Posts Tagged ‘pellet seater’
by B.B. Pelletier
The Haenel 311 is the world’s only bolt-action, spring-piston 10-meter target rifle.
Let’s look at the velocity of my Haenel 311 target rifle. Because of the way it cocks, this rifle is low-powered. It isn’t possible to put a long-stroke piston or a stout mainspring in the mechanism when the rifle is cocked by pulling back on a three-inch bolt handle. You don’t pull it straight back, either. The base of the handle pivots like a fulcrum, and the handle rocks back to pull the piston into the cocked position. As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s so difficult to cock that the gun is destined for adults, only.
However, a short piston stroke and a weak mainspring combine to give very low velocity. Since this is a target rifle, velocity doesn’t matter. But this wouldn’t be the gun to choose as an all-day plinker. Get a Diana 27 for that, or any one of the Haenel breakbarrels. Save the 311 for its intended purpose.
If it sounds like I’m making excuses for the gun, that’s not what I want to do. I just want the reader to understand it in the right context.
Since this rifle has a leather piston seal, I dropped several drops of oil into the loading tap, then closed it and stood the rifle on its butt for several days before this test. For those who are new to airgunning, leather seals need lots of oil to do their jobs. Synthetic seals need a lot less oil, and it needs to be silicone chamber oil so it won’t detonate with the high heat it can generate.
In a rifle of the 311′s power, you can use plain old household oil for the seals, because the rifle doesn’t generate that much heat. But using silicone chamber oil won’t hurt anything, so that’s what I used. And there’s one additional reason for oiling the gun before shooting. The loading tap has to have some clearance to be able to move and do its job. When you oil the gun at the tap, some oil gets on the tap itself and helps to seal it when the rifle fires.
A note to the new reader. I test rifles with a range of pellets appropriate to that rifle. There will be a weight spread among the pellets I use, so you can gauge the power of the gun from what I use. But bear in mind that some pellets will work better in certain guns and the lighter pellet won’t always be the fastest. I also won’t test a gun with a pellet that I deem inappropriate for the gun, such as Beeman Kodiak heavyweight domed pellets for this target rifle. For a 10-meter target rifle, I’ll test with wadcutters since they’re the only pellets that are legal to use in a 10-meter match.
Let’s get right to it. The first pellet I tested was the Gamo Match wadcutter. This pellet used to be a viable and inexpensive pellet for target guns, but the design was changed a few years ago. While it’s still inexpensive, it doesn’t perform as well as it used to in many guns. Still, I thought it was worth a try.
This pellet averaged 462 f.p.s., but the spread was quite high — going from 439 to 479 f.p.s. At the average velocity, the rifle puts out 3.66 foot-pounds with this pellet. The wide velocity spread makes me think this one won’t be that accurate, but we’ll see.
Next I tried RWS Hobby pellets. At just seven grains weight, they should be among the fastest lead pellets in this rifle. Hobbys averaged 490 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 478 to 497 f.p.s. That’s tighter than the Gamo Match. At the average velocity, the energy developed at the muzzle was 3.73 foot-pounds. Sometimes, Hobbys are very accurate in certain guns and are worth trying in this one.
The last pellet I tried was the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellet. At 7.56 grains, you’d think they’d be slower than the Hobbys that weigh a half grain less, but these pellets averaged 492 f.p.s. in the 311, and the spread went from 480 to 501 f.p.s. They’re clearly faster and more efficient. At the average velocity, they produce 4.06 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Seeing the efficiency of this pellet gave me an idea. What if I used a pellet seater to iron out the skirts of this pellet? What would happen to the velocity then? I say that because a taploader tends to allow some air to blow past the pellets before they’re blown into the bore. Enlarging the skirts is a possible way to minimize this.
I tried enlarging the pellet skirts with the ball end of a pellet seater. However, the results surprised me. Instead of boosting velocity, this knocked it back to an average 474 f.p.s. for the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets. However, the extreme spread ran only from 472 to 478 f.p.s., so the overall velocity was a lot tighter from shot to shot.
The bottom line is that the Haenel 311 is a target rifle and nothing more. Because of the design, there’s no way to soup it up for greater performance; and as I noted in Part 1, this is a rifle you want to stay out of.
Next time we’ll look at the accuracy of this Cold Warrior.
by B.B. Pelletier
We’re going to finish the Walther P99 Q air pistol today with accuracy tests of both pellets and BBs. Several readers suggested that the double-action only trigger-pull would lead to larger groups, and I have to admit I thought so, too. A DAO pistol can be made to be very accurate, but it entails gunsmithing of the trigger that costs many times the price of this pistol. As they come from the factory, there are but a few DAO pistols, whether they’re air-powered or firearms, that have what I would call decent triggers.
The P99 Q trigger is one that “stacks” as it approaches the release. Much like a Colt revolver of the 1920s, the trigger-pull increases in weight dramatically just before the sear releases the hammer to fire the gun. Smith & Wesson found a way to overcome this and as a result they surpassed Colt as the world’s premier maker of revolvers before World War II. The stacking invariably causes the shooter to pull shots to the side opposite the shooting hand. A right-handed shooter will pull shots to the left while a lefty throws them to the right. This can be overcome with a lot of training, but it has to be practiced all the time, or you’ll revert to pulling your shots.
I’d earlier estimated the trigger-pull at 12 lbs.; but after firing about 100 careful shots, I have to say that it varies between 12 and 15 lbs. I had to use two fingers to keep from throwing my shots. That’s one finger on either hand, as shooting this gun was a two-handed proposition.
Having learned some lessons when shooting the Bronco with open sights and reading glasses last week, I was able to shoot that same way for this test without any problems. Instead of using a 75-watt shop light, I illuminated the target with a 500-watt quartz lamp that defined the bull very well. The rear sight was also sharp against the bull, and I don’t think I gave away any accuracy.
I shot from a standing strong-side barricade position for the whole test. That means I used a support to steady my right hand while shooting. I was standing for all shots and the pellets were shot at 25 feet, while the BBs were shot at 20 feet.
The P99 Q isn’t a target pistol, and we shouldn’t think of it that way. It’s a plinker and an action air pistol with minute-of-pop-can accuracy at 20-25 feet. If I could show that to you here, I would. But for this blog paper targets still work best.
I first tried RWS Hobby pellets. They turned out to be a very good choice, but I had to shoot about five clips before I found the best way to shoot the gun, so the first targets of Hobbys only hinted at what they might do. Once I was using two hands with two fingers on the trigger, I was able to lob pellets into a fairly tight group that was only limited by the gun’s slow gas flow.
When I waited a minute or more between shots, the CO2 gas had time to flow through the small pierced hole and into the valve, making velocity a more stable thing. These Hobbys went into a group measuring 1.191 inches between centers.
The next pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS, a domed pellet weighing 7.3 grains. They shot tantalizing groups with but a few strays, and I thought I was onto something, but no matter what I did I couldn’t get all the pellets to go to the same place.
Again, the JSB Exact RS domes were tantalizing. The dark smudge on the target is a black bull drawn on the back for a different project. The felt-tipped pen seeped through the paper to make the smudge. One shot is in the darkest part of the smudge, and the hole at the lower right has two pellets. Group measures 2.055 inches between centers.
Several readers correctly predicted that BBs would not be as accurate as pellets in the pistol, and with what we know about the situation, I’d have to agree. Not only are BBs round and made of steel so they cannot be spin-stabilized in flight, they’re also smaller than pellets and therefore do not fit the bore as well. There’s no way they’re going to be as accurate. As I mentioned in the beginning of this report, I moved up from 25 to 20 feet for BBs because I wanted to keep them all on the target paper.
The first to be fired were Crosman Copperhead BBs. They fit the BB clip (loading from the front, only!) very well and functioned perfectly.
Next, I tried some RWS Match Grade BBs that Pyramyd Air does not carry. They were a tighter fit in the clip and produced a smaller 8-shot group. Both BBs seemed to group to the same relative place as pellets, though with much larger distributions.
The RWS BB was more accurate, grouping eight in 2.996 inches at 20 feet.
Well, that’s it for the P99 Q. There were no malfunctions during the test once the pellet-seating tool was used. The gas flow problem I describe in this report is an issue if you want to fire the gun fast, which is what action pistols are designed for. Backing off on the piercing screw seemed to work when I let the gun rest for at least 10 seconds between shots, but shooting faster than that knocked the velocity down in a noticeable way.
This is a fine action pistol for the price. Considering that it accepts both BBs and pellets, it’s very accommodating. Buy it for fast plinking fun, and you’ll be getting a lot for your dollar. Just remember that it’s a double-action only pistol, so you’ll need a strong trigger finger.
by B.B. Pelletier
Announcement: Pyramyd Air has just introduced the Big Shot of the Week on their facebook page. The rules are pretty simple (post a picture of yourself with an airgun or airsoft gun), and you’ll have a chance to win a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card.
I said last time that I would definitely talk about the trigger on this DAO Walther P99 Q air pistol and that time has come. When the pistol is functioning correctly, the trigger offers a smooth pull of about 12 lbs. However, the “functioning correctly” part can be a problem if you don’t load the clip the right way.
Don’t need no stinking manuals!
I began the test poorly, by assuming that I knew how the gun operates. Of course, I didn’t read the manual. And trouble came with the first clip. One good shot was all I got, followed by the remainder of the clip needing a trigger-pull in the neighborhood of 25-30 pounds. I opened the slide to see if something was jammed and there it was. One pellet had backed out of the clip and was now deformed from being dragged through the mechanism against its will. So, I loaded a second clip and started over.
Again the gun tied up after the first shot, so I went to Edith and complained. She told me she had read about the Walther Lever Action rifle when she put the description on the website and that the pellet clips were supposed to be loaded using a special tool. Well, I had no special tool, since the pistol didn’t come with one, but a few days later the Walther Lever Action rifle arrived and it did have a pellet-seating tool.
The special tool works as advertised — big surprise. All it is is a plastic pusher that forces each pellet into the clip deep enough that the ridges on the sides of each chamber bite into the thin lead skirts. That is enough to hold the pellets in place until, they’re fired.
The manual also advises that the BBs have to be loaded into their black plastic clip from the front end of the clip — which is the side without the ratchet.
Gas use — I learned something important!
Let’s start the test. First, I seated 8 RWS Hobby pellets in the clip and chronographed them. They averaged 320 f.p.s. with a velocity spread from 301 to 338 f.p.s. But I also noticed two very important things when shooting these pellets. First, every velocity was lower than the one before it, even though I allowed the gun 10-20 seconds between shots to warm up. With CO2, if the gun gets too cold from shooting too fast, the velocity will drop off, but allowing 10-20 seconds between shot is more than enough recovery time, especially since I was shooting in a room at 70 degrees F (21.1 degrees C).
The second thing I noticed was that, if I allowed a full minute between shots, the velocity would be back up where it was on the first shot. Let’s tuck away that information for a moment and move on to the next pellet — but we’ll come back to it.
The next pellet tested was the Beretta Target pellet that Pyramyd Air no longer carries. It is a 7.9-grain wadcutter made from pure lead. It shouldn’t be as fast as the 7-grain Hobby, but it was. These pellets averaged 318 f.p.s. with a spread from 309 to 326 f.p.s. Again, each shot was slower than the one before, unless the wait time was a minute or more.
That made me think of a day on the set of American Airgunner when we had a certain pistol that shot slower with each shot, but would restore full power after a minute or more in-between. The problem there and probably here as well was a cartridge that hadn’t been pierced as deeply as it should be. So, I backed off the piercing screw (used to tighten the cartridge against the piercing pin) about one-eighth of a turn until gas began to escape, then I tightened just a little to stop it. Now there was more room for the gas to flow if I was right about what was happening.
Next up were some old 7.5-grain Gamo Match pellets. They averaged 330 f.p.s. with the new CO2 cartridge arrangement and the spread went from 319 to 344 f.p.s. Clearly, the pistol was now shooting faster, so I re-tested the RWS Hobbys and they now averaged 330 f.p.s. with a spread from 320 to 343 f.p.s.
The lesson here is that CO2 is a very large molecule that needs lots of room to flow. The next time you pierce a cartridge, try to back off the screw a little, if that’s possible.
BBs are next
The P99 Q is also a BB pistol, so they got tested next. First up were some Crosman Copperhead BBs that averaged 330 f.p.s. The spread went from 319 to 344, so no advantage to the lighter weight of the BBs. The gas blowby in the bore must be offsetting any small gain.
I also tried the RWS BBs . They averaged 328 f.p.s. with a spread from 281 to 339. I cannot explain the lone reading of 281 except it was there. All these BBs fit the clip tighter than the Copperheads.
So far, this little pistol is doing fine. Just as long as the pellet seater is used and you load the BBs from the front, everything functions well. The trigger is heavy, but I should be able to get good accuracy if the pistol is capable of it.
Accuracy is next.