Posts Tagged ‘silencer’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll look at the velocity and power of the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT air rifle. This breakbarrel rifle has a gas spring that seems to intrigue many new airgunners, so let’s talk about that first. A gas spring is a unit that uses compressed gas rather than a coiled steel mainspring to power the piston. Besides that, it’s identical to a conventional spring-piston powerplant.
What’s in a name?
There are many names for the gas spring. Some call it a gas strut, others call it a gas ram, but all these names refer to the same thing. We’re talking about a mechanical device that contains compressed air or other gas (Crosman uses nitrogen — hence Nitro Piston) to push the piston. When the gun is cocked, the piston unit is pushed backwards — making the compressed gas reservoir shorter. When the gas chamber inside the piston becomes smaller, it causes the internal pressure to rise. When the gun fires, this compressed gas pushes the piston forward, and the piston seal compresses the air in front of it.
None of the gas inside the gas spring mechanism escapes. It remains inside, where it can be used again and again. Gas springs are found on modern cars — holding open the heavy back decks and front hoods that used to be held by coiled steel springs. The gas springs on a car usually last for more than a decade, and it isn’t uncommon to find them still working in cars that are 20 years old. Throughout all that time, they’ve been kept fully compressed 99.9999 percent of the time, yet they can still do the job for which they were designed. This is why we say that an airgun with a gas spring can be left cocked for a long time without loss of power.
The advantages of a gas spring in a spring-piston airgun are:
* Can remain compressed a long time without power loss
* Are lighter than powerplants with coiled steel springs
* Vibrate less
* Move faster than coiled steel springs
* Are less sensitive to temperature changes
The disadvantages of a gas spring are:
* Impart a sharp crack to the discharge
* Require nearly full effort even when the piston is all the way forward, making for harder cocking
* Have a sharp recoil that can hurt if the gun is held too tight
Now, it’s time to look at the velocity and power of the Whisper Fusion IGT. The first pellet I tried was the JSB Exact RS, a 7.33-grain pellet that’s pretty light for this powerplant. RS pellets averaged 938 f.p.s. after I allowed the rifle a few shots to settle down. The low was 919 f.p.s. and the high was 949 f.p.s., so the spread was 30 f.p.s. I think that will tighten with time and more shots on the powerplant.
At the average velocity, this pellet generates 14.32 foot-pounds at the muzzle. I’d expected more power; but once the gun had settled down, it was fairly consistent at that speed. The RS pellets fit the breech somewhat loosely.
Next, I tried the 8.3-grain RWS Superdome pellet. They averaged 915 f.p.s., with a spread from 909 to 921 f.p.s. The gun is already starting to stabilize.
At the average velocity, this pellet generates 15.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. Superdomes fit the breech snug but not tight.
H&N Baracuda Match
Then, I tried some H&N Baracuda Match pellets. At 10.65 grains, these were the heaviest pellets I tried. The Whisper Fusion IGT belted them out the spout at an average 824 f.p.s., for a muzzle energy of 16.06 foot-pounds. The spread went from a low of 822 f.p.s. to a high of 828 f.p.s., so the gun was extremely stable with these pellets.
Baracuda Match pellets fit the breech tighter than all other pellets. That tells me the rifle needs something to push against, and deep-seating would not be recommended.
The final pellet I tried was the lead-free Gamo Raptor PBA, a 5.4-grain domed pellet. They averaged 1,232 f.p.s. in the rifle, with a range from 1,217 f.p.s. to 1,245 f.p.s. Even with this lightweight pellet, the rifle is still very stable. The total spread is just 28 f.p.s.
At the average velocity, the Raptor PBA pellets produced 18.2 foot-pounds, so the energy is definitely up. But these pellets fit the breech the worst of all those I tested. Some were so loose that they fell out when the barrel was closed, while others fit extremely tight. Because of this, I doubt they’ll give good accuracy.
The Whisper Fusion IGT cocks differently than any gas spring rifle I have experienced. The initial part of the cocking stroke rises to about 30 lbs. and stays there until the final few inches of the stroke. It increases to 43 lbs. of effort for the last little bit. Most gas springs are consistent throughout their entire cocking stroke, but not the test rifle. It requires two hands for me to cock it more than a handful of times.
The trigger-pull seems light and smooth. Of course, we will find out more about that in the accuracy test, but for now it does seem very nice. This is the new Smooth Action Trigger, and it seems to be lightyears better than Gamo sporting triggers of the recent past. I think it’ll be a winner. Stage 1 is short and takes 4 oz., while stage 2 breaks at 3 lbs., 12 oz.
Opinions so far
The rifle has less velocity than the 1,300 f.p.s. advertised, but in this case that’s a good thing. It has exactly what a hunter wants in terms of power. It seems to want to be stable and should not require a lengthy break-in, which is a good thing. Accuracy testing comes next, and we’ll see what it can do in the package Gamo provided. I’ll shoot it with open sights…first at 10 meters, then scoped at 25 yards.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, we’ll begin looking at the Gamo Whisper Fusion IGT breakbarrel air rifle. This rifle is offered only in .177 caliber, and I’m testing serial number 04-1C-419038-13. It has a gas spring, which Gamo calls their Inert Gas Technology, or IGT. In many ways, it reminds me of the older Whisper rifle, except the cocking is heavier. But this report will look at all the differences and new things Gamo puts on this rifle.
There’s a lot of synthetic material on the outside of this rifle. The stock is all synthetic, as is the fluted barrel jacket and the baffled silencer on the front of the barrel (they call it a double-integrated sound moderator). My point is that if you don’t like synthetics, this isn’t the airgun for you. If you don’t mind them, though, I see a lot of potential here.
The stock has an adjustable cheekpiece that will come in handy when you mount the 3-9X40 scope that comes with this package. The rifle has a large scope base attached to the spring tube. It rises high above the tube, so there shouldn’t be any scope bell clearance issues. The scope base has two generous holes to accept a vertical scope stop. The scope comes already mounted in a one-piece mount with a scope stop pin already correctly adjusted down far enough to engage the scope stop holes in the scope base. That makes this the first air rifle I’ve tested whose mounted scope came ready to install. I’ve always had to unmount the scope in the past to run the stop pin down far enough to engage the stop pin hole in the past. It’s a small point, but it tells me the factory gave some thought to how the gun was shipped.
The stock is very thick and full. It makes the gun feel larger than it is, but that’s offset by the light weight of 6 lbs. without the scope and 7 lbs., 2 ox. with the scope and mount. The buttstock sounds hollow, which I know puts off a lot of people, but it seems rugged enough to me. The stock material is rough to the touch, but not rubbery.
The fluted barrel jacket is very thick — giving the impression of a bull barrel, but without the weight. The silencer is huge — measuring 1-1/2 inches across, for a substantial gripping point when cocking the gun.
Cocking is easy until the final few inches of the stroke. Gamo has realized that the solution to power is not the strength of the spring but the length of the stroke. This is probably the longest cocking stroke I’ve ever encountered, with the barrel breaking down about 135 degrees. This is one of the easier-cocking gas-spring rifles I’ve tested; and if they meet their power output figure of 1,300 f.p.s. (printed on the outside of the box), then I think Gamo has built a winner — at least as far as power is concerned.
To their credit, Gamo installs open sights on the gun. The rear sight is fully adjustable in both directions with crisp, positive clicks. A scale on the windage slide tells you where you are at all times, but there are no numbers on the elevation wheel. They may think that most people look at the elevation of the sight from the side to see where they are; and while there’s some truth to that, the numbers do help you turn the wheel in the correct direction. Of course, the mechanically minded won’t get confused because clockwise turns the rear sight down and counterclockwise turns it up.
I plan on testing the rifle at 10 meters with the open sights. If it does good enough, I’ll back up and also shoot it at 25 yards. Then I’ll mount the scope and shoot it again with the most accurate pellets. So, you’re going to get an extra part or two from this report.
Is it quiet?
Gamo says on the package that this rifle is 89.5 percent quieter.* When you track down what the asterisk means, you find the phrase “Under the Gamo measurement standards.” Whatever that means! I already fired it a few times to get a sense of how it feels and Edith commented from her office, “Why is that airgun so loud?” The pellets I was shooting were probably going supersonic, so I then tested it with some extra-heavy Beeman Kodiak pellets, and it was most definitely quieter. Edith didn’t even notice it that time until I called her attention to it. So, for everyone except the shooter, this rifle is undoubtedly a quiet one…as long as the pellets are very heavy. The shooter, however, hears all the sound through the bones in his face, and the sound doesn’t change much from pellet to pellet.
The trigger is Gamo’s new Smooth Action Trigger or SAT. It comes set up as a 2-stage trigger, and everything was adjusted to my satisfaction right out of the box. A short first stage stops abruptly at stage 2, then breaks cleanly for the shot. I’ll have more to say about it in Part 2 of this report.
The safety is manual. I applaud Gamo for taking this bold step, because a shooter really should be the one to decide when to apply the safety. If they don’t know how to handle the gun safely, no automatic safety will change that or make the gun one bit safer. The one criticism I have of the safety is that when you put it on, the lever is pulled toward the trigger. If your finger slips, you could discharge the rifle. That’s where safe gun handling comes in, because the muzzle should always be pointed in a direction where it is safe if it should fire.
Gamo promises 1,300 f.p.s. with lead-free PBA pellets. I’ll certainly test them; but if experience holds, they won’t be the most accurate pellets in the gun. I’ll also test it with the types of pellets I believe shooters will really select if they want to hit their targets. If I’m wrong and PBAs turn out to be accurate, I will publicly apologize to Gamo.
I always liked the Whisper; and when a gas spring was added, I thought it was even better. The Whisper Fusion IGT was built from the ground up to be a powerful gas-spring gun, yet lightweight at the same time. It’s the combination many shooters say they want, so let’s see what you get.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today, I’ll report the velocities I got with the new AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank, as well as the shot count per fill and some other interesting things. Yesterday, I spent some time informing you of how the baffled silencer system works in this rifle. Today, that becomes important to understand.
Before we begin, let me clear up some things. Blog reader RidgeRunner thought the reservoir of the Condor SS looked smaller in the photo than the old reservoirs on the other two rifles. It isn’t. It is exactly the same size. The foam that surrounds the tank has changed, and that might give the illusion that new tank is shorter, but that’s just an illusion.
Blog reader Bob from Oz asked for a diagram that shows the flow of air because he was confused by my textual description. That’s where the photo of the silencer parts comes in. The end of the barrel, the true muzzle, is buried deep inside the frame of the rifle. The frame is tubular in front, and many people might think that it looks like a bull barrel, but it’s actually a hollow tube that has an inside diameter of one inch. The baffles fit inside that hollow tube exactly as shown in the photo, except that they are touching each other when they’re installed, so they’re not spread out like they appear in the photo.
When the pellet and compressed air exits the muzzle of the barrel (deep inside the tubular frame of the gun), it passes through the first baffle and much of the air is stripped off. It passes through the open slot of the baffle and is deflected backwards by the wide flange of the next baffle. Then, it passes back through the holes in the front barrel bushing and into the open space between the barrel and frame behind the front bushing.
As the pellet passes through each baffle more of the compressed air gets stripped off and reflected backwards. This all happens in miliseconds and the air is still under pressure, so it eventually comes out the end cap of the rifle.
Why am I telling you this?
You have to understand how this works, or nothing I say will make much sense. The key to quietness is the volume of empty space inside the frame of the gun and the length of time it takes the compressed air to exit the gun. You don’t notice anything, of course. You shoot and hear the report at the instant of firing. But there really is a small lag time, during which the compressed air expands and loses its energy. That energy is what makes the noise, so the greater the expansion, the less noise there is. And the less compressed air that’s used with the shot, the lower the noise will be when everything else remains the same.
I told you this because, when I began testing the Condor SS for velocity, I was surprised by the noise. I was testing inside my office, which is 12 by 15 feet, and the last time I heard the rifle was outdoors back in November of last year. I knew this gun I was testing was louder than what I’d heard back then. So, I went to AirForce yesterday and we conducted some tests to determine where the production Condor SS is sound-wise. I’ll get to that after we look at the velocity, so let’s do that right now.
Like all the sporting precharged rifles AirForce makes, the Condor SS has adjustable power and interchangable barrels. There’s no way I can test every possible combination of pellets, calibers and power settings, so I selected spots in the power spectrum that I’ll report today. I will report each pellet at all the power settings and give you the shot count for each one.
Eun Jin domes
The first pellet I tested was the Eun Jin 28.4-grain dome. While there are heavier pellets that will generate greater power in .22 caliber, I believe this one will do well in the accuracy test, so it’s a reasonable top-end pellet to test. On the maximum power setting, this pellet averaged 892 f.p.s. I shot it 20 times and the high (shot 3) was 912 f.p.s. The low (shot 20) was 814 f.p.s. Yes, that is a 98 f.p.s. spread; but out to about 35 yards, this pellet will hold zero for those 20 shots. If you plan on shooting at 50 yards and farther, stop at around 10 shots. Your average then climbs into the low 900s and the max spread is less than 30 f.p.s. At the average velocity for the 20 shots, this pellet generates 50.19 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
The power band is more or less a straight declining number from start to finish. Starting at 3,000 psi, you finish at 2,200 psi. A Hill pump then takes about 100 strokes to fill the tank again. So, there are 5 pump strokes per shot on max power.
The rifle was very loud, so I told Edith to change the sound rating in the description to a 4 because this gun is louder than a Sheridan Blue Streak on 8 pumps. It’s quieter than a Condor running at the same power, but still loud enough to notice. In fact, when I was testing the velocity in my office (with the door closed), Edith was in the living room and thought I was shooting a Quackenbush big bore because it was so loud.
Now, let’s look at the performance of the same pellet at different power settings.
On power setting 10, there were 20 total shots at an average of about 878 f.p.s. (48.63 foot-pounds).
On power setting 6, there were 22 shots at an average 868 f.p.s. (47.52 foot-pounds).
On power setting 4, there were 23 shots at an average 858 f.p.s. (46.44 foot-pounds).
On power setting 2, there were 25 shots at an average 830 f.p.s. (43.45 foot-pounds)
The power spreads from the first shot to the last were closing up as the power was dialed down; but even at setting 2, there was still 80 f.p.s. variation, start to finish. The beginning and ending air pressure was always the same for each string. Even on the lowest power the rifle sounded just as loud.
Then, I tried the Crosman Premier pellet that weighs 14.3 grains. The Condor was the first air rifle to get this pellet supersonic in .22 caliber. In the Condor SS, the average on high power was 1076 f.p.s. It ranged from a low of 1029 f.p.s. to a high of 1117 f.p.s., so, once again, a large spread. At the average velocity, this pellet generates 36.77 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. And there were the same 20 shots per fill, with the same starting and ending air pressures. There was no noticeable difference in the report between this pellet and the Eun Jin.
On power setting 10, there were 20 shots at an average of about 1067 f.p.s. (36.16 foot-pounds).
On power setting 6, there were 22 shots at an average 1062 f.p.s. (35.82 foot-pounds).
On power setting 4, there were 23 shots at an average 1033 f.p.s. (33.89 foot-pounds).
On power setting 2, there were 25 shots at an average 1010 f.p.s. (33.70 foot-pounds)
As with the heavy pellets, the power spreads were closing up as the power declined; but even at setting 2, they were still 60 f.p.s. from start to finish. The beginning and ending air pressure was always the same for each string. Even on the lowest power, the rifle sounded just as loud.
JSB Exact Heavys
Next, I tried the 18.1-grain JSB Exact Heavys. I expect this pellet to be matched well to the power of this new rifle. On maximum power, they averaged 1004 f.p.s., which generates 40.52 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. The high was 1059 f.p.s., and shot 20 was 962 f.p.s. I still got 20 shots per fill, and the muzzle report was identical to the others.
On power setting 10, there were 20 shots at an average of about 988 f.p.s. (39.24 foot-pounds).
On power setting 6, there were 22 shots at an average 981 f.p.s. (38.69 foot-pounds).
On power setting 4, there were 23 shots at an average 970 f.p.s. (37.82 foot-pounds).
On power setting 2, there were 25 shots at an average 966 f.p.s. (37.51 foot-pounds)
Notice that these pellets seemed to do very well on the lower power settings. That is important because the shot count increases with very little loss of power. The total velocity spread on setting 2 was 69 f.p.s. I think this may be the best pellet for this rifle, but accuracy testing will have to prove it.
The last pellet I tested was the Beeman Kodiak that weighs 21.1 grains in .22 caliber. Many will select this pellet for a powerful rifle like the Condor SS. On the maximum power setting, these pellets averaged 970 f.p.s. The high was 1017 f.p.s. The low was 908 f.p.s. Like the other 3 pellets tested, a large velocity spread over the 20 shots; but as I pointed out before, out to 35 yards it won’t make much difference. At the average velocity, this pellet generated 44.09 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
On power setting 10, there were 20 shots at an average of about 965 f.p.s. (43.64 foot-pounds).
On power setting 6, there were 22 shots at an average 952 f.p.s. (42.47 foot-pounds).
On power setting 4, there were 23 shots at an average 936 f.p.s. (41.06 foot-pounds).
On power setting 2, there were 25 shots at an average 920 f.p.s. (39.67 foot-pounds)
Summary of power performance
The Condor SS I’m testing seems to work best at power setting between 4 and 10, with the lower setting being better. The shot count increases, and the velocity spread gets a little tighter, plus not much power is lost. Let’s keep that in mind, and I’ll get back to it in a moment.
Sound testing at AirForce
I took my rifle out to AirForce Airguns and tested it against a production gun, another gun that had a pre-production prototype barrel and a .22-caliber Benjamin Marauder. I had said in Part 1 of this report that the Condor SS set on maximum power was no louder than the Benjamin Marauder when I saw it shoot last November. The one I now have for testing certainly seems to be louder.
We shot outdoors but next to the steel building, so there was some sound reflection from the building walls. Clearly, my Condor SS is just as loud as the current production gun, and both are louder than the Benjamin Marauder dialed up to its maximum power. But here’s the difference. The Benjamin Marauder shot Beeman Kodiaks between 801 f.p.s. and 828 f.p.s., and both Condor SS rifles shot the same pellet at an average 920 f.p.s. when set on power setting 2. So the Condor SS is putting out about 40 foot-pounds when dialed down low, and the Marauder is putting out around 30 foot-pounds with the same pellet when it’s adjusted as high as it will go. That’s a big difference.
So, why was the Condor SS I had heard back in November so much quieter than this one? Well, for starters, back then the baffles had smaller holes through them. Now, they’re able to safely handle calibers .20 through .25; but back then, they were still experimenting with the hole size. Also, the barrel in my test rifle is 16mm diameter. The prototype rifle had used a 12mm diameter barrel; so AirForce installed a 12mm diameter barrel in their production rifle that we tested yesterday, and the sound went down a little. The 12mm barrels are being processed now for production.
Then, we installed a standard SS tank on the Condor SS that now had the 12mm barrel and dialed the power down to 838 f.p.s. with the Beeman Kodiak pellets. That was as low as we were able to go when the 3,000 psi fill was fresh. Now, the Condor SS was only a little louder than the Marauder that was shooting just a little slower. We shot them side by side several times to make sure. There’s a difference you can discern when testing side by side, but outdoors it isn’t that great.
Remember, this is shooting outside but close to a building, and the standard tank is being used instead of the High-Flo tank that comes with the rifle. You can buy a standard tank as an accessory, but they aren’t going to sell one with the rifle instead of the High-Flo tank, so don’t even ask!
As far as the Spin-Loc tanks are concerned, they’re the new design. Pyramyd Air has opted to phase out the version with the old-syle quick-detach tank and stock only the versions with the Spin-Loc tank. The quick-detach tank that screws in is also available as an accessory in both the standard and High-Flo configurations.
Observations so far
Wow! This has to be one of the longest reports I’ve ever written. And the first part of it was yesterday, in Part 3. I hope this addresses your concerns about this rifle, and that you now clearly understand what you’ll receive when you order a Condor SS. It’s quiet for the power it generates, but it’s not whisper quiet like I originally said.
There’s still so much ground to cover with this test rifle. Accuracy testing comes next at 25 yards and then 50 yards. And after that, I’ll install a standard tank and do today’s test again. Stay tuned!
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
This report is going to be a long one! There is so much to tell about the AirForce Condor SS rifle with Spin-Loc tank that I can’t pack it into the usual 3-part report. But today I’m going to start the velocity report and I’ll finish it tomorrow. I’m doing it that way because there are so many things to see and talk about before I get to the velocity test, plus the velocity test revealed some interesting things. And, since today is Wednesday, I really do mean that the second part of this report will come tomorrow.
A longer frame
Let’s start with a question that was asked by several people. What differentiates the Condor SS from the standard Condor? I told you about the barrel length differences (standard Condor = 24-inch barrel; Condor SS = 18-inch barrel) and the different frame lengths (the Condor SS has a longer frame than the Condor so it can hold the baffles), but several people asked me to show it. And I did promise to do that when I first reported on the new rifle, so here you go.
Here you can see the Condor SS (top) has the longer frame to hold the baffles. Under it is the Condor and then the Talon SS on the bottom. Note that both those rifles frames are the same length. The Condor end cap is slightly longer than the Talon SS end cap, so it looks longer,
Inside the frame — the technology
This is what you have been waiting to see. The Condor SS has 3 Delrin baffles, held tight between a bolt and a Belleville washer, so there’s no rattling of parts. The baffles fit close inside the frame, which AirForce reams for precision. That’s the only way this can be done because a raw extrusion will have a certain amount of size variation.
But there’s more than just the baffles. The front barrel bushing has air holes that allow the compressed air that’s reflected by the baffles to pass through.
The front barrel bushing has holes that allow the compressed air to pass through — giving more room for it to expand inside the frame. That robs the air of its energy and lowers the report at the muzzle.
And the changes don’t even stop there. The rear barrel bushing now has an o-ring around its circumference to help stabilize the barrel inside the frame without transmitting any sound. When you change barrels now, you’re going to have to push the barrel out of the frame instead of it dropping out like it did previously.
I’m going to discuss the sound of the rifle tomorrow, but there are several technical things you need to know before we get to that, so we’ll look at those today. First, there’s the size of the hole through the baffles. The pellet needs room to pass through the baffle without touching the side as it goes through. The larger the hole through the baffle, the less risky it is…but the more compressed air can also pass through and the less quiet the gun will be.
Remember that all AirForce sporting rifles allow you to change barrels, so the baffles have to accommodate all calibers. Or, in this case, the largest 3 calibers — .20, .22 and .25. The .177-caliber Condor SS has its own baffles that cannot be used on the larger calibers.
Then, there’s the power the gun generates. The more power you are dealing with, the greater the volume of compressed air that has to be quieted. Reduce the power, and the sound also goes down.
That’s all for today. Tomorrow, I’ll give specific velocities with different pellets, shot count and pressure curves. I’ll also discuss a strategy for using this rifle in the most effective way, as I believe I’ve discovered that for you. After that, but not tomorrow, we’ll advance to accuracy testing at 25 and 50 yards.
But that will not complete this report. After I wrap up this test of the factory rifle, I’ll install a standard Talon SS tank and run more velocity and accuracy tests. That will probably complete what I’ve planned. I could easily go on and run tests with a Micro Meter tank, a CO2 tank and so on, but I think what I have planned will give all of us a good look at this remarkable new air rifle.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Oh, boy, do I have a lot to tell you today! You’re reading this while Mac and his wife (Elissa), Edith and I are attending the 2013 SHOT Show. I did the testing for this blog back in November of last year. See? I can keep a secret!
There are many new things coming from AirForce, and today they’re showcasing them to the industry at the 2013 SHOT Show. Subscribers to Shotgun News got a sneak peak at them last week when the SHOT Show issue hit the newsstands with a full report.
There’s a new trigger and safety that will appear on all the sporting rifles. Then, there’s the new Condor SS and an updated Talon SS — both of which I will report for you today.
I was actually testing the new AirForce trigger and safety for them, to see if I could break it or make it malfunction. Then, at the end of my test, I visited AirForce for a day and got to see and hear the new Condor SS and Talon SS. And when I say hear, I do so only as in using a common phrase because you can’t actually hear the discharge of either rifle!
How much better is the new trigger?
I’ll never forget the day blog reader Kevin was visiting me and tried the trigger on my Wilson Combat 1911 CQB Light Rail pistol. He guessed it let off at one pound and simply refused to believe it was really three pounds. I got the trigger-pull gauge, and we tested it right there! Three pounds and an ounce or two, as I remember.
Well, that’s what the new AirForce trigger is going to feel like to veteran AirForce owners. The trigger on my vintage Condor breaks at about the same 26 oz. as the trigger on the new gun, but what a difference it is! First of all, the new gun is a brand-new gun. My old Condor has an untold number of shots out the muzzle, all of which helped to smooth up the trigger parts. And I never took it apart, because I used to build these guns and I know they do not tolerate lubricants, dirt or modifications to parts.
The other thing the new trigger does is stop right after it releases. It’s like a perfectly adjusted trigger stop, only there’s no stop. It comes that way from the factory.
The new trigger cannot be exchanged for the old. The pins are in different places, and the parts are completely different. This was not done to make you buy a new rifle. It’s just a fact that the new parts are all different and fit together differently.
This new trigger and safety will become the standard of the AirForce sporting rifle line, so you’ll find it on all three rifles — the Talon, Talon SS and Condor. And, of course, the new Condor SS will also have it when it comes to market.
All the new parts were designed on a CAD system that lets the designers play with different configurations without having to cut any metal. Only when they feel the design is right do they make the parts for testing.
The new safety operates differently than the old one. It does not allow the rifle to be uncocked. There’s an additional safety built in so the gun will not function until the bolt is almost closed — so no longer can you release the safety, pull the trigger and ride the bolt down slowly to uncock the gun. Once cocked, the trigger must be fired. To avoid exhausting any air, I found that if I unscrewed the air reservoir and held my hand behind the bolt cocking knob to catch it as the striker hit it I could avoid exhausting any air while uncocking the gun. This takes some practice, and you don’t want to do it indoors the first time — don’t ask!
Blah, blah, blah! Everyone knows I like AirForce guns, so what can I say about them that you haven’t already heard? Those who agree with me don’t need convincing, and everyone else believes I’ve sold out to the Dark Side. But — what if the new gun really shoots? What then?
So, I went to the range and shot it. And I did something that you haven’t seen me do before — at least not with an air rifle. You all know what I mean by a “group.” I mean 10 shots in succession, one after the other, and let the chips fall where they may. If 3-shot groups are like riding the bumper cars and 5-shot groups are like a drag race on city streets, then 10-shot groups are like Formula One racing.
I already knew the old Condor was an accurate air rifle, and I’ve shown that to you on several occasions. On this perfect, cold November day, I did something a little different. First, I shot 10 JSB 18.1-grain Jumbo Heavy pellets at 50 yards and got a group that measured 0.508 inches between centers. That’s pretty darned good. In fact, that’s a screamer in my book. And, in deference to people like my brother-in-law who thinks the shots must be centered in the bull to be good, I also centered them.
Normally this is where I would load a different pellet and shoot another 50-yard group, but on this day I didn’t do that. Instead, I walked out to the 100-yard berm and put up another target. Then, I shot another series of shots at that target. I’d elevated the scope by what amounted to several inches of elevation above the 50-yard zero, but the shots still fell below the bull. But they fell in a group that measured 1.003 inches between centers. Instead of 10 shots, there were 11 because I was so wrapped up in the shooting that I lost count of my shots.
Did the new rifle shoot that well just because of the new trigger? Of course not. A Condor with the old trigger could shoot just as well. All the new trigger did was make it even easier to shoot that group.
Uniformity is king
What are your chances of getting a trigger just as good straight out of the box? They’re excellent because one of the things the design of this new trigger does is make it easier to control dimensions and tolerances during manufacture. Each and every trigger should feel the same straight from the box. Even more important than how good the new trigger feels is the news about the uniformity.
On to the new quiet guns
I went to AirForce for a day to witness the new Condor SS and Talon SS upgrade perform. When I got there, we grabbed a Condor and immediately went outside where a chronograph was waiting. Why a chronograph? Because the new Condor SS is so quiet that it sounds like you’re shooting a Diana 27 breakbarrel. No — it’s not even that loud. All you hear is the click of the striker hitting the valve — and they’re talking about how to make that even quieter!
The new Condor SS has an 18-inch barrel, compared to the 24-inch barrel of the standard unsilenced Condor. It’s a little slower, but not much. They get about 1,200 f.p.s. with .22-caliber 14.3-grain Crosman Premier pellets, where the unsilenced gun gets around 1,250.
Imagine a 55 foot-pound air rifle that’s so quiet you have to watch your breathing. As I said about the Benjamin Marauder and thousands of shooters now know: When the rifle fires, it’s the sound of a ballpoint pen falling onto a deep-pile carpet.
Like the current Talon SS, there’s space ahead of the Lothar Walther barrel in the Condor SS. However, unlike the current guns, there’s now something in that space. There are are 3 Delrin baffles designed to turn around the compressed air and direct it toward the rear of the gun. By the time it finally gets past the end cap, it has lost all its pressure and therefore makes no sound.
I’d love to show you those baffles, but they were still tweaking the design when I was there. All I can say is that the ones I saw looked a lot like large black diabolo pellets seen from the side. And they’re separate and individual. There’s also a spring that presses them tight so they don’t rattle.
Here’s some very good news for owners of the current Talon SS. These baffles will be sold separately so you can install them in your gun. Yes, I did get to hear a standard Talon SS with the new baffles, and it’s quiet. But since it’s impossible to be quieter than nothing, I can’t really give you a rating. It sounds just like the new Condor SS.
I asked them to put a standard air tank on the new Condor SS to see what I would do. We saw Crosman Premiers going 970 f.p.s through the traps, which is 100-120 f.p.s. faster than the standard SS. The benefit of that is that, instead of about 20 good shots on one tank, you get up to 40 shots — and the longer barrel gives you performance in the 30-40 foot-pound region. They have no plans to build that gun (standard tank with an 18-inch barrel and new extended Condor SS frame), but any owner can just put a standard tank on a Condor SS and get it for themselves.
This report is just Part 1 of what I hope will be a complete series on the new Condor SS. That’ll include the new trigger and safety, but I feel like I’ve already addressed that completely in this report. The gun will hit the market in 2013, hopefully sooner rather than later. As soon as it does, I’ll be on top of it for you.
This report is about a single family of new airguns at the 2013 SHOT Show, but it doesn’t really cover the show, so there will be several more SHOT reports coming.
by B.B. Pelletier
If you guessed that this was what I was going to write about today, good for you. I certainly left enough clues. And by “clues,” I mean hitting you over the head until you were bloodied by all the obvious references to what I am about to show.
The Talon SS stock DOES NOT have to be modified
But before we get to that, I told you back in Part 1 that I would be showing you things about the .22 caliber AirForce Talon SS that have never been seen before. Here’s one of them now. You know how people are always inventing things to “fix” AirForce airguns because the factory isn’t smart enough to do it right to begin with? Well, I used to stand in their booth at both the SHOT Show and at the NRA Annual Meetings; and whenever someone would come up and complain about how they couldn’t get their head down far enough on the stock of one of these rifles, they didn’t want to run into me! But some of them did, to their misfortune.
When I asked them to demonstrate the problem they shouldered the rifle with the buttplate squarely in their shoulder joint, like they would hold Winchester 1894. But the AirForce rifles are not Winchester 1894s, and they don’t respond to being held like one. If you try to hold one of them that way, the scope doesn’t come up high enough and you have to lean your head way over to the side to see the scope picture. The only time holding like that works is when you’re seated at a bench.
But if you hold it the way I’m going to show you today, you can mount the scope as low as possible and still have plenty of elevation for your sighting eye when shooting in the offhand position. It’s all in how you plant the butt on your shoulder.
Just above your collarbone, there’s a small pocket of meat that will hold the toe of the AirForce buttplate very nicely. If you learn to plant it there instead of holding it like a recoiling deer rifle, the scope then comes up to your eye naturally.
“But that’s so unnatural!” comes the complaint from the now-backpedaling shooter.
“What?” I ask in mock amusement. “You never shot a Light Antitank Weapon (LAW) or a Redeye missile?”
The funny thing is — most of them never did. These are the same guys who will try to use the sights on an M3 grease gun and then complain loudly that they don’t work. Of course they don’t! Nobody in their right mind would try to use them to begin with. You want to use sights on an SMG? Get an H&K MP5. The M3 is like a very nasty garden hose, on which, coincidentally, there are also no sights. Yet, somehow, people manage to get the hang of using a hose without taking extension courses or watching a video, and the same can be said for the M3 grease gun. All it takes is some time and enough ammo to waste to find out how the bleeping thing works.
So it is with the AirForce air rifles. When a serious shooter is shown the correct positioning of the butt, he grouses about it for a moment, then proceeds to shoot the lights out of all the targets. After that, there’s no more discussion. That’s one of the tips about these rifles you’ll never see anywhere else. Since I no longer work in the AirForce booth, you’re not in danger of being exposed to my shenanigans if you do go to a show.
How accurate can the Talon SS be?
I have already shown my unclothed body in today’s report, so I think I’ve stepped boldly over the line. Nothing else I say today will damage my reputation any further. So, here it goes. The Talon SS will out-shoot a customized Ruger 10-22 upon which a lot of time, talent and money have been expended. It doesn’t just out-shoot it by a small margin, either. It buries it! There! (Let the letters and emails start to fly!)
Several years ago, I wrote a series of four or five feature articles for Shotgun News about the Ruger 10-22. Each article was 4,500-5,000 words long and had about 20 photos, so they were pretty detailed. The title of the series was, What can you do with a 10-22? The goal I was working toward was to find out how hard it is to obtain a legal silencer and also how a silenced .22 rimfire rifle compares to a quiet air rifle. I haven’t finished that series yet, and perhaps I never will, because the reader reaction seemed to be, “Who cares?”
But while doing the series, I had the opportunity to have my own 10-22 gunsmithed in several important ways. I had the trigger lightened to 1.5 lbs. with a crisp letoff and an adjustable overtravel stop. The barrel was rechambered with a target chamber, which is much tighter than the rifle comes with, and the headspace was made tighter and more precise. I also had a bolt hold-open device installed and the magazine release made simpler to use. Then, I created a custom rifle on that customized action by adding a custom stock and a 20-inch bull barrel from Butler Creek.
I tested the rifle out of the box, the same rifle after modification and the all-out custom rifle with about 100 10-shot 50-yard groups shot by about a dozen different .22 rimfire cartridges. I wanted to see how accurate my factory barrel was, then the same barrel with a target chamber and custom headspacing, then the same rifle with the Butler Creek barrel and the custom stock…and, finally, I conducted a two-gun shootout between my now-$800 custom rifle and a Ruger 10-22 Target model straight from the box.
Ruger also sells the 10-22 in this Target model. It has a hammer-forged barrel and many of the modifications that had to be done to the factory rifle, and the cost is about half of what a custom job costs.
Please bear in mind that I was shooting 10-shot groups — not the five-shot fluff groups that many gun writers get away with today. Well, the absolute best 10-shot 50-yard group of that entire multi-part series was fired by my customized rifle and measures 0.537 inches between centers at 50 yards. To get it, I used Aguila Standard Speed ammunition. And, yes, I bought plenty of the expensive ammo for this test, as well. It simply did not measure up to what the Aguila standard speed rounds could do in the three rifles I was testing.
That group represents the best of dozens of similar groups under the best of conditions. There were many 10-shot groups under seven-tenths of an inch extreme spread and several that were under six-tenths, but none were better than the one mentioned above.
And, now, the Talon SS
But last week, when I sighted-in the Talon SS at the range with 18.1-grain JSB Exact Jumbo Heavy pellets for this report, the sight-in group measured 0.734 inches between centers. It was just the sight-in group that I fired in haste to see where the scope was shooting! I have so many pellet guns that scopes are mounted and dismounted all the time for tests, so practically nothing is ever sighted-in when I begin a test. Six of the ten shots in this hasty group went into a smaller group measuring just 0.275 inches, or just larger than a quarter-inch!
I was bucking the wind during sight-in and several of the stray shots were taken when I shot before I should have. I was just anxious to get the rifle sighted-in and didn’t think this first group would amount to anything. After seeing where the center of the group was, I made the appropriate adjustments to the scope and moved the point of impact closer to the point of aim, but still far enough away that I didn’t shoot out the aim point.
This is getting to be a very long report, so I won’t keep the results from you any longer. The best 10-shot group I obtained with my Talon SS shooting JSB heavies measures 0.431 inches between centers and puts the entire Ruger 10-22 test to shame! Yes, the day was perfect; and, yes, I did everything right to get that group, but that was also true for the 10-22s on every one of the 10 range sessions I had with the three different rifles.
This may be the best group I’ve ever shot with this air rifle, but I simply don’t know because I don’t keep such records. What I do know is that I can sit down on any calm day and do something very similar. Now that I’ve discovered the best pellet for this rifle, I have even greater confidence in the gun.
I shot two other groups with the Heavy JSBs. They measured 0.476 inches and 0.494 inches, so all three beat the very best my 10-22 custom rifle was able to do.
Then, I tried 14.3-grain Crosman Premier domes. I shot only a single group with them because they measured 0.559 inches for 10 shots at 50 yards. For most air rifles, that would be a screamer for a 10-shot 50-yard group, but not for my SS.
I followed that with the heavy Eun Jin 28.4-grain domes, which produced almost 42 foot-pounds in the velocity test. Again, I shot only one group and it measured 0.935 inches at 50 yards. That’s good, but nothing to write home about. It seems that the 18.1-grain JSB Exact is the pellet of choice for this rifle.
Ten 28.4-grain Eun Jin pellets went into this group, which measures 0.935 inches. While not as tight as the others, this pellet generates almost 42 foot-pounds in this rifle and retains that energy better than any other pellet.
While many of you might be surprised by what this rifle can do, I was not. I’ve grown accustomed to results like this from my long-barrel Talon SS. That’s why I don’t bother to save the targets. I know I can always do it again on any calm day.
So, my statement remains — the AirForce Talon SS out-shot the Ruger 10-22 customized rifle and a factory Target model. And, I shot all of the guns in all of the tests.
One of our readers said in the comments of an earlier part of this report that a CZ 451 American was cheaper in the long run than a Talon SS when all the support equipment gets tossed in. I won’t argue that point until it comes to buying the ammunition. But can the CZ keep up with my Talon SS downrange? Maybe it can. I know CZ makes a great barrel, but there’s still the difficulty of finding the rimfire ammunition that really works well in your particular gun. Having done an exhaustive test with the Rugers, I don’t know if I have the energy to do another one equally as exhaustive. Especially not when I know that all I have to do is pick up my Talon SS with its optional 24-inch barrel and start shooting.
I believe today’s blog is the longest one I’ve written to-date. It had to be this long, because I had to tell you everything at the same time so you could appreciate what I have known for years. I guess I became very accustomed to the high accuracy of AirForce rifles when I tested so many of them years ago. I don’t think about it very often, but we have enough new readers who need to know what I know about these airguns, so it was high time to speak up.
This isn’t the end of our look at the Talon SS. Oh no! This is just the beginning. Now I have a baselined PCP air rifle against which I can test .22 rimfires. I’m looking into such things when shooters make the statement, “I don’t need an air rifle to eliminate pests. My 10-22 with CB caps is just as quiet and just as accurate and whole lot cheaper in the long run.”
What do you think?