Posts Tagged ‘Leapers’

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 2

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

Part 1

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 right
The 3-9x Bug Buster packs a lot of performance into a small package.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 left
Bug Buster left side.

Today, I’ll tell you how the latest 3-9X32 UTG Bug Buster scope works in action. As you know, this scope was mounted on the Evanix Rainstorm 3D bullpup rifle that I tested for you yesterday. While shooting it, I had the opportunity to examine the performance of this latest Bug Buster scope in great detail, so now I can report on that, as well.

A world of improvement
The last Bug Buster scope I used before this one was a fixed 6x scope that’s now many years old. This new Bug Buster is very advanced from that one, though there are some things that haven’t changed.

Variable power
The first and most obvious improvement is variable power. Of course, Bug Busters have had variable power for many years, but I think this was my first chance to really use one. In the old days, we were just thrilled to have a fixed 4x. It was the ability to focus down to just 9 feet that was the big sales feature of the Bug Buster, and we didn’t expect much more than that. But variable power is usually better, since it gives you the opportunity to choose where to set the magnification. That being said, I cranked this scope to 9x and left it there. I doubt there are many reasons for me to ever use the lower power settings.

Field of view
The Bug Buster has a field of view slightly larger than a scope of normal length with the same specifications. But in my experience, the exit pupil is more critical on the Bug Buster. In other words, your eye has to be in exactly the right spot or you can’t see the image. That was how the scope acted in the test of the 3D bullpup, but I don’t know if it was the odd hold I had to use with that rifle or not.

Crosshairs
The whole reason I’m testing this scope is because of the new, finer crosshairs. I guess the small groups I got in the test attest to the fact that these lines are thinner and thus better able to parse the bull closer. I don’t know of a more dramatic way of demonstrating it to you unless you look through the scope yourself.

And, of course, the thin inner crosshair lines have mil-dots running in both directions. So, you can estimate range if you read and apply the data in the handbook that comes with the scope.

Illumination
I was concerned that because I’m colorblind, the illuminated crosshairs would be of limited use to me, but that isn’t the case. While many of the colors do look alike at the lower power levels, I can see differences in all the colors at the maximum intensity. The 2-button system takes some learning, but turning on and off are both simple commands, so there’s no danger of running down the battery. And there’s a timed shutoff, on top of everything. I don’t think I would use the illumination most of the time, but it’s there if you need it, and the battery will keep a long time if not in use.

On the highest power illumination, the inside of the scope tube gets illuminated some, as well as the reticle lines. Of course, the proper way to use this feature in the field is to run the lowest illumination that you can see, so this really isn’t a problem.

Eyepiece adjustment
My shooting buddy, Otho, has eyes that cannot see through most scopes clearly even with corrective lenses. But all the Leapers models have a very extended eyepiece adjustment that suits him fine. When I sight through his scopes, I have to make gross adjustments to keep from seeing double reticle lines. Only the Leapers scopes have enough adjustment so that both of us can use the same scope.

Lockable reticle adjustments and adjustable zero
Back in the bad old days, we would adjust our reticles until they were perfect and then never let anyone near our guns. I’ve had people grab one of my airguns off my tables at a show and start twisting both adjustment knobs with abandon. When I asked them what they were trying to do, they said they didn’t know — they just wanted to see how the knobs felt!

Well, the Bug Buster’s knobs are locked in place with collars that screw down tight after adjustments have been completed. That gives me time to snatch my rifle back from someone before they can screw up my scope setting.

The scales on both adjustment knobs can be loosened and repositioned so your sight-in is shown as the zero point on each scale. Then, if you have to adjust the knob in the future, you always know where to return.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 retical locking collars
Below the scale of each adjustment knob is a thin collar that can be turned down to lock that knob from turning. This protects your scope adjustment. You can also loosen the small Allen screw on top of each cap and slip the scales to keep the settings as your zero point.

Flip-up scope caps not useful
The Bug Buster comes with flip-up scope caps that I find less than useful — especially on the objective lens. Since the AO requires the objective lens to twist, the flip-up cap is never in the right position and will just get in the way. I take both scope caps off when using this scope because I can’t be bothered with them. If the AO were a sidewheel, then flip-ups would make a lot more sense to me.

Position-sensitive
The Bug Buster is a compact scope. As such, the scope tube sections where the scope rings attach are very short. So the rings have to move to where the scope needs them to be, because there isn’t a lot of extra scope tube on either side of each ring. A one-piece mount is all but impossible to use, as the location of the rings would only line up with the scope tube by coincidence.

Many airguns do not permit a scope to be mounted far enough to the rear for the eye-relief to work with a short scope like this. You have to consider that when mounting a Bug Buster or any compact scope. If the gun has a scope stop plate or vertical stop hole located far forward, it probably will not work with a Bug Buster. But if the top of the gun is wide open, like on the Rainstorm 3D bullpup, then it’s what you want.

Overall evaluation
The new 3-9X32 AO Bug Buster is the best one of the entire line. It offers more flexibility, yet comes in the same compact package as all the other Bug Busters. It meets a specific need in the scope world, yet still provides enough flexibility to work on many airguns.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 AO rifle scope: Part 1

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

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 right
The 3-9x Bug Buster packs a lot of performance into a small package.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 left
Bug Buster left side.

Today, we’ll start looking at Leapers’ new 3-9X32 UTG Bug Buster rifle scope. As you know from yesterday’s blog, I’ve mounted this scope on the Evanix Rainstorm 3D Bullpup for testing. I feel the small scope compliments the compact size of the bullpup.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 on Rainstorm
The Bug Buster looks good on the Rainstorm 3D bullpup.

Boy, has Leapers come a long way with the Bug Buster since it first came out! First of all, let’s get the introductions out of the way. Leapers is the manufacturer. UTG, short for Under The Gun, is one of their product lines. Bug Buster is a name that airgunners gave to this scope when it first came out. Because it held (and still holds) the world record for close parallax adjustment, which in practical terms is the same as focusing, the compact scope was touted for shooting insects as soon as it hit the market. Someone coined the name Bug Buster, and Leapers adopted it as their own.

That first Bug Buster was a fixed 4x scope. Today, I’m testing a 3-9x variable. What a difference that makes. Not only can you focus as close as 9 feet, you can also magnify your target 9 times at that distance! If you’re sighted-in, you can pick which part of the bug to eliminate.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 3 yards
This is something no other scope in the world offers — parallax correction down to 3 yards!

But there’s a whole lot more than just close focusing. This Bug Buster comes with lockable turrets, which are the adjustment knobs for windage and elevation. To lock or unlock them, a ring at the bottom is loosened or tightened. Do it once and it will seem intuitive.

The zero can also be reset; so once the scope is zeroed for a certain range, the scale can be repositioned so it reads zero. This allows you to adjust the scope from this zero and see how far you’ve gone — as long as you don’t go farther than one full rotation of the adjustment knob. It’s very handy for hunters who wish to change their scope zero in the field.

The reticle
The big reason I’m testing this scope is the reticle. Early Bug Busters had one shortcoming — a thick reticle. Precision aiming was difficult , if not impossible, because the crosshairs covered so many inches at 100 yards. That’s what’s changed in the new Bug Buster. The reticle is a mil-dot.¬†The reticle lines are now about medium-sized. They won’t cover too much of your target, and yet you can still find them while hunting in a dark forest that has lots of shadows.

There are dots on the inner lines in both directions. The centers of the dots are one mil apart, which provides a refernce for measuring angles through the scope. And angles can be turned into distances if you know the approximate size of what you’re measuring.

In the Army, we had to learn the approximate size of common battlefield equipment such as tanks and personnel carriers so we could calculate the distance to them with binoculars that had a mil-scale reticle. Hunters need to learn the same sorts of things, but for the animals they’re likely to spot. That information, coupled with the tutorial in the scope’s owner’s manual, will help you calculate distances to your target.

The reticle is illuminated with Leapers’ patented EZ-TAP lighting system. Two buttons atop the scope control the intensity and selection of the colors. Now, I’m colorblind, as are up to 14 percent of all males. My malady is a red-green defiency, which is the most common type. That doesn’t mean I can’t see those colors — I just don’t see them the way a person with normal sight sees them. So, the question is: How valuable is it to me that there are 6 different colors for the reticle and 6 levels of intensity for each color? Well, as a matter of fact, I can differentiate each of the 6 colors when they’re at their most intense. But when the intensity level drops, most of the colors become gray to my eyes. I can see them, but they don’t seem to have much color. The red and the green colors stand apart as the most vivid of all.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 EZ Tap
Those two buttons control the colors and intensity of the illuminated reticle. There are 36 choices available.

I will say that you need to read the manual to fully understand how to operate this scope. Not only does it address the EZ-TAP operation, it also goes into great detail on how to estimate range with the mil-dots.

But wait — there’s more!
As if all those features weren’t enough, this scope comes bundled with UTG Max-Strength, quick-detach, medium-height rings. These sell separately for $25, and my friend Mac reviewed them for us in 2011. Mac reviewed 30mm rings and these are one inch, but in all other aspects they’re identical.

UTG Max Strength Quick Lock Rings
A set of UTG Max-Strength, medium-height, quick-detach rings comes with the Bug Buster.

Packaging
If you’re a store owner, the UTG scope line now comes in glass-clear packaging that allows the customer to see the scope inside. I call it the Snow White box. This packaging is sealed at the factory, so a customer will know if it’s been opened before he receives the scope…because there’s clear film tape that must be removed to get inside the box. That should end the claims of selling used merchandise, which is pretty common in the scope world.

UTG Bug Buster 3-9X32 package
The new UTG packaging is transparent, so everyone can see what’s inside. Clear protective film/tape keeps them out until the scope is sold. Obviously, this doesn’t show the scope from today’s blog, but it demonstrates my point just the same.

Dimensions
The Bug Buster is a compact scope. It’s just 8.5 inches long and weighs only 13.9 ounces. The tube is one inch in diameter. It’ll look petite on most normal air rifles and just right on the small ones. The only consideration the size brings is the scope tube sections are very short on either side of the turret, so the rings don’t have much room to move. If your rifle has a built-in scope stop, this scope may not come back far enough for the proper eye relief. On guns like the 3D bullpup and big bores with short receivers though, the Bug Buster might be the best scope out there.

Testing
The only way to test this scope is by firing the gun and adjusting the reticle. So that testing will have to wait. I can tell you now that the optics are clear and sharp, and the eyepiece has buckets of corrective adjustment in it. The rest will await the testing of the Rainstorm 3D bullpup.

2013 SHOT Show: Part 3

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1
Part 2

The SHOT Show is not a gun show — though that is what many attendees call it, and the mainstream media that doesn’t attend also calls it that. Instead, it’s a happening — to use a 1960′s term. Or it’s a Middle Eastern open market. The big booths house the recognized names like Colt, Winchester and Crosman. Their booths are two stories tall with signs hanging from the ceiling that you could see a mile away if there weren’t other signs hanging in front of them.

But the real drama of the show isn’t at those booths. People already know what to expect in those places. It’s the little out-of-the-way booths hugging the walls that have the surprises. I always set aside some time just to cruise the aisles, looking for some rocks to turn over.

I’ll be walking along a narrow aisle and someone will step out to stop me. Then, in a conspiratorial tone, he leans over and says something like, “Don’t you just hate it when your ice cubes melt and dilute your drink? Cold Bars have solved that problem forever. These are sanitized stainless steel bars that retain the cold almost as well as water, plus they’re reusable forever. Put three of these in your scotch and soda, and it’ll be as fresh and strong after 20 minutes as when it was poured. When you finish the drink, just pop them in the freezer for 10 minutes…and they’re good to go again. While you wait, you use the second set of three bars in your next drink! Nothing could be easier.”

This guy is serious! You look at his spartan booth and realize that he has poured everything into this venture because at some point watery drinks pushed him over his tipping point. When he bounced the idea off his wife and friends, they all agreed it was the next big thing. They had no idea he would mortgage the house and put his life savings into it!

So, here he is, in a narrow aisle of a large trade show, hawking his brains out to people who, for some reason, just don’t seem to get it. Who doesn’t want cold, undiluted drinks?

Think I’m exaggerating? Attend a trade show and walk the aisles some time.

Why do I plod through these pathways of personal misery? Because next to the stainless steel ice cube booth there ‘s the G+G Airsoft booth that has the best action target I’ve seen in a long while. It’s a lighted rubber hemisphere that’s computer-controlled to react to being hit by an airsoft BB. You can turn the light on or off, depending on how you have programmed it.

They call it the MET Unit, which stands for multifunctional electronic target. It can exist as one single target or they can be strung together in up to 25 targets for a prolonged target array.

airsoft action light targets
The MET Unit is from 1 to 25 programmable lights that turn off or on when hit by an airsoft BB.

The wires between targets can be up to 50 meters in length, which allows them to be set up in a tactical course and either light up at some random time until hit or stay on for a programmed time and go off after the time is up or when hit. Two competitors can shoot at the same target and change the color of the lights when they hit it, establishing a duelling target.

The individual target will sell for $66 or 5 for $250. It looks like a great way to have fast-action fun with airsoft guns. They can take hits from AEGs shooting 0.20-gram BBs at up to 450 f.p.s. Naturally, they’re not robust enough for even the lowest-powered steel BB or pellet guns.

Umarex
Umarex is now branding airguns under their own name. This year, there are three new long guns: the Octane is a breakbarrel with a Reaxis gas spring and SilencAir, which is a baffled silencer; the Surge is an entry-lever springer breakbarrel; and the Fusion is a CO2 pellet rifle, and it also has the SilencAir noise dampener. We’ve seen the Fusion before, branded as the Ruger LGR, but Umarex tells me the Fusion is a Gen 2 upgrade and quite different. I never got the chance to test the LGR, so I’m looking forward to testing the new Fusion as soon as possible.

Umarex Fusion
The Fusion is a new CO2 single-shot rifle from Umarex that sports a 5-chamber noise dampener.

Leapers
I spent an hour at the Leapers booth this year. The most important thing I wanted to see was the new scope with an internal bubble level. It’s a 4-16x in a 30mm tube, and it looks exactly like what the doctor ordered for those long-range targets we love to shoot. They’re working hard to get it to market this year, but it won’t go out until they’re certain of the quality. Putting a bubble level inside scopes on a production line is apparently quite a challenge…but one I’m sure Leapers will do correctly.

The entire line of scopes have been upgraded with finer adjustments — many of them 1/8-minute adjustments — and greater repeatability. They have a broad range of adjustment in both directions, and their production models are even exceeding the maximum limits they established! All leaf springs have been replaced with coil springs to increase adjustment precision and repeatability.

But the WOW factor comes on the stuff you can see. How about a 3-9x scout scope (10-inch eye relief) with a wide field of view? That is the big trick for scout scopes, and I saw a beauty mounted on an M1A — though it would be just as correct on a Mosin Nagant.

Leapers scout scope
Leapers new scout scope has a full field of vision — something scout scopes are not known for.

Another surprise from the folks in Michigan is the smallest tactical laser I have yet seen. I asked Mac to photograph it next to a quarter for scale.

Leapers small laser
Leapers new laser is the smallest I have yet seen. That’s a quarter next to it.

Crosman
Back to the Crosman booth to show you what the new Benjamin pump looks like when the handle is raised. I didn’t expect the huge reception this pump got when I showed it the first time this year. Please note that it has not one but two pump tubes. This is a 3-stage pump — the same as the current pumps, but this one compresses a bit more air with each stroke. I’ll have more to say about it when I test it.

Benjamin pump extended
Maybe this view will help you understand how the new Benjamin pump magnifies the force you put into each pump stroke.

Hatsan
I’ll close with a last look at the Hatsan booth. They have the AT-P carbine and AT-P1 pistol…and both are precharged pneumatics. They’ll come in .177, .22 and .25 calibers that each have hunting levels of power. These are repeaters with circular clips and adjustable Quattro triggers. The sights are fiberoptic, and there are provisions for scopes. The air cylinders remove, and spares will be available as options.

For those who are looking for hunting air pistols, I think these two should be considered. I’ll work hard to review them for you as soon as possible.

Hatsan PCP pistol and carbine
The Hatsan AT-P2 Tact (left) and the AT-P1 are exciting new PCP airguns.

Leaving the show
As Edith and I left the show we passed by one final booth. The guy is selling Instant Water for survivalists. Just drop one of his pills in a bucket of water and — Presto! — instant water. Why I can’t think of things like that?

My visit to Leapers

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

In August, my friend Mac and I were invited by Leapers to tour their plant for an article I’m writing for the November color issue of Shotgun News. We were invited by the owners, David and Tina Ding. Today I would like to give you a brief glimpse of what we saw.

As most of you regular readers know, Leapers imports all their optics from various plants in Asia — mainly from China and Taiwan. They have very strong associations with those plants, so the products are made to Leapers’ specifications, and not just bought from a generic list the way some optics are. And you also know that Leapers owns the UTG brand name that stands for Under The Gun, which is another large grouping of scopes and optics.

Until recently, Leapers also made all the CenterPoint scopes for Crosman. That association has ended, so in the future the CenterPoint scopes will look different from the Leapers scopes, and they will probably have different features.

What I was not prepared for was the size of Leapers’ manufacturing operation right there in Livonia, Michigan. In the shadow of Detroit that once ruled the world of automobiles and is now a clich√© for urban decay, Leapers thrives in 104,000 square feet of bustling manufacturing, sales, design and promotion.

They begin each day at 8:30, with a managers’ meeting to review the business of the previous day and to address the current day’s schedule. Over 30 managers from all parts of the company except manufacturing (their meeting was held at 7) gather in a large conference room and conduct the most efficient business meeting Mac and I have ever witnessed! They covered their agenda with all departments reporting, plus a prototype scope being examined by every manager in less than 20 minutes.

Leapers meeting
Every morning all the managers meet to discuss the day’s operations.

Scope examined
A prototype scope is passed around for comments.

Here’s one highlight of the meeting. The operations manager announced that two 40-foot containers were scheduled to arrive that morning, and he needed a team to unload them. When I tell you how that went I’m sure there will be some disbelief.

Product development
We got to watch the product developers go through their evaluation process with a new crossbow scope. They wanted to get at least 100 minutes of angle adjustment in each direction, so they rigged a test instrument to measure the angles. When we saw the scope, it went off the scale more than two times in all directions, which means they’re getting at least 160 minutes of angle adjustment…and probably a lot more.

Scope measurement
Leapers uses this optical measurement device to measure the adjustment range of their scopes. This prototype crossbow scope adjusts over 160 minutes of angle in both directions.

The Leapers culture
I guess I should cut to the chase and tell you what’s different about Leapers. The short of it is that they’re organized. Not organized like a manufacturer — more like the crew on a nuclear submarine!

When the day’s scheduled shipment arrived I watched a trained team of people from all over the company unload cartons from two 40-foot containers in under two hours! If they keep the drivers who delivered the container longer than two hours, there’s an extra charge. So, the operations manager has trained teams how to unload containers in the most efficient way possible. Not only that, but they also pack the outbound shipments as they pull the cartons from the containers.

Unpacking
The trained team unpacks a 40-foot shipping container in record time.

Pallets
“Where did I put that Ark?” In 90 minutes, the teams unpacked both 40-foot containers, shipped several pallets and prepared these for the warehouse.

As the cartons came out, they were piled on pallets that were bound for the warehouse. Some went to outbound shipments that were transported directly to the outbound shipment side of the house

Packing
Toward the end of the day, we saw another outpouring of people into the warehouse to pack and ship the day’s transactions. These employees came from all over the office, including the owners, and everybody pitched in. Each team of packers had one picker, one checker who compared the packing list to the items to be shipped, using a scanner to track each item. A second person then double-checked the shipment and packed it into a box, which another person boxed, packed and sealed.

Everyone in the company gets involved in the packing and shipping of products, so they all develop a feel for the products. Even the sales team and the design engineers were getting their hands dirty! That’s how they get to know the products and can speak about them intelligently. This duty rotates through the office, and everyone gets at least one day a week on the shipping line.

Packing
The packing and shipping operation is automated for speed and double-checked for accuracy. The packers come from all over the company and rotate this duty once a week.

The main business
As an airgunner, I think of scopes when I think of Leapers, but that’s not what they make in the U.S. They were making parts fort ARs, AKs, SKSs and other popular military rifles. The AR business is strong enough by itself; but for the imports, American law has given them a boost by requiring 10 out of 20 designated key partss on every semiautomatic gun to be made in the USA. The law is called 922R, and it stands for the obscure section of code that specifies which parts are key and what constitutes a legal imported semiautomatic rifle. Leapers makes these parts and sells them to various importers to turn their products into legal weapons. It’s a business that has tremendous potential, and it keeps Leapers expanding all the time.

Mac and I saw the entire manufacturing operation, from raw extrusions to finished products. This all took place in their spotless plant, where you could quite literally eat off the floor. They rely on huge CNC machining centers, and three new ones had just been installed…with another batch due shortly.

Plant operations
The operator in front of the machine gives you perspective of the scale.

CNC machinining center
AR stock extension tubes are being machined from bar stock.

Off the main plant floor are rooms for quality control, a general machine shop, laser engraving and general finishing. The main floor is still very open, and they plan to fill it with more machining centers to allow the production capacity to continue to grow. As I said…if you buy an AKM in the U.S., today, there’s a good chance it’ll have parts made by Leapers to ensure that it meets the legal requirements for key U.S. parts. Two items I see in their catalog that I will definitely buy are a cover for an SKS that includes a Picatinny rail and a built-in cartridge deflector and a slip-on 2-inch stock extension buttpad to extend the pull length to conventional rifle dimensions.

This report is just a brief glimpse of all that we saw in our tour. The entire report will be in the November 20, 2012, color edition of Shotgun News.

The future
David Ding told me at the NRA Show this year that he wants to make optics in the United States. When I asked why, he said, “For quality control. We can’t have someone halfway around the world making these products and us being on the receiving end of a very long supply chain.”

I’ve been asking for a scope that has an internal bubble level built in, and they’re very close to delivering one. A prototype was due within a few weeks, so I expect to see it at the 2013 SHOT Show. But that’s only the beginning. David and I discussed many ideas for other scopes American shooters would like to see. Just imagine if you had the ear of Redfield or Weaver, back when they were making scopes in this country! Leapers means business, and I have no doubt they’ll be grinding lenses and manufacturing their own optics within a few years.

Leapers is one of the very few companies that’s open to new ideas. They’re in tune with their customers and are always trying to better their products. We saw evidence of that everywhere, and we heard it in the ideas they shared with us. I can’t tell you everything they told us, but I can say this is one company to watch!

2012 SHOT Show: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald

Part 1

This is the second of my reports on the 2012 SHOT Show. There will certainly be at least one more after this, and perhaps even more, as there’s simply too much new information to pack into a single report.

The state of the airgun industry in 2012
Before I get to some specifics, I want to make a general observation. This year’s SHOT Show was different for me in a major way, because I saw for the first time that firearms shooters are beginning to understand airguns as never before. In the past, I always had to start my explanations with the cooling of the earth’s crust and then progress through the age of the dinosaurs because each firearms person I talked to thought of airguns as either toys or BB guns. This year, a lot of them were clued-in on what’s happening. They weren’t surprised by the accuracy we get, and they knew about big bores. A lot of them had some airgun experience and more than a few asked me the same kind of questions that I get from long-time readers of this blog.

That tells me the day of the airgun has finally dawned in the U.S. Instead of 25,000 to 50,000 active shooters (at best!), we will now see an influx from over 5 million active firearm shooters who are ready to augment their shooting experience with airguns. I’m already getting calls and emails from state departments of wildlife resources, asking about the issues of incorporating airguns into their hunting seasons.

It has been a long haul to get to this point, but we’re now seeing the start of the harvest of all the work that’s been done over the past 40 years — starting with Robert Beeman in the early 1970s. The job is now to manage this growth and provide useful information to the tens of thousands of new airgunners who are flooding in the doors.

Let me reflect on how the industry seems to be reacting to this trend. Some companies have been on board for many years and are poised to ride the new tidal wave of business as far as they can. Other companies are aware that airguns are very hot, but they’re foundering, trying to understand them. Let me say right now that it’s not as easy as you think!

The readers of this blog are among the most clued-in airgunners in the world. But they’re unique, and they do not represent the true market. The demographic of a new airgunner is a man (usually) in his late 20s to late 40s who is most likely a fan of AR-type rifles and Glock-type pistols. He wants repeaters, semiautos and he thinks that a five-shot group is the gold standard of any gun. Velocity impresses him, and he isn’t comfortable with the term kinetic energy.

Things like good triggers and good sights are not an issue with this customer until he experiences bad ones. His ARs have decent triggers off the rack, and he can choose from many drop-in triggers that are much better. When he encounters a spring-piston gun with a horrible trigger that cannot be easily modified, he’s surprised.

He does not use the artillery hold, and he equates all airguns to be alike in terms of performance. When he learns about precharged guns, he’s put off by the additional equipment he must buy. Spring-piston guns seem the best to him for their simple operation, and he doesn’t appreciate the fact that they’re also the most difficult airguns to shoot well.

That’s the customer who’s coming to airguns today, so that’s the person airgun manufacturers have to deal with. If you have wondered why many of the new airguns are what they are — this new-customer profile is the reason.

Okay, I’ve talked about those companies that get it and those that are struggling to understand. There’s one more type of company out there. I like to call them the “gloom and doom company” or the “zero sum company.” They’re firmly entrenched in the 1970s and cannot take advantage of this new windfall of business. They either fired their engineers years ago or they let them all retire, and now they couldn’t build a new airgun to save their lives. As far as they’re concerned, there are only 25,000 airgunners in the United States and it’s the NRA’s responsibility to identify and train them so these companies can sell them some guns.

They think of marketing in 1950′s terms, when a simple paint job and some sheet metal was enough to create a new product. Their “secret” business plan is to buy guns made by other manufacturers and have their name put on. If you’re a collector, better buy up the guns these guys sell because in 10 years their name will be a memory.

That’s enough of the big picture. Let’s see some more products.

More from Crosman
Many of you saw the list of new Crosman products Kevin posted last week, so the few that I show here are by no means all there is, but they’re the highlights. Crosman had about half the new airgun products at the entire SHOT Show.

New tan M4-177 and carry handle
The M4-177 multi-pump that I recently tested for you is going to be very popular this year. Crosman is also offering it as an M4-177 Tactical air rifle with a new carry handle that replaces the rear sight for improved sighting options. I think this gun will be in their lineup for many years to come.


The M4-177 now comes as this tactical model in tan with a carry handle.

I mentioned to Crosman’s Ed Schultz that this rifle looks like the A.I.R.-17 of the 1990s, but done better. He said he always wanted to update that design, and that is exactly what this is. So, what he said next came as no great surprise.

I shared my thoughts on a 2260 made as a multi-pump in .25 caliber, and Ed told me that was how the rifle was originally created (not in .25, however). The CO2 version was an afterthought that got put into production, while the multi-pump version languished in the Crosman morgue. I told him that I thought the time was ripe to bring it back as an upscale hunting rifle, and he seemed to agree. We can only hope.

Carbon fiber tank
As Crosman extends their capability into PCP guns, they know shooters are always looking for better options for their air supply. Besides the new butterfly hand pump I showed you last time, they’ll also be adding a long summer-sausage black carbon fiber tank with increased capacity over their current tanks. This is a 300-bar tank that has 342 cubic-inch capacity. It comes in a black nylon carrying case with sling for field transport.


More air for you! New Benjamin carbon fiber tank will help you take your PCPs further afield.

Benjamin Nitro Piston breakbarrel pistol
The Benjamin NP breakbarrel pistol certainly has people talking on the internet. This is the first commercial gas spring application in a pistol, I believe. The most distinctive feature is a cocking aid that can either be detached or left in place while shooting. That reminds us that this pistol is going to be hard to cock, but I’ll test one for you so we’ll all know just how hard.


New Benjamin Trail NP pistol is a breakbarrel with a gas spring. The cocking aid can be detached or left in place while shooting.

Crosman 1720T PCP pistol
Everybody was ready to jump down Crosman’s throat for creating the 1720T PCP pistol. They wondered with the .22-caliber Marauder pistol and the .177-caliber Silhouette PCP pistol already selling, why was this one needed? As Ed Schultz explained it to me — this one is for field target. It’s a .177 (naturally) that produces just under 12 foot-pounds through a shrouded Lother Walther barrel. It can be used for hunting, but field target was its primary purpose. They worried about the shot count with the Silhouette; but with this one, power was the criterion. Look for about 800 f.p.s. with a 7.9-grain Premier. And the trigger is the same as the Marauder, so excellent operation there.


The new Crosman 1720T PCP pistol is meant for field target competition. It will also work well for hunting.

Crosman MAR 177 PCP conversion
The Crosman MAR-177 PCP conversion is another new product that has a lot of people talking. This AR-15 upper converts your .223 semiauto into a .177 PCP repeating target rifle. Because it’s on an AR platform, almost everybody expects it to be semiautomatic — including those who should know better. This rifle is a bolt action that cocks and loads via a short pull on the charging handle.

This conversion is an Olympic-grade target rifle for a new official sport that Scott Pilkington and others have been promoting for several years. It will take the U.S. battle rifle back into the ranks of target shooting. However, the look of the gun has many shooters totally confused. I was even asked at the show if I thought Crosman should have come out with an “everyman’s” version of the gun first. That would be like asking whether Feinwerkbau missed the boat by not first making their 700 target rifle in a $300 version for casual plinkers.


The MAR-177 PCP conversion is an upper for your target-grade lower. Plan on investing about another $1,000 in a good lower if you hope to compete.

Crosman TT BB pistol
It’s all-metal and a good copy of the Tokarev pistol. The weight is good and the gun feels just right. This will be one to test as soon as possible.


Crosman’s TT Tokarev BB pistol is realistic and looks like fun.

Benjamin MAV 77 Underlever
The Benjamin MAV 77 underlever rifle is going to force Crosman to recognize spring-piston air rifles instead of just calling them all breakbarrels. This is the TX-200 copy from BAM that was once sold by Pyramyd Air. When the quality dropped off, it was discontinued. Hopefully, Crosman will watch the quality on this one.

They didn’t have a firm retail price yet, but hopefully it’ll be significantly under the TX. Otherwise, why buy it? I may test one for you, but I already know that BAM can make a great rifle when they want to. I think it all comes down to price.


Benjamin MAV-77 is an underlever spring-piston rifle that looks and, hopefully, performs like an Air Arms TX-200.

TR-77
The Crosman TR-77 is a conventional breakbarrel spring-piston rifle in an unconventional stock. It’s different enough that I want to test one for you. It appears to be a lower-powered rifle that probably sells at a bargain price because it’s branded under the Crosman banner rather than Benjamin. Mac photographed one in a sand-colored stock for you.


Crosman TR-77 breakbarrel in a sand-colored stock also comes in black.

There was a lot more at Crosman that I could have mentioned, but now let’s go over to the Leapers booth.

Leapers
I’ve watched Leapers grow from a relatively small company back in 1998 to a major player — blasting past older, entrenched companies as they grew. This year, they were playing a video about the company on a continuous loop in their booth. I was impressed to see their plant in Livonia, Michigan, where they build airsoft guns, tactical mounts, accessories and scopes right here in the U.S. The plant is filled with many CNC machining centers and testing facilities to keep close watch over their products during development.

American-made
Leapers owner David Ding told me he wants to get control over the production process so he can assure the quality of all of his products. In keeping with that goal, I was shown the new scope line for 2012 that now offers locking target knobs on all of the upscale models. Many of them feature etched glass reticles that are amazingly crisp and sharp.

Scopes
Mac was impressed by the reticle on the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope. He urged me to look through it; and when I did, I saw that the reticle is now fine and sharp — not the heavy black lines of the past.


David Ding shows me the new 3-9x Bug Buster scope (not out yet), with target knobs and a finer reticle.

But scopes were just the beginning at Leapers. Next, I was shown the whole line of tactical flashlights and lasers, including some mini lasers I will test on my M1911A1 for you. These are all made in the U.S. now and have more rugged internals, adjustments and optics than similar products from the Orient.

UTG 555 Long Range Light
One item I hope Pyramyd Air will consider stocking is a fantastic 500-lumen tactical light for law enforcement. It can be mounted on a rifle, handheld or even mounted on a bike! It comes with rechargeable lithium batteries and a smart charger…and believe me when I tell you it turns night into day!


The UTG Long Range light can go on your rifle, held in the hand or even mounted to your bike! The rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack will keep it shining at 500 lumens for 1.5 hours.

Fast Action Gun bag
Not all Leapers products are for airguns. They also make tactical and law enforcvement gear that rivals spec-built equipment but sells at a fraction the cost. As a result, many of their customers are ordering straight from the front lines of combat and from law enforcement agencies all over the country to get the products that their own supply lines cannot or will not furnish.

One of their latest developments is a Fast Action Gun bag that lets the wearer walk in public with a substantial firearm hidden from view. A quick pull of a strap, and the bag opens to reveal the weapon inside.


Leapers owner Tina Ding models their new Fast Action Gun bag. Here, it’s concealed; but she’s just pulled it over her shoulder from her back, where it looks like a tennis bag.


And in less than a second, the bag is open, giving instant access to the tactical shotgun or submachine gun inside.

11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter
Leapers has an entirely new range of quick-disconnect scope mounts coming this year, but there’s another innovation that I think you’ll find even more impressive. It’s an adapter that snaps into a Picatinny scope mount base, turning it into an 11mm dovetail. So, your conventional air rifle will now also accept Leapers Picatinny scope mounts with this adapter.

11mm-dovetail-to-Picatinny adapter is small and doesn’t raise the mount at all! This will be one to test!

Leapers is still the company to watch because the owners want to build a lasting corporation here in the U.S. They’re poised to move to the next level of quality in their optics, which gives me a lot of hope for the future — they’ve always been receptive to the needs of airgunners.

Whew! That’s a lot of products, and there are still many more to show. As I said in the beginning, there will be at least another report.

A shrine built for a Feinwerkbau 124 – Part 9

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

Getting ready to test
Today, I want to mount a scope on the 124 to get ready for the long-range accuracy test. Normally, I would just mount the scope and gloss over it in the report, because scope mounting is usually not a big deal; but the 124 is a special airgun that needs special scope mounting considerations. So, I’m making a separate report about it.

A strange scope stop
What makes the 124 special is the way Feinwerkbau went about providing a scope stop. You must understand that Feinwerkbau is a target gun company. They understand rear aperture sights very well, but they don’t appreciate scope sights nearly as well. And, in the 1970s — when the 124 came out — scope mounting was still very new to the hobby. They provided a scope stop system that works well for rear aperture sights but not so easy when working with scopes.

Their system consists of half-round grooves cut across the 11mm dovetail scope rails. The plan is for a round steel pin in the base of the rear scope mount or in the rear of the one-piece scope mount, if that’s what you use, to fit into one of those grooves. Once it’s in, the scope mount will stay put under recoil. It’s a simple system, but not one that’s widely used. Webley used it on the Patriot, and CZ used it on some of their rifles. Most airgun manufacturers use something else.


Pick one of those four grooves to accept a steel crosspin from the base of one of your scope rings or the rear of your one-piece scope ring. Once the base is tightened on the dovetails, the groove and pin prevent the base from moving under recoil.

Because of the low usage of this kind of scope stop system, there aren’t a lot of scope mounts with the necessary crosspin. Beeman sold them while the 124 was selling well, but they stopped offering them in the late 1990s. B-Square also made some just for 124s, plus they made a mount with two crosspins that was to be used on a Webley Patriot. You could always grind off or remove one of those two pins to make their mounts fit the 124.


This old B-Square one-piece scope mount has two crosspins to interface with the grooves on a Webley Patriot rifle. By removing one of the crosspins, this mount can be fitted to a 124.

Forget this!
Forget trying to just tighten the base screws to hold the mounts in place by friction. The 124 is a long-stroke spring-piston rifle that will walk any standard mounts — aluminum or steel — that you try to do this with. And, you can forget something else, too.

Some guys get the bright idea of taking a standard vertical scope stop pin and rounding it to a crosspin profile. Forget it. It doesn’t work. All it does is rip a wide groove straight back through the top of the steel receiver tube as the mount slowly walks backward under recoil. It may take six months of steady shooting before you notice it, but you’ll ruin your gun this way. There’s just not enough bearing surface on a single, thin vertical stop pin that’s been profiled in this way.

I have been testing airguns for a very long time now, and I have a drawer filled with exotic scope mounts, including some prototype units that never made it to market. There aren’t many airguns that I can’t scope, but my situation is not the norm. Most guys have to find a mount that works from what’s available today, and that can be daunting when the gun is an old-timer like the FWB 124.

Bring on the BKLs!
There may be a bright light on the horizon, though. Back when I was messing with 124 rifles, BKL mounts didn’t exist, but they do today and we’ve tested them on other spring rifles that recoil a lot harder than the 124. For those who aren’t aware, BKL mounts are the one mount on the market that can hold tight by just clamping pressure, alone. And, here’s the best part — they’re made from aluminum! So, as tight as you can make them, they’ll never damage the sharp edges of your rifle’s dovetails the way they would if they were made of steel.

For this test, I’ve installed a set of BKL-363H-MB scope mounts with double straps. Man, I wish these things had been around in the late 1970s!

I also found out something extra-cool about these double-strap BKL mounts. There’s no special torque pattern to be followed! Instead of tightening the scope caps by a prescribed pattern like you would the main bearings on a crankshaft to get the force evenly distributed over all four screws, these caps go down in a straightforward way. Tighten one side and the other. As simple as that. Because each strap has only two screws, there’s no way to screw up — pun intended!

I’ll watch the mounts to make certain they don’t move, but the groups I get should pretty well tell the whole tale without the need for any special testing. If I shoot tight groups, there can’t be any scope movement.

Leapers scope
I chose a Leapers 3-9x50AO scope with illuminated reticle. I didn’t need the illuminated reticle, but this particular scope comes with a fine crosshair that will aid in getting a refined aimpoint. As long as the light’s good, I should be able to get great results with it.


The 124 accepted the Leapers scope with ease. I could easily have installed a much longer scope on the rifle, but I wanted to keep the weight down.

So, that’s the saga of mounting a scope on a 124. It’s not any harder than installing a scope on any other spring rifle, but the mount situation is different enough to cause concern. Remember this — the FWB 124 was the very first air rifle to get a reputation for scopes slipping and even breaking. Though we have much more powerful rifles today, don’t underestimate the 124.

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