Posts Tagged ‘PCPs’
by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Equipment to fill the gun
• Silicone chamber oil
• Diver’s silicone grease
• Plumber’s tape
• No such thing as Teflon tape
• A chronograph tells the whole story
• Other things?
Today, I’m writing this for the sales representatives at Pyramyd Air, who are always asked what else you’ll need when you buy a precharged airgun. Precharged airguns need some things to go with them to operate smoothly. Think of the batteries you always need for electronics. Are they included in the box or do you have to buy them extra?
Equipment to fill the gun
This is the big one! How does air get into your new gun? Back in the 1980s, customers were surprised to learn they had to buy the fill device (also called a decant device, hose and gauge, and other things) separate from the airgun. They never thought about people possibly owning two such guns that one fill device would service. And they also didn’t appreciate how much these fill devices cost — and how much could be saved by not buying a second one that was identical.
These days, most people know you need a fill device of some kind to connect an air source to an airgun, but there’s more to it than just that. Some companies, such as AirForce, Crosman, Daystate and Dennis Quackenbush, use the now-common Foster quick-disconnect fittings that simplify everything. One common fill hose services all the airguns made by these companies. On the other hand, Air Arms, BSA, Evanix and others still have proprietary connections. The question is: What do you need to fill your new airgun?
Pyramyd Air provides an easy solution to this dilemma — a little decision tree that helps you find exactly what you need for your new airgun. You can try it out right now and see how it works. Select any PCP on their website and look at the product page. I’m going to choose the Air Arms S510 Xtra PCP Carbine.
On that page, find the tabs where you see these words:
Description Specifications Customer reviews Questions & Answers PCP Hookup
Click on the words PCP Hookup, and you’ll see the tool they’ve provided. Don’t be embarrassed if this is new to you. I didn’t notice it until Edith came into my office and walked me through it — and I write this blog!
Now, click on the air source you will be using to fill your PCP, and the complete connection requirements will come up. Try several of these fill source options (by clicking the reset button), so you can fully appreciate what they’ve done for you. As the fill source changes, so do the connection requirements. If no additional adapters or hoses are shown after you click on your preferred fill device, that means none are needed. And it states that at the top of the left side.
When I clicked on the Hill MK3 pump as my preferred fill device, it said on the top left column that I didn’t need any additional hoses or adapters to make this fit the Air Arms S510 Xtra FAC PCP air rifle. If I wanted to find other fill devices, I would click the “reset” button to go back to the full list on the PCP Hookup tab.
Like Einstein’s relativity equation, everything sounds simple after seeing this software tool. But airgunners have lived 34 years without it and can tell you — it isn’t obvious!
[Editor's note: Whether you're looking for hand pumps or carbon fiber tanks, always check out more than one fill option. Some devices are more expensive, but they may already include the hoses and adapters you need and may end up being more economical than buying a fill device that requires you to buy additional hoses and adapters.]
Silicone chamber oil
If you’ve read even a couple weeks worth of these reports, you’ve seen me recommend silicone chamber oil for sealing airguns. This stuff is so necessary that veteran airgunners should all know they need it. When I worked at AirForce Airguns, I was responsible for testing every valve they made. When a valve leaked (and a small percentage of them did leak on the first test) it was my job to fix it. There are just two things that can fix most high pressure air valves — getting rid of dirt and silicone chamber oil.
I would use a heavy rubber mallet to smack the valves, causing them to pop open loudly under pressure. That also blew out any dirt that was in the sealing surfaces and also made a perfect impression of the metal valve face in the hard synthetic valve seat. It was like breaking in leather shoes. Once broken-in that way, that valve would work reliably for — well, I don’t really know. I have some valves that are now 14 years old, and they still hold indefinitely.
But silicone oil was needed for the o-ring that seals the valve inside the air tank. We actually used a light industrial silicone grease that works very well when you can apply it directly to the parts; but when the gun is together, it’s hard to get grease to go where you want. Light silicone oil will go everywhere, and I cannot remember how many hundreds of airguns I’ve fixed with it — the most recent being the Crosman 2240 that has the HiPAC air conversion installed.
I’ll even go farther and advise you to get a bottle of silicone chamber oil with a needle applicator. That applicator is very handy for putting the oil exactly where you want it. You’ll also find it wonderful for oiling piston seals on a spring gun through the air transfer port.
Diver’s silicone grease
I just said that silicone grease and oil could be used interchangeably, but what I didn’t say is that you pick the one that best suits the job. That’s why I also have silicone grease on hand at all times. If there’s an o-ring that can be seen, like on the bottom of 200- and 300-bar air fittings, use the grease instead of the oil. For the o-ring that seals the HiPAC air tank to the Crosman 2240 pistol, use the grease. Not only does the silicone grease seal air just like silicone oil, it also remains on the parts for a long time. I have 3 jars of it, and one is always in my range bag.
Here’s a product that Pyramyd Air doesn’t carry! But no worries, because just about every hardware store stocks it. Plumber’s tape is for sealing joints that thread together.
Plumber’s tape is not sticky. It seals the smallest holes in threaded joints.
If this is new to you, it’s tape that doesn’t stick to anything. It has no glue! It is elastic and rather thin, but when you wrap threads with it the correct way, it expands into the smallest crevices and seals the threads against air loss. And, having written that, I guess I will now do a report on how to properly wrap threads for a repair.
Plumber’s tape lubricates the threads, so joints go together tighter (farther), plus it deforms easily, blocking those same threads. It also keeps threads from seizing, so they come apart easier.
No such thing as Teflon tape
Many people call this Teflon tape. But it isn’t. Teflon is a registered trademark of Dupont; so, unless they make the tape (they don’t at the present time), it isn’t Teflon. It’s more correctly called PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) tape – but plumber’s tape is probably the best name for it.
It’s not expensive, and I use it a lot; so, I keep several rolls around the house. I also keep a roll in my range bag, where it’s saved a PCP field test more than once.
A chronograph tells the whole story
You knew I was going to recommend one of these, didn’t you? If not, you’re a new reader of this blog. This is one of the most important diagnostic tools an airgunner can own. A chronograph tells you how fast the pellets are traveling when they leave the muzzle of your airgun.
For many years, I used the Oehler 35P printing chronograph. I was raised in a time when Oehler chronographs were the most accurate instruments money could buy, and writers had to have one to be taken seriously. Then, I started writing this blog, and my chronographing needs increased tenfold! When I did a test of the Shooting Chrony chronograph, I was impressed with how convenient it is. I now keep one set up in my office permanently, which is where all my indoor velocity data is gathered. The price is right, and the unit is small, rugged and easy to transport. And it has an anchor point to mount it to a camera tripod.
If you want a choice, I’ve read good reports about the Competition Electronics Pro Chrono Digital Chronograph. The Bianchi Cup uses it, and that’s a big-time firearm competition! It doesn’t cost much more than the Shooting Chrony, so you have two good instruments to choose from.
Is there more? Of course, but these are the essentials. The chronograph you can live without for a little while, but the other things you really should get right away.
Buying your first PCP airgun always seems to be a leap of faith. You’re going where you’ve never been, to places others have warned you to avoid. You’ve done the research, but you still wonder if the good stories aren’t all just part of a grand scheme to hoodwink you.
I’ve told you about all the things I think you absolutely need when you get a PCP. Pyramyd Air has coined a new word for them — PCP necessories. Obviously you don’t need 2 chronographs or 2 different silicone oils, but you’ll eventually need one of each if you’re going to enjoy your new precharged airgun to its fullest.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Inconsistent shots?
• Most accurate pellet?
• 100 yards means scope adjustments
• JSB Exact Jumbo heavy pellets
• Crosman Premier pellets
• H&N Baracuda Green pellets
• Gamo Hunter pellets
• Call it a day
• Pyramyd Air sale
Today is a test of the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE at 100 yards. I don’t do this very often for many reasons; but when I find a PCP that’s exceptionally accurate at 50 yards, I feel it’s worth testing at the greater distance. It takes a perfect day for this test because any wind will push the pellet around. We don’t get many windless days here in Texas, but this past Wednesday was one of them. It was so calm that dandelion fuzz would fall straight down.
You also know from reading this blog that groups do not always open in linear fashion as the distance increases. A rifle that shoots a half-inch group at 50 yards will not automatically shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards — even though the day is perfect.
While testing this rifle, I’d seen that the first 10 shots could be less accurate than the second 10. They sometimes contained fliers that didn’t seem to exist in the second group. Yesterday, blog reader Jerry in Texas asked me why one shot out of 10 from his Benjamin Marauder was dropping in velocity by over 250 f.p.s. I told him I thought some PCP guns do that in certain places in the power curve. I saw evidence of that on the 50-yard range and again at 100 yards, as I’ll show you.
Most accurate pellet?
I also hedged my bets by taking several pellets to the range that hadn’t been tested in this rifle before. I was getting such great performance at 50 yards from one pellet in particular — the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy — that I sort of stopped testing other pellets. That’s not very scientific of me, though it’s very much in keeping with being a gun crank. So, I took some other pellets along and gave them a try at 100 yards — even though they’d not been tried by me before in this rifle.
100 yards means scope adjustments
I knew the pellet would drop a lot going from 50 yards to where the rifle was sighted to 100 yards. I guesstimated the drop would be at least 12 inches, which would be 48 clicks on the quarter-minute elevation knob to bring things back up. But when I adjusted the scope, I stopped at 40 clicks because you never know if the clicks are exactly quarter-minute or if that’s just an approximation. As it turned out, both my guesstimate and the adjustments were close to correct, and I had to adjust the scope another 16 clicks up to get close to the point of aim.
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets
The first pellet up was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jubo Heavy that had given me a group of 10 in 0.522 inches at 50 yards. If any pellet was going to excel in this rifle at 100 yards, I felt this one had the best chance. Alas — the best-laid plans….
The best I was able to do with this pellet was 10 in about 3 inches. I shot the same pellet in both the first 10 shots and the second 10 shots per fill with pretty much similar results, except there was a flier in the first group. I’m not going to show you those groups because they don’t help the report and also because the first group fell below the target paper and hit the 2×4 backer paper I always use when I’m not sure where the pellets are going.
At this point, I decided to punt — as in testing something I hadn’t tried before. One reader had recommended trying the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellets, and I thought it was a good choice. It happens to be one of my favorite .22-caliber pellets, and I normally would have tested it at 50 yards; but when the heavier JSB did so well, I decided to just shoot it to the exclusion of all others.
I refilled the rifle with air and loaded 10 JSB Exact Jumbos into the circular clip. The first group was very telling. Nine out of 10 pellets landed in a 1.668-inch group, but the first shot hit about 4 inches above the top of this main group. Remember what I said about inconsistencies in the first 10 shots after a fill?
After that group, I refilled the clip and shot a second group with the same pellet. This time, all 10 went into 2.385 inches. I know that doesn’t sound very good, but I ask you to reserve your comments until you have shot some 10-shot groups of pellets at 100 yards. It isn’t easy! And guns that group in a half-inch at 50 yards do not necessarily group in one inch at 100 yards.
Look at the shapes of these holes. Many are oval in shape, which indicates they didn’t go through the paper straight-on.
Crosman Premier pellets
One of the most accurate .22-caliber pellets is the domed Crosman Premier that comes in the brown cardboard box. Sometimes, they’re the most accurate, and other times they’re among the top 3. But in PCPs they don’t do as well — especially when the PCP is more powerful such as this Hatsan. And this was no exception to that rule, as Premiers couldn’t stay inside 6 inches at 100 yards. I didn’t even complete a group with them after seeing the first few shots land so far apart.
I’d planned on trying Eun Jin pellets, as well; but when I started loading them, I discovered that the tin I picked up were .25-caliber pellets.
H&N Baracuda Green pellets
The next pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Green. While lead-free pellets are not that accurate as a general rule, Baracuda Greens are an exception. In the Hatsan, they managed to put 10 shots into 5.25 inches, with 9 of those shots in 2.988 inches. That’s pretty good for lead-free pellets; and, yes, this was the first group of 10 after a fill.
Gamo Hunter pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Gamo Hunter. While I have very little experience with this pellet, I do recall it working well in one spring rifle years ago. But it was not suited to the Hatsan AT44. I didn’t see where the first Hunter struck the target; but I saw the second pellet’s flight through the scope, and it was a wild spiral curve to the right that landed a foot off the target! Clearly this rifle is not suited to shoot Gamo Hunters.
Call it a day
After this last attempt, I decided to call it a day. The shooting had worn me out by this time. I think it’s clear that of the pellets I’ve tested so far, the JSB Exact 15.89-grain Jumbo is the best. Out to 50 yards it may do no better than the heavier 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Heavy, but something about this lighter pellet carries it to 100 yards in better form.
I believe the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the finest PCP rifles on the market at any price. It has power, accuracy, a great trigger and very quiet operation –all for a wonderful price. If you’re in the market for a good PCP, I would put this one on your short list.
Pyramyd Air sale
Pyramyd Air is having a “Christmas in July” sale. If you’re planning to make a purchase, click here to visit their sale pages.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Fast becoming a favorite
• Accuracy test
• Stunning first group!
• Tried RWS Superdomes
• Finish with JSB pellets
• Overall evaluation
• 100-yard test
Fast becoming a favorite
Today, we’re back at the 50-yard outdoor range with the Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE rifle — an air rifle that’s fast becoming a favorite of mine. I think you’ll see why in this report.
Last time, I showed you some excellent 10-shot groups from this rifle at 50 yards. That day was perfectly calm, and by chance the second pellet I tried turned out to be the one to shoot. The 16-grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet delivered some great groups, including one 10-shot screamer that was just 0.624 inches between centers. I resolved to return to the range another day to see if this was just a one-time thing or if the rifle could deliver such stunning accuracy all the time.
This day was not perfect. There was a little breeze sometimes, but in the beginning it could be waited out. It was only 1-3 m.p.h. when I began shooting. Last time, I learned that the first 10 shots on a fresh fill weren’t as accurate as the second 10, so I filled the rifle to 200 bar and loaded ten 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets, thinking that I would save the sure-thing Air Arms pellets for the second 10.
Stunning first group!
But my first group was stunning! Nine of the 10 pellets went into 0.552 inches and only shot 8 strayed from the main group. It enlarged the group to 0.916 inches, which is still commendable for 10 shots.
Now that the first 10 were shot, I thought the rifle was going to give me a wonderful second group with the Air Arms pellets — but for some reason, it didn’t. Ten went into 1.434 inches, with 5 of them clustered in 0.212 inches. How do I make sense out of that?
The Hatsan is short of breath, and there are only 20 good shots per fill if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. I filled the rifle, again, and once more I shot the first group of 10 with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys. This time, they were a little more open than the first time, but they still managed to all be within 0.676 inches. That’s actually smaller than the first group was, and it’s close to the size of the best group from the previous session (0.624 inches).
The second group I shot was 10 Air Arms pellets, and this time they really opened up. Ten went into 1.334 inches, with 8 of them in 0.824 inches. Apparently, Air Arms pellets were not going to do as well on this day as they had during the previous session!
Tried RWS Superdomes
I brought some RWS Superdomes along — just to try one more pellet. But the first shot was 14 inches from the aim point (!!!) and the next shot was 6 inches from that! I ejected the clip and removed all the pellets. That’s just wasting air.
Finish with JSB pellets
I filled the rifle once more and this time decided to just shoot the JSB pellets since they seemed to want to do better. The first group of 10 went into a whopping 1.71 inches, which was surprising. The second group of 10 was 1.351 inches apart, and I was now having to fight a growing breeze. I can’t say how much the wind affected the last 2 groups, but it probably had some impact.
Based on the results of these two days at the range, I have to say the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the most accurate precharged pellet rifles I’ve ever shot. It may not be the most accurate, but it has to be in the top 5!
It’s amazing that an air rifle this powerful is also quiet. It sounds about as loud as my vintage Diana model 27 spring rifle, yet I know it’s producing 35-47 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. And the trigger, while not the absolute finest I’ve ever tested, it still right up there in the top 10.
Hatsan has hit the ball out of the park with this rifle! They’re pricing it to compete with the Benjamin Marauder, and it absolutely kills the more expensive European PCPs in all categories except appearance. But I’m the kind of shooter who wants to hit the target. I don’t care that much what my rifle looks like — as long as it can deliver the mail.
The last time I had a PCP that was this accurate was when I tested the AirForce Airguns Condor SS, and that rifle put 10 pellets into one inch (1.003 inches) at 100 yards. This Hatsan isn’t quite as powerful as the Condor SS, but I’m willing to give it a try at that distance. So, there will be a Part 5 to this series!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is Part 2 of the guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s finishing his report of a BSA Scorpion SE, and today’s blog is all about accuracy.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, Tyler.
by Tyler Patner
This report covers:
• Accuracy at 20 yards
• Accuracy at 40 yards
• Trigger and safety
• How loud is it?
• Final thoughts
In the first report, we used a chronograph to measure the velocity of the .25-caliber BSA Scorpion SE. Just looking at the chrony numbers, I would guess that .22 caliber is really optimal for the Scorpion SE. I’d bet a rifle in that caliber could put out the same energy as the .25 and maintain the same or better shot count. But don’t discount the .25-caliber Scorpion SE. While clearly underpowered, today’s accuracy testing will show just why the this rifle should be on your short list.
Accuracy testing was done at 20 and 40 yards. Normally, I would do 25 and 50 yards, but my current range has a max of 40 yards. The Bushnell Elite 8-32X40 scope was set on 16X, and the shooting began. I should note, I was using only a front bag rest and shooting off a very wobbly plastic table, but even those hindrances could not keep the Scorpion SE from impressing me! A .25-caliber hole is a bit bigger than I’m used to seeing. I shot 3 groups to warm up and then refilled for the 20-yard test.
Accuracy at 20 yards
The first pellet shot at 20 yards was the JSB King. They stacked 5 into a tight 0.43-inch group, starting things out nicely.
Next was the Benjamin Destroyer pellet at 27.8 grains. This is shaped similarly to their Destroyer in .177 and .22 calibers. Four shots went into a 1.30-inch group, with the fifth shot flying high about 2 inches. The overall size came to 2.60 inches for 5 shots, which is beyond poor. The Benjamins were not included in the 40-yard test for that reason.
The Predator Polymags did surprise me a bit. Not only did they just barely squeeze into the magazine, but they actually grouped pretty well. A 0.54-inch group of 5 at 20 yards made a nice-sized hole that would certainly be adequate for small game. The Polymags have proven, time and time again, that they’re the premier hunting-specific pellet and can smack small game with devastating results.
The lighter-weight H&N Field Target Trophy grouped decently, with 5 in 0.79 inches. I pulled the fourth shot a bit, as my wobbly table wasn’t quite stable. I did shoot them at 40 yards, as well, but the results were not worthy of showing here.
The pellet that surprised me the most was the H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme. With a cross cut on the head of the pellet, it’s certainly eye-catching, with major accuracy to back it up! A 0.35-inch, 5-shot group (basically one single hole) was more than enough to get my attention. Twenty yards is not a long distance for PCP guns; but when you lace 5 shots in a row through a single hole, it immediately gets your attention!
Next up were the Beeman Kodiaks. Being made by H&N, I was pretty confident they’d group similarly to the Baracuda Hunter Extremes, and they did. A 0.32-inch group of 5 bettered the mark set by the Hunter Extremes at 20 yards. The two pellets are very similar in terms of shape; and aside from the cut out in the head of the Hunter Extreme, they showed little difference in accuracy at 20 yards.
Accuracy at 40 yards
I chose to go with the Kodiaks, Hunter Extremes, Predator Polymags and JSB Kings for 40-yard testing. The results were all very good, which shows the versatility of the BSA barrel. This is something I’ve come to appreciate about the BSA guns I’ve owned. They all seem to be very even-tempered in terms of pellet selection. All too often, I test guns that will shoot only one pellet, and everything else groups horribly. That’s all well and good, but only if the pellet the barrel likes is accessible, consistent from die to die and not too far on either side of the weight spectrum so your trajectory is reasonable. For testing at 40 yards, I shot two groups just to try to remove the potential for human error because we all know the gun is rarely the problem. It’s the jerk behind the trigger!
First up were the Beeman Kodiaks, and they did not disappoint — giving a 0.50-inch group. Bear in mind the pellet is half the size of the group, so you are looking at two holes at the end of the day.
The Predator Polymags at 26 grains grouped very well at 40 yards, making a 5-shot group that measured 0.65 inches. I would be very confident with a magazine of these in the Scorpion SE if I was going out after squirrels or pest birds. Raccoons and opossums would also be well within the Scorpion SE’s game menu. Accuracy like this will pretty much assure you of a clean head shot or vital organ shot if you do your part. The extra bit of expansion the Predators offer would also come in handy.
The overall best group of the day (and not just at 40 yards) was made with JSB Kings. After looking like the H&N/Beeman pellets would run away with the accuracy testing, the Kings came back in a big way. I managed to put 5 shots into a single hole measuring 0.27 inches. Basically, that’s the size of the pellet. The next group opened up ever so slightly, but it was clear that the Kings are the way to go.
The Baracuda Hunter Extreme was the last pellet tested at 40 yards, and they grouped well also at 0.42 inches for 5. That was the best I could manage; and if the expansion of the Hunter Extremes is better than the average domed pellet, then I would say they’re the most accurate hollowpoint I’ve ever shot in any gun past 10 yards. Generally, hollowpoints suffer a bit in the accuracy department; but I think that because the Hunter Extremes are not a complete hollowpoint, they fly just a bit better. Either way, these pellets work well, so H&N has a definite winner with them.
Trigger and safety
The trigger on the BSA Scorpion SE was unadjusted since it came out of the box crisp and relatively light for a hunting trigger. It measures an average of 2 lbs., 2 oz. over five pulls. I know the trigger can be adjusted much lighter than this; but for the hunting crowd, that won’t be necessary.
The manual hunter-style safety is located on the left side of the action. I’ve seen the triggers adjusted so light that an engaged safety won’t stop the gun from firing when the trigger’s pulled. So, be careful when adjusting this trigger — or any trigger for that matter. Test it before you load the gun and make sure the safety still stops the gun from firing after adjustments are made.
How loud is it?
On the subject of noise, the Scorpion SE is pretty loud. It’s not backyard friendly, and I would rate it a 7 out of 10 (10 being the loudest). If this were a 45-50 foot-pound gun, then the noise would be up in the 9-10 range; but at 30 foot-pounds, it’s fairly tame for an unshrouded gun. That said, the air stripper on the muzzle also doubles as a thread protector covering the 1/2-inch UNF threading that could accept a more useful air stripper or muzzlebrake if you choose to add one. [Editor's note: Silencers are subject to federal legislation. If an airgun silencer can be attached to a firearm and quiet the report, it must be licensed.]
The Scorpion SE represents a step forward for BSA airguns. The new features like the redesigned magazine and gauge show that they’re listening to what their customers want and need. All the while, they’re not changing the things they know are proven to work. Their barrels are still some of the best out there, and their overall quality and precision shines through.
There are a lot of options in the mid-priced PCP realm, and the BSA may be overlooked because of its relatively low power level; but if you’re looking for a precision shooter with adequate power for small game, then I would highly recommend taking a look at the BSA Scorpion SE. My experience with BSA products has been stellar over the course of many years, and I’m confident you’ll come to the same conclusion after just a few shots behind the trigger of their PCP works of art!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from Tyler Patner, a Pyramyd Air customer sales and service representative and enthusiastic field target shooter. He’s going to tell us about a BSA PCP pellet rifle. This is a complete report with the description, velocities and test targets, so I am breaking it into two sections.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, Tyler.
by Tyler Patner
This report covers:
• Changes from BSA
• Let’s shoot
Before getting to the review, I want to preface this by saying that I’m a BSA fan boy (self-proclaimed, of course). When I found out that BSA was officially making their return to the U.S. market, I was ecstatic. And no gun was more present in my mind than the BSA Scorpion SE. I already had the BSA R-10 in my arsenal and had owned an Ultra as well as a SuperTEN (predecessor to the R10). The one gun I had yet to own of the BSA PCP line was the Scorpion SE. With the new look to the stock and the various glowing reviews from the UK sub-12-foot-pound crowd, I was chomping at the bit for the Scorpion SE.
Traditionally, I’m a .177 and .22 pellet shooter. I’ve never owned a .25; and, quite frankly, I had little desire for one. It’s nothing against the caliber, I just don’t have too much use for it, as most of my hunting and long-distance shooting can be easily accomplished with a .22. But as most folks will tell you, it never hurts bringing more gun than you need. If there was one thing I knew going into this review, it was that the accuracy should be nothing short of stellar. BSA barrels are widely known and highly regarded for their amazing consistency and accuracy. Many worldwide field target and benchrest shooters choose their barrels for that exact reason. So, expectations were very high; but to my surprise, my expectations could not have possibly been set this high.
Changes from BSA
The introduction of the SE (which stands for Special Edition, even though all of the current models are “SE” models) saw a few new features brought to the BSA line that many had yet to experience. The addition of a pressure gauge that reads in bar was a welcome feature I was very happy to see. The R-10 was the first BSA gun to employ it, and BSA has since added it to their entire PCP range.
The Scorpion SE also uses BSA’s new self-indexing magazines. Prior to these mags, BSA went through two other styles that used an indexing pin within the breech. This is a common method of indexing a magazine but comes with its own set of problems. A common complaint was that the indexing pin would actually break, leaving the gun unusable. BSA has solved this issue by creating a magazine that seamlessly rotates under spring tension once the bolt is retracted from the magazine.
I’ve used these magazines in both old-style BSA rifles and the new-style guns. To this day, I’ve never had a hangup with the new-style mags. Loading the magazines does take a certain technique, but it’s very easy to figure out and do quickly. I simply hold the drum of the magazine with my left hand and load pellets with the right, rotating with my thumb and index finger.
The drums are color-coded blue and red for .177 and .22, respectively. Each holds 10 pellets. The .25 is slightly different, with cutouts to allow for the larger spacing the bigger quarter-inch bore pellets need. It’s black and holds only 8 shots. I’d like to see BSA not leave any portion of the pellet exposed in the magazine. If I were to drop the magazine in the dirt or mud, it’s possible for debris to find its way into the internals of the mag and potentially jam it.
The final change was the stock. The new stocks are being made by Minelli in Italy. For standard beech, the one I had was very impressive. It had great character and a very comfortable shape. The stock also had a very interesting reverse stippling in some areas. I’m not really sure if reverse stippling is the correct term for it, but that’s the best I could come up with! It’s almost as if Minelli removed a layer or two of wood and left things rough on the surface to give you more positive feedback when held. This definitely made an impact, as the areas of the stock where this was present were very tacky and really solid in my hand. The forearm is not too wide, and the relatively light overall weight of around 7 lbs. makes this gun an excellent choice for those walking the woods.
I chose to mount a scope that most would think is major overkill for a gun like the Scorpion SE. I went with a Bushnell Elite 8-32X40AO. This is a big scope that adds a lot of weight; but since I was shooting only benched groups, that was fine with me. It was also the only scope available at the time that I was comfortable with. All my good hunting optics were on guns and in use. That said, a gun like the Scorpion SE certainly warrants a nicer scope such as the Bushnell, and the extra magnification really gave me the ability to be as precise as possible when shooting my groups. Before we get to the group shots, though, let’s have a look at some velocity numbers.
I shot eight different pellets for the test but decided to chronograph only three of them. BSA touts their new SE models as having a “self-regulated valve.” There isn’t an actual regulator in the gun, so I wasn’t sure why they would refer to the valve design as self-regulated when that’s normally how PCPs function. With an unregulated gun, you usually get more of a curve when you graph out your velocities, while a regulated gun gives you a very flat string until the gun falls off the reg. While the shot count was relatively low, it was extremely tight — maybe one of the tightest spreads from an unregulated gun I’ve seen. And that wasn’t just from one pellet. Hunters could probably milk 20-25 shots from the relatively small air cylinder on the Scorpion SE.
The first pellet I ran over the chrony was the H&N Field Target Trophy which weighs in at 20.06 grains. [Editor's note: Depending on how you search for this pellet in Pyramyd Air's listings, one product name will state that it weighs 20.06 grains, and another will say it's 19.91 grains. However, on the actual product page, the name and description say it weighs 19.91 grains (which is correct). However, I left the weight at 20.06 grains for this report since all of Tyler's calculations are based on that number.] Filling the gun to 3000 psi delivered 17 good, consistent shots. We had a high velocity of 819 f.p.s., a low of 792 f.p.s. and an average velocity of 807 f.p.s. The extreme spread was 27 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was 8.4 f.p.s. Again, the low shot count is due to the smaller air cylinder, but it’s much more consistent than most unregulated PCP guns I’ve shot. The Field Target Trophy pellets put out about 28.7 foot-pounds at the muzzle. For a .25-cal. PCP, this is very underpowered, and my only real beef with the gun. More power would sacrifice shot count further, and BSA opted to go for a moderate power level with a higher shot count.
Next up were the 25.4 grain JSB King pellets. These are widely considered the best .25-caliber pellets on the market — and for good reason. They preformed extremely well and also proved to be the most accurate pellet tested, but more on that in part 2. We got 15 good shots on a full 3000 psi fill with a high of 738 f.p.s., a low of 723 and an average of 731 f.p.s. The extreme spread was only 15 f.p.s., and the standard deviation was a mere 2.7 f.p.s. When you see a standard deviation that low, you often find accuracy follows closely behind.
That works out to 30 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle for this pellet. It’s more than enough for small game but very underpowered for that caliber. A 25-grain pellet moving in the low 700s in a gun sighted in at 25 yards has just under 3 inches of drop when stretching out to 50 yards. That’s quite a trajectory curve, and it really shows just how under-used the caliber is in the Scorpion SE platform.
The final pellet I chronographed was the Beeman Kodiak at 31 grains. On a full fill, the gun produced 19 very consistent shots. The high was 672 f.p.s. and a low of 655 f.p.s., which averaged out to 664 f.p.s. We really see how going heavier eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns. I wouldn’t consider the slight bump in muzzle energy to be worth it, as it only topped out at 30.3 foot-pounds. I’d rather run the slightly flatter-shooting JSB Kings and give up the measly 0.2 foot-pounds. But with only a 17 f.p.s. extreme spread and a standard deviation of 5.9 f.p.s., things looked promising for the accuracy testing.
We’ll stop here and return in part 2 with Tyler’s accuracy testing. There are some good groups coming!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report covers:
• Most accurate test ever conducted!
• Scope and mounts
• Scope base design
• On to the range
• Airgunners…just like golfers!
• What happens next?
You waited for this report. I told you it was going to be a good one. I even advised a couple people to just buy this rifle if they wanted a quiet and powerful PCP that was also accurate. Today, you’re going to see why I said that.
Best test ever conducted!
To cut to the chase, this was the best test of an air rifle I’ve ever conducted at 50 yards. I won’t go so far as to say that the Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE is the most accurate air rifle I’ve ever fired, because you’ve seen in recent days that I seem somewhat variable. I refer to yesterday’s good test of the Air Arms Shamal after a pervious mediocre test.
However, if I can repeat today’s results at some future date, then I’ll conclude that this rifle is the most accurate air rifle I’ve ever tested at 50 yards. But I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let’s see what happened.
If you’re a regular blog reader, you already know that I was having a good day because the Shamal had just turned in several great groups — including one stunner that measured 0.818 inches for 10 shots at 50 yards. Now, it was the Hatsan’s turn on the bench, and the weather was still perfect.
Scope and mounts
I had mounted an AirForce 4-16X50 scope on the rifle using UTG 2-piece Max Strength high Weaver rings for a 1-inch scope. One of our readers heard that the Hatsan scope base that allows both Weaver and 11mm scope rings to be mounted has problems with Weaver rings, so he asked me specifically to use rings that have a Weaver dovetail on their base. I did, and the UTG mounts fit well, though I will say that the Hatsan base is at the wide end of acceptable width.
But I think I see what the reader has heard about, and I want to share it with you. There are some shooters who feel that all mounts must look attractive and squared away or they don’t fit right. What these people don’t understand is that mount makers use base jaws that will fit as many different configurations of dovetail cuts as possible — because gun manufacturers do not use many standards when making their cuts.
Scope base design
I’m going to explain something here, and I want you to try to understand it because it will make all the difference if you do. Weaver bases are a standard that specifies the width and height of the dovetail, and the width of the cross groove that accepts the locking bar on the mount. But the angle of the cuts that shape the dovetail grooves are not as certain. No doubt, Weaver specifies them, but mount makers don’t always conform to that spec. They use dovetail cutters with varying angles. To deal with this inconsistency, many mount makers, including Leapers, cut the jaws of their ring base clamps with rounded points, so they’ll grip most dovetails, regardless of the angle of the cut.
If there was only one rounded point on the clamp base, the ring would sit cockeyed on the rifle; but when the other end of the same clamp also has a rounded point that engages a special cut in the scope ring and the two cockeyed points cancel each other. The result is a scope ring clamp jaw that looks cockeyed, yet the ring sits squarely on the gun.
In the 1990s, B-Square owner Dan Bechtel and I did a project to determine the standard width of 11mm airgun dovetails. This is where we discovered that those dovetails vary between 9.5mm and almost 14mm in width. The angles of cuts ranged from 45 degrees to 60 degrees. The Weaver base is more standardized, but the cut angles still vary and have to be addressed.
Here you see how the rounded point of the scope ring clamp jaw allows it to fit into a wide variety of rifle dovetail base cuts. Having a rounded point on the other end of the same clamp will cancel this odd angle and allow the scope ring to sit squarely on the rifle.
The genius of this clamp design is lost on many people who see the cockeyed part as a flaw or mistake. Actually, it’s a compensating part that assures an exact fit on a variety of different gun bases. The picture shows this clearly.
For that reason, my answer to the reader who asked whether the Hatsan bases will accept a Weaver ring is — yes. Many ring manufacturers make their ring base jaws this way. If you can tolerate the odd appearance, this solution works perfectly.
On to the range
I was at the range on a perfect day, so this test would be conclusive if a good pellet was found. In the past, you’ve seen me work through a list of pellets, looking for the best one. Well, on this day I happened to find that pellet on the second try. At least, I think that’s the case because that pellet did so well that I didn’t bother trying any others.
I filled the rifle to the manufacturer’s recommended 200 bar (2900 psi) and loaded the 10-shot magazine. The first pellet I shot was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier dome. I put 10 into 1.463 inches, but I’m not going to bother showing you that group because of what happened next. I knew from the velocity test we did in Part 2 that this rifle probably gets at least 20 good shots per fill when shooting at 50 yards. The velocity does decline with every shot; but as you’ll soon see, that doesn’t seem to matter much.
The second pellet I tried was the 16-grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet. It’s a dome that sits comfortably in the middle of the .22-caliber pellet weight range. Although it resembles the 15.9-grain JSB Exact Jumbo and although JSB does produce this pellet for Air Arms, they do so on proprietary dies owned by Air Arms; so, the two pellets are not the same and should not be confused with each other. On other tests, I’ve seen different results from these two pellets.
These 10 pellets were fired on the same fill as the Premiers, so the rifle’s internal pressure was down around 2500 psi when I started shooting. Every pellet went to the same place on the target. It was like they were being guided, or something. The result was 10 shots into a group that measures 0.681 inches between the two centers that are most distant. I was stunned when the group was finished! I’ve probably shot a couple other groups that small with airguns before — certainly with my Talon SS and probably also with a Benjamin Marauder — but this still ranks as one of the best groups I’ve ever shot at 50 yards with an air rifle. And the day was just beginning!
Following that, I refilled the rifle, for 20 shots had now been fired. The pressure had dropped to below 2000 psi, and I think to as low as 1750. I filled it back to 2900 psi and went back to the bench.
The next 10 shots were with the same Air Arms pellets, only this time we started at a full fill instead of only a partial. Ten pellets went into 0.992 inches this time — a little larger, but still in good territory.
Ten more Air Arms 16-grain domes made this 0.992-inch group at 50 yards when the rifle was filled to the maximum. This isn’t a screamer; but coming on the heels of the previous group, it’s pretty good!
Now the rifle was back down to where it had been for the first great group. So, I loaded 10 more Air Arms pellets into the rotary clip and settled down to shoot another group. This time, all 10 went into 0.624 inches. A definite screamer; and with the first group, pretty good proof that the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE I’m testing is a shooter.
Ten more Air Arms domes made this 0.624-inch group at 50 yards when the rifle was fired on a partial fill. This is the best group of the session and also one of the best 50-yard 10-shot groups I’ve ever shot with an air rifle.
Airgunners…just like golfers!
Like a golfer who shot a sub-par game in which he also got a hole-in-one, I decided that my good luck had probably run its course this day. Besides the 40 shots fired with this rifle, I had also tested the Shamal and shot an additional 40 shots there because there were some adjustments to the scope that had to be made. In all, I’d shot 80 precision shots this day. That’s tiring.
What happens next?
I’ve never had an air rifle that would shoot this many consistently small groups in succession. Either I was having the best shooting day of my life, or this Hatsan rifle can really shoot. I want to return to the range under similar shooting conditions and see if I can repeat this. And I’ll continue to shoot the Air Arms pellets.
I just want to make sure this test was a valid one. It isn’t every day that you shoot the most accurate air rifle you’ve ever seen. I told several readers not to worry but to just buy the rifle if that was what they wanted. Now you see why.
After seeing what can be done with the Air Arms pellet, I want to explore some other pellets in this Hatsan. Hopefully, it’ll do well with several brands so there’s a choice.
After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll try this one at 100 yards. You may remember that I shot a one-inch group of 10 at 100 yards with a CondorSS last year. I wonder if this rifle can do as well?