Posts Tagged ‘RWS Superdome pellets’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s look at the velocity of the BSA Supersport SE. The factory advertises 750 f.p.s. for the .22-caliber rifle I’m testing. I just hope that’s with lead pellets.
I mentioned in Part 1 that the rifle cocks a little on the heavy side. I estimated 40 lbs. of effort. On my bathroom scale, this one actually requires 39 lbs. to fully cock the rifle. My gut tells me that some of the effort is the tightness of the new gun and will probably decrease by a few pounds over time.
I cannot resist making a comparison with the Beeman R9, which is also sold as the HW 95. The size and power of this rifle seem to align with that classic, but shooting will tell us the whole story.
The first pellet I tested was the RWS Hobby – a lightweight lead wadcutter that’s used to test the legitimate velocities of all airguns. By legitimate, I mean that there are many lead-free pellets that may go faster; but since very few of them are accurate, they probably won’t be used by many shooters.
Hobbys averaged 717 f.p.s. from the test rifle. But the velocity spread was large — from a low of 695 f.p.s. on the final shot to a high of 731 on shot three. That’s 36 f.p.s., which is a bit high for a springer — especially these days when many new spring guns come out so well adjusted.
At the average velocity, Hobbys generated 13.59 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Hold your comments, however, because I noted in Part 1 that I thought this rifle might have a heavy piston (or top hat) that I said could make it shoot better with heavier pellets. So, let’s try one.
The next pellet was the 21.14-grain Beeman Kodiak — a heavyweight if ever there was one. Kodiaks averaged 535 f.p.s. in the test rifle, and the spread was just 12 f.p.s. It ranged from 527 f.p.s. to 539 f.p.s. At the average velocity this pellet produced 13.44 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Not as much as the Hobby, but very close. And the tight velocity spread leads me to suspect I was right about the piston. I think the Kodiak has earned a spot in the accuracy test.
We need to see what a medium-weight pellet can do in the Supersport SE, and the RWS Superdome is a fine one to try. At 14.5 grains, it sits right in the middle of the weight spread — especially in the range of pellets that should be considered for this rifle.
Superdomes averaged 661 f.p.s. in the Supersport. Since we know the “magic” number is 671 f.p.s. — where the weight of the pellet in grains equals the muzzle energy in foot-pounds — we are very close to that level. This rifle must therefore produce a shade less than 14.50 foot-pounds with this pellet. And it does! It produces 14.07 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle — the highest energy of the three pellets tested.
The total velocity spread for the Superdome was 16 f.p.s. Therefore, the 2 heavier pellets did better (shot more stably) than the lightweight Hobby. I’ll keep that in mind as I test the rifle for accuracy. Yes, I will test it with a scope; but since it comes with a nice set of open sights, I plan to first test it with them.
The rifle cocks smoothly and without the normal noises I associate with a new spring rifle. And when it fires, there’s no objectionable vibration, as long as you hold it lightly.
The trigger is reasonably crisp. It breaks at 2 lbs., 14 oz., which is light but not overly so. I also really like the fact that the safety is manual.
Last comment. The Supersport SE feels very “old school” to me. It isn’t overly powerful. It has a smooth cocking and shooting sequence. And the size and weight of the rifle feel very nice. I’m so tired of those oversized breakbarrels that make me feel like I’m a kid shooting dad’s big shotgun for the first time. The Supersport SE feels just right.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the Disco Double out at 50 yards. I used the best pellets from the 25-yard test to speed up this test. No sense going over the same ground twice.
The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS. It did the best at 25 yards, plus it’s so light, at 13.43 grains, that it gives the rifle a little extra zing.
The rifle arrived at the range filled to 2,000 psi, so I went right to work. I clicked the scope up 5 clicks in elevation to account for the greater distance and began shooting. The day was surprisingly cold — about 28 degrees F. My trigger finger had very little feeling, yet I was able to feel when stage 2 engaged on the trigger every time. That’s important on this rifle because the trigger is very light on stage 2.
There was no wind on the range, which made this a perfect day for shooting a pellet rifle. The first 10 shots went into 1.558 inches between centers. That’s not as small as many 50-yard groups you’ve seen me shoot, but let’s keep testing.
Next up were .22-caliber Crosman Premiers. The first 3 shots went into 2.269-inches and I stopped shooting. These pellets weren’t going to work at 50 yards.
JSB Exact, 15.89 grains
Next up were the heavier 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbos that looked promising at 25 yards. They produced a 10-shot group that measured 1.778 inches between centers. It was a little larger than the JSB RS pellet group at 50 yards, just as it was a 25 yards. So far, no prize.
The last pellet I tried was the Beeman Kodiak, which just did fair at 25 yards. Here at 50 yards, they put 10 into 2.458 inches. That’s hardly accurate! I almost stopped shooting this group when I saw how the shots opened up; but I thought that after doing that with the Premiers, I ought to let one go the distance just to show you what it looked like.
Back to the JSB Exact RS
I wasn’t finished with the testing just yet. The rifle was topped off at 2,000 psi again, and I went back to the pellet that was giving me the best results — the JSB Exact RS. The next group of 10 was the tightest of the session, at 1.318 inches between centers. I’d adjusted the scope for the Kodiaks, so this one landed below the bull.
I then shot 2 more 10-shot groups with the RS pellet. The first measured 1.522 inches, and the second measured 1.543 inches. When I examined the target after bringing it back from downrange, I saw a pattern. The RS pellet wasn’t giving tight groups, but they were very consistent. Out of 4 groups, the total variance was 0.24 inches — from 1.3 to 1.5 and change. That’s pretty consistent.
What do we know?
We know this Disco Double can put 10 pellets into 0.365 inches at 25 yards. And with the same pellet, we know that it opens up to about 1.5 inches when the distance is doubled. We know it was warm when the 25-yard target was shot and cold when the 50-yard targets were shot.
And that’s about the only difference — other than I did remove the TKO silencer after shooting 25 yards. I think what I will do next is the following.
1. Clean the barrel.
2. Shoot 5 groups at 25 yards with the JSB Exact RS pellet.
3. Clean the barrel again.
4. Shoot another 5 targets at 50 yards.
One last feature I want to show you is the special optional barrel band Lloyd makes for the Disco Double. It has a Picatinny rail on the bottom, allowing you to attach a bipod at just the right spot with very little extra weight added to the gun.
When I originally tested the .22-caliber Benjamin Discovery rifle in 2007, it was a pre-production prototype that was made out of a Crosman 2260. I shot several approximately half-inch groups at 50 yards with Crosman Premier pellets, but they were 5-shot groups. Now, I’m shooting 10-shots groups that I know are going to be larger. I didn’t use the JSB Exact RS pellet because it didn’t exist back then.
I believe this lightweight Disco Double has more accuracy than we’ve seen to this point. I think it must be capable of shooting at least one 1-inch group out of 5 at 50 yards. So, the test continues.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Disco Double. Before that, however, I mounted a scope, a TKO airgun silencer that they call a muzzlebrake or a lead dust collector, and something I’ve never seen in print before but something I’ve used on many precharged air rifles over the years — a bolt keeper!
What’s a bolt keeper?
First, let me tell you that when I mounted the TKO silencer, it fit the barrel perfectly. There were no barrel alignment issues that I was warned about, and I checked closely. This unit is very well made and looks beautiful on the gun. The unit I’m testing is 8-1/4 inches long; and, yes, Lloyd, I checked that it indeed is a .22 caliber before mounting it. However, when the silencer is on, the top end cap does not fit.
When I shot the gun with it on the first time, I have to say I was underwhelmed. It was quite loud. A second shot confirmed this. Then, I held the rifle to my shoulder and fired a third shot. That’s when it hit me — a blast of air in the face not unlike the glaucoma test eye doctors do. The bolt was opening and discharging compressed air with each shot!
This happens a lot with precharged guns and it doesn’t matter how cheap or expensive they are. The bolt handle lifts up and air comes back through the action. On the lightweight Disco Double, it only begins to happen when the rifle is at the bottom of the power curve, which is where it was when I tested it this time.
A simple fix is to fasten a rubber band around the bolt handle to hold it closed during the shot — a bolt keeper. Once on the gun, I just leave it there. Even though it’s not needed until the end of the power curve on this rifle, I don’t want to worry about it. You can cock and load the rifle with the band in place.
With the handle held closed in this fashion, the rifle suddenly became very quiet — as in Benjamin Marauder quiet! I now understand why shooters have been so excited about this unit. It really works!
NOTE: Due to several reader questions about this silencer, I am removing it from the rifle and returning it to Lloyd. Silencers are a very touchy subject, since owning one that will function on a firearm requires a license for each specific silencer. I don’t want to mislead any reader, so in the interest of clarity I am simply not going to use or possess this item any longer. I wrote an article on silencers that can be accessed here. If you have any questions on the subject, I recommend you read that article.
The rifle now weighs 6 lbs., 11 oz. with everything installed. That’s very light for a serious air rifle.
I mounted a UTG True Hunter 3-9X40 scope on the rifle. Since UTG packs rings with this scope, I used them, but they’re Weaver-style mounts. So, I had to use a UTG Weaver to 11mm dovetail adapter to make them fit the dovetails on the rifle’s receiver.
I’ll be shooting from a rest at 25 yards today. The range is indoors, so wind is not an issue.
Sight-in was accomplished with .22-caliber Crosman Premiers; so after I was on the paper, I shot the first group of 10 shots at 25 yards. The hole they made is a little taller than it is wide, but it measures 0.569 inches between centers. While that’s okay for 25 yards, it isn’t great. I’d like to see something a couple tenths smaller.
Next up were Beeman Kodiak pellets. They’re identical to the .22-caliber H&N Baracuda pellets that Lloyd tested the rifle with, and they were what I had available. They put 10 into 0.655 inches between centers. Like the Premiers, that’s not bad…but not as good as I’d hoped.
Beeman Kodiaks opened up more, to 0.655 inches between centers. Only use them if you need a heavy pellet.
JSB Exact RS
I followed the Kodiaks with some JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellets. They’re even lighter than the Crosman Premiers, and sometimes they can be very accurate in precharged rifles. This was one of those times. Ten pellets went into 0.365 inches, which is exactly what I’d hoped for the Disco Double. This is the pellet for this rifle!
Nex, I tried the RWS Superdome pellet that’s always recommended. I don’t often have good luck with them, but a lot of shooters do. I stopped after just 4 shots, though, and you can tell from the lateral spread that measures 0.634 inches between centers that they weren’t going to perform.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The last pellet I tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo. These are usually among the top pellets in .22-caliber precharged air rifles, so I felt they deserved a chance. The first 2 shots were on a fresh 2,000 psi fill, and I’m not sure the rifle wasn’t overfilled by a slight amount because they both landed away from the main group. Shot 9, however, was shot while the rifle was grouping well, and I have no idea why it’s above the main group. The 10-shot group measures 0.647 inches between centers, making this the second-best pellet I tested in the rifle.
These 10 JSB Exact Jumbos measure 0.647 inches between centers. The first 2 shots are the holes at the right and bottom right of the main group. Then, the rest of the pellets went into the big group, except for shot 9 that went high. There is no explanation for that one. This is a pellet I would keep trying.
Filling from a hand pump
The biggest feature of the Benjamin Discovery, aside from the low price, is the fact that the maximum fill pressure is just 2,000 psi. It’s full right where other PCPs have run out of air. And that makes the Discovery extremely easy to fill with a hand pump.
Using the Discovery factory pump, I began the fill at just under 1,000 psi and pumped until the onboard pressure gauge read 2,000. It took exactly 100 pump strokes to fill the gun; and, until the final 20, they were as easy as inflating a bicycle tire. Only when the pressure passed 1,800 psi did I notice an increase in pump handle resistance.
One tip when filling with a hand pump is to go slow. Allow time at the top and bottom of each pump stroke for the air to flow through the various stages inside. If you don’t, you just waste energy and heat up the pump unnecessarily.
Observations so far
So far, I’m thrilled by the performance of the Lightweight Disco Double. The number of shots I get on a fill is large enough for serious shooting before it’s time for a refill and the rifle’s performance leaves nothing to be desired. A glance at the onboard gauge needle, and I know the status of the fill.
When I tested the original Benjamin Discovery rifles in both calibers, the guns I used were pre-production prototypes. I shot groups under 0.6 inches with both calibers; but at that time, I was shooting only 5-shot groups. The JSB Exact RS pellet did not exist at the time of that test. So, it’ll be interesting to see what this rifle can do at 50 yards with 10 shots. Remember — this is the first Benjamin Discovery production rifle I’ve ever shot!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Benjamin Marauder PCP .177-caliber air rifle: Part 1
Secrets of loading the Benjamin Marauder magazine
Fixing a Marauder magazine
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .25 caliber: Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 1
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 2
Benjamin Marauder .22 repeater with synthetic stock: Part 3
Benjamin Marauder .177 caliber 50-yard test: Special part
Well, it’s certainly been a long time between reports on this rifle, hasn’t it? Today, we’ll begin looking at the accuracy of the .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder with the synthetic stock. Some of you have already asked me if I plan to also test the new wood-stocked Marauder that has the same new action as this one. I have no plans to test it because I feel this test encompasses everything on the rifle, except for the stock material.
I was particularly keen on testing this rifle because we had a couple new readers who had purchased this gun and were having accuracy problems with it. I wanted to pay closer attention to accuracy than normal. After all, this is a new action, even if the changes have been relatively minor. Also, this is the first .22-caliber Marauder I’ve tested. Since Crosman makes both the .177- and .22-caliber barrels and buys the .25-caliber barrels from Green Mountain, I feel it’s worthwhile to examine this rifle more closely.
I filled the rifle to 3,000 psi because we learned in Part 3 that it’s on the power curve with a 3,000 psi fill. Then, I fired a single shot from 12 feet to see if I was on paper. Following that, I backed up to 25 yards and refined my sight picture. Only the 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers went everywhere! I got them on target, but sometimes a pellet landed an inch away from the aim point.
What was happening?
This is what a couple readers had described, so I did what I advised them to do. I removed all the baffles (see Part 2 of the Synthetic Stock review for this) to see if the pellets were touching any of them. Since they’re just plastic, it would be obvious if a pellet nicked one; but there was no sign of this on close inspection. So, I assembled the baffles and closed the shroud again.
And the next 10 shots with Premiers were remarkable! They went into a group that measures 0.246 inches between centers. Right away I guessed what might be happening is that the rifle was smoothing out as the air pressure dropped. So, even though the power curve seems to support a 3,000 psi fill, the targets do not show the same thing.
You can’t tell everything from just a single group — even a tight one like this. More testing was needed, but now I would be careful about the pressure level at which the groups were shot.
I tried many more pellets, but I’m not going to show all the groups. In all, I fired a total of ten 10-shot groups, making this test more exhaustive than my usual 25-yard accuracy test. I wanted to pin down this pressure-versus-accuracy correlation to see if it was real or imagined.
JSB Exact Jumbo
The 15.89-grain JSB Exact Jumbo pellet gave a very clear example of how the pressure affects the groups. The first group was fired from a fresh 3,000 psi fill and 10 pellets went into 1.131 inches. You can tell at a glance that the pellets are scattered around.
The second group of the same JSB pellets was fired after the first group. By this point, the rifle’s internal pressure has dropped to the mid-2,000 psi point (2500 to 2600 psi). This group still isn’t a good one, but you can see that it’s tightening up. It measures 0.872 inches between centers.
On the third group of 10 shots (still on the same fill), the group really tightened up. These 10 went into 0.592 inches. That’s a good group, but maybe I don’t want to use this pellet in this rifle because it seems too fussy.
No Predators, no Newboys!
I tried both Predator Polymag and Skenco Newboy Seniors, but both were too long to fit in the Marauder’s rotary magazine. If you want to use these pellets, you’ll need to use a single-shot tray; and since Crosman no longer makes them in .22, good luck finding one. Of course, you can load pellets without the tray, but it’s more difficult to align them with the breech.
I wondered how Premiers might do on the third batch of 10 shots after the fill. Ten pellets went into 0.496 inches. Not as tight as the second 10 after the fill, but still very good!
JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy
The 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets behaved much the same as the regular Jumbos, except the groups were tighter. The first 10 went into 0.653 inches; the second 10 went into 0.657 inches, and the third batch went into 0.591. All 3 groups are pretty close to one another; but in light of the Premiers and the Kodiaks we have yet to see, I don’t think they’re the best in this particular rifle.
I was burned out when I got to the Beeman Kodiak pellets — 100+ shots is too much for a single session when every shot requires concentration. I didn’t mention shooting RWS Superdomes yet. I did shoot 1 group with them, and it was a bust at 0.83 inches. When I got to the Kodiaks, I wasn’t concentrating as well as I would have liked. And I shot this single group on a fresh 3,000 psi fill. I felt I could get away with that because of the weight of the 21-grain Kodiak pellet.
And I was right. Even though I was fading, 10 pellets still went into a tight round hole that measurtes 0.378 inches between centers! It’s the second-best group of the test and earns the Kodiak a spot in the 50-yard test, for sure!
What I’ve learned
The first thing I learned from today’s test is that this particular rifle doesn’t seem to shoot as well on a fresh fill as it does on the second and third magazine of pellets. So, if you stop filling at 2,600 psi, you’ll get 20 good shots from the rifle and not waste any air. I also learned that Crosman Premiers are the miracle pellet in this rifle, just like they’ve always been.
That last group of Beeman Kodiaks has me thinking that Premiers and Kodiaks will battle it out at 50 yards for the overall accuracy championship. I know Premiers are aerodynamically excellent, but the Kodiaks look like a real challenger in this air rifle.
I need to comment on the noise, or lack of noise. This .22 caliber Marauder is extremely quiet. It’s more like a .177 than it is like a .25 in that respect.
I expected to have problems with accuracy when I encountered those wild shots during sight-in. But by hanging in there and shooting both the second 10 and the third 10, I learned that this rifle likes to push its pellet slower than most. I would have to live with the gun for a long time to learn all of its secrets, but the test rifle is a very accurate PCP that’s worthy of the Benjamin Marauder reputation.
I like the synthetic-stocked rifle, but in my opinion it is no better than the older model in the wood stock. I never minded the thickness of the old wood stock, so I’m just going on the performance of the gun at this point.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is both interesting and a little different. I shot the .22-caliber Octane combo from Umarex at 25 yards and used the Umarex 3-9X40 scope that came in the package. I’ll talk about the scope and mounts first.
The scope is a variable with parallax adjustment from 10 yards to infinity. It features a duplex reticle and comes with 2-piece Weaver rings that have 4 screws per cap. The top of the rifle has a Picatinny adapter clamped on the 11mm dovetails that are cut directly into the spring tube, so the scope rings mounted quickly.
I found the scope to be clear and sharp, and the parallax adjustment to be close to the actual distance once the eyepiece was adjusted correctly. This is one of the nicest scopes I have seen bundled with a combo airgun. I don’t think you need to buy anything other than pellets — lots of pellets.
I sighted-in the gun at 12 feet with one shot, then backed up to 25 yards to refine the sight picture. Veteran readers know I’m purposely trying not to hit the center of the bull, as that erases the aim point.
I was finished sighting-in after 4 more shots and ready to start shooting for the record. The first pellet I selected was the .22 caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier that had done so well in the 10-meter test with open sights.
After the first 5 shots, I thought I had a slam-dunk accurate rifle, but I guess I got a little sloppy. Shot 6 went into the same hole, but shots 7 through 10 moved over to the left of the main group. Six consecutive shots went into 0.449 inches; but after 10 shots, the group measured 1.067 inches.
After this group was finished I discovered the scope base screws were both loose. That made the scope loose, as well. I tightened them and checked them frequently throughout the remainder of the test.
The second group of Premiers opened to 1.382 inches. This one is very horizontal, but within it is a tight group of 4 shots that came early in the string. That group measures 0.188 inches between centers.
Following this group, I noticed that both forearm screws had come loose. So they were tightened — a lot! And for the rest of the test, I monitored their tightness closely.
The Octane recoils a lot, and you have to watch all the screws. Once they’re tight, they probably won’t back out for a long time; but the first time you use the gun, they probably need to be tightened just a bit more than normal. At least, watch for them to loosen.
This is nothing new. We have always been told to watch the screws on spring guns that recoil heavily. I just forgot it this time until it became obvious downrange.
JSB Exact Jumbo
Next I tried JSB Exact Jumbo pellets. They did very well for the first 6, then the last 4 wandered over to the right. And when I say “wandered,” I mean they really went places! The group measures 2.822 inches between centers, with 6 of those shots in 0.763 inches.
After this group, I played around with holding my off hand at different places under the forearm, and then some non-standard holds that included resting the rifle directly on the bag 2 different ways. By the time I was finished, I’d fired over 60 shots from a rifle that takes 39 lbs. of force to cock. I never reported that effort in Part 2, like I normally would, so now you know that the Octane is hard to cock — like all powerful gas spring airguns.
I suspected that I was tiring at this point. The term used in competition is I was “blowing up”! The Octane wanted to put them in the same place, but something prevented it. I shot one final group of Premiers — just to see if I could see what it was doing. But that group wasn’t worth reporting. I had clearly pushed past the point of fatigue, so the session was over.
Here’s what’s at stake. Priced at just $200 with a very good scope, the Octane is poised to take its place beside legendary air rifles like the RWS Diana 34 Striker Pro combo. It’s actually $100 less than the 34, yet offers the same power. If it also gives the same accuracy, the Octane suddenly becomes an important air rifle; and if the horribly heavy trigger has a workable solution that the average owner can follow, then folks, we have a winner. So, I want to give this air rifle every chance to compete. It seems to want to do well, so I need to find out what needs to be done.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today is the start of accuracy testing for the Octane combo air rifle, and I’m going to make some changes. For starters, I’m going to give you the summary now. The Octane is a smooth-shooting, accurate air rifle. It’s everything the manufacturer wants it to be, and a couple of things they probably didn’t think about, on top of that. The rest of this report will justify and explain my summary.
Another thing, the Octane is different from any gas spring I’ve ever tested. Gas springs always fire fast, as in instantaneously. When the sear releases, the shot is over, and you usually know it from the sharp crack of sound and the painful slap to your cheek. The Octane fires slowly in comparison. There’s a lot of forward recoil and almost no vibration, and the discharge is very quiet, as I noted in part 2. I attribute this behavior to the Reaxis gas-spring design that’s reversed from the norm, and to the SilencAir silencer on the muzzle. Both apparently work as advertised.
I decided to just shoot 5 shots per pellet today, and to shoot the rifle with open sights at 10 meters. I wanted to get a good sense of how accurate it is before putting the walls of my house at risk. And what I discovered was that this rifle is fun to shoot! I normally don’t have much fun shooting a 20 foot-pound spring rifle, but the Octane is so civilized that it gave me a lot of confidence. By the time I’d fired the first 2 shots at the target, putting them into the same hole, by the way, I knew this day was going to be fun.
I held the rifle with an artillery hold, but the thumbhole stock makes you grip the gun harder than you normally might. So, I would have to call it a modified artillery hold. But the rifle cooperated, and there was noting to worry about. The muzzle heaviness holds the front sight steady on target once you’re dialed in.
The sights are fiberoptic, which destroy all attempts at precision, but by lighting the target brightly and sitting in a darker room to shoot, I could defeat the fiberoptic tubes and get a very sharp sight picture. When they don’t glow, the Octane’s sights offer a nearly ideal sight picture, and that was what made me decide to not mount the scope, yet. I wanted to have the fun of shooting with open sights since the rifle was cooperating.
The trigger is still quite heavy and very creepy, so I envy those who own their rifles and can modify them. If I could drop the release weight to under 4 lbs. and if there was a way to eliminate all the second-stage creep, this trigger would help accuracy greatly.
The first target was shot with 5 Beeman Kodiak pellets. This was when I first noticed how slow the Octane’s gas piston is. It feels like an airgun equivalent of a 45-70 single-shot. You feel the recoil and the rifle bounces around, but you know the pellet got out of the muzzle before all that started and that accuracy wasn’t affected in the slightest.
As I said, the first 2 pellets cut the same hole, though each made a distinctive mark. Then I stopped watching through the spotting scope and just shot the next 3 pellets. In the end, the group is larger than I would have liked for 10 meters, at 0.581 inches, but this is with open sights. Still, it is just 5 shots instead of 10.
Next, I tried the RWS Hobby pellet. It felt good while loading because it fit the breech tight but not overly so. And, though the point of impact shifted up a bit, the Hobby was quite accurate — putting 5 pellets into 0.368 inches! I thought that was remarkable. I couldn’t wait to test some more pellets!
Next, I tried the RWS Superdome. Here’s where you’re going to see something significant. RWS makes both Hobbys and Superdomes in Germany, and presumably they use the same lead alloy for both. And domed pellets are generally regarded to be the most accurate. Yet look at how the Superdomes did! They grouped horizontally, to exactly 1 inch, while the Hobbys stayed together.
You might try to blame me for getting tired at this point in the test, but there’s group coming that will show that I was still shooting my best. That’s one benefit of these 5 shot groups. They don’t tire me as quickly.
Now, for those of you who think I might have slipped up on the last group, I shot 5 Predator Polymag pellets next. They’re a recognized premium pellet, just like the Superdomes, and I’ve shown some great groups using them in recent tests. But not this time. Instead of the group stringing sideways, the Predator group were stringing vertically. Five went into 0.982 inches, so we won’t be seeing them in any future tests of the Octane.
If you have now decided that I’ve gotten tired and ho-hum, what’s so special about the Octane if this is the best that it can do — hold on! I saved the best for last. Actually, the Octane saved the best for last because the next group is the last one I shot on this day.
The 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellet is sometimes the best pellet you can use in an airgun. And it is in the Octane test! Five Premiers went into a group measuring 0.245 inches between centers. It looks like only 3 pellets have passed through, but I did shoot all 5. This is very clearly and hands-down the most accurate pellet I tested in the Octane.
I already gave you the summary in the beginning of this report. Now you see the substantiation of what was said.
Several readers reported higher velocities than I got in the last test, and I was asked to change the breech seal. Well, I might do that, but frankly the rifle is shooting so nice right now that I don’t feel any urgency.
The Octane is unlike any gas-spring breakbarrel rifle I’ve ever tested. I wish the trigger was better, but it’s hard to argue with the accuracy or with the rifle’s firing behavior.
I will skip testing the rifle at 10 meters with the scope that comes in the package and go straight to 25 yards next time.