Posts Tagged ‘RWS Superdome pellets’

Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE
Hatsan’s AT44S-10 Long QE is packed with features for airgun hunters.

This report covers:

• Inconsistent shots?
• Most accurate pellet?
• 100 yards means scope adjustments
• JSB Exact Jumbo heavy pellets
• Crosman Premier pellets
• H&N Baracuda Green pellets
• Gamo Hunter pellets
• Call it a day
• Conclusions
• Pyramyd Air sale

Today is a test of the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE at 100 yards. I don’t do this very often for many reasons; but when I find a PCP that’s exceptionally accurate at 50 yards, I feel it’s worth testing at the greater distance. It takes a perfect day for this test because any wind will push the pellet around. We don’t get many windless days here in Texas, but this past Wednesday was one of them. It was so calm that dandelion fuzz would fall straight down.

You also know from reading this blog that groups do not always open in linear fashion as the distance increases. A rifle that shoots a half-inch group at 50 yards will not automatically shoot one-inch groups at 100 yards — even though the day is perfect.

Inconsistent shots?
While testing this rifle, I’d seen that the first 10 shots could be less accurate than the second 10. They sometimes contained fliers that didn’t seem to exist in the second group. Yesterday, blog reader Jerry in Texas asked me why one shot out of 10 from his Benjamin Marauder was dropping in velocity by over 250 f.p.s. I told him I thought some PCP guns do that in certain places in the power curve. I saw evidence of that on the 50-yard range and again at 100 yards, as I’ll show you.

Most accurate pellet?
I also hedged my bets by taking several pellets to the range that hadn’t been tested in this rifle before. I was getting such great performance at 50 yards from one pellet in particular — the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy — that I sort of stopped testing other pellets. That’s not very scientific of me, though it’s very much in keeping with being a gun crank. So, I took some other pellets along and gave them a try at 100 yards — even though they’d not been tried by me before in this rifle.

100 yards means scope adjustments
I knew the pellet would drop a lot going from 50 yards to where the rifle was sighted to 100 yards. I guesstimated the drop would be at least 12 inches, which would be 48 clicks on the quarter-minute elevation knob to bring things back up. But when I adjusted the scope, I stopped at 40 clicks because you never know if the clicks are exactly quarter-minute or if that’s just an approximation. As it turned out, both my guesstimate and the adjustments were close to correct, and I had to adjust the scope another 16 clicks up to get close to the point of aim.

JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets
The first pellet up was the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jubo Heavy that had given me a group of 10 in 0.522 inches at 50 yards. If any pellet was going to excel in this rifle at 100 yards, I felt this one had the best chance. Alas — the best-laid plans….

The best I was able to do with this pellet was 10 in about 3 inches. I shot the same pellet in both the first 10 shots and the second 10 shots per fill with pretty much similar results, except there was a flier in the first group. I’m not going to show you those groups because they don’t help the report and also because the first group fell below the target paper and hit the 2×4 backer paper I always use when I’m not sure where the pellets are going.

At this point, I decided to punt — as in testing something I hadn’t tried before. One reader had recommended trying the 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellets, and I thought it was a good choice. It happens to be one of my favorite .22-caliber pellets, and I normally would have tested it at 50 yards; but when the heavier JSB did so well, I decided to just shoot it to the exclusion of all others.

I refilled the rifle with air and loaded 10 JSB Exact Jumbos into the circular clip. The first group was very telling. Nine out of 10 pellets landed in a 1.668-inch group, but the first shot hit about 4 inches above the top of this main group. Remember what I said about inconsistencies in the first 10 shots after a fill?

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 1 100 yards
Nine of the 10 JSB Exact pellets landed in this 1.688-inch group at 100 yards. The first shot was 4 inches higher. This is a very good group for any pellet rifle at 100 yards.

After that group, I refilled the clip and shot a second group with the same pellet. This time, all 10 went into 2.385 inches. I know that doesn’t sound very good, but I ask you to reserve your comments until you have shot some 10-shot groups of pellets at 100 yards. It isn’t easy! And guns that group in a half-inch at 50 yards do not necessarily group in one inch at 100 yards.

Look at the shapes of these holes. Many are oval in shape, which indicates they didn’t go through the paper straight-on.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Exact group 2 100 yards
Here are 10 of the same JSB pellets in a 2.358-inch group. These oval holes show some evidence of a tilt on axis.

Crosman Premier pellets
One of the most accurate .22-caliber pellets is the domed Crosman Premier that comes in the brown cardboard box. Sometimes, they’re the most accurate, and other times they’re among the top 3. But in PCPs they don’t do as well — especially when the PCP is more powerful such as this Hatsan. And this was no exception to that rule, as Premiers couldn’t stay inside 6 inches at 100 yards. I didn’t even complete a group with them after seeing the first few shots land so far apart.

I’d planned on trying Eun Jin pellets, as well; but when I started loading them, I discovered that the tin I picked up were .25-caliber pellets.

H&N Baracuda Green pellets
The next pellet I tested was the H&N Baracuda Green. While lead-free pellets are not that accurate as a general rule, Baracuda Greens are an exception. In the Hatsan, they managed to put 10 shots into 5.25 inches, with 9 of those shots in 2.988 inches. That’s pretty good for lead-free pellets; and, yes, this was the first group of 10 after a fill.

Gamo Hunter pellets
The last pellet I tried was the Gamo Hunter. While I have very little experience with this pellet, I do recall it working well in one spring rifle years ago. But it was not suited to the Hatsan AT44. I didn’t see where the first Hunter struck the target; but I saw the second pellet’s flight through the scope, and it was a wild spiral curve to the right that landed a foot off the target! Clearly this rifle is not suited to shoot Gamo Hunters.

Call it a day
After this last attempt, I decided to call it a day. The shooting had worn me out by this time. I think it’s clear that of the pellets I’ve tested so far, the JSB Exact 15.89-grain Jumbo is the best. Out to 50 yards it may do no better than the heavier 18.1-grain JSB Jumbo Heavy, but something about this lighter pellet carries it to 100 yards in better form.

I believe the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the finest PCP rifles on the market at any price. It has power, accuracy, a great trigger and very quiet operation –all for a wonderful price. If you’re in the market for a good PCP, I would put this one on your short list.

Pyramyd Air sale
Pyramyd Air is having a “Christmas in July” sale. If you’re planning to make a purchase, click here to visit their sale pages.

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 2

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

Crosman 2240 conversion to air: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 1
R.A.I. Adjustable Adapter: Part 2

WARNING: This conversion changes the operation of the pistol to use air at up to three times the pressure it was designed for. The parts that are installed are strong, but there are other parts in the gun that aren’t changed and could fail when subjected to the higher pressures. Pyramyd Air advises anyone making such a conversion to exercise extreme caution.

Crosman 2240 air conversion
My Crosman 2240 has been converted to operate on high-pressure air.

This report covers:

• Where we are
• Before filling the first time
• Shooting the gun
• Crosman Premier pellets
• RWS Hobby pellets
• RWS Superdome pellets
• What comes next

Let’s look at what the conversion to air did for the Crosman 2240. Boy, was there ever a lot of discussion on that report! I think this may be one of the all-time most popular subjects on this blog.

Where we are
Here’s where I am with this subject. The 2240 is now converted. I plan to test it with 2,000 psi air today, and I do not plan to go higher. This is a test of what’s out there and some of the things that can be done with a 2240, but I’m not in the business of hotrodding this pistol. Many other folks are doing that very well; so, if you are interested in what’s possible, read what they have to say.

Today, I’m going to test the pistol with the conversion but with the stock striker spring still installed. In other words, if you simply screwed the tube into the gun and did nothing else (the front sight still has to come off to clear the tube), this is what you’ll get. I did change the face seal, which is why I disassembled the pistol in the previous report; but that wasn’t strictly necessary, since I am pressurizing to only 2,000 psi. I did it just to show how the entire kit is installed.

Before filling the first time
Before filling the gun, which is now done through the male Foster nipple on the end of the air tube, I put several drops of silicone chamber oil into the fill nipple. It came to me bone-dry, and I wanted all the seals inside the unit to get a coating of this oil. Then, I connected the gun to my carbon fiber air tank and slowly filled it to 2,000 psi. I say slowly, but as small as this air tube/reservoir is, it fills pretty fast. It probably took only 15-20 seconds to fill it all the way. You want to go as slowly as as possible to keep heat from building.

When I bled the air connection in the hose, the inlet valve in the air tube remained open and all the air bled out. So, I refilled it and bled it a second time. This time, it sealed as it should — thanks to the oil, I believe.

Shooting the gun
It was now time to test the gun. I had no idea what it was going to do, but I left my hearing protection off to hear if the first shot was loud. It wasn’t. Perhaps the gun is a little louder than it is when using CO2, but the difference is not that great. Of course, I used eye protection for the chronographing session, because the pellet trap is so close. I use a trap with duct seal to keep the rebounds down and the noise to a minimum.

Crosman Premier pellets
The first pellet I tested was the 14.3-grain Crosman Premier dome. I should add that I shoot only the pellets from the cardboard box, which is why I link to them, only. We were informed several months ago that Crosman planned to stop selling Premiers in the cardboard box and I stocked up on them. But I see they’re still available.

Back in 2010, I did a test of the CO2 2240 pistol, so I have the recorded velocities for this exact pistol on CO2. It averaged 448 f.p.s. with Crosman Premiers. On 2000 psi air, the first shot was 468 f.p.s. It increased to a maximum of 492 f.p.s. by shot 7 and dropped back to 466 f.p.s. by shot 15. At the end of the string, the gun was still holding 1200 psi of air pressure. The average velocity of 15 shots was 486 f.p.s., which means air boosted the average velocity of this pellet by 39 f.p.s.

RWS Hobby pellets
Next up were 11.9-grain RWS Hobby pellets. When the pistol was running on CO2, these pellets averaged 482 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 515 f.p.s. and increased to 537 f.p.s. by shot 9. The velocity droped back down to 511 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity for this string of 16 shots was 525 f.p.s. — a 43 f.p.s. increase on air. The remaining pressure was 1200 psi, once again.

RWS Superdome pellets
The final pellet I tested was the 14.5-grain RWS Superdome. When the pistol ran on CO2, Superdomes averaged 455 f.p.s. On 2000 psi air, they started at 470 f.p.s. and drifted up to 495 f.p.s. by shot 7. They dropped back down to 467 f.p.s. by shot 16. The average velocity was 483 f.p.s., an increase of 28 f.p.s. over CO2.

Notice that the gun performs similarly, regardless of what pellet was tested. The curve starts out slow, builds to the maximum quickly and then drops back to the starting point just as quickly. The three pellets gave a total shot count of 15, 16 and 16, respectively.

What comes next?
I can’t test the pistol for accuracy as it is right now because the front sight has no clearance to be re-installed. And the plastic 2240 receiver does not have a scope base on the receiver. Decision time.

I could get a steel breech for the 2240 from Pyramyd Air. While it will not accept the 2240 rear sight, it does have 11mm dovetails for a scope. That’ll work with the barrel that’s on the gun right now; but if I get a longer barrel, I’ll get a little more velocity from this same setup. So, I ordered a 14.5-inch barrel from an eBay vendor.

There are a number of different ways this can go with these parts, so I will wait to see what seems best once I have them.

Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE
Hatsan’s AT44S-10 Long QE is packed with features for airgun hunters.

This report covers:

• Fast becoming a favorite
• Accuracy test
• Stunning first group!
• Tried RWS Superdomes
• Finish with JSB pellets
• Overall evaluation
• 100-yard test

Fast becoming a favorite
Today, we’re back at the 50-yard outdoor range with the Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE rifle — an air rifle that’s fast becoming a favorite of mine. I think you’ll see why in this report.

Last time, I showed you some excellent 10-shot groups from this rifle at 50 yards. That day was perfectly calm, and by chance the second pellet I tried turned out to be the one to shoot. The 16-grain Air Arms Diabolo Field pellet delivered some great groups, including one 10-shot screamer that was just 0.624 inches between centers. I resolved to return to the range another day to see if this was just a one-time thing or if the rifle could deliver such stunning accuracy all the time.

Accuracy test
This day was not perfect. There was a little breeze sometimes, but in the beginning it could be waited out. It was only 1-3 m.p.h. when I began shooting. Last time, I learned that the first 10 shots on a fresh fill weren’t as accurate as the second 10, so I filled the rifle to 200 bar and loaded ten 18.13-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets, thinking that I would save the sure-thing Air Arms pellets for the second 10.

Stunning first group!
But my first group was stunning! Nine of the 10 pellets went into 0.552 inches and only shot 8 strayed from the main group. It enlarged the group to 0.916 inches, which is still commendable for 10 shots.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 1
Nine JSBs in 0.552 inches! Shot 8 opened the group to 0.916 inches, which is still excellent.

Now that the first 10 were shot, I thought the rifle was going to give me a wonderful second group with the Air Arms pellets — but for some reason, it didn’t. Ten went into 1.434 inches, with 5 of them clustered in 0.212 inches. How do I make sense out of that?

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE Air Arms group 1
Five shots in that tiny (0.212 inches) hole, but the other 5 went everywhere else (1.434 inches)!

The Hatsan is short of breath, and there are only 20 good shots per fill if you’re shooting groups at 50 yards. I filled the rifle, again, and once more I shot the first group of 10 with the JSB Exact Jumbo Heavys. This time, they were a little more open than the first time, but they still managed to all be within 0.676 inches. That’s actually smaller than the first group was, and it’s close to the size of the best group from the previous session (0.624 inches).

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 2
The best group of this session! Ten pellets went into this 0.676-inch group.

The second group I shot was 10 Air Arms pellets, and this time they really opened up. Ten went into 1.334 inches, with 8 of them in 0.824 inches. Apparently, Air Arms pellets were not going to do as well on this day as they had during the previous session!

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE Air Arms group 2
For some reason, the Air Arms pellets didn’t want to group together on this day. Ten in 1.334 inches with 8 in 0.824 inches.

Tried RWS Superdomes
I brought some RWS Superdomes along — just to try one more pellet. But the first shot was 14 inches from the aim point (!!!) and the next shot was 6 inches from that! I ejected the clip and removed all the pellets. That’s just wasting air.

Finish with JSB pellets
I filled the rifle once more and this time decided to just shoot the JSB pellets since they seemed to want to do better. The first group of 10 went into a whopping 1.71 inches, which was surprising. The second group of 10 was 1.351 inches apart, and I was now having to fight a growing breeze. I can’t say how much the wind affected the last 2 groups, but it probably had some impact.

Hatsan AT44S-10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 3
This time the JSBs didn’t stay together too well. Ten went into 1.71 inches. This just shows that sometimes the bear eats you!

Hatsan AT44S 10 Long QE JSB Jumbo group 4
The second group on this charge is a little better — at 1.351 inches. It isn’t always sweetness and light!

Overall evaluation
Based on the results of these two days at the range, I have to say the Hatsan AT44-10 Long QE is one of the most accurate precharged pellet rifles I’ve ever shot. It may not be the most accurate, but it has to be in the top 5!

It’s amazing that an air rifle this powerful is also quiet. It sounds about as loud as my vintage Diana model 27 spring rifle, yet I know it’s producing 35-47 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. And the trigger, while not the absolute finest I’ve ever tested, it still right up there in the top 10.

Hatsan has hit the ball out of the park with this rifle! They’re pricing it to compete with the Benjamin Marauder, and it absolutely kills the more expensive European PCPs in all categories except appearance. But I’m the kind of shooter who wants to hit the target. I don’t care that much what my rifle looks like — as long as it can deliver the mail.

100-yard test
The last time I had a PCP that was this accurate was when I tested the AirForce Airguns Condor SS, and that rifle put 10 pellets into one inch (1.003 inches) at 100 yards. This Hatsan isn’t quite as powerful as the Condor SS, but I’m willing to give it a try at that distance. So, there will be a Part 5 to this series!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

This report covers:

• Accuracy day…part 2
• Things that were done
• Sight-in
• Ten meters
• The hold
• 25 yards
• Velocity with Premiers
• Overall evaluation

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Accuracy day…part 2
Today, we return to the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 air rifle. I think I’ve solved all the mysteries and finally got the rifle to shoot the way it should. You be the judge.

Things that were done
Several things were done to make the rifle ready for today’s test. First, I cleaned the barrel with J-B Non-Embedding Bore Cleaning Compound on a bronze bore brush. To do that, I removed the barrel shroud and the baffles, so access to the barrel was easy. I cleaned from the breech. Since the NP2 has a gas spring, I could leave it cocked as long as I wanted without hurting the spring.

Next, I replaced the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope that comes with the rifle for an older CenterPoint 3-12X40 scope that has an adjustable objective. Now, I was able to focus the scope on the target at 25 yards. CenterPoint no longer carries this scope that was made by Leapers, but it’s equivalent to this 3-12X40 UTG scope with AO, except that my scope doesn’t have an illuminated reticle.

I shimmed the replacement scope with one thin slice of plastic under the scope tube at the rear ring; because when I removed the factory scope, I noticed that it was adjusted toward the top of its range. I just wanted to make sure the reticle wasn’t floating in the replacement scope because the NP2 has a healthy jolt when it fires. No vibration, but there’s definite movement.

I tightened all the stock screws but found they were mostly tight already. That was when I noticed there’s no front triggerguard screw. The rear screw is the one that holds the action to the stock, and the front has no screw at all — yet there’s a hole in the guard for one. Some companies might be tempted to put a wood screw there to fool you, but that would just invite stripping the hole in the wood stock since the front screw is nearly always the one that gets tightened. Crosman made it foolproof.

The front triggerguard screw doesn’t exist. The rear screw holds the action in the stock, and the front hole is blank.

I sighted-in at 12 feet and was on paper with the first shot. In all, I fired four shots to get where I wanted to be at 10 meters. I continue to shoot .22-caliber Crosman Premier pellets in this rifle for this whole test. Once I was sighted-in, I backed up to 10 meters and shot a 5-shot group.

Ten meters
I was still experimenting with holds at this point. I had already spent a whole day shooting the rifle with the factory scope and trying different holds (I didn’t tell you about that day or bother to report it), but a comment from a reader got me thinking. Reader Ben told me to hold the rifle more firmly and also to slide my off hand farther out under the forearm. He reminded me of what I knew but had temporarily forgotten — namely that gas spring guns need a different hold. So, I followed Ben’s suggestions, and they resulted in a 0.319-inch 5-shot group at 10 meters!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 10 meter group
Five Premiers at 10 meters went into 0.319 inches.

Okay, that’s just at 10 meters. I know a lot of you do shoot at that distance, and I also know that many people shoot 5-shot groups. This is what the NP2 can do at that distance with 5 Premier pellets.

But you really want to see what it can do at 25 yards. And you want to see 10-shot groups. I adjusted the scope reticle down for 25 yards and started shooting.

The hold
Before I continue, let me describe the hold I’m using today. It’s not an artillery hold. I’m grasping the pistol grip firmly, but not with a death grip. And my off hand is slid out far enough that it’s touching the sling swivel on the forearm. I don’t grasp the forearm tightly, but I do grasp it with my fingers. Having my hand out that far, the rifle doesn’t want to move left or right. So, when the off hand gets settled, the crosshairs stay on target as I relax.

Relaxation is very important with the NP2. Every time I became anxious about where the next shot was going, I threw it wide. But when I relaxed, the shot went to the aim point, as you’ll soon see.

25 yards
The first group of 10 went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group fired in the last test, which tells me that something I did helped out. Cleaning the barrel, tightening the screws, changing the scope or changing the way the rifle is held seems to have made the difference. But I thought the rifle could do even better.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 1
The first group of 10 Premiers from 25 yards went into 0.931 inches. It’s better than the best group from the previous test!

The second group is larger than the first, but the 3 pellets that missed the main group were all from my tension. When I relaxed, all the pellets went into the central group. Ten shots went into 1.333 inches, but the central 7 are in 0.656 inches. I think they represent the true accuracy of the NP2. This is the importance of relaxing when shooting this particular air rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 2
This group was the most revealing. When I shot totally relaxed, the pellets went to the central group. When I tensed up for any reason, they went wide. Ten shots in 1.333 inches and 7 in 0.656 inches. I believe the NP2 can shoot as well as the central group indicates.

But you’re skeptical, and I would be, too. The concentration needed for every shot (making certain I was relaxed) was tiring me, but this rifle deserved the best I could give, so I shot one more 10-shot group at 25 yards. This time, I relaxed for each shot — the way I would tell someone else to do. You know — do as I say! This time, 10 pellets went into 0.704 inches. This, I believe, represents the level of accuracy of which this particular Benjamin Trail NP2 is capable.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 25-yard group 3
This time, I concentrated on the hold and relaxed for every shot. Ten pellets went into 0.704 inches at 25 yards.

Velocity with Premiers
One last thing to do. I told you that the cocking effort had dropped to 32 lbs. after the last accuracy report. With all the shooting I’ve done the rifle now has over 150 shots on the powerplant. I tested it again today, and it still cocks right at 32 lbs. The last velocity test had Premier pellets averaging 793 f.p.s. with a 40 f.p.s. spread. This time 10 Premiers averaged 745 f.p.s. and the spread was only 8 f.p.s.!

I know the gun shoots slower now; but given the wide variation before, I think it’s now settled into what it’s going to do. At 745 f.p.s., the Premier cranks out 17.63 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Overall evaluation
I think Crosman has made a nice new breakbarrel rifle with the NP2. It doesn’t vibrate, it cocks easier than other gas-spring guns in its power range, the trigger is crisp, the report is quiet and the rifle is accurate. For $250, this is about as nice a spring gun as you can find.

Yes, the power is not at the level Crosman advertises; and yes, the gun does kick — but it still gives you a lot of value for the money spent. The bad press at launch time is going to keep some shooters from giving the NP2 a try. That’s too bad because this is a rifle many of them would like.

I’ve tested this rifle openly and allowed you to see exactly what happened, as it happened. Crosman has sent another NP2 for me to test and I plan on testing that one for you as well. So, it ain’t over yet.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

This report covers:

• Lots of interest
• Mounted the scope
• The scope
• Initial accuracy
• Examine the baffles
• Back to Premiers
• Conventional artillery hold not right
• Found the secret
• Cocking effort
• Trigger
• Firing behavior
• Summary

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2
Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2

Today is like one of those pregnant pauses in a movie. You know what you want the hero (that’s either me or the Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2) to say, but he just won’t say it. The poorer the actor, the longer you wait. Not today.

The Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 works!

Oh, there’s a lot to tell, and I’m far from finished with my evaluation, but that’s how the story will end. I want to tell you about the rough and rocky road it took to get to that point — and we aren’t quite there yet.

Mounted the scope
I’m going to start shooting for accuracy, so first I mounted the 3-9X32 CenterPoint scope on the rifle. Mounting was easy, and the scope aligned very well. Then, it was time to sight in the rifle. I always start at 12 feet from the target, so I know I’m on paper. I would start at 10 feet, but I have a door jamb at 12 feet, so there you go. The object is to get the pellet to hit in line with the center of the target and as far below the aim point as the center of the bore is below the center of the scope.

It took 3 shots to adjust the scope to the point that I knew the rifle would be close at 10 meters. Next, I set up a bench at 10 meters and proceeded to shoot several more shots — refining the zero. At 10 meters, I want to hit one inch below the aim point so the pellet will be on target at 20 yards. I’m going to shoot from 25 yards today; but as fast as this rifle shoots, it will be on the aim point between 20 and 30 yards, approximately, if I sight-in this way.

A couple more shots, and I was sighted-in. I went back to 25 yards and started shooting seriously.

The scope
Before we move on, I’ll comment on the scope. While it does have clear optics, the parallax isn’t adjusted for 25 yards; so, on 9x the bull was out of focus. One reader asked me for my observation and there it is. I think a scope for a rifle like this should have its parallax adjusted for 20-25 yards if the scope is going to have fixed parallax.

Initial accuracy
I began shooting with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers, as those are the pellets I felt might do the best in this rifle. The first couple shots went to my exact aim point, then they started dropping several inches below. I ended up with a nice group of 6 shots about 2 inches below the aim point and 4 more shots that ranged up to the aim point. All in all, not a very good group. I switched pellets.

I tried JSB Exact Jumbos next; but when the first 3 shots went into 1.50 inches, I stopped shooting. Next were Beeman Kodiak pellets. By shot 3, the group was already larger than an inch and a half, so I stopped. Finally, I tried some RWS Superdomes, and this time I stuck it out for 6 shots. They landed in 2-1/4 inches, and that stopped the whole show. Something was wrong!

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Kodiak group
Three Beeman Kodiaks made this group that’s larger than 1.50 inches. The shot at the bottom center is from another pellet shot at a different target.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Superdome group
Six RWS Superdomes landed in 2-1/4 inches. Something was wrong!

Examine the baffles
Whenever I get wild or open groups like these from a gun that has baffles, I suspect the pellets are hitting the baffles or the end cap as they leave the gun. So, I shined a strong light down the muzzle and looked around all the baffles — looking for places where a pellet might have ripped off some of the plastic or left a gray streak. On aluminum baffles, a gray streak is what to look for, but these baffles are plastic, so I thought they might have been cut slightly.

But they looked perfect. They were completely round and there were no marks of any kind. I could see all the way down to the true muzzle of the gun, so I looked at the crown, to see if it was rough or out of round. And that’s when I saw it. Or, rather, I didn’t see it. I was unable to see the whole muzzle! Part of it was obscured by the last baffle! It was not in line with the bore!

The baffles are one cast piece of synthetic, and they’re separate from the shroud tube. I showed them to you in Part 1. They have rubber o-rings on each end of the baffle tube to center the baffles inside the shroud tube. But here’s the rub. The baffles, and not the shroud tube itself, thread onto the end of the barrel. The baffle tube has an end cap that holds tension against the shroud tube. Once the baffles are tight, everything is tight; but it’s still possible for the shroud tube to rotate. If that happens, it’s possible for the baffles to be misaligned with the muzzle of the barrel — or at least it is on my test rifle! All I had to do was rotate the shroud tube about 90 degrees, and then I could see the entire muzzle! It was time to shoot another group.

Back to Premiers
I went back to Crosman Premiers now that the muzzle was clear. The inside of the baffle tube looks like it has more than enough room for even a .25-caliber pellet to pass through without touching, so I figured it would be okay. This time, I shot a much better group of 10, with 8 pellets in 0.915 inches. The last 2 pellets opened the group to 1.748 inches, and they just looked wrong as I watched them fly to a different spot through the scope. Something was wrong, but I didn’t think it was the pellets.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 1
This first 10-shot group of Crosman Premiers has 8 shots within 0.915 inches, and 2 that open the group to 1.748 inches. Something isn’t right.

Conventional artillery hold not right
I switched to H&N Field Target Trophy pellets. This time, they all landed in a nice 1.1357-inch group until the final 2 shots opened it to 1.704 inches. Clearly, something still wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was. However, I was starting to suspect that the conventional artillery hold isn’t right for the NP2.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 FTT group
Ten H&N Field Target Trophy pellets went into 1.704 inches, with 8 of them going into a much smaller 1.135 inches. That’s still not great, but it’s more uniform.

I tried both Kodiaks and Superdomes, again — this time with the rifle rested directly on the sandbag. The results were about what you would expect when resting any breakbarrel springer directly on a bag — 3 shots scattering wide in 2-1/2- to 3-inch groups. Obviously, that’s the wrong thing to do!

I found the secret
I shot another 10-shot group of Premiers and experimented with the hold as I shot. When I firmly held the pistol grip, the group tightened up. When I relaxed in a traditional artillery hold, the shots went wild. The group looks bad at 2.508 inches overall, but 7 of those shots are in 1.042 inches and 5 are in 0.802 inches.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 2
This group taught me what I needed to know. Hold the gun tight, and it groups. Hold it loose, and it scatters pellets everywhere.

Next, I shot another 10-shot group of Premiers, With the pistol grip held tight, 10 shots went into 1.207 inches, with 9 going into 0.835 inches. Eight shots went into 0.514 inches. It’s not a smaller group overall, but there are more shots in the main group. I’m learning how to hold the rifle.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 3
Now, we’re cooking! 10 shots in 1.207 inches, 9 in 0.835 inches and 8 in 0.514 inches! This shows promise!

That was followed by another 10-shot group of Premiers. This time, 10 went into 1.178 inches, and 8 were in 0.721 inches. I was definitely learning how the NP2 wants to be held.

Benjamin Trail Nitro Piston 2 Premier group 4
Ten in 1.178 inches, and 8 in 0.721 inches. I am getting to know the NP2.

Cocking effort
I said in Part 1 that the effort to cock the rifle was heavier than I remembered from the SHOT Show, and in Part 2 I gave the effort as 38 lbs. as measured on my bathroom scale. I also said in Part 2 that the rifle seemed to get easier as I tested the velocity, but testing it on the scale once more didn’t bear that out. Well, after today’s shooting, which added more than 70 shots to what was already on the gun, the cocking effort has dropped to 32 lbs. The rifle is getting into the area where it’s worth taking notice! Do you remember that I said it probably needs to be broken in? I may have proven that in this test, but I need to test the velocity, again, just to show that lighter cocking doesn’t also mean a loss of velocity.

After over 70 shots, I found myself tiring from the session, so I stopped; but the rifle didn’t seem that hard to cock. This is a surprising and happy revelation.

As I was shooting targets today, I found the trigger very heavy. I’ll try to adjust it lighter next time. It’s still smooth and crisp.

Firing behavior
The gun still shoots dead calm without vibration, but the two-way recoil is very noticeable. I had to tighten the ring caps after the scope slipped 3/8 inch from recoil in the first 15 shots. That was my fault for not tightening the screws enough to begin with.

These groups are not what I had hoped for, but they do show that there’s a right way to hold the gun. I don’t think I have that hold perfected, yet, but I’m closer than when I began. I actually believe the NP2 is capable of much better groups than those you see today because there are smaller groups that look wonderful in each of the final groups.

Crosman said they were able to get one-hole groups at 35 yards. I’m not there yet, but I’m certainly able to put 5 out of 10 into a single hole at 25 yards. Next time, I’ll shoot only Premiers and will begin the test knowing how to hold the rifle. It should get better from there.

My new Benjamin NP Limited Edition: Part 2

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

Part 1

Today’s report is a second installment from our blog reader RifledDNA, a.k.a. Stephen Larson. He’s modified his new Benjamin NP Limited Edition and wants to tell us how it’s going.

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

Over to you, RifledDNA.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition
Benjamin Nitro Piston, Limited Edition. This is what the rifle looks like out of the box.

Today is part 2 of my new NP Limited Edition, and we’ll look at what’s changed on the .22-caliber rifle since I took it out of the box, what pellets it likes so far and the accuracy I’ve been able to achieve. I wrote an earlier part 2; but the day after it was finished, Crosman alerted me they had a new stock for me. A few days after that, my order of pellets would arrive. It made sense to wait until these things were available for inclusion in this report. Both packages arrived, the stock was installed, the pellets have been tested and I can now tell you everything that has happened in one big mess of journalistic chop suey.

First, let’s see what I’ve changed on the gun. In the first report, I told you how uncomfortable and misconfigured the grip and trigger assembly seemed to me. I’m used to pistol grips, and the Benjamin NPS was designed for one. I knew that a stock with a pistol grip that fit properly must be found.

I approached Crosman and asked for a Benjamin Legacy Jim Shockey stock based on the fact that rifle is similar to my rifle and both have the highly angled forearm screws. While these things are true, the receiver tube of my NP Limited Edition is 1/8th of an inch wider than the tube of the Legacy NP, and the forearm screws are not located in the same place.

The screw holes needed to move an inch back to line up with the screw holes in my rifle; and the stock above the trigger, where the end of the spring tube rests, had to be notched, allowing the stock to open wide enough to receive the larger diameter receiver — say that 5 times fast!

Benjamin NP Limited Edition notched stock
I notched the stock at the back so it would relax and accept the larger NP Limited Edition spring tube.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition screw holes
The forearm screws had to be moved back about an inch.

Anyway, the action has now been fitted into the new stock, and it makes me very happy. Although it’s Mickey-Moused in, it’s solid. While someone might notice the screws are now in a different spot, shooting yields no problems. Quite the contrary. It fits my hand wonderfully, and the trigger is easily accessed and is in a location that feels natural to me. Thank you, Crosman!

Benjamin NP Limited Edition new butt
The new buttstock has an adjustable cheekpiece.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition new stock
The new stock and modified rifle now fit my shooting style.

I told you about thinning the trigger in the first report. I also told you the barrel is shorter, down to 10.75 inches. [Editor's note: You did? I can't find any reference in Part 1 where you told us how long the barrel is.] I originally had plans to shorten and rethread the barrel to put the shroud back in place. I wasn’t able to get the barrel threaded; and different configurations, though effective for the noise level, were not making me happy. I found that the unmodified level of noise is not offensive, anyhow and have abandoned the attachments. The short barrel is simple and manageable. For my style of shooting, ease of movement means making the shot.

I also removed the anti-beartrap safety and can now decock the rifle. I think the ability to dencock is very important and have done so countless times already, so I’m glad I did this. [Editor's note: Removing a safety device like the anti-beartrap device cancels your warranty protection and places the liability for any accidents with the gun squarely on you.]

The trigger modifications improve performance; the shortened barrel improves performance (I believe); the stock that now fits me better improves both performance and appearance. Removing the anti-beartrap device gives me the option of decocking the gun.

Two more performance mods were applied. First, the breech seal was replaced with a nice, thick leather one. I noticed a change in the discharge sound when I did this, and it seems the gun loses no pressure at the breech with the new seal. It may have been losing air with the thin factory o-ring. The difference in contact area of the seal is about 10-fold, so I would hope it seals better!

Second, while the barrel and breech were off the gun, I opened the transfer port by just a hair, maybe one-sixty-fourth of an inch. Without a chronograph, I can only tell you these things haven’t hurt the performance. I believe they’ve probably helped velocity and have definitely helped accuracy. The short barrel and powerful Nitro Piston have the pellets hitting their marks as soon as the trigger breaks.

That brings me to the pellets. I had very little pocket change to scrape together an order of pellets, but I did manage to buy three and get the fourth tin free! I ordered two tins of Beeman Round Nose. I had good luck with Beeman Pointed pellets in a .177 Crosman TR77. At ~3 bucks a tin, these .22 domes work surprisingly well. They’re also very soft, which helps with energy transfer. They were the second most accurate pellet.

The two other tins I bought were JSB Exact Monsters and RWS Superdomes. The Monsters were bought to test the powerplant’s limits with pellet weights. My Ruger Blackhawk Elite spring rifle rebounded when a too-heavy pellet was used, and I wondered if the Nitro Piston powerplant might act the same. It doesn’t. It shoots them smoothly but not very accurately.

The most accurate pellets were the Superdomes. They also seem to run very fast. Again, no chrony, but on a super moist rainy day they were creating supersonic cracks. Shooting in dry weather they did not, so either the moisture lubricated everything to send them supersonic or wet air cracks more easily. Interesting.

The RWS Superdomes shoot like laser beams. Since I bought the NP for small game hunting, I shot a 10-shot, 20-yard group with one extra shot, a first-shot-counts test right out of the bag at a small liquor bottle (not mine, found it on the ground on the way to the shooting spot). That shot went dead-center on the 1.25″x2.5″ body of the bottle. That’s good plinkin’ in my book.

I set up a 5.5″ Caldwell Orange Peel target on the side of an old 4-slot toaster, settled in on the canvas folding sports chair rest and put ten Superdomes in a group that’s covered by a nickel. The hole in the paper target looks quarter-sized, but the holes in the toaster metal show 5/8 inch center-to-center. Two shots opened up the group, but 7 or 8 went into a little under a half-inch group.

Benjamin NP Limited Edition target
Ten RWS Superdome pellets at 20 yards made this group. It looks larger on paper than it really is.

Benjamin NO Limited Edition toaster group
The holes in the toaster metal show how tight this group really is. The coin is a dime.

All in all, I’m very happy with the NP. With the new stock and short barrel, I can achieve hunting accuracy out to about 35-40 yards using the pellets I’ve tested so far. If another pellet shows up that shoots better, and I keep shooting the gun well, I can see this NP easily shooting an inch consistently at 50 yards.

That’s about it. Besides a little more trigger time and work (it’s still a little creepy), the gun is in top form with no more changes to be made. I’m now just heading out to enjoy the fruits of my labor as often as possible. When I get a chrony, I’ll let everyone know to be on the lookout for part 3. Until then, thanks for reading!

Building the $100 precharged pneumatic air rifle: Part 5

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

$100 PCP
The PCP is built on a Crosman 2100B chassis.

I bet that when some people heard about this experiment, they laughed it off. Perhaps that will change now that we have looked at this novel idea 5 different times. I’m learning so much from this series that it’s going to affect my writing for years to come.

I was surprised — again!
Somebody — I don’t remember who — asked me to test the $100 PCP with round lead balls — I guess because the steel BB test turned out so well. So I did. I shot it at 10 meters with .177-caliber Gamo round lead balls. Since I shot with open sights, I didn’t get to see the group after confirming that the first shot hit the paper. Imagine my surprise to see all 10 shots clustered tightly in 0.561 inches!

$100 PCP 10 meters round ball
This tight group really surprised me! Ten .177 Gamo lead balls went into 0.561 inches at 10 meters.

That got me thinking — a lot! I’ve been doing this experiment so slow that I forget what I’ve done before.

What I thought I would do today was complete this report with a test of the rifle scoped at 25 yards. However, when I mounted the scope, it was very far off line, as in angled to the barrel. Either the grooves on the receiver are off or the scope mount I chose wasn’t grabbing the base correctly.

After missing the target twice at 25 yards, I pulled the scope off the rifle and decided to shoot another test with open sights. I used different pellets than I used in Part 4 so we get to see some different results.

Crosman Premier heavy
The first pellet I tried was the 10.5-grain Crosman Premier heavy. In .177, Premiers come in both lite and heavy, and this is the first time I’ve tested this rifle with the heavy. I would love to tell you these pellets went into a small group, but the truth is that they scattered in a 2.352-inch pattern.

$100 PCP 25 yards Crosman Premier heavy
Not particularly encouraging, 10 Premier heavies made this 2.352-inch group at 25 yards.

H&N Baracuda Match
Next, I tried 10 H&N Baracuda Match pellets. They made a better group than the Premier heavies, but it still wasn’t worth talking about. Ten pellets went into 2.051 inches at 25 yards.

$100 PCP 25 yards HN Baracuda Match
Ten H&N Baracuda Match pellets went into 2.051-inches at 25 yards. Still no cigar.

After looking at the second group, I noticed that it looked like the first group, only a little smaller. Because I always look through the spotting scope after the first shot of every group to make sure I’m on paper, I knew that the first shots of both groups were high and right. It seemed to me that the shots might be spreading out to the left as the pressure in the reservoir dropped; so on group 3, I took a photo after the first 5 shots had been fired.

RWS Superdome
Finally I tried RWS Superdomes. Including the lead balls I shot at 10 meters, this was the fourth projectile in this test and the seventh diabolo pellet tested at 25 yards in this rifle. The other 3 pellets were documented in part 4.

$100 PCP 25 yards 5 RWS Superdomes
Five RWS Superdomes made this 5-shot group at 25 yards. Would the next 5 shots spread to the left?

Ten Superdomes went into 1.528 inches at 25 yards. That was the best group in this test with pellets, but only the third best pellet of the seven that were tested at 25 yards.

As it turned out, the next 5 shots didn’t open the group that much more. So, another theory bit the dust.

$100 PCP 25 yards RWS Superdomes
Ten RWS Superdomes made this 1.528-inch group at 25 yards. It’s only a little larger than the first 5 shots, shown above.

The $100 PCP is very accurate at close range, but not as good as the distance increases. Of course, you must remember that the barrel is taped to the reservoir with Gorilla tape, so there’s a lack of precision in the build.

It would still be interesting to see how this rifle behaves when scoped, but I’ll have to find mounts that permit mounting a scope to the integral rail. At this point, I think the $100 PCP is a proven concept. I would really like to see this rifle in production.

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