a little forward so it isn’t pressed against the valve (which is referred to as the top hat), hold it there with your thumb and pull the trigger. Your thumb will catch the striker before it opens the valve very far, limiting the amount of air the gun fires. As convenient as this is, I would only do it with an unloaded (no pellet in the breech) gun that’s pointed in a direction that would be safe to fire. Because if you misjudge where the bolt has to stop, the gun could still fire a pellet.
The Condor SS comes with an 18-inch Lothar Walther barrel in your choice of calibers (from .177 through .25). Naturally, you can change the barrels as with all other AirForce sporting rifles, so you can own all 4 calibers for a fraction of what 4 complete guns would cost.
Ahead of the barrel is the system of baffles that make the SS what it is. I’ll show those in the next report, but there’s something that nobody has mentioned, yet. This rifle will also accept a tank with a standard valve; and if you use one of those, you’ll get twice the number of shots as you get from the Hi-Flo tank that comes standard on the Condor. And because of the 18-inch barrel, the gun will also be more powerful than a stock Talon SS. So, you’ll have great power and lots of shots! This is so intriguing that I’ll test it for you after I complete the full test of this gun as it comes from the factory.
Like all AirForce sporting rifles, this new one also has adjustable power. We’ll experiment with that when we test the rifle for velocity.
The Condor SS is made of aluminum, steel and some soft synthetic parts such as the grips and forearm. It has very straight lines, and the buttpad that drops down plus the raised scope rail make it quite easy to adapt to scope use. The accuracy is legendary, and we’ll put that to the test at multiple distances.
I’ve waited a long time to test this gun for you. So, sit back and enjoy this — it’s going to be a long ride.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Before we start, you’ll remember that the president of Pyramyd Air promised to eat his hat if the IZH 60 I recently tested could not put 10 shots inside a quarter-inch group at 10 meters. It was close, but he lost the bet, so today we have two photos — one of the hat and the other of him eating it. Well done, Val!
Pyramyd Air President Val Gamerman eating the hat.
The caption to the first picture of the Talon SS PCP says it is a complete shooting system, and today we’ll look at another facet of that. Let’s look at the performance of the CO2 adapter, which turns the rifle from a PCP into a CO2 gun. Before this adapter existed, people were always asking for it. They envisioned it exactly as it turned out, but the demand went unanswered for several years. Then, Pyramyd Air negotiated with AirForce for a production run of adapters and we got them.
I’m running this report today because I need to use my Talon SS for a lengthy test that’s going to increase our understanding of the components of airgun accuracy. The rifle is the perfect platform for the test because it accepts barrels so quickly and easily. That test will begin soon, and I won’t tease you — everything will be fully explained when that test begins. But before I get to the heart of today’s report, a little history on the Talon SS.
How fast on CO2?
Now comes the question of the day. How does the Talon SS perform on CO2? Using the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier as the standard pellet, I was able to push them out the muzzle at 854 f.p.s. with the power setting on 10. That would be the number I would test against with CO2.
I used a full 20-oz. CO2 tank for this test. I tested the Premiers on both the lowest power setting and the highest. There shouldn’t be too much difference between the two settings, because CO2 is at much lower pressure than air, plus it flows slower than air; so at the same pressure, the velocity with CO2 will be less than with air.
On the lowest power setting, the average velocity for Premiers was 571 f.p.s. On air, it was 854 f.p.s. That’s a difference of 283 f.p.s. with air over CO2. But that was on the lowest power setting for the CO2, so how much does it change when I set the power as high as it will go? The average increases to 582 f.p.s. Not much difference, is there? The extreme spread on the low setting went from 568 to 574 f.p.s., and on high it went from 580 to 584 f.p.s. Since the low and high settings are so close, I decided to just keep the riffle on the low setting for the rest of the test.
At the average velocity (at the low-power setting), the pellet generates 10.36 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. On air, it generated 23.16 foot-pounds, or more than twice as much. That gives you a good appreciation of what the CO2 adapter does for the rifle. And remember, this rifle has a 12-inch barrel. If a longer barrel were installed, the velocity would increase somewhat, but not as much as with air. The optimum barrel length for CO2 is around 14-16 inches. After that, the velocity starts to fall again.
After the Premier, I tested the Beeman Kodiak heavy domed pellet. It weighs 21.1 grains and averages 506 f.p.s. in this gun on the low setting. It’s generating exactly 12 foot-pounds of muzzle energy at that speed. I don’t have the data for this pellet on air. The variation on CO2 went from 503 to 508 f.p.s.
Next up was the JSB Exact 15.9-grain domed pellet, which is the most accurate in this rifle. They averaged 567 f.p.s. on the low setting, which produces an average 11.35 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. On air at power setting 10, they average 823 f.p.s. The variation on CO2 went from 564 to 570 f.p.s.
The final pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby, which weighs 11.9-grains in .22 caliber. It averages 618 f.p.s. on the low setting and ranged from 614 to 621 f.p.s. The muzzle energy was 10.09 foot-pounds at the muzzle. And I don’t have a velocity for this pellet on air.
How many shots on a tank?
All I can tell you is that there are hundreds of shots per 20-oz. CO2 tank. The number is certainly more than we saw in any other test, and I would guess there are no less than 800 shots per tank. It’s one of those things that will vary each time the tank is filled, because no two fills will contain the exact same amount of liquid.
On CO2, the Talon SS is a 12 foot-pound rifle in 70˚F temperatures. It’s better-suited to all-day shooting and indoor plinking, though the Micro-meter tank gives it a fair run for the money. The accuracy of the rifle will not change, except that on CO2 it won’t have quite the same range as with air.
So, there you have the Talon SS in a 10-part report. To recap, we’ve looked at this .22-caliber rifle in stock trim, with a 24-inch barrel installed, with a Micro-meter tank and now with a CO2 adapter. There’s more to come, but it won’t be a test of the rifle. It’ll be a test that uses the rifle as the testbed. Now that you know how it performs, it’ll serve us very well in this new role.
Get a free CO2 adapter for Xmas
After I wrote this blog, I found out that AirForce is giving away a free CO2 adapter with the purchase of every Talon, Talon SS or Condor PCP air rifle. The adapter sells for $99.95, so that’s a nice gift! I understand that the giveaway ends Dec. 31, 2012.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
We last looked at the .22-caliber Talon SS on June 13, when I told you that I had mistakenly shot the rifle with a standard air tank instead of a Micro-Meter tank in the previous test. I retested the rifle with an AirForce Micro-Meter air tank and the standard 12-inch barrel. Today, I want to finish the test with the optional 24-inch barrel.
You’ll recall in Part 8 that I shot the rifle 380 times on a single fill of the Micro-Meter tank. Today, we’ll see what difference, if any, we get from the 24-inch barrel. The only pellet used in this test was the .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet.
Let’s begin — shots 1 to 10
The tank is filled to 3,000 psi and shooting starts. The power wheel is set as low as it will go. The first three shots go 429, 536 and 667 f.p.s., respectively. Shot four goes 726 f.p.s. and the rifle is stable from that point on. The first three shots were needed to wake up the valve. Discounting the first three shots, the string averaged 727 f.p.s. and ranged from 725 to 732 f.p.s., a spread of 7 f.p.s. The average energy was 16.79 foot-pounds; and yes, I’m aware that a Micro-Meter tank isn’t supposed to be that powerful. But we’re seeing the effect of doubling the barrel length in a precharged gun, and it’s dramatic!
Because of the large number of shots I expect to get from the tank, I then shot 30 shots without a pellet. I’ll call these blank shots.
Shots 41 to 50
This string averaged 715 f.p.s. and ranged from 711 to 718 f.p.s, so another 7 foot-second spread. The average energy was 16.24 foot-pounds. Then another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 81 to 90
I shot this string on the highest power setting the gun has — just to see if there was any difference. There wasn’t. The average was 705 f.p.s. and the range went from 702 to 709 f.p.s. Another 7 foot-second spread. The energy was 15.79 foot-pounds. Then another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 121 to 130
The gun was set back to the lowest power setting and remained there for the rest of this test. The average was 675 f.p.s., and the range went from 668 to 679 f.p.s. the spread was 11 f.p.s. The average energy was 14.47 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 161 to 170
The average was 658 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 654 to 662 f.p.s. — a spread of 8 f.p.s. The average energy was 14.17 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 201 to 210
The average was 641 f.p.s., and the range was 637 to 653 f.p.s. This string had a 16 foot-second spread. The average energy was 13.05 foot-pounds. Following this, 30 more shots without pellets were fired.
Shots 241 to 250
The average for this string was 618 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 613 to 621 f.p.s. So, a spread of 8 f.p.s. The average energy was 12.13 foot-pounds. Following this, 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 281 to 290
This string averaged 594 f.p.s. and ranged from 581 to 601. So a 20 f.p.s. spread. The average energy was 11.21 foot-pounds. Then 30 more blank shots were fired.
Shots 321 to 330
The average was 561 and ranged from 553 to 568, and the spread was 15 f.p.s. The average energy was 10 foot-pounds. After this, 30 more shots were fired without pellets.
Shots 361 to 370
The average was 539 f.p.s., and the string ranged from 534 to 545. A spread of 12 f.p.s. was observed. The average energy was 9.23 foot-pounds. Another 30 blanks were fired.
Shots 400 to 410
Now we’re in uncharted territory. The gun is giving me over 400 good shots on a single fill. Clearly, the 24-inch barrel is a real boon to the performance of the MM tank. This string averaged 519 f.p.s. and ranged from 514 to 527 f.p.s. A spread of 13 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.56 foot-pounds. After this, 30 more blanks were fired.
Shots 441 to 450
The average was 497 f.p.s. and the string ranged from 489 to 504 f.p.s., for a total spread of 15 f.p.s. The average energy was 7.85 foot-pounds.
I could have continued to shoot the gun for many more shots, but I stopped at this point for a reason. After 450 shots have been fired, the Talon SS is still launching pellets slightly faster than my Diana model 27 breakbarrel. If that’s enough power for me, then this gun certainly gives all that and more. And I can’t think of another time when I shot 450 shots, unless it was for a test like this one.
The 24-inch barrel added significant performance
We all know that barrel length is important to a PCP, and this test makes that very clear. The 12-inch barrel gave 380 shots that ended up in the high 300 f.p.s. range. We’re still 200 f.p.s. faster than that after 450 shots have been fired! I think that establishes the Micro-Meter air tank as the champion of PCPs with the 24-inch barrel is installed.
In this series, we’ve looked at the Talon SS as it comes from the factory and with various modifications. The one we haven’t tried yet is the CO2 adapter, so that’s next. I’ll leave the 24-inch barrel installed since that’s the way I shoot the rifle all the time now, but I’ll test both velocity and accuracy with CO2 for you.
by B.B. Pelletier
Today is the day I tell you about the horrible blunder I made. Remember the two tests I did with the Talon SS PCP rifle using the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank? Well, that wasn’t a Micro-Meter tank! It was a standard tank!
Blog reader twotalon guessed it was wrong, and I ignored him. When John McCaslin, the owner of AirForce Airguns, read my last report of the Micro-Meter tank — the one where I got 340 shots on a fill — he saw that I reached over 800 f.p.s. in .22 caliber and knew a Micro-Meter tank couldn’t do that. He called me and walked me through the logic of why it couldn’t be a Micro-Meter tank. Sure enough, he was right!
I guess what happened is that when I went to AirForce to pick up the Micro-Meter tank, I grabbed the wrong tank. Then, when I tested it on the optional 24-inch barrel first, I didn’t question the numbers because I didn’t know what the numbers should be with the longer barrel. As for why I missed seeing it when I tested it with the 12-inch barrel, that was entirely my fault. I simply didn’t think it through. Twotalon even asked me if there was a sticker on the Micro-Meter tank, and I told him there wasn’t, but I thought that was because AirForce had forgotten to put one on. Or I’d picked up a tank before the sticker was applied.
It doesn’t matter. The fact is that I tested the gun with both barrels using a standard tank. I’m going to update those other reports to reflect that, and today we’ll see what a Talon SS does when it’s using a real Micro-Meter air tank. And now we have the results of a standard tank for comparison.
I’ll start today with the standard 12-inch barrel, and then I’ll test the real Micro-Meter tank with the 24-inch barrel in the next report. Because I have a good idea of how many shots I’ll get from this tank, I modified the test to shoot 30 dry-fire, or blank, shots between the recorded strings — just to burn up air a little faster. In the previous two tests, I fired only 20 dry-fire shots between strings.
I’m still shooting only the .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellet in this test. And I started with a fill to exactly 3,000 psi.
The first string of 10 shots was with the power wheel set at the lowest setting, which I’ll call zero. The gun averaged 590 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 583 to a high of 601 f.p.s. That’s an average of 11.06 foot-pounds.
For the next 10, I dialed up the power as high as it would go. The rifle averaged 585 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 582 to a high of 590 f.p.s. The average energy at the muzzle was 10.87 foot-pounds. Then, I fired 30 blank shots without pellets.
Shots 51-60 were fired on low power and averaged 557 f.p.s. They ranged from 547 to 563 f.p.s. The average energy was 9.85 foot-pounds. I fired 30 more blank shots. From this point on, all shooting was done on the lowest power setting.
Shots 91 to 100 averaged 547 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 539 to a high of 556 f.p.s. They averaged 9.5 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Notice how tight the strings are? Even though the velocity is decreasing, the consistency remains good. After this string, I fired 30 more blank shots.
Shots 131 to 140 averaged 525 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 516 to a high of 533 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.75 foot-pounds. I noticed that the first couple shots at the beginning of each string were always the slowest, so those blank shots had an affect on the numbers. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots.
Shots 171 to 180 averaged 512 f.p.s. and ranged from 502 to 523 f.p.s. The average energy was 8.33 foot-pounds. After this string, I fired 30 more blank shots.
Shots 211 to 220 averaged 489 f.p.s. and ranged from a low of 475 to a high of 500 f.p.s. The average energy was 7.59 foot-pounds. That puts the gun, after 220 shots have been fired, in the same power range as a .22-caliber Diana model 27. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots
Shots 251 to 260 averaged 467 f.p.s., with a range from 458 to a high of 474 f.p.s. The average energy was 6.93 foot-pounds. After this string, another 30 blank shots were fired.
Shots 291 to 300 averaged 443 f.p.s. with a spread from 434 to 451 f.p.s. The average energy was 6.23 foot-pounds. The velocity is dropping off steadily, but slowly; and if you were plinking in the backyard, you’d never notice it. After this string, I fired another 30 blank shots.
Shots 331 to 340 averaged 416 f.p.s. and ranged from 410 to 425 f.p.s. The average energy was 5.5 foot-pounds. Another 30 blank shots followed this string.
Shots 371 to 380 averaged 379 f.p.s. and ranged from 370 to 392 f.p.s. The average energy was 4.56 foot-pounds. I stopped after shot 380 because the velocity was getting low and I heard a short hiss of air escaping from the tank. Clearly, the valve was down to its bottom performance point and would not continue to hold air at pressures much lower than this. When I checked the pressure remaining in the tank it was exactly at 1,100 psi. The gun used an incredible 1,900 psi of air over these 380 shots.
What have we learned?
The first thing we learned is that the gun gets even more shots with the Micro-Meter tank than it does with the standard tank. I count 40 more shots, though there were still some shots left in the standard tank when that test ended at 340 shots.
Next, we see there was no increase in velocity, as this tank was used up. Instead, there was a slow and steady decline in velocity from the first shot to the last.
As far as consistency goes, the standard tank was just as consistent as the Micro-Meter tank, but at significantly higher velocities. The Micro-Meter tank will be easier on your backstop. If that isn’t a problem, the standard tank still gives you plenty of low-velocity shots.
The last thing I’ve learned is that I’m still capable of making mistakes. I thought I was done with them several years ago, but apparently it’s like riding a bike. Once you learn how….
by B.B. Pelletier
The report that follows was done in error. I thought I was testing a Micro-Meter air tank, but it turned out that I was really testing a standard air tank.
The corrected test is located here. I am sorry for this inconvenience, but you can click on the link in the sentence above and it will direct you to the correct test.
Today, I’m testing the AirForce Talon SS with the standard 12-inch barrel using the Micro-Meter air tank. This is the setup the tank was designed to use; and although I predicted that this test would look a lot like the last test with the Micro-Meter tank and an optional 24-inch barrel, I was wrong. Today’s test is amazing! It’s an insight into how a precharged airgun operates.
I’ll begin at the end. I fired a total of 340 shots on just one fill, and there was still plenty of air remaining for at least another 150 shots! I saw first hand at the NRA Annual Meetings how the Micro-Meter air tank stays on the line for so long without needing a refill!
But don’t go cashing in those 340 shots just yet. Allow me to explain what I did and how the gun performed.
As before with the longer barrel, the tank was filled to 3,000 psi. That proved to be a mistake in this case. Allow me to show you what I mean.
This time, I didn’t fool around with any pellets other than the .22-caliber Crosman Premier. Everything you’re about to read was achieved with that single pellet.
First 10 shots
The first 10 shots were fired on the lowest power setting and averaged 392 f.p.s., ranging from 347 to 442 f.p.s. That is a large spread, and, as you’ll see shortly, the valve was partially air-locked.
The next 10 shots were fired on the highest power setting and averaged 849 f.p.s.! That’s correct, the gun produced 22.89 foot-pounds with the Micro-Meter tank at the highest power setting. The low was 836, and the high was 861 f.p.s. That was clearly not what this tank was designed to do, so I dialed the power back to the halfway point, which corresponds to about the No. 6 on the dial.
Power setting 6
At this setting, the rifle averaged 836 f.p.s., so I stopped at shot 5. The low was 832, and the high was 839 f.p.s. I wasn’t interested in this kind of power from the Micro-Meter tank, and I didn’t want to waste air. So, I dialed back to power setting 2 and continued.
Power setting 2
On power setting 2, the rifle averaged 786 f.p.s. Again, I stopped at 5 shots. The low was 758, and the high was 803 f.p.s. By this, time a total of 30 shots had been fired on the fill. I dialed the power down as low as it would go and continued.
The next 10 shots on the lowest power setting averaged 514 f.p.s. The spread went from 487 to 537 f.p.s. It was clear that the valve was now staying open longer, and I would estimate the tank pressure had dropped to 2,800 psi by the start of this string. I could see at this point that this was going to be a long test, though I never imagined how long; so, I shot twenty “blank” shots (dry-fires that had no pellets) just to use up some air. It’s arguable whether shots that have no pellet in front of them use the same amount of air as shots that do have pellets. As you’ll see, it really doesn’t matter that much because we haven’t even started yet!
The gun is still on the lowest power setting, and this 10-shot string averaged 574 f.p.s. The low was 550, and the high was 628 f.p.s. After this, I fired another 20 shots with no pellets.
The gun is still set at the lowest power. These 10 shots averaged 649 f.p.s. and ranged from 603 to 689 f.p.s. In retrospect, after the test was over, I determined this string to be the start of the useful shots. I estimate the tank had about 2,500 psi at the start of this string — though that would have to be confirmed if the numbers meant enough to you to do the work. They didn’t to me, so 2,500 psi was just my estimate. Now, I fired 20 more blank shots.
This string averaged 703 f.p.s. and ranged from 633 to 743 f.p.s. After this, I fired 20 more blank shots
This string averaged 750 f.p.s. and ranged from 719 to 766 f.p.s. I would like to note that the rifle is now performing almost exactly the same as a Beeman R1 breakbarrel in .22 caliber! When this string was finished, I fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 752 f.p.s. and ranged from 743 to 757 f.p.s. This was the top power the rifle developed in this test, and I would estimate the pressure at the start of this string was around 1,900 psi. The gun will not use air in a linear fashion as the shots increase. As the air pressure in the tank drops, the valve stays open longer. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 735 f.p.s and ranged from a low of 727 f.p.s. and a high of 740 f.p.s. Notice how tight these later strings are! You could shoot at 35 yards with the gun shooting like this! And you could also hunt with it. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 713 f.p.s. and ranged from 707 to 726 f.p.s. The rifle is slowing down, but the valve is keeping each 10-shot string relatively tight. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 688 f.p.s. and ranged from 682 to 694 f.p.s. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 659 f.p.s. and ranged from 652 to 664 f.p.s. Notice how tight this string is after 300 shots have been fired! No other air rifle that I know of can do this when running on air. The USFT might be able to, but I haven’t tested it this way to see. I then fired another 20 blank shots.
This string averaged 624 f.p.s. and ranged from 613 to 630 f.p.s. This was where I stopped the test; but as you can see, the gun will still continue shooting for a lot longer.
Ending air pressure in the tank
After 340 shots had been fired, the Micro-Meter tank still had 1,200 psi remaining. That isn’t an estimate — I actually determined it by filling the tank and noting when it began accepting a charge. If my estimate about the pressure was correct when I declared the gun to be on the power curve (at shot 91), and if I include all the shots fired after that, then there were a total of 250 useful shots on a fill to 2,500 psi. The gun got those shots on about 1,300 psi of air. That is remarkable when you consider that it was also developing some pretty respectable power at the same time.
Remember what the Micro-Meter tank is for
To accept what I’m saying, you must keep in mind that the Micro-Meter tank is for shooting quietly in your basement. The range I envision is 10 meters, maximum, though we can see that the rifle can actually shoot a lot farther than that. But that’s not the purpose of the tank.
If the starting fill pressure is only 2,500 psi like I suspect, then the Micro-Meter tank can be easily filled from a hand pump. Another good thing about this novel air tank.
If you want to use the adjustable power feature of the gun, the range will be in the lower numbers. After the halfway point on the power scale, the rifle is just wasting air.
I’ve tested the Micro-Meter tank in the past, but never before with the mindset of its real purpose. Now that I have that in mind, this test has revealed an incredible level of performance.
Sure the velocity varied a lot over the useful shot strings; but at 10 meters, I doubt anyone will notice. For plinking and keeping the grandkids amused, the Micro-Meter tank is the lazy man’s PCP!
Next, I plan to test that theory with an accuracy test of this tank and gun combination at 10 meters.
by B.B. Pelletier
This is a continuation of our in-depth look at the AirForce Talon SS precharged pneumatic air rifle. Today, I’m going to begin examining the optional air tank with the Micro-Meter valve. The rifle I’m testing today has the optional .22-caliber 24-inch barrel installed. I would not normally put this long barrel together with the Micro-Meter tank — because this is a pneumatic rifle, and a long barrel will give higher velocity than a shorter one. When I use the Micro-Meter valve, I don’t want high velocity. But since a detailed test like this has never been published (to my knowledge), I’m doing it here and now. After this test, I’ll install the 12-inch barrel that comes standard on the SS and rerun the test with that, since that’s what most owners will probably be doing.
Blog reader twotalon posted some results he got with his gun on the last report, but he was shooting a .177 rifle with a 12-inch barrel and he filled to only 190 bar. I filled to 206 bar, which is 3,000 psi.
Which power setting do I use?
There was some data that suggested the power settings on the gun would be reversed with the Micro-Meter tank on a full fill, and, indeed, that’s what I experienced. The first 10 shots were with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers at the lowest power setting and they averaged 718 f.p.s. Two additional shots were fired in this string but failed to record, however, I kept track of them to keep a running tally of the velocity over the entire shot count. In this first 10-shot string, the slowest shot went 713 f.p.s., the fastest went 723 f.p.s.
Next, I adjusted the gun to its highest power setting. The first shot went 722 f.p.s., but after that nothing was above 709 f.p.s. These 10 shots on the highest power setting averaged 707 f.p.s. and ranged from 699 to 722 f.p.s. Highest power gives lowest velocity when the Micro-Meter tank is full.
Then, I shot RWS Hobby pellets on high power and got an average of 740 f.p.s. But this string was very telling. Because it started out at a higher velocity, then began dropping about halfway through the string, I’d reached the place in the fill where the power settings on the gun reversed and started acting normal again. This string had a low of 713 and a high of 747 f.p.s.
Indeed, when I switched over to the lowest power setting for the next string of 10 Hobbys, the average velocity dropped to 738 f.p.s. This string was very close to the one before on the high setting. In this string, the low was 729, the high was 745 f.p.s.
At this point in the test, I’d fired a total of 44 shots on the same fill, four of them failing to trip the chronograph. I knew before testing that the next string of 10 Premiers at the lowest power setting would be much lower than the average of 718 f.p.s. that was seen on the first string. And it was. This time, the average was 689 f.p.s. on the lowest setting with Premiers, and the shots ranged from a low of 684 to 693 f.p.s. There were now 54 shots on this fill.
How the Micro-Meter tank will be used
This is when it finally dawned on me that the Micro-Meter air tank never gets used like a standard air tank. With a standard tank, a shooter will be shooting at great distances and often trying to shoot very small groups. Once the point of aim starts to drift after 30 shots or so, he’ll consider topping off the tank. But he’ll shoot a Micro-Meter tank at very short ranges, often at targets where precision doesn’t matter that much. He probably won’t be interested in group sizes; or if he is, he’ll adjust his sights when the aim point wanders a quarter-inch. Instead of 30-40 good shots, a shooter will probably get well over a hundred shots from a Micro-Meter tank — mostly because of how he shoots. I’ve seen it play out that way for years at the NRA public airgun range, but the difference in shooting expectations never dawned on me until now.
Getting back to the test, I was now 54 shots into the fill, but the rifle was still launching Crosman Premier pellets in the high 600s. Or, to put it another way, it was still shooting about 200 f.p.s. faster than my Diana model 27 on its best day! How’s that for perspective?
I bumped the power back up to the highest setting, just to see what the rifle would do. The next 10 Premiers averaged 688 f.p.s., or one foot-per-second slower than the previous string’s average. The low was 684 f.p.s., the high was 692 f.p.s. It seemed that the highest power setting was now launching the pellets just as fast as the lowest setting and with approximately the same spread.
I left the power on high and fired another 20 shots without recording anything. Then, I fired another 10 for the record, with one additional shot that failed to be recorded. The average velocity at 95 shots was 664 f.p.s., with a spread from 657 to 675 f.p.s. The rifle was clinging to its velocity during every string but losing steam slowly at the same time. Each string of 10 had consistent velocities, but the average was continuing to drop.
I adjusted the power setting to low and fired 20 more shots without recording anything. Then, a string of 10 gave an average of 646 f.p.s., with a low of 638 and a high of 657. One more unrecorded shot brought the total to 125 shots since filling the tank.
I checked the tank pressure without refilling it and determined that the remaining pressure after 125 shots was 1,900 psi. Normally, I stop shooting a standard tank when it’s dropped to 2,200 psi, but this tank still had lots of shots left to give.
In the interest of seeing what would happen, I fired another 50 shots without recording them. That brought the shot count to 175 shots. The next string of 10 shots was fired on the lowest power setting. They averaged 624 f.p.s. — so, after 185 total shots on this fill, the gun was still shooting .22-caliber Crosman Premiers in the 600s! I find that amazing. The spread for this string, however, was large…going from a low of 616 f.p.s. to a high of 668 f.p.s. And the slow shot came before the fast one. So, it was all over the place.
If a person was plinking with a Micro-Meter tank, he would still be shooting at 185 shots. That’s phenomenal performance for an air tank.
It didn’t seem normal to shoot the Micro-Meter tank with a long barrel, but I’m glad now that I did. As far as the shot count goes, I would expect the short barrel to give about the same number of shots, but at a lower velocity. We’ll see that, of course, when we test it next.
It will drive some people nuts!
This test is not for those who sit at their chronographs and sweat their shot string deviations. Those who feel threatened whenever their velocity spread goes over 20 f.p.s. will find what I have done today to be a train wreck! The Micro-Meter tank wasn’t invented for shooting groups at 50 yards.
But for grandpa who has the grandkids over on the 4th of July, how nice is it to know that, with a Micro-Meter tank, your Talon SS will give you hundreds of good shots for the basement or backyard range without refilling? They shoot AirForce guns on the NRA airgun range for hours between fills, and this is the same sort of performance they’re seeing. Yes, the impact point may wander a bit at 33 feet, but it’s not too much to keep up with for this kind of freedom with a precharged air rifle. If you want more shots than this, consider the CO2 adapter.
by B.B. Pelletier
Wow! Before I started this report on the AirForce Talon SS, I really had no idea of just how expansive it was going to be. Today, I’m going to start a report on the AirForce Micro-Meter air tank that transforms the Talon SS from a powerful outdoor hunting rifle to a plinker that gets lots of low-power shots. It brings the outdoors inside!
Now that you’ve seen the difference in performance between the factory 12-inch .22-caliber barrel and an optional 24-inch .22-caliber barrel with the standard tank, I’ll have to test both of those barrels with the Micro-Meter tank, so that’s a minimum of two tests for velocity and another test for accuracy. I hope you’ll let me get by with just a single accuracy test (from just one of the two barrel lengths); because after the Micro-Meter tank, I still have to test the rifle using the CO2 adapter with both barrels. Then there’s the new Spin-Loc tank still to be tested. And, yes, the Spin-Loc tank does come as a Micro-Meter tank and as a Hi-Flo tank, as well as the standard Spin-Loc tank. Talk about job security!
New airgunners who read about the Talon SS probably wonder why a Micro-Meter air tank is needed. Doesn’t the SS have adjustable power? Yes, it certainly does. But the stability between shots always falls off (the velocities vary more) when the power is adjusted on the low side. You can see that for yourself by carefully reading Part 2 of this report. And some airgunners shoot a lot more in their houses than they do outdoors. They want the power adjustability that comes with the rifle, but most of the time they’ll be shooting at the exact place on the power curve where the standard tank varies the most. These people are mostly shooting in a basement, attic or garage at 25 feet or 10 meters (33 feet), and the velocity variation doesn’t affect them that much. So, once more the question is: Why the Micro-Meter tank? The answer is that it budgets the air much better than the standard tank, and you get more shots. But that wasn’t why it was created.
I was there when the original idea for the Micro-Meter tank was hatched, though I left AirForce before it became a regular product. Here’s an overview of how it came to be.
The NRA Annual Meeting in Houston, Texas, in 2005 is what brought about the Micro-Meter tank. The NRA has an airgun range at their Annual Meetings and Exhibits where thousands of people can see, watch and even shoot various airguns. The guns have to be controlled because they’re in a public building! They can’t be shooting 1,000-f.p.s. airguns indoors. The pellet traps they bring for the range are satisfactory for lead pellets (lead ONLY, please, because synthetics can damage the traps and ricochet) at muzzle velocities of 600 f.p.s. and under. That turns out to be approximately the velocity of a 10-meter target airgun (both rifle and pistol) but manufacturers want to have their other sporting-type guns on the line, as well. And AirForce was left out altogether, because of the power potential of their guns.
How sad is that? A Texas-based company is excluded from providing airguns for the public to shoot at a show that’s being run in Texas!
Yes, the Talon SS can be adjusted down to below 600 f.p.s., but the problem is that it can also be adjusted the other way. The NRA had to guarantee their insurance carrier that all guns on the airgun range were not capable of shooting faster than 600 f.p.s. The best and really only way to do that is to not put out guns that have the potential of shooting faster. And the Talon SS most certainly does have that potential.
There were only a couple weeks before the show, and we really wanted to put a couple Talon SS rifles on the line. What to do?
We’d been making special valves for guns going to other countries that must have very low velocity, but even then the velocity of those guns was greater than 600 f.p.s. with lightweight wadcutter pellets. But another overseas customer needed a valve that was restricted in a different way for a different reason. So, what we did was make up a special valve that had both forms of restriction — a “double-restricted valve,” so to speak. And it worked! There was no way guns that had air tanks with that valve could shoot faster than 600 f.p.s.
It’s not easy!
For all who think designing a precharged pneumatic valve is straightforward, let me assure you it isn’t. I remember talking to AirForce while they were designing the Edge target rifle and saw the difficulty they had balancing the internal volume of the new target valve with the valve opening size and the return spring strength. You might get a gun to shoot 28 shots at 580 f.p.s. with only 5 f.p.s. variation, but then the velocity drifts up to 675 f.p.s. over the next 40 shots — and after that you’re out of air! Keeping a balance between velocity and shot count is the pneumatic hat-trick — ask anyone who has ever tried to do it.
So we built a few double-restricted valves for the annual NRA meetings, and that was it. They worked fine and gave hundreds of shots on a fill, which made them perfect for a public event like the show. Those guns have been in service ever since and have now been shot by quite a few people and are still going strong. But there was no immediate move to make the valve available to the public.
Several years later, however, AirForce decided to bring out the Micro-Meter tank as an option so everyone wanting an indoor target capability for their Talon or Talon SS could have it. I’ve never tested the Micro-Meter tank for you, except on the Condor back in 2008. So, this test has been waiting a long time.
The Condor was tested on both a high-power setting and a low-power setting. Initially on low power, the rifle had velocities from 829 f.p.s. to 848 f.p.s. over the first 21 shots when shooting the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier pellet. That’s much faster than what we hoped for from this tank, but a Condor has a heavier striker that holds the valve open longer than it was designed to. It also has a 24-inch barrel, which we know is usually more efficient in a pneumatic airgun. A Condor may not give the same performance as a Talon SS when using the same Micro-Meter tank. It also may not give the performance you want for an indoor airgun.
When I switched over to high power for shots 22 through 34, the Condor produced velocities ranging from 733 f.p.s. to 835 f.p.s. This string was fired without refilling the gun, so 21 shots had already been fired before this string started; but notice that the velocity actually dropped, even though the power was set on high. Then, I switched back to low power for shots 35 through 55, not filling the gun before shooting this next string, and the velocity ranged between 795 and 812 f.p.s. There was a lot more to that test, but you get the general gist of it. Pellets went faster on the low power setting! Just the reverse of what the power adjustment wheel normally gives!
I will test the SS with both the factory 12-inch barrel as well as the optional 24-inch barrel, and I think the 24-inch barrel will give me the faster shots. But I want to know whether the Micro-Meter tank is still viable when using a 24-inch barrel on an SS powerplant. And, of course, I’ll give you the total number of shots I get with both barrel lengths.
As for accuracy, I think I’ll test that with the 12-inch barrel, only, since that’s probably the most likely combination an owner will have. I doubt that at short range we’d see anything but stellar accuracy from the 24-inch barrel at 10 meters. Do you?
Too much to test!
Please reread the opening statement of this report. There’s still one more barrel length in .22 caliber and three lengths in each of the three other calibers that the SS can be converted to. And then there’s the regular Talon to test and the Condor to finish testing — in all three barrel lengths and all four calibers! Life isn’t long enough to test them all. But I do want to thank reader new2this for reminding me how much I like the AirForce Airguns. Until he commented, I didn’t realize how much there was.