Posts Tagged ‘RWS Superpoint pellets’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Falke 90 underlever rifle is a German spring-piston gun from the early 1950s.
Cometa Fusion .22 update
Before I begin, I want to update you on the Cometa Fusion Premier Star report that I’m doing. The fifth accuracy test failed because the scope moved — again! Kevin sent me a special base that people on the internet were having success with, but alas, it did not stay put on the rifle I’m testing.
The vertical scope stop pin on this base is 0.137 inches in diameter, and the stop pin hole on the rifle is 0.111 inches; so, the stop pin cannot enter the hole. As I’ve said many times in the past — no amount of clamping pressure, alone, is enough to hold a scope base from moving, except when BKL mounts of the correct size are used. Unfortunately, I don’t have any of them with enough droop to compensate for this rifle.
I do, however, think this mount base will work because it does have the amount of droop that I need for the rifle. When I come home from the SHOT Show, my plan is to grind the base pin thinner so it will fit into the hole. If that doesn’t work, I don’t know what I can do that I haven’t already tried. Remember, I’m doing this because I believe the rifle is accurate and would be a wonderful value if I can just get the scope to stay put.
On to the Falke
I started this report on the Falke 90 because I hadn’t really shot it that much since getting it in 2010. Vince fixed it for me, and Mac did the accuracy test. I got the rifle back from Mac, but there wasn’t anything to do that hadn’t been done. So, this year I had the stock restored, and that was a huge project for Doug Phillips at DAMAGEDWOODSTOCKS. Then, I thought I would test the rifle as though I’d just bought it because, essentially, that’s what happened!
I learned in Part 2 that the velocity and stability of the rifle were affected by the depth the pellet was seated into the loading tap. And the Falke’s tap is a small one, compared to other taps I’ve used, so the seating depth is more variable in this rifle with most pellets. Most pellets fall into the tap and stop at different depths, and often they aren’t in far enough to close the tap without damaging the pellet. That will become important in this test.
The first pellet I tried is the one that I always shoot in Hakim rifles, which are very similar to this one. It’s the 14.5-grain RWS Superpoint. I expected to get the same performance from this rifle as I got from more than a dozen Hakims over the years. Alas, that didn’t happen. The tighter loading tap on the Falke meant I had to seat the pellets manually to clear the tap, and the results at 10 meters, rested, were not that good. Ten shots made a group that measures 1.124 inches between centers. As you can see, it’s an open group with scattered hits that tend toward the vertical.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain
I won’t even show a target for the JSB Exact 15.9-grain domes because the pellets went all over the place. I didn’t even finish the group.
Next, I tried RWS Superdomes, but they weren’t much better than Superpoints. They did give a smaller group, at 0.861 inches between centers, but that’s only good by comparison. I’m looking for better accuracy from this Falke because I think it’s there. Oh, yeah, also because Mac got much better accuracy in his test!
The iron sights are fighting me
At this point in the test, I had to admit the iron sights on the rifle were working against me. I simply could not adjust them high enough to get the pellets centered in the bull at 10 meters. I remember that Mac used a red dot sight he mounted to the rifle, and I may need to do the same to get the groups I’m looking for. That will have to be another test because this one was already taking a lot of time and I wasn’t finished.
What did Mac do?
When Mac tested the rifle he found that the obsolete 5.6mm Eley Wasp pellet shot best. In fact, it wasn’t close. He got a group with Superdomes like I did, though he shot from 15 yards rather than 11 (which is 10 meters). So, the next pellet I tried was the Eley Wasp.
Eley Wasps are much larger than other .22-caliber pellets, so imagine my surprise when the first one fell deep enough into the tap to not require seating. After that, though, I seated every pellet to the bottom of the tap. Perhaps this is why Mac was telling me to do this! I didn’t appreciate it during the velocity test, when deep seating made the velocities more variable; but in the accuracy test, look what happened! Nine of the 10 pellets went into an almost single hole that measures 0.695 inches between centers. And the 10th shot is way low. It opens the group to 1.029 inches. Want to guess that this is the first shot that wasn’t seated deeply? I don’t know if it is, because I didn’t look at the target before I completed it. I only saw this when I went downrange to retrieve the target for photography and measuring…but I think it is.
Nine in 0.695 inches, and one below opens it to 1.029 inches. I don’t know, but I’m guessing the one I didn’t seat deeply was the stray shot.
What have I learned so far?
The Falke is certainly a different air rifle, and it doesn’t turn out to be what I thought it would be. I like the feel of Hakim rifles better than this one. They seem to shoot smoother, and their triggers are easier to adjust. Still, I don’t think I’ve completely mastered the Falke 90 yet.
This reminds me very much of a .22-caliber BSF Bavaria S54 taploader I used to own. It had a huge diopter rear sight, yet couldn’t hold a candle to a plain old Diana 27 for accuracy. Just because a rifle is a rare and vintage gun is no guarantee that it will also be a smooth and accurate shooter.
I do think that I need to try the Falke again, and this time with a dot sight mounted. And I’ll deep-seat Eley Wasps from the start and not worry about whether or not there are other good pellets.
This is a learning experience — that’s for sure!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Falke 90 underlever rifle is a German spring-piston gun from the early 1950s.
This report is my test of the .22-caliber Falke 90 underlever air rifle I acquired a few years ago. When I got it, the rifle wasn’t working, so blog reader Vince offered to fix it for me. After he finished, he took it to my friend Mac, who tested it. I’ve owned this rifle for several years and never really tested it myself, and I thought it was about time to do so.
I recently had the stock restored by Doug Phillips, who did a wonderful job. Now, I have a nice-looking underlever spring rifle as well as one that works well, so today we’re going to look at its velocity. And we’re going to do more than that because Mac told me some things about the gun that have shaped today’s test. Why don’t I share them with you now?
The Falke 90 is an underlever, which means there is a separate lever to cock the mainspring. In the Falke 90, it’s hidden by the stock — very much like the BSA Airsporter and the Hakim, which are both related to the Falke. All three rifles are loaded through a tap that rotates open automatically when the lever is cocked. That provides a place to drop the pellet, nose-first. Then the tap is manually rotated closed, the pellet aligns with the breech (in front) and the air transfer port (behind the pellet). Let’s talk about that tap for a bit.
The tap opens by a mechanical projection on the cocking linkage that pushes the tap as it passes it during cocking. I think the remarkable thing is that it stays in adjustment over hundreds of thousands of shots and scores of years of use. My tap is still aligned perfectly, so I don’t have to do anything except drop a pellet nose-first into it and then rotate it closed to align with the barrel.
There can be a problem with a tap, however. The pellet chamber in it can be so exact that pellets don’t fall all the way in when they’re just dropped in. This is what Mac pointed out to me about this rifle. My taploader experience has been with the Hakim rifle, which has a generous pellet chamber and seldom has a problem — unless the pellet skirt is bent. Then, the pellet won’t fall into the tap’s pellet chamber as far as it should; and when you rotate the tap closed, you’ll catch and bend the pellet’s skirt. But the pellet chamber on the Falke 90 tap is very small and may or may not accept the pellet as far as it needs to — to clear the receiver when the tap is rotated closed.
Mac told me to watch for that problem and to make sure each pellet made it into the pellet chamber as far as it needed for clearance. He advised me to use an instrument to push each pellet as far into the tap chamber as it would go — thus clearing the skirt when the tap rotated closed.
This pellet was dropped into the tap and failed to enter the pellet chamber far enough to clear the end of the pellet skirt when the tap is closed.
Here the pellet has been pushed into the tap as far as it will go. This pellet will easily clear the gun when the tap is closed.
This tap business got me wondering about the affect on velocity. Would a deep-seated pellet be better (faster and more consistent), or would a pellet that has just been dropped into the tap do better? I’m sure you can come to your conclusions quickly enough, so let’s test a couple pellets and see what really happens.
I began shooting RWS Superpoints when I got my first Hakim. They seemed like the perfect pellet for that rifle because they have thin skirts that will flare out from a smaller blast of air and also because they just dropped deeply into the Hakim tap. Other pellets were too small for the Hakim tap and failed to produce adequate velocity because much of the air compressed by the piston slipped past them in the barrel.
In the Falke 90, however, it’s a different story. The pellet chamber in the loading tap is very small, and Superpoints do not usually drop in far enough to close the tap. Many of them need to be seated mechanically. So, I tested them two ways. First, as just dropped in but not pushed deep and second as pushed into the tap as deep as they would go.
Very few of the pellets fell into the tap deep enough by themselves to close the tap, so even in the first test there was some pushing that had to take place. Perhaps 6 pellets had to be pushed into the tap a little while 4 fell in deep enough on their own. This string of what I’m calling unseated pellets averaged 476 f.p.s. and ranged from 465 to 484 f.p.s. That is a spread of 19 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet and loading method generated 7.3 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
Next, I tried pushing the pellets into the tap as deep as they would go. Now, I bet you think they’re going to go faster than the unseated pellets. Right? Well, they did one foot-per-second faster! Yes, the average for seated pellets was 477 f.p.s., and the spread went from 461 to 493 f.p.s. So the range was 32 f.p.s. And the average muzzle energy was 7.33 foot-pounds. Not much difference, is there?
JSB Exact RS pellets
The other pellet I tried was the lighter JSB Exact RS pellet, which in .22 caliber weighs 13.4 grains. This is a pure lead pellet, like the Superpoint, and it also has a thin skirt. But the Exact pellet is smaller than the Superpoint. These pellets fell into the tap far enough to close without any damage every time.
On the first test, where the pellet was just dropped in, the Exact RS averaged 453 f.p.s. The range went from 445 to 463, so a spread of 18 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 6.11 foot-pounds. And no mechanical seating was necessary.
On the second test, where the pellet was pushed into the tap as far as it would go, this pellet averaged 457 f.p.s., but the spread was much larger — ranging from a low of 448 to a high of 484 f.p.s. So, the velocity varied by 36 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 6.22 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
What do these numbers tell us about the rifle?
For starters, I hope you realize that this was not a normal velocity test that produced standard numbers. The way the pellet fits the loading tap has a tremendous effect on the outcome. I believe that will probably carry over into the accuracy test, as well, so I wanted to try one more test. What would happen if I flared the skirts of every pellet before loading it into the tap, and then I pushed each pellet to the bottom of the tap? Wouldn’t that give me the best sealing of the pellet to the bore? Mac thought it would. But only one way to know for sure. I had to test it. And I decided to test both pellets, as I could see no compelling reason to choose one over the other.
RWS Superpoints flared and deep-seated
Superpoints averaged 474 f.p.s. when their skirts were flared, and they were then seated as deep as they would go into the tap. That puts them in about the same place as the pellets that were just dropped into the tap and those that were intentionally seated deep. But here’s where it gets interesting. The range went from a low of 464 f.p.s. to a high of 504 f.p.s. I’m not looking at the 40 foot per second velocity spread as much as I am the four pellets that topped 490 f.p.s. Clearly, flaring the skirts has an effect, but I must not have done it uniformly enough to make a difference.
JSB Exact RS pellets flared and deep-seated
The JSB Exact RS pellets are more flared to begin with. Even though their skirts are not quite as wide as those on the Superpoints, they lend themselves to flaring much better. These pellets averaged 487 f.p.s., which is a 20 f.p.s. increase over just seating the unflared pellets deeply. The range went from a low of 465 f.p.s. to a high of 501 f.p.s. Four pellets were at or above 500 f.p.s. Again, there must have been some inconsistency in the flaring, but the RS pellets did seem to respond better to the process.
Normally, I report on the trigger-pull in the velocity report, but I’m not going to do that today. The Falke 90 has an adjustable trigger that works on the sear contact area; and during the test, the trigger-pull went from being very light to not staying cocked. So I adjusted it heavy for safety’s sake. A taploader is safe because, until the loading tap is aligned with the bore, the pellet will not move; so when the gun fired on its own several times, there was no problem. But if I were to adjust it to a light pull, I might then close the tap before the gun is on target — and that’s dangerous if the gun then fires on its own! So, I’ll adopt a procedure with this rifle of not closing the tap until the sights are on target.
I’m also having difficulty with the trigger because the trigger return spring isn’t sufficient to push the trigger blade into lockup with the sear. When I cock the rifle, I also have to push the trigger blade forward to engage the safety. That may be because the new wood is a little tight in the trigger region. It’s something I need to look at.
The rifle is shooting well thus far, with the exceptions noted. The next report will be accuracy, and for that Mac has set the bar very high.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The Diana 25 (this one says Winchester 425) was made for decades. It is at the top of the youth line of air rifles from the ’50s through the ’70s.
On Friday, I tested the Chinese Fast Deer sidelever rifle at 25 yards, and in doing so I started the juices flowing again for the vintage airguns. One remark I made in the report was that I thought the Fast Deer might be more accurate if I fitted a peep sight in place of the open sights that are on it now. That got me thinking about other low-powered spring guns I’ve recently tested — including the Winchester 425, which is a Diana 25 by another name.
I tested the 425 at 10 meters because it has open sights and also because of the low power level. It’s a .22-caliber spring rifle that shoots in the low- to mid-400s, and long-range accuracy is not its strong suit. But after seeing the Fast Deer perform, I began to wonder how the 425 might do if I tried it with a peep sight. Kevin recommended trying it, and I was happy to take his suggestion. We always talk about how peep sights improve the aiming situation, so a peep sight ought to have some impact on even a rifle like this one.
As it happens, I have a peep sight that attaches to the rear sight base on many vintage Diana air rifles, including this 425, so it was easy to remove the open rear sight and attach the peep. I left the open sight in place until the peep was firmly anchored to the base, then I looked through the peep and adjusted it until the open sight picture looked perfect through the peephole. That told me the peep was looking at the same place as the open sight, so no special sight-in procedure was required.
The Diana peep sight fits the model 25 as well as many of the larger models. It looks simple but delivers on target!
The Diana peep sight is vintage and appears less sophisticated than the target peeps we see today; but when you use it, you soon learn that it’s as nice as any of them. It has crisp detents with very visible scales for both adjustments plus the directions are also on the adjustment knobs. They’re in German, though, so they’re the reverse of American adjustments. The sight sits low on the spring tube and is shaped to conform to the contours of all Diana rifles, so there’s very little clearance between the sight and the gun. The sight does extend back, which is helpful, but as small as the 425 is, I still found it difficult to get as close to the eyepiece as I would have liked. That’s because the stock’s pull is a sporting length instead of a target length that would be several inches shorter.
JSB Exact RS
Since JSB Exact RS domes had proved to be very good at 10 meters, they were the first pellet I tried at 25 yards. I trusted that the pellet would go to the point of aim and it did. The first shot was right on target, but there was a small problem because I was trying to use 10-meter rifle targets and the bull is too small for me at 25 yards. So, I replaced the target with a 10-meter pistol target and afterward everything was fine.
The first group of 10 pellets measures 1.059 inches between centers. Now, that sounds like a big group; but if you look at the target, I think you’ll see that it really isn’t so bad. Seven of the 10 pellets landed in 0.545 inches and that’s good.
Another pellet that did relatively well in the 10-meter test was the RWS Superdome. And this is where the difference between 10 meters (11 yards) and 25 yards really shows! Ten Superdomes went into 1.349 inches, and the group appears scattered left and right. This is not a pellet I’d use in this rifle at this distance.
Here is another example of why a 10-shot group is so much more valuable than several 5-shot groups. You could get lucky with several 5-shot groups and never know how well the rifle really shoots, but a single 10-shot group tells the tale very clearly. In the end, it saves time and pellets.
Notice that Superdomes struck the target lower than the JSB RS that preceeded them. So, I adjusted the rear sight to hit higher on the target following this test.
JSB Exact 14.3-grain domes
Next, I tried some JSB Exact Jumbo Express 14.3-grain domes. Since the RS pellets had done so well, I thought these might do well, too, even thought this pellet has disappointed me very often in the past. For some reason, the RS and 15.9-grain pellets shoot rings around this one, and I don’t quite know why.
The Diana 25 doesn’t like them, either. Though the group is well-rounded, the shots seem scattered within it. The group measures 1.288inches between centers and there is nothing to give much hope of any better performance.
At this point in the test, I was starting to lose confidence in the rifle. True, the RS pellets had shown some promise and deserved another chance, but instead I had a thought. What about Crosman Premiers? I normally don’t shoot Premiers in vintage Dianas because I like to use only pure lead pellets, but it sounded like it was worth a try.
The pellets loaded snugly into the breech, but they weren’t quite what I would call tight. The firing behavior, though, was quite different from all the other pellets I’d shot in the gun. It was harsh and a bit buzzy, which tells me the powerplant isn’t being cushioned sufficiently by this pellet.
Down at the target, though, the story was quite different. Premiers made the second-tightest group of the test and were so good that they looked like they warranted a test all their own. The vertical dispersion was 1.09 inches between centers, which is slightly larger than the group made by the JSB RS pellets. The lateral dispersion was only 0.491 inches! And the group was way below the bull, meaning that this pellet dropped many inches from the impact point of all the others. In fact, I’m not certain that all 10 shots landed on the paper because the ragged hole they tore doesn’t tell me how many pellets passed through. It just looks like they all went there.
Crosman Premiers also made a large group, but they were tight side-to-side. This is a pellet to consider further! Sideways dispersion is the gun’s fault. Vertical error is more of an aiming issue or perhaps a wild velocity variation.
Premiers struck the target much lower than the JSB pellets before them, so the feeling upon firing is also evidenced in the velocity. Remember, I’d already adjusted the rear sight higher to compensate for the Superdomes, so this second adjustment jacked it up a lot from where we started.
Observation thus far
The addition of a peep sight to the Winchester 425 was a great idea. It took an accurate and easy-shooting rifle and stretched the useful range many times. I don’t know that a scope would give results that are any better, though it might be fun to try!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
The Diana 25 (this one says Winchester 425) was made for decades. It’s at the top of the youth line of air rifles from the ’50s through the ’70s.
Today, we’ll learn how accurate a vintage Diana model 25 breakbarrel air rifle, in the form of a Winchester model 425, can be. I have to tell you, days like this are pure candy to me! Shooting a smooth vintage air rifle is so relaxing. Since they’re no longer sold, I don’t have to scramble to shoot my best, because only a collector will ever buy one. On the other hand, these lower-powered spring guns mostly out-shoot the modern guns anyway, at least at short distances, so even shooting relaxed I do pretty well.
We all agreed that the model 25 is a close-range plinker, so I shot from 10 meters. I used a 10-meter pistol bull since I was using the open sights that come with the rifle. By strongly lighting the target and keeping the room I’m shooting in dark, the sights appear sharp against the target. I normally don’t like the German Dachkorn-type front sight, which is a V-shaped post; but under these circumstances, it worked very well. Incidentally, I’ve always referred to this as a Perlkorn; but while researching this report I discovered that the Perlkorn has a bead on top of the tapered post.
Sitting down at the bench to shoot reminded me of just how easy this little rifle is to cock. The barrel goes down butter-smooth, and it takes only about 14 lbs. of force to do it. But when I brought it back up after loading, I discovered that the pivot bolt was a little loose. The barrel wouldn’t stay in one position after the rifle was cocked. It flopped back down again. That’s a sign that the pivot is too loose, which leads to a loss of air at the breech. I decided to tighten it, and that lead me to another wonderful feature of the Diana 25 — the pivot bolt has a locking screw!
The head of the barrel pivot bolt (larger slotted head in the photo) is cut out around its edge to receive the smaller head of the locking screw. Once set, this bolt will not get out of adjustment.
The pivot bolt has cutouts around its edge to accept the head of a smaller locking screw. Once you set the bolt where you want it, put the locking screw in and the setting will never move. This is one of those seemingly insignificant features that we overlooked when rifles like this were new, yet today even the most expensive pellet rifles don’t have it! In fact, a good number of the current guns don’t even have a pivot bolt — they use a plain pin that can never be tightened.
The first pellet I shot was the .22-caliber RWS Superpoint. I mentioned in an earlier report that I like the Superpoint for its thin skirt that gets blown out into the sides of the bore when the rifle fires. Other pellets are either too hard, or their skirts are too thick to deform with the relatively light puff of air from the model 25′s piston. The Superpoint, though, should work well in a gun like this.
The distance was 10 meters and I shot from a rest, so this report is about the rifle’s capability and not the shooter’s. That crisp ball-bearing sear was a real pleasure to use, and I didn’t waste a lot of time setting up each shot.
I used the sights exactly as they were set when I got the rifle. Remember that my friend Mac was the former owner, so it came as no surprise when the pellet landed exactly at the aim point — a 6 o’clock hold on the bullseye. After seeing the first pellet was where it needed to be, I didn’t look at the target again until the 10th shot had been fired. What I saw then was a surprise — even when I had been expecting good results. Ten RWS Superpoints went into a group that measures 0.613 inches between centers. It’s a one-hole group that looks smaller than it really is because the pointed pellets allowed the paper to return to its normal dimensions after they pass through. This is the same kind of accuracy I used to get from the Hakim trainers at the same 10 meters.
Ten RWS Superpoints made this 0.613-inch group at 10 meters. It’s larger than it looks because the paper flapped back after the pellet passed through.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. This is another pellet that’s often very good in rifles that shoot at lower power. And by being fairly light, at 11.9 grains, it has the advantage of traveling faster than most other pellets. Ten Hobbys grouped in 0.538 inches between centers. It was another one-hole group. Nothing to do but to smile and hope the rifle continues to shoot like this!
Ten RWS Hobbys are even tighter, making this 0.538-inch group.
The last pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS dome that weighs 13.4 grains. I hoped that this pellet might shine in the little 25 in the same way the .177 version does in my Beeman R8. Well, shine it did, putting 10 of them into a group that only measures 0.38 inches between centers. Does that explain why I like shooting these little vintage spring guns so much?
The JSB Exact RS dome was the best pellet of all. Ten made this 0.38-inch group at 10 meters.
The Diana breakbarrels all have slanted breech faces; and when the barrel is closed, if the pellet isn’t seated flush all the way around the skirt, it can catch on the action and slightly bend the rim of the skirt when the barrel’s closed. This was happening with all three pellets used in this test. So I shot a fourth group of 10 with the most accurate pellets (JSB Exact RS) seated deep in the breech. I wanted to see what effect this would have, if any.
Because the breech face is slanted, the tip of the pellet skirt sticks out like this when the pellet is seated.
When the breech is closed, this is what happens to the pellet. It doesn’t seem to hurt accuracy.
Seating pellets deep in the breech (JSB Exact RS used) opened the group up and also dropped the point of impact about one inch at 10 meters.
Deep-seating didn’t work this time. The group of 10 JSB Exact RS pellets opened to 0.615 inches. It also dropped the point of impact about one inch at 10 meters. Doesn’t seem like it’s worthwhile.
I sure hope this isn’t the last report I get to do on this air rifle. What a joy it is to shoot something that’s accurate, has a great trigger, is quiet and is easy to cock. I know you have to buy these used, but it’s worth the effort, in my opinion. It doesn’t replace your modern magnum air rifles, but it gives you something to do when you just want to shoot without a lot of fuss. If you’ve enjoyed reading this report, remember that there are three different models of the Diana 25. Only two of them have the ball bearing sear, so be careful when you look for one.
by B.B. Pelletier
Well, today is accuracy day for the Crosman Outdsoorsman 2250XE, and this was one time that I didn’t read the owners’ reviews before testing. I just mounted a scope and went to work.
Because I thought the 2250 would be a tackdriver, I mounted a Centerpoint 8-32×56 scope. It’s obviously too much scope for the gun, but I didn’t want people telling me afterward that I should have used a better scope. Nobody could say that this scope isn’t enough to do the job! The 2250XE does come with a 3-9x32AO scope that should be plenty good for all situations. I just wanted to stretch the limits.
As you’ll notice, the scope sits high on the gun, but with the raised comb that wasn’t a problem. The problem came with the eye relief. I had to shove the scope far forward because of how far back the scope came when mounted. It looks cumbersome but I was able to get it to the spot where the target image was bright and clear.
Sight-in with Premiers
I sighted in the gun at 25 yards with 14.3-grain Crosman Premiers that I thought would be the most accurate pellets of all. However, they surprised me by shooting a 10-shot group that measured about 1.338 inches between the centers of the two farthest pellet holes. I had expected something in the quarter-inch to half-inch size at this distance. Okay, so Premiers are not the right pellet.
The next pellet I tried was the RWS Hobby. In .22 caliber, it weighs 11.9 grains. They went to the same impact point as the Premiers, which preserved my aim point, and they also produced a 10-shot group measuring 0.889 inches between centers. That is an improvement but still not as good as I had hoped.
Other pellets tried
Next, I tried 15.9-grain JSB Exact dome pellets. They grouped over two inches for ten shots. They were followed by RWS Superdomes that grouped about the same. RWS Superpoints went over 2.5 inches for ten, as did H&N Baracuda Match.
Just for grins
Then I tried 5.6mm Eley Wasps and Daisy Max Speed pointed pellets, a pellet that hasn’t been in the Daisy lineup for some time, but which resembles the current Daisy Precision-Max pointed pellet more than a little. I tried the Eleys just to see if the bore was oversized, but from the difficulty I had loading them I’d say it isn’t. Three shots went to over two inches and I gave up. The Daisys went into a group of over 2.5 inches, just like many of the others.
This was frustrating! I had a fine scope mounted on the gun and I was shooting indoors where wind isn’t an issue, and still the gun refused to group. So, the Hobby group turned out to be the best group of the whole test.
Then, I read the customer reviews. While a couple of them cite good groups at shorter distances, several others allude to the same accuracy I was seeing in my test. And, I think they were all shooting five-shot groups, not the ten I was shooting!
Which leads me to wonder what’s happening. I know Crosman can rifle a good barrel, so I wonder what’s wrong with this one that it cannot deliver even Chinese air rifle accuracy. If it was just a question of pellets I would say, fine, don’t shoot the bad ones. But when the best group I can get out of eight different pellets tried is 0.889 inches, I think something is wrong.
What to do?
It could just be that I got a gun with a bad barrel, I suppose. There could be something fundamental that I haven’t as yet figured out. One possible clue is that I was using adjustable mounts and I had the scope set for a lot of barrel droop, yet in spite of that the point of impact was still very low. So, I had to crank in a lot of elevation to get on target. I suppose I could adjust the mounts for even greater droop and get the scope adjustment back toward the center of the range to see if that’s causing a problem. Besides that, I can’t think of anything else to do.
At one point with the Daisy pellets, I got two distinct groups about an inch apart. One of them was three pellets into the quarter-inch group I had believed that this gun would produce, which was reassuring until additional pellets opened the group too far. That would indicate an erector tube that is bouncing around.
I’ll definitely do a part 4, where I’ll mount the scope that came with the gun, and we’ll test my theory.
by B.B. Pelletier
Test and photos by Earl “Mac” McDonald
Falke 90 underlever is a rare and vintage British air rifle.
I got an email from Vince yesterday morning, asking if I planned on publishing the rest of Mac’s Falke 90 test. Well, I figured old Vince just hadn’t read the blog the day I did the rest of the test. A few minutes of fruitless searching later, I discovered he was right, I hadn’t told you the rest of Mac’s story. What happens in a case like this is I get the report, I read it and then two days later I forget what I’m doing and figure that everyone in the world knows what I know. To make up for that, I’m going to combine Parts 2 and 3 and give you the rest of the report on the Falke 90 today.
As you may recall, the Falke 90 is a rare underlever spring rifle from the 1950s. It copies the even older BSA Airsporter, in that the underlever is concealed in the forearm and the pellets are loaded through a tap that opens automatically when the rifle is cocked. According to the best information we have at hand, it’s believed that fewer than 200 Falke 90 airguns were ever made and fewer than 35 are known to exist today. It’s not an airgun that’s commonly encountered.
Vince repaired this rifle, which wasn’t working when I acquired it at the 2010 Roanoke airgun show. He reported on how that went in a special three-part report. Now that we’ve seen the insides and read Mac’s overall impressions of the gun, it’s time to test both the velocity and accuracy.
Mac found the bore to be oversized, which was common for British airguns back in the 1950s, so he tested the largest pellets he had on hand that also had the thinnest skirts. The first of these were RWS Superdomes.
The 14.5-grain Superdome isn’t a large pellet, but the skirt is thin and it can be expanded with a ball-type pellet seater. That’s what Mac did.
Superdomes averaged 490 f.p.s. with a total velocity spread from 481 to 494 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 7.72 foot-pounds. The total velocity spread was just 13 f.p.s. Mac mentioned that he did try these pellets without expanding the skirts, but the rifle sounded wrong. It sounded as if it was dry-firing.
A loading tap like the one found on this Falke is tapered on the inside. It has to pass all sizes of pellets in the correct caliber range, and the taper usually takes care of that. But most taps tend toward the large side, and we know that the bore of this rifle is already oversized, so only by expanding the skirts can regular pellets be used.
I told Mac that I had found RWS Superpoints to be accurate in the Hakim, which is very similar to the Falke 90, so he tried them next. Superpoints have very thin skirts — even thinner than the skirts found on Superdomes. They weigh the same 14.5 grains as the Superdomes, but their skirts have less reinforcement, so I figured they would be good in this rifle.
They averaged 499 f.p.s. and ranged from 488 to 513 f.p.s., for a total spread of 25 f.p.s. The average muzzle energy was 8.02 foot-pounds.
The next pellet Mac tested was the 5.56mm Eley Wasp. These are still being made, and I believe you can import them from Canada, but the U.S. Eley importer stubbornly refuses to bring them into this country, and Eley doesn’t seem to mind. I bought 30 tins of them years ago to make the importation worth the effort. If you decide to try to get some, be aware that there’s a 5.5mm Wasp pellet, also, and they won’t be as large as these. Only the 5.56mm Wasp is oversized for all those vintage pellet rifles that have overbore barrels.
Eley Wasps also weigh 14.5 grains, so at their average velocity of 474 f.p.s in this rifle they generate 7.24 foot-pounds of energy. The total velocity spread went from 451 to 500 f.p.s. — a 49 f.p.s. gap. Those numbers are for a group of pellets with expanded skirts. But Mac found that he had to push the expanded pellets into the tap, so he shot a second string with non-expanded pellets.
The second string averaged 503 f.p.s. with a spread from 465 to 542. So, the spread was 77 f.p.s. At the average velocity the energy developed was 8.12 foot-pounds.
Okay, so now we know the power, to which Vince already alerted us in his guest blog. Next, let’s look at accuracy.
For this test, Mac tried both the open sights and a Mendoza sport aperture rear sight that Pyramyd Air no longer stocks. With the open sights that came with the rifle, the best group of 10 Eley Wasps he was able to get measured 0.66 inches between centers at 15 yards.
When he installed the Mendoza rear sight on the rifle, it was loose, so he inserted a paper shim under the sight base to tighten it up.
Here you can see the paper shim Mac placed under the base of the Mendoza peep sight to tighten it on the Falke.
Ten RWS Superdomes made this group at 15 yards that measures 0.92 inches between the centers of the two farthest holes. This is not good accuracy for a rifle like this. You can probably blame the too-small pellets for this.
Mac says he also tried shooting RWS Superpoints at 15 yards, but they were too bad to measure. Several missed the target.
This is a great 10-shot target! It measures 0.35 inches at 15 yards. Ten Eley Wasps, which appear to be THE pellet of choice for the Falke 90. These Wasps had their bases expanded.
From my experiences with Hakims, I can say that this Falke is just about as accurate as they are. In the past, I used to mount short scopes on Hakims, and they shot just about like this Falke is doing with the peep sight.
The Falke 90 is a shooter, as well as a rare vintage collectible. Vince was clever enough to put this one back on the range. Thanks to Mac, we now know what to expect. It’s certainly no barn-burner air rifle. More like a Diana 27 that’s put on too much weight. But the neat hidden underlever and machined parts throughout the action make the Falke 90 an airgun you’ll remember.
Many people have asked me if I intend to refinish the stock, or in my case, to get it done by somebody else. I don’t think I will. Even though it’s been disfigured by someone in the past and even though the wood is cracked in several places (that Vince glued), I think a rare gun like this is always more valuable when it’s left as is rather than being prettied up. Refinishing destroys collectibles in my opinion.
by B.B. Pelletier
A few weeks ago, blog regular Fred PRoNJ told us about a great find he made. Today, he’s going to tell us more about it.
If you’d like to write a guest post for this blog, please email us.
Bloggers must 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.
Take it away, Fred!
by Fred Nemiroff, aka Fred PRoNJ
You can find airguns in the most unlikely places!
Say hello to Murray and Tom. In the image above, Tom, the gentleman on the left, is a retired accountant, Vietnam vet and a once-avid hunter and target shooter. The owner, Murray, is being shielded from a customer, on is the far right of the building.
The day before I left for the Roanoke Airgun show, I bid good-bye to Tom and Murray. When I told Tom where I was going, he told me he had an airgun he inherited from his father. I asked him if he was interested in selling it, and he said he’d think about it. Two weeks after I returned from Roanoke, Tom told me he’d sell me the airgun.
The next Saturday, Tom stopped by my house with a wooden box that held the pistol, a holster, pellets and more.
This wooden box holds my newest prize…a Diana 5V air pistol.
Lots of goodies came with the gun, including a holster. The holster is a lefty and is face down when the gun is properly inserted. The gun and holster were flipped around to give you a better view of them in the box. Those feathered things are darts, which came with the gun originally.
In addition to the Diana Model 5V in the 1905 Rock Island Arsenal holster, there were a bunch of oxidized pellets in the little box and in the unmarked tin, and some darts.
Left view of the gun showing hand-checkering on the grip.
The unmarked tin contains oxidized wadcutter pellets.
The gun is a spring-piston breakbarrel with a fixed barrel sight and a breech mounted sight that’s adjustable for elevation. A screw that goes through a threaded hole in the sight is how the rear sight adjusts up and down.
Note the capital “D” and arrow. That makes this a rare gun!
The Blue Book of Airguns states that this may be the only example of any of the guns manufactured by Diana that used the circle “D” trademark. The gun was manufactured from 1933 to 1945. I’ve looked all over the gun and find no serial number. I haven’t removed the grips to check underneath, not wanting to be the first one to take the gun apart. Looking closely at the various screws, there’s no evidence that this gun has ever been opened since it left the factory. The Blue Book goes on to say that the gun was made with a smoothbore as well as a rifled barrel. This example has a rifled barrel.
My gun is a .22, yet the Blue Book mentions only .177 cal. guns.
One other item of interest. The Blue Book only lists this gun as being made in .177 caliber. This model is a .22!
Some rust, although it looks worse in the pictures than in person.
There’s a moderate amount of surface rust along the barrel where it’s grabbed to cock the gun. The wood grip appears to be in very good condition. I don’t know what type of wood this is. Anyone out there reading this blog care to hazard a guess?
Being a man of limited patience, I cocked the gun and inserted an RWS Hobby pellet. From 10 feet away, I bounced a pellet off the paper target that was resting on a piece of cardboard. The impact was so light that I couldn’t tell where the pellet hit the paper.
The breech seal is leather, as you’d expect and as you can see going back to the photo of the rifled barrel. The piston seal is probably leather also. I took out my container of 30-weight motor oil and put an ample amount on the breech seal and poured some down the transfer port. The gun then sat on its butt for two days.
After two days of allowing the seals to soak up the motor oil, I repeated my firing test 10 feet away from my target. This time, the pellet penetrated paper and cardboard. Now, it was time for a session with my Shooting Chrony. The average velocity of the .22 cal. Hobby pellets (11.9 gr.) was 208 fps. I recorded a high of 216.9 fps and low of 200 fps.
Finally, I needed to find out what level of accuracy this old feller was capable of. From 25 feet away, I launched a pellet right into the wall some 2 feet above the target. While the gun is not powerful enough to penetrate sheetrock, it did leave a nice mark. I lowered the rear sight as far as it would go and, from 10 feet away, confirmed the pellet was hitting paper. Backing up to 25 feet, I giggled as I found out I could actually watch the pellets trundling their way through the air to strike the target.
I used a two-handed stance, shooting 5 Hobby pellets and 5 RWS Superpoints. The accuracy, I think, is pretty good, and I’m sure if I’d tried to shoot from a semi-rest or if a better shooter was available, the groups would have been much smaller.
RWS Superpoints, although not the most accurate of pellets in my experience, would at least penetrate this sheet of paper.
Hobbys produced a slightly better grouping. The target is compressed because I shrank it to take up less space in the blog.
I estimate that this gun is 80-90% condition due to the rust. Since this is a rifled, .22 cal. example and is probably a very limited gun, I’m not sure what it’s worth. I’ll enjoy owning it and eventually will take it to Roanoke or Baldwinsville and offer it for sale to someone else who would love to have this rare gun in their collection.