Posts Tagged ‘Predator Polymag pellets’

BSA Scorpion SE: Part 2

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

Part 1

This report covers:

• Accuracy at 20 yards
• Accuracy at 40 yards
• Trigger and safety
• How loud is it?
• Final thoughts

BSA Scorpion SE beech stock
BSA Scorpion with beech stock.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE  JSB King 20 yards
Five JSB Kings went into this 0.43-inch group at 20 yards. This is a good start.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE  Benjamin Destroyer 20 yards
Five Benjamin Destroyers went into 2.60 inches at 20 yards, with 4 in 1.30 inches. This isn’t the pellet for this rifle.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE  Predator Polymags 20 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.54 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE  H&N Field Target Trophy 20 yards
Five H&N Field Target Trophys went into 0.79 inches at 20 yards. This is another good pellet for the Scorpion SE.

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!

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 20 yards
This is what I wanted to see — 5 H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes went into 0.30 inches at 20 yards.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 20 yards
Beeman Kodiak pellets put 5 into 0.32 inches 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.

BSA Scorpion SE  Beeman Kodiak 40 yards
At 40 yards, 5 Beeman Kodiaks went into 0.50 inches.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE Predator Polymag 40 yards
Five Predator Polymags went into 0.65 inches at 40 yards.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE JSB King 40 yards
JSB Exact Kings made the best group of the day, with 5 in just 0.27 inches! This is great for 40-yard accuracy.

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.

BSA Scorpion SE H&N Baracuda Hunter Extreme 40 yards
Five H&N Baracuda Hunter Extremes made the best group of the day for hollowpoints, with 5 in just 0.42 inches!

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.

BSA Scorpion SE safety
Manual safety

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.]

BSA Scorpion SE air stripper
The air stripper/muzzlebrake covers 1/2X20 threads.

Final Thoughts
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!

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

This report covers:

• 50-yard accuracy of Predator Polymags on high power.
• JSB Exact Kings accuracy.
• Kings on high-fill pressure.
• Benjamin domes.
• Kings on max power.
• Observations so far.

EscapeSS
AirForce EscapeSS

If you’re seriously interested in one of the AirForce Escape survival rifles, this blog series should be very beneficial. I’ve tested each rifle and attempted to get the best accuracy possible, using the best pellet. Last time, we looked at the rifle at 50 yards with the Predator Polymag pellet. Today, we’ll look at the EscapeSS accuracy at 50 yards using different pellets with the gun set to higher powers and greater fill pressures. Today’s test was an eye-opener for me.

The day at the range was windy, with a 5 m.p.h. breeze blowing all the time and gusting to 20 m.p.h. I waited for the wind to get as calm as possible, but all shots were in the wind. Sometimes, I took shots with the wind blowing up to 10 m.p.h. I think you can get away with that when shooting a .25-caliber pellet gun, though it’s not ideal.

Predator Polymags at higher power
In Part 2 of the EscapeSS, I shot the rifle at power settings 6 and 7 and with the reservoir filled to 2000 psi and 2200 psi. That was done because testing with both the Escape and the EscapeUL rifles demonstrated that the Predator Polymag pellet was the most accurate. Those rifles also seemed to be most accurate with their reservoirs filled to 2000 psi.

I said at the end of the last test that the Predator Polymag pellet still had to be tested at higher power and with a 3000 psi fill, so that was the first test on this day. I filled the gun’s reservoir to 3000 psi and dialed the power to 8. Then, I shot 5 Predator Polymags.

EscapeSS power 8
The power was set to 8, but as you can tell from the dial on the left, this is not a precision setting.

The results were not very promising. Instead of the 3/4-inch to 1-inch groups I got last time, this time 5 Polymags went into 1.526 inches. While that’s acceptable for hunting at 50 yards, I’d hoped to get better accuracy from this rifle.

EscapeSS Predator target power 8
When the power and pressure were raised, the Predator Polymag pellets started to scatter at 50 yards. Five went into 1.526 inches.

JSB Exact King
For the next group, I wanted to try something that was way out of the box. I filled the reservoir to 3500 psi and left the power setting on 8. That’s more pressure than the factory recommends, but I’ve read some reports from other shooters that say the gun does well with this kind of fill. I wanted to see. This was the first time I was trying JSB Exact Kings in this rifle.

The impact point shifted up about 4 inches, and 5 Kings landed in 1.387 inches. The rifle actually shot better with this pellet at this higher pressure; although, with a 12-inch barrel I doubt that there was much more velocity.

EscapeSS JSB King target 1 power 8
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.387 inches at 50 yards on power setting 8 and a fill of 3500 psi.

Having one good target, I decided to try it again with the same setting and fill pressure. This was to see if the first group was a fluke. This time, 5 Kings landed in 1.588 inches, which is close enough to the first group to say this is about what the rifle can and will do with these settings. This time, though, I adjusted the scope to get the pellets on target.

EscapeSS JSB King target 2 power 8
The second try with Kings at a fill of 3500 psi and power 8 gave me this 1.588-inch group.

Now, I decided to follow the manual and fill to just 3000 psi. I left the power setting on 8 — and 5 Kings went into 1.077 inches. Almost a one-inch group!

EscapeSS JSB King target 3 power 8
The fill pressure was lowered to 3000, and the power stayed on 8. Five Kings went into 1.077 inches at 50 yards!

That was so surprising that I filled the rifle to 3000 again and shot a second group, also on power setting 8.  I noted that the shots did drop a bit, so I adjusted the scope again. This time, 5 Kings went into 1.233 inches. So close to the first group that I think this is where the rifle wants to be.

EscapeSS JSB King target 4 power 8
The second try with Kings and a 3000 psi fill on power setting 8 gave me this nice 1.233-inch group. This is a good setting for this pellet.

I also noticed something interesting that illustrates a point I’ve been making for years. The gauge on this particular rifle does not agree with the gauge on my carbon fiber tank. When the tank gauge reads 3000 psi, the rifle’s gauge is off the scale! This illustrates how some small pressure gauges can be off by a lot, which is why you pick one gauge to follow — in this case, the one on my carbon fiber tank — and go by it all the time.

EscapeSS  pressure gauge
When the carbon fiber tank gauge reads 3000 psi, this is what the rifle’s gauge says. This is only on this particular rifle. The other Escape gauges read pretty much the same as the carbon fiber gauge. The point is that small pressure gauges can differ a lot.

Benjamin dome
Now it was time to see what the rifle would do with the Benjamin domed pellet. I kept the power at 8 and the fill at 3000 psi, and 5 pellets went into 1.667 inches. That sort of turned me off after seeing what the Kings could do, so I didn’t shoot a second group. Sometimes, you just know when one pellet is better than another.

EscapeSS Benjamin dome target power 8
Benjamin domes seemed to open up at these power and fill settings. These 5 measure 1.667 inches between centers.

JSB Kings at max power
It was time to try the JSB Exact Kings at maximum power and a 3000 psi fill. I shot 5 of them into a 1.831-inch group. As I was finishing this group, the wind was picking up to the point that I had to shoot in 10 m.p.h. wind and higher. I finished the day with these results:

EscapeSS JSB King target 5 power max
The last target was shot with Kings on a 3000 psi fill and poower set at max. It measures 1.831 inches between centers, but the wind was really picking up when it was shot.

Observations so far
I was surprised that the EscapeSS liked a higher power setting and fill pressure than either the Escape or the EscapeUL. Perhaps, that’s because of the shorter barrel, whose muzzle is so close to the front barrel bushing. I don’t know, but it underlines the need to test these adjustable rifles in many ways and with many pellets.

All 3 Escape rifles are for survival, though they can be used for hunting by anyone. Hunters typically use very few actual shots. The only exception would be when eliminating pests like rats or pigeons. The Escape rifles have small reservoirs that allow easy filling from a hand pump. I’ve found all 3 rifles to be well-suited to their role, but each has different qualities that the shooter may enjoy. With the EscapeSS the big difference is how quiet the rifle is. It’s not as quiet as some PCPs, but it’s also a good deal more powerful than most of them.

I’m still planning to report on the velocities of the 3 Escape rifles at their optimum power settings, so there’s more to come.

AirForce EscapeSS: Part 2

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3
AirForce EscapeSS: Part 1

This report covers:

• How loud?
• Experience with .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels.
• First accuracy test of the Escape SS.
• What’s next?

EscapeSS
AirForce EscapeSS

Today, we’ll start looking at the accuracy of the AirForce EscapeSS. Unlike other accuracy tests, this one didn’t start at 10 meters or even at 25 yards. I went right out to the rifle range and shot the rifle at the 50-yard backstop.

When you have an air rifle with the power of these Escape rifles, you have to take it outdoors. Unless you have a very special place to shoot, this is an outdoor air rifle.

How loud?
But with that said, the EscapeSS is also the quiet version of the rifle. So, I didn’t wear hearing protection at the outdoor range. I knew the gun wouldn’t be loud enough to hurt my ears, and I wanted to be able to tell you how loud it is. I did not fire the rifle on full power for today’s test, but all the shots sounded very restrained. I would say it was louder than a Benjamin 392 on 8 pump strokes, but not as loud as a Benjamin Discovery in .22 caliber. It’s a sound you can hear, but it isn’t as sharp as a .22 long rifle or even a .22 short.

Experience with AirForce .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels
To this point in time, I’ve tested the Escape and the EscapeUL — both in .25 caliber. The .25 caliber doesn’t have many accurate pellets, but testing these rifles and the TalonP pistol has revealed a few. One of them stands out as the absolute best. The Predator Polymag pellet in .25 caliber is hands-down the most accurate pellet I’ve tested in these Escape rifles, and my observation agrees with the Escape’s co-developer — Ton Jones.

I cut right to the chase and used the Predator Polymag pellet exclusively in today’s test. I’ll try other pellets in future tests — but, for today, I shot only this one.

Setup
The other experience I have with the Escape rifles is that they’re most accurate with fill levels of 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. That’s how I set up the rifle for the first group.

I removed the Bushnell Banner 6-18X50 scope from the EscapeUL and mounted it on the EscapeSS in a BKL 1-piece mount and, without even sighting in, I started shooting at 50 yards. I’d planned on sighting in, but my first pellet struck the bull I was aiming at, so there was nothing more to be done. Apparently the EscapeUL and EscapeSS are very similar!

I shot 5-shot groups, because I have found the Escape rifles to be most accurate within a 5-shot band. Sometimes, this will stretch to 6 or even 7 shots, but that’s about all if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. And I’m shooting groups so small they prove the rifle for hunting purposes! This is not some generalization or extrapolation of accuracy. I’m reporting what these rifles can do in the field.

The first 5 shots went into 1.197 inches at 50 yards. The group was off to the left of the bull, with just the first shot in the black.

EscapeSS first group
First 5 Predator Polymags at 50 yards went into 1.197 inches. This was without sighting-in the rifle — just mounted the scope and started shooting!

With these same settings, the worst group of 5 went into 1.341 inches, and the best 5 went into 0.975 inches. That’s 3 groups that average 1.171 inches. That is about what the rifle does on this setting.

EscapeSS second group
Second 5 Predator Polymags at 50 yards went into 1.341 inches. Of the 3 groups on this setting, this was the worst.

Next, I boosted the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and left the power setting at 6. I got 2 groups — one that was 0.903 inches and the other that was 1.63 inches. That’s a big difference.

EscapeSS third group
Bumping the fill pressure to 2,200 psi and leaving the power set on 6, I put 5 Predator pellets into 0.903 inches — the second-best of this test. But the very next group using the same settings opened up much larger.

Next, the power was increased to 6, and the fill pressure remained at 2,200 psi. I got one group at 1.638 inches, which turned out to be the worst of the test, and a second at 1.077 inches.

I dropped the fill back to 2,000 psi and left the power at 8. This gave a group measuring 1.185 inches.

After that, I dropped the power to 7 with a fill pressure of 2,000 psi. The first group measured 0.778 inches, and the next one measured 1.444 inches. The 0.778-inch group was the best of the entire test.

EscapeSS fourth group
These 5 Predator pellets went into 0.778 inches — the best of this test. That ragged hole at the top is a pellet hole that has partially closed.

Analysis
How do we make sense from these results? It seems the rifle is capable of shooting 5-shot groups smaller than one inch at 50 yards, but the average is slightly larger than one inch. Only one group in this test was as large as 1.50 inches, which I think says a lot about the stability of the .25-caliber Predator Polymag in this rifle.

I didn’t test the other 2 Escape rifles this way, but the results I got with both of them do seem to fit this pattern. It was only because of those results that it was possible to cut through the maze of pellets, pressures and power settings and get these results so fast.

Of course, I haven’t tried this pellet at full power, yet, nor have I tried the rifle with a 3,000 psi fill. I think that has to be tried — just to say that it was done.

The rifle also needs to be tested with other pellets; although, if the groups it gets are similar to those gotten with the other 2 Escape rifles, we may begin to understand that all .25-caliber Lothar Walther barrels perform similarly.

When the other accuracy testing is completed, I’ll test all 3 Escape rifles for their velocities with the most accurate pellets. That would be the information I would want as a hunter.

Evaluation of the EscapeSS
The EscapeSS is closest to the TalonP pistol that sired all three Escape rifles. You would expect the performance to be identical, except that this rifle is both quieter and comes standard with an adjustable buttstock. If you’re looking for quieter performance in a survival air rifle, the EscapeSS might be the one for you.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 3

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 1
AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

I’m still in Ft. Smith, Arkansas, filming segments for this year’s American Airgunner TV show, so today’s report will be short. After I reported the 50-yard accuracy test for the EscapeUL, blog reader Gunfun1 asked me if I had remembered to coat the pellets with Slip 2000 oil that Ton Jones likes. I had to admit that I’d forgotten, so I promised him I would. Last Friday, I went to the range and shot the EscapeUL with just the 2 best pellets — the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet that develops the maximum power in the rifle, and the Predator Polymag pellet that was the most accurate on lower power.

Predator Polymag
The first pellet I shot was the Predator Polymag. I did that because the rifle was still set on the same power setting I used in the last test. If you recall, I shot 2 groups of Polymags that time. One was 5 pellets in 0.622 inches at 50 yards. I thought that was phenomenal! The second group of 5 opened up to 1.298 inches, but I shot it in a continuous wind. I just waited for quieter moments, but the wind was always blowing for that group.

Oiling the pellets
I put several drops of the Slip 2000 lube on the foam that JSB packs in the tops of their tins. Predator Polymags are made by JSB, so they always have this foam. Then, I put some pellets on the foam and rolled them around until they were moist to the touch.

The first target I shot looked like it was going to beat my earlier best group; but after 3 shots, the rifle threw the next shot to another location, opening the group much larger. Okay, I thought, maybe I didn’t get the fill pressure just right. I continued shooting until there were 6 shots on this target. The entire group measures 1.545 inches between centers. That isn’t bad; but in light of what I did before with unoiled pellets, I wasn’t happy with it.

EscapeUL with Predator Polymag pellets
Six oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 1.545-inch group. The first 3 shots were at the upper left.

This group suggested to me that the EscapeUL doesn’t like oiled pellets. It seemed like once the bore was oily, accuracy went south. Of course, I couldn’t let it ride without testing it once more. This time, the pellets were oiled in the same way, but the bore was already oily. I mention that because the next group of 5 wasn’t nearly as good as the first. Five Predator Polymags went into 2.634 inches! And that was what I expected would happen. When I saw the pellets in the previous group opening up, it was something I have seen before. Oiled pellets often do this, in my experience.

EscapeUL-predator-group-2
Five more oiled Predator Polymag pellets made this 2.634-inch group. From what I’ve seen, this is pretty common with oiled pellets, though sometimes they’ll shoot better than they do when dry.

The wind was starting to pick up, so I switched from Polymags to Eun Jins. This time, I ran the power up as high as it would go and filled the reservoir to 3,000 psi. The last time, I shot 5 dry Eun Jin pellets into a group that measured 1.866 inches at 50 yards. That set the bar for the oiled pellets.

And the challenge was met! I got an almost-identical 1.862-inch, 5-shot group with the oiled Eun Jins. The measurement error is larger than the difference between these 2 groups!

EscapeUL-Eun-Jin-group
Five oiled heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.862 inches at 50 yards. That’s so close to what they did when dry that it’s too close to call.

Sometimes, you win…and other times not
I know this isn’t a huge test with lots of controls and numerous targets. But I didn’t think oiling the pellets was actually going to help. From what I see here, it didn’t. It’s just one extra step for little or no return. I certainly would not oil the Predators, again!

The one advantage I see with oiling is that it makes the pellets load easier. At least it does for the Predators. The Eun Jins load very hard no matter what you do. I had to use the flat side of the screwdriver blade on my pocket knife to get them into the breech — even after oiling!

I doubt I’ll oil pellets for this rifle again.

AirForce EscapeUL: Part 2

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

AirForce Escape: Part 1
AirForce Escape: Part 2
AirForce Escape: Part 3
AirForce EscapeUL Part 1

EscapeUL
The AirForce EscapeUL is a lightweight PCP with the Escape powerplant. Everything has been modified to save weight.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the new .25-caliber AirForce EscapeUL. This is the ultra-lightweight version of the Escape rifle and has most of the Escape’s power but is more than a pound lighter. The Escape is already lightweight, but at just 4.25 lbs., the EscapeUL is a real featherweight.

The day I chose to test this rifle was very cold, with a threatening breeze that soon picked up to a 20 m.p.h. wind. I did all of my shooting between puffs and gusts.

EscapeUL Tom at bench
It was a cold day that grew windier the longer I shot. But the EscapeUL did itself proud!

Full power
Because this rifle is so potentially powerful, I decided to test it all-out with the first 2 pellets. The power adjuster was run up as high as it would go and the tank was filled to 3,000 psi. The first pellet I tested was the heavyweight 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet. As you’ll recall from my tests of the Escape, I’m shooting 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups because the velocity decreases with every shot. At 50 yards, I can keep 5 shots in a good group, but trying to do that for 10 in a row opens things up. There are still 10 good shots on a fill, but you have to change your aim point to use all of them.

The first group measured 1.866 inches between centers. That’s with a pellet that produces from 70 to 80 percent of the power of a .22 long rifle bullet, so it’s plenty potent. The Eun Jin pellets are not the most accurate in these rifles; but for power on target, they’re pretty hard to beat.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin pointer target
Five heavy Eun Jin pointed pellets went into 1.866 inches at 50 yards on max power.

Next, I refilled the rifle and tried the same thing with the 35.8-grain Eun Jin dome. This time the group opened to 2.506 inches between centers. In light of the heavier pointed pellet’s accuracy, I don’t think I would use this pellet in this rifle.

EscapeUL 50-yard Eun Jin domed target
Five Eun Jin domes made this 2.506-inch group at 50 yards. This is not the pellet for this rifle — at least not on full power.

Experience comes in handy
I’ve said many times that a shooter can adjust these AirForce rifles so much that you’ll never be able to test everything; but, fortunately, there’s a better way if you have some experience to go on. And I did have some experience because I’d already tested the Escape rifle. While it does have 6 inches less barrel and a thinner barrel to boot, the rest of the EscapeUL is pretty much the same as the Escape. I felt that if I went in the direction that gave some success with the Escape, it might work with this rifle, as well.

JSB Exact King
I knew that the Lothar Walther barrels in AirForce rifles like JSB pellets, and in .25 caliber the JSB Exact King pellet is a real performer. When I tested the TalonP pistol, the King was one of the best pellets, and you know the Escape rifles are all based on the TalonP platform.

I also knew that I should reduce both the starting air pressure in the tank and the power setting to do well with the King. But I wanted to see if it could handle the full 3,000 psi; so, the tank was filled to the max, but the power setting was dialed back to setting 8. I started shooting and was so successful that I kept right on after the fifth shot. Eight shots went into 1.61 inches at 50 yards. I would have shot another 2 shots but this time the air pressure had dropped to 2,000 psi on the built-in gauge, and I thought the next shot might go somewhere else.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 1
Eight JSB King pellets went into this 1.61-inch group at 50 yards. They were going so well I couldn’t stop shooting!

Next, I tried the Kings with the same power setting (8) and a starting air pressure of 2,600 psi. I shot just 5 pellets that went into 1.209 inches at 50 yards. That was definitely the best the rifle had done to this point, but I’d seen even better accuracy from the Escape, so I decided to shoot these pellets again.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 2
When the fill pressure was stopped at 2,600 psi and the power setting was on 8, five JSB Kings went into 1.209 inches.

A second group of Kings with the same fill pressure and power settings produced a 1.526-inch group. That was still good, but I felt the rifle could do even better. It was time to switch pellets.

EscapeUL 50-yard JSB King target 3
Five more JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 2,600 psi fill made this 1.526-inch group.

Predator Polymags
Ton Jones has done more testing than I with these rifles, and he likes the Predator Polymag pellet the best. Even when he knows the Eun Jin pointed pellet produces more energy, he trusts the Predator Polymag to go where he shoots. That was the next pellet for me. I filled the tank to just 2,500 psi and set the power at 6.

I expected a good group, but I wasn’t prepared for how good! Five Polymags went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards. Despite the cold (20 degrees F) and the winds that were gusting to 20 m.p.h., this hollowpoint pellet was drilling them in!

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Predator Polymag pellets are definitely the ones for this rifle. Five went into 0.622 inches at 50 yards.

Predator calls their Polymag a pointed pellet, but I call it a hollowpoint. The point is just a plastic tip that’s glued in place. The pellet acts like a hollowpoint on game, so I call it one regardless of the plastic tip. Just a little quirk of mine, I guess.

That first group was stunning. By now, the wind was blowing all the time, and my day with air rifles had ended. I did shoot a final group of Polymags in the wind, waiting out the gusts and shooting when the wind was down to about 5-10 m.p.h. The same setting and fill pressure was used. This time, 5 pellets landed in 1.298 inches at 50 yards, and I can truthfully say it was the wind’s fault. However, this group is still the third best of the day, which says a lot for the Predators in a reasonable wind. I think Ton is right — this is the best pellet for the Escape rifles, but you have to lower the power and fill pressure.

EscapeUL 50-yard Predator Polymag target 1
Although this group is larger, it was shot in the wind. Five Predator Polymags went into 1.298 inches at 50 yards.

More to do
As with the Escape rifle, I’m not done with the test just yet. I need to get the velocity figures for the best pellets, power settings and fill pressures so we have some idea what this rifle can reasonably do in the field. Before I do that, I want to try the EscapeSS first.

Summary so far
Most shooters will look at the Escape’s raw power and choose it over the EscapeUL on that basis, alone. But I look at the light weight, compact size and the stunning accuracy of the EscapeUL and think it would be my pick, so far. From the standpoint of muzzle report and recoil, there’s very little difference in these 2 rifles. Both are loud and both kick like a rimfire rifle — perhaps even more. But there’s still one more rifle to test.

AirForce Escape: Part 2

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

Part 1

Tarzan! This weekend, a number of readers conducted a discussion of the fictional character Tarzan and the author who created him, Edgar Rice Burroughs. I thought you should all know an interesting connection of Tarzan to airguns. His grandson, J.R. Burroughs, was a big-time airgun importer in the 1990s. In fact, he imported many of the Korean brands that are still coming in today.

When I started writing about airguns in 1994, I got to know J.R. through my writing, and I eventually met him at one of the SHOT Shows. We continued to communicate about airguns and many other things well into the 21st century. I haven’t heard from him since I got sick back in 2010, so he may no longer be involved with airguns like he once was, but he was certainly a mover and shaker in the U.S. airgun scene during the time he was active.

A couple points of interest with J.R. He was the man who modified the Shinsung Career 707 adjustment wheel from 3 settings to 17 settings — giving us much greater control over the velocity of our rifles. The factory eventually made the same modification. It was possible to keep a Career shooting at the same velocity for a long time simply by adjusting the power wheel as you shot. I remember testing it over a chronograph and getting 90 shots that were all within 30 f.p.s.

J.R. also created the first adjustable trigger for the Career, and I believe he also created one of the first pellet feed mechanisms that was user-adjustable. Before that, you could only shoot a few types of pellets in the gun; but with his modification, many more types of pellets would work through the magazine.

His brother, Danton manages, the licensing of the Burroughs family literary property. Part of that is a collection of original Tarzan novels that were never sold. There was a fire in the storeroom many years ago and some of these books have smoke damage, but they’re all like-new hardcover books from the 1930s. I was gifted with one — Tarzan and the Forbidden City — from this collection, and J.R inscribed it, saying that his father had done the cover art.

Of course, many of you know that the southern California community of Tarzana was created from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzana Ranch in the San Fernando Valley. But how many know that Tarzana was also the name of small hamlet located on the ranch before Burroughs purchased it? And his Tarzan character appeared in print for the first time two years after he bought the ranch.

So, Tarzan does have ties to modern airgunning. I thought you would like to know that. One final thing. Burroughs didn’t just write adventure novels. He is also quite famous for his science fiction that bears a remarkable resemblance to his other works, but are set on Mars. Edith and I both enjoy the movie John Carter, in which Burroughs appears as a minor character who turns out to be the author who documents the “real-life” exploits of his uncle, John Carter. I think we enjoy it most because of our fond memories of J.R.

Now, let’s take our first serious look at the new AirForce Escape survival rifle. Before I start, I need to make a couple corrections to Part 1. I said the Escape SS (officially named the EscapeSS) has an 18-inch barrel and several readers figured out that wasn’t the case. It actually comes with a 12-inch barrel in either .22 or .25 caliber.

I also said the Escape valve is a modified TalonP pistol valve, which isn’t true. The TalonP valve is used exactly as it is in the pistol, so pistol owners who add a 24-inch barrel and end cap to their pistols can essentially have the Escape. The pistol’s frame is shorter than the Escape frame, but it is just right for the Escape Ultra Light (officially named the EscapeUL) that we’ll look at in a later report.

AirForce Escape rifle
The AirForce Airguns Escape precharged pneumatic air rifle is a powerful new survival rifle in both .22 and .25 calibers.

AirForce Talon P pistol
The TalonP pistol is the base gun used to create the new Escape-series rifles.

The Escape rifle looks like the other AirForce sporting rifles and has many of the same features. The new trigger is there, along with the new safety that can be taken off safe by the trigger finger, alone. The 2-stage trigger on my rifle breaks at a relatively clean 28 oz. While it’s not adjustable, I think most serious shooters will find it more than adequate.

The rifle weighs 5.3 lbs. unscoped and measures from 34.5 to 39 inches long, depending on where the extendible buttstock is set. That means the length of pull can also be varied from 9.75 to 14.25 inches.

Like all other AirForce rifles, the Esacpe has long 11mm rails on top and below the receiver. Since this is a survival gun, a bipod and sling swivels might be almost as important as a scope.

I tested this rifle differently than normal. Instead of getting the chronograph figures right away, I decided to shoot it at the range, so 2 days were spent on the range with the rifle in its .25-caliber incarnation. Once I have a good baseline of performance downrange, I’ll come back and chrono the best pellets, pressures and power settings. Because these rifles are so infinitely adjustable, it makes sense to figure out what works before you worry about the numbers.

But I’ll give you some velocity figures because Ton Jones tested the heck out of the rifle late last year, and AirForce provided me with the data. With .25-caliber JSB Exact King pellets and the rifle set to max power, Ton’s first shot was 1145 f.p.s. The first 10 shots on a 3,000 psi fill looked like this:

1–1145
2–1125
3–1106
4–1090
5–1078
6–1061
7–1044
8–1028
9–1017
10–1003

On power setting 8, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1100
2–1112
3–1133
4–1106
5–1107
6–1088
7–1075
8–1060
9–1041
10–1022

On power setting 4, the same pellet did this on the first 10 shots after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1041
2–1036
3–1077
4–1095
5–1080
6–1077
7–1100
8–1077
9–1091
10–1080

At max power and the highest velocity, this JSB pellet generated 73.96 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle.

With the 43.2-grain Eun Jin pointed pellet, the rifle did this on the first 10 shots at max power after a 3,000 psi fill:

1–1010
2–980
3–974
4–955
5–940
6–924
7–907
8–894
9–876
10–860

On 8 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–996
2–984
3–964
4–944
5–932
6–906
7–888
8–872
9–856
10–840

On 4 power with a 3,000 psi fill, the rifle did this with the Eun Jin:

1–986
2–975
3–959
4–950
5–937
6–922
7–902
8–889
9–870
10–849

At the max power setting and highest velocity, this pellet generated 97.88 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

I have the data on the Escape’s .22-caliber performance, but that will make today’s report too large, so let me continue with just the .25-caliber rifle, which is how AirForce set it up for me. I took it to the rifle range on 2 different days. Both were cold but the first one was also very windy, so I’m going to show you the results of day 2 testing, only. The day was 16 degrees F (-9 C) but dead calm. I shot several types of pellets this day and based on those velocity figures you have just seen, I decided to shoot 5-shot groups instead of 10-shot groups.

Ton Jones maintains that a survival situation calls for a single well-placed shot, rather than a number of shots fired rapidly. I agree with him, so I’m not testing the Escape as I normally would. I fired 5 shots and then topped off the air tank. When you’re making single shots, that makes sense.

On max power the best groups I shot were with JSB Exact King pellets and Predator Polymag pellets. At 50 yards, 5 JSB Kings went into a group that measured 1.846 inches between centers. That’s a large group, but remember that you’re shooting at large targets, and 50 yards may be farther than you choose to shoot.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King max 50 yards
Five JSB Exact Kings went into 1.846 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Predator Polymags put five into 1.819 inches at the same 50 yards on max. power. Notice that both pellets spread their shots horizontally.

AirForce Escape rifle Predator Polymag max 50 yards
Five Predator Polymag pellets went into 1.819 inches at 50 yards on maximum power.

Experience takes over
I’m not going to bore you with each and every experiment I did on this day, but I want you to know that I also tried Benjamin domed pellets and Beeman Kodiak pellets. Both gave similar results, with the Kodiaks doing slightly better than the Benjamins.

But I knew that this rifle was more accurate than this. From my experience with other powerful precharged rifles, plus the testing I did with the TalonP pistol, I reckoned the fill pressure had to be lowered and the power adjusted. It soon became obvious this was correct and the JSB Exact King pellet was the one to go with. After several more groups, I settled on a fill of just under 2,000 psi and a power setting of 6. The groups became amazing with this combination, plus they were remarkably uniform from group to group.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 1
First good group of JSB Kings on power setting 6 with a 1950 psi fill gave me this 0.751-inch, 5-shot group at 50 yards.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 2
After adjusting the scope, I put 5 JSB Kings into 0.694 inches at 50 yards. This was the best group of the day.

AirForce Escape rifle JSB King power 6 group 3
Another 5 JSB Kings went into 0.841 inches at 50 yards. This was the worst group of 6 that were fired with this combination of pellet, pressure and power setting.

Now that I know where at least one sweet spot is located, that will be what I’ll test through a chronograph. I’ll guess that this pellet is producing something in the 30 foot-pound range with the settings I used. Hitting the target with that kind of energy is much more meaningful than missing with three times more.

I also haven’t tested the heavy Eun Jin pellet for accuracy. And Ton told me that he lubricated his pellets with Slip 2000, which I’ve obtained, so I’ll be able to replicate what he did.

Summary
How do I summarize anything when I’ve only just started to test the rifle? There’s enough variability here that I could spend the rest of my life just testing the Escape in .25 caliber! What I can tell you is that the rifle performs as advertised, and, yes, you do have to work with it to get these kinds of results. AirForce has always made air rifles for the thinking man, and the new Escape continues that tradition proudly.

Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 4

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

Benjamin Marauder PCP .177-caliber air rifle: Part 1
Part 2
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Part 7
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 3
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber 50-yard test: Special part

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock
New Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock has all the features of the classic Marauder in a lighter, trimmer package.

Well, it’s certainly been a long time between reports on this rifle, hasn’t it? Today, we’ll begin looking at the accuracy of the .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder with the synthetic stock. Some of you have already asked me if I plan to also test the new wood-stocked Marauder that has the same new action as this one. I have no plans to test it because I feel this test encompasses everything on the rifle, except for the stock material.

I was particularly keen on testing this rifle because we had a couple new readers who had purchased this gun and were having accuracy problems with it. I wanted to pay closer attention to accuracy than normal. After all, this is a new action, even if the changes have been relatively minor. Also, this is the first .22-caliber Marauder I’ve tested. Since Crosman makes both the .177- and .22-caliber barrels and buys the .25-caliber barrels from Green Mountain, I feel it’s worthwhile to examine this rifle more closely.

Sight-in
I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi because we learned in Part 3 that it’s on the power curve with a 3,000 psi fill. Then, I fired a single shot from 12 feet to see if I was on paper. Following that, I backed up to 25 yards and refined my sight picture. Only the 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers went everywhere! I got them on target, but sometimes a pellet landed an inch away from the aim point.

What was happening?
This is what a couple readers had described, so I did what I advised them to do. I removed all the baffles (see Part 2 of the Synthetic Stock review for this) to see if the pellets were touching any of them. Since they’re just plastic, it would be obvious if a pellet nicked one; but there was no sign of this on close inspection. So, I assembled the baffles and closed the shroud again.

And the next 10 shots with Premiers were remarkable! They went into a group that measures 0.246 inches between centers. Right away I guessed what might be happening is that the rifle was smoothing out as the air pressure dropped. So, even though the power curve seems to support a 3,000 psi fill, the targets do not show the same thing.

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock Premier Group 1
Ten Crosman Premiers in 0.246 inches is pretty conclusive! The new synthetic-stocked Marauder can shoot!

You can’t tell everything from just a single group — even a tight one like this. More testing was needed, but now I would be careful about the pressure level at which the groups were shot.

I tried many more pellets, but I’m not going to show all the groups. In all, I fired a total of ten 10-shot groups, making this test more exhaustive than my usual 25-yard accuracy test. I wanted to pin down this pressure-versus-accuracy correlation to see if it was real or imagined.

JSB Exact Jumbo
The 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet gave a very clear example of how the pressure affects the groups. The first group was fired from a fresh 3,000 psi fill and 10 pellets went into 1.131 inches. You can tell at a glance that the pellets are scattered around.

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock JSB Exact Jumbo Group 1
On a fresh 3,000 psi fill, 10 JSB Exact Jumbos are scattered around in a 1.131-inch group.

The second group of the same JSB pellets was fired after the first group. By this point, the rifle’s internal pressure has dropped to the mid-2,000 psi point (2500 to 2600 psi). This group still isn’t a good one, but you can see that it’s tightening up. It measures 0.872 inches between centers.

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock JSB Exact Jumbo Group 2
The second 10 JSB Exact Jumbos on the fill tightened up to 0.872 inches. Still not a good group, but better than the first.

On the third group of 10 shots (still on the same fill), the group really tightened up. These 10 went into 0.592 inches. That’s a good group, but maybe I don’t want to use this pellet in this rifle because it seems too fussy.

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock JSB Exact Jumbo Group 3
The third 10 JSB Exact Jumbos on the fill tightened up to 0.592 inches. This is an acceptable 10-shot group for 25 yards.

No Predators, no Newboys!
I tried both Predator Polymag and Skenco Newboy Seniors, but both were too long to fit in the Marauder’s rotary magazine. If you want to use these pellets, you’ll need to use a single-shot tray; and since Crosman no longer makes them in .22, good luck finding one. Of course, you can load pellets without the tray, but it’s more difficult to align them with the breech.

I wondered how Premiers might do on the third batch of 10 shots after the fill. Ten pellets went into 0.496 inches. Not as tight as the second 10 after the fill, but still very good!

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock Crosman Premier Group 2
The third batch of 10 Premiers after the fill went into 0.496 inches. This is a good 10-shot group for 25 yards.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
The 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets behaved much the same as the regular Jumbos, except the groups were tighter. The first 10 went into 0.653 inches; the second 10 went into 0.657 inches, and the third batch went into 0.591. All 3 groups are pretty close to one another; but in light of the Premiers and the Kodiaks we have yet to see, I don’t think they’re the best in this particular rifle.

Beeman Kodiaks
I was burned out when I got to the Beeman Kodiak pellets — 100+ shots is too much for a single session when every shot requires concentration. I didn’t mention shooting RWS Superdomes yet. I did shoot 1 group with them, and it was a bust at 0.83 inches. When I got to the Kodiaks, I wasn’t concentrating as well as I would have liked. And I shot this single group on a fresh 3,000 psi fill. I felt I could get away with that because of the weight of the 21-grain Kodiak pellet.

And I was right. Even though I was fading, 10 pellets still went into a tight round hole that measurtes 0.378 inches between centers! It’s the second-best group of the test and earns the Kodiak a spot in the 50-yard test, for sure!

Benjamin Marauder with synthetic stock Beeman Kodiak Jumbo Group 1
Ten Beeman Kodiaks made this very round 0.378-inch group at 25 yards. What a nice finish to today’s shooting!

What I’ve learned
The first thing I learned from today’s test is that this particular rifle doesn’t seem to shoot as well on a fresh fill as it does on the second and third magazine of pellets. So, if you stop filling at 2,600 psi, you’ll get 20 good shots from the rifle and not waste any air. I also learned that Crosman Premiers are the miracle pellet in this rifle, just like they’ve always been.

That last group of Beeman Kodiaks has me thinking that Premiers and Kodiaks will battle it out at 50 yards for the overall accuracy championship. I know Premiers are aerodynamically excellent, but the Kodiaks look like a real challenger in this air rifle.

I need to comment on the noise, or lack of noise. This .22 caliber Marauder is extremely quiet. It’s more like a .177 than it is like a .25 in that respect.

I expected to have problems with accuracy when I encountered those wild shots during sight-in. But by hanging in there and shooting both the second 10 and the third 10, I learned that this rifle likes to push its pellet slower than most. I would have to live with the gun for a long time to learn all of its secrets, but the test rifle is a very accurate PCP that’s worthy of the Benjamin Marauder reputation.

I like the synthetic-stocked rifle, but in my opinion it is no better than the older model in the wood stock. I never minded the thickness of the old wood stock, so I’m just going on the performance of the gun at this point.

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