Tales from the range

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

I was at the rifle range yesterday and there were some things that I had to tell you. There’s no order to this — it’s just what I want to say.

First thing, I get to the range and there’s a young man with 3 very fine rifles. One has been custom made for him, and the other 2 are factory models that each have some add-ons such as aftermarket triggers. He mentioned that he had just gotten rid of a .257 Weatherby Magnum from which he was unable to get good groups.

Each of his rifles had a Leupold Vari X III scope, which is not a cheap sight. There are couple thousand dollars worth of fine firearms and sights laying on his bench. But every 10 minutes or so, he asks if the range can go cold so he can walk down to the 100-yard target holder and look at his targets. That’s right, sports fans, he hasn’t got a spotting scope!

I set up my spotting scope; and when he saw it, he immediately launched into a spiel, “I really need to get one of those!” He told me he was using targets with red bulls because he couldn’t see his .25-caliber holes on black bulls through his rifle scopes at 100 yards. I invited him to look through my spotting scope, and he was amazed that he could clearly see all his holes on the target. How much easier his shooting life would be if he only had a spotting scope!

Spotting scope
My spotting scope allows me to see every shot I make at 100 and 200 yards without leaving the bench. It’s not a thing to appreciate in its own right, but it enriches the time spent on the range.

He asked me to recommend a good spotting scope, but I couldn’t. All I could say is that nearly all telescopes are made in the Orient these days, and you really need to look through them to find a good one. The fancy names mean very little, as I found out with a Celestron spotting scope that had horrible optics. I actually traded a rifle for my current scope because it’s so clear. More rifles I can get. Good spotting scopes are hard to come by.

What bothered me the most about this encounter was that I could see myself 30 years ago in this young man. I did the same thing then that he’s doing now. I spent all my money on guns and had nothing left over for the mundane equipment that matters so much when you want to shoot comfortably.

Tale 2
Same day, same range. Another young man arrives and just wants to blow the dead bees out of his barrel before he drives to work. He has a fine rifle, too. Know what he uses for hearing protection? The filter tips from 2 cigarettes!

Tale 3
Then, I’m down at the 100-yard berm, looking at my targets. The holes made by the bullets are sharp and distinct. They can tell me a lot — especially when untoward things happen — like bullets tumbling. I glance over at my neighbor’s target. It’s a piece of paper torn from a notepad, with a bull inked-in by a black Sharpie. The holes are more like tears than bullet holes.

So, Mr. thousand-dollar rifle with his five-hundred dollar scope is shooting dollar-apiece rounds at a piece of wastepaper he has colored to look like a real target. There’s real economy for you!

target paper target
This real target from National Target shows the pattern of tumbling bullets quite well. Note paper can’t do this!

Tale 4
Remember what I said a couple days ago about a right-handed shooter who pulls the trigger on a handgun instead of squeezing it? He’ll always shoot low and to the left. I was on the pistol range and a fellow was trying out a new (to him) .40 Smith & Wesson that he just traded for. It had a fat double-stack magazine that he loaded to the max, then he walked halfway to the target on the 15-yard range. So, he is now just 7.5 yards from the target. Hey, 90 percent of all defense situations happen at less than 9 feet — right?

Bang! Bang! Bang! Guess what? Nice tight group on the target, but below the bull and to the left. He says he guesses he’ll just have to adjust his sights on this pistol, too. Funny — all his pistols shoot to the same place.

And I have a bloody tongue from biting it so hard.

Tale 5
Another guy on the line is shooting a Blaser single-shot rifle. They cost anywhere from $2,000 to $4,500, by themselves. And, guess what he’s resting it on? A 6-inch by 6-inch wood block with a pillow cushion on top. What — he can’t find an ironing board like everybody else?

I shot for many years using a plastic MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest. I found it stable and accurate. Maybe not as fancy as other rests, but for the cost of 2 boxes of rifle ammo, it was pretty good.

M-T-M rifle rest
The MTM Case-Gard Predator rifle rest served me well for many years.

Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest
Today, I use the Caldwell Lead Sled rifle rest.

I upgraded top a Caldwell Lead Sled a while back. It’s even more stable and rigid, plus is allows adding weight to absorb recoil.

What’s my beef?
I don’t really have a complaint, as much as a plea to those guys who are being penny-wise and pound-foolish. Shooting equipment is not sexy, but it can make a huge difference in your level of enjoyment while you’re behind the trigger. This is the stuff you buy begrudgingly today, then celebrate your good decision for the rest of your life. And its more than just the few things mentioned here. It’s also good gun cases, nice holsters, indestructible bullet traps, handy range bags and boxes — in fact anything that helps you enjoy your time afield in any way.

This isn’t the stuff that dreams are made of, but having it does allow you to dream. And here’s how you will recognize it. When you look at your equipment, pick out the things that have been with you the longest. The things that are worn shiny by handling. The things you would miss sorely if they weren’t there. You probably grumbled when you bought them, but today you couldn’t imagine going shooting without them. They aren’t the experience by themselves, but they make the experience possible.


Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Walther 1250 Dominator
Walther 1250 Dominator.

Today, we’ll test the Walther 1250 Dominator at 50 yards. I had to go out to the rifle range for this test, and we’ve been having some winds lately, so it took some time before I got a calm day. But this day was perfectly calm — I couldn’t have asked for a better day to shoot an air rifle at long range.

As you recall, the Dominator takes a 300-bar fill, which is 4,350 psi. I had to delay the test to get my carbon fiber tank refilled, and even then I didn’t have enough air for a full fill. When you fill a tank, it gets warm; and when it cools back down, you lose several hundred psi. I was able to fill to about 4,100 psi this time, but that single fill was enough air to last for the entire test, which was about 50 shots. And the needle in the pressure gauge is still in the green, which means there are more full-power shots remaining in the rifle.

I normally shoot from one of two mechanical rifle rests when I’m at this range, but for this test I decided to use my long sandbag, instead. The rifle lays in the crease on top of the bag and doesn’t move. There’s also more flexibility to reposition the rifle when required. Since this is a repeater that has to be reloaded, this flexibility was a good.

Since the circular clip holds 8 pellets, I decided to shoot 8-shot groups. It’s too much trouble to load just two pellets by themselves. So, all the groups seen today are 8-shots.

RWS Superdomes
The first pellet was the venerable RWS Superdome. They landed close enough to the bull that I didn’t bother to adjust the scope. Eight pellets made a group that measures 2.017 inches between centers. The pellets spread out horizontally, but there was no wind whatsoever. I don’t think this pellet is suited to the rifle.

Walther 1250 Dominator RWS Superdome group
Ten RWS Superdomes went into 2.017 inches at 50 yards.

Following this, I adjusted the scope up and to the left just a little to compensate for where the Superdomes had landed. Then, I shot a group of JSB Exact Heavy pellets.

JSB Exact Heavy
I expected the JSB Exact Heavy dome pellet to give good groups, and it did — sort of. Seven of the 8 pellets landed in a group that measures 0.753 inches between centers. But 1 shot landed apart from the group, opening it up to 1.933 inches. This shot was somewhere in the middle of the string of 8. It wasn’t the first or last shot, and there was no called flier. It’s just somewhere in the string.

When something like this happens, I’m tempted to believe that it was caused by a defective pellet or by something just as obviously wrong. I think the JSB Exact Heavy is a good pellet for this rifle.

Walther 1250 Dominator JSB Exact Heavy group
Seven JSB Exact Heavies went into 0.753 inches, but an unexplained lone shot strayed higher to increase the group size to 1.933 inches.

Beeman Devastator
I probably shouldn’t have tried Beeman Devastators because they’re essentially wadcutters in profile, and wadcutters don’t do well at long distances. But I did try them, and they strung vertically into a group that measures 3.067 inches. Obviously, they’re a non-starter for this rifle at 50 yards.

Walther 1250 Dominator Beeman Devastator group
Eight shots in 3.067 inches. Beeman Devastators were not too good. Sorry for the lines, but the Devastators overlapped another group and I had to mark them both to keep them separated.

JSB Exact RS
Next, I shot a group of JSB Exact RS domes. As light as they are, I wouldn’t normally recommend them for a precharged rifle of the Dominator’s power but had them along, so why not? Eight went into 0.945 inches, so I’m glad I tried them. This was the smallest group of the test. I do want to emphasize that the day was calm, because these light pellets do get blown around a lot.

Walther 1250 Dominator JSB Exact RS group
Eight shots in 0.945 inches. JSB Exact RS pellets were the best of the test.

Crosman Premier 10.5-grain
Next up were the heavy Crosman Premier 10.5-grain pellets. I expected them to do well in this rifle, and they didn’t disappoint. Eight went into a group measuring 1.19 inches between centers. While that number sounds a little large, look at the group it represents. It’s a little vertical, but it’s not a bad group.

Walther 1250 Dominator Crosman Premier Heavy group
Eight shots in 1.19 inches. Crosman Premier heavies were in the running.

Crosman Premier 7.9-grain
The last group I shot was with the 7.9-grain Crosman Premier lite. Eight of them made a group measuring 1.371 inches. That’s a little large when there are other pellets that are better, but it’s not a bad showing for 8 shots at 50 yards

Walther 1250 Dominator Crosman Premier Lite group
Eight shots went into 1.371 inches. Given the other good pellets, Premier lites are probably not the pellet of choice, but this isn’t bad.

The bottom line
I was glad to finally have the chance to test the Walther 1250 Dominator. It was a good rifle, overall, but I took exception to removing the air tank to fill it, the high fill pressure and the discharge noise.

However, out at the range, the rifle was much quieter — far quieter than a rimfire. Also, the trigger that I complained about when shooting indoors was actually no problem outside. I don’t know what the difference was, except that it was a different day and I saw things differently. I must say, there are a lot of very powerful shots in the tank once you get it up to pressure.

I did get used to fiddling with the bolt handle, and the rifle fed without a problem during this test. Installing the rotary clip is easier than on most other PCP rifles.

I would have to say that the 1250 Dominator is a fine precharged air rifle, but it runs into a lot of stiff competition. Buyers will get it because they like the overall styling, the all-weather materials it is made from and the high shot count.


Walther 1250 Dominator PCP air rifle: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

Walther 1250 Dominator
Walther 1250 Dominator

Let’s look at the Walther 1250 Dominator accuracy at 25 yards. In deference to the 8-shot clip, I’m shooting 8-shot groups rather than 10. The way this rifle loads, with the clip almost disappearing in the receiver, it’s too difficult to keep track of those 2 extra shots.

It’s loud!
I’ll be honest — I stalled testing this gun in the house because of the noise. It’s one of the loudest airguns I’ve ever shot indoors.

Air use
I said last time that I would give you a shot count once I filled the rifle to 4,350 psi (300 bar). Well, that didn’t happen. I filled it as far as my freshly filled carbon fiber tank would go, but that was only to 4,200 psi on the tank’s gauge, which seems pretty accurate. The rifle’s gauge showed a lower fill pressure, but I chalk that up to small pressure gauges never agreeing.

I didn’t get a complete shot count. I did, however, fire about 40 shots in the test and still had air remaining for at least another 15. If you can get the gun completely filled, there have to be at least 55 full-power shots available. Probably more, but at least 55.

Scope
I mounted an AirForce Airguns 4-16X50 scope on the rifle in a BKL 1-piece cantilever mount. The scope was low over the receiver, even though the BKL mount is a high one; but because the circular clip is entirely contained within the receiver, there was no interference.

Shooting
I shot from a sandbag rest at 25 yards off an MTM Case-Gard Predator shooting table. In a moment that will become important to know.

I sighted the rifle in and started shooting with the H&N Baracuda Match pellet. It was accurate enough, but I felt the rifle could do better. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.597 inches between centers.

Walther 1250 Dominator H&N Baracuda Match group
This group of 8 H&N Baracuda Match pellets measures 0.597 inches between centers. Not bad for 8 shots at 25 yards.

The Baracuda Match pellets didn’t give me what I wanted, so I switched to 10.34-grain JSB Exact Heavy domes. They started out doing better than the Baracudas and produced a 0.522-inch 8-shot group. But two pellets strayed from the main group. I called the one that went to the left, but not the other one that went high. So, as good as this pellet is, it isn’t the best pellet in this rifle.

Walther 1250 Dominator JSB Exact Heavy group
Eight JSB Exact Heavys made this 0.522-inch group. The pellet on the left is a called shot, but the one that’s up in the black was not called.

Then, I tried RWS Superdomes — a pellet that many of you favor over just about all others in .177 caliber. And this is where I had an epiphany with this rifle. The first 8-shot group measured 0.461 inches, but it was full of wild shots that went off when I wasn’t on target. That was both the fault of the trigger and the rifle’s light weight. I’ll address it in a moment. But this target told me that this rifle could shoot much better if I really tried.

Walther 1250 Dominator RWS Superdome group 1
Eight RWS Superdomes went into 0.461 inches at 25 yards. It looks good, but there are several wild shots in this group. I knew the rifle could do better.

The Walther 1250 Dominator is a very light rifle, and the trigger isn’t that light. As a result, the gun moves more than a little as the trigger is squeezed. This can be overcome by paying extreme attention to detail on each shot, but it’s something I normally don’t need to do when shooting an accurate PCP.

That’s why I mentioned the shooting table and sandbag rest. Normally, such things are an absolute lock for the guns, but this time the rifle is so light that it still moves around too much. You’re only going to solve that with technique.

The next group was shot with as much concentration as if I were using the artillery hold. And the payoff is a 0.404-inch 8-shot group. That represents the best I can do with this rifle and pellet at 25 yards.

Walther 1250 Dominator RWS Superdome group 2
Eight RWS Superdomes went into 0.404 inches at 25 yards. Every shot was perfect on this one.

Sticky bolt
The bolt is hard to cock and sticks when pushing it forward to load the pellet. It isn’t much of a hinderance, but you do notice it. I did discover that if the bolt is worked fast and with authority, it does become smooth. So, the rifle likes to be treated like an SMLE.

Opinions thus far
I found things to criticize on the Walther Dominator 1250. No. 1 is the need to fill it to 300 bar. That’s just too much pressure, and it uses all the air I can get. The rifle is very loud, and I’m no longer used to pneumatic air rifles being so loud. The trigger is too heavy and long, and the rifle needs to weigh at least 2.50-3.00 more lbs. to be stable. However, all that pales when we look at the accuracy.

This is an accurate air rifle — make no mistake. Today’s test was at 25 yards, so it’ll be very interesting to see what happens when we move to 50 yards.


Best products tested in 2011

by B.B. Pelletier

Happy New year! I thought I’d review the best products I got to test last year. Some will be new, but others have been around a long time — I just got around to testing them.

Benjamin Marauder pistol
Back in January, when I was pouting about missing the SHOT Show, I had the opportunity to test the Benjamin Marauder PCP pistol. Actually, the test began in 2010 and extended into 2011, but it was such a good test that the pistol has to make it into this report.


Benjamin’s Marauder pistol, known as the “M-rod,” is a winner!

I even did an extra accuracy test because for the first one I mounted an old Leapers 6×32 scope that didn’t seem to give the pistol a chance to perform up to its capability. When I substituted a CenterPoint 3-12x44AO compact scope in the last test, the pistol showed what it can do.

The Marauder pistol is a .22 caliber with all the accuracy you could hope for. The power is great for this size airgun, and I strongly recommend attaching the standard shoulder stock extension that comes with the gun.

Beretta 92FS
The next great product of 2011 was the Beretta model 92FS air pistol with wood grips. I completed the test on this one in March. I was so impressed that I thought for a long time that Edith and I needed to get the firearm to go with it. In the end, we returned it because you just can’t keep them all; but while I had it, I thought it was a wonderful air pistol.

Hawke Sport Optics 4.5-14x42AO Tactical Sidewinder rifle scope
This one is not an airgun, but I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the finest rifle scope I’ve ever tested — the Hawke Sport Optics 4.5-14x42AO Tactical Sidewinder rifle scope. I’ve owned several Leupolds and looked through other premium scopes, but this Hawke has them all beat.

What’s so good about this scope? The clarity. It’s even clearer than my Unertl 6x that used to be a standard for target shooters. At 14x, it’s clearer than other scopes are at 32x. You have to see it to understand how that could be possible, but it is.

It’s very costly, though with the clarity it surpasses others of greater price. It’s the best I’ve ever seen.

Crosman Silhouette pistol
The Crosman Silhouette PCP air pistol is another pistol that made my list. I’d tested it the year before, but this one had some improvements, the most notable of which was the trigger.

The power is great, in the high 400s with medium-weight .177 pellets, but the number of shots on a fill reached 75, which is even more phenomenal. Crosman really did their homework on this pistol — refusing to let it alone after the initial offering. The result is that they launched an even better model in 2011 that will have airgunners talking for a long time.


Looking very Western, the Walther Lever Action rifle was one of the best airguns from 2011.

Walther Lever Action rifle
Walther already had a good lever-action air rifle, but last year they modernized it to accept the 88-gram CO2 cartridges, and the new Walther Lever Action Rifle is even better than before! I liked it so much that I did a special 4-part review on the gun and showed you accuracy you didn’t expect to see from this kind of airgun.

This rifle is pricy, but you get what you pay for. It’s slick, accurate and reliable. If you want a good lever-action pellet rifle it’s the only game in town. (My test featured the nickel version, but Pyramyd Air no longer sells it…but the blued version is still available.)


Crosman’s new M4-177 multi-pump rocks!

Crosman M4-177 air rifle
I would be remiss if I didn’t rave about the new Crosman M4-177 multi-pump air rifle. I liked mine so much I bought it! Does that tell you anything?

The gun is realistic, accurate and well-made. I bought one of the early guns that were mismarked, but Crosman begins shipping guns with the correct marking this month. I don’t know if Pyramyd Air has any of the mismarked ones left. However, don’t let that stop you — this is an airgun we can all enjoy.

MTM Predator Shooting table and Predator shooting rest
I use both the MTM Predator shooting table and the Predator shooting rest for almost all of my tests, if that tells you anything. But they’ve just been added to the Pyramyd Air product list and are now available to all of you. So, I included them in the 2011 list, even though I’ve had mine for several years. Both products let you make a firing line wherever you are, and that’s a necessity for someone who shoots a lot. I take mine to the rifle range and use the table in preference to the concrete tables on the range.

Dan Wesson BB revolver
We ended the year on a high note with the Dan Wesson BB revolver. When I reported on this novel new revolver, I said I was impressed by the realism they packed into the design. Twenty years ago, you just couldn’t get this level of realism in an airgun.

The one thing I failed to note in my report is the quirky way the safety works. Of course, a safety on a revolver is about as common as a unicorn horn; but if you have one, it ought to work right. This one doesn’t. You can put it on when the hammer is down and the action will be locked; but if the hammer is cocked, the safety does nothing at all. That’s dangerous, because there are new shooters who haven’t been properly trained and will test every safety in an unsafe way. This one will fire if they do.

Still, the gun is powerful, gets lots of shots and is quite accurate for a BB pistol. It’s also all metal. I don’t know what more you could ask for.

Summary
I reviewed many other airguns in 2011, including a host of vintage models that I won’t report in this list. These are the ones that stood out and caught my interest. You may have others, and now it’s your turn to comment.


2011 Christmas gift ideas

by B.B. Pelletier

This is a report I do every year to help wives and friends of airgunners with gift suggestions. There have been a lot of exciting new guns this year, and I’ll mention the ones I would pick, as well as a couple classics.

Dan Wesson revolver
One of the hottest, most desirable new guns is the Dan Wesson revolver. I’ve reported on the one that has an 8-inch barrel, but there are also revolvers with 6-inch, 4-inch and 2.5-inch barrels. These guns have the same mechanism and operate the same, but there are finish and slight design differences. Also, the shorter the barrel, the slower the velocity. They’re all priced the same, so ask your airgunner what he or she likes best and go for it. I haven’t seen a BB revolver this nice — ever! Be sure to also buy lots of CO2 cartridges and Daisy zinc-plated BBs so the fun will last. If your shooter doesn’t have a BB trap (a metal pellet trap will NOT work safely), get the Crosman 850/852 BB/pellet trap.

Crosman M4-177 multi-pump rifle
This is another new airgun that’s been a real doorbuster at Pyramyd Air this year. Crosman’s M4-177 multi-pump pneumatic rifle is based on their classic model 760 Pumpmaster; but unlike that gun, this one features a rifled barrel. When I tested it a week ago, it was surprisingly accurate with lead pellets. It’s also good with steel BBs, but BBs are never as accurate as pellets. Like the Dan Wesson revolvers, the M4 is selling fast, so order soon to ensure you get one in time for the holidays. Keep in mind that the gun you’ll get will be marked M417, which was the original name. Beginning in January, Crosman will start shipping guns marked M4-177, making the M417-marked guns collector items.

Beeman P17 pistol
The Beeman P17 pistol is a classic! It’s a Chinese copy of the German-made Beeman P3 pistol, but in all our testing, this one has proven to be just as accurate and powerful. The price is incredible for what you get. I’ve owned two and find them stunning in performance. If your airgunner is a target shooter or just likes to plink in the yard, here’s a gun for under $40 that will thrill everyone who shoots it.

Air Venturi Bronco
The three guns listed so far are ideal for use in the house, as long as there’s a safe range. They’re relatively quiet, and their power is suited to target shooting at close range. There’s one more pellet rifle to add to this list, and that’s the Bronco from Air Venturi. It’s super-accurate, quiet, easy to cock and built for older youth and adults, alike. The straight comb of the Western-style stock makes sighting with the open sights a breeze because the rifle comes up so naturally. The Bronco is one of those “heirloom” airguns that your kids will hand down to their grandchildren in time, yet it’s surprisingly affordable. There isn’t a spring-piston air rifle at twice the price that’s as nice.

Non-airgun stuff that most airgunners need
If you really want to surprise your airgunner, give something unexpected. Most of us begrudge buying airgun accessories, yet we tend to use them for decades once we have them. By giving them as gifts, you overcome the shooter’s reluctance to treat himself to something he probably really needs.

Shooting bench
All airgunners need a table, or what we call a bench, to support our rifles when we sight in. Most of us shoot off a bench more than any other way, and for those shooters this item is ideal. The MTM Case-Gard Predator shooting table is lightweight, sturdy and highly portable so your shooter can use it wherever he shoots. Indoors and out, this is a very handy accessory for the shooter who’s hard to satisfy.

Rifle rest
The MTM Case Gard Predator rifle rest is one of the better deals in the non-airgun category. It’s priced for just a fraction of what rifle rests normally cost, yet I have found it works better than many rests costing $200 and up. It’s lightweight, highly portable, adjustable and easy to set up. The one thing it does not do is absorb recoil. If your shooter needs something to do that, this isn’t the rest to buy. But for all other rifle rest jobs, this is a good one.

Pellet trap
Here’s an item that airgunners won’t usually buy for themselves, yet they all need one! It’s a pellet trap. There are many grades of pellet traps; but if you just want one trap that does it all, get this Champion heavy-duty metal trap. It’ll stop bullets from rimfire rifles that are far more powerful than the most powerful smallbore air rifle, so there’s absolutely no worries if your shooter uses a trap like this. I’ve shot through several lesser traps in my career, but my heavy duty metal trap has taken over a quarter million hits and still works like new. It was some of the best money I ever spent.

Stocking stuffers
We always need those gifts that cost very little but mean a lot, and with airguns there are plenty of them. I’m not going to recommend pellets, because they need to be ordered by caliber, and it matters greatly from gun to gun what you use. So, pellets are best left to the airgunner to pick.

Targets
Can’t have too many targets. We need them for both rifles and pistols. There are different sizes for each because of accuracy and aiming issues. For air rifles, I like the Champion 12-bull air rifle target. They come in a pack of 100, but I cut them up with scissors and get many times the number of targets from a pack. For air pistols, I like the National Target single-bull air pistol target. I buy several packs of 100 at a time, because this is one of the most useful targets I have. I can also use them for air rifles out to 100 yards.

I also like the novel Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets that turn from black to green when hit. They are fun at close range for testing action pistols and at long range, where they show the hits more vividly than any other kind of target. They’re pricier than other kinds of targets but are excellent for rewarding yourself when you want to have extra fun at the range.

Other stuff
I like the Walther CSL50 rechargeable flashlight. It’s main value is that it lives in your car’s cigarette lighter, where it charges when the car is running (and doesn’t when your car is off) and is always there to grab. It’s bright enough for any task and probably the first thing you’ll reach for on that dark and stormy night when things go bad. You don’t even have to be an airgunner to want this one!

If you want a conventional tactical flashlight, try the Walther flashlight. It puts out 60 lumens of light, which is borderline for night defense, but it will turn night into day for anything you need. You can also inspect guns with this light. I even use one of similar brightness for “painting” my photos with light. It runs on 2 CR123A batteries and lasts a long time if used sparingly. I get about a year’s use from a set of batteries in mine. Again, this is a gift you can enjoy even if you’re not an airgunner.

I shouldn’t do this, but I also recommend the Walther black tactical folder. I like knives. Although this isn’t exactly my classic style, I got it because I couldn’t say no. It’s the coolest looking folding knife I own — and as a collector, I own quite a few folders. It just feels good and substantial in your hand; and if your airgunner likes knives, I think this one will please him or her.

Well, that’s my list for this year. Of course, there’s a lot more, but these are the things I think are universal enough to please even the most jaded airgunner. If you don’t have other ideas, this will give you a place to start.


How I shoot

by B.B. Pelletier

Several of you have asked to see how I shoot; and with Christmas coming soon, I thought it was time to show you. There are several things I use that you may want to see under your tree this year. If you don’t celebrate Christmas, they’re still valid things for every shooter’s wish list.

MTM portable shooting bench
Edith and I campaigned to get Pyramyd Air to carry the MTM shooting table, because several readers said they would like to own one. It’s inexpensive and light (14 lbs., 9 oz.) and most of all — portable! I have different shooting ranges in many places, including a couple right here in the house. No matter where I go, indoors or out, this bench is what I use. Even at my rifle range, where the benches are made of concrete and are completely immobile, I choose to use this one and I’ll tell you why: Because I can put it anywhere I want!

Is it a bench or a table? Well, in shooting terminology, it’s always called a shooting bench, even though you don’t sit on it. But MTM chose to call theirs a table, so that’s what I will call it from this point on.


The MTM shooting table when it’s collapsed. It’s a small 14 lb., 9 oz. package that fits flat in the bed of a pickup truck, or stands on the floor of the rear passenger compartment of a mid-sized sedan.


The legs unfold in seconds and the table stands ready to shoot. With this table, you can make a range anywhere — indoors or out.

As long as I have this table, I can make use of almost any space as a range when I want to. If I show up at my club and find all the benches taken, I set this one up on one side of the line and, presto — there’s room for one more.

The table is very light, and the legs fold flat underneath the top for transportation. I did have to tighten all the nuts that hold the hardware together, but I probably set up this table about five times a week and have been doing so for going on two years, so a little maintenance is normal.

I don’t just use the table for benchrest shooting. When I want to shoot pistols it serves as a handy table for guns, ammo and any accessories I need.

If you want something to criticize, the table is a little wobbly. It isn’t steady enough to hold a spotting scope; but when I’m in position behind a rifle, I push against it and nothing moves. Also, I have to slant the table to the left to fit behind it, where a good shooting bench has a top designed with a cutout at the back to allow you to sit next to it. This one won’t support your weight sitting on it, so consider that before ordering. But the good points far outweigh the bad, and this is one of the essential pieces of equipment in my shooting kit.

I’ve had several shooters ask me where they could get a table like this, because at the range you have to use what they have. On our 100-yard range, the benches are all oriented wrong, because the 100-yard berm is angled off to the left and the benches were installed for the 200-yard range. Since most of them are cemented in place, the shooters can’t do much about it, but I can. And now anyone can, because Pyramyd Air now carries this shooting table.

MTM Predator shooting rest
Several of you spotted the MTM Predator shooting rest in my older reports and asked me about it. The truth is that I was ambivalent about this rest until I tried two more expensive ones, including a Caldwell Lead Sled. This one does everything they do except retard the movement of the rifle. If you need a rest to absorb recoil, this isn’t the one to choose; but if all you need is something to hold the rifle in place as you shoot, I can’t think of anything better. All the super-tight groups you’ve seen me shoot were shot from this rest or off a sandbag.


The MTM Predator shooting rest works for both rifles and pistols. It’s lightweight and quick to set up and adjust. Here it’s shown with the tail piece collapsed.


And here the tail piece is extended. It extends in seconds to accommodate rifles and carbines of different lengths. Or remove it altogether and the rest is for pistols.


A Savage 1920 bolt-action rifle lays in the rest. As you see, the butt is free to move and must be held against your shoulder. Slide the gun forward and back to lower or raise the sights on the target.

Some rifle rests hold the rifle entirely, with the butt held in a socket that takes all the recoil. I’ve used these rests and don’t care for them, because they push me to the side and make sighting more difficult. That’s probably why I like this MTM rest so much. With this rest, the butt of the rifle rests against your shoulder and you absorb all the recoil. And you have more control over the rifle.

Also, most high-end rifle rests have some lateral movement adjustment built in, so you can move the gun from side to side. The MTM rest doesn’t have this. If you need to move to the side, you simply slide the rest on the shooting bench. It’s so lightweight that it’s no problem to move — even when there’s a rifle on it.

If you’ve never used a rifle rest before, the main feature you’ll like is the elevation adjustment. Turning the adjustment wheel allows the rest to move either up or down in very small increments that equate to about one-thousandth of an inch. Combine the adjustment wheel with moving the rifle fore and aft, and you have very fine control over the elevation. And it’s repeatable! Shot after shot will be targeted on the same aim point once the rest is properly adjusted.


Turn the thumbwheel for vertical adjustment. The weight of the rifle will cause it to lower as you turn. The black thumbscrew is to lock the elevation adjustment.

New airgunners take note
A word to the new airgunners is required. If you shoot spring-piston airguns, you cannot shoot directly off a rest like this one and expect to be accurate. You need to lay the rifle on the flat of your hand and rest the hand on something to support the weight. The Shooter’s Ridge Monkey Bag Gun Rest would be ideal.

A stapler!
Pyramyd Air doesn’t sell these, but I carry one all the time and have worn one out over the past 40 years. You need the stapler to fasten your targets to the backers at the range. If you don’t want to walk an extra 200 yards and anger the other shooters, put extra staples in your pocket the moment you get to the range so you can load the stapler when it runs out — because it always happens when you’re downrange (think about it)! Forget the fancy electric staplers, because they don’t work as well on heavy wood and rubber backers as a manual model. Unless you have arthritis, use a manual stapler.


A stout stapler is a must. Forget the electric ones and just use one like this.

Binoculars
Believe it or not, there are times when a small pair of binoculars comes in very handy at the range. A month ago a buddy of mine bagged a large bobcat on our range because he was able to identify it under the trees while shooting with iron sights. In some countries like Germany, it’s considered extremely bad form to use a scope sight in place of binoculars. Think about it — under that scope there’s a firearm!

Well, that’s about it. These are the essentials I always take to every range. Of course, I carry insect repellant and hand warmers, depending on the season, but these four items are with me all the time. Other than my spotting scope, this is how I shoot.