Posts Tagged ‘Spring-piston pistols’
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today’s report is the one I mentioned forgetting in last Friday’s blog! Blog reader Errol reminded me about it yesterday.
I hear this so often from airgunners — how they think they’re going to add a more powerful mainspring to their airguns and increase the power. It sounds logical, but it often doesn’t work; and it nearly always doesn’t work as well as you think it should. Today, I want to discuss why that is.
The Weihrauch HW 35 was always considered to be one of the most powerful airguns in its day — which was the 1950s. They delivered over 700 f.p.s. when new in the 1950s; and over time, this rose to 750 f.p.s. Careful tuning could get close to 800 f.p.s. from certain guns. This model is still being made today, but now it sells because it’s so pleasant to shoot and doesn’t produce excessive power. How times change!
The HW 35 was so-named because the length of the piston stroke is 35mm. Piston stroke is the distance the piston travels from being cocked to being at rest at the end of the firing stroke. When Robert Beeman set out to make what eventually became the Beeman R1 rifle, he used the HW 35 as the starting point and increased the piston stroke to 80mm. And that’s where the additional power comes from — the piston stroke length and not the strength of the mainspring. Greater stroke length means greater swept volume, which means more air to compress for the shot. It doesn’t matter all that much how fast the air is compressed, which is the only thing a stronger mainspring does.
Then, there’s the story of the man who wanted to build a supersonic .22 pellet rifle. So he took the Beeman R1 as a starting point and built one that was 125 percent larger. The late Steve Vissage built a Frankenstein rifle that I documented in a report called Steel Dreams. It weighed 11 lbs., took 53 lbs. of force to cock and was larger than the R1 in every way, save one. It developed the same power! Yes, bigger mainspring and wider piston did not increase the power of the gun one iota.
Why is this true?
I know you want an explanation of why a more powerful mainspring doesn’t necessarily increase power. Here it comes:
THE MAINSPRING DOESN’T ACT DIRECTLY ON THE PELLET
The mainspring pushes the piston. The piston compresses air in front of it, and it’s that compressed air that gets behind the pellet and pushes it up to speed. The mainspring never touches the pellet. So, changing the mainspring has no direct effect on the speed of the pellet.
Here’s a good example everyone will understand. We have a house with a hollow-core door as the front door. Forget the fact that it violates all building codes — your cheap Uncle Rufus put it on when the old front door finally broke. This one was dirt cheap, which is why he got it. But your Aunt Thelma is justifiably worried about a break-in; so when Rufus is out of town, Thelma has a locksmith install a super-duper triple deadbolt lock on the door. Is that going to protect her? Of course not. Any burglar can simply break the door apart with one good kick. The lock will still be secure, but there won’t be any door attached to it.
Do any heavy mainsprings ever work?
Am I saying that heavier mainsprings never work? No, I’m not. When I was testing the Beeman R1 for my book, I installed the Mag 80 Laza Kit from Venom in England. Ivan Hancock created a drop-in kit of parts that worked well in the R1/HW 80 and increased the power. The mainspring was a very long stiff spring with thicker wire, and it was coated with a black tarry substance that I named black tar in my newsletter articles. That’s where the term black tar comes from. Black tar is also called velocity tar in some circles.
The R1 went from requiring 36 lbs. of force to cock to 50 lbs. with this kit. But the heavy mainspring was not directly responsible for the power increase. The kit also included a new piston that had 6 synthetic bearings that are now called buttons. These buttons rode against the spring cylinder walls and kept the steel piston from touching the steel spring cylinder.
Here’s the deal. The new piston was harder to slide inside the spring tube because the synthetic bearings pressed tightly against the sides of the spring tube. The powerful mainspring simply brought the piston’s speed back to parity with the factory piston. What increased the power was a combination of a better piston seal and the elimination of all piston vibration when the gun fired. The gain was just a few foot-pounds of energy, but the rifle was now getting everything the R1 design could possibly give.
A parallel in the pneumatic world
Most of you readers are aware that pneumatics work within pressure limits, and over-pressurizing them doesn’t add power — it takes it away. The reasons are different, but the end result is the same as for heavier mainsprings. The design of the gun is being overcome by one thing (the mainspring in a spring gun, or too much reservoir pressure in a pneumatic) and the performance balance is tipped toward the negative.
CAN a heavier mainspring increase the power of a springer?
Yes, it can if you also change the rest of the powerplant along with the mainspring. And no, it won’t if a heavier mainspring is all you add. The secret to more power is to balance all the components so the gun performs at its optimum. With all airguns, there’s a limit to how far you can go. Where that limit is depends on the rest of the design — the parts that are too expensive to change.
You can break your heart trying to buff up a dirt clod to a high shine. Or you can start with a gun that has some potential and make real progress by artfully changing the things that matter. The secret is to know which is which.
One last remark
Pyramyd Air is stocking the most recent issue of Airgun Hobbyist magazine. If you want to try just a single issue to see if a subscription is worthwhile, now’s your chance.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Remember that I said I would return and do another accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pistol because I didn’t test the best pellet seated? I felt a little guilty about missing that; but after my wife, Edith, got done with me, I felt really guilty. Good job, Edith!
Today is a revisit to see the effects of deep-seating the best pellet, which you may recall was the Beeman H&N Match. The other two pellets I shot last time aren’t in the running, so they don’t get retested.
However, a reader commented that his HW 70A really likes the JSB Exact RS dome, so that one got tested, too.
Several readers described their pistols as very accurate. One person even said his was a tackdriver. That really drives me nuts because of the results I’m getting. And I’m a good pistol shot — plus, I’m shooting the gun rested! I ought to be there with the best of you, but up to this point I’m not.
Beeman H&N Match
This was the best pellet in the first accuracy test, so this is the one I started with. And I started with the deep-seated pellets. I’m using the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater, and the adjustment hasn’t changed since the last time, so everything is equal.
The first group was pretty poor. I thought I’d forgotten how to shoot because it looked nothing like the group of flush-seated pellets from the last time.
That prompted me to try a group of the same pellets seated flush. You will remember in Part 3 that, when these were seated flush, 10 of them made a 1.085-inch group. This time 10 flush pellets went into 1.067 inches. That’s pretty close to the last time, and very persuasive that flush-seating is what this pellet likes!
JSB Exact RS
Next I tried some JSB Exact RS domes — just to see if I could duplicate what a blog reader reported. Lo and behold, I did! As I was shooting, I could see that the group didn’t seems to be growing, and I had a sense that the pistol was drilling the target. As you can see, it was doing exactly that! Ten pellets in 0.761 inches at 10 meters. I wouldn’t call it a tackdriver, but it’s the next best thing.
Next, I was going to try the same pellet seated deep, but that’s when I saw that the barrel was flopping from side to side at the breech! Oh, no! All that work for nothing!
Fortunately, this pistol has a pivot bolt that can be both tightened and also locked in position with a jam screw. However, I didn’t have time to do that because I was crashing on tests to put in the bank for my trip to see my friend Mac.
When I return from my trip, I’ll tighten the breech and rerun this entire test — plus shoot the RS pellet deep-seated. So, there’s fifth part coming.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Today you get a twofer. Or at least it will be more than just one test, as I’m starting to test a second product with today’s accuracy test of the Beeman HW 70A pellet pistol. The other product I’m testing is the EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols. Because it did play a pivotal part in today’s test, let’s begin with it.
EyePal Master Kit for Rifles and Pistols
The EyePal is a soft patch that’s applied to prescription or safety glasses to provide an aperture for the sighting eye. This concept is close to a century old, and many of the veteran readers will remember the Merit adjustable iris that had a suction cup to attach to glasses. The Merit was adjustable, so the aperture you looked through was controlled by the user. The EyePal is not adjustable. In the Master Kit I’m evaluating, there’s one soft patch for handguns and another for rifles. They have different sized holes, and the handgun patch that I used in today’s test has the slightly larger hole. The lids on the boxes and the patches themselves are color-coded so you know what each one is.
I won’t report on the EyePal as a separate item because I need to use it more than a few times to get comfortable with how it works. So, very much as I reported on the Winchester Airgun Target Cube over several tests that spanned many months, I will do the same with the EyePal.
I’ve tried the Merit accessory in the past and found it to be quite difficult to position. Also, as it aged, the rubber suction cup that held it to the glasses hardened and became less pliable — to the point that it eventually stopped working.
The EyePal patch, in sharp contrast, attaches easily and can be removed just as easily, though it does have to be pried up at one corner before it comes off. I find that it’s very intuitive to use the first time and that repositioning it is simple and needs no explanation.
Shooting the HW70A
Now, it’s time for the test. I found myself faced with a number of test variables, so I decided to test all of them with the first pellet, and then use the best result from those tests for the other pellets. The first pellet was the RWS Hobby. The test was a rested pistol held in two hand at 10 meters. I used standard 10-meter air pistol targets.
When I say I shot the pistol rested, I mean that both my arms rested on a sandbag. The pistol was held forward of the bag, so it never touched them to set up a variable recoil reaction. I kept both hands in the same place on the pistol for each shot.
I had to test this pistol under the following circumstances:
* Pellet seated deep and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and EyePal worn
* Pellet seated flush and prescription glasses worn with no EyePal
* Pellet seated flush and no prescription glasses worn with no EyePal
The 4 targets for the first part of the test are shown below. I used RWS Hobby pellets every time for these 4 targets. After you look at the results, I’ll critique them and tell you what I found.
Hobbys were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 1.863 inches between centers. The large central group within this group made me think this was the best group of Hobbys.
First, I have to tell you the EyePal did make the front sight appear sharp when glasses alone did not. However, without glasses, the front sight appeared just as sharp as with the EyePal. What I did not know until I measured all the groups for this report was that deep-seated pellets measurably outshot all flush-seated pellets. That was a surprise; and if the Hobby pellet was the only one I used, I would re-run this test. But as you’ll soon see, I don’t have to.
The next thing I discovered is that the Hobby pellet wasn’t a good fit for this gun. These groups do not show what the HW 70A can do. However, this does illustrate an important point. By staying with the same pellet and varying other things, it didn’t really matter that the pellet wasn’t the best. I was still able to compare the effects of the other variables by staying with the same pellet.
Next, I must say that the trigger that I liked in Part 2 isn’t as crisp as I would like it to be. It has a very mushy, indistinct pull and release comes as a surprise every time. While that sounds good, it actually isn’t because the trigger can go off before you’re ready.
The bottom line for the first test is that deep-seated pellets and the EyePal on prescription glasses produced the best results. However, I did not pick up on that during the test, and shot all the other groups with the EyePal and flush-seated pellets.
Test 2: 3 other pellets
Next, I shot the pistol with Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellets. The group measured 2.163 inches between centers and was clearly not in the running for this pistol.
Premier lites were seated flush and EyePal was worn on prescription glasses. Group measures 2.163 inches between centers. It looks like only 9 pellets were fired, but they were counted carefully and there were 10. Not a pellet for this air pistol.
Then, I tried 10 Beeman H&N Match pellets. Bingo! This was the pellet I was looking for. Ten made a 1.085-inch group that’s very round and unifirm.
Because the H&N Match pellets did so well, I also tried RWS R10 Match Pistol pellets. For them, I adjusted the sights back to the center of the bull. They didn’t do as well as I’d hoped, grouping in 1.18 inches. While that’s the second-best group of the test, the H&Ns are clearly better this time.
For those who keep score, I shot this pistol 70 times in this test. I was concerned about getting tired, but the best two groups were the last two. So, I think I gave it a fair evaluation. However, I do admit that the best method of loading is deep-seating pellets, and I didn’t use that on the most accurate pellets. I’m going to come back and do a part 4. It’ll be at 10 meters, again, and only Beeman H&N Match pellets from this test will be used along with several new target pellets.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Okay, there’s some interest in this Beeman HW 70A, but many of you have avoided it like I have. Let’s see what it can do.
First, the cocking effort. HW advertises 21 lbs., however the test pistol registered 27 lbs. on my bathroom scale. While that may not sound like a lot, remember this is a close-coupled pistol, so there’s no long lever like you have on a breakbarrel rifle. So, 27 lbs. does feel like a lot.
The trigger-pull, on the other hand, is very light. The test pistol releases at just 2 lbs., 3 ozs. And that’s after I adjusted it to be heavier. I’d gotten it so low that it surprised me when it went off. That felt too dangerous; but where it is now feels pretty good.
Premier 7.9-grain domes
The first pellet to be tested was the Crosman Premier 7.9-grain pellet. It averaged 371 f.p.s., and the spread went from a low of 364 to a high of 381 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet generates an average 2.43 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Next up was the 7-grain RWS Hobby. As light as they are, I expected Hobbys to be the speed demons of the bunch, but they weren’t. Hobbys averaged just 363 f.p.s., with a spread that went from 354 to 372 f.p.s. At their average velocity, Hobbys produced 2.05 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
Beeman H&N Match
The last pellet I tested was the Beeman H&N Match pellet. This wadcutter weighs 8.18 grains and was the heaviest pellet I tested. The average nuzzle velocity was 383 f.p.s. — making this not only the heaviest but also the fastest of the 3 pellets tested. The range went from 371 to 395 f.p.s. At the average velocity, they generated 2.67 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I was puzzled
After testing these 3 pellets, I was puzzled about the velocity claims of 440 f.p.s. by the manufacturer. I thought that Hobbys would at least get close to that number, but as you can see, they were the slowest pellets of all, not to mention being the lightest. That made me wonder why they would be so slow. It seemed that they were also the pellet with the largest skirt, so maybe the gun was having difficulty overcoming the pellet in the breech. That’s when I thought about deep-seating each pellet with the Air Venturi Pellet Pen and Seater to see how it would change — if at all.
Deep-seated Hobbys now averaged 419 f.p.s. and the spread that had been 18 f.p.s. before was now down to just 9 f.p.s. The muzzle energy went up from 2.05 foot-pounds to 2.73 foot-pounds.
H&N Match also increased, but the difference was much less. After deep seating, they averaged 392 f.p.s. and generated 2.79 foot-pounds at the muzzle. The total spread dropped from 24 f.p.s. to just 7 f.p.s.
Even Premier lites increased from 371 to 380 f.p.s., bumping the muzzle energy to 2.53 foot-pounds. And the total spread dropped from 17 f.p.s. to just 8 f.p.s.
Deep-seating seems to help calm this gun down and also to boost velocities. I guess I’ll have to try it when I test the pistol for accuracy, as well.
Impression thus far
Though the velocity seems to be a little low, the firing behavior is smooth and positive. The pistol feels right when it fires, and I think it’s going to turn in some surprising accuracy. But we shall see.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
I’m about 19 years late on this report. The Beeman HW 70A air pistol was around in 1994 when I started writing about airguns, and I ignored it — finding other guns to occupy my time. I guess there are several reasons for that.
For starters, this pistol always looked large and rough to me. I never saw one of these guns close up in the early days, and I certainly never shot one; but I did see the BSF S-20 pistol that looked for all the world like a small air rifle — cut down and fitted to an outlandish wooden pistol grip. I projected that image onto the HW70, as in the catalog photos it looked very similar.
It was called just the HW 70 back in those days. The “A” designator was added to the model number when they put it into a synthetic black pistol grip that’s on the gun I’m testing for you now. And the size was mostly an illusion. This pistol is similar to a Crosman 2240 rather than the outlandish BSF S-20.
For those with a real collector bent, the automatic safety was added some time after the A model was already on the market — so the auto safety on the left side of the stock isn’t what makes it an A version. It’s the synthetic stock. There are A-version guns with synthetic stocks and no auto-saftety out there in collectorland, for those who obsess over minutia.
Another turn-off for me was the anticipated cocking effort such a pistol was sure to require. I imagined cocking it would be like bending the bow of Hercules. I had also thought that about the big BSF and only discovered after getting one that the gun is relatively easy to cock. The HW 70A, on the other hand, does take some muscle power, and that can be attributed to its 6-inch barrel, which is rather short for a breakbarrel springer.
And, finally, I was concerned that the pistol would be very rough to shoot. When I got to shoot the BSF, its smoothness surprised me, but it’s nothing compared to this HW 70A. This is a very smooth air pistol!
Perhaps, that’s because the makers are not trying to send pellets downrange at the speed of light. The velocity specs of the .177 HW 70A have been 440 f.p.s. for as long as I’ve been writing about airguns. What it can really do is something we’ll discover together as I test this gun for you.
I know this — the HW70A is not usually the top air pistol on anyone’s list. Those who want power will gravitate toward the Diana RWS LP8 or the Beeman P1. Others wanting accuracy will go for the Beeman P17 or perhaps the IZH 46M. Almost nobody goes after the HW 70A as a first choice.
This is a breakbarrel spring-piston air pistol that comes in .177 caliber, only. It weighs 2 lbs., 6 oz., and the grip is contoured to fit very well in medium to large hands. The grip/stock is black synthetic and checkered on both sides. The triggerguard is molded right into the stock.
Extensive use is made of aluminum in the construction of this pistol. The spring tube and outer barrel jacket are made of it, but the true barrel is a thin steel tube inside the outer jacket. The finish is a dark black epoxy that will fool everyone into thinking it’s black oxide, which is what we commonly call bluing. I only know that from an old Beeman catalog entry.
Most of what the hand touches on this pistol is cold metal, except for the grips. Even the sights that could be made from plastic are metal.
The pistol is very nearly 100 percent ambidextrous. The only feature that favors one side over the other is the safety switch that slides on the left side of the stock.
The barrel is held closed by a ball-bearing detent that allows the barrel to open easier, while still maintaining a tight seal when closed. It’s a classic means of locking the barrel when the pressure level doesn’t go too high.
The trigger is two-stage and adjustable for pull weight. A screw in front of the trigger blade is turned to make the adjustment. It seems like the adjustment acts on a direct sear, apparently decreasing the sear contact area. Even if that’s not the case, though, I was able to adjust the trigger too light for safe operation. The second-stage stop disappeared, and I had a trigger that was guesswork instead of positive; so, I adjusted it back to where it had been from the factory, and that’s where I’ll leave it.
The trigger blade is wide and smooth. It’s made of aluminum, which will appeal to many shooters.
The sights are thankfully NOT fiberoptic! The rear sight is fully adjustable. Elevation has crisp detents, but windage has none, nor is there a scale for reference. You just have to watch where the notch is and where it moves when you adjust it.
The front sight is a very sharp, square post that fits very well into the rear notch. It’s covered by a steel hood to protect the hands when cocking.
The Beeman catalog used to claim this pistol could group 5 shots in 0.32 inches at 10 meters. I’ll test that when we get to the accuracy report. The gun is not scopeable by normal means, but at one time Beeman sold a special model called the Black Arrow that did come scoped. It had a proprietary scope mount that replaced the rear sight, but it’s no longer available.
That doesn’t matter to me because I would only shoot a handgun like this with open sights anyway. But some shooters want to scope even their handguns, so they need to know that this one can’t be scoped.
I’m looking forward to testing this airgun — I have been for nearly two decades. It’s time to hear the fat lady sing!
And now for something completely different
Pyramyd Air is looking for a manager for their tech department. This position was posted on the blog several weeks ago, but they’re still looking. If you’re interested, please apply. Below is the job info and where to send your resume.
Directs and coordinates activities of the department in providing customers technical services and support; directly supervises employees. Responsibilities include but are not limited to:
Coordinates technical support services between management, tech support staff, sales department, and customers.
Establishes and documents department procedures and objectives.
Accomplishes department objectives by selecting, orienting, training, assigning, coaching, counseling, and disciplining employees; communicating job expectations; and monitoring performance.
Maintains and improves support operations by monitoring staff and system performance, identifying and resolving problems, and preparing and completing action plans
Provides technical assistance to customers and labor quotes. Handles escalated calls or provides assistance requiring more complex issues.
Installs common accessories and kits in accordance with customer orders.
Performs tests on guns to determine advertised performance specifications.
Required experience, skills and background:
Bachelor’s degree and 3 years managerial experience, or an equivalent combination of education and experience required. Previous industry experience required.
Must be detail-oriented with good mechanical aptitude.
Ability to prioritize and multi-task.
Good communication and customer service skills.
Good computer skills.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9am until 5:30pm; longer hours and some Saturdays are expected, especially during our busy peak periods.
Preferred experience, skills and background:
Previous experience in airgun repair or troubleshooting desired.
Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Wonderful news for those who have been following the reports of the Hatsan model 25 Supercharger breakbarrel air pistol. It turns out to be accurate, which is why I reserve my final observations until I test a gun on the range.
This big pistol had a lot of strikes against it up to this point. It’s very hard to cock, the trigger-pull is too long and creepy, the gun failed to achieve its rated velocity and the breech is tight. Today, you’ll see how it did on the range, and I think most of my concerns are going by the wayside. This kind of turnaround doesn’t happen that often, as readers of this blog know only too well. We often get a sense of how well or poorly a gun is going to do in the early stages of testing. And this one looked like it was headed downhill. But after you see the results on paper, I think you’ll have to agree with me that the Hatsan Supercharger is an airgun to consider.
Let’s get right to it. I elected to shoot at 10 meters because I had no idea what was in store for me, and I didn’t want to shoot the furniture (again). There were only three customer reviews of this pistol when I was ready to test, and two of them had no useful information. Only one person commented on accuracy, and he said he could get 2-inch groups shooting offhand at 25 yards. Since he didn’t mention how many shots were in those groups, I didn’t give his report a lot of credibility, other than to hope that this test would turn out well.
I used a two-hand hold, with my forearms resting on a sandbag and both hands extended in front of the bag. So the hold was very steady. With a powerful pistol like this, the recoil is pretty violent. It can factor into where the pellet goes, so your hold has to be very consistent. If it is, you’ll group as tight as the gun can — not unlike an M1911A1 Colt pistol that also bounces a lot when it fires. The secret, if there is one, is to always “bounce” the shot in the same way.
Holding the gun this way gained me two big advantages. First, the fiberoptic sights went black, giving me a precision dark sight picture instead of a vague glowing array of dots. And second, the heavy, creepy trigger didn’t matter as much. The hold was so secure that I was able to wait out the very long pull — except for a couple times that I’ll note.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome
I began with the JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome for no particular reason. The first pellet landed several inches above and to the right of the center of the 10-meter pistol bull, so I put 12 clicks of down elevation and left the windage alone. The next shot hit the upper right edge of the bull, so I shot two more to see whether the gun could group or not. When I saw that it could, I decided to complete the 10-shot group. Seven additional shots completed this first group, and I didn’t bother looking until I went downrange to change the target. When I did, two things jumped out at me. First, nine of the 10 shots were in a tight cluster that told me this pistol wants to shoot. And second, I noticed that the amount the group had dropped from the first shot was about what I expected the 12 clicks to do. Perhaps, these sights are very precise and can be trusted? That’s what I thought at this point.
This is the first target. Nine of the 10 JSB Exact domed pellets went into a tight group, and I can’t explain the lower one. The 9 shots measure 0.663 inches between centers, while the entire group measures 1.411 inches. This looks encouraging!
Seeing how far 12 clicks had dropped the group the first time, I dialed in 6 more clicks of down and 3 clicks of left, hoping to center the next group. I shot the same pellet as before and didn’t bother looking through the spotting scope for the entire 10 rounds. My fourth shot was a called flier that I saw land high in the white. When I went down to pull the target I was treated to a very tight group with 3 shots that had strayed. The called flier was the farthest away from the group and 2 lower shots were just from me not holding as well as I should have. This group, coupled with the first one, told me this pistol can shoot.
Now that I’ve established a baseline for the gun, I tried the lighter JSB Exact Jumbo RS pellet. Unlike the first pellet, I could see that this one was scattering all around the bull, even without looking through the spotting scope. And, sure enough, when I went t0o examine the target, the group was much larger. So, there’s a clear difference between these two pellets — even though they’re both domes and both made by JSB.
After seeing this target, I wondered if this open group was just due to the difference in the pellets or was I wearing out from cocking this pistol so many times? After all, it does take 58 lbs. to cock it, and that, coupled with the general strain of concentration from shooting, can tire you out. One way to find out if it was the pellet or me was to shoot another group with the 15.9-grain Exact dome that had already done so well.
This last group of 15.9-grain domes shows that I’m getting tired, but also that this pellet does group better than the RS. The 2 highest shots in the white were both called fliers. The low right shot was not called.
And this final group does demonstrate that I am getting tired, but also that the 15.9-grain Exact pellet is better in this pistol than the Exact RS. It’s so nice to have a decisive result like this because it doesn’t leave any doubt. The group measures 1.435 inches, with 9 shots in 1.015 inches.
If you want a powerful spring-piston air pistol, the Hatsan Supercharger is one I can recommend. In .22 caliber, it delivers over 7 foot-pounds of muzzle energy with an accurate pellet, which puts it right up there in the same power class as the Beeman P1 and the RWS Diana LP8. Don’t think that it’s anywhere near as refined as those two pistols; but in terms of power and accuracy, it does deliver.
When I started this report, I said that if this pistol could deliver on accuracy it would be a best buy. Even though it doesn’t make its advertised power, it’s still a powerhouse…and, indeed, it is a best buy at the price. However, if you get it, you’re going to have to do your part to get the performance it offers.
by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier
Let’s take a look at the velocity and power of the new Hatsan model 25 Supercharger breakbarrel air pistol. I’m testing the .22-caliber version that I selected because of the advertised power. Hatsan has not disappointed me with their power claims in the past, so I’m expecting great things from this pistol. In fact, you’ll recall that I said I wished they would turn this pistol into a carbine at the same power. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Should you use heavy pellets?
I have read a lot about why I shouldn’t use heavy pellets in a spring gun. There seem to be several schools of thought on the subject. One of them says heavy pellets do not damage a spring gun in any way. That is my position as well, and it’s based on my never having seen evidence of damage done to a gun by using heavy pellets.
Another position is that heavy pellets may damage the mainspring of a gun, but they take a long time to do it. And those who believe this say they don’t mind changing mainsprings periodically.
And the final position seems to be that heavy pellets will damage the spring of a spring-piston airgun without question. These folks believe that spring-piston guns should use lightweight and medium-weight pellets but never heavyweight pellets.
I tell you this because I plan to test this air pistol with Beeman Kodiak pellets that weigh 21.1 grains in .22 caliber. I’m doing it because I’ve found Kodiaks are often very accurate at this power level. I’m not trying to bait the people who think heavy pellets are bad for springers; so if you believe that they are, don’t do what I am doing.
Note from Edith: In the 1990s, Tom and I heard that some RWS air rifles broke their mainsprings into 3 pieces at 2,000 shots or so. The spring would break off about 1″ from each end. We contacted Frank Turner, the president of RWS USA in Closter, New Jersey (not the same RWS USA company that now imports Diana airguns). Frank said the springs broke because shooters used pellets that were too light and didn’t have enough resistance. He advised Tom on how heavy the pellet had to be. Tom conducted a test using only the heavyweight pellets recommended by Frank. Things looked good for a while, but then the cocking effort of the gun became very light…a sign the spring had broken. He disassembled the gun, and the spring had broken into 3 pieces, as predicted. The gun we tested was an RWS 48, and I believe only one caliber of the 48 had this problem. The No. 1 comment we heard from RWS 48 owners was that the gun was broken in between 1,000 and 2,000 rounds because of the lighter cocking effort. The gun was, in fact, broken…not broken in. Since we no longer hear about this from RWS 48 owners, we assume that the problem has been fixed by the current importer.
I have selected three pellets that I believe will have a good chance for accuracy in this pistol. I plan to initially shoot at 10 meters; and if the gun gives me good confidence in its accuracy, I may back up to 25 yards. But I don’t want a gun that sprays its shots all over the place since I’m shooting inside the house. Now, let’s look at the velocity.
The RWS Hobby pellet loaded very hard, telling me that the breech on this pistol is quite small. At 11.9 grains, the Hobby is among the very lightest of the lead pellets available, so I use it to test the velocity claims. In the test pistol, Hobbys averaged 525 f.p.s., or 75 f.p.s. slower than the claim. That’s too much to overlook, so I have to say this claim is ambitious. The range was from 517 to 536 f.p.s., so the spread was 22 f.p.s. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 7.28 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle. That’s respectable for an air pistol and places the model 25 Supercharger among the top spring-piston air pistols for power.
JSB Exact Jumbo RS
The next pellet tested was the JSB Exact Jumbo RS, which in .22 caliber weigh 13.43 grains. They averaged 492 f.p.s. with a spread from 481 to 499 f.p.s. That’s 18 f.p.s. between the bottom and top speeds. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 7.22 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. And these also fit the breech very tight!
Crosman Premier and Beeman Kodiak
I’d planned to test both the Crosman Premier and Beeman Kodiak pellets, but neither of them would fit into the breech! I could have made one or both of them fit with some kind of tool; but since I would never do that in the field, I left them both out of the test. So I didn’t get to test the heavyweight pellets I’d planned on testing.
JSB Exact 15.9-grain pellet
The JSB Exact 15.9-grain dome pellet was substituted for the Beeman Kodiak. It fit the breech the best of the three pellets tested, but it was still tight. This pellet averaged 449 f.p.s across 10 pellets fired, with a spread from 439 to 456 f.p.s. So, 17 f.p.s. between the slowest and fastest shot. The average velocity produced 7.06 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.
I said in Part 1 that this pistol is hard to cock. Well, in this test I discovered that it has the distinction of being the hardest-cocking air pistol I’ve ever tested! And that’s not a good thing. It takes 58 lbs. of force to cock the gun, and at one point in the stroke the effort bumps up to 60 pounds for an instant. Most adult men will find that very difficult to do, and I have no hope for most women and children. As long as you know that before you buy the gun, then there will no surprises.
The trigger on the test pistol releases at 5 lbs., 1.5 oz. The pull is smooth, though you can feel the trigger blade moving as the effort increases.
This is an adjustable trigger, so I followed the instructions in the owner’s manual. I found the adjustments to be very minimal. The first stage (this is really a two-stage trigger, but was adjusted as a single-stage from the box) is extremely short, despite the adjustment screw being all the way out. And the trigger-pull got no lighter than 4 lbs., 8 oz.
I discovered that there really is no distinct second stage. You just feel the trigger blade moving, and then the gun fires. It’s not that bad when you’re shooting it for score; but when you try to feel a second stage, it feels very mushy and indistinct.
Observations thus far
The model 25 Supercharger is made for a very specific owner who wants all the performance he can get from a spring pistol, regardless of the consequences. I sure hope it’s accurate!