Posts Tagged ‘Rekord trigger’

TX200 Mark III: Part 9

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8

TX 200 Mark III new rifle
Brand new TX200 Mark III. It’s very similar to my TX; but the checkering is different, and the line of the forearm is more scalloped.

This report is getting long and perhaps a little confusing, so let me explain what I’m doing. We’ve been looking at the Air Arms TX200 Mark III underlever air rifle. I used my own TX for the first 6 parts of the report. In Part 7, I introduced a brand new TX that Pyramyd Air sent for me to test. Many of you were concerned that the rifle had changed somehow over the years since mine was made, and perhaps what’s shipped today isn’t the same rifle…so I agreed to test a new one for you. The first look at that rifle came in Part 7 of the report, and in Part 8 we looked at the velocity.

Today ,I’m going to show you the trigger in detail, describe how to adjust it and explain why I always say the TX trigger is an upgrade of the Rekord trigger that Weihrauch introduced back in the 1950s. To get to the trigger adjustments, the triggerguard must be removed. But today I’m going farther into the gun to show you the entire trigger assembly. That will help me explain how the trigger functions.

The stock needs to come off to get into the rifle, so I did that first. Just remove 2 forearm screws and 2 more triggerguard screws.

Once out of the stock, the action and trigger can be seen clearly.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle action
The trigger unit is inside the spring tube with seemingly no way to come out. The rifle must be partially disassembled to remove the trigger.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle disassembly blot
Here you see the disassembly bolt  (all the way to the lef). Turn it out, and the rifle comes apart. You can also see the 3 trigger adjustment screws. On the trigger blade are screws to adjust the first-stage length and adjust the sear contact area. Behind the trigger blade is an Allen screw that adjusts the trigger pull weight. Behind that is the threaded hole the rear triggerguard screw goes into.

If I were just adjusting the trigger I wouldn’t need to go even this far. Just remove the triggerguard and start by adjusting the trigger return spring tension. I found that was all I needed to do on the test rifle, as the first-stage length and sear contact area were right as they came from the factory. But you can adjust either of them or both.

To take the trigger unit out of the gun, I removed the disassembly bolt. As it turned, I pressed down on the entire barrelled action with the end cap resting on a soft cloth pad. When the bolt was free, the mainspring decompressed less than 2 inches.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle disassembly bolt out
The disassembly bolt is out, and the mainspring has relaxed. The trigger unit moved less than 2 inches. A mainspring compresser was not used.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger assebly out
When the trigger unit comes out of the rifle, it’s still pinned to the end cap and spring guide like this. Now, the trigger unit looks familiar to Rekord owners because the 2 pins that hold it to the end cap are visible.

Because I want to show you how this trigger works, I’m going to continue to disassemble the end cap. The 2 pins that hold the trigger unit in the cap are driven out. They are several times harder to remove than Weihrauch trigger pins. This unit is together very tight!

Once the trigger assembly is out, we can see how it differs from the Rekord.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger assebly
The trigger assembly is similar to the Rekord — but also different. The box is riveted together instead of being a folded sheet metal structure. There’s an additional pin, forward of the trigger blade, and internally there are bearings where the Rekord parts just turn on pins.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle Rekord trigger
A Rekord trigger for comparison. Weihrauch did more with sheet metal stampings.

So far, I’ve shown you the differences but not described how they work. For starters, the Air Arms trigger has adjustments for the first-stage pull and for the sear contact area, as well as for trigger-pull weight. The Rekord has the sear engagement adjustment and the pull weight adjustment but not the first-stage adjustment. But that isn’t what makes the Air Arms trigger better.

What makes the Air Arms trigger better is the presence of bearings instead of just pins. The parts are also more finely fitted, which has to be done during manufacture because there’s no money in the gun for costly hand-fitting. And the trigger isn’t the only place that’s different. The piston is also different.

Circular piston
The TX200 has what I will call a circular piston. All pistons are circular, of course, but most of them are held from rotating by the cocking shoe. Because of that, the piston can have a hook that’s engaged by the trigger when the gun’s cocked. That’s how the Weihrauch rifles that use the Rekord trigger are made. But what if the piston was free to rotate on its axis?

TX 200 Mark III new rifle piston
TX200 piston has bearing surfaces front and rear.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle piston rear
Detail of the rear piston bearing. Also, note how far the piston rod sticks out the rear of the piston. Weihrauch pistons don’t have bearings front and rear, so they tend to vibrate more when fired.

Blog reader RidgeRunner asked how the TX piston was cocked by the sliding compression chamber. The answer is that the chamber pushes the piston back until the trigger catches it. The piston rod is so long that it can be caught by the trigger while the piston is still inside the compression chamber.

When the gun is cocked, the piston rod comes back and pushes the trigger parts into lockup. As they lock up, a hook catches the rear of the piston rod and holds it until the sear releases it.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger cocked
I have manually cocked the trigger the same way the piston does.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger cocked from side
This is what the cocked trigger looks like with my hand out of the way.

TX 200 Mark III new rifle trigger holding piston
And this is how the trigger holds on to the piston, no matter how it turns inside the gun.

The ability of the piston to turn on its long axis while being supported front and rear by bearings adds smoothness to the powerplant without sacrificing power. A centrally located air transfer port that’s centered on the piston boosts the air scavenging efficiency and therefore the available power. The TX200 Mark III is giving all the power it can from a powerplant that’s still smooth and easily cocked.

How is the trigger after adjustment?
Before I adjusted the trigger, it released crisply at 1 lb., 12 oz., which is 28 oz. All I adjusted was the trigger return spring tension and now the trigger breaks cleanly at 12 ounces. So the adjustment dropped one entire pound. And, yet, the sear still has the same contact area, so it’s just as safe as before.

A good tuner can adjust a Rekord just as light, but the sear contact area won’t be as great as it is at 3 lbs. The Air Arms trigger allows for this adjustment without sacrificing any safety. That’s what I meant by the TX trigger being more finely adjustable that a Rekord.

By the way, the work done here, including taking the pictures, took a total of 30 minutes.

What’s for Christmas? Part 2

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

Part 1

This topic was received well last week, so I’m doing the second list today. Several readers have reminded me of other gifts I should mention, and some of them will make today’s list. If I don’t list something you suggested, there’s a reason. These are the things I recommend without question.

Stocking stuffers/small, neat gifts

Gifts in this category don’t cost a lot but will have great meaning to airgunners. Some of them are things that shooters won’t buy for themselves.

Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater
Someone suggested the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and I have to agree. This is a great gift, and it’s one that a lot of shooters won’t buy for themselves.

EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit
The EyePal Peep Sight Master Kit is another gift that people may not think about; but when they have one, they’ll love it. I chose the Master Kit so you can use it with both rifles and pistols (and bows if you’re an archer, too). Even if you don’t wear prescription glasses, the EyePal is a great aid for your safety glasses to sharpen your vision and make that front sight clear!

Eyepal peep sight master kit The EyePal makes the front sight appear razor sharp. Use it on prescription glasses and non-prescription safety glasses, alike.

Pellet selection
Here’s a gift I’m putting in this section, although it will cost you some money. Pyramyd Air offers 4 tins of pellets for the price of 3. Your favorite airgunner has pellets he or she really likes, but they don’t buy them all the time because they may cost too much.

Consider this gift similar to one of those fancy boxes of candies or Christmas smoked meats that are given this time of year. Nearly everybody likes them, but we don’t spend money on them for ourselves. So, this is an opportunity to buy something your airgunner wants but will never buy himself. The one problem you have is finding out which pellets to buy. Rather than try and guess what your airgunner wants, I’m going to leave this up to you. You need to do a little investigation, maybe look at the pellets that he has on the shelf, or just talk to him and find out what he really wants but hasn’t bought.

Gifts under $50

Crosman 357
For a pistol shooter the Crosman 357W is a great idea. It’s a revolver, so you get multiple shots per loading; and for the money, it’s an accurate little air pistol.

Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife
If your airgunner is a gadget junkie, you can’t do much better than a Walther Multi-Tac tactical knife. It’s a tool kit for your pocket. And it has a 440C stainless steel blade to cut whatever you need.

Walther multi-tac tactical multi-tool and knife Walther’s Multi-Tac knife is a toolkit in your pocket!

Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight
Can’t have too many flashlights! Not when you need one! The Walther Xenon Tactical flashlight uses two CR123A batteries to cast a 60-lumen light. That means you get both good battery life and a powerful light.

Gifts under $100

Some of these gifts are just over the $50 mark, so look at them carefully. This category holds some of the most surprising values in airguns.

Legends Makarov
The Makarov from Umarex is a wonderful BB pistol that I just can’t stop talking about. I bought one for myself after testing it! It’s extremely accurate for a BB pistol, which means you really can use it for target practice. It runs on CO2, so don’t forget to get some CO2 cartridges if you give this gun as a gift.

Legends Makarov CO2 BB pistolSimply one of the best BB pistols you can buy at the price, the Legends Makarov is accurate, well-made and inexpensive.

Crosman 2240
Another fine CO2 pistol is the single-shot Crosman 2240. It’s a .22-caliber, bolt-action pistol that’s powerful and accurate, plus it serves as the basis for many aftermarket modifications.

Ruger Mark I
The Ruger Mark I air pistol is powered by a spring-piston. It isn’t very powerful, but it’s a great companion for the handgun shooter who only wants to poke holes in targets and plink with a pistol that’s easy to cock and accurate.

Stoeger X5 air rifle
The Stoeger X5 air rifle is a wonderful, youth-sized, spring-piston rifle that has enough quality to make my list. The trigger is a little stiff, but the accuracy is there. It reminds me of the Hämmerli 490 that is, sadly, no longer available.

Gifts a little over $100

I created this category for those items that are a few dollars over $100 but are still within the realm of economy. Sometimes, the things you want are just over the line — no matter where you arbitrarily draw it.

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph.
The Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph is the instrument I use to document 98 percent of the work I do. I use it because it’s small, portable and very reliable. Sure, there are reasons to use my Oehler 35P chrono, sometimes; but most of the time, this is my choice.

Shooting Chrony Alpha chronograph
Though it’s just $10 over a hundred, the Shooting Chrony Alpha has everything you need!

Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun
I have to recommend the Daisy Avanti Champion 499 BB gun because it is the target shooter’s dream. Where other BB guns will put 10 shots into three-quarter of an inch at 16 feet when all is right, this one will put 10 into a quarter-inch at the same distance. This is a shooter’s tool, not a hunting gun or bragging-rights gun. Be sure to stock up on the special Avanti Precision Ground Shot if you get this gun because it definitely adds accuracy! And order some special 5-meter BB targets that are sized right for this gun!

IZH 60 air rifle
I am also going to put the IZH 60 air rifle on my list this year. Though the accuracy slipped when the gun’s design was changed several years ago, this is still a delightful youth rifle that’s easy enough for even smaller kids to cock. It has reasonable accuracy, and the sidelever design means that fingers can’t be pinched in the mechanism like they would on guns having sliding compression chambers. I recommend the single-shot over the repeater for reasons of safety.

Daisy 953 TargetPro
I normally don’t recommend combo guns, but I’ll make an exception for the Daisy 953 TargetPro. It’s a pellet rifle with enough accuracy to get you into the game without spending a bundle.

Gifts under $300

Gifts in this category start to take on the aura of personal taste. My recommendations may not be what your airgunner wants, so you need to find out if they are before you buy anything.

Benjamin 392 pump
This one is very personal. You airgunner will either like it or not. So, check first. The Benjamin 392 pump is the best multi-pump rifle going, these days. Its heritage dates back to the late 19th century, so there’s a lot of history there. I also chose the .22-caliber 392 for its power; but if your airgunner only wants to shoot at targets, then the 397 is the same rifle and shoots cheaper .177 pellets.

Daisy Avanti 853
The Daisy 853 is right at $300, but its a great buy even at that price. It features a Lothar Walther barrel and has been used by millions of kids for competition in the decades it’s been around. The trigger is rough, but there are several websites that tell you how to fix it. To get anything with better accuracy, you’re going to need to spend several hundred dollars more.

Diana RWS LP8
Want an air pistol that shoots like a rifle? The Diana RWS LP8 is the one to get. It just may be the best value in a really good air pistol these days. It has plenty of power and is very accurate. The breakbarrel cocking is on the heavy side, but an adult male shouldn’t have a problem.

RWS Diana LP8 air pistol
For the price, the Diana RWS LP8 air pistol can’t be beat.

Gifts without limit

Now, we can spread our wings a little. This is where many of the better airguns live.

HW 30S
Let’s start with the HW 30S. You know this rifle as the Beeman R7 when it’s in a different stock, but airgunners know the HW 30S has the same powerplant and the same adjustable Rekord trigger as the R7. If your airgunner likes the styling of the HW 30S, it’s less expensive; but if he wants an R7, it’s also a wonderful spring-piston air rifle.

Diana RWS 48
If you want a big bruiser spring-piston air rifle, the Diana RWS 48 is one I would recommend. And, I recommend it in .22 caliber, where you get all the power it can develop. The 48 is a sidelever that’s surprisingly easy to cock, despite the level of power it delivers. It’s also very accurate. One thing, though, the 48 is a big air rifle, so be sure your shooter knows what he’s in store for. Definitely for adults, only.

Diana RWS 48 air rifle
Diana 48 sidelever from RWS is large and in charge!

TalonP air pistol
There’s no other smallbore air pistol that can hold a candle to the TalonP air pistol from AirForce Airguns. It comes in .25 caliber and has 10 shots per fill at over 50 foot-pounds of muzzle energy! Many rifles can’t equal it! When I tested it for accuracy, I got sub-one-inch groups at 50 yards. It’s a hunting air pistol extraordinaire.

AirForce TalonP air pistol
The TalonP pistol from AirForce Airguns leads the pack for power and accuracy.

Walther LGV Challenger
If you want a really fine breakbarrel spring rifle, you can’t do better than the Walther LGV Challenger. I recommend the .22-caliber gun because it was so smooth when I tested it.

Trigger happy: Part 3

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

Announcement: Adam Vierra is this week’s winner of Pyramyd Air’s Big Shot of the Week on their airgun facebook page. He’ll receive a $50 Pyramyd Air gift card. Congratulations!

Pyramyd Air Big Shot of the Week

Adam Vierra is this week’s Big Shot of the Week on Pyramyd Air’s facebook page.

Part 1
Part 2

I wasn’t sure there was going to be a Part 3 to this report. But yesterday, when I read your interest about the airguns with double-set triggers, I decided that it was okay to do one more, and this one will be about set triggers, match triggers and stuff like that.

As it happens, this blog is very timely for me, because this past Wednesday I was at the range shooting several firearms and a new airgun that you’re going to read about in January. One of the firearms I shot was my new Winchester high wall in .219 Zipper Improved. Some of you may remember that was the rifle I recently bought and discovered after the fact that it has a single-set trigger.

Winchester single set trigger
The screw that hangs down behind this trigger is the telltale clue that it’s a single-set trigger. You can either pull it the usual way, in which case it breaks at about 3-1/2 lbs., or push the trigger forward after the rifle is cocked. It then breaks at just 6 oz.

Shooting an obsolete caliber like a .219 Zipper Improved is a lot of work because they don’t make ammunition for it. In fact, they never have. This cartridge is called a wildcat because it’s always been necessary for the shooter to make the ammunition from some other cartridge. The .219 Zipper was a standard commercial cartridge at one time and is based on a 30-30 case. The Zipper Improved is based on the standard Zipper case, which means it, too, can be made from a 30-30 case. In fact, that’s how they’re made today.

.219 Zipper Improved and 30-30
Here we see a 30-30 (left) and the .219 Zipper Improved that sprang from it.

But my shooting buddy, Otho, discovered that the case dimensions of the now-obsolete but far more recent .225 Winchester are virtually identical to the .219 Zipper Improved. The rim is thinner and a trifle narrower, but it’s close. So, he thought we could make our cases from .225 Winchester cases, which are now being produced in limited quantities.

To make a long story short, the .225 case is so exact that all I have to do is prime it, fill it with powder and put a bullet in the neck. That saves me about 5 minutes of case preparation time for each case (when making them from a 30-30), and I also don’t have to clean my gun after fire-forming the new cases, which is a royal pain. Also, I lose about 40 percent of the formed cases, and I don’t think I’m going to lose any with this new method.

On Wednesday, I was at the range with 20 rounds of .219 Zipper Improved made from new .225 Winchester cases to see if this works. The measurements said it should, but since we’re generating 45,000 psi with every shot, theory and practical application are two different things.

I loaded the cartridges on the light side for safety, and I loaded only 5 with each amount of powder so I wouldn’t have to pull apart dozens of cartridges if they weren’t right. I’d seated the 40-grain bullet out as far as I felt I could and still keep it stable in the case. That’s supposed to improve accuracy — if the bullet doesn’t travel far before engaging the rifling.

The set trigger
Now we come to the subject of this report. My rifle has an aftermarket single-set trigger that releases with 6 oz. of pressure. To me, it feels like nothing. I can barely feel my finger touch the trigger blade when the gun fires. That’s as light as I ever want a trigger to be, and only then if it’s on a target rifle or a varmint rifle like this one. I want to be in position and ready to take the shot before I touch that blade.

So, now you appreciate that everything was perfect for this endeavor. If the loads I cooked up were accurate, nothing should get in the way of the results. Put the crosshairs in the center of the aim point at 100 yards, get stable and touch the trigger — BAM! The deed is done. All you have to do is look through the scope. The bullet should be moving at about 3,600 f.p.s., so the hold isn’t very much of a factor. Just make sure you have your head at the same spot every time so parallax cannot enter into the equation, and you should be good to go.

The first 5 shots included the very first shot after the barrel had been cleaned. That one went almost an inch wide, while the next 4 shots landed in a group that measures 0.51 inches between the centers of the two widest shots.

The rifle was shooting a little high so I adjusted the scope down for the next group.

The next 5 shots were with a powder charge weighing one grain more than the first load. I saw the first bullet from this batch land almost exactly on the vertical line above the center of the aim point, so I proceeded to shoot 4 more shots after it. I couldn’t see these shots through my 10x rifle scope, but the spotting scope revealed a tight cluster next to the first shot. That was worth investigating. We called a cease fire, and I walked down to look at the target. What I saw was amazing. The final 4 shots had landed in a tiny cluster measuring 0.239 inches between center. When the first shot is added, the group opens to 0.444 inches. For me this is a very good group!

.219 Zipper Improved groups
Top group is the first 5 shots with the new cases. Bottom group is the second 5 shots, using one grain more powder. The group measures 0.444 inches between centers…and the smaller group of 4 measures 0.239 inches, which is less than a quarter-inch at 100 yards.

Hurray!

But the single thing that made this group possible — other than lucking out and picking the right bullet and the absolute best powder charge on the first time out with these new cartridges (which is at least a thousand-to-one-guess) — was the set trigger. It took me out of the equation, by virtue of making the rifle fire when all things were perfect. Even a heartbeat, which can throw off a bullet by more than an inch at 100 yards, was not an issue because I was using the M-T-M Predator shooting rest that holds the rifle perfectly on target without my help.

And that’s what set triggers do. They allow you to either eliminate the human from the shooting equation; or, conversely, they allow the human to knowingly pull the trigger at the exact instant the sight picture is perfect. That’s called sniping the target, and it’s usually not recommended; but since a set trigger doesn’t move the gun like a standard trigger does when it’s pulled, you get away with it.

Double-set trigger
So far, I’ve mentioned only the single-set trigger. The double-set trigger is more common and works just as well, if not better. Perhaps the most familiar place to see this kind of trigger is on a muzzleloading rifle, where they were favored over the plain trigger.

Double-set triggers often work like normal triggers if they’re not set. Usually, the rear trigger is pulled to set the front one, though not always. The double-set was very popular on bellows dart rifles in the 1700s and 1800s, and these are the triggers that are famous for being so sensitive that a breath of air can make them fire. I’ve owned several rifles with double-set triggers, including a five-lever trigger made by Aydt that was extremely sensitive. But I’ve never experienced a trigger so light that air, alone, can set it off.

double set trigger
Pull the rear trigger to set the front trigger. The rifle can also be fired by just pulling the front trigger, though the pull will be heavier.

Set triggers and target rifles
Set triggers were once an important part of all target rifles. From the days of chunk shooting, when the rifle was a Kentucky long rifle rested on a log (called a chunk), to the final days of international match shooting at 1,000 yards, the set trigger was as common as the vernier peep sight and spirit level front sight that eliminated cant.

In the sporting world, set triggers were found on many varmint rifles of the past. The double-set was more common than the single-set, but either one can be a blessing when you’re trying to do precise work. In recent years, set triggers have been making a comeback on many factory guns, but they may not be as necessary as they once were due to innovations in replacement sporting triggers. More on that in a moment, but let’s now take a look at set triggers on airguns.

For some reason, set triggers have not been very popular in airgun target shooting. Perhaps this started as a safety rule; but considering the light match rifle triggers now in production, that cannot be the only reason. The fact that set triggers do exist on target air rifles indicates that some people wanted to try them at one time, but the rules were written to exclude them from competition…just like Tyrolean stocks and tube rear sights…and today they’re seen only on vintage guns.

Here’s a prediction: If an airgun manufacturer were to put a nice set trigger in an accurate low- to mid-powered .177-caliber air rifle today, they would have a hit on their hands!

Non-set triggers that are still remarkable
This is for our blog reader GenghisJan, who asked blog reader Kevin how he would compare a set trigger to a match trigger. I believe the big difference is that you must intentionally set the set trigger for it to be light. If you don’t set it, the trigger-pull seems about normal. But a match trigger releases at just one weight, and it’s always light. How many times have I seen people fire a match gun before they were ready, simply because they were unaccustomed to how light the trigger is? It actually takes some learning to operate a match trigger safely, and some people never get it.

A Benjamin Marauder trigger can be adjusted to have a two-stage release where the second stage is light, but also positive. It’s more than the few grams of pressure that a true match trigger needs, but far lighter than most sporting triggers. This is a wonderful compromise in a trigger, to my way of thinking.

In the world of sporting guns, triggers have continued to improve until it’s possible to buy drop-in units today, or sometimes the parts to make a factory trigger as light as a set trigger. There are many manufacturers doing this — companies like Jewell Trigger, which makes sporting triggers that break at mere ounces. They’re a sort of set trigger that’s always set!

But in airguns, the choices are fewer. In the world of spring guns, there’s the Rekord that can be adjusted to release at just ounces of pressure if properly set up, and the Air Arms trigger that’s even more adjustable. There used to be some aftermarket triggers from companies that would drop in certain guns and be even lighter and better than Rekords, but they’re gone from the marketplace.

You’ll find more good triggers in the PCP world because they don’t have to restrain hundreds of pounds of force. And the state-of-the-art 10-meter match rifle trigger is at the top of the heap. With triggers this sensitive, you don’t touch them until you’re safely on target.

What’s it going to be?
I like a set trigger in the right circumstances. And since most of them can be fired without setting, I found them to be ideal for everything. But I’m just starting to experiment with the crop of new and improved replacement triggers that have hit the market. Though they’re less flexible than set triggers, they might be a good modern alternative.

As far as a true target trigger is concerned, the only place for that is on the range. And you have to train with it by dry-firing so you are ready when the time comes.

Trigger happy: Part 2

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

Part 1

In Part 1, we looked at single-stage and two-stage triggers. Today, the focus is on single-action and double-action triggers. Is that confusing? Does a single-action trigger sound like a single-stage trigger to you? If it does, you are in the majority, because this confuses a lot of folks — some of them are even writers in the shooting sports! Edith told me about an airgun company that doesn’t appear to know the difference…thinking that double-action and two-stage and single-action and single-stage are the same things but just stated differently.

History
It may help if I go back to the very first trigger and explain how it worked. In the very early days of shooting, there were no triggers at all. A lit piece of cord called a match was carried by the shooter; and when he wanted to fire his gun, the (hopefully) hot coal on the end of the match was touched to a hole located at the rear of the barrel. That’s where the term touchhole comes from. The hot match would hopefully ignite some of the gunpowder that was at the top of the touchhole and hopefully the tiny explosion would go all the way down the touchhole and hopefully ignite the main powder charge.

How many times did I write “hopefully” in the last paragraph? Four, which is my way of saying that these early hand-cannons were not that reliable. If you make one today, it’ll seem very reliable, but that’s just a comment on how good today’s black powder has become. The early powder was far weaker and harder to ignite, the matches often went out — especially in the rain — and the length, size and shape of the touchhole had a profound influence on the success or failure of the gun’s ignition.

In time it all got sorted out. The powder got better and shooters learned how to care for their matches. At some point in time, a clever mechanic attached the match to an iron rod that was attached to a pivot on the hand-cannon and shaped so the lit match end fell exactly on the touchhole. The other end of the rod was shaped to be easy to operate with the fingers of the hand that held the gun. Thus the first trigger was born. This first trigger did not have a sear. It was just a lever. If you bumped it when the gun was loaded and caused the match to hit the touchhole — oh, oh! But at least they didn’t shoot themselves while cleaning their guns — at least not accidentally!

By the middle 1500s (and probably earlier), we had triggers with sears. They were needed when the wheellock mechanism came along. A wheellock is a cigarette lighter built into a gun. It has a powerful spring that’s tensioned by winding with a lever or key. The spring causes a large, serrated steel wheel to turn; and when a piece of pyrite is held against it, sparks are generated.

The tension of the mainspring has to be restrained so the shooter can select when he wants the gun to fire. A sear is a type of dog or restraining lever that blocks the wheel that’s under tension. The trigger then becomes another lever that trips the sear (releases the dog) so the wheel can turn, generating sparks and igniting the powder charge. This kind of trigger was a single-action trigger. That means you first had to cock the gun (by winding the spring) before the trigger was put in place by another small spring to hold the sear.

With a single-action trigger the gun must first be cocked by some outside activity before the trigger can be set to perform its job. I don’t have a wheellock to show you but I do have a French 1822 flintlock military pistol that’s been converted to percussion. The trigger on this pistol works the same way I’ve described. The hammer must first be cocked or the trigger can do nothing. When the hammer is cocked, internal springs have pushed the trigger to block the sear from moving. At this point, the trigger can release the sear when it’s pulled, allowing the hammer to fall. It’s very similar to the wheellock, except that if the gun is a flintlock, the lock generates the spark for ignition through the striking of flint, rather than the dragging of pyrite against a steel wheel. In a percussion gun such as my 1822 French pistol (a flintlock-to-percussion conversion), the hammer falls on a percussion cap that explodes, igniting the black powder.

1822 French martial pistton and Colt single action
The trigger of the 1822 French martial pistol (top) just flops around loose until the hammer is pulled back to the cocked position. Then, the trigger is held in place to block the sear (on the hammer) by a small spring. When you pull the trigger until it moves out of the sear notch on the hammer, the hammer falls and explodes the percussion cap. The cowboy gun below is called a single-action revolver and works in a similar fashion, interestingly enough.

And that was how all triggers were until the mid-19th century. Don’t let set triggers confuse you. They existed well before this time, and they’re all single-action.

Double-action triggers
The double-action trigger was probably first produced in England or Belgium around the middle of the 19th century. My vote goes to England. Some clever mechanic found a way to link the trigger blade to both the sear and a second lever that pushed the hammer back against its spring. Now, the trigger could do two things. It could release the sear and could also cock the gun. And it could do both of them at the same time, with the result that the gun fired every time the trigger was pulled. Cocking the hammer first went from being a necessity to an option.

Ruger Security Six
You can almost always spot a double-action revolver by the trigger positioned far forward in the trigger guard.

The advantages of the double-action trigger are many. First, it allows you to fire the gun with no other action. Just pull the trigger and eventually the gun fires. On most guns, it gives you the option of also cocking the hammer separately and firing the gun single-action. The single-action trigger-pull is much lighter than the double-action pull. All it does is release the sear. But the double-action pull also has to compress the hammer spring, and that makes a double-action trigger-pull heavier.

The effect of the trigger on shooting
Because it’s lighter and crisper, a single-action trigger-pull results in more control over the handgun. Therefore, it’s always used for formal target shooting. A double-action pull usually results in pulling the shot to the side opposite the hand that holds the gun. In other words, a right-handed shooter will pull his shots to the left when shooting double-action. It’s possible to train yourself to shoot accurately this way, however, and since double-action is faster than single-action, it’s used when revolvers have to be shot quickly.

With a semiautomatic pistol, you can have both. The gun can function as a double-action for the first trigger pull; but once the slide pushes the hammer back to the cocked position, it’s now a single-action until the gun is empty. Or, you can just cock the hammer manually for the first shot and it’s single-action all the way.

And, because double-action triggers require more effort, they’re viewed as safer in the hands of those with less handgun training. So, some semiautomatic pistols have a double-action-only trigger-pull. The Glock is most famous for this.

What to take away from this
The thing to remember is that a single-action trigger-pull means just causing the sear to let go and fire the gun. The gun has to be cocked separately and by something other than the trigger. A double-action pull means also putting tension on the hammer spring, so the gun fires with each pull of the trigger without anything else needing to happen.

Trigger happy: Part 1

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

The two things shooters are concerned about the most are the barrels and the triggers on their guns. This will be a report on triggers.

People praise the Rekord trigger found in Weihrauch rifles — and in those Beeman R-series rifles that also have a Rekord — without knowing what makes it a good trigger. So, let’s take a look at airgun triggers to try to at least appreciate the basics. This report probably won’t change any minds. If you’re a single-stage man, you’ll still be one after reading the entire series; but at least you’ll know for sure what differentiates a single-stage trigger from one with two stages.

Rekord trigger
Rekord makes a modular trigger for some of its spring-piston air rifles. It operates via multi-levers rather than by a direct sear.

Single-stage trigger
Let’s get the fundamentals out of the way up front. A single-stage trigger is one that has no movement — often called “Take-up” — when cocked. The shooter squeezes the trigger until the sear releases and the gun fires. Many shooters like this kind of trigger because it feels right to them. After all, when a gun is cocked, squeezing the trigger should make it fire, right?

Foreign gun makers often mistranslate technical terms in their manuals and refer to “creep” when they mean take-up. Take-up is when the trigger blade moves without releasing the sear. I will discuss take-up in depth when I present the two-stage trigger, but for now I’m moving on.

On some guns, there’s a lot of real creep in the single stage of the trigger, and that leads to some confusion. Creep is not the same as take-up. Creep is the jerky start-stop movement you feel when the trigger is sliding across the surface of the sear. Sometimes, the creep is very smooth, but you can still feel the trigger blade moving. Other times, the creep is a very gritty feel, with numerous starts and stops. But the point is that with a single-stage trigger, the moment you begin pulling back on the trigger blade you’re in the act of releasing the sear.

Non-shooters believe that a trigger is squeezed or pulled until it releases suddenly, because that’s what it looks like on film. Since they don’t shoot, they never experience the actual movement of a trigger. But every shooter knows that a trigger has some movement when it’s pulled. The better the trigger, the less the movement can be felt — right up to the point that no movement at all can be felt and the trigger breaks (releases the sear) so suddenly that we say it feels as if a glass rod has broken. That analogy means that it feels the same as applying pressure to a glass rod until it breaks. It does so suddenly and without any warning, and that’s how we want a good trigger to act. Then, we know to prepare ourselves in all other ways and make sure we’re on target when it happens.

To recap, a single-stage trigger is one that is ready to fire from the moment you first start pulling it. How long it takes before that happens and how much pressure must be applied to make it happen are what define the characteristics of the trigger — good or bad.

Two-stage trigger
A two-stage trigger has two distinct stages to its pull. The first stage is called the take-up, and is nothing more than a pull against the resistance of the trigger return spring. If you relax your trigger finger during this stage, the trigger blade should return to the starting position, and the gun remains cocked. Sometimes, the tension on the return spring can be relaxed too far, however; and once taken up, the trigger blade will not return to the starting point. It simply hangs loose and floppy on its pivot pin. That’s not how the trigger is supposed to function, though, but is the result of improper adjustment.

Stage two is the point at which the trigger begins to act upon the sear in a serious way. I say “in a serious way” because in some two-stage triggers there is some sear movement during the first stage pull. But no amount of adjustment should allow the trigger to release the sear during the first stage of a two-stage trigger.

So, stage two of a two-stage trigger is very much like stage one of a single-stage trigger, in that all the same things happen. Everything I said for the single-stage trigger about creep and the “glass-rod” release applies equally to stage two of a two-stage trigger. And this is where people make their decision to like one trigger or the other.

Those who prefer the single-stage trigger wonder why there needs to be anything in the trigger-pull before it gets serious. As long as a single-stage trigger feels exactly the same as stage two of a two-stage trigger, they argue, why bother with the first stage?

Marksmen who learned to shoot on a gun with a two-stage trigger would answer by saying that the first stage gives them a safety margin. They always know exactly where the serious part of the trigger-pull is. It’s at the end of the take-up. Once again, non-shooters cannot even imagine what we’re talking about because they lack the tactile experience of having used triggers. But target shooters know that a two-stage trigger allows them to ease into the trigger-pull with complete safety, knowing where things are not serious and where they are. Let me give you an example.

My SAM-10 target pistol has a two-stage trigger. Stage two must be set to release at greater than 500 grams, which is about 18 oz. Those are the rules in both national and international competition. Although it’s possible to set the second stage to break at less weight, it’s a waste of time to do so. The first-stage pull is around 20 grams, which is very light in comparison to stage two, which I have set to release at 515 grams. I set it that way so I never fail a trigger test before a competition, because there’s nothing worse than adjusting (and getting used to) a trigger just when the competition begins.

I can easily squeeze stage one all the way until it stops and know with certainty that the gun will not fire. So, I begin my trigger squeeze when the pistol is still coming down on the target. And most 10-meter pistol shooters do something similar. It’s part of a rhythm we get into and never once in I-don’t-know-how-many tens of thousands of shots has the gun ever fired at the wrong time.

Don’t try this at home!
Having told you that, I must now caution you that most shooters cannot control a trigger this well. I see shooters pick up 10-meter guns all the time and fire them before they are ready. If one of them were to try what I do they would put holes in the ceilings and walls! And before Edith makes me admit it, I’ve shot the walls, the ceiling and even the couch. But I didn’t do it while shooting a 10-meter target pistol.

When 10-meter shooters get together to compare triggers, we “see” things and talk about things that remain invisible to other shooters. For instance, many people think the IZH 46M has a marvelous trigger; but to a 10-meter pistol shooter, that trigger is a beginner-level trigger at best. It has loads of creep and variability that you can sense when you’ve trained your trigger finger to use only the best. But for the average shooter, the 46M trigger borders on being too light.

How adjustments affect triggers
Sometimes, shooters will try to adjust the first stage out of a two-stage trigger, effectively making it a single-stage trigger. That does work with some guns, but not with others. Those guns where the trigger moves the sear in both the first and second stages can become unsafe if you try to eliminate the first stage altogether. Because the sear is being moved in the first stage, the second stage has to be set on the sear so fine (with such a small contact surface) to eliminate the first stage, that it can slip off or be jarred off the sear without pulling the trigger. These triggers should never be adjusted like that.

Many triggers, even most of them, act directly on the sear. On guns with these triggers, there’s a benefit to smoothing the contact surface of both the sear and the corresponding surface of the trigger, as long as you do not cut through any case-hardening. Cheaper triggers often have their parts case-hardened, which is a way to use lower-grade steel and still have a sufficiently hard contact surface to resist wear. But this case-hardening is only a thin shell that can easily be cut away by a file. When that happens, the sear will never be able to hold a surface for long. The trigger-pull will change constantly and can become downright unsafe without any warning. The only safe method of smoothing these surfaces is with a hard stone, and with the part to be surfaced held in a jig, to keep the contact angle constant.

Some better triggers, like the Rekord, use levers instead of direct-contact sears. They do have contact points, but those act on levers that in turn act on the piston. These triggers can be adjusted very light and crisp and no stoning is ever required for their contact surfaces. Creep is usually not an issue with such triggers, as the levers rather than the contact surfaces are what bear the force of the cocked piston.

Trigger anomalies
I say I like two-stage triggers, but two of my favorites are actually single-stage. The first and my most favorite trigger is on a Winchester High Wall rifle that’s chambered in .219 Zipper Improved. It’s a single-set trigger that is a single-stage by definition. Knowing that, I don’t approach the trigger blade until I’m ready to fire the shot. The crosshairs are perfectly centered on the target before I touch that blade with my finger, because it fires with only 6 oz. of pressure, though I could adjust it even lighter if I wanted.

Winchester single set trigger
That screw behind the trigger blade on this Winchester High Wall rifle is a dead giveaway of a single-set trigger. Push the blade forward to set it. The trigger can be operated either set or unset.

I could use this trigger unset just as easily. It would break around 3.5 lbs. and would be very  crisp.

The other strange trigger I like is also a single-stage, though a zero-stage might be more like it. The trigger blade on my Remington model 37 Rangemaster target rifle does not move. It was called the Miracle trigger by Remington, and it’s fully adjustable. On my rifle, you simply press the blade until reaching 1 lb., 10 oz. when the sear lets go. As far as the shooter can tell, the trigger blade never moves, though in reality it does move about 1/16-inch upon firing.

Though it appears very plain, this Miracle trigger on the Remington model 37 Rangemaster target rifle is anything but. It releases without any perceptible movement.

Today, we looked at single-stage and two-stage triggers and learned how they operate. Do not confuse them with single-action and double-action triggers that are a different thing altogether — and the topic of our next installment.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


My 18 year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of my Beeman R1 air rifle, and I must say that I remembered the rifle exactly as it is. It is very sensitive to hold, but also very heavy, at 11 lbs. in the test configuration, which stabilizes the gun to a great degree. Compared to the twitchy over-bore spring guns of today, shooting my detuned R1 is like driving an old family car!

I sighted-in with 15.9-grain JSB Exact domes because I thought they would turn out to be the best pellets. Even though they fit the breech loose, I felt they would surpass all other pellets. Let’s see how they did.

The distance is 25 yards, and I’m shooting from a rest, using a classic artillery hold where the back of my off hand touches the front of the triggerguard. I did try a group with a different hold, but it opened right away, reminding me that I know this rifle quite well.

The first group of JSBs contains a nice 8-shot group at the center of two shots that appear to be fliers. They aren’t fliers, though, because I held the rifle the same for every shot. It’s possible I didn’t relax enough for those two shots, which is why I say the R1 is sensitive to hold. As a powerful breakbarrel, you expect it to be hold-sensitive.


This first 10-shot group measures 0.978 inches between centers, but the smaller 8-shot group within measures just 0.38 inches. That’s quite a group for a spring gun at 25 yards!

The first group gave me some confidence in this pellet, so I adjusted the scope, shot a couple rounds to settle things and fired a second 10-shot group of JSB Exacts. This time, all 10 shots landed in a group measuring 0.642 inches between centers. My hold while shooting this group was more relaxed than the first.


Ten JSB Exacts went into this group that measures 0.642 inches.

Next, I decided to try some Crosman Premiers. When this rifle was new in 1994, they were the best pellet on the market. Ten shots gave a very round group that measures 0.683 inches between centers. That’s ever-so-slightly larger than the second JSB group, so I feel these two pellets shoot about the same.


Ten Crosman Premiers made this 0.683-inch group.

I then tried the H&N Baracuda Match pellet that I don’t remember ever trying in my gun. I know they’re going slower — I can hear the amount of time the pellet takes to get to the trap. I didn’t know what to expect, but boy does my rifle like this pellet! The first 8 went into a very small group, then I rushed shot 9 and got a pellet outside the group. It wasn’t a flier, it was a mistake in technique, pure and simple. Shot 10 went into the tight group, and I ended with a group that measures 0.684 inches between centers, with 9 of those pellets in 0.54 inches.


Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets made this group. While it isn’t the absolute smallest, I feel it represents the best pellet in the rifle (of those tried).

Overall impressions
I feel the H&N Baracuda Match pellets turned in the best performance overall. So much so, that after the session ended I adjusted the scope so this pellet hits the point of aim at 25 yards.

The light, crisp Rekord trigger contributed a lot to the success of this rifle. It releases so well that the rifle isn’t affected by anticipation. Before I can hope for the gun to shoot, it already has.

The R1 recoils forward a lot. That’s due to the heavy piston. But most of the vibration has been eliminated. That’s something I wish the rest of you could experience. It’s so satisfying to shoot an air rifle like this because if feels so RIGHT.

What’s the bottom line, here? Well the R1 is still a fine spring air rifle with many classic features in its favor. Being a springer, it’s difficult to shoot well, but it’s capable if you do your part. It has one of the finest triggers on the market, and there’s nothing more I can say about that. But the R1 is also a very large rifle, and often I want something a little smaller so I can shoot all day without straining.

The tune that’s on the gun now is very light and easy to deal with. It makes the R1 feel like an R9 in all ways except size and weight. Now that the test is finished, this one will go back to the closet…but I know it’s sighted-in. If I call upon it in the future, it’ll do the job.

The Beeman R1 Supermagnum air rifle 18 years later: Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1


My 18 year-old Beeman R1 with its Maccari custom stock and Bushnell 6-18x Trophy scope is a thing of beauty.

Today, I’ll test my Beeman R1 air rifle for velocity, plus show you the differences between the standard Rekord trigger and the special match Rekord trigger. Before I get to the velocity figures, however, let me give you a brief history of some of the many tunes that have been in this gun.

Break-in
After 1,000 shots were on this rifle, it was shooting Crosman Premiers at an average 770 f.p.s. The rifle took 46 lbs. of effort to cock and shot with a little buzziness, indicating the powerplant had some looseness.

Following that test, the rifle went through a series of tunes that are way too numerous to cover here. One that’s of interest was the Beeman Laserization that was so popular in the 1980s and early ’90s. Beeman would do this tune for a price, or you could buy all the parts and do it yourself. I elected to do the latter.

The Laser seal came way oversized and had to be reduced to fit the particular gun in which it was installed. That was thought to be a superior way of tuning in those days, though today I see generic seals that work just as well without all the fuss.

I had a problem fitting the first seal, and it burned on one edge from excessive friction. I got a replacement and sized it a bit looser. You never want to lube a Lazerized rifle, as the special Beeman Laser Lube is the best stuff for friction. This lube is no longer sold. If you have a worn-out Laser seal, just about any modern generic seal can replace it with no loss of energy.

The Laser spring was weaker than the factory spring, making the rifle easier to cock. After I applied the tune and broke it in a little, my rifle averaged 765 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. Cocking effort was 37 lbs., which is an 11-lb. reduction for almost the same power. That’s significant!

The one thing I didn’t like about Laserization was the fact that the gun vibrated a lot more than before. That Laser spring fit the piston and guide so loosely that the only way to quiet the gun was to use Mainspring Dampening Compound on the mainspring — which subtracted velocity at the same time.

The absolute best tune I ever applied to the R1 was a Mag80 Laza Tune I got from from Ivan Hancock. It was a drop-in tune that included a buttoned piston and a long mainspring that came coated with something I called black tar in print the first time I wrote about it. After that, the airgun community seized on the term, and black tar became a product — though nothing that was ever sold separately was as viscous as the stuff on that Venom spring.

This tune took the R1 up over 22 foot-pounds with absolute zero vibration. It was so smooth I thought it had actually lost power. But the 50-pound cocking effort reminded me that the big spring was doing its thing. For reference, Crosman Premiers averaged 809 f.p.s. with this tune.

Unfortunately that spring was included in my Mainspring Failure Test, that left four different tunes cocked for one month to see the effects. The spring finally canted and was never as smooth afterward!

I also tested a gas spring made by Vortek. It was smooth and did make better than 20 foot-pounds with certain pellets, but it also took 50 pounds of effort to cock, so I have since removed it from the rifle. The gas spring put Premier pellets out the muzzle at around 790-795 f.p.s.

The tune that’s in the rifle now is a weak mainspring and a generic piston seal. Everything is moly-ed and I have used a touch of Black Tar on the mainspring to calm it down. Today we will all see what velocity the rifle currently develops with this tune, which can be researched in its entirety in the 13-part report titled Spring Gun Tune.

Velocity
The first pellet I tested was that old standard — the Crosman Premier. I have given you the velocities for this pellet at various stages of the rifle’s life, so you can compare them to how it’s doing now. With the current tune the rifle shoots Premiers an average 743 f.p.s. The range runs from a low of 738 f.p.s. to a high of 751 f.p.s., so an extreme spread of 13 f.p.s. Given the pellet’s average 14.3-grain weight, the rifle produces 17.53 foot-pounds at the muzzle with Premiers. I noticed they fit the breech on the loose side, but were still what I would consider a good fit.

The rifle now cocks with just 33 pounds of effort, which is where I like it. It weighs 11 pounds on the nose, and you have to allow a little over one of those pounds for that big Bushnell Trophy 6-16 scope and mounts.

Next I tried RWS Superdomes, another domed pellet like the Premier but made of pure lead and just slightly heavier, at 14.5 grains. These averaged 742 f.p.s. in the test rifle and ranged from a low of 733 to a high of 748 f.p.s. So a 15 foot-second spread. At the average velocity this pellet produces 17.73 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. The fit was loose in the breech.

Then I tried the heavier 15.43-grain Gamo Hunter. This dome fit the breech loose but also varied a lot in the seating pressure required, which indicates variability in the size. They averaged 706 f.p.s. and ranged from 700 to 710 f.p.s., which is a tight spread of just 10 f.p.s. At the average velocity these pellets produced 17.08 foot-pounds of energy.

The final pellet I tested was the 15.9-grain JSB Exact dome. These averaged 696 f.p.s. and ranged from 693 to 701 f.p.s., so the spread was just 8 f.p.s. — the tightest of the test. The fit of this pellet was loose in the breech. At the average velocity this pellet produced 17.11 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

The trigger
I mentioned that the trigger in the R1 is a standard Rekord, and when I reported on the HW55 target rifles, I had mentioned that they all have special match Rekord triggers. Weihraiuch now calls all of their Rekord triggers match triggers, but back when the 55 was still being offered they differentiated between the trigger in that gun, which they called a match trigger and the one they used in every other sporting rifle. The latter was just called a Rekord.


This is the standard Rekord trigger that’s on my R1. Paul Watts gave me the smooth trigger blade to replace the Weihrauch grooved blade that comes on the trigger, but otherwise the trigger unit is stock. I have adjusted and lubricated it, of course.

The match trigger also has no provisions for a safety, in contrast to the standard Rekord. Target guns are seldom provided with safeties, as their shooters are expected to be cognizant of safe shooting at all times.

The match Rekord has an aluminum collar around the trigger adjustment screw that is used to lock the screw after adjustment. This collar is turned by hand-pressure, only, so it is knurled on the outside to provide a better grip. Let’s sample the R1 trigger against an HW55-CM trigger and see how they differ in use.


This match-style Rekord trigger is on my HW55 CM. The most visible difference between this and the standard Rekord is the locking collar around the adjustment screw.

The R1 trigger breaks cleanly at 1 pound 1 ounce — a little lighter than the recommended 1 pound 8 ounces that the Beeman instructions used to recommend. You have to remember that I have shot this rifle extensively since it was new and I have worked on the trigger, as well.

The match Rekord in my HW55 CM breaks at 7 ounces, or just less than half of where the standard Rekord goes off. It is considered very safe at this low pressure setting, because of both the design of the Rekord and that fact that a target shooter will be handling the rifle.

The two Rekord triggers are dimensionally the same. The proof of that is my HW55 SF that is an HW50 with this trigger instead of the normal Rekord that’s found on the HW50s. Back when the 55SF was made, the HW 50 was a different model than today, but the same gun could accept either trigger.

Should you swap your trigger?
The question that always comes up when I tell people about these two triggers is why not just adjust a standard Rekord to have a pull weight equal to the match trigger? The answer is the match trigger isn’t designed to hold back pistons that are compressing powerful mainsprings like those found in an R1 — or even in lesser sporting rifles. And, if you were to install a match trigger in a sporting rifle, you would be doing the same thing. So leave the trigger that came with the gun where it is and be safe.

That’s it for today. Next we will look at the accuracy potential of this rifle.

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