Posts Tagged ‘semiauto’

We’re still not there!

by B.B. Pelletier

Today’s report is a little different, but I hope it will be informative as well as eye-opening. I plan to address several topics, but the principal theme is that not everyone understands the technology of shooting. Not even the majority!

Single shots
What brought this out was a casual remark made to Edith and me at the SHOT Show a few weeks ago. We were in a gun manufacturer’s booth being shown their products and the salesman remarked that the rifle we were looking at was a single shot. I asked him how that could be since he had just shown us the rifle’s magazine.

He replied, “Well, it fires only one shot every time the bolt is worked and the trigger is pulled.” Oh, my gosh! I informed him that a rifle that has a bolt to feed ammunition from a magazine is most definitely NOT a single shot. It is what is known as a repeater.

Edith then launched in on the definition of a true single shot, using an 1874 Sharps falling block breechloader as her example — a Quigley-type rifle. I think the salesman felt the Sharps was not able to be categorized! In other words, a design so archaic as to almost defy description in modern terms.

In the salesman’s eyes, if the gun fired once when the trigger was pulled and the shooter had to do something before pulling the trigger again, it was a single shot. That begs the question of what constitutes a repeater? In the salesman’s own words, “Repeaters are guns that continue to fire each time the trigger is pulled.” To my way of thinking that could either be a double-action revolver or pistol, or a semiautomatic anything. But I guess the salesman hadn’t thought about it that much. He did tell us that the rifle in question was called a single shot in the owner’s manual that his company had just produced!

When I told Edith I was writing this blog, she told me this is a common theme in customer reviews submitted to Pyramyd Air’s website. In fact, just recently a customer submitted feedback to Pyramyd Air that he found an error on a product page, where a gun was listed as a repeater when it was really a single-shot. Apparently, some people think semiauto = repeater and don’t realize a gun can be a repeater without being semiauto.

Single-action/double-action
I recently read where a gun writer described a certain revolver as having a single-action trigger because, again using his words, “…the gun fires every time the trigger is pulled. It only takes a single action to fire the gun.” Ooops! Good guess, but wrong!

A single-action gun is one where the trigger performs only a single action — releasing the sear. A double-action gun is one in which the trigger not only releases the sear, but also cocks the hammer and advances the gun’s mechanism to a fresh cartridge — two actions. Cocking and releasing the hammer (1) and loading another cartridge (2). Double-action. Get it?

Yes, they cry, but what about an M1911A1 pistol? The trigger fires the gun each time it’s pulled, and you don’t need to do anything else. Yet, it’s called a single-action. Why?

To answer that question, pick up a loaded M1911A1 that has a cartridge in its chamber. With the hammer down (i.e., not cocked) you can squeeze the trigger all day and the gun will never fire. The hammer has to be cocked first.

When an M1911A1 fires, the slide is driven back by the recoil of the exploding cartridge. As it passes over the hammer, it rocks it back to the cocked position, where the sear catches and holds it. So, it’s the action of the slide and not the action of the trigger that cocks the gun.

I have a Micro Desert Eagle pistol whose hammer doesn’t remain back in the cocked position when it fires. The slide does push it back, just like the M1911A1 slide, but my pistol is designed so the sear doesn’t catch the hammer. It follows the slide when it goes forward again. You have to cock the hammer by pulling the trigger each time you want to fire the pistol. It makes the trigger harder to pull, which makes the pistol safer to carry in your pocket. My pistol is called — get this — a double-action-only (DAO) pistol.

Micro Desert Eagle
This Micro Desert Eagle is double-action-only for safety while carrying.

Single-action mechanisms have much lighter and crisper triggers than double-action mechanisms. I use the term “mechanism” (or action) because some air rifles are also double-action-only — like the Crosman 1077. Each pull of the trigger both cocks (and releases) the hammer and advances the clip to the next pellet. That explains why those guns have such long, heavy trigger pulls, where single-action guns like the M1911A1 have very light and extremely crisp pulls.

Incidentaly, the description on the Pyramyd Air website says the 1077 has a semiautomatic action. They do that because Crosman says it, and they want to conform to what the manufacturer is saying about their guns. But the truth is that it takes the action of pulling the trigger to cock the hammer and advance the rotary clip, and that makes it a double-action mechanism, by definition.

Why bother?
I’m sure there are people who think I’m a lecturing old dotard for insisting on the accurate use of definitions and terms this way. Well, those people never read 1984, or if they did, they missed the point of the novel. If you take away the precision of language, you dumb down the population until people no longer have the words to express complex thoughts. Every young person who calls me “dude” or “man” or even “brother-man” is doing this without knowing it.

There’s a line in the movie Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home in which Captain Kirk asks Spock if they can’t just mimic the sounds the alien probe is sending to earth that are ionizing the atmosphere so it sounds like the whales that have gone extinct. Spock replies, “We can imitate the sounds, but we would be responding in jibberish.” That’s exactly what some gun dealers, writers and even manufacturers sound like to me when they bend definitions and even invent new ones to describe things they know nothing about!

Calling loaded cartridges “bullets,” then discovering there is now no name for what comes out of the “bullets,” they label them “bullet tips” “bullet heads” and “bullet noses.” Calling pellet rifles “BB guns” and calling BB guns “rifles” simply extends the abuse.

When I write, I’m explaining things to people who aren’t familiar with the terminology or the technology. If I get sloppy, how many people will be confused? Lord knows, I’m sloppy enough without meaning to be. I at least have to try to be precise.

A second danger with language is to substitute emotion-charged terms for the correct terms. The nightly news is a stunning example of this. If police break into a home and find 5 rifles and 100 rounds of ammo in a closet, how they describe that find on the news depends on who’s doing the talking. On the NBS Nightly News, it’s an arsenal. On CNN, it’s a weapons cache. And on Fox News, it’s a gun collection.

The terms and definitions do matter. They matter a lot, as it turns out.

Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 4

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

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

C96 BB pistol
Umarex Legends C96 BB pistol.

Today is a special test of the C96, requested by blog reader RidgeRunner and seconded by several others. You want to see if the pistol will be more accurate with Daisy’s Avanti Precision Ground Shot, which is made expressly for the Avanti Champion 499 BB gun. More accurate than what? More accurate than the best BB tested in Part 3, which turned out to be the Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs that shot the tightest groups with this pistol?

Velocity first
We know that the Daisy Premium Grade BB averaged 395 f.p.s. with a total velocity spread of 18 f.p.s. (from 386 f.p.s. to 404 f.p.s.). RidgeRunner suspected the Precision Ground Shot would be faster in this pistol because it’s usually slightly larger and also more uniform. So, I first shot it over the chronograph.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot averaged 381 f.p.s. on a fresh CO2 cartridge. The velocity spread was 19 f.p.s., with a low of 371 f.p.s and a high of 390 f.p.s. The spread was 1 f.p.s. larger with this shot than with the Daisy Premium Grade BBs, and the average velocity was 14 f.p.s. slower. So, that part of the theory didn’t test out.

On to the accuracy test
I offered to do a blind test, but RidgeRunner trusted me to try my hardest with each BB: and that’s good because there’s a definite difference in appearance between the Premium Grade BBs and the Precision Ground Shot. The latter are not as shiny and appear more silver than steel in color than the Premium Grade BBs. I would have known which BB I was shooting.

The distance was the same 5 meters that was used for the first test, and I used the back of a chair to steady my hands as I held the pistol, just like I did before. This resulted in a very stable hold for every shot.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
I shot 2 groups of 10 with each BB. The first group of Daisy Premium Grade BBs measured 1.115 inches between centers. Two BBs landed outside the black bull. The second group measured 0.644 inches between centers. That’s almost half the size of the first group, so you can see how much latittude there is with BBs — even at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Daisy Premium BB first group
Ten Daisy Premium Grade BBs went into this 1.115-inch group at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Daisy Premium BB second group
These 10 Daisy Premium Grade BBs went into a tight 0.644-inch group at 5 meters. This is the second-best group in this series.

Avanti Precision Ground Shot
Now, it’s time to test the Avanti Precision Ground Shot. This shot is ground to work best in the 499 BB gun, only. But you readers wondered if it would also be more accurate in the C96 BB pistol. To test that theory, I shot another 2 groups of 10 shots each at the same 5 meters. The first group measured 0.954 inches between centers. One BB was outside the black, and 2 more were right on the edge.

The second group I shot with this ammunition measured 0.556 inches between centers. It’s the smallest group of this session and would seem to lend credence to the Precision Ground Shot being more accurate than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs. However, the difference in group sizes of the 2 different BBs is not so great as to be overwhelming. Yes, both groups with Precision Ground Shot are tighter than the corresponding 2 groups made with the Daisy Premium Grade BBs, but the differences are not large. I don’t think they justify shooting the Precision Ground Shot in the pistol since they cost roughly 2.5 times more.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Avanti Precision Ground Shot first group
These 10 Daisy Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into a 0.954-inch group at 5 meters.

C96 CO2 BB pistol Avanti Precision Ground Shot second group
These 10 Avanti Precision Ground Shot went into an ultra-tight 0.556-inch group at 5 meters. This is the best group in this series.

Conclusions
The Avanti shot went slower than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs and also varied more. However, the difference wasn’t much in either category.

The Avanti shot also appears to be slightly more accurate than the Daisy Premium Grade BBs. Again, the difference is very small, but it is there.

I’m surprised by these results. I predicted the Avanti shot would be faster because of its slightly larger size, but that it wouldn’t be any more accurate. So, I was wrong on both counts. I don’t think the difference between the two types of ammunition weighs in favor of using the Avanti shot in this gun, but it’s really a call the owner of the gun needs to make.

My thanks to RidgeRunner and others who asked for this test.

Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 3

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

Part 1
Part 2

C96 BB pistol
Umarex Legends C96 BB pistol.

Today, we’ll look at the accuracy of the Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol, and I can sum it up in a single word: Spectacular! Those who like accurate BB pistols will want to put this one on their list.

I shoot all BB guns at 5 meters, which is about 16 feet, 5 inches. While that sounds incredibly close, it is the distance at which the Daisy National BB Gun Championship is shot; and if it’s good enough for the champions, it’s good enough for me. Besides, testing all BB guns at the same distance gives consistent results that can be compared across many tests.

I shot this test with my forearms rested on the back of a wooden chair, and the gun held in 2 hands. That eliminated as much of me as possible, giving the pistol a fair chance to shoot its best.

I used 50-foot smallbore rifle targets whose black bulls are almost 1.5 inches across. At 5 meters, they make perfect aim points for open sights. The C96 has a tapered post front sight and a V-notch in the rear. When the target is illuminated with 500 watts of halogen light, the sight picture becomes sharp and crisp, and sighting can be precise.

Daisy Premium Grade BBs
The first target was shot with Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs. The very first shot hit at the extreme bottom of the paper target, and I discovered one of the great features of this pistol. It has a tangent rear sight like the firearm it copies, and it was easy to raise the rear notch up just a bit. By sheer luck I got the elevation almost perfect on the first try, so I left the sights alone after that.

C96 BB pistol rear sight
The rear ramp is easy to elevate, just like on the firearm. You can see the sloped surface the sight adjuster rides up as it moves forward.

The next 9 BBs went into a shockingly small group, so I loaded one more BB into the magazine to make up for the first shot that was low. When I fired it, it was the only Daisy BB to hit outside the black after the sight adjustment. The 10-shot group measures 0.852 inches between centers. I think you’ll agree this is a very nice group of 10 from any BB pistol!

C96 BB pistol Daisy BB group
Ten Daisy Premium-Grade BBs made this 0.852-inch group at 5 meters. Notice the first BB that landed very low.

Crosman Copperhead
Next up were Crosman Copperhead BBs. They hit the target in the same place as the Daisys, and the 10-shot group measures 0.937 inches, which isn’t much different than what the Daisy BBs did.

C96 BB pistol Copperhead BB group
Ten Crosman Copperhead BBs made this 0.937-inch group at 5 meters. As with the Daisys, one BB is outside the black bull.

Umarex Precision Steel BBs
Finally, I tried the Umarex Precision steel BBs. They rival the Daisys in precision and this time that was evident. Ten of them went into 0.863 inches, with nine of them in a much tighter bunch. Like the other 2 BBs, these also threw a single BB into the white.

C96 BB pistol Umarex BB group
Ten Umarex Precision Steel BBs made this 0.863-inch group at 5 meters. It’s only slightly larger than the Daisy group.

Sight adjustment
Like the Mauser firearm it copies, this BB pistol has no provision for windage adjustments. Both the Mauser firearms I owned shot about a foot to the left at 25 yards, so I’m used to this. Some older pistols have sights that can at least be drifted to the side in dovetails, but not the Mauser. With this gun, you soon learn to apply Kentucky windage to lay your shots where you want them.

But let’s face it, this isn’t a realistic test for a BB pistol. BB gun shooters plink at cans. They don’t shoot groups at paper targets — at least not often. This pistol is easily a minute-of-Coke-can handgun out to 20 yards.

Firing behavior
I found 2 things about the trigger pull when conducting this test. The first is that the trigger blade is located too close to the grip. That’s a part of the lack of ergonomics that the Broomhandle family of pistols all share, and there’s nothing to be done for it. This BB pistol is a faithful copy of the firearm, including a less-than-optimum grip.

The second thing I noticed was how hard the 2-stage trigger seemed to pull. Looking back at Part 2, I see that I did not measure the pull, so I got out the electronic gauge and measured it this time. Stage 1 requires between 2 and 3 lbs. to complete, and stage 2 breaks at an average of 7 lbs., 11 ozs. The range went from 7 lbs., 1 oz. to 8 lbs., 3 oz.; and the slower and more deliberate the pull, the greater the force required.

Even with that, though, the pistol is blisteringly accurate. And the blowback is pleasant. It’s nothing like the snapping recoil of a 7.63mm Mauser cartridge. So, there’s a benefit of shooting the BB gun over the firearm.

Overall evaluation
Umarex has a winner, here. Their Legends airguns are all remarkable guns, and the C96 takes its place among them proudly. Not only is it realistic-looking, it gets an astounding number of shots per CO2 cartridge; and, as we now see, those shots all go to the same place.

Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 2

Part 1

C96 BB pistol
Umarex Legends C96 BB pistol.

Let’s look at the velocity of the Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol. It’s advertised at 380 f.p.s., and we know that it has blowback. So, it’ll be interesting to see just how powerful this pistol really is, as well as how many shots it gets.

Crosman Copperhead
The first BB I tested was the Crosman Copperhead. They were tested when the CO2 cartridge was fresh, which boosted their average velocity a few f.p.s. They averaged 402 f.p.s, with a spread from 392 to a high of 409 f.p.s. At the average velocity, Copperheads generated 1.83 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

I found the magazine very easy to load. Pull the follower all the way down and twist the tab into a slot to lock it back, then the BBs are dropped into a trough where an opening dumps them into the single stack slot in the mag. Release the follower, and the gun is loaded. I found the rated capacity of 19 BBs to be spot-on.

Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs
Next up were Daisy Premium Grade zinc-plated BBs. I though they might be a little faster than the Copperheads, but they weren’t. They averaged 395 f.p.s., with a low of 386 and a high of 404 f.p.s. At the average velocity they produced 1.77 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

All the time I was chronographing the gun I was also counting all the shots. I noticed that when you load a new magazine, the first shot will always be a blank. That’s because of how the gun’s feed mechanism works. I did count those shots in the total because they used up gas the same as if a BB had been shot.

Umarex Precision steel BBs
The final BBs I tested were the Umarex Precision steel BBs. They averaged 394 f.p.s. with a low of 385 and a high of 404 f.p.s. That parallels the Daisy BBs pretty close. At the average velocity, these BBs produce 1.76 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

During the chronographing session, I was waiting a minimum of 10-15 seconds between shots to allow the gun to recover from the cooling effects of the gas. But after the 3 test strings were finished, I continued shooting Umarex steel BBs to see how many good shots there are on one CO2 cartridge. I went much faster during this shooting, with less than a second between each shot. I think this is closer to the way most shooters will use the gun.

I kept expecting the pistol to run out of gas at any time, and it kept right on shooting and surprising me. Finally, at shot 103, I chronographed an Umarex BB going out at 336 f.p.s. While that is slower than the recorded average, you have to take into account the fact that I was now firing the pistol very fast and allowing it no time to warm up. So, an unexpected finding was that this pistol doesn’t suffer as much from the cooling of the gas as most CO2 guns. There normally would be at least a 100 f.p.s. velocity drop when shooting this fast.

Shot count
Finally, after shot 123, the hammer didn’t cock for the first time. I cocked it manually and kept on shooting, but it failed to cock again after a few more shots. The gun was now out of gas. Had I wanted to get more shots from it, all I needed to do was slow down my shooting to allow more time for the gun to warm up. I think the shot count could easily be stretched out to 140-150 shots that way.

So, the pistol shoots a little faster than advertised, and it gets a very respectable number of shots from a CO2 cartridge. That’s 2 big plusses for the gun.

Next on the schedule is accuracy testing. I’m looking forward to that! I have to tell you that this C96 is a very neat CO2 BB pistol. Of course, it isn’t ergonomic, but neither is the C96 firearm it copies. It’s not supposed to fit you well — it’s supposed to look like the real deal, and I think it does that very well.

Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol: Part 1

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

C96 BB pistol
Legends C96 BB pistol

Let’s cut to the chase. The title of this report says Legends C96 CO2 BB pistol, but Americans are going to call this a Broomhandle Mauser because of the shape of the pistol grip. The Legends part comes from the Umarex line of replica air pistols.

Before we continue, I want to express my concern about the Umarex lookalike airguns. I got a CO2 Colt M1911A1 pellet pistol when they first came out, and soon I had 4 different M1911/1911A1 firearms to go with it. Then the PPK/S BB pistol hit the market, and I got one of those. Not long after that, I added a .22 rimfire PPK/S to my firearms collection. Then came the Walther Lever Action rifle. Good, I thought. I’ll never buy the Winchester 30/30 1894 that it is patterned after. But I didn’t need to, because Edith did.

Then came the Magnum Research Desert Eagle pellet pistol. I knew I would never own the firearm version of that big hand cannon, but 2 years ago I got an IMI .357 Magnum Desert Eagle.

Of course there was the Makarov BB pistol that I used to train Crystal Ackley to shoot on American Airgunner. I say “train” advisedly; because after her first magazine, she was out-shooting me! That pistol spawned the purchase of both a 9mm Bulgarian Makarov, as well as the genuine Makarov firearm that the Russians at IZH turned into a BB pistol.

And just last year, Umarex came out with the Parabellum P08. I had already owned a junker Luger in the early 1970s, and I swore that I would never own another one. Well, my resolve being what it is, this past Christmas, Edith gifted me with a 1917 Erfurt P08 that is definitely not a junker!

And, now, I must confess that in my youth I’ve owned not 1 but 2 different low-grade Broomhandles. Both were in 7.63mm Mauser caliber, and neither one was particularly accurate. I reloaded for the last one, which might have been a large part of its problem. And here’s the Legends C96 Broomhandle! Lordy, I can’t afford to keep this up! I just hope they don’t bring out a Colt Walker next!

Is it a C96?
Technically, this pistol is not a C96. It is a copy of the M32/712 Schnellfeuer (German for rapid fire) pistol that has a selector switch on the left side of the gun for semi- and full-automatic operation, but it’s just a cast detail and is entirely non-functional. It also has a detachable magazine hanging down in front of the triggerguard, just like the 20-shot Schnellfeuer.

The C96 never had the detachable magazine or the selector switch. It has an internal 10-round magazine that’s loaded from the top of the gun through the ejection port with 10-round stripper clips. The bottom of the C96 magazine is flush with the bottom of the triggerguard. It’s true that the C96 magazine floorplate can be removed and a separate, detachable magazine can be installed, but these were never a popular option for the C96. I suppose only collectors and students of history will know the difference, so I’ll call this pistol the C96 from this point on.

The pistol
The Legends C96 is a 19-shot BB pistol powered by CO2. The CO2 cartridge and BB magazine are housed together in a single removable magazine unit that’s located in front of the triggerguard. Press a button on the right side of the receiver to release the mag.

There’s a lower magazine cover that hides the CO2 screw and the CO2 cartridge. This is something BB gun shooters are very sensitive about, so it was a necessary feature that completes the look of the gun.

C96 BB pistol magazine

The magazine has been removed, and the lower cover is off. You can see the selector switch in this photo.

When the CO2 cartridge is installed and the magazine is loaded, you might think the pistol would be muzzle-heavy like the firearm, but I don’t find that to be the case. This BB pistol is light enough that there’s very little muzzle heaviness. And it’s light because it’s made with a lot of synthetics. But this stuff is dense, strong and difficult to tell from metal. A matte finish makes it even more difficult to identify.

The pistol grip butt is slotted for a shoulder stock, just like the firearm. Those stocks are hollow wooden holsters with steel attachments that lock into the pistol at this point — forming a small carbine. However, since the gun is made of synthetic, I’m guessing a shoulder stock will not be an option since it would invite fractures at this slot.

C96 CO2 BB pistol grip slot
The pistol grip is slotted for a separate shoulder stock.

Not having a shoulder stock is not a great loss, though. I’ve fired the Broomhandle as a carbine and found it to be very inaccurate. Of course, that could just be the ammo I used, once again. But any pistol/carbine is a compromise, and none of them have a reputation for accuracy or even utility. It would be nice to have an authentic holster in which to carry the pistol, though.

Since the pistol is made to also be a carbine, the rear sight is an adjustable tangent leaf that adjusts up to 1,000 meters. The BB pistol has the same markings on its tangent sight leaf, though no shooter should ever expect to shoot a BB that far unless it’s downward from a high platform. But it does give you the option of elevation for close-range shooting. There’s no windage adjustment on this BB pistol or on the Mauser firearms.

C96 BB pistol tangent sight
The rear sight adjusts up and down for distance.

Blowback!
This pistol has true blowback! Just like the firearm, the bolt handle comes back with each shot and cocks the hammer, so every shot is single-action. You must cock the hammer for the first shot. Some writers have suggested this is not a blowback pistol, but I think they’re not familiar with the C96 Mauser action. It doesn’t have a conventional slide like many autoloading pistols. The bolt is what moves to cock the hammer; and on the firearm, it also ejects the spent cartridge and strips a fresh one from the top of the magazine.

So, the Legends C96 is a true semiautomatic CO2 pistol. The trigger-pull is light and crisp. Unfortunately, unlike the firearm, the bolt does not stay open after the last shot’s been fired, so it’s up to the shooter to know when the last BB has been fired. You can continue to pull the trigger without BBs if you like.

The barrel of the Mauser firearm is dovetailed to the frame and does move when the gun recoils. It’s how the designers delayed the opening of the bolt until after the high-pressure gasses were exhausted. It also allows the pistol to tolerate ammunition with a wider range of power. The BB pistol looks the same as the firearm, but that’s just the casting details. The barrel does not move.

C96 BB pistol barrel detail
The barrel appears to be dovetailed to the frame, but this is just a casting detail.

Although it has blowback, this BB pistol will not recoil like the firearm. A Broomhandle Mauser really snaps your hand back, despite being chambered for light cartridges like the 7.63 Mauser and the 9mm Luger. That’s because the bore is high above the grip, so the recoil has nothing to slow it down. I remember the recoil as one of the bad points of a Broomhandle.

Yes, the blowback of this BB pistol does give the shooter a sense that the gun has fired, but there’s no heavy snap to your wrist. Trust me, this is better!

The safety is identical to the Mauser firearm part and works the same way. I found it to be positive and much easier to apply than the firearm safety.

C96 BB pistol safety
The safety is rotated to the rear and the hammer is cocked, making the pistol ready to fire. You can see the selector switch clearly in this photo.

Summing up
When Herr Wonish of Umarex told me last February this pistol was coming, I told him I was eager to see it. Now it’s here, and I intend examining it thoroughly!

What is a bolt-action?

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

What is a repeater?

Today I’m writing about something that seems to confuse many people. It’s tied to how an airgun works, and I want to discuss it in detail for you. But first, let me tell you what motivated me to write today’s report.

The following is a real question I have heard many times.

I’m looking to buy a gun and it says the gun is a repeater. Please explain to me what a repeater is. Do I have to cock it for every shot? I don’t want it if I have to cock it for every shot. I want to just be able to pull the trigger and the gun fires.

I wrote the report that’s linked above for those new shooters who have trouble understanding the definition of a repeater. Some shooters don’t understand the difference between a semiautomatic action, where the trigger is pulled to fire the gun every time, and a repeater that must be both cocked and also load the pellet before it’s ready to shoot.

Last week, I discovered that this confusion goes even farther. A customer wrote in to Pyramyd Air that one of the FWB target guns was not a bolt-action like they had listed…but it was a sidelever. The gun has a lever on the left side that operates the bolt. When the lever is operated, the bolt slides back and forth in the pellet trough and pushes the pellet into the breech to the same depth every time. It’s likely that other airgunners may understand it the same way, which is why I wanted to address it in the blog.

Feinwerkbau 700 Aluminum sidelever Yes, that lever on this Feinwerkbau rifle does cock the gun; and yes, it is on the side…but that doesn’t make the gun’s action a sidelever. That lever is called a flipper by shooters who borrowed the term from biathlon shooters, whose cocking levers are flippers that work back and forth.

A sidelever refers to a cocking mechanism for a spring-piston airgun. The lever connects to the piston, pushing it back to cock the mainspring. The FWB 700 is a PCP, not a springer. The fact that it has a lever on the side is coincidental. That lever, which is properly called a flipper by the shooters who use it — is just a linkage to the bolt. Edith told me she often gets comments that are like this one, so I thought I would address this today.

A bolt-action gun has a cylindrical metal rod called a bolt, whose job is either to push the pellet into the breech or sometimes to also act as a conduit for the compressed gas that fires the pellet into the barrel. How the bolt is designed and how it works affects the accuracy of the airgun.

Benjamin 130 bolt nose
The bolt nose of the Benjamin 130 bolt is hollow — like many CO2 bolts. But this one is shaped to hold one steel BB during loading.

Only airguns today
When I talk about a bolt-action gun in this report I will be referring only to airguns. This is one area where firearms and airguns differ quite a lot.

What do bolts do?
Airgun bolts do a couple of things, and they do them to different levels of perfection. So, it’s important to know exactly what a particular bolt does if you want to know how to make a gun work its best.

The first thing an airgun bolt does is seal the compressed gas inside the barrel. Some bolts have hollow noses to conduct the compressed gas into the barrel, where it gets behind the pellet. But not all of them do. But they all seal the barrel, so the compressed gas works on just the pellet.

Crosman 180 bolt seal
The Crosman 180 CO2 carbine has a synthetic seal that the bolt presses against the rear of the barrel to seal the gasses. This bolt is only for loading the gun. A separate cocking knob pulls the hammer back.

The second thing bolts do is push the pellets into the back of the barrel. But here’s a big distinction since the back of the barrel sometimes isn’t actually where the rifling begins. The back of the barrel may be drilled out larger than the rifling and just be a chamber where the pellet sits before firing. If the pellet does not touch rifling in this section, accuracy may suffer.

If the bolt doesn’t push the pellet into the barrel to the point that the rifling engraves it — at least on the head, if not both the head and skirt — then it’s possible that the pellet will be slammed forward on an angle and enter the rifling out-of-line with the axis of the bore when the gun fires. The angle may be slight, but it sets up an imbalance that’s acted upon by the airstream when the pellet leaves the muzzle. The drag is not aligned with the axis of the pellet and can start a small wobble as the pellet goes downrange.

Bolt probe
Some bolts have a long thin nose section that we call a probe. The probe pushes the pellet deep into the breech; because it’s thin, it also allows the maximum air to flow around it. While this sounds like such a good idea that we would want all bolts to have a probe, you have to remember that the inside of every pellet skirt is different. The probe sticks deep inside some pellets and doesn’t push them as far into the rifling. But it hits the flat wall inside other pellets and pushes them very deep.

Premier and Hobby
The Crosman Premier on the left has a flat wall that stops the bolt probe. The RWS Hobby on the right does not, so the probe goes in further and doesn’t push the Hobby as deep into the breech.

Repeating airguns use the bolt to push the pellet through the clip or magazine and into the breech. This is one more relationship that must be considered.

Matching the shape of the bolt nose to the pellets you use is important for accuracy. And sometimes an airgunsmith will change the shape of the bolt nose to get increased performance from a certain gun. This is very common with the vintage CO2 single-shot air pistols such as the Crosman Mark I and II and the S&W 78G and 79G.

Crosman Mark I
The bolt nose on this vintage Crosman Mark I target pistol is stock — just as it came from the factory. You can call this nose a probe because that’s how it works. But look at the next picture to see the contrast. Like the Crosman 180, this bolt only loads the pellet. A separate set of sliding tabs cock the hammer.

SW 79G
The bolt probe on this S&W 78G pistol looked like the Crosman, above, when it was new. An airgunsmith has thinned and even shaped this probe to allow gas to flow around it more easily. Just this modification by itself added velocity to the gun. This is another bolt that only loads the pellet. Cocking is done separately.

Benjamin Marauder bolt probe
Like the custom tuners, Crosman made their Marauder bolt probe thin and long. It pushes the pellet from the magazine into the breech and also seats the pellet deep in the rifling. Because it’s thin, air flows easier around and past it, giving better efficiency.

Of course, not every bolt has a probe. Many get along very well with just a simple bolt nose that may even be flat because it fits the shape of the back of the pellets it’s designed to shoot. The Crosman-2240 air-pistol is one example of this.

Crosman 2240 air pistol
This Crosman 2240 air pistol has a brass bolt with a flat tip. There’s also an o-ring (rather than a proprietary seal) around the bolt to seal the gasses. That makes it easier and cheaper to repair.

Finally, some airguns are made to fire both steel BBs and lead pellets. People wonder how these guns are able to be rifled and still shoot steel BBs, but the factories have figured out how to do it. And, yes, the steel BB does wear the bore faster than the lead pellet. In fact, the lead pellet probably doesn’t wear a rifled steel bore at all, at least in terms we can comprehend. There are target rifles owned by clubs that have millions of shots on them and, while they look pretty doggy, their bores are like new.

A gun that shoots steel BBs probably has a flat magnet in the tip of its bolt, so there’s no possibility for a probe. On the other hand, if the tip is wide enough, it probably still shoves the pellet into the breech because the bolt will slide only a short way into the pellet’s skirt. Again, the shape of the inside of the pellet skirt will affect how this works.

Daisy model 35 air rifle bolt tip
The bolt tip on this Daisy model 35 is flat, but it also contains a powerful magnet to hold steel BBs.

Summary
The bottom line is that the shape of the bolt really matters a lot for airguns. It has several jobs to do, and its shape determines how well it will do each one. The next time you look at an airgun that has a bolt, give some thought to how well the bolt tip matches the pellets you want to use.

Winchester M14 .177-caliber dual-ammo air rifle: Part 3

by B.B. Pelletier

Part 1
Part 2


Winchester’s new M14 dual-ammo rifle looks very much like the military rifle it copies.

Redemption is a powerful experience, because it comes only after suffering and anguish. Redemption is what I longed for with the Nelson Lewis combination gun and with my Ballard rifle. Today, however, I’m going to talk about another redemption — that of the Winchester M14 dual-ammo rifle.

In Part 1, we learned that this rifle is nearly all plastic — which for many, including me, is a put-off. We also learned that it uses two 12-gram CO2 cartridges instead of one, and that assaulted the the miser in all of us. Accuracy is the only thing that would make it worth the extra cost.

When we looked at the velocity in Part 2, we discovered that the rifle does not begin to achieve the advertised velocity of 700 f.p.s. That’s not a bad thing, except it leaves us disappointed from unrealized expectations. The velocity should prove high enough, though, as long as the rifle is accurate — which brings us to today’s test. Part 3 — accuracy day.

The Winchester M14 is both a BB gun and a pellet rifle, so I had to test the accuracy of both types of projectiles. BBs get tested at the standard 5 meters (just over 16 feet) distance, while pellets were shot at 10 meters. And each target got 8 shots instead of 10 because of the capacity of the circular clip at either end of the stick magazine. Trying to load just two more of anything in one of these clips is annoying and troublesome at the least.

So, it was BBs first, as they’re shot at the closer distance. I shot the rifle using Daisy zinc-plated BBs offhand at 16.5 feet.

I left the sights as they came out of the box. With a 6 o’clock hold, the first BB struck the target at the exact aim point, so I stopped checking and fired 7 more shots. This rifle is super-easy to shoot, as there’s nothing to do but pull the trigger. The cocking and advancement of the cylinder are all taken care of by the gun. And as light as the rifle is, it’s easy to hold it on target for all 8 shots.

After the clip was empty, I walked up to the target to see the results, which is when the word “redemption” came into my thoughts. The group is very round and measures 0.532 inches between centers! This is a group I might shoot with a Daisy 499 Champion — the world’s most accurate BB gun. I’ve never shot a group this small with any other long BB gun, that I can remember.


The first group of Daisy BBs made this dime-sized group at 5 meters. It measures 0.532 inches. Pretty encouraging!

What if it was just a fluke? What if the next 8 BBs went into a group twice the size? Only one way to find out. I shot a second group. This time, it was positively fun — as the confidence of an accurate gun poured over me! I adjusted the rear peep up three clicks and shot again.

The second group was easier to shoot because I now knew the gun was accurate. I only hoped I could repeat what had been done before. Alas, that didn’t happen, as the second group was smaller than the first. Eight shots went into a group measuring 0.472 inches!


This second group of BBs is even better! It measures 0.472 inches.

What now?
Here’s a BB gun that rivals the most accurate BB gun ever made! And this one has M14 sights that encourage target shooting. Look at the center of the second group. It’s just a little higher than group one, which is exactly how the sights were adjusted.

Now I moved back to 10 meters where I could shoot pellets from a rest. Again all the groups will have 8 pellets because of the mag capacity. The rifle was rested on a sandbag positioned under the forearm just in front of the magazine that hangs down. Although this rifle is very light, I found it to be very steady in the rested position, and the trigger-pull did not disturb the aim point.

The first pellet I tried was that champion of lower-powered spring guns — the JSB Exact RS that Kevin turned me on to. It struck the target higher than the BBs, but did not group very well. Eight pellets made a group measuring 1.384 inches between centers. That’s not good for 10 meters.


JSB Exact RS pellets blew up at 10 meters! Group measures 1.384 inches between centers.

I followed the JSB pellet with our new friend — the H&N Baracuda Green that we’re learning to love. As light as it is, I wondered if it might be suited to the lower power this rifle generates. Apparently it is, because 8 of them went into a tight group that measured 0.739 inches. This is only 10 meters; but if you look at this group, I’m sure you’ll see the potential the rifle promises.


H&N Baracuda Green pellets made this tight 0.739-inch group at 10 meters. You can see how tight it is. This shows real potential.

Next up were some H&N Match Pistol pellets. I chose them for no special reason, other than I am trying to mix up the pellets I usually test with. They printed a group that measures 0.694 inches between centers — so just a little smaller than the Baracuda Greens. The rifle just keeps on doing better!


H&N Match Target pellets made the best group of pellets, measuring just 0.684 inches at 10 meters.

The final pellet I tried was an RWS R10 Match Pistol pellet. This pellet is among the best target pellets I have available, and I wanted to see what it could do in this rifle. The 8-shot group measures 0.722 inches across, so it’s between the Baracuda Greens and the H&N Match Pistol pellets.


This group of RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets is also very tight — at 0.722-inches.

Evaluation
Do you notice we have three groups that are very similar in size? I think the rifle is capable of this level of accuracy all day long, and perhaps there’s another pellet I haven’t tried that’s even better. The gun shoots easily and very much resembles a fine target rifle when I shoot it. The sights are easy to see, and very crisp, plus they seem to adjust with precision.

As I shot this rifle I thought of blog reader Matt61 and his new Garand. Here’s an apartment-sized airgun that he could use to keep his skills sharpened for those days when he can’t get out to the range with the large firearm.

I was also reminded of when I was a youngster, shooting the NRA’s beginner training course. There’s virtually no resemblance between this rifle and the Winchester 52, but the shooting experience seems so similar that it’s scary. I understand why all those customer reviews have praised the accuracy so highly, and also why they’ve forgiven the plastic and light weight for the most part. The Winchester M14 has redeemed itself in my eyes!

The last word
I used the Winchester Airgun Target Cube to stop the BBs and pellets fired in this test. Because this rifle shoots faster than 350 f.p.s., the cube was turned to the side for higher-velocity rounds. As before, the cube caught all BBs and pellets with no mess and nothing got through. I will continue to report on the performance of this cube backstop as I use it in future tests, with an eye to discovering just what it will take.

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