Posts Tagged ‘RWS Diabolo Basic pellets’

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle: Part 4

by Tom Gaylord, The Godfather of Airguns™
Writing as B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Today’s report is the final part of the guest blog from HiveSeeker. He tells us about the various pellets he tested and gives their results.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email me.

Over to you, HiveSeeker.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle
Daisy’s Winchester MP4 is a realistic and fun-to-shoot military replica pellet rifle. The gun is shown here with added Leapers UTG 3-9×32 Bug Buster scope and AR-15 rubber recoil pad.

This report covers:

• Scope notes
• More pellet testing
• I know there’s something going on
• The Winchester trio
• RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• H&N Match Pistol pellets
• The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
• Retesting the best
• Conclusion
• Other military pellet rifles to consider

In Part 2, I found five pellets that would group 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or better with the Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle at 10 yards (Crosman Destroyer pellets, Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (sold only in discount stores), Crosman Premier Hollowpoint pellets, H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets). This was about as good as I expected based on my research before purchasing this gun. However, I’d hoped that I could do better, and most of the reader comments on this blog expressed even greater concern with the mediocre accuracy of this gun than with the ammo feed problem. I’m pleased to report some slightly better news.

Scope notes
But first, I made a minor modification to my scope setup. I mentioned the trouble two other shooters had sighting through the Leapers UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope I mounted on this rifle. I had positioned the scope for my own eye relief, and eye placement proved to be a lot more critical for this compact scope than it is with my full-sized Leapers UTG 4-16X40.

However, at least part of the difficulty they experienced may have been due to a fairly low Picatinny rail on this rifle. When the included factory scope rings loosened after 300 shots, I decided to try a different style mount and also decided to go with high-profile rings. I was surprised at how much easier it became to sight through the scope — especially since I would have thought I wasn’t having any real difficulty before. For most shooters, I believe high-profile scope rings will be the way to go on this rifle. With my new scope setup, I was ready for some final accuracy testing.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle High Scope Mount
High-profile scope rings makes it a little bit easier to sight through the UTG 3-9X32 Bug Buster scope on the MP4′s low Picatinny rail.

One minor note here. On Picatinny rails there’s usually a little play in the scope mounts within the individual recoil grooves, and I usually slide both my mounts forward until they contact the forward stops and then snug them up right there. This is the direction the laws of inertia demand that the scope and mounts will want to go in relation to a rifle recoiling backwards beneath them (especially pneumatic or CO2 guns with simpler recoil than a springer). If the mounts are already braced against the forward stops, then there’s less chance for them to slip. However, on the Winchester MP4, I believe the semi-auto bolt re-cocking generates some recoil in the opposite direction – this may have actually loosened my initial scope installation. This time, I braced both scope mounts against the rear stops, and they seem to be holding fast, so far. I don’t have the equipment to verify this recoil theory, but it’s something to try if you run into a similar problem.

[Editor's note: While Picatinny rails and Weaver rails both have cross slots to stop the rings from moving, Weaver slots are 3.5mm wide and Picatinny slots are 5mm wide. That's the reason for the extra slop when Weaver rings are installed on Picatinny bases. And, for airguns, the pins should touch the rear of the slots.]

More pellet testing
I continued testing with seven new pellets, shooting 10-shot, 10-yard groups outdoors from a benchrest. I shot three groups with each pellet, and reported the best of three below. With my original accuracy testing, all the pellets I tried grouped about 1 inch, give or take a little. However, this time, the groups were generally tighter — even with pellets I’d previously tested. I believe this barrel may have a break-in period — roughly 500 shots by my estimation — and is now smoothed out a little. For this test, I used digital calipers to provide more exact group measurements — though, even with my sharp eyesight and a science background, you can take that third decimal place with a grain of salt!

I know there’s something going on
There definitely seems to be something going on between the number of pellets in the rotary cylinder and accuracy. I’d already mentioned that the last two shots of my 10-shot groups, involving a magazine swap, often opened up the final grouping. Remember that the ammo mag has 8-round cylinders, so finishing off a 10-round group required switching to a cylinder with only the two final pellets loaded. I could blame the repositioning of the rifle between magazine swaps, except that this is not a problem I’ve had with rifles that require pumping or cocking and get repositioned with every shot. This time, I kept specific track of when my final two shots opened up a group, with the results illustrated below.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Last 2 Shots
You can see how the final two shots (circled) opened up each of these 10-shot groups. Left-to-right are Crosman Premier Super Match pellets, RWS Hobby pellets, and Air Arms Falcon pellets.

This batch of testing also confirmed something else I thought I’d noticed before — groups often started off very small, then opened up as I emptied the magazine. Obviously, shooting more pellets will continue to open up a grouping. What I’m saying is that shot 10 was much more likely to miss the bullseye than shot 1, rather than having a similar probability of hitting or missing it. With this semiauto, I could lock myself into a rested shooting position and do nothing but breathe and squeeze the trigger for 8 shots. Barely moving, my aim and hold were rock solid. However, I almost felt like a spectator at times as I watched pellet strikes begin to roam wider and wider around my point of aim. I believe this is the same phenomenon I observed with my final two shots of each group. My best guess is that adjacent pellets in the magazine cylinder help reduce some CO2 blow-by, or that a full magazine cylinder does not shift or flex during firing as much as an empty one.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle target

On the left, the first three shots with Beeman coated hollowpoint pellets go into 0.261 inches, center-to-center. Keeping my fingers crossed at this point! But the fourth shot (circled) opens this group up a bit more to 0.323 inches. Six increasingly scattered shots later, the final group on the right is now even broader at 0.682 inches (that fourth shot is circled on this target as a reference point). This pattern was observed repeatedly. This was not the best example I saw. It was just the one I interrupted to photograph.

The Winchester trio
Since this is a Winchester air rifle, I felt duty-bound to put the Winchester pellets through their paces. While they were the poorest performers of all the new pellets, their best groups were all still 1 inch or less: Winchester hollowpoint pellets (0.826 inches, center-to-center), Winchester pointed pellets (0.859 inches), and Winchester round nose pellets (1.000 inches exactly). As mentioned, the Winchester hollowpoints extended past the front of the rotary cylinder when fully seated and had to be pushed back in slightly before shooting. However, they caused no jams or other firing problems.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Winchester Hollow Point
The Winchester hollowpoints extend past the front edge of the rotary cylinder when fully seated.

RWS Diabolo Basic pellets
The RWS Diabolo Basic pellets yielded the next largest group of the bunch, with its best-of-three at 0.791 inches. This pellet also produced the largest group that I observed during this second round of testing — 1.324 inches.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Diabolo Basic
Ten RWS Diabolo Basic pellets grouped inside 0.791 inches –close to the best that was seen in the first round of accuracy tests.

RWS Hobby pellets
The RWS Hobby’s smallest group measured 0.644 inches. This was the best group I’d seen from this gun so far. It’s approaching the as-of-yet elusive half-inch mark, but not quite there.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle RWS Hobby
Ten RWS Hobby pellets in 0.644 inches — easily my best group up to this point.

H&N Match Pistol pellets
I’d tested the more expensive H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets last time, but then I read about H&N Match Pistol pellets actually outperforming the Finales in another gun I own. That’s why I ended up with a tin of these to try. At 0.716 inches, they grouped slightly better than the Finales (even with retesting, as you’ll see in a minute) in this gun, too.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle H&N Match Pistol
The H&N Match Pistol pellet, at 0.716 inches for 10, outperformed both previous and repeated testing of the H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets.

The magic bullet? Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets
Okay, I’ll concede right up front that half-inch groups at 10 meters aren’t all that magical in today’s airgunning world. However, with a review quoting Daisy Customer Service as stating that MP4 owners should expect 1-1/2 inch groups at 10 meters, and with no measured groups under 1 inch reported by anybody, I was pleased to finally break the half-inch barrier with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets.

I did not have high hopes for what is literally the cheapest pellet I tested. However, a single Pyramyd Air review mentioned it performed well (thank you, DaveTee!); and, for under five dollars a tin, it went into the shopping cart. I shot this pellet last, and it surprised me. My three test groups yielded 0.682 inches, 0.386 inches and 0.442 inches. At the eleventh hour, I’d finally found a pellet that could shoot under half an inch. While one thing that became clear during accuracy testing is that my rifle does not perform the same with specific pellets as other’s MP4s, the Beeman hollowpoint coated is definitely one to try for anyone who owns an MP4, especially at this price point.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Beeman HP Coated
Thar she blows — these two groups shot with Beeman hollowpoint coated pellets clock in at under half an inch, at 0.386 and 0.442 inches, left to right. (Yes, the pellets are black.) Summer sun heating the barrel on one side caused the point-of-impact shift that can be seen here.

Retesting the best
To wrap up Part 4, I wanted to retest the best-performing pellets from before, which had all grouped 7/8 of an inch (0.875 inches) or less. I was pretty sure one or two could do better, and it seemed that my rifle was starting to produce tighter groups than it had straight out of the box. These were my results: Air Arms Falcon pellets (0.622 inches, beating out the RWS Hobby pellet for second place), Crosman Destroyer EX pellets (0.630 inches, taking third place and booting the RWS Hobby pellet to fourth), Crosman Destroyer pellet (0.742 inches, just a hair better than before), and H&N Finale Match Pistol pellets (0.963 inches, actually a little wider than first time’s 0.875 inches and still getting beat out by the H&N Match Pistol pellet). A small surprise were the Crosman Premier Super Match pellets (0.707 inches) and Crosman Competition Wadcutter pellets (0.720 inches), which I used for initial sighting-in of my new scope mount setup. Both bettered their original 1-inch groups by more than a quarter inch. Again, I believe this barrel is now broken in after 500 shots or so, contributing to these tighter groups and providing better overall accuracy than we saw in the first tests.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Air Arms Falcon 2
The best of the retests was the Air Arms Falcon pellet, second-best to the Beeman hollowpoint coated pellet, but grouping almost twice as broad at 0.622 inches.

Below is a summary of best groups one inch or better from all accuracy testing:

Winchester MP4 group sizes

While discovering the Beeman hollowpoint coated doubles my effective shooting range to around 20 yards for a 1-inch target, it’s a shame that this gun seems to be a “one-shot wonder” that shoots best with only one specific pellet. From the list above, there’s no single pellet type that this gun seems to prefer as direction for additional testing, so I hope that blog readers will be kind enough to comment if they find other pellets that group under half an inch in the Winchester MP4.

Other military pellet rifles to consider
For the conclusion to my evaluation of the Winchester MP4, I’d like to mention some of the other military replica pellet rifles prospective buyers might consider if they decide that the MP4 is not for them. (BB-only rifles and machine guns are not included here.)

I’ve already mentioned the MP4′s historically older sibling, the Winchester M14. A replica of its namesake, this rifle is also a dual-CO2 canister BB and pellet semi-auto. It uses the same ammo mag and offers the same velocity as the MP4. However, it has no scope rail and many don’t like the fact that the stock is composite instead of wood.

The unquestioned dominator of the military pellet rifle arena remains the Crosman M4-177. This M4 replica is a reliable single-shot BB and pellet pneumatic and bears the coveted Gaylord “Tom’s Picks” seal in the Pyramyd Air catalog. It’s available in a variety of tan or black color and accessory combinations. The new Crosman USMC MOS 0311 Rifleman (an exclusive Crosman variation of the M4-177) appears to be another variant of this very popular replica. This is the gun I had in mind when I mentioned that more accurate rifles than the Winchester MP4 are available for half the price.

The Crosman MK-177 is a replica of the Magpul Masada (now being produced as the FN SCAR). This composite-stock pneumatic offers higher velocity and similar accuracy to the M4-177 (also beating the Winchester MP4 in the latter department, and for half the price). This rifle is a BB and pellet single-shot. B.B. Pelletier recently used the MK-177 to test the Leapers Accushot Scout Scope. While many disparage the bolt placement on the left side of the receiver, I own — and love — one of these rifles and never minded it (this is a replica — check on which side the bolt is actually located on the Magpul Masada). The MK-177 is available in tan or black and has two kit variations.

The Crosman Crosman MTR77NP is an M16 replica that is a single-shot Nitro Piston gas springer. This pellet rifle offers the highest velocity of any of these military replicas but requires heavy cocking effort due to the short barrel. It’s available in only black but comes in open-sight or scoped versions.

If you actually own an AR/M4 firearm, the Crosman MAR177 AR-15 Upper PCP conversion kit replaces the firearm upper with a .177-caliber competition precharged pneumatic unit. Designed specifically for 10-meter competition, velocity is a very nominal 600 fps. This is the most expensive option for a military pellet rifle (and a significant detour from the standalone guns listed here), but it seems like an ideal way to expand where and when you can shoot your military long gun.

The Beretta CX-4 Storm is an 88-gram CO2-powered replica of the tactical firearm of the same name. This semiauto’s claim to fame is the 30-pellet belt magazine, capable of ripping through a tin of pellets in no time. Open-sight and red-dot versions are available, though a scope can be mounted on the Picatinny rail.

The Gamo MP9 copies the B&T MP-9 9mm SMG and is unique among the CO2-powered BB submachine guns in handling pellets as well. Interestingly, this gun is listed as using the same ammunition magazine as the Winchester MP4 and M14, making it a 16-shot semi-auto (with the magazine flip). I included this odd-gun-out because it has a (collapsible) stock and scopeable Picatinny/Weaver rail.

Winchester MP4 CO2 rifle Flambeau Tactical Case
The Winchester MP4 is a fun military replica that, despite some issues and limitations, will keep you looking like a well-armed commando whenever you feel the need to reconnoiter the backyard.

The options for new military replica pellet rifles are very limited at the moment. I hope that this blog has sufficiently informed readers about the Winchester MP4 to make an educated choice if buying one – or to achieve the best performance from their rifle if they already own one. I also hope that manufacturers will look to success stories like the Crosman M4-177 as well as the burgeoning airsoft market and bring some novel products to this mostly unexplored marketplace.

Editor’s final comment: HiveSeeker has done a super job in testing, researching and documenting his work on the Winchester MP4. I think his report will stand as the best article written about the airgun for a long time.

The Relum Telly: Part 2

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

Part 1

Today, we’ll finish Vince’s report on his new Relum Telly.

If you’d like to write a guest blog, please email us.

Over to you, Vince!

The Relum Telly: Part 2
by Vince

When we last saw the Telly, I’d just reduced the cocking effort by repairing the cocking linkage and smoothing the outside of the spring tube. Then I set about to fix the other things that were wrong with my new airgun. I had just fixed the stripped stock screw holes and was about to go into the gun’s innards. So, today join me on a tour of the Telly’s belly.

The piston is basic enough, and the fact that the leather piston seal was still in passable condition saved me a fair bit of hassle. It’s riveted in, so replacement wouldn’t have been very straightforward:

Relum Telly piston seal
The leather piston seal looks good.

Relum Telly piston body
Looking inside the piston reveals the rivet that holds the piston seal to the body.

So, a soaking in 30 weight oil is all it gets before reassembly.

I mentioned the concentric springs earlier. This is what they look like:

Relum Telly springs
The inner and outer mainspring. The inner spring shows a bit of “snakeiness” from its long life.

The thinner inner spring has about 1/3 the spring rate of the outer, which means that it does indeed contribute significantly to the powerplant energy.

The trigger is a linked direct sear. Oddly enough, it’s sorta similar to the linkage in the el-cheapo Industry Brand S2 pistol. The trigger blade pops right out but the actual sear pin is peened in place so I can’t remove the sear block. I’ve sketched in what it sorta looks like, sorta (yellow area).

Relum Telly trigger
The trigger blade came out easily. The sear is held in by a heavily peened pin, so I didn’t remove it. The yellow area is approximately what the sear looks like in profile.

As the blade is pulled back, it rotates the sear block clockwise (downward in back), which releases the piston. Here’s where I discovered something. Remember that goofy lockscrew I noticed in the front triggerguard bolt? It wasn’t a lockscrew at all. The bolt itself threads into the hole identified by the yellow arrow (above picture), and the concentric screw (which is both smaller in diameter and longer) pushes up on the sear block opposite of the trigger. This can be used to reduce the sear engagement and adjust the trigger. In fact, you can adjust it to the point of not even working. I don’t like messing too much with direct sears of any type, so I run the gun with the screw all the way out.

Relum Telly trigger adjustment
What I thought was a lockscrew turned out to be the trigger adjustment screw. It controls the amount of sear engagement area.

All the innards look usable, so after proper cleaning and relubing I reassemble the gun and get ready to shoot.

This is not going to be a super-comprehensive shooting test. Considering how few of these things that are around, the Relum Telly is not exactly a vintage gun you’re gonna want to use as a routine shooter. If you want a nice, usable vintage gun for a youth, get them something like a Diana 25. We just want to see what sort of performance the Telly was capable of.

The gun didn’t like Daisy Precision-Max or Crosman Wadcutters, but (surprise, surprise) it thrives on 7-grain RWS Diabolo Basic pellets. This 5-shot group shows what the gun is capable of at 10 meters:

Relum Telly target
Five RWS Diabolo Basic wadcutters made this 0.35-inch group at 10 meters.

That’s 0.35 inches, center-to-center, with rotten open sights. The rear blade has a “V” notch, while the front post tapers to a point on top — which means to my eyes, the top of the post sorta fades in and out like Captain Kirk stuck in a malfunctioning transporter. It’s very hard to make sure I’m getting a consistent aim point, which makes me think the gun is capable of even better.

Next up is the velocity — and laziness dictates that I only bother testing the pellets that shot well. Or, in this case, the one pellet. After 5 warm-up shots, the gun laid down this string:


The average was 617 f.p.s. This is just shy of 6 foot-pounds of energy…which, for the size of the rifle, really isn’t bad. On the OTHER hand, it’s HORRIBLE for a gun that requires as much as or more cocking force than a Diana 350 or a Baikal 513, while delivering less than 1/3 of the energy.

Anyway, it’s at this point that I decided to snap a quick picture of the breech with a pellet loaded to show you how loose it fits:

Relum Telly pellet in breech
See how deep into the breech the pellet falls?

See? It drops right in with no fuss or fighting. But then I get to thinking that SOMEbody’s going to carp about that ancient leather breech seal! So, should I replace it? The gun is probably doing as well as it can, so I have no reason to. In fact, I can even hear that little voice in my head saying, “LEAVE IT ALONE!”

So, naturally I popped it out, destroying it in the process. To my delight, it seems to be the same size as a Diana seal, which means I can use a #109 o-ring. But wait — there’s something funny about the groove it sat in.

Relum Telly breech seal groove
The groove is cut parallel to the bore, but not to the slanted breech. As a result, it’s deeper on the top than on the bottom.

Dang. The breech face is slanted on this gun (like on a lot of Dianas), and the groove is cut parallel to the barrel bore, not parallel to the breech face. This means that the top of the grove is a lot deeper than the bottom.

At first, I tried to see if I can “split the difference” by shimming it just right, but obviously that won’t work:

Relum Telly new breech seal 1
The shimmed breech seal obviously isn’t going to work.

Eventually, the obvious solution hit me, and I cut a wedge-shaped washer out of semi-rigid tubing:

Relum Telly wedge washer
By cutting this washer on a bias, I got a wedge shape to lie under the new o-ring breech seal.

…and VOILA!

Relum Telly new breech seal 2
The wedge-shaped washer raised the new o-ring to be level with the slanted breech.

One final note: the gun shoots no faster with the new seal.

So there you have it, the Relum Telly in a nutshell. Cocking effort aside, it’s a decent little plinker. I’d say it’s easily the equal of a small Diana or Slavia in accuracy but superior in power. Granted, this pup ain’t gonna get shot very much — but at least in looks at home in my airgun rack:

Relum Telly airgun rack
The new Telly is near the right side of the top rack.

My New Relum Telly!
Not such a bad little felleee,
At least with the right pelleee…
My New Relum Telly!

And so, both my Telly review and brief poetical foray draw to a long-overdue conclusion.

Industry Brand B-7

by B.B. Pelletier

Our favorite guest blogger, Vince, is at it again. Today, he shares his experience of testing a Chinese airgun.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Now, take it away, Vince!

Ahhh… the way we were! The way some of us were, anyway. By “us,” I’m referring to those of us who first got into airguns (or came back to airguns) after being seduced by those irrascible Chinese. I’m going back about, oh, 10 years or so ago, when, waltzing through the internet, we would find all sorts of places selling “The Chinese Can Opener” or the “High-Power Military Training Air Rifle.” What a deal they were — my goodness, why on earth would ANYONE spend $100 or more on one of those high-falutin’ overpriced airguns when these $25 Chinese models were obviously just as good? And we knew they were just as good because that number said so!

You know, that number. The velocity number. Because that was the only thing that mattered! That one number told us the whole story!

Sooner or later, we discovered the inevitable — although for some (like, uh, me), it was certainly later than sooner. Eventually, the B3, B4-2 and Fast Deer airguns went by the wayside to be replaced by Gamos, RWSs, Cometas, Noricas, and then Spanish and German Beemans. Around this time, the Chinese started cranking up the quality, though, so their better products didn’t entirely leave our field of view. But the old carved-out-of-a-2×4-and-lubed-with-pig-fat models — along with all their broken seals, mainsprings and promises — were pretty much forgotten.

But man is a funny animal, and a collector (even a half-baked collector) often sees value in diversity as well as quality. And just as a man who collects Mustangs sort of really needs a 1974 Mustang II 4 cylinder automatic (as horrid a car as it was) in his collection, I began pining for some of those old, crude guns just because they were there.

So it was that I found myself fishing around for some of those old bottom-feeders…those poorly made, all wood-steel-and-leather guns that smelled like bacon grease when fired. Those guns that, frankly, I had virtually no interest in shooting, except to appreciate the better guns that came later. The subject of this report, the Industry Brand QB-51, is one of those fossils I dug up.

Industry Brand B-7 spring-piston rifle.

This .177-caliber breakbarrel air rifle was also called the Industry Brand B-7 and shouldn’t be confused with the BAM B-7. That gun was the old sporter-style sidelever that actually had a reputation for being sort of decent. No, the Industry Brand B-7 was one of those smoke-and-soot, machined with a dull file and worn-out drill bits and carved-with-a-hatchet examples of communism at its most typical. If you were lucky, it worked out of the box. If not, well, it simply didn’t. But luck shines upon me, and this one actually did.

The QB-51 was one of those novelty guns they used to put together by combining a low-buck action with some possibly less-than-useless useless bells and whistles. This one was apparently playing paratrooper with a folding wire stock, a total weight of under 6 lbs. and an overall length of only 35 inches. But it’s not a kid’s gun by any stretch — the pull length of 14 inches and a 28-lb. cocking force certainly attest to that.

Since the folding stock is obviously the most interesting aspect of this gun, let’s take a look at that first. It actually has two interesting features, the less obvious being an adjustable buttpad.

Buttpad is centered.

Buttpad adjusted down.

Is an adjustable buttpad on this cheap gun completely pointless? Actually it isn’t. It can be used to dial up a more comfortable shooting position. The gun does look awkward as all get out if the pad is moved too far off the normal position; but let’s face it, this pup isn’t winning any beauty contests if the judges are permitted to keep their eyes open.

The folding stock is perhaps less useful.

Folding stock extended.

The stock is folded flat against the side of the gun.

This is what it looks like from the side.

Some rifles with a folding stock can be handled as a pistol (sort of); that’s not really going to happen with this gun. All it does is make the rifle a bit shorter and easier to pack up for transport — if you could think of any reason you’d want to. But at least the rough cast folding/locking mechanism is stout enough.

The hinge is stout and tight!

Moving past that, we come to the pistol grip — and another gadget! The grip is hollow and has a sliding door at the bottom.

The grip has a secret compartment!

Presumably, you can put pellets in there. It would hold several hundred, even if getting them out one at a time might be a bit tricky. Again, we have an oddball feature that still isn’t quite useless.

On top of the gun, we can see the simple rear sight. If you were into mid-grade airguns 10-15 years ago, you might recognize it. This is pretty much a knock-off of the old Gamo sight that used to come on a variety of their breakbarrels. Frankly, they did well to copy it. It’s simple, largely devoid of free-play and pretty darned rugged.

The rear sight was kind of nice!

Finding it on this rifle was a pleasant surprise, and I was hoping to find a similar surprise as I moved rearward toward the trigger. I already knew that Industry Brand used a knock-off of the Gamo trigger in their QB-57, QB-88 and QB-25 models. When I saw that telltale safety tang in the triggerguard area, I got my hopes up. It says something about bottom-feeder Industry Brand triggers when you’re seriously looking forward to a Gamo trigger. But even those modest hopes were quickly dashed. This gun has a simple direct-sear and a crude sliding safety, both of which makes a 2004 Gamo Shadow feel like a Swiss watch.

As I move around the gun, it’s becoming obvious that this thing is based on the old Industry Brand 61 and 62 model actions, later known as the B-1 and B-2, respectively. I’ve had those. My B-1 had a horribly inaccurate barrel and probably a 12-lb. trigger. One B-2 had a soft trigger that quickly wore and went into the auto-fire mode, and the other B-2 bent its rear retaining pin because it couldn’t handle the spring pressure. As one might guess, I don’t get all excited by B-1/B-2 variants.

One giveaway is the breech pivot bolt.

The pivot bolt has only four places for the locking screw to engage. That often makes it difficult to adjust properly, for many times you want to stop somewhere in-between.

And the other is the smashed-leather breech seal.

The leather breech seal is as flat as a pancake.

Both are hallmarks of Industry Brand inferiority, and that breech bolt (with its four positive locking stops) frequently makes it impossible to properly tighten up the sideplay without making custom washers to go under the bolt head.

Oh well…let’s keep going. The front sight is basic enough.

Front sight is what you would expect.

Although I won’t be using it. I’ve learned from recent testing that I just can’t be consistent with open sights anymore — so I pretty much have to go to a scope. The problem is that the grooves milled into the receiver are ridiculously short. In trying to mount a scope, look at what I had to resort to.

The Daisy variable scope was cheap enough and worked well. Notice how close the rings have to be to fit the short dovetails!

The skinny scope mounts I used — moved as close together as possible — barely fit. The scope, by the way, is a cheap Daisy Powerline 3-9×32 (no AO), in which I had fudged the objective lens to eliminate parallax at 10 yards. Set up this way, the $35 scope works like a champ — and seems way too good for a rifle like this.

I do have some concerns about running a scope on this gun, however — Diana’s aren’t the only breakbarrels to have droop, and this one seemed to have joined that party. But there’s only one way to find out, so I’m off to test it. And, yes, this time I checked the stock screws first.

I’m shooting the gun with the same series of pellets I used last time — although, frankly, putting Crosman Premiers through this rifle seems rather silly.

I tried all these pellets in this gun.

No matter, same drill — 5 shots to get the barrel used to a pellet, then 5 on each through two separate bulls.

Much to my surprise, dialing in the Daisy scope wasn’t such a big deal, and soon I was landing pellets close enough for government work. Though the Daisy scope worked well enough, the Daisy Precision Max wadcutter pellets didn’t.

Daisy Precision Max wadcutters: These shots are hard to see, but the group sizes are listed next to them.

These groups came in at 0.66 inches and 0.82 inches; but come to think of it, maybe I’m being too hard on these pellets. Maybe this really is the best this gun can do!

Crosman Competition wadcutters do nothing to dispel that notion. At 0.78 inches and 1.40 inches, they’re making the Daisys look good.

Crosman Competition wadcutters.

At 1.28 inches and 1.52 inches, Crosman Hunting pellets (pointed) do even worse.

Crosman Hunting pellets.

Even my cherished Crosman Premier hollowpoints are sucking canal water at 1.12 inches and 0.9 inches.

Crosman Premier hollowpoints.

Of all the Crosman pellets, only the Premier Lites seems to consistently do under an inch — although 0.82 inches and 0.9 inches is nothing to squawk about.

Crosman Premier Lites did better, but still not great.

Oddly enough, those new Gamo Match pellets I don’t like so much just about equalled the Crosman Premier Lites in this gun.

Gamo Match pellets were a pleasant surprise. But it still isn’t good enough.

But at 0.95 inches and 0.88 inches, they still couldn’t match the Daisys. I had high hopes for the RWS Diabolo Basic pellets that seem to shoot so well in many low-power guns. I finally started to see some improvement.

RWS Diabolog Basic pellets are an inexpensive wadcutter. They look good here.

At 0.57 inches for both groups, they were quite consistent; and now we’re starting to get into the range of acceptable performance for a cheap rifle.

But then we have the Beemans. Not the German Beemans from H&N. I’m referring to those imposter, Chinese-made Beeman wadcutter coated pellets. My very first group with them was typical for this rifle.

These groups are difficult to see, but Beeman coated wadcutters, which are made in China, did remarkably well.

As you can see, the second group was a shocker. We went from 0.78 inches to 0.37 inches in one set. Something’s up. Let’s try this one more time.

Incredible! Almost a quarter-inch group of Beeman coated wadcutters. I circled the group for you.

My goodness! Stick a feather on my rump and call me a turkey — but this Chinese junk just put 5 pellets into virtually a 1/4-inch group.

Now, before anyone starts complaining — “That’s not fair! No other pellet got a third chance!” — let me explain something. The Beemans were absolutely the first pellets I shot, and during that time I was trying to come to grips with that yucky trigger. That’s why I think the first group was poor. Since the second group did so well, I shot the third group last after I had completed all other testing. So I think this third test was fair and that it really means something.

[Editor's note. This happens sometimes, and it's a reminder of the hold sensitivity issue and why things have to be done just right to see good results. I've seen what Vince is talking about. With some experience under your belt, you'll know when something deserves a second chance like this.]

But before we get too excited, let’s do a velocity check. Since the Chinese Beeman pellets were far and away the best, those were the only ones I tested. 10 shots came out like so: 396, 397, 388, 390, 380, 381, 381, 379, 381, 377.

We immediately notice three things: (1) The velocity stinks, especially for a gun with an almost 30-lb. cocking force. (2) The velocity seems to be on a downward trend. (3) The spread of 19 f.p.s. is significant, considering the fact that this thing is outgunned by a P17 pistol.

Where does that leave us?

Well, to begin with, this gun obviously has a decent barrel. Not sure how that happened, but happen it did. And if the barrel is good, the gun is good, right? Couple that with the fact that, against all odds, this example also seems to have a consistent lockup — and we seem to have a perfect diamond in the rough.

Yes – very rough. I could probably go through this gun and get the velocity up to 500-600 f.p.s. range, and some trigger smoothing and lubing would probably help as well. Even at that — will I ever want to shoot this thing just for fun? Really?

If I’m honest — not really. In fact, I have absolutely no reason IN THE WORLD to go through the trouble of tearing this thing apart and making it right.

Nope. No reason at all.

I’ll let y’all know how it turns out.

[Editor's note. Maybe I should have made this a Part 1. We'll see what Vince does. I don't want him to feel pressured.]

Cabanas air rifle: Mendoza’s next door neighbor

by B.B. Pelletier

Regular blog reader Vince is regaling us with another great guest blog about a gun he’s repaired…although this isn’t about the repairs he made. He never fails to inform and entertain! So, sit back, relax and enjoy!

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Take it away, Vince!

Cabanas air rifle

So, where to begin? I don’t quite know how to write an introduction to the this gun simply because I know virtually nothing about it. In fact, everything I DO know will fill no more than a single paragraph on an airgun blog…and not a terribly long paragraph at that:

The Cabanas rifle was manufactured by Cabanas Industrias, S.A. in Aguilas, Mexico, and was imported and distributed through Mandall’s Sporting Goods of Scottsdale, Arizona. The release of these models may have been announced at the 1989 SHOT show, and this particular rifle might belong to the RC-200 family of airguns from that manufacturer.

And that’s it.

The Cabanas company IS relatively well known for making primer-powered guns in both .177 and .22 calibers. These were known for being as low-powered as an air rifle but less accurate, more prone to fouling than a regular .22 and yet classified as a full-fledged firearm in the eyes of the ATF.

In other words, the worst of all worlds. Little wonder they didn’t last.

Where does that leave this thing? Was it a last-gasp effort by Cabanas to salvage some workable market share in the United States before completely getting swamped? Cabanas went under in 1999. If this rifle does, indeed, date from 10 years prior, it hardly qualifies as a “last gasp.” But, no doubt, it was part of an effort to expand their US market. Given the dearth of information on these models, it wasn’t a very successful effort at that.

That is, if you define success only in a commercial sense. Because this particular air rifle is a very likeable gun. Before I get ahead of myself, though, let me introduce this particular example.

I first heard of this gun when blog reader Wacky Wayne mentioned that he had a certain type of “Cabanas” he wanted me to do something with. I asked him what in the heck was he growing in those raised flower beds of his! But after we cleared up THAT little misunderstanding, I said “SURE! I’ll work on anything!” A short time later, the Cabanas arrived at my doorstep. I worked it over, sent it back, he shoots it a couple of times and then sends it BACK to me to keep in exchange for some more work. Which means that this orphaned waif is now mine.

Wwhenever I see another air rifle, I’m always on the lookout for signs of cross-breeding or design commonality. Since this gun is from Mexico, my thoughts immediately turned to Mendoza. Those thoughts were reinforced the first time I broke open the barrel and compared it to its Mexican cousin.

Mendoza at the top, Cabanas at the bottom…kissing cousins!

The scope grooves milled into the spring tube are typical enough, but the gun’s potential Mendoza-ness was further reinforced by the presence of an oil hole.

On the other hand – the automatic safety is definitely un-Mendoza like (safety engaged).

Safety off

It’s kind of clunky, really. It seems a bit odd to have a large block of metal sliding back and forth like that, and it doesn’t work all that smoothly. And that’s AFTER messing around with it to improve the feel. Worst of all, it’s not resettable which, frankly, is inexcusable on a gun with a simple, direct-sear trigger like this one. Small matter, though. B. B. has talked me out of relying on safeties, and the more I shoot the more I’m convinced that they really are superflous annoyances for the most part. This safety is not a terrible bother to pop off, so it’s not a major gripe.

Otherwise, the gun seems well made, with steel for everything and no apparent chintzy compromises in the name of fads, mass-marketing, or penny-pinching. The Cabanas is a very solid gun.

The reddish stock, to my eye, is oddly evocative of something I can’t quite put my finger on. It sorta reminds me of the wood furnishings that might be found in a classy 1960′s bar or smoking room frequented by older, well-dressed men. Or something like that. Shaping and finishing does show a decent level of workmanship (if a bit blocky in shape), but the thumbhole is a bit small, I think. It’s marginal for me, I can easily see where larger shooters might find it genuinely undersized.

It’s a handy rifle at 6.50 lbs. Cocking effort maxes out at only about 20 lbs. (peaking right when the sear is engaged). Trigger effort (direct sear) is on the high side at about 7 lbs., but that’s really the only downside to shooting this gun.

The sights are low & relatively close to the centerline of the barrel.

I especially like the styling of that front sight — very sleek, the way it’s almost hidden by the muzzlebrake. But as for function? Middle-of-the-road, at best. The biggest problem was that at 10 yards, I ran out of height adjustment. It still tended to shoot low with the rear sight on the highest notch. The locking-screw type windage adjustment (a la Crosman 1077) is also a bit cheap but less of an issue. Sight picture is good, though, with the front blade sized well for the rear notch.

At this point, I’m ready to start shooting the gun, and y’all might be expecting what B.B. does…velocity tests followed by accuracy. I’m taking a slightly different approach and doing the accuracy test first, since there’s no reason to chrono the gun with pellets that shoot like poo. So, accuracy testing is up first.

Being a naturally boring person, I decided to run this test with a set of very run-of-the-mill ammo. Budget-concious pellets are definitely on the menu, and I’ll round it off with Premier 7.9 grains.

The pellets I used for the record.

Half the pellets are Crosman, beginning with the old Copperhead Competition wadcutters (shown upper left) that have been a staple of indoor shooting for 20 years or so. The pellets below that are Crosman Hunting Pellets, which are pointed – but not with the straight-sided cone common to pointed pellets. This one looks more like a Premier that’s told a lie or two to the pellet packer at Crosman. And despite the fact that they’re cheap — $14/1250 at Pyramydair. I find that in some guns they shoot about as well as doomed Premiers even at longer ranges. This performance starkly contrasts with the more expensive (and conventionally designed) pointed Premiers, which I’ve found to be absolutely horrible.

The next column shows the Premier Hollowpoints that I’ll be testing and an old box of standard doomed 7.9-grain Premiers. Generally, I find that the HP’s shoot just about as well, I’ll be curious to see if the same holds true here.

Next over, we have the new Gamo Match, which is no longer the Gamo Match, if you catch my drift. They changed the design of the pellet a year or two ago — and in my experience, not for the better. Below that is ANOTHER pellet that’s no longer the Gamo Match — the Daisy Precision-Max. I’ve generally found this to be also an inferior pellet, but a few guns do like them.

The last two are the RWS Diablo Basic (used to be the “Geco”) and the not-really-Beeman-because-they’re-made-in-China Beeman Wadcutters. The RWS pellets look to be very well made, and some guns just love them. I generally have a bit less success with the Beeman pellets — but it depends on the rifle.

Now, as to the testing procedure. I planned to put 5 shots of each pellet through the gun before shooting two 5-shot groups side by side. This will get the barrel “used to” the new alloy before shooting for the record, something that I’ve found to be significant. All shooting will be done over about 10 yards in my basement, so wind will be a non-issue.

I started rattling off groups using the open sights and immediately identify 2 problems. First, I’m tearing up the bullseye. While this sounds good, the fact is that I prefer to have the group OFF the bullseye, so I’m always sighting on a clean target. I don’t want to mess with the windage because there’s no easy way of setting back to exactly where it was, and I didn’t want to lower the sight because my target paper put the lower dots near the bottom of the trap. Second, my eyes have managed to get even WORSE than the last time I did any serious testing.

And then I found the loose stock screws. So, I threw out all the targets I already shot, tightened the screws, mounted a 3-12x40AO Centerpoint scope and dialed it in.

First up are the Crosman Wadcutters:

Don’t know what’s up here: .87″ and .40″? Not very consistent, is it? Well, we’ll see how the next pellets do:

The Crosman Hunting Pellets don’t disappoint and punch out passable .40″ and .38″ groups. Which, on balance, is a bit better than the Premier Hollowpoints:

…which came in at .45″ and .40″. The boxed Premier Lights, however, were the best of the Crosmans at .33″ and .35″:

The Daisy Precision-Max pellets didn’t live up to their name:

At .58″ and 1.06″ they did the worst average group out of this gun, although the new Gamo Match pellets were certainly vying for top dishonors:

At least they were more consistent at .80″ and .70″.

The real star in this gun was the RWS Basic (not an uncommon occurrence) which went into a pair of .33″ groups:

In my mind this just further confirms them as one of the best cheap pellets out there. Beeman’s best of .31″ was slightly better:

…but it’s worst of .53″ would seem to indicate that it’s not as consistent.

With the accuracy test over, I’m now looking at putting some shots over the chrony.

I know that this review isn’t really useful as a review for a potential purchase. Considering it’s rarity, you’re not very likely to find one in the used gun market. I’ve even wondered if this one was a sample for the importer, and that no others were even brought into this country. Next to this thing, the Sterling is as common as a Toyota Corolla.

Since all I’m doing is a curio writeup, I decide I’m only going to do one pellet to show the general velocity range of this gun. I decided to use the most accurate pellet of the test — the RWS.

Ten shots across the chrony yield the following results:


A 16 fps spread is pretty good, and the muzzle energy of 7.5 to 8 ft-lbs is sufficient for plinking out to 40 yards or so.

Overall, this Cabanas is an enjoyable, mid-range airgun that seems to be a bit easier to shoot and a little less pellet-fussy than my experience with that other Mexican brand. A better trigger (like, for example, the Mendoza unit) would make it positively delightful.

That wraps up the Cabanas. And, now, if I ever do a search on this rifle again I’ll probably get twice as many hits on it as I did before… because half of them will point me back to my own review! Maybe some day I’ll be able to dig up a bit more on this; and if ANYone has any more information on this pup, I’m all ears.

I’m from China. Do you know my name?

by B.B. Pelletier

Blog reader Vince has been very busy! Last week he gave us a 2-part guest blog, and this week he’s given us another blog. Like mysteries? Get out our magnifying glass and help Vince uncover the name of this air rifle.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

by Vince

I know there’s something to be said for mystery, even when it’s balanced by intimate familiarity. Still, I REALLY want to know what to call you.

‘Twas a dark and stormy night — or not — when she came along in as innocuous a manner as possible. I had spotted a “dump sale” on one of the sites (don’t remember which), where a fellow was getting rid of four bottom-feeder Chinese guns. I believe he had a business, and these guns didn’t move — but I’m not positive about that. In any event, the airguns included a pair of Industry Brand B3 rifles (.177 and .22, a cult gun if there ever was one), an old half-eaten Industry B7/QB51 (folding-stock breakbarrel missing the stock) and this orphan. It’s a nondescript Chinese sidelever that I thought at first might be a KL-3B Fast Deer (another cult gun that was sort of a flash in the pan about 5 years ago). But no, there was no safety on the starboard side above the trigger. Then, I thought it might be an old TS-45, which I always wanted for no particular reason. But the stock shape didn’t seem quite right. No matter, I’ll find out when it gets here, right?

The package finally comes into my possession, and I start going through the box. The B3 rifles were what you’d expect — ugly. Turns out that the .177 version has about the same velocity as the .22, and the accuracy with either was rather tepid. The .177 was sold off for $15, and I kept the .22 just to have one.

But that sidelever….

Well, the price was cheap enough. Are those serial numbers? Who knows!

Even up close, I’m not sure what it is. There are some numbers stamped into the wood near the buttplate. Whatever it is, it certainly isn’t a model number of any sort. I looked on the compression tube and found the obligatory Made In China (NO! REALLY?) stamped in the metal along with the just-as-obligatory Chinese characters. Above that is some sort of mountain range motif. Maybe Snow Peak? I don’t see any snow. Don’t see any scope dovetails, either.

The logo isn’t exactly on par with Diana throwing away her bow and picking up an air rifle.

So, I’m thinking, “I shall call you Pointy, and you shall be mine.” But that’s kind of a stupid name for a gun, so I’ll continue examining the rest of the rifle for clues.

I was always under the impression that Snow Peak was an early manifestation of Industry Brand, but the gun does NOT seem to have that special lack-of-attention-to-detail that distinguishes (extinguishes?) the early Industry guns. Even the stock — while the varnish on it is applied unevenly and is a bit orange-peeled — isn’t hosed down with that orangish-brown goo that Industry used in abundance.

Next, I looked at the sights — the AK47-style sights. The rear has a push-button slider with markings at each position for elevation, and no windage adjustment. While the front sight is adjustable for windage (with a punch or an AK47 sight tool) and elevation (again, with the AK47 tool):

Front sight is fully adjustable, rear sight is adjustable for elevation only.

For afficionados of cheap Chinese (guns, not food), this smacks of the old BAM B4-2 underlever that bore a passing resemblance to the inferior Industry B3. That makes me think about the BAM XS-B7 — the sporter version of BAM’s old XS-B3-1 AK47 lookalike sidelever:

The new gun sorta looks like this…in some ways…but not really. (Photo courtesy of the former Pellettrap website)

No, the stock shape is all wrong. The XS-B7 does NOT have the AK-style sights, but it does have a safety in the triggerguard. Pointy doesn’t have one at all. It makes do with an interlock that keeps the shooter from pulling the trigger when the arm is open, but that’s about it.

One last detail. My gun has a fairly substantial set of sling swivels mounted on its underside.

The gun comes with a full set of sling swivels. The rear screw on each swivel is actually one of the bolts that holds the action to the stock. I don’t thing they’re going anywhere. Despite the differences in stock shape, with these swivels I’m again leaning toward calling it a TS-45.

X-ray of the TS-45 trigger shows it’s the same as the B3.
(from Tuning a cheap Chinese airgun – Part 2)

The TS-45 has the same trigger as the B3, which has the trigger blade holding the sear in place until it’s pulled. Even without taking the gun apart, I can tell that Pointy has a simpler direct sear.

At this point, I’m flummoxed. So, I set the whole ID issue aside and just started shooting it.

The gun itself is very much full weight and size at 6 lbs., 14 oz., and 41 inches overall. As you’d expect from a sidelever, it balances well (since the cocking linkage is close to the shooter), and the pull length of 13.5 inches is well within the average range for adults. The sight is clear enough, with plenty of depth to the slot in the rear sight, although the notch is a bit too wide for the front post.

Side note: Why do some manufacturers get so danged stingy with the depth of the rear sight notch? Am I alone in finding that an open-leaf sight with a really shallow notch is a pain to use?

Anyway, holding and shouldering the gun doesn’t feel bad at all, the stock seems well proportioned. Meaty without being fat, it’s probably a good compromise for a variety of hand sizes. The not-so-smooth finish on the stock actually makes it easier to grip. Poor man’s checkering? Uh, yeah…that’s it.

Of course, old Chinese guns aren’t known for mechanical refinement. Pointy’s direct sear trigger (with a 6-lb. release), graunchy cocking cycle and dry, hollow-sounding firing cycle do nothing to dispel this reputation. And, I discovered something else the first time I cocked it — this gun is SHARP! Literally. They didn’t do much to bevel the edges at the end of the cocking lever. Ouch! Not rough or uneven, mind you, and not enough to cut skin, but darned uncomfortable. Glad it doesn’t take more than 20 lbs. to cock it.

I started punching paper at 10 meters so I can start adjusting the front sight windage. And, that’s when the rifle started doing things like this:

Just when you think you know how a gun’s gonna shoot…it does something like this.

Hmmm…. that’s about a .32″ group with Crosman Premier Hollowpoints. With open sights. Guys, laugh if you wanna, but this passes as a very good open-sight group for me at this range. It did the about the same thing with a group of 5 Gamo Match pellets and a little worse with RWS Super-H-Point and RWS Diabolo Basic pellets

So, whatever it is, whoever made it — they certainly paid attention to the barrel. What else did they pay attention to? Well, now I’ll get down and dirty to find out.

The action is dirt simple.

What am I seeing? The mechanism is certainly basic enough, with the direct sear trigger pivoting on the same pin that holds everything together. The stampings are straight, and the spot welds all seem to be spot-on.

Out come the main pin and parts.

Once apart, I found the expected leather seal, and the general mechanism is reminiscent of the horrid Industry B1 and B2 rifles I’ve worked on. But wait! Something’s different! That pin! That 5mm pin that holds everything together and holds the trigger!

The 5mm pin that held it all together.

Notice anything strange about the pin? It’s STRAIGHT! That’s strange, because every old Industry gun I’ve worked on with the same arrangement also had a bent pin (metal too soft). But not this one. What else did I notice? The sear mating surfaces weren’t significantly worn.

The sear mating surface wasn’t worn to a nub.

My experience indicates that would CERTAINLY be unusual on an Industry rifle. In fact, the sear faces on the old Industry B1/B2 guns can wear so much that they start shooting without you.

That rear guide seems to be machined out of a solid piece of steel, rather than fabricated from a sheet metal tube and a washer.

The rear guide isn’t the usual cheap manufacturing process I’m used to seeing.

The piston seems well made, and the piston rod is STRAIGHT and centered in the bore of the piston. All in all, I’m now certain that Industry didn’t make this gun.

Pointy was dry as a bone when I took it apart, so the gun goes back together with the typical moly goo I use. Since it’s a lower-powered gun, I didn’t bother with tar on the spring, but the leather seal did get roughed up and soaked in 30-weight oil. Cocking and shooting behavior is smoother, and the velocity seems to have stabilized in the mid-500s with Crosman 7.9-grain pellets.

But, I’m no closer to identifying the gun. So far, the sights and general build quality still make me think that it’s related to the old BAM XS-B3/B7 rifles, but now I’ve got pictures of the innards! So, I go perusing the internet til I find an exploded view of the XS-B3 variant so I can compare the general construction.

Exploded view of the XS-B3.

After noting some of the details — the rear guide and spring retainer, the trigger, the construction of the beartrap and of course those sights — I believe I now have part of the puzzle. Pointy is probably a product of the BAM factory before it was actually called BAM and provided the basic design for some of their subsequent rifles. I’m also guessing that this gun was produced at a less frenzied pace than their guns today, affording them a bit more time for QC.

So, I know where you’re from, and I know where you went, and I know you shoot well. But, I still don’t know your name. Who are you?

Beeman GT600 air rifle – Part 2

by B.B. Pelletier

Yesterday, Vince regaled us with one of his recent purchases…a Beeman GT600 air rifle. Today, he’ll show us what he found when he pulled it apart and made it better than new.

If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.

Bloggers must be proficient in the simple html that Blogger software uses, know how to take clear photos and size them for the internet (if their post requires them), and they must use proper English. We’ll edit each submission, but we won’t work on any submission that contains gross misspellings and/or grammatical errors.

Here we go!

Part 1

by Vince

The GT600 is about as plain-jane a rifle as you’ll find. Dollars to donuts, the same basic design continues on in the more recent Young model 56 and 90 rifles currently available. Many guns have their own quirks when dealing with the rear spring retainer and trigger assembly, and the Norica is no exception.

Disassembly starts with the typical screws (like umpteen other rifles)…

…at which point the action pops out real easy.

The next step is to knock out the retaining pins. Yes, I said knock them out. No sticking it in a spring compressor. Even with the pins out, the spring isn’t going nowhere (which will become evident momentarily).

I used a punch to start tapping them out.

Next, I tapped them back IN and — and tapped them out the RIGHT way.

As you might be able to see in the picture, the pins are knurled on one side and should be punched out from the side opposite the knurls.

After you’ve tapped out the second pin, the spring will push against and trap the punch, which, of course, is now in the hole where the pin used to be. Push in the trigger assembly a little bit to relieve the pressure on the punch and pull it out.

Release the trigger assembly, and the punch jumps back a bit and stops.

This is where a special tool comes into play. Someday, I’ll make a good one, but this works for now. I quickly hacked it out of a 1-inch diameter piece of aluminum tubing some years ago when I got my first AR1000. It goes into the rear of the compression tube.

My special tool…necessity is the mother of invention.

The forks reach around the trigger assembly and push directly on the rear spring guide. Compress the spring, pull the trigger mechanism out through the opening and completely release the spring pressure. I can’t show you this step because I don’t use a spring compressor and have already become something of a pariah on another forum partly because I had the nerve to describe how I do it. So, let’s just say I use my SUPERPOWERS (and my, uh, above-average weight) to compress the spring. After the spring pressure is released, the spring and the rear guide can be removed.

The pivot bolt simply unscrews.

The barrel assembly separates from the rest of the gun.

Remove the pivot washers, clean everything up and moly paste it before putting it back together.

The barrel is then set aside for reassembly later. The piston that came out of the gun should look familiar to anyone who’s disassembled an AR1000 or Hämmerli 490.

The Beeman GT600 has a one-piece seal that’s held in place with a single screw.

The seal looks in good enough shape, so I’ll just reuse it. But, I’ve got visions of that middle screw backing out while shooting, which would probably cause me to say a bad word and flush the gun down the toilet. So, I took the screw out.

The screw was removed and given a good coat of Vibra-tite VC3. This reddish-orange goop gets put on a clean screw, as shown above.

Let it dry for 20 minutes or so BEFORE reassembling the parts. That solidified red gunk causes something of a friction fit between the inner and outer threads, which then resists loosening. Unlike Locktite, it doesn’t try to adhere to the inside threads, so I really think it works better when those inside threads aren’t entirely clean.

Next, I turned my attention to the compression tube. First thing to do is wad up half a paper towel and cram it down inside the tube. Then, I took a small file and broke the edge of the slots and holes in the tube.

Removing sharp edges with a file.

I don’t have to go nuts (well, over this anyway). All I’m doing is getting rid of the very sharp edges that might slice chunks out of a seal as I’m reinstalling it. I wish manufacturers would do this, as it’s not too uncommon to find factory piston seals that have pieces missing because of those edges.

After filing, extracting the paper towel, and cleaning the tube, I can start putting all the pieces back together. For this gun, I’m trying out a proprietary airgun grease some guy was selling on one of the forums. Never really tried it before (I have no idea if it’s any good), so I decided to use it here.

The subject of proper lubricants for springer guts is one that could easily take up waaaaay more space than I’ve got. As a side note, I’ll delve into it a bit. There are two major areas of concern, and the desired lubricant properties of each is a bit different.

Everyone knows about spring tar. This lubricant really has to do two things: stay put and dampen vibration. It has to be sticky and thick (like the guy writing this blog). But it can’t be too sticky or too thick because it’ll slow down things too much if it is. High-powered guns with their monster springs are less prone to suffering from tar-itis, so they can tolerate something heavier. Rich in Michigan’s stuff might not drag a RWS Diana 350 or Gamo Hunter Extreme down too much, but try it on a Slavia 618 and you’ll get stuck in slow-mo. And, Maccari’s tar, which is thinner, might work well on an RM-200 but be less effective on, say, a super-buzzy Diana 46 Stutzen. So, there’s some point in trying to match the tar to the gun.

The second lube needed is a spring cylinder lube. This is where it gets real tricky. You want something with good resistance to wear under heavy and low-speed loading so the cylinder wall isn’t gouged by all that piston side load during the cocking stroke. But, you don’t want something too thick that’ll get scraped out of the way after a couple of cycles and never come back. You don’t want something too thick because the drag from shear forces between the piston and the cylinder wall will really slow things down when the piston tries to spring forward.

You want something that won’t easily get past the piston seal. Anything that does, of course, runs the risk of going BOOM when the gun is fired. A little of this is tolerable (and not entirely avoidable), but a lot of it isn’t going to brighten your day. You want something that isn’t so thin that it flows right past the seal, and you don’t want it so sticky and thick that the seal can’t scrape it out of the way. Since some of it WILL end up in the chamber, you want a lube that’ll be sticky enough to stay on the chamber walls, where it can’t really burn, and not get atomized into the compressed air — where it burns very enthusiastically.

So, silicone is out. It just doesn’t hack it as a high-load, metal-to-metal lubricant. We need something thick that’s also thin, and sticky without all that awkward stickiness. That explains the plethora of lubes out there, many of which are homebrews with their formulations more closely guarded than our bank account data ever will be.

It’s one of these homebrews that I’m trying out. Since this gun isn’t a magnum springer, I can make do with something lighter on the spring. I’m using this same grease there as well. There’s a real advantage to doing so if it’s feasible: It doesn’t matter if the stuff on the spring gets slung off or if the stuff on the cylinder walls gets on the spring. There’s no intermixing of different lubes; it’s all the same goo.

The front guide…

the rear guide…

and the spring get all gooped up with this stuff.

I probably overdid it. But that’s actually one good test of a lube — to see if it gets in the chamber and diesel — or not — when there’s a lot of it to go around.

The piston gets a good coating as well and then goes in.

Now is the proper time to reinstall the barrel. Don’t forget to fit the cocking link back into the slot in the piston and cylinder! If you try to reassemble the barrel pivot AFTER the spring is reinstalled, you’ll find that the tension on the piston prevents everything from lining up and the bolt won’t go back in!

Okay, so I forgot.

If you forget and find yourself trying to reinstall the barrel after the fact (uh, like I did), there’s a way around it. The holes will not align perfectly but will overlap enough to get the round shank of a #1 or #2 phillips head screwdriver where the pivot bolt goes.

Did it wrong? A phillips head screwdriver to the rescue.

The gun can be cocked like this, which will take the tension off the pivot and allow the holes to line up and the screw reinstalled. But, if the sear lets go before you get the screw in, well, you’ve got a bit of a mess on your hands. So, this procedure isn’t really recommended. Just do it in the right order so you may live long and prosper in the land.

Anyway, this pivot bolt doesn’t have a locking mechanism of any sort, so some of the same red goop as used on the piston seal bolt might not be a bad idea.

After the barrel is installed, the front guide, spring and rear guide get installed — in that order. Putting the trigger back in is a matter of compressing the spring with the special tool and putting it in the way it came out.

It goes in about the same way it came out…but in reverse order.

Compress the spring a bit more (without the tool) and slide the pins back in. Voila! Your action is ready for action.

You’ll notice that I didn’t do anything with the trigger, and there’s a good reason for that. I’ve had a LOT of luck re-angling the mating faces to reduce friction and lighten the trigger-pull. Unfortunately, however, that luck’s been all bad. I’ve found that it’s a tightrope walking the line between nice feel and auto-fire. And, if you DO get on the right side of that line and the trigger wears a bit, be prepared for your sear to go on strike. I know that some guys have had good luck with improving direct-sear triggers, but for now I don’t mess with ‘em.

So the action goes back in the stock, and I tend to the last major issue for this gun. Don’t know how it happened, but it came out of the seemingly undamaged box that way.

The rear sight is slightly bent.

This always scares me, because I’ve had NO success straightening these out when this happens. I always seem to break the shaft. Anyhow, I contacted the seller, who insisted that it probably happened during shipping. I’m a bit doubtful about that, but no matter. I can’t use it as is. So, I might as well try to straighten it.

Miracles happen…I fixed the bent rear sight.

Dunno WHY I didn’t break it this time. Maybe, being extra careful to bend it JUST far enough was the key. Glad I was able to salvage that sight, as it’s actually a pretty decent one with not much play and a decent sight picture. With the sight back together, Bee (I’ll call her that just to make her feel better) is ready to spit.

Over at the crony, I tried pumping one of my standard test pellets through it — Crosman Premier Super Points. But not the Premiers I usually use. I’m using Premier pointed pellets that were thrown in with another gun purchase I recently made. Since experience tells me these pellets are useless for accuracy, I decided to use them for chrony testing instead. I don’t want them to go to waste, and they weigh the same as the domed Premiers. When I saw an almost 50 fps spread over 10 shots, I switched to Crosman Premier hollowpoints, and the results were a lot better: 549, 549, 549, 550, 549, 550, 551, 560, 557 and 553.

Eleven fps separate high from low. I can live with that! Now, I have yet another reason to hate those pointed pellets.

Firing cycle is improved and cocking is a nice, smooth 20 lbs., including latching the sear. Trigger-pull, incidentally, comes out to about 5 lbs. of creep-free snap. Well, creep-free except for the shooter, that is, who can be something of a creep at times.

Let’s look at what REALLY counts — making holes in stuff. At 10 meters, I tried 5-shot groups with Daisy Wadcutters, Gamo Match, and (one of my favorite cheapies) RWS Diabolo Basic pellets, all with so-so results.

Then came the Premiers – I went to cardboard-boxed Premiers (7.9 grains). Results were somewhat better until I loosened up my grip on the gun…and she threw a great group of 5.

Bee has stepped up to the plate!

Oh. OK. I think I understand. Bee ain’t foolin’ around! Hard to measure exactly, but my best guess is about .32″ ctc, although it might actually be less. I think we have a pretty good overall picture of the GT600. It’s a crude gun that certainly doesn’t live up to the Beeman reputation – or, at least, the old Beeman reputation – of combining superior design, almost hand-crafted workmanship and high-quality machining together in one piece of airgun art. No, “Bee” only gets one out of the three right.

But it’s the one that really counts. With the poor trigger and overall lower quality of workmanship, the GT600 wasn’t going to bring new glory and prestige to the Beeman line. But it wasn’t meant to at its price point. But, with this kind of accuracy and consistent velocity, it’s sure not going to drag down the Beeman name. It’s a cheap rifle, but a good cheap rifle. Which really makes it a good rifle, period.

Beeman GT600 vital stats:
Weight: 5 lbs., 13 oz.
Overall length: 41″
Pull length: 14.5″
Butt center of gravity: 18″
Trigger-pull: 5 lbs.
Cocking effort: 20 lbs.
Average velocity: 552 fps (with 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers)
Muzzle energy: 5.34 ft-lbs. (with 7.9-grain Crosman Premiers)

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