Posts Tagged ‘Olympic shooting’

The importance of dry-firing

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report was requested by blog reader NotRocketSurgery. He’s been watching the NSSF videos on You Tube about shooting in the Olympics, and the subject of dry-firing comes up repeatedly. He wanted to know why. I’ll address this subject with enthusiasm, because this is something with which I actually have some experience.

Have you ever watched the Olympics and seen a slalom racer standing at the top of the course with his or her eyes closed, swaying as they envision running the course? We might have made fun of such behavior in the 1960s, but today we know that’s what all the winners do. They’re conditioning their minds to respond correctly to the course ahead of them.

Dry-firing a gun is like that, but it’s more than a century older. We don’t close our eyes, nor do we sway about, so onlookers don’t have quite as much to comment on. When we shoot our guns without discharging a shot (dry-firing), we’re conditioning our brains and many muscles to work together.

I don’t suppose there’s a machine the downhill skiers can get on to simulate the experience of skiing while standing still, but all world-class target air rifles and air pistols do have a dry-fire mechanism built in. To not have one automatically eliminates the gun from serious consideration.

Top target shooters spend much more time dry-firing their airguns than they do shooting pellets. How much more differs from shooter to shooter, but I’ve heard one Olympic air pistol shooter say the number is five times as much. So, for every shot that makes a hole in paper, the shooter has also fired five more shots without discharging the gun. And it’s very common for a world-class shooter to shoot a full match every day, which would be 60 shots for a man or 40 for a woman. And five times that much dry-firing.

How do you dry-fire a gun?
You don’t just pick up the airgun and start shooting. Practice in the dry-fire mode must be identical to shooting a match, though a target doesn’t have to be in a bullet trap or even the correct distance from the shooter, since it’s all a simulation. I am going to describe this from an air pistol shooter’s perspective, but what I say applies equally to air rifle shooters. The moves are just different.

For those who are interested, I wrote an extensive blog on the subject of shooting a 10-meter target pistol. Part 3 demonstrates raising the pistol and sighting. You do it this way with both live-fire and dry-fire.

When you dry-fire, you first go through all the motions of raising the pistol and settling on the target. That is not a random movement! The gun is held on the shooting table in front of the shooter in a certain and repeatable way, and is raised to the same height each time. Some shooters like to raise the sights above the bull and then settle back down until the sights are aligned with it. Others like to raise the gun until the sights come in line with the bull on the way up and go no higher. Each shooter has a preference; but whatever it is, they always do it the same way.

Once the sights are on target, the shooter has up to about five seconds to get the shot off. Much longer and the gun will start to wander more than a little, so timing is very important. An amateur might hold out for the perfect sight picture for twice as long as a world-class shooter, but you’ll see the top shooters lower their guns if they don’t get the shot off within the time limit.

Many shooters, including me, take up the slack of the trigger’s first-stage pull as the gun is settling into position. To someone who is not trained, this sounds dangerous, and it actually is — because their guns will go off at a time that is not entirely of their choosing. But a top competitor knows exactly where the trigger releases, and they can wait until the sights are perfectly aligned before applying the final few grams of pressure that cause the sear to release.

When the sear releases, the shooter continues to aim at the target, noting where the sights are. With some practice they learn to call their shots — which means they know exactly where each pellet went without seeing the hole it made in the target. This is something you can read about and never understand. As you train, it comes to you all at once. And when that happens, you never forget it. You’ll be able to call your shots from that point on.

After the shooter has called the shot (to himself), the gun is lowered to the shooting table, reloaded and the cycle begins again. There are 90 seconds for every shot in a formal match. It sounds like a rush, but it’s actually more than enough time for a well-trained shooter. You don’t lower the gun without taking a shot more than a handful of times in a match, if that much, so time is never your enemy unless you have an equipment problem. I never thought about the time remaining in a match. What I concentrated on was how many pellets remained in my pellet tray, because that told me where I was in the match.

The dry-fire mechanism
I told you that all world-class airguns have a dry-fire mechanism, but now I’ll tell you that some are better than others. Most of them have some sort of switch that is set one way for live fire and another way for dry fire. The guns that have that usually have a very realistic trigger-pull in the dry-fire mode.

I shoot a SAM M10 that was made through cooperation between Anschütz and Caesare Morini. I’ve never shot a full formal match with it; but back in the late 1990s, I did shoot it for the record several times. That was when I was shooting at my peak, so I noticed things more acutely than I do today. I found the trigger to be very nice, though by that time I’d tested enough FWBs, Steyrs and Walthers to know what a world-class trigger should feel like. The M10 has a good trigger, but it’s not as nice as an FWB P34 trigger, which was the last FWB target pistol I tested.

The dry-fire mechanism on the SAM 10 is a lever on the right side of the action. Pull is straight back and the trigger is cocked, but the hammer isn’t. When you pull the trigger, it releases the sear without releasing the hammer to strike the firing valve — hence the dry-fire. Those who own a gun with double-set triggers know the feeling of the set trigger breaking is not the same as the feeling of the gun actually firing. With an airgun, which doesn’t recoil or make a lot of noise when it fires, this feeling is much more noticeable.


On the SAM 10 target pistol, the dry-fire lever at the top of the receiver is pulled back each time to cock the trigger. You can feel the sear release when the trigger is pulled; but since the hammer was not cocked, it doesn’t strike the valve and no air is exhausted.

As nice as the M10 trigger is, the dry-fire device isn’t as nice as the FWB or Steyr dry-fire devices. Both of those guns feel as though the hammer is dropped when they fire in the dry-fire mode.

Other 10-meter guns have to resort to a gimmick of some kind to get into the dry-fire mode. The IZH 46M, for example, requires the shooter to actually cock the trigger by pulling the breech up, then locking it back down. By omitting the pump stroke, there’s no compressed air in the gun. When it fires, there’s nothing to release. The effect is the same, but a little more work is needed for each dry-fire shot.

Other guns require the shooter to unscrew the compressed-air tank part way. They can be cocked and fired and the hammer will fall, but there’s no air in the firing valve because the compressed-air reservoir has been disconnected.

What benefit does dry-firing provide?
Hold on to your hats, apartment dwellers! Dry-firing allows you to train in a tiny apartment without making any noise or having to stop any lead pellets. Do people really do that? You bet they do! Dry-firing can get you ready for a match just as well as shooting live ammo. It’s probably good to shoot a few pellets from time to time; but if you can’t, there will be at least a chance to shoot them when you sight-in before the match.

Another benefit of the dry-fire mechanism is that the trigger can be cocked for testing before a match without firing the gun. The trigger on every air pistol must pass a minimum 500-gram weight test before it can be permitted in a match.

But the biggest benefit of dry-firing is the practice it affords. When you do the same thing thousands of times in repetition, your muscles and nervous system become synchronized to a degree you must experience to understand. That’s why competitive shooters can release the sear at the exact instant they desire.

Follow-through is the name of the game
You’ve read the phrase “follow-through” many times. What does it mean, and why do we talk about it so much? Follow-through is when the shooter continues to watch the target through the sights after the shot’s been fired. If the gun is gentle enough, like an airgun or a rimfire, then follow-through lets the shooter see where the sights were in relation to the target at the instant of firing.

Follow-through is at the root of dry-firing. We dry-fire to train ourselves to follow-through; and it’s follow-through — and all that it entails — that makes a better shooter. Dry-firing the gun many times is what reinforces follow-through in a shooter.

From the greatest to the least

by B.B. Pelletier

I was in Wal-Mart the other day and a guy was looking at the airguns, so I struck up a conversation. He was looking at a Crosman M4-177 for eliminating pest birds; and when I tried to steer him toward a more powerful breakbarrel in .22 caliber, he had a fit over the price. Apparently $145 is the Rolls Royce of airguns for him!

So, today I thought I’d reflect a bit on the cost of things — some expensive and some cheap, but all very good. We have a growing contingent of firearms shooters who have found this blog and I’m doing this for them.

The most expensive?
Well, let’s be realistic. There’s only one air rifle that was carried by Lewis & Clark,  and Dr. Beeman has donated it to the U.S. Army War College museum. It’s value is well over a million dollars; but since there’s only one, it doesn’t really count in today’s discussion.

I’m also not talking about the collectible airguns that are available in greater numbers. A complete Plymouth Iron Windmill BB gun, the predecessor to the Daisy line, has commanded as much as $10,000. But second model Daisys are even rarer, because they were so prone to break. I’ve seen one change hands for $16,000, and that was close to a decade ago. But, for today, I want to talk about guns that are generally available.

Whiscombes
When Edith and I bought our JW75 with four barrels and the Harmonic Optimized Tuning System (HOTS) on each of them, the cost was $2,100. That was in 1996. The cost did increase after that; but when John Whiscombe stopped making his rifle several years ago, the price took off like a rocket. Today, it’s hard to find a single-barrel Whiscombe rifle with no frills for under $3,000, and full sets like ours will certainly bring a lot more.


You can’t buy a new Whiscombe rifle anymore, so used rifles command top dollar.

So, are Whiscombes the most expensive air rifles? Hardly. There are all sorts of custom airgun makers around the world who offer almost whatever the traffic will bear. I’ve seen single rifles in Europe priced at over $8,000, and that was five years ago. Who knows where it all ends? The point is, air rifles can cost a bundle if that’s what you’re looking for.

Back to earth, some of the more expensive production air rifles today are made by the target rifle companies, where top models retail for nearly $3,000. And they’re built for a specific purpose — not for general shooting. The FWB 700 Alu, for example, is a very expensive air rifle that cannot be used for most popular airgun pursuits like hunting and plinking. But for punching holes in paper, it’s one of the best. The same can be said for top target rifles from Steyr, Walther, Anschütz and a couple others.


The FWB 700 Alu looks like an expensive air rifle!

For the sport of field target, it’s difficult to top the Air Arms EV2 precharged competition rifle. It has won and placed at the world level many times in recent years and is one of those rifles shooters tend to covet.


The Air Arms EV2 has won its share of top honors in field target.

In sporting rifles, Daystate and FX Airguns are among the most expensive brands. And now their top models are around $2,000 or less. Fifteen years ago, the number of makers of these rifles was much greater, but many brands have left the market.

Do you have to spend so much?
Of course you don’t! There are plenty of fine air rifles that cost considerably less than those mentioned and still deliver a boatload of options and value. But that isn’t today’s topic. We’re looking at the most expensive and the least expensive.

How low can you go?
Speaking of the least expensive, what can you get for very little money? How about a Beeman P17 pistol? For under $50, Pyramyd Air will sell you an air pistol that’s so accurate you cannot outshoot it — I don’t care who you are. This is a pistol that you can learn on and use to take your handgun shooting to the next level. For the life of me, I cannot fathom why Beeman doesn’t triple the price and bring this out as a pseudo-10-meter target pistol! All the foundation is there. Gamo did the same thing with their Compact pistol, and this one costs one-fifth as much! They could easily add target grips and sights and have a wonderful, inexpensive target pistol, but I guess they just don’t see the potential.


For the money, you can’t buy a better air pistol than the Beeman P17.

I wish I had an air rifle to list for under $100. They exist, but none of them are what I would call really exemplary. But the Air Venturi Bronco is the finest low-cost air rifle I know of. It has accuracy equal to or better than a Beeman R7, a great trigger, nice size and is generally a fine rifle for older youth and adults.


Air Venturi’s Bronco is the air rifle to beat on the low end of the price spectrum.

The bottom line
And now you’ve guessed my agenda with this report. It wasn’t just about the most expensive and the least expensive. The guns I listed are also among the best of their types in the world. Sure, I could compare the Benjamin Marauder to some of the expensive PCPs and make a case for it being just as good functionally, but that wasn’t what this report was about. It was to define the limits of cost in our hobby for all the new readers who come over from the world of firearms.

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.

The Walther LGV Olympia – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


The Walther LGV Olympia is a beautiful breakbarrel spring-piston target rifle from the 1960s.

Wow! It’s been two-and-a-half months since I did the last report on this rifle. A lot has happened since then, plus I had to wait until I was strong enough to lift the heavy rifle. Cocking it was easy, because the barrel breaks with just 15 lbs. of effort, but I was under a 10-lb. weight restriction after my last operation. I didn’t want to break apart in the middle, so I waited!

We learned in part 2 that this particular rifle is on the zippy side for an LGV following a recent tuneup (sorry, twotalon). It still has just a hint of twang when it fires, though compared to most breakbarrels it seems extra smooth.

The stippled pistol grip fits my hands very well. It’s a pleasure to grasp when shooting. However, being a rifle made primarily for offhand work, the Olympia doesn’t fit especially well when you shoot it off a bench. The trigger is a Goldilocks baby bear special, in that it feels just right. Though it releases at 12 oz., it feels like less to me. Not too light, not too heavy.

Remember how I gushed over the rifle in part 1? Well, gush, gush, gush all over again. One of the drawbacks of being an airgun writer is I often don’t have any time to play with the real beauties. Awww. Poor me! But, this rifle is so sweet that it really deserves to be shot way more than I have time for. [Let the offers to relieve me of this terrible burden commence.]

In Part 1, I mentioned that this was my steadiest target rifle, which it was at the time. But, as I also mentioned, Mac did bring an HW55 CM to show me when he came out to Texas in November, and I managed to get it away from him. So, that’ll be another vintage 10-meter rifle I cover some time in the future. Because of it, I now cannot say the LGV is the steadiest in my closet. But it is steady.

I also shot the TF79 Competition rifle at 10 meters on the same day as the LGV. While the TF79 remains on target through the shot, the LGV does not. It moves just enough that you lose the target in the front aperture every time the shot is fired.

The test
Because the Olympia is a 10-meter rifle, I tested it as such. I shot 5 pellets at each 10-meter rifle target, and with one exception I will tell you about in a moment, I shot only wadcutters. The rifle was rested using the artillery hold. I initially sighted-in the rifle with RWS Hobby pellets. Once the shots were landing in the 10-ring I didn’t adjust the sights again. So, the Hobbys are sighted-in and all the other pellets land close, but no attempt was made to get the highest score for any of them. We’re just looking at the size and shape of each group.

Speaking of the sights, I should mention that each click of the adjustment knobs in either plane (up/down or left/right) moves the strike of the pellet very little. I guess that’s what you need for the best precision in a target rifle; but when you have to move 40 clicks to move the pellet a half-inch on target, it seems excessive. And, the clicks are extremely well-defined. There’s no mistaking when the sight has moved.

RWS Hobbys
Let’s see what this beauty can do! The first target, which was fired right after sight-in, was shot with RWS Hobby pellets. While Hobbys are not premium target pellets by anyone’s definition, they often deliver startling performance, especially at lower velocities.


RWS Hobby pellets were used to sight-in the rifle. They produced this 5-shot group at 10 meters. It measures 0.218 inches between centers. Not bad!

H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets
Next, I tried H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. These would be more appropriate for air pistols because of their lighter weight of just 7.56 grains. As you can see very clearly, they didn’t group as well as Hobbys. And make no mistake, there were no called fliers. Every shot was calculated to be the best I could make it. These pellets have a head size of 4.50mm.


H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets are not right for the Walther LGV — at least not this one. The group measures 0.315 inches between centers.

RWS R10 Match heavies
Then, I tried the pellet that might be considered the best overall for this rifle. It’s certainly one of the two pellets I would spend more time testing. The RWS R10 Match heavy pellet weighs 8.2 grains and is meant for use in target air rifles. This pellet has a head size of 4.50mm.


The RWS R10 Match heavy pellet turned in the best group of the test. Five pellets went into this group that measures 0.143 inches between centers.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
After the R10 Match heavies, I tried the R10 Match Pistol pellet that weighs only 7 grains. The difference between it and the heavy R10 was like night and day. The head size is not indicated on the tin.


The lightweight R10 Match Pistol pellet produced a group measuring 0.281 inches between centers. It was close to the worst performance of the test and is also a very good illustration of just how much performance can vary with different pellets in the same gun. Compare this group to the one made by the R10 heavies.

Vogel pellets
Next, I tried some of Scott Pilkington’s Vogel Match pellets. Scott, who is America’s airgun technician for the U.S. Olympic team, makes these pellets right here in this country. Vogel is a well-recognized, world-class pellet that was made in Germany before Scott took over the reins. These pellets weigh 8.18 grains and have a head size of 4.50mm.


Vogel pellets produced this 5-shot group that measures 0.164 inches between centers. It was the second-best pellet I tested and certainly deserves more testing in this rifle.

Gamo Glow Fire pellets
Finally, I tested a pellet that really doesn’t belong in this report, but it’s one I’ve had on my desk for the past 10 months, awaiting the right moment. One of our readers touted the new Gamo Glow Fire pellets in a comment in early 2010, and his enthusiasm drove me to acquire a tin for testing. My thought was always to test them separately, but my illness intervened, and I reckoned that if I don’t work them in somehow I’ll never test them at all. So, I’ll include them in several accuracy tests in the future to make a comparison on the fly.

The Glow Fire pellet has a luminous, pointed synthetic tip that glows in the dark. I suppose under the right lighting conditions they look like tracers, but I didn’t test for that. At just 10 meters, though, there isn’t enough time to acquire the pellet in flight before it smashes into the pellet trap. But the blog reader who mentioned them was impressed with their accuracy, not their appearance in flight, so I added them to this test knowing that we already had a very accurate rifle to shoot them.


Lo and behold, the Gamo Glow Fire pellets went into this group measuring 0.225 inches at 10 meters! That’s very good performance for a non-target pellet.

I can’t say the Glow Fires are not premium pellets, because Gamo sells just 150 of them for $11. So, from the standpoint of cost, they’re certainly among the costliest pellets around. At that price, 500 would cost you $36.67, which is beyond even the price for the finest R10s in the individual package. From a production view, they’re not as uniform and regular as most of these target pellets.

Of course, 10 meters is not the range at which to determine a pellet’s accuracy for anything other than target pellets. So, I’ll try to test the Glow Fires at longer range next time.

The last word
This has certainly been an interesting journey with the LGV Olympia. As I mentioned in Part 1, I owned one of these a long time ago, but I let it get away. I don’t think I’ll make that same mistake with this one. It’s a delightful shooter, and every time I pick it up a smile breaks out. I think I’m at that age where quality matters more than anything else, and this is one high-quality air rifle!

The Walther LGV Olympia – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


The Walther LGV Olympia is a beautiful breakbarrel spring-piston target rifle from the 1960s.

Today, we’ll look at the velocity of my Walther LGV Olympia target rifle. I told you in Part 1 how serendipity brought me to this rifle and what a find it was. Of course, this one has been tuned, just like they all have by now. Walther was one of those companies that used an improper formulation for its piston seals in the 1960s and ’70s; and as a result, all the original seals have dry-rotted. At the very least, all the guns should have been resealed.

This particular rifle was resealed and was supposed to be shooting on the hot side. Back when it was a new rifle, 650 f.p.s. was considered the right velocity for a 10-meter rifle. Today, it’s more like 550-590 f.p.s. So, this vintage target rifle is faster than a lot of today’s world-class target rifles.

Another legendary feature of the LGV was the low cocking effort. My first LGV cocked with less than 12 lbs. of force. This one requires 15 lbs., which puts it 3 lbs. under an Air Venturi Bronco! If it didn’t weight so much, it would be the ideal kid’s gun. But it does weigh a lot, and so it’s better suited to full-grown adults who are physically able and also know how to apply the proper offhand technique.

Trigger-pull
The trigger on my Olympia is adjusted as a two-stage trigger, and stage two breaks at 12 oz. I suppose I could adjust it even lighter, but I hardly see the need. There’s no overtravel adjustment — after the break, the trigger blade continues to move.


The trigger adjusts for pull weight and length of stages.

JSB S100 pellets
Okay, time to test velocity. The first pellets I tried were JSB S100 target pellets. These have a 4.52mm head and average 591 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 576 to 599, which is pretty large for a rifle of this quality. At 10 meters, though, that much variation would probably not show up on the target. The average muzzle energy for this nominal 8.2-grain pellet is 6.36 foot-pounds. I was surprised to find that the pellets in this tin of “hand-sorted” pellets actually weighed between 8.0 and 8.4 grains. They’re supposed to be hand-sorted by weight, so I’d like to know how that happened!

RWS Hobby pellets
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. At seven grains even, they’re often the fastest lead pellets I can try. In this rifle, they averaged 640 f.p.s. with a spread from 633 to a high of 644 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy is 6.37 foot-pounds.

RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets
The next pellets I tried were RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets that also weigh 7 grains even. They averaged 662 f.p.s. in this rifle and seemed to fit the breech the best of all pellets I tried. The spread went from 654 to 664 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.81 foot-pounds. I couldn’t find a head size on the tin, which is most unusual for top-grade target pellets.

H&N Rifle Match pellets
The last pellet I tested was the H&N Match Rifle pellet in head size 4.50mm. At a stable, consistent weight of 8.2 grains, these pellets averaged 593 f.p.s. in this rifle. The spread went from 585 to 602 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 6.4 foot-pounds.

Firing behavior
The LGV was one of the last target air rifles to use mass to counteract recoil. As I mentioned in Part 1, the barrel has a very heavy steel sleeve around it and there’s also a lead weight in the forearm, so the overall balance is decidedly muzzle-heavy. Consequently, you feel almost no recoil when the gun fires. This particular rifle also fires very smoothly, with almost no vibration. Cocking was equally smooth until halfway through the test, when the rifle developed a scraping feel while being cocked. I found that if I worked the barrel back and forth after the piston was cocked, the scraping could still be felt, so the problem lies in the cocking linkage, not powerplant itself. I guess I’ll have to strip it down and attend to whatever is apparently dry in the cocking linkage.


Looking straight up at the cocking linkage, we see that the LGV Olympia has a two-piece articulated cocking link. That’s why the cocking slot can be so small, and that, in turn, reduces the amount of powerplant vibration.

I get the feeling that this rifle wants to plunk them all into the same hole. We’ll find out when we get to part three.

The Walther LGV Olympia – Part 1

by B.B. Pelletier


The Walther LGV Olympia is a beautiful breakbarrel spring-piston target rifle from the 1960s.

Well, the Roanoke Airgun Expo starts today, so while you read this, Mac and I will be buying, selling and looking at airguns. I will take pictures to show you, of course.

So, there I was, on the morning of October 5, reading my October 4 blog, “A safe strategy for no-loss — mostly gain — airgun collecting — Part 1,” when I came to the embedded link to the Yellow forum classified ads. Since I always check the embedded links in blogs, I clicked through and immediately came upon an ad for a Walther LGV Olympia target rifle in great condition for $425. What? Are they going to be selling Harleys in crates left over from World War II next?

And, then, I noticed that the seller was none other than Tom Strayhorn, one of America’s most well-known collector of Walthers. I knew Tom was a straight shooter, so this ad was apparently no scam despite the 1990s price. Ironically, this ad came to me right as I was lecturing to all of you that a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes along every few months if you look for it.

So, I bought the gun. What else could I do? I had just told you not to miss out on really good prices when they come along, and here was one that just landed square in my lap. Talk about serendipity!

Walther LGV
During the 1960s, spring-piston target air rifles reached their high water mark. There was the Anschutz model 250, the FWB model 300, the Weihrauch HW 55 and, in 1963, the Walther LGV joined the fun. The LGV was the last in a long line of target breakbarrel rifles from Walther that started in the 1950s with the LG 51. Its immediate predecessor, the LG 55, is well-known as a fine European club gun, and the LGV took that one step farther. Although it’s a recoiling spring-piston rifle, the LGV is so smooth and heavy as to be almost recoilless. It was produced until 1972.

There are several different versions of LGVs, and mine is the first model called the Olympia that has rounded corners on the wood. I owned another Olympia LGV years ago that had a matte finish on all the barrel jacket to cut the reflection, but this current one is probably an older model that has all deeply polished metal finished in a deep black oxide. The polish is fully the equal of a Whiscombe or a Colt Python with the royal blue finish.

The forearm contains a lead weight to make the rifle decidedly muzzle-heavy, as target rifles are supposed to be. The rifle weighs 10.5 lbs., or just about one pound more than a 1903 Springfield rifle. It’s very muzzle-heavy, not only from the lead weight in the stock by also from the thick steel jacket that surrounds the barrel.


The heavy steel barrel jacket is held on by a special nut at the muzzle.

Casual observers will spot the barrel latch immediately. Like Weihrauch’s HW 55 target rifle, Walther provided the LGV with a special latch to positively lock the heavy barrel closed. The LGV was the only breakbarrel Walther did this for. The LG 55, which is quite similar in size and power, does not have a barrel latch.


Barrel latch locks the breech like a bank vault.

To compliment the latch, the baseblock has two hardened steel pins, one on each side of the block, that eliminate any possibility of sideways wobble in the barrel. In combination with the barrel latch, they make a vault-like rigid joint when the barrel comes to the closed position. Like the doors on a Mercedes, the barrel closes with the quietest of clicks that mask the ultra-rigid lockup.


Hardened steel bearing pins on either side of the baseblock ensure zero sideways barrel play.

Cocking effort on the LGV Olympia is legendary. It’s one of the few adult models to cock at less than 12 lbs. effort. This rifle has been tuned prior to my receiving it, so it may cock a little harder, but it’s still on the silly side of trivial. I will record it for you when I test the velocity in Part 2.

You’ll notice that the grip is heavily stippled to grab your hand during a match. These rifles were shot from the offhand position only, so all the design features stress that position over all others.


LGV grip is roughly stippled for better purchase.

The curved buttpad is rubber and adjusts both up and down. The trigger is a fine target trigger, although it is of 1960s technology and not the current day. It’s two-stage and breaks at 11 oz. And, of course, it’s adjustable.

The stock is figured walnut (I think) with a reddish-brown finish. It’s very full and robust, yet the forearm has no checkering, stippling or even finger grooves. It seems almost informal compared to the other contemporary target rifles. The Olympia was not intended to shoot in world cup competition. That honor was reserved for the LGV Spezial and the UIT models.

The front and rear sights are target-grade and identical to those found on the LG 55. In the front, a globe accepts standard inserts; in the rear, Walther’s own proprietary aperture target sight prevails. The rear sight rail allows for some adjustment of eye relief, though the rear sight has to lock down in one of the half-round cross slots on top of the receiver.


The LGV uses the same rear aperture sight as the LG 55.

I’m not a target rifle shooter, but I must say that this rifle holds steadier than any other rifle in my collection. Mac is supposed to bring a Weihrauch HW 55 CM for me to see, so I’ll get a chance to compare that to this gun. But of all my target rifles, this one is the steadiest.

In Part 2, I’ll chrono the rifle for you and measure the cocking effort.

Looking back at the FWB C-20 pistol – Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Today, guest blogger Pete Zimmerman gives us his third and final report on the C-20 pistol…performance!

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

Bloggers must be proficient in simple html, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Part 1
Part 2

by Pete Zimmerman

FWB C-20

A C-20 costs well over $1,000 when I got mine, and its descendant, the P44, is close to twice the price today. For that money, you ought to get a gun that out-shoots your own skills but also one that makes it easy to shoot the best you can. Using a top match pistol, the shooter can’t complain that misses are the gun’s fault. The first few targets shot with such a gun provide a crash course in no-excuse humility.

The pistol promises that the pellet will go through the X-ring in the middle of the 10-ring if you deliver the perfect shot. Time after time. Of course, some guns prefer one brand, product line, weight or pellet head diameter better than others. And, some pellets are inconsistent in weight and balance coming out of the tin, so getting to Nirvana, where misses are only the fault of the shooter, may take a little effort.

To point out one thing, the 9 and 10 rings on an NRA or ISSF air pistol target are really quite forgiving. Any decent match pistol using any match pellet should result in a group smaller than the 10 ring from a bench or in the hands of a good marksman. Scott Pilkington, the moderator of the Target Talk forum says that it isn’t worth your time to test. I found out that it is.

For this article, I set up a portable Workmate tool kit and vise combination on top of my shooting table. I opened the vise jaws a bit and anchored the gun by putting the gas tank in the vise grooves. I protected the tank with a bit of old foam rubber. The pistol can still rotates around the long axis of the CO2 tank but can’t move up and down. Small rotations of the gun change the cant angle and the impact point, so I put a small spirit level across the action to check position. I made no attempt to aim the rig to line up the sights on the bull. The point was to shoot groups that hit a piece of target paper…somewhere. I moved the target, not the rig, when I changed the type of pellet.

For test rounds, I had a grab bag of miscellaneous pellets sitting around from three manufacturers: RWS, H&N, and Crosman.

Start with the top performer, and another one not so good:

A 5-round group using RWS R-10 pellets, and another with H&N Match 4.49mm pellets sold under the Pilkington house brand.

The heavy RWS R-10 Rifle pellets (0.53 grams) delivered not only a one-hole 5-shot group, but a near zero-jitter group extraordinarily close to the target sample delivered with the pistol. The hole was small enough that a pellet won’t fall through the hole. It’s almost exactly as good as the proof target that came with the gun. The 4.49mm-diameter H&N Match pellets were significantly worse, resulting in a fairly open one-hole group that looks like a two-hole-with-flier because I bumped the Workmate after the first shot and took 5 more shots at the new aim point. Forget the “flier”; the group is still far too large for this pistol.

Meisterkugeln rifle pellets tested against 4.50mm H&N Match Pellets. Victory to the RWS brand.

The R-10’s less expensive stable mate, the Meisterkugeln Rifle pellet, also delivered a single-hole group, almost as perfect as the R-10s. On the other hand, the Haendler and Nattermann Match pistol pellet with a 4.50mm diameter head resulted in a ragged single-hole group, indicating that the C-20 might just not like H&N ammunition in its barrel. Not shown is a test of R-10 pistol pellets, which were almost as good as the heavier R-10s. In the C-20, heavier is better.

I gave the H&N 4.49s a second try, and then got the day’s surprise when I shot some cheapie Crossman Copperheads.

I decided to give the 4.49mm H&Ns another try. After all, they shoot extremely well from my IZH-46M. No joy. A very ragged single-hole group, with a diameter fully 3x that of a pellet diameter. Then, I noticed in the bottom of my pellet drawer a plastic box with a hundred or so Crosman Copperhead pellets, picked up a year or two ago over a weekend when I was otherwise out of ammunition.

The five shots landed in a single-hole group no larger than 1.5x the diameter of a pellet. I’m impressed and surprised.

I don’t contend that another batch of those cheapie pellets would shoot the same as the few that I tested for this post. But what the heck, it’s a better 5-shot group than either size of H&N pellets delivered.

This round of testing is enough to convince me that with current production pellets, the C-20 likes the RWS brand a lot more than the competition, and that it prefers a heavy pellet to a lighter one. I’ll probably save some money by using Meisterkugeln for practice and R-10s for when I finally enter some matches.

One thing’s clear: my C-20 will out shoot me and might still be suitable for international-level competition as long as the temperature remains constant on the range. All those world-beating CO2 pistols? They didn’t turn into trash when the first PCP guns hit the market. Quite probably only the top few hundred shooters in the world will ever need a better weapon, even in competition.

I have concluded that my worst problem is that the C-20s grip doesn’t fit my hand well and allows the gun to shift right as it’s fired. A lot of putty didn’t cure it. I’ll be in Germany soon and will have Thomas Rink of Rink Formgriffe make me an absolutely custom grip from a casting of my hand. If I have the bread, I might let that be the butter on a new Steyr LP-10 Compact, which weighs almost 250gm less than the C-20. A savings of almost half a pound! That will be an advantage for my medically damaged right arm and shoulder muscles.

Swiss Arms P92 replica pistol
Swiss Arms P92 CO2 BB pistol

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New .22-cal. Sheridan!
Sheridan 2260MB CO2 rifle

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