Posts Tagged ‘repeaters’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I decided to write this for those readers who indicated they were interested in airsoft to some degree. I know this is an airgun blog, and that means pellet and BB guns — not airsoft, but there are some crossovers. For example, many airsoft companies are now entering the world of steel BB guns. I promise we’re not going to become half-and-half or even one-quarter airsoft; but since there are questions, I feel the need to address them.
History of airsoft
This will be short and sweet. Airsoft came about in the Orient in the 1970s, when the demand for realistic guns that were not firearms was first satisfied. The early designers made their guns shoot 6mm plastic balls that they have since come to call BBs.
The early guns were made to satisfy the needs of collectors to see, feel and even be able to disassemble the guns in which they were interested. So, the early thrust of airsoft guns was for collectors, only. However, the fact that the manufacturers made these guns fire their plastic BBs soon evolved into an entirely different interest. People began conducting wargames with the guns. Instead of paintball, which is very painful when the .68-caliber balls hit flesh, the 6mm plastic balls had almost no impact. Of course, the guns in those days were firing at very low velocities; because it was realism, rather than the gun’s ability to shoot, that attracted buyers.
Once the wargames began, airsoft split off into two directions. The collectors wanted highly realistic guns, and the wargamers wanted guns that were accurate at long distance and would hold up under simulated combat conditions. Some of the early collectible guns sold for thousands of dollars. Indeed, there are still a few of these collector guns being sold today. One example is a very real airsoft Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) that sells for well over $3000. But the collector market has been far surpassed by the wargamers, who now call themselves skirmishers. Airsoft guns for skirmishes are the biggest sellers in today’s market, which has grown to more than a billion dollars in sales annually.
The BB gun wars
I’ve written several articles about the BB gun wars that were conducted in the United States from the 1890s until the 1960s. The BB gun wars were literally backyard battles fought by teams of kids with BB guns. Every community had them, and each bunch of kids had their own rules. I’ve owned several BB guns with multiple dents in both the wood and metal from the impacts of BBs that are obviously survivors of the BB gun wars.
It’s my contention that the BB gun wars still rage today, but they’re now being fought with airsoft guns. Apparently, there’s a need for people to shoot at each other in mock combat, and airsoft guns seem to fill this need.
Because shooting at people is so emotionally-charged, IPSC shooting has recently become popular. IPSC stands for the International Practical Shooting Confederation. It’s the international extension of practical pistol shooting that began as law enforcement training in the U.S. in the 1960s. IPSC competitors shoot from 30,000 to over 100,000 rounds each year in training and competition, so the game is not for poor people.
Airsoft guns are a wonderful way to get into this competition without spending the kind of money that it costs to shoot firearms. For one-hundredth the cost of firearms, shooters can have the same fun under safer conditions with 6mm airsoft guns.
Airsoft history is rapidly evolving. In just 40 years, it’s gone from pure collecting to wargames and now to practical pistol shooting. Who knows what’ll happen in the next 10 years? What’s obvious, however, is that the technology of the airsoft guns is evolving as fast as the interest is. This is a burgeoning area that’s spending a lot of money to satisfy multiple needs.
Let’s examine the airsoft powerplants so we can see what exists and what’s possible. The first powerplant we’ll look at is the spring-piston.
The spring-piston airsoft powerplant is no different than a spring-piston found in any other type of airgun. A piston is powered by a coiled steel spring and moves forward rapidly to compress a column of air that then drives the airsoft BB. Most airsoft spring-piston guns are repeaters, but they must be cocked for every shot. You sometimes see these repeaters called single-shots because the people writing about them don’t understand the difference between a true single-shot that only holds one round and a repeater that holds many round but must be cocked separately to fire each one.
Spring piston guns are among the least expensive, and yet they can also be very powerful and accurate. Sniper guns are powered by spring pistons for the most part. The lowest-powered spring-piston guns cost very little and are not built to last a long time. They have a lot of plastic parts that eventually do wear out. But if you don’t abuse them, most will give you many thousands of shots that will be surprisingly accurate.
Gas airsoft guns are very similar to gas airguns, except they do employ a wider range of gasses. Besides CO2, which they’ve begun to use in the last 15 years, airsoft guns also use other industrial gasses that go by colorful trade names. Green gas and red gas are 2 of these; and green gas is, by far, the most popular. Green gas is nothing more than propane, though some suppliers do infuse some oil into the gas to help lubricate the airsoft mechanisms.
Green gas runs at a nominal pressure of 115 psi. It’s supplied in dispensing cans that have nipples that couple with the inlet valves of the guns they serve.
Someone asked me if green gas was as powerful as CO2, which is pressurized to 850 psi and higher. Well, it isn’t. But that doesn’t mean very much, however, because CO2 has to be stepped way down to safely operate an airsoft gun. The same gun can use both green gas and CO2, it just needs two different magazines — each with its own valve to handle the correct gas.
Generally speaking, gas guns tend to be faster than spring-piston guns, but that isn’t always the case. There are bolt-action spring-piston sniper guns that are very powerful. It’s impossible to make a blanket generalization.
Automatic-electric guns (AEGs)
AEGs are spring-piston guns that are powered by small high-torque electric motors. The motor cocks the piston and trips the sear. The gun usually has a selector switch that allows full-auto (the motor repeatedly cocking and releasing the piston as long as the trigger is held down) and semiauto (firing one time per trigger pull). Besides the spring-piston side of this powerplant, there’s the electric side that deals with batteries, motors and gears.
AEGs are popular because they can shoot full-auto, which gamers and collectors both enjoy. They also are among the fastest-shooting airsoft guns, although bolt-action sniper guns can be modified to be very fast, as well. AEGs allow people to experience things that most people cannot experience with firearms; and, of course, they do it at a fraction of the cost. Even law enforcement agencies are using AEGs as training simulators because they’re much safer than firearms that shoot training ammunition called Simunitions. You can make a mistake with a firearm and kill someone — it happens all the time. But you can’t possibly load a firearm cartridge into an airsoft gun, no matter how realistic it may seem.
The technology is changing rapidly. Today, there are even a few hybrid AEGs that can be used with or without electrical power. Obviously, these will appeal to people who never want to be caught without a functional gun.
What comes next?
Next time, I’ll talk about modifying airsoft guns. Not all guns can be modified, but a surprising number can be; and the manufactures do supply the parts to make the modifications.
I’ll also talk about power, which is fast becoming an important topic. As the guns become more powerful, the “soft” in airsoft is being tested to the limits.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is a guest blog from reader Paul Hudson. It It’s his evaluation of the Crosman 622 repeater.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.
Over to you, Paul.
The Crosman 622
by Paul Hudson
The Crosman 622 is a rarity — a slide-action CO2 repeater.
The Crosman 622 is a repeating slide-action CO2 pellet rifle. It was produced from 1972 to 1978 in .22 caliber only. It uses the familiar 12-gram Powerlets and has a rotary clip that holds six pellets.
There have been only a few other slide-action repeaters available in the recent past — the Gamo Extreme CO2 and the Shark roundball repeater made in Argentina are two examples. The Gamo uses an 88-gram cartridge, and the Shark is a bulk-fill gun.
This particular 622 belongs to my brother-in-law’s friend. It had not been fired for many years and was in need of a resealing. The old factory lube had turned to hard wax, and several hours of cleaning was required to get everything in working order.
Due to its design, the 622 did not develop a reputation for durability. The valve body is made of two parts held together with a single screw and is prone to breakage. A second bolt or pin can be added to the bottom of the valve body to greatly strengthen the assembly. Another problem was the tendency for the gun to jam with certain pellets; this can happen if the muzzle is elevated when the slide is cycled. Some pellets (depending on their shape) can back out of the clip enough to prevent it from rotating. Keeping the gun pointed down will help prevent this. Possibly due to this problem, Crosman added a lever to the receiver of later 622s to aid removing stuck clips.
There are many parts in the 622′s receiver. The large, rectangular casting on the right is the valve body, and it’s prone to breakage. The probe is near the top of the receiver and is in the rearmost operating position. In the middle is the rotating rod that advances the clip. The large cylinder on the bottom houses the striker.
The 622 is large enough not to feel like a toy. It’s 40.5 inches long with a 13.5-inch length-of-pull, so it’s adult-sized. The blued barrel is 23 inches long, and the gun weighs 6 lbs. without a scope. A square post front sight and a square notch rear sight come from the factory, and they’re entirely suitable for the ranges at which the gun would be used. The painted receiver is made of two die-cast pieces and is grooved for mounting a scope. While the paint isn’t the greatest finish, no complaints can be made about the blueing on the barrel and gas tube. It’s very well done for a low-priced gun. Both the stock and forearm are made of varnished hardwood that has a very straight grain. The receiver is only about an inch thick, and the gun does not feel bulky; combined with the light weight, it’s a perfect plinker and can be carried for hours.
The rear sight is a simple square notch and is adjustable for elevation and windage.
The front sight is a square post. The ramp is textured to prevent glare.
A manual safety is mounted behind the trigger; it’s very similar to the unit on many other Crosman models. The single-stage trigger was a pleasant surprise. It isn’t adjustable…but it’s fairly smooth, mostly creep-free and breaks at a consistent 2 lbs., 2 oz. For an inexpensive airgun, it’s quite good. Holding down the trigger while cycling the action lets the striker travel forward with the slide; it will not fire the gun.
The trigger features Crosman’s typical cross-bolt safety and is surprisingly good.
The rotary clip
The 622′s 6-shot rotary clip is easy to load and fits entirely within the receiver; it will not interfere with a scope or catch on anything during handling. Unfortunately, the clip accepts pellets with a max length of 0.275 inches. This prevents longer domed pellets and pointed pellets from being used. All wadcutters fit, and most cycle fine.
Rear view of the clip. Pellets load easily from this side.
The thin clip will not accept pellets over 0.275 inches long. The Baracuda Hunter is about the longest pellet that fits.
To charge the 622, the end cap of the lower tube is removed. A CO2 cylinder is dropped in nose-first (don’t forget a drop of Pellgunoil on the tip), and the end cap is replaced. As the cap is tightened, a slight hiss will be heard as the cartridge is pierced. Further tightening should not be needed. Since the CO2 cylinder seats against a flexible seal, it should be removed after shooting. A single cylinder was good for 36 shots, or 6 full clips. A two-cylinder lower tube, similar to that of the Crosman 160, was available for a time; but this was an aftermarket part not supplied by Crosman.
A single CO2 cartridge is used in the long gas tube.
The 622 was rated by Crosman at 450 fps; this gun exceeded that rating with all tested pellets. The temperature was around 90 degrees during shooting.
MV=muzzle velocity (fps), ME=muzzle energy (ft-lbs), ES=extreme spread (fps)
Getting the best accuracy from the 622 is a bit of a challenge. The forearm uses a single operating rod and can slightly rotate around the lower tube. This allows the gun to move upon firing if it’s held by the forearm. For best accuracy, support the 622 just ahead of the receiver by holding the gas tube. This is really a minor point; the 622 is not a long-range target gun — it’s a plinker, and one of the most entertaining ones at that.
10-meter groups with open sights
All pellets tested were more than accurate enough at 10 meters for plinking and informal shooting. Groups are 6 shots since that’s the magazine capacity. Here are a few of the best performers:
25-yard groups with a scope
The factory open sights just aren’t precise enough to produce the best accuracy at 25 yards. I mounted a simple 4x Leapers scope for these groups. Most pellets gave groups in the inch to inch-and-a-half range. There were a few standouts, however:
While the 622 isn’t the best engineered or most accurate airgun Crosman ever made, it’s still an interesting piece. There have been only a few slide-action airguns produced; and for plinking, the rapid-firing provided by a slide-action really ups the fun factor.
Many 622s are still in circulation, and they regularly show up at airgun shows and on auction sites. Lack of attention from collectors has kept the price reasonable. One caveat is to make sure the gun includes the clip — they fetch about 25 dollars apiece. It’s possible to load the rifle singly, but it’s tedious.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Small things have a way of defining my life, and this is a story about one of them. When I was about 12, I bought a copy of the 1948 Shooter’s Bible in a used bookstore. It was full of guns, and I couldn’t get enough information about them back then. Unfortunately, the wonderful books I would discover on the subject like Sixguns by Keith and Yours Truly, Harvey Donaldson were still decades in the future — in the latter case, more than a half century. But, I had that old Shooter’s Bible — a book I still own, by the way. I read it and re-read it, unwittingly but also unerringly committing the pages to memory.
This original 1948 Shooter’s Bible was my constant companion in my youth.
Then, in the 1960s, when I was in college at San Jose State College (years before it became a university), I walked into an old sporting goods store in downtown San Jose, California, one day and stumbled upon what I thought was a time capsule — two new-in-the-box Sharpshooter catapult pistols whose design and specifications I’d committed to memory a decade earlier. Imagine my shock to learn that these two relics from what I thought was the 1940s timeframe were still for sale at the original 1948 price of $4.25!
Sharpshooter pistols had a whole page of their own in “The Shooter’s Bible.”
The two Sharpshooters on the left are newer, post-WWII guns with plastic parts. The two on the right are from the 1940s. Details look similar this far away; but when you look closer, you can see how the guns were cheapened.
The metal launcher from before the war is tough. It seems to last indefinitely. As it’s pulled back, it lifts the sear (the metal piece on the right) that allows one lead ball to drop from the linear magazine into the launcher seat. Yes — this is a repeater!
The post-war launcher is made of plastic. It works the same as the metal launcher, but it wears out quickly.
Thirty-plus years would pass before I came to the realization that these were not the same pistols that were in that old book…that the company making them had been bought and sold numerous times, and that the guns I saw in the store were the 1965 versions of the gun, albeit made by someone else and to different manufacturing standards. They looked like the Sharpshooters of the 1940s, but they had plastic parts in key places. As a result, they didn’t hold up very long when used.
When I became a serious airgunner later in life, I rediscovered the original Sharpshooter pistols. These were the real deal with all metal parts that are still functioning today. What a difference they are from the cheapened guns! Although the two look very similar, the older ones are the Diana 27s of the catapult gun world, while the plastic-parts guns are the Chinese wannabes.
The Sharpshooter pistol is a repeater. The No. 6 shot lead balls lie in a channel on top of the gun. They’re held in place by the front sight, which simply slides out of the channel to load the gun. A metal trough is provided to funnel the balls into the channel, then the sight is pressed back into place. There’s room for approximately 50 shot in the channel.
When the launcher is pulled to the rear, stretching its rubber band, it pushes up the sear that moves out of the way to allow one shot to fall from the channel into the launcher seat. Only one piece of shot at a time can be loaded. What the user does is pull the launcher straight back until the sear catches the trigger, cocking the gun. That holds the launcher in place until the pistol is shot.
The front sight holds the lead shot in the magazine channel on top of the gun. It’s held in by tension, alone. Look close, and you can see some of the shot in the channel.
The front sight simply slides out of the channel for loading.
The metal loading trough is attached to the magazine channel and shot is poured in.
The front sight can be adjusted up and down by a small amount. That’s the elevation adjustment. The rear sight can be slid from side to side a small amount because it’s held in place by 4 small metal tabs that form a crude dovetail.
The rear sight slides from side to side under the 4 metal tabs.
How much value can be put into an inexpensive gun?
I think the old Sharpshooter pistol is the perfect example of putting value into an inexpensive gun. I think it shows why people love designs like the Soviet AKM rifles. Nobody argues that the AKMs are cheap to build — but the thought that went into them before the first piece of metal was cut is where the investment is. That’s what the Sharpshooter pistol shows us — that thought given to a design before it’s executed can be a wonderful thing.
With the older Sharpshooter pistols, you also got a target like this. It attaches to the box that becomes the shot trap.
You also got a rubber stamp to make unlimited paper targets!
It’s hard to read, but this sales receipt for one of the old guns is from March 23, 1942.
What is this about?
This report has started like a history lesson about a vintage airgun, but that’s not what it is. I don’t even think I’m going to go in that direction, though I will test it in similar ways to other vintage guns on which I’ve reported. But that isn’t what got me started thinking about this gun.
I was at the Roanoke airgun show, sitting by myself when my eyes fell on a vintage Sharpshooter pistol. I was bored, so I loaded a few shot into it and fitted a rubber band. Then, I cocked the gun and fired it at a styrofoam coffee cup sitting on a chair about 12 feet from me. I hit the cup once, then twice then a third time, and I realized that you don’t have to have 50 foot-pounds of energy to have fun with an airgun. I doubt this gun has more than one five-thousandth that much energy (a 1-grain shot going 60 f.p.s. has 0.01 foot-pounds of energy), yet it’s pleasing to see it hit a small target some distance away. In some of the vintage ads, there were claims of being able to hit houseflies at 16 feet with these guns.
That got me thinking about springs, and how new airgunners think more powerful springs will increase the energy of an airgun. We know from testing that they often don’t. The rubber band of a catapult gun is a type of spring. What kind of “spring” will have the greatest effect on the velocity of the gun — a big thick one or several smaller ones?
Think about this — which spring will toss you higher: A normal one found on a pogo stick, or a coil spring from a car suspension? The pogo stick spring works well already because it’s been selected to work within the parameters of weight for which the pogo stick is designed. The car spring is rated to many hundreds of pounds, which makes it more powerful, but not a better choice for a pogo stick.
The spring on a pogo stick was selected to work with the weight range for which the stick was design.
There’s no argument the car suspension spring is more powerful than the pogo stick spring. But will it improve the operation?
Sure, you say, it’s obvious the bigger spring won’t work as well on the pogo stick, or even at all. But what if it wasn’t that big? What if it was only a little larger than the spring that’s on the pogo stick now? The answer is that it might work, but maybe not as well as you think. The pogo stick spring was chosen to do its job with weights inside a certain range, and a heavier spring may not improve things.
The same holds true for airguns. Whether we’re talking about coiled mainsprings driving pistons or just compressed air inside a reservoir, there’s an optimum that works well with the other parts of the gun; and anything outside that range is probably not going to work as well.
I’m going to examine that thought using the Sharpshooter catapult pistol.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today I’m writing about something that seems to confuse many people. It’s tied to how an airgun works, and I want to discuss it in detail for you. But first, let me tell you what motivated me to write today’s report.
The following is a real question I have heard many times.
I’m looking to buy a gun and it says the gun is a repeater. Please explain to me what a repeater is. Do I have to cock it for every shot? I don’t want it if I have to cock it for every shot. I want to just be able to pull the trigger and the gun fires.
I wrote the report that’s linked above for those new shooters who have trouble understanding the definition of a repeater. Some shooters don’t understand the difference between a semiautomatic action, where the trigger is pulled to fire the gun every time, and a repeater that must be both cocked and also load the pellet before it’s ready to shoot.
Last week, I discovered that this confusion goes even farther. A customer wrote in to Pyramyd Air that one of the FWB target guns was not a bolt-action like they had listed…but it was a sidelever. The gun has a lever on the left side that operates the bolt. When the lever is operated, the bolt slides back and forth in the pellet trough and pushes the pellet into the breech to the same depth every time. It’s likely that other airgunners may understand it the same way, which is why I wanted to address it in the blog.
Yes, that lever on this Feinwerkbau rifle does cock the gun; and yes, it is on the side…but that doesn’t make the gun’s action a sidelever. That lever is called a flipper by shooters who borrowed the term from biathlon shooters, whose cocking levers are flippers that work back and forth.
A sidelever refers to a cocking mechanism for a spring-piston airgun. The lever connects to the piston, pushing it back to cock the mainspring. The FWB 700 is a PCP, not a springer. The fact that it has a lever on the side is coincidental. That lever, which is properly called a flipper by the shooters who use it — is just a linkage to the bolt. Edith told me she often gets comments that are like this one, so I thought I would address this today.
A bolt-action gun has a cylindrical metal rod called a bolt, whose job is either to push the pellet into the breech or sometimes to also act as a conduit for the compressed gas that fires the pellet into the barrel. How the bolt is designed and how it works affects the accuracy of the airgun.
The bolt nose of the Benjamin 130 bolt is hollow — like many CO2 bolts. But this one is shaped to hold one steel BB during loading.
Only airguns today
When I talk about a bolt-action gun in this report I will be referring only to airguns. This is one area where firearms and airguns differ quite a lot.
What do bolts do?
Airgun bolts do a couple of things, and they do them to different levels of perfection. So, it’s important to know exactly what a particular bolt does if you want to know how to make a gun work its best.
The first thing an airgun bolt does is seal the compressed gas inside the barrel. Some bolts have hollow noses to conduct the compressed gas into the barrel, where it gets behind the pellet. But not all of them do. But they all seal the barrel, so the compressed gas works on just the pellet.
The Crosman 180 CO2 carbine has a synthetic seal that the bolt presses against the rear of the barrel to seal the gasses. This bolt is only for loading the gun. A separate cocking knob pulls the hammer back.
The second thing bolts do is push the pellets into the back of the barrel. But here’s a big distinction since the back of the barrel sometimes isn’t actually where the rifling begins. The back of the barrel may be drilled out larger than the rifling and just be a chamber where the pellet sits before firing. If the pellet does not touch rifling in this section, accuracy may suffer.
If the bolt doesn’t push the pellet into the barrel to the point that the rifling engraves it — at least on the head, if not both the head and skirt — then it’s possible that the pellet will be slammed forward on an angle and enter the rifling out-of-line with the axis of the bore when the gun fires. The angle may be slight, but it sets up an imbalance that’s acted upon by the airstream when the pellet leaves the muzzle. The drag is not aligned with the axis of the pellet and can start a small wobble as the pellet goes downrange.
Some bolts have a long thin nose section that we call a probe. The probe pushes the pellet deep into the breech; because it’s thin, it also allows the maximum air to flow around it. While this sounds like such a good idea that we would want all bolts to have a probe, you have to remember that the inside of every pellet skirt is different. The probe sticks deep inside some pellets and doesn’t push them as far into the rifling. But it hits the flat wall inside other pellets and pushes them very deep.
Repeating airguns use the bolt to push the pellet through the clip or magazine and into the breech. This is one more relationship that must be considered.
Matching the shape of the bolt nose to the pellets you use is important for accuracy. And sometimes an airgunsmith will change the shape of the bolt nose to get increased performance from a certain gun. This is very common with the vintage CO2 single-shot air pistols such as the Crosman Mark I and II and the S&W 78G and 79G.
The bolt nose on this vintage Crosman Mark I target pistol is stock — just as it came from the factory. You can call this nose a probe because that’s how it works. But look at the next picture to see the contrast. Like the Crosman 180, this bolt only loads the pellet. A separate set of sliding tabs cock the hammer.
The bolt probe on this S&W 78G pistol looked like the Crosman, above, when it was new. An airgunsmith has thinned and even shaped this probe to allow gas to flow around it more easily. Just this modification by itself added velocity to the gun. This is another bolt that only loads the pellet. Cocking is done separately.
Like the custom tuners, Crosman made their Marauder bolt probe thin and long. It pushes the pellet from the magazine into the breech and also seats the pellet deep in the rifling. Because it’s thin, air flows easier around and past it, giving better efficiency.
Of course, not every bolt has a probe. Many get along very well with just a simple bolt nose that may even be flat because it fits the shape of the back of the pellets it’s designed to shoot. The Crosman-2240 air-pistol is one example of this.
Finally, some airguns are made to fire both steel BBs and lead pellets. People wonder how these guns are able to be rifled and still shoot steel BBs, but the factories have figured out how to do it. And, yes, the steel BB does wear the bore faster than the lead pellet. In fact, the lead pellet probably doesn’t wear a rifled steel bore at all, at least in terms we can comprehend. There are target rifles owned by clubs that have millions of shots on them and, while they look pretty doggy, their bores are like new.
A gun that shoots steel BBs probably has a flat magnet in the tip of its bolt, so there’s no possibility for a probe. On the other hand, if the tip is wide enough, it probably still shoves the pellet into the breech because the bolt will slide only a short way into the pellet’s skirt. Again, the shape of the inside of the pellet skirt will affect how this works.
The bottom line is that the shape of the bolt really matters a lot for airguns. It has several jobs to do, and its shape determines how well it will do each one. The next time you look at an airgun that has a bolt, give some thought to how well the bolt tip matches the pellets you want to use.